Thursday, March 5, 2015

The Catacomb Lord Guide

I'm kidding, I'm actually going to talk about the Dungeon Master Guide for 5th edition.  You see how I did that there?  Anywho...

It's been a month since I reviewed the Monster Manual and another month since the Player's Handbook.  Well, now comes the third, and usually least important book of the triumvirate of DnD- 

Anyone who's been playing DnD for any amount of time knows that the DMG is probably the least useful book in the set.  You need the PHB for building characters and spell lists (not to mention the basic rules!); you need the MM for all the monsters and villains that will plague the heroes through all the adventures; but the DMG is rarely used for more than just Magic Items.  In fact, that used to be the only part that I bookmarked in my old editions!

  Admittedly, that much still hasn't changed.  The section on Magic Items is awesome, alphabetically organized (and since the list isn't nearly as long as the old 1st and 2nd edition days, there's no need to categorize them into Rods and Staffs and Wands and Orbs and Potions and Knickerbockers and...  you get the point.  There are images of most of the items above the descriptions, and most importantly of all, there's a whole section for artifacts and magic items with personality (bringin' it back)!  I'm not saying that this part of the book is anywhere near necessary, but I will say that it's nice to have those options always available.

  But this is where it gets good- the DMG is useful beyond the chapter on Magic Items!  That's right, you heard me!  The book presents so much more.  It starts with the chapters on how to run a game (you know, the ho hum of how to manage people's personalities and choose the tone of the game), then morphs into the rules themselves.  I really enjoy how the DMG presents some interesting options to use for DMs, such as Inspiration, Healing 'modes', and even different kinds of elements like Sanity and such.  In other words, the DMG adds more tools to the DM's collection.  Wait, isn't that what it's supposed to do?

  But there's more!  Continuing the theme started in 3rd and becoming a focus in 4th, the DMG actually gives step-by-step instructions on how to build encounters up to entire campaigns.  It includes not only Experience Points, but the option of Milestone 'leveling' (my personal favorite), Challenge Rating, and how to properly modify monsters, NPCs, and overall encounters depending on what the DM needs.  I know that most of us 'old hat' DMs don't need this stuff, but it's actually really nice to have right there.  And for the newer DM, well, all the tools one can get can never hurt.

  But wait, there's still more!  Every DMG since the beginning of time discusses 'world-building' and plot design.  This DMG does it better than any I've seen before.  I swear that some of the Tech Level and Government stuff was stolen from some other SciFi rulesets, but the book takes it a step further and helps the DM create specific towns with specific NPCs.  From the description of the different Planes to the list of magic stuff available in the average General Store, it's all able to be determined right there.  It's not the 'video game' crap that 4th edition presented, but it's all the information that even veteran DMs might forget to think of.  The DMG even comes with 'template' maps of towns, taverns, and cave systems just in case the DM is otherwise occupied during the week!  One more little thing to add to this- stats for traps and such!!!  Again, just one of those little things that even the beardy old gamer would forget to consider...

And that's where the best part of the DMG comes in- a DM can actually randomly run an entire game night right out of the book!  There are so many random tables that divide everything into ecology and race and population level and everything else that you can imagine that the DM can pick up a die or three and generate everything (and I mean EVERYTHING) as the players are rolling theirs.  The DM had to work late last week and didn't have time to write up this weekend's adventure?  No problem!  Just set up the DM Screen and open the DMG and start rolling.  Six hours later and the players have something to talk about and the DM just packs up and goes home!  Seriously, this book really allows that.

  The book also includes an appendix (or three) that has all the information that was missing in the last two books.  Evil Gods, the Challenge Rating list for Monsters, even information on how to create your own Monsters and such.

  So what do I think of the DMG?  I love it!  Not only am I totally geeked with 5th edition, but I really feel that the DMG is the best book of all these new ones.  It became the most useful version of the book outside of Loot that I remember, and it's now the thing I, as a DM, grab before the PHB.  That should say something right there.

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

Tuesday, March 3, 2015

You don't need it, so why bring it?

  THAT'S WHY!  An Ork without a massive hydraulic Power Klaw is just an Ork, and Orks don't like to be just Orks.  But then again, I already play one army that doesn't believe in effective tactics (has anyone read about the Word Bearers lately?  Those Lords are IDIOTS!), so maybe I should consider this a bit more.

  I've played against Orks so many times that I'm USED TO them bringing the Klaws.  I'm also used to three dozen Lootas, two dozen Warbikes, and a Rokkit Launcher on every slot it can take.  But I'm not that kind of player- I hate 'spam' (I actually love the food!) and I don't build armies just to be effective on the tabletop (in fact, I consciously avoid that considering my typical opponents).  Unfortunately, a game is never fun if you don't bring the 'good' stuff and actually play once in a while. 

  With Ork Nobz, I find myself compelled to bring the Power Klaw.  After all, I have four attacks on the charge, two wounds to survive with, and it's the only option I have that isn't a Choppa or slightly bigger Choppa.  Being effective at killing Terminators and Land Raiders alike, it seems like a no-brainer.

  But here's the rub- there's this little thing that popped up last edition (and, as with all GW rules, was tried out many moons before that) called Challenges.  It is the simplest way to pull those enemy characters out and punk them (I figured that's an appropriate term with Orks).  And for the Greenskins, it's a rule that completely makes sense.  I have never met a Nob that would turn down a challenge from some baddie out there...

  Until he dies.  That Space Marine sergeant with a Power Sword strikes first with his four attacks, does two unsaveable wounds, and the Power Klaw will never get used.  That Tau Fireblade swings with his four attacks, does one wound, and then somehow manages to evade that swinging Klaw.  Even a normal Assault Marine with a Chainsword has the potential to slice my Nob before any chance of a strike-back!

  Add to this that my favoured and most common opponent is a Chaos Marine player who happens to take some joy in the challenges (what, with turning into Daemon Princes and all...), so my propensity to slap on the Jaws of Death and accept every challenge thrown my way suddenly becomes 
(I stole this image from a blog post about the same subject.  All credit to 'somethingrivetssomething' on this one (sorry, forgot the name of the site) )

  My Nob costs 16 points base (6 for the Boy and 10 more for the upgrade), would have to pay 4 more points for 'eavy armour (which is only a 4+) and THEN have to pay for the rest of the unit he's leading to do the same (so it becomes another 80 points- that's expensive armour!), and then tack on another 25 points for the Power Klaw.  Oh, and 5 points for the Bosspole.  That brings my 'boss-ass Nob of doom!' up to 50 points, or 130 if you consider that the 'eavy armour must be purchased for the rest of the mob!

  Meanwhile, the Space Marine sergeant costs 39 points with a Power Sword, or 49 points with a Power Fist.  What, a fully armoured, fearless, well-equipped boss of another race is cheaper AND more effective!?!?  Gods forbid that model has some spikes on his head and gets to transform into an even bigger pain for free...

So should I bring the Power Klaw?  All I really need the Nob for is the Bosspole (which costs 21 points total, 6 for the Boy, 10 for the Nob, and 5 for the pole).  Without any fancy gear, the Nob has five attacks on the charge at WS 4 and Str 5.  If he survives long enough, he'll certainly hurt someone.  But why would I waste the points of seven more Boyz for no gain?  Because I'z da Orkz and love da Klawz!!!

What do you guys think?  I have enough models, I just need to have this scale tipped a bit to make the decision.  Let me know what your experience is and, as always, Happy Gaming!