Sunday, June 30, 2013

Review of my New Year's Resolutions (early I know!)

Well it may only be June but, as I mentioned the other day, I've met one of my New Year targets by having more than 200 followers. Thanks to everyone who takes the time to read this blog. It's especially impressive when you consider how wordy my posts normally are!

Anyway, realising I'd hit that target half way through the year got me thinking about how my other resolutions were coming along.

Attend More Tournaments
Well so far I'm not doing all too well on this front. We may have been to the GW Doubles in January (and won it) but the only other tournament I've played in this year was Blog Wars 5. Obviously there'll be Blog Wars 6 and the Doubles again in September but it'd be good to get to a few more tournaments in the next six months.

I've been looking in various places across the interweb and I've struggled to find events that really appeal to me. Matt and I will, however, be attending a small doubles event at the Outpost in Sheffield on July 13th. There are still plenty of places left if anyone is interested by the way. Head over to their forums to check them out. Last year I attended 4 singles and two doubles. So far I'm on target for 3 doubles events but I'd really like to get to some more singles. I'm especially keen to try out my latest version of my Tau list which I think could be pretty competitive but not too spammy.

Blog Wars 5 & 6
Despite venue issues that were out of my control, we switched to a new venue and I'm pretty happy with how things went. The feedback I got from people was pretty positive and I'll be discussing the ways I want to improve things for Blog Wars 6. The venue was excellent for the most part so I'm hoping to stick with them for the next one. Any suggestions about what you'd like to see at BW6 are, of course, always welcome. Provisional details of BW6 are on the page you can find on the right but look out for the official announcement and ticket release.

Paint More Models
My aim of painting at least two of my armies to their finished standard isn't going all that well. I've painted a decent number of units so far this year to table top standard but I still don't have an army that I'd be happy to enter into a painting competition at a tournament. My current love of Tau might inspire me to get them looking good for the next tournament though so I may at least get one army done. Part of the problem has been focussing on one army when there's been several codexes already this year.

I've decided I'm not going to get any Eldar for the time being whilst I focus on getting the models I already have up to a high standard. I'd be disappointed if I didn't get my Tau army pretty much finished as the vast majority of my models are already painted to a decent gaming standard.

Finish My Gaming Table & Scenery
As you may have read a couple of months ago, I managed to finally get to work on my gaming table. I'm very pleased with the result. I do want to tweak it a little bit and it'd be nice to get it varnished up but for now I'm happy with it.

However, I've made next to no progress on my scenery. I'm going to take some inspiration from the NWGC and consider using lino off-cuts as a basis for my tables. I've always wanted to have several different environments to play in and there's no reason I couldn't have a blue/white piece of lino for snow terrain which I just take off, roll up and replace with some sand coloured lino for a desert theme. I'll be keeping an eye on my local carpet shops to see if I can get some bargains.

With my Tau army up to a gaming standard I'm determined to spend some time getting my scenery sorted. I'm going to call this project "The Summer of Scenery" because I like to give names to things but basically the plan is to turn all my grey/black unloved scenery into a cohesive themed set that will enchance my gaming experience rather than detract from it as it does at the moment. I think the thing with scenery is that it feels like it'll take a lot of effort but in actual fact you can make big strides with minimal time investment.

The first thing I painted up this year was my Dwarf blood bowl team and I'm not sure I've had a game with them yet, maybe one. I floated the idea of a Bloodbowl ladder on the Outpost forums but sadly there weren't many takers. I would love to play in a tournament at some point this year though as I really love the game and it's a shame I don't get to play it more. There's rumours of a new boxed game for it later in the year so maybe that'll inject some enthusiasm back into it for people.

Other Specialist Games
I said I was determined to play through some of the other specialist games this year too. Whilst I've somewhat lost interest in Necromunda there may be the possibility of starting up another campaign. However, the good news is that Matt and I have arranged an evening to play further into the Space Hulk campaign. It'd be great if we'd managed to play through it once and then swapped side and played through again by the end of the year.

We've also got a Dreadfleet day planned with a couple of friends. It may have many detractors but I'm actually quite a fan of it and it's a welcome change of scenery from 40K. That and it involves a couple of people who aren't all that interested in 40K. I had mentioned Malifaux as a possible option and I know Matt is keen to give it a go but frankly the models just don't do it for me.

The blog did get a little bit of a revamp earlier in the year. I updated the banner to better represent the armies I talk about and I've fiddled with the layout a bit. One thing I would like to do though is update the reading list (which I'll post more about soon).

I'm extremely pleased that I got to 200+ followers by half way through the year. It'd be amazing if I could make it to 250+ by the end of December. Mind you I know Google is trying to move away from that system and get people to use Google+ so that might not happen.

I've still not managed to get more hobby content onto the blog. Most of the time my painting is done in a hurry to get an army ready for a tournament but perhaps I'll spend some more time on blogging about it for the rest of the year. I've not properly looked into the photography stuff yet either.

Well, on the face of it the only thing I've actually managed this year is 200+ followers and building my gaming table. There's a lot of work to be done in the next six months then!

Thanks once again to everyone who reads the blog and I hope you're all still reading at the end of the year!

Thursday, June 27, 2013

After Action Thoughts on Tau - BW5 Edition

So as you may have read in Tuesday's battle reports, my Tau cadre did reasonably well against some less than ideal opposing armies. I didn't get to play anyone who simply rushed headlong at me but rather had to be pretty manoeuvrable to take the fight to them. Here's a quick reminder of my list before I go through the units individually and talk about their pros and cons (this will be wordy!):

1,850pts of Tau Empire
Commander (fusion blaster, plasma rifle, target lock, vectored retro-thrusters, iridium battlesuit)

12 Fire Warriors
12 Fire Warriors
12 Fire Warriors w/ Devilfish (disruption pod)
11 Kroot + 1 Kroot Hound
11 Kroot + 1 Kroot Hound

3 Crisis Shas'la (twin-linked fusion blaster, plasma rifle)
2 Crisis Shas'la (missile pod, twin-linked missile pod), Crisis Shas'vre (2x missile pod, PENchip)
Riptide (fusion, ion, early warning override, velocity tracker)

7 Pathinders
7 Pathfinders
Sun Shark Bomber (twin-linked missile pod, decoy launchers)

Hammerhead Gunship (Longstrike, submunitions, SMS, sensor spines, disruption pod)

There's no question that Storm of Fire is excellent when something appears at close range. However, if you're playing an army that's quite content at range or else doesn't have much need to come your way then most of that firepower is wasted. The main benefit of the Ethereal in this tournament was the Ld10 which was a lifesaver several times over. Think of the 50pts you spend on an ethereal as a way of saving points on squad leaders.

That being said, taking an Ethereal does somewhat push you into a particular strategy i.e. gunline. Now that doesn't mean your whole army has to be totally static, and indeed my army isn't, but it certainly commits your troops to a more static role. Of course there's the option to deploy as far forward as possible and then falling back whilst trying to maintain that golden 15" range. It's a little more risky but certainly worth thinking about against the right opponent.

Of course the issue with the Ethereal is that you're putting a big chunk of your army strategy in the hands of a guy with T3 and no armour save. Had that mawloc hit the army would've started to fall apart quickly. Without the extra firepower and Ld boost I'd have struggled. There are several other ways of taking out the Ethereal too and I don't really want to be in a situation where I have to make multiple Look Out Sir! rolls. Thinking of all that S6 from Eldar makes me think the Ethereal may not be the way to go.

Fire Warriors
It makes sense to talk about these in the same discussion as the Ethereal since they're so closely linked. They didn't have a particularly great day on the face of it as they barely killed anything but they did manage to hold onto objectives and nuke anything that came to try and steal them. I think the armies I played flattered them a bit though as there wasn't ever really much coming their way. Generally I think people underestimate how much damage Storm of Fire can do. Not sure that will last forever though.

I do wish I'd taken 4 squads of 9 instead of 3 x 12 for the same points. Often with Storm of Fire you're wasting shots as you easily kill some targets and then don't have enough with the remaining squads to finish another. It would've also freed a couple of squads up for advancing and trying to put some fire on my opponents' more static elements. Having the devilfish in there was pretty crucial. At first I thought it was a waste of points but my opponents knew it would allow me to claim objectives late on so made some attempts to deal with it.

Were I to drop the Ethereal then I'd probably consider taking 3 squads of 9 fire warriors in devilfish. That'd be similar cost to the current 36 fire warriors and Ethereal. Obviously by ditching the Ethereal I'm sacrificing a LOT of firepower but I trade it off for survivability and mobility. In the current meta a lot of armies will struggle to deal with several AV12 vehicles and I'll be able to bring my fire to bear even against static armies. Not to mention the irritation that those 3 pairs of drones will be.

Commander & Helios Crisis Team (Fusion/Plasma)
These were easily the stars of the tournament. I didn't even get particularly great warlord traits. With the no scatter on deep strike they're frighteningly good. The squad is by no means cheap at 321pts but rarely fails to bring down something juicy. Indeed they probably scored more kills than most of the rest of my army combined. They also attract a lot of attention which is good in a mostly gunline list.

I've been a big fan of these guys since 5th and I don't see a good reason to ditch them at the moment. They provide much needed anti-AV14 firepower and scare terminators and MCs alike. They're also a great way of keeping the warlord alive as he doesn't come in straight away and when he does he's JSJing and using the VRTs to keep out of combat. I admit I was pretty lucky against the Death Company, had I failed my Hit & Run test it could've been a very different game.

Still, with a couple of marker hits this squad can vaporise anything and aren't too shabby without marker support. I'm pleased I twin-linked the fusion rather than the plasma as the S8 melta hits are more crucial in their role. I never really needed to use them against vehicles but the flexibility is there.

Not much to say about these really. They do exactly what you expect them to do. They don't last long under any sort of reprisal fire but whilst your opponent is killing kroot he's not shooting more useful things. They're a burden in kill point games but it isn't too difficult to hide them away if necessary.

Their role is simple, target flimsy units on objectives or else slow down an enemy advance by making him commit units to deal with them. Vital in a gunline list. Not going to devastate your opponent directly but they're a subtle force multiplier. Don't expect too much of them as they aren't what they once were but for the points they do a good job.

Missile Pod Crisis Team
These were my alternative to forking out for some HYMP broadsides (and getting them painted in time). Frankly I'm blown away with them. With some big scary units like the riptide, hammerhead and helios team in the list they can easily get overlooked. Meanwhile they're happy to strip wounds or hull points off a crucial target and a much more mobile than broadsides making them almost as durable.

The alternative to this loadout is two shas'ui with 3 missile pods and a shas'vre with PENchip, MSSS and CCN. It costs 25pts more but hits more reliably and ignores cover. Difficult to find 25pts in an already tight list but perhaps worth it. It does free up markerlights as the unit can perform well enough without them. Not overly keen on having a model that doesn't shoot mind you.

Pathfinders and Markerlights
When they were in range the pathfinders were pretty excellent. I was particularly lucky with them over the weekened with several instances of 5 hits out of 7. On one occasion they allowed me to take Longstrike from BS1 (snap fire) back up to BS5. Even though he still missed the potential is clearly huge. Stripping cover for two hits is immense, especially for the crisis suits or riptide.

The question remains though, which is the best platform for markerlights? I think the debate will continue for a long time and ultimately it comes down to personal preference. For me pathfinders are the only option that provides enough flexibility. Of course the commander with marker drones will score more hits but often they'll be wasted and you really need to light up more than one target. The problem with pathfinders will always be that they're too static. I didn't find they got targetted all that much as there were plenty of other distractions in my list but then I didn't face armies that had ranged anti-infantry fire in abundance.

I think 7 pathfinders in a team is about right as even when you lose a couple you're still getting enough hits for what you need. Any more than this and you're either getting more hits than you need or else losing too much when the unit is destroyed. Of course there was a markerlight on the bomber but most of the time it missed or else I wasn't able to make the most of it. It would be great against flyers though to help the drones or riptide out.

Sun Shark Bomber
Everyone was very quick to rule out the Tau flyers but I have to say I'm definitely a fan. Flyers are fantastic distraction units as it's hard not to pay them some attention. The threat that the bomber poses to cheap scoring units like guard, cultists, termagants, etc can't be ignored but losing the bomber isn't a massive blow to my strategy.

The key to its success are the excellent interceptor drones. The bomber tends to draw all the fire whilst the drones get ignored. They may have been lucky that one of the stormtalons was in rapid fire range but with a 30" range it isn't that unlikely. Overheating to an S8 blast each helps to mitigate the low BS too. Don't forget the guns are twin-linked so there's a good chance of the blasts hitting. The ability to take flyers out before they even fire is excellent. Then next turn when they can't fire they simply Turbo Boost to a useful position and claim a cover save. This also helps to mitigate the problem of arriving before other flyers. The enemy flyer comes on expecting to down the bomber only for the drones to take it out first!

One question that did come up was when the decoy launchers allow a 4++ save. The rule states "against glancing and penetrating hits caused by weapons with the Interceptor special rule". Doesn't say only when firing with Interceptor. Therefore since a quad-gun has interceptor all the time does the bomber always have a 4++ save against it? Isn't that unreasonable when you consider the AV12 Heldrake has a permanent 5++ save against everything!

You'd expect the bomber to be downed pretty quickly but (thanks to a little luck) it only properly died in one game (in another it was off the table when the game ended). As I say, people underestimate it and therefore want to fire at something they deem more threatening. Of course it can be downed by S4 fire but that's a unit that isn't shooting my troops.

I can't believe I ever doubted the big man. He's simply brilliant. My loadout isn't cheap at 210pts but I firmly believe it's the best version of him. You might say the Velocity Tracker is too expensive but I think 20pts for the opportunity to fire a twin-linked, two shot (assuming Nova) melta at a flyer in the enemy turn is worth every point. I never quite got the opportunity though.

Having interceptor gives a great opportunity to shut down enemy reserves or even force people to deploy normally if they don't want to risk it. The range of the riptide makes it nearly impossible to bring something in near your lines that it can't try and pie-plate. Combined with the VT the ion accelerator isn't too shabby against flyers with AP2 helping get that important damage result.

My anti-air consisted of the bomber, riptide and missile team. All of which can potentially take a flyer down solo but having them all prevents your opponent protecting his flyers by taking out a single AA unit. A little luck is needed of course but when isn't it?

I even charged the riptide into combat on one occasion and he was ready to charge the baal predator/drop pod if shooting didn't do the job. Of course he sucks against a lot of things in combat but having the option is good. I can't remember anything actually shooting at the riptide either. The only wounds he took were from Nova failures. There are just too many other things for people to worry about before they think about using shots to take out a T6 five wound model with a 2++ save.

Longstrike's Hammerhead
A bit of a disappointment this weekend. Granted there weren't all that many vehicles in the armies I faced for him to really show off but he really underperformed. It's amazing how good I am at missing with BS5! You really want a couple of markerlight hits to stop him being made impotent by cover saves too. He's an obvious choice in a Blog Wars list as he frees up the HQ slots for generic characters. He also allows me to control an objective with an AV13 vehicle which is nice.

I'm torn about whether I'd include him in a list outside of Blog Wars. He can easily pull his weight against enemy tanks but otherwise he's a bit limited even with the submunition. That and 195pts is nearly a second riptide......

I hope this discussion has been useful for other people. It certainly has for me to think about the role everything played in my games. The lists I played this weekend definitely flattered my army and I probably could've done better had I not been playing in such a rush most of the time.

There are a few things to consider when I write another Tau list for tournament play. Double riptide sounds fun to me.

Tuesday, June 25, 2013

Blog Wars 5 - My Battle Reports

Head back a few posts to find my army list. I'll keep the battle reports short this time (or at least I'll try - I failed!). I'll be writing up some more in-depth after action thoughts about my Tau list in a separate post.

Game One - Tau vs. Space Marines
Mike had generously agreed to fill the spot left by someone who'd dropped out on the day itself!?! He quickly scrawled an army list down and we started our game with an hour already gone! By the time we'd done all the pre-game rolling and deployed there was just over an hour to go I think. Needless to say the game was a little rushed. We were playing Purge The Alien on Vanguard. Mike had a crapload of terminators with Pedro Kantor, a couple of tactical squads, aegis line and three stormtalons. A great test of how torrent fire works against terminators and how Tau anti-air works.

I deployed my gun-line tightly packed in ruined buildings expecting Mike to deep strike his terminators in and get smashing up my troops. When he deployed them I knew it'd be hard to manoeuvre the fire warriors around (why did I put them in the tall building?) in time not to mention too time consuming with limited game time left. That's what you get for playing rushed.

With the exception of one of my kroot units which arrived on the wrong flank despite Acute Senses and got gunned down, Mike didn't get close enough to do much damage to my force. My ranged fire from the Riptide, crisis teams and Longstrike was enough to kill off the tactical squads, quad gun & small terminator squad over the course of the game. The commander's team was particularly good as you might expect with all that plasma and fusion fire. The three stormtalons arrived all at once but after my flyer had arrived. The interceptor drones were able to rapid fire down one of the talons and the other was forced to Evade by the riptide. Their fire wasn't enough to kill off Longstrike and in the following turn a combination of Fire Warriors at BS2 (thanks to a single marker hit), the fusion from the riptide (which hadn't fired on interceptor) and the missile crisis team were able to down both of the remaining storm talons.

At the end of the game there was only Pedro and his 10 TH/SS terminators left. They took some pie plates from both the riptide and hammerhead along with some fire from the commander's team which left a single terminator with Kantor by the end of turn 5. Sadly the game ended there so I wasn't able to finish them off for more VPs. Still, 8-2 wasn't a bad result (Mike scored another point because my flyer was forced to fly off in turn 5 after sustaining a Locked Velocity result).

Game Two - Tau vs. Blood Angels
More marines for my second game against Peter Barrett. We'd be playing the Scouring on Hammer & Anvil deployment. This layout usually favours Tau as their superior weapon range helps them hit an advancing opponent hard. Sadly with my opponent having a fairly static force of tactical marines and devastators behind a gunline I'd probably need to come to him. He also had a furioso librarian, reclusiarch with jump pack death company, Corbulo, a vindicator, assault cannon baal predator and a drop pod with some more tacticals.

The random value objectives really gave me an early advantage with the objectives in my half being worth 3, 4 and 2 points. That's a 3 VP head start before anyone has moved. I won the roll off and deployed my fire warriors fairly spread across my deployment with all of the big stuff in behind. This would hopefully make it difficult for the drop pod to land where it wanted. My opponent deployed behind his aegis line with the librarian on the right and vindicator on the left. Peter managed to steal the initiative and brought his drop pod down right next to Longstrike's hammerhead lining up his meltagun, multi-melta and combi-melta to hopefully take First Blood. The riptide responded with his ion accelerator but the shot scattered off the board and his fusion gun failed to wound. Luckily for me only the meltagun and combi hit and despite penetrating he snake-eyed the damage table roll leaving Longstrike stunned. The vindicator shot scattered too killing only a couple of fire warriors. A lucky escape then!

In response the pathfinders lit up the vindicator and melta combat squad. Longstrike used markerlights to bring his snap shot back up to BS5 but still missed! The crisis team faired better though and thanks to Tank Hunters they were able to strip enough hull points to wreck the vindicator for first blood. The fire warriors killed 9 of the 10 tactical marines thanks to storm of fire. In response the furioso Librarian used Fear of the Darkness (or whatever it's called) to make my pathfinders run. Otherwise there was little other damage as the devilfish made it's cover saves. The remaining tactical marine decided to charge longstrike to try and take his only remaining hull point. He'd have to weather supporting fire from the riptide and fire warriors but Longstrike had other ideas, managing to score a lucky hit with the railgun and vapourise the astartes. Flukey but it did at least gain a spot prize for my opponent for losing a unit to overwatch.

All of my reserves arrived at once at the top of turn 2. The two kroot arrived on opposite sides with one trying to rapid fire the small squad of marines on the forward objective (killing two) whilst the other hit at long range on a combat squad in the ruins but with no damage. The flyer arrived but did little damage. One of the drones' ion rifles got hot whilst the other's blast scattered off. The commander made a risky deep strike behind the aegis line and thankfully scored a hit allowing him and his squad to kill all of the missile launchers in the devastator squad but Corbulo unfortunately made his cover save. Longstrike managed to penetrate the librarian dread but the psyker passed his cover save with help from the Corbulo re-roll.

The death company turned their attention on the battlesuits. The reclusiarch challenged the commander but failed to wound whilst the rest of his squad easily killed off the rest of the team. Luckily the commander was able to hit and run. The baal predator arrived and finished off Longstrike whilst the icarus lascannon was able to stun the bomber. The devilfish once again escaped unharmed. The crisis team was able to deal with the librarian thanks to markerlights boosting BS and removing cover. The commander gunned down some of the death company before falling in behind a kroot bubble wrap to protect him from reprisal. The riptide was slowly chipping away at the tactical marines with his large blasts.

Thanks to me accidentally covering up the Baal predator with my army list I completely ignored it as my opponent pointed out when he revealed it at the start of the next turn. The death company tried to charge the kroot but a lucky shot from the commander's supporting fire insta-killed the reclusiarch for Slay the Warlord. The combination of kroot and warlord was enough to kill off the remaining death company. The riptide dealt with the drop pod that had been chipping away at the fire warriors on the 4pt objective with its storm bolter. The bomber was hit again and forced to evade so it flew off the table in turn 4 to reappear safely on turn 5. The drones from the bomber and devilfish combined to finish off the marines on the forward objective and the devilfish dropped some fire warriors off on mine. To add insult to injury the kroot then charged into the tactical marines holding another objective allowing them to contest at the end of the game. This game me a 13-2 victory as I claimed all of the secondary VPs.

Game Three - Tau vs. Tyranids
As Andy has mentioned on his blog, I seem to always end up playing him or Graham at these events. Today was no different but this time it was Andy's tyranids rather than Grahams! We'd be play the Emperor's Will (yawn) on Pitched Bat..... sorry Dawn of War deployment. Getting first turn again I spread my gunline out knowing he'd got a trygon and mawloc that I'd have to contend with at some point. I decided to deploy my commander and his team to allow me to keep putting fire down and not risking a delayed arrival. You can find Andy's list over at Claws and Fists. Andy managed to get Iron Arm on both his tervigons to give them ridiculous toughness. He deployed his force in the opposite corner (which I should've seen coming really) and denied my a lot of firepower. My commander got the skyfire warlord trait and my home objective was a skyfire nexus, brilliant against an army with no flyers!

My early turns of shooting were pretty impotent. Andy passed a disgusting number of 3++ saves on his zoanthropes and I could only slowly whittle down the hive guard. One squad of kroot came on to hold the objective and free up the fire warriors to try and get into range. The other kroot arrived and shot at the zoanthropes as there were no termagants for them to cut down. When the termagants did spawn they were quick to cut down some kroot and then later charge in to finish them off. The flyer arrived but neither it or the drones managed to do much damage. The commander and his team yo-yo'd in and out of cover to put fire on the big stuff and were able to bring down one of the carnifexes and the prime over a couple of turns. The riptide managed to overheat and longstrike was frustrated by more great rolling for the zoanthropes.

Andy fired some S6 shots (I forget where from, carnifexes maybe) at the flyer and managed to score 5 hits somehow. Thinking he'd struggle to do much damage (needing 5s or 6s) I decided not to evade. Andy of course rolled 3 sixes and the flyer blew up. The trygon and mawloc both arrived at once and I was lucky that the mawloc scattered, sparing the ethereal. The riptide fired both weapons on intercept but only wounded twice. The combination of Longstrike, fire warriors and suits was enough to kill off the trygon prime and take another couple of wounds from the mawloc. I couldn't risk the mawloc either burrowing or charging the ethereal so I charged in with the riptide (who'd used nova for a 3++ save) and the crisis team who ought to do some damage thanks to monster hunter. I could only wound once with the riptide and the suits fluffed their attacks suffering 2 wounds in return.

The tervigons began to advance and tried to chip away at the fire warriors and pathfinders (Andy was pretty unlucky with scatter). The riptide was able to dispatch the mawloc. One tervigon was downed from a combination of riptide and missiles. The final hive guard finally died too. One squad of fire warriors had mounted up in the devilfish to hopefully make a late push for the objective. Sadly they had to try and squeeze past a tervigon to get there which proved fatal. The fire warriors survived but would never make it to the objective unscathed. The tervigon was gunned down by the commander and his team though.

Deathleaper arrived on his home objective to secure it. I can understand why Andy did this but as he was going second it would've perhaps been best to try and contest my objective late on and maybe force the kroot to run from the board. Nevertheless, with time ticking down I wiped out some more termagants that were making a push towards my objective after coming on from reserve. My missile crisis team tried to push for the enemy objective but the game ended on turn 6 which gave me just enough time to get Longstrike into Andy's deployment for a game winning Linebreaker point (as he was scoring thanks to BW rules). A narrow victory from an enjoyable game, 5-4.

It distresses me somewhat that Tau are now considered a top flight army. Granted it isn't without reason (see Franco's performance) but I'm sure Necron, Grey Knight and shortly Eldar players can empathise here. You've been playing an army for years that is widely regarded as a joke and then the latest codex makes them great and you're automatically bracketed in with the bandwagoners. Ah well. Despite how powerful they can be, I like to think my list has a little bit of finesse in that it requires a decent amount of thought to use.

My first opponent Mike may have gone on to claim the Wooden Spoon but I was extremely grateful to him for stepping it at the shortest possible notice. Whether it was tactical genius or not I don't know but by deploying the terminators and keeping them out of range of the main part of my gunline he denied me 4 VPs (1 for the last terminator, 2 for kantor (+1 for being the chosen SC) & Slay The Warlord). Those extra 4 points would've been good enough for 3rd place so it really shows how crucial it is to push for the points in a game of Purge the Alien.

My commander was disgustingly lucky against the death company. Had he not made his Hit & Run he'd have been cut down by the power axe and then to kill the reclusiarch with a lucky supporting fire shot (the warlord trait that denies LoS rolls helped) was the icing on the cake. Once again the fire warriors had been pretty impotent with the exception of the drop-podding squad.

The game with Andy was interesting. When I saw I was playing nids I fully expect to be cutting down gribblies as they advanced on my gunline. Andy played a shrewd defensive game and ensured his home objective was safe. He put his hopes of taking my objective in the hands of the mawloc and trygon. I can't help but think that if the mawloc hadn't scattered the game would've been very different. The death of the ethereal would've cut my firepower dramatically and scored Andy a bonus VP. Thank goodness it scattered!

As ever a massive thanks to my opponents for three enjoyable games. Apologies if I've got anything wrong in these reports but it's always difficult to remember a few days later. I'll be posting some after action Tau thoughts in the next few days so look out for that.

Sunday, June 23, 2013

Blog Wars 5 Painting Competition (pic heavy)

Alongside the tournament itself I always run a two part painting competition. The first part is the obligatory Best Painted Army whereas the second is part of Blog Wars' focus on Special Characters namely Best Painted Special Character. As ever there were some excellent entries, there were a few armies we've seen before alongside some excellent new entries.

Best Painted Army
The winner in this category was Hendrik Müller-Joswig who is Blog Wars' first ever international player having travelled from Germany for the event! Whilst he may have placed 28th in the tournament his army is a worthy winner with 8 votes.

Another notable mention goes to Chris Benstead's Chaos Space Marine force. Chris has previously had painting Errr .... it's as I'm looking through my photos that I realise I haven't actually got any shots of Chris' army so if he (or anyone else) could forward me a couple of shots that'd be great! competition success with his Tyranids so it was great to see him scoop 7 votes (to place second in the painting voting) with his new army along with achieving 2nd place in the tournament itself. Chris writes for the Weemen blog. Head to Weemen to find pictures of his army that I failed to take!

In 3rd place with 4 votes was my good friend Jamie Jackson who's First Founding Space Marines force was a fantastic display of different colour schemes (more details and pictures can be found on his blog, Index Astartes).

Here's a few shots of the rest of the armies on display too.

Best Painted Special Character
There were three stand-out entries in this category and all three took a chunk of the votes. Sharing second place were Chris Benstead's Abaddon and Jamie Jackson's Lysander. Whilst I may be biased because he's a friend of mine, I thought the NMM work on Lysander was particularly good, especially when you consider Jamie hasn't used the technique before. And again I don't seem to have pictures of Abaddon (I have a lot to do on the day, sorry Chris!).
Stolen from Weemen - probably a better shot anyway

Anyway, the overall winner was Nathaniel Gibbs with his Coteaz. Nathaniel's Custodes (Grey Knights) army came close to winning the painting competition at a previous Blog Wars so it's great to see him taking an award this time around.

Here's a couple of other great entries too.

The painting competition always inspires me to try and get one of my many armies painted up to a high standard. I really enjoyed playing with my Tau (more on them in the battle reports) so maybe they'll get some attention before BW6. Only problem with that is that I don't allow myself entry to the painting competition.....

Saturday, June 22, 2013

Blog Wars 5 - The Aftermath (and 200 followers!)

Before I go any further I wanted to point out that at the start of the year one of my resolutions was to push for 200 followers. Well we're about half way through 2013 and I'm up to 200 today!! I'll have to look through my other resolutions and see how I'm getting on with them! Anyway, a big thanks to everyone who reads, the followers thing means more to me than pageviews so I really appreciate it.

Blog Wars 5 was held at the North West Gaming Centre in Stockport today. We had new record of 30 players all competing for the crown which had been previously controlled by Andy Humphris. I knew we'd be having a new winner today and, without any further beating about the bush, I'm pleased to announce that winner as Franco Marrufo with his dirty, dirty broadside spam Tau and Eldar list. He never really looked in danger of not winning throughout the day but it would've been interesting to see him play Andy for it. Maybe next time eh?

Chris Benstead took second with a Chaos Space Marines army that he hadn't used before the day. Respect to Chris for that but it doesn't say much about the rest of us! In third place was Rob McDougall who beat his good mate Frank Marsh by a single point.

I placed a respectable 6th with my Tau army. I'm pretty pleased with that performance considering I didn't really play the ideal armies for my list. More on my games over the next few days (might be longer since I'm very busy this week). I'll also be posting details of the painting competition shortly it was a close run thing in both the army and special character competitions. For now here's the full rundown of the results which have also been added to the results archive which can be accessed via the tab at the top of the page.

I've had some great feedback from people (thanks for filling in the forms guys) that I'll go into more detail about in a later post (probably when talking about the plans for Blog Wars 6) but for now I want to briefly talk about the scoring system.

I was determined to simplify the scoring system for Blog Wars 5 as previous events have been overcomplicated. As much as I like the 5th edition style VPs (i.e. score based on how many physical points of your enemy army you've destroyed) it doesn't really encourage people to play the mission. Therefore I opted to employ the 6th edition version of VPs and separate people based on how many points they'd given away. I wanted an emphasis on the primary mission so that people would actually focus on it rather than worrying about how much of their opponent's army they'd destroyed.

I'm fairly pleased with how the scoring system worked today. As the tournament organiser it was very simple to enter into the spreadsheet and it seemed like most people scored their games correctly. Not having to add up the old style VPs (I wish they'd call them something different in 6th) meant the results came in a lot quicker. Hopefully everyone playing today found it simple too.

That being said it isn't without it's flaws. We did play Purge The Alien today and if you come up against an army with few points on offer then you're limited in how much you can score even if you table them. Also, as a couple of players found you can win all of your games narrowly and not place very high. I have to say I don't like the idea of you winning all your games but being down the bottom end of the table. Obviously these games were close run things but winning should be rewarded better. It's something I'll think about between now and BW6 and hopefully come up with a solution.

I think some people found it difficult to work out how the placings had been figured out. To clarify it goes:

  1. Total VPs scored (Primary plus Secondary)
  2. Goal Difference (total VPs scored minus total conceded)
  3. Total Primary VPs scored
  4. Total Secondary VPs scored
  5. Total VPs given away

The idea is that it rewards people who push for maximum points from their games whilst trying to prevent their opponent from scoring many. Basically that's the whole idea of the game for me. If that doesn't separate peopel then primary VPs come into effect so that it rewards people who played the mission. Clearly closely fought games don't score highly though and the person winning should be rewarded better. I'll hopefully address this for next time.

The only other issue with the scoring system was that we randomly ended up with The Emperor's Will as the final mission. This is crap as there really aren't many points available and it's easy for the primary points to be 3s or 0s for both sides meaning secondaries determine the winner. One solution that was suggested was to make the objectives worth a lot more points e.g. your home objective is worth 5 pts whilst your opponents objective is worth 10pts if you manage to steal it. This means there's 18 potential points available (3 from secondary) which brings it in line with Crusade with 5 objectives. The other alternative is to fix the missions but I'm not necessarily a fan of that. It needs some thought and any feedback or suggestions are gratefully received.

Right, I'm shattered so that'll do for today. Once again a big thanks to the staff at the NWGC for helping make it such an enjoyable day again. Hopefully see you all again later in the year for BW6!

Thursday, June 20, 2013

My Tau Army for Blog Wars 5

Well folks, we're only a few days away from the 5th installment of Blog Wars. I've been painting away since the new Tau codex came out and I've now got everything up to a decent table top standard. Everything is above the three colour minimum and is at a point where it looks decent from a distance but won't be difficult to improve. Basically all it will need are washes and highlights (sounds like nothing when you say it like that). Anyway, here it is.

First off, apologies for the very shadowy artificial light picture. I was hoping the sun would be out when I got home from work but sadly it's dark and miserable so I had to make do with spotlights. Still, you get the idea. As I say, it's only to a gaming standard but I like the overall effect. Looks like plenty of models too which always feels nice when you deploy! Since I've seen all your lists here's mine:

1,850pts of Tau Empire
Commander (fusion blaster, plasma rifle, target lock, vectored retro-thrusters, iridium battlesuit)

12 Fire Warriors
12 Fire Warriors
12 Fire Warriors w/ Devilfish (disruption pod)
11 Kroot + 1 Kroot Hound
11 Kroot + 1 Kroot Hound

3 Crisis Shas'la (twin-linked fusion blaster, plasma rifle)
2 Crisis Shas'la (missile pod, twin-linked missile pod), Crisis Shas'vre (2x missile pod, PENchip)
Riptide (fusion, ion, early warning override, velocity tracker)

7 Pathinders
7 Pathfinders
Sun Shark Bomber (twin-linked missile pod, decoy launchers)

Hammerhead Gunship (Longstrike, submunitions, SMS, sensor spines, disruption pod)

The core of the army is the three large squads of fire warriors. These will take advantage of the Ethereal's Storm of Fire power to put out a serious amount of S5 shots at 15". I wasn't sure about whether to include the devilfish or spend the points of upgrading some of the other units but it provides some much needed mobility in the closing stages and can protect a unit on my home objective if necessary. The kroot make for some cheap scoring which can outflank/infiltrate as required. This gives me 5 troop choices which is fairly good for 1,850pts. Granted none of them are particularly hardy.

The missile crisis team is geared up to fight either MCs or vehicles thanks to the PENchip which can make S7 a lot more potent against high armour values. Their range and mobility should keep them alive for a decent amount of time against most armies. The other crisis team joins the commander and is the anti-deathstar unit. There aren't many things that can stand up to their alpha strike, especially with some marker hits.

The marker hits come from the two squads of pathfinders which hopefully help me cause some pain in the first couple of turns. The reason for the squads of 7 is partly due to points restrictions but also because I think it offers just the right amount of hits. Ideally you want 3-4 to allow you to strip cover and fire at BS5. It also means that there aren't too many points sunk into a flimsy squad. The only other markerlight comes from the sun shark but that has the benefit of having Skyfire even if it is only BS3. I toyed with the idea of using a Sky Ray but I really like the bomber. In my practice games the drones have been great. The bomber doesn't last long but even if it blows up the drones can still provide some firepower.

Speaking of which, the special character in the list is Longstrike who pilots his tooled up hammerhead. With tank hunter he's almost guaranteed to take out a vehicle per turn but sadly in practice games he's rolled a disgusting number of 1s to hit! Regardless he's scoring and not all that easy to take out with AV13 and 4+ jink save. He's the obvious choice of special character for me as I was determined to still have at least one S10 AP1 shot!

Finally, we come to the Riptide. I've spoken recently about what he offers. Basically, between him, the missile suits and the Sun Shark I should be able to deal with most flyers. Some might think the velocity tracker is too much for something that's only BS3 but it's worth it if you ask me. Of course he's going to be fairly hit and miss. Most armies that really fear him will try and take him down quickly which isn't all that difficult. Everyone else will ignore him I expect, despite his size!

Barring any unexpected drama this will be my last post before Blog Wars 5. I'll be checking my emails regularly so if you've got any last minute rules queries feel free to get in touch. Otherwise I look forward to see you (and your armies) on the big day! Hopefully it's going to be even better than the first four events!


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