Tuesday, August 13, 2013


That's right, this is gonna happen.  Stay tuned...

Sunday, August 11, 2013

Warlord Trait cards

No, seriously, check these out.  These are Warlord Trait 'cards'.  This talented person made them and posted them on his website.  Here's some examples:

He's also got all the published ones for the newer codices, and the supplemental Iyanden ones.  Plus, he's got images for the backs, if you want to print them out and make them all fancy.

I agree with the creator- I don't undertand why GW hasn't done this already.  These are great work and I'll never need them from GW, but I can only begin to describe how handy these trait 'cards' are.  Check them all out and save them.  And all credit to the creator.  Enjoy!

Wednesday, August 7, 2013

Anger and Rage!!!

I had to strip this model for months.  It was well-painted when I acquired him years ago, but not to my liking.  So when I decided to finally do one for my army, I realized I had to take the paint off this one.  And it was on there good.  The original owner painted him (very well, mind you) with the older, thicker GW paints and then sealed them with varnish.  It was rough.

Unfortunately, the age of the metal and the stripping process left the surface of the model mighty rough.  I'm not complaining, but I promise I tried to get it right!

Avatar of Khaine

He's not the Forgeworld model, but I think he came out well.  Plus, he's not that easy to kill!

Happy Hobbying!

Monday, August 5, 2013

I'm still a gamer!

Yay!  I'm back!  And I had a GREAT weekend of gaming.  So great, in fact, that I have to blog about it.  You see, I got to play three games in one day.  THREE!  I haven't played a total of three games in two months.  This was a very nice bit of luck.

Back when I was just a lowly gamer, too young to really know about real life, I used to play three games a day, sometimes twice a week.  Every Saturday, I wake up and me and my buddy/roommate would load up and go occupy the LGS.  Show up an 10, sit around until noon, play a game against each other, then another game against someone else around 3 or 4, then another game against another gamer at around 7 or 8.  And sometimes, if we were good and everything fell into place, we'd stay after the store was closed and play an Apocalypse game (before there was such a thing as Apocalypse).  Those were glorious times.

These days, my work schedule has me screwed four days a week, and then I have a family day and a 'busy-day', leaving only my game group gig at the comic store.  I'm more interested in talking about products and helping the guys (and gal) learn the game than I am in actually playing myself.  And I'm usually too exhausted from a long work-week anyway.  So no games for Jay.

Not so this week.  I got a game in on Monday and three more on Saturday.  That makes me a little happy.  Can't you tell?

So what did I play this week?

It all started on Monday.  My buddy, Aaron, has been trying to get in a game with me for a few weeks, but our work schedules didn't coincide well.  He wanted to give his Iron Warriors another run and show off some new toys.  I played my Eldar and we threw down with 1500 points.  My army was experimental.  I brought all Jetbikes, Vipers, Wave Serpents, and Falcons.  It was fast.  It was tons of pew-pew.  His army was the typical Cultists and Marines and Warpsmith.  Oh, and the Daemon Prince of Khorne rocking wings and a Black Mace.  Worse yet, there was also a Land Raider and some Terminators.  That's right- a Land Raider and Terminators!  I didn't feel confident in victory for that one.  But some great Rending shots and many vehicular targets meant total victory for the Eldar.  I had killed every model except the cursed Land Raider.  Now Aaron is out for revenge and he's running out of time...

Saturday morning saw me make it to work right on time, set up a Fantasy table, and begin the process of rolling Warhammer out to my 40k crowd.  My buddy, Taylor, had acquired a massive collection of Dwarfs recently and wanted to learn the game.  I grabbed my Empire army and made a half-legal 1000 pt army to battle him with.  I had the typical General, Wizard of Metal, 2 units of Handgunners, a unit of Greatwords, a Cannon and a Helblaster.  He brought Quarellers, two units of Warriors, an Organ Gun and a Cannon, and all backed up by a Runesmith.  My Wizard and unit of Handgunners fled from the table early on, so I didn't get a chance to teach too much magic (not that it would have worked against Dwarfs), but my firepower was decimating the enemy.  Everything was fine until my Helblaster malfunctioned, and then the Dwarfs made contact and my Empire ran.  And they ran fast.  It was a good experience, and is officially the first game of the 'Fantasy era'.
Come at me, brah!

Saturday afternoon saw Taylor and me play a 1500  point game of 40k.  I brought the same list I used on Monday for my Eldar, and he brought his Black Templars.  His army consisted of two units of Marines, a unit of Assault Marines led by a Chaplain, and wait for it...  a High Marshall in Termie armor leading a squad of Storm-shield Terminators, all riding in a Land Raider Crusader!  Another Land Raider and unit Teminators!  Dammit!  It was a great game.  The best part was that his High Marshall (with Lightning Claw and Storm Shield) had rolled 'Legendary Fighter' as his Warlord Trait and came into two situations to use it.  First, he charged and Challenged a Warlock in a Guardian squad.  Hitting and wounding a gazillion times, my Warlock made all the saves (only a 4+, mind you).  Then, in the next turn, my Warlock attempted to cast his blessing on the unit, rolled a Perils of the Warp, and failed his save- dead!  I denied the Legendary Fighter VP to him by suicide!  After killing the unit off, the High Marshall then charged and Challenged my Warlord- the Farseer.  It was the last turn of the game.  He hit and wounded me a gazillion more times.  This time, I failed one wound.  But I had cast Fortune.  Reroll became success.  Again, denied!  The game ended quickly at the end of turn 5, and it turned out to be a draw.  Awesome!!!  Of course the Land Raider still survived, just like the first game.  This army may need some adjusting.

Finally came the third game against my buddy, Daniel.  We have the Escalation campaign going and this was our third game.  This game moved us up to 1500 points.  I'm not going to go into any details here, other than to note that it was my Eldar (a different list from earlier) versus his Tau (always evolving).  The game was much like our first- bloody!  There were very models models alive at the end of this game and the whole battle was a treatise on strategery (that's right, I said strategery!).  More to come on that in a later blog. 

The moral of this whole rant is that I finally got to be a gamer for a moment.  Not the consummate hobbyist that I've lost to the time to be, but the gamer that I once was.  Many doods were pushed, many dice were rolled, and the big-ass rulebooks were opened once or twice.  It felt GOOOOOD!

How have your gaming-bugs been going?  Tell me about it.  And get some more dice rolling!

As always, Happy Gaming!

They say he talks to the dead...

Whew!  I'm back.  I know I've been gone for a few weeks.  My work schedule hates me and I've been otherwise occupied.  Sorry for the absence.  Without further ado:

This is a model that I dug up from my bitz box.  I know he's an ancient model and not wholly WYSIWYG for what I use him for, but I think he looks right.  Luckily, a Witchstaff is nothing more than a Witchblade with the Soul Blaze special rule.  So I don't feel too guilty...


Simple and sweet.  Happy Hobbying!

Friday, July 12, 2013

Ode to Warp Spiders

Okay, here's the deal-
I hate Warp Spiders!

Or at least I kinda do.  I am on my third Eldar army.  And only now do I have Warp Spiders.  And it's funny how that happened.
First I painted up a small army of Ulthwe with Wraithey stuff.  This was back in 3rd edition and that army last one game.  I figured that since Warp Spiders were not common in Ulthwe, that wouldn't be a unit I have to include.
Then I traded and got a BEAUTIFULLY painted Saim Hann army, sorta.  The army had two Falcons, a Viper, 6 bikes, some Reapers, some Banshees, and TONS of Guardians.  It was 'codex'.  Again, no desire to add Warp Spiders to this force.  That was back in 4th edition.
Then I made my own army.  I got everything except War Walkers, Warp Spiders, Fire Prisms, and bikes.  And I mean EVERYTHING else.  Alot.  Sadly, as you see, my army didn't have any of the good stuff.  I liked the idea of 'codex' and I wanted only stuff that looked Eldar.  War Walkers, Warp Spiders, side-heavy Fire Prisms- they all just looked wrong (or were horribly-weighted models).  Nothing against them, I just wanted my army to appear a certain way.  

Then it happened.  It happened in a twist of fate that I never saw coming.
One of my customers/hobby buddies challenged me to a mano-e-mano paint contest  We were each to paint a unit of Fire Dragons and have the hobby community judge it in the shop.  Another buddy of mine then bet me that I wouldn't win, and we wagered that I would have to buy a unit that I absolutely HATE, and paint it up.  I took that wager because, well, I didn't lose at paint contests.  It's nice to be underestimated.

I lost, by one vote.  40-something people voted, and my first buddy had a much brighter squad of Fire Dragons.  Mine were 'technically' better, but that didn't mean better.  His were faded from orange to white in a very striking and convincing way.  One.  Vote.

Before I'd even fully registered that I lost the paint contest, by second buddy was holding the box of Warp Spiders at me.  Being a man of honour, I begrudgingly took the box to the till and bought it.  I wasn't happy. I wasn't upset because I lost the paint contest (I figured it was bound to happen sooner or later, and those Fire Dragons were striking!), I was upset completely because I now owned a unit that I would rather not.  Why, you ask?

The Eldar are a graceful, lithe race.  Their warriors are clad in very tight and efficient uniforms, plated sparingly in simple armour-plates.  They have ornamentation on their heads, and carry small, elegant weapons.  Then there's the Warp Spiders.  They're BIG, bulky, carrying oddly-shaped guns, have bald heads, and are posed dumb.  That's right, every reason I like the aesthetic of the Eldar is the reason I don't like the Warp Spiders.

I failed to get that unit painted for years after (still to this day, in fact).  I refused to even include them in my army.  But then I had to fight the new Daemons back in 5th edition.  A third customer suggested an army list out of my stuff to use, and this guy isn't bad at all.  Of course he included Warp Spiders.  I begrudgingly deployed them.  The game raged, my Guardians were problematic for my opponent, and the Warp Spiders single-handedly killed a Greater Unclean One.  I was blown away.  I was befuddled.  I was disappointed in my own underestimation of the unit.

Now I use them almost all the time.  The new 6th edition book gave them a little more love with the 'Monofilament' rule, and the speed and resilience of the squad (even at small size) is refreshing in the army.  I have seen them cause more damage as a 5-man squad than an entire Dire Avenger squad for every turn of a game, it seemed.  They are almost an 'auto-include' to me now.

Now let me be straight and specific here:
I hate the way Warp Spiders look!
but I do love THIS image- credit to the creator!

But that's just me.  The way that unit performs is outstanding!  They are a great unit, worth their points-cost (almost, anyway), and do things for my army that are needed (like be able to hurt big stuff more than once).  My enemies have found that unit surprisingly dangerous, and I've found myself pretty happily impressed with them so far.  So impressed, in fact, that I bought a second unit.

That's right, I bought another box of five.  For 140  points, why wouldn't I?  It's a deal.

Do you have any?  If not, why not?  Besides not playing Eldar, of course.  If so, on the other hand, how've they been for you?  Let me know.

Tuesday, July 9, 2013

Full Frontal

Back to the series where I compare multiple versions of similar pieces of wargear.  This time, it's going to be about Eldar, as I'm focused on them.  Let's get started...

The Imperial armies all have multiple versions of multiple tanks and therefore make this article nearly unending.  But the oldest of the races in the galaxy don't have that particular benefit.  In fact, it seems that the Xenos only have one or two vehicle platforms to take to war.  Of all the xenos, the Eldar come away the best.  Tau only have two versions of a single tank, Orks only have one tank at all, and the Necrons have one real tank period (and a couple of fake ones).  The Eldar, on the other hand, have three tanks to choose from.

I do have to note that I was hoping the Hornet would translate from Forgeworld to 40k.  But it wasn't meant to be.  Oh well, it is what it is.

Instead, the Eldar kept the Falcon and Fire Prism grav-tanks, and added the Night Spinner.  As if the Heavy Support slot wasn't already filled to the brim with legitimate options, now it's even more full.  Which makes this article almost necessary.  So what are the differences?  Which tank is better overall?  What vehicle should an Autarch include if he gets the choice?

Well, there's some similarities to start with:  All three tanks have an armour value range of Front 12, Side 12, and Rear 10.  All three are Fast, Skimmer, Tanks, meaning they can move up to 6" in the movement phase and fire all weapons at full Ballistic Skill.  Or they can move up to 12" and fire two weapons at full BS and the rest as 'Snap Shots'.  During movement, they can ignore all intervening terrain and even friendly and enemy troops.  Furthermore, they can move 'Flat Out' in the shooting phase up to 18", allowing them to cover ALOT of ground in a hurry if needed.

Upgrades can really make these monsters a beast, as well.  The Crystal Targeting Matrix allows the vehicles to fire a single weapon after moving Flat Out at full BS.  The Star Engines allow the vehicles to move Flat Out up to 24".  The Vectored Engines allow the vehicle to turn to a new facing after firing its weapons, thereby keeping less vulnerable to fire from the rear.  Add the cover save-boost by the Holo Fields and you can see how the upgrades really work to make the tanks more threatening.  Admittedly, these upgrades aren't cheap and will increase the cost of the tanks by quite a bit.

Now we can talk about each tank on its own:

This is the go-to tank for the Eldar.  Long has it been the 'main' battle tank and supported the advance of the ancient race as they go to war.  Mounting a fearsome array of weapons and with tons of options, it can pretty much handle any situation.  Then, to make it that much more effective, it has a transport capacity!  Carrying a squad of up to six models, it can lay down a punishing amount of firepower and then drop off some very powerful specialists to deal with threats of any type.

The 'common' version of the Falcon mounts a Pulse Laser (two Str 8, AP 2 shots) to kill tanks, a Scatter Laser (4 Str 6 shots with Laser Lock), and a Shuriken Cannon (3 Str 6, AP 5, basically Rending shots).  This load-out allows the vehicle to engage any target- from the heavily armoured (Pulse Laser) to the horde infantry (Shuriken Cannon).  The advantage added from the Scatter Laser is that it twin-links all other weapons on the tank as long as it hits the intended target.  Against vehicles this can guarantee the Pulse Laser hits and has a chance of causing some damage, while against infantry this becomes four more shots to add to the now-twin-linked battery of five already.

Not being terribly good at killing vehicles, it might be worth taking a Bright Lance (a single Str 8, AP 2, Lance shot) rather than the Scatter Laser.  But against infantry, the 'common' version is perfect.  Including the transport capacity, this vehicle may be considered one of the best 'all-around' vehicles in the game.  And the common version is only 145 points- not bad!  It's till a tad too expensive, but what in the Eldar army isn't?

Fire Prism
Long considered the 'ugly duckling' of the Eldar tanks, this one mounts a massive crystal weapon that can fire a beam of focused energy designed to slag enemy tanks.  In previous editions, this vehicle could either change the firing mode or combine fire with other Fire Prisms to create an even more powerful shot.  Unfortunately, this meant that owning only a single Fire Prism could really reduce the effectiveness.  Luckily, the new version of the tank brought back the differing fire modes and turned the vehicle into a singular threat again.

The Fire Prism weapon has three firing modes- a big boom (a Str 5, AP 3, large blast shot), a regular boom (a Str 7, AP 2, blast shot), or a surgical strike (a single Str 9, AP 1, Lance shot).  This allows the tank to engage mass infantry or heavy vehicles with ease.  Unfortunately, the Fire Prism only mounts a Fire Prism (see what I did there?) and could upgrade the twin-linked Shuriken Catapults to a Shuriken Cannon.  That's not alot of firepower.  However, it makes up for it with a single gun of epic destruction and mayhem.

This tank is very simply that- a tank!  It's not armed with a ton of weapons, nor does it have the ability to carry troops.  Upgraded with the Shuriken Cannon, this vehicle weighs in at 135 points, which isn't horrible considering what it can do.  However, it is also a prime target to the enemies of the Eldar, as it LOOKS threatening enough to warrant the attention.

Night Spinner
This is the newest edition to the order of battle for the Eldar warhosts.  It's not pretty either, but certainly better-looking than the original Forgeworld version.  The Night Spinner is easily overlooked as it's not the 'normal' thing that people are used to, but that may be a gross underestimation on the part of Autarchs everywhere.

This is the only artillery tank in the entire arsenal.  It mounts a fantastic weapon that enemies everywhere don't understand.  You see, it launches monofilament netting high into the air and allows it to drop on the mass of troops, slicing them apart with contempt.  And the tank need never be seen to do this!  If the Night Spinner is facing the enemy, then it can launch the monofilament right into their faces, ignoring cover and causing great mayhem overall.  It's gun has two modes-  the artillery (a Str 7, AP 6, barrage, large blast, Monofilament (basically Rending) shot) and the direct version (a Str 7, AP 6, template, Torrent, Monofilament (did I mention basically Rending?) shot).  Space Marine armour might be enough to stop the damage, but it's a risk the enemy doesn't want to take.  Better, this weapon can even kill tanks as easily as a Pulse Laser-wielding Falcon!

Having artillery is always a plus on the post-modern battlefields of the 41st milennium, and this tank fills that role all-too well.  Having a twin-linked Shuriken Catapult as the secondary weapon is irrelevant as, again, it's the main gun that counts.  Accounting for only 115 points, this tank is a bargain in the Eldar army.  It's even more of a bargain since the enemy will rarely be scared of it, but can often develop respect after gobs of troops die.

So what is my overall ranking?  Just as normal, I'll post my list below in order of best to worst.  Funny enough, this list is difficult to make as all three of these vehicles are valuable, and the points reduction in the new book makes a huge difference.  But I have to have my opinion nonetheless, so let's see:

1.  Night Spinner- having nearly the killing power of the Fire Prism and the cheapness to beat all three, this tank certainly seems like the winner.  But it's arguable.
2.  Fire Prism- when it comes to having a tank, having a tank is actually the key.  There is no substitute for a gun that can be a Battle Cannon or a Bright Lance at a moment's whim.
3.  Falcon- this is more of a heavy transport than a true tank, but that doesn't mean it fails at its role.  In fact, this tank is still the obvious choice for the typical warhost of Eldar.  But it's more 'general' than 'specific', and that can really bring it down compared to the other two.

Do you agree with my estimation?  Let me know what you think.  As I said, it's difficult to rank these as all three tanks have their role to play and fulfill them perfectly.  All of them are still expensive (just as all Eldar are), but they aren't terrible.

Sunday, July 7, 2013

War of Escalation, game 2

It's been a week, and the forces found themselves at battle again.  This time, my buddy was itching to try out his new list and I was feeling less-than-confident.  At 1000 points, luck plays a role.  And I'm not known for luck.  But the battle had to happen, so let's see how it went:

Just as before, I'm not going to go into this battle report with my normal sense of 'fluff' and background story.  We played the game, it happened, and I'm going to present it in a very simple process.  I just wanted to toss this out there...

This battle is a 1000 point battle- our second, in fact.  For the mission, we rolled up 'The Scouring' (randomly-pointed objectives and Fast Attack focus) with 'Hammer and Anvil' deployment.  Since this was only a 4'x4' table, we played more 'Dawn of War' style as it makes no difference.  I won the roll-off for first deployment and first turn, choosing the 'south' side.  To finish off, it turns out that our battle started pre-dawn, so Night Fight was in effect for the first turn.

Knowing that I'm facing Tau, I chose to take First Turn again.  I believe I need to close range quickly and cause a little bit of damage before it smacks me hard.  And with that, here's the armies:

My Eldar
Spiritseer with Protect and Psychic Shriek powers
10 Striking Scorpions with Exarch wielding Biting Blade
10 Dire Avengers with Exarch wielding Shimmershield and Power Sword
10 Dire Avengers with Exarch wielding Shimmershield and Power Sword
5 Warp Spiders with Exarch wielding Powerblades, Twin-linked Death Spinner, and Fast Shot
2 Vipers with Scatter Lasers and Shuriken Cannons
Falcon with Scatter Laser and Shuriken Cannon

His Tau (remember that I could be off on this as it's not my army)
Crisis Commander with Iridium Armour, Cyclic Ion Blaster, Airburst Frag Launcher, Shield Generator, Stimm Injectors, and Neuroweb System Jammer
Crisis Suit wielding Plasma Rifle, Missile Pod, and Flamer
Crisis Suit wielding Plasma Rifle, Missile Pod, and Flamer
12 Fire Warriors with Shas'ui
12 Fire Warriors with Shas'ui and wielding Pulse Carbines mounted in Devilfish
12 Kroot with Shaper and Sniper rounds
4 Gun Drones
Broadside with Railguns and Smart Missile System
Hammerhead with Railgun, submunitions, Blacksun Filter, and Decoy Launcher

Deployment was almost too simple.  It didn't matter which way we deployed and which table edge was chosen, we each had a woods and a ruin on our side and a big hill in the middle.  Talk about balanced terrain!  Notice the six objective markers set up near the ruins, in the woods, and two on the center hill.  We wouldn't flip the objectives over until the end of the game just to add that bit of 'spice' to the battle.

So I set up in a very predictable way.  My first unit of Dire Avengers set up in the woods just behind the objective marker, with the Vipers deployed behind them for support.  My other unit of Avengers took the center of the battlefield with the plan of rushing up and moving to where ever they were needed.  The Falcon deployed behind the ruins to take advantage of cover (and Night Fight, not that it matters much against the Tau), and the Warp Spiders deployed behind the tank with the hopes of taking advantage of the advancing armoured monster for cover.  The Striking Scorpions were held in reserve with the plan to Outflank.
Meanwhile, my buddy deployed his Tau in a just-as-predictable fashion.  The long-range Fire Warriors took up position in the ruins to the east, and crowded around the Broadside.  Behind them was stationed a single Crisis suit Commander waiting to order his troops forward (or at least tell them which target to fire at).  The Devilfish deployed in the center, ready to react, followed by the Drone squadron hugging the woods in the west.  And right behind them was a Crisis suit, adding some firepower to the group.  Crawling around under the canopy of trees was a unit of Kroot, backed up by a Hammerhead.  Finally, the last Crisis suit was held in reserve and waiting to Deep Strike.

Turn 1
Under cover of darkness, the Eldar advanced quickly.  The Vipers dashed out from behind the woods and shot the Fire Warriors hiding in the ruins on the east, but to no avail.  The Dire Avengers in those same woods found out the hard way that the trees were carnivorous, losing one of their number.  The Dire Avengers and accompanying Seer advanced behind the hill, taking cover from the onslaught of firepower sure to come their way.  Meanwhile, the Falcon silently drifted to the west to take a shot at the Hammerhead hiding behind the woods to the west, but failed to penetrate the armour.  Seeing no other option, the Warp Spiders hunkered down in the western ruins to take cover.
Both the Hammerhead and the Devilfish scoot and activate their Decoy Launchers, hoping to protect themselves against the Eldar tank.  After the change of position, the Hammerhead launched a Submunition round at the Vipers, but their speed saved them.  The Devilfish detached its Drones to add some threat and provide cover for the Crisis Commander.  The Kroot investigated their forest and found it populated with Ironbark trees, much to the celebration of the brutes.  Seeming offended by this celebration, the Drone squadron skimmed eastward toward the ruins, looking to add their support to that flank.  The Broadside turned and shot at the Falcon, but also missed due to the speed of the vehicle.  The Fire Warriors in the ruins creep up and shoot at the Vipers, yet fail to cause any damage themselves.  Taking a last desperate shot, the Crisis suit near the woods shot across the battlefield at the Vipers and is foiled again by the small crafts' speed.  As the sun rises, it is found that the only casualty is caused by a terribly hungry tree.

Turn 2
The sun rises to find the Eldar scrambling to close ranks as fast as they can.  The Vipers dash up and unleash their firepower at the moving Drones, felling only two of the small targets.  Meanwhile, the Dire Avengers run from the carnivorous trees and use the Vipers as cover.  The Avengers behind the hill come around and fire at the newly-detached Drone squadron, killing them both.  First Blood goes to the Eldar.  The Falcon takes advantage of this as it advances forward and shoots the Crisis Commander, but find the hero plated in Iridium Armor, causing only a single wound.  Meanwhile, the Warp Spiders continue to lay in waiting in the eastern ruins, watching for sneaky Tau.
As the Tau battle-plan unfolds, the remaining Crisis suit drops from the sky right in front of the Dire Avengers in the east, unleashes its Flamer and Plasma Gun, and kills two.  The Crisis Commander adds his Airburst Frag Launcher and Cyclic Ion Blaster and kills another 2.  The Fire Warriors in the ruins shoot at the Vipers shielding the Avengers, easily destroying the craft.  One explodes and kills two more Avengers!  The Broadside confidently takes a shot at the Falcon, but misses.  The Hammerhead moves west and takes the shot of opportunity, but the Falcon's speed saves it again as the Hammerhead misses.  The Crisis suit hiding behind the woods jumps out and shoots at the Falcon, hoping to do what the two anti-armour units can't, only to find the the medium armour is just too much for it.  Finally, the Kroot fire at the Avengers appearing from the hill, killing one and pinning the unit with fear.  The Tau are elated at such a glorious turn against the pompous Eldar.

Turn 3
Silently creeping around the battlelines, the Striking Scorpions show up on the eastern flank and shoot at the Fire Warriors in the ruins, killing two.  Taking advantage of combined arms, the Falcon also shoots at the ruins and kills another Fire Warrior.  Seeing a trap closing on them from both sides, the Fire Warriors flee from the ruins and dash back to the rear.  The remaining Avengers in the east advance on the recently-added Crisis suit and shoot it, causing no damage.  They then charge into combat and hack at it with their blades, causing a wound and forcing it to flee.  As it tries, the Avengers catch it and cut it down.  The Dire Avengers, now pinned behind the hill, shoot at the Crisis Commander proudly standing in the middle of the battlefield, but to no avail.  The Seer takes the chance and casts Psychic Shriek at him, but the hero's Shield Generator saves all but a wound out of potentially five!  Tau technology is certainly a match for the ancient ways of the Eldar.  The Warp Spiders, now too wise to advance into the open, continue to hold position in the ruins.
The Tau have no such fears and continue their vicious assault.  The Devilfish disembarks another Fire Warrior unit armed with Pulse Carbines behind the eastern ruins, which gives the fleeing Fire Warriors the nerve to return to the fight.  The Broadside advances to a higher position within the ruins, and then all three units unleash on the Scorpions.  Combined with the Drones, originally hidden, seven of the Eldar weapon-specialists are annihilated.  The Crisis suit near the Kroot fires across the battlefield at the remaining Avengers in the east and kill one.  The Crisis Commander follows suit, but the Exarch activated his Shimmershield just in time to protect himself and his buddy.  Both these units, depleted nearly beyond effectiveness, keep their courage and continue to fight on.  The Dire Avengers pinned behind the hill are shot at by the Kroot hiding in the Ironbark forest and lose another, but they aren't worried now.  The Seer has demanded retribution!  The Hammerhead, again skimming westward, takes a shot at the Falcon and misses. It seems the gunner is not comfortable with his targeting systems yet.

Turn 4
The Striking Scorpions advance on the recovered Fire Warriors and kill one with pistol fire, charging into combat against them.  Swinging their trademark chainswords and firing their Mandiblasters, they fell one of the Tau.  In return, the Fire Warriors rifle-butt two of the aspect warriors to death, forcing the survivor to flee in utter disbelief.  The Fire Warriors shoot the survivor down a short time later.  The Dire Avengers in the center advance up the hill and fire at the Kroot in the woods, killing two-despite the Ironbark protection!  The Falcon slowly drifts forward and adds its firepower, killing another two.  Nearly afraid, the Kroot stand their ground, barely.  The last two Dire Avengers standing by the eastern woods fire at the Crisis Commander, but fail to cause any damage.  Hope has left the battlefield for the Eldar.
The Tau Commander decides to enjoy their victory a little early by ordering the Devilfish to ram the Falcon, finally causing a bit of glancing damage.  Mocking laughter rises up from the Tau lines.  That laughter dies as the Broadside and Hammerhead again take aim at the Falcon but again fail to cause any damage.  The Hammerhead is noted for Gunnery Class by the Commander.  Unacceptable.  After grumbling to himself about this, the Crisis Commander fires at the Dire Avengers atop the hill and kills three.  The Kroot follow with their shots and kill another one.  Finally, the Carbine-wielding Fire Warriors fire at them and wipe out the rest of the unit, even wounding the Seer and forcing him to flee.  The final Crisis suit shoots at the two Avengers in the east and kills one, leaving the Exarch alive.  Both the Exarch and Warp Spiders simultaneously notice the Seer fleeing for his life (while bleeding all over the ground) and decided it was wise to quit the battlefield.  Tau victory.  

Tau win:  Eldar 1 (First Blood), Tau 8 (Slay the Warlord, Fast Attack unit, 6 objective points)

Unlike the last battle, this one was not bloody at all.  The Eldar had successfully killed a unit of two Drones and a single Crisis suit, and managed to add four Kroot and six Fire Warriors to the mix.  Yet they lost two Vipers, 19 Dire Avengers, a Spiritseer, and 10 Scorpions.  The Warp Spiders were effectively pinned in place by the threat of the Kroot, and so could be considered a casualty as well.  Only the Falcon truly survived, and that was a matter of terribly good luck (and horrific shooting by the Tau).  THIS is more what I expect when fighting Eldar against Tau.  Eldar are outmatched- range, weapon strength, armour saves, armoured vehicles, and point costs.  Only in speed and psychic powers do the Eldar have the upper hand.  Expected, but certainly not an enjoyable realization.  Hmmm...

Now we move up to 1500 points.  Sadly, I don't feel quite so confident at that level either.  I think it'll be a bit more of an even match, but my normally 'cheezy' units in the Eldar aren't so 'cheezy' in this matchup.  Time to get creative.  Or lucky.  Since I'm not known for luck, let's see how creative I can get.

As always, I'm open to feedback and just general impressions.  Let me know what you think.  And, of course, Happy Gaming!

Monday, July 1, 2013

War of Escalation, game 1

My buddy and I have decided to run an 'Escalation Campaign' against one another with the two newest armies to be released- Tau and Eldar.  He's using the Tau and I'm using the Eldar.  We're going to play two games at each level- 1000, 1500, and 2000 points.  And who knows, maybe we'll even jump up to Apocalypse standards.  But for now, it's pretty well set at what we're doing...

Normally, I'd have a long and droll backstory about why these two armies would be fighting each other and all the background information and setting 'fluff'.  For this, we're just playing.  Normally, we'd agree to paint our armies and grow them to completion at an equal rate.  But I don't have the time to paint right now (70-hour work-weeks will do that) and my buddy hates painting.  So for this, we're just slapping models down and rolling dice.  Normally, there'd be some kind of additional special rules or veteran 'upgrades' or even limitations.  But for this, we're just looking for a chance to enjoy not working.  It's about gaming, loyal reader, just good old-fashioned gaming.

Our first game was Wednesday, after work.  Since this game was only 1000 points, I established a 4'x4' table with the most 'bog-standard' terrain setup imaginable (and one that you guys have probably seen a gazillion times).  So it was time to do some rolling off.  Mission was the 'Emperor's Will' (aka- 'Castles'), and deployment was 'Vanguard Strike' (our least favorite, but most common by far).  You'll see the terrain setup and deployment line.  Notice that we set our objectives as far from each other as possible- his behind the hill and mine on top of the ruins.  I won the roll-off for table edge, and I chose the southern table edge.

I also won the roll-off for first deployment/turn, which I was more than happy to take advantage of.  After all, I'm Eldar and he's Tau.  I need to close range before everything dies.  Here's the armies:

My Eldar
Spiritseer with Conceal and Psychic Shriek Powers
9 Dire Avengers with Exarch wielding Diresword
10 Dire Avengers with Exarch wielding Power Sword and Shimmershield
9 Rangers
5 Warp Spiders with Exarch wielding Twin-linked Death Spinners and Power Blades
10 Swooping Hawks with Exarch wielding Hawk's Talon
5 Dark Reapers with Exarch with Fast Shot and wielding Missile Launcher

His Tau (remember, could be off)
Fireblade with 2 Gun Drones
Ethereal with 2 Gun Drones
12 Fire Warriors with Shas'ui wielding Markerlight and 2 Gun Drones
10 Fire Warriors
12 Kroot with Shaper
Crisis Suit with Plasma Rifle, Missile Pod, and Flamer
Crisis Suit with Plasma Rifle, Missile Pod, and Flamer
Crisis Suit with Plasma Rifle, Missile Pod, and Flamer
8 Gun Drones
Hammerhead with Ion Cannon and Disruption Pods

Deployment was gonna be tricky.  Because of the terrain layout and the diagonal deployment zone, neither of us were given much cover.  I chose the side with the ruins because I needed a place to hide stuff, plus I had the woods on my side.  And he got to deploy first, so here's what we did:

I deployed the Dark Reapers on the two levels inside the ruins, looking to take advantage of the cover and my long-range weapons.  My Dire Avengers (without the invulnerable save) were deployed guarding the Spiritseer behind the central woods.  The Warp Spiders deployed right behind them in support  The other unit of Avengers deployed behind the crystal forest facing the western flank.  Finally, the Rangers deployed in those central woods (during the 'Infiltrate phase', of course), confident the Avengers and Reapers would be able to back them up well.  The Swooping Hawks remained in reserve.
My buddy's Tau deployed in a wide line across the other side.  He put the big unit of Fire Warriors, led by the Ethereal and Fireblade, right in the center of the line, and dropped the Hammerhead right behind that for the heavy support.  Behind the crystal forest, he place the other Fire Warriors and one of the Crisis suits to flank west.  Behind the dilapidated building, he deployed the Drone squadron and another Crisis suit to flank east.  He left the last Crisis suit in reserves to deep strike, and the Kroot in reserves to outflank.  That did not make me feel confident at all...

Turn 1
The Fire Warriors and Crisis suit on the western flank advance forward, firing at the Dire Avengers and killing three in a hailstorm of pulse fire, plasma bolts, and missiles.  The Drone squadron and Crisis suit on the eastern flank advanced.  The Crisis suit fired at the Dire Avengers nearby and killed one with a vengeance.  The Drones, choosing a different target, fired at the Rangers hiding in the trees and successfully eliminated the squad with backup fire from the main unit of Fire Warriors and the Fireblade's well-timed volley fire.  Only two Rangers survived and slunk deeper into the shadows and went to ground.  Meanwhile, the Hammerhead charged the Ion cannon and fired at the far ruins, sensing the Dark Reapers.  Luckily, only one fell as the masonry of the building protected most.  
Both units of Dire Avengers rushed forward, hoping to put some Shuriken love against the enemy.  The Western squad, aided by the Reapers, unleash into the advancing Fire Warriors and obliterate all but one, forcing him to flee.  The Eastern Dire Avengers, led by the Seer, advance on the Drones and target the hovering unit.  Unfortunately, Drones are very nimble and only one falls to the firepower, while their circuits are more than capable against the Seer's Psychic Shriek power.  It was embarassing.  While they sulk at their failure to hurt the unit, the Warp Spiders jump forward and shoot three more Drones down, proving how much of a threat they are.  And the Rangers continue to slink about the woods.

Tau 3 (Objective), Eldar 1 (First Blood)

Turn 2
The Fireblade's master strategy paid off as the Kroot successfully snuck up behind the ruins where the Reapers were hiding and fired wildly at the unit, killing only 1.  In addition, the third Crisis suit descended onto the battlefield from the sky in the center and added his firepower to the other Crisis suit in the west, trying to kill the remaining Dire Avengers.  By the grace of a Shimmershield, only two Avengers died.  The Drones jumped into the woods and fired at the remaining Rangers, but the trees were more than enough protection at such short range.  However, they built up momentum and crashed into the Rangers, killing the frail Eldar scouts finally.  The Crisis suit in the east and the main unit of Fire Warriors holding the center of the battlefield fire at the eastern Dire Avengers, killing four of them.  While his squad shot those, the Shas'ui and Fireblade fired their Markerlights at the ruins, marking the Reapers hiding there.  Now fully targeted and ignoring the cover, the Hammerhead fired the Ion cannon and killed two more Reapers.  The Eldar numbers were falling fast.
Having been a race of conquerors for too long to admit defeat (even when I was willing to do so), the Eldar pressed their attack.  It started with the flutter of metallic wings as the Swooping Hawks fell just behind the Fireblade and his bodyguard of Fire Warriors.  Dropping their Grenade Pack, then firing with every Lasblaster they could, they only killed two Drones.  But the Warp Spiders ran forward and demolished the Crisis suit in the east.  The Fire Warriors in the east ran backwards to hide behind the woods and shoot at the newly-arrived Crisis suit, easily cutting it down.  The remaining Fire Warriors in the west advanced on that Crisis suit and tried to repeat that success, but failed as the Crisis armour was strong against the shurikens.  Noticing the Seer charging the Drones in the woods, they chose to charge the Crisis suit and try to take it down.  The Exarch's Power Blade was more than enough as the Crisis suit fell to the ground in pieces, but the Seer fared less well as he suffered a wound from the Drones frenetic attacks.  The Eldar had successfully killed all three Crisis suits in one turn.  The Dark Reapers turned their missile launchers around and fired at the Kroot behind them, killing all but the Shaper and pinning him in place.  Smugly, the Reapers turned back around and faced the main Tau line again.  The battle was still raging, but wildly swinging by this point. 

Tau 3 (Objective), Eldar 1 (First Blood)
Turn 3
The Swooping Hawks became a priority target for the Tau, as the Fireblade ordered his Fire Warriors to turn all guns on them.  Between the Ethereal's Invocation of Fire and the commander's Volley Fire rule, the Hawks were easily wiped out in a massive volume of firepower that would make even IG commanders jealous.  The Hammerhead skimmed behind the hill and took aim at the Fire Warriors advancing from the west, fired with missiles and the Ion cannon, and killed three more.  The remaining Exarch and his singular soldier suddenly found themselves outmatched, but continued their advance.  The Drones and Seer tried again to slay each other, but failed to do any damage.
The Reapers, having few easy targets, fired and killed the Shaper as he began to recover.  The Avengers advanced over the hill and from behind the woods while the Warp Spiders jumped up behind the dilapidated  building.  Forming a vicious fireline, they all fired at the main unit of Fire Warriors and kill seven of their number.  Then all three units attempted to charge in and failed.  Luckily, so did the overwatch shooting of the Fire Warriors.  Finally, the Seer was able to kill a single Drone and take no damage in return, forcing them to flee as fast as they could.  The Seer, having seen the skeins of fate, chose to hide behind a tree and not lose his last wound to the gaggle of Tau in front of him.

Tau 3 (Objective), Eldar 1 (First Blood)

Turn 4
Now desperate, the Tau became surrounded on all sides by Eldar warriors.  The fleeing Drones shot and killed one of the two Dire Avengers on the hill, and the Shas'ui took advantage of his Target Lock to kill the Exarch.  The Fireblade and his unit fired at the Dire Avengers in the center of the battlefield and kill two more.  Finally, the Hammerhead fires at the advancing Warp Spiders and failed.  The gunner shot just moments too late as the Spiders teleport from point to point.
The Dire Avengers dashed up and shot a Fire Warrior down, while the Warp Spiders added their monofilament to the mix and killed another two.  Charging into combat with the remaining Ethereal, Fireblade, Shas'ui, and couple of Warriors, the Exarch slays the squad leader quickly but loses one of his squad.  The stalemate across the battlefield is broken when the Reapers unleash their missiles on the retreating Drones and kill two of the remaining three.
Tau 3 (Objective), Eldar 1 (First Blood)

Turn 5, 6, 7
The last Drone flees from the battlefield, its sense of self-preservation kicking in finally.  The Hammerhead fires and eliminates the last Dire Avengers with ease.  Moments later, the Hammerhead shoots and kills the Dark Reapers and leaves only the Exarch alive.  The Reaper-master descends the ruins and hides strategically behind a wall and out of sight of the tank.  The Seer and Exarch seem to share the same idea.  It all comes down to the combat in the center of the battlefield.  Fighting frantically for life, the Fire Warriors and Warp Spiders duke it out for a few turns.
The Exarch kills another Fire Warrior while his squad kill the other three in the squad.  Wanting revenge, the Fireblade kills an aspect warrior and keeps the unit in the fight.
The Exarch finally gets to the Ethereal, only to be killed by the monkish leader after cutting him deeply.  Over the combat, a missile flies from the ruins, targeting the Hammerhead but missing wildly.
Finally, as the sun sets, the Fireblade and Ethereal kill off the rest of the Warp Spiders, leaving nobody left to fight and threaten them.  Tired, they claim victory and quit the battlefield.  The Eldar, still surviving themselves, also claim victory and retire to their webway.  The battle was bloody, but finally finished.

Tau 0, Eldar 1 (First Blood)

It was a very bloody battle.  I expected to lose very quickly.  Eldar may be fast, but the Tau's guns are very long-ranged and high-strength.  No matter how many special rules the Eldar get, they aren't meant to go up against that much firepower.  However, some surprising swings of luck and suspenseful moments brought a barely-claimable victory.  I'll take it!

Next game will also be 1000 point game.  I'm very curious to see how we'll adapt our forces.  Until then, Happy Gaming!

Sunday, June 23, 2013

First battle, times two

On Friday, my buddy came over with his newly-built Iron Warriors army and played a battle against my new-rules Eldar.  It was a chance for him to try out his new force, and an opportunity for me to try out the new codex.  Unfortunately, I forgot to take pictures, so I'll be using my extraordinary narrative skills to tell you what happened.

We rolled up mission and deployment, getting the Scouring and Hammer and Anvil.  Luckily, it was 1000 points and a 4x4 table, so the deployment turned out no different than the standard 12".  To finish it all off, we apparently chose to fight just before sunrise, so Night Fight was in full effect for turn 1.  He won the deployment roll and chose to let me deploy and go first.

My army
Spiritseer with Conceal and Protect powers
9 Dire Avengers with Exarch wielding Diresword
10 Dire Avengers with Exarch wielding Shimmershield and Power Sword
9 Rangers
5 Warp Spiders with Exarch wielding Power Blades and twin-linked Death Spinnners
10 Swooping Hawks with Exarch with Hawk's Talon
5 Dark Reapers with Exarch with Missile Launcher and Fast Shot

His army (remember, not my list, so not 100% certain)
Warsmith with Power Axe
Daemon Prince of Khorne with Power Armour, Wings, and Black Mace
6 Chosen with Power Fist, Lightning Claw pair, Power Axe, and Power Maul
Helbrute wielding Multi-melta
10 Cultists with Flamer and Champion
10 Cultists with Heavy Stubber and Champion wielding Shotgun
10 Chaos Marines with Meltagun and Flamer, and Champion wielding Power Fist and Plasma Pistol

I deployed my Dark Reapers into some ruins on the Southwest corner of the battlefield, and deployed a unit of Dire Avengers near the building as support.  The Rangers hid in the shadows of the trees in the center, taking full advantage of their ability to infiltrate.  The smaller unit of Dire Avengers, led by the Spiritseer, set up behind a stone wall on the southeast corner of the field, overlooking an old building that they knew was going to be a shield for the enemy.  Finally, the Warp Spiders deployed behind the ruins where the Reapers were located, planning on warp-jumping forward and killing whatever came through that flank.  It was obvious that the western side of the battlefield was the focus for the aliens.  The Spiritseer had ordered the Swooping Hawks to remain hidden until the 'right time', leaving them in reserve.
My buddy deployed his mechanical Daemon Prince and Helbrute to the northeast side, behind the very building that the Eldar knew was going to be an issue.  Cultists took up the eastern flank of the northern hill that the balance of Chaos Marines deployed on top of.  The Chosen, guarding their Warsmith, deployed to the western side of the hill.  Finally, the other unit of Cultists deployed in the northwest behind a crystal forest.
There were also a number of objectives strewn about the battlefield, but they mattered little for these two forces at the moment.  Hatred and bitter enmity were the motivating factors of this battle.

Battle is met!
Keeping the initiative in the morning hours, the Eldar launched their attack in full force.  The Spiritseer, sensing the coming doom, cast his powers on his unit and established their defensive position.  Sure enough, the Daemon Prince advanced menacingly out of the dark towards them.  The Dire Avengers fleeted close and added their firepower to the Reapers, easily wiping out the Chosen unit and leaving the Warsmith alive and standing all alone.  The Rangers fired as well as they could at the monstrous Daemon Prince but failed to draw proper aim and caused no damage.  Finally, the Warp Spider warp-jumped toward the crystal forest but were only four strong when they reappeared, and then found themselves too far away to cause any damage anyway.  The Warp claimed one for nothing!
Following the lead of the Daemon Prince, the Helbrute advanced behind the building and began the process of dividing the enemy force and bearing down on the Rangers.  Luckily, he was still out of range to charge, but fired and killed one with his Multi-melta.  Even the trees weren't enough protection against that kind of power.  The Marines advanced slowly and fired at the closest Dire Avengers, wiping out four of the their number with accurate Bolter-fire.  Under the distraction of the firepower, the Cultists to the east advanced behind the Helbrute and the Warsmith wisely moved to join the Cultists behind the crystal forest.
With all objectives held being counted, the score at the end of Turn 1 was Eldar 3 (First Blood and 2-point objective) and Chaos 6 (6 points worth of objectives).

The sun finally peaked over the horizon, bathing light on a close-range battle.  With the sun at their back, the Swooping Hawks fell from the sky and landed directly behind the northern hill, dropping their Grenade Pack onto the Chaos Marines and firing at them with gusto, but only dropped four.  The Dark Reapers sighed with exasperation and fired at the Marines, killing the rest of the squad and cursed the Hawks for not doing it themselves.  The Rangers fired at the advancing Cultists and pinned them down, finally showing that they do know how to use their rifles.  The defensively-placed Dire Avengers fired at the now-visible Daemon Prince and took two wounds from him, but were exhausted from having to manoeuvre to get whatever shots they could.  The other Dire Avenger unit moved back toward the Eldar battleline, confident that they could hold objectives and protect the Reapers against whatever counter-attack that would come that way.  Finally, the Warp Spiders warp-jumped successfully behind the crystal forest and unleased monofilament-fire into the Cultists, killing all but three and the Warsmith.  Sensing definite victory, they charged straight in before the wires had even hit the ground.  The Exarch swung his Power Blades with immense skill, but the Cultists were very adept at ducking and avoided any damage.  The rest of the Spiders killed two of the Cultists, and then the Warsmith casually strode into combat and killed all the Eldar except the Exarch.  Definite victory was not definite.
The Daemon Prince advanced to within spitting range of the Dire Avengers and stood there laughing as the xenos peppered him with massive amounts of shurikens.  Lucky enough to cause a single wound, the Avengers stood in horror a moment later as the monster strode into combat and bellowed a challenge to the Exarch.  It took less than a second for the leader to be dispatched, and then the Black Mace weapon did its job as five more Eldar fell to emanating waves of lethal Chaos power.  The Spiritseer and remaining Dire Avengers had seen enough and chose to flee from the battlefield.  The eastern flank now belonged to Chaos.  Meanwhile, the Warsmith challenged the Spider Exarch and was stabbed once, but it wasn't enough as he easily cut the xenos down.  The Warp Spiders were now gone.  The Eldar feared greatly at this point.  Luckily, the Chaos Marines had abandoned most of their objectives for the slaughter.
The score at the end of Turn 2 was Eldar with 1 (First Blood) and Chaos with 4 (2-point objective, Slay the Warlord, and Fast Attack unit killed)

The Eldar had to make some headway quickly.  The Swooping Hawks, embarrassed at their attempt to kill the marines, flew over the woods and swiftly assaulted the Helbrute.  Some well-placed Haywire grenades brought the monstrous construct down.  Gladly, the Rangers nodded in thanks to the sky borne warriors, and then fired at the Daemon Prince now advancing on their position.  Again, they failed to draw an accurate bead on the beast and failed to cause any damage.  The remaining unit of Dire Avengers advanced back to their former position, claimed an objective, and fired at the Warsmith and his accompanying Cultist.  Only the Cultist died.  It was enough to make the Warsmith lose his nerve and flee, but he thought better of it and turned around at the last moment.  The Dark Reapers took aim at the recovering Cultists in the east and easily wiped them out.  The Eldar finally felt safe, leaving only a Daemon Prince and the Warsmith standing from the enemy force.
The Warsmith, bleeding from a wound received in combat with the Warp Spiders, decided to wisely duck out of sight behind the crystals and just let the Daemon Prince handle the rest.  The Daemon Prince, happy to oblige, charged at the Rangers in the woods.  Not a single sniper round could hit him and he barreled into the treeline.  The Rangers, taking advantage of their cover, primed up their Plasma Grenades and threw them at the looming monster.  All the luck of Khaila Mensha Khaine went into that desperate action, and one found a weakness in his armour, dropping the monster.  The xenos celebrated loudly, while the Warsmith bitterly accepted his defeat and quit the battlefield.  It was a glorious day for the Eldar.
The final score, as the game was called, was Eldar 5 (First Blood and 4 points of objectives) and Chaos 2 (Slay the Warlord and Fast Attack unit killed).

With that battle, it was nice to see how the new codex works.  Although luck was clearly on my side (had that Daemon Prince not died to a lucky grenade, the battle could have gone a lot worse), the Eldar showed me some good stuff.  The most powerful thing I saw was the 'Battle Focus' rule.  This allows for most of the Eldar units to run AND shoot at full BS.  And this can be done in any order.  My Dire Avengers took full advantage of this as I ran and then shot at the Daemon Prince and Marines, and later again as I shot and then ran away to keep the enemy out of range.  It was nice to see how fast this army could be.  Everything else is just cool, but that particular rule can be really frustrating to most opponents.  As an Eldar player, I gotta say I love it.  When I fight against them, I'm sure I'll cry like a baby.

My buddy really enjoyed his battle, despite losing.  He wants to drop the Cultists and get more Marines, mostly for 'fluff' reasons.  I assured him that it's a good idea but Cultists can be really useful.  Funny enough, he played against a Chaos Marine army on Saturday with this force and stomped it into the ground.  So his 'out of the box' army definitely has some potential.  I fear for when he grows it some more and I have to try to beat it then.  Luck isn't consistent...

Until next time, Happy Gaming!

Thursday, June 13, 2013

Pay to play?

We all know that GW is, like any good company, out for the money.  I've defused and de-escalated HUNDREDS of complaints about the price over the last decade-and-more, and I'm not usually upset about pricing.  I still maintain that position today.

However, I must note that I'm too poor to afford this hobby that I used to sell to people like a champ.  I'm behind on my collecting simply due to the fact that I have no money, where I used to have tons and a nice little discount to boot.  I get upset that all the models that I want are too expensive for me to purchase even after saving for weeks and weeks.  And I find myself much more sympathetic to the cries of 'boycott' than I ever was.  But I still maintain my position of support for the game (and company, by extension).

However, I've realized something that actually makes me rather sad.  You see, for many years the gaming community had two types of gamers- those that could afford to waste money on overpowered Forgeworld models, and those that could only afford what our shops left on the shelves.  But the divide was easy and the community was largely the latter.  However, GW has produced such amazing models and jacked the prices up to Forgeworld level for them.  Remember when the HUNDREDS OF DOLLARS-costed models were for Apocalypse?  Not so anymore.

Worse yet, it all began with Warhammer's 8th edition release a few years back.  Every army got very little change to their army books, but they did get massive models.  Usually, it was monsters, but those armies without monsters received huge models nonetheless (Empire comes to mind here).  Then the troop boxes were cut in half and went up in price, meaning that anyone wishing to take advantage of the 'horde' rules would have to pay for it, and anyone that didn't take advantage of it were stomped on by those monsters.  Which were purchased at high cost themselves.  It all added up to having to either a)suck it up and spend far more money than normal to get a good army up and running, or b)agree with the opponent to keep playing the 'old' way and simply ignore the concept of monster-spam and 'horde' units.

And then it spread like a virus to 40k.  It was subtle at first, with Chaos Marines just getting a Dino-bot with fire breath and a few friends to stomp around with.  Dark Angels got nothing but monster-killers (in the form of plasma-gun-wielding bikes and smitey-mace-wielding-knights).  But then the Daemons were released and brought back 'zilla in a big way, followed by the Riptide-rockin' Tau, and now the Eldar jump in with the jumping Wraithknight.  The cost of the models continued to jump up and up until the Wraithknight met the price point of the Apocalypse vehicles.  And all in time for Apocalypse to get revamped.  Hmmmm...

Add to that the new Allies rules, and it means that any army can damn near take anything they want in the game now (minus Tyranids.  Sorry, bugs!).  Which means that Orks now work with Eldar, Space Marines have Necrons as battle-buddies, and Tau seem to think that Dark Eldar aren't so bad after all.  Which has only exacerbated the problem as those big models now appear in every army across the tabletop.

And tournament season is in full swing.  Adepticon came and went, showing just how many Night Scythes can be crammed into one event hall.  Then Alamocon snuck in and showed off the Riptide tide.  And now Wargamescon just passed and showed that even the greenskins are okay with Dino-bots above them.  It seems that no competitive gamer goes anywhere without their huge models, flying creatures, and best friends in combat anymore.  So what does this mean?  Why am I pointing this out?

Well, first of all, I have to note that I'm not a fan of the Allies system.  I think that each army is unique and has specific strengths and weaknesses, and that's one of the many parts of the game that makes it fun.  Taking allies, in my opinion, is the lazy way to cover holes in an army and fail to learn new and unique tactics to overcome weaknesses.  Secondly, I like the idea of balance between armies (called 'external balance' by the wargame degree-holders out there), and some of these models have taken that away.  Riptides destroy the idea of Elite assault against the Tau, Heldrakes take away the cover benefit used so effectively against them, and Necrons simply destroy the idea of randomness introduced by dice (specifically Tesla weapons and the flyers of transporty advantage).  Finally, it's the 'spam' concept that makes everything nearly unbearable.  One of anything good is okay to handle.  Two of anything good is a pain to handle.  But three or more of the good units are ball-busters made to ruin an opponent's day.  And this takes into account that some armies simply don't have the best top-tier units compared to others, and that means the 'spam-game' significantly benefits some armies over others (of course, this has been a bit of a problem for a couple of editions now).

Now put those three together.  It's real simple what it all means- if you don't have $225 to waste on three Heldrakes and add your $600 IG army rockin' the Forgeworld anti-air units, or $255 to waste on three Riptides to fight alongside your $800 Ghost army, you aren't showing up with a competitive force in the tournament 'meta'.  As if those tournies aren't expensive enough already, it now takes a K-bill to keep up, and most of that money is spent rinse-and-repeating the same expensive kits over and over.

Let me jump out here and do the 'full disclosure' thing:  I have never appreciated Spam.  I already mentioned that I don't like the Allies system.  And I'm not seeing a whole lot of balance since the 'gray' codices toward the end of 5th edition and lately in 6th.  IG, Grey Knights, SW, and Necrons all have fantastic armies with no discernable weaknesses.  Then hope was created with Chaos Marines and Dark Angels.  But Daemons (admittedly an oustanding book), Tau, and Eldar all seemed to be the old theme of super-powered, but at least they had weaknesses (Daemons can't handle Heavy Bolters, Tau can't handle heavy tanks, and Eldar can't handle ranged weapons).  However, these new armies (just like the 'gray' armies) certainly smack the 'meta' in the face.  Which rather forces people to use more spam-tactics and seek out better combos.  So I don't necessarily think it's the fault of the gamers as much as just the evolution of the game.  Even if GW doesn't realize it.

Or do they?  I don't like the prices at this point.  But GW has pushed players to almost have to take these big models and buy the better units over and over again.  IG used to have the so-called 'parking lot' in last edition, and that resulted in tons and tons of Chimera sales.  Can't sell many more Chimeras.  Can't sell many more Troops.  So now GW releases very powerful Elite and Fast and Heavy units, and then writes the rules so that THOSE are the units that will have the greatest impact on the opponent's forces.  And since those units are limited in number (three versus six), the price goes up to match the money-spending habits of last edition.  Except nobody maxed out Chimera-squads, or Space Marine squads, or even Dire Avengers.  So the high cost of the newer not-troop units far outstrips the old days.  At least, that is, if you want to play with the 'big boys'.   Which leads to some simple math-

You gotta "Pay to Play" now.

I'm not saying that it's a requirement.  I run a game group with a very specific vision that everyone adheres to rather well.  I've met plenty of people that don't go to the 'big' tournaments and so don't build their armies that way.  But everything I see on the blogosphere and in the tournie reports and from the gamers that I DO know who play in that circle all seem to have significantly more money invested in and budgeted for this hobby than even I, with my crazy habit and extraordinary benefit, even dreamed of.

Let me finish off by saying that I'm just bitching now.  I enjoy this hobby and belong to the 'side' that cares more about the smiles and fun than the win record and trophies.  But it's an observation that struck me.  Let me know what you think, and even feel free to tell me I'm wrong (perception is NOT reality... necessarily).  Just wanted to rant a bit.

Happy Gaming!

Monday, June 10, 2013

More models to the collection

I made mention last week that I was building models just for fun.  That hasn't changed.  In fact, it's about all I can do in the hobby right now because I just went back to work and now only have a single day off each week.  Luckily, my time at the comic shop and rocking with my outstanding gaming group gives me that dedicated time I need to do anything at all right now.  After all, a hobby can be put down and ignored for a time if need be, but doesn't have to be if you make it a job.  Victory to me!

For the last two decades (and a little longer now), I have been an Ultramarines fanboy.  But the last ten years has seen me go hog-wild getting into any army I can get my hooves on.  For the last three, since retiring from the Emperor's service, I have been pretty well dedicated to my Blood Angels.  I've dabbled in some Chaos Marines, Dark Angels, Imperial Guard, and even Tau.  But I seem to find myself going back to the boys in red.  It's for no other reason than me liking the colour red so much.  When I find myself bored with an army, or simply not motivated enough to paint, I go back to the Blood Angels and goof around.  I want to pull out my Ultramarines, but they are my 'special' army and require my full attention.  But the XIIIth have some cool toys that my red boyz don't (mostly because I own everything for the Ultramarines, and usually twice- or thrice-over).

As it turns out, after building a couple of Furiosos and an Honor Guard, I wanted to copy something.  Staying with the Elites slot, I decided that the Blood Angels deserve a Sternguard Veteran squad.  I already have two Vanguard squads, so why shouldn't the Sternguard come out and play?  Initially, I was going to build a Tactical squad for the army, but I found that I didn't have enough marines laying around.  Luckily, I finally found enough (making sure to include a Mk I Veteran with an axe to act as the Sergeant).  But I realized that Sternguard are 'boss' and would come in really handy for killing all those monsters that seem to have made a resurgent come-back to the battlefields of this edition.

But wait!  I only have one squad of Sternguard in my Ultramarines!  What if I want to use a second someday?  Why not just steal the one squad and paint them red, leaving the extra bitz I found to make the Tactical squad, and leave the Ultramarines high and dry for the time being?  Well, I just can't do that.  And I surely can't use a red and a blue squad in the smurf-force if I wish to lay down the two.  And then I came up with the cunning plan (and no, it's not paint myself purple and tap-dance on a piano while singing horribly).

Has anyone ever heard of the Deathwatch Kill Teams?  I'm not talking about the RPG game from FF.  I'm talking about the Ordo Xenos squads first mentioned in the White Dwarf and then being amended in the Chapter Approved books.  This is a squad of marines, typically led by a Librarian, and chosen from different Chapters to form an elite unit and do the bidding of a particularly xenophobic Inquisitor.  While in that service, those marines gain access to significant wargear, additional training, and a ton of prestige earned while in the employ of the Holy Ordos.  That's right, they're the 'Delta Force' of the Imperium!

I had included a couple of them in my old Black Templar force.  Black armour, silver shoulder pads, and sweet multi-round-selector Boltguns marked them as special.  And therein lies my cunning plan- different ammo and universally black armour!  This means that I can use them easily as Sternguard and deploy them with my Blood Angels or my Ultramarines equally!  Sweet!  I get the unit for the army, don't sacrifice one force for another, and add a bit of 'fluff'.  And everyone knows how much I like fluff.  So I dug out my decade-old bitz for the Deathwatch (pads and bolters), slapped them on, and smiled proudly.  Sometimes I feel so smart.

The unit- 10 doods with bolters!  Who needs special and heavy weapons when you have all these rounds to choose from...
The leader of the squad- aka, the Sergeant.  Power Axe for that killing goodness!

As always, this unit will see some paint at some point and it will be displayed all over the blog.  But for now, I have them built and am eager to get them ready to go.  Here's my question for you guys- what Chapters should I paint them to be?  I know that I'm going to include the Ultramarines, Blood Angels, Dark Angels, and Space Wolves.  But that's four, so I need six more.  Better yet, which one should be the Sergeant?  Let me know, this will be up to you guys.

Until then, more models added to the growing pile of required painting...  Happy Hobbying!

Friday, June 7, 2013

It's the 'little things'

Well, I've finally done it.  I've finally decided to jump on the Tau bandwagon.  I got a Riptide and suddenly felt like I had everything I wanted for my Tau army.  Of course I want more stuff, but now I have everything I need to bring the army into the 'modern times'.  And I have realized some things while making my army lists.

You see, this army is definitely a 'meta-breaker' for the current edition.  Tau make the flyer-heavy armies weep a bit, bring horde armies to their knees as a matter of course, and even pretty much destroy the concept of close combat for those opponents so inclined.  Some of the most veteran of gamers have found the Tau difficult to manage with their 'normal' armies.  But that doesn't make the Tau unbeatable.  In fact, the Tau have some very distinct weaknesses that a smart opponent can take full advantage of.  It just takes a little bit of thought beforehand and understanding that the armies seen on the battlefields for the last couple of years are exactly what the Tau are designed to take on.

Conversely, Tau players have to be smart about what they take.  The army is not necessarily a 'finesse' army like the Eldars, but they aren't made for the mindless general either.  Funny enough, the most effective Tau army lists are the most 'generic' and basic versions out there.  The army isn't like Eldar or Marines, which both require a modicum (or more) of specialization to be effective.  The Tau army is already specialized (they shoot, and then they shoot some more.  And then they finish off by shooting), and can't really 'stretch' out of that theme.  So the fun with the army comes with making the army lists themselves and enjoying the options.

As I write my army lists, I find all these small details that can really be troublesome (or helpful).  And since I enjoy writing army lists so much already, this particular aspect makes it even more enjoyable.  Needless to say, I have been a happy camper for the last few days.  And hence the point of this blog!  So what are those little things?

Well, let's begin.  I want to start with one that was pointed out to me in an attempt to clarify a rule.  Tau vehicles have the option to carry a Point Defense Targeting Relay.  The upgrade allows the vehicle to fire Overwatch with all weapons of Strength 5 or less, and bestows the 'Supporting Fire' rule upon the tank.  Seems simple, right?  But what about the Drones?  Piranhas and Devilfish have a Burst Cannon attached to the vehicle and so this upgrade is useful.  But a Hammerhead or Skyray, or even the Devilfish if the option is taken, has Drones that are armed with twin-linked Burst Cannons or Pulse Carbines.  Does this upgrade help that?  No, and here's why.  In the 'Drones' section of the codex, it states that Drones are treated as 'embarked passengers'.  The main rulebook states that embarked passengers are allowed to fire at any unit charging the transport they're inside of.  My Tau buddy, who asked me the original question, and I agreed that this upgrade didn't really help those units.  There is a positive effect even for this instance, and that's the 'Supporting Fire' rule.  But it bears noting that most Tau vehicles will have few weapons to take advantage of that rule, and the Drone rules make this upgrade not necessary most of the time.  So save some points!  Spend them on more Fire Warriors...

Let's keep on the Drones.  Notice how there's more Drones?  I'm very happy about that.  I'm surprised that the Heavy Gun Drones didn't make it over from Forgeworld, but the variety is good nonetheless.  Better yet, the Drones became better in two main ways- 1. Gun Drones are now armed with the more effective Pulse Carbine.  The Pulse Carbine is no longer one shot, which a Drone fires at twin-linked BS 2; it's two shots!  That's double the firepower with an 18" gun of goodness.  And, 2. All Drones (of the normal types) are Toughness 4.  This matters hugely for a few reasons.  Atop that list of reasons is that it makes Drone Squadrons actually valuable units.  For arguably too-many points, a unit of Gun Drones or even Shield Drones can be dropped onto the battlefield and irritate Space Marine players everywhere.  After all, Bolters needing '4's' to wound anything that's not a battlesuit can be rather frustrating.  And frustrating the opponent is what any good general likes to do.

But there's something else to consider with that Toughness aspect- the Majority Toughness rule can make things a bit difficult for the Tau player.  You see, adding a couple Drones to a Fire Warrior squad means that those Drones suddenly count as Toughness 3.  Way to pay points for that extra Toughness that you'll rarely get to use!  If you add these 'normal' Drones to a Riptide battlesuit, you'll be limited to only ever taking one Drone.  Otherwise, that awesome 230-point monster is suddenly Toughness 4!  Which means that you'll almost never want to take anything other than the Shielded Missile Drones for the Riptide, since they're Toughness 6 as well.  Hmmm.  But what if you purchase Drones for the Iridium Armour-wearing Commander?  That +1 Toughness suddenly drops again back to Toughness 4!  Again, way to pay 25 points for a 2+ armour save and nothing else.  The moral of all this- Crisis suits and Broadsides are meant to take Drones, everything else will create some conflicts.  Curse you, Majority Toughness rule!

Speaking of the Iridium Amour- want to take a bodyguard squad?  Want to join the Commander to a Crisis team?  Thinking of taking those Drone upgrades?  Please remember that you'll be losing half of the benefit of the Iridium Armour upgrade.  The good thing is that the bodyguard unit has the 'Sworn Protector' rule, which means auto-passing 'Look out, sir!' rolls.  But when that 180-point HQ unit is only Toughness 4 (by majority rule) and can suddenly be insta-gibbed, that almost becomes necessary.  My Commander is seriously thinking of bestriding the battlefield alone and leaving the Drones at home.  In fact, I'm now convinced that a Shield Generator is almost required if I'm going to take the Iridium Armor.  And there goes 50 points...

Speaking of wargear, how about that 'Velocity Tracker' upgrade?  For not too many points at all, a unit of suits can be given the 'Skyfire' rule.  Here's the thing, though:  They get to CHOOSE whether they use Skyfire or not each time they shoot.  This is HUGE since anything with that rule is limited to snap-shooting at ground targets (ahem, Hydra!).  Flakk missiles be damned, the Tau actually mean it when they want to shoot at flyers.  I know this one may be a bit obvious and even taken advantage of, but it's worth mentioning anyway.  Target Lock comes in real handy here, too.

Now what about upgrades to suits again?  Since the release of the Tau way back in October of '01, Crisis Suits have been pretty commonly armed with Plasma Rifle/Missile Pods.  I, of course, followed this trend.  I even built a squad with Plasma Rifle/Burst Cannon, just to get that anti-infantry shooting to the max.  What did you almost never see on a suit's weapon-slots?  Well, the Flamer was super-rare, and the Fusion Gun was close behind.  Out of the five weapons that a Crisis suit had the option to take, it turns out that only three (and really only two) mattered to anyone.  And then the new codex gave a couple of buffs.  Burst Cannons got an extra shot, bringing them up to the level of the Plasma Rifles and Missile Pods.  On top of that, Fusion Guns received a boost in range, up to 18".  WHAT!!!  This is not a 'hidden gem' of the codex, but it made me have to redo one of my units of Crisis Suits.  I was willing to cut the well-glued weapons off my almost 10-year-old models just for that.  Now I have a unit rocking the Missile Pods and Fusion Guns, because...  just wow.  That's all there is to that.

Speaking of suit-weapons and Fusion Guns- what about those Stealth teams?  I have five of the old XV-15 suits (which I admittedly like better anyway), which meant that I never took advantage of the Fusion Gun upgrade.  But I sat back and did a little math-hammer (which you all know I hate) and here's the result:  By new rules, 5 Burst Cannons base should kill almost three Marines a turn (20 shots, 10 hits, 7 wounds, 2+ fails).  Replacing one Burst Cannon with a Fusion Blaster should kill the same amount (16 BC shots, 8 hits, 6 wounds, 2 fails; 1/2 FG hit, 1 wound, 1 dead).  And so I brought the almighty bone-saw out again and chopped one of the models up to slap a Fusion Gun on there.  My thinking is that I don't lose a measurable amount of infantry-killing power (assuming MEQ, of course), but I gain the ability to knock out a tank if needed.  I must admit that I'm a huge fan of the Fusion Guns these days...

I'm actually a bit sad about my Pathfinders.  Yes, I know I just jumped topics on you, but I was done, so keep up!  Anyway, here's the deal:  I bought a unit of Pathfinders (finally) back in '07 and made sure to add the three Rail Rifles.  Back then, Rail Rifles were Str 6, AP 3, and were heavy weapons.  Better, they all came with Target Locks.  So it gave my unit the ability to rock the Markerlights in one direction, and drop at least a marine in another.  Now- well, it's very different.  Rail Rifles are Str 6, AP 1 (!!!), and they're Rapid Fire.  That means the Rail Rifle is a great weapon now, and should scare the pants off those Terminators that sneak up (because that's what Terminators do, they sneak).  However, notice I didn't say anything about 'Target Lock'.  That's right, now the Rail Rifles MUST fire at the same target as the rest of the Pathfinders.  It's not a big thing, but it was one of my go-to tactics that I have to forget about now.  And that makes Jay a little sad.  But, admittedly, only a little.

I was also sad about my Kroot.  I swear that, for years, I was the only Tau player that actually liked Kroot.  I thought they were a fantastic counter-charge unit, as well as a very convenient ambush-from-the-treeline squad.  Plus, their Kroot Rifles gave them basically a Bolter to shoot, as well as an additional Str 4 attack in close combat.  For a unit with no armor and a low toughness, this was important.  But the new book took away the Kroot Rifle's blades, and dropped Kroot to being only Strength 3.  And all this only yielded a 1-point drop in cost.  Boooooo!  And then I kept reading.  And I read that Kroot may be armed with 'Sniper Rounds'.  Wait, so my Kroot can wound monsters, kill characters, and would cost the same as before?  In addition to that, I still have the option to outflank (even better if I have a Hound or five in with the squad) and use the Rapid Fire version?  Yes, please!  It also bears saying that there's nothing in the codex that indicates that Kroot can't take advantage of the Markerlights.  This plus Sniper plus Overwatch goodness, and I'm simply not seeing an issue.  Just remember, though, Kroot are NOT close-combat troops.

I could go into so many more things with this codex.  The wargear options are almost all totally useful, and the amount of options that every unit comes with is crazy when compared with most of the other armies in the game.  Hell, the good weapons in the book have options on how they can fire, even!  I enjoy the mental exercise that is making army lists.  I'm not trying to make the most broken combinations or find the list that works the best, I'm just seeing what kind of fun is to be had with some creative reading.  And, in the process, noticing some traps that someone else may not have noticed.  And for this, I have to thank GW for giving us a great book.  I haven't had this much fun in a while.

And now the Eldar are on the shelves...  Dammit, GW, let me catchup!  Let me know what kind of things you've noticed in the Tau codex yourselves.  Sharing is caring, after all.  :-)

Happy Gaming!