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Thursday, November 10, 2011

So long, Cygnar!

At the beginning of next week, I will be sending my Cygnar to a friend so that may finally see the battlefield.  He actually likes the game and I do not, so it seems only too obvious that he take this stuff and use it. 

Now I know that some of you are going to think I'm crazy for not liking War Machine, and I'd like to take some time to rant about why.  Believe it or not, it ain't as bad as y'all think.

Why don't I like War Machine?

There are really only two reasons.  The first is the gamers.  I didn't like the 'cut-throat' attitude of card gamers back when M:tG was getting popular, and War Machine players tend to exhibit the very same attitudes.  Worse, Privateer Press pushes this attitude.  Result:  Douchebag gamers of a higher concentration than even 40k.  I have enough problems with rules-lawyering and 'my trick trumps your trick', I don't need even more.  In this vein also exists the 40k hatred.  So many WM gamers poopoo all over GW's games and pontificate how awesome PP's rules systems are.  News flash:  Who the hell cares!?  War Machine is Final Fantasy VII in miniature form- that's not cool to me!  It all comes back to the higher concentration of douches...

The second reason is the same phenomenon that card games have- the evolution of the game leaving beginners behind.  I own the Prime rulebook and the 'codex' for Cygnar.  Since I've bought those, another two books have been released with even newer and better stuff!  And before this Mark II was released, there were four books that one had to buy to keep up with it all!  I, personally, don't feel like having to buy a new book for $50 every time the designers decide to make bigger models, only to spend another $60 on one dood!  At least 40k has everything in a rulebook and a single codex for any given army.  But for Cygnar, I felt that I didn't have a chance to win since I was still rockin' the prime stuff and I wasn't sporting a dozen lightning-wielding maniacs and a monster chariot arc node machine thingy.  If PP would stop putting out newer, more broken stuff, I'd have the time to catch my breath and actually get started.  But nooooooooo.  I fall two books behind and now my Warcaster is the most basic, useless version in the game.  That's poop.  I'd rather just play Space Marines.

Other than that, I didn't mind the game at all.  The models have gotten better (Cryx and Menoth are awesome, the rest are sub-par for what I'm used to), the rules are pretty solid, and the background is pretty nifty.  If I didn't see the daily GW-flaming going on from PP gamers, I probably wouldn't be so willing to dump my stuff.  As a GW gamer, I'd like to remind people that you attract more flies with honey and all that jazz.  If you hate GW, suck it.  They're still the best and even leaving the service of the Imperium isn't enough to change my mind.

Now, picture time.  Here's what I'm parting with, on top of the Prime Rulebook and the Cygnar army book, as well as dice and cards (duh):











I will say that I am going to miss having these models.  As you can see by the first three, I really enjoy painting (especially blue).  But they need to battle something, and that just isn't going to happen under my ownership...

So long, Cygnar!

Monday, November 7, 2011

"My Marines are better than your Marines!"

Everyday I sign into this little-known blogsite of mine and take the opportunity to read various posts on my blogroll (that's the list of blogs on the side of the page that I like) and I noticed the hatred again.  I had gotten pretty happy when the Necron rumours were released as it seemed that the following HATERAID ended temporarily:
1.  WAAC gamers and Fluffy gamers and who's better (y'all should know where I fall in that argument by now...)
2.  40k rules suck ass and the new edition will be far better or worse
3.  The cost of GW's stuff is so out-of-line that the million+ hobbyists around the world are going to quit anyday now
4.  Grey Knights are the bestest of the bestest
5.  How to paint Dark Eldar in another version of black
I have to admit that this was a glorious era- for the few weeks that it lasted.  But lo, it's back.  And my smile faded from my face as I read comment after comment and many original posts that basically pick up where we left off in the hate-filled communities that have an online forum.  Luckily, I'm here to bring some perspective, or at least talk about something a little less contentious and a little more hobby-based.  So what am I going to give a mad-rant about today?

What is the difference between one Chapter of Space Marines and the next (from a gaming standpoint)?

I am a hater of the 'codex creep' phenomenon.  I used to be a hater of gamers that perscribed to this theory and now I'm a hater of the reality.  (Yes, for all those poor hobbyists that I 'tore a new one' into- you were right!  Codex Creep does exist and it sucks ass!) 

See, I've been an Ultramarine player since the Chapter became a distinct color-scheme in a WD produced way back in the late 80's.  I chose the Ultramarines because, and this is a nifty story that I'm sure I've told before, everyone else in my local game shop played Blood Angels and Chaos.  Back in those days the differences in the Chapters was superfluous at best, but that changed over time.  Soon, the Ultramarines and Angels of Death were very different (mostly in the form of AoD getting better Termies and Death Company making their first real appearance), and those were FAR different from Chaos Space Marines.  Then 3rd came out and made these distinctions cemented in stone.  Since the early 21st century, I can honestly say that the idea of distinct Chapters of Space Marines has become more clear and more defined.  So let's take a look at the different Chapters and talk briefly about what's different about them:

Ultramarines
I'm gonna talk about these guys first for two reasons- first, that's where my loyalties lie and, second, because this Legion is the 'basis' for all other Chapters. 
So what makes the Ultramarines different than the other Chapters?  Well, first and most uniquely is the hardware.  No other Chapter has the Thunderfire Cannon or the Siege Dreadnought.  No other Chapter has the Land Speeder Storm.  And no other Chapter has the Master of the Forge.  These items aren't overpowered or even give the Ultramarines an unfair chance on the battlefield, but they're still unique to this book.  Wouldn't it be awesome for Space Wolves to have Siege Dreadnoughts or Blood Angels to have Land Speeder Storms?  Well SUCK IT!  Ultramarines do, you don't.  Ha!
What about special rules?  Well, if you take special characters you can gain some LD-boosting abilities, add Fleet or Outflank to your force, or even twin-link the best weapons in the army!  But those all require special characters and, for the most part, are pretty minor.  The Ultramarine army book is based mostly on "Look, my doods have bolters and power armor.  Go!"  This is what makes the Ultramarines different from anyone else- they're basic!

Black Templars
This is the oldest of the 'my Chapter is different than your Chapter' books.  It's actually only as old as the Tau army's entire existance (for those that don't know, I worked for the Emporer before there was such a thing as Tau), so that makes them really new in the world of Space Marines.  In fact, the Black Templars were part of the Ultramarines codex even when featured in the 3rd edition Starter Kit.
So what did GW do to make them different?  Well, they have NO Librarians.  None.  That's right, the ability to stop the Eldar's special glitter-tricks doesn't exist in this book.  The ability to draw a straight line across a battlefield and do something to the enemy does not exist.  The ability to force-weapon a Carnifex to death does not exist.  Moral of the story?  No psykers, people.
Also, there are no Veteran Sergeants.  This may not seem like a big deal to most people but not being able to take a strong close-combat specialist in a troop unit is very disconcerting to a Space Marine player.  In fact, the Black Templars lack Veterans altogether.  The Sword Brethren fulfill that role, but they don't do it as well as the other Space Marines.  Luckily, the Chapter comes around real nice with the Preferred Enemy special rule across the board.  There are other options, but taking that basically-free Captain and allowing the whole army to re-roll misses in close-combat is pretty awesome.  Although the Black Templars Chapter lacks the cool toys of the others, it still packs the punch in the dedicated role it was meant for- hitting people really hard!

Dark Angels
Unlike the Black Templars, the Dark Angels are actually privy to much of the stuff that Ultramarines go to war with.  They still have psykers and most of the wargear than all Chapters get.  But there's issues here.
The Dark Angels are little more than Ultramarines with different coloured armor.  They have no Sternguard Veterans, so can't take any of the special ammo.  Their Assault Veterans are terrible and have nothing to do with actually fighting (they pretty much just get more weapon options than a normal squad, but still can't take jump packs!), and their other units are carbon copies of the Ultramarines.  However, there is some good to it all.
Dark Angel Scouts can actually shoot.  That's right, they've gone to the Firing Range once or twice!  Real Chaplains still exist.  Their Terminators are Fearless and can mix-and-match wargear.  In fact, the Terminators and Bikes are the parts of the codex that make Ultramarine players like myself green with envy.  Bikes that Scout and have teleport homers, plus Terminator Squads as troop units, anyone?  Yes, please!  Besides being over-costed and lacking the options that some other Chapters have, Dark Angels are only slightly different and more basic than the boyz in blue.  Blame that on age.

Blood Angels
Here's where we start to get insane!  Remember how Ultramarines are the basis of all other Chapters?  Well, prepare for the sprinkles, chocolate syrup, nutty bits, and fruit on top.
Blood Angels have Sanguinary Priests that make all boyz-in-red into 'insta-death-company'.  This is crazy!  Did I mention that they're only 50 points?  They have Fast vehicles across the board (except Land Raiders, which can Deep Strike), meaning 'armoured fury' all day long.  They have Vangauard Assault Veterans AND Sanguinary Guard that are a perfect middle between those and Terminators!  They have Baal Predators and Stormraven Gunships- both very perfectly designed to do what Blood Angels do.  Finally, they have Furioso Dreadnoughts (that's their version of Siege Dreadnoughts) and Librarian Dreadnoughts.  That's right, Dreadnoughts that are also Librarians!  What do the Blood Angels not have?  See the Ultramarines entry.  They have NOT that stuff.  But they more than make up for it.  Blood Angels are the Chapter for Space Marine players that want more

Space Wolves
My seething hatred shall spill over on this one.  Space Wolves have always been the Chapter that angered me more than any other.  Worse yet, (and I mean no disrespect to my SW-playing readers out there) it seems that people who choose SW tend to be bigger assholes than most other gamers.  That's right, I said it- and now my hatred has spilled over.  Now back to the topic at hand:
Space Wolves lack the esoteric wargear that some of the other Chapters have.  In fact, the ability to ride giant wolves into battle seems to be about the level of creativity that the Sons of Russ can summon on a given day.  There's no special tanks or dreadnoughts, nor are there the special units of veterans, with their cool special ammo or guided jump-packs, to manage.  The Space Wolves make up for this lack of wargear options with special rules.
Their assault squads get more attacks on the charge than the rules technically allow (although they're not nearly as skilled as most assault troops), while ALL Space Wolves usually gain more attacks for being charged.  Their squads have multiple special weapon options.  SW Terminators get whatever wargear they each individually want.  Their Devastators can split fire. 
So what can't the Space Wolves do?  Take Veteran Sergeants- but wait!  They can have a whole squad of Vets and then allocate them to lead other units in the army, thereby gaining their rules too!  Think Terminator sneaking with Scouts and you'll get what I'm sayin'...  Also, the Space Wolf special characters are all but broken.  All in all, the Space Wolves are for the unimaginative Marine player that wants to win with special rules rather than special wargear.  Quick note here:  I don't hate Space Wolves, I hate Space Wolf players.  And the tournie scene has certainly magnified this for me.  If you're one of them, I'm sorry if I offended you.  Get over it, your army is better than anything else with a 3+ save and the GTs around the country seem to support this, and yet I still hear SW players whine.  So again, if I offend you by being a bit hateful, sorry.  If you're looking for an army to play in the Space Marine ilk and want to win often, Space Wolves are the force for you...

Grey Knights
This one is gonna be a bit harder since I'm totally confused with this army.  There is nothing the same as the rest of the Space Marine Chapters in this book (other than armor saves and the use of bolt-weapons), but we're now led to believe that they're just another founding just like the list above.  Here's the deal:
Grey Knights are broken.  They've got all the special rules of the Blood Angels (Iniative bonuses through Halberds and FNP through Paladins) while having none of the toys of the Ultramarines or other Chapters.  They have Psifleman Dreadnoughts (the most useless kind, in my opinion), Stormraven Gunships, and Dreadknights, but these are nothing compared to the Devastators that can shoot you behind cover or the Terminators with two wounds each, or the fact that every model is armed with a storm bolter to begin with.  This book is NOT a Space Marine codex, but I have to include them here for the interest of completion (and because GW defined them as another SM codex).
So what can the Grey Knights not do?  Well, they can't kill tanks or take real heavy weapons.  They aren't nearly as awesome as the Space Wolves in being amazing in every circumstance that presents itself.  But the Grey Knights make up for it by being freakin' awesome and almost totally unique, game-wise. 

In conclusion, I'm trying to distract you readers from the terribly droll repitition of the same topics over and over.  My idea of Space Marines has been developing for over two decades now, and it amazes me how little people understand the difference between the Chapters. 
  • Are the Space Marine books all the same?  By no means.  Each is unique, even in the game.
  • Should we continue to refer to all these books as 'more of the same thing?  No!  Just because GW puts out a Space Marine codex of some sort every year doesn't mean that this is a wash-and-repeat process.  Despite the fact that these are all fighting for the Emperor and all humanity, they don't share common goals, practices, or even languages.  So no, they're not the same thing. 
  • Which Chapter is best in the game?  Well, if I had to rank them (and you know I do), I'd rank them as such:
    • Space Wolves- they may not have the CC punch that BA or GK have, but they're good in EVERY situation
    • Blood Angels- they are scary and very powerful, but they're not broken (for the most part). 
    • Grey Knights- they can beat any of the other Chapters hands down, unless one of them brings a shooty army.  And that's why GK are third and not first...
    • Ultramarines- hated by everyone, played by almost nobody.  This book is great as long as you ignore half the other books in the line and don't paint your models blue.
    • Black Templars- they aren't multi-dimensional, but they certainly do what they do better than anyone else.
    • Dark Angels- even a whole army of Terminators isn't enough to make this book good, but the backstory is awesome and the army is not overburdened with options, rules, or focus. 
It must also be noted that I have EVERY one of these armies (well, I sold the SW and BT last year, but I had them), so I'm giving you guys the thoughts I had with models in hand.  This isn't just my bitterness, I promise.  Go Ultramarines!

As always, let me know what you guys think and Happy Gaming!

Sunday, November 6, 2011

Marksavian War: Opening Act.

Aftermath

The Warp Spider Exarch knelt down lightly and plucked another glowing gem from the chest of a fallen Scorpion.  Adding it to the pouch in his fourth arm, he silently sang a song of sorrow.  The many voices in his head sang in harmony and were so powerful that anyone nearby would have 'felt' the music.  It was sad; dark and sad like a rainy day in winter.  It was obvious the Exarch lamented while silently fulfilling his task. 

Around him, the Aspect Warriors of his tribe did the same thing.  Although they didn't exude the same sorrow, they moved as silently and swiftly.  While the morning mists rolled away from the Mon-Keigh's bunker grounds, only the very quiet 'POOF' of the teleporters working could be heard.  The soft sound echoed from the trees and hills every few seconds, but nothing else stirred.  All the native creatures must have fled from the carnage the day before. 

"I have found Xi'Saryk's soulstone.  Have you finished your task, Spider-lord?"  the request broke the morning like a glass being shattered on a stone floor.  The mists roiled away from the winged figure that made the noise, his ornate bone armor seemingly scaring the vapour off.

"It is nearly done."  the Exarch answered.  He and his brothers continued to reach into the mists and pluck these glowing jewels, but the unheard song ceased.  After a moment's pause, the Exarch asked a question.  "How did Xi'Saryk not cast the skiens well?  He was Toryenna's greatest seer."  With this, all the Warp Spiders stopped their tasks and looked at the Autarch.  For a moment, all the figures in the misty clearing stood statue-like.  The sight would have been eerie had anyone been there to see.

Sin-Ratheyel, Master of a Thousand Battlefields and the Sun Dragon himself, gave no response.  With a psychic 'nudge', he told the bulky Aspect Warriors that this conversation was done.  This was not a subject the Autarch wanted to get involved with just yet. 

With their tasks completed and each holding a bag of soulstones, the Eldar left the field of battle.  Without a verbal or somatic signal of any sort, the crew simply blinked out of existance from the battlefield.  Had anyone been there to witness any of this, they'd have simply lost their minds.  The clearing around the Imperial Bunker continued to light up as the Sun continued to climb above the horizon.  The mists continued to boil away and expose lower and lower parts of the surrounding trees and hills.  It was as though nobody had been here in years.  Strange how there was a silent echo of a sad song...

______

Sin-Ratheyel stared at the crystal dome and all the thousands of stars he could see.  The inky blackness was beautiful to him especially because of the many dots of colorful light that decorated it.  It was sad to the Autarch that this brutish race would never be able to understand this.  While he and his Eldar species had the mental capabilities to see beauty in the entire universe, the Mon-keigh were little better than orks and saw only opportunity.  These... humans, as they called themselves, are greedy and malicious and...  brutes.  This thought made Sin-Ratheyel equally sad and angry.  He stood up from his chair and purposely marched into the Seer's dome.  The Spectre Guards outside the doorway didn't move to stop the Autarch at all, knowing that he was allowed whenever he wanted.  Being the Master of War for an entire Craftworld had its privelages.  The Sun Dragon entered the hallowed chamber ready to exercise another one.

"Xi'Saryk is lost to us because his skills failed him.  How many more Seers must we lose this way?  We knew the Mon-Keigh were coming.  We have a ability to smash them and exact revenge upon these beasts!"  Sin-Ratheyel spat at the council of robed figures sitting high upon a dias.  Although he couldn't see their faces, he knew their attention was keenly focused on him- he could 'feel' it like a blade being held to his forhead.  All dozen of the council members suddenly stirred and began arguing with one another.  It was an almost comical site- where one heartbeat ago there sat a group of robed, immovable shapes there now sat a dozen wildly flailing creatures with clothing that was all-too-big for them.  Crazier still, not a sound emanated from the circus.

The Sun Dragon flexed his wings with a slight thought and instantly shot up into the air to float even with the Seers.  While the silently argued with one another and flailed their arms about, Sin-Ratheyel continued to levitate and watch with his arms crossed and wings beating silently.  This sight was comical, but the Autarch knew that they were communicating telepathically and, with those funny gestures, tracing the invisible Skeins of Fate to understand what is likely to happen in the future.  All Eldar, no matter what their life was dedicated to, depended on the Seers to divine the future and order appropriate actions.  Without this prognistication, the race of Eldar would have disappeared from the cosmos long ago.  But today, this prognostication was to see if the Mon-Keigh's attack could be stopped and the consequences of failure. 

It took some time, but Eldar are very patient, and eventually the council of Seers stopped arguing and addressed Sin-Ratheyel.  "Take a strong and small force.  The Space Marines are not of a large force but are extremely lethal.  We wish as few of ours to lose their lives as--"

The Autarch interrupted.  "If you may trace backwards, you will see me recovering the soul-stones of all our fallen, including your friend."  He spoke that last word with a sneer, poking at the coincidence that an unpopular Lord would meet his death so soon into a crisis.  This drew a hiss of audacity from the Seers, but there was a much bigger worry to all of them.  Since the Vortex of Sharnar openned some four millenia ago, more and more of the Craftworld's Seers were failing their visions of the skeins.  The lack of fortelling had become a curse on this council and Xi'Saryk had been the latest victim.  All of the Seers, sitting royally and pensively, knew that something was horribly wrong. 

Without any meaningful response, the Autarch turned and flew from the room.  He stooped to fall under the doorway and then sped off through the air, his task clear.  Although the Seer Council had grave worries and a very big picture to unravel, Sin-Ratheyel was absolutely confident.  After all, he'd fought these Mon-keigh before.  They may be very heavily armored and very skilled in warfare, they were still dumb.  The Sun Dragon understood how to beat them.  While he sped to the Shrines, he thought of how to gain a tactical advantage.  If you let the Mon-keigh attack first, they continue to add forces and use their momentum to overwhelm opponents.  If you attacked the Mon-keigh first, they get confused and begin raiding tactics.  Best yet, kill their leader and they'll crumble.  While Sin-Ratheyel flew quickly between the massive wraith-trunks that framed the Craftworld, he began to get excited.  A smile crept into his lips...