Sunday, September 28, 2014

Thoughts on the Relentless Codex Regeneration Cycle!

I can barely catch my breath from the last codex review I've written before GW announces that they're releasing the next one. August saw the release of both the Space Wolves and Grey Knights books and Dark Eldar will be hot on their heels in the first weekend of October. That's pretty insane when you compare it to how long we used to have to wait for a codex. We were lucky to get three in a year before but we've now had three in a couple of months once DE comes out. Rumours even have it that Blood Angels will be next after a brief spell of Fantasy releases.

So where does that leave us? Here's the list of current 40K armies and their release dates (shamelessly stolen from Wikipedia):

7th Edition
Dark Eldar (Oct 2014)
Grey Knights (Aug 2014)
Space Wolves (Aug 2014)

6th Edition
Astra Militarum (April 2014)
Militarum Tempestus (April 2014)
Imperial Knights (March 2014)
Legion of the Damned (March 2014)
Tyranids (January 2014)
Inquisition (November 2013)
Adepta Sororitas (October 2013)
Space Marines  (September 2013)
Eldar (June 2013)
Tau Empire (April 2013)
Chaos Daemons (March 2013)
Dark Angels (January 2013)
Chaos Space Marines (October 2012)

5th Edition 
Necrons (November 2011)

Blood Angels (April 2010)

Clearly then, if Blood Angels are next it isn't much of a leap to assume Necrons won't be far behind. That'd then put CSM next in line and could potentially mean just an 18 month lifespan for their current book. In 40K terms that doesn't seem long at all. That's assuming they continue once they've cleared the 5th edition books? At that point everything would be in a hard cover at least but wouldn't have this new datasheet format. Clearly someone at GW has realised they can give you a new book and a couple of models at a more regular interval and you'll still cave and buy it.

I have to say that, like a lot of people, it feels like GW really is rushing things with this current accelerated cycle. The Grey Knights book is certainly streamlined but doesn't half feel rushed. I have my concerns about the DE book too but I'm reserving judgement until I get my copy next week.

Vanishing Units
One thing that is clear is that if a unit has rules but no model it's going to disappear. So far we've lost Zogwort, Wazdakka, Mordrak, Valeria and Thawn. With the DE release it looks like we'll double the number with Duke, Baron, Malys, Vect and Kheradruakh all for the chop. You should know by now that I love special characters so I think it's a massive shame that these units are disappearing. Perhaps they'll reappear one day.

Some will blame Chapterhouse for the loss of these units but I think the fault lies with GW. Look at the Necron codex. It introduced several new special characters but within a couple of months of the book arriving we had models for them all. Dark Eldar didn't even manage to get the Voidraven bomber model until now. I can't pretend I'm a long time DE player but it still frustrates me hugely that they feel overlooked compared to other armies. Old school DE players waited a long time for an update of their codex and for the latest incarnation to strip so much away is likely to be gutting for them.

Don't get me wrong, I'm sure the book will be a lot more streamlined and there'll be some good stuff in there but if nothing else it stunts the creativity of people when they don't need to convert models to represent the missing ones. I still use my Arjac "conversion" despite there being a model for him (and thankfully there is one so he wasn't removed).

Streamlining?
Well that's the term that seems to be floating around at the moment. Is it really the case though? Individual books are certainly losing a lot of what is termed "bloat" by the community but the game as a whole is becoming increasingly more complicated. I've found it incredibly difficult to come up with a solution for Blog Wars and what I have come up with has been met with a raft of complaints.

The game is more complicated than ever. I could've simply said "no Unbound" but the armies you can create within the "Battle Forged" bracket are still daft. Look back up at that list of codices and there's already a few extras there that didn't exist until recently. Inquisition and Assassins were part of the GK book of course and Legion of the Damned were in the SM dex but Imperial Knights and Militarum Tempestus are almost totally new. I just don't see the need.

Warhammer 40K was never the most ideal template for competitive play but I can't help but feel that GW are making things worse rather than better. Perhaps once all of the books are renewed some master plan will emerge but I'm not holding my breath.

The sad thing is I still love this game. I've dabbled in other things but I keep coming back to 40K. There's something about the imperfections that make it better somehow. Would it lose its soul if it was a truly streamlined competitive game? I think it probably would.

Leaks or should that be "leaks"
One final thing that caught my eye this week. The image on the left was one of the "leaked" pictures of this week's White Dwarf. I assumed it was someone who had a copy of both the weekly edition and Visions who had taken a shot to show the new flyer. However, this same image appeared on the GW site on Friday as part of their What's New Today blog. It's definite the same image which adds a little weight to my theory that GW starts at least some of the leaks off themselves to generate interest. Maybe I'm just a conspiracy theorist but as a marketing ploy it would actually make a lot of sense!

Wednesday, September 24, 2014

Finalising the Details for Blog Wars 8 Army Selection

I've recently posted about the rules pack for Blog Wars 8 as I wanted feedback from you guys. This has given me some great insight into what people expect from the event and helped me make some decisions about how things will be run. I'd like to thank everyone who's either commented or emailed me. One thing is clear, people want very different things from the tournament. Some want more restriction, whereas others want more freedom. Hopefully what I'm outlining below (and what I've updated in the event pack) will be some sort of middle ground that makes the majority of people happy and doesn't piss everyone else off too much.

Army Selection
My initial attempt at coming up with a system of army selection for Blog Wars seems to have frustrated a lot of people. Limiting the armies to just two detachments appears to have been a step to far for most of you. For this reason I've changed things a little so that you can now potentially take, for example: a combined arms detachment, allied detachment and Inquisitorial detachment. I'm now allowing formations but you have to choose between a formation and allies. I don't want people to be able to pick bits of things from too many sources. Not only does this make things incredibly confusing for their opponent (and me when I'm checking lists) but also it fits in better with the ethos of the event which encourages armies to be themed around a special character (more on that later). However, by allowing formations I am at least giving people more options if they don't have access to things like Allies/Inquisition/etc.

I'm still torn on the Imperial Knight issue. I'm determined that they should be allowed at Blog Wars now but I still think that 3 in a list with some other units would be very difficult for most people to deal with. What I've done therefore is met people in the middle and allowed 2 knights per army. As with any army in 40K, some people still won't be able to deal with them but equally others won't find them any trouble at all. Bear in mind that Gerantius is allowed as a special character but he isn't on the list as he's not going to eligible to be the "Commander" as he isn't in the "Core Force".

Hopefully this addresses the main issues people had with my first attempt at army selection. I'm keen to avoid changing it much more as players need to be planning their lists but I'd still like to hear your opinions. Here's an update to the diagram to show how things now work (click to embiggen):



Warp Charge
I don't know if this just got ignored by people but there were no complaints about the restriction of warp charge to 12 points. As I've already said, I'd hope that the kind of lists that are penalised by this e.g. conjuration spam Daemons, wouldn't appear anyway but I still think this is a good idea.

Painting Competition
I recently posted about the painting competition here. I'd like to get some more feedback before I make a decision on what's changing there though so please read the post and let me know what you think.

Tickets
If you like the sound of things now and want to get yourself a ticket simply send £17.50 to alexjbrown58@hotmail.com via PayPal (ideally using the "Sending Money to Family or Friends" option). Please include your name (in case it's different to the PayPal account and I'll add you to the list.

Saturday, September 20, 2014

After Action Thoughts on 7th Edition Space Wolves

I've now had a decent number of friendly games and a tournament to get to grips with the new Space Wolves codex so I thought I'd share my thoughts. First off I'd like to say I'm still very much feeling the love for my wolves. Space Wolves may not have been my first 40K army but I've always had a soft spot for them and they're certainly my favourite now.

The tournament I played in allowed two detachments of any type so I took along two CADs of Space Wolves. This allowed me four HQs without sacrificing Objective Secured which I'm still a big fan of. Here's what I was running:

1,750pts of Space Wolves
Thunderlord w/ runic armour claw, shield and helm
3x WGBL on wolf w/ fist, shield and fen wolf

3x 8 Grey Hunters w/ chainswords, meltagun and terminator w/ fist/PF in a pod (one with standard)
5 Blood Claws in a Stormwolf w/ multimeltas

That's it. Doesn't look like much but it hits hard when it has to. The lord has six S6 attacks at I5 and a Hammer of Wrath attack at S5. He re-rolls to hit and wound which lets him shred troop units and gives him a reasonable chance against things like daemon princes too. The battle leaders are awesome against DPs though with their S10 fists and the fen wolf allows them to soak up the odd S10 shot that might come their way. I run them all solo so they're difficult to deal with. Your opponent will struggle to charge more than one allowing the others to pile in and help out if necessary. Massed shooting is an issue but it all comes down to how well you can roll 2+/3++.

The hunters in pods aren't what they used to be but they're still awesome. Incidentally, it's worth noting that you can get a wolf guard pack leader in terminator armour with a fist for the same cost as a power armoured leader with fist. The difference is the combi weapon is cheaper for the terminator. Obviously not an option in rhinos and you sacrifice a second special weapon for the grey hunters (since you can only get 9 models in the pod) but still good to know.

In my friendly games before the tournament I was running a 15-man blood claw pack in the stormwolf with a priest but I quickly realised this was far too many points off the table at the start of the game. It hits incredibly hard when those 16 bodies get into combat but even if you get them turn 2 the stormwolf needs to zoom for a turn and then hover to get them in combat. Not only does it put it in danger but a turn 3 charge really isn't that exciting. The stormwolf is awesome and helfrost is scary even for models that only fail the strength test on a 6. Obviously it isn't reliable but things like that can come good and change the course of a game in your favour. Don't forget the flyer can hover late game to use Obj Sec to claim an objective. It's not invincible though so having just a 5-man squad is a lot less risk since they're all gonna die if the stormwolf gets taken down.

So how did it perform at the tournament? Well this event allowed Lords of War so in the first game I met a tyranid list with harridan and 4 FMCs. The S10 guns made short work of my thunderwolves and I simply couldn't down the FMCs quickly enough. The stormwolf killed the warlord tyrant on its own but it too fell victim to the S10 from the harridan. Obviously the list struggles against multiple FMCs but that's true of a lot of armies. The second game was against a warhound titan with some grey knights and an assassin. The callidus allowed a re-roll to Seize giving my opponent first turn. Of course he rolled 6s on the destroyer table for his first two shots removing my warlord and a WGBL. The mission was similar to Control Freak at Blog Wars though and so I held my own pretty well. My opponent's rolling was insane though and an uphill struggle ended in a narrow loss. With two narrow losses I ended up on the bottom tables and met a daemons list without any of the usual tricks in it. This gave me a fun game with plenty of combat and a decent win to place me mid table at the end of the day.

Following the event I've tweaked my list slightly. I really don't think the wolf standard is worth it in this particular list (and I'm not sure I'd bother generally). The extra 25 pts that gives me go into a fen wolf for the wolf lord and an upgrade to hammers for the battle leaders. That means they'll be striking at the same time as a monstrous creature if they get to a second round of combat thanks to Concussive. Might not save their life but should help them finish off the MC with their dying breath.

Conclusion
It's difficult to comment on the performance of the list when I had such bad luck with both my draws and dice rolls. In the first game I probably passed only 50% of my 2+ saves and in the second my opponent rolled an insane number of 6s. The last game gave me a hint of the potential of the list with two WGBLs going toe-to-toe with a Bloodthirster and coming out on top. One of them then went on to insta-kill a daemon prince too. The wolf lord chewed through karanak, 3 bloodcrushers and a squad of plaguebearers.

Obviously I couldn't run this list if the tournament wasn't allowing two CADs but it's helped me realise how useful Objective Secured is. Unless you're wanting to run a raft of HQs the Wolves Unleashed detachment isn't good enough to tempt me to drop Objective Secured. Despite the bad matchups the list held it's own and still would've won the first two games if the odd dice roll had gone my way. Neither felt like a whitewash.

I'd love to give rune priests a go but I'm finding it very difficult to write them into a list. I think there's a spot for them in a drop pod with some hunters but they'll often find themselves shut down by more powerful psychic armies. As I said in my review it's difficult to resist the temptation of a thunderwolf HQ. Even without any support they're still great for the points.

Finally, with this list at least, I'm really not seeing the point in using the codex warlord traits so I've been opting for the strategic table. This gives me a chance of getting some reserves manipulation for me or my opponent.

I'm determined to win the Best Painted award at the next event on October 18th so I've got some hobby work to do to update my wolves and add some much needed detail to them. I'll be posting about it soon starting with my stormwolf that I'm particularly proud of.

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