Tuesday, June 24, 2014

The Last Hurrah of 6th: 5/17 & 5/18 Tournament Reports

Hello hello hello readers, I come today with a jubilant and triumphant spring in my step, for I bear news of the last gasp of 6th edition. With it comes reports from each side of the rules, both as a player and as an event organizer. So, with that in mind, we will begin a chronological progression, first with Bloomington's monthly throwdown, with me as a player, and then to Columbus's first tournament in over a year, which I orchestrated. Hit the break for the full details.

Before we delve too deep, I offer my sincerest apologies for my month of absence. I have been transitioning into a new job, and moving into new residence, as well as helping friends move out of theirs. In my absence, I've had to offer the biggest of props to my fellow writers, Godfrey and Trooper, for their continued publication of content. Now, without further ado, we close 6th edition.

Bloomington, as has become the usual, saw my Necrons in attendance, in the absence of my having found a suitable list for my Ravens. I'm hopeful that my Marines will become more attractive to me in the wake of what I'm experiencing thus far with 7th, as well as with my experimenting with newer and more diverse build ideas.

Round 1 - Vs Space Wolves
My first round saw me finally able to play against a longtime friend, whom we here at Rites refer to affectionately as "Scoob". This wolf loving viking at heart is a Space Wolf through and through, and has come on to the tournament scene with style since picking up the remnants of ZerkeX's Wolves. His least featured Grimnar (his warlord) in a drop pod with 4 TH/SS wolf guard terminators, Fenresian Wolf Pack led by a TH/SS Wolf Lord, 3 Thunderwolf Cavalry with various weaponry, 2 teams of meltagun toting Wolf Scouts, 2 Grey Hunter squads, and a team of Missile Fangs with attached Rune Priest. All in all, an aggressive and fairly fluffy list, featuring tons of wolves. When faced with Kill Points on long edge deployment. Not only did I win the roll to pick my side, I got to choose to go second, knowing my foe would swiftly advance toward me.

My deployment saw me castle up in response to him, hoping to guard against first blood plays from lucky missile shots. His drop pod came down in my deployment zone, and saw me wheel most of my army to deny him as many points as possible, via killing his warlord, snagging first blood (scarabs hurt drop pods), and denying him first blood. His reserve rolls didn't pan out well for him, and my last ditch effort to score linebreaker ended with him having taken but a single point from me, and my having left but a single grey hunter squad standing.

Round 2 - Vs Lion's Rampart (Son of Horus, Imperial Fists tactics)
Son of Horus and I have known each other for about the last 5 years, and have had the unfortunate circumstance that any event one attends is almost always hosted by the other. He and I have talked game design, business, Warhammer Fantasy, and all too often, Space Marines (he liking his and me not playing mine). Imagine our surprise to get the chance to test each other's mettle at such an event as the last of 6th. His list featured a lightning claw captain, two assault squads, three tactical squads (two of which toted meltaguns, heavy bolters, and powerfist vet sergeants, the third packed a plasma gun and plasma cannon, each of which were holed up in rhinos) a lascannon devastator team, and an imperial knight.

We were on short edge deployment, with heavy support scoring, and had four objectives to fight over, one in each of our deployment zones and two in midfield that would devolve into a gamelong scrum. He scored first blood on my command barge, but my lines held, and a late game drop from immortals secured me linebreaker. He misplayed by locking his knight out of combat by having his captain challenge my destroyer lord, and I misplayed by shooting instead of running on my last player turn. Each of these say the game end in a flat dead draw. Each of us held a single objective, and had scored a lone secondary. All in all, an excellent game, by far one of my best in recent memory.

Round 3 - Vs 49 plague marines
After some complications on time, third round was a bit crunched, pushing us into relic on diagonal deployment. This round saw me playing another Bloomington local, Jim. The man is always fun, fluffy, and flashy; bringing a radically different army each and every month. This month, he had 49 plague marines in tow, which he managed to roll up Master of Deception for, allowing two squads of which to infiltrate. Unfortunately for him, just as with the last time we played relic against one another, my destroyer lord managed to net scoring for his warlord trait, which, after sending my wraiths and scarabs forward to mosh pit his swarm of blighted legionnaires. Unfortunately the game didn't pan out well for him (poor saving rolls first round leading to about 10 casualties), leaving my army to grab all three secondaries and control the objective.

On the whole, the event in Bloomington reminded me of everything I love about playing 40k. Great games with great friends. I didn't need 7th edition, so much as I needed this event. At the end of the day, Horus and I split second and third (who can ask for anything more from a draw?), and I walked away with a box of genestealers, hoping to have something fun to play in kill team.

The Columbus bash saw me hosting a mission of my own design that I've been fiddling with for the last year or so. The specifics of the mission can be found in my Google Drive at this link.

On the whole, players received it well, and appreciated the broad diversity of things to do and ways to win, as well as the simplicity of totaling the winner at the end of the game. Havoc has even gone so far as to suggest the there's almost no other mission he'd rather be playing in a tournament setting. That said, there are some major tweaks required, not the least of which include tweaks to the wording on mobile objectives, as I'd like to limit moving such objects to units which have a weapons skill, as well as only to models which have objective secured (not extending to independent characters). Otherwise, I was pleased to see players quickly having to crunch numbers on who was winning and how to best wrest that advantage away from their foes, fighting tooth and nail for every inch. Most every game ended in a bloody mess.

All that taken in, so ends 6th.


  1. I bet you can have just as much fun wih 7th... my group sure has :)

  2. I've been futzing around with my Marines and things are going mostly well, but there's a few quibbles I've got with the rules and how they reverted some back to 5th, and they're some things I'm mega not okay with.

  3. Me too... mostly they enforced FMCs, and created a spellcaster flying circus...

    not to mention that they have no rules for the geometries of the game (fighting in ruins, area terrain, forests and so on...)...

    But part of having some super-broken-spots is that people are more inclined to introduce house rules... forcing the game towards a friendlier attitude (provided that the group does not dissolve before that)...

  4. Addressing jink and FMC's was good, as well as a pervasive nerf to magic. The problem is exactly as you've called it though in that they rolled ruins and arguably vehicles back to 5th and it really upsets me.

  5. Terrain I get, but how so the vehicles? I feel they are still more or less the same as they have been since 6th, just making it harder to flat blow them up, which I personally like. If you're going to just dump dice at the enemy and expect hull points to run out, I like that you can't blow it up with that. It rewards the heavy weapons, while still allowing for glance-out strategies to work.

  6. The problem is that they're allowed to be scoring. Rhinos are "just as much" area control/denial as terminators (assuming they weren't bought for a troop, because then they'd have more). And those wave serpents that are such a bitch to kill? Objective secured now! It's pushing for a return of MSU and though I've got the tools to play it, I'm not sure I want to.

    That said, it reinforces the strength of my custom mission by making kill points matter. 20+kp MEQ MSU lists get hammered by KPs.

  7. Objective secured on dedicated transports is absolutely obnoxious. I can't argue that one. Drop Pod marines just became stupidly annoying, more-so than they already were.

    But apart from the Wave Serpent, they're usually pretty easy to kill. Heck, even the Land Raiders taken for troops fall over pretty fast to meltaguns.

  8. That's just it though. Forcing melta back into lists brings us back to rock paper scissors. Are you packing melta? Have fun losing to serpents and mass MCs. You didn't? Have fun losing to Guard, Necrons, and LR rush Templar/Angels.

  9. But that's based on the ideal that weapons are mutually exclusive. You can still bring a nice mixture of both in many lists, and find both of them relevant. Melta isn't bad against any target (save maybe the wave serpent... and even then, it's not impossible to believe that the melta will be on an inherently mobile unit to cope with it's limited range (drop pods, bikes, deep striking units, etc.), and thus you can get behind a serpent, where it can't use it's shield. Even if you cant, it's still a pretty solid shot at ripping a hull point away, and probably forcing a jink out of them, thus mitigating their firepower.

    Mixing both mid tier and heavy fire power isn't that hard to do, and even if you only have a few outlets to it, it's still better than none. Other possible solutions are smashing (though not as god-tier as it once was, its still good, lance weaponry, armorbane weapons, monstrous creatures in general (namely the ones who may not need smash to do work [fexes, wrtiathknights, dreadknights, etc.]) and of course the cunning smart plays of dropping a vehicle in front of it and forcing it to go around.

    Heck make them go through terrain... they'll have a 1-6 chance to stopping themselves since they can't even buy dozer blades. 1-3 if the stop in it too... which is fairly likely if they are moving through any at all.

    These outlets aren't even all of the options. Lords of War, emplaced weaponry, and all sots of other things can be added to help cope with heavy vehicles.

    I personally think the balance of the game, when one pulls their view back from what we have known since 3rd edition, to looking at the now (all of the exterior options like allies, fortifications, and more). There are more ways than ever to bring mixtures of weaponry without forcing one to bring nothing but.

  10. Right, but what I'm arguing is that bringing a mix leaves you suited to taking on neither foe. Smash isn't good enough. A single S10 with only a 1/6 chance to blow the dude up? No. Vindicators aren't good enough, why would I bring one into CC and hope it would work other than I trade cover and a scatter die for a single hit on 3+.

    Wraithknights and Dreadknights notwithstanding, forcing certain codices into LoW (which are hugely expensive unless yours is plastic) just makes game balance worse. Take big bad Ang'grath Unbound, T8, 8 wounds, 2+/3++/FnP. With the strength D nerf, there's no way you'll scythe through that guy. It goes back to "Does a player own big expensive X? No? Guess they can't play this book. They do? Cool, they can win."

    There's also the consideration that without marines returning to full on 5th (which they want to already, I know), it's very challenging already to cope. Melta and plasma take up about the same slots on dudes, and plasma is expensive and dangerous. Their mid range high RoF weapon? The assault cannon, which really really sucks against vehicles above AV10 and has few platforms, and generally is competing against missiles and melta on those platforms.

    From where I sit, it feels like we've rolled back to 5th, where marines are about the same as they were, Eldar too, but we see more Tau and less Daemons (unless FW is allowed). Guard are still the same, and though Orks got a few gubbins to compete, I'm not sure it's enough.

    That's where I see things for most players. $150~200 later, more if they built WS bikes or Daemons, and we're back to 5th edition.

  11. I feel that armies these days have a far more compelling list of units worth consideration. 5th edition books were very much all about one to two units being the best, and the stop gap between them and their competition was inexcusably large. These days, most any unit can be used to good effect, and competency reigns supreme over money hammer. The best toys in the universe won't save you if you haven't the skills to use them.

    In top-tier play... it has always been the same gimics or core lists which duke it out against one another. That will never change, but at least in the here and now it is a little flux. In non-competitive play where people aren't afraid to run units they like, even if they aren't terribly special (go Mandrakes!) they can find themselves rewarded at times and struggling in others. I'm not sure that's an issue with core game mechanics, as it's basically just like real war. If your enemy has a tank... and you brought a lot of machine guns, it's gonna get rough quick.

    some things are a little less open than they were in 6th, and I'm not sure why they did it. Sure the game could have been bettered by keeping them, but it's a fine line to walk between keeping the rules streamlined, and overbearing. Adding all that they did, it's no wonder to me they had to ease up on some other elements to keep from the game being simply too much for new players to deal with.

    With so much more attention being shone on the game with peripheral activity from Eternal Crusade, the huge hype Lord Inquisitor has been getting, and a general new look and feel with their business (new site, new magazines, e-versions of everything), they have to consider the practicality of keeping the rules fun, flexible, and welcoming to those curious about getting into a game a expensive as this.

    Should they loose mechanics which are good (direction ruins for example)? Well personally we both liked it the way it was. But I don't want the game to be nothing but experienced veterans clubbing the new guys over and over until they just get fed up and quit. If the core rules focus on streamline in a few places, but maintain quality on the whole, it's a price I'll pay to see new faces.

    And there's nothing that says we have to play the games following the rules word for word in free play (almost the only games I play anymore). If we wanna play with directional cover, or a cap on psychic dice, or whatever... might as well. It's a game, and we might as well play it to enjoy it.

  12. Right, and aside from inherent codex imbalance, I'm not super concerned about things at a "beer and pretzels" level, but I am concerned about tournament play. At a casual level, we'll do whatever we want, and we've basically been told to. Cool. But at a tournament level, I'm very much uncomfortable with seeing that MSU MEQ return as a result of so many rules feeling like they're "rolling back" to 5th. Sure, it's reliable to blow up a rhino now, and the marine books have had some power shuffled around (storm talon over speeders, TFC over predators, bikes /gone/ versus 6th) but on the whole, they're playing the same book. Tau and Eldar on the other hand are still hugely potent, arguably more so than marines in the MSU environment due to the strength of their vehicles and Tau's pervasive suit buffs and Eldar's bladestorm/battle focus. Guard stayed about the same as well.

    This all sums up to give me a feeling that we've spent two years and $200+ to do nothing and go nowhere.

  13. Potentially. I guess it depends on how you view your purchases, and how those stack up in the new setting. Tau and Eldar are good armies, and in tournaments, still very comfortably sitting at the top. I'd wager much of this still stems from the fact that most of the codexes have still not been updated since their release, and so there is still the same gap.

    That said, they aren't unbeatable, and there are plenty of armies that aren't White Scar SM, Tau and Eldar doing fine. I'd argue that major events feel like they're dominated by those armies simply because those are still the armies doing well as a roll over from the edition which just shifted. Given some time, I'd expect something new to come out, or people on the interwebz to figure out combos out of different books.

    Issues never change overnight when edition come and go, but they open doors for change. It's like voting for a President, then getting upset when he doesn't make sweeping chances in his first 3 months. It takes time, and in this particular case, it takes players investing in time and theory crafty to come up with some new ideas and tricks.

    I'm still excited to play 40k when I can. I have some big stompy knights, lots of squishy, expendable guardsmen... and God-Emperor willing, some better dice luck in the future. Our last game was atrociously fast... stupid dice.