Monday, February 24, 2014

Win an Imperial Knight at Blog Wars 7!

When the Imperial Knight hit the GW website most people probably thought to themselves, "gonna have to get me one of those". I, on the other hand, looked at the pictures and thought "I've got to give away one of those!". Therefore I'm delighted to announce that the top raffle prize at Blog Wars 7 will not be a Wraithknight this time around but rather a spangly new Imperial Knight! This is, of course, assuming that I sell 30 tickets and with 11 sold so far I'm confident I'll be giving one of these bad boys away to someone who comes along in June.

I'd like to remind you all at this point that entry to the Blog Wars Raffle is included in your £15 ticket for the tournament. Not only that but there'll be plenty of other prizes to win too! In fact, if I manage to sell 40 tickets for the event I'll still offer a Wraithknight as second prize in the raffle! 

To those of you not familiar with Blog Wars I encourage you to click on the big logo on the right (mobile users click here) which will take you over to the BW7 page where you can read all of the details of the event. Tickets can be purchased using the link on the desktop version of the blog or by emailing me using the Contact Me link. I'd like to remind everyone that you don't actually need to have a blog to attend.

I'll be announcing further prizes as we get closer to the event but I'm already pretty excited about giving one of these bad boys away.

Tuesday, February 18, 2014

The State of 40K - Imperial Knights and Pick 'n' Mix

It can't have escaped your notice that we'll be getting a new big model towards the end of the month in the form of the Imperial Knight. Now I'm sure all of those ad mech fans out there will be excited. For me the leak brings mixed emotions.

On the one hand I'm always excited about new models and new rules and I'd love to get an Imperial Knight to use with my Space Wolves and Dark Angels. The rules look interesting and frankly I think they're a bargain (points-wise at least) for a 6 HP SHW. It seems a lot of people don't share my view and seem to think they're overpriced but I really don't understand this. Perhaps their ranged weaponry isn't stellar but stripping 6 HP from a super heav model with a 4++ save (most of the time) is going to be tricky. Compare this to a Stompa, which also has a destroyer close combat weapon, and you can see how reasonable the price is. The Ork behemoth has 12 HP but (assuming there aren't meks inside) it has no real defence. The Knight on the other hand has that 4++ save which gives it effectively 12 HP most of the time. The Stompa undoubtedly has more firepower but with BS2 and Whirr-Click-Click there's the potential for failure. The big difference, and the sticking point for me, is that it appears you can take them as part of pretty much any Imperial army without them being Lords of War.

The fluff player in me has no issue with this. Why wouldn't a SM chapter master seek assistance from the mechanicum in the form of some Knights? There's no reason any Imperial army wouldn't field them (that I can think of anyway). This is always the way GW sell new units to us. They fluff comes first or so they'd have us believe. I can understand this too. To me there are two reasons why 40K is so successful, the stunning miniatures and the deep, rich backstory. That's what sets it apart from the other systems. It certainly isn't the competitive ruleset that has people coming back for more. Of course they want to sell us some models so that fluff comes in handy for them to persuade Imperial players to buy these new models. Sometimes the fluff is a bit of an own goal for them too. Tyranids not being able to take allies is the most obvious example. Makes sense from the fluff but not from a business sense. Still as I say, I'm excited about the Knight and getting to use one in my army.

On the other hand, I'm waiting for them to be abused. There's a part of me that's a competitive player so I'm not going to sit and whinge about the deathstars and other things considered dirty by the community at large. In fact, Knights, like other super heavies are a potential counter to a lot of the power lists out there. I have little problem with people taking the rules of the game and using them to full advantage. Of course, I find it dull to see so many people using the same thing and reducing a codex to a list of "must haves". It's the nature of the game though I'm afraid. Do I enjoy playing with or against deathstars? Nope. Would it stop me using them in a competitive environment. Possibly but the main thing for me is fun. If a list is boring to play with or against I don't care how good it is. Anyway, I'm getting off topic.

The issue I have with all of these releases is that they put me in a difficult position as a TO. The Imperial armies are increasingly allowed to play pick 'n' mix with whatever the hell they want to choose from half a dozen codices plus a pile of supplements, dataslates and Imperial Armour. The fluff player in me sighs when I think of Eldrad, Coteaz and Tigurius all fighting alongside each other with a Revenant in tow. It's great to have such a wealth of variety available but it's hardly a level playing field. I want to love the allies system but I can't persuade myself to run a list with allies very often. To me it makes players lazy. Is your army struggling to beat another race? Don't worry about trying to find a solution in your own codex, just throw in some crap from elsewhere to plug the holes. So as a TO do I ban a lot of these extra units and only allow units from a specified list of codices? I had no issue banning Escalation and Stronghold Assault but I don't want to start needing a list of "books" that are allowed or not.

Between now and Blog Wars 7 I'll be looking at all of the new releases closely and trying to keep on top of things. Let me know what you guys think though.

Tuesday, February 11, 2014

Stunning Nurgle Daemon Army

Just a quick one today folks. You might remember a week or so ago I posted up a doubles battle report between Jamie, Dan, Matt and I. Well, Dan (who Jamie refers to as "Old Two Eyes") has been hard at work on his Nurgle army for a while now. As Jamie says, Dan is a perfectionist when it comes to the hobby. I'm pretty happy to field an army with basic three colours just to get them on the table but Dan isn't content until every model looks stunning. Here's an example from his now "finished" Nurgle army.

I use the inverted commas because we all know there's always room for growth in any 40K army and indeed Dan is planning on adding some Chaos Space Marines to the Nurgle pus party! An army like this makes me incredibly jealous. I wish I had the skill to produce something this stunning that I'd be proud to field on the table top. Anyway, you should head over to Jamie's blog, Codex Imperialis for the full showcase.

Saturday, February 08, 2014

News - X-wing Wave 4 Ships Announced!

I may be pretty new to this game but I'm still pretty excited about the new ships. I'm not hugely keen on the big ships (Tantive and Rebel Transport) that they're about to release because they're simply too big for the 3'x3' board we play on. Maybe we'll progress to a bigger arena later but for now I'm happy to be able to play on the dining room table. Luckily for us, Fantasy Flight announced yesterday that the second quarter of 2014 will see four brand new ships for the game. Here they are:

I haven't had chance to fully digest their rules and what they'll mean for the game but here's a quick rundown taken from the FFG site. For more information visit the FFG website for the full preview.

  • The Z-95 Headhunter enters the Rebel fleet as an extremely efficient missile platform, better enabling the Alliance to match Imperial forces ship-for-ship.
  • The TIE defender is a straight-forward fighter with strong shields, weapons, agility, and a maneuver never before seen on a dial.
  • The E-wing pairs the X-wing’s firepower and resilience with the A-wing’s speed and agility.
  • TIE phantom pilots rely upon the ship’s unique cloaking device to evade enemy fire and pounce upon their foes with their deadly laser cannons.

Matt will be picking up the Imperial Aces expansion when it comes out so hopefully we'll get to put the new pilots to the test soon.

Here's hoping FFG keep up this release schedule to help bring variety to my games of X-wing. Exciting stuff.

If you haven't tried X-wing yet I seriously recommend it. There's lots of content on YouTube about how the game works including Will Wheaton featuring it in his board games series, Table Top (although he does get a couple of things wrong!).

Wednesday, February 05, 2014

New Tyranid Codex Review - Final Verdict

I think you'll agree that I've had a pretty thorough look at the new codex and also played against a variety of the units it contains. Of course I've not played the new book in properly competitive environment yet but perhaps I'll meet a Tyranid list at an event soon and be able to give more feedback. Anyway, I wanted to draw together everything I've said so far into a handy summary highlighting my favourite units before suggesting a final list.

The loss of units like Doom and Mycetic spores is a big one there's no doubt. Doom was always a bit too gimmicky for me but spore pods added a dimension to the Tyranid army that is simply gone now. I understand the reasons behind their removal but I can't say I agree with them, just feels lazy.

The loss of the scything talon re-roll has pretty widespread effects. Some units that were half decent are drastically reduced in effectiveness. Mind you, combat units struggle in the current game so perhaps we wouldn't have seen them anyway.

I'm sure competitive nids players will lament the loss of Biomancy (and rulebook powers in general) but I really don't think it's that big of a loss. The codex powers are pretty decent throughout which is unusual with the new books and the randomness shouldn't hamper your plans as much as it does with other armies. Shadow in the Warp is still pretty effective anti-psychic although I'm still undecided about whether it's better or worse. I'm leaning towards worse but at least they didn't lose it completely.

The lack of allies was never going to change and frankly I'm surprised they've allowed them to still take rulebook Fortifications!

Top 5 Units
Hive Crone
Of course a lot of armies won't struggle to take them down with their poor toughness and 4+ save but as with any FMC some armies simply won't cope with them. Combine them with Flyrants and you're putting several FMCs in your opponent's face straight away. Add in their ability to Vector Strike enemy flyers at S8 and they're a valuable addition to your army in spite of their issues.

Tervigons & Termagants
The cost increase is a bit of a blow and especially being forced to take 30-strong termagant units but they haven't suffered as much as people reckon. Not being able to give them Adrenals/Toxins to pass onto spawned gaunts is a shame but they can still throw gaunts out a decent distance by moving before spawning. Clearly they aren't quite as good as they were and they're more expensive but you're still getting a T6 six wound MC that's scoring and can potentially kick out several other scoring units which it makes Fearless! Despite what I've said at times, I still think you'd be mad not to take them if just for the potential number of models you can generate.

Perhaps they're likely to get overlooked in favour of Mawlocs but for less than the cost of a Mawloc you can get a three-strong brood that puts out S4 AP4 large Barrage blasts at 48". That's pretty decent if you ask me. Great for dealing with massed troops of any variety and should shine against cheap scoring units that are prevalent these days. Should your blast miss you even get a chance of the spores hitting again next turn. If nothing else the spore mines might act as a distraction. Potentially you could combine them with Harpies for spore-mines-a-go-go but either way I think they're worth including.

Their Terror from the Deep attack got both better and worse at the same time. Timing is everything with them but there's always that potential and simply having them in your list already forces your opponent to play differently. They may seem to be a bit of a one-trick pony but don't forget they're still a 6-wound MC that can Smash vehicles pretty easily or tie up weaker units.

Still my favourite unit in the codex, Tyrants have a lot of flexibility in their loadout. The obvious choices are brainleech devourers but perhaps over time other builds will come to the surface that provide something else. Giving an FMC 12 twin-linked S6 shots at BS4 is pretty handy and throw in some Blessings/Maledictions on top and I'm sold. Of course the lack of invulnerable save is an issue but again it's about presenting multiple FMCs to your opponent straight away and forcing him to deal with them. The alternative build with Tyrant Guard may be more expensive but in the right circumstances and in the right list it might be more effective than the flying version.

Suggested List & Conclusion
To finish off the summary I want to throw out an 1,850pt list that, in theory at least, should be competitive. Basically it's just taking the units that I like and throwing them together. Here goes:

1,850pts of Tyranids
Flyrant with brainleech devourers, whip and sword
Flyrant with 2x brainleech devourers
2x 30 Termagants
2x Tervigon
2x Hive Crone
Biovore Brood (3)
2x Mawloc

Clearly this list is about minimal upgrades to allow you to put the maximum possible units on the table. I really don't think there's a contest in the HQ section when it comes to competitive play. You need mobile synapse and they pack a punch too. The double devourer flyrant can stay up in the air and gun down whatever it comes up against. The whip and sword flyrant can go after big MCs like Riptides and Wraithknights and hope to instant kill them.

The hive crones should work well with the flyrants. At the end of the first tyranid turn there'll be 4 FMCs in their opponent's face. Very few armies could hope to take more than two of them out reliably and the surviving monsters should be able to cause havoc. Either way they'll hopefully be enough of a distraction to buy the tervigons a couple of turns to spawn swathes of gaunts and swamp objectives. You can't expect the FMCs to survive the game but by the time they've finished them off the mawlocs will be on them.

Having a pair of mawlocs means you should get at least one of them turn 2 and possibly means you could have one coming up every turn. As I said above, the inclusion of even one mawloc is enough to make your opponent play differently and that's what 40K is all about, disrupting your opponent's plans.

So while all that is going on the venomthrope is hiding in a ruin and trying to keep the Tervigons and gaunts alive. Finally, the biovores are hitting your opponent's scoring units and are probably way down the target priority list. Most opponents will probably want to deal with the obvious threats from the MCs so the artillery unit will keep dropping pie plates undisturbed.

Is it a super-duper all-comers list? No way. Could it win games and even a tournament? Absolutely. The main issue with the Tyranid codex is that it's inevitably going to be compared to Tau, Eldar and some of the other top tier builds like screamer council. Incidentally, Shadow in the Warp could cause trouble to armies that rely on psykers. You can't really write a Tyranid list that can deal with those dirty combinations that seem to be everywhere. That largely comes down to the general issues with combat in 6th edition and partly to the lack of allies to allow tyranids their own dirty combos.

I started off these reviews with a very negative view of the new book. Clearly there are units that got worse and some that remain useless. I'm still very tempted to get a Tyranid army though. The key is that FMCs are pretty fun when they work, tervigons can flood the board and mawlocs can be a real nuisance. Are they reliable? Nope but I still think they can surprise those players who've been too quick to write them off.

Monday, February 03, 2014

Blog Wars 7 - 14th June 2014 - Tickets Now on Sale!

The time has finally come for Blog Wars 7 tickets to go on sale! I know I say this every time but I can't believe the event has received so much support over the years. I hope to see a lot of the regulars in attendance along with some new faces. I'd like to remind everyone that despite the name this is no longer an event exclusively for bloggers.

Scenarios & Scoring
Over the weekend I've been tweaking the scenarios for Blog Wars 7. I was originally planning on keeping them the same as BW6 but I wanted to adjust things slightly to hopefully create more interesting games with an emphasis on bloody battles rather than sitting back and shooting each other from range.

The maximum number of points available in each round has been adjusted to 33 (30 primary, 3 secondary). This is largely to make the maths easier on my end but once again the idea is to minimise the number of clashes and to encourage people to push for those extra few VPs here and there. As I said in an earlier post the score cards have been redesigned to hopefully make filling them out a lot easier. I've worked on the spreadsheet a little too, once again this should make the event run more smoothly. I'm keeping the somewhat controversial rules on tabling too.

The first round will be effectively Purge the Alien but with the points based on unit values rather than a single VP per unit. In a slight change from BW6 the SC is now worth 100 bonus points not 150. This is basically just to make the maths simpler. This is the only round where tabling will give you maximum points too. Speaking of which if you're playing an army that is capable of giving away extra points by spawning units or with VP bonuses these will still count towards your total but the maximum is fixed at 30 VPs. This means people aren't penalised just because they didn't play Tyranids, Daemons or whatever in the first round.

The second round is Emperor's Relic again with the only difference from the Blog Wars 6 version being that the VPs for each objective have changed slightly. This will hopefully encourage people to push for their opponents objective to get maximum points. In this round tabling will not give you full points so if you want them you're going to have to slog across the board or find another way of taking your opponent's objective.

The final round features a new scenario that I've pretty much stolen verbatim from my local tournament venue, The Outpost. I'm calling it Control Freak and basically there's control points which are worth 1VP for every player turn you control them. The game is limited to 5 turns so again, there's 30 primary VPs on offer. Tabling simply ends the scoring where it is when the last model dies.

Obviously I can understand the issues people have with the tabling rules but I don't want to encourage people to bring leafblower style lists that shoot their opponent off the board regardless of the mission being played. There's no point having objectives in that case. Please bear this in mind when writing your lists, if you only bring two scoring units then you simply can't score full VPs in anything but the first round.

Ticket Costs and Prizes 
Tickets remain at £15 which is the same as they cost at the original Blog Wars three years ago. I'm determined to keep them at that price for as long as I can. For your £15 you get lunch, 3 games of 40K in a friendly atmosphere, free entry into the raffle (prizes to be announced) and the chance to win spot prizes throughout the day.

I'm contacting a few companies about sponsorship of the event as I'd like to offer even more prizes than ever before. Stay tuned to the blog to find out if I manage to get anyone interested!

As ever you can either use the PayPal button on the right or contact me via email to buy multiple tickets. I'll be asking for email addresses for all players so if your regular email differs from your PayPal account please let me know.

Please take the time to read through the rules pack by clicking on the big Blog Wars logo on the right or clicking here. If you've got any questions about anything (but in particular the scenarios) then please comment here or email me directly using the Contact Me link on the right.

Finally I'd like to point out that I'll only be playing in the event that we have an odd number on the day. This will mean I'll be on hand to referee if necessary and that the event should run more smoothly. If I do play, I'll be running a friendlier list (no Tau in sight) and I won't be eligible for any prizes.

Sunday, February 02, 2014

New Tyranid Codex - Synapse and Instinctive Behaviour

I read an excellent post by NidsandWolves over on Facing The Grey Tide about this topic. I strongly suggest you read it as there's a really useful rundown of how each unit will be affected by Instinctive Behaviour. This post will contain similar information but hopefully help me get my head around this part of the Tyranid codex so I can make some informed conclusions about it all. I know I've covered it briefly but I'd like to look at it in more depth to really decide how it affects the army.

Synapse Creatures & Synapse Range
Obviously the first thing to think about with Instinctive Behaviour is how to avoid it (well that's the first thing I think about). There are a handful of units with the Synapse Creature rule which can be employed to prevent the army collapsing due to Instinctive Behaviour. Here's a list of our options:
  • Hive Tyrant***
  • Swarmlord**
  • Tervigon***
  • Tyranid Prime*
  • Warriors
  • Zoanthropes**
  • Shrikes
  • Trygon Prime*
There's at least one option in every FOC slot then. These units start with a basic synapse range of 12" and are themselves Fearless. There are two reliable ways to extend Synapse Range with Norn Crown and the Dominion psychic power adding 6" range each (and as far as I can tell these stack). I've indicated next to each one what options they have available "*" indicates just Norn Crown, "**" indicates just Dominion and "***" indicates both. That leaves Warriors and Shrikes who are stuck with 12" range no matter what. In addition the Synaptic Lynchpin warlord trait increases the basic range of the warlord to 18". The Swarmlord comes with this by default but Tyrants, Primes and Tervigons (unless they're Troops) will need to roll for it. Unless you're taking Swarmy then you can't rely on it.

Potentially then a Hive Tyrant or Tervigon could have a 30" synapse range if they succesfully cast Dominion and get the warlord trait. Bear in mind that you roll for warlord traits BEFORE psychic powers which means you wouldn't need to necessarily swap your random power for the Primaris (Dominion) if you've already got an 18" basic range from the warlord trait.

Personally I think 40pts is a bit steep for a 6" boost to Synapse. Had it been 12" then I think the price tag would be more reasonable. To me, Norn Crown may as well be a big fat target painted on the model equipped with it. Kill the Norn Crown model and a whole swathe of Tyranids will behave irratically. Additionally you might not always want to take Dominion on something like a Flyrant as the other powers are, for the most part, extremely useful. The Swarmlord may as well always take it though as he's WC3 and will therefore get three powers. Since Tervigons will nearly always be surrounded by gaunts I think it's a given that they should always have Dominion too.

Keeping the Synapse Creature Alive
With the interweb up in arms about how easy it is to kill Synapse Creatures and wreak havoc with a Tyranid general's plans, I'm sure every man and his dog knows they should be a priority target. How then, can a Tyranid player avoid losing their precious units so easily?

Some of the Synapse Creatures are more durable than others. A single zoanthrope won't last long even with a 3++ save so you'd better have a back up. Tervigons make a great choice as they're both Synapse and can kick out those extra gaunts. As I've said, it's worth taking Dominion to prevent losing one of the Tervigons being an issue. Since blessing powers fall in that conveniently grey area in the "start of the movement phase" you could theoretically extend your range before checking which units need tests.

It's worth noting that Synapse doesn't require line of sight which means you can happily stick a Zoanthrope in a Bastion and place it in the middle of the table. Remember Bastions don't need to be placed in your deployment zone but rather in your table half. That means you stick the Zoanthrope inside on turn one and you've covered a huge area. Of course in the middle of the board it'll be easy prey for a melta or two but it's worth considering.

At the end of the day the usual 40K tenements apply, if something is worth having it's worth taking multiples. The same applies for Synapse Creatures. You'll want some redundancy built in. Most lists are likely to feature a couple of Tyrants, Tervigons and maybe even a Zoanthrope or two. That gives you decent coverage of the board. The problem with the Tyrants is that they'll be wanting to get stuck in and are going to be priority targets regardless. Tyranid players are going to have to get used to the possibility that they'll lose their Synapse Creatures and be forced to roll for Instintive Behaviour but how much of an issue is it?

Fearless and Auto-Regroup
Before I talk about the effects of IB on individual units I wanted to point that Fearless is a HUGE bonus. Those 4pt termagants can hold up pretty much anything in combat that doesn't have many attacks. That can be a real force multiplier if used well. I think there's a lot of attention paid to IB rather than focussing on the benefits that Synapse brings.

Of course, without the Synapse Creatures the tyranid army will be weaker but whilst they're around the whole army is going to be pretty tough to shift. To me it comes down to distraction but I'll talk more about that in my summary post.

The Effects of Instinctive Behaviour
Here's a quick run-down of which units are affected by which branch of IB, I've listed their leadership in brackets:

Lurk (Deathleaper (10), Termagants (6), Lictors (10), Venomthropes (6))

Fail your Ld test and there's a 50% chance the unit will Fall Back. This obviously isn't good news for a unit that's already lost Fearless. The other half of the time they'll be forced to look for some area terrain to jump in to let them function, there's a chance they'll get Stealth, but they'll still not be charging. This obviously isn't good news but remember they aren't force to do anything half of the time. Venomthropes are likely to already be in cover of some kind and aren't likely to be far away from the Synapse Creatures in the Tyranid deployment zone. Lictors and Deathleaper aren't likely to be in Synapse range but with Ld10 they'll only suffer from IB 1/12th of the time which is hardly worth bothering about and let's face it there aren't many Lictors around anyway.

Termagants suffer the most from this as, with their poor leadership they're quite likely to get IB and aren't likely to regroup should they roll "Survive". It's worth considering sticking your objectives in area terrain to minimise the damage should you roll "Seek Cover". At least then they'll still be useful.

Feed - Tyrant Guard (7), Old One Eye (8), Hormagaunts (6), Rippers (5), Haruspex (7), Pyrovores (6), Raveners (6), The Red Terror (8), Sky Slashers (5), Hive Crone (10), Carnifex (7), Mawloc (8)

By far the most common IB, Feed has possibly the worst effects too. There's a 50:50 chance that a unit will attack itself and given that it's resolved at the unit's strength that means 4+ to wound most of the time so a hefty number of casualties for units with 6+ saves. Looking through the list of units that suffer it, Tyrant Guard are likely to have died before the Tyrant they're guarding. Old One Eye will be safely on a shelf with the Rippers and Raveners. No-one will worry about Sky Slashers or Pyrovores either. Single models don't suffer Cannibalistic Hunger so that rules out Mawlocs (who can simply burrow), Crones (who are Ld10 anyway) and the Haruspex.

The problem with Feed is that it can prevent Dakkafexes from shooting and could force Hormagaunts to charge and leave an objective behind. Realistically both will probably just end up either killing themselves off slowly or doing nothing. Hormagaunts will probably be your meatshield anyway so might've died before any of the Synapse Creatures start to fall.

Hunt - Hive Guard (7), Gargoyles (6), Harpy (10), Biovores (8), Trygons (8), Exocrine (7), Tyrannofex (8)

It's worth noting that the Harpy, Exocrine, Trygon and Tyrannofex are all Fearless which means no "Burrow and Hide" for them. Prowl isn't great for a lot of the artillery units though who'll want to shoot distant targets most of the time.

Finally, there's genestealers who don't suffer from IB at all. Now, I'm not suggesting that makes them worth taking but you could potentially hide some in cover to control an objective reliably without worrying about their proximity to the rest of your army.

The units which are hardest hit by IB are mostly gaunts. Most other units either have decent leadership or won't suffer too badly from the effects of IB. Let's not forget you have to fail a leadership test to suffer the effects and most of the units are Ld7 or above. For example at Ld8 you'll pass it 72% of the time even Ld7 passes 58% of the time.

I know there have been plenty of battle reports on-line where the tyranids completely folded because the synapse got taken out but I really don't think this would be the norm. A lot of the time you'd have enough other synapse creatures to fill the gap and even if you don't the majority of your army isn't too badly effected.

Clearly the main issue is your scoring units, after all that's what wins games. If you can't keep them in Synapse then chances are they'll struggle to stay on objectives. With your Synapse Creatures alive though they'll be fearless and tough to shift. I'll talk more in my round-up but for the most part I don't think IB is as big of a deal as people are making out. It sounds really bad on paper but it isn't that difficult to avoid and the pay off of having a Fearless army is worth it in my opinion.


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