Friday, March 30, 2012

All Killer, No Filler!

A long time ago I wrote a post about list building and nearly 18 months on I find myself needing to write another one. This comes as I'm trying to figure out my list for Blog Wars 3 in June. The title of the post sums up my approach to list building. I don't like there to be anything in my list that's just there to hug an objective, contest late on or otherwise is just there to spend some left over points.

Every unit in my army has a role to play. Ideally every unit is pretty horrible too. This is easier with some armies than others. Let's take a look at my standard Space Wolves 1,750pt list to see what I mean. This is a very slight modification of the list I took to Blog Wars 2 last year. I'm hoping to take Dark Eldar this year (more on that later) but this will be my back-up if I fail to get the DE painted in time.

1,750pts of Space Wolves
Wolf Lord w/ Thunderwolf, Wolf Claw, Runic Armour, Storm Shield, Saga of the Bear
Rune Priest w/ Chooser (Jaws/Living Lightning)
Rune Priest (Jaws/Murderous Hurricane)

3x Wolf Guard (2x PF/CM, 1x Arjac Rockfist)

2x 7 Grey Hunters w/ Melta, Standard, MotW - Rhino
8 Grey Hunters w/ Melta, Standard, MotW - Drop Pod

4x Thunderwolf Cavalry (PF, SS, Melta Bombs)

2x 5 Long Fangs (4xML)

All Killer, No Filler
Looking at that list everything it in is pretty horrible. Grey hunters are always nice but we've got 2 squads which both have a rune priest and a wolf guard and then a third squad in a drop pod with Arjac. This is the core of the army. Each unit is capable of taking on most enemy units. With a pair of melta shots (initially at least) the squads are all capable of de-meching and then charging something. Arjac and co will drop in turn 1 and normally take out a vehicle or rapid fire a squad. The thunderwolves make a mess of most things in combat and provide a great distraction. The long fangs can either hit transports or monstrous creatures with their krak missiles. Against massed infantry they'll switch to frags and torrent them down. Every single unit in the army is nasty. There are no 5-man squads sat on the home objective.

Decisions, Decisions
That's a point worth noting, distraction. If you were facing that list what would you shoot first? The long fangs will be taking down your vehicles or killing your monstrous creatures but they'll be at range and in cover. The thunderwolves are T5 and have a couple of 3++ saves but if you ignore them they'll be charging you turn 2/3. Then you've got two rhinos full off grey hunters coming your way both firing Jaws out of the top and picking off choice targets. That or they're just blasting 12" and popping smoke. That's assuming you chose to ignore Arjac Rockfist and his boys who just dropped in behind your lines and blew up that precious land raider/dreadnought etc. See what I mean? Each unit is too good to ignore so your opponent will be faced with a lot of choices and whichever one he makes there's always something else in the army to punish you.

Not just a wall of tanks
If I didn't have Arjac in the list I'd probably have enough points spare for another long fang pack and a normal wolf guard. However, then I'd probably just put them in a rhino which makes the list very one dimensional. Your opponent knows what's coming from where and chances are he'll be able to down your transports and pick his targets after that. The inclusion of the drop pod means he's got to choose between either ignoring Arjac (who'll charge something next turn without a doubt) or turning his fire on him and hoping he can get rid of the entire squad. Arjac has 2 wounds, Eternal Warrior and 2+/3++ so odds are he'll survive a torrent of fire at the cost of most of his squad. Depending on what you're targetting you'll probably be able to string the grey hunters around the drop pod so they get a cover save from most angles. Meanwhile the rest of the army is advancing unscathed.  

Not All Plain Sailing
The problem with everything being deadly is that in KPs games you're golden but in objective games you can be torn between going for the tabling or playing for the mission. The grey hunters need to get stuck in but they might over-commit and end up getting themselves killed. By dropping Arjac in on an enemy objective you can even up the odds but realistically he probably won't be there by turn 5! However, if we start throwing in units to just hold objectives and we come up against an army that can do that for cheap then we'll be giving them a points advantage from the off. If we had 5 grey hunters in a razorback sat on our home objective that's a 115 point advantage to your opponent straight away.

A Matter of Style
As I've said on numerous occasions it all comes down to play style. I like an army to have something exciting about it. I could write a Space Wolves list that was less risky. I could ditch Arjac and the TWC and throw in more long fangs and grey hunters. There's no doubt that a list of that kind would be more reliable but I simply wouldn't find it fun to play. Now it's at this point that people say "yes, but winning is fun". Frankly, sometimes it isn't. The main reason I go to tournaments is to play games against new people. I'm not going to win an event but that's fine by me.

So the question is, how do I apply this to Dark Eldar. Ravagers aren't as good as long fangs and frankly nothing is as good as grey hunters. However, whilst they aren't as flexible I can still make my army nasty for my opponents and fun for me to play. That's for another post to discuss though.

Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Double Dread Weekender - Sunday Dreadfleet

Sunday was a far more relaxed affair after the intense games we played on Saturday. Matt and I had played Dreadfleet a little before but Dave and Jamie were new to it. Thanks to a combination of starting late and needing to finish early than I expected, we only got one game in. We decided it'd be best to have full fleets on both sides.

We rolled to see who would have which and Jamie and I took the Dreadfleet. I would control the Curse of Zandri, the Black Kraken and the Skabrus whereas Jamie had the might Bloody Reaver and the Shadewraith. We played the first scenario with masses of scenery in the centre but nothing in the deployment areas. The game would end when either side only had a single warship remaining. Matt's miniatures aren't painted so I'm using pictures from the rest of the internet rather than ones from our actual game.

Battle Report
The goodies took the first turn and brought the Seadrake's guns to bear on the Skabrus. Luckily there was no real damage but they did manage to execute a Fire As She Bears order which works in a similar way to Overwatch in old school 40K. The Shadewraith used it's flying ability to get around the back of the Seadrake and unleashed a raking broadside that softened up the Seadrake. The Grand Alliance then brought the Swordfysh forward only to have it run aground. The Skabrus managed to position itself so that it could fire it's broadside before making a boarding action against the Seadrake. The combination of fire and boarding brought down the high elven ship and first blood was ours.

The Black Kraken submerged and positioned itself ready to strike either the Heldenhammer or Grimnir's Thunder. Elsewhere the Flaming Scimitar also ran aground and both Grimnir's Thunder and the Swordfysh would be close to it.

A combination of fire from the Curse of Zandri and the Bloody Reaver saw the end of the Swordfysh and the Dreadfleet was taking an early lead. The Heldenhammer had other ideas, using the wind to propel it forward and breakneck speed it lined up a punishing broadside which sank the already damaged Skabrus and then smashed into the Shadewraith with its hammer attack. Two wrecks in a single turn brought the battle back to a draw.

The Flaming Scimitar failed to Escape Jeopardy and stayed stuck on the rocks. The Bloody Reaver advanced and fired off its cannons in the direction of the stricken vessel punching holes through its sails and crippling its mobility. The Black Kraken emerged from the briny deep and tore into Grimnir's Thunder. Sadly some excellent work by the dwarven crew meant damage was inflicted on both vessels. The Scimitar's recently launched cog started a boarding action against the Kraken and with help from more fine swordwork from the dwarves the Kraken submerged never to return.

The Leechwyrm emerged next to the Heldenhammer but despite getting our only initiative of the game we forgot to take control of it with the Bloody Reaver meaning some emergency evasion saw the Heldenhammer get clear and kill off the sea monster with it's cannon. Further damage was inflicted on the Flaming Scimitar but it still held on despite being practically immobile. The Bone Hydra rose from the depths but the plucky dwarves saw it off without much damage being done.

The Heldenhammer again made the most of gale force winds and smashed into the side of the Bloody Reaver which was still raking the Flaming Scimitar with fire. An epic duel between Jaego Roth and Count Noctilus resulted in the Roth's demise. A combination of raking fire and swordwork eventually claimed the Heldenhammer which inflicted huge damage on the Bloody Reaver with it's hammer but just couldn't finish the mighty vessel.

This left both sides only needing to sink one more warship to claim victory. With the Scimitar and Thunder both behind cover and at range they'd be tough to sink but damage to both meant the Dreadfleet had the upper hand. The Curse launched it's cog to try to deal with the nearby Dwarf Dirigible but neither side could defeat the other. Fire from the Thunder caused a single hull damage on the Curse which tried to move off in it's subsequent turn to leave the Bloody Reaver to sink the Scimitar for victory. Unfortunately a badly planned change of direction meant it engaged the two cogs in combat. Remarkably those pesky dwarves managed to inflict a single damaging blow which caused double hull damage and sunk the Curse. The Grand Alliance was victorious in a very closely fought game.

Most of the work of the Grand Alliance was done by the Heldenhammer and Grimnir's Thunder. By killing two ships in a single turn the 'hammer really changed things and then boarding the Bloody Reaver certainly saved the Flaming Scimitar. In hindsight we should've kept the guns on the Scimitar and hoped we could defeat the Heldenhammer in combat.

Ultimately the Curse of Zandri was unlucky to be caught in a boarding action and even more unlucky to pull out the dreaded Double Hull card. The Bloody Reaver again proved it's resilience by surviving a ton of punishment but failed to actually sink anything!

So far I think Dreadfleet is a shaping up to be a good game with a simple rule set but tactical play. It's a shame that more people haven't taken to it. From this minimal amount of experience I think that the random element might be its undoing. Sometimes it feels like a ship takes tons of damage but won't sink and other times two shots are enough. Now I'm not saying this isn't totally unrealistic but random damage coupled with the Fate deck means that sometimes even though you've got the upper hand things can quickly go wrong. Perhaps this adds more balance to the game but when you're making the right choices only to lose out to bad luck it can be frustrating. Having said that it's the same in most wargames, sometimes your luck just fails you.

Nevertheless, Matt and I are determined to play through the entire campaign at some point and once I've painted my Dark Eldar for Blog Wars 3 (more on my progress soon), I'll try and get some of the ships painted up. We also need to play through the campaign for Space Hulk and try out some of the other scenarios in Horus Heresy so hopefully we'll get round to that soon!

Monday, March 26, 2012

Double Dread Weekender - Saturday Doubles

Jamie, Matt, Dave and I all headed down to WHW (it was going to be Maelstrom til we remembered the indy GT!) this Saturday so Matt and I could try out some ideas for the GW 40K Doubles in June. We all took 875pt lists and paired them up randomly to see what worked well. You can see my lists here.

Game 1 - Dark Eldar (x2) vs BA & GK
Matt fielded his GK in partnership with Dave's BA. Jamie and I both took fairly similar Dark Eldar lists. Mine differed slightly in that I'd got wyches instead of Jamie's kabalites and had a ravager where Jamie had a razorwing. Matt and Dave had lots of rhinos and razorbacks with 2 squads of purifiers 2 tactical squads, Tycho, Coteaz and 2 rifleman dreads (BA ones).

A promising turn 1 saw Jamie and I wrecking two GK rhinos. We pelted the occupants with fire from the razorwing, venoms and kabalites before charging Coteaz's squad with the wyches. Unfortunately Matt rolled 6 hits with his Cleansing Flame and we lost over half the squad. This left the wyches locked in combat (thanks to Stubborn from the Brothers In Arms bonus). The other purifier squad had taken heavy casualties. Elsewhere we could only immobilise one of the razorbacks.

We lost the razorwing straight away making us wish we'd launched all of it's missiles in the first turn at the purifiers. One of the venoms went down as did one squad of trueborn. Coteaz's squad easily dealt with the remaining wyches but were severely reduced in number. The following turn was disastrous for us with none of our dark lances even hitting the target. The only thing we got rid of was one of the razorbacks with a squad of trueborn. This left both squads of wracks clinging onto cover with nothing to assault.

Matt and Dave killed off a ton of vehicles in their turn and we'd now be struggling. We popped one of the BA rhinos and the haemonculus used it's shattershard to kill the priest and a few other marines. This allowed a combination of poisoned fire from the kabalites and venoms to bring down the squad. Coteaz's squad was finished off in a similar poisonous fashion. Unfortunately one purifier with a psycannon held on and stood firmly to fire 4 S7 shots a turn. He eventually succumbed to a wych charge but not before killing their raider and 6 wyches in the explosion!

The centre of the board saw a protracted combat between Tycho and his tactical squad and a combination of wracks and 2 squads of kabalites. The Dark Eldar were really hampered by their S3/T3 but in the final turn the wracks killed off a lonely Tycho but not before a whole squad of kabalites had died. Elsewhere we lost all but 2 of our vehicles and once the ravager and all the trueborn were gone we had little hope of killing any more razorbacks. The match ended 13 all on KPs. DRAW

Game 2 - Tau & BA vs GK & BA
Matt had the same GK but the BA were Jamie's this time. Dave had a jumpy BA list this time which would act as a meatshield for my Tau. The theory was simple, I open up the transports and the BA kill off the occupants. The problem would be two squads of purifiers! We were playing objectives with the special rule (from the doubles pack) that some objectives might be worth 2 points on a D6 roll of 6 when captured.

Our BA jumpers advanced towards their army trying to keep out of range for any GK charge. The Tau let rip on the vehicles blowing up one rhino, wrecking another and ripping the weapon from a razorback. Careful deployment from Matt saw one squad of purifiers in possible charge range of the BA so we decided to run them back a little, just a shame we rolled a 2! Sure enough the purifiers killed the BA without breaking a sweat. Over on the left a couple of protracted combats saw Dave's 2 assault squads battling another BA tactical squad, honour guard with Tycho and 5 jump packers. Tycho and co. ran away and Dave eventually won the combat thanks to some appauling power fist rolls from Jamie. The shooting game was left to GK and Tau. One squad of broadsides and a crisis team were killed by Jamie's devastators though who were never really touched.

The Tau torrented Coteaz's squad to death but couldn't kill the GK razorbacks quickly enough. This left the inquistorial troops hugging objectives. The fire warriors also held one and Dave brought some jumpers back to hold another. Sadly the remaining purifier squad had holed up in the centre of the board and peppered them with fire. Sure enough, without a priest they were easily finished off and with the fire warriors forced to disembark we only had one shot to win it. The broadsides needed to blow up one of the razorbacks and hope the explosion killed one of the 3 occupants forcing them to run off the objective. It was a long shot but the explosion did wound one warrior acolyte. Sadly Matt passed the 5+ save and it was game over from then.

Game 3 - Tau & Orks (Torks) vs BA & Crimson Fists (SM)
Matt joined me with his 3 mobs of 30 boyz and Ghazghkull. The theory was again pretty simple again. Tau kill the vehicles, orks smash the occupants. Some early promise was there with the Crimson fists drop podding in near the orks, only killing a few and then the rest of the 30 boyz came their way!

Sadly the next Crimson fists drop pod had sternguard in which spelled doom for one of the other 30 boyz (with help from outflanking scouts and BA). This left the Tau exposed. The remaining orks were locked in combat with the scouts and despite winning the combat they were down to a boy and a nob. We caught a lucky break when Pedro Kantor charged the nob and they killed each other! One squad of crisis suits then peppered one combat squad of sternguard before charging in (!) to hold them in combat.

Meanwhile Ghaz saved one of the boyz mobs that had been charged by BA. The mob he'd left then headed back towards our lines to save the Tau. They arrived just in time to kill off the sternguard but a charge from the remaining assault marines finished them off. Ghaz killed off one of the dreads after it reduced him to 1 wound (triple 1 from Matt!) and the other took a railgun to the face.

The remaining Tau managed to kill off the BA that'd killed the Orks and by the end of turn 5 we'd all but tabled them.

All 3 games ended up being really closely fought. Neither side had a significant advantage and despite good and bad luck on both sides no-one got totally whitewashed. Sadly this probably means that none of these combinations are all that effective.

The problem with Tau being the shooters supported by something assaulty is that if the assault wing breaks then the enemy army spills through and wreaks havoc on the Tau. With the Tau totally focussed on anti-tank and hoping the assaulters deal with the troops they struggle to strop troops getting to them. Granted in both games they played they killed off a good pile of space marines but I can't pretend there wasn't a lot of luck involved.

We'd love to take something other than power armour but it certainly looks like we'll have to resort to it if we'd like to actually be in with a chance of winning most of our games.

Saturday, March 24, 2012

New Citadel Paints on GW Website

After a "teaser" trailer earlier in the week the folks at GW have now added the paints to their website for release later today. The website also shows a dead link to some painting guides for different armies. Presumably as a way of showing you how the new paints will fit in with your previously painted models.

There's a "mega paint set" of sorts for a whopping £333 which includes a army case to store them all in. Now I know they'll sell and I was fully intending to get one but for that price I simply can't justify it.

Anyway, check them out for yourselves:

Friday, March 23, 2012

The Double Dread Weekender

So the missus is away for the weekend seeing some friends so that to me spells a weekend of gaming! I've roped in Matt, Jamie and Dave for this weekender and here's the plan. Saturday we head down to Warhammer World in Nottingham for some 40K doubles then Sunday they all pitch up at my house for some Dreadfleet.

Sunday is pretty self-explanatory. Matt got Dreadfleet for Christmas and we've had a couple of games of it. Really enjoying it so far so pretty pleased that we're getting some more time to play it.

Matt and I will be attending the GW Doubles in June so we thought we should get some ideas for what armies to take. Matt has BA, GK and Orks at his disposal (he sold his Necrons) and I've got my SW, Tau and DE. We've already got some great ideas for combinations but we figured we'd try out a few different things and see what works well.

Therefore tomorrow at Warhammer World the 4 of us are all bringing 2-3 different 875pt armies each and playing through some of the GW doubles scenarios. I'm going to bring a force from each of my armies. Dave will bring two BA lists (he's only just started 40K after all), not sure what Jamie has planned but I know Matt's thinking Orks. At the start of each game we'll roll to see who plays with who and randomly determine which armies we'll be using. Incidentally, if any of the armies are Battle Brothers (as described by the GW doubles tournament pack) they'll get the bonuses. Likewise if any are an unholy alliance we'll apply the handicap. This should help us figure out how much difference the bonus/handicap makes and help us decide what we'll ultimately take.

Here are my three offerings:

875pts of Space Wolves
Thunderlord w/ Wolf Claw, Storm Shield, Runic Armour, Fenrisian Wolf and Saga of the Bear

10 Grey Hunters (Standard, Melta, MotW, Flamer, Power Fist) - Rhino
10 Grey Hunters (Standard, Melta, MotW, Plasma gun, Power Fist) - Rhino

6 Long Fangs (5 Missile Launchers)

Hardly original but not as cookie cutter as it could be. The thunderlord is a massive points sink but could really prove his worth. It'll be interesting to see how the grey hunters fare without the usual wolf guard and with the extra special weapon.

874pts of Dark Eldar
Haemonculus w/ Shattershard

4 Kabalite Trueborn (4x Blasters) - Venom (2x cannons)

4 Wracks - Venom (2x cannons)
9 Wyches (Haywires, Hekatrix w/ Agoniser) - Raider (FF)
9 Wyches (Haywires, Hekatrix w/ Agoniser) - Raider (FF)

Ravager (FF)

Haemonculus goes with the Wracks giving them FNP and Furious Charge. This means their poisoned (4+) weapons can re-roll to wound. Never tried out a Shattershard so thought I'd give it a go. Wyches and Ravager are pretty obvious as are the Trueborn. There was the temptation to make it a bit more spammy but there are some missions that are KP I think. The problem for these guys is they'll get a penalty if they're with anything but Eldar or more Dark Eldar!

875pts of Tau
Commander Shas'el w/ T-L Missile Pod, Fusion Blaster, Bonding Knife, Target Lock
XV8 bodyguard w/ T-L Missile Pod, Targetting Array, 2x Gun Drones

XV8 Crisis Team w/ T-L Missile Pod & Flamer

9 Fire Warriors - Devilfish (DP)

2 Broadsides w/ Targetting Array, Team Leader (Target Lock & Shield Drone)
2 Broadsides w/ Targetting Array, Team Leader (Target Lock & Shield Drone)

This is basically fire support for the other half of the army (whatever that ends up being). Focus on getting rid of vehicles (as the Tau do best) and then let your allies mop up the troops. The fire warriors sit on a home objective and let shots ping off the disruption pod and AV12.

These lists aren't necessarily the kind of thing I'll take because a lot depends on what Matt brings. Since it's one FOC per army there might have to be some comprimises on both sides. All three of these lists lend themselves well to an alliance with the possible exception of the 2 HS slots taken in the Tau list. Otherwise I've left plenty of room for my team mate to field what he likes.

The Tau list will excel if it's got some good support from the other half of the army. The Dark Eldar army is pretty limited when it comes to ranged anti-tank but should make a mess of infantry. The wolves list is a bit more of an all-rounder (as you'd expect) but I wonder if the lack of a Rune Priest (and hence psychic defense) will be costly.

I'll try and report on things tomorrow night but I'll probably be knackered! Can't wait!

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Dark Eldar - Scourges vs Reavers

As discussed in yesterday's post I'm looking for alternatives to the standard 3x ravager loadout for my Dark Eldar. Mainly because I don't think they fit in with my webway list but also because frankly dark lances just aren't that good!

Now, the obvious alternatives are razorwings and voidravens but they have a lot of the same problems. They're harder to kill (as they're not open topped) but the razorwing is more of an anti-troop/horde choice with its large blast missiles. The voidraven has S9 void lances which are better than dark lances but still suffer from the same issues on the damage table. This is forgetting that both vehicles are 40pts more than a ravager and that's before you've spent money buying/upgrading the missiles on them. Therefore we need to look in other FOC slots for our alternative.

Fast Attack offers two great alternatives, scourges and reavers. Both have access to anti-tank weaponry and both have the speed to get into range quickly. Interestingly both are the same cost at 22pts per model. They both have an advantage over the ravagers in that they can charge the occupants of a vehicle too. Let's have a closer look at them and then figure out which one fits into my army best.

It doesn't take a genius to work out that scourges are jump infantry thanks to their ostentatious wings. We're taking them as an anti-mech unit so let's forget about the solarite upgrade for now. Anti-tank weaponry comes in the form of blasters, heat lances, dark lances and haywire blasters. We can take any combination of two of these per 5 members. Let's discount the dark lances straight away because we can't move and fire them and in a webway list that's a turn of shooting wasted. The blaster suffers the same problems as the dark lance and frankly trueborn are better for blasters since we can have 4 men all with blasters. This leaves the haywire blaster and the heat lance.

The haywire blaster will get us a penetrating hit 1/6 times but as I've found with haywire grenades, you need a good number of hits to glance something to death. Even with the chance of double glancing against AV10 I still don't rate them. So, heat lances it is. At 12 points per gun we'll get a squad of five scourges with two heat lances for 134pts.

So aside from the anti-tank shooting what do scourges offer? In terms of survivability they're only toughness 3 and have a 4+/6++ save. This means that any massed fire power will hurt a lot but at least they'll get a save against bolter fire. On the charge they'll be getting just 2 attacks each which means very little damage. Initiative 5 will help but probably won't be enough to keep them alive long. They do benefit from Fleet though meaning if they aren't firing they should make the charge. Mind you they'd probably be better off firing. They've got plasma grenades which gives them the option of charging a vehicle but they'll be lucky to glance it with just 5 of them.

When they've got no vehicular targets they've got 3 shardcarbines in addition to their heat lances. This means at 18" they'll put out 9 poisoned 4+ AP5 shots and two S6 AP1 shots. Not bad.

The most obvious advantage of these guys over scourges is their bladevanes attack when they turbo boost. However, we'll come back to this as at the moment we're worried about anti-mech. For every 3 models we can take a heat lance (discounting the blaster for the same reason). This means we'll need to buy 6 reaves to get the two heat lances the scourges give us meaning 156pts.

However, these guys are toughness 4 which gives them a slightly better chance of survival but with just a 5+ save, bolter fire will really hurt. The option of turbo-boosting (upto 36") for a 3++ save is there though. This not only makes them more durable but allows them to redeploy quickly to find new targets. As they do this they can get a bladevanes attack off giving them 6D3 S4 hits on an intervening unit. Cluster caltrops are nice but at 20pts each they're a bit pricey for a unit that should be trying to shoot something.

On the charge they're initiative 6 and have two CC weapons meaning 3 attacks each. They also benefit from taking combat drugs which could mean better combat ability (anything but a 1 will be good). They don't have any grenades though meaning assualting vehicles is out of the question unless they get S4 from their drugs.

They're anti-infantry potential is decent with the two heat lances being joined by 4 rapid firing splinter rifles. That means the 6-man reaver squad has slightly less fire power than the 5-man scourge unit but they make up for it in other areas.

Last but not least the reavers get skilled rider and are eldar jetbikes. This means they can re-roll failed dangerous terrain (making it easier to leave them in cover for a save) and also can move 6" in the assault phase once they're fire their weapons. This could allow you to get them into cover or move them out of assault range once you've blown up a vehicle.

It seems to me there's a clear winner here in the reavers. Essentially they're 22pts more than the scourges but you get a lot more for your money. They're much more versatile and it should be easier to keep them alive. If anything I think scourges would be better as an anti troop choice in a larger unit with a Solarite. Mind you anti-troop isn't a problem for DE anyway.

In terms of my webway list both units fulfil a useful role. If my opponent attempts to surround one of my portals they'll still be able to come out of it and hopefully deal with the unit encircling the webway. Hellions are similarly useful for this. 

Well what about reavers as a replacement for ravagers? Well our 12 reavers cost 312pts which is the same as three vanilla ravagers. Obviously 3 ravagers means 3 targets instead of 2 but the reavers can't be stopped from firing as easily. The same firepower that is shooting at your reavers isn't hitting your wyches which has to be a good thing. I could write a lot more but I feel that reavers are just a better fit for my webway list than ravagers.

The main drawback of both these options in a webway list is that you might not get them until after all your troops are on the board meaning their de-meching ability is wasted. The other problem is that by their nature you need to get them in close to be effective. This means that your opponent is unlikely to ignore them. Ravagers on the back lines are often out of range of some of your opponent's shooting but this won't be the case for our fast attack units. I'll have to see how things go in playtests.

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Dark Eldar - The Problem with Ravagers

This post should probably be on my Dark Eldar blog, Kabalite, but to be honest I'm going to scrap it soon and merge it into this one. The people who said "two blogs for one person doesn't work were probably right!

Anyway, as you may or not know I'm hopefully taking Dark Eldar to Blog Wars 3, mind you I said that for BW2 so who knows? If you've read any of Kabalite then you'll know that I'm trying to avoid taking a Venomspam list. I know they can be really effective but they just don't excite me. I'd previously considered a list with lots of raiders but to me this doesn't seem much different. Therefore it's webways all the way!

I've played a couple of test games, the most recent of which against Matt's Blood Angels. Now, I comfortably won the game but I think there was a lot of luck on my part. My ravagers made a disgusting amount of flickerfield saves and my dark lances did more than their fair share of damage. The problem I have with that list is that it largely relies on the ravagers for de-meching (well, and the trueborn). Contrary to popular belief Dark Eldar aren't that good at breaking vehicles with their dark lances. If you think about it your ravager will score 2 hits and against AV11 (typical transport armour) it will only penetrate once. You're then down to a 1/3 chance of actually destroying it. Not bad but not brilliant.

The other big issue with Ravagers is how easily they can be destroyed. Yes they're the same armour as rhinos but open-topped makes quite a difference. Any opponent with sense will target them early with his rifleman dreads/long fangs etc.

I've said in the past that I'm not a fan of automatic choices. Those things on the army list that everyone has. How many DE list do you see that don't have 3x Ravagers with flickerfields as their heavy support? We see the odd razorwing or voidraven but otherwise it's ravagers all the way! If I'm writing a pure webway list then the only things I want to deploy are the two venoms with the webways in them. Everything else should come on from reserve to give me the tactical options that style of play brings. With good webway positioning you can hit most of the board. It's also pretty easy to hide a couple of venoms if you go second but you can almost guarantee you'll lose your ravagers. That's 300+ pts down the pan for nothing.

However, let's stop being negative for a minute. There's a reason ravagers are so popular. Having 3 BS4 S8 AP2 shots on a vehicle that can move 12" and still fire all three is pretty nasty. Couple that with a permanent 5++ save and the ability to redeploy 24" for a 4++ save and you and we start to see why they're in most lists.

All that being said I'm determined not to take them which means I need an alternative. I'll discuss that in the next post.

Friday, March 16, 2012

Thunderwolf Cavalry Experiences and Tactics

After yesterday's article about the man of the moment, Arjac Rockfist, I thought I'd talk about his wolf riding brethren the thunderwolf cavalry. I've owned some third party thunderwolves for quite a while now and they've been a regular feature in my Space Wolves lists at 1,750pts and above.

Their mere presence is enough to strike fear into the heart of your opponent. Most players will know what they're capable of and will focus a lot of their efforts in to dealing with them. Here's how I run mine:

Thunderlord w/ wolf claw, storm shield, runic armour, sage of the bear
4 Thunderwolf cavalry (1x storm shield, 1x power fist & 1x melta bombs)

At a total of 510pts it's a serious chunk of your army. However, if things go according to plan they can easily pull their weight and then some. There are very few units out there that can deal with a full squad of TWC charging them. Even with the ability to insta-kill them grey knights will struggle to score enough wounds (even with hammerhand) to severely cripple them. Keep them fairly close to a rune priest and you might even cancel their force weapon anyway. Very little else can deal wtih them effectively even Mephiston won't like the sheer number of high strength, rending hits coming his way.

That being said I have had games where they're severely underperformed. Despite having a massive 12" charge range they take their time getting there. A few bad "Run" rolls and they might not be in the action until turn 3 or even later. In practice though, I find opponents tend to misjudge just how far they can cover with their 6" move, D6" fleet and 12" charge. In the games where they've done badly this has been down to them being thinned out by long range fire earlier on in the game. However, with a pair of storm shields and the lord's 2+ save it takes a lot of hammering to weaken them. This is all firepower that isn't hitting your rhinos or the grey hunters inside.

I've experimented with where to deploy my wolves. If you're deploying second I tend to put them somewhere they'll be doing a lot of damage but keep them away from units that will hurt them e.g. Mephiston, Purifiers, etc. I often find they work well in a flanking role. They move along either side of the board running each turn until they can find something to strike. This has two benefits: they can sometimes be ignored (hard to believe but it's true!) and are out of range of a lot of enemy fire and secondly you can shepherd your opponent into a tight space as he tries to keep units away from your TWC. Against squishy opponents I often break off the lord and charge two units at once. The lord's T5, 3 wounds, eternal warrior and 2+/3++ save make him difficult to take down even on his own.

If you don't want to commit so many points to a single unit some people run a thunderlord solo. Although it's tempting to give him a couple of fenrisian wolves as ablative wounds, remember they will make the average toughness of the solo unit lower and hence make him easier to wound. There's a lot to be said for Saga of the Warrior Born but personally I find there's too much instant death around to risk not taking Saga of the Bear for the same points. It's sometimes sickening how long a wolf lord survives even after his packmates have got to face Morkai.

To be perfectly honest I don't care how well they perform. For me they're the best unit in the codex. Yes, they don't always perform but they're great fun to use and are a lot more characterful than terminators in land raiders which other codexes often do better! Think of it this way, for the same price as that land raider full of terminators you can have your sons of Russ riding around on dirty great lupine monstrosities!

If you've been toying with the idea of getting some thunderwolves I strongly suggest you bite the bullet and try them out.

Thursday, March 15, 2012

How I use Arjac Rockfist (Tactics and Unit Composition)

There's been much talk of late about the new Space Wolf and Tyranid models that landed a couple of weeks ago. People who didn't want to go down the conversion or third party route are now looking at how they can use Arjac and the TWC in their lists. I've spoken before about both of these but I've changed my outlook a little so I thought I'd post about them again. I'll cover Arjac tonight and the TWC in a post later on.

Arjac Rockfist, The Anvil of Fenris
For a long time I only used Arjac at higher points levels. I'd either throw him in a land raider with a handful of terminators or for real overkill attack Logan to that squad and crush pretty much anything in combat. However, this is a bit of an eggs in one basket scenario so I tend to do things differently now.

Let's get something straight. Arjac is a beast. He's easily my favourite special character in the book. Not only do I love his little back story about defending the gates for hours but he's brilliant in the game too. The most important difference between him and most of the other special characters is that he's an upgrade character and as such can't be targetted separately in combat. This is extremely useful since he's always going to strike at initiative 1. He's incredibly durable. Despite only having 2 wounds at T4 he's got Saga of the Bear and a 2+/3++ save. This means he'll normally be the last man standing and I think that's pretty fitting for a man of his reputation!

The way I currently use him is this:

Arjac Rockfist, 8 grey hunters (standard, melta, wulfen) in a drop pod.

Remember you have to buy at least two other wolf guard to be able to include Arjac but really you should have some in there anyway so I can't see it being an issue. Sadly thanks to Arjac being a terminator you can't squeeze in another grey hunter but it's not much of a loss. It also means you can't throw him in a rhino which therefore limits your transport choices to drop pod or land raider. Frankly I often find land raiders to be too many points at the moment so I go for the cheaper option. I usually drop this squad on something that will cause me problems later on in the game, that or slam it down on an objective and make your opponent shift them. The drop pod allows Arjac to be deployed pretty accurately (if you choose your drop point wisely). This often allows him and the meltagunner to be within 6" for that side armour shot against a pesky dreadnought, land raider, predator, etc.

Your opponent is going to have to do something about him because you don't want to leave a hammer throwing maniac behind your lines ripping vehicles apart. This means you're going to take A LOT of fire so I try to string my squad around the back of the drop pod to ensure that even though Arjac and the meltagunner are front and centre, the squad still get's a cover save. You might think that sacrificing grey hunters in this way is wasteful but if they're shooting at this squad your rhinos are probably creeping up undisturbed. Assuming you survive the fire you can then assault next turn. This is where Arjac is at his best!

With 5 attacks on the charge (or counter-charge), Arjac will do some serious damage. Factor in the wolf standard from the grey hunter squad and his wolftooth necklace and it shouldn't be a surprise if he inflicts the full 5 wounds. Don't forget he re-rolls to hit against MCs and ICs too. Unfortunately he must allocate his attacks to an IC if possible which means he'll probably be wasting some wounds. Even so, he's going to cause some serious pain to your opponent in combat. Don't forget his hammer is strength 10 in combat too not just when it's thrown. This means it's worth him charging vehicles (most of which he'll auto-penetrate) and those T5 necron overlords will want to steer clear too.

Personally I'm a bit obsessed with Arjac at the minute. He always seems to put in a good performance against any opponent. Dropping him in makes them most of his short range S10 AP1 shot which with BS5 is pretty reliable for taking down vehicles. He's not perfect though and sometimes a clued up opponent will just advance away from him and make him foot slog to get into combat. However, this plays right into your hands as your opponent will be closer to the rest of your army.

I'm sorely tempted to buy the new model because despite having a "conversion" of my own there's something about owning the actual figure. Damn you GW and your plastic crack!

Monday, March 12, 2012

Battle Report: Space Wolves vs Dark Angels (3,000pts)

Jamie had been wanting to get a 3K game in against my wolves for a while and we finally got round to it on Saturday. I put my list together without knowing what Jamie was taking. Since it was a lot higher point level than I'm used to I decided I ought to have a few toys in there....

3,000pts of Space Wolves
Logan Grimnar
Ragnar Blackmane
Rune Priest (Chooser, Jaws, Murderous Hurricane)
Thunderlord (thunderwolf mount, storm shield, claw, Saga of the Bear, Runic Armour)

3x Wolf guard (combi-melta & PF)
5 Wolf Guard (Arjac Rockfist, 2x TDA w/ claw & combi-melta 2x TDA w/ claw & combi plasma)
Land Raider Redeemer (multi-melta)
3x 8 Grey Hunters (melta, standard, MotW, one squad with power weapon)
2x Rhinos

4 TWC (shield, fist, melta bomb)
Land Speeder (MM/HF)

6x Long Fangs (4xML & 1xLas)
5x Long Fangs (4xML)
Land Raider (Godhammer)

So some nasty deathstars from Logan/Arjac + terminators, Ragnar and his grey hunters and of course the TWC. From a fluffy perspective I suppose Ragnar should be with blood claws but meh.

Jamie showed up and I caught sight of the Dark Angels codex. I've never played them before but having read a couple of the SW novels I've been keen to play them as there's a long running rivalry between the two chapters. Jamie had Belial and interrogator chaplain with termies in a crusader, 2x 5 termies deep striking in and another land raider with veterans in. Elsewhere he had a vindicator, command squad in a razorback, landspeeder typhoon, ravenwing bikers and a couple of dreads.

Battle Report
We rolled Pitched Battle and Annihilation. Jamie won the roll off and deployed fairly centrally with the vindicator, razorback and one of the dreads on my left and the two raiders, the other dread and the bikers on the right. The two 5-man terminator squads would deep strike in.

I shoved Ragnar's land raider on my left flank with a pack of long fangs in a crater, the thunderwolves on my right flank and the two rhinos in front of Logan's land raider in the centre.

Jamie made his scout move with his ravenwing bikers. This landed them right in front of one of the rhinos and frankly I'd forgotten they could do that! He began his first turn by dropping in one of the terminator squads right in front of my long fangs.The terminators opened up on the long fangs but could only kill the squad leader. The bikes, tried to pop one of the rhinos but could only blast off the storm bolter. With help from the dreads the rhino exploded revealing the rune priest's pack. The vindicator scored a direct hit but could only immobilise the other rhino. The other dread fired at the long fangs but they made their cover saves. The land raiders could only rip the twin assault cannons from Logan's land raider. The bikers charged in on the grey hunter pack and thanks to poor deployment by me, Jamie managed to get the power weapon on my rune priest. He managed to get 2 hits through and a double 6 killed off the priest. The squad struck back with inspiration from the wolf standard and wiped out the bikers.

Logan's land raider revved up and delivered the Great Wolf and his terminators right in front of the DA terminators. The combi-plasmas from the squad helped thin it out before Logan charged in and took on the survivors without need of help from his wolf guard. Elsewhere the lascannons on Ragnar's raider managed to shake the vindicator and the long fang packs blew up a dreadnought each.

A second squad of terminators dropped in. The DA land raiders surged forward with the veterans charging the thunderwolves and Belial and co charging the grey hunters who'd massacred the bikers wiping them out easily. The thunderwolves fared better only taking a handful of wounds and killing several veterans. The wolf lord found himself with a single wound remaining though. The vindicator moved forward to find a better position and hid behind some cover. Having tried to repair the immobilised rhino it wasn't surprising that the lack of smoke saw it lacking a cover save and hence it exploded under fire from the land speeder. The thunderwolves finished off the veterans but lost one of their number in the process.

Logan found himself needing to avenge the death of his grey hunters so he charged into Belial's squad. A brutal use of Preferred Enemy meant Belial was now very lonely but only a single wolf guard had lost his life. The thunderwolves headed in the direction of the newly arrived terminators and charged them down with devastating effect. Jamie now had just the squad in the razorback, both land raiders and the land speeder.

As a last consolation Jamie's land raider fired it's multimelta and blew up Logan's land raider. The following my land speeder finally arrived from deep strike only to mishap on the vindicator and suffer a terrible accident. However, by this time the game was already over and I mopped up the remaining DA forces. The land speeder fell to a lascannon shot from the remaining wolves land raider. The long fangs blew up the razorback and the squad inside tried to charge some grey hunters for a cheeky kill point but we're so lucky. The remaining land raider was finished off and Jamie was tabled in 5 turns. I probably got the order of things a bit jumbled up but you get the idea.

One of those games where a bad turn of damage table rolls really hurt. Jamie struggled to get rid of my rhinos and land raiders in the first turn and this really cost him. I was able to get the crucial charges and inflict some serious damage early on. I think if anything had I taken the first turn the outcome might've been different. With Jamie coming to me in a couple of waves I was able to deal with parts of his army without worrying about others. If I'd been the one of the offensive then it might've been a different story.

Above all Jamie had some terrible luck and I don't think the tabling was a reflection of the game. I was certainly worried early on about dealing with so many terminators and having bikes in my face early on. Had the rhinos/raiders blown up and it would almost certainly have been an uphill struggle.

One thing is clear to me, the damage table has too much influence on the game at the moment. Now I'm not saying I've got a solution but it seems that some vehicles are too easy to take down whilst others seem invincible. How many times have you easily dealt with land raiders but struggled to kill that pesky rhino? Now obviously it comes down to luck a lot of the time but I really think the system needs a shake up. It's no easy task mind you, how do you make it so that vehicles don't totally dominate the game without severely gimping them to the point where no-one even takes them?

Still it's always nice for the sons of Russ to stick it to Lion El'Jonson's boys!

Wednesday, March 07, 2012

Blog Wars 3 - Scenarios Posted

I've finally gotten round to finalising the scenarios for Blog Wars 3 and they can be found here. Those of you who played at BW2 will find very little has changed. The two level scoring system is still there but I've changed the points around a bit so that the primary objective is now worth twice as much as the secondary. This should prevent a draw occurring (though it will still be possible). The points breakdown is pretty straightforward to avoid any confusion.

Those of you who've never been to Blog Wars before should check out the details here. Please don't be put off by the title. The tournament was originally designed to be a battle between bloggers from across the community but anyone is welcome to come along.

The main difference between Blog Wars and other tournaments is that each army MUST contain a Special Character. This is unlike a lot of tournaments which forbid their use. In order to make the choice more than just arbitrary the Special Characters have an important role in the scenarios as follows:

Scenario 1 - this is a kill points game with the Commander (special character) of each side being worth 2 KP to his opponent upon his death
Scenario 2 - this is a battle for the control of table quarters but the Commanders are scoring units in their own right
Scenario 3 - this is an objective game but any objective controlled by a Commander is worth double.

As you can see the chosen Commander (Special Character) plays a vital part of your army's strategy so armies which make full use of them will be more likely to triumph. For more details about what counts as a Special Character and which codexes are exempt please look at the tournament details.

Tickets are £15 and are still available by clicking the link on the right of this page! I look forward to seeing you all there!

You can find coverage of last year's Blog Wars 2 event by following the links below:
Blog Wars 2 Results
Blog Wars 2 Painting Competition
My Blog Wars 2 Battles: Game 1, Game 2, Game 3
Coverage on other blogs
40K Podcast from the event


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