Friday, October 30, 2009

What Does Winning a Tournament Mean?

I'll touch base on part two of the promised basic strategy article, though this kind of popped out between work and studying for that take-home test this weekend.

What does winning a tournament mean?

Some folks say it means nothing. Some folks say it means they've earned credibility simply by winning. Some folks will tell you that since you HAVEN'T won a tournament, you should shut up because you've produced no results.

So, Winning That Tournament
Warning: Some Scientific Stuff Ahead

By 'science' I mean I'm dragging the scientific method (kicking, and screaming through a gag and straight jacket) into this realm.

Consider tournaments like a test in school. Does passing a test mean you are smart? It could. So, you take a test. You get a passing grade. What's that mean? Maybe you've studied hard, done well all semester, and earned it. Maybe you crammed, which is a sub-par learning strategy but may still get you that grade.

What if you didn't do well? Maybe you're a diligent student who studies and works hard, but you had a pet die, you had a nasty breakup the night before the test, or something else. Then again, maybe you're a slacker who doesn't study.

Where am I going with this school analogy? There are multiple paths to a passing (or failing) grade. Similarly, Winning a Tournament May Be A Result Of Different Factors.

On to science, then, since I promised it. If we want to make heads or tails out of something from a scientific standpoint, we're going to do our best to control all the inputs. So, if I'm going to get a statistically significant sample* for my study, I'm going to go through the trouble of making sure they take the test with the same conditions; IE no distractions, no extraneous interference (unless I've carefully controlled for it), and so on.

In other words, I'm making sure that none of the random crap is clouding what I'm really trying to find with my study. Mmm, fond memories of spending 20-30 hours a week researching crap for my useless degree.

In 40k, I can reduce the factors of the game to six things, with three for either player:

1) The General's Decisions In The Game
2) The General's Army List
3) The General's Dice

Any combination of these may contribute to your win or loss. If all the dice are average, then they are not a factor, and it's down to the players. Let's all enjoy a laugh as we talk about dice performaing average, and watch Raptor's next game feature dice that are wildly horrible.

There are also factors beyond the player's control, at times:

4) The Scenario
5) The Terrain

These may or may not provide an undue advantage to one side.

Warhammer Is Not Science
Warhammer 40,000 does not obey the laws of science. Similarly, neither do the tournaments. If you are honest with yourself, you will see this.

Let's say that every person who plays Warhammer 40,000 is the population of Warhammer 40k. Well, the whole population probably doesn't play in tournaments.

What's it take to get into a tournament?
Nominally, a sign-up fee, an army, and time.
An army can range from like $800-900 bucks (Don't believe me? Check some math)
Of course, an army can also be around $200 (Also, check the math)

The money's largely academic, since it's kind of the entry fee into the population. So, then, you need like $15-25 and an afternoon off. This isn't a big limit, but it still is a limit; some folks just can't get that specific day off from work/family/the spouse.

So, you lose a few, but you might have a decent local turnout. So, if you win a local tournament, you've proven your ability to beat the locals that showed up on the given day.

Let's say it's out of town.
We're adding transit time and costs to the tournament at a minimum. Now, you're really eating the day up (figure 7-8 hours for the tournament, and maybe a couple hours of driving to be 'out of town'). Ok, gas isn't that bad.

Still, it's your ability to beat the players in that locale, plus anyone that heard about it and showed up.

Let's make it waaaay out of town
So, let's consider a tournament you'd have to drive 5-6 hours and stay overnight. Now we're taking up 2-3 days, and spending a night or two in a hotel. If you work an hourly job, you may incur additional costs in the form of hours off. Or, you might simply be taking time off.

You've also added a few hundred bucks to the entry fee, as you have to eat, drive, and sleep in a hotel for a night or two.

Distance means...
More barriers to entry. Personally, I'm willing to go some distance to play in a tournament; I participated in the Big Waagh! last year. This year, though, the economy hit and I had no job, so the entry fee + gas + hotel put it squarely out of my reach.

I'm not looking for sympathy; I'm just stating facts and pointing out that there ARE barriers to tournaments.

Time means...
More barriers to entry. It's an opportunity cost; you could've done something else that day. Me, if it's a day with the crazy relatives, that's an opportunity cost I'd happily pay. On the other hand, let's say you'd normally be working 3:30-10:30 on a Saturday and making $10 an hour. Not only are you spending time and money to go to the tournament, but you're skipping out on $70 in wages.

...where are you going with this, Raptor?
All I'm trying to say is that you need to consider the external factors before you make much ado about a tournament victory.

Not everyone came. Not everyone had equal dice luck. Not everyone has skill. 'Soft' scores like comp may play a factor**. Scenarios may or may not be a factor. Matchups may or may not be a factor.

Before you make much (or little) of your wins, consider what went into them. I will always congratulate a tournament winner because if nothing else, they won that day and there is some element of an endurance test to them by their nature (and by the fact we tend to play 2.5 hour rounds...).

But please, think a little bit before you consider winning a tournament anything but winning a tournament. If someone tries to tell you to shut your mouth simply because you haven't won a tournament...tell them to address the actual point you're addressing.

Don't mistake this for an attack on tournaments; I'm just attempting to offer some perspective to things.

*I think 30's the minimum, if my memory from stats class serves. Sampling is something I'm not going to discuss here, but suffice it to say that a sample truly representative of a population is the result of some careful procedures. The sampling that builds your tournament set bears no real or implied resemblence to sound statistical/scientific procedures.

**While they shouldn't, they still can. Some sportsmanship ranking systems are a fine incentive to screw over the guy who stomped you. Paint scores are somewhat subjective. Theme scores are hellishly subjective. Then again, you might get a genuinely pleasant set of opponents, and we tend not to remember those in favor of the samples of carbon-based waste that ruin the game for us. So it is to be human and have a memory.

Thursday, October 29, 2009

Basics on Strategy, Goals, and Build Types, Part 1

This is meant to be a basic orientation towards your goal, winning, in 40k, and your execution. You can find part 2 here.

The Goal
The scenario sets forth the goals. There are two goals: capture objectives, and kill the enemy. Objective games may use kills to determine a tie-breaker, and you'll usually be doing some killing of the enemy if for no reason other than it makes it harder for him to win. (That it's fun is a close second).

So, we need guns, and we need the ability to move to objectives, and the ability to deny the enemy objectives by contesting with swift units, or simply killing/running off whatever's close to the objectives. We should also probably hold our own objective.

Strategy is the way you've chosen to go about your goal. A good strategy is broad, but still limits our options and allows us to focus on the means of achieving your goal by telling you what you're putting in your army. Your choice of strategy will also dictate your codex, as not all strategies are open to all codices. At the very least, different codices will have different takes on a given build/strategy.

There are three very basic divisions of a build:

1) Mechanized
2) Foot
3) Hybrid mech/foot.

Mechanized means tanks and transports are in the army. Vehicles are durable, can block LOS, mobile, and require heavier weapons to destroy. Foot armies leave vehicles at home in favor of taking lots of infantry. Hybrid armies are, well, a mix.

Mechanized builds in general have an advantage in mobility. The slowest transport vehicle tops out at 12" a turn, whereas infantry must move 6" + d6, and slower if in terrain. Vehicles can simply make better time across the field, so there is more time to get to objectives, and it is easier to put firepower where you need it when you need it there.

Mechanized builds also derive durability from the fact that vehicles are generally impervious to small arms; you need heavy weapons (and often a heap) to kill them. Or, you must deliver AP1 weapons to the target, which is not necessarily easy.

Vehicles may move and fire heavy weapons. Some are at their best just standing still and firing, others can move and fire with varying degrees of success. Comparatively, infantry tends to have shorter-ranged weapons and cannot fire heavy weapons while moving (...with some exceptions). Transports, though, can get infantry into weapons range faster and with less exposure to anti-infantry weapons. (As a bonus, anti-infantry weapons tend NOT to be so useful against vehicles).

Vehicles come in three basic flavors: light, medium, and heavy. Walkers are a subset of mech that tend to be on the light/medium side.

As you go up in size, you tend to come down in numbers. Armies are, of course, often free to mix weight types, but a focus on one specific type may be advantageous (or it may not).

Light Mech
Light mech refers to AV10/11ish vehicles. Usually, these are lighter transports, sometimes with guns. Light, fast skimmer tanks fall in this category as well.

The survivability of light mech comes from the fact they're usually cheap; Rhinos cost 35 points in the latest marine codices. When taken en masse, such as a nasty army like the Immolator-Heavy Sisters of can be a daunting task to kill them all. Same goes for Mech Dark Eldar (though it knows no forgiveness as an army). Light mech provides no lynchpin unit; light mech elements can be cheap, effective, and numerous.

Samples of Light Mech vehicles:
Land Speeders
Penitent Engines

If it's a transport, even if there are guns on it bear in mind that it needs to be filled with decent infantry. Most of the light skimmers that are fast gun platforms either sit at range and get overlooked because there are bigger fish, or are meant to run up into the enemy's face, discharge short-range weapons, and draw fire 'til they explode violently.

Running lots of light mech has the added benefit of giving your enemy no real 'lynchpin' unit to target.

Medium Mech
Perhaps the best example of medium mech is the Eldar codex; all its tanks are 12/12/10. Medium mech bridges the cost gap, and is a bit more durable.

Medium mech includes, but is not limited to:
Eldar Grav Tanks
IG Hellhound variants
Marine Dreadnoughts

Basically, it's a middle-of-the-road choice. Sometimes it takes the form of well-armed transports like Wave Serpents, Falcons, or Devilfish. Other times, it's simply a medium-weight, medium cost weapons platform like a Hellhound or Dreadnought.

Most of the time, there are lots of options for what kind of shooting role medium-weight mech can fulfill. There's an entire codex (Eldar) built around medium mech, though it makes up for the armor value by giving the tanks additional durability enhancers.

Heavy Mech
Heavy Mech is the realm of AV14. The advantage of heavy mech is that they require very specialist kit, like melta weapons in melta range, to readily kill. The downside is that heavy mech is usually costly; the cheapest it gets is probably the Leman Russ at 150 points base. On the table, heavy mech is big, tough, and has big guns.

Samples include:
Land Raiders
Leman Russ Battle Tanks

Land Raiders are notable in that they are also transports, and usually contain a very nasty assault unit. The rest of the heavy mech units are just large gun platforms. Not everyone gets access to Heavy Mech, but heavy mech can also suck down a lot of points, and going too much into heavy mech can dilute your force if the other guy has some specialist kit. It is possible to bring 3-4 Land Raiders, troops, and call it an army. However, if the other guy has sacrifical melta troops, then he can kill large chunks of your army (...the Land Raiders) and strand their contents.

Walkers are a subset of vehicles. They move like infantry, but take damage like vehicles. In assault, they fight like infantry, and only take hits on the front. They can also move and fire everything, unlike vehicles. Walkers can come in all the weights, but are mostly medium-weight. They can also be geared for shooting or assault, or be capable at both.

IG Sentinels and Penitent Engines are samples of light walkers; they're AV10 open-topped, but are cheap and can be taken in squads. Sentinels can sit back and fire, whereas Penitent Engines run hell-bent-for-leather at the enemy.

Dreadnoughts can be geared for assault with S10 power weapons, and usually have some kind of shooting capability as well. If they can GET to assault, they can deal great damage and require specialist melee kit to kill.

On Mech In General
To sum it up, on mechanization:
1) Mech provides mobility
2) Transports shield your troops from small arms
3) Mech comes in 3 basic 'weights'; you pay more for durability and guns and thus get fewer vehicles on the field. It's a continuum.

Next...I'll cover the basic flavors of foot, talk a little about Hybrid, and add a conclusion.

I'm cutting it up into two articles to see if I can avoid crit-hitting folks with a wall o' text. I'd like feedback on that, as well.

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Attempted Eldar Foot List, 1850

This one's Boc's fault.

To be perfectly honest, I think taking Eldar without grav tanks is...honestly, ignoring their greatest strengths: tough tanks and mobility. It's a hell of a theme list, and you'll see this when it comes to actually getting to an objective. Play a Table Quarters game with the Capture The Flag scenario, and watch him slap it in the far corner. Cry. Fight for that tie.

That being said, here's about as good as I can give you.

Eldar 'What The Foot?!' 1850
Eldrad [210]

Maugan Ra [195]

7 Harlequins [226]
-5 Kisses
-2 Fusion Pistols
-Death Jester
-Troupe Master w/ Power Weapon

7 Harlequins [226]
-5 Kisses
-2 Fusion Pistols
-Death Jester
-Troupe Master w/ Power Weapon

7 Harlequins [226]
-5 Kisses
-2 Fusion Pistols
-Death Jester
-Troupe Master w/ Power Weapon

7 Rangers [133]

7 Rangers [133]

6 Rangers [114]

Heavy Support
Wraithlord [135]
-Scatter Laser
-Missile Launcher
-2 Flamers

Wraithlord [135]
-Scatter Laser
-Missile Launcher
-2 Flamers

Wraithlord [135]
-Scatter Laser
-Missile Launcher
-2 Flamers

Total: 1849/1850

Once you put in 'foot only','re left with these choices, and with Wraithguard. However, Harlies are by far the best/only viable footslogging Elite Choice, and you're dropping around 400 points to get a single Wraithguard choice. They're great at taking up space, and if you want them, you can retool the list by dropping a harlie squad and a ranger squad or two

If you do, be prepared to fortune them all the time, and hope you can bail them out of assault with the Harlies.

Rangers are in there purely to score. You go to ground for a 2+ save if needed, and pray to Ynnead that you don't meet flamers, because they'll poof you.

Wraithlords are your foot choice for heavy weapons support. Part of me would want to just slap Wraithsword + Scatter Laser + 2 flamers and have them RUN at the enemy (...lead it with a harlie squad + phoenix Lord and you've got a 800pt block of your army running at the other guy and putting the 'laughter' in slaughter.)

Past that...hope to get the enemy light armor with what guns you have. That's also why we dropped almost 200 points on Maugan Ra; he sits with some harlies, and provides them with a BFG.

Normally I'd probably overlook Death Jesters, as I'm not really a fan of them. However, in this list I think you just might want the guns. If you don't, you free up 18 points dropping the Jesters for regular Harlies with kisses. Again, normally I'd probably not bother with them, but we're kind of short on firepower here.

Now, why Eldrad? He's going to be in the trailing Harlie squad. See, he doesn't have Fleet, so he'll be slowing you down in assaults. He supports you with psychic powers, as by the time you've bought a foot Farseer with a couple powers and some psychic defense, well...chances are you've dropped something like 150ish points. Go ahead and get that third psychic power; this army will probably benefit from it.

...I cannot help but feel like I'm sacrificing some utility to fit with the theme. I don't feel that Eldar usually have a solid foot list, but this is what strikes me as an option. Can you win with it? Sure. It'll probably be more of a challenge, but this is the kind of army you play because you want to convert it, not because it's the badass of badasses.

Monday, October 26, 2009

The Magical, Magical Power of Counts-As

Rest assured serious readers that I am working on more tactical-minded stuff; I've got some thoughts of strategy-type articles rattling around my dome. On the other hand, I have a midterm tomorrow, just started work today, and had to cover for an idiot group member and crank out a section of a research paper because someone can't be bothered to read directions or study facts.


That aside, I'd like to discuss modelling.

Namely, GW has some funky ideas about what we, the consumer, might actually buy. The short and simple case?

I've already discussed some options for T-wolves, but it's fuelled even more by hearing that Canis Wolfborn is molded to his wolf. Note well that Canis is ALSO metal, so he's a $41.25 bugger.

Seriously, GW has 'til they FAQ the SW 'dex and maybe a little more time to either get out an affordable option (...people probably would pay $30 for two plastic ones, but I think that's still price-gouging because it's like bikes) or people will get lower-cost options.

Bikes in General
$15 a unit. Space Marines can do an all-biker army. I think at 2000 it's legit to say that such an army could readily deploy about 20-30 bikers. $15 a head...oh, and let's not forget that 3-4 of these are probably attack bikes, at $25 a head.

There's also a secondary reason people might consider Cold One Riders for Eldar jetbikes/Seer Councils: $25 for 5 guys. Or, you can drop $15 a head. Do some math. Or, don't, and get the Elves On Dinosaurs. (EVERYTHING IS COOLER ON DINOSAURS. YOU HAVE MY WORD ON IT.)

Eldar tend to call it the 'Exodite' faction, or the 'I don't live on a Craftworld' guys.

And then...DAEMONS!
The Daemon army, though, is by far the greatest offender (and candidate for counts-as). For me, it's things like Fiends and Flesh Hounds. I'm looking at 18 fiends in an army.

Fiends are $20. $20*18 = $360.

Flesh Hounds are 5 in a box for $41.25, and $20 for Karanak. I want to run 36 flesh hounds, including Karanak.

(5*41.25) + 20 = $226.52

So, for my elites and fast attack, I'm dropping $586.25, and if I think in terms of an 8% sales tax, that's $633.15*

Or, maybe I'm going to use the Vampire Count undead hounds + bits for my Fiends (2 boxes at $22) and Beasts of Chaos for my flesh hounds (4 boxes at $22) for $132, or $142.56. Go GF9 for the 40mm bases for the Fiends, and it's still not a lot.

So, who wants to build 52 metal models?
Who wants to build/convert 52 plastic ones?

About what I thought.

To be honest, part of this IS about the modelling. Honestly, I hate building multi-part metal models, and I think the metal Fiend of Slaanesh is pretty 'bleh', to put it lightly. I don't mind the Flesh Hounds so much beyond their price, and the fact they're still multi-part metal models.

The other part is, unabashedly, cost. This is not a cheap hobby by any means (after you factor in that your models take paint and carrying cases, both of which cost) and part of what hurts new entry is the sheer freakin' cost to enter.

Honestly, GW? Please, make it cheaper to enter. We need new blood, and this new blood doesn't need to hear that sometimes, your new army DID cost more than your first car.**

*If you want to make it worse, add in 25 plaguebearers for $118.80, then figure that chariots are something like $20 and you're running four of them, so that's another $85 easily. So, army total is actually something like $836.95. I'm pretty sure there's a house payment and a kegger hidden in there somewhere.

**Or a car.

Note also I add in tax this time around just because the amounts are getting large. There's not a real big deal with tax when you're dropping like $35-40 on a boxed set; it's a couple bucks. It just starts adding up once you reach the few hundreds.

Thursday, October 22, 2009

What happens when you have a heap of terminators...

And suddenly, two options for an army: Logan-Wing, and the DA Deathwing.

It's been a while since I touched those hefty Terminators I've been modding extensively. So now, I'm going to get down to brass tacs on which army I want. I mean, at the end of the day, I'm going to have to play the army.

I may very well use Logan Grimnar's stand-in in another army, so my paint scheme will have an eye towards that. So, I'm going to set out and analyze the units side-by-side, and in terms of army-wide capabilities.

HQ: Belial vs. Grimnar
Belial's half the price; 130 vs. Logan's 275. However, Logan has some hefty abilities.
BS5 storm bolter, or BS5 storm bolter, or nothing for Belial. Not really THAT important, truthfully.
Melee capability
Belial loses here. always worse invulnerable save, and generally run with lightning claws. Logan can match lightning claws with an S5 power weapon, though against T3-4 targets the claws are a little better. Against bigger targets, Logan gets a powerfist. Belial...does not.
Logan wins. Eternal Warrior's a huge help. 4+ invulernable vs Belials 5+. Always hits on melee on 3+. Grants his unit a neat extra special rule? Yeah.

Belial's the bargain version, while Logan is a heftier performer all around if you'll pay for the extras. It does, of course, cut into what else you can bring in the army. Belial does give you access to an Apothecary that negates a wound a turn, but that apothecary is another 40 points.

HQ: Rune Priest vs Librarian
145 base for the Libby, 120 base for the Rune Priest, assuming terminator armor.
A flamer and an invulnerable save, or an unlimited range autocannon + something that slows the enemy down? I think I'd rather the priest.
Psychic Defense
Ld9 hood, or a straight nullify on 4+? I'll stick with the Priest.
Rune priest, hands down. He's more reliable psychic defense, and has better powers.

Basic Terminators
Basic Loadout
Deathwing: 5 guys with storm bolters, 1 power weapon, 4 fists, Fearless: 215 points.
Wolf Guard: 5 guys with power weapon and storm bolters: 165

Unit Size
Flexibility in the Logan-wing. Not so much in the Deathwing.

Fearless vs. Morale
Well, you'll never have a bad dice day and watch Deathwing run. On the other hand, Ld9 across the board, and some Ld10 with Logan and maybe a priest? Logan-wing is open to

Deathwing may take lightning claws for no extra charge, granting them more I4 attacks. Swing for swing, powerfists are obviously more likely to make things go away. However, power weapons go at I4, and while they aren't as killy, you may KO slower troops and reduce the number of attacks coming back at you.

So, Deathwing is slower, but more killy, in CC. However, you can support your Wolves with, y'know, Lone Wolves for hunting the bigger game.

Wolves may also take Frost Blades or Wolf Claws. For 5 points, your power weapon now re-rolls hits or wounds. Make the most of that initative. Frost Blades are 10pts for S5 power weapons, which aren't as good against rank-and-file as Wolf Claws but are a bit nastier against tougher targets.

Overall, it's a tough call. Give Loganwing some upgrades and a chainfist, though, and it's probably 'good enough' once you factor in some Lone Wolves for trying to tag Dreadnoughts and/or monstrous creatures.

A storm bolter is a storm bolter, yes? It shoots bolt rounds. However, Wolf Guard can take combi-bolters. This opens up a variety of options for them, but mostly it means you could drop 5 to mimic the function of a heavy flamer without actually taking up a heavy weapon slot. There's melta, but you should probably find other ways to solve armor problems. On the other hand, 10 points for two combi-meltas? Not necessarily a bad investment.

Heavy Weapons
Wolves win this one. To be honest, a Heavy 2 cyclone missile launcher with a 48" range is excellent at hunting lighter transports. Compared to that, an assault cannon's 24" range is just 'eh'. Rob the enemy of their mobility, and then walk over to 'em and say 'hi'.

This is, honestly, a major advantage for Logan-Wing.

Support Elements
As a rule, the other SW options are cheaper than their counterparts, and their landspeeders can deep strike. Advantage: SW.

The only real advantage DA have is in cheaper Venerable Dreadnoughts, but they have fewer long-range options and the basic dreadought will cost more.

Deep Strike
Deathwing can, Loganwing need drop pods. However, if you're going pure-foot? Why would you worry about deep striking so much? It cuts down on the number of guys you have, which means more fire on fewer 2+ saves. Deathwing just don't have to pay for the pods, but still have to worry about how many troops they reserve.

Personally? I don't really care about the deep-striking thing.

For me? The Logan-wing have better psychic defenses, and better long-ranged weapons. Considering that the major problem with a pure-termy army is the enemy's mobility, Logan-wing is more likely to deny enemy mobility than Deathwing. The CC is fairly close in most cases, and Logan-wing can 'cope' more or less.

Current Draft
Logan Grimnar [275]

Rune Priest [130]
-Terminator Armor
-Chooser of the Slain
-Living Lightning, Tempest's Wrath

Lone Wolf [85]
-Terminator Armor
-Chain Fist
-Storm Shield

Lone Wolf [85]
-Terminator Armor
-Chain Fist
-Storm Shield

Lone Wolf [85]
-Terminator Armor
-Chain Fist
-Storm Shield

10 Wolf Guard in Terminator Armor [430]
-2 Cyclone Missile Launchers
-2 Chainfist
-2 Wolf Claws

5 Wolf Guard in Terminator Armor [220]
-Cyclone Missile Launcher
-2 Wolf Claws

5 Wolf Guard in Terminator Armor [220]
-Cyclone Missile Launcher
-2 Wolf Claws

5 Wolf Guard in Terminator Armor [220]
-Cyclone Missile Launcher
-2 Wolf Claws

3 Wolf Guard in Terminator Armor [99]

Total: 1849/1850

The 10-man squad is there to take advantage of Logan's ability to hand out Tank Hunters; you get four S9 missiles and 1d6 S8 living lightning shots. Aw, yeah.

The three 5-man squads are basic workhorse squads; they can take out tanks if needed, but are fine for cracking open the troopers inside.

The Lone Wolves are problem-solves; it's the list's way of dealing with dreadnoughts and monstrous creatures.

The 3-man squad is called 'I'm not sure what to do with the last 100 points', or called 'you guys sit on an objective out of LOS.'

Total? 33 terminators.

Monday, October 19, 2009

On the Wolf-Wing

Blame this one on Chumbalaya. He got me thinking about it, since if we're going to do Logan-wing, we do it with an eye towards the strengths of the Space Wolves.

With that in mind, I'll walk you through what I've got, with the aim of building a, 1850 list.

Let's start with Logan Grimnar. We kind of have to. He's 275 points off the bat.

Then, let's get a Rune Priest. Psychic Defense IS your friend, and Chooser of the Slain is occasionally a neat piece of kit.

So, we add a Rune Priest w/ Terminator Armor and a Chooser of the Slain. 130 points.

We could get two more choices, but that's probably not really necessary.

A basic 5-man, heavy-weapon-enabled squad costs us 165 points. We're going to go ahead and add a Cyclone Missile Launcher, to let us get lighter armor at range. 195. Grab a just-in-case chainfist. 210.

Now, let's take 5 of them for a footslogging wing. 5(210) + 275 + 130 = 1455.

Elites thing we're missing is the powerfists. Ok. We can try to give everyone a fist; I'm not sure that's a great idea. Let's take Lone Wolves in Terminator Armor with Chainfists and Storm Shields. If the enemy wants to drop our anti-dreads and anti-MC cards, it'll take some serious firepower. I think I'm fine with making the enemy make a decision.

3(85) = 255. Army total, 1710. We have 5x5 Termie Squads, Logan, and psychic defense. We have 140 points remaining.

I think you can go one of three ways here:
1) buy a few more terminators
2) gear up our terminators a bit more
3) buy a pair of MM/HF landspeeders
4) Or, we could re-tool the heavy weapons and go for Drop Pod Wing or something like that.

However, I'm not entirely sure how effective drop pod deathwing would be. But, what the hell. We'd have to drop the Lone Wolves, since they just won't fit. I might break off the idea of 100% terminators to mostly terminators just to make it work a little better. At least we can pass out combi-weapons in the Wolf Guard.

But, here's what the basic list looks like:

Basic Logan-Wing, Foot, 1850
Logan Grimnar [275]
Rune Priest, Terminator Armor, Chooser of the Slain, Living Lightning Tempest's Wrath [130]
Lone Wolf in Termie Armor w/ Chainfist, Storm Shield [85]
Lone Wolf in Termie Armor w/ Chainfist, Storm Shield [85]
Lone Wolf in Termie Armor w/ Chainfist, Storm Shield [85]
5 Wolf Guard, Termie Armor, Chainfist, Cyclone Missile Launcher [210]
5 Wolf Guard, Termie Armor, Chainfist, Cyclone Missile Launcher [210]
5 Wolf Guard, Termie Armor, Chainfist, Cyclone Missile Launcher [210]
5 Wolf Guard, Termie Armor, Chainfist, Cyclone Missile Launcher [210]
5 Wolf Guard, Termie Armor, Chainfist, Cyclone Missile Launcher [210]

Total: 1710/1850

We could hand out Frost Blades and a pair of combi-meltas to each squad, and that'd put us to 1810. Still 40 points to soak. This would give us a little bit of armor-killing power at point-blank range if we need it, and a little more CC power.

I suppose we could also just roll with the two MM/HF speeders in lieu of all the extras, and just deep-strike them. It makes things a bit simpler, and gives us a 'suprise!' card against heavy armor and/or hordes.

On Logan-Wing in Drop Pods
I'm not going to go in-depth on it, but a few notes:
1) 1-2 squads will be shorted to 4 troops if we want to drop-pod Logan and the Rune Priest in pods. This will cost us heavy weapons in those squads.
2) I'm not so sure we need cyclone missile launchers any more.
3) Range. We still want some.

I would consider the basic drop-podding squad something like:
4 combi-melta
Heavy Flamer
Total: 195 + drop pod.

Basic capabilities are in.

If we want to solve range problems, I'll throw out an alternative solution:
Logan + Lascannon Long Fangs. If you don't go first, hide out of LOS, then Relentless into LOS and start shooting stuff. 6 Fangs with 5 Lascannons runs 215. It's a costly chunk, but it lets us try to gimp mech before it can run away from our guys. 5 S10 Lascannons can usually wreck some things, and if it's overkill we can split the fire.

Figured I'd through that out.

Sunday, October 18, 2009

Eldar Army Pictures: Seer Council, et al

I've been meaning to take some pictures of what I've done recently for the Eldar, so here we go.

Princess Yriel/Jain Zar?
This model started life as a Howling Banshee exarch. Then, I decided I'd convert it to Prince(ess) Yriel, so I added a cloak (out of the likely-to-never-happen-Deathwing-Project) and some tabard bits on the front. Recently, though, I've been using it as a stand-in for Jain Zar, who's kind of fun when hidden in a unit of Harlequins.

Fire Dragons
These guys languished in 'chipped paint city' for some time. I obviously neglected to clear-coat them enough, so I stripped them and re-painted them. I also did the bases a bit different; there's Green Stuff AND flocking for texture. Additionally, I finally converted up some flamer-wielding Exarchs. Hey, I had 12 Dragons; I think I can get away with usually running 5.

Seer Council Farseer
She gets the standout bike in purple. The iconography on the bike is indeed hand-sculpted GS lovin'. I'm reasonably proud about how it came out. She is, of course, a Banshee Exarch, though that's a DA Exarch arm with shimmershield on the other side. I picked it because it looked like she was either yelling at her coed Seer Council to do better, or Dooming someone in a booming voice.

Seer Council Group Shot
This give syou a better idea of the composition. The runes on the front are actually coded; the first four are my Destructor 'locks, and the back group from left to right: Schmucklock x2, Enhance Lock, Embolden Lock. I'm pretty happy with how the color composition came out.

Oddball Warlocks
These are the three men in the group. The guy on the left is Schmucklock par excellence; he forgot a helmet so his pose is either getting shot in the face or calling someone out. Middle guy's brought to you buy the actual Jetbiker part, and he too is a schmucklock. He just kind of sticks out. Guy on the right is built out of DA parts. I actually like his pose; it looks a little bit cooler than the rest. I mean, he's Embolden Lock, he's SUPPOSED to be level-headed, right? Right.

Some Female Dire Avengers
Can you guess which one of these I got sculpted as female? If you said 'everyone but second from the left' then you would be correct. I believe the guy took molds of the Banshee exarch, Jain Zar, and maybe the odd female Guardian as models. His original theme was going to be the Sisterhood of Twilight.

The wash-tastic paint job, though, is all me.

Other Bits
I tried out Stelek's Competitive Daemons list. For me at 1850, it was:
4 Slaanesh Heralds (Might, Soporofic Musk, Charoit)
3x6 Fiends of Slaanesh
5x5 Plaguebearers
3x12 Flesh Hounds (each squad w/ Rending, one w/ Karanak)

Despite bad deep strike rolls, it was abjectly nasty. I also kind of underestimated how durable a Slaaneshi herald was, so some of them died less-than-glorious deaths. Still, all that S5 is enough to beat down some armor. I had a brutal tie in VP to one of my disciples of spite, though it was also his first time with mech guard. I think I might drop the $110 or so I need to actually complete that Daemon army, and then think about wolves.

Thursday, October 15, 2009

1850 Eldar vs Chaos

Well, this fight actually happened Tuesday, but I kind of had to write and edit a paper due tomorrow for Contract Management, so yeah. I botched only one detail in the batrep, so there you go.

I rolled with the same Jain Zar + Harlie-led mech Eldar hybrid build, aka the 'Bizarro' build. Boc, one of my pupils of spite, rolled with this CSM list:

2 10-man fist/2 melta Khorne-marked 'tactical' squads in Rhinos (the green rhinos)
7 or 8 man Khorne 'zerker squad w/ fist (the pointy Rhino)
5 Plague Marines w/ 2 plasma guns
6-man Raptor squad w/ 2 meltas, lightning claws, Chaos Glory
3 Oblits
Vindicator w/ Dozer Blade, Daemonic Possession

Mission: Capture The Flag
Deployment: Spearhead
First Turn to Chaos
Failed to Seize the Initative

Boc reserves the Raptors as an experimental exercise. The blue triangles are on the objectives. The troops circled in red are not on the table; they're either in transports or in reserve. The purple-marked Falcon is Eldrad's ride; the blue and teal Serpents are full of Fire Dragons. Red is the Dire Avenger ride.

I deploy back to cut his range, and set the Vypers forth as cover where I can. Might as well use them for something.

End Turn 1
Unsurprisingly, Chaos advanced. Boc was apparently jonesing pretty bad for a smoke; he brain farted and thought I'd reserved my entire army but the Vypers. His Oblits light up a Vyper with three lascannons, and it kind of explodes violently. (Note the purple 'x') His Defiler lands a direct hit on the other Vyper, and promptly rolls snake eyes on penetration. I managed to lose the picture of snakeyes by the Vyper, but you get the idea.

He smokes everything else and advances. I Fortune up a Wave Serpent and Guide my Falcons. Grav tanks jockey for shots. NOT A DAMN THING DIES. This is the story of my shooting for the game, amazingly.

Bottom Turn 2
Fortune proves woefully ineffective. He dumps a squad out to fire on the fortuned fire dragon serpent, flubs. Three oblits land all three hits, stun it twice and explode it. No saves were made. Past that, his shooting is largely inconsequential, as is mine. The disembarked dragons decide to nuke a rhino; gotta stop that mech SOMEHOW. His Oblits prove adept at making cover saves against pulse lasers.

Turn 3 Bottom
First, let me show you what happens when you think 'Oh, he'll never land THAT deep strike.' Iffy rear arc shot? Check. Raptors show up, deviate back six inches, and end up in melta range. Do you know what meltaguns do to AV10?

His shooting stuns up the other Fire Dragon Wave Serpent. I manage to knock his Oblits down to one guy after that, but naturally lose those Fire Dragons. I kick myself a bit for going for the Rhino instead of the Oblits, but what the hell. I stopped his mech, which was probably more important in the long run. Other stuff advances and/or shuffles. My Wave Serpent exploded violently, too, but that's no real surprise.
Turn 4 Bottom
It takes two squads of meltaguns to do it, but he KOs the Fire Dragon serpent AND the other Vyper. His Raptors also eat my Dire Avengers, but they at least shot a few of them to death. Berserkers draw closer to my objective. Fire Dragons in turn pop another Rhino, and at least cost him more mobility.

Turn 5 Bottom
More bullets fly in the midfield. I take his Vindicator and his Berserker's Rhino, but don't get the rolls I need to charge the Zerkers.

Turn 6 and Final
He gets greedy, rapid-fires the Fire Dragons, and...doesn't kill them all. His Berserkers don't get the charge off, so the Harlies and Jain do. Kharn gets wounded once; his squad dies, and then Kharn takes six No Retreat wounds, and dies. Somewhere along the way his Raptors got shot down to only one man, and it falls back.
End Result
Victory Points
666 Eldar to 730ish in Chaos Kills.
Under 10% of game total difference; tie.
That's some of the most comical dice luck I have SEEN on my end in some time. He also had some amazing luck with saves; one time I dumped about 7-8 wounds into a squad and he made them all. I should've been more conservative with my DA's Serpent and just NOT given him a rear-arc shot. I mean, it was a low-odds shot, BUT it came off. At least it kept them from doing more, but it also made it hard for me to get over to try to contest him.
Of course, his shooting was also pretty amazing; he had to dump two khorne-tacs into them, and then stun it and assault it the next turn to kill it. There was also that whole 'battle cannon does not scratch Vyper' on turn one.

It was a blast, but the epic shooting fails hurt, since I had to spend freaking Fire Dragons on Rhinos.

And, unsurprisingly, Harlies + Doom + Jain = DEAD STUFF.

Demonic Possession probably has a place on a Vindy in that it makes it a threat all the time; you have to immobilize it, kill the gun, or just drop the tank.

Other Bits
I got in another game against Chaos Marines today, but the dice were the polar opposites. He had a bad setup, and it wasn't 'til turn FIVE that he killed something. In part he got a bad deepstrike on Oblits when he gambled, and the others failed to kill anything. I lost the Fire Dragons and their Serpents in that game, and in turn killed 2 full Chaos Marine squads, their Rhinos, a Plague Marine squad, Nurgle Lord w/ Daemon Weapon, a Defiler and a Dreadnought.

I should also have pictures up of my recently-painted stuff. The Seer Council finally got a clear coat, and the two additional Crisis Suits are going to be done 'ere long.

Monday, October 12, 2009

40k, Mindset, and You

From time to time, I see folks throw the terms 'fun' and 'competitive' around like they're mutually exclusive concepts, but 'competitive' and 'win at all costs' seem to be the same thing. Usually, WAAC is leveled by folks who thing fun =/= competitive, and it's used as a mark of shame. (Just ask the Arbiter what branding and the mark of shame are like. Go on.)


I think that distinction of 'Fun' or 'Competitive' is a false divide. I am going to go ahead and cite some influence from Sirlin, who I highly recommend as reading. I'm also going to say I think there's room in this hobby for playing for fun, and having fun competing, but not WAAC. I think it gets down to the people.

Defining Some Terms
I intend to use 'playing for fun', 'competitive' and 'Win At All Costs' (WAAC), but I'm going to offer some alternative definitions.

Common use of 'Playing for fun'
I'm under the impression that most people who 'play for fun' take stuff they thing looks neat, or otherwise pick armies that suit your fancy. In a sense, 'for fun' is playing with self-imposed limits that are more important than winng.

And you know what?
In a sense, that's healthy. Winning isn't everything. On the other hand...

Winning is a worthy goal, and honestly, if you're gaming? It should be a goal. I mean, if you're going to play the game, aren't you by definition trying to kill the other guy and take his stuff? I mean, on the table, at least.

And, to be honest, isn't winning usually fun? And if it wasn't, was it due to the person across the table? On the other hand, you should be able to deal with losing gracefully.

Common use of 'Competitive' and/or WAAC
People seem to use 'competitive' one of two ways. Those that impose voluntary limits on what they bring are probably going to call you 'competitive' if you bring the supposedly 'harder' units. By contrast, a so-called competitive or WAAC player supposedly ONLY plays to win, and is dissatisfied by anything less.

As such, they are more likely to bring units that the 'for fun' folks will frown on. If they win against the 'for fun' folks, then it's either twice the affront (you played the game 'wrong' AND you won) or they write it off because you did it wrong.

In Other Words...
You didn't play the game someone thinks it ought to be played. That really sums it up for both sides; some folks in either camp think they've got the "One True Way." I doubt either supposed side could come to a consensus on exactly what their side is about anyway.

What We're Really All Talking About...
We're really talking about how people think about the game. At the end of the day, this is a game played by two or more people, and it's a test of your ability to get along with someone. It's also a test of yourself.

You should ask yourself...
1) Can you win gracefully?
Seriously? Can you? You may have monkey-stomped someone. Or, you might have had good dice luck, their bad luck, and any number of things. Gloating is a sure-fire way to make an ass out of yourself. Congratulate the other guy on a well-played game, or commisserate with them on craptastic dice luck. If they ask for pointers? Oblige them, but do so tactfully.

2) Can you lose gracefully?
Throwing a hissy fit is...not losing gracefully. Shrug it off. At the end of the day, it's toy soldiers, and it's not going to impact your self-worth, job, or anything else of importance. Congratulate the other guy on a win.

3) Can you be honest with yourself?
I think THIS is the biggest challenge of all. PIck apart the game, and ask why it went the way it did. Sometimes you make mistakes, sometimes they do. Sometimes the dice are the dice, and they have an undue influence. Can't win if you can't roll over a '1', can you?

4) Sense of humor, being philosophical, what-have-you.
It's life. Stuff happens. Deal with it. Usually, this is a social game we arrange, so we've a choice who we play with. Those people that are sketchy to play with? They tend not to get a lot of games. In tournaments, we don't always get the choice. Just remember that this too shall pass.

5) Are you willing to learn?
This'll be what'll help you improve your game. There is nothing wrong with improving your game.

If you can do these things, you will be fine as a player.

The Real WAAC
The real, ultimate Win At All Costs literally tries to win at all costs. We're talking a mindset willing to go out of the game's rules. They may cheat, but it's not a given. This is the mindset that's fine with being a jerk, and engaging in any kind of unpleasantness. I have heard tell of someone being enough of a jerk at a tournament that his opponent simply offered to concede because of it, and the opponent started filling in their score.

If this is you? You're doing it wrong.

Bottom Line?
Just freaking be a pleasant person to play. I guarantee you that regardless of your mindset, if two decent people get together to play a game, they'll probably enjoy it. I don't think you can realistically break it down to a simple 'Fun OR compete', as it's ultimately a game set in a rich universe, and it's on the player to decide what they want out of it.

Ask yourself if you can do some of these basic things, and exactly why you'd not like to play against something. Maybe you're not taking the counter. Or, sometimes, honestly, it's in the codex design. At the end of the day, though, it's up to the player to decide what and how much they want out of the universe. Personally, though, I think that either extreme (playing ONLY what looks neato, and playing ONLY what you think will win) means missing out on some of the hobby.

Saturday, October 10, 2009

Eldar 1850 (Bizarro) against Assaulty Guard

Well, I'd intended to take pictures of this battle. I'd also intended to bring the camera, but realized about halfway to the FLGS that the camrea was in my room. Too late, now. The previous night I'd decided on trying some wonky stuff with the Eldar. I present to you my newly-christened 'Bizarro' Eldar list. The 'bizarro' tag's going to denote doing stuff I haven't really considered before. Why? Educational potential. Part of the game is experimenting; if we don't try new things we'll never learn stuff. Without furthoer bloviation:

Bizarro Eldar: Jain Zar edition, 1850
Jain Zar [190]
Eldrad [210]
5 Fire Dragons [80]
Wave Serpent w/ TL Lance, Shuriken Cannon [145]
5 Fire Dragons [80]
Wave Serpent w/ TL Lance, Shuriken Cannon [145]
7 Harlequins; All w/ Kisses but for Power Weapon Troupe Leader, and a Shadowseer [200]
5 Dire Avengers [60]
5 Dire Avengers [60]
5 Dire Avengers [60]
Wave Serpent w/ TL Lance, Shuriken Cannon [145]
Fast Attack
Vyper w/ 2x Shuriken Cannon [60]
Vyper w/ 2x Shuriken Cannon [60]
Heavy Support
Falcon w/ Scatter Laser, Shuriken Cannon, Holo-field [175]
Falcon w/ Scatter Laser, Shuriken Cannon, Holo-field [175]
Total: 1845

Assaulty Guard
Co. Command Squad w/ Straken, 2x Bodyguards, 3 Meltaguns
-Chimera w/ Dozer Blades, Multi-laser, heavy flamer
Priest w/ Eviscerator (attached to Straken)
8/9 man Psyker Battle Squad
Platoon 1
Platoon Command w/ Vox
30 Guardsman; 2 meltaguns, 3 power weapons, Commissar w/ Power Weapon
Platoon 2
Platoon Command w/ Vox
30 Guardsman; 2 meltaguns, 3 power weapons, Commissar w/ Power Weapon
Fast Attack
Hellhound w/ Smoke, Hull multi-melta
Hellhound w/ Smoke, Hull multi-melta
Heavy Support
Leman Russ w/ Hull Lascannon, HB Sponsons
Leman Russ w/ Hull Lascannon, HB Sponsons
LR Demolisher w/ Hull Heavy Flamer
(Or something like that, thereabouts)

The Setup
Table Quarters
Mission: Capture and Control
Random Game Length

Decoding the Amazing Hi-Res Battle Captures
(Or, Sorry I Forgot My Camera, Guys)
Grey is building area terrain or rocks; the black circles are taller rocks and the black lines are buildings, some of which have windows/roofs.

Deployment for the Guard player takes time; he sets up about 80 infantry. The big green blobs are infantry; P1/P2 are Platoon Command, the AG1-2 are Assault Guard 30-man units. The Olive-Drab thinks marked LR or D are the Russes or the Demolisher, respectively. The 'HH' are Hellhounds, and the C is Straken's Chug.

That little H in the bottom? That's the Harlequin squad and Jain Zar. All the other Eldar are in reserve.

Blue X marks the objective spot.

Guard have first turn; Eldar don't really seize the initiative (or care to).

Turn 1

Guard go first; they advance a bit. Mmm, speedy little hellhounds. No one sees the clowns as they sort of shuffle to the side a bit.

Turn 2

Guard advance more. Guard fail to see the angry space clowns.

Eldar roll for reserves. Eldar recieve:
-Both Falcons (Blue DA, Blue DAE is Eldrad's)
-A Vyper (...the V. You had to ask?)
-Both Fire Dragon Serpents (purple FD)

The clowns do the shuffle. The Vyper pumps six Shuriken Cannon shots into the Hellhound, and...stun it. The Falcons open up on the lighter Guard armor. A Hellhound explodes violently, and Straken's ride rattles around a bit. Lances fail to do much to Russes; maybe they shake one.

Turn 3
Guard respond angrily; after the smoke clears one Fire Dragon squad is now minus a ride and two members. The tenacious Vyper that had parked on the Hellhound's butt gets stunned and immobilized. More advancing occurs.

Harlequins start positioning to launch a charge in the next turn or so, and get towards cover. Return fire does little; the Hellhound is once again stunned and loses its multi-melta. A second Vyper arrived and failed to contribute much. Falcons fail, probably because one was stunned and the other can't see better than a '3' to damage AV12. The remaining Fire Dragon's Wave Serpent advances, and looks menacing in preparation to kick out meltagunners.

Turn 4

The Imperial Guard advance again. The Russes do some shooting and immobilize the not-so-menacing-now Wave Serpent. Straken's Chug advances and fires ineffectually at Falcons.

One Fire Dragon squad gets out of its Wave Serpent home and advances on the nearest-to-it Russ. It stuns it, and thanks to the movement earlier only one meltabomb sticks, which shakes it. Ooo-RAH! The other squad finally nukes the Hellhound. Vypers twiddle their thumbs and are briefly glad they're not THAT scary to Russes. Straken's Russ explodes when a Falcon's pulse laser finds its target. Straken's squad shrinks a bit. Stupid Fearless-granting Straken.

Harlequins ponder assaulting the large doomed squad, but Jain stubs her toe on terrain and gets a whopping '3' on Move Through Cover. Harlequins backpedal a bit.

Turn 5

The guard advance more, readying themselves for a run at my home objective. The Psykers finally get a power off, and they Weaken Resolve my Fire Dragons just before said dragons get lit up by lasguns. The Russes manage to shake the non-Eldrad Falcon on their turn. The Russes fail to do anything spectacular with large cannons.

The Eldar turn...
That LAST FREAKING WAVE SERPENT arrives, and tank-shocks into the guys near my home objective. The Falcon (without Eldrad) does likewise, and proceeds to be Death or Glory'ed into oblivion. Whoops. In my eagerness, I also forget to use Eldrad's powers. Fail for me.

The Fire Dragons get on a hilltop, draw a bead on a Russ at the edge of their 12", and manage to explode inch radius. Ah well. That's been par for the course for the explosions here.

The recently-disembarked Dire Avengers pass their pinning test, and gun down Straken's whole squad. So long, preacher-man.

A Vyper makes a run towards their objective, hoping to contest it somehow.

The Harlequins and Jain make it to assault, and massacre half the squad in exchange for a wound on Jain, and a dead Harlequin. I missed about 3 Harliquin attacks and 1 Jain attack on that batch, so apparently Eldrad WAS kind of watching over me. Go figure. Insult to injury comes when the guard squad tries to break, only to have a Commissar pop a sarge and instruct two remaining sergeants and a dog solider that THEY ARE STAYING HERE.

Then, I err, and let my Dire Avengers assault Straken. They killed him. Three wounds, three failed saves. Their Crowning Moment of Awesome was induced by me screwing up and forgetting they ought not have been able to do that. Shame on me, as it truly WAS an honest mistake at the time. Probably would have gotten them killed next turn.

However, there is no turn 6; there's a '1' for the 'Continue, Y/N?' roll.

End Results:
1 Objective to 1 Objective
Tie On Objectives

Victory Points:
Guard Kills:
1 Fire Dragon Squad
1 Wave Serpent
1 Damaged Wave Serpent
1 Damaged Vyper
1 Falcon
Total: 503

Eldar Kills:
LRBT w/ Las, HB Sponsons
2 Hellhounds
1 Chimera w/ Dozer Blade
1/2 Straken's Squad
1/2 Large Assaulty Guard Squad
1 Priest w/ Eviscerator
Total: 777

End Result: Eldar Moral Victory

Final Thoughts
As usual, why do Eldar have suicide troops? Dying species, need for Fire Dragons, high mortality rate of fire get the idea.

Props go to the surviving Fire Dragons; a Russ at 12" is long odds. Props go to the Dire Avengers who WOULD have killed Straken, given the chance. By far it's the coolest thing I've ever done illegaly in a game. We all screw up; this was apparently my time to do so. I'm just glade it wasn't a game-changing foul-up.

Had he brought another Guard scoring unit, I might've had more trouble, as I managed to handle one large assaulty squad. Two is a bit...much. It would've made the game more interesting.

Tank Shocks have some more use than I'd given them credit for. I'll have to add that to my repertoire. I think I'm a bit of a latecomer to that realization, but it's never too early to learn.

Footslogging Harlies aren't so bad. The Troupe Leader is certainly worth it, as the power weapon helped out. He killed 5 on his own on the charge. Mmm, furious charge S4 vs. T3 opponents.

The Phoenix Lords need invulnerable saves something fierce. Jain's a butcher, and preferable for her plasma grenades/banshee mask. None of the others really have something they can offer to that end. I might run Fuegan in this build, just for the hell of it since I'm cobbling one together.

I have the faint urge to get more Phoenix Lords, or to model more. I think my Prince Yriel scratchbuild is in danger of becoming Jain on a permanent basis. This is fine, as it's more like Princess Yriel (based on a Banshee Exarch body, y'know. I got some of the army from a guy who converted them to be female, so I might as well run with it).

I'm not sure Eldrad was 100% necessary. On the other hand, this army wanted a couple Guides, a Doom, and could use Fortune as well. I wonder if that's an army-building requirement with an eye towards psychic powers, or Eldrad just IS that useful. New flash, Eldrad is useful. Man, I hope that's not really a news flash for Eldar players. Just, once I get close to a 3-power Farseer, I might as well drop the extra 30-40 points and get three powers in a turn and all five powers.

I still feel short on anti-tank power. The DA Serpent was meant to add an extra lance and scoring unit to the army. Lances are still not necessarily enough, and even guided Pulse Lasers fall a bit short when it comes to, y'know, stopping AV14.

Vypers aren't so bad when they're not such a priority. Then again, I still have to get rear shots, and was handed one of those, so yeah. Still, they're not bad. I think they might've done more good than the Fire Prism would have.

Comments, feedback, cries of 'cheater' welcome.

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

Potential Thunderwolf Mount Options, et al

I've been brainstorming how I wawnt to do my potential Wolf army. The thunderwolves are, so far, the biggest issue: I'm not dropping $41.25 a head for a bunch of Canis Wolfborn models, or a bunch of Juggernauts/Bloodcrushers.

I'd like to direct you all to the Warhammer Bitz section of the GW site.

Mounts look like decent deals on the bitz. Options include:
-A bunch of types of horses

The horses and wolves are $15 for 5. If you like the sculpts, it's a decent enough deal.

If you're looking for storm shields, the shields section of said site is certainly worth a look for interesting options. While it's totally unrelated to wolves, the wings section there is pretty damn cool.

There's the Beasts of Chaos, at $22 for 10.
Vampire Count Dire Wolves are also $22 for 10, but a bit more beat-up looking.

Marines on Dinosaurs
I am vaguely tempted to use Cold One cav and put marines on dinosaurs. I think I could get a neat scaly them going with some Alpha Legion shoulder pads, some Dark Elf Corsair capes, and some Lizardmen shields for the odd storm shield. $70 would get me more than enough dino-horses, and the capes are about a buck a piece. Not bad, all in all. I might end up rolling with that.

I'd consider the dark elf Cold One riders, 'cept it's a dainty little thing and I'm not sure marines would fit on it. I'd go Carnosaurs, except they're $35 a head or so.

EDIT: I might have to convert up at least one Unicorn Cavalary. Just because. Then again, it's a mutant horse, and mutants are bad, so...yeah.

I think I'm probably going to roll with the Dinosaur theme, and go with the Alpha Legion pads and DE Corsair capes on the footsloggers. Not quite sold on, y'know, capes on a horse. Then again, Marines might.

I mean, it's marines on dinosaurs, and it's pretty much in the name. Raptor1313? Army of Raptors? Just maybe.

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

Blog Pupatation

At least, I think pupatation is a word. Moving to larva, to pupa, to adult? Or am I pulling this out of a dark and smelly place? I do not know.

At any rate, I've made some changes after pondering some and being prompted to finally make some. Stelek had some good suggestions, and I'd meant to fix the whole stupid column-width thing I had going on.

These changes include:
-Comments moved to a popup
-Color Scheme Change
-variable width

The variable width is staying. I'm looking for angles on the color scheme change, and the comments-to-popup. I think I might keep the popups, as it allows a reader to look at the original post and/or pictures within, without having to move back and forth so much.

The color scheme...up for debate. I'm a guy that thinks in terms of the cooler colors, and while red might be more spiteful, I think blue/grey has a nice, cool feel to it that makes it tolerable to stare at.

EDIT: I decided the title border needed something other than black, and decided the top bar needed to not be blue.

Monday, October 5, 2009

On Efficiency in your Army

I see a lot of stuff in lists from time to time, and sometimes the gear/powers/extras just don't seem worth it. At other times, investing a few more points can and will make the difference between a unit being crap and a unit being worth it. Sometimes the analysis is as simple as math, but most of the time it's more subjective than objective in evaluation criteria.

Versatility is almost always a good reason (or excuse) to add more gear. If you can drop a few more points and get a useful capability, then do so. If you can get a multi-role unit, then you increase your chances of being able to get some use out of it.

Examples include:

Space Marine Land Speeder w/ Multi-melta, Heavy Flamer
Speeders start at 50 points with a heavy bolter. For another 10 points, I can give it a multi-melta, and let it hunt vehicles. For 10 more points, I can give it a heavy flamer and the ability to roast infantry. Now, given it's an AV10 vehicle and packing short-ranged weapons, it's not so likely that it will use either ability at the same time. On the other hand, for ten points more on the second weapon, you've made the vehicle a threat to everything on the board. You'll probably only use one of the weapons in a game, but it's simply a utility unit.

Terminators with a Cyclone Missile Launcher
So, you're rolling a footslogging regular terminator squad out of the vanilla 'dex. If you drop 30 points on a Cyclone Missile Launcher, you've given the unit the ability to engage light armor at a distance with two S8 shots, and complimented its ability to direct small-arms fire onto softer targets. It's 30 points well spent.

Howling Banshees with an Exarch w/ Executioner, and maybe other abilities
Howling Banshees are all S3 maniacs with power weapons. This, and doom, are sometimes adequate for dealing with well-armored infantry. On the other hand, charging into a monstrous creature with Banshees is kind of hoping for a lotta 6's, and they can't scratch a T7 monster. Now, if you drop the points for an Executioner, you give the squad a little more efficiency in killing the light stuff, but you can also threaten to finish off wounded monsters and even scratch vehicles every now and then. It's definitely worth it.

Other times, you CAN give a unit an extra capability for some points, but you don't always need to. The best example I can some up with for a situational versatility upgrade is the Eldar Fire Dragon Exarch. For 17 points you can upgrade a Dragon to an Exarch with a heavy flamer that re-rolls failed wounds.

Cool, huh? Well, sometimes. Fire Dragons will only ever usually blow up monstrous creatures and vehicles, but if you need a little extra anti-infantry firepower, then they're a place to pick it up. Now, if you've got Storm Guardians and/or a Seer Council, you've got some template weapons already in your army. However, if you don't, then Fire Dragons can be made to fill that niche. In cases like this, it's best to look at the rest of your army and see if you really do need to spend those points.

Just Getting The Tools
Other times, you'll be taking some upgrades just to get your unit to do what you want it to do. Psykers, for example, tend to feature some upgrade lovin' just because you have to buy powers, and may want to pick up some armor. Other units simply don't work that well when done in a minimal nature. And sometimes? A few extra points just gives the unit the ability to actually DO something.

Examples include...

Eldar Harlequins
18 points for 4 attacks on the charge. 22 points for four rending attacks on the charge. Not a brain-teaser to figure out that in this case, you really ARE better off giving the unit some teeth with the Kisses.

Farseers start at 55 points, and it's pretty easy to get them up to 150 or more. They're your only source of psychic defense in the codex, so you're going to drop some points on Runes of Warding. Next, you're going to take at least one psychic power, and likely two, which is another 60 points minimum. Then, maybe a bike, maybe not. Why spend all this? It's what you have to do to get mileage out of them.

Ork Nobs
Now, you could just buy a heap of Nobs. On the other hand, you could add a painboy (for Feel No Pain joy) and some Power Klaws (so you can actually do some damage to non-infantry targets). The unit gets pricy, but the capabilities improve, and comparing a naked nob squad to one about the same poitns, but kitted out, is no real comparison at all.

Deathwing Terminators
In this situation, they're the workhorse unit of your army. You really NEED to give them teeth; an assault cannon is their best option for harming anything storm bolters can't handle, and even a lone chainfist makes a difference against larger armored targets. The unit jumps from 215 to 250 with just one of each, but it makes the difference. you really need that?
Sometimes, well, units just don't need gear. They're just not going to use it, or not really benefit from it. Sometimes it's a suicide unit, and sometimes it's gear that's just extra in terms of their intended use.
Some examples include...

Imperial Guard Melta-vets
10 guys get out of a Chimera, and blow up your land raider. The punch line? You're going to kill them next turn. If I'm the IG guy, I spent 30 points on a melta and 55 on the chimera; it's the bare minimum. Suicide units do not need neat little extras. If the unit's expendable, make sure it doesn't cost too much to expend.

Tactical Squad Sergeants with Power Weapons/Fists/Combi-Bolters
Admittedly, sometimes they can be useful; everyone's got a story. On the other hand? You're 9 attacks and 2 fist attacks/3 power weapon attacks. Do you really think that a dedicated melee squad can't roll you?

Really? Honestly?

Same goes for combi-weapons, generally. Most of the time it's filler. Oooh, ahh, one extra shot. I admit that in HQ units, a combi-weapon can be a decent use of their BS or something, but most of the time single-use gear is simply filler you toss in if you have a few odd leftover points.

Ask yourself if the gear's going to be used reliably. Some times, it is. If you intend to, for whatever reason, leave a tac squad camping on an objective, then maybe a fist isn't a bad idea since it'll let you watch out for yourselves. But, if you're going to rapid-fire out of a squad? Don't do it.

Extraneous Exarch/whatever Powers
Bladestorm, for the Eldar, is debatable. However, in larger point games, trying to turn them into a tarpit/mleee threat with Defend/power weapon/shimmershield? Maaaybe in smaller games. Maybe. As yourself if you really need it, if you're really going to do it.

Right Unit for the Right Job?
Most of the time, you can get several ways to fill a specific role for your codex. Want to kill troops? You got a lotta ways (well, in the better-designed codices with a variety of units, that is). So, you start sitting down, and asking yourself how you want to accomplish your goals.

As a refresher, your most basic goals/capabilities for an army would be, in no particular order:
1) Objectives: claim, and contest
2) Kill Vehicles
3) Kill Infantry

This is, honestly, the most codex-specific part of this article. It really, honestly depends on what you play as to how you do this. It's a bit of an art at times. You look at your units, and decide what tradeoffs you want and are willing to take.

If 2+ units compete for a task? Sit down and compare them.

1) Can they all do the job reliably?
In the linked example, Stelek discusses the use of sacrifical melta-bearers in an IG army. I'm going to take a slightly different tac, and look at the availability of flamer-type weapons in an Eldar army. I can come up with four options:

Seer Council on Foot Doom Farseer w/ 4x Destructor-Locks [220]

Biker Seer Council [600]
Farseer w/ Fortune/Doom/Bike/Runes of Warding
4x Destructor-locks
1x Enhance-lock
1x Embolden Lock
2x Schmuck Locks

Storm Guardians
10 Guardians, 2 Flamers, Destructor Warlock [127]

Fire Dragons
6 Dragons; one is Exarch w/ DB Flamer, Crack Shot [113]

Can they all do the job? More or less, yes. We have re-rolls on four heavy flamers, we have re-rolls on four heavy flamers on bikes, we have two flamers and a heavy flamer, and we have a single heavy flamer w/ re-rolls to wound. Template burny death? Check.

2) What's the cost of taking the unit?
Here's where we get a little more complex. It's not always as simple as points. Ask yourself:
a) How many points am I paying, and for what exactly?
b) What will it cost to actually employ the unit, IE do I need a transport/other kind of support?
c) How easy is it to employ the complete capability?
d) What Force Org slots am I using, and if it's a 1-way ride can I afford to lose the unit in question?

The foot council costs ~200 + 100-145 for a transport, and an HQ slot. Stop the vehicle and you stop the capability, and they're purely sacrifical. However, I need another Farseer if I want anything other than Doom, and that for very long.

The Biker Seer Council is hellishly expensive, BUT provides other capabilities. However, its cost dictates my build. It requires psychic defense and/or a whole lotta gunfire to kill, or very hardcore melee units to dispatch. Losing it early will likely cost me the game.

The Storm Guardians are relatively cheap, even after the 100-145pt Wave Serpent. They're not bad at the job, but you probably want Doom support for them. They're also unlikely to survive the trip, but if you were relying on Storm Guardians to hold objectives I have to ask why you took them out of the transport. It's not that they're suicide troops by nature; it's that they're not hard to kill with small arms fire, or anything else for that matter.

The Fire Dragons are also realtively cheap, but this isn't their primary mission. For them, it's an extra capability. We will likely NOT be using this neato extra, if there are larger tanks to pop. And, of course, the transport is mandatory for these guys.

My evaulation for the example?

Not really sold on the Burny Foot Council. It's a lot of points, and will kill one target really, really dead.

Storm Guardians are a decent addition to any given Eldar mech army. They set stuff on fire, and are reasonably cheap.

Fire Dragons? It's not the first stop for the flamethrower, but if you have points for it and could use the extra anti-infantry power, then it's 33 points more for something you were going to take anyway.

The Seer Council dictates your build. Pure, and simple. Pick it if you're playing a Seer Council army, obviously...

3) Can I slot it into the army and strategy?
This is something you, the general, will have to ask yourself. Most people have a theme/strategy in mind with their army. Your codex usually has some say on this, as do the rules of the game (hint: vehicles usually good, cover good), and your own personal preferences. This is what it is to be a player and a general; understanding where stuff slots into your list, or if something dictates it and becomes your theme.

Whatever you do, focus on something, even if that focus is in fact versatility. For Space Marines, honestly, versatility IS the theme, and lots of other armies should at least consider it.

Continuing the example...
If I'm trying to do an all-foot Eldar list (...for whatever reason) then putting one unit in a tank is foolish; it's going to get all the anti-tank fire. Hell, this goes for any list. Making something the odd-man-out is a sure-fire way to get all the enemy's anti-odd-man-out capabilities pumped into what'll soon be odd-chunks-over-there. The Seer Council certainly fits this bill of 'lightning rod', but with Fortune on and other threats, it's usually solid.

The rest of our happy little burny elves in the example are generally small enough to be a component. They all lend themselves to mechanization, but that's kind of an Eldar trend. Have good tanks? Take good tanks. Cry when someone pops a holo-fielded Falcon on the first shot. (Hint: odds of getting a 'dead' result on a Falcon are 1 in 12. Crying is permissable if it happens on the first hit).

Finishing Notes
Ultimately, I believe that it's not hard to get some efficiency into your builds, but it's difficult to learn the art of trimming the fat from your army after a point. Sure, a unit screws up or doesn't perform as you like for your strategy, you cut it. You start settling into a build, but...there's almost always tweaks to it. When it comes to change, there's three types: good change, bad change, and change for the sake of change.

I can but offer you some waypoints on the road to getting a better army:

1) Can it do what you want it to?
2) What does the capability really cost?
3) Can I use it in this army? I think that #2 is the most difficult part.

And the on you, commenters and readers.

EDIT1: Briefly tried breaking this down into mutliple posts; lost a heap of formatting. I'm keeping an open mind towards breaking articles into parts, but this one might stand as a wall of text for a while. If I can figure out how the hell to do cuts, I might consider that.

Another Possible Wolf List

Or, I Still Love Thunderwolves, But Here's Another Take. This time, we'll take advantage of the fact that we can take up to four HQs, and we'll actually run a named fellow: Canis Wolfborn. Or, 'Wolf' Wolfborn. Simple GW Translations, For The Win! Then again, the Iron Hand Primarch, Ferrus Manus, literally translates to 'Iron Hand.' Ultramarines are ultramarine get the idea.

At any rate, what you all came for:

That's A Lotta Wolves (Literally) 1850
Canis Wolfborn [185]

Wolf Guard Battle Leader [170]
-Thunderwolf Mount
-Frost Blade
-Storm Shield

Wolf Guard Battle Leader [170]
-Thunderwolf Mount
-Thunder Hammer
-Storm Shield

Rune Priest [120]
-Chooser of the Slain
-Saga of the Beast Slayer
-Living Lightning, Tempest's Wrath

10 Grey Hunters w/ 2 Meltaguns [155]

10 Grey Hunters w/ 2 Meltaguns [155]

10 Grey Hunters w/ 2 Meltaguns [155]

10 Fenrisian Wolves [80]

9 Fenrisian Wolves [72]

9 Fenrisian Wolves [72]

Fast Attack
Thunderwolf Cavalry [230]
4 T-wolves, 1 w/ Thunder Hammer

Heavy Support
Long Fang Pack [140]
Pack Leader
5 Long Fangs w/ Missile Launchers

Long Fang Pack [140]
Pack Leader
5 Long Fangs w/ Missile Launchers

Total: 1849

Your plan is something like 'go that-a-way.' This time, though, each mounted HQ links up with some Fenrisian Wolves and goes a-hunting. Living Lightning and your Long Fangs endeavor to knock things out of transports, and in a pinch you've got the walking, angry Grey Hunters that are packing the rainy day fund of meltaguns.

Too bad Fenrisian Wolves don't have frag grenades. That, combined with T4/6+ feels like a great way to lose some, but then again two of their HQs are going at initiative with either a heap of Wolf Claw attacks or some S6 power weapon attacks.

The other thought is to drop a Thunderwolf and a Fenrisian Wolf to make the Battle Leaders into Wolf Lords, though that 30 points extra does get you +1WS, +1 wound, +1 attack, and +1 Ld.

Wolf Thoughts In General
I think I'm leaning towards a core of 20-30 Grey Hunters with meltaguns as a basic troops selection, and a Rune Priest minimally with Living Lightning and a Chooser of the Slain. That gives me a decent number of bodies, and psychic defense along with a unit for the Rune Priest to hide in. He sits back, he fires off Living Lightning, and I think I'll test the Saga of the Beast Slayer just because I don't like Dreadnoughts. That S10 thing kind of ruins my Thunderwolf Cavalry, and my HQs in general.

Though, if the enemy brings no Dreadnoughts? Fun times might very well ensue.

In fairness, I am contemplating a lot of models, but it's more like a core of 31 bodies, and then the rest of it gets a little more fluid from there. I may screw around with some other ideas.

Sunday, October 4, 2009

Tau Update, and A Possible Wolf List

The Tau
With employment (and, a paycheck) around the corner, I can actually plan on finishing them. I'd put them on the shelf (albeit temporarily) as I want a decent carrying case (and foam). At current, the only case I have is optimized for infantry, and the Crisis Suits are not exactly the right size. I'm getting tired of patching the damned things, but part of me quails at spending money on 40k that's not directly meant to kill something. Then again, it's kind of necessary.

The Space Wolves, Wolf Heavy at 1850
The name's a prototype as well

Rune Priest w/ Tempest's Wrath, Living Lightning, Chooser of the Slain, Saga of the Beast Slayer [120]

Lone Wolf w/ Terminator Armor, Storm Shield, Chainfist [85]

Lone Wolf w/ Terminator Armor, Storm Shield, Chainfist [85]

Lone Wolf w/ Terminator Armor, Storm Shield, Chainfist [85]

10 Grey Hunters, 2 Meltaguns [155]

10 Grey Hunters, 2 Meltaguns [155]

10 Grey Hunters, 2 Meltaguns [155]

Fast Attack
4 Thunderwolves, 1 Thunder Hammer [230]

4 Thunderwolves, 1 Thunder Hammer [230]

4 Thunderwolves, 1 Thunder Hammer [230]

Heavy Support
Long Fang Pack
Leader, 5 Pack Members, 4 Lascannons + Missile Launcher [180]

Long Fang Pack
Leader, 5 Pack Members, 5 Missile Launchers [140]

Total: 1850

Brainstorm 2
Lose the Long Fangs, drop Saga of the Beast Slayer, add Termie Armor to the Priest, bring two more such Grey Hunter squads.

Thoughts Behind The Army
Well, it's got units I want to use: Thunderwolf Cav, and Lone Wolves.

The Rune Priest
Psychic defense a little more effective than the basic psychic hood. Living Lightning is there to engage lighter enemy targets at range. The Saga of the Beast Slayer is there for re-rolls against MCs and/or Dreads, which might be potential problems. Tempest's Wrath is an 'up yours' to skimmers and other enemies that might try to get to grips with me. He rolls with one of the Grey Hunter squads.

To be honest, he should pretty much be standard issue for Wolf armies, just for the utility from Chooser of the Slain and the Rune Staff.

The Lone Wolves
Go for broke on durability + killyness. 2+/3++ over two T4 wounds with FNP, and a Chainfist to mug anything it can lay a paw on.

The Grey Hunters
Well, my elites and fast attack are on foot. I can either try to mech them up, or just walk them behind my other elements. If I want to mech them up and KO transports, it's either two meltaguns out of a Rhino's access port, or two meltas + Guard w/ combi-melta out the top. Mmm, impressive. Except, not.

So, 155 points gets me ten guys with the ability to engage armor and infantry alike. Not bad, plus it's a lot of power armor bodies all told.

The Thunderwolf Cavalry
The two thoughts: go for fewer, but add storm shields? Or, just get more. Four of them with a Thunder Hammer on the lead give them a whole lot of punch, though I'd rather shoot walkers as S10 insta-gibs an expensive guy. Sure, the replying 4-5 thunder hammer whacks ought to sort the problem right back out, but I'd rather not use them in that capacity.

Against anything else, they ought to be some fun.

The Long Fangs
Their job is to try to get mobility off my enemy. Their weapons are priced quite reasonably, to be honest.

They're supposed to hang back, and with all the targets, well, it should be more difficult to try to torrent them down.

First question? Why foot? Stelek's answer is that they're just better on foot. I'm rather inclined to agree. Mech Grey Hunters run the risk of trading your troops for enemy armor. There are a plethora of quality foot options available to the wolves, mostly in your elite and fast attack sections.

To be honest, if you're not using the distinctive capabilities of the Space Wolves, why play them? I'd say some of those are:
1) Grimnar's FuzzWing
2) Foot Wolves
3) Drop Pod Wolves (...which are, admittedly, foot wolves)

A bunch of the cool stuff in the 'dex just doesn't benefit that much from mech. In the above army, the major question of mech comes in two places:
1) Do I mech up my Grey Hunters?
2) Do I bring Predators over Long Fangs?

Regarding number 1:
35 points for the rhino. I suppose I could get some nice 'wall of rhino' and take like 4-5 or so if I broke them up into smaller, more easily eaten squads. I might also block LOS for my heavy weapons, and I'd make sure my enemy focused their anti-personnel weapons onto my Elites and Fast Attack. Furthermore, I'm not convinced of the utility of the 'wall of Rhino' tactic in this army. I'd have to go around them, and the Lone Wolves and Wolf Cav get the best mileage out of busting ass directly towards the enemy, not around some Rhinos.

On Number 2:
Well, honestly, a heavy weapon Predator is 120 points. Autocannon, 2 lascannons, AV13. Downside? They're beacons for heavy weapons. I've got 320 points sunk into the Long Fangs, and I've got four lascannons and six missile launchers in them. If I could free up another 40 points (probably by dropping a Thunderwolf) I'd get a total of six lascannons and six autocannon shots.

The Fangs are another chunk of infantry staying way the hell back; the Predators are a similar threat but are handled by a totally different set of weapons. For the cost, the Long Fangs seem like a better fit.

Is the Army ideal?
I don't know. Looks cool, though, and I've got Eldar and Tau that are meant to be angrier 'punch you in the gonads' armies. Does it have some of the basics?

1) Claim Objectives?
30 Grey Hunters say 'probably, yeah' on that count.

2) Kill Infantry?
By their nature, wolves are assaulty. I'd say most of the army (outside of the Long Fangs) can kill the things. Thunderwolves on the charge are bound to be somewhat nasty.

3) Kill Vehicles?
Every unit in the army has anti-tank capabilities; some more than others. The Priest has his torrent of living lightning (and re-rolls vs. walkers and MCs), the Grey Hunters have meltaguns, the Lone Wolves have Chainfists, and the Thunderwolves have S5 Rending in heaps and an S10 Thunder hammer each.

Oh, and there's about 10 heavy weapons in the backfield, too. Yeah.

More To Come?
I'm looking at ways to use Canis Wolfborn and mobs of Fenrisian Wolves, though the feel will be similar to this list, I think. Just, y'know, more wolves.

Thoughts, reflections, comments, critiques, all that welcome.