Thursday, November 13, 2014

Blog Wars 8 - Painting Competition (pic heavy)

Before going any further it's worth saying that the standard of painting at this event was higher than at any previous that I can remember. There were plenty of armies on the display tables and I know of at least a couple that weren't presented (Chris Benstead's Iron Warriors for example). This may have been the reason that of the 25 players (I don't vote), 24 of them cast their vote. It's a shame we didn't quite get 100% voting but the guy who didn't vote was made to feel guilty enough! 

Best Painted Army
The vote for best army is usually a close run thing but this time around the winner took a whopping 58% of the votes with his nearest rival getting just over half the votes he did. The notable runners up with both Space Wolf armies from Martin Waine and Nathaniel Gibbs and the former was probably one of my favourites. Nothing particularly original but well executed, clean and with some nice touches.

In second place was Dave Weston (who's won in previous painting competitions) with his stunning Tyranid army:

The overall winner with that whopping share of the votes was Liam Ainscough who added Best Army to his Wooden Spoon and raffle prize! Please note the Tantalus wasn't strictly part of his army but I'd allowed him to display it. 

Here's a few shots of the best of the rest:

Best Painted Special Character
Once again the winner of this took a huge share of the votes but there were several different characters that got a single vote each. Here's a quick run through of the runners up (sadly I failed to get a shot of Dave Weston's Deathleaper - apologies):

Once again Liam Ainscough took the win with his Urien Rakarth:

You can see more of Liam's worth on his new blog over at: Thanks again to everyone who put so much effort into their armies, sorry to those I've missed out here. A big thanks to (nearly) everyone for voting too and showing that we appreciate the other side of the hobby. 

Next time around I'm considering a category for best conversion and best theme too.

Tuesday, November 11, 2014

Blog Wars 8 - My Battle Reports

Having taken a break from playing last time I was keen to participate at BW8 and fortunately a last minute addition to the numbers gave me the opportunity. I've already posted my Wolves list up but suffice to say it's designed to let me play my games quickly rather than necessarily being the best army I can come up with. Deployment is just 3 units which certainly helps a lot!

Game One - Space Wolves vs. Necrons (Jason Roberts)
Well, you know that feeling when you see your opponent's army across the table and you know you have no chance. Yeah, I had that. Jason was fielding 4 ghost arks full of warriors, three annihilation barges and a command barge. His special character was Imotekh meaning his skimmers would get 3+ Jink saves. With all of that gauss I'd struggle to keep my land raiders alive for very long if I got in close. Sadly with my army I don't really have an option. We were playing for Blood Points (like 5th edition style VPs).

My TWC advanced at full speed but met a wall of Necron firepower with pretty much his entire army firing at them. Despite some luck on my part with the rolls the thunderwolves all perished without the Necrons breaking a sweat. I then needed to get my land raiders up the field pronto. The lascannons and multi-melta might just help me bring down a couple of the arks and give me a fighting chance. That simply didn't happen though. My terminators hopped out and tried to down the command barge. They then charged in. Arjac was lucky to pass his mindshackle and hit the lord 3 times with his hammer. With S10 he'd instant-kill the lord but it wasn't to be as he passed all his invulnerable saves. In the next rounds of combat Arjac failed his mindshackle and consequently the lord's warscythe did its job. If Arjac had made it out of that combat I might've felt like I had a chance.

Both land raiders quickly fell and the grey hunters failed to take out a ghost ark with their melta but managed in combat. That didn't help me deal with the warriors though who with help from the command barge killed off the grey hunters in short order. The flyer arrived a little too late to make a difference and struggled to do any damage with the Necrons jinking like mad. Eventually it too succumbed to the Necron firepower but not before it had dropped off the Blood Claws. Sadly their krak grenades weren't enough to kill a barge and they too fell to complete the tabling. Final score 1950 vs. 115 with Jason scoring all three secondaries. Not the best of starts eh?

Game Two - Space Wolves vs. Tau (Gareth Newton-Williams)
The centrepiece of Gareth's army was a skyshield with Longstrike in the middle, a squad of broadsides and two units of fire warriors with an ethereal in tow. He'd also got another two units of fire warriors (one of which had a devilfish), some pathfinders, another hammerhead and a squad of piranhas.

This game was basically a taste of my own medicine. I've often run Longstrike against land raiders, used piranhas and drones as screens and set up a devastating Supporting Fire barrage. Suffice to say I didn't like the taste! My first mistake was in my warlord traits. I rolled on strategic and got to infiltrate three non-vehicle units. Had I thought it through I'd have realised I could infiltrate one of my land raiders by giving Infiltrate to the wolf guard. Sadly I simply chose to infiltrate my thunderwolves. Whilst this got my closer to my target it meant I couldn't make a turn one charge. The second mistake was letting Tau go first. I figured my flyer would be able to steal the objectives towards the end of the game. I'm really not sure why I thought this was a good idea but I'm going with the excuse of having too much else to think about.

My TWC died off pretty quickly before making a charge. Arjac's land raider rumbled forward and the terminators charged into combat with the pathfinders and hammerhead. Sadly I lost one terminator to overwatch and a second to a lucky strike from the pathfinders in combat. I still won the combat though thanks to destroying the hammerhead with Arjac's hammer. This meant the pathfinders would flee the table leaving the terminators exposed.

With the piranhas blocking the middle of the table I decided to disembark the grey hunters and charge them. This proved pretty successful with only a single immobilised skimmer remaining. Sadly, in the next turn both land raiders fell and the grey hunters were left stranded in the middle of the board to be easily cut down by the weight of Tau fire. The flyer arrived a little too late to make a difference and struggled to do any damage.

Eventually it too fell but not before failing to take out Longstrike. The blood claws died to Crash and Burn and that pretty much wrapped up the tabling with the Tau forces holding the central objective. I've since realised that the gun drones still aren't scoring (you'd think I'd realise being a Tau player) so this shouldn't have been the case but Gareth still would've won 2-0 on secondaries.

Game Three - Space Wolves vs. Dark Eldar (Liam Ainscough)
Going into the final game I'd managed to score a whopping 1.8 VPs out of a possible 66! This obviously put me on the bottom table and I was in danger of presenting myself with the wooden spoon. Fortunately I have a decent amount of experience of playing the Control Freak mission. I was also fortunate enough to be playing Liam's stunning Dark Eldar army which was an absolute pleasure. It consisted of a couple of venoms with warriors, a couple of raiders (one deep striking with a webway haemo), two ravagers, a cronos, razorwing, a large unit of reavers and Urien Rakarth with a big unit of grotesques. I've never played against grotesques and I don't use them in my DE army so I was interested to see how they performed. Similarly I've yet to try out the new reaver rules so I was looking forward to seeing if they've improved.

I won the roll off but since the scoring didn't start until turn 2 I held off the objectives to keep my TWC out of charge range of the grotesques. My land raiders were able to immobilise one raider and force a venom to jink. One of my land raiders went down early to the ravagers and the TWC took some heavy fire from the rest of the army. Fortunately they were safely distanced from the grotesques so I was able to move them and the grey hunters onto objectives whilst the remaining land raider controlled the other.

My flyer arrived but could only immobilise a ravager. I tried a few times to hit the cronos with helfrost but I either missed or it passed it's FNP save every time. The TWC eventually charged the grotesques but put on pretty poor show. With 10 S10 hammer attacks I only managed to kill a single grotesque. The lord did better with his claw! It was still enough for the grotesques to run though and allow me too keep hold of the objectives. The middle one was contested by kabalites but they were soon cleared away.

The webway raider arrived and destroyed the other land raider with its single dark lance (after the trueborn had failed with four blasters!). Arjac and his terminators repaid the favour by destroying both the vehicle and the squad though. The grotesques and reavers eventually lined up to charge the remaining thunderwolf on the objective (the rest having died to shooting) but the reavers failed a 4" charge and the grotesques failed a longer one. The thunderwolf was eventually killed though and the reavers concetrated their efforts on trying to shift the grey hunters. The blood claws and nearby kabalites eventually piled in leaving that objective contested until the end. Liam was now putting points on the board but I'd already racked up an insurmountable lead. The final highlight was a pretty poor dogfight between the two flyers which both survived! Final result 18/0 vs. 7/2 to me.

Well when I posted my list up I said that the land raiders would be a struggle for some armies to deal with. Sadly I didn't meet any of those armies. My first game was full of gauss weaponry, the Tau in the second game had plenty of fusion and lances in the final game meant that neither land raider survived in any of my games! Of course there are still some games where they'd do well but I still think they're difficult to justify using. Perhaps they could work in a better list with some distractions. Still it was a fun army to use and it certainly fulfilled its purpose of giving me quick games and allowing me to run the tournament. Mind you, my inability to make decisions and desire to chat to my opponent still meant I needed the full amount of time!

I'm really pleased I decided to play in the end and that the numbers allowed it. Not playing last time gave me a chance to chat to more people and make sure the event ran smoothly but I felt like a bit of an outsider. This time I was immersed in the atmosphere more and with the new score sheets (amongst other tweaks) I still think the event ran smoothly.

Thanks to my opponents for three entertaining games but next time I need to be placing in a less embarrassing position than 24th of 26!

Sunday, November 09, 2014

Blog Wars 8 - The Aftermath (Results)

The eight Blog War was fought at the NWGC in Stockport yesterday. This was the first Blog Wars event of 7th edition (BW7 was the last of 6th). This may be a bold claim but, to my mind at least, I think it was the best event I've ever run. There were no major scoring issues, the painting competition was of the highest standard and generally the atmosphere was excellent. I may have performed extremely poorly in my games (I'll get to that in a later post) but I had a great day with a lot of banter and the feedback seemed good. Whilst we're on the subject of feedback, feel free to comment here and later in the week I'll be putting up a post to discuss what went well and what can still be improved (I said it was the best ever, not that it was perfect!). I'd really appreciate any feedback good or bad to help me make BW9 even better.

Numbers may have been down from the record high of BW7 (26 instead of 38) but there still seemed like plenty of people there. Once again everyone seemed to enter in the spirit of the event. People were playing to enjoy their games rather than worrying too much about the result. Of course there are prizes to be won but when the top prize £25 and you can win an £85 Imperial Knight just for showing up (raffle entry is included) it doesn't seem worth arguing about whether you made that 50:50 charge or not. Once again the three 100% attenders (Chris, Graham and Matt) showed up to keep up their perfect records. Indeed Graham and Chris actually played each other in round two with Graham taking a 25/3 vs. 0/0 win.

Anyway, here are the final results for the event (click to enlarge). As ever these results will be added to the archive.

As you can see, Daniel Lane was the runaway winner with his footdar taking 88 of a possible 99 VPs over the three games. That gave him a "goal difference" of 81.1 and a 9.8 point lead over his nearest rival. Congratulations to Daniel Russell and Graham Sanders for placing 2nd and 3rd respectively. I'm getting a little concerned that Graham has turned into a power gamer with is serpent spam Eldar! At the bottom of the table Liam Ainscough and his stunning Dark Eldar army added weight to the stereotype that those who can paint can't play! I played him in my last game so you can read about that later in the week. It was Liam's birthday and despite losing his games he ended up coming away with not just the wooden spoon but also a pile of other prizes (more on that soon).

The real winner of the event was Peter Barrett though who managed to scoop the top raffle prize, namely an Imperial Knight. This is even more jammy when you consider he's won the top prize before (which was a Wraithknight at the time). As I've already mentioned, this is deliberate bribery to encourage people to focus less on the winning and more on the spirit of the event. That's without doing Favourite Game votes, pay attention GW!

Scoring & Missions
I've made only slight adjustments to the scoring and missions this time around. The first round is crucial as it allows for non-integer scores and therefore a near guarantee of being able to separate people. Of course there were four people in the first round who scored the maximum points but they permitted there opponents to score different totals meaning the "goal difference" could be used as a differentiation. This means it's important to focus on giving up as few points as possible. I may want there to be a friendly atmosphere but I'm not banning competitive play completely!

In the first round one pair were only separated by 87 blood points (and therefore 1.34 VPs!). That's one hell of a close game but the system allows for a winner to still be determined. Of course in later rounds it wasn't totally perfect as some games were strictly speaking a draw (since it's the total VPs that count) despite one player scoring more primary VPs than the other. Perhaps the primary VP total should be the deciding factor? Having said that it wouldn't have made a huge difference to the table. Once again there were players who had a couple of narrow wins and a big loss who placed lower than people who had done the opposite. On paper that sounds daft but I prefer this absolute scoring system to a WDL mechanic.

Thoughts on 7th Edition
I was concerned that players would struggle to fit their games into the 2 hr 30 min slots but the majority of players seemed to make it to turn 5. Of course there are armies that find this easier than others but I don't feel like there's a need to drop the points or increase the round times (correct me if I'm wrong though please).

The army selection is something I want to revisit. For starters Imperial Knights didn't particularly make their presence felt so I see no reason not to allow the full three as allies. It'd be a struggle to make them a primary detachment as they'd need Gerantius (as their special character) and therefore you'd get a maximum of 3 others in before you needed allies to make it up to 1,850. The danger of allowing three knight is that the formation becomes available. I don't think it's devastating though but something I need to think about.

I'm conscious that only Imperial armies can take three detachments in the current system since the extra detachments are Inquisition, Imperial Knights, Legion of the Damned and Assassins. That doesn't seem particularly fair but then neither does saying you can either have an allied detachment or a single assassin. A lot of other events seem to be saying just two detachments though so it's worth revisiting. Bear in mind only a single player took 3 detachments this time anyway. I've also considered revising the allies OR formation restriction but again this is saying 3 detachments are possible so it needs some discussion.

The Painting Competition
I'm going to be posting the results of the painting competition in a separate post along with pictures of the winning armies. However, I'm determined to expand the painting competition at Blog Wars 9. Not only would I like to increase the existing prizes but I'd also like to add extra ones such as Best Conversions or Best Theme. This was the first time that one person has won both Best Army and Best Character but I'm conscious of the possibility that someone could take all Best Army, Character, Conversions and Theme though I suspect it's unlikely.

Your Feedback
As ever, the most important thing about this post are the comments that you guys leave me. I'll compile them all together into a discussion post and talk about what I want to change for BW9. I really want to hear ANY thoughts you have on the event so fire away!

The Next Blog Wars
Here are the dates for your diary:

  • Blog Wars 9 - Saturday 6th June 2015
  • Blog Wars 10 - Saturday 7th November 2015
Stay tuned to the blog for details, I hope to see you there! Thank you once again to everyone who came this time around for making it such an enjoyable day.

Thursday, November 06, 2014

Blog Wars 8 Prizes and My Army List

Before we get to my army list let's get the important matter of the prizes out of the way. Despite lower numbers than last time I'm still offering nearly the same amount of prizes as I did before! There's the usual vouchers from (and kindly sponsored by) Element Games which make up the prizes for 1st, 2nd, 3rd and Last Place along with the Best Army and Best Special Character painting prizes. There'll also be two spot prizes for each round and a series of raffle prizes at the end of the event. Here's a shot of the stuff you can win (please note I'll be adding one set of spot prizes to this as I haven't been able to get hold of the stuff I wanted yet).

As you can see the top raffle prize is again an Imperial Knight worth £85 (RRP)! That's not bad for a £17.50 ticket I reckon! In fact all of the prizes in the raffle are worth more than your ticket cost and raffle entry is included!

My Army List
I'm sticking to the blog's roots and running Space Wolves making the most of the new codex. The list is deliberately designed to be reasonably powerful but not devastating with some armies having no trouble dealing with it. At the same time I've tried to make it a good army for a TO to use whilst running the event.

1,850pts of Space Wolves (CAD)
Wolf Lord - thunderwolf, runic armour, storm shield, wolf claw
Wolf Priest

Wolf Guard Terminators - 2x wolf claw/CM, 2x wolf claw/CP - Land Raider
Arjac Rockfist

5 Blood Claws - Stormwolf w/ twin meltas
10 Grey Hunters - chainswords, 2 meltaguns, terminator with PF/CM

3 Thunderwolf Cavalry - 2x TH/SS

Land Raider Redeemer - multi-melta

So deployment should take me all of 30 seconds with just two Land Raiders and a squad of TWC. The flyer will, of course, be in reserve. All told there's only 28 models so I can't see me taking long to play my games. I don't expect to be smashing opponent's off the table but at the same time some armies really won't be able to shift the two land raiders and therefore my terminators and grey hunters will have no trouble getting into combat. In Control Freak I'll have three tough to shift units and since it's a CAD the Stormwolf will have Objective Secured when it arrives and Arjac gets it from the Blog Wars special rules. I could've taken an ML2 Rune Priest with runic armour instead of the Wolf Priest but again this saves time as there are no powers to roll for and I can ignore the psychic phase in my turns.

Of course, I'm only playing if we've got odd numbers on the day so there's a chance they'll all stay in the box but I hope I get a chance to play three of you guys.

I'm really looking forward to the event (as ever) and I'm hoping it will run pretty smoothly with some of the streamlining I've done since BW7. See you all on Saturday!

Tuesday, November 04, 2014

Armies at Blog Wars 8 - The Obligatory Pie Chart Post (now with more pie!)

Unbelievably it's time for another Blog Wars pie charts post! Before I go any further I just need to make a final appeal for the following players to get in touch with me with their army lists. I still haven't heard from John Bell, Luke Capper or Tom Capper. I've emailed a couple of times now but if any of you know them and can remind them for me please do so. Anyway, onto the meat (and potato) of the post.

Army Lists
The process of list checking is always somewhat time consuming but I've noticed a lot more people are now using list building software to generate their lists. Since I use Battlescribe and it's free to set up I might start making it a requirement to submit lists in that format. It would make the whole process easier especially when I have so little time to organise things these days.

The Pie Charts!
Before we get on the to the fresh pies it's worth reminding yourselves of the crusty ones from previous events (BW5, BW6 & BW7). Remember this is the first Blog Wars of 7th edition so the game is in a very different place now. Back in June the filling of the pies was mostly Daemons, Tau and Space Marines. A lot of new books have been released since then with Orks, Wolves, Grey Knights and Dark Eldar all hitting the shelves since the last event. Here's this year's primary/core detachment pie chart (click to embiggen):

As you can see Eldar and Necrons account for around a third of the armies which will be in attendance on Saturday with Space Wolves not far behind. Essentially there's about a 50:50 chance you'll play one of these three factions each round. You'd have to be pretty lucky (or unlucky depending on your point of view) to face Tyranids, Tau, Daemons or CSM though.Of the Space Wolf players coming (and I'll also be running them if I play), two of the three are running the Wolves Unleashed detachment whilst the third is bringing a Champions of Fenris list (the only core detachment from a supplement). Similarly both of the Grey Knights players are running the faction specific detachment (of course). I'm pleased to see a couple of Dark Eldar players and even more pleased that one of them is pure DE. With a reduced number of players the variety isn't the same as it was for BW7 and I'm still upset to see a lack of Orks! Both Blood Angels and Astra Militarum have gone missing from last time too.

As you can see from the second pie below (again, click to embiggen) there's now more than half of the field using a second detachment. This is to be expected in 7th edition of course but there's actually only a single player who's taken a third detachment. This is interesting to me as it might make me consider making the army selection criteria different and perhaps saying just two detachments but with less restrictions on what they contain.

It's worth noting that four of the extra detachments here are formations. I'm quite pleased with how this has worked. I wanted to discourage taking two detachments from the same army but formations have allowed people to still partially ally with themselves without doing anything too broken. It's also an increased uptake of formations

After all of the worrying about how many Imperial Knights to allow or not there are only actually two players who are bringing knights and they've only brought one each as it is. My worry is I put too many restrictions in place and I've put people off despite there actually not being much (if any) filth within the lists. There are some strong lists in the field but unless I'm missing something there isn't anything too horrible out there. There's no excessing daemon summoning for example. I'm not sure I dare say it but it's actually looking like a pretty interesting selection of armies from which it would be tricky to pick a standout list. Of course there are stronger armies in there but nothing unstoppable which is always my aim.

As every with Blog Wars there seems to be decent mix of Imperial and Xenos armies as can be seen in this bonus pie chart!:

Roughly speaking that should mean you only play one of your games against power armour which is a total shift from how it used to be towards the end of 5th edition where it seemed like every army was GK, BA or SW! I have to say though that if it weren't for the recent SW and GK books I don't think there'd be even half that many Imperial armies in there.

Special Characters
As ever this is my favourite part of Blog Wars every time around. This is getting to be more and more difficult to justify though as we've lost something like a dozen special characters between the Tyranids, Orks, GK and Dark Eldar releases. That's a real shame to me but the recently leaked Tyranid units have given me hope that they might reinstate some of them over time. Anyway, as ever, Blog Wars requires each army to field a special character. As I've said I'm still waiting for a couple of lists but at the moment there are a total of 18 unique special characters with only a handful appearing more than once. Whilst Coteaz is usually a popular choice he can no longer be in the primary detachment and hence he's slipped out of the running. He'll still be present but it's perhaps nice that an auto-choice like that isn't featuring so heavily.

There's a lot of the usual suspects present though with Eldrad, Draigo and Fateweaver present but there's also a couple of curve balls thrown in like Lelith Hesperax, Lukas the Trickster and Arjac Rockfist (my personal favourite).

I wanted to make a quick note on the attendance figures this time around. Since this is the pie chart post here's a quick graph to illustrate things:

There's been a general upward trend to the event's attendance figures since BW2 with a record 38 players attending BW7 (the full 40 tickets were sold). This has taken a fall of about a third for Blog Wars 8 though. The question is, why has this happened and should I be worried about this?

Well, I've been giving it a lot of thought over the past couple of weeks and I think there are a number of factors which may have contributed to the decline in figures. For a start the winter event seems generally less popular which I tend to put down to people wanting to save for Christmas. It's got to me a lot more than that though. With quite a bit changing this time around it's difficult to put your finger on a particular cause but I think the main factors may have been the slight ticket price increase, army selection restrictions and general malaise for competitive 40K in 7th edition.

The ticket price is something I'm very grateful I changed now. Had it stayed at £15 (and assuming attendance was the same) I'd have really struggled to provide the prize support that I've always tried to maintain at an exceptional level. Lower numbers means less sponsorship from the guys at Element Games which means more of the ticket revenue goes into the tournament prizes. The extra ticket income has allowed me to keep all of the spot prizes and still provide a generous raffle though. Without having enough money in the pot I'm not sure I can offer extra painting prizes though and it's too late to announce those now when people would likely want time to work on their armies in response.

The army selection restrictions met with a mixed reception when I announced them and, as ever, I responded to feedback and tweaked them accordingly. I'm pretty happy with the system I've ended up with but I think it could be simplified and some of the restrictions are unnecessary. Hopefully for BW9 I can make things feel more open without just going no-holes-barred. I know of a couple of people this definitely put off but generally I hope people have raised their concerns and things have been adjusted to suit the majority.

The general malaise for 40K is more difficult to control. As I look down the list of people who have ever attended at least one Blog War (of which there are now 100) I can see some names of people who I know are no longer playing 40K (at tournaments anyway). Of course people move away from the hobby but it's still a shame not to see some guys I've known for a long time now. There's a selfish part of me that'd be quite happy if it was a dislike of the current meta that was putting people off rather than something I'd done though.

That's quite enough of the negatives. There's still a great core of players who have been to several Blog Wars now and the three veterans of every single Blog War are all again in attendance (although Chris took some cajoling). There's half a dozen new guys too who I hope will enjoy their first experience of the event. Whilst bigger numbers are great for variety and for boosting the prize pot I actually quite like smaller events as there's a closer atmosphere where people can have a bit more banter without feeling like just a number in a big pool of players.

Depending on last minute drop outs I may or not be playing but I'm hoping I will be so that I can roll some dice with guys I've come to regard as friends over the years. I'll be posting my list up in a couple of days but rest assured it was written a while ago before I read all of yours and I won't be eligible for any of the prizes anyway.

With the changes I've made to the score sheets and a few other little tweaks I'm hoping the day will run smoothly and to time. With that in mind I remind you to get in touch with any queries you have about the missions or general rules questions before the event so that we can just get cracking on the day. Otherwise I look forward to seeing you all for yet another Blog War!


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