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Tuesday, May 15, 2018

Already!?!?

  In case you've been living under a rock, it was recently announced that GW is going to release a 2nd edition of Age of Sigmar in June.  After only three years, the game will get its first real update and join the ranks of games that can't simply depend on an FAQ or two to stay stable.  Funny enough, we've seen that a game isn't as respected in the grognard circles unless there's multiple editions to fight over, so, um, congrats to AoS for joining the pantheon!

  I love Age of Sigmar and the new version of 40k.  I'm a huge fan of GW's desire to turn their games into accessible, FUN expressions of dice-man battles rather than exercises in mathematics and abstract concepts of shoot-dash-chop combat.  I see complaints all the time on the interwebs about certain parties hating these new games and claiming that they don't represent real-world battles or that certain 'immersion-creating' concepts have been ripped away, like shooting out of combat and vehicle armour facings.  They can keep their complaints.  I vehemently disagree.  When I'm playing games, I want to discuss things with my opponent and remember to take my turn rather than have to dedicate half a day to playing with miniature painted dolls.  My self-worth is not dictated by how strongly my GI Joes beat your GI Joes. 
 
  With that comes the fear that I have.  I worry that GW will start to introduce even more complicated concepts into their newer versions of the game, returning back to the ridiculous need to be Good Will Hunting and forgetting that the game is supposed to be fun, not detailed.  I used to be a huge fan of the uber-detail that came with games like Star Fleet Battles, AD&D 1st and 2nd edition, and RoboTech.  I've grown.  Let's not forget that the miniatures gaming hobby has lost many potential gamers to the more simplistic video game market because it's, well, easier to just plug the disc in and mash buttons.  Oh, and that 'immersion' argument is easy to meet since the games have, you know, graphics and cut-scenes.  I don't want complicated detail-driven games that require my undivided attention anymore, I want social tools that bring people together and allow for conversations and some competition. 

  In case you're wondering where my worries are coming from, let's look at another game that's getting its 2nd edition- X-Wing.  They're adding turret-aiming actions, bullseye firing arcs, stacking actions, and even forcing the need for an app to generate points and build squadrons.  The game was wildly successful because it was short on prep, required no additional modeling, and the rules were easy to pick up in a jiffy.  I'm not saying that X-Wing is being turned into the 32-impulse turn sequence that was my favorite Star Trek combat game, but it's definitely becoming significantly more complicated.  How much is that going to affect people wanting to play that game versus this stuff.  I'm looking forward to the new edition and my TIE Fighters being able to stand up to the rebels a bit better, but I'm also wary of just how much that game really needed new shoes...

  Age of Sigmar could not be simpler- there are four major factions that can make armies of very esoteric collections.  There are mini-factions that gain special benefits and fit a 'theme' so much better (I mean, Blood Elves as good guys?  Really?!?!).  And the rules detail all six phases of a turn on four pages.  FOUR PAGES!  Anything can hurt anything and the special rules really aren't that detailed as they are either buffs for buddies or a special rule that creates an extra opportunity to lay down some damage.  That's it!  The only way this game would be simpler is to turn it into a board game (which haters already claim it is because they're... haters). 


  So what are the rumours for the next edition?  Apparently, you won't be able to shoot out of combat anymore.  Oh no!!! Because only Stormcast, the newest elves, and the wood-guys were the only ones that could to begin with!  This makes me happy, not because I think it was 'immersion-busting', but because it gave the cursed Stormcast posterboys an advantage that the other factions couldn't take advantage of.  Apparently, the Hero Phase (I accidentally refer to it as the 'command phase' all the time) will be expanded and magic will become much more in-depth (more spells, more choices, what does that mean?).  There will be an introduction of command points, which may lead to strategems.  Otherwise, I'm not sure what all of this actually leads to.  The most important aspect to me is that the current Army Books will not be invalidated, especially considering that I just started buying them.  Talk about bad timing if that were the case!  In any case, it doesn't sound like the game is getting much more complicated.  And that's all I really care about.  It's a freakin' game.  Let's keep it THAT and not a NASA project, please. 

  It should also be noted that my wife is especially geeked about this.  Not really because of the new edition, but because her Nighthaunt are being redone for this.  She loves her ghosts and now she's getting more.  This makes me less happy for two reasons: First, she always beats me and I'm not a fan of always losing.  Second, this eliminates any rebuttal against buying Nagash.  Which will lead to me having to buy more Stormcast (yes, I actually play them, I'm not a hater) and getting that messiah-dude with wings.  Which will lead to expanding my Ironjaws to get them above 1600 points.  Which will lead me to adding Archaon and his special knights.  This new edition is going to cost me a lot more than a new rulebook...  Darn you GW!!!

  Let me know how you feel about the new edition coming so soon.  Otherwise, Happy Gaming!





Tuesday, May 8, 2018

Which is better?

  I've played a couple of games recently and used my Primaris marines against my son's Tyranids.  I didn't post about it because, well, it's a lot of work to take pictures and remember everything that happened.  More, I lost those games and it got me to thinking about something. 

  I love my Primaris marines, but they aren't as effective as the so-called 'mini-marines' that I've used for decades.  And with the upcoming release of the special-ammunition wielding Deathwatch marines, I really started to wonder if Primaris are really worth more than their old school counterparts.  Now I'm not talking about the Delta-force wannabes that are getting released, I'm just talking about in the Ultramarines list.  Hmm...

  Since Primarch Guilliman wrote the codex, many things have changed in the Imperium's armed forces.  The days leading up to the Horus Heresy saw the different squads in the Astartes all specialized with their wargear and purpose with very few options inside the units.  Realizing that splitting the legions would require some creativity, he ordered that the troops (or 'Battleline') units should have some variety of weapon options and be able to split once in the campaign area to fulfill various roles.  This is seen in the Tactical Squads. 

  The Tactical squad ranges in size from five to ten, with one being the leader (the 'Sergeant') and another being the backup (the 'Squad Leader').  One member of the squad would be designated to carry a special weapon (flamer, meltagun, plasma gun, or grav-gun later on) and another would be designated to carry the heavy weapon (heavy bolter, missile launcher, plasma cannon, lascannon, multi-melta, and eventually the grav-cannon).  Finally, the Sergeant has access to a wide variety of weapon options himself, including power weapons, plasma pistols, and even combi-bolters.  This would give the unit the ability to manage assaults, firefights, and supporting fire roles depending on the immediate need.  A squad to overwhelm the opponent with numbers and armed with boltguns or split down to specialized teams with one being an assault element while the other layed down covering heavy weapon fire.  This captured the 'good at everything but not great at anything' aspect of the regular old marine squads. 

  Now let's look at the gaming elements of the Tactical Squad.  Each member is worth 13 points per model and comes with the free boltgun, bolt pistol, frag and krak grenades.  The special weapons add another nine to seventeen points while the heavy weapon adds ten to 28 points.  The Sergeant can take close combat weapons worth zero (for the chainsword) up to twelve points and shooty weapons from two points to nineteen points, including pistols.  This means that the squad can range in points from 65 points for five regular dudes to 214 points for a full squad with all the most expensive options (if I have my math correct).  Ten wounds, a grav-cannon, a meltagun, a combi-melta, and a powerfist for over 200 points?!?  Wow!

  Now for the other unit that is supposedly replacing the reliable Tactical Squad- the Intercessors.  When Primarch Guilliman returned, he apparently wanted to return the Astartes back to the glory days of specialization and revealed the creation of the newer, taller, tougher, meaner marines.  This new Battleline unit is the same in size, from five to ten, but all come equipped with bolt rifles.  They have no options for special weapons or heavy weapons, and the Sergeant can only be armed with a power sword (or chainsword if you're a Blood Angel) and one in every five marines may also take an under-slung grenade launcher.  But that's it.  These Intercessors are meant to be the basic troopers of the 'new age' and use advanced bolter ammunition to spray their opponents while depending on their increased toughness to stay around longer. 
 
  It's hard to actually give any game-related info as they are so basic that the above description pretty much covers it.  They are 18 points per model, may take one of three different kinds of bolters (the free bolt rifle with an AP -1, the 1 point assault-oriented auto bolt rifle which gives 2 shots out to 24" for a point, or the sniper-like stalker bolt rifle that is heavy and costs two points), may include a grenade launcher for every five for a point, and otherwise come as-is.  The really big difference (besides lack of options) is that they have two wounds and two attacks each.  Otherwise, there's not much difference other than they are just... bigger.   

  I've found that against horde armies with low damage weapons (like Termagants), Intercessors are the way to go.  The 'staying power' of the two-wound models can make a huge difference.  But these Intercessors just don't put out a lot of damage.  Against more powerful weapons (like Hive Guard and their artillery guns), the Intercessors melt away like butter and they lose effectiveness very quickly.  I like the bigger models, but I don't like how the game is set up with a bunch of dice or damage-heavy attacks, which makes my big marines just bigger targets.

  On the other hand, there's something to be said about the cheapness of the Intercessors.  Remember how I mentioned that the Tactical Squad can easily get up to 200 points or more?  Intercessors, fully loaded, end up being around the same but they come with twice as many wounds and bolters that punch through armor a bit better (not to mention the increased range).  In this modern world of Command Point-farming, being able to quickly and cheaply fill a Battalion to get those extra five CP can be much better than trying to pay points for an optimized Tactical Squad or three.  Obviously, everyone uses Scouts, but that hide-chapping reality is another post for another time. 

  So which one is really better?  I like to be the purist and either only use old-school marines or the new Primaris-type, but I'm finding that I'm basically choosing cheap and no teeth or expensive and no staying-power.  Good weapons or wounds?  Little guys with options or big guys with time?  It's a hard decision and one that I'll continue to mull over.  In fact, my next battle will see me use my old marines and see if I'm more satisfied with the 'ol Tactical Squad than the newer Intercessors.  I may even *gasp* start to mix them up a bit!  But that's going to require some mental adjustment on my part. 

  If you happen to play with marines and have enough to be able to compare, let me know what you think!  I look forward to seeing if I'm just being crazy or if this is a great philosophical question that teases the minds of others.  Until then, Happy Gaming!



Saturday, April 21, 2018

How the 40k FAQ chaps my hide

  Okay, so my last post saw me making fun of the internet's nerd-rage over the FAQ released a few days ago.  I find the reactions absolutely entertaining, even more than my own kids' birthdays.  But I do have to admit that there are some things that actually affected me.  Now I'm not going to decry the FAQ as the end of my favorite game or some kind of effort by GW to make me join the exodus to other systems (I wonder how Heroclix is doing these days...), but even I have to show that there's some things that made me exclaim in frustration.  Just like in politics, it's not wise or rational to be so partisan, and I'm here to show that I'm a gamer like anyone else and I hate change.

  The rules changes that I showed in the last post were the 'big ones'.  There were many smaller changes that were dropped into each of the individual forces that are easy to miss.  That is, of course, unless you're playing one of those armies and suddenly those smaller changes become a bit bigger.  I have been working on my Word Bearers of late and there's some things that definitely got me.  I'll get into that in a bit.  But first, I want to talk about a rules clarification or two that affects everyone and actually don't make a lot of sense to me.

  The most impactful one, and the change that has the internet aflame, is the clarification about units charging units on platforms (or in ruins and such).  Here's how the FAQ reads:
"Q: If a unit declares a charge against an enemy unit that is entirely on the upper level of a terrain feature such as a ruin, Sector Mechanicus structure, etc., but it cannot physically end its charge move within 1" of any models from that unit (either because there is not enough room to place the charging unit, or because the charging unit is unable to end its move on the upper levels of that terrain feature because of the expanded terrain rules for it – as with ruins, for example), does that charge fail? A: Yes."

  Remember that completing a charge involves being able to finish with the base (or model in the case of vehicles that hover or fly) within 1" of the enemy.  But if there's not enough room on the ruined floor or platform, then the charge is failed and basically impossible.  I wouldn't normally have a problem with this except for two things- that most people build their ruins with very narrow floors (mostly because that's how GW sells the ruins) that can be stuffed with models, and that monsters and vehicles already cannot get to the upper levels of ruins (previously FAQ'd).  This means that my five-story-tall Wraithknight can't reach the guys on the top of the ruins, staring him right in the face, and it means that large-base models like Terminators can make themselves unreachable simply by taking position and filling up the upper floor(s) of the ruins.  This makes no sense to me...

  Next, in dealing with Reserves (already the biggest contention in the FAQs), we find that effects such as the Auspex for the Space Marines can't be used against transported units.  Here's how it reads: "Q: If the unit arriving as reinforcements has another unit embarked inside it which must disembark after it has been set up (such as units embarked within a Drop Pod, or a Tyrannocyte), can the firing unit shoot at the unit as it disembarks? A: No – though the unit can shoot at the Drop Pod/ Tyrannocyte before the units inside disembark."

  This is contrary to the way it used to be, where the Drop Pod (the specific example that I'm going with here) would spit out the troops and then the shooting unit would obliterate them.  While this doesn't really hurt my feelings, it just feels a bit 'cheezy' and rather defeats the purpose of that rule.  On the plus side, people who complain that Drop Pods are no longer useful have obviously missed this new ruling.  This protects those embarked troops from the one counter in the game and guarantees that they'll be able to spend a turn being safe (and getting into combat).  I know what I'd do if I were on the battlefield and I know what the enemies would do in WWII (anti-tank fire to force the bail-out and then spray the evacuees with machine gun fire).  But 40k moves too fast for that, apparently.


  Oh, and I would be remiss if I didn't toss this oldie out there:



  Yes, I mean that in both reference to the Drop Pod immunity and the general feelings about this FAQ.  Now that it's out of my system, let's continue.

  The single biggest change, and one that has me a bit butt-hurt, is found in both the main rulebook FAQ and the Chaos Space Marines codex FAQ.  It chaps my hide because I literally spent this week working on some new models for my Word Bearers, expecting to take advantage of a specific tactic and a unit that I've never used before.  I had no idea that something that had already been FAQ'd was going to get changed.  I didn't see this one coming at all.


  As you can see, I converted my Terminator Sorcerer back to being a Terminator Sorcerer and I finally built my Warp Talons that have been waiting for their claws for about seven years.  If you can't figure out my plan by now, I was going to deep strike with both units, and then cast Warp Time on them and guarantee my charge.  I wasn't terribly worried about doing it on Turn 1, so the major FAQ affecting that doesn't really apply.  But now it turns out that I can't do this little tactic at all!


  Here's the FAQ change that does this to me: "The rules for reinforcements say that when a unit is set up on the battlefield as reinforcements, it cannot move or Advance further that turn, but can otherwise act normally (shoot, charge, etc.). Q: Can such a unit move or Advance for any other reason e.g. because of an ability such as The Swarmlord’s Hive Commander ability, or because of a psychic power such as Warptime from the Dark Hereticus discipline, or because of a Stratagem like Metabolic Overdrive from Codex: Tyranids, etc.? A: No."

  Well dammit!  For once I was planning on doing something that some may consider to be a good tactic and GW stole it from me!  Like, stole it from me AS SOON as I got it!  I feel like a kid who just opened his lollipop around my older brother's friends on Halloween night.  That hurt.  I'm actually considering writing some whiny posts on gaming forums to express my displeasure because I'm so mad.

  Oh, another rule to mention is that the Reserves rule (while I'm on that) has been changed so that only half the POWER LEVEL in units in the army may be held off the table rather than half the COUNT of units.  This affects those Terminator players, which I was also considering.  But I didn't have to hobby on any of those, so I don't feel quite so robbed.  But losing my Warp Time on deep striking Warp Talons?  Really, GW?!?!?  Grrr...

  Okay, I've expressed my displeasure with the FAQs as well.  Nobody can blame me for being a "GW Apologist" or just plain partisanship.  I, too, have my problems.  But overall, I wasn't effected by the FAQs and I don't think they were anywhere near as bad as people are making them out to be.  I love 40k.  I'll keep playing it.  I just won't get to threaten people with my clawed daemonic bat-win crazy guys like I wanted.  Maybe I'll build some bikes...

I like 40k!
  Let me know if there's any tiny changes that you think people are missing and that may have affected you UNIQUELY below.  I don't want to hear about your Blood Angels or Grey Knights, but I do want to hear about those little things that may have slipped through the cracks of the blogosphere.  The gamesmanship involved in this FAQ is almost more interesting than the game itself.  Happy Rules-lawyering!

Wednesday, April 18, 2018

40k Is Dead, Long Live 40k!

  If you play the grimdark game, then you've probably heard that the new FAQ has been released.  While I love the game (and I really do), I love the drama even more.  The blowback from this FAQ has been as intriguing as a Mexican soap opera (telenovelas, for those that don't get six Mexican channels like I do) and I've loved every minute of it.  In fact, me and my tournament buddy have spent more time laughing at the comments about it than actually talking about the game.  He, being bored as possible after work, even made up a bunch of memes to represent this.  His memes will be smattered throughout this rant- all credit to him.

  Now if you're living under a rock and don't know that the FAQ was released, you can find it here.  There are some changes that actually do matter a bit, and I'll discuss them for this post.  You can find everyone and their mothers making comments about how they feel about these FAQs all over the blogosphere, but I'm hoping to be the rational, no-so-Chicken-Little voice in there.  So let's get started!

  Where to begin...  Oh, I know!  Let's go with the old 'beta rules' that have been floating around for a few months.  The first is the 'targeting characters' rule.  In the original version of the game, we saw players hiding that precocious assassin in the ruins somewhere and then claiming that it kept you from being able to target that captain standing in the open just a bit further away.  One character that can't be seen stopping the enemy from being able to shoot at the only target possible.  It wasn't terrible, but it was a ridiculous tactic.  Now, well, characters simply can't block other characters (as long as they have less than ten wounds, of course).  This doesn't stop the gun drone from pulling the same trick, but it definitely cuts down on the reason that people took assassins (other than to, you know, assassinate stuff).

  The other beta rule that was made official was the escalating Smite difficulty level.  There are many armies out there that were filled with cheap psykers (thanks FW!) or just set up to lay out the unstoppable mind-bullet strategy.  It's now official that every subsequent attempt to cast that power adds one to the warp charge value.  This means that the third time you cast the power requires a '7' to cast rather than a '5'.  Keep in mind that this makes the warp charge higher, it does NOT apply a modifier to the roll.  I only mention this because it's separate from modifiers to the roll, which certain other armies enjoy (like the Eldar).  Otherwise, this rule is meant to slow down the Smite-spam a bit and get back to the bullets and blades that make the grimdark so... grim and dark.

  Now those rules shouldn't surprise anyone as they've been 'in play' for many months now.  I hear some complaints about it (especially the character targeting rules), but most people were already prepared for this.  Now to the rest...

  The biggest problem with 8th edition, for tournaments specifically, has been 'spam'.  For those that live under that rock (it's surprising how densely-populated that under-stone is), that describes the wash-and-repeat of players taking a single powerful unit from the codex and including in their army list about a gazillion times.  We've seen it in previous editions, but this edition had made spamming almost a requirement in the competitive sphere.  We even saw the winner of the latest huge tourney do it with seven (that's right- SEVEN!) flying Hive Tyrants.  Not to disparage these choices (after all, it is a tournament and winning really is the point), but it doesn't make the more casual gamer very happy.  No worries- GW loves to appease the fluff-bunnies in us all, so they added the 'Rule of Three' to a game with a bunch of Rules of One already.

  In the Rule of Three, no unit may be included in an army more than three times.  This does NOT apply to troops (Orks appreciate that) or transports (Eldar appreciate that more).  Now, here's the deal- so many people are upset about this one because they only have a limited number of HQ options, which means that they are now limited on how big an army they can bring.  This applies to the newest army, Drukhari (Dark Eldar), but it also applies even more to the more esoteric armies like Adeptus Sororitas (Sisters of Battle), Harlequins, and even Imperial Knights.  Oh darn.  Because how dare GW make strike force style armies not be able to bring massive Epic-level lists!?!  Oh, the anger.  I laugh because, well, I play by the fluff.  For example, did you know that a company of 100  marines is led by a single Captain, supported by a single Chaplain, and is often joined by a single Librarian?  I know, crazy talk!

Actually, this is still legal...
  The next change in that is the Battle Brothers rule.  Keep in mind that both of these are effectively the new 'beta rules', which means they're not actually hard-and-fast rules yet, or they only apply to 'organized play', meaning it only affects tournament players.  In this rule, all it means is that no detachment may include units that share no faction keywords beyond 'Imperial, Chaos', etc.  So no more Vanguard detachments with Saint Celestine and three Assassins.  No more Spearhead detachments with Cawl and three Assassins.  Luckily, those crazy assassin-lovers are rather immune as they are now allowed to take a Vanguard without the required HQ choice.  But the rage seems to be simple misinterpretation.  To adhere to this rule, all a player has to do is take detachments to make the 'soup'.  So how about an IG battalion, a Custodes supreme command, and a AM spearhead?  Apparently, that requires too much thought and loses the whole point of the 'soup' list.  It doesn't.  But who am I to stand in the way of the poor reading comprehension skills?

  Speaking of the 'beta rules', the last one that has people going crazy is the First Turn Deep Strike rule.  According to this little change (and I use the word 'little' cheekily), units must deploy wholly in their own deployment zone if arriving from reserves (or arriving from special effects like 'Da Jump') IN THE FIRST TURN.  What 40k had started seeing was the so-called Alpha Strike, but with assault units.  To offset this, GW decided to nerf that a bit and make it to where the player would have to wait until Turn 2 to pull this tactic off.  Here's where my buddy's meme-making skills really came to shine:
 



  So according the entire blogosphere of overly-vociferous 40k players, this just RUINED any hope that assault-based armies will ever win again.  Blood Angels suffer the worst, because players forgot that there's other tactics than the 'gold-bomb' or 'death-company-strike'.  All those other units in the codex were summarily ignored, almost like Blood Angels don't know how to brush their teeth without Jump Packs.  Of course, waiting a whole turn to drop the 'gold-bomb' or using Jump Packs to actually move around the table is too much to ask of people.  Just.  Too.  Much.  Grey Knights also suck, because apparently they only own Terminator Armour to teleport with.  The most elite of the Space Marines but they can't remember how to walk...  And let's not even mention how those gunlines are now completely unstoppable! 


  Now these rule changes aren't the only things that came from the FAQ.  There were also some points adjustments, like Dark Reapers going up by seven points each.  Because that'll stop Reaper-spam...  More relevant to me, my Daemon Prince, er, Primarch, went up another 15 points to 400!  Oh no, now I'm angry!!!  How dare GW make me pay for the ultimate army-buffing character in the game!  I'm so mad.  I think I'll quit the game now!   

  Oh, maybe not.  Because I'm rational.  I don't actually think the problem is Bobby G, I think the problem is how cheap Assault Cannons are.  After all, I have yet to see an army list with the blue guy that didn't have him surrounded with Ass-backs.  Because that's what he does- buff transports with Twin Assault Cannons rather than the very marines he's supposed to lead.  Like Devastator Squads.  Or Terminators.  Or even, wait for it, the Primaris marines that he ordered to be created!  But whatever- fifteen more points isn't that much.

You should only pay 150 points for me because I'm awesome!
  I love this game.  I wasn't effected by this FAQ in any meaningful way.  I don't play in tournaments, I don't spam powerful units or Smite-casters.  I play mono-dex armies.  And I actually deploy almost everything I have on the table to shoot down my opponent in Turn 1 (and usually fail spectacularly).  So unless I'm missing something, I'm not sure what all the anger is about.  The tournament players that initiated the need for these changes will find ways to adjust and break the game in other ways.  The casual gamers will... well, they'll just keep playing the way they always have.  I will.

  As I'm talking to my tournament-oriented buddy, we commiserate about how ridiculous the reaction to the FAQ has been.  Many of the ITC players (the big names that everyone knows) aren't worried about it and I don't think anyone else should be if they're not.  After all, those tourney players of the highest level are the ones that this FAQ was aimed at.  All while the lesser players are freaking out.  It's insane!  And I'm loving it.  I actually wish there was an FAQ every day now.  I find the reaction and drama more interesting than the game itself.  And remember, I'm a former servant of the Emprah, so I have a special connection to this community.  My goodness has it been a fun (read: hilarious) couple of days...



  With all this negativity, I can only come to the conclusion that 40k 8th edition is now a dead system.  Gamers will flee the game and once again pull out their X-Wing minatures.  They will write their own fan-made rules that look a lot like 7th edition.  Because Emprah-forbid that the company try to make the game a little less one-dimensional.  Oh well, I guess I'm playing a dead game now.  Like so many others... (anyone remember Star Fleet Battles?)


 40k is dead!  Long Live 40k!