Monday, December 28, 2015

Review of 2015

Well it's been over a week (nearly two in fact) since I've posted for various reasons. A combination of frantically building models for my games with Matt last Monday (some thoughts on the new Tau and Betrayal at Calth were in the previous post), illness, Star Wars and general seasonal busyness have given me very little blogging time.

After a big year for From the Fang in 2014, this year was a comparative slump. I had 430,000 pageviews last year compared to 340,000 this year. That may not sound significant but before then I'd seen a year-on-year increase in hits. You can see from the graph that there's been a massive downturn. In fact, September 2015 was the worth month's viewing I've had since Feb 2013! It probably didn't help that I only posted 5 times in September mind you.

There have been some successful posts though, my Imperial Knight magnetisation tutorial has garnered over 2,000 views and the Harlequins posts got a huge chunk too with the first part of the review being read 3,000 times. Seems like I should've done a Skitarii codex review too since my post telling people to go read Jamie's reviews has 1,800 views!!

I wanted to scale back my blogging this year to give me more time for hobby related activities. I've only posted around 80 times this year which is about two thirds of the number of posts last year. You'd think that would translate into more painted models and generally more stuff done but it really hasn't but I'll get to that. I'm pretty comfortable with this kind of pace though. It still means I'm averaging more than 1.5 posts per week. I'd like to even that out a bit though so there aren't droughts followed by a flood of posts. Still, I wish I was getting more hobby content up on here for people as I think that's where I'd like the blog to go.

Hobby Progress
Well, another abysmal year really. I'm still not able to field a full army of "finished" models. I'm not even close. I had the idea of starting an IK army so that I could really go to town on a very small number of miniatures and produce something I'm happy with. I've not even finished the first one and the other three are all in boxes still.

I signed myself up for Dave Weston's Hobby Season but it hasn't been the motivator I hoped it would be. Ultimately I know what motivates me the most. Tournaments. If I know I've got to get an army finished in time for a particular date I make a concerted effort. Otherwise I do little bits here and there. My Tau got quite a bit of love thanks to our friendly mini-tournament at WHW. My Tau look much better for it but there's still work to be done. The problem with working towards an army in that fashion though is that I tend to work on multiple models at once like a production line. Base colours on all of them, followed by washes on all of them, etc. I think I should start focussing on a single model, get that completely finished and move onto the next. That way I actually feel like I'm getting somewhere rather than starting with 10 unfinished models and ending up with 10 slightly more finished models.

As usual, despite trying to avoid distractions I've ended up working on the Calth miniatures and my new Stormsurge in preference of finishing existing stuff. What I need are small weekly or monthly goals to help me structure my hobby time and not feel overwhelmed with the amount I've got to complete. More on that soon then.

This hasn't exactly been a bumper year for tournament play. I played in an Outpost event in January finishing in a respectable 9th. My next tournament was my first X-wing event in March where I placed bang on mid-table which I was pleased with considering how many scum squadrons I played despite not knowing anything about them! The rest of the year consisted of a single game at BW9 and three at BWX. That's it.

The question is, do I actually want to attend more next year? Matt and I have signed up for a doubles at the Outpost in March, there'll be Double Trouble in June (more in a minute) and finally Fluffageddon in November. The Outpost is getting its act together again though so maybe there'll be some more events I fancy in between. I just find the scene a little difficult right now with too many variables of FW, formations, super heavies, etc. I was never doing that well but at least I was enjoying the games and feeling like I was in with a shot of winning them most of the time. We'll see how I feel as the year progresses but at the moment I don't think tournaments (or playing in them at least) will be a big part of my plans.

Blog Wars and Double Trouble
From my perspective BW9 and BWX were the best events I've ever run. They both had nearly maximum attendance with 48 and 50 players respectively. That's awesome but more importantly the feedback I got was generally excellent. Nevertheless, I decided that the format was getting a bit tired and from my end it was growing stale. In 2016 I'll be doing things totally differently. Double Trouble will, as the name suggests, be my first ever doubles event and a departure from BW in a lot of ways. The atmosphere will remain the same theoretically but otherwise it'll be a very different event. I just hope I get the support that you've all given BW over the years. I'm sorry I haven't gotten round to releasing more details or getting tickets up for sale but I'll be doing so shortly after the new year.

DT will be my only event next year know as Matt takes up the reins in November to run a singles event in the form of Fluffageddon. That means a great big chunk of time is freed up for me the second half of the year. I'll be helping Matt in any way I can as it's his first event but expect a similar feel to Blog Wars. Again, I hope we'll get similar numbers to Blog Wars.

Other Games
I'm not ruling out the possibility of more X-wing events in 2015 and in fact, I feel more enthusiastic about such tournaments than 40K ones. Having said that I really haven't been keeping up with the latest releases and we've barely played it recently. Matt got the big star destroyer for Christmas though so I expect we'll arrange something soon. With Matt now being a proud parent for a second time our gaming time is limited so I expect we'll have more evening gaming sessions instead of full days. That probably means smaller games like X-wing and some of the specialist GW games.

Speaking of which, we had a great first session of Betrayal at Calth. It had a lot more tactical depth than I expected with the simplistic rules and despite feeling like the odds were against my Ultramarines early on I finally managed to win a scenario at the end of the session. We'll hopefully finish the campaign soon and swap sides for another play through. I'm really happy to see GW continue to put out these standalone games and it's had the desired effect of tempting me into 30K miniatures. Whether I'll take more of a plunge though remains to be seen. Rumour has it GW is looking at specialist games again so I'd love to see new releases for Bloodbowl, Necromunda and Epic in 2016.

What's been frustrating is that X-wing hasn't drawn more of my friends into the hobby. Scott now has quite a collection of Rebel ships but Sam, Billy and Steve didn't succumb and buy anything. They all seem content to use our models for the occasional session rather than buying their own and making it a more regular occurrence.

My enthusiasm for the hobby (playing and painting alike) has been on a bit of a roller coaster this year. We really haven't gotten many games in at all this year. I hope this changes in 2016 but it's probably unlikely. It makes me question whether I can really justify having a whole room of my house dedicated to gaming or whether I should convert the room into a study where I can still paint models but make the table an occasional addition to our dining room (or even garage) instead. It'd only be a short term enterprise anyway as once my little boy is big enough, that'll be his room.

I'll talk about my hobby resolutions in the next post but it's going to be a period of consolidation rather than expansion I think.

Sunday, December 27, 2015

This Year in 40K

Well it's been over a week (nearly two in fact) since I've posted for various reasons. A combination of frantically building models for my games with Matt last Monday (some thoughts on the new Tau and Betrayal at Calth were in the previous post), illness, Star Wars and general seasonal busyness have given me very little blogging time.

It's been a funny old year for our game (again). By half way through the year we'd already had NINE new codices which meant 14 new books within the space of a year! The notable releases here were Skitarii and Cult Mechanicus which finally brought Ad Mech to the table top. I'm still sorely tempted to buy an Ad Mech army but as you'll read shortly I can't see that happening soon. We were also treated to a Harlequins book but with fairly limited options for using them I quickly abandoned my plans for a force to complement my Dark Eldar.

The other big deal was the introduction of a new style of army composition which started with the Necron Decurion. This has probably been my biggest complaint about the new books in that it feels like a shopping list rather than an army. It's a great way for GW to get you to buy some models you wouldn't have bothered with in exchange for some (in places) stupidly good rules. I wonder how many tomb blades they sold before compared with after the new book! Some of the other books had only been out for a year or two before being replaced and, whilst I don't want to go back to the 5 year wait, the Tau release felt particularly lazy.

The Necron codex was also the first in a line of books that didn't fit in with the reasonably balanced first round of 7th edition codices. Whilst the Orks, BA, SW, GK and DE books upset people with the loss of some special characters and general simplification, they did all feel reasonably balanced against each other (OK maybe DE didn't). We were all hoping that the Necron book would lose some of the nonsense such as Mindshackle Scarabs and Tesla snap shots. When we heard that these were being "fixed" I was optimistic. That was until the rules for RP surfaced amongst other things. Since then we've returned the power creep days with Eldar Wraithknights becoming gargantuan creatures etc. It's a shame that these things overshadow some of the more innovative rules GW have produced this year. The Ad Mech and Harlequins books had some great ideas in them for example. I can't help but feel like they're rushing things right now.

I said last year that I was optimistic that the game would become more balanced but with an ever increasing number of formations it's anything but. Not only that but it's an incredibly complicated system now. I can't help but wonder if that's GW's plan so that we're all begging them to simplify things like they did with Fantasy? I'm not for a second saying I want that but a happy medium would be nice.

Games Workshop continues to produce the best miniatures in the world, there's no question about that. I just wish they'd embrace the community a bit more and understand that we want a playable game in which to use those miniatures. Their lack of support of the third party tournament scene and third party suppliers continues to baffle me.

Why do GW have their own stores any more? They don't need to worry too much about the competition at the moment so why not cut their overheads and leave the independent retailers to sell their models. In my experience they do a better job of promoting the hobby anyway without coming across as pushy or weirdly over-friendly. I get that they don't like to have their products side by side with other stuff but this doesn't worry other manufacturers so why GW who, like I've said, make some of the nicest models anyway!

It may just be my perception but the tournament scene seems to be dwindling right now. A lot of the regular events have disappeared from the calendar and whilst I was getting record numbers (for me) at Blog Wars, I wonder if that's because there isn't much choice right now. A lot of people I've been speaking to have been put off by GW's Warhammer World events by the use of Unbound or crazy systems like Throne of Skulls uses. Why not support the independent events like FFG do with X-wing?

The trouble is, when all is said and done, I'm not going to be stopping collecting GW models or playing 40K any time soon. I love the deep background and no other games have the same scale to them. Nothing else grabs my attention like 40K does. I flirt with X-wing but I just don't feel the same immersion that I do with 40K, as dodgy as it is right now. It's basically an abusive relationship GW have created and we keep making excuses for them. Thing is, I don't want GW to fail as a company like others do. I'm not a GW hater. I'm just a frustrated fan.

Anyway, ramble/rant over. It's now time to look back at the my own personal experience of 2015 and make some plans to get my arse into gear in 2016 and tackle this mountain of unpainted models.

Tuesday, December 15, 2015

Tau Stormsurge Tactics - Pulse Driver Cannon or Pulse Blastcannon?

I'll get to posting more about Double Trouble soon I promise. In the meantime I'm very busy building models up for my games against Matt next Monday. We're having a couple of games of 40K at Warhammer World followed by some Betrayal at Calth back at Matt's house. I've just finished building up all of the Calth models and I'm frustrated that I haven't gotten any paint on them yet. Hopefully I'll get chance to at least make them red and blue this weekend. Anyway, for the 40K games I'm going to be using my Tau so I've decided it's a great opportunity to field my brand new Stormsurge that was a gift from the Blog Wars players (thanks again guys).

I've built up all of the sub-assemblies and I'm currently trying to decide if I just got with the standard pose or clip off those pegs and create my own pose on a scenic base. It'll probably be the latter but that relies on me getting the time! The other problem I'm having though is trying to decide whether or not to magnetise the main gun. Obviously doing so would give me the option of either weapon but I find magnetising a pain in the arse and I'm sure I'll end up using the same gun every time. For example, I was going to magnetise the Riptide's main gun but haven't once thought about using the heavy burst cannon. Incidentally, I'm definitely paying the 5 pts to upgrade the flamer to an AFP. The flamer would see so little use and the AFP has the same profile but with better range and Barrage.

So then, which main gun should I go for? Well it's important to note that the pulse blastcannon (PBC) is 15 pts extra compared to the stock pulse driver cannon (PDC) which isn't an insignificant number of points on an already expensive model. Spending more points would make you think that you're getting a better gun though right? Well let's compare the two:

  • PDC - Heavy 2 always but: 10" SD AP1, 10-20" S10 AP3 Blast, 20-30" S9 AP5 Large Blast
  • PBC - 72" S10 AP2 Ordnance 1 Large Blast
First off, it's a nice touch for GW to specify that if it isn't clear what range you're in then the Tau player gets final say. I think the PBC is a great weapon, any S10 Ordnance weapon is going to pretty reliably hurt vehicles. The problem is that with AP2 and just one shot (when not anchored) you're only destroying the vehicle a third of the time. Of course, being a large blast there's a chance to hit two or even three vehicles but that's very situational. The other advantage of the large blast is that clustered troops of any kind will feel the pain, especially things like TWC thanks to S10. A great weapon like I say but the lack of AP1 and the single shot is a factor. 

The PDC on the other hand has less than half the maximum range of the PBC but brings the D if your target is within 10". That might not sound much but remember the suit can move 12" making that an effective 22" range with is a big ol' chunk of the board. If you can get some marker support for better BS then two shots should be enough to take down most vehicles including IKs if they're unlucky with their shield rolls. The other modes are reasonably useful, even S9 AP5 isn't bad since it can double out most troops and deny FNP even if they do get their regular saves. 

So, there are a few factors to consider more closely I think:
  1. Range - this is the big deal as it dictates how you're going to use your Stormsurge. Bear in mind the cluster rockets are 48" and destroyer missiles are 60". It's quite reasonable to go for the PBC and sit at the back between a couple of Riptides pumping out several low AP large blasts and plenty more besides. There's no doubt that the 10" range for destroyer mode on PDC means charges next turn. Do you want to put your big expensive suit into that position?
  2. Ballistic skill and marker support - BS3 on its own isn't great for a heavy 2 weapon. It's not a big deal for the blasts particularly though. The question is, if you're getting marker support would you rather use it to fire destroyer missiles than boost the main gun? Obviously BS boosting affects both but you start to need quite a few hits.
  3. Anchors - how often will this thing actually be in a position to anchor? It relies on you knowing where your opponent will be next turn. Obviously some stuff won't be fast enough to move away but realistically who's going to stay within 10". Even if you plan on charging next turn you could easily sit at 11", avoid the D and then give yourself a 5" charge range next turn. These are the things to playtest I suppose. With the anchors down though you're getting a double round of shooting. It's not totally clear whether you can shoot different targets though but I'd say you could since it's like getting a second shooting phase. Doubtless people will argue this though.
  4. Combat - the Stormsurge isn't exactly a combat monster, particularly if he's anchored. No Stomp is going to hurt you quite a lot. You're not going to be killing much with 2 S6 attacks either so if you plan on living to shoot again Stomp is the way forward.
I started writing this post with the intention of picking between the two main guns but it's ended up being more of a discussion about the role of the Stormsurge on the battlefield. That's a sensible question to ask though. If you're intending to use it as a midfield bullet magnet whilst the rest of your mobile force advances then strap on a shield generator and take the PDC. If it's part of a gunline then the PBC is probably the way to go. I'm still torn but I'm definitely leaning towards the PDC. Having a potential for 8 D shots in a turn is pretty exciting to me. That could decimate a good chunk of the opposition in a single shooting phase. The shorter range fits in well with my preferred mobile Tau army too. 

Screw it, I'll build it as a PDC to avoid the magnets and perhaps I'll just buy a second gun on eBay or from a bits store. Worst case I really hate the PDC and rip it apart to make the PBC. Maybe I'll use the glue sparingly in case!

What do you guys reckon though? What have you put on yours? Has anyone playtested them to know for certain?

Saturday, December 12, 2015

Announcing Double Trouble - A Different Kind of Doubles Tournament

This comes as no surprise to those who attended BWX but, on Saturday June 11th 2016, I'll hopefully be hosting my first ever doubles event. I say "hopefully" because it's not your average doubles event and I hope people will be prepared to come with an open mind and trust that I'll make it into a fun day for everyone involved.

Before I go into what makes Double Trouble different I want to talk about why I'm keen to run an event like this. I look back on the five years of Blog Wars with great affection and I hope that many of you do to. I originally started the event as an attempt to show that you can have a friendly atmosphere at an event without losing the tournament aspect. I also wanted to show that, unlike the official GW events, you can offer excellent prize support without losing any money! I'm confident that anyone who came to any of the Blog Wars events will agree that I achieved the latter at least and I'd hope they'd agree about the atmosphere too. Whilst I want to try to keep the same atmosphere and prize support, I want to wipe the slate clean with regards to event format and do something new.

With Double Trouble I'm going to try something which I hope is unique. Blog Wars was unique in that the army selection required a Special Character to be included and the missions and tournament in general were loosely themed around this central idea. My regular doubles partner Matt and I have been to several of the official GW doubles (now Battle Brothers) events and always enjoyed them. There's something about doubles that you just don't get with singles events. It's not only the chance to discuss tactics with your partner but also having four guys around the table instead of two makes for a better atmosphere from the start. Unfortunately the GW Battle Brothers events have dwindled in popularity thanks to a combination of insane ticket price (considering they own the venue and don't give out any prizes to speak of) and army selection criteria. By allowing Unbound and not insisting that players bring an equal share of the army it feels more like a singles event with extra people around. I want to restore the doubles spirit and give out a crapload of prizes whilst I'm at it.

What Makes Double Trouble Different?
Well, I've thought about running doubles events before but one of the things that's stopped me is that I know a lot of people coming to Blog Wars were either attending on their own or in odd numbered groups. Neither situation makes these players likely to come to a doubles event. I originally thought I'd let people buy tickets as either doubles teams or singles and then pair up any of the singles players before the event and let them come up with an army together. There are obvious issues with this so my next idea was to sell single tickets and then randomly pair people together at the start of the day. The problem with this is that you might get put with a total mismatched partner either in terms of your respective armies or just your personalities.

The solution I've come up with is to pair people randomly in every round. That way you'd have to be unlucky to get put with a bad partner in all three games. Obviously this format requires some time allowance for introducing yourself to your partner and deciding on strategy so I think 1,500pts is a sensible limit and I'll aim to keep to 2.5 hour games which is be plenty of time I reckon. That will mean 750pts per player which should be enough to give people a chance to play something they'll enjoy using and hopefully stop everyone bringing the same thing. In order for this to work I'll be throwing the allies chart out so it won't matter what you get paired with, there'll be no bonuses or penalties.

Having such a comparatively low points limit per player has other advantages though. Firstly I shouldn't need to implement so many army restrictions. This will hopefully mean players can bring whatever they want (provided it costs less than 750pts of course!). I'll announce more details about this when I put the Double Trouble page up and tickets go on sale but any suggestions are welcome. It'll also mean I'm checking 52 x 750pt lists rather than 50 x 1,850pt ones. That's a massive plus for me!

With regard to scenarios I'm considering having a two-tiered scenario in each mission with tactical objectives (from a custom deck) coupled with blood points. You'd then be scored based on both and I can offer prizes for Bloodiest General and Master Tactician for the player who scores the most in each category. Whilst the deployment would be randomised in each round (again from a custom selection), I'd be keeping the scenario the same. I think there'll be enough variety in the games with the change of table (and hence scenery), change of partner and change of deployment. Keeping the scenario the same avoids any delays in getting the games started too as everyone knows what's happening from the off.

The custom tactical objective cards will be heavily themed towards doubles play. For example, the card for securing an objective marker will be worth 1 VP if a unit from either half of the army controls it but 2 VPs if a unit from both does.

I'll be posting more details about Double Trouble in the run up to tickets being released but I'm keen to hear your thoughts at every stage. Obviously none of this is going to work if I don't sell any tickets so I want to know from you lot if there's something I've suggested so far that you think is daft or generally anything you think would make it more enjoyable. I really hope everyone will be as enthusiastic as I am about this new tournament and that it ends up being a success like I consider Blog Wars to be.

In the coming days I'll also be posting about the plans for the singles event that will take place in November so keep an eye out for that. I hope both events will get your support.

Friday, December 11, 2015

Blog Wars Feedback Roundup

Sorry, I intended this post to appear a lot sooner but I've been away for the weekend and my little boy has come back poorly so I've had other priorities recently. I want to draw all the feedback together tonight and then at the weekend I'll make the announcement of the new tournaments for 2016 so come back for that. I firmly believe that the key thing for Blog Wars was that I wasn't content to keep the format identical every time and I hope you guys felt that I responded to feedback and the event improved because of it. For that reason, let's tie everything together and look at what I should be thinking about for the new events.

Atmosphere and Format
It seems that for a lot of people this is the main reason to attend Blog Wars. That makes me really happy because that was the aim in the first place. I think it's been a lot easier than I thought to get a friendly atmosphere whilst still having a competition. It wasn't an instant thing but I believe that certainly in the last couple of BW I got it about right. There weren't many OTT lists and generally people enjoyed all three games outside of the odd unavoidable total mismatch.

When I've posed the question about full weekend events before it's always received a mixed response and it seems that's still the case. I'm not sure people would be prepared to commit to a full weekend for a casual event. I'm not sure I would for that matter! I think I'll be sticking to single day for now. There seems to be interest in something other than singles event though so we'll see what can be done for that.

As I've said before there are things I love about the NWGC. The location is reasonably convenient for most people. If two guys managed to get there from Germany the rest of you don't have an excuse! It's near to a train station and with a decent hotel (by all accounts) nearby it seems like a good fit. Darran the owner is a great guy to work with and couldn't be more helpful. Table service seems like a big plus for you all too!

That said, I agree with you that there are things that can be improved. The toilets aren't the best but I think that's reasonably easy to rectify. The venue used to be freezing in Winter and roasting in Summer but it seems to be better on both counts this year. I do think it needs a bit of TLC though. The tables are pretty good though and they've certainly put together a lot of scenery recently giving some really varied tables. I don't think there were many scenery complaints this time.

Subway seems to go down a treat so for the time being at least I'll be sticking with that for lunch unless I hear any strong objections. I think cold food is easier as then you aren't risking anyone getting there late and not enjoying it and Subway are pretty good at catering for dietary requirements which is a big plus I reckon.

I'll see what I can do about getting Element to stay open right until the end. I really can't promise anything on that front but I really think it's a missed opportunity for them. Perhaps they used to do it at events and found it wasn't worth their while. Can't hurt to ask though eh?

I think generally speaking people find them to be a good test for their army. There are comments that they favour faster armies but I think that's true of 40K in general at the moment. Obviously there are missions that people enjoy more than others but I think the overall consensus is that people like that the missions aren't too dissimilar from the rulebook ones but different enough to fix some of the problems. That was the aim all along so I'm pleased people think I'm on the right track at least.

I'll be talking more about it when I reveal the new events but I will be producing a new Maelstrom deck for one of them (despite how little fun it was cutting 300 cards out last time!). I think the objectives should have more emphasis so I'll be looking at ways of achieving that.

I think the new system worked pretty well. Looking through the results I don't see any glaring problems where people are woefully misplaced having done better or worse than it seems. Doesn't seem like any of you guys felt that either so let's stick to that system or something similar going forward.

I'm still a big fan of having all three rounds worth the same number of points (and it seems you lot are too) so I'd like to try and work that into the scenarios for the new events. Not getting maximum points for tabling is definitely staying too!

Points Limit and Timing
I think most people were managing to get at least a decent chunk of their games done in the time but I think it'd be sensible to drop the points limit to 1,750 or thereabouts to help keep things to time. If I'm ditching the special character comp I don't think it's a problem to reduce the points. Hopefully it'll make for more sociable games where people don't feel rushed.

There wasn't a huge surge of interest in smaller skirmish games. I'm not sure it's something that 40K lends itself to particularly well. I think it's best at 1500+ and anything below that becomes a bit samey. For next year at least, I don't think I'll bother with a skirmish event.

Painting Competition
The new format seems to have been favourably received. I think only allowing entry into one category is a good thing. It means you have a target to work towards and you aren't totally demoralised when someone scoops all the prizes.

There have been several comments about the timing of the judging. To my mind I don't think people actually were voting before all of the armies were out on display but obviously people felt that this was happening. Maybe I could set up something so people enter there votes straight onto a laptop. That way I don't have to spend time typing everything in and I could only give people access to vote once everyone had displayed their armies. I think I'd need to tweak the schedule to accommodate this but it should be doable.

Finally, everyone love the raffle but that is a no-brainer. Who doesn't like getting free stuff just for showing up? This will be something that definitely won't change in the new events and I want to look into more ways I can expand the prize support even further! I think the door prizes were well received and I'd like to find a way to keep that up. The tournament prize system works, in my opinion at least, in that it doesn't make people desperate to win at all costs but still rewards the winner. I'll be keeping things pretty similar on that score in the coming year.

Right, come back (hopefully) tomorrow when I'll be posting the details for the June event and shortly after that the November one. I'm hoping that both will appeal to the majority of you and that you'll give them the same support Blog Wars has received over the years.

Saturday, November 28, 2015

New 7th Edition Tau Codex Review (2 of 2) - New Units and Formations

The last post covered all of the minor changes from this book to the last. This post will be about all of the new stuff. I think we can all agree that none of us expected there to be quite so much new stuff in this book. We expected/hoped for new Crisis suits and Fire Warriors and probably thought there'd be a new big kit but hands up who really thought you'd see Tau scenery!?! Today I'll talk about the new units and where they slot into the army.

Breacher Teams
Costing the same as the newly renamed "Strike Team", the Breacher teams share the same stats and basic equipment as their more familiar cousins. They still get photon grenades and are still awful in combat. Both units now get the option for a Tactical Support Turret too which give you a BS3 missile pod or SMS when you're stationary. They're probably more suited to the Strike Teams but for just slightly more than a Fire Warrior I'd be very tempted. An SMS fires like four pulse rifle FWs at long range and two of them (without Ethereal) at short range. Bargain. Of course, you don't get an extra model for morale etc but if you're taking that Ethereal who cares?

Anyway, for Breacher teams the big deal is their weapon, the pulse blaster. It's an incredibly short range weapon. At anything above 10" you're better with a pulse rifle or carbine but under 5" is where it gets interesting as they're basically marine killers. Don't forget if you're near an Ethereal it'll be 3 shots at 5" too. That means 30 S6 AP3 shots. Throw in a couple of marker hits and that's death to anything with a 3+ save. Don't get too excited though to get that kind of range you either need to be hopping out of a Devilfish or about to be charged. Neither of which will result in a long and prosperous life for your Fire Warriors. Even if you shell out for a Guardian Drone to combine with the field amp relay for a 5++ save, they're still just Fire Warriors. Personally I say keep them cheap as possible and make a bee-line for something juicy. I'm thinking Deamon Princes for example.

I think they're an interesting unit though and I'm going to give them a go with a bit of proxying before committing to any models. They bring back the good old Fish o'Fury from the good old days and that's no bad thing in my book. The problem comes in subsequent turns. You'll either have to saddle back up and move onto to the next target or hope that something is daft enough to come close. It's very easy to avoid them after that first punishing fusillade.

Ghostkeel Battlesuits
This most important thing to note here is that, either in a CAD or Hunter Cadre (as part of the Hunter Contingent), Ghostkeels compete with Riptides and Crisis teams. That's already a pretty big ask but then I suppose it depends on your playstyle (and whether you're using formations or not).

Ghostkeels are T5 MCs with four wounds a 3+ save. On its own that doesn't sound like much but throw in the included Stealth Drones and things get interesting. There's a bit of debate about this but personally I think the Ghostkeel gains Stealth AND Shrouded as a result of the drones, whereas the drones just get Stealth. Throw in the electrowarfare suite and that's a 2+ cover save over 12" and 4+ the rest of the time. Assuming there's no Ignores Cover for your opponent (which is a big assumption), the Ghostkeel becomes pretty durable. The drones can be thrown in harm's way too as ablative wounds. Even with both drones gone the Ghostkeel gets a 3+ cover save. That's not all though, once per game they get to force a unit to fire Snap Shots at them. That could make a huge difference against say, grav-gun toting bikers. Defensively they look pretty interesting then.

For that chunk of points though I'm going to want some offensive capability. First off they've got a twin-linked flamer but I think I'd probably always be paying the price for the twin-linked fusion blaster. The main gun though is the fusion collider which is a blast fusion gun. That makes for a pretty decent anti-tank combo albeit at close range. That means either deep striking or trying to JSJ across the board and survive long enough to get close to a tank. Of course, like any melta equipped unit they're going to work well against heavily armoured infantry too.

Alternatively you could throw on a twin-linked burst cannon and the cyclic ion raker and go after infantry (or light vehicles for that matter). A six-shot auto-cannon isn't awful and the option to overheat for a S8 large blast is nice too. It's difficult to say which combination is better really. I suppose it depends on the needs of your army. I can't help but think that other units fill this role perfectly well already though. I'd lean towards the melta option as I think Tau can often struggle against targets they can't just bring down with weight of fire.

At the moment I'm not really rushing to buy one or more of these guys. Mind you, I wasn't blown away by the Riptide when I first read the rules (and I still maintain they can be hit and miss). Perhaps then, the Ghostkeel will grow on me.

Stormsurge Battlesuits
Being a Lord of War there's no competition for the Stormsurge (outside of FW). The only question is will you fork out the hefty price tag for a model with a 3+ save?

The main temptation with the Stormsurge is it's damage output so let's start there. For starters, being a gargantuan creature means firing at multiple targets. This means you can be peppering a couple of objective grabbing units with shots from the cluster rockets, AFP and SMS whilst taking on an Imperial Knight with the main gun and destroyer missiles. Speaking of which, you need some sort of markerlight support to use the Stormsurge to it's full potential. You could easily destroy an opposing super heavy if you got enough hits. You'll be wanting quite a few hits though to give you enough to boost the BS and fire the missiles at strength D.

The anchors are an interesting idea. It's a shame you can't start the game "anchored" though. Having at alpha strike on turn 1 would be nice. The issue with the anchors is that your opponent may just keep out of range. Perhaps that's a good thing though as you'll be keeping out of combat. I think I'll need to play a couple of games with mine to decide.

I think you'd always want to stick with the pulse blastcannon over the pulse driver. If the driver was AP1 I'd be more tempted but since it costs extra I really don't see a reason to ditch the D, even if it is short range (childish snigger). Again it depends on the role though. The driver does allow you to sit back and hammer vehicles at long range and therefore protects you better in combat but I think the role of the stormsurge is to sit front and centre and hammer stuff as hard as possible whilst taking the brunt of the enemy firepower. I can't see them surviving a lot of games but their presence will probably keep the rest of your army alive.

How long will it survive though? Well T6 is pretty poor for a gargantuan creature. Riptides aren't that difficult to drop and they have a 2+/5++ save. Chucking on a shield generator is probably a good idea. It may push the stormsurge above 400 pts but I think it's necessary. Don't forget you'll be getting FNP of course and a semi-immunity to poisoned. There's a chance that your opponent might ignore the Stormsurge completely and focus on the rest of your army but I think that's unlikely.

Tau Tidewall
Frustratingly absent from the codex, the Tidewall is a complete new range of kits like the Wall of Martyrs that can be used in various combinations. Kauyon has some formations for them but the basic rules are in the box. I picked up a set and it's great kit.

Rules-wise I'm not totally convinced. Having a re-roll of 1s would make a huge difference to anything standing on it that has been boosted to BS5 by markers but it does force you into a (reasonably) static playstyle. That's not going to be a big deal for Broadside spamming armies but I prefer a pretty mobile cadre. Hold on a minute though, seriously, this will be disgusting for Broadside spam lists. They're already pretty horrific and now they'll be behind a 4+ cover save and hitting more accurately. Joy.

I really love the kit and it'll look great when I eventually get around to doing my desert table (my winter table hasn't exactly flown of the production line mind you). I'll probably use it as scenery though rather than as a part of my army.

The Hunter Contingent & Formations
So the Hunter Contingent is the Tau version of what was started with the Necron Decurion. It's basically a shopping list as far as I'm concerned but let's take a look anyway. The Coordinated Firepower rule is the reason to take this detachment as it gives a massive boost to markerlights. You only need a handful of hits for a huge portion of your army to benefit. It also means that other rules will carry across too. Correct me if I'm wrong but a buff-commander could boost half the army in this way? If so, that's obscene even before you factor in the +1BS for 3 or more units. Normally you'd be forced to take a unit that you wouldn't normally but with Tau that isn't an issue. The Hunter Cadre basically has everything you'd want to take anyway. Sure you might not want three units of kroot/fire warriors but generally speaking that's what I'd be putting in my list in a CAD! The detachment also let's you get around the problem with the bodyguards moving to Elites too by including a Contingent HQ.

Let's look at the individual formations now:

  • Contingent HQ/Drone Network/Assigned Air Cast Asset - basically allowing you to take a Commander/Ethereal, drone unit or flyer without taking another formation to do so. No bonuses of course. 
  • Hunter Cadre - as if the bonus from the Hunter Contingent wasn't enough a boost to 12" of supporting fire radius means a massive blow to assault centric armies. Adding in a Tau version of Eldar's Battle Focus pushes it to ridiculous, particularly for vehicles (although it doesn't clarify how many weapons they can shoot at full BS).
  • Optimised Stealth Cadre - Here's the silly one. Giving automatic Ignores Cover and increased BS (again to BS5 probably) is harsh enough. Throw in hitting rear armour and we might actually have found a use for stealth suits.  I do think people are getting over excited about this formation though. They aren't all that tough to deal with.
  • Retaliation Cadre - Probably means quite a chunk of points off the table which would be pretty risky when going second. I'm not sure the +1 BS is worth it, although it would probably mean BS5 for the most part when combined with the Coordinated Firepower rule. 
  • Allied Advance Cadre - if you're already taking three Kroot units in the Hunter Cadre I can't see you wanting 4 more and being forced to take Vespids too. 
  • Firebase Support Cadre - a remake of the dataslate formation sold previously and I can't see anywhere that says it replaces it. To my mind then the other one is still a valid option. Let me know if I've missed something though. Anyway, the new one makes you fire everything at the same target to get a bonus. It does boost markerlight hits but often you'd want to pick separate targets.
  • Air Caste Support Cadre - I do think the Sun Shark is underrated but even so I'm not going to take 3 Tau flyers any time soon. The bonuses here aren't much good when you've got to survive long enough to repair an 11-10-10 flyer.
  • Infiltration Cadre - These are all units that are of debatable value in your army so the special rules would need to be great. I'm not convinced they do though so if you want these units fine but I think there's better ways to field them.
  • Heavy Retribution Cadre - Not far off 1,000 pts including upgrade even if we assume just one of each suit per unit. The sacrificial lamb of a Ghostkeel does make for some potent Stormsurges though. Wouldn't be too hard to keep things in 12" of it with JSJ either. Monsoon of Destruction helps protect the Ghostkeel too. 
  • Armoured Interdiction Cadre - Not sure I'd want to take 3 Hammerheads and a Sky Ray in a sub-2K army but the re-roll to hit is pretty nice. Shouldn't be too hard to pick a point within 6" of a couple of juicy targets either.
There's a general theme with the formations and the Hunter Contingent itself in that it minimises the need for markerlights. You'll still want to take some but they're boosted in effectiveness and therefore less important. I've said it before and I'll say it again, I really hate formations. You can try to convince me they create new and exciting ways to play the game but basically they're just making already powerful armies more powerful in a perverse arms race that makes some of the already weaker armies next to useless. If you need formations to help you imagine ways to combine units for a tactical effect then go for it but I like to come up with my own combinations with just the units themselves. They're an inevitable part of the game though as GW tries to convince people they need more stuff. They're what's putting me off going to tournaments more than anything else though. Not only that but they're adding an unnecessary extra level of complexity to the game.

I don't think any of these new units jump out at me as must-haves. In another army perhaps they would but Tau already have so many solid units. The Ghostkeel is stuck in a no-man's land where it doesn't have a definite role (unless you take the formation). The Breacher team could be devastating but is a bit of a glass cannon and the Stormsurge is only really worth the money if it's got its anchors out.

Ultimately I'm pleased that Tau got some new units to mix things up a bit. It's a shame that some of the silliness didn't get addressed but I think I was being optimistic hoping for that. I've had a mixed relationship with my Tau since the last book. I loved them before the book and struggled with their outdated rules. The new book came along and made them super powered and made everyone assume you were jumping on the bandwagon by fielding them. I think the problem with Tau and formations is that usually you're being forced to take a substandard unit to make everything else in the formation better. There aren't really many even below-average units in the Tau arsenal though so there aren't really downsides to these formations to justify the buffs. I think that all of the formations saying "Restrictions: None" is pretty telling too.

I'm not sure I'll pick up much of the new stuff but of course, thanks to the lovely Blog Wars competitors, I'm off to build my new Stormsurge now so we'll soon get some after action thoughts! Perhaps I'll feel differently then.

Wednesday, November 25, 2015

New 7th Edition Tau Codex Review (1 of 2) - Spot The Difference!

Apologies for the delay in reacting to the new book but thanks to the fantastic people who come to Blog Wars, I'm now the proud owner of a copy of the new Tau codex and a Stormsurge battlesuit. Expect to see more of the latter in upcoming posts but it's the former I want to talk about today. Whilst we've had several 7th edition books that don't feature massive changes, this new Tau codex is the first to see hardly any changes to the existing units. I had a discussion with Gareth Newton-Williams (who kindly organised the whip-round at BWX that bought me my codex) and I was saying that I couldn't really justify buying it. With the rules for the new units published in WD (or in the kits themselves) and pretty much every formation from the codex leaked online it seemed unnecessary. GW also took the strange step of saying you could buy the Kauyon campaign book to get all the new rules instead. The campaign book that costs £45 instead of £30 for the codex. What is a pain in the arse though is that the Tidewall isn't in the codex but does appear in Kauyon but that's no accident let's face it.

Don't get me wrong I'm tempted by the campaign books in their own right but don't try to sell them to me as an alternative to a codex! Anyway, moving on. This will just take a couple of posts rather than my usual several posts since not a lot has changed.

The Book
The cover art is just a recoloured version of the beautiful Raymond Swanland piece that adorned the "old" book. The spines are identical and the inside cover is the same artwork but red instead of blue?!? The most noticeable difference inside is the switch from predominantly ochre Tau to the white colour scheme of the Vior'la sept. Personally I think it's a nice change to break up them monotony of the yellowy-brownness. I like how the new kits look in white and I only wish I'd persevered with white Tau instead of copping out and going for grey. Otherwise the big change in the book is the now familiar switch to dataslates. I've already expressed my views on this but I'm slowly coming round to them. There are also some of these 2D colour scheme pictures which are essentially page fillers as far as I'm concerned.

New Models
It's great to finally have some new kits for Crisis suits and the Commander. The interim new commander kit that came in finecast was a bit of a disappointment for me. I bought one but never assembled it so it went on
eBay. The new crisis suits are great though. I was worried they'd change to the more curvy aesthetic of the FW suits but I'm pleased to see the same basic look with a few minor tweaks and a lot more pose-ability. I'm tempted to buy a set and magnetise them for every weapon just to replace some of the incredibly static poses I created with the old kit thanks to my poor early modelling skills.

The Ghostkeel and Stormsurge are taking Tau even further down the road towards Gundam etc. I'm actually a big fan of both of them and I think it's a great touch to be able to see the pilots. Without that you can start to feel that these suits are just monstrous creatures and forget that they're immense feats of technology. Finally, the new Fire Warriors are again a subtle improvement and I like the look of the new Breacher team. I'll probably playtest them a bit with pathfinder proxies before I commit to any but they're certainly nice to look at. I defy anyone to tell the difference between the Strike team models and the old ones without a thorough inspection. Still, it's nice to see GW update some tired kits and it gives me hope for some other models that need it (here's looking at you, CSM).

Changes to Existing Stuff
The Kauyon book has a handy guide to the seven minor changes to the book. There's nothing particularly earth-shattering here.

  • Commanders can now be fielded as a XV86 Coldstar with fixed weapons. That's a 6 shot twin-linked burst cannon and a missile pod to be precise. It becomes a somewhat limited FMC which basically just gives it faster movement and increased durability. I don't think it's worth the trade off for the limited weapons though and forces him to run solo for an extra 70% of his original cost. Think I'll pass.
  • Ethereals can now take recon armour which is meh (but perhaps if you've got 5pts burning a hole in your pocket) and a hover drone which is equally meh. Other than that they've just clarified Storm of Fire doesn't affect Stormsurges! I'm frankly amazed that GW realised this as I'm sure the interwebs would've figured that one out quickly and it would never have been FAQ'd.
  • Fire Warriors as we knew them are now Strike Teams and get the option to take a support turret (more on them in the next post) but are otherwise identical. Well, apart from the minimum squad size now being 5 instead of 6. That might sound insignificant but for those who want to just take minimum troops in a CAD and have more points for bigger toys that makes two FW units 30 pts cheaper than two Kroot units. The Kroot are probably of more use but 30pts is a lot!
  • Darkstrider's Fight on Foot rule is updated to include Breacher teams.
  • Crisis bodyguards move from slotless (effectively) to Elites. This is a bit of a pain in the arse if you're sticking to a CAD. I often used it to allow me to take a crisis team with my commander plus a second team in Elites alongside two Riptides. Both crisis teams and crisis bodyguards can now be taken in units of upto 9 models though which makes things interesting. Not saying I'm going to field 9 of them regularly but might consider 4-5 every so often.
  • Riptides, Hammerheads and Sky Rays can now be taken in units of three and gain the Fire Team special rule. Not that excited about fielding any of these in units. If anything I think it harms them. You don't want your Riptides in a big unit that can be charged and taken out of the game. Better to split them up and deploy them separately. Likewise for the tanks too. Of course the Riptides can be given target locks to help matters but still. Fire Team is a nice bonus but I'm not sure I want two together in a unit, never mind three. Time will tell I suppose.
  • Finally, markerlights got some minor wording changes plus the addition of the Destroyer option. This upgrades the Stormsurges destroyer missiles to D. That's a big deal but more on that in the next post.
Not much has changed really. You might think I'd see that as a good thing. In a way I do but I really think that some things needed to go from the old book. I don't hold with the view that Devilfish need to come down in price. They're 12-11-10 and those extra drones can be a pain in the arse (ask Matt). Likewise I think everything else is reasonably costed with one major exception: Signature Systems. Part of me wanted them changed completely but I'd have also settled for a massive points hike. Compared to every other book's "relics", the signature systems are just too cheap for what they do. I know the MSSS and CaCN stop you from firing but ask anyone who's played against a buff-commander (again, Matt) what they thinks of that. It might sound crazy for a Tau player to be asking for stuff to be toned down but they're just daft at times. They're probably no worse than some of the formations in this book (more on them in the next post) and obviously I'm not being forced to take a buff-commander but it frustrates me that they're pretty much an auto-include.  

Think what you will of the new Necron book but at least silliness like Mindshackle Scarabs and Tesla on Snap Shots was sorted out. People already hate Tau for their ridiculous rules and I feel that this codex isn't going to help matters. It's frustrating when you think back to those heady days before the Necron and Eldar books dropped when it looked like GW might actually find a balancing point. Play Wolves, GK, BA etc against each other and you get some great games. Granted DE was a clusterfuck and Orks still struggle at times but generally speaking they're quite balanced between each other. I welcome the new units for some variety but I fear we'll still just see broadside-spam and other such silliness. 

Right, that'll do for today. In Friday's post I'll talk about the new units (yay!) and formations (sigh). Incidentally, if you're planning on buying any of the new Tau stuff you should check out Element Games who offer discounts and use the banner on the right which helps support From The Fang too. Totally optional of course but I appreciate it.

EDIT: I didn't get round to writing the second post like I intended so it'll probably come on tomorrow night (Saturday) instead.

Friday, November 20, 2015

Blog Wars Feedback Discussion

Normally at this point in the posting schedule following a Blog Wars event I'd be asking for feedback to try and make the next BW better. However, as you've probably already read, BWX was the last Blog Wars event. That means that rather than informing my choices for the next Blog Wars. This discussion will help with what's to come. I'll be announcing my proposed ideas early next week but in the mean time I want to hear your suggestions for what I can make better or do completely differently. I think BW grew from humble beginnings into a brilliant event (if I do say so myself) and it only did so because you guys had a say in the running of it. Going forward I want to continue that system of cooperation.

To give a bit of structure to this let's look at some of the key areas I want to cover:

Scoring System
Of course, the new events may not share the same system but I want to know what you guys thought of the use of the "Fluffageddon" system this time around. Do you think your placings better represented how your day went? Do you still feel like you had good matchups? Do you think it make any difference at all?

I'm keen to maintain the BW-style system where how well you win actually matters. I don't like pure W/D/L as it doesn't differentiate between a narrow victory and a pasting. Equally I want each round to be worth the same number of tournament points regardless of the scenario being played. Hopefully that means the particular matchup you get is less important.

Think back over as many Blog Wars as you've been to (and can remember). What scenarios worked and what didn't? I think those that worked best were ones that only slightly varied from the rulebook missions and weren't overcomplicated. I'd like to try some different things out though so any suggestions or just things you've liked that you want to see return would be great.

Painting Competition
BWX saw the first outing of a single category per player painting competition. There were three categories: Best Painted Army, Best Painted Hero and Best Conversions. I personally think it worked pretty well and rewarded different aspects of the hobby. Best Army obviously goes to a force which appears full cohesive and stands out on the battlefield whereas Best Conversions showcases those armies that feature unique models that have been slaved over before paint even hits them. Best Hero on the other hand allows players to really go to town on a single model and show off their painting and conversion talents to the maximum. Obviously this fits in well with the compulsory SC mechanic at BW. The general impression I got was that people like the new format to the competition (well, everyone except Liam!) but any feedback would be great.

At GW events they've started to introduce several categories for individual models. They have one for characters but also separate categories for monsters and for vehicles. I could introduce these at the next event but my concern would be that there'd be too much to judge in such a short lunch break. I think three categories is probably the maximum but what do you guys think?

Venue and Lunch
I have a good relationship with both Darran (the owner) and Element Games (the in-house shop) so I'm keep to stay at the NWGC but I know it isn't perfect. What could I suggest to the venue to improve things or should I be looking elsewhere?

At the last couple of events the catering has come from Subway which seems to have gone down well. They're pretty good at handling allergies and dietary requirements too. I also think a cold lunch makes sense as then it's not going cold if it arrives too early or the event is running late for some reason. A hot lunch is great but inevitably takes more time. What do you guys think though?

Timings and Points Limits
Part of the reason for having a limit of 1,850 was to allow people plenty of space to include SCs without it feeling like too much of a penalty. I think it also helps to increase the variety of armies showing up. There have been comments before about the timings though and not having enough time for games. There didn't seem to be many games that came down to the wire this time but I obviously can't really tell how many turns people are managing to get through? Would a points limit of 1,750 be more sensible or should I even go as far as 1,500? Given that whatever event I run will have an emphasis on friendly gaming rather than outright competition perhaps a lower limit would allow for more relaxed games in the time? That or I could even up it to four two-hour games perhaps?

What kind of events would you like to attend?
I've flirted with the idea of running different kinds of events in the past but never really got away from the one-day singles format. Would people be up for trying something different like doubles or a full weekend event?

I've shied away from full weekends so far because they're a big drain on my time and for a casual event I doubt many people would commit to a full weekend either. If there's a huge demand though perhaps I can talk my wife into it! Doing something with doubles or teams appeals though. Matt and I have always enjoyed the GW doubles events but since they now allow EVERYTHING, including Unbound, we haven't been so keen. Blog Wars was originally invented in a backlash to the stingy prizes at GW events and the way they were run so perhaps I can take on doubles next? Teams are an interesting idea too. Of course it relies on you having another 3 guys to join you but I could easily take entries for singles and create teams on the day.

It could also be fun to run a smaller points limit skirmish day with say 500pts a piece and a lot more games? I've enjoyed the Summer Skirmish events in the past using this format but you soon grow to hate your 500pts if you realise early on you got the level completely wrong and then have to play through another 7 games!

Anything else you want to throw at me is equally welcome. As far as I know right now BWX went well but if there was something that pissed you off (or that you thought was excellent for that matter) I'd like to hear it. I already have in mind the kind of events I'd like to run in the next year but I'm always open to suggestions for the future. Right, hit me with it!

Wednesday, November 18, 2015

Blog Wars X - My Battle Reports (Part 2 of 2)

Let's continue going through my battles from Blog Wars X. It was so good to be able to play and get to chat to people. I didn't really need to make many rulings, I think this was in part down to people being quite relaxed about the whole thing. Anyway, onto my battles:

Game Two: Space Wolves vs. Space Wolves 
After a reasonably strong win in the first game (25/30 TPs) I was around the top end of the mid tables on table 7. My opponent would be Daniel Johnson with his Khornate Space Wolves including a stunning Chaos knight conversion (a cut'n'shut of a lord of skulls and a knight) which you may have seen on the conversion competition post. It was effectively a mirror match then with both of us fielding Space Wolves accompanied by a lone Imperial Knight. The big difference was that Dan's Warden had the crucial D chainsword. Not only that but a pile of thunder hammer toting TWC that would equally make a mess of my IK. 

We'd be playing Emperor's Relic on Vanguard Strike. That meant there wouldn't be much distance to close for Dan to get stuck into my army. On reflection I should've deployed far less aggressively and made this TWC come at me for a couple of turns whilst peppering them with fire. This would've also protected myself better from this drop pod. The key thing though is that I wanted my games over quickly so aggressive was the way to go. Dan deployed spread across his lines with TWC on one flank and the Knight on the other. I deliberately placed my Knight opposite the TWC hoping that I'd be able to hammer them with all of my firepower and maybe kill a couple before they got stuck into me. I'd then hope I could at least take a load of them down with me with some stomps. 

Dan dropped his pod of wolf guard in straight behind my Redeemer and Arjac and his melta-toting veterans made short work of one of my land raiders (I wish I'd remembered Stealth from Night Fighting!). This left Ragnar and co. pretty vulnerable to the Warden's gatling cannon leaving just a couple grey hunters supporting their Lord. The Knight let rip at the TWC but could only kill one. The Knight headed into combat and managed to take another before being literally hammered to death. I again rolled 3 stomps but that elusive 6 didn't appear and the S10 catastrophic explosion scattered 11" out of harms way. I was now massively on the backfoot. 

The other grey hunter pack hopped out of their land raider and were joined by Ragnar and the remnants of his squad in charging Arjac and his squad leaving just Arjac standing after Ragnar passed all his invulnerable saves (including one with a re-roll). The triumph would be short lived though as the TWC were inbound. The TWC helped Arjac finish off the rest of the grey hunters whilst he finished off Ragnar. The Khorne Knight charged the land raider and made short work of it (Dan's Stormfang had missed it's shots) and that was the end of Dan's turn 2 with me effectively tabled! If I failed my reserves roll I would be.

The Stormwolf blasted onto the field and downed the Stormfang. With no real anti-air threat Dan was resorting to krak grenades and hoping for 6s followed by 6s from the gatling cannon. My Stormwolf therefore carried on to all but annihilate Dan's Wolf Guard holding the central objective whilst the Helfrost cannon had a cheeky shot at Arjac and finished him off. Still zooming the flyer headed to Dan's objective whilst the Helfrost cannon finished off the central squad. I was able to cut down a couple of Wolf Guard but I'd now need to hover next turn to get the Blood Claws out to try and finish them off. The Blood Claws charged into combat but cancelled themselves out against the Wolf Guard leaving two of each alive. The flyer turned against the TWC but its fire was deflected away by their storm shields.

Leaving the rest of the TWC to hold the central objective the Lord charged at the hovering flyer and smashed it apart with his hammer. The last remaining Blood Claw was still holding on until the Lord charged into the combat and ended things with a tabling for Dan and a 33-1 win.

Game Three: Space Wolves vs. White Scars
Dropping down to table 15, I found myself facing David Seago's White Scars army with another Imperial Knight in tow. I'd be struggling again as this time it was an Errant but again with a D chainsword. We'd be playing Maelstrom on Dawn of War. 

In my first turn the Knight was doing a grand job of making the bikes jink whilst chipping away at them. This didn't last long though as the Sternguard arrived and immobilised my Land Raider. The other knight charged mine and we sat in stalemate. That was enough to stop mine firing though allowing the bikes to had free run of the battlefield. One squad of grey hunters disembarked and took on the Sternguard (who hit and ran like cowards!) the other Redeemer blasted forward so Ragnar and his squad could get stuck into Khan's command unit (who also hit and ran!). 

My knight was soon finished off by the other one who was now on two HPs remaining. The blast was on target this time but I rolled a 1 for it's strength! Typical! The command squad shot and charged Ragnar's squad again and finished them off over the next couple of combats. The knight now ripped into the immobilised land raider and destroyed it. The Redeemer turned it's attention to the sternguard and with help from the grey hunters finished them off. The problem was that whilst all this was happening David had racked up a 10-2 lead in VPs as I kept drawing awful cards and his bikers had no trouble sweeping round the objectives. The Stormwolf kept away in reserve too which probably saved his Knight as I could've get crossfire on it. 

When it eventually arrived the Knight managed to pass all of its invulnerable saves and live to fight another day. With the battle pretty much over by that point (it was now 15-2) I thought I'd put an end to things and hovered the flyer for another shot at the Knight and to charge some bikes with the Blood Claws. The Knight fell this time but not before it had wrecked the remaining land raider and finished off the grey hunters. With the Blood Claws being cut down I now just had my flyer left and that didn't take long to remove since it was hovering. We still made it to turn 6 though giving David a 27-5 win leaping him up to 16th and dropping me down to 42nd!

Well the main thing with these games was to get them over quickly. The first game didn't need to be such a rush as I've got lunch to do the results but I needed to enter both the round results and painting competition votes so my second and third games had to be over sharpish. I'm not saying I threw the games by any stretch but I did do some things that I wouldn't have. Frankly I'd have taken a whole other list in the first place! Probably one that looked more similar to Daniel Johnson's or even my Tau.

There were some highlights to my games though. The utter dominance of the Knight in the first. The ridiculous flyer antics in the second and the Ragnar vs. Khan showdown in the third. I was also spoilt in all three games by playing against some great opponents with stunning armies so thank you to them on both counts.

As I said in the previous post, this was my first time using a Knight competitively and it was fun to try out the Crusader variant. Clearly against armies without D-weapons it's going to shine but if there's another Knight in there I'd be better off with the sword. I think a Warden with autocannons is probably the way to go as it gives you a decent anti-air combo and threatening light vehicles and MEQ alike. 

Well with that over, and apparently no major controversies this time (eyes the comments section nervously), it's onto the feedback discussion in the next post. Obviously this won't be for another BW event but I still want feedback on a few things that will be use in the new events. Stay tuned for that and have your comments and criticism ready.

Monday, November 16, 2015

Blog Wars X - My Battle Reports (Part 1 of 2)

When I had a player drop out a week or two before the event I tried to sell the final ticket but also figured I ought to write a backup army list in case I couldn't fill the slot. Right up until the day I wasn't expecting to play as there's nearly always an on-the-day dropout. Not this time though, the full 49 showed up so I quickly unpacked. Here's my army list. Bear in mind this is just a sensible TO's army. It features very few models (only 3 to deploy), has no psychic powers, no horde and not all that much complication. I basically went for "how quick can I spend 1,850pts?".

Let's start with a Knight Crusader with rapid-fire battle cannon, meltagun and ironstorm missile pod. Throw in a Land Raider and Land Raider Redeemer (with multi-melta) and that's nearly 1,000 spent already. Add in 5 Blood Claws in a Stormwolf (with multi-melta) and Ragnar Blackmane that gives me just under 400 pts to throw an 8-man Grey Hunter pack in each LR (with melee weapons, melta and WG pack leader sporting CM/PF). Obviously, some armies will find AV14 LRs and an AV13 Knight pretty tough to deal with but it's by no means a good list. Let's see how it fared:

Game One - Space Wolves vs. Dark Mechanicum (Skitarii/Cult Mech)
Archie Homer's Dark Mechanicum army was always going to be joy to play against. Firstly because there are some stunning conversions in there and secondly because I've yet to play a game against the new Ad Mech stuff so I was looking forward to it from the off. Archie did his best to explain what everything did but I didn't take a lot of it in and obviously with so many conversions I wasn't always totally sure what was what (despite Archie's handy picture reference book). What I did hear was "they have haywire guns" so I knew what to shoot first!

We were playing Cleanse the Xenos (effectively Purge the Alien) on Hammer & Anvil deployment. Archie gave me first turn, hoping it would get me in range without suffering too much damage. However, with PotMS and decent range on the IK I was able to cut down all but one member of one of the aforementioned haywire squads (Skitarii Rangers?). The IK made short work of the Ruststalkers with his gatling cannon too giving me First Strike. He'd infiltrated his Sicarians behind my lines but I figured I'd ignore them and hope to be able to come back for them with my Knight or flyer later on. In response Archie was able to strip three hull points from my LR with haywire from two squads but he needed help from the Dunecrawlers to finish it off. Fortunately for him my Grey Hunters were pinned by the fire coming in from all sides.

The Space Wolf response was pretty brutal with the Sydonian Dragoon falling to the IK's gatling cannon and all the Rangers (?) dying to fire from the Land Raiders and newly arrived flyer. The snipers (Rangers/Vanguard?) also met their demise with fire from the Knight and the Redeemer. The Kastellan Robots loomed menacingly close to the Redeemer but fortunately for me failed their charge. This bought me time to finish off the Dunecrawlers with the Knight and the Ironstriders with the flyer. The Robots would be easily in charge range this time though and tore the Redeemer apart. That left them wide open for a charge from both Grey Hunter squads and the Imperial Knight meaning the game would end in a brutal battle royale!

Ragnar did everything he could to try and kill the Dominus in a challenge but it just kept passing saves. Ragnar did the same though, using his Incredible Reflexes to make a crucial re-roll. The IK managed to get three stomp attempts but sadly no 6s appeared so the combat resulted in a narrow win for the Space Wolves. They then caught the Robots in a sweeping advance. I protested that they must be Fearless but Archie couldn't find anything saying they were (he realised later in the day unfortunately). It was a shame to end the game on a false victory but it felt very one sided by that point anyway. I walked away with a 1755 to 716 (27-11) victory and 25 of a possible 30 tournament points. Not a bad start eh?

I'll cover the rest of my battles in the next post. I wish I'd seen more of the Cult Mech and Skitarii stuff but once the Haywire was gone they really struggled to do any damage to me and the Knight was too dominant. It's only the second time I've used the Knight and I thoroughly enjoyed it. As I learned later in the day they can be pretty fragile but in that game it felt unstoppable and probably did most of the damage.


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