Saturday, February 28, 2015

New 7th Edition Harlequins Codex Review - Part 3 of 4 - Elites

In this penultimate part of the Harlequin codex review I'm going to cover the Elites section of the book. As I've already mentioned there aren't tons of options here, in fact, this is the only section where you really need to make any decisions on what units to take. Fortunately you can take up to seven Elites choices in the Masque detachment. This section really feels more like an HQ section in any other codex but I can understand why GW has done it this way as it prevents the use of CADs and Allied Detachments. I can't say I like it but I at least see why.

Death Jester
These guys have seen effectively a massive increase in points. They used to be a 10pt upgrade for a Harlequin but now cost more than double that. For that extra cost you now get extra BS, initiative, leadership plus an extra wound and attack. Throw in Independent Character and Precision Shots and you're starting to see why they're more expensive. They've always been a weird unit really. They're effectively a heavy weapons upgrade for a squad but since the shrieker is an Assault weapon they don't hamper the combat abilities of the unit.

Speaking of the shrieker cannon it now has two fire modes. The first is identical to a shuriken cannon whilst the second is a single 2+ poisoned shot that had the potential to cause further wounds. Unless the enemy unit is particularly bunched together you're probably going to go for the normal shuriken cannon option but the shrieker version could be great against cheap units like guardsmen. Having Precision shots is great for sniping models too.

Finally, the Death is Not Enough rule is what is really exciting. You only have to cause a single casualty to force a morale check at -2 leadership. It's not clear if this modifier is cumulative with other effects but the Mask of Secrets is tempting as it would make Ld10 into Ld6 if they do stack. Let's not forget the Armour of Misery in the DE book too for a further -2 to Ld. That would mean anything Ld8 would flee on anything but a snake eyes. Not only that but you choose the direction of the first fall back move. Obviously this is situational but if you're on your own table edge it would be fun to make an enemy unit flee the board! Bear in mind that the Mask can only be taken by a Shadowseer though so you'd need one in the same unit or nearby.

On the face of it he seems pricey for a T3 5++ save psyker, when compared to the SW rune priest, who costs the same. He does have WS6 though and I7 with an extra attack over the space wolf so would do pretty well against said rune priest in a challenge. Like the Death Jester his stats are much improved over the old ones in line with him becoming an IC.

That comparison is perhaps unfair though because the main reason you need a Shadowseer is for the excellent Phanstasmancy (bit of a mouthful) discipline. The main reason for this is that the old Veil of Tears power is the Primaris. That power alone makes up for the frailty of the other units and justifies the cost of the Shadowseer. Although remember this doesn't work from a transport unfortunately. Since you've got seven Elites slots I don't think it's unreasonable to take 3 or more Shadowseers so that each of your Troupes (and possibly an allied unit) has the benefit of the Veil. Let's take a look at the rest of the powers too:

Dance of Shadows - combine this with Veil and a unit could be incredibly durable. Nothing to stop you using it to boost a nearby vehicle's Jink save either.
Peal of Discord - reasonably effective Nova power but the main bonus is Concussive which helps reduce the initiative of an MC or similar before combat. Of course that's assuming it matters since your Harlies are I6+.
Shards of Light - Blind can be useful at times and there's the potential to seriously deplete a GEQ unit.
Fog of Dreams - sort of an inverse Invisibility. Difficult to say which is better. Invisibility makes one unit very durable but doesn't stop your enemy shooting something else. WC2 though which could be tricky if you roll low on your warp charge generation.
Laugh of Sorrows - potentially extremely devastating particularly for single model units and works on Fearless units too.
Mirror of Minds - kind of a buffed Mind War but with potentially limited warp charge it might be tough to make it Focussed.

You're going to want to cast Veil with all of your seers a lot of the time though so I think ML2 is a necessary upgrade if you want to cast anything else with any of them. With access to Telepathy I think the best option is to simply take the primaris from each giving you Veil and Psychic Shriek. That's a pretty awesome combo and without many warp charge dice it will mean your seers are likely to be able to cast two powers each as both are WC1. Of course Psy Shriek is best on the Seer with the Mask since he'll reduce enemy Ld by 2. So you could happily roll on Phantasmancy for your other Seers but having several Psy Shrieks can be devastating. Don't forget that two Seers in the same unit can't both cast it though.

Let's look at the Shadowseer himself some more though. His grenade launcher is fairly pointless against most targets. It can't hurt anything above T4 and at best will cause a couple of wounds. Interesting that the Pinning test is automatic rather than needing to wound though. The staff on the other hand is much better as it will be S6 on the charge giving him a chance of damaging some vehicles although wasted against anything else since it's Fleshbane. Concussive is again of debatable use since your army is likely striking first anyway. I'd consider a neuro disruptor to give him a bit of punch on the way into combat but again if you're running to get there it's a waste. I'd say keep him cheaper as you'll want more than one.

I'm in two minds about the new model (it's the horns I think) but the guy himself is pretty impressive; WS9, BS9 and 8 attacks at I10 on the charge is an insane statline. He may seem pricey for T3 but Eternal Warrior and 3++ helps. He'll need it though because, as his name suggests, he doesn't play well with others. To me that means you need to Deep Strike him in every game (that or put him in a Starweaver I suppose). It shouldn't be too difficult to get him behind some terrain so he can pop out and charge something the turn after he arrives though especially with his 12" movement and re-rollable run and charge moves.

As I've mentioned, that statline makes him a bit of an animal in close combat. The combination of Embrace Caress and Kiss is good too giving him a chance to wound anything (and at AP2 too) and the Kiss of Death attack gives potential to insta-kill something hefty. Precision Strikes is of debatable use since he'll often be in a challenge but it's nice to have when he isn't. I'd be very tempted by the Rose for truly awesome combat feats but I wouldn't bother with anything else.

I'd personally never make him my Warlord as although he's probably the easiest to keep safe you'd be wasting him and losing the opportunity for an excellent Warlord Trait. They may as well have just said he can't be your Warlord.

Finally, his Blitz move has potential to be a game winner. Assuming you use it on turn 5 you'd move an average of around 18"and still run and charge. Potentially he could move a huge distance but I wouldn't rely on it as he might end up moving less than he normally could. Still, the big thing is having 10 attacks (well 12 on the charge). That's enough to wipe out an enemy unit if he's even a little bit lucky.

If I wasn't excited about this book before, the Elites section has certainly got my mind racing. All three of the characters here have something to offer. The Death Jester is probably the weakest of the three but he could still be awesome with his Death Is Not Enough ability. Shadowseers are practically essential for the army and I use the plural deliberately. I can imagine the Solitaire being incredibly good but equally he could get shot down before doing anything at all. Even with EW he's still just 3 T3 wounds so he won't last long in the open. He just seems too much fun not to take though, if nothing else just for the look on your opponent's face when you explain his statline and rules.

It's funny really that the only optional bits of the book are the most exciting. As I say though, they've got my mind racing with the possibilities when combined with my Dark Eldar though. I really didn't want to buy any more models for a while but I might struggle to resist next time I'm at my FLGS.

Anyway, deep breath. The next post will be the last of this review where I'll talk about the formations in the book.

Thursday, February 26, 2015

New 7th Edition Harlequins Codex Review - Part 2 of 4 - Troops, Fast Attack and Heavy Support

As I've already covered, this is more of a cross between a supplement and a codex than a true codex in its own right. That means there aren't the same number of options to cover in these reviews as there normally would be. Today I'll cover Troops, Fast Attack and Heavy Support in one chunk with the Elites in the next post.

Troops - Troupe
Not difficult to figure out that "Troupes" are "Troops"! What we once simply called "Harlequins" are now "Players" and they've kept the same stats as before whilst dropping in points. Although nothing's changed on the statline it's worth reminding ourselves of it. WS5, I6, A2 and Ld9 is a formidable combination in combat. Coupled with Furious Charge that's 4 S4 attacks on the charge that will strike before pretty much everything. Crucially they've now been given grenades, not that it matters since the Flip Belt now ignores the penalties for charging through terrain.

You can now take up to 12 in a unit (well 11 players and a Troupe Master) which is handy when they come in packs of 6! As I just mentioned the Troupe Master is now rolled into the unit. This is both a blessing and a curse. It's great to have an Ld10 character in there, especially one with an impressive statline, but it's a shame to be forced to take one. The Players themselves can function perfectly well without a Master and they're a pretty pricey upgrade. The reduction in cost for the Players is almost irrelevant because or this. The codex is also geared to you taking these guys as Warlord. Not totally awful but a T3 W2 5++ save model wouldn't be my first choice as Warlord in any other codex. When Slay the Warlord is sometimes a game winner having a comparatively flimsy one seems risky. You could give him the Raiment to make him that bit more durable but it won't help him turn one. If you're going down the line of Troupe Master as Warlord, (and I still think you should) go for an allied DE character with a webway to keep him safe until he's needed. Anyway, I think a Kiss is a must for the Troupe Master for those challenges and perhaps even give them to a handful of Players too.

The Kiss is an excellent weapon. It may have lost Rending but what it gains instead is an S6 AP2 attack with the potential for Instant Death. Of course this attack might miss but that chance of killing something like a wraithknight outright is too tempting to pass up. The Caress is handy for anti-tank possibilities but I think the Kiss is better generally. The Embrace is interesting but since it has no AP value it's again difficult to chose it over the Kiss.

You can now have an unlimited number of fusion pistols and the new neuro disruptor but the former has increased in cost by 50% making it a pricey upgrade. Since you're likely to be running a lot I'd probably keep costs to a minimum and get your anti-tank elsewhere. Mind you, in the aforementioned webway set up, a couple of fusions could help you break open those steel boxes.

The problem is going to be getting your Troupe into combat safely but that's where the Starweaver comes in.

Fast Attack - Starweaver

It's difficult not to draw parallels with the DE Venom and the Starweaver. Both are AV10 with 2 HP and both have a 5++ save. Firepower wise the Starweaver is probably more flexible as it can be used to take on infantry and light vehicles alike but against high toughness targets the Venom obviously shines through. The Mirage Launchers are interesting though as they allow you to effectively Jink but without the Snap Shot penalty. They'll also help keep you alive turn one against those pesky Ignores Cover shots that are becoming more plentiful.

The Starweaver also boasts an extra space in its transport capacity. This is what I wish the Venom had as it's great for attaching a character. The transport capacity is an issue though. For starters you'll be torn between staying at range and shooting and blasting forward to get into combat. The cannons will come in handy for softening up assault targets though. That's assuming you make it there in one piece though. Turn one you blast forward so that you can move 6" turn two and charge. If you blow up it doesn't matter as, being open topped, you can still assault and having Run and Charge still makes that a possibility. Hang on though, if you get blown up (and you're more than likely to even with a Jink save) that's an S4 hit per model which will wound on a 3 and you've got to save it on a 5+. Realistically that's two models (or even three) down before you charge and then you've got to weather Overwatch which might claim another life. You're going to need more bodies I reckon. We're gonna need a bigger boat.

Perhaps then the better option is the DE Raider. The Wave Serpent hampers your charges too much so we'll forget that. The Raider doesn't pack the same firepower but is 15pts cheaper, can Deep Strike and could be given Night Shields to make it the same cost as the Starweaver. You're now taking 10 models into the fight and therefore more into combat should the raider explode. To me, at least, it seems that the Starweaver should be a gunship rather than a transport. Use it like you would a Venom but remember you'll need to be closer than a Venom would. Of course you could put a small unit in there to make it a dual threat but I think it's safer not to.

Fast Attack - Skyweavers
Similar in concept to a Vyper but with a better execution I reckon. They play more like an attack bike than a Vyper too. They fit in well with the "fast but deadly" aesthetic that Harlequins share with DE. By default each one comes with a Star bolas which are a one shot S6 AP2 blast. It's frustrating that they don't get a 3+ save like Windriders but perhaps that's a sign of things to come for Eldar (like Holo-fields too perhaps). Still 4+ and a shuriken cannon isn't bad at all. They're probably more durable than a Starweaver and put out a similar amount of damage for slightly higher cost.

Upgrades-wise the zephyrglaiver is pricey but makes them into a nasty prospect in combat with 4 S5 AP2 attacks on the charge (plus Hammer of Wrath). Like for everything in the book, Hit & Run will be a godsend at times. I can't decide about the haywire cannon. It can't one-shot a vehicle so you'd need the squad to have them and that takes away some of the flexibility a shuriken cannon offers. I reckon DE Scourges are a better source of haywire but Harlequins aren't exactly spoilt for ranged anti-tank so don't necessarily ignore them altogether.

Heavy Support - Voidweaver
Speaking of anti-tank the Voidweaver is the Harlequins' answer for a pretty reasonable cost. I definitely think the prismatic cannon is worth the points. You can use it for killing off cheap objective grabbers, whittling down marines that are bunched up or perhaps even a cheeky vehicle kill if you're lucky. It shares the same frailties as the other Harlequin vehicles and 24" range doesn't help but hopefully the speed of the army will keep your opponent distracted. The rear mounted gun is an interesting idea and having two targets is nice but I think it won't get fired much.

There isn't much else to say about the Voidweaver. They're decent but not awesome. Mind you, for the points you can't really complain.

The biggest factor here will be the Masque detachment. Having only two fast attack slots means that if you want Starweavers you're going to need to take them as Dedicated Transports. That's assuming you're taking Skyweavers as your compulsory Fast Attack choices of course. If you don't fancy them, or are keeping points to a minimum then take a couple of Starweavers in Fast. It's debatable which is better mind you. Voidweavers are even more limited by the Masque. You can only take a single squadron of them so if you want more than one they'll all be firing at the same target. That's not so bad if you're hitting a vehicle as S7 or Haywire isn't awesome in a single shot but it's a shame you can't hit several infantry units with blasts. It's debatable how the aft cannon will function too. Does the whole squadron have to shoot the same rear target?

Reading back through my comments you might think I'm being negative but I actually like the units I've talked about here. Clearly though the Harlequins will need support from another race to be truly devastating. The Masque might prove to be a limitation there too as you have to spend a minimum of 500pts to fulfil the compulsory requirements. That's a fair chunk when you haven't even added upgrades yet. The formations will help here though.

As I said, tomorrow I'll look at the Elites section which is where this book gets really interesting....

Tuesday, February 24, 2015

New 7th Edition Harlequins Codex Review - Part 1 of 4 - Overview

Firstly, let me apologise for the lack of Necron codex review. Not having played Necrons I feel that I'd struggle to write the reviews and they'd probably take me a long time. I'm trying to focus more on my hobby stuff at the moment so blogging is taking a back seat for a change. Usually it's blogging that stops me hobbying so I think it makes sense to have it the other way around. Matt is more familiar with Necrons but also lacks the time at the moment for a review. Perhaps in future he'll find the time.

All that being said, I picked up the Harlequins book yesterday as I figured they'd make a great companions for my Dark Eldar and they have some beautiful new models. Some of which are a little to similar to the old ones for my liking but that's a debate for another day. Anyway, since the new book is a pretty short one I thought it wouldn't be too much hassle to write a review and it'd help me decide what, if anything, I want to buy to run with my DE.

First Impressions
The book is stunning. There's tons of artwork that I haven't seen before and all in lavish full colour. I think the fact that they've made it 96 pages means they've needed to find something to fill what would normally be taken up by numerous datasheets at the back. The solution seems to be a mixture of jaw-dropping artwork and multiple formations. It feels like a cross between a full codex and a supplement really. There's the formations you'd expect from a supplement but the new units that you wouldn't normally find in one. Clearly GW is branding it as a new codex but it's not quite bulky enough to really be one. I suppose it's got significantly more options than the Imperial Knights book though.

They seem to have gone down the line of buffing the rules to make the models sell. There's some very good stuff in this book. The general feel is more like Dark Eldar than Craftworld Eldar with AV10 vehicles and flimsy units. That being said there's a decent mix of units in here that tie in quite well with both of their Eldar brethren.

The codex also details the levels of alliance for Harlequins which, as you'd expect, has them as Battle Brothers with DE and Eldar. Curiously they're Convenience with both Tau and the Imperium and Desperate with Orks. Everything else is Come the Apocalypse.

Harlequin Masque Detachment
I was initially confused as to why people were saying you could only use this detachment if you wanted to field Harlequins. That's until I realised that there are no HQs in this book which means you can't meet the compulsory requirements for a CAD or Allied Detachment. That's a bit of a shame but I can understand the logic. Even so, there are plenty of formations that you could add to an army (such as your Blog Wars army).

The detachment is a strange one. You must have 3 Troops, 2 Fast and 1 Heavy and have the option for a further 7 Elites. That's not so restrictive in a GW style army with several detachments but in tournament play it might be difficult to field them. It's actually going to be pretty hard to find enough stuff to run them as a standalone army at 1,750pts or above. That means it's likely that they'll be seen alongside DE or Eldar.

Anyway, the detachment gives you a re-roll to your trait (only on the codex traits and only for Troupe Masters) and, more importantly, the Rising Crescendo special rule. This allows models with Fleet to both Run and Charge. That's a big deal. It's bringing things back to 5th edition and making me wish they'd given this to wyches. It's not unreasonable to be getting second turn charges or even first turn if your opponent goes before you. Remember Fleet allows you to re-roll both run and charge range dice so you've got a good chance of covering some serious ground.

Warlord Traits
Unlike other armies the Harlequins can choose from three different trait tables. These are Light , Twilight and Dark. The first three traits are the same on each table with re-rolls of 1s To Hit and saving throws, a 4++ save for your warlord and an extra inch on every move they make e.g. run, charge and consolidate. The last one is awesome as, over the course of the game, this can make a massive difference. How often have you failed a charge by an inch or not quite made it into cover?

Here's a quick summary of the rest.

4 - add 4 to Seize which makes it a 2+! That's awesome. Let your opponent go first and watch them squirm trying to decide if they should gamble or not.
5 - allows some units to Deep Strike, Infiltrate or Scout - again good for covering the ground with your paper units.
6 - redeploy or reserve D3 units - also good for making it difficult for your opponent.

4 - add or subtract 2 from variable game length - again awesome. How often do you really want a turn 6 or really hope it stops at 5?
5 - Instant Death on 6s - great when combined with a Kiss for 5+ but obviously a little situational.
6 - single 24" move for warlord and his unit - good for grabbing objectives, particularly in Maelstrom games. That or repositioning if you find yourself out of the fight.

4 - not great as most of your opponents will ignore Fear anyway.
5 - warlord and his unit play an extra turn - slightly situational but could prove awesome and game winning.
6 - like Lukas' Last Laugh ability. Can be devastating if it's an awesome character you remove but not as great if it's just a guardsman.

Tricky to call as there are some great traits in here but I think Light is probably the way to go most of the time as it really messes with your opponent. There's some really interesting and unusual mechanics in use here and it's refreshing to see a set of traits that don't feel like the same old stuff with a new name.

Enigmas of the Black Library
As ever I'll talk about these more when I come to the units that I think will use them best but here's a rundown for now:

Storied Sword (Troupe Masters only) - a +1S Master Crafted power weapon. It's unlikely to tempt me for the points but obviously good in a challenge against a 3+ save character.
Crescendo (Troupe Masters and Shadowseers only) - Not much better than their standard pistol but worth it if you've got 5 points spare though.
Mask of Secrets (Shadowseers only) - Fearless is always good (although Ld10 isn't much worse) but interesting if you can combine it with the Death Jester's abilities. It's a shame he can't take it himself but you'll want a Shadowseer anyway - more on that later.
Cegorach's Rose (Troupe Masters and Solitaires only) - Master Crafted and Shred for a Kiss. I'd say this stands out as in a challenge it gives you a great chance of Instant Death.
Starmist Raiment (Any Character) - since you're going to be using Run a lot this can make your character more durable for a combat phase but expensive for something that only works some of the time. Might be worth a pop for your Warlord though.
Laughing God's Eye (Any Character) - very expensive for something you won't use a lot since a lot of Psychic powers don't target anyone.

That'll do for the first post. I'm pretty impressed with what I've seen so far. There's a lot to love about this book. I'll probably cover Troops, Fast and Heavy in a single post, Elites in another and the formations in the final post. I'll then start to look at how I can combine these guys with my Dark Eldar for a tournament at some point.

Sunday, February 22, 2015

One Million Views Competition Winner!

It may have been a little while ago now but you may remember that I ran a little competition on the Blog to celebrate reaching 1 million pageviews. The lucky winner (Rob Hill) walked away with a F.A.T. mat of his choice. He went for the Alpine mat and I asked him to send me some pictures of his mat once he'd received it. I received these a little while ago but I've finally gotten around to posting them up.

Over to Rob:

I've been very snowed under recently (ho ho puns) and I'm not sure when I'm going to hit any terrain building. But here are a few pics of the mat laid out in my lounge where my friends and I break our backs playing.

It's got my wip cerastus castigator, blood Angel hammernators and black templar land raider crusader on it.

Afraid I'm not the best painter! The snow on the bases will get a drakenhoff wash to blue it up once it's spray sealed on as after comparing its a bit too white for the mat.

The mat itself is bloody brilliant and super durable. Can't thank you enough. Much better than laminate flooring wargaming!!

Congratulations once again to Rob for his new gaming surface. I'd love to run further competitions in the future to celebrate other milestones so stay tuned for them. 

Tuesday, February 10, 2015

The Winter Scenery Project (Part 3 of Many) - Snow/Ice Corner Ruins and Moonscape Craters

In spite of the many doubters (myself included), I've actually been making decent progress towards getting an entire table full of snow/ice terrain completed. In the last post I showed you a test piece I'd been working on. I've since applied the same technique to the other two 3rd edition ruins I have in my collection which can be seen below:

The ruins themselves were already painted but the bases got a coat of The Fang followed by Fenrisian Grey (both applied with my airbrush). I then drybrushed Ceramite White (since it's thicker than White Scar) before adding Citadel Snow and some Army Painter Winter Tuft. The drybrushing wasn't limited to the base though, I tried to work it up the walls at little way to make them look frosty. I hope this comes across.

Whilst I had the airbrush out I decided to attack my Moonscape craters too. You'll remember that one of them is mounted on the base of my Shrine of the Aquila but the remaining four only had a black undercoat (plus some sand around the edge) until I got cracking. I covered the whole crater with Mechanicum Standard Grey before applying The Fang around the outside (mostly on the flat bit around the edge but also up onto the crater slightly). I then hit this with a lighter coating of Fenrisian Grey. Finally I sprayed the middle of the crater with Abaddon Black to make it look scorched. This process took less than an hour thanks to the airbrush (and that includes the airbrushing on the corner ruins too). I'm very glad I picked up an airbrush at this point as getting the base colours down is tedious even with a tank brush and you end up struggling to only put a thin coat on.

I then drybrushed the whole thing with Ceramite White. I focussed this more on the outside edge as this was more frosted but also picked up the edges everywhere apart from the very centre of the crater. My thinking here is that these craters come from a battle before Winter set in. Maybe a previous war actually caused a kind of nuclear winter and that's why the planet is frozen now? Of course this would mean you'd expect there to be snow in the middle too but I theorised that repeated use as a fox hole would mean little was left in the centre. Anyway, I finished the craters off like the ruins with Citadel Snow and more AP Winter Tuft. 

Finally here's a shot of Ragnar and some Blood Claws using the ruins for cover. This helps highlight one of my current problems. My Space Wolves were based to match my old brown home made Realm of Battle board but they don't fit in with the new terrain. Problem is, the colours I'm using on this terrain are effectively the same as their armour so you wouldn't get much contrast between the model and the base. I think I'm going to stick with Graveyard Earth/Steel Legion Drab for their bases for now though as I intend on revamping the Realm of Battle board at some point. When I eventually get around to painting my DE and Orks though I'll probably give them snowy bases. The Tau have a desert them but that's going to work with the revamped RoB board too. 

Friday, February 06, 2015

Blog Wars 9 - Saturday 6th June 2015 - Tickets Now on Sale!

In exactly four months time I'll be hosting the ninth Blog Wars tournament at the North West Gaming Centre in Stockport, UK. Tickets are on sale now and can be purchased by sending £17.50 per ticket to on PayPal. Please use the "Family or Friends" option as it saves me a fortune in fees which means more prizes for you guys. If you're buying multiple tickets please let me know the names AND email addresses of the other players so I can keep in touch with them in the run up to the event. Please remember that, whilst it used to be bloggers only, Blog Wars is open to both bloggers and non-bloggers alike (i.e. anyone and everyone!).

Your ticket fee includes three games of 40K at 1,850pts in a relaxed and friendly atmosphere, lunch, spot prizes, tournament prizes and most importantly entry into the raffle with a top prize of an £85 Imperial Knight! That's included in your ticket, just by showing up you're eligible to win that and other prizes.

Please take your time to read through the event pack here. If you have any questions please contact me ASAP so that I can get back to you well in advance of the event. The army selection may seem complicated at first but it's deceptively simple and hopefully doesn't penalise any particular army too much. I'm going to give a lot of thought to whether I reduce the restrictions on Lords of War but they will definitely still be restricted in some way. Forge World will not be allowed at Blog Wars 9 but I'll revisit the situation before BW10.

Whilst I'm on the subject I received an exciting parcel today all the way from the USA. When I ordered the F.A.T. mat for Rob Hill (who won the 1 million views competition) I also ordered two more to be given away at Blog Wars 9 and 10. I have to say I'm massively jealous of whoever wins these mats as, even though I own one myself, I'd love to have either of these designs available for my games. I'm also jealous because the mats now come in a fancy zip up bag with carry straps whereas mine just has a drawstring bag (since I was a Kickstarter backer).

Anyway, the Grassy Plains mat will be just one of the many raffle prizes at Blog Wars 9 whilst the Urban Combat mat will be on offer at Blog Wars 10 on November 7th (save the date!). The Urban Combat mat is particularly smart as the streets mark out the usual Dawn of War/Hammer & Anvil deployment whilst cleverly placed lights/rubble mark out the diagonals for Vanguard Strike. Brilliant idea if you ask me!

I'll be announcing the other raffle prizes nearer the time but rest assured they'll include the now obligatory Imperial Knight. Of course if I sell the full 40 tickets I'll add in an extra raffle prize (or two). I might even consider upping the capacity to 50 players but this would be the absolute maximum to avoid losing the friendly atmosphere.

Right then. I'll hopefully see a good number of you at BW9 in June. You have four months to get your armies painted up (or at least to three colours) so you best get cracking!

Wednesday, February 04, 2015

Blog Wars 8 - Feedback Discussion (please comment)

I fully intended to have this post up ages ago but my new xbox has distracted me somewhat. Suffice to say, as ever, I want to continue my drive to make Blog Wars the best event on the tournament calendar by listening to feedback from the guys who've attended recently (and by continuing to offer stupid amounts of loot). Not only that but I'd like to hear from people who are thinking of attending to tell me what would make them more likely to come or what's stopped them coming so far. Remember the event is open to anyone, not just bloggers. The name is a throwback to the event's origin but that's all.

Staying the Same
Whilst I want Blog Wars to continue to evolve there are a few key ideals that will (hopefully) never change. These are things that are ingrained in the identity of the event.

  • A single Special Character will remain a compulsory requirement. This is part of the identity of the event and despite GW deleting some prominent SCs I still think all of the factions have decent options.
  • The raffle will continue to offer much better prizes than the tournament. I want people to enjoy three games in a relaxed atmosphere. Of course they should try to win their games but I don't want them to write their lists as dirty as possible because I'm offering a big prize to the winner. You can show up, lose all three games and still walk away with a bigger prize than the overall winner (but no certificate - unless you come dead last of course).
  • Scoring will be fixed at 33 VPs per game (30 Primary, 3 Secondary). This helps to minimise the impact of simply receiving a bad draw as each round is worth the same number of points. I think it works well but perhaps that's just me?!
  • Two spot prizes will be given in each round for specific things. Nothing too exciting but just a little token worth about a fiver for something stupid/awesome that you achieved in your game. 
  • The Venue - I'm happy with the venue and particularly with the support I receive from the owner as it makes the event a simple as possible to organise. The tables are decent and the location is accessible. I'm not particularly happy with the food but I'm coming to that later.
  • Prizes for Best Painted Army and Best Painted Character. It's nice to have awards for both and it's rare for them to go to the same person. It means you could get your army to three colour minimum but focus on your SC and still have your efforts acknowledged.

Up for Discussion
As always I want to here your thoughts on the event and I endeavour to take your comments on board when writing the rules pack.
  • Army Selection - over on the BW9 page I've posted up the proposed army selection criteria. I think it's a reasonable system but I want to hear your thoughts. Could be changed to simply two detachments of any kind for simplicity but I'd then rely on an element of self-policing so we didn't see 3 riptides and 3 wraithknights for example. What do you reckon to the current plan?
  • Imperial Knights - they're certainly not overpowered, especially with the changes to Destroyer weaponry, but I've previously limited them to 1 per army. Would you be happy to see this lifted to allow up to 3 knights in a list? I can't see much of an issue. Of course some people will find it hard to deal with but if you know it's in there at least you can write your list accordingly in case you face it. Should Gerantius be allowed as an SC and should the Adamantine Lance formation be allowed?
  • Tactical Objectives - as I discussed in an earlier post I'm looking to change the final mission to a Maelstrom one. This is to keep things fresh and embrace 7th edition a little more. Were you totally happy with the old "Control Freak" mission though and would prefer it to stop? Any thoughts on Maelstrom being used at BW?
  • Best Conversion Award - I sometimes find that the other hobby awards (best army/best character) actually go to the army which features the best conversions. You can have an army of simply assembled models with an excellent paintjob overlooked because an army with a comparatively mediocre paintjob had some eyecatching conversions. Would introducing a conversions prize solve this?
Anything Else?
I'm going to be working on some behind the scenes improvements to make the event run more smoothly and I'm going to be talking to the venue nearer the time about the food as it wasn't up to scratch last time in my opinion. However, I'm also interested to know if you think there's anything else I can improve. Please comment below about anything from the list above or whatever else you think needs changing.

Sunday, February 01, 2015

Tactical Objectives at Blog Wars 9

Whilst I'm personally a big fan of the "Control Freak" mission at Blog Wars (which has 3 central control points that score every player turn), I'm aware that some people find it frustrating (and even boring) depending on the army they face. In the interests of constantly trying to improve the event, and also to prevent it from becoming stagnated, I'm keen to try other things. There have been some suggestions that I should introduce Maelstrom missions into Blog Wars. I've previously been reluctant to do so as I think they're a little too random and you can sometimes feel like you've been beaten by your deck rather than your opponent. However, the Blog Wars ethos is to try to take the existing rules of 40K and subtly adjust them to make them more enjoyable whilst trying to embrace them as fully as possible at the same time. Here goes then.

I'm not going to replace all three missions with Maelstrom so the way I see it there are two ways of introducing Maelstrom missions at Blog Wars. Firstly I could use a system like the ETC whereby Tactical Objectives are a secondary objective in every game. We played this at the recent team event we attended and, despite my initial fears that it would be too hard to keep track of two missions at once, I actually found it worked pretty well. Even so, I do think that it's perhaps a little overcomplicated for a friendly event like Blog Wars though. The other way to introduce Maelstrom (and the one I'm going to employ) is to simply swap the last mission for a Maelstrom mission. This has a few advantages. It changes up the final mission that seems to be a bit of Marmite issue, keeps the "score every turn" mechanic (which is a welcome break from frantic final turn shenanigans) and finally, makes use of a system that hopefully most players are familiar with. The final point there is important as, knowing that people don't read the rules pack sometimes, they'll still be able to get into their game quickly and feel like they know what they're doing.

There you have it then, the final mission at Blog Wars 9 will be a Maelstrom mission.

It's not quite that simple though. As I said I'm not a fan of the system in its current form so it needs a bit of tweaking to make it work. Ideally I'd like to have a system where the maximum number of points available for the round is 33 (as in the other rounds) so that you don't feel too shafted if you end up with a bad draw in the final round.

Tweaking the Tactical Objectives
The system we used at the team event caught my eye as a means of making the Tactical Objectives seem more "balanced" (inverted commas essential there as 40K is never truly balanced). I'm not totally sold on everything they've changed though so I'm going to use their method as a template for coming up with a Blog Wars system. The first thing they did was to clarify how Maelstrom missions work:
  • No objective can be scored more than once per game
  • Only two objectives can be scored per game turn
  • Unachievable cards can be discarded
I'm not so keen on the two objectives each turn but it makes sense in the missions where you could have six cards on the table and feasibly score all or most of them. I'm intending to limit it to three cards generated per turn anyway though so I don't think that'll be an issue. Discarding unachievable ones at the start of the game is a good idea. This only applies to completely impossible ones like "kill a flyer" if your opponent doesn't have any and not to ones that are simply highly unlikely such as "control objective 5" when that's deep in your enemy's deployment zone and you're using a slower army.

They also subtly altered the wording on some of the cards to make it more reasonable. The most common change being replacing D3 VPs with simply a fixed 2 VPs, which again I'm a fan of. The random nature of Maelstrom doesn't need to be made worse by introducing dice on top of cards on top of dice!

Finally, they've also cut the deck in half so there's 18 cards (i.e. a D36 roll) which feels like a good number to me as it means you can have a rough idea of what cards might come up without needing Vegas style card counting skills. To do this they've ditched two thirds of the "hold an objective" cards leaving just one card for each of the 6 objectives. That's a pretty good start I reckon as you can end up with a daft situation where you get three cards for the same objective which again feels like the deck has won the game for you. That leaves us with 24 cards and therefore 6 more to get rid of. Their system loses 41, 43, 46, 55, 56 and 61. Let's have a quick look at those cards they ditched to see if I agree with the cuts.
  • 41 (Recon) - pretty much everyone I know forgets Mysterious Objectives anyway so happy to lose this one.
  • 43 (Hold the Line) - I actually think this one is pretty reasonable to keep. It could be difficult against some armies but shouldn't ever be totally impossible. If you really thought it was unlikely you could ditch it anyway.
  • 46 (Domination) - you're pretty unlikely to have all the objectives but it nearly happened in a game I played today and would've been a pretty shitty way to lose.
  • 55 (Psychological Warfare) - if you're playing a Fearless army it's impossible so I think it can go.
  • 56 (Harness the Warp) - impossible for some armies but others won't even break a sweat for D3 VPs, I agree it should go.
  • 61 (Kingslayer) - the Game of Thrones fan in me wants to keep this but since there's already a secondary VP for "Slay the Warlord" it seems a little pointless.
Just Hold the Line (43) that I think could stay out of that lot. Otherwise I agree with their cuts. Let's see if I agree with what they've kept.
  • 42 (Behind Enemy Lines) - they limit it to just 1 VP for one unit but I actually like the idea of having an extra point for three or more units. Only problem is that some armies will find that difficult. Again though, this could be ditched by players at the end of a turn. 
  • 44 (Ascendency) & 45 (Supremacy) - happy with both one with the caveat that it's 2 VPs not D3.
  • 51 (Overwhelming Firepower) & 52 Blood and Guts - the team event made them 2 VPs for 3 units with nothing for 1 unit but I think they're better with 1 for 1 kill and 2 VPs for 3+ unit kills.
  • 53 (No Prisoners) - they limit it to just 2 VPs for 3 units destroyed. I think that works well with 51 & 52 and rewards you for killing several units in one go. Of course you could achieve it the same turn as 51 or 52 but potentially you could kill 2 with shooting and one with combat and still achieve 53 without getting either of the other two.
  • 54 (Hungry for Glory) - my army at the team event only had two characters which made this one very difficult for either me or my opponent to achieve. I'm tempted to ditch this one to be honest.
  • 62 (Witch Hunter), 63 (Scour the Skies) & 55 (Big Game Hunter) - there are plenty of psykers, flyers, vehicles and MCs around these days so neither should be too difficult. That's assuming of course that you're allowed to discard them at the start of the game if your opponent doesn't have any.
  • 64 (Assassinate) - they limit it to 1 VP for 1 character kill but I think having 2 VPs for 3+ would be fine as it's pretty unlikely to happen. Of course against some armies it'd be impossible to score 2 VPs but you should still be able to kill at least one.
  • 65 (Demolitions) - this card is pretty much always ditched as it's rare to see opponents with a building anyway. I'd be tempted to get rid of this from the start as people will be ditching it anyway.
I think I'd be tempted to reinstate Hold the Line (43) in favour of Hungry for Glory (54). If I'm ditching Demolitions (65) I'd still need another card in but I think this is where the Blog Wars factor comes in. I could introduce a new card that gives 1 VP if you kill your opponent's "Commander" special character. Here's how I'd see the deck shaping up for Blog Wars then:

The colours down the side highlight that there are 6 cards worth 1 VP each (orange), 3 cards worth 1-2 VPs each (blue) and 9 cards worth 2 VPs each (green). If the game is limited to an automatic six turns it should make it possible to have a maximum score of 33 (including the 3 secondary objectives) but this is only with the Secure Objective cards being worth 2 VPs each which I'm not sure about. Of course, you'd still have to achieve all 3 missions in each of your 6 turns for the full 30 but it isn't totally impossible. This chart will feature on the scorecard for the tournament but I'm toying with the idea of producing custom decks to be issued to everyone to make things easier (and to help me test out the system before the event). 

Ultimately I want to keep the semi-random feel of Maelstrom without it feeling completely unpredictable to the point where it rewards look rather than good generalship. I'd be running this as the last mission of the day using Cleanse and Control (p.148) but I'd use Dawn of War deployment to keep things simple. This is by no means set in stone yet because, as ever, I really want to hear your feedback especially if you're thinking of attending (but even if you're not). I want to put a bit more thought into how to make it a maximum of 33 VPs available. I think it'd be pretty straightforward to achieve but it's a task for another day I reckon. 

Finally, tickets for Blog Wars 9 (which is on Saturday June 6th) will be up for sale in the next few days so keep an eye on the blog to grab yours. Remember it's open to anyone, not just bloggers.


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