Friday, 31 January 2014
Wednesday, 29 January 2014
Tuesday, 28 January 2014
Inspiration comes from many places, and I’m sure this won’t be an exhaustive list, but here are some things that get me going.
I’m a sucker for a great mini, from the old style venerable dreadnought to the latest iteration of Warlord Queek, given a limitless supply of time and money my collection would be substantially bigger than it is, and full of odd single miniatures picked up over the years – I’ve got the original limited edition Emperor’s Champion, the Crimson Fists 25th Anniversary model and the Blood Angels Captain from Games Day 2012 in my collection at home and there are plenty of others I’d love to own. GW releases new models every month, and it’s a rare month when I look at the pages of White Dwarf and can’t find anything I’d like to own in there. Great miniatures demand to be painted though, what’s the use owning them if they’re just sat in a box somewhere unopened and unloved?
My biggest collection in this category however would have to be my Dark Eldar – GW have never released a range of miniatures I love this much (with the exception of the coven stuff, which I’m not so keen on) and though large portions of it still remain to be painted, I have lavished a lot of care and attention to coming up with a scheme that I like – each individual transport has its own markings, as do all the reaver jetbikes and hellions in the army.
Good colour scheme
If you find the scheme you’ve plumped for long winded or fiddly or annoying in any way, you’re highly unlikely to want to paint it onto an entire army of miniatures. Codices are great from this point of view, as they have substantial coloured sections showcasing many different colour scheme options. I find it best to take your time when choosing a colour scheme, because you’ll be painting it for a while. Don’t be afraid to revise the scheme either if you’re not happy with it at first, I have a collection of Necron models that will be getting some attention and having started on the first model, I’m not comfortable with the contrast between the main colours. As such, I’ll be toning it down before I go any further – I’m not likely to bring an army to the table if the paint scheme irritates me!
Your next game
Struggling for motivation? How about that next game you’ve got organised – set yourself a target to have another squad painted before you play again, you’ll soon find yourself willing to put in a few extra hours to get it finished if you really want to use it.
Don’t burn yourself out
Inspiration is fleeting, and there’s often a tendency to really dive into things when you decide to get something painted. Problem with that is, by spending every spare minute painting you can actually make yourself less likely to want to pick up a brush in the near future. Recently I’ve started taking some models to work, and during my lunch break the paints come out and I get half an hour done. It may not sound like much, but that’s 2.5 hours a week, and you can actually achieve quite a bit in that sort of time. Batch painting can further increase your painting efficiency here, since you have to think less about swapping brushes/paints etc. Finally, make sure the place you paint for any length of time is comfortable – if you’ve got to spend 3 hours concentrating on that tiny figure in your hands, you’re far less likely to want to do that if you know you’ll have eye strain or back ache when you’re done.
We’re all plastic crack addicts, let’s face it, and often you don’t need much inspiration to want that next model or new army. But even so, there are times when you’d rather not have to assemble yet another tactical squad to make your army more viable on the tabletop, particularly when you could be building a stormraven instead, or any one of a dozen kits more exciting than basic marines.
So how do you inspire yourself to build a new army? Well, quite frankly I’ve never had to, perhaps even more so than painting I love putting kits together, I do play with models that are unpainted and there’s a lot of my collection I would term ‘unfinished’, but I don’t have any models that aren’t assembled at least to the stage of needing a coat of paint before being completed. That being said, what inspires me to collect those models?
Well as with the first point of the painting section, my first stop has always been the models themselves – they’re the only reason I collected together a Dark Eldar force, and the new range of Necron miniatures appealed to me enough for me to start a 2000 point force. As with painting, I suspect that only the hardest of hardcore gamers who view a particular codex as the only way to win would use an army for which they don’t have any interest in the models.
I have a friend whose collections are all, by his own admission, focused on combat. Similarly, and probably more commonly under the current rules, there are guys at club I play regularly who avoid the stabby stabby at all costs, and take an army that is almost completely focused on killing you in the shooting phase. I tend more towards a balance of both these elements, but focusing on one particular style will certainly result in an urge to begin a new collection when an army with that playstyle is released or updated.
I don’t mean to provide the counterpoint to my previous paragraph here, it’s more about collecting models you wouldn’t normally use in a game. Most of us have a basic list that we take every time, certain combinations of models that we just don’t like to (or can’t) do without. When I say use something different to inspire you what I mean is collect an element of your existing army you’ve never tried before – it may not look good to you on paper, but it might work brilliantly in the game. I’m currently working on the basis of a fixed 1000 point list, with various 500 point combinations that slot in or out to make a coherent whole that gives variety to my games.
By comparison to the other elements of the hobby, written participation in terms of creating your own histories, backgrounds and stories, is something that only a very small percentage of the hobbyists get involved in. It’s an area I really enjoy though, and actually takes a lot less time than you might think. It can also give depth to games that simply isn’t there otherwise – my Dark Eldar Archon Ylos Dalur already has a grudge against a (sadly unnamed) Chaos Warlord from my club due to him passing an unfeasible number of invulnerable saves in our latest game.
I think writing background for each of your characters adds a lot to the depth of the game, and also influences in-game events. An unnamed space marine captain is unlikely to accept a challenge he’ll probably lose, but if that is Captain Sakai, proud leader of the 2nd Company of the Iron Fists is he really going to push a sergeant in front of him to face a daemon prince in his stead?
There are three types of opponents in this hobby, ones you beat most of the time, ones you share victories with roughly 50/50, and those you just can’t seem to get past. In my opinion the middle class of opponent is the one where the most fun can be had from the game, you’re each pitting your wits against each other to the max and one little mistake can swing things from winning to losing. I’m fortunate that most of my regular opponents fall into this category, with only Ryan (Guard and Marines) and Toby (Daemons) proving insurmountable obstacles so far. I find myself really looking forward to each of these matches as an opportunity to nudge myself slightly ahead of the curve in terms of wins, and I’d love to play an extended run of games using the same two armies as a kind of campaign.
Which leads me nicely into my last point, what more inspiration could there be than playing a series of games that each influence the next, either in terms of bonuses or forces available. I’ve already mentioned the 40k – It’s War campaign my club is running in February but here’s the place I’d really like to expand on the detail of that.
The campaign features 8 players in 2 teams of 4 and is to be played over three phases of games, the first comprising the initial phases of a planetary assault, using the missions ‘Crusade’, ‘The Scouring’, ‘Capture the Relic’, and ‘Emperor’s Fist’ from the Space Marine altar of war mission pack. Each of these games will provide a bonus to the winner in the final phase. Crusade winner can bring back a squad or vehicle worth 150 points or less that has been destroyed, which may outflank in their own table half. The Scouring winner will be allowed to deploy D3 units as infiltrators even if they would not normally be able to do so, Capture the Relic lets the winner add or subtract 1 to their reserve rolls and Emperor’s Fist gives D3 units the Scout rule
The campaign second phase will consist of the remaining 3 missions from the rulebook and ‘An Unwavering Shield’ from the Space Marine Altar of War. Similarly to the first phase, each mission gives a bonus to the army or team that wins it, Big Guns Never Tire gives D3 orbital bombardments, Purge the Alien grants ‘and they shall know no fear’ to D3 units, The Emperor’s Will gives the ‘stubborn’ rule to any unit holding an objective and An Unwavering Shield grants its winner the right to force 1 enemy unit to deploy in reserve.
Hopefully (from an organiser’s point of view) these bonuses will be pretty evenly spread come the final round of matches, which will be two doubles games of 3000pts per side.
We’ve introduced a further tactical element to the campaign by allowing each team a captain, who will then decide which armies under his control will fight which scenarios, meaning they can save a particular army for a particular mission, or just throw the ‘best’ player or list into the mission whose bonus they want the most.
Friday, 24 January 2014
Tuesday, 21 January 2014
Monday, 20 January 2014
Friday, 17 January 2014
Wednesday, 15 January 2014
Hi all, it’s been some time since my last random musing, you’d think I’d have plenty of material wouldn’t you…
Still, something I’ve been working on recently is keeping variety in my games of 40k, so I’ve been switching up armies, and have gone back to my Dark Eldar for a few games (reports to come soon!), alongside playing some kill team.
So really the post revolves around this, how do you keep variety in your games, instead of playing the same old list against the same people, who also bring the same list you played against last time, playing the same six missions over and over.
The way I see it there are many ways to keep this game fresh and interesting, without resorting to re-painting your whole army pink and playing with your good dice rolling hand tied behind you back and a patch over one eye.
Sure, the rulebook comes with a ‘measly’ six missions. The excellent Altar of War series however adds in an extra six missions for each codex that’s been released so far, and whilst my experience of them is limited, I can say for certain that the space marine missions needn’t be the exclusive preserve of space marine players, in fact many of them work perfectly well for many different types of armies. That gives us an additional 48 missions to choose from so far, so there’s no excuse for being bored of playing capture the relic, again.
Not only that of course, there’s your own fertile imagination to pick from, and though I’m the first to admit I’m no games developer, I’ve had a go at writing a mission or two myself, with varying degrees of success!
I’m going to separate this specifically from my next point, because whilst I accept they’re linked, they are very different even so. Hands up how many of us have just a single army in our collection? At my club I can think of only three, from an opponent roster of at least 11, so there’s plenty of variety there. I myself have established Dark Eldar and marine collections, with blood angels, an updated marine list and necrons underway. Until the kill team before Christmas, I hadn’t brought my Dark Eldar out to play for probably several months, so coming back to them now, re-writing my previous list and tweaking things has brought me some enjoyment I’ve not had for a while (particularly the look on Toby’s face when I picked up 20 dice to rapid fire at his bloodthirster warlord, 18 of which hit after re-rolls, wounding it on ‘4’s, even if he did pass all his saves in the end!). Each race tends to play in a different way to others so focussing now on my Dark Eldar, who are fragile like you wouldn’t believe is a totally different emphasis to playing with a terminator-heavy marine list.
3. Army list
Many people like to hone a single list until it’s at the very point of efficiency, every unit taken for a particular purpose and the list as a whole able to adapt to whatever it’s thrown up against and still give a good account of itself (or in Ryan’s case, win). Personally I like my models too much, so unless I were going to play 3000-4000point games each time (and at the speed I play, that would probably take a day) then I’m always going to leave something beloved at home – particularly if it’s my Dark Eldar since the models are by far and away GW’s best line, aesthetically speaking. As such, whilst I would never leave home without 2 gunboats of kabalite warriors or a couple of tactical squads of space marines, the icing on the cake changes a lot – sometimes I like to take all 9 reaver jetbikes in my collection, others it’s scourges, heck I even take the Mandrakes occasionally. Likewise I am partial to seeing my venerable dread on the table, or flooding the table with vanguard and assault marines and exploring how the different forces cope with different situations.
Ever wished you had something to play for other than just another tick in the ‘win’ column? My club ran a 40k league shortly after I joined, and though my Dark Eldar were the whipping boys (my first games in 13 years meant my list building abilities and general tactics were rather stale) I thoroughly enjoyed keeping an eye on who had beaten whom. We’re taking that a step further this year, and the next couple of months will see the ‘40k – It’s War’ campaign running. This is an eight player campaign, comprising two teams of four, one for order and the other for chaos (little ‘c’, only one player is actually using a Chaos codex). Each game played in the first two rounds will give a bonus to the last games, which will be two doubles games, so winning the first rounds becomes even more important. We’ve also introduced a tactical command element to the campaign, with each team captain assigning the armies under his command to a particular mission, meaning they’re able to prioritise their strongest lists for the bonuses they want most, and it also gives a bit more interest in terms of who plays whom. In terms of variety, I’d say that I find campaigns to be more interesting than leagues, particularly where they allow the building or alteration of forces for the reasons in point 3 above, but both are good for adding interest to an otherwise ‘standard’ game.
5. Game variations/supplements
Now I’ll lay my marker down here and say that with the exception of kill team, I’ve never played with any of the supplement rules such as apocalypse/cityfight/planetstrike etc, or the new escalation/stronghold assault books. That being said, I can imagine that for pre-arranged games (and I can’t stress enough how much I think games involving Lords of War or fortification networks should be pre-arranged and agreed) these could provide a real point of interest, wave after wave of Orks breaking against a wall of Martyrs siege line, or a crack force of space marines dropped in to the thick of the fighting to take out an Ork Stompa for example. These games again require different tactics and approaches to ‘standard’ games of 40k and keep the experience fresh and interesting.
6. Try something different
We all know what works, what we like to play with and how it best fits with our playstyle. But think back to when you started, how did you learn that playstyle, did you just pick units you liked then see how well they did on the tabletop? Or did you go hunting online for the best, most efficient lists you could find? My point being, why not try something different, if your default is to take an army with as many guns as possible, why not hang it all, and try a Khorne daemon army, or a gaunt horde? Expand your horizons, if you’re starting up a new army don’t just build them the same way as you did your existing collection.
Tuesday, 14 January 2014
Hi all, I have three games to report on here, so bear with me, because the details are currently in my head, with my brain trying desperately to forget parts of them!
Still, the Kabal of the Burning Eye has been resurgent in the last couple of weeks, as I prepare for my club’s campaign 40k – it’s war. I’ve played against George’s Chaos Marines, Toby’s Khorne Daemons and Cal’s Tau, beating George and getting thrashed by the other two.
I kept the same list for all three games, comprising:
Archon with huskblade, soul trap, shadowfield etc with 4 incubi in venom with an extra splinter cannon
2 units of 10 warriors with splinter rifles in raiders with dark lances and flickerfields
1 unit of 5 wyches with haywire grenades in venom with extra splinter cannon
6 reaver jetbikes, 2 with cluster caltrops
5 scourges, 2 haywire blasters
Ravager with disintegrator cannons
Game 1 – Chaos Marines – Emperor’s Will.
This was a really enjoyable, tense affair between two players who both play to win, but also playing fairly fluffy (George actually takes Chaos Space Marines and just the one heldrake!).
Details are getting fairly fuzzy now, but I do remember that we both headed largely straight for each other, the raider warriors performed excellently in this game, the splinter racks allowing me to hit with virtually everything on a regular basis and even though I wasn’t killing hordes each turn, the casualties mounted steadily. The reaver jetbikes also kept me smiling, the caltrops and bladevanes were a constant thorn in the side of George’s cultist unit.
The two warlords met early in the game, with my incubi bodyguard soon taking down the Chaos Warlord’s spawn guardians, and my Archon challenging. Fortunately, George’s Warlord has an artefact that reduces his toughness by 1 in exchange for a 3+ invulnerable save. Although he’s got eternal warrior so my huskblade wouldn’t kill him outright, I took him down to 1 wound fairly quickly, whilst my shadowfield held against everything he threw at it.
When the heldrake arrived, I thanked my foresight for putting everything in transports, as their flickerfields saved the hits that managed to penetrate armour. My scourges then pulled off the shot of the match, snap shotting at it with haywire blasters I rolled a single hit on a 6, followed by a 6 to score a penetrating hit and a 6 for damage. George failed his 5+ save and the heldrake came crashing to earth. Similarly, having had their venom shot out from under them, my wyches charged the forgefiend and, surviving its overwatch fire largely unscathed, proceeded to use their haywire grenades to glance it to death.
Finally the shadowfield burst, and after about 4 combat rounds of passing 3+ saves his warlord chopped up the incubi and limped into my deployment zone. Contesting George’s objective, I managed to keep my own free of any denial units and in the end I won 4-3.
A really hard fought game, I was glad it ended when it did, as things were looking pretty ropey had we had another turn.
Game 2 – Khorne Daemons – Purge the alien
Regular readers will no doubt realise that when the ‘2’ came up for mission type my heart sank, I hate this mission with a passion, not least because my army has 13 kill points in it, 4 of which are AV10 vehicles. Facing up to 2 bloodthirsters, a daemon prince, 2 soulgrinders and a stack of bloodletters I was going to have my work cut out.
Turn 1 and the bloodthirsters came forward. I poured everything I had into them, which I calculated afterwards as being over 90 shots. The splinter racks proved their worth as despite the bloodthirsters being airborne, I caused a decent number of wounds, but Toby passed everything, their 3++ boosted by a 4+ FNP. To be honest, I think after that round (if not before) I was overcome by a fatalistic attitude, and though I managed to get one bloodthirster, the warlord, down to a single wound my lone triumph was taking down a unit of bloodletters.
Afterwards, we both agreed that the turning point of the game was that first turn, realistically had I managed to kill one of the bloodthirsters, then I could reasonably have expected to take down the second by concentrating my fire and then given a decent account of myself against everything else, though with a 5 kill point difference between the two armies, winning was always going to be difficult.
Game 3 – Tau – Big guns never tire
I like this mission, usually I have two ravagers in my list with night shields that let me hold home objectives whilst the rest of my army goes all out for the enemy held options.
Things started well, only a single venom was taken down early, though it was the one with my warlord meaning he’d have to footslog it across the board. My turn two and the riptide failed to damage the razorwing using interceptor fire. My whole army therefore started to let rip, and I caused a couple of wounds on the Tau commander, virtually wiped out the unit he was attached to and caused three other units to take morale tests. Cal passed them all however, with his highest roll being about a five. The next turns were brutal. My reavers got overkilled by the majority of his army (I think they’d offended him when we played kill team before Christmas), the wyches venom was downed through weight of fire and the two raiders were both destroyed, my flickerfields failing to a degree I’ve never seen before, and Cal rolling natural sixes everywhere for vehicle damage. The two exploding raiders killed 13 of my warriors and with them any slim hope I might have held for winning the game. The stranded wyches petulantly wiped out a unit of pathfinders that had strayed onto the table, and over a couple of turns the ravager obliterated a 3-man crisis team that had dropped into my deployment zone.
The scourges scattered off the table when deep striking at the hammerhead the first time, though they just made it the second time, having survived the Riptide’s interceptor fire once more. Sadly both haywire blasters and the solarite’s blast pistol all missed the tank, despite it only being about 5 inches away.
Man of the match this game was my archon, who despite two failed charges against the Riptide, really annoyed Cal by passing his 2++ around 30 times in a row before it finally burst under the pressure of two units of fire warriors, a rail rifle unit and the riptide itself. The Wyches charged the Kroot unit and were wiped out on overwatch by the commander’s two flamers, and the Riptide finally scored a worthwhile shot by bringing down the razorwing (yup you guessed it, another natural 6 for damage)
The Ravager perished and all that remained was for the gunline to focus their fire on the two remaining Incubi in the centre of the table and that was that.
What I learned
Whilst I don’t want to blame my dice, because I do find that they even themselves out, it’s clear that when I’m rolling hot, they’re very hot (that heldrake shot should statistically happen only once every 216 attempts, but it’s certainly not that many since the last time I pulled it off with a raven guard devastator) but when they’re not hot, they’re certainly not average. This is especially true of my flickerfield and shadowfield saves – my Archon always seems to pass save after save when the rest of the army is busy getting shot to pieces, but in a game where I’m holding my own, it often bursts after two or three rolls. Similarly I passed one flickerfield save against Cal, and probably two thirds of them against George, and this made a massive difference to my damage output.
Tau are lethal – particularly against Dark Eldar, ok so they’re only BS3, but when they’re boosted by an Ethereal those S5 AP5 guns make a mockery of any troops I can throw at them, added to which I wasn’t able to bring much of my own fire to bear to thin them down (and their armour save is decent in any case). The Riptide didn’t do too much damage actually, but the massed squads of fire warriors (and even Kroot) were taking units down all across the board.
Disintegrator cannons are awesome – despite rolling below average, my ravager comfortably took out a crisis team with no assistance from anywhere else, and the nightshields on it were a constant source of irritation to my opponent, once putting his markerlights out of range and then preventing a fusion blaster from rolling 2D6 for penetration.