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
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)
Warrior Blob
2x Deathmark Squad
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
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.