Friday, May 31, 2013

Battle Report - Blog Wars Warm-up - Tau vs. CSM/Daemons & Tau vs. GK

Matt and I have been working on our Blog Wars 5 lists (tickets still available from the link on the right) for a while now. I've switched from DE to DA to Tau and Matt has been trying to find a CSM/Daemons list that he's happy with. Today was another test game for us. Matt would be trying out a new Chaos list followed by a Grey Knights alternative and I'd be using my "backup" Tau list that requires less painting than my planned list. Oh and it's cheaper too as I don't need to buy any broadsides. Here's what I'm running:

1,850 pts of Tau
Commander (fusion, plasma, TL, VRT, iridium)

12 Fire Warriors w/ Devilfish (d.pod)
12 Fire Warriors
12 Fire Warriors
11 Kroot plus hound
11 Kroot plus hound

3 Crisis Shas'ui (twin-linked fusion, plasma)
2 Crisis Shas'ui (MP, twin-linked MP), Shas'vre (2 pods, PEN)
Riptide (ion, fusion, EWO, VT)

7 Pathfinders
7 Pathfinders
Sun Shark (twin-linked MP, decoys)

Hammerhead (Longstrike, subs, SMS, spines, d.pod)

I'll run down how the list works in another post but I'm pretty sure you can imagine. Anyway, onto the battle reports.

Game One - Tau vs. CSM/Daemons
Matt was running 2 princes, lord of change, pink horrors, typhus, 2 x 10 zombies, 2 heldrakes, 3 solo obliterators. We were playing Relic on Vanguard. I won the first turn and there was no Night Fighting.

With the daemon princes fearing S10 insta-death they were safely behind a building. Therefore I brought as much fire to bear as I could on the lord of change whilst he wasn't swooping. I managed to bring him down to two wounds and kill off  handful of horrors and zombies. Matt moved his daemon princes forwards as quickly as possible with one taking cover behind a building. The other deployed the portalglyph which spawned some horrors which used their bolt to kill a line of 4 fire warriors. The other horrrors attempted to kill some pathfinders but they passed their Deny the Witch roll. The lord of change incinerated 4 of the other pathfinders though.

I got all four of my reserves with the kroot squads arriving on my left flank to gun down some zombies. The suits dropped into the centre and the flyer dropped its drones before targeting one of the daemon princes. Sadly it failed to harm the prince despite grounding it. The spawned horrors weren't around long as the disembarked drones from the devilfish killed them. The lord of change was cut down by massed firepower after being downed. Longstrike turned his railgun's attention to the downed prince but depsite wounding the beast it passed its invulnerable save and avoided death. The recently landed crisis team was able to finish it off however whilst the commander closed the portalglyph down permanently with his fusion blaster.

Not a pretty sight!!
Matt dropped two obliterators in brave positions next to Longstrike but could only strip two hull points and destroy the SMS with their twin-linked meltaguns much to Matt's annoyance. The daemon prince turned around and smashed down the entire crisis team including the commander for slay the warlord.

The fire warriors and riptide combined to easily remove the obliterators whilst the bomber dropped its payload on the zombies but could only kill a couple. Sadly despite heavy firepower the daemon prince survived thanks to tzeentch re-rolls of 1s on its armour save. Typhus arrived with another obliterator along with the pair of heldrakes. Never a nice sight! The dragons started by vector striking my bomber down with ease between them. They then incinerated the ethereal's squad but thanks to some good fortune the ethereal survived whilst his squad perished. The obliterator failed to hurt the hammerhead just like his late colleagues. The daemon prince dispatched the other crisis team as easily as he had the first.

The Tau hit back killing the daemon prince and destroying the baleflamer on one of the heldrakes. Sadly the other was unscathed though. The fire from the Tau gunline was enough to leave Typhus on a single wound. In return, the obliterator charged the hammerhead after failing to destroy it with his melta again. The power fist was enough though and the vehicle was wrecked. Typhus attempted to charge the riptide but with only a single wound remaining he was cut down. The horrors gunned down the pathfinders thanks to rolling well on their power.

One heldrake zoomed off to the left flank to deal with the kroot but only killed a handful. In return the kroot were incredibly lucky and stripped two hull points from the flyer. There was very little left on the table now and the game was coming to an end fast. Sadly I'd totally forgotten all about the objective. The kroot managed to kill one of the zombie squads but sadly the other was able to claim the objective. With Matt scoring slay the warlord too it was enough to give him a 4-2 win. With very little chaos left on the board this was probably against the run of play but as ever I need to play the mission!! My riptide was all off half an inch from contesting though!

Game Two - Tau vs. Grey Knights
Matt was running 3 (yes 3) dreadknights, coteaz, a 10-man strike squad, a stormraven, draigo and 4 solo paladins. Certainly not a horde then! We'd be playing Big Guns on Dawn of War and once again I was lucky enough to take first turn and there'd be no Night Fighting.

Basically I wanted to try and put as many wounds on the dreadknights as I could. The crisis team used a couple of markerlights to become BS5 and with Monster Hunter from the chip they were able to force the dreadknight in the centre to take 8 saves. Somehow Matt managed to roll four 1s and I'd killed a dreadknight in a single volley!! Draigo was at the front of the strike squad. With Coteaz acting as a Look Out Sir tank for any S5 or less shots. The riptide and hammerhead managed to put a couple of wounds on draigo and kill a couple of strike marines. To do as much damage as I could I fired some 30" pulse rifle shots from my fire warriors at BS5 (thanks markerlights). They managed to score 8 wounds with Matt rolling LoS for half. He then had 4 2+ saves on Draigo who somehow died too!! That has to be one of my best openings ever, Draigo and a dreadknight down at long range!!

From this point onward Matt was fixated on the number of 1s he was rolling. I'm not suprised! Anyway, the remaining dreadknights advanced and incinerated both pathfinder teams with the remnants running off. No more markers for me but I could hardly complain. The strike squad cut down 6 fire warriors too.

My crisis team, bomber and one squad of kroot arrived. The kroot, interceptor drones and crisis suits lined up the dreadknight on the left whilst the crisis team dropped in next to the other. The commander and his team were easily able to destroy their target but the other dreadknight survived with a couple of wounds. Matt brought in a couple of paladins but despite attempting to intercept them with the dreadknight I'd failed to Nova him so a single melta shot ended up not being enough. The ion accelerator was able to remove a wound from one though. The stormraven arrived and failed to harm the hammerhead with it's multi-melta but it did manage to kill a crisis suit. The dreadknight managed to stay locked with the crisis team to save it for a turn.

One paladin was finished off by the fire warriors but the other survived on a single wound. I managed little else but was able to block the paladin with my gun drones and use the devilfish to prevent the dreadknight from charging my riptide once he was out of combat. The dreadknight now finished off the crisis team as expected. This cock-blocking prevented the paladin from charging my fire warriors and instead he headed towards the kroot. The dreadknight incinerated some fire warriors and then found himself out of charge range. The paladin had similar problems. The stormraven decided to hover for another shot at the hammerhead but despite hitting this time Matt snake-eyed the penetration rolls (more 1s!!).

Longstrike failed to down the storm raven as it passed it's Jink save! The crisis team did the job on the now hovering flyer and blew it out of the sky. I failed to kill the paladin and dreadknight who were now passing their 2+ saves with ease. A third paladin arrived and managed to lose a wound to dangerous terrain (1 followed by a 1). The riptide then intercepted to take it's remaining wound!! The paladin charged the kroot forcing them to run. The dreadknight incinerated the rest of the ethereal's squad and charged him down too. Despite my early luck this was now looking a lot closer that it seemed. Luckily I managed to kill the paladin with my gun drones before the interceptor drones dispatched the dreadknight. God I love killing things with drones!! The flyer zipped off hoping to return should there be a turn 6.

If I hide behind my shield he won't see me!
Matt wasn't done yet though. A final paladin arrived and controlled the kroot objective. Meanwhile the strike squad lined up to charge the other kroot as Coteaz split off to try and kill some fire warriors. He killed enough to put them out of range of the objective. The strike squad failed the charge luckily for me. I'd got an objective with my hammerhead, Matt had one with his paladin with the other contested.  If the game ended on turn 5 it would've been a draw as we'd both got 2 secondary VPs. With Matt rolling so many 1s (and having rolled for it game 1) I rolled and got a turn 6.

I tried to play for the tabling now. A pair of fire warriors had jetted over to the paladins objective in a devilfish and with help from the kroot they killed off the paladin controlling it. The kroot opened up on the strike squad killing the remaining two marines. I just needed to kill Coteaz for the tabling. The riptide hit him with an ion shot but Matt went to ground. He failed his initial 6+ but thanks to Precognition he passed the re-roll and with the game ending there I'd just missed out on the tabling.

After Action Thoughts
Well the first game was yet another lesson in play the mission. Had we played on for another turn then it would've been an easy Tau win but I need to remember to play for turn 5. Otherwise the game felt fairly one-sided. Having said that Longstrike didn't do what he has in previous games and instant kill any daemon princes. In fact in both games he was pretty unlucky. I missed with him several times despite BS5 and when I did hit things made their saves. I still think he's worth having though as he should do a lot better.

For the entire first game I forgot all about my interceptor units. The riptide really should've been dropping those obliterators and maybe even heldrakes before they even struck. It was a pretty major mistake and I was just lucky that Matt wasn't able to punish me for it. Still, I've not been using Tau long I suppose.

The second game I've dubbed "A Game of Ones" and Matthew of Greenwood (probably not the "first of his name") really didn't enjoy it. Once you've decided you're rolling a lot of 1s you do notice them more but seriously he was rolling wayyyy more than he should've been. I mean the obliterator wounding itself on dangerous terrain and the stormraven's snake-eyes with it's melta. That being said it's always going to be the way in massed fire versus elite army games. The sheer volume of shots is usually enough to deal with 2+ saves without low AP.

The riptide is really growing on me. I was sceptical at first but I think with interceptor and skyfire he's pretty awesome. I wasn't sure about the velocity tracker but the potential to fire two twin-linked melta shots at a flyer before it's even fired is far too tempting. Still he did manage to cause 5 wounds on himself across the 2 games thanks to failing Nova!

These games were great for me as they allowed me to test out my crisis team substitute for HYMP broadsides. I don't really want to buy 3 of the new models so I thought I'd try the team listed above. They certainly don't have the firepower of the broadsides and are only 3+ armour but they make up for it in manoeuvrability. This helps to compensate for the 36" range. With the puretide chip they're pretty good for dealing with vehicles and MCs alike. The main thing they lack is Interceptor though. The riptide and interceptor drones provide some help but it would be nice to have all those shots against Necron flyers for example.

Ultimately there isn't a world of difference between the two when you take everything into account. The main thing is that I don't have to buy, build and paint three broadsides if I take the crisis team. That means I only have pathfinders to paint and leaves me some money spare for Eldar perhaps.....

Wednesday, May 29, 2013

New Tau Codex Unit Reviews - Crisis Suits (incl. Loadouts)

Apologies for the break in the Tau posts. I've actually been too busy painting and playing to blog much recently! Anyway, coming back to looking at the different Tau units, I've only got a few left to cover. Today I'm going to talk about the ever-flexible crisis suit team.

On the face of it very little has changed with crisis teams. They still have pretty much the same stats and can field the same array of weapons. They're also still jet pack infantry meaning their famous Jump-Shoot-Jump (JSJ) manoeuvre is still possible. However, there are actually several significant changes to the way they operate.

Points Cost and Standard Kit
Their base cost is now 3pts cheaper and included in this are a multitracker and blacksun filter. This makes the standard model around 11pts cheaper compared to the old codex values. The key thing is that it frees up some space for more weapons or alternative support systems. The weapons themselves are on average slightly more expensive so a lot of the combinations are comparable in cost to their old codex version. For example, I used to run twin-linked missile pod and flamer suits which still costs the same. Of course they can now ignore Night Fighting and can fire both weapons if the opportunity presents itself. It's worth noting though that contrary to popular belief the multi-tracker doesn't allow crisis suits to fire both weapons during Overwatch or Supporting Fire as it specifies "shooting phase".

Following the most recent FAQ, crisis suit weapons can be taken in any combination. In the past if you took two of the same weapon it counted as a single, twin-linked, weapon. Now you can take them as two separate weapons if you're prepared to pay the additional cost. For example, two missile pods cost 1.5x the amount that a twin-linked pod costs. This creates some interesting combinations. You can also potentially take three different weapons, but only fire two, increasing the flexibility of the suits.

The JSJ manoeuvre is key to successful use of crisis suits. Any Tau veteran or anyone who's played them on a regular basis will know how frustrating it can be to try and pin them down. For those of you who might not be familiar with it, JSJ allows a crisis suit to sit behind cover, jump out in the movement phase, shoot with clear line of sight and then hide again in the assault phase. Bear in mind area terrain will be dangerous but otherwise it's a great tactic for keeping your suits alive. The other way of using it is by taking advantage of pre-measuring. By ensuring you are more than 18" from a normal unit you can protect yourself from combat, meltaguns and rapid fire. Sit just at your maximum range and then hope for a decent roll on your thrust move to keep you safe.

Bear in mind that the thrust is random therefore it's worth moving the minimum distance to get the shot so that you don't get left stranded if you fluff the 2D6 roll. Ultimately, using the JSJ move successfully means you can prevent combat a lot of the time. This means you need less in the way of defensive equipment.

Optional Equipment
Here's a quick rundown of all of the weapon and support systems available. Standard crisis shas'ui and shas'vre can take 3 systems (including sig. systems for shas'vre), bodyguards can take 3 plus signatures and commanders can take 4 plus signatures. Bear in mind that only commanders, Shas'vre and bodyguards can take signature systems and that they're one per army.

Ranged Weapons
Flamer - same as the marine equivalent, good for anti-horde especially with Stealth being popular lately
Burst cannon - now 4 shots so suits can be made to put out a lot of fire, doesn't do anything other units can't though
Airbursting frag. projector - potential for sniping models and good anti-horde
Cyclic ion blaster - blast on overcharge could be good against light vehicles tightly packed but limited otherwise
Fusion blaster - 18" range meltagun, what's not to love?
Missile pod - long range means it's easier to keep suits safe, great for dealing with light armour
Plasma rifle - S6 but doesn't get hot. Brilliant for dealing with MEQ or TEQ

Support Systems
Advanced targeting system - reasonable choice to spend some left over points but wastes a slot
Counterfire defence system - waste of a slot considering it's only one weapon
Early warning override - depending on weaponry could be deadly but better on broadsides/riptides
Positional relay - very situational and only really useful on your opponent's board edge
Target lock - handy for commanders/shas'vre to kill two things at once potentially
Vectored retro-thrusters - fleet isn't necessary but nice to have but Hit & Run could be brilliant if you can pass an initiative test
Drone controller - mainly useful for commanders with marker drones, otherwise a bit unnecessary
Stimulant injector - not bad for a commander or used in combination with iridium armour as a "tank"
Velocity tracker - expensive for what it does and unlikely to be much use on a normal crisis team
Shield generator - pricey and there are probably better ways to spend the points

Signature Systems
Neuroweb system jammer - throw one on a commander if you have points spare but 12" range is too close
Onager gauntlet - nasty surprise for a vehicle or daemon prince but only if you have points spare
Failsafe detonator - really? nice to see it stayed in the book but don't see the point
Repulsor impact field - not really worth bothering with as you want to avoid combat if you can
Command and control node - on a dedicated model it could be useful but preventing a suit from firing isn't good
Puretide engram neurochip - tank hunter and monster hunter are useful but otherwise limited to a single model
Multi-spectrum sensor suite - ignores cover could be great but again, not firing is a big drawback
XV8-02 crisis 'iridium' battlesuit - 2+ and T5 on a commander, yes please

There's a disgusting number of possible combinations of weapon and support systems for the crisis suits. To even attempt to list them all would be ridiculous. However, below are a few examples to hopefully get you thinking about how you'd like to use your suits. Sorry I haven't come up with cool names like Helios or Deathrain but frankly I'm not that creative!

Missile Spam
Two shas'ui with pod and twin-pod and then a shas'vre with twin-pod and PE chip. Decent anti-armour unit. Chip gives them tank hunters meaning re-rolls to pen to compensate for S7 against AV12/13. Should kill a 3 HP vehicle a turn, with marker support it's almost guaranteed. Not quite as effective as HYMP broadsides but more manoeuvrable.

Twin-linked burst cannon and burst cannon. Each suit should score 5 S5 hits per turn. Great against infantry but as I've said about they're not doing anything that the rest of the army can't. Better to use piranhas for this role and cheaper too.

Twin-linked fusion blaster and plasma rifle. A full squad of three can put out 9 low AP shots that with marker support should deal with terminators and the like easily. Great for dropping into packs of vehicles. Throw in a commander with puretide and target lock and they can have a field day. You want them to deep strike but it's a lot of points to put into reserve.

Dedicated Supertank
One shas'vre in a unit could be given an iridium suit, FNP and C&C node for 87pts. Pretty tricky to shift with 88% chance of making its save. No weapons though and could be tricky to ensure it's always this model making the saves for a squad.

Crowd Control
One suit with AFP & twin-linked flamer, two suits with twin-linked flamer and flamer. Disgustingly good at clearing out massed troops/scoring units from behind cover. Pretty cheap at 121pts for the whole squad too. Major downside is that they'll need to be in close range to be effective meaning there's a big risk of reprisal.

Crisis teams are incredibly flexible and with the relatively reasonably priced 3-man boxed set available they're worth investing in. How you equip them will always be dictated by the style of cadre you want to run. Magnetisation is probably a good idea here as I sorely wish I'd done.

I'm not saying any of the loadouts I've suggested are perfect but I think it's important to try and avoid sticking with the same stuff we used in the old book. The loadouts I've given are deliberately very simplistic. In practice you'd want more flexibility from your suits.

What loadouts are you guys running at the moment or what have you played against that really hurt your army?

Tuesday, May 28, 2013

My Tau XV104 Riptide and Blog Wars Update

First off here's a quick shot of my riptide who's been painted to a tabletop standard ready for Blog Wars. My policy with painting is to try and get things looking decent enough at a gaming standard and hopefully at some point I can find time to go back and add details, highlights, etc to finish them off. Realistically that's probably a long time away but I'd rather have a full army to tabletop standard than have a couple of models brilliantly painted and the rest of the army undercoated. I can understand people who prefer it the other way round but it just isn't for me.

Anyway, onto Blog Wars itself. I'm afraid there's a bit of bad news. Andy Humphris who's the current reining champion had been planning on attending which is why I'd suggested the Giantkiller prize. Sadly he's not going to be able to make it which means the prize fund for that will be incorporated back into the main pot. It's a great shame as it means that there won't be any Sons of Sanguinius players at the event at all. They've been a mainstay of the previous events so I'm gutted that none of them can make it. It's largely down to the change of venue I expect which has pretty much been out of my hands. Perhaps for the next one I'll try and find a more central location.

What it does mean though is that there's guaranteed to be someone else winning Blog Wars 5! That's actually quite exciting to me. Not that I'd been getting bored of giving the prize to Andy or anything.... honest! Everyone else who's still attending will have been sent an email reminding them about army list submission. The deadline is midnight on 8th June which is a week on Saturday. I don't really mind how the lists are formatted as long as they're pretty straightforward to interpret. It's hard enough checking so many army lists on my own without having to decipher some crazy layout.

Once the army lists are submitted I'll be finalising the numbers and figuring out how much I can spend on prizes. Once I've done that it'll be a trip to my FLGS to buy everything and you can be sure I'll post details here. I'm looking forward to what is definitely going to be the biggest event yet, here's hoping it's the best!

Saturday, May 25, 2013

New Eldar Models for Pre-Order on GW Site

The next installment of GW relentless 40K release schedule is the long awaited Eldar update. In what seems to be the standard format now, Eldar are getting a new dual-kit flyer, massive walker thing, a couple of new finecast models, a plastic single model and some updated plastics. 

Before I go any further it's worth noting that GW are also doing some triple packs for other armies such as space marine bikes and necron destroyers. This seems to follow the trend started with the crisis teams. It's something GW have done in the past and it's nice to see it back but with prices higher than ever it doesn't offer all that good value.

Anyway, back to the Eldar stuff. I can't say I've read many of the rumoured rules but here's some reaction based on the new models on the GW site. Interestingly all the the pre-orders seem to be packaged in a new style box which is similar to the Dark Vengeance kit. 

First up let's take a look at the flyer. The kit comes in at £40 (same as the Tau model) and can be made into either the Hemlock Wraithfighter or Crimson Hunter. When I first saw the leaked WD pictures of it I really wasn't all that fussed but thankfully the pictures on the GW site do it more justice. Not sure how they manage it but WD pictures always seem to be from crap angles. The fighter is armed with two "heavy D-scythes". Assuming these have a similar profile to a D-cannon but aren't blast and they'll be pretty decent at taking down flyers. The alternative is the Crimson Hunter which you'd have to assume was a bomber but perhaps not since it's armed with bright lances. Interestingly it can be taken as an exarch variant whatever that does. 

Next the much talked about Wraithknight. First shots of it make it look enormous. It's apparently 9" tall which puts a stormraven under its chin! Again the new pictures of it make it look at lot better than the WD ones do. Seems you can equip it with a wide variety of weapons including some CC options. I'm looking forward to reading the proper rules for this but it looks immense. You'd have to assume the rumours of T8 W6 are accurate based on its size alone. That makes it pretty sturdy when you consider S4 can't hurt it and S5 & 6 will need 6s to wound. Granted this was the case with the wraithlord but presumably the knight has a 2+ save and double the wounds. Not looking forward to trying to deal with this guy. I'd have to hope he's similar in price to a land raider if not more. When the riptide comes in around 200pts this guy would have to be 250-300pts I'd expect.

These guys have always been something I wanted but could never justify the expense of. They're T6 in the current codex which I hope will stay. Having a plastic kit will really help these guys as it brings their cost down dramatically. I'm interested to see how the wraithblades play out but their problem will be getting into combat without an assault vehicle. Since there's no sign of a new transport, unless they can deep strike they might not be all that useful. Time will tell I suppose. Either way it's great that there's a new kit and they can finally be a reasonable choice for the army. Whether they're troops or not remains to be seen but let's hope so. Can't say the new models are that exciting but it's the reduced cost that will make people buy them. (strange sentence when talking about a GW product).

Illic Nightspear
This guy looks interesting. I've always liked my pathfinders but I'm intrigued to see what this new special character will do for them. The model is nice but not particularly mind blowing. It's the rules that might make him interesting. It would've been good to see some plastic rangers with him but the old models are decent enough.

The new models are gorgeous even if the spiritseer does appear to be rocking out with his left hand. Also released are some psychic cards to cover the 2 new disciplines. It'll be interesting to see what they do with some of the powers. Fortune is a big deal for Eldar and particularly farseers/warlocks. I'm intrigued about what the 14 powers will be. I've still got my Eldrad model that I couldn't bring myself to sell so I'm also looking forward to seeing what he can do now. He's got to be at least mastery 4 surely?

Other Stuff
With the vyper now available in the battleforce AND as a 3-bike kit you'd have to assume that the rules for it are much better than before. Perhaps it's been given the piranha treatment of being stupidly cheap. Still, it'd need more firepower than it had before.

I'm expecting that the troops will remain the same at guardians, pathfinders and dire avengers. It'll be interesting to see where jetbikes and wraithguard go though.

I used to own an Eldar army but sold it all off when the Dark Eldar models caught my eye. There's no doubt that Eldar are going to be powerful in comparison to their emo cousins but I can't see me swapping back again. However, since Eldar are battle bros with both my DE and Tau I can see me getting an allied detachment to give me some of the new toys without forking out for a whole army. I'll certainly be getting the book on release day if just for the stunning front cover art. It's easily the best one so far.

It'll be interesting to see how the new Eldar play. One thing that a lot of people are wondering about is Runes of Warding. As the best psychic defense around it'll make a big difference if it get's nerfed. Realistically it has to though as it can shut down other armies completely. What I expect will happen is that it'll be reduced to a bubble of 24 or even 12". I'm personally interested in where the Avatar fits in. I've always loved the model and although it's going to take a backseat to the knight I'm still keen to use one.

Ultimately the biggest thing will be the points cost of these things. The flyers and knight in particular need to be costed right to be seen in many armies. I'll obviously post up more when I've got the book in my grubby hands.

Friday, May 24, 2013

Four Weeks until Blog Wars 5!!

Time has flown by since the last Blog Wars event and now the fifth tournament is just over 4 weeks away. We're currently just shy 40 players so there's still a few tickets left if anyone would like one. Please either contact me by email or use the ticket link on the right.

After much deliberation I've decided it will probably be easier to run random missions for the event rather than selecting three missions in particular. The reason for this is that it should encourage army lists to be a little more diverse. Sorry to anyone who'd planned specifically for the missions laid out but to be honest it won't be that big a deal for most. I'll run the deployments as they are at the moment with Vanguard, Hammer & Anvil and then Dawn of War but the missions will be randomly generated. No mission will be played twice of course.

The extra special character rules which are synonymous with Blog Wars will be that in objective missions the special character is scoring (even if he's unable to leave a vehicle e.g. Pask) and in Purge the Alien he'll be worth an extra VP when he dies. Hopefully that makes sense. I'll remind everyone at the start of each mission.

My Army
After initially planning to take Dark Eldar, I then decided to take my new Dark Angels after the release of the codex. However, the new Tau book came shortly afterward and I'm pretty besotted with it at the moment. I've therefore decided to take Tau. After a couple of playtest games I've settled on a list I'm happy with but it requires a fair bit of painting between now and then. I've already managed to get a few things done but there's still quite a few to go.

I need to paint the following to bring my army up to table top standard (3 colours):

  • Riptide
  • 14 pathfinders
  • 9 fire warriors
If there's still time after that then I'd like to buy and paint some broadsides to make my ideal list. If I run out of time there's a backup list that I can take that doesn't need them. I'll post more details of my list and painting progress over the next few weeks.

Stay tuned to the blog for more Blog Wars details and a run down of the prizes nearer the time. I look forward to seeing all you veterans again in June and also to meeting some new people.

Monday, May 20, 2013

Buying 40K Stuff on eBay (Rant)

Let me start by saying that this post is intentionally patronising. I'm also pretty sure that anyone reading this is unlikely to be part of the problem but frankly I just want to vent some frustration.

Since the Tau codex was announced I've been on the look out for models on eBay to bulk up my existing force on the cheap. So far I've managed to get an old battleforce for £45 and a dozen kroot for £10. Obviously I bought the kroot first but the battleforce kroot will soon be going up on eBay. Other than that I've struggled.

I've kept a search going for "Tau" for a few weeks now and I'm amazed by what I'm seeing. Several items go for far in excess of their actual value, new from GW. To me the point of eBay is to save some cash so it frustrates me when people are morons and bid more than something is worth.

A prime example of this is Shadowsun. Now I know some people would prefer the old metal model to the Finecast one but seriously. Here's an example. That's right, £54 for Shadowsun in metal. That's an extreme example but it's far from unusual. The average price seems to be between £30 and £40. Direct from GW in Finecast, Shadowsun is £23.50.

I was watching a hammerhead that went for £31 which is pretty much the price on the GW site I think. I can understand it for limited edition models like Space Hulk or the codices but otherwise eBay should be full of bargains. In other areas it is, but perhaps the Wargames and Roleplaying section isn't as saturated as DVDs or Video Games are.

Here's a few tips for people who don't seem to get it:
  • Look on the GW website to see how much the item will cost new
  • Compare that to prices on Wayland, Dark Sphere etc.
  • Use this figure as a maximum bid - I tend not to bid more than 75% of the GW price
  • Remember to include postage - people seem to completely ignore this and often it's extortionate
  • Don't get carried away - know your limit and stick to it
Seriously, it isn't that hard is it? If you're paying more than full GW price for something on eBay then I pity you I really do. Maybe you're doing so out of some misguided idea that at least GW doesn't get the money but ultimately they already have.

There is of course a chance that these bids are coming from places like Australia where GW prices are even more ludicrous than they are here. For example, a £30 broadside costs something like £50 in Australia. That's the last time I complain about GW prices here!

Sorry for ranting but I just find it so frustrating that what should be a source of cut price models actually costs more than the item would brand new direct from GW. Perhaps I should just feel lucky that my FLGS does 20% off.

Monday, May 13, 2013

Tau Tactics - Close Combat

Ask anyone what the biggest weakness of the Tau army is and they're almost certainly going to say close combat. With the exception of a couple of units (Farsight and Aun'shi), every unit in the codex is pretty useless in combat. Fair enough crisis suits can have their moments but generally combat is something you want to avoid as a Tau player. This post will discuss some of the options available for keeping combat to a minimum and therefore allowing you to shoot for longer (which is what you want to do right?).

Keeping Tau out of combat starts early. Deploy poorly and you could be losing units a lot earlier than you should. Pre-measurement is your friend here. Remember that most of your weaponry has decent range so there's no need to deploy your forces very far forward at all. Most combat orientated armies are going to need to close range on you quickly so you needn't worry about being out of range as it won't stay that way for long.

Whilst you'll want to keep your units close together for Supporting Fire to be effective you need to make sure that you limit the ability of your opponent to multi-charge. Giving that expensive combat deathstar a single unit a turn is fine but you don't want to lose two or more to it in one round of combat. It's also worth thinking about your key units and making sure they're not deployed too close together. For example if you've got two pathfinder units they're probably best on seperate flanks. They'll have enough range to hit most things and your opponent must split his forces to deal with both.

Try to set up so that each unit has a couple of other units giving it Supporting Fire. This isn't always easy but can really pay off when the time comes.

Keep Moving
The changes of 6th edition were a real bonus for Tau. Firstly, rapid fire weapons can now move and shoot at full range and pulse rifles get their 15" two-shot range back. Secondly, pre-measuring allows you to ensure you're pretty much spot on 15" away. This means that most units on foot will move 6" and then need a 9" charge to get into combat. If you're in some terrain then this is a pretty tall order and you should be safe. Of course you'll be moving through terrain to keep away too though so unless you can gun them down you're still likely to end up in combat on the next turn.

Crisis suits have a huge advantage over their fire warrior comrades. The ability to jump-shoot-jump (JSJ). This allows you to keep your enemy at arms length for a long period of time. Don't forget that deep striking suits can now make an assault phase thrust move even on the turn that they arrive. Once again, pre-measuring is your friend here. By keeping at 12" range (for your plasma) and then jumping back to just over 18" (assuming you rolled well) you can make it nearly impossible for foot slogging units to ever make it into combat with you. I'll talk more about crisis suits in detail in a separate post soon.

Riptides have the ability to Nova for a 4D6" thrust move. Considering you're unlikely to use Nova for your ion accelerator, this is probably the best use. Whilst your Riptide is hard to kill in combat he's likely to end up stuck there as you're unlikely to be able to rescue him. Therefore keeping him out of it all together is probably a good idea. Should you find yourself in a situation where combat is unavoidable, you're probably best using Nova for a 3++ save to try and hold up a combat unit for as long as possible.

Sacrificial Units
I have to say I'm not a fan of sacrificial units. I don't like to put anything into my list that doesn't perform an offensive role. Sometimes it's necessary but most of the time it's points wasted in my opinion. That being said, in the time of the old book a lot of Tau players used Kroot as "bubble wrap".

The idea with the Kroot screen is that you set them up in a line in front of your main gun line and create a speed bump to slow down the enemy attack. The aim being to buy some time to get your other units back and keep them out of combat. Kroot die nice and easily so your opponent should be back in the open ready for your next shooting phase. It's by no means a terrible tactic but I have a couple of issues with it.

Firstly, I think in 6th edition it doesn't really slow your opponents down much. The enemy units will be able to charge forward into combat, pile-in and consolidate after easily killing the Kroot. This will give them an extra move that wouldn't have been possible without the Kroot screen. Most enemy units will be 6" and then either shooting or running an average of 3-4". This means you'll still get another round of shooting at them anyway without needing to sacrifice the Kroot.

The other issue is that fast moving units with jump packs e.g. BA assault marines can probably hop over your screen and ignore it completely. If you keep your Kroot close to your gunline to prevent this they're not doing much to keep your enemy at a distance anyway.

The Tau codex isn't short of units that can be used as a distraction though. For me this is a much better method of keeping an enemy army away from your gunline. Two units spring to mind for this, Kroot and Crisis suits.

By outflanking Kroot towards an objective that is held by a flimsy enemy unit you've got a good chance of taking it for yourself. Your opponent will struggle to ignore this and all the while your Kroot can be shooting at anything they can hit and hurt. This means your opponent is likely to pull back some of his forces to deal with them. That's less stuff coming at you.

Crisis suits can do a similar thing by deep strike. Whilst they can't claim objectives they can be pretty devastating to units controlling them. Either that or destroy tanks with ease. Your opponent will have to deal with them and they'll require more of a commitment than Kroot. Not only that but they're pretty mobile so if your opponent doesn't take the bait they can still get into the fight pretty sharpish.

The problem with these tactics is that they require units to be held in reserve. It's always worth bearing in mind how much of your army will actually be deployed. You want as much firepower on the table as possible at the start of the game. Whilst reserves have an 88% chance of coming on by turn 3 there's still the possibility that you won't get them until turn 4. This is great for Kroot objective grabbing but not so good for crisis teams.

Overwatch and Supporting Fire
For most armies overwatch is a nice bonus but isn't particularly effective at preventing combat. The reasons for this are two-fold. Firstly, most standard infantry shooting is S3/S4 which, after BS1 and then saves, doesn't result in many deaths. Secondly, there's no way to boost BS1 and the unit you want to shoot with aren't always the one being charged.

The Tau book allows for both of these issues to be addressed. Having standard infantry with S5 shots is pretty unique in 40K. This alone makes Tau overwatch fire better than any other army. Still a unit of 12 fire warriors is only likely to kill a single marine. However, assuming there's an ethereal around that 12-man unit will be firing 36 shots. That unit alone isn't devastating but if you've got Supporting Fire from another couple of units then you can be killing 3-4 marines. This is often more than enough to prevent a charge.

Finally, if you've got some pathfinders around they can overwatch with their markerlights. A unit of 10 is only going to score a couple of hits but even a single marker hit can mean another dead marine from overwatch.

Of course this is all based on shooting MEQ targets. If we're talking about orks, dark eldar or tyranids then there's the potential to completely wipe out a unit with shooting in your opponent's turn.

Surviving Combat (or not)
So we've done everything we can to avoid combat but in the end it's pretty inevitable that some of your units will get charged. Conventional wisdom is that you want to lose the combat and get wiped out to allow the rest of your army to keep shooting. However, in the new codex I think there's a case for trying to stay locked for a couple of rounds. The key thing is the number of rounds you end up locked in combat. Odd numbers mean you'll get a turn of shooting at the enemy unit. Even numbers mean your opponent stays safe for a turn and is free to charge something else.

The most likely units to get charged are your Fire Warriors and Pathfinders. Both of these units have defensive grenades. Don't forget they have a dual role, firstly in giving your squad stealth from the assaulting units shooting (within 8") and secondly reducing the number of incoming attacks. This creates the potential to survive rounds of combat and keep assaulting units locked and unable to kill more of your units. Now this is pretty situational but not impossible. It's certainly worth thinking about.

That's not to say you have much control over whether you win or lose a combat but in the past people took small units of fire warriors to ensure they lost combat. These days I reckon big squads are better for more overwatch and more chance of surviving a couple of rounds.

Finally, there are a few gadgets worth mentioning that can help with assaults. For crisis suits there's the Repulsor Impact Field, Counter-fire Defence System and Vectored Retro-Thrusters. The counter-fire system is probably a waste of a slot which could be used for a more useful support system.

The repulsor field is a one per army option but 10pts for D6 S4 I10 hits isn't too bad. It won't stop someone charging but can help limit the attacks coming your way. Bear in mind it can be used once per attacking unit too so multiple attackers can be hurt. Combine this with vectored retro-thrusters and you've got a good chance of surviving a charge and leaving combat to get more shots in. Throwing in a drone will give you I4 to improve your chances of getting away.

Darkstrider allows a unit to consolidate D6" after firing overwatch. Assuming you killed a couple of models with your overwatch this could easily be enough to prevent a charge happening altogether. Elsewhere pathfinders can take a grav-inhibitor drone to reduce enemy charge ranges by D3" which again might be enough to prevent a charge.

Finally, vehicles have a couple of options to help prevent assaults. Firstly the Flechette Discharger causes S4 I10 hits on models in base contact with the vehicle, again not going to prevent a charge but might keep the vehicle alive. The Point Defence Targeting Relay allows Overwatch and Supporting Fire from a vehicle's S5 or less weaponry. Both of these upgrades are probably a waste of points but worth noting all the same. Don't forget that Longstrike gives his vehicle Overwatch/Supporting Fire and it can fire several times per assault phase and includes the main gun! Whilst we're talking about vehicles it's still worth keeping them moving to reduce the hits coming in.

There you go then. As a Tau player there's plenty of tools at your disposal for preventing combat. The key is deployment and pre-measuring. Never allow an assault orientated army to multi-charge if you can help it. Ultimately the best defence is to focus your fire on the biggest threats to eliminate them before they even get close!

All of this depends on your play style though. Most of what I've said here assumes you're playing a gun-line Tau cadre. The mechanics are very different for a mechanised force. Still I hope this article has been of some use to people.

Saturday, May 11, 2013

My New and Improved Gaming Table

One of my hobby resolutions for this year was to improve my gaming table. It's taken me until May to get round to it but today I broke up my old table and rebuilt it into something a lot more useful. On the right you can see the end result but here's a run down of the process.

First off here's my old table. Basically it was an old desk that came with our old house. The board in the background is the top of the table that I made a while ago. The long sides of the desk are pretty much perfectly sized to make the short sides of the new table. This will give me the legs without having to pay a penny.

Here I've broken up the desk and saved the legs which I've loosely attached to the table. As you can see the existing table top will be used as the basis for the new one.

In order to make it sturdy I've screwed on some 200mm x 20mm timber to give it a secure frame. This is probably a bit excessive but basically my Dad had this wood lying around in his garage so it saves me forking out for some. I've then flipped the table over at this point because it's probably the last point at which I'll be able to lift it on my own! The frame around the bottom will eventually be home to some shelves to keep my scenery on.

Here's the first of the pair of narrow shelves that will run the length of the long sides. These will be for dice, templates, books, models etc. Basically the idea is to keep as much as possible hidden away under the table instead of cluttering up the gaming surface. The shelf is screwed onto the legs with some 90 degree brackets and then the upright is screwed onto the underside of the table before the two long boards are screwed together.

This picture shows the second shelf has gone in. After that there's a couple of pics to show the size of the shelves. I've got plenty of space for all of my dice and gaming aids and the shelf is tall enough to allow even large models to be kept under there in reserve.

I've now added some old shelving boards underneath to give me some scenery storage space. Sadly it's all still just sprayed black at the moment.

To tie the whole thing together I'm going to paint the whole thing at some point but for now I'm knackered!

Well I'm pretty chuffed with how it's turned out. I'm sure once I start using it I'll find things that need tweaking but the main aim of the table was to create more space in the room by allowing for more junk underneath the table and more space to store reserves and dead guys during games. In that regard it's certainly going to do the job. All told the whole thing cost me about £15. That was just the cost of buying the brackets and screws. Everything else I salvaged from elsewhere but I reckon you could easily do the whole thing for less than £50 which in the scheme of things isn't too bad.

The next step in this process is to work on the gaming surface. I want to refresh my existing tiles and give them a new colour scheme. After that I want to get the table itself painted up into another scheme so that I can have some variety in my games.

Once both those things are done I'm going back to work on my scenery and working on getting everything based and painted so that my games a more immersive than they are right now.

For now though it's back to getting my Tau up to scratch for Blog Wars 5. More on them soon.

Friday, May 10, 2013

Updating my Tau for Blog Wars - Kroot

With Blog Wars just over six weeks away now (tickets are still available) I've been trying to get my Tau army painted up in time. Most of it was already done but there are a few units that needed updating and some new units that needed a lick of paint.

The first thing I needed to paint were some more kroot. I managed to get a dozen for pretty cheap on eBay and set to work painting them the same colour scheme as my exisiting squad. They're by far the quickest thing to paint and the original squad was one of the first units I painted using washes.

The colour scheme is simple. All of the paints are from the old range though as they needed to match the existing models. There's a basecoat of Gretchin Green on all of the flesh. The metal parts are all Boltgun Metal. The shoulder pads are Scorched Brown. All the straps are painted with Snakebite Leather and then all the other brown parts are painted with Bestial Brown. Finally the hair is painted Chaos Black, tongues are painted Blood Red and the eyes, nails and stiches are painted Ceramite White (only new colour I used). To finish off the entire model is washed with Devlan Mud. Once this dries it draws everything together beautifully. The base is then painted Graveyard Earth before sand is applied.

I could probably go back and add some highlights but my mission is to get all my models to table top standard before I start worrying about final details.

I'll keep updating my progress as the tournament gets nearer. There isn't a hell of a lot to do but it might still be a struggle!

Sunday, May 05, 2013

Tau Broadsides - HRR or HYMP? There's only one way to find out....

Since writing my article about the rules for broadsides in the Tau codex I've been thinking a lot about which is better between the heavy rail rifle (HRR) and high-yield missile pod (HYMP). I'm going to talk through it here to hopefully help me make my mind up. I've said many times in the past that I'm not a big fan of math-hammer but in this case I think it's necessary to back up what I'm saying.

The Importance (or not) of AP1
When I was originally reviewing the broadsides I talked about the importance of AP1. I still think it's a huge plus for the rail rifles in that, should you penetrate, you've got a 50:50 chance of destroying the vehicle outright. You're always going to Stun it too as a minimum.  Let's look at the two weapons against an AV12 vehicle on the ground.

Having strength 8 means each individual HRR hit has a better chance of penetrating and is of course more deadly when it does. The problem of course is that you're limited to a single shot per broadside with only twin-linked BS3 you're looking at a 75% chance of scoring a hit, followed by a 33% chance of penetrating, followed by 50% chance of destruction. That's only 12.5% chance overall of "one-shotting" a vehicle. Not huge but better than most and not bad for 65pts.

The HYMP may only be S7 and AP4 but your compensation for this is 4 times as many shots. Still, against that AV12 vehicle you're reduced to an 8% chance of "one-shotting" the vehicle. However, each HYMP broadside should strip a hull point. Therefore a squad of 3 HYMP suits will be extremely likely to kill a 3 HP vehicle.  The same number of HRR suits has a reasonable chance of destroying the vehicle with penetrating hits (around 40%) but it's far from "automatic".

As we start to look at AV11 or AV10 vehicles the difference between S7 AP4 and S8 AP1 starts to become less important with the number of shots. Only two HYMP suits are needed to glance an AV10/11 3 HP vehicle to death. Against AV10 there's actually no difference probability-wise between the two different weapons' chance to destroy with penetrating hits but there's a huge difference in HP-stripping ability.

All this of course assumes the vehicle doesn't have a cover save (easily achievable with markerlights) and that you haven't boosted the BS of the suits with markers. It also doesn't take into account the potential of firing both the main weapon and SMS at a target. S5 may not be great but against AV10 or 11 there's still the chance of stripping hull points and with a multi-tracker there's no harm in firing both.

The Issue of Range
Whilst the HRR are reduced from 72" from the previous book to 60" now they've still got a much better reach than the HYMP's 36" range. HRR Broadsides can be placed pretty much wherever you like on the board and they'll find most things to be in range, even in Hammer & Anvil. The same can't be said for HYMP suits which really struggle in H&A and to also Vanguard to an extent.

The lack of mobility from the broadsides means there's no chance of improving their threat radius. Does it matter in most games though? The great thing about the old Tau dex was that you could stop your opponents in their tracks in their own deployment zone. This meant transports were destroyed and the troops inside were slogging across the board as you pelted them with pulse rifle fire.

Broadsides are pretty vulnerable to combat and most opponents will want to engage them as quickly as possible, even if they aren't destroyed they won't be firing. This means you want your suits further back which is tricky with HYMP suits. Obviously if you've got pathfinders nearby then your opponent has to chose which to engage but you don't really want all your good stuff in combat by turn 2.

Anti-Aircraft Fire
The most obvious use of broadsides when the codex came out was to give rail rifle team some velocity trackers and have them gun down flyers. In my experience so far, they're great if there's a single flyer but once you're talking about several they struggle. That's not to mention if it's something like a heldrake then it's already come on, vector struck a unit then flamed something else. What we really want to do is down it when it arrives. That means early warning overrides which simply don't work well enough with HRRs. The 3-man HYMP team is pretty solid in this role though. They should score 3-4 hits with twin-linkage and have a decent chance of downing that flyer before it even shoots.

However, let's not get carried away here. That unit still costs 210pts as a minimum and against flyers it's barely any different to a quad-gun with a BS4 model controlling it. Obviously there's durability differences etc. but it's something to bear in mind.

So HYMP wins then?
That's what I'm coming around to believing at the moment. That's assuming purely anti-vehicle duties. The HYMP suits are pretty good against hordes too but one thing they can't do that HRR can is double out characters. A lucky 6 from a shas'vre can potentially kill off an MEQ character (assuming no Look Out Sir!).

Range is a big issue too. I prefer to try and keep my usual two broadside teams on separate flanks so they can't be targeted by a single CC unit etc. HYMP suits on the other hand need to be central to operate as maximum effectiveness whilst they're around.

This all gets me thinking about another question though....

Are Broadsides still the best anti-vehicle platform?
In the old codex there was no doubt in my mind that broadsides were a must. Two twin-linked S10 AP1 shots from a pair of broadsides was enough to deal with most vehicles including land raiders. The heavy rail rifle's reduction to S8 means that AV14 is pretty much impossible to take down with broadsides in the same way that it was before. HYMPs can't touch AV14 at all of course. Therefore, when trying to deal with AV13+ you've got to look elsewhere. A Lonstrike hammerhead (or even a regular BS4 one) is pretty effective but limited by a single shot per turn. The other options are crisis teams or piranhas with fusion. These both give an anti-tank platform that's durable and highly mobile.

Broadsides are no longer able to boost their native BS with targeting arrays nor can they take advanced stabilisation systems to allow them to move around to get line of sight. This makes them fairly easy to counter. With shield drones reduced to 4+/4++ from 2+/4++ they're also not as durable.

The more I look at the book the more I think broadsides aren't as necessary anymore. They work out pretty expensive compared to crisis suits and whilst they've got a 2+ save their lack of mobility makes this less of a bonus. By not taking my usual broadside teams I could take more crisis suits and use those heavy slots for a sky ray or maybe a second hammerhead.

This is what I mean about the Tau codex having no automatic choices any more. You can build a perfectly viable list without something that was a mainstay of the previous book. Interesting times.

Friday, May 03, 2013

40K Battle Brothers - Army Painting Competition (pic heavy)

Sunday's painting competition was for entire armies. Usually they split it down into individual forces (i.e. two forces make up a doubles team) but this time it was for the whole 1,500pt army. There were several examples of where one half was outstanding but was let down by the other half. The weaker halves were by no means poor and I'd be happy if I could paint even half as well but the proximity to a better army made them weaker by comparison. The eventual winner was a full army of stunning pieces. The sort of army that amazes you but at the same time depresses you that you'll never produce anything like that kind of quality in your own armies.

Finally, here's several shots of the winner's army:


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