Monday, April 24, 2017

Thoughts on the New Edition of 40K Q&A Session

I wasn't intending to post again so soon after the report from Battle Brothers so go back and read that if you're interested. I also want to take this opportunity to say that no matter when 8th edition is released, Double Trouble will still be using 7th edition. The event is just under six weeks away (tickets are still available...) and I don't think it's fair to suddenly change the rules for it when some of us won't have had much chance to playtest. Perhaps I'll run an event later in the year making full use of the new system once we've all had more time to get to grips with it.

Right, this post is just a collection of thoughts I had after watching the Q&A video that GW posted on Facebook. You should go and check that out first if you haven't already. This post might seem a bit randomly ordered but it's the order I thought of things as they were talking about them. I've tried to add headings to make it easier to follow but they're a bit vague. Anyway, here goes...

I'm really pleased that movement values are back. It feels a lot more realistic that everything moves at a different speed. Sure the different unit types moved differently e.g. bikes and jump units but all of the footslogging stuff moved 6". That doesn't make sense to me. I imagine Terminators being slow but tough and wyches being lightning fast but flimsy. Obviously they tried to incorporate this with initiative and things like Fleet but it never really felt right. It also will hopefully simplify things a bit. That might not initially make any sense but I think a lot of the special rules won't be necessary any more which will save a lot of book work during the game to look up the less common ones. I'd welcome any system that doesn't require me to constantly check the rulebook/codex for things I don't remember clearly.

I know the morale check thing is kind of old news now but I haven't had much chance to thing about it. I like the idea that units don't fall back anymore. Well, that's assuming they don't eventually do so. All of the models in the game have supposedly been fighting these wars for years (if not centuries or even millennia) yet they fall back when a handful of their squad die. It's one thing making a tactical withdrawal but having no say in it and legging it off the field never felt quite right. Obviously some units bypassed this but a lot that should've didn't e.g. CSM. At first glance the new mechanic seems strange:

"Roll a D6, add that to the number of models your unit has lost this turn, subtract your Leadership and take that many additional casualties"

The problem is we're thinking of applying it in our current system. They've said in this latest video that stats are no longer capped at 10. Let's say Space Marines are Ld 12. They'd need to lose 7 models before they lost anything and that's assuming you rolled a 6. That would make them effectively fearless without needing a rule for it. An Ork unit might get better leadership depending on how many models are in the unit at the time of being shot at. Would make sense from a fluff point of view too. Basically, like a lot of things there's a wait and see element but this sounds promising.

Vehicle/MC Damage
Vehicle/MC damage charts are yet more evidence that they're returning to a lot of the ideas from the earlier editions. I only hope that having a chart for each vehicle/MC doesn't get too complicated. It'd be nice if they release a PDF of all of these so you can print them out and have them to hand. If not I'm sure some enterprising person will make some - might even be me! We'd definitely need some way of keeping track of these things. It sounds more fun though. Obviously it was there in the current edition but taking out a dreadnought's legs feels more thematic than just immobilising it. Hope this pans out as well as I think it will. The most important thing is HP is gone so you'll actually feel like you're hampering a vehicle by doing some damage to it rather than it being at full strength with 1 of it's 9 HP remaining!

Having a damage chart for each individual vehicle is an interesting idea. I like that vehicles get weaker the more damage they take. Let's face it, this was the old system that they're basically bringing back. My concern is that it'll over-complicate things and it'll be difficult to keep track of what damage has been done. It's certainly more fun though to think that you're ripping an arm off a dreadnought or damaging the tracks on a tank than simply stripping hull points.

Damage, Templates, Modifiers, etc.
I was initially concerned about their comment that everything can hurt everything. Whilst I know it's frustrating to feel like your army can literally do nothing to your opponent (this happened with my Venoms this weekend against Astra Militarum), it doesn't make sense that a poxy lasgun could damage a tank with incredibly thick armour or shielding. However, it seems their bringing Damage back as a stat for the guns. If you aren't familiar with it, check out the Necromunda/Shadow War rules. It was instead of instant death and it's a much better system. Be interesting to see how it all works out and interacts together.

Speaking of which, modifiers to hit sound like they're back which I'm in favour of. If that takes away things like cover saves from the game then I'm happy. It's stupid that my space marine in the open is as easy to hit as one who can barely be seen in the gaps in a barricade. He'd be taking his armour save most of the time anyway! Cover really doesn't feel cinematic enough to me. It always felt much better in Necromunda and early 40K though. Making me want to flick through my old rulebooks to see what they've borrowed. Perhaps I will when we finally get 8th. I've got 2nd, 3rd, 5th & 6th on the shelf above my head.

One of the things I'd hoped would return from the old editions were the other dice! Bring me back my D20! If stats are going to go above 10 then I think a D6 system will be too limiting. It'd also be a good opportunity to flog us some dice and give a bit of variety to things. On that subject, I'm probably one of the few people in favour of the removal of templates. Of course their an iconic part of 40K, I get that, they're limiting though. They've never felt quite right to me either. A flamer isn't filling the room with gouts of flame, it's kept them in a very neat teardrop instead. A space marine with a frag missile can't hit something 10 feet in front of him because it scatters away. Whilst scattering back onto yourself is entertaining it doesn't make much sense. Templates/blasts have always been a source of argument at tournaments too so anything that minimises that has to be a good move.

The biggest thing for the removal of templates though is that deployment will be significantly quicker. Not having to spend time spreading out your unit whilst avoiding the scenery etc is a bonus. When I've played games against lists without any blasts it's refreshing to just plonk the models down and get on with it. Anything that makes games quicker whilst also making things feel like they should is fine by me.

Faster Games
Speaking of quicker games. I love the idea that a game could be done in 90 minutes. That might mean we could get four or even five games into a single day tournament. That makes a big difference to Swiss Pairs for a start. We might have to all accept that things don't feel as resilient as they used to though. More decisive battles would be cool. We played some Armada this week and it's limited to six rounds to the damage comes thick and fast and ships are blown up pretty quickly when things fall right. I wish 40K were that dramatic. Of course it is at times but often you're chipping away at a huge fearless unit for several turns or combats drag on for the whole game. Having epic games that take a whole day to play are part of the joy of 40K at times but when it's a one-sided affair at a tournament and it drags on for two hours after the point you know you've lost is no good for anyone.

Command Points and FOCs
I'm intrigued by command points but perhaps a little worried that they'll be the thing that gets exploited. It'll add a new tactical dimension having a pool of command points and deciding when to spend them for maximum effect. Having different ways to spend them depending on faction is a nice idea too. I also like that FOCs are still there but there'll be more to choose from. I can only pray that they don't feel like Formations. If the only bonus is command points then they probably won't but only time will tell. From the snippets we've got so far it does sound like there'll be less opportunity to break the game. Supposedly all of the myriad units in the game will be useful in some way. I'd welcome this but I'm hugely skeptical that this is possible without removing some of their identity in the process.

I really hope close combat can come back to the fore. Recently, apart from a couple of exceptions, it's all been about shooting. Combat has always been my favourite part of any game and it's frustrating that a lot of my favourite combat-centric units aren't much use at the moment. The charging unit hitting first makes huge sense! Obviously there's Hammer of Wrath but it doesn't really feel right.

Allies and Filth
Sounds like they've reduced the opportunities for creating dirty combinations. That's a good thing to me. Allies are all well and good but they've stripped away a lot of the identity of the armies. Dark Eldar for example have been reduced to a means to webway our wraithguard into a battle. I'd have preferred them to get rid completely but I wasn't really expecting this to happen. Seems like they're still there but there'll be a big benefit to taking an army from a single faction. Reducing the number of combinations might sound like a road to monotony but the game at the moment is almost impossible to keep track of for those of us who don't play several times a week.

It was funny watching the comments coming in on FB as I was watching it back. As ever with these things there's going to be hordes of people overreacting to the snippets of information that we've got without seeing the rules as a whole. I think that's the key thing here. Wait until you've got the rules in your hand and have had time to digest them before you start burning your models (yes, I know it was a parody). As a community we like to make snap judgements on things. I know I'm making positive assumptions here too but I think that's healthier than all of the negativity around at the moment.

I'm reassured to hear that it sounds like there's been hours of playtesting which wasn't just in-house. I'm sure the old editions were playtested too but clearly they're bothering to think about how all of the rules will affect all of the armies and their individual units. That's got to be a good thing even if they don't get it quite right straight away. I'm a little insulted that it sounds like most of the playtesters were American. I know the tournament scene is bigger in terms of volume of players there but still. I like Reece and Frankie from Frontline though. Their ITC system has really helped standardise things over there. I don't agree with all of it but still, it's a step in the right direction.

I actually enjoyed blogging about this stuff. I'd like to return to my codex review style posts when the new stuff comes out. Make it easier for everyone to get to grips with things (including myself).

In summary, I'm cautiously optimistic. The idea of regularly updated rules with full community involvement is what we've all been asking for. BB has definitely benefited from a "living" rulebook and I think 40K will too. Let's just try to take 8th as a clean slate and not spend too much time making negative comparisons to the current game. 40K is far from perfect in it's current guise!

New factions!! I hope they really mean that. Not just a new chapter of Space Marines. Would be cool to rediscover some of the lost legions though....

Tournament Report - Doubles at Warhammer World - Ynnari

It's been a long time since we've managed to attend a doubles event at Warhammer World. In fact, looking back through the blog posts it was July 2014!! That sounds far too long ago but thinking about it, it's probably true. With the refurb of WHW there were no events for a while and then all the subsequent doubles fell on weekends that weren't suitable for us. The doubles events were the ones that really got Matt and I hooked on tournament play so we've been to quite a few now. The game is just better with four people I think. Having someone to discuss tactics with and watching your opponents do the same is really interesting. **SHAMELESS PLUG WARNING** If you'd like to try out doubles gaming for yourself, why not buy a ticket for Double Trouble 2 on June 10th. Details can be found by clicking on the DT2 logo on the right!

Anyway, this time around we toyed with various different lists. We needed two 900pt armies to make a combined 1,800pt force. I think that's the highest points limit we've ever had. We toyed with various horrendous combinations of Imperial Knights, wraithknights, dreadknights, Ta'unar, etc but decided to give the recently released Ynnari a spin. We only managed to a get a couple of test games in but it's a good job we did as using the Soulburst effectively is key to success with them. The list we settled on was:

899pts of Ynnari
Maugan Ra
2x 5 Kabalites Warriors in a Venom
Venom (for Maugan Ra)
3 Reavers
6 Swooping Hawks (incl. Exarch)

899pts of Ynnari
Farseer Skyrunner (Spirit Stone of Anath'lan)
5 Kabalites Warriors in a Venom
3 Windriders
3 Reavers (incl. cluster caltrops)
2x 5 Scourges (4 Haywire in each)
Wraithknight (wraithcannons, scatter laser)

Nothing too filthy I don't think. Obviously Ynnari are powerful but there's no scatter windriders, no wraithguard in raiders, etc. A fairly mixed list that should be fun to play with and against we hoped. I'll try to keep the battle reports brief for a change. Here goes!

Game One - Ynnari vs. CSM/Daemons
Our first game was Cloak and Shadows against Fateweaver, some heralds with screamers (2++ re-rollable saves), some blue horrors, some CSM, a terminator sorcerer, firestorm redoubt with lascannons and a land raider.

Fateweaver headed straight down the middle of the board and was frankly pretty lucky to survive two turns of shooting from pretty much all of the Dark Eldar. He passed a ton of 3+ saves and all his grounding tests to cling on with a single wound remaining to fly off the board to return in turn 4. Elsewhere their Wraithknight used a Soulburst to kill the land raider in their first turn with a D shot when some nearby Reavers perished. The land raider turned into the Yncarne and between them they slowly worked his way through everything else in the army whilst the Dark Eldar were mostly out of range thanks to the deployment.

Ultimately, the Yncarne ended up in combat with the 2++ re-rollable screamers for the rest of the game whilst we tried to rack up the VPs. It wasn't until later that we realised we'd brought the Swooping Hawks in on T2 only to forget about them for the rest of the game. They could've been attacking Fateweaver and claiming objectives but they were lost in their dead pile which they kept to the edge of the table. The game ended in a narrow victory of 14-12 helped in no small part by me rolling 3 for all three of the D3 point objectives we scored!

Unfortunately, one of our two opponents was pretty miserable throughout the game because he took an instant dislike to us for running Ynnari. It's a shame as this was our closest game so could've been a lot more fun.

Game Two - Ynnari vs. DA/Tyranids
Not your most likely of combinations and something you'd be more likely to find at Double Trouble with its random pairings (hint hint). Anyway, basically it was 60 hormagaunts, 30 termagants, three zoanthropes and an exocrine. The DA portion wasw two rhinos with tactical squads, two predators, DW knights in a pod and Ezekiel. The mission was Spoils of War. They won the roll-off but we Seized!

The Venoms lay waste to the Tyranids early on with the Exocrine and two of the Zoanthropes gone in the first turn. The Wraighknight struggled to kill the predators and the Scourges didn't give much help leaving both on a single hull point. That spelled doom for the Wraightknight who ended up dying to overwatch having lost all but one wound in their shooting phase. Meanwhile, the Yncarne got tied up fighting some Hormagaunts until the other Zoanthrope died to remove their Fearless. The DE continued to chew through the Tyranids and the Yncarne eventually turned her attention to the DA with the Scourges helping by finishing off the predators. Other than killing the Wraithknight the only highlight for our opponents came from the Deathwing Knights who soaked up a lot of fire and killed Maugan Ra in combat before eventually being whittled down to end the game.

By the time the dust settled we'd managed to find 21 VPs from the objectives and our opponents hadn't scored at all. A pretty one-sided affair throughout and I felt for the Tyranid player who was a spectator from quite an early stage.

Game Three - Ynnari vs. Cult Mech./Wolves
The last game of Saturday would be Tactical Escalation. Our opponents had two units of four breachers, a unit of four destroyers and a dominus. The wolves had WG in a drop pod, WG terminators, a lord on thunderwolf and a squad of TWC. They won the roll off but, to our surprise, gave us the first turn.

The venoms and concentrated on the destroyers early on to try to protect the wraithknight. The dominus went down and in came the Yncarne who somehow find herself in a charge from the TWC as we'd not thought about them when we brought her in (despite carefully placing everything else in our list out of charge range during turn one). The rest of our army was able to focus on everything else though including the drop pod of WG and terminators who arrived on successive turns. The breachers were eventually whittled down by the rest of the firepower and the wraithknight waded into the combat hoping to save the Yncarne and end the game. We'd also thrown in some sacrificial Reavers to die to try to get some wounds back for her.

The squad leader for the TWC had other ideas though. The wolf lord had long since died to the Yncarne but he decided to avenge his brother by smashing down the Yncarne. He also put some wounds on the Wraithknight who'd stomped the rest of the squad away. That put the Wraithknight on initiative 1 thanks to Concussive (which I don't think I've ever actually managed to use!) meaning they'd strike simultaneously. In an epic end to an otherwise pretty one-sided game, the heroic Space Wolf took out the Wraithknight but died in the process. He'll certainly make it into the sagas!!

Whilst all that was going on we managed to take a 17-3 win on VPs to give us a healthy 52-15 scoreline for the day.

Game Four - Ynnari vs. Astra Militarum
We knew our list would struggle with heavily mechanised lists and that's exactly what we found ourselves against on Sunday morning for the Deadlock mission. Five Taurox, two Wyverns, a Vanquisher, some rough riders, two lots of armoured sentinels and two Vendettas. Our opponents won the roll off for first turn (I don't think we won one all day!).

Their first turn was unbelievable, pretty much everything they tried to do worked. Three of the venoms went down, two of which to single autocannons on the Taurox which hit, pen'd and rolled 6s to explode after I failed the cover saves! That did give the Wraithknight a free shooting phase but he missed with one gun and the other pinged off the trees hiding the Wyvern. That would be the story of the game. We'd really need the D shots to be hot but Matt fired 11 shots (i.e. 6 lots of shooting) before we managed to kill the Wyverns who'd been the targets every time! That's just insanely unlikely to happen! The Wyverns took full advantage and their barrages lay waste to big chunks of our army. We did at least manage to take out a Taurox to bring in the Yncarne....

Well, that didn't go great either. They drew the Kingslayer card so unloaded a pile of guardsmen to fire at her. Matt failed an ungodly number of 3+ saves and she perished without moving an inch! Granted we'd missed an opportunity to get her into combat with a Soulburst but still, gutted. Eventually the Wraithknight started to wade through their army in combat but by that point their VP total was well out of reach.

I don't think we've ever had a game where our luck was quite so abysmal. Our opponents must've felt invincible because pretty much everything they tried to do worked out. Part of the problem was that a big chunk of our army (i.e. the Venoms) was either dead early on or impotent because there were no non-vehicles on the table for most of the game. We were perhaps foolish to bring the Yncarne in on our turn but it felt like the right place and time. It basically came down to all those failed D shots. If even a couple of the early ones had worked it would've changed the face of the game. The final result was a 10-18 loss.

Game Five - Ynnari vs. Orks/Unbound
We were grateful not to have to play another Vanguard Strike game and instead we got Contact Lost. The opposing army consisted of grot tanks, killa kans, a Shadowsword, leman russ, Chaos Terminators, grots and a mek gun.

Another mismatch that proves that random pairings often don't make for fun games for everyone. The opposing army was certainly nice to look at though and eventually scooped three of the painting awards (I was a little suspicious about the number of people from their gaming group who might've voted for them though). They went first and killed off one of the Venoms with the Shadowsword. It proved costly though as the Wraithknight found his form again and stripped 8 hull points from him in response before finishing the job in our turn and charging the Leman Russ to kill that too. It was then The Scourges chewed through the killa kans and with help from Maugan Ra the Grot Megatank went down to give the Yncarne her entrance.

Nothing particularly dramatic happened in the game from this point on. We slowly chewed through their army and, despite losing some Scourges for a lone Killa Kan charge, they had a pretty miserable time of it. We managed to pick up a 13-4 win and probably could've dragged it out for more if the Scourges had stayed in combat with the kan rather than running off the board! It was a shame to end the day with such a one-sided affair that I don't think either of us really enjoyed.

You might be thinking that 4:1 win/loss ratio would place us pretty high in the standings but, since we didn't pick up a single favourite game vote, it was only good enough for 67th out of 89 teams! Had it been scored purely on VPs we'd have been 16th mind you. We knew going in that they were scoring it on fave games though so we weren't too worried. Incidentally, our vote went to our third game for the epic antics of that TWC squad leader. They were also really nice guys who we'd have loved to play again some time. Shame they're from Kent so that's perhaps unlikely!

Looking around there didn't seem to be that many insanely broken lists. It seemed from talking to people like there was a lot of Ynnari but probably the daftest thing we saw was this:

The main thing was that the event delivered on what we hoped. It was a great atmosphere (if a little warm) and we had a great time in most of our games. They stopped proceedings to play the 8th edition announcement video which didn't really tell us anything we didn't already know. It'll be interesting to see how tournament play changes though. I'm cautiously optimistic about it but I hope I'll be able to get a post up with some of my wishlisting for the new version of the game.

I think our list delivered on being fun to play, if perhaps not to play against. It's interesting to try to figure out the best way to get the most from Soulburst. Clearly a nonsense though really. The sort of thing I hope gets fixed with the new rules.

Saturday, April 22, 2017

Dark Eldar (or is that Ynnari?) for the Doubles - Part 4 - Finished (sort of)

Just packed up my army for the doubles at Warhammer World this weekend. I should probably be getting some sleep in preparation for a long day's gaming tomorrow but I wanted to show you how I've got on with my Dark Eldar painting project for the event. I'd got the following in various states of painted that I hoped to have ready in time:

  • Archon
  • 15 Kabalite Warriors
  • 4 Venoms
  • 10 Scourges
  • 7 Reavers
Well, after a bit of a test session on Wednesday (which I had hoped to blog about before now), we decided to ditch the Archon and one of the Reavers (along with his cluster caltrops) in order to squeeze Maugan Ra in as my HQ choice. I wasn't too bothered by this as my Archon was the only thing I'd managed to get "finished" for Double Trouble. I'd have been annoyed if I'd put hours into him in this project only to write him out of the list. I can cope with one Reaver not being involved! 

Anyway, apologies for the crappy pictures but it's late and I couldn't be bothered to set things up properly. Maybe I'll get round to some better pictures at some point. Here's a summary of what I've been doing since the last post. 

I've rolled out the orange and red wings to the rest of the Scourges. Painting the black bits back in on the orange took far more time than it should've last night but I'm happy with how the wings have turned out. It did mean that I didn't get time to do the vials/pipes properly or paint their armour properly but hopefully the bright wings will distract people from that! I never got round to getting the airbrush out for them so opted for a bit of a Jokaero Orange basecoat then 3 thin coats of Troll Slayer. Probably would've been quicker with the airbrush but that would've meant painting in the garage rather than on my knee in the lounge and "spending time" with my missus.

I updated the paint job on my fourth venom (it had previously been painted with Liche Purple which didn't match the rest). Once they were all done I added a couple of transfers to the flags and glued in the gunners. Out of interest, did anyone else find the gunners were leaning back quite a way or is this just because I've used the ones from the Raider sets instead of the wyches? I ended up filing their feet down so they stood up straighter.

I've tidied up all of the Kabalites with purple shoulders and knees to match the gunners and Reavers. I unfortunately haven't had time to do ANY of the line highlighting on them, the Scourges or most of the Reavers. It's a shame but hopefully I'll find the motivation to come back to it later.

Well I'll be taking plenty more shots of them at the tournament tomorrow so hopefully you'll get a better look at their paintjobs then. For now it's midnight and I should really turn in. I'll try to get battle reports for the tournament up early next week. I should have more time for blogging over the next few weeks as I won't be frantically painting. I do want to get the Blood Bowl teams ready for the next session mind you...

Wednesday, April 12, 2017

MASK Blood Bowl League - Day One

We've been meaning to get a four player Blood Bowl league started for years. We'd tried to run a league in the past but whilst Matt and I were interested, the other two just weren't feeling the love. The new boxed set at the end of last year was a great excuse to kick start the search for a couple more players. We found them in the form of Steve (from my work) and Kern (a friend of Matt's). Neither of them own any BB stuff themselves so Steve would take my Humans and Kern would use my Orcs. Hopefully if they stay interested they'll fancy picking up one of the new teams that will have hopefully been released by then.

Anyway, that left us with our four teams (3 re-rolls each):

  1. Alex - Dwarves (2 troll slayers, 2 blitzers, 2 runners and 5 linemen)
  2. Matt - Skaven (rat ogre, 2 blitzers, 3 gutter runners, 5 linerats)
  3. Steve - Humans (ogre, 4 blitzers, 1 thrower, 5 linemen)
  4. Kern - Orcs (4 black orcs, 4 blitzers, 1 thrower, 2 linemen)
My warmup game against a wall of orcs

No prizes for guessing where the league name comes from! Anyway, Steve and Kern have barely played a turn of BB between them so we started out with a half game as a warmup. I played Kern's orcs and got to feel what it's like facing four black orcs! One of my runners did have a pop at one of them though and managed to injure him!

Game One - Dwarves vs. Humans
We then kicked into the league proper. We randomly determined the pairings for the first game and I was up against Steve and his Humans. After the warmup game we'd had some debate about whether the ogre was a better option than a couple of catchers but Steve decided to stick with what he'd got and maybe pick up some catchers later on.

Steve won the coin flip and decided to receive first (after I explained it probably wasn't a good idea to kick to Dwarves). The early play involved a lot of smashing at the line of scrimmage but Steve left the ball in his own endzone where it had ended up after the kick. I tried my best to get a runner through to it but he spotted the threat and stopped him in his tracks. When he eventually did go for the ball he smashed through the middle of the field with his ogre at the front of the cage and came within a turn of a touchdown. Fortunately I was able to get a runner through to him and stop him in his tracks. A few turns later and this was the scene:

I'd managed to drag the ball out to my right wing and set up a partial cage to give Skag (one of my runners) a pretty much unmolested run down the wing and into the endzone for a touchdown. That pretty much wrapped up the first half but I'd be receiving to start the second half. By this point Steve had a handful of guys knocked out (though frustratingly none injured) and only two of them woke up for the start of the second half. This gave me a slight numbers advantage which I managed to exploit to give Skag another touchdown that pretty much sealed up the game.

A standard skill upgrade meant Skag would have the Block skill for the next game. I also added an apothecary to try to prevent any brutal early player losses.

On the other end of the table, the Orcs had taken a brutal defeat to the Skaven. When I'd looked over in the first half it was 1-1 but by the end the Skaven romped to a 4-1 victory with an orc thrower dying in the process. Needless to say, the Orcs didn't take too kindly to the embarrassment...

Sadly, all of the rats survived with just one who'd miss the next game...

Game Two - Dwarves vs. Skaven
We randomised it again which meant I would face Matt for my second game. There's no love lost between us so we decided to use Illegal Procedure for this game (although agreed not to bother for the rest of the league). Apologies in advance for not taking any pictures but I wanted to concentrate on the game as much as possible.

Matt won the flip and obviously elected to receive. With pretty much the opening block of the game he broke Yadri's (one of my troll slayers) leg and put him out for the rest of this game and all of the next. That evened the numbers up briefly but it wasn't long before he failed a block with his rat ogre who was promptly knocked out. He did, however, manage to get within spitting distance of my endzone with the ball in the hands of one of his gutter runners. Fortunately I managed to stop him just short and was able to get the ball to good old Skag who legged it over to his favoured right flank and headed for the endzone. I decided not to rush and make sure I smashed up the rats as much as possible before scoring. I even took the gamble of handing off the ball to Kragg (my other runner) so he'd get the SPP for the touchdown. Probably silly given that this was turn 7 but hopefully worth it down the line. I felt pretty good with a 1-0 lead going to the half.

The second half didn't start well for Matt either. He rolled throw a rock on the kick off table and I won the roll off (neither of us had FAME modifiers). The rock must've been a big 'un because it hit one of his blitzers in the skull and put him down permanently. I wasn't complaining but it's a shame it didn't happen at the hands of one of my dwarves! In fact, the game had been pretty frustrating on that front. I seemed to be getting through the rats' armour with no difficulty but I think I only caused a single injury (another fractured leg). Of course stunning and the odd knock out helped but long term it wouldn't hamper Matt as much as I'd like to.

The turning point of the game was another instance of Matt having a gutter runner near my endzone with the ball. My runners were playing some deep defence and managed to snatch the ball away. I was pretty sure he'd be able to recover it again next turn as I had no back up from the other much slower dwarves on the line of scrimmage. I therefore decided to try to pass down the left wing to one of my blitzers. If nothing else I thought I'd get the ball out of my half and give myself a bit of breathing room. That was until Kragg fumbled the pass and Matt's gutter runner gleefully scooped up the ball for an equalising touchdown.

Unbelievably Matt rolled another rock to be thrown and I again won the roll off but with just a stun this time. That coupled with a couple of knock outs meant the numbers were in my favour. Unfortunately the dice weren't. Matt managed to get his gutter runners through into my backfield fairly easily and when he managed to get the ball away from Skag I knew things weren't going to end well. With only a few turns to go he got the winning touchdown which didn't leave me enough time to equalise. I did my best to smash up the few rats he had to put on the line but despite having a big numbers advantage for most of the game his gutter runners had won the day.

Meanwhile, Steve's Humans had managed to hang onto a nail-biting victory against Kern's Orcs. At one point one of his blitzers managed to make a 5+ dodge followed by a 4+ and then a 3+ dodge to get to a lone orc blitzer who was making a break for the endzone. He could only manage a both down result though leaving the orc standing. Fortunately, he failed his dodge roll and Steve narrowly avoided an equaliser to win 1-0.

We'd hoped to get a third game in but it was now after midnight and we decided to call it a night. There's no doubt the stars of my team were my runners, Skag and Kragg, who not only got all three of my touchdowns but did some sterling work on defence. Gutter runners are so frustrating to play against. Starting with AG4 and Dodge is insane! Obviously they're pretty flimsy but pinning them down long enough to hammer them is nearly impossible. I didn't help myself much though as I underused my blockers' Tackle skill to try and keep them in check.

I also concentrated far too much on smashing things on the line of scrimmage. I tended to have a numbers advantage but this left my runners needing to do all the work in the backfield. This was partly caused by the loss of my troll slayer but having my blitzers or maybe a couple of blockers back to help would've been sensible. Trouble is, with my piddling MA the rats can run circles around me.

Matt tops the table then with two wins from two. That leaves me in second thanks to my touchdown margin over Steve who also has one win. Kern is currently winless at the bottom of the table but I'm playing him next and I'm not feeling good about playing all those black orcs with just one of my troll slayers! He's back to full strength too as he was able to afford a new thrower to replace the one he lost.

Not sure when the next session will be but it's looking like June/July so I'll hopefully have both the Orc and Human teams painted up and we can have some much more photogenic games! Looking forward to painting something other than DE to be honest. Shame the Humans are purple too!!

Monday, April 10, 2017

Dark Eldar (or is that Ynnari?) for the Doubles - Part 3

Well it's been three weeks since I last posted anything!! I've been pretty busy getting my Dark Eldar ready for the doubles but I'm still worried I won't get them finished with just under two weeks to go. Hopefully I can get a lot done on the bank holiday weekend but there's still a lot to do. Anyway, let's see what I have managed to achieve.

These guys have probably had the most love since they're easily my favourite Dark Eldar models. The scourges are probably a close second but there's just something awesome about these jetbikes that made them the first thing I wanted to paint:

There hasn't been a ton of progress on them since the last post but they've all now got gold helmets and I've added some 'ard coat to their facemasks. I'm pleased with the results and with the exception of perhaps doing the engines in gold too (like you can see on the one in the middle in the top picture), I'm happy to field them like this. They're not finished but they're good enough for the event at least. If I get some time (unlikely) I'll come back to them for the finishing touches but with time running out I really need to get on with the rest.

This has been most of my work for the last couple of weeks. I had one of the four venoms up to a reasonable standard so I set about working on the other three.

This is pretty much where I left off when I was trying to paint them this time last year for Double Trouble. I didn't get much further than doing the cockpits in an attempt at green OSL and then in Lothern Blue stripes down the middle. 

And here they are now. There's quite a bit of change I hope you'll agree. I've continued the random purple panels from the Reavers. I'm not convinced it really works on the Venoms though and I'm wondering if I should've just painted the same panel purple on all of them. Too late to worry about that now. Anyway, they've all had highlights of Xereus Purple followed by Genestealer Purple. I've added gold round the cockpits to tie in with the Reavers and painted all the skulls in. The final bit of work was to paint the flags Mephiston Red. If I get time before the event they'll get a transfer on the flag and a few transfers elsewhere. It'll probably be a night before the event kind of thing if at all. Still I'm happy with the progress. Again I might do the engines in gold to match the reavers (assuming I get time to do them even) but the only other thing I want to do is paint in the skulls properly. The gunners also all need doing but I'll do them along side the Kabalites. Speaking of which...

Kabalite Warriors 
There's three squads of five to paint here. There's a single test model in amongst them that needs some tweaking too. I've decided to do their helmets, shoulder pads and chest plates in purple to tie into the vehicles better and just lift them up from being just line highlighted. Thankfully a lot of the basecoating was already done from a good while ago so they just need the purple painting in and line highlights across the board. That's easier said than done of course but I'd have no chance if they weren't even painted at all.

You can see I've also started on the gunners for the venoms too. I'm hoping to get the bulk of the warriors done by the weekend so I've got all of next week to work on the scourges.

Again, there's some paint on these guys from my token efforts before Double Trouble but little else. However, my wife suggested orange wings for the "bat wing" ones and red for the feathered ones. I decided to try out a test model of the orange to see how I liked it. 

The lighting isn't great but you get the idea. First off, painting orange is a fucking ballache without an airbrush (like I had for my Knights). For subsequent models I'll try and mask and airbrush them to get a much smoother finish on the wings. What do you think of the orange though?

I think there's actually a reasonable chance of me pulling this off but it'll still be a slog for the next couple of weeks. I did manage to fit in an evening of Blood Bowl the other night to start our league of though so I'll try to post up about that. Matt's coming over soon too to actually get in a couple of test games with our list so we at least have some idea what we're doing. 

Thinking I should bring these guys to Double Trouble 2 as I had fun using them last time and at least I won't be so ashamed of them this time!

Right, best get back to painting. Will hopefully have another update for you soon.

Monday, March 20, 2017

Dark Eldar (or is that Ynnari) for the Doubles - Part 2

You'd be forgiven for thinking that I've not actually made any progress on these guys. Well, it doesn't really feel like I'm much further along. It's frustrating me how long these are taking which is counter-productive because I'm then struggling to motivate myself to make progress. I'm only putting in an hour or so each evening at the moment and clearly that isn't going to be enough to get that to-do list down to size.

Don't get me wrong. I'm pleased with the work I've done so far on these things. Well, to a point anyway, I still find painting difficult because I'm just not very good at it. I just don't seem to get the same results as other people do and they're doing it in half of the time. I'm not saying I should just be able to pick up a brush and win a Golden Demon but I don't even feel like I get the paint the right consistency or something. It's funny that I'm back to painting an army for a tournament again when I specifically said I was just going to paint whatever I fancied!

Anyway, I think the Reavers look good enough so let's have a quick look at what I actually have done:

After a discussion with friends I decided to repaint the seats in grey (Mechanicum Standard to be precise). Jamie made a good point that they look like leather but stand out too much, detracting from the rest of the model. Anyway, I decided to paint the armour on the riders in purple to match the carapace sections. Their suits underneath are still black though so I think that works well. I've also picked out the skin on those with bare arms and I'm reasonably happy with the result. There were two of the seven that hadn't got the controls painted in on the bikes too so they're now done. I've also painted all the little dots on the cluster caltrops not that anyone will ever notice!

Last but not least, the eagle-eyed amongst you might've noticed I've changed the faceplates to black in the end. I'm waiting for some paints to come into my FLGS but once they do the helmets will be gold I think which will help to tie them into the Scourges who have gold faceplates. I'll try and mute it down a bit with washes so it isn't bright shiny gold but I think it'll just add a little something. I'd considered purple or silver/steel for the helmets but I want to see how gold works out. Once that's done the facemasks will get a couple of coats of 'ardcoat to give a high shine. I'd like to maybe drybrush a bit of the cyan up the middle of their facemasks to give the impression that the blue is reflecting in them. Probably won't work out like I see it in my head though.

Whilst I wait for my order of paints to come in, I'll probably move onto the Venoms. I'm sure progress will be quicker with them since well, vehicles always go quicker. There's a couple of decisions to make there too though. For example, do I keep the flag/trophy poles or remove them. I've seen both and can't make my mind up. Removing them means less painting at least!!

Wednesday, March 15, 2017

Dark Eldar (or is that Ynnari) for the Doubles

My posting is pretty sporadic recently but I've been working towards getting my Dark Eldar ready for the 40K Doubles at Warhammer World in April. That's about six weeks away and I have an insane amount to paint between now and then. Matt and I have decided to take a Eldar/Dark Eldar army under the new Ynnari rules. Some of my stuff is at least partly painted but basically I need to paint:

  • 7 Reavers
  • 4 Venoms
  • 10 Scourges
  • 15 Kabalites
That's just stupid isn't it?! As I say, some of the stuff is at least started but it's going to take a pretty huge effort to get everything ready. We'll probably need to have a backup force in case I don't manage it but I'm trying to be as optimistic as possible!

Anyway, my efforts so far have mostly been directed at the Reavers. I've got the carapaces all done and I'm moving to work on the riders as a break from the highlighting I need to do on the bodies of the jetbikes. 

I don't have much time to blog about my progress but I'll try to throw up little updates like this from time to time over the next few weeks. Wish me luck!

Thursday, March 02, 2017

Do Formations Have A Place in 40K?

So, Nick over at The Burning Eye blog recently posted his thoughts on formation in 40K. I haven't really read many other peoples' thoughts on them but Nick is very much in favour of them. This post is intended as a counterpoint to his post. I'm almost completely against them but bear with me whilst I explain why.

A Little History
I may have this all wrong but to my mind at least, formations first appeared in general 40K (as opposed to Apocalypse) in the form of Spearhead which was released in White Dwarf in June 2010 and later published online. It's a bit shocking to me to find that this idea has been around so long. These formations were only available at an additional cost. For example, a Tank Hunter spearhead cost 60pts and gave 1-3 vehicles in the formation the Tank Hunters special rule (duh!).  The formations in spearhead were quite literally formations, in that the vehicles had to stay together to benefit from the special rule(s) and counted as a single unit. They also got the "Spearhead" special rule which was essential PotMS. In my experience, they were rarely ever used. The extra cost was probably the deterrent in most standard games.

Right, at this point I realised that Michael Corr has already written an excellent history of Formations and his thoughts on them so I don't see the point in rehashing what he's already done. You can read it here.

Read that? Great. Now onto what I think. Like Nick, I want to look at some of the popular attitudes to Formations and explore why I disagree.

What's wrong with the CAD anyway?
The CAD has been around for a very long time (back to 3rd edition). We never really knew it as that until recently though. Before then it was simply the Force Organisation Chart or FOC. The main issue that most people had with this was the so-called "Troop Tax" where you had to take two units of troops before you could add anything else. You also needed a HQ but most of the time you wanted one of these anyway.

The main problem I had with the Troop Tax was that you were basically fine if you codex had decent troops. For example, I had no issue taking Grey Hunters for my Space Wolves. For a long time they were considered the best troops in the game by a lot of people. Other armies weren't so lucky though so you'd often sunk a decent chunk of points into some near useless units before you could spend money on toys. To me though, it did at least mean the armies were reasonably fluffy. Rather than a Space Marine army composed entirely of dreadnoughts, you'd need a couple of tactical squads in there. We can argue about whether that's much different but it always felt like at least the armies weren't too outrageous.

The other issue with the CAD is that you were limited to just 3 of each of the special units. That meant you couldn't totally spam the insane units. I'm aware there's a little nostalgia going on here though. I still remember those Grey Knight armies in 5th edition with 12 psyfleman dreadnoughts and about 25 razorbacks (maybe an exaggeration). Still though, there was structure and you knew roughly what you were getting when you faced a particular army.

Looking back now, I don't think the Troop Tax is a problem. I mean, these days they get Objective Secured which can be very powerful in what are often Maelstrom missions. The other thing is that at least there's a drawback. Granted for some armies the points cost is low but you'd need to spend some on troops before you got what you really wanted.

Where are the "taxes" now?
Looking at the formations today there are still some which require you to take units that you wouldn't normally take. The Tau Optimised Stealth Cadre gives you a reason to take both Ghostkeels and Stealth Suits which outside of the formation are only of limited use. Where's the tax though? Yes you're taking units you wouldn't necessarily want to take but the pay off is so great that you don't care. In fact, I doubt anyone would run either unit outside of the formation. It's just that good. My issue is there's very little downside to it.

It's a criticism I have of 40K in general. Some armies seem to have been given powerful units but at a cost. For example, Thunderwolves are great but each model is a minimum of 40pts and with TH/SS is 85pts. That's a pretty hefty chunk for something with two T5 3++ wounds but those S10 AP2 attacks on a fast platform make it worthwhile. In other armies the downsides are different. A Dark Eldar Venom is pretty powerful, 65pts for 12 poisoned 4+ shots at BS4 on a fast skimmer is fairly awesome especially with a 5++ save. However, AV10 and two HPs mean that they're pretty straightforward to take down for most armies. So you're getting something powerful but flimsy. I think in general the Dark Eldar codex is pretty well balanced. If everything goes right and you play the army well it could be devastating. Well, that used to be the case, I think in the current game they're just too weak and unreliable. There are also certain units in there that are pretty much totally useless such as Wyches and Hellions.

Compare that to something like Tau where pretty much every unit in the book is useful. It's difficult to see how any formation based on the Tau codex could have something considered a tax.

Formations aren't bad at higher points levels
I hear this argument quite a bit. I think for the most part it's probably true. The same can be said for certain units too. An Imperial Knight in a 1,000pt game could be devastating but a single Knight at 2,500pts probably isn't much of a problem. If that's the case, why not limit Formations (and superheavies for that matter) to Apocalypse games like they used to be. Obviously no one is forcing you to use formations in your games (and we rarely do) but there's a temptation there that means in tournaments it's hard to resist. You want the best army you can possibly put out there and that means formations most of the time.

The problem is that events have to restrict army selection to prevent people taking a shopping list of the best formations in their codex. Being told in great detail what you can and can't bring puts people off a tournament.

Are formations just part of a bigger problem?
To me, formations are just a symptom of what is already a bloated game. I used to be able to show up at a tournament, look across the table and have a pretty good idea what my opponent's army is capable of. I'd probably know most of the units, their rough statlines and their special rules. There was a time around 5th/6th where I genuinely felt I knew the rulebook and the vast majority of the codices inside out. This was partly because Matt and I owned most of the armies between us but also because I was running Blog Wars and had read through most of the rules for most of the armies and even the FAQs.

It was about the time that GW switched to a weekly release schedule that I started to struggle. I'd been doing codex reviews on this blog up until Skitarii hit. That was the first book I didn't really dig deep into and I still don't really know enough about the army today. There's the odd unit I've come across in tournaments that I'm more familiar with but generally speaking I know nothing about the army. The same is true for Genestealer Cults and Deathwatch.

The trouble is, I think it'd be nearly impossible for me to find the time to read and digest all the material that's out there now. In fact, when I'm playing my armies now it's already difficult to remember where the rules for a particular unit can be found.

Formations are probably the worst thing in this respect. Obviously there's a lot of them in their respective codices but there's also some from Start Collecting boxes, campaign books, White Dwarf, supplements, etc. There's even some that are only available direct from GW when you buy a particular bundle (although admittedly they seem to have stopped doing this).

Where on earth would a new player even start? Some of the books that these formations were published in aren't even in print any more. I used Wulfen for the first time at the weekend (battle report soon hopefully) and their rules are in Curse of the Wulfen which you can't get a copy of outside of an eBook. Fortunately Matt has a copy of the book itself but it's still frustrating.

I could say a lot more about this but I think I'm starting to ramble. My main issues with formations can be summarised as follows though:

  1. They're basically shopping lists to encourage sales of new units - I'm not naive, I know GW is in the business of selling models but some aren't even subtle.
  2. There's no real downside most of the time - units you would probably take anyway just get better for no really good reasons. Why not make the units themselves better instead?
  3. They over-complicate an already complex game - it's hard enough to remember the standard rules for yours and your opponent's units without remembering formation rules. How often do you forget your warlord trait for example?
  4. They don't actually add variety - they might mean you see some units you wouldn't normally see on the table but they fast become the norm. They're too auto-include for some armies. Would you consider writing a competitive list for your army without certain formations?
Ultimately I'm not a fan of the direction 40K is heading. It's all well and good saying that they're just giving you lots of options and you can play the way you like but it's getting out of hand now. When I'm considering running tournaments I'm put off by thinking about all the possible lists and whether some of them are too strong to permit. I hate telling people what they can't run but equally I hate the idea of someone having a miserable day at my event because they came up against something filthy. 

Again, I know this is GW trying to sell models but if people wanted to use Formations and Super-Heavies they could do some in Apocalypse. That means games over a certain points limit could include whatever they wanted. Apocalypse should be no holds barred 40K. 

Is it a case of don't hate the game, hate the players though? There's nothing new going on here. 40K players have always tried to find the most powerful stuff and spammed it. Taken the most filthy combinations and shoe-horned them into a legal army list. One the one hand it's impressive that people can find these combinations in this sea of rules but I can't help but wish for a simpler time. 

I'm planning on playing in the Doubles at Warhammer World in April where people can take pretty much whatever they want (including Unbound). It'll be five games against random opponents and will hopefully give me a chance to gauge just how bad the problem actually is. These events aren't normally overrun with power gamers so if the average players are using dirty combinations then I think it's safe to say it's a problem.

Sunday, February 26, 2017

Gaming Garage(TM) Conversion - Part 5 - Done!

Well folks, I'm now completely moved in and everything is (pretty much) in its place. To start off here's my hobby/blogging space. I picked up a daylight LED lamp from Hobbycraft and having it right over head should mean decent lighting for all my future painting efforts. I've intentionally left my Imperial Knights out of the cabinet of models so that they're there to remind me I can produce something good when I put my mind to it. Of course, I've still got two to paint but that's another story. 

I also put up some racks for all of my paints. My Dad had the excellent suggestion of using electrical trunking to make the shelves and happily I found three 2m lengths of 38 mm trunking for £10 from Screwfix. Throw in a box of 200 screws for 40p and you can't really get much cheaper storage for 144 paints! 

Here's where I'm storing all my armies too. I actually thought I'd have more spare space than this but it's pretty cramped in there. Still, I could take the bag out of the bottom shelf and expand onto there if necessary or the SW shelf can be moved up a bit to squeeze an extra shelf in the bottom. They're all in there anyway and easily accessible for painting and gaming and aren't either fading or collecting tons of dust. I call that a win. 

Here's some shots of the table out for the first 40K action in the Garage. It saw a narrow victory for the forces of Tzeentch over the Space Wolves. I hope to see many more battles played in here. There's plenty of room around the table. The only think I haven't really sorted is there's no longer much space to have reserves lying around. The old static table had shelves running along each long edge which gave lots of space for this sort of thing. There's my desk of course but maybe a couple of collapsible small tables would be a good plan. I'll have a think.

There's still a lot of sorting of all my stuff to do with hopefully plenty of stuff to put on eBay to fund future projects. I've got a pile of sprues for Tau, Space Wolves and Orks that I bought thinking I might build them some day but don't really see the benefit in keeping hold of any more. If I haven't written an army list that needed them in the last however many years then I'm unlikely to suddenly do so. It'd be nice to have a bit of a cull of some of my collection too. Again, there's units I simply never use and a lot of them aren't painted so why keep them? 

You know what? I think this calls for my first ever 40K Addict Hobby Season To Done badge!
Well, that's that then. Hopefully I can now focus on getting some stuff painted. Not enjoying looking across that board and seeing some unpainted scenery....

Saturday, February 04, 2017

Gaming Garage(TM) Conversion - Part 4

Well folks this is probably the penultimate post on this project. I'm actually blogging from the Gaming Garage(TM) right now! There's very little actual work to do on it. All that's really left is to move everything in. I'll post a final update when that's happened so you can see everything nicely stored away and my hobby area properly set up.

One the face of it not much has changed since the pictures taken just before the big X-wing game but there's some finishing touches that, well, finish it off,

These pictures shows my hobby area. The tall larder unit on the left will hopefully give me enough space to store all of my armies with some room for expansion. There's a little voice in my head saying I'll need more shelves but we'll see what happens. Most likely I'll add a second one in the top section. It's deceptive how much space an army takes up sometimes but in the next post you'll hopefully be seeing it full of miniatures. Only one tiny thing left to do in this area is to put some white finishing strips on the ends of the shelves to neaten them up. 

These pictures are just to give you some idea of where everything is. The whiteboard was up in the old gaming room. The eagle-eyed amongst you will notice the list of scenery I have been intending to create for a long time. That'll be high up my list of priorities once I'm fully moved in. You can see there's a nice big Velux window above my hobby area which, even with the shelves blocking some of the light, gives me a good chunk of natural light for painting in the day time. I intend to get at least one daylight lamp to help me paint better at night.

Down the opposite end of the room (a couple of metres from the desk) are my two large cupboards for more storage. These will primarily house my scenery etc as they'll be the ones that support the board (tucked in behind at the moment). They're on castors so they can be rolled into place, the brakes applied at then the board slid on top. I want to make some adjustments to the board so they slot underneath tightly to prevent the board moving around. It could also do with a spot of reinforcing too. You can also see my little electric radiator that works wonders at keeping the place warm. It's not a big room and well insulated so we'll never be stood shivering in Winter.

Above the large wheeled cupboards are four top-hinged cupboards for storing stuff I won't need access too that often. That means all my boxes of models yet to be assembled and empty boxes for things I've got out on display etc. There's not a huge amount of room in them but it keeps things out of the way and stops them collecting dust.

Right, next time I post about this I'll hopefully have the vast majority of my stuff moved in. I'm intending to sort through it as I move it in though so it won't be an overnight thing. There's still a couple of finishing touches here and there. Like I say, I want to adjust the gaming board and maybe add another shelf or two inside the cupboards as required. I also want to create some sort of paint rack. Oh and I'm going to source some cheap folding stools.


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