Monday, December 24, 2012

My dreams are crushed!

I had, after weeks of deliberation, finally determined my army list.  It wasn't an overpowered one, but it had a definite strategy and the tools to accomplish it.  I had it.  HAD is the operative word.

You see, Adepticon's team tournament has some specific rules that govern army design.  As part of a 4-man team, players will pair-off and battle against another team's pair in a scenario that the AWC boys invent.  Each player brings a 1,000 point army, using 1 HQ, 1-3 Troops, 0-1 Elite, 0-1 Fast Attack, and 0-1 Heavy Support.  A single player from each team is also allowed to take an extra Elite, Fast Attack, or Heavy Support.  Outside of that, there's not too many other restrictions.  Even Forgeworld models are allowed.  But there's a list for which FW models a team can bring, and limitations on how many may be taken (one of any FW unit per team, so no repeats).  And here's where I got excited.

My army is based on a very specific theme (which I'll go into later as I describe my team's theme), which was based on the Black Library novel, "Know No Fear".  In the book, 5 chapters of Word Bearers gather on Calth with 20 chapters of the Ultramarines in a mighty mustering to supposedly crush a massive Ork Waaaagh in the galactic south.  Little did the Ultramarines realize that this was a very well-planned ambush of treachery.  The majority of the Word Bearers' legion was with their primarch and speeding to Terra to aid Horus in over throwing the Emperor.  But the part of the legion on Calth was awesome nonetheless.

Led by Erebus, the planetary forces consisted of thousands of cultists (who looked like terribly shabby soldiers, and not even good ones at that), thousands of Astartes, and armor in the form of Land Raiders, Land Speeders, and Rhinos (and I'm sure there was a Predator in there somewhere).  Kor Phaeron, on the other hand, led the space-borne assault, using hundreds of Astartes, some Dark Adeptus, and even daemons.  I chose to use the land-bound forces as my theme (for obvious reasons) and developed a strategy to fit that theme.  Here it goes:

First, I have to bring cultists.  Two big units should do the trick.  They didn't have anything special, one would have autoguns and the other would have the CC build-out.  Add to that a typical unit of Marines and BLAM!  3 Troop choices and 55 models on the field already!  To lead the force, I was going to convert up an awesome Erebus model and 'counts-as' him using Huron's rules (on suggestion of one of my 'cheezier' gamer buddies.  Good call, right?!).  Knowing that it wouldn't be enough to cause any real damage to enemy, I chose to take some armor.  That would start with a Predator with lascannon sponsons.  That tank would go armour-killing as well as spraying high-strength firepower into those foolish enough to come at it.  But a Predator is not resilient enough to withstand 2 missile launchers, so I tossed in a Land Raider Proteus.

The Proteus was going to be my 'baby'.  It's a RT-era model, so it represents the Horus Heresy time-frame perfectly.  Its rules are available online, so I don't have to bring an oversized, $80 book to use it.  It's also not great as an assault vehicle (being able to carry less doods and  not having the front ramp make this pretty obvious), so I was content to use it as a firebase.  Most importantly, it is an Elite choice, leaving me to fit into the required FOC and not taking away from one of my other teammates.  With two vehicles on the board, one armor 13 up front with 3 hull points, and the other with armor 14 all around and 4 hull points, I figured this would become a hassle for anyone to handle.  And that hassle would allow my weak Troop choices to do their jobs.  Brilliant, I say!

And then Adepticon put out the 'Allowable Forgeworld Models List', and the Proteus wasn't on there.  I know that the boys in AWC already stated that Horus Heresy stuff wasn't going to be allowed (despite some stuff being on the list), and I know that the rules aren't available in any normal Forgeworld book, but I was surprised.  And crushed.  And frustrated.

After weeks of deliberation and some sense of confidence in my usually-terrible strategic decision-making skills, I was blocked.  And now I'm back to square one.  Yay.  Oh well, I only had 23 army lists written so far, what's a few more?

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

Work taking away from work

Remember how I started a Demo board and said I'd be done in a week?  Remember how I started building some of my old RT-era models and waxed about the start of my Adepticon army?  Remember how I promised to have my Ultramarines finished by the time the world ends in two weeks?

Yeah, I seem to have been very wrong on all of that.  I've made progress on everything (except the blue-boys) for sure, but I've been killed in the arena of TIME.  Let me explain...

I got a job at the beginning of November.  This job came with the typical 9-5 hours during the week.  What did I do?  I was an operator for a Healthcare company that deals with Medicare (as well as other private plans, to be fair).  Why does this matter?  It was the last couple of weeks of our 'Annual Enrollment Period', where millions of American seniors had to get signed up for their healthcare benefits.  How did this affect me?  Remember that whole 9-5 routine?  That turned into 9-10.  That's 9am until 10PM.  Suddenly, I lost all the free time I had to take care of stuff outside of work.  Make no mistake, I was good at that job (which is why they asked me to work all those extra hours), but it definitely killed any chance I had of accomplishing much.  That's okay, I was released the final Friday and I would have Saturday to start fresh on my projects.

BUT WAIT!!!  On Saturdays, I work at the comic shop and run the game club there!  That requires me to teach assembly, painting, and even gaming.  I have very little time to enjoy my personal hobby and even less time to crack open a comic book.  Add to that how poorly I felt after working 40 hours in the previous three days (and far more hours that week besides) and suddenly I'm unable to even fulfill that part of the job.  I had to go home early.  I fell asleep as soon as I got home and slept until noon on Sunday.  And that's okay, because Sunday I could finally step up and work on some stuff...

BUT WAIT, THERE'S MORE!  On Sundays every week, I become a sports-writer.  At the very least, I have to watch as many American Football games as I can and copy down every play, player, yard, penalty, and change of score.  I usually have multiple games on every three hours, which is alot to follow.  Add to that my three 'Fantasy Football' leagues (one of which I run and another which I'm the first-place guy) and suddenly I'm overwhelmed from 11-11 all day that day.  Forget the fact that I still have kids that need to get showers done and dinner made and lunches prepped...

And then there's the week again.  I am lucky this week insofar as I don't have a job until Thursday, when I start working for a Travel company.  But I was so exhausted (and running a fever, mind you) that I didn't even have the motivation to get out of bed.  Until today, that is.  And what did I realize?  I realize that I start work all over again tomorrow and won't have any days off again until maybe Christmas.  Maybe.  My new job usually works on holidays, so we'll see how that goes.  And I realize that I've been making promises to all you guys about all the things I'm doing and plan to get done.  Sadly, as I make those promises I get completely swamped and can't complete anything.  And for that, I'm sorry.

What's the moral of the story here?  Well, the moral is that the quickest way to ruin a hobby is to treat it like a job.  Funny enough, I actually DID have this hobby as a job for a loooooong time and I got very little done that wasn't directly attached to schedules and plans.  I have been out of work for almost two years (not counting the few months of work before my car decided to teach me a lesson) and I accomplished quite a bit.  Now I'm trying to accomplish my hobby projects while working and during the season where I create even more work for myself.  My hobby has become a chore.  This cannot continue.

Here's my cunning plan:  A little here and a little there.  I have primed the buildings I need for my demo board and even primed the new models for my Adepticon army.  I want to paint them so bad right now, but I don't want to stress while doing it.  I need to get this stuff done right away but I don't want to feel obliged to accomplish something I'm supposed to enjoy.  So let me take a little bit of time this week for myself.  Let me just admire the progress I have made in the last two weeks and just relax.  Let me bask in the glory of the HOBBY, not the job.  And in this process, I'm going to set up some games next week so I can remember what it's like to roll dice.  That should give me the motivation I'm looking for.  

Whatever you do, don't let your hobby turn into work.  It's a lesson I learned years ago, and yet I have to be reminded of.  Well played, real life.  Thanks for reminding me...

Sunday, December 2, 2012

NOT Forgeworld!

I've been exposed to something very funny these last couple of weeks.  One of my gamer-buddies has been showing up to club day and bringing his super-old Chaos Space Marine army, which happens to include the ancient Rhinos.  Half a dozen times now, other gamers have walked up and asked if those models were Forgeworld.  Of course, the answer is an emphatic no.

I bring this up as 'funny' because it reinforces something that I know- I'm an old gamer.  I've been playing with these models since the late 80's and rolling dice for them since the 90's, but most of the people that play this game now are new and only found the glory that is 40k within the last 10 years or so.  That is amazing to me, even though I'm responsible for thousands of these 'newer' gamers.

There's even some more proof that I came across recently.  The one that had me flipped was on one of the big blog-sites (everyone should know which one it is) where someone started a comment thread trying to argue what the standard Land Raider variant is known as.  Anyone who knows anything about the 'technical' side of the hobby knows that it's called the PHOBOS pattern. But dozens of people tried to argue that it was known as the 'Godhammer Pattern' (which is what the lascannons are) or the 'Godwyn Pattern' (which is what the heavy bolters are), and even the 'Mark I' (which hasn't existed since '87).  Anyone who has been playing or collecting since White Dwarf issue #245 (summer 2000) would know this information.  But alas, most people are newer hobbyists than that.

But it's even 'funnier' these days because Warhammer 30,000 has finally hit the shelves and a huge portion of the hobby base has decided to go back in time and play this out (that'll be another post someday), which requires the use of a ton of Forgeworld models.  Let's look at these and the old stuff and see just how different it is.  Hopefully, this also serves as an education for the newer hobbyists on just how UNORIGINAL the new FW models are (and this isn't bad.  The FW stuff is supposed to look like the old stuff).

Rogue Trader era Rhino, which lasted until the early 2000's and was the oldest model in the 40k line...

Forgeworld Deimos Pattern Rhino


Rogue Trader era Predator, affectionately referred to as the 'Spoon-top' version

Forgeworld Deimos pattern Predator


Rogue Trader era Land Raider (the second version) and the first heavy tank model available to ALL armies

Forgeworld Proteus pattern Land Raider

See?  Same old models for us old gamers, but new Forgeworld conversion kits to copy.  I like the FW stuff, but the differences are also obvious.  My hint:  If you don't want to show your age in the hobby, please don't walk up to everyone using what seems to be old models and asking if they're Forgeworld.  THEY MAY NOT BE!  Some of us are just too poor to buy the new models (especially Rhinos, which all the old gamers have too many of) and are WAY too poor to buy the FW versions just because we may want to play 30k instead of the real game.

Now, right now you may be thinking that I'm being a 'bitter old man' and using that as an excuse to write a blog.  You're partially right, especially considering that I've been too busy to make my weekly post as normal.  But there's a second reason- I actually built something last night!  Let me show you some pictures...

I bought this from ebay a decade ago for $40, when this model was selling for triple that amount at minimum.  It was a deal, to say the least.  The original owner did a fantastic job building the core body of the vehicle and even added some leftover engine parts from some model car (he really loved this model, and I'm honoured to have picked it up).  Specifically check out those instructions.  Anyone that complains about GW's instructions is ignorant considering what they used to be...

I don't understand why the picture is flipped.  Sorry about that.
 Last night, around midnight, I got bored and decided to bust the model out and finish it.  I build the hedgerow-cutter, some other small accessories (such as headlights, smoke launchers, and viewing port), and finally assembled the weapons.  I know this is an ugly model, but I can't help but to love it.  PLUS- Forgeworld released rules for the Land Raider Proteus, which means I can actually use this in games (FW being allowed, of course).  If you have this model and want to use the rules, you can find them here:
Forgeworld LR Proteus rules

Not being one to simply have something for the sake of having it, I have to disclose that I'm very seriously thinking of using this model in my Word Bearers army.  Not only does it fit the theme of 'Heresy-era', but I never did like that renegade Legions have the same equipment as the loyalist chapters.  The XVIIth Legion is actually the only Legion left over after ten thousand years and they must have tons of the old equipment left over.  Not to mention that I still have almost two companies of RT era 'beakies' which are seriously wanting to be painted gray.  But those decisions are yet to be made firm...

But wait, there's more!  I made sure to acquire an old Predator tank as well and I'm extremely tempted to build and use this as well.  Ever think GW's model kits have too many pieces?  Check this out-

You may not be able to tell, but there's a ton of parts in there.  Anyone old enough to have built the old Rhinos can tell you how much of a pain they were to build.  Now add more guns...

And to be preemptive before everyone comes up to my table and begins the 'oohs' and 'aahs', this is NOT Forgeworld!  I'm just old, dammit...

As always, Happy Hobbying!

Saturday, November 17, 2012

Genesis of a Demo Board

I finally got the bug.  After weeks of not picking up a paintbrush or a hobby knife, I finally broke down and forced myself to do it.  The great part is that I actually had a buddy over and he willingly helped, so the motivation was certainly injected from an outside source.  Regardless of why I finally did it, the fact that I did some hobbying made me proud.  And, of course, this should lead to more.  Much more.

I'm going to show off pictures of the stuff I started working on last night and then talk briefly about what I'm going to do about it.  This will eventually lead to pictures of this new terrain project being finished and posted up here, and will lead to me using it to recruit even more hobbyists

First comes the tabletop itself.  I have 5 display boards, but they're all 16"x20", and that's just too small for a proper demo game.  While I worked for the company, we moved from 4'x4' tables (way in the early 90's) to 2'x2' tables for our demo games.  And rummaging around, I found this perfectly-sized board in the workshop!  Yay!  Notice that it's already got a texture to it- this was achieved by priming and drybrushing the rough side of the hardboard.  The bottom (not seen in the pic for obvious reasons) is the smooth side, which is unnecessary for this.  The board, with its texture, is perfect to as the base of a city, which is altogether perfect for this sci-fi game...

I built some buildings many months ago (in fact, it was soon after my accident and I used this assembling to retrain my shattered arm.  Buildings are simple and fit that perfectly).

And I have three more kits to make more buildings.  I don't have any idea yet of what I would like to use for the demo board, but having too many buildings is better than not having any or enough.  Plus, this demo board will be modular and I plan to use whatever goes on this board on the main table also, when I feel the urge to rock some cityfight...

This kit was what got my buddy excited.  He had never seen it before and, after laying eyes upon it, ripped the box open and slapped the parts together.  After all, what good is an Imperial City (even in ruins) without a giant Space Marine statue?

While still working for the company, I had the urge to buy some Forgeworld models, and HQ didn't have anything I was terribly interested in.  So I found this crater set and grabbed it instead.  Paying far too much for it, I was proud to have craters that would grace my planned ruins table.  Funny enough, we released the plastic craters only a few weeks later.  I have them, but I needed to get these FW ones done for fear of forgetting that I had them.  If you look closely, you can see one of my favorite aspects of GW models ever- nothing but the feet of a Space Marine in the middle of a crater!  It's the little things...

Finally comes the 'bitz' for the battlefield.  Tank traps, barrels, gas cans, and a few other items shall add that extra something to the board, giving troops something other than windows to hide behind.  Again, it's the little things...

That's it for today.  I plan on doing some drybrushing, some 'rusting', and some other painting to get this stuff done soon.  My goal is to have a complete demo board done by next weekend.  Will I finish it?  A little motivation should see this happen, even if I start my new job this week.  After all, how long can it take to paint this stuff?  Stay tuned!

Happy hobbying!

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

It hath happeneth!

First off, I apologize for not putting up a blog in the last two weeks.  I have been busy with a couple of big things- getting a job (I have one, yay!), being a Daddy in a very intensive way, and prepping for something big.  But mostly, it's been a lack of motivation or inspiration.  And stress.  And distractions.  And all kinds of other things that I'd like to make into excuses.  But it's really only about what I haven't done in weeks now.

I haven't hobbied now for more than a month.  I haven't even looked at any of my toys with the exception of the Chaos Codex.  I have the Dark Vengeance models begging me for attention and they're stacked on my work-shelf and slowly being forgotten about.  I have many of my CSM models begging for more than the basic drybrush and I haven't even decided which unit to start on.  In fact, the only thing I've done in the workshop is organize my paints.  Why?  I'm still trying to figure it out myself.

But here's the second part, and the reason why this trend must now end-

My buddies and I are part of the few that were able to purchase our Adepticon National 40k Team Tournament tickets!!!

Last year the tournament sold out in 17 hours.  One of my other friends is a member of the Adepticon Council and we spent hours discussing how amazing this was.  This year, the tickets sold out in 53 minutes.  53 MINUTES!!!  Luckily, my team captain was on point and was able to get them purchased instantly.  Needless to say, I was very stressed out and waiting for confirmation the way an astronaut waits for the countdown to end and the engines to start up.  I was eagerly patient, that is until an hour had passed and word that the tournie sold out so quickly and I had not yet received word.  A flurry of phone calls and texts later and my fears were allayed.  I went from stressed to excited in the span of milliseconds.

I've already been to the Team Tournament and competed with a team that actually scored 2nd overall and won for 'Best Theme and Presentation' (look us up, Adepticon 2009, team name 'Cede Malis').  My team this year is not nearly as skilled at the game and hopes of winning are managed to non-existence.  In fact, we're pretty much using this event as an opportunity to present beautifully-themed armies and have a ton of fun, while also getting to see each other for the first time in years (we all live in different parts of the country). And if we happen to win half our games then we'll consider it a successful venture in the gaming arena.  If we win for 'Best Theme and Appearance' then we can call it a successful mission altogether.  Do we expect to?  Gosh no.  But we're sure gonna try.

Do it again, DO IT AGAIN!!!
The best parts of this are two-fold- a) My old partner in crime in service to the Emprah and I get to return to our old stomping grounds and receive the old 'hero-worship' we used to get.  It'll be nice going to Wisconsin to visit our respective stores and see hobbyists that we created all these years later.  And, of course, we get to have our egos stroked just a bit.  More importantly is b) the other three members of my team get to compete in the largest tournament in the US and specifically one of the most well-known formats in recent history.  My partner has competed with me multiple times in the Lord of the Rings Team Tournament, but I'm the only one that's done the 40k.  And the other two members of the team have never even attended this massive event.  So I'll get to witness at least two sets (and maybe three) of eyes filled with the shiny excitement of wonderment in this trip.  I always get excited to see other people get excited.  It's kind of a weakness on my part...

All this being said, I guess I have no choice but to start actually hobbying on my army now.  Which requires me to know what I'm going to use in my army.  Which will probably require me to buy a buttload more models.  Which means me getting a job couldn't have come at a better time.  I WILL be using my Word Bearers (I'll explain the theme later), and I will be restrictive in my unit selection, but I still want to be at least a little competitive.  Now onto a whole new level of stress...

More to come about this later.  But for now, forgive my lack of consistency in posting recently and bear with me.  I promise I'll make the wait worth it.  :-)

Happy Hobbying!

Friday, October 26, 2012

Don't DEFILE me, brah!!!

I was talking to one of my good buddies, who happens to run a Hobby Center right now, and he pointed out to me that Defilers have been sitting on his shelf for some time without moving.  I asked 'why?' and he replied that the new Daemon-Engines are whooping its ass!  Between aesthetic and points-cost, I can understand.  But I must come the defense of the original and pimp it for a bit.

The year was 2003 (or maybe it was '02, I don't remember).  All us 'sergeants' sat in a crowded room and listened for two days as our bosses told us that we needed to do our jobs and get more hobbyists and actually sell something.  Then the third day rolls around and we finally got what we came for- our 'future product briefing'.  At the time, we were informed of what was being released up to a year later and then told to keep it hush-hush.  Most of us did.  Some black-shirts decided to ruin it for the rest of us.  But in this meeting, we got introduced to the 13th Black Crusade and all that would entail- a new codex, completely new Chaos Marines, a gazillion new kits to match the new loyalist crap, and then the thing that angered me- this new Heavy Support choice that was a vehicle with spider-like legs of iron and crab-like claws of craziness. It also had a torso with a weirdly-placed helmet on top and a cannon loaded into it's chest.

Wait, Chaos Space Marines would now have their own artillery!?  NOOOOOOO!

This was back in the day when I was staunchly loyal and hated everything about the renegades.  And now the Development Team decided to fix the one hole in the book- artillery.  I left HQ very upset that weekend.  But alas, I returned to my shop and begrudgingly sold the hell out of these new models upon release, months later.  Eventually, I decided to revisit my ancient Word Bearers army and I decided that Abaddon would have gifted a few of the war machines to the XVIIth Legion.

You see, the original storyline was that Abaddon decided to have his Dark Mechanicus thralls design and build him a war engine capable of imprisoning a Daemon-spirit as well as blast mighty gouges into enemy lines. The Black Legion was exclusively seen with these, fortifying the idea that Abaddon sanctioned their creation.  Eventually, the Defiler was seen with all liveries and with every type of renegade warband imaginable.  I grew to appreciate this.

The novel "Storm of Iron" was released and BLAM! the Defiler was included and described in detail.  Not only was the book one of the best ever written from Black Library, but the inclusion of the mighty war engines only stoked the fires of desire that much more.  So I bought one.  Then I sold it to a buddy.  Then I bought one again.  Which I gave away to a new kid.  A couple years ago, I acquired three from a friend shipping off to join the military (yay good luck!), of which I gave one to a novice friend last year.  But I still have my remaining two.  And I stare at them everyday in my garage, er, workshop.  That might be because they're prominently displayed...  But I digress.

I didn't really like the model itself and most hobbyists believe that it's too big and looks too different from everything else.  I was more than inclined to agree.  That is until this year, when the new daemon-engines hit the shelves.  Now the Defiler is not much larger (height-wise, in any case) and actually matches the original aesthetic of the Chaos Marines much better than the new stuff.  On top of that, the look actually grew on me over the years and now I see the machine as an impressive 'living vehicle'.  The spider-leg construct has become my favorite part, leading me to want a Necron army like there's no tomorrow (but I'm poor, so the Defilers will have to sate my mechanical desires for the time being).  All-in-all, the Defiler is a beautiful 'ugly' war engine to me now.

I do have to mention my grand plans for the Defiler, though.  At one point, I had decided to convert my Defilers to match my army.  Everyone knows I'm a Word Bearers guy and have been for decades, so I have that desire to have 'cathedrals' and 'cursed sanctuaries' throughout my army.  You see, waaaaaay back in the day GW had the fluff for the XVIIth Legion noting them as 'cult creators' and builders of massive halls of worship to the dark gods everywhere they went.  A little slave labor and some heretic love equals lots of daemons.  In fact, my original army saw all my characters with building tools as weapons (buzz saws, rock drills, pretty much all the Necromunda pit-slave weapons) as they were supposed to represent an 'engineering company'.  The characters have been given away and that old army is long lost to the warp, but my idea for the Defilers was born later and stuck.  What I wanted to do to exemplify this theme was tear the turret-torso from the machine and replace it with a Warhammer Tower (obviously involving some conversion), which would then have an inset cannon and the parapets manned by cultists controlling the other guns on a Defiler.  It was, and still is, a brilliant idea.  Unfortunately, I've recently (within the last four years) realized that I'm lazy and don't want to do that much work.  So, alas, the standard model it is.

MY 1st Defiler, now bloodied on my Dark Angels too often.
Now that I'm done talking about how the thing looks, let me talk about why I like it in the game.  I'm hoping that someone will read this and actually forgo one of the newer engines and grab up the mecha-spider-blasty-claw monster for their army instead.  Let's see if that works...

For the same cost as a Chaos Land Raider, you get a much less resilient model.  Or is it?  It has 4 Hull Points, just like a Land Raider, but it only has armor 12.  If only it had an invulnerable save or something to make it at least almost as survivable.  Oh, wait, it does!  Ah man, it's only a 5+, so that only counts it as +1 armor in the math-hammer world.  I wish maybe it could regenerate or something so at least it stays on the table for some amount of time.  Oh, wait, it does!!!  Therefore, you get a vehicle that is ALMOST as survivable as a Land Raider, notwithstanding that all-too-easy-to-get lucky shot.  But I've now seen a Defiler manage to survive 13 consecutive turns of fire and not die, which is a far difference from the old days.  I've also seen a Land Raider die to the first shot too many times, so the comparison is pretty apt, I think.

What can it do?  I mean, it's really nothing more than a glorified Dreadnought, right?  It has two Power Fists (strangely, there's no such thing as a 'Dreadnought Close Combat Weapon' in the Chaos Codex, so I see a conundrum that the blogosphere has conveniently ignored), so comes with a fair number of high-strength attacks.  It can also take the Power Scourge, which reduces any enemies in combat by D3 WS.  This is something I don't think people have really thought about yet.  Imagine that sergeant with the Power Fist needing 5's to hit in close combat because your Defiler rolled a 5 or 6 on that die.  That can really frustrate a loyalist, you know?  Does the Scourge add an extra attack?  (Yet another conundrum that the blogosphere has ignored.)  If the Power Fists get blown off or destroyed, then the Scourge is still a Str 8, AP 2 CCW.  That's rather nice.

What else can it do?  It's really nothing more than a renegade version of a weaker Leman Russ, right?  Well, it does have a Battle Cannon (which used to be able to fire indirectly, but some design guy pointed out the obvious contradiction in that), and also packs a twin-linked weapon of some sort.  Most people would want the Lascannon, but I'm perfectly content with the Reaper Autocannon.  This is for two reasons- a)Lascannons are no longer necessary to breaking armor as armor is much rarer and certainly weaker than it used to be, with exceptions, and b)multiple shots from a weapon that is generally only going to snap-fire anyway is obviously more efficient.  This is a very big point, too.  Let me explain.

You may have noticed that Flyers have made a bit of a cameo in this edition.  If you're one of the very few that's ever played against a flyer, you've probably found that killing them can be rather difficult.  I believe that the Defiler sans its Battle Cannon would make an almost efficient anti-aircraft weapon as long as it's packing that twin-Autocannon.  But Jay, the Lascannon will have an easier go at breaking that flyer's armor!  Let's do some mathhammer-
-A Lascannon firing at a flyer has a 16% chance of hitting a flyer, 33% if it's twin-linked.  Then it has a 66% chance of glancing the armor (avg 12), which means nothing to a flyer, so let's go with the 50% to try and penetrate it.  Then, with that 'ol armor penetration roll, you have a 33% of immobilizing or destroying it, upped to 50% for the AP bonus.  That adds up to around 8% of the time expecting to knock a flyer out of the sky.
-An Autocannon firing at a flyer has a 33% chance of hitting once or an 8% chance of hitting it twice (as opposed to a Lascannon having a 0% chance of hitting twice), which is increased to 66% to hit once and 16% to hit twice with twin-linked goodness.  Then you have a 16% of punching through the armor per shot (remember, 'penetrate', not 'glance'), and a 33% chance of immobilizing or destroying it.  This all adds up to a 6% chance of knocking it out of the sky, twice.  What's higher- 8% once or 6%, twice?
Add to that the possibility to killing TWO Land Speeders in a turn (versus a Lascannon's ability to only kill one), and the Reaper Autocannons obviously become the better choice, especially considering that they're WAY cheaper!

I must note here that I HATE Math-hammer.  Not only is it a complete waste of think-time, but it assumes that dice actually follow the Laws of Probability.  As the good Emperor decided not to gift me with an abundance of good luck, I know this not to be true.  But Math-hammer can be a fun exercise to reinforce some pretty common-sense ideas, such as 'More shots are better than stronger shots', something we REAL humans learned in WWI.  In any case, please don't think this is my normal routine, I play the game because it's looks cool.  Math-hammer is for people who don't have real lives.  And if you're offended by this, I really don't care (although I truly don't mean to be mean).  I've had decades of dealing with this from people only to see them get frustrated and throw dice when the math didn't pan out on the table.  It's a game, people.  Not homework.

More weapons to note- the Power Scourge is really an upgrade from the Heavy Flamer (really only useful for Overwatch and coincidental enemy units being nearby) or the Havoc Launcher (even less useful since it's a blast weapon and can't be used in Overwatch nor fired along with the Battle Cannon).  Sadly, these weapon options aren't really attractive, so going balls-out and taking the Power Scourge is pretty enticing.

In addition to that, don't forget about a move-and-fire Battle Cannon that saw some big improvements this edition.  What are those improvements?  The biggest is that the weapon's Strength is now static for the whole large blast template, meaning that killing 'parking lots' has become a possibility again.  The cannon is also mounted high enough on the turret that it can see over even Land Raiders, giving it greater opportunities to fire because of the 'True Line of Sight' half-rule.

And if all that's not awesome enough, don't forget that the Defiler comes with the 'Daemonforged' rule, which allows the model to reroll armor penetrations and wound rolls with the slight risk of losing a Hull Point (which it can regenerate later if it's lucky anyway!).  Oh, and it ignores 'Stunned' and 'Shaken' results most of the time because Grandpa Daemon is too crotchety already.  Oh, and it's Fleet, just in case you really want to get it into combat.  But wait, there's more!

Unlike any of the other Daemon-engines, the Defiler is able to take vehicle wargear.  Extra armor is useless. Pintle-mounted Combi-Bolters and Havoc Launchers are useless wastes of points, and Warpflame Gargoyles are all but redundant.  Taking a combi-Plasma or Meltagun may be a decent choice, but the only real option here is a big one- the Dirge Caster.  Why is the Dirge Caster so important?

The loudspeakers of a Dirge-caster scream disorienting prayers and soul-rending chants at the enemy, stopping them from being able to fire on Overwatch if within 6" of the vehicle.  Normally this won't matter as a Defiler, with Fleet, is going to charge from much further away.  But what if the Daemon-engine is actually escorting a unit of Marines towards the enemy?  What if the Marines charge first and take advantage of the enemy not being able to react?  What if the Defiler IS close enough to use this as it charges in?  That's a really nice way to stop that rapid-firing Plasma Gun from getting that one lucky shot off and killing the excited machine at the most inopportune moment.  Like I said, it shouldn't play a large role very often, but for only 5 points it could make a HUGE difference!  Can the other engines get this?  NOPE!  Take that, new hotness!

At the end of the day, the Defiler is the infantry-killing maching of the Chaos army.  It's expensive, powerful, and too large to hide for long.  It simultaneously fulfills the role of Dreadnought and Battle Tank.  It certainly is a force on the battlefield.  I can go into more detail and start theory-hammering why I think the Defiler is superior to alot of other things in the codex, but I hate that already and my hands are getting tired of typing.  :-)  Let me know what y'all think and whether you're convinced to add one to your army now.  Just hope that you get to hear your opponent someday cry out, "Not a Defiler, man!!!"  I can't wait for it to happen to me...

Happy Gaming!

Friday, October 19, 2012

To fear or not to fear...

I'm trying to write up an army list for the Team Tournie at Adepticon next year, and I've found a conundrum.

1,000 points is not a large force, and that makes some of the more commonly chosen upgrades difficult to justify.  Especially in an atmosphere as competitive as that.  This is especially prevalent in the Chaos Marine squad.  They start out very cheap, only 140 points for a unit of 10 marines (what a deal!), but then grow to be very expensive with upgrades (a couple plasma guns and a power fist makes that squad over 200 points suddenly).  Knowing that, what is my biggest issue?

Well, I'm playing Word Bearers.  Word Bearers are a founding Legion, and are actually more responsible for the Horus Heresy than the guy it's named after.  Therefore, they should have 'Veterans of the Long War', which costs 1 point per model (for ten).  Word Bearers are also well known for having banners and drums all throughout their army, and are consistently reputed as being implacable and dislodgeable (meaning Fearless).  For that, it's an icon that costs 25 points. 

So what do I do?  Normally, I pay for both and end up with a Fearless squad that is also full of hatred for their loyalist brethren.  The Leadership bonus that I get is useless since I'm Fearless, but rerolling hits in the first round of combat against the boy scouts can be really effective.  That being said, 35 points per squad in a 1k army list can be a bit much.  Right now I'm staring at 70 points that I think could be used better. 

That being said, I can't simply ignore the 'fluff' for the XVIIth Legion and leave the banners at home.  And I certainly can't ignore it and not make them Veterans.  Which one do I choose, if I choose one?  There are advantages to either.  Let's talk about them...

Veterans of the Long War
Nine of the Emporer's 18 Primarchs chose to side against the Imperium and court the favour of the Chaos Gods.  Eventually losing the war to coup, they fled into a nearly inaccessible part of the galaxy and began plotting.  For ten millenia, these Legions (and many additional buddies) have attacked the good guys and nearly destroyed any hope of peace for humanity.  Those ten millenia have seen atrocities and experiences that the parties involved will never forget.  And the Chaos Marines continue to do it throughout time.  They've even learned a thing or two.

For only 1 or 2 points per model, a unit gains an additional Leadership and Hatred(Space Marines).  The Leadership boost is the most important aspect of this, and Hatred is a nice benefit as well.  Stock, a marine squad is Ld 8, and 9 on the Aspiring Champion.  With the upgrade, now they're 9 and 10 respectably. 

The risk here is that the Asp Champ must declare and accept challenges whenever possible, meaning that he's at risk of being killed and losing that Ld the unit desperately needs.  Woe betide the squad that didn't take the upgrade and is no depending on a normal stat 8 to stay in the fight.  If they're Ld 9 after the death of the fearless leader, then at least they're a little more likely to keep fighthing. 

That being said, an Aspiring Champion with a Power Sword or Lightning Claws and the Vets upgrade fighing Space Marines means the chances of losing the challenge are much smaller.  That reroll can help guarantee that the Ld bonus sticks around a bit longer.  This makes the upgrade DOUBLE as effective, and really makes the points cost a bargain.

Icon of Vengeance
In the grim darkness of the far future, there are many banners and standards.  Every army (save 'Nids) appears to have some special way of showing their espirit de corps, and cloth palettes flapping in the scouring winds appear to be the most accepted.  For marines, both renegade and loyalist, this is especially true.  The panoply of their armor and the heraldry on their shoulder pads are proudly displayed as symbols of the opponents' doom.  Word Bearers do this better than anyone else in the galaxy, bringing lots of banners and even attaching verses and dark litanies to every blank spot they can find.  And then they march right at the enemy in long, stubborn battlelines praying loudly to their dark masters.  Imperial logisticians regularly note how the Word Bearers march implacably into the most horrendous firepower without pause, and for reasons unknown to any rational mind.

The Icon of Vengeance is usually a 25-point upgrade (or much cheaper in the case of already-Fearless units), and makes the unit Fearless and adds a point to any combat resolution score.  This can seem very expensive, but Fearless is now a big advantage in the game.  Not only will the troops never flee from shooting casualties, but they'll also never flee from a combat only to be cut down. 

You see, most people forget about the loyalists' special rule 'And they shall know no fear' and how much of a benefit that is.  Let's say the loyalists lose a combat and fail their Ld check.  Then they fail the 'sweeping advance' roll.  What happens?  In any other army, the unit is wiped out with no saves and the victors get to consolidate their position.  But those damned good guy Space Marines merely turn around and stick out their tongues, swinging their chainswords even more.  There's nothing more embarassing than watching Chaos Marines get cut down like rookies in training camp, just because they failed a nearly unfailable Leadership check. 

Here's the disadvantage, though.  Fearless models may not 'Go to Ground', which can be pretty key sometimes.  In addition, the cost of the banner is equivalent to two extra marines, which may be enough to tip the scales so you wouldn't have to worry about losing.  And on top of all that, sometimes losing a combat is strategically more sound than sticking around, and that's an option only the boy scouts get. 

That outta the way, not only is Fearless very powerful now, but that extra point in combat resolution makes up for the loss of the Aspiring Champion in a challenge at worst and firmly steals a victory from the enemy at best.  It makes the 25 point price-tag almost worth it, or totally worth it depending on the matchup. 

So what should I choose?  The 'Veterans of the Long War' is certainly useful and is definitely worth the cost, while the Icon of Vengeance is very costly yet completely trustworthy.  Both is awesome, but big games require a little frugality, and I can only choose one.  Ten points and some goodness, or twenty-five and some love?

Let me know what y'all think in this debate and why.  I will take all opinions in consideration.  After all, I'm no longer a competitive guy and here I'm getting ready for the most competitive situation, so I definitely need the help.  :-)

Thanks in advance, and Happy Gaming!

5th Battle for Ehdiciun VI

Again, the lines were drawn just before the sky brightened for the morning dawn.  Both armies found themselves arrayed against one another and seemingly fighting for an ancient Adeptus Mechanicus ruin.  The same power crystals were in the area, so this macine must've been useful, but neither commander understood how or why.  Mazarius was impressed that such an ancient structure stood so intact on this otherwise uninhabitted planet.  Kharsis' view from the air of the ruin made him want to wretch, angry at the oppulance and craftsmanship from this lie of an empire.  Better, though, were the scattered pieces of armor and machinery needed for equipment used by both forces, making this battlefield conveniently productive.

The 5 objective points

Deployment and the start of the game, as seen from the south

End of the game, as seen from the west

We still played 1000 points (again, same armies), but this time we played the Big Guns Never Tire scenario.  Rolling for objectives, my brother rolled a '6', meaning we used all 5 objective points.  Placing objectives on a 4x4 table and not getting too close to each other or the edges is rather difficult, by the way.

Night fight was in effect again.  I'm thinking that GW meant for night fight to hopefully mitigate 'alpha strike' armies, which I like.  But it appears that our armies like to fight early in the morning.  Our warlord traits were wonky this time- Mazarius was allowed to reroll run rolls for nearby units and Kharsis allowed rerolls of '1' when shooting at me near an objective.  Needless to say, these had little effect on the game.  I rolled to deploy and go first, and I took advantage of it.

Here's the deal- in today's game, his dice were against him.  Let me tell you how bad it was...
His Defiler played the artillery role and fired four times in the game.  It killed one model it wasn't even aiming at, put one hull point on the Dreadnought, and missed two other times.  A Defiler, with a Battle Cannon, killed one single marine all game.  ONE!
He rolled twice to bring in the Raptors, needing a 3+ of course.  Turn two, he rolls a '1'.  Turn three, he rolls a '1'.  Turn four sees the squad arrive automatically, but really?  Two times to roll a three or higher and he couldn't do that?  TWO!
His squad of seven krak grenades assaulted the land speeder and hit three times, only to glance it once.  Then the Daemon Prince assaults the thing, hits once and fails to beat the armor.  That same prince died (finally!) because my brother couldn't make three armor saves across four turns.  THREE!
By the end of the game, I had killed all 20 chaos marines, two possessed, the prince, and a raptor.  I had lost the five devastators (two having died by my brother's actions, the rest simply fleeing from the field), three marines from the Combat Squad (one having killed himself with plasma), and one marine from the Command Squad (also having killed himself with plasma).  In the entire game, he had killed four total models.  FOUR! 

And the whole game had been like that.  His armor saves weren't horrible, but his shooting was worthless and his wounding made every other roll seem like a waste of time.

It should be pretty obvious how stunning this is to a newbie.  If nothing else, this was a lesson in how badly the dice can control a game.  When they work, they work.  Whey they don't, these games can be a whole lot less fun.  I joked with him and offered that maybe his 'beginners luck' had finally run out.  It didn't matter.  On top of a poor showing by his cubes of probability, Uncle Sam was also bashing him with additional duty this weekend (as I said, he's a soldier.  It's not as fun a life as the movies make it).  So my jokes definitely didn't work.  He did, however, say that it won't happen again.  I fear that to be true.  It was nice to be on the giving end of bad luck for once.  :-)

The game ended with me controlling one objective and getting first blood and slay the warlord (finally!).  He had killed my Devastators and could have scored an objective with his Defiler, but we knew there'd be no point.  The official score was 5-1, but was really 5-4.  In any case, I actually won the game.  Sooooo....

I guess it's onto the next battle and what that may be.  If anything, maybe I'll build and paint up a few more buildings and start transitioning into the urban areas...  Eh, I have painting to catch up on.  So much to doooooooooooooo!  (and that makes me happy!)

Happy Gaming!