Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Lists for Warhammer World 6K Battle

This is probably a bit backwards since I've already written the battle report but since I didn't have access to everyone's lists when I wrote the report I'll put them in now. Bear in mind Alex's armies didn't need to follow the FOCs because of trying to find 3K with the models available. There were a few last minute changes so things might not add up but here goes:

3000pts of Space Wolves
Logan Grimnar
Ragnar Blackmane
Rune Priest (Living Lightning, Jaws, Chooser)
Rune Priest (Living Lightning, Murderous Hurricane)

Wolf Scouts (Meltagun, Plasma pistol, MotW)
Dreadnought (heavy flamer upgrade), Drop Pod

3 Wolf Guard (combi-melta, power fist)
2x 10 Grey Hunters (plasma gun, meltagun, power fist, MotW, standard)
8 Grey Hunters (meltagun, power weapon, MotW, standard)
5 Wolf Guard Terminators (Arjac Rockfist, 3x Pair of wolf claws, Cyclone & PF), Land Raider Redeemer (multi-melta)

Land Speeder (multi-melta, heavy flamer)

5 Long Fangs (2x lascannon, 2x missile launcher)
Land Raider

3000pts of Blood Angels
Honour Guard (Blood champion, power sword)
Librarian (unleash rage, blood lance)

Furioso Librarian (Wings of Sanguinius, blood lance)
7 Assault Terminators (2x TH/SS, 5 lightning claws)
Land Raider Crusader (multi-melta)
3 Sanguinary Priests (Corbulo, power weapon x2, jump pack x2)

9 Assault Marines (Meltagun, power fist)
Land Raider
2x 10 Assault Marines (Meltagun, power sword)
6x Death Company (jump packs, power fist, infernus pistol, power sword)

Predator (TL lascannon, lascannon sponsons)
Devastator squad (3x missiles, 1x lascannon)

3000pts of Daemonhunters
Grand Master (bionics, icon of the just, scourging, master crafted weapon, psychic hood)
Grey Knight Terminators (incinerator)
Father Nicholas
Grey Knight Terminators
Inquisitor Coteaz
Inquistor's Retinue (3 vet guardsmen, 2 grenade launchers, acolyle w/ plasma pistol, lexmechanic)

Vindicare Assassin
Calidus Assassin

8 Grey Knights (justicar, incinerator, psycannon)
Infantry Platoon
2x Inquistorial Stormtroopers Squads

5 Grey Knights (justicar, sacred incense, incinerator, psycannon)

Orbital Lance Strike
Dreadnought (TL lascannon)
Dreadnought (multi-melta)
Purgation squad

3,000pts of Imperial Guard
Commisar Yarrick
Company Command Squad (Castellan Creed, lascannon team, master of ordnance, regimental standard, medi-pack)

4 Ogryns
Stormtroopers (meltagun, plasma gun, airborne assault)
Guardsman Marbo

Platoon Command Squad (flamer)
5 Infantry Squads (2 standard, 1 w/ heavy bolter, 2 w/ meltagun)
Veteran Guardsmen (plasma gun, meltagun, demolitions)
Veteran Guardsmen (plasma gun, meltagun, grenadiers)
Heavy weapons team (lascannons)
Heavy weapons team (autocannons)

Sentinels x3 (heavy flamer)
8 Rough riders (flamer)

Basilisk (heavy stubber)
3 Leman Russ (lascannon, 1 with HB sponsons)
LR Vanquisher (lascannon)
LR Exterminator (HB sponsons)

Phew! that took some typing! Was a great battle and I hope these lists made sense, normal service will be resumed once I get home. I've got a lot of content I want to get up. There's at least a dozen posts floating round in my head.

Monday, December 27, 2010

6000pts Assault on Terra - Wolves/Bloods Angels vs Guard/Daemonhunters

Well it's been a while since I posted what with being in Ireland for Christmas with my fiance's family. Luckily I brought my camera with me so I can bring you the report from our epic battle at Warhammer World. I'd never been to the place before and I have to say I was impressed. For some reason I'd imagined the gaming arena to be bigger but the quality of the boards was amazing. I'll get to the board we were on later but the other boards have some nice pieces. There's a large Cities of Death board with really densely packed structures, a field full of drop pods, a bridge across a dry river bed, an ork scrapyard (which you may have seen on the Space Wolves blog) and a few other fantasy ones that I wasn't as interested in.

Our board was called Assault on Terra (at least I think it is). Some of you may remember that the old Warhammer World site had an article about it's design and construction which now seems to have been lost to the warp. Since that article they've now covered the entire board in snow. In my opinion they've made a really good job of it and it's inspired me to get round to making my snowscape game board when I get home (which I'll do a series of posts about of course). Anyway, on to the battle itself. As I've mentioned before we had 6k on each side but using the conventional FOC instead of any Apocalypse stuff. I'll add the lists later when I'm back on my own computer but suffice to say I had Logan, Arjac, Ragnar and 2 land raiders and Matt had Dante, a librarian and 2 land raiders of his own.

With so much going on it was difficult to keep track of the game on a turn-by-turn basis. Therefore I'll just give you some of the highlights. The background of the mission was that the Space Wolves and Blood Angels had discovered an ancient Eldar Warpgate which they believed would lead them to maiden worlds rich with resources. Natrually the Ordo Malleus had become aware of the discovery and knowing the Space Wolves attitude to the Inquisition had decided to enlist the help of a local militia in order to secure the artifact. Fluff aside this basically meant that Matt and I had to deploy within the walls of the structure and defend them from Alex who would win if he managed to get any models past a line behind the fortress walls.

Alex had something in the order of 20 tanks/dreads for us to take down along with 2 squads of grey knights and 2 squads of grey knight terminators each lead by a grand master. The DH units would no doubt teleport behind the walls in order to steal the objective at the last moment. We decided to have the Blood Angels forces go out to meet the attackers head on whilst the Space Wolves would provide fire support and defend against the teleporting grey knights.

We decided that it made sense for us to have the first turn as we reacted to the advance of the attacking army and also since we'd deployed first! The first thing to do was bring the drop pod in behind the Imperial Guard command squad lead by Castellan Creed. The dreadnought came out of his transport and unleashed a burst of flame and a hail of assault cannon fire into the squad. This left only creed and a wounded lascannon team. Elsewhere our forces advanced towards the hordes of tanks yet failed miserably to destroy a single one with lascannon fire from the land raiders. We didn't do much better in the following turn either. The whirlwind landed a missile squarely in the middle of the rough riders and brought the 8-man team down to 1.

Alex advanced his force towards the walls. The heavy weapons teams immobilised the dreadnought and stopped it from firing for a few turns but they weren't able to destroy it. The basilisk landed a shell in the middle of the grey hunters team which guarded a breach in the walls and killed off 4 of the space marines. Despite our heavy weapons failing the rune priest unleashed living lightning on a Leman Russ team and despite only producing a single bolt of lightning it managed to immobilise the tank (which counted as wrecked as it was in a team). Just goes to show it's always worth a go!

The land speeder arrived just when we needed it and although it didn't manage to destroy the basilisk it did render it's earthshaker cannon impotent for the rest of the game. It then blasted up the field to help thin out the lines of the Imperial Guard. The vindicare & calidus assassins (we allowed Alex to have both) made short work of Matt's devastator squad before being brought down by the long fangs and grey hunters. At the end of turn two Alex had dropped a lot of grey knights in, had stunned the whirlwind and whittled down it's grey hunter support and had forced on of the assault squads to retreat. Not to mention the destruction of all but one of the death company! It didn't look promising for us since we were unable to take down his tanks which were getting ever closer!

The turning point came in turn three. Two of Matt's land raiders and one of mine (containing Ragnar) formed a line across the field and with the true grit of the Adeptus Astartes they resolved that none would pass this point. Matt piled out his librarian and assault terminators who were undoubtedly the stars of the Blood Angels army. They managed to wipe out a rhino, vindicator, chimera and several squads of guard including an inquistor without taking many losses at all. There was a point near the end where they were struggling to find anyone else in range to kill! Having said that both the flame tank (I forget it's name) and the vindicator took some fire and in fact the flame tank survived until the end of the game. One of grey knights squads came in right next to Logan's land raider redeemer which unleashed it's flamestorm cannon and killed the entire squad.

Alex brought on sentinels to finished off my grey hunters and I turn brought my wolf scouts on to destroy them but not before they'd reduced that squad to two. As if to prove my point the scouts survived to take down a dread and some more troops. However, I must say that it'd be hard to choose between the land speeder and the scouts in terms of effectiveness in this game. The land speeder went on to help the dread kill off Creed and a team of lascannons and it survived for the game.

Alex had put a team of two leman russ in reserve in order to outflank (because one of his characters allowed this) but they came in right at the end of the game so were of little effect. Well in fact they were quite devastating for the turn they were there. Dante came in from reserve and tried to aid the Space Wolves in dealing with the two grand masters, their terminator bodyguards and a squad of storm troopers which had landed behind our walls. The fire of the stormtroopers coupled with the leman russ team was enough to wipe out Dante's honour guard and score two wounds on Dante himself. Dante still managed to deal with the stormtroopers on his own though but it was by no means easy for him thanks to some appalling rolls from Matt.

Once we'd got into combat the epic battle in the middle of the field never seemed like it would go any other way. Ragnar's team took some punishment and in the end the Wolf Lord stood alone. We prevented the guard army from entering through the breach in the wall and one of Alex's inquistorial stormtroopers seemed to excel with their plasma gun killing of a good number of marines. The whirlwind somehow survived a lot of punishment from two dreadnoughts and killed off at least double it's points value. Only in the last turn did Alex manage to destroy the turret. Despite the carnage we'd wrought upon our enemies in the middle of the field and the mounds of dead that we'd amassed this was not where the battle would be won or lost.

Both Grand Masters and their retinues had dropped in behind cover inside the fortress. I'd deliberately left Logan's land raider inside in order to react to the inevitable incursion. It trundled forward at full pelt and Logan, Arjac and their terminator brethren smashed out and piled into combat after unleashing missiles and Arjac tossing his hammer. If they could not stop the grey knight terminators then the battle was lost.

In the first round of combat Logan struck with the grand masters and should managed to remove several of the bodyguard, miraculously Alex managed to pass all three 5+ saves though. The grandmasters finished off a couple of my wolf guard but then Arjac hit back and instantly killed the grand master with his hammer which also swung in the direction of his retinue bringing two of them down. After the first bout of combat Logan and Ragnar stood together but their brethren had perished. One of the grey knights remained from one squad but the other was at full strength.

In the second phase Logan finished off the lone grey knight but was wounded by the grand master. The rest of the team managed to bring down the mighty Space Wolf. Arjac suffered a wound but this only brought forth the beast within him and he killed more grey knights. A wounded Arjac must now fight alone against the grand master and the fate of the battle rested on his shoulders. In the final round of combat the grand master fumbled and only managed to score a single blow on Grimnar's Champion which Arjac deflected with his shield. He turned the favour by smashing his hammer into the daemonhunter and claimed his life.

Victory to the Space Wolves and Blood Angels then? Well sort of. We'd never really specified whether or not vehicles counted as units in terms of passing the line. Alex had his two reserved Leman Russes (if that's the plural) past the line so we decided to call it a draw to avoid argument!

Six turns of absolute carnage. Early on it wasn't clear who was going to win but there's no chance for the guard when facing space marines in combat. The sheer volume of troops that the BA assault terminators waded through was astounding. The grey hunters were inside the fortress so never really got to show their prowess with the exception of Ragnar's squad that is. Both times they charged they managed to get 3 bonus attacks allowing them to make light work of their enemies. Alex definitely gave us a scare since we seemed totally incapable of destroying tanks. After the rune priest had shown the way to do it they seemed to fall easiliy enough (that and our melta weapons and power fists came into range). The distraction of the dreadnought and land speeder certainly protected our midfield troops. The Basilisk was put out of contention pretty early which definitely saved a lot of space marines.

The undisputed star of the show was Arjac Rockfist. Whilst I believe that the grand masters will get a buff in the rumoured new DH codex they are pretty formidable in combat. It's only because they aren't Eternal Warriors that they're not unstoppable. Arjac absolutely excelled himself, you can't argue with 4 thunderhammer attacks, eternal warrior and a 2+/3+ save. It's skirmishes like that which firmly establish why I like to use special characters. The combats in the middle of the field were interesting but were no where near as fun as using Arjac and Logan together.

Sorry if this is a massive wall of muddled text but we found that in such a massive battle it was difficult to keep track of what happened and when. There's probably a lot I've missed out. Whilst it was an enjoyable experience I don't think it's one we'll repeat soon. Even though the was a lot of carnage it actually came down to a couple of thousand points of troops fighting in a corner of the field. In the future we'll stick to more smaller battles. I hope you enjoyed reading about this one anyway!

To get a real impression of the battle I've uploaded about half of the ton of pictures I took during the carnage to a web album which you can view here. Speaking of which I now desperately want to finish painting my Wolves so they look better in photos. Arjac needs a nice paint job in particular!

Sunday, December 19, 2010

Land speeder vs Wolf Scouts - Sticking up for the Little Guy(s)

I read this post last night by Adam from the Space Wolves Blog. It's started a strong debate in the comment form about land speeders being superior to Wolf Scouts. I was originally going to join in the debate on the comment form but then I found I was writing far too much so here I am.

As you tend to find with most debates on t'internet about 40K, they focus around a single situation and then argue about which unit is better. What I'd like to do is explain the pros and cons of both so that you can make a proper decision and not just go with the crowd. I'll try not to show any bias but I think it'll be clear which I prefer (though I often take both).

For starters to anyone not so familiar with the Space Wolves army it may seem like a strange debate. Why are we comparing an elite choice which in other armies gets used as cheap firepower to a fast attack choice which is often a deep striking anti-tank platform? Well the Wolf Scouts (unlike any other SM scouts) get to outflank behind enemy lines (OBEL) which gives them the opportunity to come in behind your opponents line of tanks and hit the rear armour. Hopefully you're still reading if you found that a bit patronising.

Equipment and Costs
So people tend to equip the land speeder with a combination of heavy flamer and multi-melta for a piffling 70pts. This means that you can nearly always squeeze a land speeder in without sacrificing anything else. Very few people use the other Fast Attack options (but I'll discuss them in another post anyway). The scouts on the other hand have to compete with some rather nice units for their Elite slot (the likes of terminators, dreads and lone wolves). If we're going to use the scouts in an anti-tank role (and I'll discuss other options too) I'd use the following loadout:

5 scouts w/ meltagun, plasma pistol, mark of the wulfen and 4x melta bombs.
= 135pts

Clearly that's nearly double the cost of the land speeder so the scouts lose out in this round! It's worth noting that since they already have krak grenades the melta bombs aren't essential but they're nice to have incase you need to wreck a land raider. However, let's now consider what may happen in a game situation. I'm not going to mathammer since I've already expressed my opinions on that but I will briefly mention some probabilities because it's unavoidable in a game based on dice rolls.

Getting to the target
Equipped as they are you're pretty much always going to deep strike the land speeder and OBEL the scouts. Depending on density of terrain (and we use quite a lot) the land speeder may struggle to get in at all. It has a 2/3 chance of scattering which potentially could put it out of 12" range to make the most of the multi-melta.

The scouts have a 2/3 chance of coming on from any table edge of your choice. Most of the time if you roll a 1 or 2 then there's a chance you'll find a target providing it's early on in the game. The scouts must walk on from the table edge meaning the target has to be less than 12" from the edge for the melta gun to be effective and for any assault to be possible.

Bring it down!
The land speeder that's just deep-striked (deep-struck?) can only use one of his weapons thanks to his speed. If you're near a tank then it's obviously going to be the multi-melta. I don't know about you but whenever I roll a melta shot I feel like I'm going to miss and indeed you have a 1/3 chance of doing so. There's nothing you can do if you miss except die a little inside.

The scouts come in and assuming they're in range they also have a 2/3 chance to hit the target and the same chance of blowing it up but again it's wasted if we miss. The difference is we also gave them a plasma pistol which against AV10 (like the rear of a lot of tanks) you have quite a good chance of doing some damage. Let's assume for the sake of argument that we fail with our shooting. This is where we have an advantage over the land speeder, because we were in range for the melta shot we know we can charge too. That gives us 4 melta-bombs and potentially 8 Wulfen attacks that could rend. If we didn't take the melta-bombs the krak grenades will have a 50/50 chance of hurting AV10 rear armour. Bear in mind that if there's two tanks close by or a unit of tanks then you might be able to kill more than one!

The other advantage here is that should we find ourselves behind a tank with occupants e.g. an eldar falcon and we manage to blow it up with the shooting we can possibly charge in and make a mess of the occupants too. The land speeder won't have that option and may take hits from the no doubt angry occupants.

Living to Fight Another Day
Both units will aim to pick something juicy and pay for themselves by blowing up more than their points value. Clearly this is easier for the land speeder as it's so cheap. Successful or not it'd be nice to move on and cause some havoc but your opponent get's a turn before we can do that. Both units will attract some attention especially if they're just blown up your opponent's trophy tank. This isn't always a bad thing as it can draw attention away from your other units and it's surprising how much punishment both units can take sometimes.

The land speeder that dropped out of the sky will gain no advantage against shots but will only be hit in combat on 6s. If you picked your target well there'll hopefully be no troops around to cause a problem but if there are (or some angry occupants like I mentioned) then they're likely to have some S4 or better shots at you. With AV10 all the way around it's unlikely this will go well as most damage table results go against you. The only result that isn't a total loss is Crew Shaken which allows you to move away. Obviously we need to factor in cover but since you're probably in the middle of their army most things will make a mess of you. Your opponent may even try a charge if he's got a unit with a decent number of attacks or a power fist etc. If you do survive then your impressive speed means you can either blast across the board at full tilt and get yourself a cover save as you move to another target or maybe move a full 12" and be in range of something else that's juicy.

It's a bit more complicated for the scouts. If you were forced to charge in, or you were particularly close when you shot, then there's every chance you were caught up in an explosion. It's quite likely that one of your scouts will be claimed by it. If you lose a couple then you might run away. If there wasn't a big bang then you're gonna take some hits from the rest of the army. You may be in cover (since you're able to pick where you come on) but again you're unlikely to have much left. There's a lot of things that can punish a unit with T4 and a 4+ save. In combat at least you might counter-attack and do some damage which obviously the land speeder can't do but you may get annihilated or be stuck in combat for a while. If you survive then you better hope there's another target nearby (which there should be if you picked your spot right) because if not it could be a long and treacherous walk to your next target.

What if there aren't any tanks for me to hit?
The land speeder is equipped with the heavy flamer for just this reason. It can make a mess of bit hordes of orks/guard/nids and gives you an alternative against armies that don't have a lot of tanks.

The scouts on the other hand can really excel even when there aren't tanks. A lot of armies have heavy weapons teams (devastators, broadsides, lootas etc) which you can disrupt with a well time assault. The land speeder might be able to flame them but the survivors will still shoot whereas the scouts can keep them locked in combat.

Both units have a good shot at contesting objectives too but the land speeder's ability to cover ground makes it better in this situation.

Final Thoughts
This has turned into quite a wall of text so I best draw to a close. As I've said before the units you take are dictated by the way you like to play. Both of these units complement an army which assaults or one that sits and shoots. As I mentioned in my list building post they're the kind of units which distract your enemy. They mean that your opponent will see them on your list and play differently because they're there. If they've got any sense they'll space out their tanks and in the case of the scouts they'll probably try and keep them away from the table edge. This means you're more likely to be in range with your long fangs which is good.

At the end of the day both units have their advantages and both can easily slide into to your army. I like both of them for different reasons. Your list will be a lot more potent with at least one of them involved. It's also worth thinking about what you could do with the spare 65 points you'd save by taking a speeder instead of scouts. Either way these units are a bit of a glasshammer. They might do a lot of damage but they won't last long after that.

The important thing to remember though is to try them for yourself and not rely on what I say (or anyone else says). If they don't suit you then don't use them but I'm not going to say either is pointless. We probably all have a set of scouts since I suspect most of us who've only recently got into SW bought the Battleforce so give them a go!

Thursday, December 16, 2010

Army List for Warhammer World

As I mentioned in my previous post we're going to Warhammer World next week to have a 6000pt game on one of the nice tables they've got there. Pretty sure we'd not even be able to deploy on my usual 8'x4' table! The aim of the game is just to have a laugh and bring units we wouldn't normally bring just to enjoy the carnage that will no doubt ensue.

I actually found it pretty tricky to cram what I wanted into 3,000 pts but here goes: 

3,000pts of Space Wolves
Logan Grimnar
Ragnar Blackmane
Njal Stormcaller
Rune Priest (Necklace, Living Lightning, Murderous Hurricane)

Wolf Scouts (Melta bombs, MotW, plasma pistol, power weapon)

3x Wolf Guard (Combi-melta & power fist)
2x 10 Grey Hunters (Meltagun, plasma gun, power fist, standard, MotW)
8 Grey Hunters (Meltagun, power sword, standard, MotW)
Wolf Guard Terminators (Arjac Rockfist, Cyclone & PF, 3x Pair of Wolf Claws)
Land Raider Redeemer (multi-melta)

Land speeder (multi-melta & heavy flamer)

6x Long Fangs (Power weapon, 2x lascannon, 2x missiles, 1x plasma cannon)
Land Raider

Let's get the obvious out of the way first. Logan goes with Arjac and the terminators in the redeemer. Ragnar goes with the 8 Grey Hunters in the other Land Raider. Njal will either sit with the long fangs or the grey hunters. Rune priest will go with whichever Njal doesn't. Power armour wolf guard go with the grey hunters. We know that we'll be defending the base so there's no need to spend points on transports for the GHs.

Obviously having two land raiders made it very difficult to squeeze stuff in since thats 500 pts gone already. However, Matt is planning on bringing a couple of them too so we're going for the "hey that'll be cool" thing rather than thinking too much about it. I also wanted to make sure that I used all four HQ slots since it's something I've never really done before. I piled in as many SCs as I could but didn't get a fourth one in cos I couldn't spare the points. Other noteable things that I didn't include but wanted to were a dreadnought, another squad of terminators, a drop pod and my vindicator. Doing this list has made me realise just how many points I've got. I can comfortably field a 4500pt list which is pretty scary!

Anyway, the plan is to have Matt's BA charging out to meet the Imperial Guard head on whilst I predominantly sit back and shoot it out. Having infinite range attacks from my psykers has got to be a good thing on a large table but also I like using Murderous Hurricane against IG as it kills quite a few initially and then pretty much prevents them moving unless your opponent is feeling brave. I'll also have to deal with any Grey Knights that teleport in behind us. That's why I've thrown a couple of plasma weapons in here and there. I've perhaps over-equipped some of the squads so I may end up changing this list slightly.

We all like the idea of line after line of Imperial Guard bravely striding forwards toward our lines (and hopefully being gunned down). My only concern is that he'll apparently have at least 15 vehicles in there! We definitely need more fire power than we've got but I'm hoping the land speeder and scouts can come on and cause some havoc nice and early. I'd give the scouts a meltagun but I don't have the time to convert one to carry it. On the subject of things I need to do before then. I need to finish painting my land raider redeemer and the turret from my whirlwind. I need to assemble and paint a long fang with plasma cannon and finally I'd like to at least base my terminators and Logan.

I'm looking forward to it already!

Warhammer World Visit

Just got off the phone to Matt who's filled me in on the plans for our Apoc-style game at Warhammer World next Wednesday. We've booked the Assault on Terra table. There used to be an article about how it was made on the Warhammer World website but since they merged the sites it's got lost. Anyway, I was pleased to hear that they've rebased the entire table in a snow theme! It's almost like they knew we were coming!

So the plan is to have a all-day 6000 point game. One the one side will be Matt and I with 3K of Blood Angels and 3K of Space Wolves. Facing us will me our friend Alex (who we play Necromunda with) and he'll use a combined Daemonhunters and Imperial Guard army of 6K pts. We're not using any of the Apoc rules by the way just that it's a huge game. Both mine and Matt's armies will have to comform to a standard FOC whereas we're being a bit more flexible with Alex since it'd be difficult with the models he has to make it all legal.

The basic idea is that BA/SW will guard the fortress on one side of the map and try and stop Alex getting his forces onto a suitable objective inside the base. In a planetstrike style Alex will win if he has a unit within 3" of the objective contested or not. A big attack and defend scenario really. We're kind of making it up as we go along at this point really. 

Anyway, I'll post again once I've put together my half of our list. Expect to see me make the most of my 4 HQ choices! I should mention that anyone who wants to come watch is welcome to! Not that I anticipate anyone doing so but just in case anyone was thinking about it.

Special Characters Summary

As promised I'm going to summarise the pros & cons of all the special characters then in a few subsequent posts I'll give some sample army lists to try and get people using more interesting armies!

A full list of the articles in this series is on the right of the blog and if you're considering using any of the special characters I suggest reading them. This list of pros and cons is just to give you a guide. Some characters look like they have far more of one than another but that doesn't necessarily mean you should use them (or not). Bear in mind you need to pick a character that suits your army style. 

Njal Stormcaller 
Pros: Powerful psyker, can use two powers per turn plus powerful Lord of Tempests. Possibly the best anti-psychic in the game (nullifies on 3+, 24" range). Durable 2+/4+ save.

Cons: Not great in combat, only two wounds and not eternal makes him vulnerable for the points. High points cost particularly with terminator armour. Minimal army benefits.

Best uses: Terminator bodyguard sat on an objective or with long fangs blasting away with lightning. 

Logan Grimnar 
Pros: Eternal warrior, 3 wounds, 2+/4+ save and stubborn will keep him alive. Living legend can make an assault phase pretty lethal. High King makes a unit either great at combat or shooting. Can strike at I5 but option of power fist. Wolf Guard become troops, freeing up elite slots. Lethal in combat.

Cons: At higher points can limit army as WG must be troops. Extremely high points cost can put him out of contention in 2000pts or less. High King makes his use a tricky choice.

Best uses: Large, well equipped unit of terminators in a land raider or drop pod. Alternatively, gives long fangs relentless or tank hunters but wastes his CC prowess. 

Ragnar Blackmane 
Pros: Cheaper option than Logan. Ablative wounds from fen wolves. Furious charge for a unit gives I5 for them and I6 for him. Once per game gives it to more units. Insane amount of attacks on the charge (possibly) if used in a large unit. Saga can give him even more attacks. High strength thanks for FC and frost blade. Invulnerable save.

Cons: Relies on getting the charge. Only gets a 3+ basic save and no eternal warrior makes him vulnerable to power fists and high strength shots. High cost for someone that can be killed so easily.

Best uses: Stick him in a rhino or drop pod with a full strength unit of grey hunters and pile him into a crucial enemy unit. Pop a standard and you're almost guaranteed to annihilate them (should you get the charge). 

Bjorn the Fell-Handed 
Pros: Venerable, AV13 and 5+ save makes him durable. Ability to dreadlock a unit. Bonus objective which can come in handy. High strength even in CC weapon destroyed. Gives you option to re-roll for deployment. Can soak up a lot of fire which gives a good distraction to protect the rest of your force.

Cons: Must die to make rest of army fearless. Additional objective can back-fire badly and loses D3 KP if not held in annihilation games. No drop pod means he'll have a long walk to get into combat and one lucky shot could potentially cost you 270pts. High cost over a standard dread without significant improvements.

Best uses: Counter charge on an objective/protect long fangs. Hug cover and try and dread-lock an opponent. 

Ulrik the Slayer 
Pros: Low points cost above a standard wolf priest makes him easier to include. Awesome against high toughness such as daemons/big tyranids. Army wide benefit from Wolf-Helm plus difficult for an IC to hit in combat. Makes his unit fearless. Plasma pistol can come in handy.

Cons: Vanilla wolf priest gives a lot of the same benefits but more flexibility with the preferred enemy. Only two wounds, no eternal warrior and T4 makes him vulnerable to power fists etc.

Best uses: Large unit of GH or BC. Almost a must against Tyranids/Daemons. Use Mentor to boost a dreadnought, lone wolf or PF model. 

Canis Wolfborn
Pros: Big target to distract your opponent away from the rest of your army. S5 and ablative wounds make him durable. Fen wolves can be taken as troops and will have better stats thanks to Saga. High strength, rending, wolf claws and potential for a lot of attacks makes him deadly in combat. Potential to engage a unit 24" away in combat (12" charge range). Low points cost makes him easy to include.

Cons: No invulnerable save - railguns and S10 characters are not your friends. Needs a change in army style to be really effective.

Best uses: Give him a TWC bodyguard (with a storm shield) and get him in on a horde of orks/nids. Solo with fen wolves could be tricky but worth a go. 

Arjac Rockfist 
Pros: Good against ICs or MCs. Pretty cheap to include and can be split from WG squad to lead another unit. Throw the hammer to de-mech your target first. Storm shield without the downside. Eternal warrior and terminator armour make him sturdy. Large number of thunder hammer attacks will make him scary to your opponents.

Cons: Not an independent character so some benefits are wasted. No model available (but easy to convert). No unit or army-wide benefits (since he's just an upgrade character).

Best uses: Upgrade a terminator squad and go on the hunt for high toughness stuff. Drop pod him in near some juicy tanks or heavy weapons teams. 

Lukas the Trickster 
Pros: Last Laugh has the potential to make him more than pay for himself. Good number of attacks and re-roll from claw will make a mess of a lot of things in combat. Cheapest of all the characters listed here so not going to break the bank to include him.

Cons: Have to get him killed to make the most of him. Doesn't really benefit his unit. Pelt is pretty useless since he needs to be alone and at that point you probably want him to die. Must include Blood Claws to use him, relies on charge. Limits leadership of his unit.

Best uses: Upgrade a 15 man blood claw squad and give them a wolf priest. If you've got the points stick that little lot in an LR Crusader and ensure you get the charge. Find something juicy for him to trap in stasis forever and watch your opponent scrabble to find some reason why his valuable model isn't removed from the table!

Final thoughts
I hope this series will have at least encouraged people to give the special characters a go. I know they're a lot of points but if you pick a couple and give them a go I'm sure you won't be disappointed. We showed at the tournament that sometimes an SC can be lethal when used right. Don't expect them to win games for you but sometimes the result of a crucial combat can be changed by their presence.

The alternative is to create your own characters with their own backstory and benefits. This can either be using the rules from an SC with a different name or by tooling up a wolf lord or battle leader. The codex gives you some great options for them and the Sagas give them a bit more flavour. 

Let me know if you try any of them or have problems finding a role for them in your army. If nothing else they're (mostly) fantastic looking models to have on the table and people will respect you more for using them than boring stats lists. Remember 40K doesn't always have to be super competitive!

Monday, December 13, 2010

Thoughts on Special Characters - Part 7: Arjac Rockfist & Lukas the Trickster

We've come to the final part of this series and it's a double header of "upgrade" characters. These guys can't be taken on their own so they aren't the usual special characters. However, they're pretty potent in their own right. The other main difference between them and the HQ choices is that they don't enhance the unit they're tied to (in fact Lukas makes them worse if anything!). Let's start with Arjac.

Arjac Rockfist, The Anvil of Fenris
Arjac Rockfist can be taken in a squad of Wolf Guard but it doesn't have to be a terminator squad. He costs 170pts plus 18pts for the WG he upgrades from. This makes him the same basic cost as Ulrik or Canis. Bear in mind that like other WG he can go off to lead other squads such as Grey Hunters but not Scouts because of his terminator armour. This means you could include him along with the usual WG that you put with your Grey Hunters and have him attach in the same way they do. The advantage of this over conventional ICs is that he can't be targeted separately in CC and he doesn't have to charge first like ICs do whilst still getting the protection of being in a squad. 

His basic statline is quite nice. The most noticeable things are the S5 and 3 attacks, couple this with his thunder hammer and that's strength 10 and a couple of bonus attacks on the charge (1 for charging and 1 from his shield, which even works when he's been charged). So that's a whopping 5 S10 attacks which combined with the obligatory Wolftooth necklace means bad times for anything he comes across. The rest of his stat line isn't so exciting. BS and WS 5 are nice but since he has a necklace anyway and he only gets one shooting attack (I'll come to that later) he doesn't really need either. His toughness 4, 2 wounds and terminator armour make him just as difficult to kill as two terminators with storm shields. Saga of the Bear ensures he's not at risk from instant death which is handy to protect him from pesky lascannons and meltaguns.

His special rules are the standard Acute Senses, ATSKNF, Counter-Attack but with the addition of Stubborn which doesn't take effect until he's on his own. Grimnar's Champion gives him a nice re-roll to hit against ICs and MCs. It does however, mean that he has to direct attacks to ICs which you'd probably do anyway. The Anvil Shield is just a storm shield but as I've mentioned you get an extra attack in the first round of combat. The foehammer can be thrown 6" with S10 and AP1 making it the world's shortest ranged railgun! This might not sound brilliant but it does give a combat heavy terminator squad chance to de-mech a target before clobbering the occupants. 

I'd use him with 4 terminator buddies in a drop pod. Perhaps something like Arjac, 3 wolf claw terminators and a cyclone/PF combo. The wolf claws give you some I4 attacks and then Arjac and the fist can wreak havoc last. It may be worth swapping out a claw terminator for another hammer and shield to give you added protection. That or put him in a drop pod with an 8 man grey hunter squad and see what you can get to fight you! The other more obvious alternative is to put him with a squad in a land raider and pile into your enemies strongest unit. I'd even consider a redeemer so he's gets 7 friends to ride alongside.

PS Thanks to Cathexis on DakkaDakka for the inspiring Arjac conversion that I'm working to emulate with a few differences (I'll post about this when he's done).

Lukas the Trickster
The first and most obvious thing to notice about Lukas, and the reason he doesn't get used, is that he's an upgrade to a squad of blood claws. I think the problem people have with Blood Claws is that they cost the same as grey hunters and don't offer enough to compensate for the loss of those bolters. Anyway, let's look at Lukas and I'll come back to this issue.

Lukas costs 140pts plus 15pts for the BC he replaces, at 155pts he's the cheapest "special character". He's pretty tooled up for the points too. He gets a necklace, talisman, wolf claw, a plasma pistol and his pelt (which we'll come to later). His statline is quite nice, he gets 2 extra points in WS & BS over his squad mates, an extra wound, 3 attacks and that all important I5. His leadership is a measly 8 but it also can't be increased by adding a IC to the squad which also applies to the rest of the squad. This can easily be mitigated by adding a Wolf Priest to his squad which gives them all Fearless and Preferred Enemy. Speaking of which preferred enemy is pretty vital with Blood Claws given their low WS.

Anyway, his special rules are what make him, well... special. The most infamous of these is his Last Laugh ability. Should Lukas find himself in combat and your opponent lands a killing blow then you roll off to see if you can remove all the models that were in base contact with him! This affects both friend and foe so be careful who you put next to him but the possibilities of this rule are endless. Charge him into a land raider and let the occupants get out and attack you. Should they kill you and you win the roll off then it's bye bye land raider! His pelt on the other hand has been a little bit screwed by the FAQ. Since he isn't an IC you can't allocate attacks to him separately so you opponent is unlikely to have to re-roll many hits. In practice this means that he has to be on his own for it to do anything at all and to be honest once he's alone you almost want him to die so that he can play his final trick.

For me Lukas is best in a full strength squad of blood claws (15 including him) and a vanilla wolf priest. For them to be truly effective they need a land raider crusader to get them into a (nearly) guaranteed charge position. Throw in a power weapon for one of the claws and a multi-melta for the crusader and it's over 600 points for this unit. Can't see many people finding space for them in their lists but in high points games (at least 2500) he'd be a fun little addition. This unit will have about 66 attacks on the charge with a good chunk of them as power weapons. Add in the preferred enemy and you've got a good chance of annihilating a large squad. The Wolf Priest also gets rid of the annoying Headstrong. In my post yesterday I talked about distraction units and he's certainly that. Anyone who knows about him will be understandably cautious about getting into combat with him which you can play to your advantage. 

The alternative is a smaller bodyguard for Lukas and stick him in either a razorback or rhino and pile them forward as quick as possible. Park up, hope not to get de-meched them charge out and make a mess of someone. Either way I doubt you'll see anyone using him at a tournament. I have to agree that BCs aren't as good as GHs but they're certainly more fun!

Right, that's it then. The next post in this series will be the last and it'll be a handy summary of the pros and cons of each character so you can choose which, if any, you'd like to try out!

The Importance of Building Lists

One thing we took away from Freebootaz (yes I'm still going on about it) was that no matter who we faced we were confident about our list. We knew exactly what each unit's role was and their strengths/weaknesses. That doesn't mean we never got it wrong but at least we had an idea in our heads. 

Essentially with a good list the hard work is all done for you. You've already stacked the odds in your favour and it's down to you to react to the changing conditions of the game. Ultimately a good list can be the difference between winning and losing. So what makes a good list then?  

1. Play to your armies strengths
We were using BA and Wolves. The Blood Angels are at their deadliest when in combat so we took their most deadly combat units. No we didn't bring Death Company but Rage makes them an awkward choice in objective games. The Space Wolves are a little more difficult to define. You may quickly dismiss them as another combat chapter but in actual fact they have some of the best shooters in the game in the form of the dependable Long Fangs. They also have arguably the most flexible basic troops in the game with the "swiss army knife" Grey Hunters. There's no point taking a devastator squad for the Blood Angels if it means sacrificing an assault unit but for the Space Wolves a mixture is what it's all about. You only have to look at our special characters to know this. Logan's High King ability gives Fearless, Tank Hunters, Relentless or Preferred Enemy. That says to me that you can stick him with shooters or fighters and he'll be happy. 

Everyone wants to have an army that's good at everything but that simply isn't the way GW designed them. As good as Long Fangs are they aren't better at hitting troops than Imperial Guard nor are they better at popping tanks than the Tau.  

2. For Every Unit A Plan (or Two)
If you're planning to do well in a tournament and not just playing a mate for fun then don't include anything in your army that you "just like the model". I do this all the time against Matt and it's probably why I lose so much. If you have a rough idea of what army you're going to face think about the units they're likely to bring and plan your army as the rock to their scissors. No one likes to see the perfect counter to their plans sitting opposite them on the table. 

Think about what every unit in your army is going to do. For example, if I put in a squad of terminators I know I'm going to pile them into a high value target as soon as I can either by Land Raider or Drop Pod and make the most of their large number of power weapon attacks. If there isn't a clear target for them then I'll think about having them on my objective and make them as hard to remove as possible. The key is to be flexible. If you bring a strong anti tank unit and your opponent fields his whole army on foot then think about what they will target instead. Instant Death is your friend and remember AP1 can be just as deadly to troops. 

3. Draw Their Attention
In every army have something that's going to take your opponents' eyes off the prize. We used Mephiston to this effect. Your opponent sees this deadly model and knows that he's a bitch to kill so he piles everything he has into bringing him down before combat. In practice he soaks up most of it and probably still gets in to do some damage. Even if he dies he's distracted your opponent long enough to get your transports to his lines unhindered. It may seem like your opponent will be smarter than this but we've all done it. You want to deny him the glory of getting that guy into combat or that anti-tank squad ever bagging your land raider, you turn your attention to destroying him/them above anything else and before you know it, the rest of the army that you weren't as worried about has bitten you in the ass. 

If your army is bland then your opponent will likely just shoot the closest thing. This can be used to your advantage also but it's nowhere near as effective. This doesn't mean that every opponent will fall for it but I guarantee you'll be surprised how many take the bait. 

4. Keep it Simple Stupid
If you don't know your army like the back of your hand you've already lost. Nothing makes this more difficult than an excessive number of upgrades for each squad that you simply forget you have! Likewise making each squad unique with different weapons etc means you're almost certain to end up with the wrong squad in the wrong place at the wrong time. 

Only add units/characters with special rules you're going to remember. We forgot to use Red Thirst half of the time and it could make the difference. Likewise I deliberately didn't take any Wolf Standards because I always forget to declare their use in the shooting phase and it isn't until I've rolled a few 1s that I remember!

If all else fails don't be afraid to scrawl the words "Red Thirst" down your arm in marker pen so that you don't take that risk. Part of me thinks we should've done it but don't forget to wash it off or your wife/friends/colleagues will wonder if you've lost the plot! 

5. Spent Those Points Wisely
Start off with vanilla units and build up from there. It's very tempting to give them all upgrades but it's easier to budget for those upgrades once you've fleshed your army out. There's going to be things you'll always take like meltaguns for your hunters but any other "luxuries" like MotW or Standards should be added on last.

For any upgrade you apply think about what else you could buy for the points. Power weapons, plasma pistols and MotW are all 15pts which is the same as another Grey Hunter. Will that upgrade perform better than another guy on the ground? Remember that points quickly add up. Wolftooth Necklaces may only be 10pts but give 3 characters one and thats two Grey Hunters.

Weigh up the benefit of the upgrade against it's points cost. For example a plasma pistol may seem like a good way to spend some leftover points but for the one time it's of some use in the game will it be worth it?

Do your best to spend every single damn point available. If you come out with a 1494pt list then find something to spend 5pts on! That or rearrange things so you've got 15pts to spend instead. 

6. Mathammer
Finally, ignore mathammer posts on your favourite 40K forum. There, I said it! They are universally calculating the odds for what is already a very specific situation. For example, the AC vs Lascannon debate. The assault cannon looks great after the mathammer hits as it seems to outperform our beloved lascannon against nearly all armour values. Not to mention it's more useful against troops should you have no vehicles to hit. Before you rush out to convert all your razorbacks though think about the reality. Are those razorbacks really going to be firing at much with 24" range? If they do how long will they survive with AV10-11 at that range? Does it save you any points to lose your S9? Whats that AC going to do when you require instant death on a target?  

Use your common sense. Mathammer has it's place for making you think outside the box and try things you might not have done before but don't assume because it's "statistically more efficient" that it's worth the work to convert your models. Most Mathammer is against MEQ too. Whilst there's a lot of it out there what are you going to do when there's a horde of tyranids heading towards you?

As someone with a scientific background I realise that any mathematical model makes certain assumptions. Things like the unit will be at full strength, they won't be in cover, they won't be affected by terrain, their target won't have any special rules etc etc. These ideal mathematical conditions don't exist in the heat of the battle unless you plan on taking everything into account and getting your calculator out before rolling every single dice! 

There's a lot to think about when writing a list then? Why not try some out that you find on other peoples' blogs or on forums but remember they'll suit their owner's style of play and not yours. The best way to pick a list is to play test it. Yes, you can tell how well unit A will perform against unit B on paper but until you're in the thick of the battle you'll never really be sure. I'm far from perfecting my 2K All-Comers list but I'm getting there slowly!

Sunday, December 12, 2010

Thoughts on Special Characters - Part 6: Canis Wolfborn

In this, the penultimate part of this series I'm going to talk about Canis Wolfborn. Along with Bjorn he's pretty unique. Unlike all the other characters he has no interest in shooting, in fact he's pretty awful at it! His goal is to get up close nice and quick and smash your teeth in.

His stats reflect this combat focus. He has WS of 5 but a lowly BS of 2, not that it matters since he doesn't carry a gun! Thanks to his wolf mount Fangir he was S5, T5, 5 attacks and a decent 3 wounds. Importantly he also has I5. His high toughness, couple with a power armour save, makes him pretty resilient. Terminator armour may have a better save but most weapons will have to roll high to wound him in the first place.

He gets the standard batch of skills: Acute Senses, ATSKNF & Counter Attack and also thanks to Fangir he has Rending. Not that is makes much difference since he has power weapons but it will give him a better chance of wrecking vehicles even being able to glance upto AV14. However, if you're putting him up against vehicles you're probably wasting his talents. His special rules mean that to make the most of him you need to have some fen wolves in your army as any within 12" can use Canis' leadership. It may only be 8 but that means the creatures will have the same Ld as a Space Marine making them harder to shift.

Wrath of the Savage is an interesting one, if you're in base contact with more than 5 models (i.e. his base attacks) then you can swap this characteristic for the number of models in base contact. GW does stipulate that you can't mount him on a bigger base but the one he comes with is a decent size. Not sure what the maximum is but I'm pretty convinced it wouldn't be much more than 8. Mind you that'll mean he has 10 attacks on the charge! To be honest this is only really going to be useful against Orks, Nids, etc. little else is likely to end up that densely packed around him.

This sort of highlights the problem with him. Against most opponents he's unlikely to wind up being any better than Logan or Ragnar. However, the obvious advantage though is that he only costs 185pts. I think that's actually a bargain for what you get. Equipment wise he comes with a Wolftooth necklace, Wolf tail talisman and a pair of wolf claws. Against most things then he'll be hitting and wounding on 3s (wounds on 2 against T3) and then he'll re-roll either set. Saga of the Wolfkin is also nice as it means any fen wolves have I5 and Ld 7 and the Wolf King ability makes them Troops (although remember they can't claim objectives). Speaking of which you can give him a pair of fen wolves as some handy ablative wounds. This can go some way to compensating for his lack of an invulnerable save.

So how should you use him? He could used solo with a pair of fen wolves. Launch him at a mob of orks or a suitably hefty target and let him cleave through them. Bear in mind thanks to him being cavalry he can charge a maximum of 24" (minimum 19") so you shouldn't struggle to get him in close. He's a pretty big model so he's sure to draw some attention. This might mean that your opponent unloads a lot of fire his way which can go some way to protecting your transports.

To me a better idea would be to have him in a squad of TWC. If you're short on points they could be just a couple but make sure one of them has a storm shield to give them an invuln save. This will make a very nasty proposition for any enemy to deal with. Give them a squad of fen wolves as a screening cover save and you're almost guaranteed to get them in. Any opponent is going to worry about that little lot coming towards his lines and distraction is always handy in 40K.

Writing this makes me want to use the model in my next battle. I've had the box for a while now but I've never found any motivation to build him up. This is partly because large metal models never seem to fit together right but also because I'm waiting until I've got some TWC to make the most of him. He certainly seems like fun though!

Right, one last post in this series to go and it's a double on with both Arjac and Lukas. Once they're done I'll summarise all this stuff so you can make your decision about with SC will accompany your army. We demonstrated at Freebootaz that SCs are underused and can be really powerful. Mind you I'll be surprised if many have the guts to use them instead of the bog standard Rune Priests. Hopefully I've inspired someone though....

Friday, December 10, 2010

Looking to the Future

Now that I'm well and truly hooked on Space Wolves (and with no Tau or Eldar 5th edition codex in sight) I'm making plans for the expansion of my range of models. I like to try out everything when I collect an army and as I've already listed the models I currently own you know by now I've got pretty much everything going in the codex! 

There are a few notable exceptions though. I don't own any fenrisian wolves, thunderwolves or an Iron Priest. Now I don't really see the point in Iron Priests. The main problem I have with them is that they don't compete well with the other options in the Elite slots. You're guaranteed to have some Wolf Guard (if not then you should!) which leaves two slots. You have to ask yourself, would you rather have an Iron Priest or scouts/dreadnought/lone wolf? The other issue I have with them is that you pretty much have to take servitors/fen wolves since they aren't independent characters. In order for him to be useful you've got to keep the machines he can repair in close proximity which means a firebase of tanks somewhere sitting back and shooting. Hardly the way Russ intended is it? Anyway, this isn't a discussion of the pros and cons of Iron Priests. 

So basically I want some wolves! I'm completely taken by the idea of them and I was really disappointed when I discovered GW don't make a model except Canis. They are what make the Space Wolves unique, they define the very origins of the chapter. In short, I need them in my life!

We played against some TWC in our opening game at Freebootaz and despite them losing out pretty badly to Mephiston I was still impressed. I'd already been thinking about them but now I really researched them. Happily the guys at C&F helped out with their post listing all the sources of TWC models out there. I really like the Mythicast models, an example of which is in the picture above, they look excellent when painted up and I think they're just the right size (I should point out the image is taken from Warseer and was painted by a guy called "Gorman"). I've got my eye on the full set of 5 thunderwolves and a set of 10 fen wolves. At current exchange rates this will work out at about £9 per thunderwolf and £2 per fen wolf. Not cheap but you know that if GW ever brought out a model for them they'd be twice the price!

Let's hope I've got some cash left after Christmas! I'll keep you posted on building and painting them once they arrive of course! I'll write up my ideal army list for them soon and then talk properly about the pros and cons of them. Anyone else got some nice TWC models they can recommend?

Review - Dark Sphere

I'd like to start this review by saying that I'm in no way affiliated with this company. In fact I tried to get them to advertise on my blog and they turned me down saying that they didn't run an affiliate scheme as they preferred to pass savings on to their customers! Anyway, legal bit aside here goes.

When I got back into 40K about a year ago the first thing I was quickly reminded of was how damn expensive GW's prices are. Granted their miniatures are, in my opinion, second to none, but still. Obviously there's a thriving second hand market for models but I knew I wanted to have everything new so that I could assemble and paint it all myself. I like the idea of a healthy bits box and all my models individually posed by me with the equipment I want to give them. 

I started my search for cheaper stuff on eBay, what I found was that despite the odd lucky find, it was for the most part not that much cheaper than GW when you take postage into account (which it seems most eBayers don't). That is of course if you're trying to buy new. I therefore decided to do some Googling (if that's a word) and this led me to Wayland Games. I bought a few items from there (they offer 20% off) for my Eldar army. Unfortunately I found they don't stock most of the items on their website and instead they only order them from GW when you order them. Fine in theory but in practice it means you wait a while for anything they don't have in stock.

I therefore continued my search and from reading some 40K forums I stumbled upon someone recommending Dark Sphere. I headed straight over there and found that they offer 25%. In addition they charge reasonable postage which meant that I ordered the vast majority of both my Tau and Space Wolves from there and saved myself a fortune. 

I can't honestly understand why anyone would buy from anywhere else if they're shopping online? Yes I agree with supporting your local independent hobby centre but if somewhere else is cheaper then your hobby centre needs to compete! Whilst I'm on the subject, DS do have their own shop in London (no good for me in Sheffield) which means they tend to have most things in stock.

It's not just the discount and quick service. Their customer service is excellent too. I recently ordered a few boxes to bolster my Space Wolves force and I was disappointed when they hadn't arrived after a few days (since DS are normally really good). I phoned DS and they told me that according to their records they'd been delivered to my local post office and quoted me the tracking number. I was able to collect them and despite the delay (not DS's fault) I still received my miniatures within a week.

Anyway, I'm writing this just to bring them to your attention so you too can save some cash like I have. If you prefer to buy from someone else fine but it always surprises me how much stuff goes for on eBay when you can get it from a reputable retailer for cheaper and without the inherent risk in eBay. I know this sounds all very brown-nosey but I believe if you like a company then you should spread the word. If for no other reason than to keep them in business so you can still buy from them! 

Where do you get your miniatures from? Anyone else tried Dark Sphere? Anyone had bad experiences with them or any other online hobby retailer?

Wednesday, December 08, 2010

Freebootaz Open Report - Final Part - Overall Impressions

As anyone who's been reading before will know this was our first ever tournament and we had an absolute blast. We came 3rd overall and claimed a citadel spray gun and can of propellant each. Not sure what I'm going to do with it since my housemate already has one but it's a good prize all the same. We came really close to coming second and it was only by virtue of the fact that we never tabled anyone. The guys in second place could only have beaten us by a couple of points so it really would've made the difference. We'll just have to be more aggressive next time and play to table our opponents instead of cautiously holding onto objectives!

At times it was very hectic trying to keep to the time limits with a lot of things happening simultaneously. In some ways I might have preferred 3 longer games instead of 4 short ones. However, I think getting as much 40K as possible out of the day is always a good thing. It's just a shame there weren't an even number of teams so some people ended up sitting out for a round.

The atmosphere at the tournament was pretty good and most of the people we met were friendly and happy to discuss their armies etc. We were expecting to find that people were a bit anal about the rules but this wasn't the case at all. We were reminded of rules when we'd clearly forgotten things but it never felt like our opponents were standing over us watching movements being measured etc.

We've certainly learnt a lot about playing 40K. Some of the rules we were aware of but had never really played such as independent characters having to charge first and aim to get in base contact with other ICs. That and if they aren't in base contact with anyone they aren't able to fight! We'll never make the same mistake with our jump packs like we did in battle 3. 

We were, obviously, very pleased with how our list performed. I think it's shown just how important a good list is. We always designed it to be an "in your face" army which closed quickly and aimed to be in combat by turn 2. Mephiston proved his worth time and time again and both our competitors and the event organisers seemed to take an interest in him. I'm pleased we included a special character because it fits in with our style of play. I know we could be accused of choosing a list which was purely to win but I don't think many BA players would pick the same as we did. The only problem with Mephiston is that obviously you want to get him up front quickly but with the number of power fists floating around he's always going to be in danger. He seems to work best on the counter charge after his brethren have softened them up a bit!
I can't really understand why there aren't more BA jump pack lists floating about. To me jump packs and sanguinary priests are practically compulsory choices for them. Feel No Pain can be a real bitch to deal with so they pretty much always make it into combat and an 18" charge range makes them deadly. The third battle demonstrated that without the charge and without feel no pain they are pretty flimsy but since it only happened once in four games I don't think it was much to worry about. For an army that relies on assault I don't see the point in putting squads in rhinos. If you get de-meched and charged you're pretty helpless.

As far as my half of the list goes I'm pretty pleased with it. The grey hunters didn't end up having a lot to do but what they did they did well. Meltaguns seem to miss far too much for my liking but what can you do? The last minute addition of long fangs was essential because it gave us some long range clout. Some of the other guys at the tournament said they'd had trouble killing off guard armies because they were trying to chase around their flying things with melta guns and never got close enough to deal with them. The long fangs got some vital kills and the missile launcher guy (who I'd only built that week) was a jammy git getting those two vindi explosions!

The other thing I noticed was that when we play 40K we seem to use far too much terrain. I was also pretty please to see that our terrain is a pretty good standard compared to some of the stuff used here. It's made me want to crack on and make my ice world board and if I ever do I'll obviously make a full guide post on here.

Finally, I'd once again like to thank our competitors and the event organisers. We're hopefully going to try and squeeze another doubles tournament in before the GW one in Feb but the calendar looks pretty blank as far as doubles goes. Have to rethink our list a little for the GW one thanks to the FOC restrictions.

Freebootaz Open Report - Part 6 - Bloody Wolves vs Space Marines/Blood Angels

We were chatting to the guys from Claws and Fists after the third game and we agreed that the most worrying armies to fight were the Imperial Guard because of the sheer amount of fire they can throw out. We were convinced our final fight would be against IG but to our pleasure we wound up fighting more marines!

Gareth Humphreys and Rob Shaw were perhaps the nicest guys we fought all day. The blood angels were a darker red than Matt's which made for easier identification and the marines were a really nice metal and blue scheme. For the final battle we'd be playing Capture and Control or as Gav from C&F called it "roll dice and tie". Here's Gareth and Rob's list:

750pts of Blood Angels
Reclusiarch (Jump pack)

Tactical Squad (full strength, flamer, missile launcher, sgt w/ melta bombs & chainsword)
Drop Pod
Death Company (Jump packs)
Assault Squad (full strength, sgt w/ melta bombs & power weapon)

Land Speeder (multi-melta & heavy flamer)

750pts of Marines
Librarian (terminator armour, Might of the Ancients, Avenger)

Terminator Squad (sgt w/ power sword)

Tactical Squad (full strength, flamer, multimelta, sgt w/ chain sword & plasma pistol)
Scout Squad (camo cloaks, sniper rifles)


Again we'd have to deal with the vindicator early on and the land speeder was an obvious threat to contest our objective at the end of the game. Luckily they're normally pretty paper thin so we were optimistic. The scouts and terminators could be a problem for Mephiston since it'd only take a couple of rending hits from the snipers to worry him and a squad full of power fists is his worst enemy. The drop pod was clearly going to splash down right next to our objective so fingers crossed we could deal with it when it happened.

Our photographer for (most of) the game was Gav from C&F who'd not had any opponents for the final game. 
We won the roll off and decided to again base our deployment around where the long fangs could get the best fire lanes. We'd played on this table in battle 2 so we placed the veterans in a similar position right on our objective. To their right we placed the Rune Priest and his hunters in their rhino. The blood angels again went right in the centre with the razorback tucked in behind. The remaining rhino went down our left flank.
Knowing we'd most likely be going first our opponents placed most of their army behind the large terrain piece on their right. The land speeder unsurprisingly went opposite our objective and the drop pod was of course in reserve. We reminded each other to roll for red thirst which their tactical squad and one of our squads got. The scouts infiltrated right onto the top floor of the structure in front of their comrades.

The blood angels piled forward straight towards their lines. The rhino on the left was right behind them revving it's engines and racing forward in a cloud of smoke. The long fangs opened up on the land speeder and the vindicator. In another miraculous set of rolling the same krak missile guy blew up the vindicator with a full 6" blast radius (I'll have to paint that launcher gold or something!). This covered most of their army in the blast but only a couple of marines were claimed by the blast. Somehow the land speeder survived unscathed, I think we just stopped it from firing!

Their drop pod slammed onto the ground right next to our long fangs and the tactical squad marched out rapid firing their bolters at the long fangs. Despite causing hits on all 6 of the heavy weapons team they only claimed a single lascannon. We did point out, however, that they'd been the first to actually kill any of the long fangs. Their land speeder sped down the left flank and into the cover of a building. The rest of their army lay in wait in cover (with the exception of the death company who's rage meant they had to come toward us). The scouts opened up on Mephiston scoring a rending hit and therefore a wound.

The assault marines engaged their tactical squad bringing them down to the last man who held his nerve. The psychic hood of the terminator librarian prevented Mephiston from using his sanguine wings to attack the scouts so he hugged the cover and moved towards our left flank. We fired at the land speeder but despite it failing it's cover save we did little damage to it except to immobilise it. Obviously this prevented it from contesting at the end but it would still be an annoyance. The grey hunters on the right piled out of the rhino to defend the long fangs. They avoided shooting to ensure they'd be in combat but the Rune Priest opened a chasm below the tactical squad which claimed a marine or two. The grey hunters then charged in to finish the job consolidating back into cover.

Our opponents blood angels counter charged killing a few on each side. The terminators came forward to deal with the rhino full of grey hunters. The secound wave of our blood angels flew into combat and finished off their assault marines. Mephiston engaged the terminators and still managed to get a couple of powers off despite the psychic hood. He killed off the librarian and most of the terminators but the struggle cost him his life (much to the joy of our opponents). By this point both the death company and grey hunters were involved but the Sons of Russ came out on top.

Our opponent was now left with just the scouts, the drop pod, land speeder and a single marine who had fallen back from the melee in the centre. The marine boarded his rhino and sped towards their objective. Our blood angels followed him blowing up his transport and finishing him off for good. The grey hunters on our objective melta'd the drop pod. The long fangs made valiant attempts to deal with both the scouts and land speeder but after firing an ungodly amount of high strength shots into the speeder it did nothing but shake or stun it! The scouts were reduced to 3 men but held on. 

Final result: We held both objectives netting us 5 battle points and despite our best efforts we only killed enough for a further 3 giving us a rather nice 8 out of a maximum 10. This brought our overall total to 20.

Knowing that we'd not tabled anyone during the tournament we were pretty optimistic early on when we wiped out a lot of his squads and that jammy vindicator kill. How so many of the long fangs surived I'll never know because by rights the majority of that squad should've been toast. The blood angels did their job as ever with a good dose of wulfen fury to help Mephiston finish off the terminators and death company.

So why didn't we table them? That pesky land speeder really cost us the points on this one. The cover meant that we were losing a couple of shots on it but most of the saves were failed it. I had some atrocious damage table rolls. The razorback even helped out but couldn't seem to get anywhere. Had it died in the initial volley in turn 1 then long fangs could easily have dealt with the scouts (despite their 3+ cover save). Quite a good effort from a cheap addition to their army. I might have to reconsider taking one but I doubt I'd be soo lucky with my opponents rolls.

Our opponents were really good sports despite a heavy beating. Since they aren't far from us we'd like to play them again. They were thrilled that they'd managed to kill a long fang more than anyone else! The death of Mephiston was certainly a high point for them. They went on to claim the Sportsmanship award and it definitely went to the right people.


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