Monday, August 31, 2009

Eldar Pictures, and 100th post nonsense

And so, after just about 4 full months, I've reached the arbitrary '100 posts' mile stone. Funny, we talked about milestones in Contract Management it goes.

For your entertainment/edification/what-have-you (and my Eldar-oriented readers) I have proof that I have not abandoned the pointy-eared
old arrogant guys (or gals). I took the plunge and painted up the Howling Banshee squad I'd acquired some time ago from Xardian.

They started white, got hit with warlock purple + wash o' Leviathan Purple. Then add ice blue to the cloth bits and jewels, Asurmen blue for the cloth, and white + bleached bone + Devlan Mud to the white and gold bits. Weapons are red + Baal Red wash. The basing is Xard's GS basing, and I think I'm going to just carry that through the rest of the army.

The next exhibit is my Princess Yriel(ette?) conversion. Banshee body with arm switches, and a scratch-made cloak. In part this is a test of whether or not I'll be using these cloaks on my Deathwing conversions, but I'm liking it thus far.

That Promised Musing
Looking back, I think I'm pretty prolific. Then again, I've been unemployed since I started this blog. Make no mistake, I like the spare time, but...amusingly enough, I'm pretty much out of stuff to paint.
Ok, technically, I've stripped some of my Eldar and have plans to re-work them, but my ability to purchase things has...dropped. There's that whole 'no money' thing. Kind of amusing, but also kind of annoying. (Well, not 'kind of', I'd really like to get a damn job and get on with life rather than just stay in school a bit longer).
Even when I do get a job and my 40k time wanes, I intend to keep on updating this. I feel, in part, if I've a mission/talent? Contribute clearly-written, well-reasoned articles. I like to think I'm usually responsive to comments, and will entertain alternative viewpoints. Most any tactical article I toss up here gets some revision, and I try to write 'em up and send them to From The Warp because some of their army sections are just woefully incomplete.
I feel like I'm competitive, but for me, part of the fun is trying to win. Figure out how the army works, what compnents are good, how to form them into a good list, and then how to wield them properly. I feel like I've progressed with the Eldar (but not perfected them), and I think there's plenty of Tau learning to do. I'm going to try to do a bit less in the way of little list tweaks, just to figure out the full impact of it. Ideally, I'll lock it down to a few lists and streamline my collection.
Am I against fluff? ...fluff got me into the game, thanks. I've a hefty shelf of 40k novels. The hobby? I think that's also important; that's why I've been trying to work on Daemons and also the Deathwing. While winning's fun and the tactical game is fun, I also feel like I've emphasized trying to have a neat-looking army.
Competitive vs. 'fun'? Bull. Competitive AND Hobby
I think when you get down to it, there's this strange misconception that you're either having fun, OR winning. There's some mutual exclusivity.
I won't lie; I think some of us are playing different versions of 40k. There's competition, and there's hobby. I have nothing against either; I think the Deathwing and any Daemon list I come up with might have some 'hard' components, but I think they're more fun. I think the Tau list I'll end up using is more killy, but I think you can still get a theme on.
At the end, I have no animosity against 'hobby' folks. I think I do a bit of both, though my strengths lie more towards coming up with and trying to explain tactics/blowing up the other guy.
I do think, though, that both extremes of the continuum can acknowledge each other, admit there's a difference, and just get on with life. I suppose the most recent example is the BoLS-Con. I admit, I'm scratching my head at the winning list. I think there's a good lesson here about learning your army; you can pull internet tactics all you want (and learn from them), but there's still practice.
(as an aside? I am totally envious of the skill/time/effort put into that Tyranid army).
Getting back to it, the tournament was run differently than others, to my understanding. The pace, and all that were different.
My ultimate take on this? Always put news in context; this is no exception. We're people, we're stuck with bounded rationality. I don't care whatever your classes have taught you about people. We're lazy. We don't always do our homework, and sometimes we'll just flat-out ignore inconvenient facts. Don't be that. Do your homework, and be honest with yourself.
That's me, at least, and maybe I'm a stickler for it because of some scientific method training.
Anyway, enough aimless pondering for the day. Give yourself a cookie if you wandered through this last section in depth.*
*I learned the hard way not to promise cookies. I still owe Xardian one for a gutsy deep strike. Never seen anyone pull off so many risky deep-strikes. LUCK OF THE DEVIL.

Saturday, August 29, 2009

Pondering the Deathwing

I've been sufficiently busy, and had some spare time to think about Marines as of late.

No, no, not power armor marines. The cool marines, the Terminators. I've mentioned it before, but the project got put on hold due to lack of Green Stuff, which was due to lack of money. I've hawked enough stuff to justify an order from the War Store, because I find GW's price for green stuff to be...a bit high, shall we say.

So, I can safely contemplate army lists now. I've got one already, though it's pure footslogging.

Belial 130
Librarian w/ Termie armor, Combi-weapon 150
Command Squad w/ Apothecary, 2x Meltagun 145
Command Squad w/ Apothecary, 2x meltagun 145
Deathwing Squad w/ Apothecary, Assault Cannon, Chainfist 280
Deathwing Squad w/ Assault Cannon, Chainfist 250
Deathwing Squad w/ Assault Cannon, Chainfist 250
Deathwing Squad w/ Assault Cannon, Chainfist 250
Deathwing Squad w/ Assault Cannon, Chainfist 250
1850 Total

The goal? Laugh my ass off with Apothecaries. I walk that way, and prepare to harm things. Yes, it's got range issues; that's Deathwing. We take Assault Cannons because they're superior to the Cyclone Launcher save for range.

I might drop an Assault Cannon for a cyclone to have a more designated score-squad, and then hand a couple meltabombs out to the command squads.

The Wing of Siege, Prototype 1
Belial 130
Dreadnought 125
Dreadnought 125
Deathwing Squad w/ Apothecary, Assault Cannon, Chainfist 280
Deathwing Squad w/ Assault Cannon, Chainfist 250
Deathwing Squad w/ Assault Cannon, Chainfist 250
Deathwing Squad w/ Assault Cannon, Chainfist 250
Vindicator w/ Dozer Blade 130
Vindicator w/ Dozer Blade 130
Vindicator w/ Dozer Blade 130

Total: 1800/1850

Note well that this list is 50 points under. I keep the solid core of 20 terminators, still. The 'siege-wing' moniker comes from the triple Vindicators, and they kind of help the list kill armor. In a pinch, if someone breaks cover? Smells like victory.

The question I'm pondering is what to do with the last 50, and how to potentially kit out the dreads. Autocannons could provide some lighter anti-tank, and some real range. Adding missiles to that might help a bit, and give me something with a threat more than 24". Or, I can just hand out the multi-meltas, and tell them to get a move on.

Or, there's always the Ravenwing tank-popping option. 3 guys, 2 meltaguns, and a multi-melta attack bike cost 190. Granted, that's not exactly resilient...but the only other way to get more Ravenwing bikers is +100 for 3 more. Yeah. Flexible, ain't it? If I dropped the dreads, I'd have 300 spare, which would get me a Ravenwing suicide* melta-squad and...110 points left over. Yay. I'd have to lose a Siege Tank, and that's cutting down on the armor a bit.

More likely, I'll add missile launchers to the dreadnoughts (20 points) and then find something to do with the remaining 30. Or, I dunno.

So it is I turn to the peanut gallery, and hope no one brought rotten fruit for the army list.

That Tactics Bit I'd Promised
So, when you get down to it, you can do a lot of stuff with a Deathwing Squad. 5 guys. By default, one carries a power sword, the other have fists, all have storm bolters. You can take chainfists for +5, a weapon upgrade (assault cannon or cyclone launcher), and anyone can trade their shooty kit for assaulty kit (2x Lightning Claws or TH/SS).

Well, the TH/SS for Deathwing is of inferior durability to the regular marine one. A 4++ in melee versus a 3++ against everything? Skip the shield.

Some people swear by lightning claws, and you could theoretically use them to have a squad of 5 unique fellows:

Sarge w/ Power Weapon, Storm Bolter
Powerfist, Storm Bolter
Powerfist, Assault Cannon
Chain Fist**, Storm Bolter
Lightning Claws

But, do the lightning claws appreciably improve your killyness in melee?

Let's compare:
Squad A has a power weapon and 4 fists
Squad B has a power weapon, paired claws, and 3 fists.

Assuming a 4+ to hit and against T4...
Squad A
Not Charging
0.5 Power Weapon wounds (1 hit, 50/50 wound shot)
4 Powerfist hits, 3.33 wounds
Total: 3.38
1.5 power weapon hits, 0.75 PW wounds
6 powerfist hits, 5 powerfist wounds
Total: 5.75

Squad B
Not Charging
0.5 Power Weapon Wounds
1.5 Claw hits, 1.125 claw wounds
3 Fist hits, 2.5 Wounds
Total: 4.125 Wounds
0.75 Power Weapon Wounds
2 Claw hits, 1.5 Claw wounds
4.5 Fist hits, 3.75 fist wounds
Total: 6 Wounds

What Did We Learn?
The claws provide you a bit of a boost vs. not having claws. Obviously against T3 folks, the claws will do a bit better. Without charging, it's a difference of 0.745 wounds, and on the charge it's 0.25 wounds.

So, next question. Shooting. Deathwing's likely to spend time shooting at folks, and the claws cost you a storm bolter. As cool as Deathwing Termies are, you're in close combat 'til the end, but if the other guy has power weapons, you're kind of hosed. Your amazing 2+ save goes to a 5+, which isn't so great.

The claws do not help against monsters or vehicles, either.

But, you do get a bit more of a wound allocation game, since a normal squad's 'groups' look like:
2x SB/PF guys
SB/CF guy
Assault Cannon/PF guy

You lose one group. Not sure how big of an impact that is, to be perfectly honest. It gives you some flexibility, but...not sure. Peanut Gallery?

My gut here says 'keep the storm bolter.' The claws are cool, but I don't know how big of an impact that is.

*Why is it suicide? Because, like Fire Dragons, no one's going to let it live long enough to get more than one shot off.

** Why the chainfist? In case you end up in assault with hefty armor. Bring those can openers. It's +5 points, people. Seriously.

Pondering the Daemons, and a Digression, and Raptor Builds a List While You Watch

Again, I've dropped the Daemons for a bit, and I find my thoughts returning to them as I ponder armies.

On the one hand, the not-so-well-written codices usually have one cream-of-the-crop per slot. I mean, Tau, for example. HQ? I have a beefier Crisis Suit, I have a guy that lets my enemy run me off the board, and a couple of expensive, quirky HQ choices. Elites? Crisis Suits > Stealth Suits, as far as I'm concerned, for the gaps they fill. Troops? Kroot > Fire Warriors, except the FW are compulsory, so I deal. It does a hell of a job of taking some of the thought out of an army.

Back to Daemons, then.

I think I'm about done with the Heavy Support section of the codex. I think the Soul Grinder is a sweet model, but with it being the only tank in the army, and one of potentially 5 large targets? If the other guy brought enough anti-tank weapons, it's going to get smoked.

Daemon Prince? He's expensive, still one of potentially 5 costly monstrous creatures, and...just not that mobile. There's only so much I can do for durability; do I go for T6 with a 3+/5+, or T5 with a -/4+? One dies to anti-tank weapons en masse, and the other can get gunned down by small arms.

When you get down to it, monstrous creatures usually have more durability than they do lethality, and it's an issue of making it cost-effective to spam them and have a durable army. Wounds w/ invulnerable saves and high toughness often beat out armor value.

The Greater Daemons are sweet, but bloody expensive. I've toyed around with double-Thirsters and some small units of Bloodcrushers, but the former are bloody costly (285 a head) and the latter are...slow. Like, real slow. Then it was Soul Grinders and/or Daemon Princes, and a few troops to suit.

Bottom line? 5 expensive monsters just isn't enough to base an army on.

So, what then? As far as the no-brainer part goes, Fiends are ALWAYS in my army. They just win for the elite slot for their speed. I don't feel bad about trying to make daemons as nasty as possible, just because all the issues they can have with dice. So, Fiends knock out about...lesse, I take 15-18 of them and at 30 a head, it's 450-540 points of the army.

Then there's HQs. Chances are it's going to be a Herald of some sort. I like Tzeentch heralds for shootiness/speed, but the Slaaneshi herald isn't bad for speed.

Troops? Plaguebearers. If it's not them, then it's spam of something else; probably Bloodletters. Daemonettes are far too reliant on the rend, and aren't exactly durable. Horrors are...neat, but not really that durable. Plaguebearers don't do much more than take up space, but they are very good at that.

So, what's my army look like with 3 maxed-out Fiend units and four 5-man plaguebearer squads?

840 points. I usually play 1850, so I've got a little over a thousand points to play with.

I've got a couple troop slots left, my HQ slots, and my fast attack. Daemon Princes and Soul Grinders just have 'SHOOT ME HERE' signs on them, and I sold off my Grinders. I like 'em; I just don't play them.

Well, the current Stelek tech on daemons involves Khorne dogs and Slaaneshi heralds in addition to the fiends and plaguebearers.

Here's a Digression For You, and perhaps Food For Thought
This is something I've kicked around a bit. I don't want to be a purely a parrot here. My goal with this blog is to contribute to the 40k Blog-O-Sphere and occasionally entertain. Contributions include my own analysis, links to useful information, interesting things I've done, and the like.

But, some people just have well thought-out reasons for doing stuff. My Eldar have been pretty well influenced by folks like Elessar, Dverning, and probably others I'm forgetting. Stelek is obviously an influence. Yet, sometimes I wonder if I'm just sponging off others.

I try to really kick around and analyze what I read. I mean, why would Dverning recommend the DAVU (Dire Avenger Vehicle Upgrade) and Holo-Fields? I thought Holo-fields were a waste for a while. Then...I tried them, and they're staying. (Plus, if you write about what the guy knows, he's good for a critique. God knows both Elessar and Dverning have kept me honest on Eldar articles I submit to FTW).

But, I find myself often agreeing, and I feel occasionally like I'm 'net-decking.' The term is "I STOLED TEH TECH FROM TEH INTERWEBS!" But, the right list is only part of the equation.

Realizing why it's built the way it's built, and figuring out how to play it is a totally different affair, one that only comes from practice.

My Daemons started out as a conversion project, and will remain one. On the other hand, I want a nasty build. I started out with Skarbrand + Fateweaver, and then...well, Fateweaver got shot up and ran away, and I realized that made me sad. (Hey. Look. When YOUR 333 point guy falls off the board after one wound and a botched ld check, you see how it makes YOU feel). They went through MC-Spam time. They went through Bloodcrusher spam. (DEAR GOD IS IT SLOW? IT IS. IT IS SLOW)

But, I'm getting back to things...

Wasn't I talking about Daemons a minute ago?
Yes. Yes, I was, and talking about where to go with them. With my hardass scoring core and my little choppy things, I have 1010 points left. If you're visual, the list looks like:

6 Fiends (180)
6 Fiends (180)
6 Fiends (180)
5 Plaguebearers (75)
5 Plaguebearers (75)
5 Plaguebearers (75)
5 Plaguebearers (75)

Total: 840

So, those headquarter units...
Well, right now I have a running, choppy core. I'm not taking Greater Daemons, because they're just freaking expensive, and big targets. Much as I'd probably enjoy converting up another one, there's always the part where they get shot to bits and stuff. Sad day, I know.

So, Heralds. Khorne Heralds are killy but slow. Nurgle Heralds are...not to be spoken of in this blog. They are crap. Not in the sense that Nurgle is pestilent, pustilent nastiness and fecal matter, but crap in terms of rules. They're slow, expensive, costly, not very lethal, and cannot score. That leaves me with the Tzeentch Herald and the Slaanesh Herald.

Tzeentch Herald
-Chariot + Bolt of Tzeentch + Master of Sorcery + Soul Devourer

What's he do? Move fast, put out a torrent of fire, maybe menace vehicles, and sling a power weapon around with furious charge and a truly stupid 5 T4 wounds. I could take 'We Are Legion' over Soul Devourer and save 10 points, but sometimes hiding in melee and/or cutting down lightweight troops on the charge is probably worth more in terms of capability than multi-targeting. Big whoop, I tried to shoot a vehicle and tried to light up your infantry.

Slaaneshi Herald
-Chariot, Soporific Musk, Unholy Might

What's she do? Move 6", Fleet, then charge 12" (like a FIEND!) 6 attacks base, up to S4 with the Unholy Might (S5 on the charge with Furious Charge), five T4 wounds with a 4+/5+, and a respectable WS5 and I7(8). Oh, and GRENADES. Keep that I8 on the charge. Basically, she's a heftier Fiend that costs as much as 3, but can do the all-important lockdown. She might even beat up a dread before ping-ponging away from it. Huzzah!

So, these are my HQ choices. Basically, it's 2-4 of either one, just for sake of redundancy and capability. This is kind of a toughie, so...I'll hold off. Honestly, I like how my Tzeentch heralds do, and folks get scared of their shooting. I mean, it' Shooting?

That leaves me with 3 fast attack slots. They'll pretty much be clones of each other. I have four fast attack choices:
-Khorne Dogs (...ok, ok, Flesh Hounds)
-Seekers of Slaanesh (Glad this is a conversion project...)
-Screamers of Tzeentch (...not versatile enough, but it would be funny to convert them as cruise missiles)
-Furies (...short-bus assault marines, anyone?)

So, choices...
Flesh Hounds are 15 a head. WS4, S4, T4, 5+ save. They have Furious Charge, and are beasts, so they're pretty swift. T4 with a 5+ is about as durable as it gets for this army, honestly. One guy can get Rending, and one squad can get Karanak for some Move Through Cover lovin' and more rending action.

Seekers are 17 a head. WS4, S3, T3, I6, 4 attacks, and 5+. Less durable than Flesh Hounds. Again, we get the slaaneshi reliance on rending. However, the Fiends and Heralds actually have a slightly more respectable strength. For the same reason as I'm leery of Daemonettes, I'm unlikely to take them. THey're on par with Flesh Hounds for speed, but more costly and less reliable with wounding. Hounds can at least try to beat down regular vehicles with S5 hits to the rear.

Furies? Different type of speed; they get a 12" move and 6" assault. Beasts/Cav get 6+d6+12, which is potentially longer, but potentially hosed in terrain. That aside, though, Furies are more craptastic in melee. WS3, S4, I3, 2 attacks. At least they're T4 with a 5+, but still....I really am not feeling them. They can attempt to glance up vehicles, and maybe sling enough wounds to drop troops, but...nah.

So, it comes to Seekers and Hounds. Let's compare...I'll take 9 hounds at 135 to 8 Seekers at 136. I'm sure that one point's a big difference.

So, on the charge:
Hounds: 27 WS4, S5 attacks
Seekers: 40 WS4, S3 Rending attacks

So, hitting on 4+:
Hounds: 13.5 hits
T6: 4.5 wounds
T5: 6.75 wounds
T4: 9 Wounds
T3: 11.25 wounds
AV10: 2.25 Glances, 2.25 Pens

Seekers: 20 hits
T6: 3.33 rends
T5: 3.33 rends
T4: 3.33 rends, 3.33 wounds
T3: 3.33 rends, 6.66 wounds
AV10: 1.11 Glances, 2.22 Pens

Hmm. Seekers win against monstrous creatures, just based on the rending. Against T5, seekers get the rending love, but also are reliant on it. Hounds crank out a reasonably respectable 6.75 wounds, which might mean a couple get in on stuff without FNP. With it? Ugh. So, T4...depends on the armor. Hounds inflict more wounds, but seekers crank out more rends. If it's Orks, you want the Hounds. If it's armored folks...Seekers might do better. Vs T3, hounds do slightly more wounds, but there's that rending again.

So, after the charge...since we have Furious Charge to account for.

Hounds: 9 hits at S4
Vs T6: 1.5 wounds
Vs T5: 3 wounds
Vs T4: 4.5 wounds
Vs T3: 6 wounds
Vs AV10: 1.5 glances

Seekers: 16 hits at S3, Rending
Vs T6: 2.667 rends
Vs T5: 2.667 rends
Vs T4: 2.667 rends, 2.667 wounds
Vs T3: 2.667 rends, 5.33 wounds
Vs AV10: 0.88 pens, 1.6 glances

Without the Furious charge, the hounds are worse off against more durable targets. Rending carries Seekers through a bit more, and lets them still penetrate vehicles.

So, durability? Simple. Hounds are cheaper, and more durable. If it wounds you on a 2+, you have the same save, and Hounds can get more wounds.

Speed: Equal (Unless Karanak grants Move Through Cover)
Durability: Hounds
Cost: Hounds
Initiative: Seekers all the way, including grenades.
Dependance on Charge: Hounds
Reliance on Dice/Rending: Seekers
Lethality: Close; Depends on Charge

So, they're a bit neck-and-neck. However...I'm kind of leaning towards the hounds. It's the durability that's probably doing it. I mean, the enemy has a turn of shooting at you, and can potentially tag a heap of you with a template if you don't get a good run roll on the landing. The Hounds are similarly lethal, cheaper, and more durable.

And, hounds are NOT going to epic-fail as much if I can't roll sixes. I can always get it on the Seize the Initiative, though. Great talent when playing daemons, isn't it?

So...let's say I go the assaulty road. I have a heap of points to add to the list.

So, I add 3 Heralds of Slaanesh, and three 12-strong Khorne Dog units (one of which takes Karanak. Just because).

The List So Far...
Herald of Slaanesh (Chariot, Unholy Might, Soporific Musk) 90
Herald of Slaanesh (Chariot, Unholy Might, Soporific Musk) 90
Herald of Slaanesh (Chariot, Unholy Might, Soporific Musk) 90
6 Fiends (180)
6 Fiends (180)
6 Fiends (180)
5 Plaguebearers (75)
5 Plaguebearers (75)
5 Plaguebearers (75)
5 Plaguebearers (75)
12 Fleshounds, 1x Fury of Khorne (190)
12 Fleshounds, 1x Fury of Khorne (190)
12 Fleshounds, 1x Fury of Khorne (225)

Total: 1715
13 Units

Hmm. I have 135 points to play around with. What can I get with that? I could always bulk up the Khorne Dog squads. I could probably stand to get another score-bearer squad, which eats up 75 points and leaves me with 60 points. I could alternatively get Herald #4, which takes 90/135, and leaves me with 45, which gets me 3 more Khorne Dogs, and neatly closes out the list. Either option puts me up to 14 units, giving me 7 in a wave. I could almost go for some symmetry here in the way the list is set up.

Honestly, I think I'd rather err on the side of scoring units. So, 5 more Plaguebearers, and 60 points remaining. I should spend all 60 on more Hounds, probably, but...I'm going to probably be converting the Hounds out of Dire Wolves or Chaos Hounds, which are 10 per pack, and that would put me just over the 40 hounds I get out of 4 boxes. So, y'know what? BAM. Transfixing Gaze on the Heralds.

Maybe the Final List? Maybe.
Herald of Slaanesh (Chariot, Unholy Might, Soporific Musk, Transfixing Gaze) 95
Herald of Slaanesh (Chariot, Unholy Might, Soporific Musk, Transfixing Gaze) 95
Herald of Slaanesh (Chariot, Unholy Might, Soporific Musk, Transfixing Gaze) 95
6 Fiends (180)
6 Fiends (180)
6 Fiends (180)
5 Plaguebearers (75)
5 Plaguebearers (75)
5 Plaguebearers (75)
5 Plaguebearers (75)
5 Plaguebearers (75)
13 Fleshounds, 1x Fury of Khorne (205)
13 Fleshounds, 1x Fury of Khorne (205)
13 Fleshounds, 1x Fury of Khorne (240)
Total: 1850
14 Units; 5 Troops, Lots of Speed.

If I went instead with Seekers, I would have 38 Seekers and some change. 38 Seekers vs. 39 Khorne Dogs. Big difference? One body, LOTS of T3 wounds vs T4. No, I think I'll keep the Khorne Dogs instead.

So, building the list...gonna be some conversion fun.
Khorne Dogs = 4 boxes of Vampire Count Dire Wolves
Plaguebearers = I Already Own the Dryad Conversions
Fiends = Something No Doubt Epic That I Have Not Yet Thought Of
Heralds = Probably Some Kind of Bizarre Tyranid-Based, Taloned Monstrositiy with Daemonette Upper Half.

And it's early now. Gonna go.

Friday, August 28, 2009

Hard-won lesson

The important lesson? Always plan on that 'other guy seizes initiative' thing. I'm cursing myself a little for forgetting the basic, but I got a case of the dumb that cost me a Hammerhead off the bat, and learned more about kroot capabilities.

Bottom line? Practice and exposure to a variety of lists makes perfect.

I took the Hybridized Tau (build pretty much courtesy of Stelek) at 1500. They looked like:

Shas'o w/ Missile/Plasma/Multi-tracker
Two 3-man Missile/Plasma/Multi-tracker Crisis Teams
Two 10 Kroot/6 Hound Kroot teams
6-man Fire Warrior Team
8-man Pathfinder Team w/ Devilfish (SMS, Multi-Tracker, Target Lock)
2 Hammerheads (SMS, Multi-tracker, Railgun)

Basically, I cut a Crisis Team, the Piranhas, and the Suits. Why? Well, I was about to work out (...I am meat head? Maybe.), got a game request, figured 'what the hell.' For reference, this is one of the guys I've 'adopted' as a sort of pupil. I've done this a couple times before, with resources like YTTH, and directed them to From The Warp for more reading. If I ever got a freaking Eldar trainee, I could probably do much worse than direct them to Elessar and Dverning as well. I mean, the web's about resources, right? Right.

He rolled with:
5-man TH/SS Squad
Drop-pod (w/ Locator Beacon) MM/HF/EA Dreadnought
10-man tac w/ some stuff
5-man tac
7-8 Scout Squad w/ Cloaks, Telion
10-man Assault Squad, Sarge w/ Hammer/Shield

This is a short batrep, more of a "I made a dumb mistake and it cost me." He is somewhat fearful of Pathfinders and my firepower, so stuff hides. I roll off to go first in spearhead/capture the flag, slap my objective in the back, and deploy the Warriors on it, give folks cover. He has nil long-range firepower.

I fail to use my Kroot effectively as screens. I figure with first turn, I can use one infiltrated squad to try to threaten his objective, but he's a bit cannier than that. Vulkan > squad of Kroot (that love getting pinned by snipers. Stupid Snipers. No, Telion missed 3 out of the 4 shots he took at them. Amazing, yes?)

So, my stupidity? He manages to get Shrike and co within 12" of one of my Hammerheads. Ok, fine, I have first turn. I'll light those guys up, and move the Hammerhead 12" as bait to try to pull them away.


So, he pops the Hammerhead. His Dread comes in and torches half the Pathfinders. I retaliate by shooting the crap out of that squad (Shrike and 10 Assault Marines with him turn into...wounded Shrike and...a couple guys).

Broadsides: Hey! Hey Mr. Dreadnought! Do you like Rail Guns?
Dreadnought: Man, I wish I had a Rail Gun! You got spares?
Broadsides: Do you like hypersonic metal slugs?
Dreadnought: Why?
Dreadnought: !EXPLODES!
...I needed the comic relief.

Yeah. So then his TH/SS Termies come in via the locator beacon on turn 2, and Shrike and company eat a Crisis Suit team. It was that, or potentially let him hit up my claiming Fire Warriors. I shoot down more of his guys, nail Shrike and the Hammer guy luckily, and then assault them down over the course of two turns. My Kroot decline to move out of assault range, thanks to a craptastic run roll.

Turn 3, I lose the kroot without them being so kind as to drag down a single terminator. I manage to kill four out of the five, and mercifully the last one breaks. By this time, Vulkan has wandered over to the pinned kroot, BBQed several of them, broke them in combat, and meandered on over to say 'hi' to my Pathfinders. His lone Rhino has moved out, but with his TH/SS termie within 6" of my Pathfinders, he's pretty much out of the game.

Sadly, at this point (the bloke's 16, so the parents got to control him some) we call it, but it's safe to say it's a draw.

I will lose the Pathfinders without question, but I doubt either of us will be able to get the other guy off the objective. I can probably splat that Rhino (still have Broadsides and a Hammerhead) and murder its occupants pretty readily. If time permits, I might shell the guys on his objective, but then it's a morale crapshoot, and marines are in good shape on that.

Bottom line? More practice for me. Kroot are screens first and foremost, and I got greedy thinking I could march them up and grab an objective. And ALWAYS plan on having the initiative seized from you.

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Stealth Suit vs. Crisis Suits

This is a question I've pondered some, and so far I've gone with Crisis Suits over Stealth suits. But, I think it's time enough for me to poke at the alternatives. I'll start with the battlesuit's common ground, then move to what sets them apart.

Common Ground
Battlesuits in general have a 3+ armor save. Obviously, this beats the pants off Fire Warrior armor at 4+, carapace at 5+, or Kroot hide at 6+ or nil.

Suits are also jump infantry with jet packs. As such, they have a 6" move in the Movement Phase and a 6" move in the assault phase. As such, suits can get a decent movement during a turn, or jump in and out of cover.

The other benefit of suits with movement? They can fire rapid-fire weapons as though standing still. This applies to the Crisis Suit more than the Stealth Suit, as the Stealth Suit's guns are all Assault weapons. Both suits have the natural Tau BS of 3.

Finally, suits have Acute Senses, which grants them a re-roll on Night Fighting Rolls. Not bad, but useful only every so often. It applies more to Crisis Suits anyway, since they have weapons with a range better than 18".

All battle suits may of course Deep Strike, but the best deep-strike enhancement Tau can get is a re-roll on the scatter dice. I'd rather skip it, to be honest.

The Stealth Suits
Stealth Suits are 30 points a head; 3-6 per unit. For this, you get S4, the 3+ armor save, the jump pack, and start out with a Burst Cannon. Every third suit can take a Fusion Blaster at 2 points more. Each suit may take the same support system, or you may upgrade the leader (at a cost of 5 points) to get access to the armory. If you really want to, you can make that a +10pt leader upgrade to give him WS3 over WS2, and I3 over I2. I don't see a point in making him the Shas'vre, as you don't need hte extra WS. You may buy a markerlight on either leader-character for +10 points.

The big perk of the Stealth Suit is, surprisingly, the Stealth Field Generator. If they want to shoot you, they 'spot' you on 2d6x3. Barrage weapons roll an extra d6 for scatter. So, in short, the average distance you'll spot a stealth suit at is 21 inches, as 2d6 averages a 7, and 7*3 = 21. Stealth Suits may infiltrate in addition to their outflank, but that does put you potentially closer to the enemy.

The con is that the Stealth Suit is inherently short-ranged and mono-tasked in terms of weapons. Burst Cannons are only useful for harming infantry or potentially monstrous creatures. You will have to skirt the edge of your natural Stealth Field range in order to jump-shoot-jump, which may or may not backfire on you. If you do want the Fusion Guns, you are getting well within the range of your Stealth Field being ineffective.

An alternative use for a Stealth Suit Team is as a markerlight squad. Kept cheap, you can take a minimal 3-suit squad with a team leader, markerlight, and a couple of marker drones. This would cost you 165. You get three BS3 Markerlights for 165 points. It's expensive, but they are harder to engage because of the stealth field.

The Crisis Suit
The Crisis Suit is the bigger, burlier cousin of the Stealth Suit. It is S5 and T4 with two wounds, which is a significant upgrade in durability over its cousin. However, it loses the stealth field (big surprise there.) Each suit is 25pts naked, and teams are 1-3 suits per elite slot.

Crisis Suits have 3 'hardpoints' that you must fill. Each weapon is one hardpoint, and each twin-linked weapon fills 2. Each support system takes up a hardpoint. Team Leaders or Commanders can take hard-wired systems, which do not occupy a hardpoint.

If the last paragraph didn't clue you in, the Crisis Suit has lots of options. The multi-tracker allows suits to fire two weapons instead of one. For 5 points, it's a sweet deal.

So, on to Crisis Suit weapons. They can take flamers, fusion guns (S8, AP1, 12" melta), Missile Pods (Assault 2, 36", S7 AP4), Burst Cannons (S5, AP5, Assault 3, 18"), or plasma rifles (S6, AP2, 24" Rapid Fire). Note Crisis Suits may fire Rapid-fire weapons as though they had not moved.

The Crisis Suit is just about your only source of middle-weight fire. You should pretty much always equip them with a missile pod. Missile pods are your light anti-armor weapons, or they readily wound just about whatever you point them at. They also have a fine stand-off range. When you look at the rest of the codex, your guns move from S5 (virtually everywhere) to S10 AP1 (Rail Guns on the Broadsides and Rail-Heads).

The Crisis Suit Missile Pod is the only way to bridge this gap, and it's an excellent multi-role weapon. As such, they're pretty much mandatory when it comes to kitting out a Crisis Suit. Otherwise, you're relying on Railguns for every last anti-tank shot in your army, which means you'll have to spend them on Trukks and Land Raiders alike. I cannot stress enough just how useful it is to give your Crisis Suits these weapons.

So, on to the rest of the hardpoints. You can always twin-link the missile pod, but then you're basically committing to a flamer or support system, since you can only shoot one weapon if you take a twin-linked one. Why? There's the whole '3 hardpoints' thing, and you're taking up two. Your other gun is something you can't use with the pod, so you could go for the support flamer. Such a configuration IS cheap; TL-Missiles + Flamer = 47 points; not bad for a suit.

You could equip a burst cannon to the suit, but that's useful only for anti-infantry fire, and up close. With Tau, your army is pretty much S: Crappy, WS: Laughable, and I: goes last. So, screening units, distance, and other countermeasures to melee are your buddies. Crisis Suits can theoretically do ok in melee against S3, T3 folks, but even then you're losing the use of all the guns you paid for. If you can range a burst cannon, they're close to you, and the best you'll be is 24" away the next turn.

The flamer, though? Last-ditch weapon. You get one good shot to BBQ hordes. It's cheap, but you pay for what you get. Flamer + Missile launcher combo = can hunt light-weight armor, and has a last-ditch point-defense weapon. If it fails, your suit WILL be in assault range, and you know what happens to Crisis Suits in assault.

I personally favor the plasma rifle. S6, AP2 wounds you and only lets you have cover saves. It also negates crap like Feel No Pain. It also hunts monstrous creatures. And, if stuff like Marines, Terminators, (including Plague Marines) or Carnifexes get close to you? You will be glad for the AP2. Something like a Burst Cannon will just annoy it.

Let's do the of 3 suits, BS3, with point defense weapons. At 24 inches, you get a plasma rifle shot and no other gun. Obviously, the plasma rifle wins here.

3 Burst Cannons = 9 shots at 18", 4.5 hits on average.
Vs T6: 1.5 wounds; 0.5 stick after saves.
Vs T5: 2.25 wounds; chances are there's a 3+ save involved so 0.75 wounds.
Vs T4: 3 wounds; if it's a 3+ save you get one, if it's a cover save you get 1.5 kills.
Vs T3: 3.75 wounds; likely 4+ save so you get 1.875 kills

3 Plasma Rifles outside of rapid-fire range = 1.5 hits.
Vs T6: 0.75 wounds; usually no saves.
Vs T5: 1 wound; cover saves if applicable reduce to 0.5 wounds
Vs T4: 1.25 wounds; 0.625 if cover saves apply
Vs T3: 1.25 wounds; 0.625 if cover saves apply

3 Plasma-Rifles in Rapid-Fire Range = 3 hits
Vs T6: 1.5 wounds; usually no saves. PAIN
Vs T5: 2 wounds; cover saves reduce to 1
Vs T4: 2.5 wounds; 1.25 if you have cover
Vs T3: 2.5 wounds; 1.25 if you have cover

What can you take from this math-hammer? At 18-13", the Burst Cannon is a bit better at killing infantry, but the Plasma Rifle will always beat the Burst Cannon against monstrous creatures and things with Feel No Pain. Once you get into rapid-fire range, the Plasma Gun beats the Cannon outside of cover, hands-down. Against T5 and T4 targets, the plasma gun beats the cannon in rapid-fire range. T3...cannon still wins a bit on volume of fire, as both wound on 2+ by now.

Flamers probably win against well-packed enemies with no armor saves, but the issues of employment get 'em a bit. The Plasma takes on a lighter anti-armor role, but AP2's benefits against Feel No Pain, Monstrous Creatures, and armor beat the silly AP5 of the Burst Cannon. Plus, you get another 6" of range, which translates to more shots.

Crisis Suits vs. Stealth Suits
So end of the day, we've got two different roles for an elite slot. Stealth Suits are pretty much anti-infantry only, though they can risk themselves to get anti-tank shots with meltaguns. Alternatively, they can bring in a few well-defended markerlights (that...average 1.5 light hits for 160 points.)

Crisis Suits, on the other hand, are about the only thing that can give a Tau army middle-weight fire. Simply put, there are lots of sources for S5 fire in a Tau Army, including:
-Devilfish (seven shots)
-Hammerhead SMS/Burst Cannons (4-6, plus any submunition shots)
-Fire Warriors (in a pinch)
-Pathfinders (also in a pinch)
-Anyone that can carry gun drones (read: Piranhas)

There are just lots of sources for anti-infantry fire in the Tau army. So, where can you get middle-weight strength fire from the Tau Army?
-Seeker Missiles (...which involve bringing a hefty amount of Markerlights, and keeping something like the Skyray Alive)
-Hammerheads with Ion Cannons instead of Rail Guns (Yes. Your opponents wil thank you for taking less railguns)
-Crisis Suits

Bottom of the line? I think Stealth Suits can do the damage, but the Crisis Suits can fill a niche in your army that, well, no one else can. Fill an Elites slot with a Stealth Suit is an opportunity cost; you could've gotten a Crisis Suit instead.

When you look at anti-tank in a 1500-1850 Tau, you can probably fill your heavy support section with 3-4 Rail Guns. They're either BS4, or twin-linked BS3. Maybe a few meltaguns in there on Piranhas, that can deliver them. Past that, it's a matter of either getting some S7 missile lovin' on the Crisis Suits, or more anti-infantry power elsewhere.

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

1850 Tau vs. Mech Chaos, Picture Lovin'

Today's treat? Picture-heavy batrep. I was playing my (AKA Stelek brand) Hybrid Tau. My opponent was good ol' Boc, one of my original Disciples of Spite. Boc happens to fail at blogging, though, since he doesn't update. I managed to hand him a moral defeat today, one of his first in a few months.

Boc's List
2 Khorne-Tacs in Rhinos (Mark of Khorne, 2x Meltagun, POwerfist Champ)
1 Berserker Squad w/ Skull Champ (and Kharn) in Rhino
5 Plague Marines w/ 2 plasma guns
8-manish Raptor Squad w/ Khorne Mark, Lightning Claw Champ, 2x Flamers
3 Oblits

Scenario: 5 Objectives
Deployment: Pitched Battle
This shot is from the Chaos DZ; the Pepsi machine filled with Coke is hogging my angle. I camera-failed and forgot to take a picture at deployment, so you see Chaos' first move. The red boxes are taken around objectives. Boc had first turn, and I failed to seize the initiative (amazingly. Somewhere Jon is cursing and wondering why it only happens to him). One Rhino of his promptly immobilized itself in terrain, while another one and the Vindicator moved up. He spent the Defiler shot on Pathfinders, killed two, and failed to cause a morale check. He spent a Vindicator shot on Kroot rather than grab a 12" move and smoke.

That aside, though, Boc opted for a more tactical objective-oriented game. He's played Tau a few times before, though I think I brought a nastier Tau build than he's seen before. At any rate, I can't disagree with the notion of 'that's a lotta rail guns.'

And you can see my Tau do the shuffle. Kroot deployed all around the back to kind of discourage Oblit-striking, since he held those in reserve. I maneuver, kick off some missile shots, and send railguns out. Missiles knock the cannon off the Vindicator (as a rail gun from the hammerhead without a complete turret managed to roll a '2' to hit the front armor...go figure). Broadsides light his Defiler up and pop it. So long, big guns.

Turn 2, he...hides things. Can't say as I blame him. He does manage to pop the Piranhas I moved up to threaten him, as he pulled the troops out of his immobilized Rhino. His Raptors only took a few casualties from the sporadic missile pod shots. They assault my Kroot; I kill a few with hounds, pull them as casualties to maximize my return attacks...then promptly make the leadership check.

The next turn? Unspectacular, as his Vindi is promoted to 'mobile cover for Rhino' and he's planning on preserving troops and grabbing objectives. Raptors and Kroot go at it during my turn, and...I pass a ld4 check.

I pass a ld6 check. Kroot hold.
Turn 4. I've kept my suits and such shuffling around, making it hard to deep strike. More, it's been a game of 'man, I don't want to lose the kroot holding my home objective.' Boc decides 'no guts, no glory' for the deepstrike.
Boc proceeds to roll a 5, 5, and...a HIT on the deep strike. Boc proceeds to forget to shoot them that turn, rather than BBQ the kroot. A critical error, but then again, that Deep Strike had a 66% chance of going to hell in a handbasket.
Kroot FOR THE FREAKIN' WIN. Only took them...3 full turns? They beat down the Raptors. I shed a tear for my namesake unit, and the kroot enjoy fast food on the stick.
Turn four rolls around; time for that claiming roll. Berserkers get out, his remaining tac squad breaks out of cover. Recall there's an objective in the middle (next to the big blue turn dice) and in the upper right corner where the Kroot are hiding. I...decide I should do something, since I really only have two troops choices left. Oh, and that little crater? That used to be the Piranhas. Their gun drones ran away to annoy someone else.
I move the Devilfish up to claim with its Warriors, and...nuke his guys off the objective. His guys on the objective to my far side have lost their rhino and taken some casualties to submunition shots.

Pistols prepare to go into the kroot...
But Kroot just want to hold that objective too many Berserkers and Kharn who have come uncomfortably close.
Slightly out-of-order picture, showing the Plague Marines and his push towards the central objective.

Berserkers pistol down the Kroot...and lose the assault. Well, turn 5. If there's a turn 6, maybe.
Kharn does the happy dance because he cooked Kroot. Kharn will then promptly be placed back with his boys. You see the front of my Hammerhead in a position to move 12" and contest.
Ignore the Eldar Jetbikes; those are CRISIS SUITS. Hammerhead moves up to ensure I'm contesting and force them to hit me on a 6+ in assault. All for naught, as the Berserkers get nuked to a last man, and Kharn flubs all three saves he's called on to make. Boc is a sad panda.
Endgame. Game terminates at turn 6. Fire Warriors on the central objective; Kroot on my 'home' objective. He has a tattered Khorne-Tac on the far left objective (relative to my side) and Plague Marine Campers on his home objective. Objectives are color-coded; Green for him and Blue for me. As we have tied, it goes to the carnage.

Objectives: 2 to 2 Tie

Chaos: 3 (Piranhas, Gun Drone Squad, Kroot Squad)
Tau: 9 (2 Rhinos, Raptors, Vindicator, Defiler, Kharn, Berzerker Squad, Tactical Squad, Obliterators)

I believe if we'd totalled it in VP, I would've been well ahead. I lost about...300 points. I believe I killed approximately 1,100 or so.

Closing Thoughts
Tau Troops are Crunchy
Buncha T3 4+ Ld7 guys, or T3, Sv-, ld7 guys whose durability is numbers. I think I've hit on this before, but it's a change from Eldar, where I roll with either bikers/cover/fortune, snipers with Stealth, or guns in Wave Serpents/Falcons.

Crunchy Troops Make For More Tactical Play
I pulled a draw in objectives. It's just a change in armies: I must hammer the enemy into death/immobility, and make sure I hold more objectives that way. This game was a sample of it.

Smart Missiles are Fun
The Devilfish with Smart Missiles (I suppose they're called 'Warfish' in other parlance) did a decent job keeping pressure on stuff that ducked out of LOS. I think I'm sold on these for more than their 'oh, Gun Drones give up a KP'.

Kill those S8, AP3 Guns
Big guns are a priority for their ability to ruin my suits, and generate penetrating hits on my vehicles. I'd rather they die, and there's a reason I've prioritized the battle cannons/artillery whenever it's on the table. I admit I'm a bit worried about facing Guard just for the sheer quantity of this stuff they can send off.

Hiding is a Legitimate Strategy
Considering there were a couple Rhinos and light armor for the most part? I'm not surprised most of the stuff went down in a hurry. Rail Guns and missile pods can mince up light armor, and then it's crossing the open to the Tau. Not a place you want to be.

WTF, Kroot?
I have no idea how they held that long. I would've been fine had they folded that turn, since I was looking at a Ld4 check on that first turn. I would've just nuked his Raptors then. Still, it worked out.

Deep Strike Shields
Kroot were deployed better as both claimers and as 'DO NOT DEEP STRIKE HERE' screens. Which my opponent promptly ignored, and landed his Oblits anyway. Thank the False Emperor he forgot to shoot them. Still, had he scattered, he probably would have mis-happed.

Plasma Rifles Rock
Again, this lesson. Missile pods are mandatory Crisis Suit gear, and plasma rifles? Best point-defense weapon ever. If something's in plasma rifle range, it needs to be dead now. With plasma rifles, I can pretty much make sure it's dead. Beyond that, it reduces you to a cover save, or burns monstrous creatures pretty hard.

Sunday, August 23, 2009

Tau and Troop Options

Today's topic of consideration: Tau troops. We all know troops are important for objectives, and 2/3 of the missions out there, well, you have to claim objectives. As such, the question is how to keep troops alive, and ideally have them contribute something.

Tau have two troop selections: the good old Fire Warrior, and the Kroot. They can both be configured a few different ways. I'll detail some of those options.

The Fire Warrior Team
Fire Warriors are 10 points a head. For that, you get WS2, BS3, T3, I2, a 4+ armor save, and an S5 AP5 gun that's rapid-fire with a 30" range. You also get leadership 7. Now that's really going to keep you in place. Teams may be from 6-12 warriors, so the basic cost is 60 for 6 Fire Warriors.

Anyone can turn in their Pulse Rifle for a Carbine, which is an Assault 1 gun with 18" range, the same S5/AP5, and Pinning. Theoretically, you could give everyone a carbine and have them walk around and shoot at will, but S5 is strictly anti-infantry. You may give them Photon and/or EMP grenades at 1 or 3 points per model respectively. Photon grenades are Defensive grenades. EMP grenades are anti-vehicle, and have fixed damage results rather than a strength value: 1-2 is nothing, 3-4 is a glance, 5-6 is a penetrating hit.

If you want to fix the leadership of the Fire Warriors, you have to pay 10 points to upgrade one to a Shas'ui, who then gets access to the armory. He may also pay 10 points to pick up a markerlight. The armory lets you basically look into a Drone Controller and/or Bonding Knife. The Bonding Knife lets you regroup if you're below half strength, and a Drone Controller can get you shield drones, marker drones, or gun drones.

Critical Analysis
Fire Warriors just aren't that durable, to be honest. They do their best when far, far away from assault, as they generally are hit on 3's, wounded on 3's or 4's, and strike back last needing 4's and 4's or 5's to wound. Bottom line? Fire Warriors lose combat get run down. Fire Warriors are not that durable against shooting either, as their leadership is similar to the Imperial Guard's.

Fire Warriors are also incapable of harming vehicles; they've only got access to S5 guns. You could pass out the EMP grenades, in which case you're paying for 13pt Fire Warriors. Hey, aren't marines 15-16 points a head, depending on whether we have Loyalist or Chaos ones? Yes. They are, and they are a LOT better. Plus, you have to get close to tanks to actually slap EMP grenades on them. So, in conclusion: technically you can hurt them, but you jack up the price on fragile, low-leadership troops.

Against infantry, a full dozen fire warriors (at 120 points) with no upgrades throw out 12 shots if they're ranging infantry outside of rapid-fire range. 6 hit, and 4-5 wound. Figure most enemies can get a cover save, and you might drop a couple enemies with an average turn of shooting. Now, you could spend markerlights to boost your accuracy and get 8-10 hits, which ups you to 6-8 wounds. Is that really your best use of Markerlights, though? I'm not so sure.

If we're rapid-firing this squad, they throw out 24 shots. 12 hits, 8-10 wounds, and some decent death. Oh. Hey. Look. Now you're in range of potential counterassault. You're a bit fragile, did we mention? If you're going to commit to rapid-firing Tau, you're investing in a Devilfish (not necessarily a bad thing, mind you) and advancing. Well, the Fish isn't that fast, and the thing is? A Fish's best defense is being more than 12" away from anti-tank fire, and Fish of Fury is going to get the transport close: exactly where it doesn't want to be.

So, then, Fire Warriors can rapid-fire infantry to death, but the Devilfish doesn't like it, and unless you kill the target dead, you might lose them and/or the Fish. I'd rather use plasma/missile Crisis Suits to look at hurting infantry, and I'd rather nuke infantry transports before they get closer to me.

As such, there are a couple ways I'd really, honestly, think about using Fire Warriors.

Mech Score-Squad
6 Fire Warriors (60 points)
Devilfish w/ Smart Missile System, Disruption Pod, Multi-Tracker (115)
You pay 175 for this arrangement. Chances are you get the Devilfish with Pathfinders for at least the compulsory Fire Warrior team. What do these intrepid Fire Warriors do? Hide in the Devilfish and find an objective to claim. The Devilfish is so configured in order to deny the enemy the Kill Points from the Gune Drones, and to put out a hail of S5 shots at infantry that close.

Spotter Squad
6 Fire Warriors; Shas'ui w/ Markerlight, Drone Controller, Marker Drone (110)
This is a suggestion for a pure foot Tau list. You take several of these teams so you have troops. Their job is to provide markerlight support for the rest of the army, and in a pinch contribute pulse rifle fire. More accurately, they should be used with massed Crisis Suits and Broadsides, who proceed to rain down missiles, plasma, and rail guns on anything and everything until there's nothing but a gooey paste, smouldering ruins, and fine red mist remaining of your enemy.

Theoretically you could take larger Fire Warrior teams, but the goal is to maximize the number of markerlights. If you wanted to crank this up to a 12-man team, for example, you'd be looking at 170 for the squad. 60 points for 6 more Warriors is halfway to another spotter team.

Pulse Carbines, FTW?
12 Fire Warriors, Shas'ui w/ Bonding Knife (140)
If you really, really want to use them as a squad that walks around and shoots, you'd better max them out, and keep them more than 12" away from the board edge. You max them out for sake of durability, and because you want as many pulse carbines as you can because they don't throw out that much fire. Pinning is cute, but most things have a better leadership than the average Fire Warrior. I don't think I'd EVER run them like this, as anyone that brings transports laughs at them, then kills them without possibly ever having to get out of the transport. Or, a heavy flamer makes you do the terminal burny dance, since it kills you on 2+.

Fish of Fury
12 Fire Warriors (120)
Devilfish w/ Smart Missile System, Disruption Pod, Multi-Tracker (115) (or 85 minimal for less firepower and more KP with the Gun Drones)
Total: 235 (or 205 for the 'cheap' version; or 255-225 for the Bonding Knife)
Now, what you're paying for is the ability to deliver 24 BS3, S5, AP5 shots into the enemy. Now, this can certainly hurt the enemy, especially if you add markerlight support (but that's kind of a Tau thing. Markerlights ALWAYS help, but you have to use them there instead of elsewhere. Opportunity cost, you see?)

You've still put your Devilfish at risk, and still put your Fire Warriors in a place to get killed. This can theoretically be your source of anti-infantry power, but electing to use Fire Warriors as your infantry killers over Crisis Suits (as three plasma/missile suits are 186) is that you're stuck with S5, AP5. You can do ok against infantry, but there's nothing you can do to armor over 10, and monstrous creatures or tougher infantry can potentially shrug off what you throw at them.

I can see some of the lure of Fish of Fury, but I think a heavy reliance on them gimps you in terms of capabilities. For example, you're shooting at a T6 monster. 24 shots, let's say you give them a couple markerlights. BS5 means you hit 20 shots. You then wound it 6.667 times, and after the usual 3+ save you wound it 2.22 times. It's alive, and within 12" of you. It's in a fine position to multi-assault your transport AND your squad. There's a possibility it'll wing the transport, and your Fire Warriors? They're going to die. Pure and simple. And, if he directs all the attacks at the transport, he'll probably finish the Fire Warriors off during your turn, which keeps them safe.

Overall on Fire Warriors
I think I'd roll with either the 6-man mech score squad, or the 6-man spotter squad. Fire Warriors are not exactly the strongest troop choice in terms of lethality or versatility. At best, they're support troops with markerlights in a foot list, or a compulsory scoring choice. The thing is, you are required to take at least one Fire Warrior team, so you'd best figure out how to use them.

The Kroot
Kroot are an entirely different beast than Fire Warriors. Kroot have no weapon options, but a Kroot Carnivore Kindred can actually take three types of Kroot and an upgrade character. They all have some common ground in terms of rules.

Common Features of Kroot
Kroot have no armor saves. You can buy them a 6+ armor save at 1 point a head, but to be honest? Skip a 6+ save. There's just no point in that. The most important feature of the Kroot Kindred is that they have Infiltrate*. Kroot additionally have Stealth in forests or jungles, but this is of course dependent on what terrain is available in your area.

What's the Infiltrate mean to you? It means you can screen your army. Why is screening important? Assault kills most everything in your army dead. Kroot are the exception, unless the enemy has a solid armor save. Furthermore, your vehicles? They should almost always have Disruption Pods, but if the enemy can do something like deploy meltaguns within 12", they can drop your vehicles without saves. Kroot can take up the space that someone might otherwise deploy short-ranged vehicle-killing weapons into.

Additionally, if you're there? The enemy can't deep-strike there. In short, Kroot are a utility choice because of their infiltrate, and their ability to be taken in numbers. Kroot are also mercifully cheap, ,at 6-7 points a head. They are, though, reliant on cover as they have T3 and no armor save worth talking about. (They can technically get a 6+, but that is not a save. That is...comic relief when you roll a heap of sixes one in a million times.)

Sadly, Kroot have ld7, so are not that great at losing combat and passing morale checks.

The Basic Kroot
The average Kroot is 7 points a head, and any Kroot squad contains at least 10 Kroot and may have as many as 20. What's the Basic Kroot do? Well, he has a WS4, S4, I3, and 2 base attacks. Now, if you read the book, he's got 1 attack. However, the Kroot Rifle counts as a matched pair of close combat weapons, so you really have two attacks, 3 on the charge. The Kroot Rifle is also an S4, AP6, 24" Rapid Fire shooting iron. Not bad, not super.

As you can see, the basic Kroot is adept enough at melee. They cannot acquire power weapons, but in numbers they can throw a great number of attacks and usually trade blows with both sides needing 4's to hit.

The Kroot Shaper
The Shaper is a 21 point upgrade to a regular Kroot. For those point,s you get a 3-wound Kroot that has Ld8, base 3 attacks, and a 6+ save. The Ld8 is nice, but you could get three more Kroot for the price. To be honest, I'd leave him in the box. If he could do something like take an Eviscerator, (as they could in the Kroot Merc list in Chapter Approved) I might consider them. As it stands, he offers a leadership buff and could theoretically take a Tau gun for another 5 points.

The Kroot Hound
The Kroot Hound shares the statline of the basic Kroot, though it gains a second base attack, I5, and loses the Kroot Rifle. It costs 6 points instead of 7. You may add 0-12 Kroot Hounds to a Carnivore Squad.

The Krootox
Remember that asterisk next to the 'infiltrate' earlier? If you pay 35 points for one of these guys, you lose your infiltration. The Krootox does have 3 wounds, S6, and 3 base attacks. It mounts a Kroot Gun, which is S7, AP4, 48" range rapid-fire gun.

Simply put, I'd skip the 'Ox. You can take 0-3 of them. They kill your ability to infiltrate, and exchange that for a few S6 swings and a BS3 not-quite-autocannon. You kill enemy infantry in melee with torrents of S4 attacks (if you kill them at all in melee), and the Kroot Gun is not exactly that impressive. Plus, for the 35 points you paid? You could get almost six hounds, or five regular Kroot. I'd take the wounds and attacks over the craptastic gun.

Configuring Your Kroot
So, the main purpose of Kroot is infiltrating them into cover, and screening your troops. They are horrifically allergic to any shooting in the open (...funny how lacking an armor save does that to you) and kind of hate flamers as well. Kroot are also not so hot at passing morale checks. So, what's that say to you? Bring lots of them. The enemy has to kill 25% of the unit in a turn to force that ld7 check.

Simple math tells us that at the minimal 10 bodies, it takes 3 wounds to cause such a check. Once you have more than 13 kroot, the enemy must kill 4, and to hit 5 you need 17+ Kroot.

Kroot shooting is also not that hot. BS3 guns with S4? Ok, neat, but you do your damage in assault. Incidentally, Kroot Hounds are cheaper than regular kroot.

So, what'll it cost me to run my Kroot? The basic cost is 70 for 10 kroot. As hounds are 6 points a head, you can get the magic 17 strong unit for 112 points. (10*7 plus 7*6, that is.) Size also allows you to block up more area. If you're unsure, grab 16-17 infantry, measure out 2" coherency, and see how much area you can really stretch that unit over.

Technically, you could also shove Kroot into a Devilfish, but the 10 Kroot cost more than the minimal 6 Fire Warriors. Furthermore, if your Fish explodes? You take wounds on 3+, which means 6-7 Kroot bite it, and you take a morale check, whereupon you probably watch them run off the board. The Fire Warriors might take four wounds, but they can also luck out on saves.

Bottom line? Take lots of Kroot. They're your assault support, and your screen. They are also dirt cheap for what they do.

Troops Summary
Well, you have to take at least one Fire Warrior team. You can mechanize them and shield them in Devilfish, which is an option if you want to go pure mech (...beyond Crisis Suits). You can attempt to make them your core anti-infantry, but it's costly, requires lots of support, and can still turn out poorly for the unlucky 'volunteers.'

Kroot, on the other hand, offer much more utility. They are also very cheap. They infiltrate, they can assault lightly-armored troops with a decent degree of success...but you need to take them in numbers, as Kroot are anything but durable. Kroot get durability by bringing lots of bodies. Considering they're unarmored, well, what do you want?

For myself, I play a hybrid list inspired by Stelek. I run my compulsory Fire Warriors in the Pathfinder devilfish, and then run two 17-man Kroot Squads (10 Kroot, 7 hounds). This keeps my Fire Warriors alive, and the Kroot are a utility choice.

At the end of the day, Tau troops are just crunchy, and not that killy. You have to bring them, so get the most you can out of them. That's why I recommend mounting your Fire Warriors up, and bringing heaps of Kroot. I also suggest looking to your other Force Org Chart slots for actually killing things. Honestly, it's not hard to focus fire and remove stuff; Tau troops just happen to be even easier to kill than most. Accept it, work with it, and you should do fine.

Saturday, August 22, 2009

For the Greater Good

Well, I finally fielded my Tau, against Xardian's mech chaos.

My list is something like:
Hybrid Tau v1
Shas'el w/ Plasma Rifle, Missile Pod, Multi-tracker.
87 points.

3 Crisis Suit Teams, consisting of:
3x Crisis Suits w/ Missile Pod, Plasma Rifle, Multi-tracker
186 per team (558 total)

6 Fire Warriors
60 points

10 Kroot, 7 Kroot Hounds

10 Kroot, 7 Kroot Hounds

Fast Attack
Piranha Squad
2 Piranhas; Fusion Blasters, Target Lock, Targeting Arrays, Disruption Pods

8 Pathfinders
Devilfish w/ Smart Missile System, Disruption Pod, Multi-Tracker

Heavy Support
Hammerhead w/ Rail Gun, Smart Missile System, Disruption Pod, Multi-Tracker

Hammerhead w/ Rail Gun, Smart Missile System, Disruption Pod, Multi-Tracker

Broadside Team
2 Suits; both w/ Advanced Stabilization Systems. One upgraded to Team Leader w/ Drone Controller, 2 Shield Drones

Total: 1850

Xardian's list was something like:
Nurgle Lord w/ Daemon Weapon
2 Dreadnoughts w/ Missile Launchers, CCWs
2x Plague Marine Squads w/ Rhinos (7 strong, powerfist champs, personal icons; one had double-flamers, one w/ double plasma guns)
CSM Squad w/ Rhino (Powerfist champ, icon of chaos glory, double flamers)
~8 Summoned Daemons
2 3-man Oblit Squads

I don't think I'm leaving anything out.

Scenario was Seize Ground, Table Quarters. Three objectives. I won the role to go first, slapped the Hammerheads in a corner, and then had the Fire Warriors near the Devilfish. Kroot formed a screen around my objective and the Broadsides hid behind them. Crisis Suits grabbed some cover and deployed around that objective. The other objectives were off the quarters. Pathfinders grabbed high ground in a building near the middle with a pretty commanding view.

The battle, in short, involved Xardian playing a more tactical game while I was all MWAHAHAHAA! GUNS! GUNS! KILL! He did manage to Seize the Initiative, which was karma considering how often I go first and/or seize the initative. His Rhinos moved out and popped smoke. His Defiler popped a shot at my Suits, and managed to scatter it off the table.

I respond by promptly immobilizing the Defiler, then remove its weapon. I ignore it, it potshots my Pathfinders slowly. He stays in cover, hides his Rhinos as well as he can, and threatens my objective with Dreadnoughts until I blow them up. I err and don't use the Piranhas to meltagun the things. The other problem is he manages to deep-strike the Oblits well, and I give up rear shots.

Bottom line? I make a few mistakes with movement and perhaps deployment. He strikes Oblits well when I should've screened them better, and I lose my hammerheads. Also, one squad promptly rampages through my lines, and proceeds to nuke a Hammerhead, then absorb a heap of gunfire and plasma, and then eat a Kroot assault. The Kroot promptly spend 3 phases fighting them, two of which are TIES. Then, the two Oblits pop them during my turn (win 3-0, Kroot can't seem to make a Ld4 check. Funny that) and then beat up my Broadsides as in 'beat to death.' Then I plasma them until they stop moving.

The game ends turn six with him having one objective cold, and me having one cold. He has a chunk of tactical marines on an objective in cover, and as my Pathfinders are whittled down, I probably wouldn't be able to gun them off the objective without another couple of shooting phases.

Fun Things I learned About Tau
Guns Are Cool
Tau have a crap-ton of firepower. There's something about having a heap of railguns, missile pods, and plasma rifles that makes a man feel mean and sadistic at the same time. At least, it works for me.

On Kroot and Troops
Tau troops are fairly crunchy. A Devilfish isn't bad, but it's not invulnerable to enemy shooting. Fire Warriors can do some decent shooting, but have Ld7 and tend to run away screaming.

Kroot are fine in cover, though enough of them got caught out in a vehicle explosion to run them off the table. They're cheap, though, and are more intended to act as screens. In a pinch, and given terrain, I might be able to work them onto on objective. Still, at 117 for 17 wounds, it's not a bad deal.

Crisis Suits
They should always leave the house with a missile pod, minimum. They're the one break between S5 and S10 in the army, outside of Piranhas. They're strong enough to menace rhinos and transports, and S7 will wound most anything with a toughness value pretty readily.

The secondary weapon is of concern. Honestly, I see the merits of plasma now that I've rolled with it. It's expensive, but it denies armor saves and is a truly nasty point-blank weapon. It also lets me standoff, and at 24", well...honestly, I don't think I'd ever roll with the Burst Cannon. Less strength, AP and range. Flamers? No. Far too short-ranged; if the enemy is that close I'm screwed and asking to lose the suits. 6" move + the jump pack move isn't enough to effectively use it, and I categorically refuse to suicide-drop suits. Fusion blasters? Range issues. Twin-linked missile pods? Maybe, but then you're committing to a support system in lieu of a complimentary shot, and losing on a weapon system.

Hooray for versatility. I like them, though I'd have more of a feel for them if I hadn't given Xardian a great little pocket to drop oblits into. Then again, point-blank twin-linked BS4 meltaguns WILL kill a Hammerhead.

At 200 points, the team is a bit costly, but I can't see taking the team and not taking shield drones, the fire-splitter, and the Advanced Stabilization System. Why the Stabilizer? Don't lose a turn of shooting with the need to reposition.

The Target lock keeps me from overkilling an enemy unit. Against something like a Rhino, well? I think a single Rail Gun slug is probably going to be fine. Twin-linked BS3 is a 75% chance to hit anyway, so there's a pretty reasoanble chance of blowing up or otherwise harming light transports. And, the shield drones? It keeps someone from getting cute and firing stuff like Lascannons and other S8 stuff at the Broadsides.

It helps when I remember to move them and use them correctly. It's like having a Land Speeder that trades its heavy flamer for AV11 on the front, which requires heavy weapons to kill. The Gun Drones are 'eh', but can at least threaten to contest.

Still, while the squad is a bit costly, they can split fusion gun fire, and their gun drone shots as well. In general, I'm reasonably impressed with them.

Tau Thoughts In General
I think I'm going to like these guys. They'll take some getting used to, and they have some issues with keeping troops alive. They aren't necessarily forgiving, but there's something fun about carrying all that firepower.

There's a learning curve, but MAN it's fun having all these guns. Now I just need to get another Piranha, 5 more Crisis Suits, and figure out a better Kroot Hound conversion. Maybe ponder a way to get troops to work more, or commit to just killing more claiming units in lieu of trying as hard to score.

If nothing else, learning Tau should improve my game.

Thursday, August 20, 2009

Crisis Suit Commander WIP, Mystery Sprue

And after a little bit of quiet, I offer proof that I have not been idle. This is the slightly WIP version of my Fire-Caste Commander. As you can see, it's a fairly heavy conversion, and, well, pretty sizeable as well. When he's finished, I'll post him alongside a regular Crisis Suit so everyone can get an idea of the size difference.

I actually have a list of inspirations for this one. The folks over at Advanced Tau Tactica have some amazing conversions up. Go check it out. For the Armored Core fans, I have to cite Noblesse Oblige and the Aaliyah chassis for the head.

The legs come from a Mechwarior Age of Destruction Nova Cat. I think it ends up looking like a heavier version of the leg that the rest of my conversions will have.

The hands, of course, were inspired by the conversion of Old Shatterhands. Knife + green stuff + powerfists + sanding = big hands for a Crisis Suit. The torso's bulked up with some flamer fuel tanks, and some marine thigh pouches on the top. There's a liberal application of green stuff and some sanding to make the chest look panelled. The side thrusters (the far outside) are taken from the back of a Mechwarrior AOD Phoenix Hawk. The extra wing-bits on those are from the Mystery Sprue.

Anyone have a clue just what this sprue is and where it came from? I'm seeing Imperial, Chaos, Tau and Eldar bits on this thing. I can't think of where I got it. I think it came in the triple-Falcon boxed set, or some such.

Monday, August 17, 2009

Crisis Suit Team 1, Finished

Here is is, the first Crisis Suit team converted up and completed. I'm pretty satisfied with how they came out, all in all.

The only real conversions are the legs and thrusters, and those aren't too huge. Cut plasticard tube, add extra joint. The thrusters involved measuring a bit of rectangular plasticard tubing, and angling it correctly. All in all, the toughest part was getting the legs to set, look right, and line up. Hence, some of the guys sitting on plasticard strips which were then glued to the base. But, hey, the result's a dynamic pose, isn't it? So it's worth it, in my opinion.

The missile racks are stacked plasticard tubing, in part because I like the triangle a bit more for an arm mount and in part because of the potential scarcity of those. The plasma rifles are the stock plasma rifles, largely because I think those look plenty Tau. Looking back at it, I think I have to claim inspiration from the ESWAT/Ghost in the Shell armed suit for the legs.

Friday, August 14, 2009

District 9

My girlfriend ended up insisting we go see District 9 tonight as it opened. In other words, she's what we call a keeper.

I can tell you, in short: go see it.

It's an honest, intelligent take on an uncommon sci-fi scenario. High tech aliens manage to maroon themselves on earth. I mean, we're talking tech. Humans are more or less modern-day level in here.

Comparatively, the aliens have energy weapons, powered armor, intergalactic travel, and yes, even a gravity gun. One of the sweeter moments in the movie is when someone uses a gravity gun to pick up a slaughtered pig and blow someone away with it.

The movie certainly earns its R rating, though. We see what's basically an anti-personnel bug zapper, and it gets a lot of use. I mean, people literally explode in a shower of gore. But, the violence and well-done CG aliens are not the stars of the movie. It's as it should be; they're window-dressing and a part of the movie. This isn't Transformers where the whole point is "Look at my million-dollar SFX budget." I'm certain that they did spend a heap on special effects, but never to the point that the movie's all about the shiny.

I can't give away much about the plot and scenario without giving it up. I will tell you that it's an original scenario. The plot is not that hard to guess at, but the pacing is well-done. The human lead is a new guy, but he does well in the movie and he is very believable. He is not Billy Badass. He's a paper-pusher, a nice guy thrust into a situation that rapidly deteriorates. Yet, he deals with it well.

The villains...well, I'll just say that you cheer when any of the villain-types get what they deserve. Some of it is very satisfying to watch, if a bit gruesome. (Ok, screw 'a bit.' The aliens are burly enough to rip your arm off, but they'll run off and chew on it rather than beat you down with it. I'm sure they could do the beat-you-down with it, though.)

I will naturally not spoil the ending, but I'll tell you that it's a believable ending. It is not perfectly happy, it is not perfectly tragic, but it is fitting. It keeps the movie from being too black-and-white, and the thing is that the movie does a good job of showing shades of gray and realistic reactions on both sides.

Well, what are you waiting for? Go see it. If all else fails, there's a damned gravity gun and death by flying pig carcass.

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Mech Eldar v2.5 update

Mostly, the 'epic fail' talks about the dice today. I pulled off a win against Jon's Traitor Guard today with the Mech Eldar v2.5 (and the edit was dropping the Storm Guardian Serpent's Lance for an EML, then giving the foot-Seer Runes of Witnessing to bring it to 1850 even).

The comedy was generally in the dice today, though Jon's bad luck started when he knocked his Vendetta off the table (and promptly broke it. At least it was all clean breaks.) during setup. It was cringe-worthy, but I'm glad it wasn't ME doing the breaking, as I'd be forced by guilt and courtesy to do something to compensate, and...I don't have a ton of money.

So, I managed to get first turn again as usual after we rolled up Kill Points and Spearhead.

Jon's list involved something like:
Company Command in Chimera (Astropath, Lascannon HW team, ML/HF Chimera)
1 Chimera-vet squads (triple-melta)
1 Chimera-vet squad w/ Harker (outflankalicious)
1 Vet Squad w/ Lascannon, grenade launchers, camo cloaks
Vet squad w/ 2 melta, 1 heavy flamer
-Command w/ flamers in Chimera
-2 Infantry Squads w/ autocannon teams, and one vox-caster)
-heavy weapon team w/ mortars
2 Devil Dogs (as seperate, one w/ HF, one w/ MM)
Vendetta w/ HB Sponsons
2 Russes (w/ hull heavy flamers)

So, I got first, and grabbed cover. He realized his DZ had crap for cover, so...he threw it all in reserve. Admittedly, this is kind of a 'wtf?' moment, since I'm used to inflicting it on others. So, I maneuver on my first turn, then spend turn two turbo-boosting everything, and fortuning the wave serpents with the dragons in them.

His reserves start the dice fail-fest when the platoon refuses to engage (...until turn 4.). He gets a vet-chimera, the russes, Harker's boys, a Devil Dog, and the Vendetta. He stuns the Fire Prism, and knocks the missile launcher off the burny guardians.

I threaten him with the Fire Dragon serpent (Turbo Boost + Fortune = 4+ re-rollable save versus your hits for Supah Doopa Durable Serpent!) and he responds by moving a squad into place to deny me 6" shots on the Russ, and then...shoots the thing with three meltas, and I promptly flub two of the fortuned cover saves. The Serpent explodes with the first shots pumped into it. FAIL SERPENT.

He whittles the fire Dragons down to two guys who break...and then next turn, they blow up the chimera-vet's ride.

His other Vendetta-vets (...whose ride has been summarily immobilized and lost a lascannon after eating 4 twin-linked S8 shots and 14 twin-linked S6 shots from Falcons) epic-fail to kill the stunned Fire Prism at point-blank with 2 meltas, and Harker's boys have to do it for them. Good job, guys.

His dice-fail contiues with his infantry-borne weapons failing to do a thing.

I unload 5 fire dragons into his other Devil Dog, and...stun it. Their Wave Serpent promptly blows it up with a single lance shot, then I realize I made a dumb mistake and watch his platoon command chimera show up and burn the dragons down.

On the other hand, the last two dragons nuked a Vet Chimera on their own. Four vets died, they flubbed a morale check, ran back, regrouped, and failed to play a role in the game. The other highlight was a damaged Wave Serpent blasting his Platoon Command, exploding it, and taking the command squad out in the resulting inferno.

By the end of the game, the score was 5-4, me.

Jon aced:
Fire Prism, Wave Serpent, 2 Fire Dragon squads

I killed:
2 Chimeras, Rambo, Devil Dog, Company Command.

And, of course, the result of the roll for more turns? 1. (this is far from the only one we saw; he had a set of four 1's when he cranked twin-linked autocannon shots into an immobilized Wave Serpent). On the other hand, Rambo ended up in assault with my Jetbikes, and I had to smack 7 wounds on him to freaking kill him. It took a couple turns; he actually got a damned Hit and Run off. On the flip side, his demo charge did precisely dick, but he's freaking annoying.

When we did it VP, though, he had 1300ish remaining to my 1039, which would be a solid win for him. It goes to show you that VP might be a bit more accurate of a score-keeper. Of course, I'd lost 75 points to a Farseer periling himself, and he had another 75ish points tied up in ONE VET that refused to run.

Thoughts on the new stuff I tried
I...have to re-think holo-fields. They saved my Falcons when massed meltaguns would've seen them dead a few times over, and in turn they saved their Dire Avengers from gruesome death. Holo-fields are worth it. I've updated my Grav Tank Primer to reflect this change of heart.

The whole 'battle cannon' thing made me nervous about the bikes, but the number of lances and fire dragons kind of kept the Russes nervous in their turn. Still, 3 shuriken cannons isn't a bad heap of shots, even if they tend to FAIL at killing things. In retrospect, I think I flubbed on the number of shots, but it works out as Jon blanked on the heavy bolters on his Vendetta. Still, the bikers impressed me this time. I'll have to give 'em another shot and see how they do.

The Storm Guardians...didn't get a good set of shots, but that's in part getting used to playing them.

The list is a change-up for me, but I think I liked some of the changes.

On the Guard Stuff
Outflanking stuff's annoying, and outflanking melta gives me a little pause, but it's more of a distraction than a necessarily reliable tactic. Outflanking Vendettas are a pain, but that's just truth.

Rambo is...interesting. He jumps out, says 'boo!' and whips a demo charge. Thing is, after that he's not necessarily a high-priority target BUT he can still harass/annoy you, and tie up non-assault-oriented units reasonably well. With luck, at least. Failing that, he screams something about a melta-bomb, and you probably ought to shoot him anyway.