Sunday, October 21, 2012

Chaos Daemons in 6th - Screamers and Flamers

EDIT: I've noticed this post is getting a lot of hits recently with the new codex. Please bear in mind most of the stuff here doesn't apply any more.

With Blog Wars just less than 6 weeks away there are a lot of things left to sort out. Not least of which are my Dark Eldar which are still not fully painted up (or even 3 colours). I'm in the process of moving house at the moment so hopefully once we're settled in the new place I can get down to some serious painting to get them done. Anyway, that isn't what I want to talk about today.

In our last game at the 40k doubles we played against a very good Daemons/CSM list that fairly comfortably beat us (we did have some shocking luck with some things mind you). Fast forward a couple of months and Matt has been filling me in on his performance at Open War. Unfortunately, I was on a stag do so I wasn't able to attend but from Matt's reports the top players were a group of friends who'd all brought Chaos Daemons in one combination or another. Now in 5th edition no one would've expected these guys to be anywhere near the top but that has certainly changed.

You may remember that shortly before the CSM codex we were treated to a White Dwarf update for Daemons. Aside from introducing the Slaanesh chariots there were also new rules for some resculpted units. The most notable of these were the flamers and screamers.

Having played against these two units I'm of the impression that they're extremely overpowered, if not broken. Now, regular readers of this blog will know that I try to look at things with a balanced perspective (well that's the plan anyway) and I'm not normally one to be using words as strong as "broken". However, in this case I think it's warranted. I'll come on to why I believe they're broken in a moment but ultimately the problem is that in 40K if something is overpowered then we can expect to see them in droves at tournaments. No-one could be blamed for bringing the best units from their codex but I'm a firm believer that, especially in 40K, variety is the spice of life. How dull was it when everyone had a wall of GK razorbacks with psyfleman dreads? It was the same with leafblower guard with piles of hydras and vendettas all over the place.

It seems that we're heading that way with Daemons which isn't something I thought I'd ever say. I think Daemons are actually better in general with the advent of 6th edition (which is actually true of most armies that struggled in 5th). With the Deep Strike Mishap table being a little bit more forgiving and reserves arriving more reliably Daemons players aren't suffering as much. Couple that with the removal of the Fearless wounds in combat and they are already looking better. The White Dwarf update to Screamers and Flamers went a bit too far though. If this was any other army we'd have seen tons of them by now but, because they were never particularly popular, people haven't taken advantage of the rules changes like they would have with another army. However, as more and more people cotton onto these units capabilities we're sure to get sick of them. Let's take a look at what has, in my opinion, gone wrong.

Both screamers and flamers are now two-wound models. Which fine until you try to apply the "Daemon" special rule that they both have. Now, in the codex it says that they'd have Eternal Warrior, Fearless, Daemonic Assault etc. However, in the new rulebook they simply get a 5++ save and Fear. Most Daemons players at the moment are of the opinion that these models now have a combination of both sets of rules. This means they have a 5++ save, EW, Fear, Fearless and Daemonic Assault.

The sticking point is Eternal Warrior. I have no problem with some of the other units in the Codex having it. Someone may as well be getting EW daemon princes after all! The trouble is that for a relatively inexpensive unit to have 2 wounds at T4 and EW is wrong. Let's put this into context for a minute. Screamers have been compared to Dark Eldar Reavers in the sense that they can do something similar to Bladevanes. Just like the DE unit the Screamers do D3 S4 hits per model as they pass over an enemy unit. They can then benefit from a 5++ jink save which increases to 4++ thanks to turbo-boosting. This isn't too bad because they used to have 4++ saves anyway.

Dark Eldar reavers get a 3++ save in the same situation but although they can move further they'll be a lot more vulnerable to fire than the screamers because they have a single wound each at T3. The screamers T4 and 4++ save is perhaps comparable but you aren't losing as many actual models because of them having 2 wounds. When assaulted the screamers will get 3 S5 AP2 attacks at I4 compared to the reavers 3 S3 AP- attacks at I6. Let's think about that for a second, AP2 attacks. That seems pretty good when they are only 25pts for a 2 wound (potentially EW) model compared to 22pts for the S3 single wound DE equivalent. Not to mention that the screamers have a permanent 5++ save even if they haven't moved whereas the reavers only have a 5+ armour save if they're not zipping around.

Now I'm aware that direct comparisons between units are always a bit dodgy but I think this really highlights how good screamers have become. Think about a full strength unit of 9 screamers. How would your army deal with them? That's 18 S4 wounds you've got to shift. Charging them will be painful for any unit with those S5 AP2 attacks. Shooting them with high strength won't help you. Think about paladin blobs and how hard they are to shift sometimes but now think what they'd be like if you couldn't Instant Death them!

Flamers are pretty horrific too. They've got the same thing going off with the 5++ save, 2 T4 wounds and Eternal Warrior. They also have a ridiculously good defence against assaults in the form of Breath of Chaos as a Wall of Death. That means each flamer is going to kill a model with Overwatch fire (based on average of 2 hits at 4+ to wound). A full squad of 9 of them would probably destroy the entire charging unit before any blows were struck in combat. Now I think most people will still be taking them in 3s but even in small numbers they're devastating.

This is all without even mentioning that they both occupy different FOC slots so you can have 3 units of each and still have points for a few plaguebearers to sit on objectives whilst these ridiculous units sweep across the board with the help of a couple of winged princes.

Now, the hope was that the FAQs would address this issue pretty soon. However, the latest FAQ states that basically Daemons now add Fear to the list of rules they get from their version of the "Daemon" special rule. That seems to imply that they don't get the 5++ save but do still have Eternal Warrior. If that's the case then technically neither unit has any kind of save at all!!

In my opinion the intention was for these units to have 6th edition rulebook version of Daemon which would mean a 5++ save and Fear but also still retaining Daemonic Assault. That would mean that we could all merrily hit them with S8+ stuff to shift them relatively easily without them being so gimped that people stop taking them again.

Until GW does something concrete with this it's going to have to be one of those things that is up to players discretion. I don't think it's reasonable to say they get all aspects of both versions of the rule but at the same time if they don't get some bits of both then they don't function as a unit.

As the TO for Blog Wars I will have to make some sort of decision prior to the tournament but I wanted to see what the general opinion was on this issue. Fingers crossed GW FAQ it before December but they aren't known for doing helpful things like that!

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

Dark Eldar 1850pt Army for Blog Wars 4

Blog Wars 4 is a little over 7 weeks away and tickets are still available if you'd like to come. For those of you who haven't heard of it, Blog Wars is a tournament that I run where the blogging community can come together and throw a few dice together. Whilst it started off as mainly bloggers the last couple of events saw more people who don't blog coming along. The event is of course open to anyone and at £15 for a 3-game tournament (including lunch) I think it's pretty good value especially when there's a sizable prize pot too!

The aim of Blog Wars 4 is to continue in the friendly spirit of the first 3 events whilst also trying out everything 6th edition has to offer. With the first 6th codex in the mits of the Dark Gods' followers I'm hoping to see some Chaos armies on the table. Blog Wars 4 will allow for most of the aspects of the new rules. The only thing that won't be included is random terrain placement (although I'd like to try it at BW5). Everything else is in from flyers to fortifications, allies to mysterious terrain. I share Natfka's (from Faeit212) opinion that 6th is here so there's no point playing 40k 5.5 and picking which rules you want to play.

Being Blog Wars there's a single restriction in that each army MUST include a special character. The missions are slightly themed around these special characters and there is a prize for the best painted SC as well as the best painted overall army. Anyway, advert over, here's what I'll be taking to Blog Wars 4:

1,850pts of Dark Eldar
Duke Sliscus
2 Haemonculi

9 Kabalite Trueborn (5 shard, 2 blaster, 2 cannon, haywires) in Raider

3x 5 Kabalite Warriors (blaster) in Venoms (2 cannons)
2x 9 Wyches (haywires) in Raiders

2x 6 Reaver Jetbikes (2 heat lance)

3 Ravagers

Nothing too complicated. With the rules changing about assaulting from webways I had to ditch my list from BW3. I've was a big fan of Baron Sathonyx but I fancied a change and Duke seems to be an interesting alternative. The haemonculi will join the wyches in the raiders and blast forwards to make the most of the haywires against enemy vehicles. The venoms will sit at maximum range and hopefully torrent down some infantry, later on in the game they can get into 24" or even 12" and the squads inside can rapid fire too. When they inevitably get destroyed the warriors will hug objectives.

The reavers will be used for harassment purposes either by bladevaning smaller units or trying to pick off vehicles with their heat lances before darting away. The aim is to keep them turbo-boosting as much as possible. In some games I might keep them in reserve. The ravagers are pretty self explanatory but they'll be my best chance of scoring First Blood points.

Finally, Duke's unit of trueborn are my shooty death star unit. Granted they're pretty flimsy but there isn't anything they can't take on. Hitting on 3s and wounding on 3s against everything means they'll have no problem taking down high toughness targets and the pair of blasters (coupled with Duke's pistol) will give vehicles something to worry about. Not to mention that haywire grenades make them a threat to all vehicles.

Now, I'm not naive enough to think they won't be targetted pretty early on by savvy opponents but hopefully by that point I'll have gotten them into a position where they can do some damage. If I fail to get first turn I'll have to make sure Duke's raider is getting a cover save but that isn't as hard as it used to be and at least I'll be able to position him near to the best target.

Duke also gives me the advantage of rolling twice on the combat drugs table. This did tempt me to swap the warriors for more wyches to take full advantage but the danger there is that you waste the venoms as you try and get the wyches into combat. To be honest it's all a bit experimental for me as I haven't really run this type of DE list much but I'm sure I'll have a lot of fun trying. That's assuming I get to play of course as I'm sure people will remember that that's been in doubt up until the day before all 3 previous Blog Wars!!

Anyway, my current problem is getting the army ready for the day. I had planned on having it all fully painted but I'm now being more realistic and aiming for 3 colours. The wyches, warriors and reavers are already at this point but the vehicles and Duke's unit need some work. I'll post up my progress in the coming weeks but suffice to say I'm already getting bored of line highlighting!!

Wednesday, October 03, 2012

Post #250 - Battle Report - Goodbye Gaming Loft!

For quite a while now I've been lucky enough to have the attic room of our house set up as a permanent gaming loft. It's great not having to put everything away after a battle and gives us a massive space to play our games in. However, all good things must come to an end and, since we'll shortly be moving house, the time has come to say goodbye to my gaming loft. We finished as we started, testing army lists for a tournament. This time around it was Matt wanting to test his list out for Open War. Sadly I can't go as I'm away for a friend's stag weekend (the same one that pushed Blog Wars 4 back!). We therefore played a couple of 1,750 point games. Both gave me a chance to try some things out for myself as well. Matt was fielding a GK list with BA allies:

1,750pts of GK/BA
5 Purifiers w/ 2 psycannons, 2 halberds
4x 3 Warrior Acolytes in Razorbacks
2 Crusaders and 7 Death Cult Assassins in a Stormraven with sponsons/psybolt
Dreadknight w/ personal teleporter & heavy incinerator
2 Psyfleman dreadnoughts

5 Assault marines w/ jump packs, meltagun, power sword

Game One - DE vs GK/BA
I've been wanting to give my Blog Wars list a trial run. Obviously for this game I had to ditch 100pts but it didn't really change the list too much. In both games I wanted to present Matt with a strong challenge. His list relies on two toughness 6 models with a 2+ save (Mephiston/Dreadknight) so my massed poisoned and darklight weaponry would cause him a lot of problems. Here's my list:

1,750pts of DE
Duke Sliscus
2 Haemonculi
9 Trueborn (2 blaster, 2 splinter cannon, 5 shardcarbines, haywires) in Raider (disint, trophies)
3x 5 Warriors (blaster) in Venom
2x 9 Wyches (haywires) in Raiders (disint, trophies)
9 Reavers
3 Ravagers

There's a few things here that I haven't really tried out much such as disintegrators and trophies on my raiders and Duke Sliscus with a large trueborn unit. Anyway onto the game.

We were playing The Scouring with Vanguard deployment. I won the roll off for both deployment and first turn. Duke's drugs re-roll allowed me to give all my drug units an extra attack (I fully expected to roll snake eyes!). Matt was keeping his stormraven and BA marines in reserve so I wanted to chew threw a lot of the rest of his army before they arrived.

I fired my ravagers into his vehicles but despite stripping some hull points I failed to destroy either of the razorbacks I'd targetted. This meant the reavers would only be able to bladevane Mephiston who was unlikely to ignore the attack. Sure enough he lost a wound but then charged them down in Matt's turn and wiped them out. Elsewhere Duke and his unit fired a punishing amount of poisoned/darklight fire into the dreadknight leaving it with two wounds. I'd failed to score a First Blood kill though and I knew Matt wouldn't have the same problem.

Sure enough Matt took down Duke's raider and one of the wyches raiders too. I positioned both units extremely carefully to minimise the damage from the heavy incinerator and to hopefully prevent the purifiers from charging the wyches. I measured the range to be about 5" for them to be able to get in. With Matt having to go through the wreck I thought I'd have a good chance of keeping out of combat. Sadly I'd missed one of the purifiers that was actually closer. When Matt rolled 5, 2, 1 giving him 3" range they were still in. A pretty costly mistake as the purifiers easily wiped out the wyches. The dreadknight was not so lucky though. I hit him 3 times with overwatch fire but it all pinged harmlessly off it's armour. He then charged in and challenged Duke. Thanks to his drugs Duke hit with 4 attacks and wounded with 3. Crucially he'd rolled two 5s meaning the dreadknight could only make invulnerable saves meaning it died before getting to strike!

I lined up my remaining forces to put a withering amount of fire down on the purifiers who were hiding in the raider's wreckage. When the dust settled Coteaz was alone on a single wound! I got the reamining wyches out of their raider to try and charge one of the dreadnoughts with their haywires. Sadly I couldn't find the range even with a fleet re-roll (I re-rolled a 1 and got the same again!). They were then lined up as Mephiston's next victims. In Matt's turn 2 the Stormraven and BA marines arrived. The BA killed a ravager with their meltagun and the stormraven and dreadnoughts made light work of the other two ravagers. I'd now struggle to deal with the dreads and flyer.

From this point on it was an uphill struggle. I scored a flukey hit with one of my warrior squad's blaster but couldn't penetrate. The stormraven went onto kill the venoms with help from the dreadnoughts. Duke Sliscus was gunned down by a razorback causing instant death and we called it there since I'd have little hope of winning with my sole remaining 5-man warrior squad!!

Game One Conclusion
Despite losing I really enjoyed the game. Matt and I agree that 6th edition seems to have a lot more interesting things happening. Even when you're on the losing side you find the game entertaining. Perhaps it's just because Matt and I are increasingly evenly matched though as I finally start getting better at the game!

Anyway, I think my list performed pretty well and it was a couple of costly mistakes that made the difference. In the first turn I should've focussed all my ravagers on a single target to ensure I got First Blood. I should've blasted the second wych raider flat out to ensure they got into range rather than fruitlessly firing the disintegrator cannon. A haywire armed wych squad could've made a mess of dreads and razorback alike. The other wych squad would've survived if I'd measured the purifiers' charge range more accurately. They'd also have gone on to haywire some vehicles.

The reavers should've either been kept in reserve or should've held back for a couple of turns to wait for a better target and avoid being charged easily. So in summary I'm pretty pleased with my list. Duke's unit works well with all that 3+ poisoned fire making a mess of the dreadknight. I already prefer him to Baron. The disintegrator cannons on the raiders seem to be a good idea. I never find the raiders last long and if they can kill a couple of terminators then they're probably doing ok. The grisly trophies aren't worth it but they aren't in my BW list anyway so it's of no concern but good to know.

Game Two - SW/Tau vs GK/BA
I've been playing around with the combination of Tau and Space Wolves ever since 6th came out. Here's my current offering:

1,750pts of Tau/SW
Shas'el (Fusion, Plasma, Shield, HWMT)
2 Bodyguard (Fusion, Plasma, TA, HWMT)
2 Crisis suits (TL Missiles, Flamer)
2x 9 Fire warriors in Devilfish (DP)
8 Fire warriors in Devilfish (DP)
2x 2 Broadsides (ASS, DC, 2x Shield Drones, TL, Blacksun)

Rune Priest (Divination)
10 Grey Hunters (Plasma, Melta, Standard, MotW) in Drop Pod
6 Long Fangs (5 Missiles)

This list basically has an incredibly strong fire base from the broadsides and long fangs (who can re-roll to hit thanks to Prescience) and then three devilfish full of firewarriors to push up to objectives with support from the suits and Grey Hunters.

We were playing Hammer & Anvil and the Emperor's Will. In this mission the Secondary Objectives are crucial as they are often the only thing separating the two armies. Matt won the table side roll off and we both put out objectives in ruins centrally in our deployment zones. I again won the roll off for first turn and Matt again failed to seize with his Coteaz re-roll.

The drop pod slammed in behind one of the dreadnoughts and a combination of meltagun and bolter fire (the plasma missed) left the dread as a smouldering wreck. The broadsides did what they do best with the other dreadnought which exploded catastrophically. Matt's shooting was frustrated by my newly buffed Disruption Pods giving my devilfish a 3+ save. The dreadknight leapt forward and incinerated 4 fire warriors causing them to flee. Mephiston responded to the grey hunters attack on the dreadnought by charging into combat with them but not before losing a wound to overwatch fire. The lord of death killed a handful of grey hunters but was wounded twice by the wulfen.

The commander and his bodyguard dropped in from high above the battlefield and opened up on the dreadknight leaving it with a single wound. The nearby fire warriors used their pulse rifles to take it's remaining wound (Matt wasn't best pleased to lose it so easily again, especially not to Fire Warriors!). The broadsides took down two of the razorbacks (one squad of acolytes ran off the board) and immobilised a third. Mephiston killed more grey hunters but was down to a single wound as the wulfen rended again.

Turn two for Matt saw both the Stormraven and the assault marines arrive. The flyer blasted at full speed to attack the commander. The assault marines tried a risky deep strike near the broadsides and mishapped meaning I could deploy them. I shoved them out of range of anything and in the open so that I could hopefully kill them off next turn. The stormraven left the commander and one of his bodyguard on a single wound but couldn't kill them and the purifiers were again frustrated by the disruption pods.

Having come close to the edge of the board my fleeing fire warriors regrouped on the second attempt. The stormraven was out in the open with a lot of firepower bearing down on it. Sadly, although one of  the broadsides hit they could only glance but at least forced an Evade roll. The long fangs, despite having prescience failed to hit with a single missile! Fire from the commander and his team stripped another hullpoint though. The assault marines took a torrent of fire from the good old Fish of Fury style attack leaving them with just 2 models left. Mephiston finished off the grey hunters.

The stormraven was forced to hover to still be able to hit something and allow the death cults to dismount. The death cults made short work of the crisis command team. The stormraven penetrated a devilfish only for the disruption pods to strike again. In order to protect the warrior acolytes on Matt's objective from the drop pod's storm bolter he decided to charge it with Mephiston. He decided that S10 would help so roll for Sanguine Sword and double sixed it killing the lord of death!! On the other side of the board the assault marines declared a charge on the fire warriors only to be gunned down by overwatch fire as Matt failed both armour saves! From this point there was little hope for Matt but we carried on all the same.

The hovering stormraven fell to the first volley from the broadsides killing a death cult in the explosion. The death cults were gunned down by a combination of double flamers from the crisis suits and torrents of pulse weapon fire. The fire warriors who'd killed the BA jumped in their devilfish and sped off to contest the enemy objective. The purifiers managed to kill the missile crisis team but it was too little too late. Sadly the game ended on turn 5 so I was unable to push for the tabling. Despite it looking very much in my favour we were only separated by the First Blood point as my Fire Warriors weren't quite in range to contest!

Game Two Conclusion
Matt's been given a lot to think about by this list. Granted it's pretty much his worst nightmare. No-one likes broadsides and especially not when combined with long fangs. I was trying out a new role for the rune priest here by using Divination and deploying him with the rockets. The nearby ammo dump meant I was re-rolling 1s to hit so his Perfect Timing power allowed me to Ignore Cover and helped kill a razorback. Prescience should've helped with the flyer and I was unlucky not to get a single 6 with ten rolls! In a game like this where Matt struggled to get to my back line the Rune Priest was well protected. The only issue here was that his psychic denial was wasted as it was never in range.

When you look at it in the cold light of day 100pts is quite a lot to spend on letting your long fangs re-roll to hit. Even so it's certainly another option. The drop pod grey hunters did their job well, killing a dread and eventually causing the death of Mephiston. They add a dynamic element to what is otherwise a pretty static gunline.

On the Tau side I think all the units performed perfectly. The broadsides didn't hit as often as I would've like but they were still destructive. The stabilisation systems are pretty much a must have these days as they no longer slow their movement (when are you ever going to run broadsides?!). I'm very glad to have target locks back!! The crisis team gave me another option for killing vehicles and the flamers came in handy. They're probably a weaker part of the army though and with the long fangs and broadsides they are a bit redundant. I could perhaps ditch them and spend the points on some SW stuff.

Finally, the Disruption Pods need FAQing. I can understand how GW intended them to work but at the moment for 5pts you get a 3++ save on your vehicles if they move and 5++ if they don't. What they should've done is made them a 5+ invulnerable save so that you still get a save even if the vehicle hasn't moved. Basically like a Flickerfield but cheaper. For a 5pt upgrade to make a vehicle more resilient than a land raider is a bit ludicrous. Even as a Tau player I think it needs to change.

Two fantastic games to send off my gaming loft then! Matt's going to have a rethink of his list but apart from a couple of little tweaks I'm really pleased with mine!!

Monday, October 01, 2012

Games Day UK 2012 - Golden Demon (pic heavy)

Following on from yesterday's post about the Armies on Parade competition. Here's a selection of the entries in the Golden Demon contest. I find these models inspiring and demoralising in equal measure. On the one hand you get some fantastic ideas for your own army but on the other you realise your models will never look anything like the masterpieces in front of you! Here goes:

I particularly like this one as there's a feeling of it being a scene from an actual battle. The poses of the models really convey them trudging through a blizzard too.

My picture doesn't really do it justice but the entry above has a pack of fenrisian wolves with a space marine in the throes of a transformation into a wulfen leading them in a charge. The entry below was very clever with the guardsmen treading carefully over an ice plain that's got a hidden surprise for them.

This one shows a scene from Murder in the early Horus Heresy novels. Anyone who's read the book will remember the bone coloured trees and the chittering bugs. Shame they haven't constructed a megarachnid though! Below is the eventual winner of the Slayer Sword which again isn't done any justice my photography but GW did a better job on their site.

The next few entries come from my favourite catergory "Duel". These entries all seemed to convey a struggle to the death between two opposing warriors and are particularly apt in these days of Challenges:

Here's a selection of my personal highlights from the rest of the competition:

The rest of the models come from the open category. I'm a big fan of these larger scale models as they present a very different challenge when it comes to painting them. I know Scott was tempted to pick one up from Forge World and have a go:

Finally, here are a couple of models that must've been painted in quite a hurry!


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