Wednesday, February 27, 2013

Target Sighted - Game 3 - Space Wolves vs Dark Angels

Despite my earlier concerns I'd managed to avoid playing either Necrons or Daemons and instead found myself playing Dave Wigley and his Deathwing. I'd spoken to Dave earlier in the day about how he was finding Deathwing and I was interested to play them to better understand their use.

With the tournament running backwards we'd be playing the first mission now which was Purge The Alien on Dawn of War with the additional rules that for each FOC slot you killed something from you got a bonus point e.g. the first time I killed an HQ I'd get 2 points but the second HQ would be worth 1 as normal. Dave was fielding Belial, an Interrogator chaplain (TDA of course), 2 squads of 10 DW terminators (two plasma, two cyclone, rest TH/SS) and some FW missile things. Therefore he'd only got 5 normal points available and 3 bonus points from HQ, Troops and FA. I on the other hand could give away 13 pts with choices from all but Elites (as the wolf guard become troops when they join squads). This was always going to be difficult as I'd need to comfortably table him to score enough points. We were both in a decent position in terms of the rankings too so there were potential podium spots to play for. I couldn't rely on sheer luck at this stage.

Battle Report
I won the roll off and elected to go first. Now this may or may not have been stupid (I'll get to that later) but I decided to spread out my forces across my deployment zone to minimise the number of places that Dave could deploy safely. I chose not to Outflank the wolf priest as I thought I could use the firepower if I was going to try and down so many TH/SS terminators. As the rules for DW and the 50% in reserve haven't been clarified Dave was playing fair and deploying 50% of his army. This consisted of one of the DW squads and the two missile thingies. He did so in the far corner of the field as far away from me as possible.

Great I thought. I know how this game is going to go. I'll struggle to pick those terminators off and he'll slowly chew through my army with their heavy weapons. With this in mind I decided to put the drop pod down behind some cover nearer my deployment zone.

Unfortunately we got Night Fighting so it wasn't until turn 2 that I started to fire at the turrets and managed to kill one straight away with my long fangs. All I'd need to do is down the other which would give me 3 VPs (one for killing it, one for First Blood and one bonus point from the mission). This would put Dave in a position where he had to come to me if he wanted to win and hence allow me as much time as possible to thin out the terminators before they got to my lines.

Unfortunately for me Dave was firing back all the time. I was pretty lucky with the long fangs cover saves though. I was repeatedly casting Prescience to ensure the best chance of downing the missiles but around turn 3 I managed to double-6 it and not only fail to get the power off but strip a wound from my Rune Priest. If I did it again I'd be sure to lose as I'd be gifting Dave 2 VPs. Luckily enough I still managed to take a "wound" off the missile thingies (I really should find out their real name). Belial came down on turn 2 via Deathwing Assault and the plasma cannons didn't really help me out, leaving the long fangs with a single missile launcher and the pack leader who I'd unfortunately put out of sight meaning launchers died rather than him.

It was now a case of whether the sole long fang could managed to kill off the missile thingy before he died. At this point I moved the rune priest out of the squad and into a grey hunter pack who'd been thinned out by more plasma cannon fire. This meant he'd still be able to cast Prescience (nervously) but he'd also be able to move himself out of range quickly once the long fangs had done their job.

It took until turn 4 for me to finally kill off the missile thingies and score the 3 VPs. I was pretty certain that I'd sealed the game. Sadly for me in Dave's turn 4 he hit the long fangs with the plasma cannons and despite going to ground for a 3+ save they both perished. The score was now 3-2 to me. Dave would only need to kill either the rune priest or some grey hunters to push it to a 3-4. With the other long fangs way out of range I decided my only hope was to play it safe and pull back everything I had as far as possible to keep them safe. The rune priest and wolf priest were buried in the remaining full grey hunter pack and everything else pulled back as far as possible.

This worked well for turn 5 where I lost a single thunderwolf but the other 2 held their nerve and were able to fall back further in my turn 6. I was pretty confident I'd managed a narrow victory. Dave then opened fire for the final time. The plasma cannons could only kill a single grey hunter (I'd been pretty lucky with Dave's poor scatter rolling) which left just the cyclone launchers to fire. In a move I have to say I wasn't expecting Dave realised he might be able to down the drop pod and win the game. Unfortunately for him he only managed to penetrate with a single missile. This would mean I'd need to fail my 4+ cover save and he'd need to roll 5+ to blow it up. Of course, both of these things went Dave's way and although no more space wolves died in the explosion Dave had done enough with the last possible shot of the game to make it 4-3 to him. Gutted.

As a consolation we decided to honour the tradition of a champion from both armies recreating the famous tussle between the Wolf and the Lion. For the Wolf it would be Arjac Rockfist and for the Lion it would be Belial. Belial managed to inflict 3 wounds on Arjac but he only failed one of his saves. Arjact hit back with his foehammer and inficted 5 wounds. Belial only failed a single save but since he lacked Eternal Warrior (unlike Arjac) it was enough to cut him down. Victory to the sons of Russ! Hail the Allfather...ahem.... moving on.

What I thought would be an incredibly dull game actually turned out to be really tense and tactical. It had a real feeling that every dice roll mattered. Every time Dave fired his plasma cannons I was sure I'd lose a squad. Every time the cyclones fired I thought the long fangs were toast. I felt every single model I lost and was nervous about every morale check. At the end of the game we'd only managed to completely destroy 220pts worth of units between us! Hardly a bloody affair but certainly one I'll remember. Can't imagine there'll be many sagas written or songs sung about the deeds of the Space Wolves as they heroicly cowered in cover!

When the game ended I suggested to Dave that he should've really used his low KP advantage and just come at me. There was little or no chance of me managing to kill enough terminators before they scored more VPs than I could reasonably achieve. From his point of view this would've also given him the best chance of climbing the leaderboard toward the podium places.

As soon as I realised that it was a case of kill the missiles and hide I should've been moving my entire army back as far as I could. This would mean that Dave would only get the long fangs. From a game point of view it would still have been a draw but for personal pride I'd know it was a win!

We're going to try and arrange a rematch to see what would've happened if Dave had played it more aggressively but I think I know how that'll go. 

Tuesday, February 26, 2013

Target Sighted - Game 2 - Space Wolves vs Blood Angels

As the placings were read out for game two I found myself on table 5 (I'd actually started on table 1) but unfortunately I was paired up with Chris again. The ref swapped us with the guys on the next table. I was pleased to see that I got James Clulow's Blood Angels instead of the GK that Matt had beaten in game 1. With the tournament missions now running in reverse we'd be playing the dodgy "Escort" mission. The referee ruled that all of the shenanigans were now allowed again but the "Escort" couldn't leave the table until turn 3.

Anyway, James' Blood Angels consisted of Tycho (his "Escort") with 5 sternguard in a razorback, two tactical squads (one in a Pod, the other in a Rhino), 10 assault marines, 5 devastators with a razorback, an Aegis line and another bloody vindicator. Again my list can be found here.

Battle Report
There'd be no night fighting and despite not choosing sides, I won the roll off for first turn. I deployed in a fairly standard way with long fangs in cover and grey hunters/TWC on the left flank. James stuck his Aegis centrally with the devastators inside it. He then had Tycho's razorback with the rhino behind and the assault marines on the far left. The vindicator and empty razorback were on the right.

I decided to drop Arjac in to try and take out the vindicator to protect my TWC. He'd be out of the fight for a turn or two because the vindicator was on the flank but it'd be worth it if I could down the tank. Sure enough as his drop pod burst open he came out, launched his hammer at the vindicator (the meltagunner missed of course), and blew it to pieces. So far so good. The long fangs got Prescience and I chose to fire 3  at Tycho's razorback and one cheeky shot at the other empty razorback. The shots on Tycho's were enough to wreck it and I got lucky with the single shot which managed to destroy the twin-linked lascannon. The other long fang pack added to the misery with a couple of assault marine kills. I was already starting to feel a bit guilty.

James dropped in his tactical squad in the back corner on my right flank. The tactical squad piled out guns blazing, cutting down 3 long fangs. The sternguard struggled to harm the TWC as despite wounding on 2s I made most of their saves. The hunter killer on the remaining razorback could only glance the drop pod leaving the BA tank with no weapons left. The tactical rhino advanced at full, flat out, pace.

Arjac and his squad turned their attention to the devastators, moving into rapid fire range and killing all but one marine. The TWC charged into Tycho and his sternguard. Killing a couple of veterans and wounding Tycho. Sadly Tycho made his saves from the power fist though. The long fangs had another great turn with one pack blowing up the rhino. The other squad opened up with frag missiles on the occupants who were clustered in the wreckage. Thanks to Prescience I managed to score a disgusting number of wounds (36 in total) but James finally had some luck and saved all but 7 of the 23 wounds I caused. Elsewhere the Wolf Priest showed up and killed all but 3 of the tactical squad.

The assault marines charged in to try to save Tycho and his veterans. Sadly for James the thunderwolves were able to finish off the veterans regardless and Tycho succumbed to a power fist strike this time around. In the next phase of the combat, all but one of the assault marines perished and the lonely survivor decided it was best to leg it. He stayed on the board by an inch.

At this point there wasn't much left of the Blood Angels. The tactical marines from the rhino exchanged fire with the grey hunters but the Space Wolves ultimately won out. The thunderwolves charged down the remaining assault marine and finished him off. The long fangs got rid of the razorback (which had no weapons) and the wolf priest and his squad rapid fire again to kill the tactical squad before attacking their drop pod in the next turn and wrecking it with the fist from the wolf guard and crozius from the priest. To tidy up completely Arjac and his squad destroyed the quad gun and James was tabled in my turn 4.

I'd managed to secure all 3 secondary VPs, the bonus VP for killing the escort and 11 from the decimation of the army giving a total of 15! James hadn't managed to kill any whole squads and my pile of dead marines only numbered out of the 42 available. You can't get much more one sided than that!

An example of James' rolling!
As I said in the previous analysis this mission was never really going to be about the "Escort" and instead would devolve into Purge The Alien. Sure enough that's what happened. My first turn was incredibly lucky. Not only did I blow up the vindicator despite getting side armour and only hitting with Arjac but I also destroyed a razorback and got lucky when the twin-linked lascannon dropped from the other. From then on it was an uphill struggle for James.

At the end of the day comparing like for like it was unlikely to be much different. Assault and tactical marines just can't stand up to grey hunters. Losing the vindicator was a huge blow as it was the only thing I was particularly worried about. James compounded the gulf between the two lists with some awful luck. There were times when his dice rolls were just plain unfair! I often find its the case with 40K that you have awesome games and diabolical ones without many in between.

When you're the one decimating an opponent's army it isn't exactly fun most of the time. Sure it's great if you feel that you've done something tactically superb but frankly I hadn't. The game could've been totally unbearable had it not been for James' good humour, so I'm grateful to him for that. Suffice to say I was pleased with the result and I hadn't done much wrong but it still came down to a lot of luck.

The impending threat of playing Daemons or Necrons was looming ever closer, especially since I was now on table 3!

Monday, February 25, 2013

Target Sighted - Game 1 - Space Wolves vs Space Wolves

In a change to a mission order that was advertised the organisers decided to play the last mission first. The reason for this was that they'd run a mirror event on the day before and realised that the last mission ended up being low scoring and hence didn't give a dramatic conclusion. Fair play to them for changing it up. Anyway, we'd be playing for 3 central, fixed objectives and Vanguard deployment. If either army ever controlled all of them (after turn 2) they'd win automatically. In turn 4 one objective would vanish. So my first game would be against Chris Thorne and his purple Space Wolves. I was mainly relieved to get at least one game that wasn't Necrons.

Sadly, Chris had included a stormtalon which put me in a difficult position. First game in a new venue against a new opponent. Do you point out that SW can't take them? Do you risk making the game feel miserable throughout? Obviously this is the sort of thing they should've picked up from the pre-submitted lists but nevermind. Anyway, I decided that I wasn't going to win anything so I wouldn't be an arse. I pointed out that other people might make him ditch it but my main problem was that I didn't actually have it in writing that they couldn't take them. I hoped it wouldn't make a difference but read on for that.

Otherwise he had a thunderlord with hammer joined by some fenrisian wolves, a ven dread in a drop pod, two tooled up grey hunter packs led by wolf guard, a vindicator and two packs of long fangs. It's at this point that I realise he only had two wolf guard which again is illegal. Sigh. Anyway, here's a shot of my army, a list for which you can find in yesterday's post, they aren't arranged into squads properly because I was throwing them down for the painting comp before dashing off for lunch!

Battle Report
I got to pick deployment zone but sadly Chris got first turn. I knew that it would be costly. He deployed fairly aggressively with the long fangs slightly behind his front line. He got a Warlord trait that let the thunderlord Outflank but either chose not to use it or else forgot. I stuck my long fangs in craters and a hunter pack mid field. The thunderwolves were sat on my right flank so they'd be as close as possible. My mistakes started here. The grey hunters should've been positioned so that he couldn't hit them with anything in his first turn. The vindicator certainly could've been avoided. Anyway, in Chris' first turn he managed to decimate the grey hunter squad by killing 7 of them from a combination of vindicator and long fangs. The dreadnought and other long fangs killed all but one of the long fangs that weren't joined by the rune priest.

As he'd needed to move the vindicator forward to get shots on me it was a simple case of charging it with the thunderwolves who's S10 power fist would almost certainly blow it up. Sure enough they did it with ease giving me First Blood. Elsewhere Arjac's squad arrived but rolled badly and failed to kill one of the long fang packs (they did run though). The remaining hunters that'd been thinned out were out of range of everything else so took pot shots at the fenrisian wolves, killing a couple. The remaining long fangs couldn't seem to kill the dreadnought despite Prescience.

The stormtalon arrived in turn 2 and with help from the dreadnought more long fangs perished. The stormtalon hit with a missile and I decided to risk it on the rune priest's runic armour costing him his life when I rolled a 1! This lost me Prescience and much hope of downing the flyer. The wolf lord turned 180 and headed back towards Arjac and his hunters. His packs of hunters combined to kill two thunderwolves from shooting. One squad then charged the remaining cavalryman but could only wound him once. In return he struck wounds but all were saved.

On my turn 2 the wolf priest squad arrived behind the unengaged grey hunters and thanks to Preferred Enemy they decimated them leaving 2 from the original 11 who then ran! Sure enough the long fangs couldn't kill either the stormtalon or dreadnought again. The remaining thunderwolf rended twice killing two grey hunters but inevitably lost his final wound in return. Arjac and his squad shot at the fenrisian wolves before attempting to charge, which I failed miserably. Turn two had at least been better than turn 1!

The stormtalon would have to hover to take further part in the game (as it would spend at least 2-3 turns turning around to be able to hit something so Chris elected to fly it off into ongoing reserves. The long fangs were further thinned out by the dreadnought but still clung on. Elsewhere the grey hunters who'd killed the thunderwolf headed for the central objective. The long fangs tried to thin out Arjac's squad but could only land a couple of hits which Arjac saved. The thunderlord charged in and I challenged him. The grey hunters easily dealt with the fen wolves without loss. Arjac struck with his 5 attacks and the wolf lord inevitably bought it thanks to S10. He struck back with his hammer causing 3 wounds. Arjac failed 2 of his 3++ saves on 1s and thanks to the standard managed to re-roll 1 to survive.

In my turn 3 Arjac and his squad shot the fleeing grey hunters and finished them off. The drop pod tried to kill the lone remaining long fang but failed. The long fangs again failed to deal with the dreadnought. The wolf priest and his squad moved up onto the objective and ran to try and be in range of the central grey hunters. My remaining hunters broke cover to head for the central objective and took shots at the enemy hunters killing one.

At the top of turn 4 Chris rolled to see which objective disappeared and sadly for me it was the one controlled by the wolf priest's squad meaning they'd need to break cover and head for the centre. The storm talon re-appeared and killed a few of the wolf priest's hunters. The drop pod killed the lonely long fang with its storm bolter (gutted) and the dreadnought finally finished off the other long fangs. Elsewhere Chris' remaining long fangs gunned down the remains of Arjac's squad including Mr. Rockfist. The drop pod was made to pay for failing to kill the lascannon long fang as he blew it up.

In my turn 4 the wolf priest and co. couldn't get into decent range of the central hunters so the other, dwindled squad of mine charged in. It was a straight hunter vs hunter fight but Chris managed to pass 4 3+ saves to keep his fist alive who then made the most of it by finishing my squad.

I'd now only got the wolf priest and his thinned out squad to try to hold out for a win. With the clock ticking down I knew I had a decent chance. Chris only had a very small scoring unit left and with me taking First Blood & Slay the Warlord he'd need to table me to win.

Stupidly, (I'll get to that) I decided to push the wolf priest forward to clear the remaining hunters and try to grab the objective. Over the next couple of turns Chris' dread, long fangs and stormtalon thinned out the squad enough that in turn 7 (it was a compulsory 7 turns) the wolf priest was on his own with far too many saves to make. Depsite being tabled I'd actually got 2 VPs to Chris' 1 from Slay the Warlord, because of the tabling though it had to go down as a loss for me.

I should've played for one of the objectives on my left, deploying a squad of grey hunters on that side. This would've kept them safer and force him to either risk the dreadnought near them (which they had a good shot of killing) or else the rest of his army would've needed to advance to get range whilst I shot them. The thunderwolves did their job but by waiting a turn or two and hanging around the edge of the vindicators range I could've shot it with long fangs and protected them so they wouldn't have been left vulnerable after killing it. Still it did give me First Blood and nearly give me the game.

Had I thought about it better I should've shot the dreadnought rather than the stormtalon on my second turn. The talon was going to have to hover and ultimately the dreadnought was more of a problem. I doubt I'd have killed it though with the rolling I was having combined with its Venerable rule.

Finally, I really should've hugged cover with the wolf priest's squad and killed the hunters at range. With Preferred Enemy that would've been a fairly simple task. I could've kept them out of sight of the long fangs, out of range of the dreadnought and got them cover from the stormtalon. The objective was irrelevant at this point but I think I was boyed by the turn around I'd managed despite feeling like it was one-sided for the first half of the game.

I'd love to say I don't think the stormtalon thing mattered that much but it was pretty decisive. I was always going to struggle to kill it even with Prescience and it managed to kill most of the long fangs, finish off the Wolf Priest on the final turn and distract my attention from the, easier to kill, dreadnought. As much as I didn't want to be a dick I screwed myself by not pointing out the illegalities of my opponent's list. I really wish the venue had properly checked them so that I wasn't in that situation but I know from Blog Wars experience that it isn't a fun or easy task.

Anyway, having lost I should manage to avoid playing Necrons or Daemons in my second game!

Sunday, February 24, 2013

Target Sighted Tournament Report - 3x1500pts - The Outpost

My highlight - more on this later.
Target Sighted was a 3 game, 1500pt singles 40K tournament held at The Outpost in Sheffield. As I discussed yesterday the custom scenarios were a little open to abuse but what worried me more was that there were something like 18 players and I'd seen a couple of Daemons and Necrons power lists that I really didn't fancy facing. Matt was his usual miserable self about playing those sorts of lists too. Frankly, I felt certain I'd end up facing at least one of them so was fairly philosophical about it.

I'll cover my games in three separate posts because all 3 (perhaps not game 2) were interesting and worth exploring further than I could do in a single post. The important thing is that Matt actually managed to win the tournament out right. Not only was he the only person to win all three games but he also got Bloodiest General netting him a total of £40 store credit! Now normally I'd be saying he was lucky, played some easy opponents or otherwise didn't deserve his victory but sadly I can't say any of that.

In his first game he played another GK player who'd got paladins, a dreadknight, etc. Matt tabled him. He then played Scott Nicholls who's a pretty strong player, certainly in this region (not sure where he ranks in the formal rankings). Scott was using the currently ubiquitous combination of screamers, flamers, plaguebearers and Fateweaver. Fortunately for us that sort of thing is soon to vanish with the new codex. Anyway, it's a strong list controlled by a good player. Now Matt had some luck in that he didn't get his Preferred Wave and Fateweaver didn't show up until turn 4 but the combination of Warp Quake and good Divination rolls allowed Matt to secure a hard fought, well deserved, victory. In his final game he played on Table 2 against a Necron list that despite not being the classic flyer spam, still have plenty of units that would cause him problems. Matt secured victory and with the top table drawing (I think) he was certain of winning even before the results had been announced. Fair play to Matt and congratulations.

A grin as cheesy as some of his lists!
In the painting competition Jamie's Iron Hands managed to win him the Best Painted award for a second time (the first being at Blog Wars 3). The army has some beautifully executed conversions, line highlights that must've been soul destroying work and generally looks the business. Congratulations to Jamie. Here's a few shots of his stuff and you can read about his other armies (there are many) over on his blogs here and here.

Of the three of us I was the one who let the side down without coming away with any prizes but suffice to say I had a pretty enjoyable tournament. I have to say I've changed my mind about the venue. The scenery was much better than it was before (perhaps the 40K stuff wasn't out when I went last), the staff were great and the atmosphere was good. Lunch was at the Mexican kitchen down the road and seemed to be well received by all. Whilst it's a shame that there aren't more tables and that a couple are downstairs, it meant the atmosphere was pretty friendly in a similar way to the first 4 Blog Wars.

Hopefully at future events they'll run the missions by someone who knows how 40K players think in terms of trying to break the missions! I've said I'm happy to do this is they like as I'm fairly au fait with the dirty things that players come up with.

Over the next few days I'll run through my games so stay tuned for them.

Target Sighted Tournament List and Review of the Missions

A shot from my last outing the the Outpost
As you're reading this I'm coming to the end of my final game of the 1500pt Target Sighted tournament (I'm actually writing this on Saturday but I've scheduled it to post on Sunday). This event is a 3-game, 20 person, single day tournament that's being held at Sheffield's Outpost venue. Jamie and I tried the venue out a little while back and I wasn't all that blown away but hopefully a tournament will change my mind. This time there'll be Matt, Jamie and me so hopefully one of us will come away with a prize!

Let's get my list out of the way first and then I'll talk about the custom scenarios they're using.

1,500pts of Space Wolves
Rune Priest (runic armour, JotWW, LL)
Wolf Priest (plasma pistol, Saga of the Hunter)

3 Wolf Guard (2 CM/PF and Arjac)

8 Grey Hunters (melta, standard, MotW) in a drop pod
2x 10 Grey Hunters (plasma, melta, standard, MotW)

3 Thunderwolves (storm shield, power fist)

2x 5 Long Fangs (4 missiles)

As you might expect the wolf guard split up and join the grey hunter packs. Arjac jumps in the drop pod and the other two slog around on foot. The wolf priest will join one pack and allow them to Outflank should they wish. He also makes them Fearless and gives them Preferred Enemy which I usually specify as being towards Infantry.

The rune priest has a bit of flexibility. If my opponent has flyers then he'll probably join the long fangs and help them with Prescience to give them a hope of killing a plane. Otherwise he's more likely to join the other big grey hunter pack and either use his stock powers or give them Prescience instead.

Not really a hugely 6th edition list but there's plenty of bodies for 1,500pts, 46 in total. There's also only 9 KPs which I don't think is bad. There could probably be less but I'm happy with the list balance as a whole. As ever with one of my lists there's some armies that it'll slaughter but most will either be challenging or impossible to fight!! There's some interest for me in the form of the TWC and Arjac. Two units who I'm extremely fond of. I've also included my outflanking Wolf Priest who's becoming somewhat obligatory in my lists.

Looking at the list now I wish I'd given the other two wolf guard some terminator armour. This would've allowed them to stand at the front of their grey hunter packs and tank fire. I'd have either had to lose the Rune Priest's runic armour or else give them claws instead of fists though. Probably would've been worth it but we'll see if it makes a difference. Either way, the list deadline was a couple of weeks ago so there's nothing I can do about it now.

The Scenarios
In their wisdom the organisers have decided to use some custom missions rather than the rulebook ones. Unfortunately, they don't seem to have been very well thought out. I get the impression they're 5th edition ones that've been ported across. No offence to these guys but on the face of it they look like they've been needlessly complicated.

Game One
Game one will be "Strategic Decimation" on Dawn of War with 6 turns automatically. This is basically Purge the Alien but with the difference that for the first unit you kill from each FOC slot you gain an extra point. For example, if my opponent has two squads of Necron warriors the first one I kill will be worth 2 pts because it's the first Troop I've killed whereas the second squad would give me just 1 pt. Unfortunately, my list has one from each FOC except Elites (as my wolf guard will become Troops). Hopefully that won't be an issue but you can see that depending on who you face there could be a lot of easy bonus points up for grabs. Ultimately I think it'll just be case of killing them all (if I can) and working out the points later. Incidentally, a difference of 0-2 pts counts as a draw anyway! Can't really see why but whatever.

Game Two
Game two will be "Escort" with essentially Dawn of War deployment but with the "ends cut off" in that you must be 12" from the short edge too. This is the mission that I think is the worst of the three. Each player nominates a model as the "Escort" who must try to leave the board by their opponent's board edge. This must be a character or independent character. If he's part of a squad when he leaves the squad leaves with him. Initially the mission was over as soon as one player got their character off the board. Obviously they had to change this so he's now worth 2 VPs if he leaves and an extra VP if he gets killed. He can't deep strike, outflank, infiltrate, etc and he can't move in the shooting phase. Essentially he's got to slog it forwards from one edge to the other. Clearly models on bikes or with wings/jump packs have a huge advantage here. Otherwise it's kill points (i.e. Purge the Alien again). I think what's essentially going to happen is both players will kill their opponent's "Escort" before he even gets close to the opposing board edge and the game will be reduced to Purge the Alien.

My army doesn't really have a suitable candidate for an "Escort" as I don't really want to reduce my army's effectiveness by walking my rune priest or wolf priest off the table. Nor do I really want to walk an entire grey hunter pack off with Arjac or any of the wolf guard. As I say, I think it'll come down to killing each other's "Escort" and then fighting it out for KPs.

Game Three
Game three is a little better mind you. It's called "Hold the Centre" and uses Vanguard deployment. There's 3 objectives on the centre line and if any player ever holds all 3 at any point after turn 2 they win by default. At the end of turn 4 one objective randomly disappears. If someone controls the remaining two they win by default. I actually quite like the idea of this mission as it forces you to play for the objectives from the start. No holding back and snatching them at the end. In this mission I might consider not Outflanking so that I've got all my guys fighting it out from the start. Don't really want a situation where I wait until turn 4 before they show up.

Anyway, time will tell how these scenarios will play out and as I said, as you're reading this I've pretty much finished playing them. I think it's a shame when TOs try to overcomplicate things and make a tournament confusing to play. I've been a bit guilty of this in the past at Blog Wars but since then the scenarios have just been slight variations of the rulebook ones. Ultimately if you change things to much you get a situation where one player gets a natural advantage or a pair of players interpret it differently to everyone else. Keep it simple is the best approach I reckon unless you can come up with something brilliant.

Saturday, February 23, 2013

First Impressions of the New Chaos Daemons Models

Let me start by saying I'm not a Daemon player and frankly I have no interest in becoming one. That being said Matt (who's one of my regular opponents) has a fairly sizeable Daemon army which he either uses on its own or bolstered by CSM or IG. This means I'm likely to be facing these new models at some point and there'll certainly be at tournaments.

The New Models
I've never been a huge fan of the Daemons models in the first place as I feel that they're limited by the fact that they need to be able to sit comfortably in both a WH40K and WHFB army. Personally I think that they fail on the first count. They're great models for Fantasy but they just always look out of place in 40K to me. I think the only model that doesn't have this problem is the soul grinder and some of the daemon prince variants.

Now don't get me wrong, I understand that these are beings that are supposed to have been around since time began. However, it's a shame they don't look like warped versions of things from the 40K universe. On the one hand I think that's fine because that's what CSM do well but somehow they just feel detached from the game for me.

Take the FW blight drones and compare them to the new plague drone pictured above. Regardless of what you make of the models themselves, to me it's clear that the FW model is warped technology whereas the new model just looks like something out of...well... Fantasy. What I'd love to see is daemons that look like they might've once been men. Something to link them to the 40K universe. Maybe I'm missing the point though.

All that being said, there's some nice sculpts in there and all of them are in that "I'd have no chance of doing it justice" category of models. At the end of the day the good thing about 40K is that there's something for everyone in terms of models. There's not going to be many people who would happily take all of them but that's a good thing really.

The New Rules
Speaking of people taking all armies. It's going to be very interesting to see what the new rules will be. I imagine there's lots of people who accumulated a pile of screamers/flamers that are going to have to decide how much they actually like the new book. We've already started seeing droves of them on eBay but we'll soon see how many people actually are interested in the army rather than bought them because they're the current OP thing. It's kind of the same thing with Necrons where people aren't really interested in the army but know that they're good at the moment. Sadly, we're stuck with the Necrons but thankfully the Daemons are getting brought back down to size.

Having not seen the rules properly, and with only snippets from WD and rumours to go on, it's a bit early to say if they'll still be top-tier or not. Luckily for us they let Phil Kelly write the 40K book whilst Matt Ward wrote the WHFB book. This means hopefully that there'll be the usual internal balance and nothing that's too drastic. Granted he's responsible for the Heldrake which I'm sure as a DA player I'm going to hate pretty soon but in general his books are pretty interesting if a little safe (if that makes sense?).

What seems to be clear is that Daemons won't be Eternal Warrior and that they may have lost Fearless (or at least had it toned down a bit). Some units are still going to be lethal but hopefully it'll pay to take a bit more of a mixture than just the wave after wave of the same thing.

With the allies system armies have pretty much lost their identity now so I'm less excited about books that I don't collect. Personally I just hope that they've dealt with the screamer/flamer issues so that tournaments can be a bit more interesting again (except for the Necrons of course). Still, whatever happens there's going to be the flavour of the month lists that you get sick of playing so at least Daemons got their day in the sun.

Thursday, February 21, 2013

Dark Angels Unit Reviews - Special Characters

In the spirit of Blog Wars I thought I'd cover the Special Characters in more detail and go over what they can offer to your army. Some are far better than others but with the exception of one they're all pretty useful. Here goes:

He's a bit of an enigma really. At first you think he's awesome because you can take both Deathwing and Ravenwing as troops for about half the number of points it'd cost to include Sammael and Belial for the same result. Then you start to write a list and realise that he doesn't play well with others in that he can't join either DW or RW. This means you need to spend points on a squad for him. Sure you can stick him in a tactical squad for cheapest but that's somewhat wasting his abilities. Anyway, I'll get back to that. For now let's look at what he offers.

Stats-wise he's pretty solid. Fairly standard chapter master stuff but with 2+ armour and a 6+ FNP which is about 86% chance of saving a normal shot.The real fun comes from his special rules and chapter relics though. He gives your entire army Ld 10 which not only saves you a lot of veteran sergeants but with Stubborn for most of the army (that isn't already Fearless) you aren't going to be failing many Morale Checks. You get to choose his Warlord Trait which is a nice touch but realistically you only want For The Lion or maybe Brilliant Planning. 

His weaponry is pretty decent with a Master-crafted combi-plasma that causes Blind (more on that in a minute) and a +2S Master-crafted power sword. The thing that gets most people excited is his 4++ save for him and his unit.  This combination goes some way to helping with his foot-slogging issues. Personally I think the best way to use him is with an assault squad in their freebie drop pod. If you're feeling flush (points-wise) then by all means make it a veteran squad but either way you want him in the thick of it to make the most of Furious Charge (from For The Lion). 

Trouble is, I just can't get excited about Azrael. It's annoying that you have to buy a squad for him to get the most out of him. This pretty much ruins the feel of your army which otherwise only contains terminators and bikes. Before you know it you've spent 500pts on him and his squad which doesn't leave you much left for the rest of the army. Ultimately I think people will be using him with allies and probably in the form of Imperial Guard. Either way I'll struggle to find a place for him in my armies. 

It's worth noting that he hasn't really changed from the old codex even if he is 10pts cheaper!

Whilst he still has the same problems as Azrael in that he needs a squad to tag along with, Ezekiel is just ridiculous for his points. He's disgustingly cheap for what you get and cheaper than he used to be! A regular librarian with Mastery 2 and terminator armour is 130pts. For another 15pts you can have Ezekiel who's Mastery 3! 

Let's go through all the stuff you get for just 145pts. Let's see he's a librarian with 3 wounds, BS5 (for those Witchfire powers), 3 attacks base and initiative 5. For his stat line alone I'd pay 145pts but there's more. He gets Mind Worm which if you get lucky with the focused witchfire could seriously gimp an opposing character if it doesn't kill them!! He gives all units within 6" a +1 bonus to WS. He's also got a Master-crafted force weapon which, although two-handed still gets 4 attacks thanks to his better stats. Personally I think that little lot is a bargain!

I'm determined to find a way to get him into my army just to give Mind Worm a go. It's a bit of a shame there weren't proper Dark Angels psychic powers but nevermind. I'd probably go with Telepathy for his other powers as he can fire off those ML2 powers and still get a Mind Worm. I reckon sticking him in a drop pod could be brutal if him and his squad can survive the initial fusillade of fire.

As a bonus the DV librarian makes for a perfect representation of Ezekiel (you can just stick a banner on him) which saves your precious pennies.

From the sublime to the ridiculous. Asmodai feels really badly thought out. When you compare Ezekiel to a standard Librarian there's no contest. If you can fit him into your army plan you ought to take him. Asmodai on the other hand isn't much better than a normal Interrogator Chaplain. He has an identical statline for a start. You pay an additional 30pts and don't get a whole lot in return.

Maybe I'm missing something but you lose an attack (as he only has one specialist weapon) and are forced to take The Hunt where a normal Interrogator could take a roll and maybe get something better. The only "bonuses" are that he causes Fear (which GW seems to think is much better than it actually is) and his weapon causes Instant Death. Well it would if your opponent doesn't pass his armour save as it's AP-. 

The less said about him the better to be honest. Save your points.

Back to the good stuff then. Belial is obviously the character of choice if you want to field a full Deathwing army (more on that soon). He got a bit pricier in this edition of the codex but he's got a bit more meat to him than he had before. In addition to the stuff he always had he's got a few nice toys. 

For starters he's now WS6 (not a massive deal but still) and his sword is nicer. It's still a master-crafter power sword but it's now got Fleshbane which means he wounds on 2+. He's got 5+ precision shots but since he's just got a storm bolter it's hardly devastating. 

The big thing here is that he's the first character in this list that plays to the DA army of terminators and bikers. The key thing is that his squad won't scatter when they arrive. I'm planning to make him out of terminator bits rather than buying the model but even so I'm determined to write him into a list.

It's a bit of shame that he doesn't give a few more bonuses to his terminator brethren but the not scattering thing could really come in handy. For the points I think he's a reasonable choice and certainly doesn't feel like a tax to unlock DW. The options are still there for swapping out his weapons but I don't know why you would anymore.

First off no-one is ever going to take the land speeder. Seriously why would you? Waste a character for the sake of an AV14 2HP speeder. Forget it.

That aside, Sammael is pretty solid. Very similar statline to the other characters but you're also getting T5 of course. Weirdly as the toughest character he's also the only one to get Eternal Warrior. You'd have thought Azrael would have it but whatever. In my opinion he's a little pricey for what he is and I think that's purely down to his EW. Nice to have a plasma cannon in there but there isn't much else to get excited about. He's got an AP2 power weapon which is better than his special character colleagues but he just doesn't excite me to be honest.

Perhaps I've not been making the most of him as I've been using him with a command squad. This gives the squad more survivability with Skilled Rider's +1 to cover and his ability to soak up some wounds but really I think he needs to be with a big squad of Black Knights who are tearing around the place making a mess of things will at those plasma shots and rending attacks. 

Let's face it. He's going to see A LOT of use for the pure fact that he unlocks RW as troops. Don't get me wrong he's by now means a bad choice but there's just something not quite right there. Perhaps he should just have a 2+ save or something. 

There aren't really any stand-out characters (maybe Ezekiel) but with the exception of Asmodai it isn't difficult to see why you'd take them. In some ways it's a shame that you almost have to take them but personally I probably would've done anyway.

I didn't really intend this article to come across so negative on them. Don't get me wrong I'm happy with them on the whole. I think they just needed to be a bit more powerful for their points. Sure they're not awful but none of them feels like Draigo, Logan or Abaddon. Maybe with time one will stand out though. What do you guys think?

Incidentally, if you're looking for inspiration for converting your characters using the normal kits. Take a look at my mate Jamie's blog where he's done conversion for Belial, Azrael and Ezekiel.

Sunday, February 17, 2013

6th Edition 40K - You're Doing It Wrong! (maybe) - Pre-Game Sequence

We've all done it. When you play a game with your mates you either both assume a rule stayed the same in 6th or else one of you is sure you've read it and the other doesn't question it. Not such a big deal in friendly games but can lead to problems at tournaments. You end up making your battle plans based on those assumed rules and it's only when you execute your strategy that your opponent goes "hang on, you can't do that anymore". This is partly why I like going to tournaments. I can't remember a time when I got through an entire tournament without having to look something up.

One point that's worth making here is that some things are FAQ'd and people aren't up-to-date with them. Keeping abreast of the rules is key to tournament play. Before any tournament I always read through the latest FAQs of the rulebook and my army's codex. I also do my best to keep an eye on all the other FAQs, which comes in handy when I referee at Blog Wars. Anyway, here's a list of rules you might be doing wrong. I'm hoping to make this a regular segment so feel free to send in any you've come across.

1) Two Roll-Offs
This is something that comes up more than anything else. When you read the pre-game sequence people often miss that there are two roll-offs. Straight after rolling for the type of deployment you roll off to see who picks their zone first. You then deploy fortifications, place terrain (in theory), place objectives, determine warlord traits, generate powers etc.

You then roll off again to see who will deploy first and take the first turn. This changes the way you think about objective deployment as you can't be sure you're going first when you do it but you can put the majority of objectives in your half if you won the first roll-off.

2) Mysterious Objectives
Whilst people tend to just ignore this rule. All objectives are mysterious. It's not an optional part of the game like mysterious terrain is. With the exception of one result they're fairly good for your scoring units. Skyfire Nexus can be particularly helpful in the right situation. Just remember, whilst any unit that moves within 3" can trigger the objective, only units that actually control it (i.e. scoring units) can take advantage of the Mysterious Objectives result.

Some tournaments ban the use of this feature but most do not. Top players will probably not bother rolling for it but them's the rules and I intend to play them.

3) Generating Psychic Powers
Unless otherwise specified in the unit entry or FAQ, psykers swap ALL of their codex powers for the random powers. You can't pick and choose. The main thing people get wrong here though is the use of Primaris powers. You roll for powers one at a time. After rolling each power you can choose to swap for the Primaris. You then roll for the second and if you've already taken the Primaris in that discipline you must take the new power you generated.

4) Night Fighting
Whilst there are some people that will NEVER forget to roll for Night Fighting (I'm thinking DE players here). Most people will simply forget. The other thing people seem to do wrong is roll for Night Fighting just before they start moving. The actual roll is just before you starte Deployment. This can make a big difference as you might want to deploy further back to try and get the benefit from Stealth/Shrouded.

The final thing that I'm sure pretty much everyone (myself included) forgets is that if you didn't get Night Fighting at the start of the game you should be rolling again in turns 5, 6 and 7 until you activate it. If you do activate it on turn 5+ then it comes into affect for the remainder of the game. This could have a huge effect on the outcome of games and it's something I'd say the majority of us aren't doing.

5) Reserves
Firstly, I'm sure all of us now know that you can no longer charge after arriving from reserve but it's worth keeping an eye on your opponent! Anyway, the point I'm making here is that only 50% of your units can choose to be in Reserve. The thing that people forget here is that a unit and it's transport are counted together i.e. 1 unit not 2 for the purpose of working out 50%. Equally important is that units that MUST be in reserve don't count towards this total. For example, if you have 10 units including a flyer and a drop pod then you could place upto 4 of your remaining units in reserve too (i.e. half of 8).

Something that was also the case in 5th but was often forgotten is that when you place something in reserve you have to decide how it will arrive. You can't say something is Deep Striking and then choose to walk it on when it arrives.

6) Scout Moves aren't Moves at all!
This is a big deal for skimmers, bikes, etc. Anything that relies on moving for a cover save. In 5th edition Scouts got a bonus move before turn one. Now they get a redeployment, which depending on their unit type is either 6" or 12". You can't turbo-boost or go flat-out during your Scout redeployment and because it's a redeployment terrain doesn't affect you at all (except you can't redeploy into impassable terrain of course).

One other thing about Scouts. If you choose to make a Scout redeployment (stop calling it a Scout move so you remember) you CAN'T CHARGE IN THE FIRST TURN. I've put it in caps because it's a big deal for some units. With a Scout redeploy, 12" move and then random charge it's easy for units like bikes to get into combat on the first turn but they can't do it. Frustrating for me with my Black Knights etc but them's the rules.

I'm not trying to be a rules Nazi here, it's not really a crime to make assumptions about rules but it does mean that you might be making a unit better (or worse) than it should be. The key thing at tournaments is never to simply take your opponent's word for it. Personally I'd never take offence if someone wanted to double check in the rulebook. At the end of the day we all make assumptions and being called on them is how we get a better grasp on the rules.

The best way to avoid this sort of thing being an issue is to check with your opponent before you do something. Obviously you don't want to reveal a tactic but there are situations where it can help. For example, before you finish moving a unit, check your opponent agrees that they'll be able to see their target, that it won't get a cover save and/or which models will be in range. That way when you get to the shooting phase you won't end up in an argument along the lines of "well I'd have never left it there if I'd known they couldn't see that unit".

Conversely, if you can see your opponent setting up to do something that you know will break the rules, tell them before they go onto the next phase. For example, "you do know if you rapid fire you'll not be able to charge right?". Whilst I wouldn't expect this sort of thing on the top tables I try to do it in my other games. I'd rather win a game knowing that I'd played it better than my opponent rather than they just forgot to do something. If neither of us remember then fine.

A good example of this is letting your opponent do psychic powers when he's moved something. Technically some should be cast at the start of the turn (Blessings, Maledictions, etc) but you know they'd have done it if they'd remembered. Obviously there's a limit. If you've told them twice and they still forget in turn 3 then there's an argument for not reminding them anymore. Just remember it's a two way street. If you forget to do something later they're far more likely to let you off than if you were an arsehole about something they forgot.

Ultimately, we all want to play on a level playing field. The rules (whether you like them or not) are theoretically designed to be balanced (I did say theoretically) so if we play as closely to the real thing as possible we're playing it how it was intended to be played. It's only a game but I'd prefer to play it correctly!

Oh and if I've got something wrong here I'd be grateful if you tell me!!

Saturday, February 16, 2013

Blog Wars 5 has Sold Out! Massive Prize Pot!

Within the space of just over 10 days the tickets for Blog Wars 5 have sold out! That's including the additional 10 spots I added to the original 30. Assuming everyone actually shows up on the day I've got nearly double the number of attendees this time! I've even got someone on the reserves list. Thank you to everyone who's bought a ticket. It makes all the hard work that I put into organising these events seem worth it. Hopefully this will be the best Blog Wars ever! I'm pleased to see a great combination of new players and veterans of previous "Wars".

On the subject of reserves, if you missed out on getting a ticket and would still like to go please let me know. There's every chance people will have to drop out nearer the time and in those situations I'll need some people in reserve to fill the gaps. If the usual happens and I end with an odd number at the last minute it'll mean one of the reserves gets to play for free!

Anyway, all that aside the best news for you guys is that with so many people coming the prize pot is going to be huge. Remember I don't make a penny from these events so for the £15 ticket price, £8 goes to the venue for the food etc and the remaining £7 goes into the prize pot. £7 x 40 tickets is obviously £280. The current prize structure means that £80 of that goes on the tournament and painting prizes leaving me £200 to spend on raffle and spot prizes. I don't know about you but I thought the raffle prizes were pretty good last time so having double the cash has got to be great right?

So there'll be a raffle at the end and spot prizes throughout but I'm also keen to hear any other ideas for how to spend the £200. I considered door prizes but these end up being something small and short of a commemorative dice there isn't much scope. Any suggestions would be gratefully received.

Right, better get back to painting my Dark Angels now in the hope of getting them finished in time.

Wednesday, February 13, 2013

Dark Angels Unit Reviews - Deathwing Knights

Painted by the brilliant "jontlaw". Look him up on Flickr.
This is going to be the first in a series of articles looking at particular units from the Dark Angels codex. The aim is to try to understand their place within a DA army and what they offer over other choices in their FOC slot. Ultimately, it'll help me decide what is and isn't worth taking in my DA armies.

First things first, the models are some of the best of the new batch of DA miniatures. Whilst they're a little difficult to assemble and limited in terms of poses they're still beautiful sculpts. For this reason alone I'm trying to figure out if I can squeeze them into my lists. Ultimately, they're always going to have to compete with regular Deathwing terminators because they cost a similar number of points and they're doing a similar job to TH/SS equipped versions of the DW termies. Let's get something out of the way first. If it it's a straight choice between regular DW terminators and DWKs then it all depends on whether you'd got Belial/Azrael to make them Troops. If you have, then the decision is simple as scoring units are so vital in 6th. If on the other hand you either haven't unlocked Troops or have already packed our that part of the FOC then should you take them?

Let's compare them to DW termies assuming you haven't unlocked normal terminators as Troops. A lot of people say you're better off with standard TH/SS terminators. So let's take a look at a comparie the two first. Points wise there isn't much in it with DWKs coming in at 235pts and a full TH/SS regular squad at 245pts. Easily better to take DWKs then right? Well not necessarily as DWKs aren't AP2 all of the time as they're usually S6 AP4. The crucial difference though is initiative. The DWKs are hitting at initiative 4 instead of initiative 1. Is that worth the trade off in AP? Well it's one of those situational things. Sometimes it will be and sometimes it won't. However, with Smite mode they become S10 AP2 and retain their initiative. Think about that for a minute. It may be only once per game but that's 12 S10 AP2 attacks on the charge plus another 4 S6 AP3 from the master. Factor in WS5 + hammer of wrath and how many units can stand up to that?

A TH/SS squad of terminators will put out 15 S8 AP2 attacks on the charge but they're doing so at intiative 1 and WS4. Personally I'd rather have the DWKs in that situation. So far we've also ignored the Precision Strikes and Bane of the Traitor. The former will help pick out that power fist which can hurt the knights but the latter is obviously very situational. The problem might be that the knights are too good in combat and will therefore be out in the open in your opponent's turn. Whilst their T5 thing will help keep them alive they'll still succumb to weight of fire almost as easily as normal terminators. The key then is proper use of Smite mode. Not much is going to kill them in combat very easily with their 2+/3++ so timing Smith correctly is key. If you're facing an MC with AP2 attacks then probably better to try and kill him off quick so Smite right up. If you're fighting something softer it might be better to Smite in the second round to come out in your opponent's turn.

The obvious problem, and its the same for all combat terminators, is that they're going to spend a turn as sitting ducks when they drop in. Thanks to Teleport Homers you should be able to get them in close but it isn't impossible for units to move away and then fire at them from a safe distance. Again, the shield wall will help but appropriate selection of insertion point is crucial. Choosing your target is also key. You really want to be putting them up against something vital to your opponent, otherwise you're wasting them.

So when compared to TH/SS terminators they probably win out but that's obviously overlooking the fact that regular terminators have ranged weapons. Trouble is, they don't exactly pack a major punch. Sure an assault cannon, plasma, cyclone or even heavy flamer can be useful in the right place at the right time but they are far from devastating, even when twin-linked after deep strike. Ultimately they're only effective if you're taking a lot of them. Small squads of regular terminators are pretty easy to deal with so you need a whole pile of them to really cause your opponent problems.

What use is a single squad of slightly tougher terminators in an otherwise ravenwing list then? Well as I've talked about before with thunderwolves and other similar units is their ability to distract. Like thunderwolves your opponent ignores them at their peril. You can't allow them to walk through your army. This means they either try to gun them down, forsaking shooting other things or they tarpit them with something. The point is they have to do something. They might not be scoring but they can't be left alone. Despite their high cost they certainly make your list more interesting. Don't be as quick to dismiss them as other people seem to be.

Friday, February 08, 2013

Blog Wars 5 Tickets Selling Fast and a Few Updates

Somewhat amazingly I'm pleased to report that 18 of the 30 places have been filled for Blog Wars 5. That means I'm already close to the minimum 20 I need to run the event in the first place with the prize structure suggested. If you don't have your place yet then use the link on the right to buy tickets. They're £15 which I think is pretty good value for a 3 game tournament including lunch and great prize support. There's a few of the regulars who haven't bought tickets so I hope they get in there soon so they don't miss out! In the mean time there's a few updates I want to run through.

Forge World Units
At previous Blog Wars I've allowed Forge World armies but not single FW units in an otherwise codex army. However, since a lot of their stuff is now "40K approved" and there are some interesting options available I'm keen to try and allow people to include them. Now, as I've said before I'm not all that au fait with FW stuff so if someone knows of a particularly broken unit that is likely to make me regret my decision then now's the time to tell me (I know things like Vultures are nasty but they aren't any harder to deal with than Vendettas even if they do inflict more pain). Otherwise feel free to include them in your army. The only request I make is that when you submit your army list you make it clear which book they're from so I can check on the legality etc.

Unknown Soldier
There's quite a few new names on the list for Blog Wars this time around. If it says "unknown/no blog" next to your name and you do have one then feel free to let me know by email or in the comments so I can update the info. Blog Wars started as a community event to get everyone reading each other's blogs and meeting face to face so I'm keen to promote other people's blogs if I can. There's no need to have a blog to come along though! 

Giantkiller Bonus
As suggested by one of the first time attendees, Aaron (check out his new blog here) I'm going to provide an incentive to beating Andy Humphris at Blog Wars 5. I don't want Andy to feel like there's a witch hunt or anything but thought it would be a bit of harmless fun to offer a ransom of sorts. Frankly, if Andy is bringing his Necrons again it's going to be a tall order!

I've not decided on what it will consititute yet but suffice to say the idea is that if someone beats Andy in a game and denies him a chunk of VPs then they'll get a little bonus!

Blog Wars goes International!
Finally, I wanted to express my down right astonishment that Blog Wars 5 will see the event's first international visitor. Hendrik is coming all the way from Germany to make the event. I even asked him if he was going to be over here anyway and he's actually planning his trip around Blog Wars 5! No pressure on me then for it to be worth the trip!!

I'm sure everyone will make him feel welcome and not be worried that his rulebook/codex are in German!! Let's hope the rules are the same eh?

Thursday, February 07, 2013

My Proposed Dark Angels List for Blog Wars 5

I've not had a great deal of opportunity to test out my Dark Angels but a combination of the couple of games I've had and general reading round on the internet has led me to think that I'm right in my wariness about fielding Deathwing. Don't get me wrong I love terminators but every time I try to write a list with some I picture myself rolling a pile of 1s! I may find a way of getting them into a list but at the moment I think I'm just too excited about the idea of tons of bikes zipping around. Here's my current effort:

1,847pts of Dark Angels
Librarian on bike (Mastery 2)
RW command squad (apothecary, champion, Standard of Devastation w/ grenade launcher)

5 Deathwing Knights

10-man Tactical Squad w/ plasma cannon, plasma gun & vet sergeant w/ chainsword
3x 6 RW bikes w/ plasma, melta, chainsword (for modelling purposes)

6 RW Black Knights w/ 2 grenade launchers

I've dropped the flyer from my previous list because it's well established to be more than a little shitty. I've ditched the 4-man RW bikes and the attack bikes too. The attack bikes are an easy First Blood for my opponents and aren't much of a threat except for a flukey vehicle kill. The most obvious difference is that it's no longer pure ravenwing. The tiny bit of "green" comes in the form of the tacticals. The tacticals just boost the number of bolters I've got for the banner and hopefully we be ignored because of all the bikes zipping around.

The deathwing knights are a new addition. Now I can't pretend they're in their for much more than the fact that I love the models but they could be great in the right situation and at worst they're at least a decent distraction away from my bikes! Haven't tried them yet though so they might end up getting dropped.

Sammael and the librarian can join either the black knights or the command squad depending on my opponent. The librarian has mastery 2 to help him get the more useful Divination powers. In a wierd way the darkshroud and bolter banner work well together. Both need to be priority targets for my opponents but by having both it goes some way to protecting the other. Frankly neither is likely to last long but hopefully after the first couple of turns it won't matter too much about either. There's nice synergy with the grenade launchers and the banner too. Imagine getting one or two rad grenades on a unit and then unleashing 24 twin-linked bolter shots from a single bike squad! If I get two grenades that's something like 18 wounds which cause instant death!!

In general this list seems pretty decent. There's 10 KPs in total which is pretty damn good at 1,850pts. It could be reduced but I don't think many of them are easy for my opponents to take except maybe the darkshroud. That's probably my only real risk of losing First Blood. In objective games I can have a potential 8 scoring units. A little less than my previous lists but still should be plenty.

The obvious weakness of this list is dealing with flyers. I've thought long and hard about this and realised that without allies (which I'd like to avoid for aesthetic reasons) there's very little I can do about them anyway. The Nephilim is likely to end up losing a duel with another flyer and the quad-gun/flakks aren't reliable enough against AV12. I'm just going to bury my head in the sand and pretend they don't exist, OK?

The biggest problem is that none of this is painted at the moment and some of it I don't even own yet, namely the black knights! There's something like 20 weeks til blog wars which is basically a unit a fortnight. I think it's do-able but I've said that before! The list will probably evolve over time but I think I'm pretty safe painting my bikes up for a start. Stay tuned for pictures if/when I get them done.

Tuesday, February 05, 2013

Blog Wars 6: The Weekender?!?

Something that's come out of the comments section from the BW5 announcement post (tickets are on sale now using the link on the right! hint hint) is the idea of a two-day Blog Wars event. This is something I've considered before and dismissed. However, I'm willing to look at the idea again.

The reason people have suggested it is that, for some, Mansfield is quite a journey. It's therefore a long way to go for a single day. With a two-day event the journey vs. playtime ratio would be a lot better and these guys could therefore come along. However, at the same time, some people wouldn't come because for a friendly tournament an entire weekend is a big commitment. As with everything in life, you can't please everyone all of the time.

Therefore, I'd like to put the feelers out for who'd be interested in a two-day, five game, incarnation of Blog Wars. It would probably be in the October slot (venue permitting) and would be exactly the same format as the other Blog Wars events but obviously with 5 games instead of 3. This would help in a number of ways, not least because on the second day everyone should be playing opponents of a similar ability to themselves.

There have been other suggestions for format for this event, for example, the first day is a tournament in itself and then the second day is optional for people to "play off" for the two-day crown. This is fine in principle but in a tournament where I average just over 20 attendees I'd be sceptical that there'd be enough people to play the second day properly.

That's really the crux of the matter, numbers. I've been dying to run a Blog Wars Doubles event but based on the current numbers 10-12 teams really isn't much of an event. I'm ever the optimist in hoping that I manage to get a better number of attendees every time I run the event but somehow I always end up with about the same number.

So the question is: would you be interested in Blog Wars 6 being a two-day event? Would it make you more or less likely to attend? What makes you want to attend a Blog Wars in the first place? What puts you off buying a ticket? 

Essentially, tell me what I can do better so we can get more people coming. That means better prizes, better competition and better atmosphere. Remember I don't make a penny from these events so I'm not trying to get more people to make more profit. It'll just mean better prizes for you guys!

Sunday, February 03, 2013

Blog Wars 5 - June 22nd 2013 - Details & Tickets on Sale

It's that time of year again. Time to release the tickets for the first of this year's Blog Wars events. Blog Wars 5: Vengeance will be the second of 6th edition and hopefully the best BW event yet! Tickets are available now from the link on the right or by contacting me directly for multiple tickets. The event page can be found by either clicking the blog wars logo on the sidebar or the link on the tabs. This contains all the information you need about the event and a list of current attendees. Oh and to Andy Gosling: Did you predict cyan/turquoise as the colour of the number this time around?

I've been thinking for a while about the format for BW5 and what can be better. I'd like to discuss a few of the changes and why I'm making them.

With Maunsfeld not likely to stock Games Workshop in the foreseeable future I'm not going to offer vouchers this time around. The prize structure is remaining the same as BW4 with £25 for 1st, £15 for 2nd, £10 for 3rd, £5 for last and then £15 and £10 for the painting comps. There'll also be spot prizes and a raffle again. I'm sure this makes Blog Wars the best for prize support on the calendar! Anyway, the prizes this time will be purchased in advance. Whilst I've tried to avoid this in the past (as its difficult to pick stuff everyone will want to win) vouchers really aren't an option as I'm still chasing people to give them the prizes from BW4.

If anyone has particular ideas for prizes let me know but my logic on it is. If you don't like it sell it on eBay or else find someone who will buy it.

Matchups and Seeding
With what is becoming known as the "Andy Problem" I've been looking at ways of trying to avoid him winning a 5th straight title. As we've discussed before, by hampering him he's not really being beated by his opponents but the tournament itself, which I don't like. Some have suggested this new "Swedish" system where armies are comped individually based on the supposed strength of individual units. Whilst this is fine in the super-competitve tournaments, it feels harsh to penalise people who bring the "stronger" codexes but without the experience. Also, the system isn't perfect and it's still possible to bring something horrible without breaking the comp. Therefore, in short, he can bring what he likes, as can everyone else (except the compulsory SC comp of course).

The problem we've had in the past though is with players getting a totally mis-matched first game. Now there are several ideas to avoid this such as seeding etc. However, if you seed people completely then you either (a) end up with two separate tournaments being played at the same time or (b) give everyone a fair first game but run the risk of a miserable second game instead!

As a tournament organiser at some point you have to accept that you can't please everyone. Whilst I'd love to see someone else win it. If Andy brings his usual strong list and plays it well against the right opponents then he'll win again regardless of any shenanigans on my part. The only solution is for everyone else to make it difficult for him or simply enjoy themselves regardless. I intend to do the latter thanks.

Simplicity & Scenarios
There seems to be a general drive for simplicity in tournaments. 6th edition can be complicated enough without TOs adding in anything to overcomplicate things. One of the things I appreciated by not being able to play at BW4 was that people don't necessarily read the scenarios properly, choose not to play the rules I've suggested or simply forget. This leads to some people playing a very different version of the scenario to others and skews the playing field.

A prime example of this is the Archeotech Horde rule I tried to apply at BW4. The idea was that if you're in a ruin you roll a dice and on a 6 it's an Archeotech structure so you roll on the chart. This was played in a variety of ways. Some people played it for all the scenery, some played it for all ruins without rolling a 6, some ignored the whole thing and a very small number actually did it right when they remembered! Unsurprisingly I'm ditching the idea! Similarly, there's no point trying to force people to play Mysterious Terrain. It's in the book so in my opinion you should use it but I understand why people don't. Objectives should always be mysterious though.

The scenarios from last time were pretty simple, however, as they were just rulebook missions with slight variations. I had thought about making it random missions so that Scouring, Emperor's Will and Big Guns became options again but I actually think the missions are fine as they are. Emperor's Will is a bit boring most of the time and Big Guns/Scouring favour armies with decent FA/HS choices.

As you may have read in my Battle Brothers coverage the scoring system they used was to record the absolute VPs scored in the game. Having thought long and hard about this I think it's actually a reasonable system. It allows for it to be clear who won a game but without ignoring the difference between narrow and easy victories. I've tried a score out of 25 in the past couple of events and again, people get it wrong.

The problems people mention are some armies having more VPs on offer to their opponents. In the two objective games this won't be an issue. In the Crusade game there's 18pts on offer (3pts for each of 5 objectives and 1 for each secondary) and in the Relic game there's a potential 6 VPs on offer (3 for relic, 1 for each secondary). In Purge the Alien the points are, of course, dependent on the army you face. Some will have a ton of units and hence a lot of points available whilst others will have significantly less. This was always the case at tournaments in 5th and people can tailor their lists to recognise this problem. No matter what I try and do there's no way I can make this even. Still, at least by recording the absolute points it'll be clear how close the game was. Again I'd love to hear your opinions on all of this.

Finally, in the past four events I've been asking people to record 5th edition style VPs to help split people. Whilst I'm still a fan of this (because it results in definite separation), people again struggle to get it right and it's a faff at the end of a game to work out.

Therefore the players will be ranked as follows:

  1. Total VPs Scored
  2. "Goal difference" as in VPs won minus VPs given away
  3. Primary VPs Scored
  4. Seconary VPs Scored
  5. VPs given away (lowest to highest)
If I still can't separate people after all that then I don't know what to do!! Seriously though, this number of levels and the possible combinations should prevent duplicate pairings. 

Other Bits
  • The score cards will be better and clearer to use.
  • There'll be a proper ballot box for the painting comp so people know where to put them.
  • More spot prizes for more interesting things (open to suggestions here)
  • The presentation that's running throughout the day will give reminders of the scoring etc as the game goes on.
  • Better name badges!
I say this every time, with varying degrees of success, but I really do want to hear from people about what needs to change. I want this tournament to be the best it can be and I hope it shows. If something annoys you or puts you off coming then please let me know.

I look forward to seeing you all again in June and let's hope we can stop him this time!


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