Sunday, August 20, 2017

Chaos Space Marines Codex - First Impressions - Alpha Legion

I had a Khorne Daemonkin list back in 7th - so I've a heap of old Chaos stuff I haven't really trotted out in 8th edition.  I have been a fan of the Alpha Legion's fluff from the Horus Heresy books, and thought that the Warlord trait of 'I AM ALPHARIUS' is hilariously in-character and troll-tastic.

So, I trotted out a list that I thought would fit with some of the KDK stuff I had, and try some new stuff in 8th.  My buddy and I were both trying out the new books, so we agreed to a 1500pt list.

Hydra Dominatus! Battalion
Demon Prince (warp bolter, 2x talons)
Demon Prince (wings, sword, talons)
Hellbrute (twin-las, power scourge)
Hellbrute (twin las, fist, combi-bolter)
11 Cultists (heavy stubber)
10 Cultists (heavy stubber)
5 Marines (missile launcher)
Defiler (reaper cannon, scourge, combi-flamer)
4 Bikers (2x meltaguns)
4 Bikers (2x meltaguns)
Heldrake (claws, bale flamer)

Black Templar
Grimaldus
Emperor's Champion
5 Assault Terminators (Thunder Hammer, Storm Shield)
5 Assault Terminators (Thunder Hammer, Storm Shield)
15-man Crusader Blob (fist, flamer)
5-man Crusader Squad (meltagun, multi-melta)
10 man Crusader Squad (meltagun, multi-melta)
Land Raider Crusader

The Battle, In Short
Due to good dice on my part, the Land Raider Crusader got wrecked turn one, between dreads and a biker squad.  The large Crusader Blob ended up dead in assault after that, and Grimaldus ended up staring down a bike squad and a Daemon Prince.

So, he promptly called for backup.  TH/SS guys deep-struck in on turn two, and then promptly failed their charges.  From there, his TH/SS guys wandered towards my DZ, trying to claim objectives and crushing the 5 guys with a missile launcher.  Cultists absorbed the charge, broke off, and he made a BUNCH of saves, even with  Death Hex stripping his saves.  Ultimately, my fast forces down-range managed to get linebreaker, and I drew some stupid-good objectives while he got a little hosed.

Highlights include -
-winged demon prince making an inordinate number of 5+ saves vs. the Emperor's Champion
-bikers are great for shooting, but not so much for assault
-land raider crusaders put out a stupid amount of dakka, but we already knew that

Lessons Learned
1) The Emperor's Champion is a Blender
He gets bonuses against characters AND monsters.  Characters that are monsters really, really need to stay the hell away from this guy.  S7 with re-rolling hits and wounds means if you get charged, you're going to die unless you're really good at making invulnerable saves. Like, really good.

2) Demon Prince Weapons
Skip the sword.  If you're bringing melee support in general, you want twin talons for the seven attacks.  Hitting on 2+ and wounding on a 2+ or 3+ with a -2AP for 2 damage is useful, and the volume of attacks helps.  I'm not sure about the axe, but I'm pretty sure I'm out on the sword.  Ditching two attacks for -3AP and 3 damage on your strikes seems iffy unless you're going after vehicles or monsters, and the axe's better strength, AP, and damage (even if it 'only' hits on a 3+) seems like a better call.

3) Assault Terminator weapons
These guys need help with accuracy and quantity of attacks - they will absolutely murder hefty targets, but struggle with numbers.  A Chaplain is always a good idea, because re-rolls on those 4+ thunder hammers is huge.  Additionally, I think giving the sarge Lightning Claws is a decent move - sarge will have a total of four attacks with re-rolling wounds.  It will help a bit if you end up running into hordes.

4) Alpha Legion - Army Composition
So, -1 to hit outside of 12" is hilarious.  Note also that it only works on bikes, infantry, and hellbrutes.  Demon Princes may not get mileage out of it, but as characters you should be able to position them so shooting isn't as big a deal.

So it brings up the question of "What do I bring outside of those?"  Because anything you bring that doesn't get the -1 to hit bonus is going to draw the long-range fire.  If you bring one thing, it gets all of it.  If you bring two, there's a split.  That's why I went with a Heldrake and a Defiler.

That's also why I effectively had two modules - a speedy one and a backfield one.  Cultists bubble-wrap the dreads, Defiler, and daemon prince while the bikes, winged prince, and heldrake push up.

Since I'm alpha legion, the winged prince starts out as warlord, and since I Am Alpharius applies, I can risk him without worrying about him getting ragged.  The other one serves as counterassault and re-roll buffs.

Wednesday, August 16, 2017

Codex Space Marines - First Impressions on Inceptors

Gotta say I enjoy the sculpt of the Inceptors.  The trick's going to be getting the most out of them.  As with the Inceptors, they compete with some other units an in interesting way, and it's about options.

Inceptors - The Basics
Squad Size - starts as three guys, and can bulk up to a six-man squad per Fast Attack slot.

Weapon Options - they carry a pair of guns.  Bog-standard gear is a pair of assault bolters (translation - take a heavy bolter, cut the range in half and switch it to assault 3 vs. heavy 3).  If you feel like dumping a chunk of points on them, you can swap the whole squad's bolters out for plasma exterminators.  They're assault 3 plasma cannons with half the range.

The guys have no specialized melee weapons, but can deal a mortal wound on a 6 on the charge.  This is not what we'd call 'reliable.'  These guys are guns on jet packs, but melee is a partial consideration.

Mobility - you've got a base 10" move, and Meteoric Descent lets you set up in reserves and drop in no closer than 9" away.

A Note on Durability - As with all primaris, they've got two wounds per bob with the typical marine 3+ save.  However, you do have T5 on top of that - so you're a little more resistant to small arms than the average Marine.

Battlefield Role
Your choice in guns here is really going to determine your use.

Assault Bolters - these are the cheaper option.  You have a good volume of fire at six shots per Marine, and S5 / AP-1 / 1 damage is a useful profile.  A minimum-sized unit cranks out 18 shots (12 hits on average).  These guys can do a number on infantry.  Also, in a pinch you can knock some wounds off of vehicles.  It's not ideal, but a T8 3+ vehicle will probably lose a couple of wounds to a full squad shooting.

Short version - assault bolters are more for killing troops, but in a pinch can soften up or finish off vehicles/monsters through volume of fire.

Plasma Incinerators - these are pretty expensive.  You are, however, paying for the ability to drop a pair of plasma cannons per marine when and where you need them, and get the first volley in.  Each dude fires 2d3 plasma cannon shots - It's either S7/AP-3/1 damage, or S8/AP-3/2 damage (and die on ones).

Note that a squad of these guys is probably going to melt high-value targets.  Math is a little tricky because you're rolling number of shots, then rolling to hit, then to wound.  You can fire as many as 6 shots per guy or as few as 2.  AP-3 means that heavy-armor troops and vehicles should be concerned - things like Terminators and Knights are going to be taking their invulnerable saves unless they're in cover.

Note also that you probably want a captain nearby - if you're going to do anything other than murder one-wound infantry (and frankly, there are PLENTY of ways to do that with cheaper troops) you're gonna want to overcharge.  Each Incepter with plasma incenerators is almost 90 points - and overcharged guns kill them.  You really, really want to re-roll those 1's.  You might consider a deep-striking captain (Terminator armor or jump pack), but with 18" range you might also be able to get away with taking a captain on the board that's mobile.

On purely average dice, a squad of these will knock out 4-6 wounds off a T8 3+ statline.  If you're fighting T7 or less, you're going to up that to 6-8 wounds, which translates to "I think I just deleted a 150-200ish point model".

Overcharged plasma on terminators and the like is just kinda hilarious to watch - each failed save is a dead 45+ point model, and it's not hard to delete a small unit.

Short version - it's risky, but bring re-rolls and plasma incinerators can melt multi-wound infantry and seriously maim vehicles.

Compared to other troopers
1) Assault Marines
Inceptors are their shooty cousins.  The best comparison would be assault bolter Inceptors versus Assault marines - both are going to go after infantry.  Inceptors do it from range; assault marines need to get into hand-to-hand.

You can get a full ten assault marines (and probably a melee upgrade on Sarge) for the price of a minimum-sized inceptor squad.

In melee, the assault marines put out many more attacks - each guy's good for a couple of swings, and they probably got pistols on the way in.  Sheer volume of attacks is going to do better than the assault bolters, but note carefully that assault marines are going to end up putting themselves into the thick of it, and be open to retaliation.  Melee is a risk - there's the part where you're asking to get both shot AND punched, versus just shot.  And make no mistake - you're going to spend time in charge range.

Furthermore, unless you're Black Templar, your odds of assaulting out of deep strike are somewhat iffy - BT can swing it around 48% of the time, whereas everyone else is looking at a ~28% chance - not so great.

Assault marines do better when it comes to volume, but Inceptors are much more likely to get the first strike off, and less likely to get counter-assaulted.  Durability is a bit of a wash; six T5 wounds vs. ten T4.

2) Land Speeders
A couple of land speeders with heavy bolters is about the same as a minimum-sized squad of assault bolter Inceptors.  The tradeoff here is in the platforms and range.

Land speeders have more wounds and a worse save (T5/W6/4+) with the same toughness.  The big difference in their durability is in range - speeders can sit back at 36" and dump shots, whereas the Inceptors are going to have to be much closer.

The big difference here is in the range - Inceptors are close enough to draw fire from just about any source, whereas Land Speeders can sit back.  Land Speeder durability is based in part on the rest of the army - they're kinda allergic to heavy weapons, but if they're one of multiple targets then they're probably less likely to get murdered at range.

Mobility is an interesting comparison - Inceptors can move and shoot without penalty, but Land Speeders take a -1 because Heavy Bolters are, well, heavy weapons.  That being said, Land Speeders have a 16" move, while Inceptors have only 10".

Overall, this one's an army composition comparison - speeders need to be part of a target-rich army to make sure they aren't the only ones taking heavy fire, whereas the Inceptors can get the first strike.

3) Heavy Bolter Attack Bikes vs. Assault Bolter Inceptors
Heavy bolter attack bikes are comparable in points - the firepower and mobility are different.  Bikes have better base speed and turbo-boost, but have no way to get around the -1 penalty for moving and shooting heavy bolters.  Heavy Bolter bikes are more durable per model (T5/W4/3+), but also have less firepower (a heavy bolter and a twin bolter vs. two assault heavy bolters).

Inceptors are also likely to get the first strike.  I'm leaning towards Inceptors here because of the first-strike capability, and because they've got a little better mobility.  I feel like you might as well go with a double heavy bolter Land Speeder over a heavy bolter attack bike.

4) Multi-Melta Attack Bikes vs. Plasma Incinerator Inceptors
Ah, now we're finally getting around to throwing the plasma inceptors.  Costs are similar.  The inceptors can throw more dice, but the attack bikes through much scarier dice.  The bikes have the speed to get within 12" get multi-melta dice.  The problem is that they're only throwing three dice with a 50/50 chance to hit.  You are also asking to get shot up or tied up in assault.

The major advantage that the bikes have here is cost - they're about 20 points cheaper a head than Plasma Inceptors.  Both sides really, really want re-rolls to hit.

While multi-meltas are pretty scary, I'm leaning towards Plasma Inceptors because of weight of fire on this - who cares if you do 1d6 damage if you're only putting out a few shots?

 5) Shooty Terminators vs. Assault Bolter Inceptors
I'm comparing these options because they're both around to drop in and shoot.  The difference lies in what they do after popping up and shooting.  Terminators punch things and hold ground; Inceptors either avoid melee, or break away and shoot.  Terminators also really kinda mess things up in melee with powerfists.

If you want a drop-and-shoot option, your decision here is based on what you want to do afterwards.  Also, if you're Black Templar, consider the fact that you've got almost 50/50 odds to make it into assault when you arrive, so there's that.

In Closing
Inceptors are a fascinating addition to the marine army.  They provide you with a solid deep-striking shooty option that remains mobile after its arrival.  The assault bolter ones are workhorses that can thin out infantry and do a little damage to vehicles.  The plasma-toting Inceptors are significant threats to expensive targets - but are costly and really require re-roll support to avoid being a threat to themselves.  They're also a bit dice-reliant since they have random numbers of shots.

I lean towards assault bolter inceptors myself because of the price, and the fact that they aren't asking for re-roll support.

Saturday, August 12, 2017

Adeptus Mechanicus - First Impressions

I got around to finishing up my AdMech and threw them on the table the other day.  It's an interesting lot in 8th, though I look forward to a full-up book and rules here in a bit.

I took 1,000 points vs. Necrons in the Konor scenario - as we'd both elected to fight for the Imperium since the Necrons apparently hate Chaos.  It ended up being a furball in the middle.

Admech (patrol detachment)
Dominus (Volkite blaster, macrostubber)
5x Sicaran Infiltrators (power sword/stub-carbine)
Cybernetica Data-smith
5x Skitarii Rangers (2x Transuranic Arqeubus)
5x Skitarii Rangers (2x Transuranic Arqeubus)
Onager Dune-Crawler (Icarus Array, cognis stubber)
2x Kastelan Robots (Fists + flamethrower)
Ironstrider Ballistarii (twin lascannon)


Necrons (vanguard detachment)
Cryptek
Warrior Blob
2x Deathmark Squad
Praetorians
Tomb Blades

Synopsis of the battle
I set up in cover in a corner as the defender, and as the attacker, his reserves were hampered by deployment restrictions - so instead of deep=-striking on top of me, I ended up digging in and shooting him on the way in.  The Icarus array did a number on his Tomb Blades, and the Kastelans absorbed the abuse in the middle of the field long enough to win the day.

On the Canticles
So, I admit that I forgot about these a couple times - you roll at the start of your turn.  I recommend an index card or something - you're going to either pick one (1x per battle) or just roll.  You can get a variety of neat abilities out of it (like re-rolls of 1's for shooting or melee).

Note also that you only get canticles if your whole detachment is admech - so if you're going to mix with these guys, pay attention to the detachments you take.  These guys do bring a soolid sniper to the table and some interesting troops in the form of robots and onagers.  Note that the current lack of HQ options (you have the dominus and Belisarius Cawl, and that's it) does make an impact on what you can bring in detachments.

Thoughts on the Models
Domninus
The tech-priest Dominus does two things - give you re-rolls and provide melee punch not found in many places in the army.  Mine hung out with the rangers and Onager and provided re-rolls.  In a pinch it can fix other stuff if it takes a hit, but you really have to think about where you need the buffs and repairs.

If you're going to camp in the back with rangers and/or shooty Dune Crawlers, then the "+1 to leadership" bubble warlord trait is useful.  Mostly because Skitarii have kinda sad leadership and few buffs for it.

Sicaran Infiltrators
Turns out T3 and a 4+ isn't much of a defense.  You're reliant on positioning and infiltrating to keep them alive and get them into melee.  I'm 50/50 between the swords/carbines and the taser goads/flechette guns.  I think the echoice comes down to what else you've got in your army - there isn't really a cost difference, and the kits don't lend themselves to magnets to switch up the loadout.

Whatever loadout you've got, I think these guys are an important part if you're gonna go Admech pure - you need something with some mobility and melee ability.

Cybernetica Datasmith
Bring one if you're going to bring Kastelans.  Otherwise I'm not sure why you'd bring one.  And remember that you need to be near the Kastelans at the start of the movement phase to switch out their protocols.  And think hard about whether you need the extra efficiency (fight twice or shoot twice) vs. the +1 to saves.  And do NOT forget you can repair d3 damage off the robots - getting back T7 wounds is pretty awesome.

Skitarii rangers
Take them with a couple Arqebus and camp.  The 30" rapid-fire 1 guns lose out to the Skitarii vanguard gun (Assault 3, 18" range, and other goodies).  Note that the Arqebus is both a sniper weapon that can pick out characters, and a decent anti-materiel weapon period with S7 and D3 damage (with a mortal wound on a 6+ wound roll).

Onager Dune-Crawler
These guys take up a chunk of real estate - I mean, they're on a pretty hefty base.  That aside, these guys are lumbering gun platforms.  Their role depends on their main gun - the Neutron laser is basically a heavy D3 lascannon with better strength and damage.  The Eradication beamer loses out to the neutron laser unless you're within 12", so I'd skip it.  The twin phosphor blaster is just rate-of-fire, but if you really want RoF I'd think about the Icarus array - against flyers, it's absolute murder as it's a heap of mid-strength shots at BS2+.  If you're shooting at ground-bound targets, it's still 10 shots at S6-7 on a 4+, and you'd just want to hang around the dominus for some re-rolls.

You'd also be surprised how much stuff has the Fly keyword that doesn't sit in the Flyer force org slot.

Kastelan Robots
So, these guys are your anchor.  T7 with 6 wounds and a 3+/6++ (that can get a +1 bonus to saves) is going to soak some abuse.  They're also reasonably spry with an 8" move (which is nice, but it means your datasmith is going to end up advancing to pace them and switch out protocols/execute repairs.

Note that their shooting is more about volume than strength - each can mount three heavy phosphor blasters, so they're dumping 9 shots at S6, AP-2, and 1 damage per 'bot.  18 each if you switch over to Protector Protocol.  If you're bringing these guys as shooters, remember their BS is 4+ and consider sitting a Dominus nearby.

If you're going into melee (and this is pretty much your only high-strength, high-damage melee) then I'd bring the flamethrower on the shoulder.  You may be hitting at S10 AP-3 for 3 damage each, but remember that you're only three swings at a WS4+ - these guys are for holding the line and punching a few guys to death, not killing hordes (outside of the flamers).

Note that the kit itself isn't too difficult to magnetize, which I'd recommend doing based on the price.

Ironstrider Ballistarii
These guys exist to bring a large gun onto the field.  They're also among the swifter things in the book, but you don't have a rule that lets you ignore the penalty for moving and firing heavy weapons.  You can pick either a twin-lascannon, or a twin-autocannon.  On the bright side, they're cheap.  They're also going to disintegrate if the other guy throws heavy weapons at them - T6, six wounds and a 4+ isn't going to do much if you take more than small-arms fire.

Monday, July 31, 2017

Codex Space Marines - First Impressions on Intercessors

We've seen these new Primaris fellows in the various starter sets - and now that we've got the codex, we've got the full picture.  That being said, here's my first swag at just where the Intercessor Squad comes into play.

The Intercessor Squad - the basics
Squad Size - starts at five; if you go up to ten then you can combat squad them.

Weapon Options - so, here's where they really stand apart from the other troops choices.  Everyone carries a bolt pistol and one of three types of bolter - assault bolt rifle, a regular bolt rifle, or a stalker bolt rifle.  Also for every five guys, one of them grabs an under-barrel grenade launcher.  And that's it - those are your options.

Mobility Options - grab a repulsor, or walk.

Battlefield Role
They're probably walking, unless you sprung for a Repulsor - which is awesome, and also like 250-300 points of firepower.  You also probably want something more painful in squad than a few bobs with bolters.  Sarge can grab as word in a pinch, and with three attacks he's not terrible in mlee.

 That being said, the battlefield role depends on their bolter of choice -

1) Bolt Rifle
This is your 'IDK' loadout - compared to a regular bolter, you've got another six inches of range and a -1AP.  Factor in the auxiliary grenade launcher and you're reasonably flexible; you've got one dude that can sorta/kinda threaten armor (Krak grenades) and everyone else has bolts for folks on foot.

2) Auto Bolt Rifle
You pay an extra point a guy to get an assault 2 bolter.  Better volume of fire at range, but you lose the -1AP.  And you should have that aux grenade launcher.  The assault bolters win out at longer range in terms of volume of fire and do better against lighter targets.

3) Stalker bolt rifle
You're now a heavy 1 36" rifle with a -2AP.  This is your camping squad - you trade volume of fire for range, and a pretty solid AP.  They can pick off stragglers at range, though - and that -2AP is going to annoy anyone without cover or a decent invulnerable save.

Compared to Other Troops
1) Tactical Squads
I don't think Intercessors are going to put tac squads out of business any time soon.

PRO
-versatility (sarge has options, and you can take a special and heavy weapon)
-weapon options allow tac squads to engage targets that Intercessors cannot do so effectively (IE - armor, vehicles, etc.)
-cost per model - a tactical marine is about 65% the points cost of a regular one
-transport options - you have Rhinos and Razorbacks
CON
-less durable (1W models vs 2W models)
-basic-issue bolter is inferior to all the options in terms of range and/or volume of fire and/or AP

So it's a matter of role - Intercessors and Tac Squads compete for the following roles - short-range firefight (bolt rifles and bolters+flamers) or home-base objective camping (long-range anti-infantry via Stalker rifles vs. heavy weapons at home).

The biggest difference is that if you're trying to keep it cheap, a five-man band of Intercessors is going to be a bit more durable than a minimal tac squad.

2) Scout Squads
This is a bit of apples-and-oranges comparison.  You can't really compare scouts deploying via Concealed Positions - the Interecessor don't have that.  You're trading durability for board position.  Instead, I'll compare Scouts w/ camo cloaks and sniper rifles to Intercessors

PRO
-slightly cheaper per model
-can take a heavy weapon
-sniper rifles can pick out characters
-sniper rifles can inflict mortal wounds (if you're lucky, so maybe like one per shooting round)

CONS
-need cover to get a comparable save (both have a 2+ in cover; the scouts get a 4+ in the open)
-sniper rifles without mortal wounds are inferior to Stalker bolt guns
-scouts are inferior in melee (one less attack in melee each)

I think Stalker-armed Intercessor squads are a reasonable substitute for snipers - they aren't as dependent on terrain, if the other side DOES get into hand-to-hand with you, you're slightly better off.  Slightly.

3) Crusader Squads
Crusader Blobs (bunch a guys with pistols/swords) are simply going to be meaner in CQC due to volume of attacks and the number of bodies they can bring.  Crusader squads as campers win due to cost and ability to take a special AND heavy weapon in a five-man screw.

In Closing
Intercessors trade the flexibility of tactical squads* for the durability of multi-wound models,
** and cheap access to transports.  They bring better rifles, and unless you're dumping them in a Repulsor then you're using them as mid-to-backfield support.  Intercessors with Stalker rifles compare reasonably well with Scout Snipers*** for backfield campers, and can even sorta/kinda fight in melee.

They're not going to be replacing tactical squads any time soon, but they do offer some durable backfield support.

At least, not at first glance.

*and heavy weapons
**and a hardcore allergy to 2-damage weapons.  Like, hardcore.  It's not even funny, unless you're the one shooting at 'em.
***trade mortal wounds and the ability to cap characters for durability and a lack of reliance on terrain

Sunday, July 30, 2017

Batrep - Black Templars vs. Chaos Undecided

My comrade and I opted to go up to 2,000 points.  We knocked out the game prior to the release of the Codex: Space Marines, though agreed to use Black Templar Chapter Tactics.  Both of us realized those are kinda sick for deep-striking assault troops*, since 9 on a 2d6 with a re-roll is about a 50/50 shot.

Chaos Undecided
Battalion Detachment
Wrath of Khorne Bloodthirster
Herald of Khorne on Juggernaut - Warlord
Hellbrute w/ Reaper Autocannon, Flail
15 Poxwalkers
15 Poxwalkers
12 Cultists w/ Heavy Stubber
12 Cultists w/ Heavy Stubber
Foetid Bloat Drone
Foetid Bloat Drone
10 Hounds of Khorne
Maulerfiend w/ Lasher Tendrils
Superheavy Detachment
Traitor Knight w/ chainsword, thermal cannon, stubber, icarus cannon

Black Templar Battalion Detachment
Chaplain Grimaldus - Warlord
Emperor's Champion
5 Assault Terminators
6 Terminators w/ Assault Cannon
Sternguard squad
Cenobite Servitors
Crusader Squad - 5 men w/ plasma gun, plasma cannon
-Razorback w/ Twin Lascannon
Crusader Squad in a pod (9 guys, meltagun, fist, sword)
Crusader Squad in a pod (9 guys, meltagun, fist, sword)

The Scenario - Secure And Control (capture the flag)
Deployment - Search and Destroy (table quarters)

My Plan
So, I look at the army lists and realize I'm not going to first.  Second, I'm going to have a heap of deep-striking units to deal with.  Well, this is why I bring pox walkers and stuff - I'm going to need them to take up lots of space so I can try to dictate how he deep-strikes.  I know there's melta in his deep-striking squads, so I ensure that my big stuff (the greater demon and the knight) will be out of range on the first turn.  My hounds and herald go into the ruins close to the middle, while cultists and the Hellbrute hold my objective.  The hellbrute is placed so the Razorback can't see it, AND it denies my opponent an easy deep-striking zone, because if he can deep-strike there and land more than one unit I think I lose.

Deployment - Chaos Castles Up
 His objective is in the building in his table quarter - not that you can see it, but there's a five-man crusader squad with cenobites sitting on that objective.  His las-back is in ruins, and his sternguard are at the middle line.
BT turn 1 assault
 He opts to bring in just one squad on turn one - terminators in the middle, which promptly dig into my bubble wrap.  His las-back knocks some wounds off my Knight.
Chaos Turn 01 - Counter-Assault and Desultory Gunfire
 ...so naturally, I'm going to go handle the problem.  His other stuff will come in when it comes in; I just need to start dealing with it now.  My Bloat Drones start pushing up to try to deny more deep-striking space.
Khorne Dogs vs Sternguard
 The Bloodthirster, Herald, Maulerfiend and Hounds burst out of cover and into his guys.  The Herald gets roughed up, and the Bloodthirster kills enough stuff to keep my Maulerfiend from attacking.
Templar Turn 2 - In Which More Terminators Arrive
 So his assault terminators arrive, and Grimaldus and Friends (TM) arrive as well.  Note that those Terminators are standing where a Bloat Drone used to be.
Grimaldus Charges in to Buff His Comrades - 2CP Later He's Dead
 He charges Grimaldus in - I spend CP to ensure that the Bloodthirster gets to swing.  As this happens before the Bloat Throne gets used like a pinata, this gets me both First Blood and Slay The Warlord, which is crucial.
Chaos Turn 02
 Alright, it's a furball now!
Knight vs. Terminators + terrible rolls
 The Knight decides that Terminators won't be that bad.  Turns out the knight can't roll dice for spit.
PLAY! PLAY!...and the combat goes on
 This combat is going to go on for quite some time....
Bloodthirster remains happy
 Bloodthirster controls the middle, poxwalkers work to slowly grind away at marines and terminators.
Turn 03 - Emperor's Champion Arrives
 His champion drops - and his terminators in the middle drop my Bloodthirster.  The Heralds has gone back into cover with the cultists, since he's sitting on about 3 wounds, and I want to deny him the VP.
Knight is SAD
 My opponent makes an inordinate number of saves, and the knight loses a chunk of wounds.
Middle Battle continues, minus Bloodthirster and friends
 The middle is one hell of a furball.
Chaos Turn 3 - Knight disengages, Puppy charges, Bloat Drones Pushes
 The Maulerfiend, having failed a charge earlier, decides to go handle the drop pod - it also eyes the razorback meaningfully.
Still at it in the middle
 Man that's a lot of zombies.  Some of them used to be space marines.
Templar Turn 04
 I kill his drop pod on his turn.  The Emperor's Champion heads off in search of cultists/herald, and his Crusader buddies head towards the middle.
2 wounds left - BUT ALIVE!
 The knight finally finishes combat, heavily damaged but technically alive.  It did about 21 wounds to that last guy.
Chaos Turn 4
 The Puppy slaps the razroback a little, and melee continues.  My bloat drone has, by this point, traded itself for the Crusader squad.  It got in, fired, and then ate an overcharged plasma volley that cost the plasma gunner his life before the fistfight started.  The plasma cannoneer smashes the drone, then dies in the explosion.  It's the stuff of legends, except I doubt the Cenobite servitors would actually tell the story.
BT Turn 05
 At this point it's getting close to winding down - time isn't on my side.  The combat in the middle continues, but the Crusader squad does a lot better at killing zombies than terminators due to volume vs. quality of attacks.
Wrapping up
I just need to hold one objective - at this point, the Knight is (somehow) still alive, and the Maulerfiend is in position to grab his objective, so even if I end up having to handle troops and possibly lose mine, I've got another one.
Emperor's Champion vs. Cultists
 The cultists actually thought they could beat the Emperor's Champion.  They DID knock off two wounds in shooting though.  And force a number of saves.
Endgame
 You don't see the Maulerfiend in this picture because it's sitting on his objective.  At this point, the survivors are -
CHAOS
12 Cultists
Hellbrute
Knight (2 wounds remaining)

BLACK TEMPLAR
Crusader Squad
Couple of Sternguard
Razorbacks - not so hot in melee

Maulerfriend on BT objective
Closing Thoughts
1) Bubble Wrap is your friend
Those two poxwalker squads were crazy useful - in large part because they managed to take up space.  Same goes for the cultists squads, to an extent - they're cheap, the fulfill my troops requirements, and can hold objectives in the backfield.

2) Black Templar Chapter Tactics
Deep striking assaulty troops are going to be money for these guys.  Having a 50/50 shot at making the charge off the bat is disgusting.  I think the real winners with this are going to be Terminators (either variety) and Assault Marines with jump packs.

Regular terminators are versatile - and god help you if they get into cover and you have to shift them.  Assault terminators love showing up nearby, though if you're going hammer-heavy you may want a Chaplain or something else to give you some re-rolls.

3) Knights - Mixed Feelings
Turns out that Thunder Hammer assault terminators are rough on knights, especially if he has some hot dice on the saves.  That being said, the thermal cannon was a bit underwhelming - then again, I didn't have great targets for it this game; the razorback managed to make saves and otherwise I killed a few terminators.

That being said, the ability to walk out of combat, shoot, and assault again make knights stupid mobile and productive.  Which frankly, they need to be, since that one was almost 500 points.

4) Khorne Dogs - kinda sad
I'm not super-impressed with them this time around - with the change to WS, they aren't as hard to hit in melee.  I do like the bonus attacks/strength on the charge, but they really need to hang out next to a herald to get the +1S after that.

More testing is needed, but I'm not as psyched about them as I was in 7th.  Then again, I was also fighting power armor marines with a decent volume of attacks.

5) Foetid Bloat Drones - Mainstays
They're mobile, hard to hit, and durable.  I'd have a hard time leaving home without these or Helldrakes for the mobility.

Up Next
I expect the release of the Chaos codex and the new SM book will shake things up a bit.  I like the versatility of Chaos Undecided, though I'm thinking about a Sorcerer on a Disc of Tzeentch - things like Warptime are silly, and the extra-heretical part of me really, really wishes I could use Warptime on a Bloodthirster - but I'll have to settle for using it on a Hellbrute or Maulerfriend.

*I'm assuming we did the deep-strike reserves correctly - if deploying a squad in a transport counts as placing one unit on the field, I'm assuming it's the same for reserves, and that's how we agreed to play it.  I should probably RTFM or something to be sure, but it seemed logical at the time.

Tuesday, July 18, 2017

Thoughts on Math-hammer - tweaked for 8th Edition Relevance

Since 40k is a dice game, it probably pays to know a bit about how the dice will behave in a given situation.  8th edition shakes up a few things (like the to-wound chart and leadership) and changes some odds (like casting psyching powers, which is easier).  It also adds the whole 're-roll ones' mechanic, which tweaks re-rolls.

A Few Disclaimers - 
1) remember that we're talking about odds.  Averages are guides for decision-making.  You'll be able to take a guess at outcomes if you're weighing options.

2) Averages emerge when you throw dice enough times - twenty throws of a dice is about average, when it comes to statistics - IE - thirty guardsmen walk into rapid-fire range and drop 100d6 looking for 4+, you'll probably see 50 hits most of the time.

3) Remember that we have a cognitive bias towards remembering outliers - we're bad at math unless we're trying.

Basic Math - looking for X+ on 1d6
Base WS/BS Unmodified chance Re-roll misses Re-Roll 1's Base with +1 Bonus
2+ 83% 97% 97% 83%
3+ 67% 89% 78% 83%
4+ 50% 75% 58% 67%
5+ 33% 56% 39% 50%
6+ 17% 31% 19% 33%

I'm going with WS/BS on these because it's the most common, but this math applies to any rolls when you need X or better, such as morale and wounds.  I've added in re-rolls, re-roll 1's, and +1 bonuses.

Note that blanket re-rolls are a bit better than a +1 bonus - but they're pretty close.  The only place that really loses out on it is the 2+, as we're assuming a 1 always fails here.

Note also that re-roll ones are neat, but have diminishing returns as you need better numbers when it comes to odds.  However, some stuff (like plasma) REALLY doesn't want to deal with 1's, because explosions.

Roll at Least X on 2d6
At least X on 2d6 Odds
2 100%
3 97%
4 92%
5 83%
6 72%
7 58%
8 42%
9 28%
10 17%
11 8%
12 3%

This one's important for two big phases - the psychic phase and the assault phase.  Two obvious break points are 9+ and 10+.  

We care about 9+ for deep-striking assault troops (which means that they've got just under a 1/3 chance of assaulting off deep-strike).  Note that any deep-striking troops that can get an extra inch of charge range (IE - Trygons with adrenal glands) get a significant boost to their ability to charge out of reserves.

We care about 10+ for Smite's bonus damage.

Roll 2d6, pick the highest
Roll 2d6, pick highest 1 2 3 4 5 6
Chance of getting at least  - 3% 8% 14% 19% 25% 31%
As long as I'm doing math, went ahead and did this one.  

So, What Do I do with this?
These are all guides - if you're looking at figuring out how nasty something's going to be, crunch numbers.  

Example 1 - 5 Chaos Terminators deep-strike and fire combi-bolters into guardsmen in cover. Let's assume they're all within 12" of the targets, so their rapid-fire 2 guns are kicking out four shots each.
5 combi bolters * 4 shots each = 20 shots
20 shots at BS 3+ = 13.33 hits on average
13.33 hits that need 3+ to wound (S4 vs T3) = 8.89 wounds
Guardsmen out of cover have a 5+ save
8.89 hits vs 5+ save = 2.96 saves, so 5.9 guardsmen die.

So you could expect 5-6 guardsmen to eat it.

Example 2 - say the Chaos Lord deep-strikes in behind his Terminators, and gives them the ability to re-roll 1's
5 combi bolters * 4 shots each = 20 shots
20 shots at BS3+ with a re-roll one 1's = 15.55 hits
15.55 hits needing 3+ to wound = 10.37 wounds
10.37 wounds vs a 5+ save = 3.4 saves, so 6.9 guardsmen die

So, if you dropped the terminator lord in behind his terminators, you could guess that it'd kill 6-7 guardsmen in that context.

To bring it further - so the guard survives, and however many survivors get to rapid-fire the terminators and then probably assault (move 6 + 2d6 charge = 80-90% chance of a charge going off).

What Math can do is tell you the odds of stuff happening with dice involved - but what math CAN'T do is tell you what your opponent is going to do - does the opponent turn around and try to kill the Terminators to a man now, denying you the ability to disrupt his backfield?  Does the opponent say 'eh, screw it' and let your terminators wander around his backfield and focus firepower elsewhere?

In Closing
Having an idea of how math works gives you a decision-making tool.  The dice can always give and take away, but if you know math then you can guess how rolls will go, and ask yourself how much risk you want to accept for a given course of action.

Thursday, July 13, 2017

8th Impressions - On Chaos, Defilers, and Land Raider Crusaders

This is a bit late - I apologize for lack of pictures, but I have a couple good reasons for not logging via pics - first, there were a heap of proxies, and second, the mission summary is basically 'he drove across the field and shot/assault me.'

The Armies
Death Guard Battalion Detachment
Typhus
Malignant Plaguecaster
Noxious Blightbringer
Hellbrute (Reaper A/C, flail)
16x Pox walkers
16x pox walkers
12 Cultists w/ heavy stubber
7x Death Guard (sarge w/ fist, and a plasma rifle)
2x Foetid Bloat Drone
Defiler (Reaper cannon, defiler scourge)

Black Templar Battalion Detachment
Grimaldus
Emperor's Champion
Cenobite Servitors
Crusader Squad (handful of bobs w/ plasma gun, plasma cannon)
Crusader Squad x11 (axe, fist, meltagun)
Crusader Squad x13ish (axe, fist meltagun)
Land Speeder (Typhoon Launcher, heavy bolter)

Scenario - Big Guns Never Tire
4 objectives
First Blood
Slay the Warlord
Bonus points for killing heavy support

The Battle, in Summary
We set up across from each other - his small Crusader squad sat on an objective to one side, while his Crusaders deployed centrally.

I deployed the Defiler and Death Guard on one objective, with the Hellbrute and Cultists held another.  Pox Walkers deployed as a screen, and the support characters stayed in the middle.  My Bloat Drones deployed out of LOS, opposite his objective camping squad out on my far left flank.

The battle played out over a couple of areas -

BATTLE FOR THE FAAAR OBJECTIVE
Bloat Drones vs. small crusader squad intially - my guys advanced across the field and got into firing range on turn one, and wrought havoc on his squad.  This drew off a Land Raider Crusader - and its Crusader Squad, while the Emperor's Champion road the Crusader into my lines.

The Drones basically cleaned up the shooty crusader squad.  Being able to break off combat and fire meant they ended up killing off the other crusader squad.  One drone ended up dead, and the other ended up on the objective.

Land Raider Crusader Rush
So, I learned that Land Raiders can put out an obscene amount of firepower.  Before that, we learned that Land Speeders are really squishy - the Defiler stood still and ripped it out of the sky in round one.

The Land Raiders moved up and softened up the Pox Walker screen - and between the loss of the screen and advancing to shoot, I ended up losing my Death Guard to the crusader squad and Grimaldus.  The Defiler waded in and proceeded to rip them up over a few turns - so they fell back and boarded the Crusader, only for the Defiler to run that down and blow it up.  It died in the resulting explosion, but I'm ok with that.

Typhus and the Emperor's Champion ended up in a fight - which is to say the Champion knocked a wound off, and then Typhus annihilated the champion.

The Hellbrute died to a withering hail of Land Raider firepower.

The psykers actually get some mad points for smiting a number of wounds off the LRCs - without screening units, and with some good rolls (including Typhus knocking off 5 wounds with a single lucky smite roll) one Land Raider was wounded, and the other was softened up enough that the Defiler managed to assault it down.

End Result
Chaos Victory (called turn 4 between time and battlefield situation)
Marines had a single Crusader left

Chaos had cultists, all three characters, pox walkers, and a bloat drone.

Reflections
1) Land Raider Crusaders - lotta guns
Seriously, between the twin assault cannon and hurricane bolters, they can throw a bucket of dice.  Recommend that you take the multi-melta, because otherwise you're plinking off 1 damage at a time.  That being said, they can fire heavy weapons without penalty, which is crucial becase, y'know, it's an assault transport.

I think two of them in 1500 is a bit all-or-nothing, but they have a lot of firepower-  and also blow up in grand fashion.

2) Land Speeders are squishy
I think 150 for a speeder with a heavy bolter and typhoon launcher is a bit pricey - you need a bunch of targets to make that sorta/kinda worthwhile, and in general they just aren't that hard to kill.  I'd lean towards heavy bolters (standoff range and low cost) or heavy flamers (fire after advancing, auto-hit, and painful while being cheap)

3) Real cost of Cenobites
My opponent put it well - "It's not that they're six points, it's that they're three bodies in the crusader."  They're cheap because they're easy to kill, but it's a pretty solid buff.

4) Defilers are fun counterassault / shooty
Defilers are still a multi-role unit - and that means you're getting versatility in exchange for not using all your capabilities all the time.  You have a heap of firepower and durability, but accuracy isn't your strong suit (WS/BS 4+ is...um...not above-average?)

I'm pretty pleased with the loadout I picked - if I'd had the points, I would have tossed a combi-weapon on (combi-bolter if I'd had one more spare point, otherwise combi-flamer).

The scourge is crucial if you think you're going to get into a fight - you've got three base attacks (albeit, they're S16, 1d6 damage punches) and your WS starts at 4+.  The scourge gets you three more S12 swings at 2 damage each, and you need the volume (or supporting units nearby.

The reaper autocannon and twin heavy bolter cost about the same - if you think you're going to move more I think I'd go twin heavy bolter because it's more dice.  That being said, S7 is on the stronger side of anti-vehicle firepower.

Don't forget they regenerate a wound a turn, too.  It helps if the enemy is chipping away at them.

5) Plague Marines - shoot, don't punch
I went with that loadout because it's what I had out of the Dark Imperium box.  In retrospect, I could've gotten another plasma gun instead of the powerfist.

The melee capability is so-so at best on these guys - just one attack each is kinda 'meh', even if you hit on 3+ and re-roll wound rolls of '1'.

That being said, T5, 3+ saves, and Disgustingly Resilient mean they're a pain to sift out of cover - these guys laughed off a couple rounds of Land Raider shooting from cover.

6) Typhus + Pox Walkers + Support
Pushing Pox Walkers up to T4 is pretty significant - the hop from T3 to T4 makes a hefty difference against small arms.

Typhus himself is slow - if he's buffing Pox Walkers, he's walking behind them.  You want the Noxious Blightbringer to help with pushing them up the field, and you'll benefit from the Malignant Plaguecaster's power of "You take -1 to hit rolls against target unit" power.

Typhus is also kinda nasty in melee.  He technically has a pistol in his Destroyer Hive, but the manreaper has solid strength and 3 damage per hit on top of his stupid WS 2+.

7) SMITE!
Between the two psykers I had, I could fire off four 'SMITE!' in a turn.  That being said, the limiting factor is targeting - they absolutely HAVE to hit the closest target, so your enemy gets a vote in what you can smite.

That being said, Mortal Wounds vs. harder targets (like Land Raiders, for example) are much more significant than mortal wounds vs. infantrymen.

I don't think Smite Spam is going to be crazy nasty, but you can potentially do some damage.

8) Foetid Bloat Drones
These guys were MVPs.  I'd recommend deploying them in pairs.  They excel at murdering infantry - high toughness, numerous wounds and a good save mean they can weather small arms fire, and their sprays (combined with the ability to break off of a counterassault and spray again) are disgusting.

The speed is great period, but especially in a Death Guard list - it's pretty much your only speedy unit.

In Summary
Land Raiders hurt.  Foetid Bloat Drones are awesome, especially in a Death Guard list.  And seriously, everyone, bring some cheap screens for your army.

Sunday, July 2, 2017

8th Edition - First Impressions of Chaos (or a small subset thereof)

Got round two of 8th edition in, and at my comrade's request I brought the chaos!  We tried out 1500 again.

World Eaters (Battalion Detachment)
Chaos Lord in Terminator Armor (Power Axe, combi-bolter)
Warpsmith
5 Chaos Terminators (axes, combi-bolters)
Hellbrute (Reaper autocannon, power flail)
10 Berserkers (power maul on leader)
-Rhino
10 Berserkers (power maul on leader)
-Rhino
10 Cultists (heavy stubber)
2 Heldrakes (flamers)

Imperial Scum (Battalion Detachment)
Creed(!)
Command Squad
2 Commissars
Vindicare Assassin
5 Terminators (Assault Cannon)
20 Conscripts
20 Conscripts
20 Conscripts
10 Militarum Tempestus Scions (4 meltaguns)
2 Hellhounds (hull multi-meltas)
Leman Russ (Nova cannon, 3x heavy bolters)
Leman Russ (Battle cannon, lascannon, 2x heavy bolters)

Scenario - 
Try to take the other guy's objective in his DZ - 3 points per objective; 1 point for first blood, 1 point for slaying the warlord, and Linebreaker (wind up in the other guy's DZ)

Short Version
I managed to cross the field, but just didn't have the attacks and bodies to counter it.  Heldrakes ended up with first-turn charges, burning the command squad to death (largely for first blood) and charging hellhounds (because everything else was screened).  One of the helldrakes ended up getting a good angle on a commissar and smoked it as well.

I held off on turn 1 teleportation assaults, mostly because he had more units and could react to whatever I did.  Maybe that wasn't the best call - but the Hellbrute managed to handle the terminators (turns out that seven attacks with solid AP and 2 damage per swing is kinda painful for terminators).  Seriously though, terminators with rapid fire 2 combi-bolters (or storm bolters) can put out an absurd number of shots.

Also - the definition of hilarity is charging with Rhinos (...be sure it's not something that'll murder it with overwatch, mind you).  The enemy has to waste time breaking off, and you get extra distance.

End Result
We called it around turn 4 - I was down to cultists, warpsmith, and the Hellbrute, while he still had a conscript blob and a half, and some beat-up tanks.  I wasn't going to make it across the field, and chances were good he'd be able to shoot me off my own objective.

Lessons -

1) Murdering Characters is Important - 
Some characters offer nastier buffs than others - plenty of guys offer re-rolls on 1's (or re-rolls in general), but others offer much more significant buffs - like commissars making sure that if you do fail morale, you lose only one guy.

So, there are two ways to kill characters at range without tons of guns, given the whole "may not shoot characters unless they're the closest target" restriction -

i) Snipers
If they can see it, they can shoot it.

ii) Fast units
Some units (IE - Helldrakes, or perhaps something like a Coldstar Commander) have the speed to get around screens.  It depends on the type of screen (are they hiding out of LoS, or behind a unit?), but if you've got the speed to get around it and make sure the character is the closest...suddenly it's a legal target.

2) Transport Charges!
Remember that your transports can charge.  It's a potential extra 2d6 of movement, and on the bright side your transport does get to get a few (hilariously ineffectual) attacks in.  But there are a few caveats -

i) Beware overwatch
You are going to give the opponent a chance to take overwatch shots.  Be especially mindful of folks with S5+ auto-hitting weapons - even moreso if you've taken hits on the way in.

ii) Beware of the other guy's ability to punch you
Charging other tanks is one thing.  Charging a bunch of shooty troops probably won't kill you either.  But, you may not want to charge things like Dreadnoughts or monstrous melee creatures.

iii) Beware of the target's friends
So, some folks have large armies - and while your charge target may break off, you may be very close to other folks with guns.  Who will then shoot you.

3) Quantity is its own quality (sometimes)
i) Screens
Having a heap of bodies is useful as a screen, if nothing else - plenty of folks have the ability to drop troops on your head, but they also have to be 9" away.  If you've got enough bodies, you've got board control from deep strikes, and an expendable charge screen.

ii) Filling in Force Org charts
Also if the bodies are cheap enough, you can get into a Battalion Detachment easily - chances are you'll have a few buff HQs you want to take.  +3 CP can be quite useful.

iii) Buffs
Most blobs of bodies can seriously benefit from buffs. (assuming the other guy doesn't snipe your HQs) Examples include -
-Conscript Blobs - Commissars get around morale issues, and guard orders like First Rank Fire! Second Rank Fire! get absolutely ridiculously with 20+ guns benefiting from said orders.
-Pox Walkers - add Typhus (+1S, +1T) for durability and a Noxious Blightbringer (roll 2d6 for the advance and take the higher) and suddenly they turn into a more dangerous screen.

Addendum - most of the armies now have access to large quantities of body - if they aren't explicitly part of your faction (IE - Space Marines) then you've probably got a faction keyword in common with them (IE-- IMPERIUM)

4) Army Size - pros/cons
The more units you have, the less likely you are to have first turn.  However, you've also got the ability to react to the other guy - drop some less-crucial units first, let them make decisions, and then once the other side deploys fully...you get to react to that.

5) Math-hammer got different
This will be a follow-on post, but there are some new dimensions to math in this game - giving everything T and W values (and sometimes a degrading statline) provides for a much finer gradient of durability.

Saturday, June 24, 2017

Back to it in 8th - First Impressions of 'nids, Templar and Guard

So I'm a minute behind folks, but I had to open up some time and dig the old guard out. Well, except for the celebratory Tyrannofex and Tervigon models.  My old buddy and I got together and threw down.  Lists were below -

Tyranids - Battalion Detachment
Tervigon
Tyranid Prime (whip/sword, devourer)
Broodlord
3 Hive Guard (impaler cannons)
3 Venomthropes
20 Termagants (10 devourer, 10 fleshborer)
20 Termagants (10 devourer, 9 fleshborder)
7 Genestealers
Tyrannofex (fleshborer hive)
2x Carnifexes (each w/ 2x Deathspitters, mace tail)

Imperial Forces - Battalion, Superheavy Detachments
Chaplain Grimaldus
IG Commander
2 Commissars
Infantry Squad (Grenade launcher, heavy bolter)
50 Conscripts
Crusader Squad (10 Initiates, 10 neophytes, flamer, powerfist, power sword)
Leman Russ (battle cannon, lascannon, 2 heavy bolters)
Baneblade (additional 4x lascannon, 4x twin heavy bolter)

Scenario - Retrieval

Short Version -
I should've brought more big guns, maybe skipped an HQ choice - turns out that Baneblades HURT.  The Venomthropes bought me a couple turns of defense versus shooting, but I didn't bring enough long-range shooting to cripple it.  By the end of turn 3, I was sitting on one objective, and he handily had two, between the Baneblade and the tattered remains of the Crusader squad.

Impressions on 8th
Overall, I'm a fan.  The rules got streamlined, but thanks to the myriad org charts in the main book (and the faction keywords) you still have some solid freedom in how you build your forces.  Command Points are pretty useful - we both burned through the bulk of ours in three turns, but part of that is getting used to them.

Scenarios with the alternating deployment are going to take some getting used to - horde armies will generally NOT have first turn unelss they can seize.

Tyranid Impressions
Tervigon - it pretty much needs to go along with a couple blobs of termagants.  Replenishing a heap of 'em is nice, and re-rolls to 1's on shooting mean that you end up with about a 60% hit rate, which is great alongside devourers.  That, and The Horror is HILARIOUS, especially alongisde venomthropes.

Tyranid Prime - cheapest synapse HQ choice.  It's the buff HQ for warriors, which I didn't take.

Broodlord - he's disgusting in combat, he gives 'stealers a +1 in melee (effectively bumping them to WS 2+) and is a psyker.

Hive Guard - bring impaler cannons.  S8, AP-2, and 1D3 damage without needing LOS?  Give 'em synapse support, sit back, and start knocking wounds off vehicles.

Venomthropes - MVPs.  -1 to hit at range is huge.  Expect them to draw fire, but a minimum-sized brood WILL absorb some fire.  I think these are going to be in most 'nid lists.  I suppose they'd be ok in melee, assuming they lived long enough to get there.

Termagants - They're cheap, and need to be brought in bulk.  Devourers are a solid upgrade if you're gonna bring a large group; otherwise they're basically chumps with pistols.  I'd go for either a large group with some guns hidden in it.  I'd think about taking them as a tiny MSU for a troops tax, but rippers are cheaper.

Genestealers - they're still nasty, and they're cheap.  However, I didn't bring enough of them to make a difference this time out.

Tyrannofex - fleshborer hives are hilarious, and would be even more hilarious if I ever had a good chance to stand still and fire it twice.

Carnifexes - These guys aren't super-durable - but they have some options.  I think you're either going pure melee (and deciding whether crushing claws are worth the penalty to hit), volume of fire (grab devourers or deathspitters; the big difference is AP and a point of strength), or big gun + little guns.

Black Templar Impressions
Grimaldus - this guy (and chaplains in general) are pretty nasty with re-rolls to hit; Grim gives Black Templars extra attacks on 6s.  Also, gives 'em LD9, which is pretty useful for guys that are running across the field.

Crusader Blobs - These guys can crank out some attacks, what with chainswords/combat blades and pistols.  They can take a heavy weapon or power weapon, but with 1 base attack (and the fact they're probably moving) I'm not sure if I'd use this option.  Not sure what special I'd choose, they're all nasty.  They do need some good leadership, though - and Grimaldus provides that.  You can always go for the smaller squads and take a heavy and special, too.

Imperial Guard Impressions
IG Commander - command squads got a re-work; now if you want orders (and a cheap HQ) it's just one dude running around yelling at guardsmen and telling them to be a little more useful.  See also: sniper bait.

Commissars - their big trick is making sure that your guys don't run - mostly by shooting one of them in the morale phase.  You get one per elite slot.

Infantry Squads - so, now you're stuck with 10 guys with a special and heavy.  It simplifies things from the army-building side, but you're less durable.  They're cheap, and probably exist to sit on an objective with heavy weapons.

Conscripts - oh, they're gonna die by the fistful.  And a commissar is going to shoot one of 'em a turn.  Then again, these guys exist to fire off great heaps of lasgun shots.  The larger squads are also unlikely to ever grab cover.  Also, seriously? GET A COMMISSAR.  Because otherwise you're gonna remove fistfuls of these guys every turn if they're between the enemy and an objective.

Leman Russ - big guns, hard to kill - harder if it stays at long range.  Battle cannons are one of the many former blast weapons that now fire a random number of shots that hurt.  It makes them nasty against larger targets...

Baneblade - OUCH.  So, the main gun is a 3-damage gun that fires 2d3 shots a turn.  What used to be a pie plate of doom is now a humongous anti-tank weapon.  The demolisher cannon is its little brother - and you can still buy sponsons.  The tank puts out a TON of shits, especially since what used to be twin-linked is now just more shots.  That being said, note that the tank does NOT have a rule that lets it move and shoot heavy weapons without penalty.  BUT, if you get it into melee, it can disengage with penalty, shoot at things in melee, or just hit them with tank treads at like S9 or so.

As a former super-heavy, note that it has a heap of wounds, but after you've done a little more than a dozen wounds to it, it drops from BS4+ to BS5+, at which point it's kinda sad.

Next Steps for 'nids
1) Get more venomthropes
2) test Trygons - choosing when to arrive from reserves is awesome
3) test warriors - synapse is extra important for shooters, since instinctive behavior cuts down your options for shooting/charging
4) Exocrines are gonna be fun

Sunday, March 5, 2017

Reflections - Dealing with Genestealer Cult, KDK Experiences

I've gotten a couple more games with the Khorne Daemonkin under my belt - once more against the Genestealer Cult, and against some of the forces out of Gathering Storm 01's book.  I believe I'm getting a better handle on the various forces at this point.

Dealing With a Genestealer Cult
Some stuff has become a little more apparent over time against these fellows - I believe the following apply to any army fighting against the cult.

Short Version - deploy and plan on playing reactive early on.  Hope you brought screening units, and if you survive the initial hit plan on hitting back hard and eliminating units. They're much more mobile than you'd expect from a bunch of dudes on foot, too.

1) Deployment Zones - what are those?
The cult's big schtick that impacts your play is the Cult Ambush.  Some of their stuff starts on the table in their deployment zone.  The rest consults a table, so their guys are going to do one of the following -

a) Walk on from reserves
b) outflank
c) show up 6-9" away with guns, quite possibly shooting
d) show up 3" away ready to assault the turn they arrive

This chicanery is generally limited to infantry and the odd Scout Sentinel.  Note that 'infantry' here ranges from stuff that looks suspiciously like Imperial Guardsmen, to chumps with industrial cutting gear, to straight-up Genestealers.  Also, Sentinels are probably going to have their choice of firing angles.

2) Bring Screening Units / Bubblewrap
It's never a bad idea to have some screening elements for your army.  If you're not out-and-out fast enough to dictate an engagement (Read - can't teleport, can't turbo-boost, that kind of thing) then you want some poor chump in front of you to die and buy time.

This is extra important against GSC for a couple of reasons - units WILL pop up in random spots and you have to assume that they will be a threat the turn they arrive, either by shooting or lucking out and rolling a 6 on the cult ambush table.  You at least want to make them work to get at your important units.

The follow-on is that during deployment, it pays to be able to deny them a place to deploy.  When the initial ambush sets up, they'll have all be 3/6/9" away - and if the whole unit can't fit, well.

3) Beware the First Curse
What is this 'first curse', you ask?  It's a Patriarch (think Genestealer with psychic powers and 'roid rage) and 20 of his closest friends.  Every GSC player that looks at this dreams of going first and rolling the 'assault the turn you arrive' perk - because seriously, that's painful.  (See #1 - BUBBLE WRAP - would you rather lose chumps or something important?)

That's a lot of rending attacks - if they can assault something with the bulk of the unit, they can probably kill it.

I honestly worry about this moreso if it DOESN'T start on the table - it's one thing to bubble wrap this on the table.

Just be ready to run from it, or smash it with lots of guns - and if it shows up ready to assault the turn you arrive?  You're going to lose something - simple as that.

4) Kill Them In One Go or Shadow Them
The Cult's also very, very good at slinking off in the shadows.  At the beginning of their turn, if the unit is more than 6" away from the enemy they can return to the shadows - they go into ongoing reserves, pick up a few more dudes (up to max size) and roll on the ambush table again next turn.

...granted, if they're all dead they can't do that.

5) They play a hell of an objective game
Between the cult ambush table and their ability to re-enter ongoing reserves, these guys are pretty nasty at playing objectives.

Stuff To Bring To Kill These Fellows
1) Volume of Fire
The bulk of these models have 5+ saves - but they'll have a LOT of bodies, and with their support HQs you can end up with a lot of fearless guys with Feel No Pain.  Hell, just bring plain FIRE for that matter; they're gonna be close to you.

2) Melee - sometimes
Genestealers, patriarchs, and their HQs in general are nasty in close quarters. Outside of them (and a couple other units, like aberrants and folks with mining tools) most guys are average at best, and their strength is in the buffs from HQ and the sheer number of bodies.  You're just going to have to be selective about melee matchups if you can be.

3) Psychic Defenses
Buffs and summoning are annoying - the latter even moreso when combined with cult ambush.

4) Swift units
They're all on foot - but can cult ambush.  It wouldn't hurt to be able to rapidly re-deploy your own stuff, because this guy can.

5) Cover-busting
Remember how this whole army's got like a 4+ or 5+ at best?  Deny them cover - they'll cry.

Thoughts on Khorne Daemonkin
1) Possessed - ...eh...
I love the models.  What I'm not loving is that they're required.  Don't get me wrong - if they can get into assault they are pretty nasty.

The problem is that 'if'.  Here's a short list of things I COULD have gotten instead of Possessed in a Rhino (or extra body)
-Helldrake
-Maulerfiend
-A BUNCH more bodies for hounds/bikes
-2/3 of another Bloodthirster

And I'm pretty sure all of those would've had more of an impact than the Possessed in most of my games.

I really like the free Blood Tithe from the slaughtercult, but I've yet to feel like the Possessed are anything other than a tax on my army at this point.

2) D-Thirsters are hilarious
I'm still enjoying this fellow - though he doesn't always have a ready target.  Anyone with super-heavies (outside of Knights / anything with Strength D in melee) should worry about this guy, because eight WS10 D-axe swings on the charge will pretty much wreck anything with hull points.

Outside of big, valuable targets he really needs to go after so-so melee troops - WS10 is a hell of a defense against WS4 and lower troops.  If there aren't any big juicy targets for this guy, then it's time to go find squads with WS4 or lower and thrash them.

Also he's pretty much not my first warlord choice - people tend to shoot the big ones.

3) Maulerfiends - not so bad.
I like them for a couple of reasons - they're fast, they can break vehicles, and lasher tendrils are actually pretty hilarious.  It's also kind of important to have more than one big nasty target - and maulerfiends are reasonably likely to grab a turn 2 charge with their speed.

4) Juggernaut Lord is Probably the way to go
The stat buffs on that mount are just too solid - throw in a melee weapon and the 4++ save and you're good, then stick him with a Gorepack's Flesh Hound accompaniment and go.

5) Knight Loadouts - Still Experimenting
I've tried the Slaughtercult a couple of times, so my Knight ally has come via the Renegade Knight versus a Forge World rule set or Kytan.

One mistake I've made - not going with a carapace weapon.  The Knight is pretty much the sum total of my army's shooting at this point; might as well maximize it.  I'm not super-enthralled by the performance of the Thermal Cannon or the Rapid-fire battle cannon.  The Thermal Cannon can at least bring some AP2 to the table, and if it gets lucky vs. a vehicle squadron I can possibly nuke two things with one shot.

My next experiment is going to be a Knight w/ the Avenger cannon (S6, AP3, 12 shots...aw yeah) and the Heavy 3 Krak missile carapace gun.  It'll play the game of 'reach out and touch someone before wandering into melee.'

Coming Next Up
-more hobby pictures, because I hit the painting table hard
-possibly more batreps
-reflecting on CAD vs. Slaughtercult again
-reflecting on Kytan vs. Forge World Knight rules vs. Renegade Knight after experimenting.