Friday, March 30, 2012

New hotness is old and busted...

Unless you're one of those hobbyists that lives under a rock (and I swear I've met many), you've seen Forgeworld's new 'Tartaros Pattern Terminators'. In case you haven't, here's a picture and the link to look at more...

Now I have to go at these with some of my usual passion. 

First off, there's a belief out there that these are 'pre-heresy' pattern.  For those of you out there that believe this, you're a moron.  Two facts come to the fore in this argument.  The primary argument against that belief is Forgeworld's own writeup.  Here that is for your reading pleasure:

"Tactical Dreadnought Armour, or Terminator Armour as it is more usually known, is the most resilient form of personal protection available to the Adeptus Astartes. Originally developed during the closing years of the Great Crusade, and adapted from the heaviest of industrial gear, several types and patterns were developed concurrently.

Of these, the Indomitus pattern is perhaps the most widespread, due to its template being held on key Forge Worlds such as Mars, although Tartaros Pattern Terminator armour is also issued to the Veterans of a Chapter’s 1st Company. Perhaps the most advanced form of Tactical Dreadnought Armour, the Tartaros pattern shares many systems with the MkIV ‘Maximus’ pattern of power armour, and provides greater mobility for its wearer than the Indomitus pattern with no loss in durability or protection."

As you can see, these suits are issued to a Chapter's 1st Company- an organization that didn't exist until well after the Heresy.  Also, these were developed at the same time as the 'Indomitable' patterns, or the more commonly-known Terminator armor.  If you believe that these suits are pre-heresy, then you must believe that the normal Terminator suits are as well.

In addition, if you look closely, these suits use the same helmets as the Mk V Power Armor suits do.  In case you haven't read my blog, a White Dwarf, or just paid attention, the Mk V wasn't developed until the Horus Heresy.  Since that is the case, then you must see normal Terminator armor as from the same time period.  If you want a basic run-down of Power Armor, please read my blog about it here:

Secondly, I have to rant about my impression of these models.  I LOVE Terminators.  I own 20 for my Ultramarines (and I used to have 20 more, but I gave them to an old boss I had), I own 30 more for my Deathwing, and I've always got an urge to buy more for some strange reason.  But I can say that I'll never buy these.  Why? Let me explain:

Normally, Forgeworld releases some ridonkulously cool models.  But these are terrible.  They have no detail.  They look like over-plated power armor.  The shoulder-pads are tiny, leaving little room to mark them up.  The helmets are the same as a normal Marine's, making the model seem too...  obvious.  The stance is static, and this is compared to the current Terminator models, which is saying something.  Check it out:

In addition, the writeup reminds me of ST:DS9's syndrome:  "We wanted to be better than our predecessors, so we made up something so fantastic that you have to go with it".  Remember how the little 4-deck starship, the Defiant-class, was powerful enough to embarass the massive Galaxy-class and even take on a Borg cube?  It's Photon torpedoes were smaller by magnitudes, but also more powerful than the common ones.  It's pulse Phasers were only four cannons-strong, but had more power than a Galaxy's 11 Mk X Phaser strips.  It's ablative armor and powerful shielding made it more resilient than anything else the Federation had built up to that point.  Really?  And here's Forgeworld claiming similar things about this set of armor- 'It's tougher, more flexible, and better manufactored than those poopy suits you've been buying for almost a decade now...'  Yeah, okay, guys.  Keep trying...

As I said before, I LOVE Terminators, but I'm not an idiot and I don't buy models because someone tells me they're better.  Make them look better, and try to be somewhat respectful when you caption your sales pitch.  Then, maybe, I might drop the money. 

Okay, I've ranted.  Let me know what y'all think!

Happy Hobbying!

(P.S.- I can't end this without showing you a picture of a model I adore!  Check out this new SM flyer from Forgeworld:
Is that sexy or what?!  I'm too poor to buy one, but I do certainly want one.  Stupid 'shiny metal object' disease!!!)

Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Death by a thousand points...

I've actually been playing some games of 40k in the last couple of weeks.  And, strangely enough, I've determined something.

Bigger games suck now!

Yep, I said it.  I have begun to like smaller games.  Why?  What do I mean?  Well, let me explain.

First off, the game of 40k is no longer balanced.  There is an absolute heirarchy to armies in terms of power.  The core rules are pretty solid (minus my suggestions and many more), but the codices have definitely outgrown any hope of fair battles with armies.  For example, Eldar cannot compete with Necrons or Grey Knights at 2000 points, unless the Eldar army is specifically designed to win (Seer Coucils and War Walker spam, anyone?) and the GK player is an idiot.  Necrons can kill an entire horde of Orks in one turn with a cheap little skimmer and the Orks can do nothing about it.  IG have one actual good list-build option (parking lot!!!), otherwise it's fodder for anyone that wants to test their killing ability. 
Main point here is that the larger the game, the more these unbalanced options come to maximum power.  Does this mean small games eliminate this?  Gosh no, but it definitely mitigates it.  I dare someone to take three squads of thunderhammer/storm shield Terminators at that points value and see how quickly 'death star' tactics fail. 

Secondly, the larger games used to be easier to play for 'newbies' when everything had the same stats in a given army (3rd and 4th editions, remember?).  Now, with 5th edition, GW seems to be returning to the days of 2nd edition when a veteran had a higher statline than a troop, a character higher than a veteran, and a captain higher still.  It used to be simpler for newbs to be able to memorize their dice-rolls and get comfortable with the system because their leader was the only divergence from the VAST majority of their army.  Now, trying to teach the game or even play it without the veteran gamer's 'computer brain' (of which I'm lucky enough to have, even if it was forced for years) can get rather confusing.  And that confusion can be demoralizing, especially to the poor newb.  This isn't as big a deal to the hardenend vets of us out there, unless we're trying to get our friends into it. 
Do smaller games eliminate this?  Hell yes!  If one only has four squads to deal with, then you'll only have two stat-lines to memorize!!!

Finally, and this is the biggest deal, big games take too long.  I used to be able to go to my local game shop and play three full games in the span of a single day (that's right, ten hours), with time to shoot the breeze, get food, and generally horse around.  Even tournaments have increased the time for rounds and given less break-time in between those rounds because of this.  And that's for experienced, competitive gamers!  Imagine what that poor newb feels like when a 2000 point game takes four hours to play and his opponent is not only smashing him, but also annoyed at how long this newb takes to play.
I can play a small game with a newb as fresh as my wife (whose interest in my games is more obligatory than genuine) in two hours flat.  Add to that the teaching aspect and the narration of the action, and you have a fun, quick exercise for a game that isn't difficult for either party!

Let me drive this home with a complete example:

I am a fair gamer with a massive collection of everything I ever want for 40k (and much more besides, unfortunately).  With that, I have taught my brother, who has a rather keen tactical mind, how to play the game and played with him a few times.  I chose to put Eldar (in my experienced hands) against Blood Angels (forgiving, powerful, and downright new-ish) at 1500 points. woth simple Pitched-Battle deployment.  Here's the breakdown of our battles-
  • Hold table center- Blood Angels smashed! the Eldar, losing not a single unit
  • Capture and Control - Blood Angels killed all Eldar while Eldar killed one unit in return
  • Kill points- Blood Angels 6, Eldar 1, and that was a game that ended halfway through turn 3
I then dropped the points value to 1000 for the next two games (the second against my wife, who knew nothing of how to play beforehand) and here's the results-
  • Kill points- Eldar win 4-3
  • Kill points- Blood Angels win 5-4
Obviously, the difference was huge.  There are some conditions to the games, however.

First is the Force Organization Chart:  At 1000 points, a player must take 1 HQ and 2 Troops as normal, but may only select 1 Heavy Support, 1 Fast Attack, and 1 Elite option.  A player may NOT select additional options beyond HQs and Troops as most of the imbalace of the codices is found in the remaining three slots.  In addition, both sides sharing the same limitations in army-building makes the matchups pretty obvious, even for a newb.

Second, and far less important but big philosophically, neither army may repeat a choice selection.  No '2 squads of Dire Avengers' or '2 Assault Squads'.  Yes, I know some armies have no choice (remember old Necrons?), and some armies have terrible Troop options (yay Boyz mobz!), but the point is to put different units on the tabletop and, sometimes, suffer the pain of trying to use a crappy unit well.  This does, believe it or not, make the game more balanced and FUN!

Lastly, create 'parity' in opponents.  There should be a reason these two armies are fighting one another in the gaming sense- guns against guns, speed against speed, armor against armor, etc.  There is nothing less fun than watching your tiny Grey Knights army get mauled by the massive, unkillable tide of Tyranids.  Can it be done?  Why yes!  But what fun is it to see a winged Hive Tyrant eat your Stormraven and then eat a squad of purifiers while some crappy Termagants tarpit your Terminators?  Now don't get me wrong, you can always have these fights without parity, but the real fun is when you get to play a game within a game based on comparable tactics.  Weakest point, I know, but it's been proven in my experimentation so far...

I must throw my disclaimer out there- I'm all about the big games myself!  I don't own every single Apocalypse book and model just because, and I didn't spend a decade in a GW Hobby center promoting big games for just sales purposes- I actually enjoy big games!  But I've noticed a distinct lack of fun in this, my hobby of over two decades, and I believe I've found a way to bring it back. 

I hope this may provide some insight to y'all's gaming journey and even make it a little more addicting as it has for me lately.  Also, I'd like to thank AWC for inspiring this with their team-tourney rules (credit where it's due) and GW for initially forcing me to play smaller games, all to which have led me confidently to this article. 

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