Wednesday, July 31, 2013

Summer of Scenery - Part One: Barricades

Earlier in the year I was inspired by Siph over at Weemen to get my scenery painted up. Unfortunately the Tau codex came out right around that time and all enthusiasm for painting scenery was lost whilst I painted up my Tau for Blog Wars 5 (tickets for BW6 are on sale now - dunno if I mentioned it!). Well with the exception of my piranhas (coming soon) my Tau army is painted up to a decent standard. That means I've got no excuse not to get my scenery sorted.

I did make some progress before Tau arrived in that I got some of my scenery based up and sprayed black but that's where it stopped. However, last night I found my mojo again and set to painting up a couple of barricades.

Nothing particularly special but I'm happy with them nonetheless. I wanted them to look like they'd been there for centuries. Looking at them now I'm tempted to carve into them a bit to make them look a bit more battle damaged. Still at least for now they're painted up and that's the main thing. Here's a couple of other shots showing the bits of debris littered around them.

As always with scenery you can get a ton done really quickly since you aren't too worried about the little details and most of it is just drybrushing. I'd estimate that painting these took no longer than an hour. So that means I now have three citadel woods and these barricades painted up. That leaves the following:

  • Moonscape craters (going to paint these next)
  • Shrine of the Aquila
  • Imperial Sector (manufactorum, basilica administratum and sanctum imperialis)
  • 2 Bastions 
  • Those little ruins from 3rd edition
Most of that stuff is sprayed black and ready to be painted. I'm also going to look at adding some tufts of grass to them once they're all done as well as some other bits of scenery. At some point I also want to repaint my home-made Realm of Battle board as it's looking a bit tired. 

Once all that stuff is painted up I'm going to look at making some other scenery pieces from various bits I have around. In particular I'd like to make some rocky outcrops, industrial things and maybe some faction themed stuff.

Friday, July 26, 2013

Blog Wars 6 Tickets on Sale Now!

Right folks, the time has come to put the tickets up for Blog Wars 6. The event takes place on Saturday 2nd November 2013 at the North West Gaming Centre, Stockport, UK. All of the details for the event can be found by clicking on the big logo on the right of the blog. The scenarios are provisional for now and may change slightly. Everything else should be staying the same but here's a quick reminder of what is involved:

  • 3 friendly games at 1,850pts with 2.5 hours per game
  • Each army MUST include a special character
  • Forge World units are not allowed
  • Allies are permitted using the rulebook chart
  • Prizes for 1st, 2nd, 3rd & Last (Wooden Spoon) as well as Best Painted Army and Best Painted Special Character
  • Spot prizes throughout the day
  • Raffle prizes after awards ceremony (entry included in ticket)
  • Everybody welcome - the event started as an inter-blogger event but I've always allowed anyone to attend

Tickets will remain at the bargain price of £15 each. However, as I've had problems with people speculatively buying a ticket and then deciding whether or not to attend, only £10 of the ticket price will be refunded if you have to cancel for any reason. If you drop out after the army list submission deadline (2 weeks prior to the event) then you will not be eligible for any refund at all. Please consider all this when buying a ticket!

For those wanting multiple tickets please contact me using the link on the right. If you've any other queries don't hesitate to contact me. There are 99 days remaining before the event so you've got plenty of time to get your armies looking their best!

Thursday, July 25, 2013

Building a Better Blog Wars - Summary

The last few posts have been all about building a better Blog Wars. I've talked through some of the scoring and scenario issues and hopefully addressed most of them with my plans for Blog Wars 6. Today I just wanted to pull everything together before tickets go on sale tomorrow.

Whilst I'm still somewhat torn between W/D/L and pure VPs, I have to say I'm leaning more towards pure VPs at the moment. The changes to the scenarios should mean that the scoring is more representative of actual performance rather than just meeting the right opponent. There's always going to be an element of luck involved and, in my opinion, there's no such thing as a perfect scoring system. Some are better than others of course but realistically there'll always be people who end up further down the rankings than they perhaps deserve.

To that end I have to make simplicity my priority. In my experience from the first 5 Blog Wars (and the multitude of other events I've attended) if you make the scoring system too complicated you end up with people simply not doing it right and therefore the scores become unreliable. This essentially just creates an admin nightmare as you have to chase around checking scores etc. This is the main reason I'm a fan of the pure VP system. Everyone is keeping track of the VPs throughout the game and it's the mechanism that people are used to.

Blog Wars 6 will therefore (unless I see a convincing argument against it) stick with a very similar scoring system to Blog Wars 5 where each game has Primary and Secondary VPs recorded. Whilst I'm on that subject, the secondary VPs won't be included in the overall total but will instead be used as a means of settling ties. I like the idea that was suggested whereby you get more points for Linebreaker/Slay the Warlord if you got them but your opponent didn't. However, it's something to look at down the line so we'll keep it simple for now.

These really go hand in hand with the scoring system. The way I saw it there were two main issues to address. Firstly that Purge The Alien is very dependent on how many VPs are actually available from your opponents army and secondly missions like the Relic and Emperor's Will have a disparity with the other objective missions where total VPs available is concerned. To address these issues the missions at Blog Wars 6 will be:

Game 1 - Purge the Alien with Hammer & Anvil deployment
Game 2 - The Emperor's Relic with Vanguard deployment
Game 3 - Crusade with Dawn of War deployment

Crusade will be as normal but with 5 VPs per objective. The Emperor's Relic is a combination of Emperor's Will and The Relic (obviously) with a central objective that can't be moved (so not much like the Relic actually) and two other objectives. The central objective is worth 10pts to whomever claims it whilst the other two vary. If you control your home objective you score 5pts, if you control your enemy's objective you score 10pts making a total of 25 possible points.

Purge The Alien is somewhat different. I'd talked about the idea of all armies being worth 25 VPs regardless of the number of units but actually Matt has suggested what I think is a better system. Essentially you score VPs for the number of points you destroy of your opponent's army. The way this would work would be like 5th edition style VPs. You'd both simply record the number of points-worth of enemy units you managed to kill. Totally destroyed units/vehicles would be worth their full value. Vehicles with 50% or less of their HPs remaining and units with 50% or less of their models remaining would be worth half of their value. I'd then plug these numbers into the spreadsheet which will automatically divide by 74 and give a score out of 25 (since 74 x 25 = 1850).

I'd like to know what people think of these missions, in particular the Purge The Alien scoring. Whilst it does level the playing field a little, it isn't perfect. It does, however, prevent people from doing sneaky things with their extra VPs like the other system allowed. I'm not totally happy with making people add up points as it's a bit of a faff but hopefully it addresses the elite vs. horde problem and I've made it the first game so you aren't trying to add up when you're knackered/drunk. What do you guys think?

I've tried to pair the missions up with deployment types that work well with them. Again though, if you have a strong argument for or against a particular combination let me know.

Everything Else
As mentioned in the comments, I'm planning on insisting that the chosen Special Character must be in your primary detachment. This will hopefully prevent people from bringing a token allied detachment for a particular SC.

Pretty much everything else will be remaining the same. The prize system might get tweaked a little but otherwise it'll be the same as in the last few events.

Tickets will go on sale tomorrow but in the mean time please comment on what I've said here. Seriously, even if you think your opinion doesn't matter or you aren't even planning on attending, I'd love to hear what people think. I don't want to belligerently push through changes that players really aren't happy with.

Otherwise I'm looking forward to what I'm sure will be another awesome day.

Tuesday, July 23, 2013

Building a Better Blog Wars: Part Three - Everything Else!

For me the main things that require tweaking are the scoring and missions but there are a few minor bits and pieces that I wanted to address as well so here goes.

I'm happy with the prize system at the moment. The tournament prizes are decent and worth competing for (I reckon so anyway). I'm glad I dropped the sizes down a bit though because the £50 top prize just encouraged people to bring horrible lists to win it. Obviously you can't completely stop that from happening but it's a step in the right direction. I'm keen to keep the prizes as store credit as this helps to support the venues that events like mine are reliant upon. I don't think for a second that Maelstrom had anyone but themselves to blame but I'd hate for another venue to disappear.

I've often toyed with giving out a trophy but, whilst they look good on your shelf, they don't really do much but collect dust. If you've paid for a ticket and then managed to win the event after three tough games a piece of metal or glass isn't much reward. The cost of the trophies would reduce the prize pot and I don't think that's something anyone wants to see happen. Of course I can probably pick up some cheap trophies on eBay so I'll look into that possibility as a token gesture!

The raffle and spot prizes will be here to stay. For me it's the best part of the weekend and to pay £15 for a ticket and walk away with a wraithknight or even just a codex is pretty good. The spot prizes are a decent way of compensating for having something go badly wrong in a game.

I've considered offering more painting prizes but I think the two on offer now are sufficient. Even if I added more categories it would probably just mean giving more prizes to the same painter! One thing I'm seriously thinking about adding is a "Best Conversion" prize. I think too often the Best Painted Army award at an event goes to an army that has great conversions rather than one that is particularly well painted. Sometimes you get both of course but I'd really like the award to actually reflect masterful painting skill rather than conversion skill.

Other Event Types
I'd love to run a Blog Wars weekender or doubles event (or both) but they present certain difficulties. From previous discussions a weekender would probably get as many people interested as it would put off. Last time a few guys showed up on the Friday night and had a couple of warm-up games so it's worth considering getting there early and seeing who's around for a game and a couple of beers.

It's a well known fact that I'm a fan of doubles events but since I usually struggle to get 30 people I'd be unlikely to get enough takers to make a doubles viable. I've not totally given up on the idea though.

Forge World Units
This is something that comes up a lot and I yo-yo on whether I allow them. For Blog Wars 6 they won't be permitted. The reasoning behind this is that the general gaming population doesn't know enough about them. It's one thing to keep track of the new codices that come out but trying to know all the Forge World stuff too is too much. I know no-one who participates in this hobby is particularly poor but FW units do favour those with more cash to splash. Some would argue that they fill gaps in the some of the older books such as providing anti-air. However, for the most part their rules are superior to standard GW stuff and they prevent a level playing field in my opinion.

Tickets will remain at £15 and will go on sale soon. Keep an eye on the blog for details.

I'm always keen to hear suggestions from anyone who has a good idea. If there's something you've seen at another event that you think would work well at Blog Wars then please let me know. Likewise if there's something at Blog Wars that you really don't like then let me know about that too!

Sunday, July 21, 2013

Building a Better Blog Wars: Part Two - The Missions

Following on from Friday's post about the scoring system I want to look at the missions/scenarios that will be used at Blog Wars 6. Something that came out of the scoring discussion was that each game needs to be the same value as the next.

Points Available in the Rulebook Missions
It's often frustrating at a tournament to do really well in a game where there's only a handful of points available but get your arse kicked in a high points game. Assuming, for now, that we're going to use the rulebook missions let's take a look at the points available (assuming 5 objectives in the D3+2 missions):

  1. Crusade - 5 objectives worth 3 points - 15pts total
  2. Purge The Alien - depends on the armies - anything from 3-20pts
  3. Big Guns Never Tire - 5 objectives and potentially 3+1 heavy support choices - 19pts total
  4. The Scouring - 6 random objectives (4, 3, 3, 2, 2, 1) plus fast attacks - 19pts total
  5. The Emperor's Will - 2 objectives worth 3 points each - 6pts total
  6. The Relic - one central 3pt objective - 3pts total
Note that I've ignored secondaries for now as I'm not sure how I'm going to use them at this point.

There's a hell of a discrepancy between the missions then. We all know winning Relic is often down to First Blood which is essentially a dice roll. Emperor's Will isn't much better as people tend to hug the home objective and ignore the other unless they can make a late game contest. The rest aren't too bad though. Purge The Alien is the only one where the games in a single round can vary from table to table and it just encourages people to take low point armies which isn't much fun to play against and penalises cheap armies such as IG, DE, etc.

Big Guns and Scouring present a similar but slightly different problem in that if you haven't got any soft fast attack/heavy support units to kill then there are less points available. Some armies simply don't have decent choices in these slots either. Thinking of my Tau it'd be great to have scoring hammerheads or broadsides but pretty crap to use Pathfinders to claim an objective. For now let's ignore these missions. Whilst the random objectives in the Scouring are interesting it does favour mobile armies as they can turn things around if they get crap objectives in their table half.

We're left with 4 then. I'd like to keep Purge The Alien in as I think it's at the core of 40K gaming and breaks up the objective missions. The Relic and Emperor's Will can be combined into one mission which is similar to the way we played last Saturday. Basically the Relic will be fixed in the centre (ignoring the movement nonsense that no-one ever uses anyway). This leaves Crusade with 5 objectives as a third mission. We could leave it there with 3 very simple missions that won't create any confusion. However, we haven't really address the scoring inequality.

Levelling Out the Scoring
Let's work on a principle of 25 points being available for each mission. This shouldn't be too hard to achieve. Crusade is dead easy as you just give 5pts per objective instead of the usual 3. Controlling the whole board will net you 25pts but it's not too difficult to score well with just a handful of them in control.

Next up, The Emperor's Relic (working title!), there's three objectives each worth 3 points each but I want to encourage people to push out for their opponent's objective. Let's say then that holding your opponent's objective is worth 10 pts, the central objective is worth another 10 and your home objective is worth 5. This creates what I think is an interesting prospect. You can hang on to your home objective and hope to contest the others but you'll only get 5 pts. You can push up and claim 10pts in the centre without risking your home objective too much but to really rack up the points you need to claim your opponent's objective whilst stopping him getting yours. Sounds like fun to me!

Finally, Purge The Alien. Here I'm just going to blatantly steal the idea that Chris from the Outpost used on Saturday with a slight change. Each army is worth 25 pts if it's totally wiped out. Each unit has to be worth at least one point but depending on the number of units you have there'll be points spare to spread around to make sure the whole army is worth 25pts in total.  Let's look at an example based on my Tau army from BW5. There are 15 units (including transports) so that's 1pt each and 10 spare. I could stick them all on the Riptide and make him worth 11pts when he dies as he can be pretty tough to kill or I could make him and Longstrike worth 6pts each as they're both pretty durable. Alternatively, I could make 10 of my units worth 2 pts each. 

This points allocation is decided once you've seen your opponents army as that allows you to decide what would be tough for your opponent to kill. Obviously you'll have to write this on your army list so you can't cheat at the end. A potential problem with this system is that players can write units into their list that are incredibly difficult to kill. For example, the immortals unit our opponents gave all their points to on Saturday. Even if you destroyed their flyer they'd walk on from the table edge next turn and be tricky to kill. It also allows people to put all the points on a model that can be hidden or kept in reserve as long as possible. Not perfect then but it's a step in the right direction. 

Perhaps it would be better to assign the points before you see your opponent's army i.e. before the event even starts. That way you might decide to put extra points on your flyers but then end up playing an army with lots of anti-air. Still, this brings in issues again where players are just lucky or unlucky with a matchup.

Blog Wars Special Rules
Part of the theme for Blog Wars is the use of Special Characters. I'm determined that this will always be the case. Therefore, we need to look at the rules for the special characters. In the scoring games they'd count as scoring units in their own right. Not a lot of use if they're joined some troops but potentially useful in a squad of Elite terminators for example. 

In Purge The Alien the special character must be worth at least 3pts with the excess spread however the player sees fit. 

Three missions each worth 25pts each. This prevents the usual problem in Purge The Alien, isn't overcomplicated for people and makes scoring each round easy. There are also enough points available to easily separate players and avoid duplicate matchups. 

We can still play for the secondary objectives and still have them worth 1pt each. They could still be the difference between a win and a loss but are unlikely to determine the whole game. 

What do people think? Does all this sound reasonable? I'm loathe to write completely custom scenarios as I think people simply don't read the scenarios in enough detail before the event. It's also very difficult to write missions that don't benefit one army too much over another.

As before, any suggestions are gratefully received.

Friday, July 19, 2013

Building a Better Blog Wars: Part One - The Scoring System

I'm always striving to make the Blog Wars events that I run (solo I might add) the best events they can be. I can't pretend this is a purely selfless endeavour though because part of what motivated me to start running a tournament was how frustrated I got playing in poorly thought out events. Matt and I see Blog Wars as our version of a gaming club. We can't find the time to attend an actual club but there's a group of regulars at Blog Wars who we've gotten to know quite well over the last few years and it has a club event feel. If I'm only going to get to attend a club twice a year it'd better be the best club it can be. The other motivating factor is that a lot of people seem to make Blog Wars their first venture into the tournament scene. It may seem daft but I feel a responsibility to run a great event that will encourage them to attend more events in the future (including future Blog Wars of course).

What's wrong with the scoring?
With all that in mind I know that Blog Wars isn't perfect. There are always issues that you simply can't see coming until they happen. One of the things that came out of BW5 was that the scoring system was potentially flawed. What brought this to my attention was a comment on one of the feedback forms that someone had finished 20th despite winning all of their games whilst players higher up the rankings had lost one or even two games. This is an extreme example though of a system that, for the most part, worked how I wanted it to. The player in question had a particularly small "goal difference" of 4. That means, whilst he did win all of his games, he did so by a small margin each time. In contrast the player who came 2nd had lost his first game but scored 19-0 in his second game to give him an eventual goal difference of 22.

Clearly then, the system rewards players for winning convincingly. Sounds reasonable right? Well the problem is that winning should feel like winning. If you've fought long and hard for 7.5 hours in total to win all of your games despite some clearly close matchups, it's disheartening to know you were doing so for 20th place in a field of 30. The other part of the problem is that it isn't a level playing field because each game doesn't have the same maximum points available.

What do other events do?
Some tournaments run a simple system of, for example, 10 points for a win, 5 for a draw and 1 for a loss. They then record old 5th edition style VPs (let's call them blood points) as a way of determining how convincing the win was. This works for the most part but to me it misses the point of the mission in some games. In a kill points style game (Purge The Alien) the recording of  blood points works because it's probably closely linked to how many units you killed. However, in objective games it's a fairly meaningless number. Who cares if you destroyed all but 10 points of your opponent's army if that 10 point model is sat on an objective and taking the win?

The other, more obvious, problem with blood points is that it's a ball ache to calculate after you've just spent 2.5 hours concentrating. This was particularly obvious last Saturday in a roasting hot venue when I struggled to add up! To me it spoils the flow of the event and frankly people do it wrong anyway. The number of times I used to get score slips that say 702.5 blood points when the 5th edition rulebook clearly stated you round up. It's hardly a big deal but it does make you wonder if people are doing it right. I've talked before about the importance of simplicity in tournament rules and blood points are an irritation.

Uneven Maximum Points
There's a clear issue where the maximum points from a round are concerned. Purge The Alien always causes problems as if you're playing an army with only 5 points available you're unlikely to take much away from that game. You might think it isn't a problem in objective games but when you compare something like The Relic with The Scouring there's a vast difference between the maximum points available. If you do everything right in The Relic you can get 6 VPs from it compared with a potential 22 from The Scouring (5x3 for objectives, 3 secondaries, 3 primary detachment fast attack, 1 allied fast attack). This isn't a problem when comparing all the scores for game 3 of an event but winning that game becomes more important than winning game 2 which was worth less points. If you come up against an army that you've got not chance against then you could end up missing out on a ton of points.

The solution to this is pretty simple. Well there are three potential solutions actually. Firstly, write custom scenarios for the event which all have the same points available. Secondly, use a scoring system that gives points based on the percentage of the available points you scored. Finally, and this is my preferred solution, make all of the scenarios worth the same number of points.

I'll talk more about the process of doing that in a separate post about the scenarios but the aim is to make each game worth the same number of points.

Problem Solved?
People attending Blog Wars 5 almost unanimously found the system to be nice and simple to use. I'm keen to keep the same method. I've used BW5's results as a basis as tried fiddling with the numbers to get a more satisfactory outcome. Ultimately I want winning all three games to be worthwhile whilst also rewarding convincing wins. I've crunched the numbers with a few different ideas:

  1. Adjusting the scoring of Emperor's Will to make the home objective worth 5pts and the enemy objecitve worth 10
  2. Giving points for winning, drawing and losing (5, 2 & 1 respectively) and ranking on this first
  3. Giving bonus points for winning, drawing and losing (10,5 & 1 respectively) and adding them to the VP total for each game
  4. Giving bonus points for winning, drawing and losing (5, 2 & 1 respectively) and adding them to the VP total for each game
  5. Giving bonus points for winning, drawing and losing (3, 2 & 1 respectively) and adding them to the VP total for each game
The results are shown below (click to make it legible):

You can see that Franco wins no matter what and the bottom two don't change either. The results aren't really surprising. When you base it purely on wins (then sorting by VPs scored) there's a big shift in where some people place - I place second for example. Changing the points for Emperor's Will doesn't make a huge difference although this is difficult to properly simulate as in games were only one person captured an objective I obviously don't know which one it was they took. It do like the idea there though as it rewards people for pushing up rather than being content to hope for winning with First Blood.

Adding a, somewhat abitrary number of points for W/D/L isn't really a solution. There's a point where it works but once again you're still rewarding people for scoring more points than others when they won.

Winning should matter. Mind you, as frustrating as it is to win games and place lower than people who've lost one or two, it's equally annoying to come close to victory and yet only get 1 point instead of 10. I don't think you can totally fix the scoring system to allow both of these things to happen though. What I want to concentrate on instead is making each match-up worth the same number of points. More on that in the next post though.

I can't help but acknowledge that part of the problem is that having just 3 games means this sort of issue is more common. The solution to that is a two-day event but from talking to people it would put as many people off as it would bring in. There's also the non-40K aspect to consider, having a full weekend away from the other half isn't always easy and I'd be shattered after running a two-day event.

Before I finish there's an interesting idea from the people who run Nova. Granted, their system works better because they play 8 games over 3 days but something to take from it is the win-path system. Basically, they look at your previous form to determine pairings. First round is random and second is simple because winners should be playing winners etc. Third round is interesting though. The idea is that you pair up people who won their first game but lost their second. You then pair up people lost the first but won the second. These two groups of people are likely to be in a similar place mentally. There's nothing more demoralising than winning your first game only to lose the second and on the flip side it's a great feeling to win after being defeated in round one. Of course this doesn't make much difference in a 3-game event but it's interesting anyway.

With all of these Better Blog Wars posts I'm really keen to hear ideas and suggestions from people in the comments. Doesn't matter if you've never been to a Blog Wars or aren't likely to ever go. What have you liked at other events that you think could help?

Thursday, July 18, 2013

New Additions to the Blog Roll

Here's a quick run down of the blogs I've added to my "Recommended Reading" section on the right. I'll try and keep an eye on them and make sure they're all active. These have been added from the comments on yesterday's post. I've not had chance to flick through them in too much detail yet but wanted to get them out there for everyone to enjoy. Oh and come back tomorrow for the first of a series of articles about how I'm trying to make Blog Wars 6 the best it can be.

40K Hobby Blog
Some beautifully painted miniatures on display here and the author is also working on some stuff for the Nova Foundation which is a cause well worth supporting. He's got a warhound titan on his painting table at the moment too.

40K Warzone
An Australian blog who do some awesome commission painting work. There are also tactical guides a few of the 40K armies that I'll be checking out when I've got more time.

Confessions of a 40K Addict
I've come across this blog before in one of my browsing sessions but never bookmarked until now. There are some excellent STC (building templates) as well as some excellent downloads alongside a steady supply of blog posts. He also recently attended the Battle Brothers one dayer at WHW and came second but we all know they let anyone do well at that thing!!

40K Daemons
I'll give you three guesses what this blog is about. Even if you aren't a Daemons player I'd recommend checking them out as it's always a good idea to know your enemy (speaking of which I intend to restart my series and update it for 6th edition).

Immaterium Press
Seemingly a tournament orientated post (which people seem to refer to FTF as too) , the author has also been taking a look at the X-Wing game that I've been sorely tempted to get into.

Den of Imagination
A Polish blog who also do commission painting. In fact your might recognise the Dark Angels as the army used to win the painting competition at Blog Wars. Rest assured that I'll be trying to encourage people to only enter the comp at Blog Wars 6 if they painted it themselves. Still some awesome work on display here.

La Taberna De Laurana (Laurana's Tavern)
As you might imagine this is a Spanish blog so for most of us it'll require Google to translate it for us to enjoy. They cover a lot of rumours and the name rings a bell from the Tau rumours as I believe they were one of the sites with a leak. Still, worth checking out.

Table Top Addicts
Seems like there's a lot of this addiction thing going around. I don't know what they're talking about, I can quit at any time, really I can! Seems like a relatively new blog but already plenty of content on there. Again it seems like they attend plenty of tournaments so worth checking out.

Some beautifully painted armies with well written background fluff. Always nice to see and a nice easy site to browse.

How To Lose at 40K
Regular readers will know I don't have any problems with that. Anyway, there are some great hobby "How To" articles here and some rule discussion that I'll be looking at as you all know it's something I'm keen on.
Some great articles about airbrushing, something I'm always tempted by but never get around to investing in. Anyway, there are some great posts here and they also have a lot of videos if you have the time to watch them.

Facing the Grey Tide
Finally another relatively new blog with a good deal of content already. Some great conversion articles including some about adding lights to models. I'll definitely be coming back to this one.

Right, that's all for now. I'll be adding all of these to the blog roll and hopefully their authors will return the favour. Apologies if I've missed the point with any of these but as I say I haven't had chance to browse them thoroughly.

Wednesday, July 17, 2013

Updating My Blogroll - Suggestions Welcome

Whilst replying to some comments on a recent post I noticed that a lot of the my "Recommended Reading" blogs hadn't been active for a few months. I've therefore deleted some of the inactive ones but it'd be good to replace them with new and interesting blogs. I'm particularly interested in hobby related blogs as I often flick through them for inspiration. I'll also be adding some of these blogs to my Feedly account to keep me enterained when I'm stuck in an airport or whatever.

I tend to end up heading down a rabbit hole sometimes with blogs as you see an interesting article in the blogroll of a blog you read and then spot another article whilst reading that. By the time you surface a few hours have passed but you can't remember the names of the blogs you read and I'm too lazy to figure it out from my browser history.

Right, I'll keep it short for a change. Please leave comments with any suggestions of blogs you regularly read or even your own blog. Anything I like the look of with regular posts I'll add to my blog roll.

Tuesday, July 16, 2013

6th Edition 40K - You're Doing It Wrong! (maybe) - Look Out, Sir & Wound Allocation

Here's something that I think there's a lot of confusion about. Part of the problem is that the rules are fairly complicated in the first place. There's also some crucial changes made by the FAQs which, as ever, people simply don't read. Finally, most people have made assumptions (myself included) and are doing it wrong every time until someone tells them different.

I wanted to put together all the wound allocation stuff I could find to try and clear up the issue. This all stemmed from one of the games last Saturday where our opponents were carrying out Look Out, Sir rolls in a different way to what we were used to. Rather than argue too much we let them carry on but I was determined to figure out what the actual rules were when I got home.

Please bear in mind that even though this took a lot of work to piece together, I'm still up for hearing other people's views on it. There are inevitably going to be some parts that are interpretation but sadly that's the way it is with 40K most of the time. I'm sure someone else has done a similar guide to it but this was mostly a learning process for myself as much as anything else.

Forgive me if any of this is patronising but I want to get the basics sorted before we get too technical. As ever with one of my articles, it's going to get pretty wordy in order to be thorough so you might want to grab a cuppa. I apologise for the lack of (much needed) diagrams but it's getting late and I lack the motivation.

Wound Allocation (p.15)
Before I get on to talking about Look Out, Sir itself. I want to cover some of the wound allocation basics that I think people (again myself included) are getting wrong. Ask most people what the big change was with 6th edition and they'd say that it's closest model now which is only the tip of the iceberg!

On the face of it there's nothing to it. Assuming your unit has all of the same saves and the shots are all the same AP value you just grab a bunch of dice, roll the saves and remove a number of models equal to the number of failed saves. Obviously, you're taking multiple wound models into account here so if you fail 5 wounds and the closest model has 3 then he'll be removed and two other single wound models.

Mixed Saves (p.15)
Where the complication comes is where a unit has different saves available to it. For example, a unit of guardsmen being shot by bolters might have half their number in cover and the other half in the open. Assuming you've haven't used Focus Fire (which, by the way, you have to declare BEFORE rolling to hit), you'd need to figure out who was closest and what save they had. For example, if the 4 closest guardsmen are in the open then they're removed before you get to make any cover saves for the next closest.

Crucially, you can keep taking cover saves on that model until he dies. If the next closest model doesn't have a cover save then you keep removing them until you get to the next one in cover or else you run out of wounds to apply.

It's in this way that you can use a model as a tank, something I championed a while ago, which is widely used now. This usually means a 2+ save model leading a unit with 3+ or worse armour. You can keep making 2+ saves on that model all day long provided he's the closest and he doesn't fail any.

Mixed Wounds (p.16)
This whole thing is further complicated by shots with different strengths, AP values or special rules. A great example of this is the new wave serpent which usually has an AP6 scatter laser, AP5 cannon and AP- serpent shield (which has Ignores Cover). Deciding the order you want these wounds to be applied can be a real game changer.

For example, that wave serpent is firing at those poor guardsmen again and wounds will all of its shots. They're mostly in the cover of a ruin but let's say the front 3 models aren't in cover. Clearly you want to use the AP5 cannon shots first as that'll be 3 dead guardsmen. Then you might want to use either the serpent shield shots or the scatter laser shots. The serpent shield will only allow a 5+ armour save whilst the scatter laser allows the full 4+ cover save. If there are some models further back which aren't in cover (unlikely I know) you'll want to use the shield first so that you're making the most of Ignores Cover.

Obviously it gets a bit complicated but you can see how effective use of this rule can be rather than just letting your opponent roll a pile of saves. Bear in mind S8 shots should try to get multi-wound characters so using the bolter fire from a squad to kill the models in front is a good idea. There are a lot of things to think about and a lot of depth to seemingly simple rules.

Random Allocation
This is getting more common with things like vector strike but it isn't a particularly tricky concept. It is, however, an excellent way of bypassing your opponent's plans to tank with a front model so keep an eye out for weapons in your codex that use random allocation.

It's also pretty useful when you can't decide which model is closer. Sometimes it's near impossible to squeeze your tape measure in to figure it out and neither side will want to concede. Most of the time you're better just rolling for it and being at the whim of the dice gods.

Combat Wound Allocation (p.25)
Obviously in combat this process is done at each discrete initiative step. They're still applied to the closest model of course but that's a slightly different bracket now.

A key thing to remember is that a wound must be allocated to a model which is in base contact with the specific attacking model, not just any model that is in base contact with an enemy model.

Contrary to what some people think you can keep applying wounds and making saves on a model before moving onto the next. They don't have to be split up evenly across all models in base contact with an attacking model or models. It's always the controlling player's choice so don't let anyone tell you otherwise.

Also, against what some believe, even models that aren't engaged can be killed. However, it's worth bearing in mind that if they're so far away that they can't make it into the combat when they eventually pile in, they don't actually get to fight and potentially the combat ends. This is, of course, unlikely but it has happened to me once at a tournament.

Look Out, Sir (LOS) (p.16, 26, 39, FAQ)
Crucially, the rules for wound allocation state that you assign wounds to a model and take saves, one at a time. Obviously, this is usually done in handfuls of dice but for LOS it's an important distinction.

First and foremost, to make an LOS attempt there must be models within 6" for both the shooting and assault scenarios. The FAQs have now made it so the closest model to the character is the first to be killed. Again this is something I still see people getting wrong. Before I go any further we should also remember that normal characters need to roll 4+ and independent characters need to roll 2+ to pass an LOS attempt. Don't forget as well that the FAQ changed the wording to remove "unsaved wound" from the LOS description. This is important, as I hope will become clear.

Right, now onto the whole point of this article (finally!). The rules state that for each wound allocated you can attempt to make a LOS "save". Let's assume you're using your two-wound character to tank with a 2+ save at the front of a unit of 3+ save models. You're hit by a heldrake (again not that unusual) who manages to cause 5 wounds. Now, my current way of doing this would be to say, "I'll take two LOS rolls first and then make saves on the character". This is partly done for speed and partly to try and protect your character. You're unlikely to fail 2 out of 3 2+ saves (unless you're me) so you're keeping him relatively safe.

However, if we read the rules explicitly we can actually consider each wound one at a time. So I manage to make three 2+ saves and then fail the fourth. At this point I decide it isn't worth the risk so I declare an LOS roll and pass the wound off to an unsuspecting model near my character. There's nothing to say you actually have to declare how many LOS rolls you'll make straight away. That is, of course, unless I've missed something somewhere.

This is how our opponents were playing it in the last game on Saturday. Granted they did do some other things wrong that we shouldn't have allowed but on this score it seems they were totally right. It may take a bit more time to do and ends up a bit confusing but it's a good way to make the most of your "tank".

The difficulty comes in applying this if your character is the closest model but has the same save as the rest of the unit. In that case you could argue that you'd need to decide how many to LOS before making all of the 3+ saves together. Personally I'd say you could still do them one at a time if your character is the closest model but I'm not totally sure of that. Answers on a postcard.

There also seems to be a belief (and I thought this too) that you can only make a number of LOS rolls equal to the number of other models in the unit. The rules don't seem to say that anywhere I can see though. Only one attempt can be made per wound but it says nothing about a model being used by the character to make multiple successful LOS "saves". Obviously if the model dies you have to move onto another but as long as it survives you can keep passing wounds to the same model.

Other Stuff (p. 33, 35, 43, 63, 64, FAQ)
To finish off here's collection of other things that I found in my search (mostly in the FAQ). Firstly, the gun model in an artillery unit cannot be used to make an LOS attempt.

LOS attempts can still be made on precision shots and precision strikes. This includes Focussed Witchfire too as far as I'm aware. Wounds from a challenge may not be LOS'd (obviously) and again, obviously, can't be used to pass off wounds from Gets Hot.

Another useful thing (perhaps) in the FAQ is that you should remember to keep wounds from a blast weapon in a separate pot to other wounds as they can be allocated to models you can't see, i.e. leave them until last so that you might kill models that the unit's other weapons can't.

Feel No Pain rolls can also be made individually before applying any more wounds to a model.

Finally, something that I don't think many people do (because they see it as complicated), is the weapon range thing. If you've already killed all of the enemy models that are in range of the front firing model in your unit then any excess wounds are lost. Worth bearing in mind.

Some of this stuff could make games a lot more complicated but it helps to know what the rules actually say when someone tries something like this against you in a tournament. This process has certainly helped me understand LOS a lot better and I think it'll be more effective now that I know how to use it correctly.

Once again though, if you disagree and can back it up with rule quotes then please comment. As I say, some of this is open to interpretation and I'm always keen to hear other people's views.

Sunday, July 14, 2013

Blood Brothers (Doubles) - Battle Reports

This weekend Matt and I attended the Blood Brothers doubles event at the Outpost in Sheffield. It's a nice venue but it was literally a sauna in there (minus the hot rocks and wooden panelling). With 14 teams all piled into a fairly small space and only fans for cooling it was baking hot. If I'd had any finecast in my army I'd have been worried about it melting down into a puddle! The top two tables were downstairs in the shop where they had air conditioning meaning we had a great incentive to do well!

I posted our list up on Friday night. Essentially the main reason we were attending this event was to a live fire test of our new doubles army before we go to defend our title at Warhammer World in September.

Game One - Ghostly Tides vs. IG/DE
This game would be Crusade with 3 objectives (one of which was fixed in the centre) on Dawn of War deployment. Our opponents had a kabalites in a raider, wracks in a raider, wyches, a haemonculus (who was pretending to be an inquisitor hence the alliance), cronos, infantry platoon, CCS, chimeras, veterans and a manticore.

They won the roll off but gave us first turn. The manticore was hidden behind a forest but to do so had shown it's side armour to a wave serpent which promptly destroyed it. The wraithknight blew up a chimera whilst the other wave serpent wrecked another. The riptides attempted to take down the kabalites' raider but it was obscured by trees giving it a 4+ cover save. The raider advanced in their turn and it's occupants fired a volley off at the wraithknight causing it to take 5 wounds!! We'd decided to use Prescience and Guide in our turn but at that point we regretted not using Fortune that we'd been lucky enough to roll.

The raider was downed by the commander I think and a couple of pie plates from the riptides and fire from the wave serpent were able to vastly deplete both the kabalites and nearby wyches, making the kabalites flee the board. The wraithknight charged a squad of guardsmen and unsurprisingly swept them when they elected to break. The massive eldar construct was on a single wound though and the nearby veterans had plenty of melta. Unfortunately for our opponents all but one of the meltaguns missed and the one that hit, failed to wound. One of the wave serpents targetted the heavy weapons team on top of a small building and thanks to S6 was able to wipe them out despite cover. The wraithknight charged another guard squad with similar results whilst the wave serpent thinned out the veterans. The wracks raider arrived from reserve and sped across the field. It was ultimately destroyed but the wracks survived shooting from the newly arrived kroot to use their liquifier guns to wipe them out in return.

A 10-man infantry squad had now moved on top of the building but a combination of markerlight and pie plate wiped out the entire squad in a single shot. I have to say I was incredibly lucky with my scatter as the only large blast that did scatter only did so by 1". The dire avengers disembarked and with help from the wave serpent they were able to wipe out the wracks. The riptide on the left shot down the cronos and the commander and farseer wiped out the remaining veteran. This left just the company commander on his own inside the building. The wraithknight had attempted to blow it up but failed. However, we did control all 3 objectives and had both linebreaker and first blood giving us 11 out of a maximum of 12 points (since we'd missed out on Slay the Warlord). A pretty solid start.

Game Two - Ghostly Tides vs. Necrons and CSM
We might have hoped for table 1 or 2 but sadly we were on table 3 which was still upstairs in the sauna! This game was like Purge the Alien but with an interesting twist (one which I might consider for Blog Wars). Each army was worth 20 VPs regardless of the number of units. If you had 12 units like we did then you could choose how to distribute the remaining 8, we decided to put an additional 4 on each riptide. Our opponents gave all of their extra points to a unit of immortals in a night scythe. We'd be playing on Vanguard deployment. Our opponents had 3 night scythes (2 warriors, 2 immortals), 2 annihilation barges, vindicator, lord on juggernaut, 32 cultists and a pair of heldrakes.

This would be a great test of our ability to deal with flyers with 5 of them potentially coming our way on turn 2. One of the joys of this list is that the only unit that really needs to worry about heldrakes is the marker drone team and with good positioning of the commander and jetbikes it shouldn't be too much of an issue.

Our opponents would be going first and deployed reasonably far forwards. Luckily with the vindicator and annihilation barges having just 24" range were able to deploy our force so that the vindicator couldn't touch us and the annihilation barges would have to move 12" meaning snap shots (not that Necrons care!). Luckily for us they positioned the vindicator and one of the barges close so we were able to fire a large blast and hit both. The annihilation barge went down and the vindicator was shaken (always roll a bloody 1!). Otherwise we just chipped away at the cultists.

A couple of the night scythes and one of the heldrakes arrived at the top of turn 2. The tip of the wing of the heldrake brushed the commander, which apparently is enough for a vector strike! Thanks to wound allocation this cost us 3 of the marker drones. Something to bear in mind. Anyway, the heldrake's glory was short lived as the two riptides combined to bring it down before it use it's baleflamer. The night scythes ganged up on the riptide and since we'd elected not to use Fortune (which we'd rolled again!) he failed 4 of his saves leaving him with a single wound. In our turn the wave serpents and newly arrived kroot combined their fire and gunned down the vast majority of the cultists. The wraithknight was unable to charge them though. The lord decided to wipe out the kroot for an easy point but this cost him more cultists.

By this point I was so warm that I was struggling to concentrate and I frankly just wanted the game to be over. Somehow this coincided with some abysmal luck too. We'd been managing to play keep away with most of the tanks and were drawing them in. The kroot arrived on the flank behind the vindicator but despite hitting plenty of times they were unable to roll a single 6! I realised too late that I should've used the remaining marker to help them. The farseer had failed to get Guide off on the wraithknight so obviously he missed both his S10 shots against the lord. He then managed to fail an 8" charge across open ground. Then in their following turn the riptide with a single wound was hit by the remaining annhilation barge, failed a single save and failed the Fortune re-roll too to give our opponents 5 easy points. The lord, having avoided the wraithknight was able to charge the wave serpent nearby and easily blow it up.

The next couple of turns are hazy but around this time they turned on another fan and suddenly I could focus again. This seemed to affect our dice too as in turn 5 we seemed to do a lot of damage. We managed to down the vindicator, the wraithknight was able to take down the lord second time around and the commander finished off the annihilation barge. The night scythes gunned down one unit of dire avengers too. One of the night scythes was downed but the one with the immortals was able to fly off the board in turn 5.

At the top of turn 6 (the game was limited to an automatic 6 turns) it was incredibly close on points. Our opponents decided to push for a convincing win by flying their remaining night scythe into the middle of the table and dropping off the valuable immortals. The combination of them and a unit of warriors arriving from reserve was enough to kill off one of our wave serpents and the dire avengers inside. This had, however, left the immortals in the open. The riptides and commander attempted to down the flyer but could only score 2 glances. Luckily though the wraithknight was able to get into combat with the immortals and his sweeping advance gave us their juicy points value and a convincing win. Our of a possible 21pts (only First Blood was in play for the secondaries) we managed a whopping 18! Doesn't really do our opponents justice though as despite the heat it was a really enjoyable game and came right down to the wire.

Game Three - Ghostly Tides vs. Double Necrons
Luckily our second game had given us enough points to get onto Table 1 There was some debate about how legal this all was. Technically the tournament pack ruled that armies had to be made using the allies chart but, since Forge World was allowed, our opponents argued they could've formed it from the IA version and the regular codex. That wasn't really the problem though, the rules pack did allow each 750pt army to have 0-2 units each from Elite, Fast and Heavy which meant we'd be facing 4 annihilation barges! The rest of their army consisted of 2 flyers with warriors, a big group of wraiths with a destroyer lord and a veil court with pimped overlord.

This game was, on paper at least, a little complicated. Each team had 3 objectives which had to be placed 6-12" from their table edge. One of the three was an ammo dump worth 3 points and granting an extra shot to a unit it joined (like an IC). The other two were booby trapped (meaning a poisoned 4+ large blast) and worth a single point each. The ammo dump was T6 2+ save with 2 wounds and could be therefore destroyed making it worthless.

We'd managed to get Fortune again, our opponents would be going first again and we'd deployed to deny them full BS shooting AGAIN! Sadly the veil council was able to teleport and use their haywire thingies to wreck one of the wave serpents. The other was able to convert a penetrating hit from the barges into a glance. In response we put as much fire as we could on the court but thanks to some debate about the way Look Out, Sir is played (more on that in another post) the lord survived allowing most of unit to get back up. Meanwhile the riptides had nova'd for an S9 Ordnance blast on each of the pairs of barges (who knows why they'd put them so close together?!?). Despite the 2D6 from ordnance they were only able to blow up one of the left hand pair and without markers to remove cover the riptide on the right could only strip a hull point and get a stun (which they failed to ignore). The wraithknight tried to down the remaining left hand barge but it passed its Jink saves.

Their flyers arrived, one was stripped down to a single point by the riptide over on the right but the other riptide declined to fire. Neither suffered any wounds in return. The court charged the wraithknight costing them a couple of crypteks but causing a wound in return. The riptide that hadn't fire attempted to pie plate the wraiths. Despite managing 6 hits he only caused two wounds which were both save. Luckily he was able to make a 9" charge and engage them to hopefully hold them up. Fortune allowed him to hang in there for a long time but despite Smash no wraiths died as they slowly chipped away at him, even with Preferred Enemy on the wraiths he passed a disgusting number of saves and Ld tests. Still he'd tarpitted them long enough to buy us some breathing room. The wraithknight finished off the court who failed Ever Living rolls. Meanwhile the riptide used his melta to gun down another barge. The kroot arrived in opposite corners near our 3pt objective and one of theirs.

For some reason our opponents brought a barge right in next to our wave serpents, they managed to kill a couple of dire avengers but left themselves open to the a charge from the wraithlord who easily destroyed it. Meanwhile the flyers turned their attention on the kroot causing both squads to take morale checks. Both units held their nerve. By this point the wraiths were free from the riptide and moved onto the wraithknight who wouldn't be able to hold them up if they could rend enough. We downed another barge and moved the remaining kroot to spare them from the flyers which would have to fly over them.

Our opponents dropped a squad of squad of warriors in each corner near the kroot before flying the night scythes off. They easily dealt with the kroot and we'd need to kill them off to stop them claiming 3 VPs from our now revealed Ammo Dump. The other warriors took the kroot down to 2 models but they still held their nerve somewhat miraculously (roll them gently is the key!). The wave serpent blasted up the board and was able to gun down all 5 warriors in response. The riptide lined up a pie plate on the other warriors but it scattered wildly (the Farseer had failed Guide at a crucial time again). Once again the game would go to 6 turns and we were on the backfoot at the end of turn 5.

The flyers reappeared. One lined up on 4 dire avengers holding one of our single point objectives and easily gunned them down. The other (with a single hull point) planned on killing off the kroot. The nearby riptide fired up its fusion blaster and blew it up before it had chance. We were still in trouble though, we'd be able to grab two of their objectives and score linebreaker but they'd have our 3-pointer, First Blood and Linebreaker plus if the wraiths killed the wraithknight they'd get Slay the Warlord (we were using Iyanden Warlord Traits) which would mean a 6-3 loss. Our turn 6 would need to be huge!

The kroot held their objective and the remaining two dire avengers hopped out of their wave serpent to control another. The wave serpent then turned its attention on the warriors on our Ammo Dump who'd been joined by the destroyer lord. It was able to take the lord down to a single wound which allowed the riptide to pie plate the entire unit, hitting this time! If I didn't roll any 1s, they'd be wiped out (as the markers had stripped cover) clearing the objective and giving us Slay the Warlord. Sadly I did roll one, leaving a single model holding it. We were pretty sure we'd lost....

At the last minute I remembered something crucial. The farseer had split off to try to save the wraithknight in combat as a last ditch attempt to prevent Slay The Warlord. However, I remembered he could turbo-boost and he did so to contest the 3-pointer and give us the win. The wraithknight did finally die to the wraiths but when our opponents revealed the dire avengers had their 3-pointer we'd managed to secure a 6-3 win which was enough to give us first place! We'd also won bloodiest general only dropping 600 "blood points" over the day netting us £35 store credit each with 20% off! Not too shabby eh?

Have to say I'm pretty chuffed with another doubles win, especially with a very different list without any power armour in sight! Funnily enough we didn't actually meet anything in power armour except the lord on his juggernaut. It's always satisfying to win when you've played Necrons too and we faced them twice! I wouldn't say we'd been particularly lucky over the day. Obviously some stuff had gone our way and we'd met the right lists but the second and third game were incredibly close and we had some bad luck that made a big difference to the games.

The list is pretty good fun to play. It's a stark contrast from our Titanic Fenrisians though as it's more sit back and shoot than get stuck in. The army certainly attracts attention with the three giant models and I think there's an element of distraction there as the wave serpents a quite a threat too. The combination of the farseer, markerlights and the big guys is excellent though and whilst we were lucky to get Fortune all three times we'd always get Prescience and Guide. It's making me seriously consider an Eldar allied detachment for my Tau and Dark Eldar to pair up with. I don't think we really got to show off the power of the riptides either, despite them wiping out units. I'd love to see it against large groups of terminators or marines. Hordes could be tricky though I suppose but they seem rare these days.

The riptides were, for me, the stars of the lists. Not only did they reap a bloody toll but they sucked up a lot of fire and crucially held up the wraiths for a good while. They're a brilliant counter for flyers and reserves in general. A lot of army lists rely on deep strikers and reserves for the win and we can deal with them effectively. The wraithknight was no slouch either, charging forward to mop up the guardsmen, crucially killing the immortals and downing annihilation barges.

Despite the stifling heat the event was extremely enjoyable overall. We had three great pairs of opponents and challenging games for different reasons. The custom missions were initially a bit of a turn off but they worked out pretty well, at least for us. It's a shame there wasn't a Hammer & Anvil game though as I'm a big fan of the aesthetic that deployment type gives. It always looks epic to see two armies clashing head on.

Friday, July 12, 2013

Blood Brothers (Doubles) Tournament Tomorrow

It's no secret that Matt and I love doubles. We regularly attend the WHW event (which is getting ludicrously expensive now), mainly because it's pretty much the only doubles event that gets decent numbers. We've tried to attend independents before but they often get cancelled due to lack of interest. Anyway, here's the list we'll be using:

Commander (2 missile pods, drone controller, target lock, iridium suit)
10 Kroot
10 Kroot
Riptide (ion, fusion, VT, EWO)
Riptide (ion, fusion, VT, EWO)
4 Marker Drones

Farseer (singing spear, jetbike)
5 Dire Avengers in Wave Serpent (scatter laser, cannon)
5 Dire Avengers in Wave Serpent (scatter laser, cannon)

Basically, as per usual, we can't resist taking lots of big things in a list and very little else! There's plenty of firepower from the wave serpents, riptide and wraithknight. If we play an army that relies on reserves they'll be pretty screwed and if not the markerlights will help the riptides hit accurately. Essentially everything but the big stuff is filler to be honest!

Anyway, I only had one riptide this time last week so I've had to build and paint one. I was aiming to recreate the pose from the codex art that you can see on the right. I don't think I've done a bad job to be honest. The legs are pretty much spot on. Sadly I couldn't get the gun to point outwards as much and the head to tilt down as much. Perhaps if I hadn't been under pressure I might've spent more time but ultimately I needed to get him done. Either way I think the pair of them look great. I'll come back to them at some point and tidy up the joins, line highlight and base them properly but for tabletop I'm happy.

If we meet the right lists tomorrow we could do alright I reckon. Obviously it has it's weaknesses but some lists will really struggle against us. Wish us luck!

Saturday, July 06, 2013

My Favourite 40K Units (Nerd Crush if you will)

I've recently discovered an excellent blog called Dark Future Games and one of their writers in particular "Fly Molo". Clearly I'm not the first to discover them, they have 800+ followers, but if you haven't had a read of any of their stuff they're worth checking out. I'll warn you though, some of the posts are even longer than mine! Imagine that!

Anyway, one article that caught my eye was about Nerd Crush Units. Those units from one of your armies that you're determined to shoe-horn into a list no matter what. They might not be the most effective or even the nicest models but they're one of the first things that go into any new list your write. Fly Molo writes an excellent post about trying to build your army list around a particular favourite unit so I'm not going to talk list building but rather some of what he would call my Nerd Crushes in each of my armies.

Dark Angels
I've really struggled to get excited about the Dark Angels codex. To me the most viable build, the bolter banner list, ruins what could be a fast and exciting army and essentially makes it into a gunline. With woeful flyers and useless LS Vengeance, coupled with an inability of mine to write a dual-wing list under 1,850 that I was happy with, I really haven't used them all that much.

However, the new codex did bring along one of my favourite units, Ravenwing Black Knights. They're the undoubted stars of the codex. I'm not trying to triumph the cause of an underdog here, Black Knights are, for me the best unit in the book. Twin-linked plasma, rending S5 hammers and fancy grenade shenanigans on a unit that has a near permanent 3+/3++ save makes for my kind of fun. In general I love units that are at their best when they're right in my opponents face and Black Knights are certainly that. As I say, the problem is the rest of the codex doesn't really get me going.

Dark Eldar
Of my current four armies this is the trickiest one in which to choose a favourite. The problem is that I still think all of the models are stunning. Wyches are great fun to use as they're flimsy most of the time but solid in combat and funny against dreadnoughts! Sadly, they just end up being a tarpit most of the time. Hellions are awesome models and with Baron Sathonyx they can be fun to use but they're too flimsy. The model that got me into collecting the Dark Eldar army was the Razorwing Jetfighter but I'm really not a huge fan of flyers.

One unit does stand out as a favourite though, Reaver Jetbikes. Their bladevanes attack is just brilliant fun to use. Of course a lot of the time they end up getting hammered after making a single sweep but your opponent can't ignore them. I love running two units to harass objective holding units and static units like devastators. Then if there's something squishy they have a solid amount of attacks to finish a unit off in combat. They're also not too shabby against vehicles when you throw in a couple of heat lances. Not the most effective unit in the book but a lot of fun nonetheless.

This is another tricky one. Tau are mostly a gunline army, sure you can mechanise them and they have some fast units but for the most part they don't really excel at getting stuck in. In some ways my favourite Tau unit is the humble fire warriors, often underestimated but to me they're fantastic for 9pts a piece. Another contender would be my commander and his helios crisis team (plasma/fusion). It's incredibly fun to risk dropping them into the thick of enemy units and annihilate an entire squad with a single volley! Model-wise I've always loved the Sky Ray but despite not being as bad as people think, it's still doesn't perform well enough to make it fun for me.

The new codex gave my a clear winner though. I don't think I win any points for originality but it's the Riptide that takes it for my Tau army. Initially I was distinctly underwhelmed by the big guy. He seemed to a be a lot of points for something that wasn't devastatingly effective. However, he's won me over with his interceptor shenanigans and for the fear he instills in flyers and deep striking terminators alike. Certainly not my usual get stuck in style but fun all the same. So much so that I've currently got a second of the fellas on my modelling table at the moment (more on him soon).

Space Wolves
My first love (sort of) throughout my 40K career from 2nd edition until 6th. Of course I never had a SW army in 2nd or 3rd edition but I always wanted one. The thing that always put me off was that I knew I'd never be able to do them justice with my painting at the time. However, there's still something about them that makes me want to keep writing lists for 6th edition even though the book is starting to show signs of age. The current codex is home to my all time favourite 40K unit but there are a number of other highlights first. I'm a huge fan of rune priests for how dirty I feel using Jaws, I love a lone wolf for the fear such a cheap model can cause to land raiders, grey hunters and their "brick wall" ability are great and wolf priests with outflanking shenanigans are a ton of fun. Back in 2nd/3rd edition I always wanted to use Ragnar and he's still one of my favourite characters despite losing out a bit to Furious Charge changes.

An incredibly close second is Arjac Rockfist. He's often overlooked by players who won't go anywhere near the special characters but for 188pts he brings an awful lot to the table. I've achieved some incredible feats with him over time I've used him and he rarely has a dull game. However, there's one unit I love more than anything else.

No prizes for guessing it's the thunderwolves. Anyone who's read this blog for a while won't be shocked. When I first read the codex I knew I wanted some but with a lack of models I was forced to source some from the Philippines of all places! They're a classic example of a hit and miss unit that's either devastating or a damp squib. Whenever I write a Space Wolves list I'm determined to squeeze some in. They're such a bullet magnet that I've had people shoot their entire army at them to try and slow them down. Of fourse they sometimes don't make it into combat but when they do it's brilliant to watch your opponents face when you roll 6 attacks each at S5 with Rending.

However, my favourite use of a thunderwolf, and ultimately my favourite unit, is the thunderlord. He may be the same price as a land raider but he's unbelievably fun to use. I run mine with a claw, shield and saga of the bear. With runic armour and a that 3++ save he'll nearly always make it into combat and when he does he always kicks someone's teeth in. There aren't many things that can deal with him easily assuming they even survived the initial onslaught! Couple him with some thunderwolf cavalry and you have my favourite deathstar. Horrendously unreliable but when they're winning they're stunning.

Ultimately for me, the best units are the ones that your opponents simply can't ignore. It may be that they aren't really that effective but their prescence on the board strikes fear into the unprepared. Whilst they may not technically be one of my units, Matt and I have always had fun with dreadknights (and indeed I'd say they're Matt's nerd crush). I just love getting stuck in with stuff. The reason our doubles list was soo much fun to play (to the point where we used the same list several times) was that by the end of turn 1 most of our army was in the opponent's deployment zone.

Many may claim that 6th edition is even more about shooting than 5th edition was towards the end but close combat is far more exciting. Shooting often just comes down to pointing at a unit and rolling dice until it dies. Close combat feels a lot more personal. Think about your favourite moments from action films, it's rarely the pitched gun battles. It's the hand-to-hand grapples between the hero and his nemesis that get your heart racing. To me 40K is no different and its why I find armies like the Necron air wing and Tau missile spam so dull. Shooting something off the table isn't fun. Now I realise I'm sitting here as a Tau player saying that but my Tau list has a lot of in your face stuff.

Anyway, I'm off to write some Tau and Space Wolf lists! What are your favourite units and why?

Wednesday, July 03, 2013

6th Edition 40K - You're Doing It Wrong! (maybe) - Special Rules

We may be over a year into 6th edition but there are still a handful of things that I suspect a lot of people are doing wrong. Indeed some of them were things I was doing wrong until I had a bit of a read through the book again. This time around I'm looking at the universal special rules. Once again a lot of this stuff I think stems from people thinking the rule didn't change from 5th edition.

One For All, All for One
Minor thing but something that I think gets overlooked. Several rules have the line "one or more models in the unit" which implies that only a single model is required to apply the special rule to the who unit. A good example of this is Fearless. Several characters have the Fearless special rule and now automatically give it to any unit they join. It's worth checking out the rules that your army uses a lot and checking whether they only require one model or if they say something like "if all the models in a unit have this special rule".

Big one for the Eldar players and something I'm sure that they wouldn't miss. Fleet not only allows you to re-roll the charge distance but also the Run move. Now this probably isn't that big a deal for everyone else but for Eldar it's huge as a lot of their army has the winning combination of Fleet and Battle Focus.

Pretty sure this was the way it worked in 5th edition but it's worth remembering that a model you hit with a concussive weapon will suffer the initiative penalty until the end of the next assault phase. It's probably worth sticking a counter next to them so that you don't forget in the next assault phase. Pretty big deal for hammers and the like against big monstrous creatures.

Hammer of Wrath
For those of you who actually remember to use their HoW attacks (I usually forget) it's worth noting that only models that have made it into base contact with the enemy (you don't get an extra I10 pile in move) get to make a HoW attack. Makes sense when you read the spirit of the rule but I'm sure some will be giving it to an entire squad as long as they're engaged.

Move Through Cover
The rule still works in the same way for movement, giving you an extra D6 when getting through cover. However, it doesn't do anything for charges, you still roll 3D6 and lose the highest. However, another benefit of the rule that gets overlooked is that models with the rule automatically pass Dangerous Terrain tests. This is especially imporant for flying monstrous creatures who obviously don't have to test when they take off from or land in, difficult terrain.

Poisoned weapons are great against high toughness targets but lower toughness is irritating as you still require a 4+ (or whatever) to wound. Well actually you don't. In close combat if the attacker's strength is higher for example S4 vs T3 they'd still need 3+ to wound rather than the 4+ of their poisoned weapon. In addition they'll also be re-rolling to wound.

Sadly this doesn't help Dark Eldar out much as their poisoned guns don't list a strength value (and are hence S1) meaning they still need 4+ even against flimsy infantry.

Preferred Enemy
Can't say I've particularly noticed people doing this wrong but it's worth remembering that Preferred Enemy is no longer a simple re-roll to hit. Instead you get to re-roll any 1s when rolling to hit AND to wound in both the shooting and assault phases. In addition, I can't see anything stopping you using Preferred Enemy for Overwatch.

This is a pretty stupid FAQ change in my opinion but remember that rending attacks aren't AP2 when they hit a vehicle. They still get their bonus D3 to the penetration rolls but they don't get +1 on the damage table. Can't see a good reason for it but worth knowing all the same.

Slow and Purposeful
Pretty sure everyone knew about this but for those that didn't remember that firstly S&P doesn't slow normal movement anymore but rather it stops the unit from being able to Run. Secondly, models with this rule can't fire Overwatch. Pretty big deal for the likes of Thousands Sons for example. Worth remembering if you're facing them.

Nice short post for a change. I don't think there's all that much that people may be getting wrong with the special rules. For the most part they're actually pretty similar to 5th but, as I say, I think that's what trips people up.

Are there any rules you're seeing people messing up? Have you been to a tournament recently and had it pointed out to you that you're doing it wrong?

Tuesday, July 02, 2013

Warhammer 40,000 6th Edition - A Year On

Just over a year ago I was down at Warhammer World for a doubles tournament on the weekend 6th edition was released. We'd managed to persuade our FLGS to give us our rulebooks on the Friday and had been frantically swotting up on the rules. The doubles event was the last of 5th edition but they were also running a 500pt event on the Saturday night as the first tournament of the new rules. I learned three valuable lessons about 6th even in that first tournament. Firstly that flyers would be a problem (a stormtalon pretty much killed my whole army), assault units would struggle (orks never got close as I kept killing the front models) and Matt is incapable of writing a fun, friendly list (he took two dreadnoughts, two razorbacks and Coteaz at 500pts and won the event).

A lot has changed in 40K over the last 12 months so I thought it'd be good to look back over what's changed to try and give us some idea of what to expect over the next year.

The End of 5th Edition
Towards the end of 5th edition we'd had Grey Knights, Dark Eldar and Necrons. Each book had taught us different things. Grey Knights were spamming AV11 hulls, S6 firepower and S8 dreadnoughts. Dark Eldar were all about poisoned fire and darklight weaponry. Finally, Necrons gave us a glimpse of what was to come from 6th edition (since Matt Ward wrote the codex shortly before the 6th ed. book). Necrons were pretty strong in late 5th edition but nothing could quite prepare us for what would change when flyers got their proper rules.

There's no doubt that 5th edition was about mech. If your army couldn't deal with several rhinos or chimeras then you may as well go home. They were simply everywhere. This meant there were a lot of krak missiles and meltaguns around. Despite being an older codex (in comparison), Space Wolves could still hold their own with their ability to take low cost missile launchers in droves and special weapons on the cheap. The "flyers" of 5th edition were played as fast skimmers and were no more difficult to deal with than any other vehicle. For this reason they weren't really getting a lot of use outside of vendettas.

The Dawn of a New Age
The first thing that people noticed in the new rules was that flyers were going to be big. Once you hit them they were no harder to kill than other vehicles but hitting them at all was the issue. In those early days your only options were a guad-gun/Icarus lascannon, a hydra (which couldn't hit ground targets very easily) or flyers of your own. In those early days they were ruling the skies and everything else for that matter.

Flyers weren't the only thing. Hull points had weakened vehicles and transports weren't as effective as you could no longer charge from a stationary rhino nor get out of a vehicle that'd moved at Cruising Speed. It was more difficult to charge too. You could potentially charge further but with Overwatch and the new wound allocation there's no doubt it was now more difficult.  Oh and once you made it into combat your power swords would be no help against terminators.

Some units had been rendered near useless by changes to the reserve rules. Gone were wolf scouts, genestealers, webway portals and the like. On the face of it the new edition hadn't changed a lot of the core rules but those little changes had far reaching implications.

Psychic powers had changed significantly but in those early days there weren't many who'd thought about the effect this would have. Most had discovered Prescience but otherwise the new powers didn't seem impressive.

The allies system, whilst screwing some (by which I mean Tyranids of course) would change the way we wrote army lists for good (but not necessarily for the best).

There were actually far too many subtle changes to discuss here. Changes to wound allocation, FNP, Furious Charge, Fleet, power weapons (if it looks like an axe it's an axe), etc to name just a few. Armies that could hold their own in 5th would now struggle in the new rule set. There weren't many lists that could perform well without an overhaul.

Move with the Meta
Every forum and blog was proclaiming that transports were dead and infantry were the new kings of the table-top. Before we'd even got a new codex people were shelving their rhinos and foot-slogging their way to victory. Dark Eldar were proclaimed useless (which I still dispute) as their low AV, low hull point vehicles would apparently be useless in this era of infantry spam.

The undisputed kings of this new meta were Necrons. Whilst IG could take a few vendettas, Necrons could take 4+ flyers at sub-2K without hampering the rest of the army. Having annihilation barges, flyers and wraiths in varying quantity was a sure fire recipe for success.

Elsewhere, other armies were ditching their meltaguns in favour of plasma which had more hope of dealing with the widely proclaimed dominance of 2+ armour (again which I dispute). The new rules were already changing the way we play. Dealing with flyers was a major factor in list building but it was still reasonable to ignore them and hope you didn't meet them in great numbers.

Surprise! New Codex!
When rumours of codex release schedules came out there was a resounding chorus of "there's no way they'll release so many in such a short time". Within the space of a year, however, we've been treated to Chaos Space Marines, Dark Angels, Daemons, Tau and Eldar with probably a couple more before the year is out.

Each codex seems to have brought with it a game changing unit (with the possible exception of Dark Angels). The Heldrake changed the way we think about flyers, gone were the short-lived days where we could ignore them. A flyer that could deal with troops with ease was something you had to pay attention too. I still think about them when writing lists now. Dark Angels heralded lists that could put out a formidable amount of anti-infantry firepower.

The Daemons codex, much maligned by most, highlighted just what flying monstrous creatures could do in numbers. Not to mention taking them as allies with CSM to bring a couple of heldrakes to the party.

If Dark Angels had been able to spam anti-infantry fire thanks to the banner, Tau took it to a whole new level. Not only can fire warriors spew out a disgusting amount of S5 firepower but broadsides were now churning out S7 in abundance. However, for me, the key thing with the Tau codex is the use of interceptor, especially from riptides and broadsides. Armies that rely on their reserves to disrupt gunlines would now struggle and flyers could be taken out before they opened fire.

What Eldar will do to the meta remains to be seen but I predict they'll shift the meta back in a 5th edition style direction with vehicles seeing dominance again. Can your current list deal with several AV12 vehicles with both mobility and firepower? Not to mention they're able to bring S6 firepower in great volume (not that they couldn't before but it's now BS4).

So What is the Current Meta?
I'm not sure their is one to be honest. We've had so many new books that the meta hasn't really being able to stabilise long enough to plan an army around it. By the time you've bought, assembled and painted those models the meta will have shifted and you'll be buying more. Great for Games Workshop but a nightmare to write a list around.

However, we might actually be getting a couple of months off. Apocalypse may have some units that can be used in regular games of 40K but I can't see it really changing things that much .We've then got until September before we're rumoured to see Space Marines. That means at least 2 or 3 months of semi-stability.

During that time I'd expect Eldar to show what they can do. With many still of the belief that the codex is weak (seriously?!) there'll be some harsh lessons to be learned. Tau have the flexibility to deal with most things but mono-build armies will start to show their age I think.

The Future
The Iyanden supplement may not have changed a lot for Eldar players but it does open up an interesting range of possibilities. For fluff players it will be excellent to see some themed armies based around a supplement but in tournament play I'd expect players to pick, choose and abuse. Still it'll be nice to see some of the other chapters getting a look-in from the SM codex.

The format for the new books seems to be 104-page codex, new flyer, new big thing, couple of re-done plastics, a new finecast HQ, new plastic character and psychic cards where appropriate. It's difficult to see how they could fit all of the SM chapters into 104 pages without doing supplements. Each codex doesn't bring about the massive changes we've seen from the likes of Dark Eldar and Necrons but at least there's a chance each army will be updated before 7th edition (if there's going to be one any time soon).

Hopefully the meta will stabilize a little over the coming months but I predict that we'll make a bit of a shift back to mech and flyers won't be as dominant with so many options to deal with them now. That's something that's really changed with the new books, every army (except Tyranids) has either got their own anti-air an ally with some.

I can't say I'm especially excited about the new SM codex but the prospect of new Tyranids, Orks and IG is certainly interesting. I wonder how updated books for Orks and Tyranids will allow traditionally assaulty armies to function in this era of shooty dominance.

On a personal note, whilst I did pick up the Eldar book I've not managed to persuade myself to pick up any models. I don't really want to fork out for a new army and I know that if I started with Eldar I'd want a jetbike list, mech list and wraith list which won't come cheap. I may, however, consider a small allied detachment to join my DE and inject some life back into them. In the meantime I'm going to focus on getting my existing armies painted up, my scenery sorted and maybe stockpile some Orks....


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