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Friday, May 31, 2013

Ah, the almighty flamethrower

I will be making a post about how much I love the new 6th edition (again) and why, eventually.  But today, I'm going to focus on one particular aspect of the love.

You see, for years you have rarely seen the Flamer being taken anywhere.  In fact, I built an entire platoon of guardsmen with Flamers and had an entire shop of customers telling me that I was crazy.  I did it because a)I had no other special weapons (that's what happens when you build an entire company of IG at the same time) and so was limited in upgrades, and b)I felt like I needed some 'cover-killers' just in case I ran into some Kroot or 'nids or Orks hiding in the treeline.  Three squads and a command unit with four more flamers and we're looking at a ton of fire coming your way.

Then the new rules set was released and BLAM!  Flamers became very useful indeed.  Marine squads suddenly had three options to choose from rather than the obvious two special weapon upgrades.  IG had a big desire for them because of what they do.  Sisters of Battle enjoyed this as the loss of 'Divine Guidance' almost made the Flamer useless, yet Seraphim liked to take them in pairs.  Hell, even Tau can be found rocking them on the Crisis suits now!

Why?  Simple- OVERWATCH.  Where normally a unit needs '6's' to hit units charging right at them, the Flamer automatically hits d3 times.  Take an IG platoon of 30 and armed with 3 flamers, and suddenly a Marine squad charging them has to suffer at least six hits, and probably more.  Crisis suits, often the targets of a well-timed assault, can lay down those auto-hits.  This is important to them considering that they can only fire a single weapon for overwatch.  Why not guarantee the hits?  Marines rolling up in Rhinos or falling out of the sky in Drop Pods against those pesky 'charging you' armies suddenly have an extra little bit of shooting to keep them alive that extra round.  Needless to say, the Flamer can mean all the difference between being chopped to death and just being sliced up a bit.

There is one weakness to the Flamer in the overwatch action- they can't take advantage of 'Precision Strike'.  Since weapons wielded by characters (or special rules that say otherwise, like Sniper) need '6's' to hit in overwatch, they can be allocated by the owning player on those pesky characters or 'buffers' IF they hit.  Flamers don't roll to hit.  They only roll to see how many times they hit, and so lose out on that advantage.  But that's not too bad considering that almost every model wielding a Flamer isn't a character anyway.  So not a whole lot lost.  But it is quite a bit gained.

And there it is:  My ode to the almight Flamer.  If you haven't gotten around to it yet, try arming up a squad or three with one.  You may find them a bit more effective than we're used to.  I know I have.  After all, when a squad of Cultists can luckily reduce incoming Terminators and therefore survive where they wouldn't have, why shouldn't I appreciate it?  Plus, even Tau players of skill are doing it.  And we all know that if they jump off a bridge, so should you, right?

Happy Gaming!

(It must be noted that this is in response to seeing Tau players using them.  I'm used to the occasional Imperial army taking the upgrade, but never the Tau.  More proof that this weapon no longer sucks!)

Wednesday, May 29, 2013

A wind of philosophy blows this way

For years now, we've witnessed the great debates online between the various factions of gamers.  Some believe that the game is the ultimate expression of skill and base their entire life's worth on their performance on the tabletop.  Others, in contrast, demand that the game be played in a particularly limiting fashion in the interest of 'fairness' and 'fun' (I may or may not be one of those, admittedly).  Still others cry that the company writing the rules (GW, obviously) are nothing but a bunch of morons and need to hire a lawyer or (at least) editor to get things right, while others insist that it's the community that's ruining things.  And then there's the 'intention' vs 'letter' groups, adding to the 'model hobby' vs 'dice and skill' groups, and it's all topped off with the internet(s) being invented by Al Gore and giving all these people the most consequence-lacking platform with which to express their points.  It all really just comes down to arguments and hurt butts.
But I've recently noticed a bit of a change.  Rather than the inundation of tactics articles and net-list spamming, I've seen many more articles trying to reconcile these 'groups' and bring the game back to the original point.  It's been strange for a number of reasons.  I've spent years scouring the internet and reading every blog that has anything to do with 40k, and I've even had my 15 minutes of fame by espousing my own twisted idealogy on the subject.  To see the shift in blog topics and even some restraint in the ever-present comments has warmed my cockles.  It seems that the gaming community might finally be tired of themselves and are making a self-adjustment.  If this is truly the case, that's awesome and bodes very well for the future of the hobby.  Let's dive in and check out some recent examples of this.

First off comes the age-old debate of the validity of cheeze and spam.  The 'casual' gamer seems to hate these (me), while the 'competitive' gamers feel justified in personifying these labels.  And it always comes down to the same rebuttal- "If it's in the codex, it's legal!"  To be fair, that is true.  But so many things in real life are legal and nonetheless shouldn't be done.  Worse, I feel prompted into adding my own belief, and that's not helpful at all.  This debate really shined for me on a buddy's blogsite known as 'Imperius Dominatus', run by a kat named Mercer.  Anyone who's crawled the tubes of the blogosphere will know of Mercer and know that he's one of those (self-admitted) 'competitive' guys.  He opened himself up to the debate, asked some questions, and decided to change his gaming habits for a time just to see what it would mean to his own enjoyment.  And, I'm proud to say, he has championed my side far better than even I can.  That doesn't mean us 'casual' gamers won, it simply means that someone from the other side has an open mind.  And that's not as rare as we'd like to believe.  Check out his two topics and see what he found:

What is spam?
http://www.imperiusdominatus.com/2013/05/what-is-spam.html
What is cheese?
http://www.imperiusdominatus.com/2013/05/what-is-cheese.html

Next comes the idea that the 'internet celebrities' are typically worried about little more than winning and share their experiences in hoping that the rest of the gaming world will follow their lead and at least give THEM a bit of a challenge.  That idea is further magnified by the 'new codex apocalypse/codex creep' concept where the newest book will destroy all of the game and ruin the hobby for all the old-timers with less fresh armies.  Now I must, in full disclosure, admit that I'm just as guilty of this as the next guy, but it's neither healthy nor productive.  After all, 'codex creep' and 'rock-paper-scissors-lizard-spock' have been around forever and that's not going to change anytime soon for any number of reasons.  This particular aspect grabbed my attention when blogosphere superstar Goatboy, on BoLS, posted about his experience at the first major tournament that allowed the new Tau codex.  So many jumped on him (he does have a bit of hateraid tossed his way regularly, but we love him anyway!) and tried to say that he was crying about the army and complaining.  Not so.  In fact, he specifically noted the idea of 'learning' and 'not quite ready, THIS time'.  It was as though 'ol Goatboy was sharing words of wisdom rather than words of whininess.  Check it out here:

Getting destroyed by Tau:
http://www.belloflostsouls.net/2013/05/goatboys-40k-things-i-have-learned-by.html

Then we get to the court where rules are lawyered to death and arguments are settled in the world of semantics and FAQs.  This has happened across tabletops, computer screens, and beers all over the world. It has led to game groups breaking up, and it has definitely made decades-old friendships reduce to tears and fists.  Luckily, I can honestly say that I'm on the 'play as written' side and have been called a 'rules lawyer' for too many years of my gaming experience (being the guy that taught newbies how to play before ever putting on the power armour probably didn't help my cause).  However, the 'casual' gamers (to which I belong; contradiction, anyone?) don't like that as it seems that the arguments for 'RAW' tend to be used as a weapon against their 'fun' more often than not.  In this, it's important to remember that consistency is the key to improvement, and it can be said that THIS topic is the least consistent of all.  Another blog-buddy of mine, a Sent One, addressed specifically this topic recently.  Read about that here:

Rules As Written vs Rules As Intended
http://h2lat40k.blogspot.com/2013/05/raw-vs-rai.html

And now I get to come full circle here.  My 15 minutes of fame all those years ago came when I posted my own evil thoughts on the subjects and waxed bitter here.  That post was kidnapped and taken over to the largest blog-site in the world and shared to the level so that I may have developed enemies and allies in countries I have never heard of.  But my message was clear, and it was one of the few times that the blogosphere got to see something other than the latest net-list or debate about the intention of the founding fathers and their interpretation on what the rule meant in the most obscure situation that nobody would ever experience.  I had a TON of agreements, and an almost equal amount of long-distance flames sent my way.  However, it was more than refreshing to see a message of love and sportsmanship (in principle, not the tabletop version) get so much attention at that time and on that site.  And it turns out that, only a couple of years later this is becoming a more popular shared sentiment.  Very recently, another blogosphere superstar name Reece jumped on this bandwagon and posted about this general subject as well.  Impressed, I suddenly had the urge to pimp it all and got this whole article together.  Check out what finally got me excited enough to blog again:

Game, Blouses!
http://www.belloflostsouls.net/2013/05/wargaming-shirts-vs-blouses.html

I am SO happy to see this shift in the general attitude of the gaming community.  I founded an entire game club in order to get this kind of fun going.  I piloted multiple Thunderhawks and recruited many thousands of gamers over the years with this kind of disposition.  And I've gone on and on with my beliefs on these subjects for as long as anyone can remember.  Not only am I not alone, but this group of 'philosophers' grows.  For those with business degrees- remember the 'S curve'?  I think we're on the upward part...

As everyone seems to be saying these days- HAPPY HOBBYING!!!