Friday, 31 January 2014

Carnage III - the Iron Fists engage

Hi all, got a bat rep for you today, following the latest carnage game at our club, MAD Wargaming.

Having used my Raven Guard in the last two of these games, I've gone for something different this time around, taking the fledgling Iron Fists who did me proud last week against an alliance of Grey Knights and Daemons (I know, but there were 3 of us wanting a game and I had more stuff than the other guys).

Opponents this time were Martin, MJ and Ryan, who has won every carnage game he's played. This time he brought a mix of guard and marines, though he took Tigurius instead of Vulkan for a change.
Martin has recently invested in the tyranids codex so would be trying them out for the first time and brought a Death Star style list,
and MJ is an experienced Tau player and brought the filthiest filth he could think of, including 2 riptides and a Necron night scythe carrying a warrior squad to claim the objective for him.

My 1500 lists consists of a captain on bike with a combat equipped command squad, 2 full bike squads, one with meltas, a 5-man tactical squad, storm talon, stalker and 3 centurion devastators with lascannons, missile launchers and omniscope.

Having played carnage before I know one thing for sure, it's all about timing. Get to the objective too soon and you find yourself targeted by all three other players, too late and there are too many defenders to claim it yourself. Secondary objectives can't be ignored either, as with three points for line breakers and another three for warlord kills you can rack up the tally quite quickly.

My initial plan therefore was to launch a wide, sweeping attack, picking one of the   neighbouring armies to advance on with the majority of my army, the centurions would stay largely in my deployment area, picking targets of opportunity, whilst the small tactical squad would work their way towards the other deployment zone. I really toyed before the game with the idea of taking these guys out and replacing them with a chaplain to boost the effectiveness of the command squad, since there's only one objective that can be held in the carnage mission, but decided to leave them in in the end as I need practice with this list as I'm using it in the campaign we have running in feb.

Ryan kicked things off by launching everything he had to shoot, and boy that's normally a lot. He managed to reduce one riptide to two remaining wounds after puppet mastering it to shoot at the crisis suits. Sadly the shot missed and only killed a single pathfinder. The other riptide moved towards my lines, with all the tau shooting aimed at me removing a single bike, though it was my storm shield veteran. My turn saw me strip the riptide down to a single wound through fire from the centurions, attack bike and tactical squad, though it survived a storm of bolter fire from the bikes. Then the Death Star started heading for my lines.

Turn 2 and Ryan continued to bombard everyone, he even infiltrated Marbo to throw a demolition charge into my bikes from the rear, though fortunately it scattered and failed to get through my armour. The riptide hid in turn 2 to protect it's remaining wound, and a devilfish with a fire warrior squad plonked itself on the objective. The centurions took a carnifex down to a single wound as the rest of my force wound it's way between terrain to position to threaten the objective, hoping that I'd be able to distract the Death Star and damage the tau sufficiently to stop them claiming the table centre. The Death Star kept heading my way and the carnifex regenerated a wound. 

Turn 3 was where things started to go badly, Ryan puppet mastered the remaining riptide, which sent a large blast template heading the way of the command squad. Of course it didn’t scatter, and not only did I fail all 5 jink saves, I failed all 5 feel no pain rolls too, and removed the remainder of a 235 point unit in one go, leaving my captain exposed in front of basically the whole of the remaining tau army, which included a big unit of sniper drones containing the ethereal. This unit of course then proceeded to shoot at my captain, using the ethereal’s ability to give them an extra shot, and I failed four of the resultant saves, and Sakai was pitched from his bike face into the dirt. Well that put paid to a lot of my strategy, and whilst my bikes continued to shift around in range of the objective, the tactical squad took the last wound from the riptide, and I put down the first of the carnifexes. The death star continued its inexorable advance, launching three raveners into a bike squad (well, 1 biker, I lost the others to weapons fire). Needless to say I lost the combat, and the raveners consolidated closer to my lines.

Ryan now started to concentrate a little more on the tyranids, though failed to remove any of the big gribblies from the table, his main focus this turn though was killing the kroot squad that had walked onto the table in his deployment zone. In return, the Tau left me largely alone, choosing instead to fire at the raveners, removing one from the brood. This was good for me, as my melta bike squad spun round to face the remaining two, two of the three meltas hit, scoring wounds and two failed cover saves later saw both threats removed from the midst of my army. The centurions failed to damage anything this turn, causing only a single hit, which failed to wound, though as this is the first time in two games they’d failed me, I forgave them. Concentrated fire from the rest of my army, including the newly arrived storm talon, saw another carnifex felled. The death star was slowly being trimmed, and they’d have to switch their attention now from reaching me to heading for the objective.

Final turn therefore (we’d agreed to only play five turns as it was getting very late). Ryan mobbed the objective with two squads of marines he’d been hiding all game (I knew I should have been shooting the centurions at those tanks earlier!) and nicked linebreaker of MJ with an attack bike, and Martin with 3 scout bikers. MJ’s flyer returned, having left the table in the previous turn, and dropped a 15 strong unit of necron warriors near the objective. Sadly, the riptide failed its nova charge roll, losing its final wound, which meant that there was no large blast AP2 weapon to clear the objective of marines. The necron warriors did a sterling job, but it wasn’t enough, and with 2 squads there, and me with only a combat squad of bikes with a heavy bolter attack bike I wasn’t going to do enough damage to clear it, especially with them getting a 4++ from Tigurius’ psychic prowess. I changed tack therefore, the only secondary points scored so far were Ryan’s two linebreakers, and MJ’s warlord kill. My bike squad blasted the full 12” towards MJ’s deployment zone, and everything else I had fired at the Ethereal’s squa. A plasma gun, 4 bolters, a twin linked assault cannon and two missiles saw them downed and 2 points in the bag for the warlord kill. The bike squad turbo boosted into MJ’s deployment zone, and that left the centurions, who aimed everything they had at Tigurius, but failed to do more than remove a single marine thanks to that 4++. Martin’s final turn saw him valiantly attempt to wrest Ryan from the objective, but a couple of slight mistakes meant that the marines held on. Just.

And that was that, the central objective was worth 6vps, so Ryan finished with 8, I placed second thanks to my last turn change of strategy, scoring 2 for the Warlord kill and 1 for linebreaker, and MJ picked up 1vp for his warlord kill. Despite having the most threatening army on the board at the end, Martin ended up without a point, though I think we’d all agree that had the game gone on, he was best placed to clear the objective with a carnifex, hive tyrant, 2 tervigons and a zoanthrope

Wednesday, 29 January 2014

War torn battlefields - where do you play your games?

Hi all, welcome to another random musing from the Burning Eye. I missed my regular painting, modelling and tactical posts this week I'm afraid as there's much going on behind the scenes at the moment, so I wanted to talk a little about gaming venues, and put out a shameless plug for the club I attend, MAD Wargaming

Tuesday, 28 January 2014

Inspiration - what gets your hobby juices flowing

Hi all, here's to another random musing, today I'm pondering on the idea of where inspiration for our hobby comes from, in all its forms. By that I mean painted, collected, written and gaming.

Ok this is probably the part of the hobby a lot of people find the most difficult, and not in terms of ability, but of inspiration, most hobbyists would rather be playing than painting in my experience, and often the thought of sitting down to paint another 20 hormagaunts is just too horrifying to contemplate. I'm lucky, as I really enjoy painting, and my skills have come a long way in the last 5 years (my wife's words, not mine!) but that's not to say I don't need inspiration sometimes.

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.


Stunning miniatures

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?


The Miniatures

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.


The Playstyle

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.


Something Different

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?

Ok so next up in terms of inspiration for writing about the hobby is campaigns. GW used to run large campaigns over the summer and always had narrative elements to them published in white dwarf. I've never taken part in one, however my club are running a campaign in February, and I've been helping to organise it and write the background. Introductory narratives can be found on our club forum here, and more will be added in phase 2 and phase 3 as things progress. I'm really excited about this campaign and writing the intros has definitely contributed to that anticipation.


Finally then, I want to talk about inspiration for games, and in some ways this will link back to my post on variety in 40k.

I get a weekly dose if 40k thanks to my attendance at MAD Wargames every Thursday night (and I'm eternally grateful to my wife for looking after our daughter to let me have that time). Many games are simply arranged with any other member who wants to play 40k the next week, with nothing more to inspire them than this. I therefore want to talk about the other kind of games, those that are arranged weeks in advance, that require preparation first!

This is a scenario available for games of 40k on the iBooks store, and features 4 armies all fighting for a central objective. I've got a game coming up in a couple of weeks and am planning in using it to test out my iron fists again.


Grudge matches

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

Iron fists vs the unholy alliance

Hi guys, just a quick report today on my game from last night. Due to a mix up I ended up hijacking a proxy game between two of the other club members, meaning my iron fists faced off against a mix of Grey Knights and Daemons (come the apocalypse doesn't quite cover it really)

I should note right from the start that both armies facing me were proxies, and initial tests to see what would work for them before really starting their collections.

That being said, it was also the first outing for my iron fists, and never having used bikes or centurions before, the only things in my list I'm familiar with are the 5-man tactical squad and the storm talon.

We started by rolling the crusade mission with diagonal deployment. I won the roll off for first turn and made sure that only a single objective was in my deployment zone. I split one of my bike units into combat squads, giving me a multi melta attack bike in a unit with two melta guns and a plain unit of 5 bikes to go with my full bike squad and the command squad.

My opponents largely deployed in cover, with the only truly exposed piece being the soul grinder.

Turn 1 and my expectations of the centurions were fully met, as they advanced 6" and destroyed the soul grinder in a flurry of las cannon beams and krak missile detonations. Everything else moved forward to engage with the exception of the tactical squad, who uncovered a grav wave generator nearby.

I survived largely unscathed with only about 4 bikes going down. The screamers were aiming for my stalker but with a lord of change flying around I couldn't afford to be distracted.

I responded by wounding The Lord of change with the stalker, and my command squad moved into position to assault a henchmen squad in a chimera. Most of the turn focused on whittling down the grey knight strike squad from the centre of the table. I lost a few more bikes this time around, mainly through all my opponents fire being concentrated on the large squad. The flamers took down the melta squad. In response the screamers assaulted the stalker and destroyed it.

Next turn The Lord of change went down, my storm talon arrived and grounded it, and it was finished off by rapid firing bolters from the tactical squad. The small bike squad assaulted the chimera and wrecked it with krak grenades, though they were wiped out by return fire from the second henchman squad and coteaz manning his quad gun.

More fire poured into the strike squad and I took them down to a single model. The screamers assaulted the centurions but the higher strength and toughness in comparison to normal marines told, an over two turns they won the combat, killing both screamers.

The warp storm table finally struck at me, killing one centurion and taking a wound from a second. The command squad assaulted coteaz' unit, and though captain Sakai issued a challenge needing only a single wound to kill the enemy warlord, he passed all his saves. Still, the rest of the combat went my way, and in the next round coteaz fell to a veterans power axe. 

All that remained was the mopping up, as the storm talon, remaining bikes, tactical marines and centurion wiped the enemy out.

The centurions performed really well, and though they were never fired at with any level of commitment, they were irritating my opponent significantly by the end of the game. The storm talon also did me proud, grounding The Lord of change to allow the tactical squad to finish it off, and the command squad weathered a veritable storm of fire, despite coteaz forcing me to re-roll successful saves, though this was in part thanks to their feel no pain roll being increased to 4+ by the daemons.

They would really benefit from a chaplain allowing re-rolls to hit in the first turn of combat, but to fit him in I would need to drop either the tactical squad or half a bike squad. The captain could really use eternal warrior though, as he was instant death'ed by the only wound coteaz caused on him, so I might have to look at re jigging a few bits to get him the shield eternal rather than a normal storm shield.

Tuesday, 21 January 2014

Devastator centurion tactics

Hi all, I thought I'd pick up something new for a tactics Tuesday post, so I decided to focus on one of the latest marine units to hit the shelves, the devastator centurions. In this article I'm going to break down their options and look at ways I feel they will work on the tabletop.

First up then, let's look at the basic centurion, who comes equipped with a pair of twin linked heavy bolters and a hurricane bolter. Quite clearly this guy is focused on an anti infantry role, and with three shots at 3' range, increasing to 6 at 2' range and 9 at 1' range, charging him is akin to walking into the proverbial storm of fire, especially since the minimum unit size triples those numbers. Going deeper than that however, we need to remember that generally armies of that type tend to have lots of bodies in them, and I'd have preferred to see two separate heavy bolters rather than the twin linked version. That being said however, 9 twin linked heavy bolter shots should result in 8 hits, which against most armies of this type will translate to 5-7 wounds, and kills providing they're not receiving a cover save. Whilst this is unlikely to make either orcs or tyranids flinch, if you then add in another 4 wounds from the hurricane bolters at 12-24" range, you start doing some more significant damage.

I think the biggest problem with this load out therefore is that for what it achieves, the points cost you pay for the squad is quite high, and against transports the heavy bolters aren't likely to be able to punch through their armour.

A second option therefore for the dakka centurion would be to take missile launchers in the chest plate. The krak missiles will provide a certain amount of anti transport fire, and the frag option is not only usable at a greater range than the hurricane bolter, but can potentially hit more targets.

This would probably therefore be my preferred load for a dakka centurion, giving them a serious amount of anti infantry firepower whilst retaining a mid-level anti transport threat should your opponent decide to bring lots of vehicles.

The next weapon option therefore is the grav cannon and grav amp, and this seems to generally be the popular choice for equipping the centurions on the various internet forums.

Let’s start with range, as it’s the grav cannon’s greatest drawback. 24”. That’s right, get this baby into range and just about every weapon in your opponent’s army will also be able to fire back at you. This makes positioning the centurion key, as you want to be able to keep just the target unit in range, hopefully wiping it out before it gets the chance to return fire and preventing anything else from ganging up on you. Centurions are tough, no doubt, but when sporting grav cannons against power armour and above, they’re going to be targeted with everything your opponent has, and that 2+ save and 2W won’t stop a very expensive unit from being flattened if they become the sole subject of attention. Added to that, they’re not a cheap unit so you can’t even dismiss it on the basis of spending an entire turn shooting at a minor part of your army, since in a 1500 list, they’re likely to be around a third of your points. That’s where their lack of manoeuvrability also hinders them however, since the lack of a realistic transport option means you don’t want them stranded on a flank too much.

With the grav cannon, I’d say that it really doesn’t matter which option you take for the chest system, as both provide decent benefits. If I were writing an all-comers list I’d probably take the missile launchers, to allow use of the frag missiles from range against lightly armoured hordes, as this is where the grav cannon falls down in my estimation (though the grav amp does help a little in this regard). Hurricane bolters would be decent, but your average space marine army really isn’t short of bolter fire.

Lastly therefore we have the lascannon variant. Three twin linked lascannons can put a dent in almost anything, with only landraider equivalents really being able to survive reliably (that’s what melta weapons are for). Even so, three twin linked lascannons stand a decent chance of penetrating even a land raider’s hull, particularly if you are using the Imperial Fists chapter tactics. This variant is to my mind the one that leaves the centurions where they should be – well back in your deployment zone to minimise the amount of return fire, bringing down enemy vehicles at their leisure, with your opponent not sure whether to concentrate their fire on them, or the other units that are threatening their own lines. Added to that, the centurions pack missile launchers (hurricane bolters would only be useful to this loadout as a defence mechanism against deep striking units), which only multiply that firepower against vehicles and provide redundancy against hordes. The missile launchers also provide a decent defence, as let’s remember that if a unit is deep striking it has to wait a turn before it can charge you, giving you a chance to train your guns and have a round of shooting first.

So in conclusion:
Dakka centurions – decent anti-horde firepower but that’s something marines aren’t short of elsewhere for less points.
Grav centurions – excellent against an armoured foe and the plethora of Riptides et al you see around, but quite situational and difficult to use properly.
Las centurions – very expensive, but range can be used to minimise return fire and keep other units higher in your opponents priority list.

You thought I’d forgotten didn’t you, there’s one more toy the centurions bring to the party. The Omniscope. What this does is give the sergeant the night vision and split fire rules, allowing you to focus on two separate targets each turn. This complicates our analysis further but let’s just pick up a couple of important points first.

Split fire does not allow you to break open a transport and then fire the remaining weapons at the unit from inside it (essentially, the shots are considered to be taken simultaneously)

Night vision confers this rule to the whole unit, not just the sergeant, so you can fire all those lascannons at full effect even in the dark.

Right, so that’s those points out of the way, what options do we have for using the omniscope.

Dakka centurions. You’re probably not going to want to fire dakka weapons at two different squads, so you’re looking at either a grav cannon or lascannon sergeant. The lascannon is solely anti tank and so would only benefit if there were a lot of transports facing you, and the grav cannon is best against heavy infantry. Bear in mind however that in a squad with a character leader (say for example Nobz in a boyz mob) if the sergeant has the grav cannon, he can roll precision shots and apply those to the nob. Keep the missile launchers for longer range shooting and you’ve just increased the effectiveness of the unit at taking down the tough stuff without hurting its ranged effectiveness too much.

Grav centurions. As noted earlier, these guys are immensely situational anyway given the way they wound, their biggest problems being lightly armoured infantry. What I can’t see however is that taking out a grav cannon and giving them a single heavy bolter option is going to significantly improve things. Where I could see a use would be in taking a lascannon for dealing with armoured transports. The question however becomes is it better to take a twin lascannon or rely on the massed dice of the grav cannon to glance a transport to death. Using a mono-weapon split fire is a viable option however, as the high number of shots from a grav cannon means even a single one can be a threat to heavily armoured troops.

Las centurions. You’ve probably already realised this is my favourite loadout, and splitting that lascannon fire is great in my book, it gets a re-roll to hit from being twin linked anyway, and with the right chapter tactics, gets a re-roll to penetrate too. In my book, taking down potentially two tanks in a turn is a very good thing, and this is definitely going to be the default armament for my guys. Considering the other options however, both the grav cannon and heavy bolter options target alternative unit types to the lascannons, and I can certainly see the argument that either of these provides security against deep striking units dependant on your opponent without detracting substantially from the unit’s firepower (really, two lascannons should be enough to kill most things). My own opinion on that matter however is that you take centurions to kill targets, if you’re worried about them being charged or ambushed then leave a unit behind to protect them, don’t compromise your weapon loadout just in case your opponent tries to get them (seriously, you should always leave something nasty in your deployment zone to deal with enemy units trying to get linebreaker anyway, and the bottom line is that centurions are unlikely to survive the entire game since your opponent won’t like them much).

So there you have it, centurions, in a nut shell (well, whacking great suitcase). As always feel free to leave a comment if you have any ideas I’ve missed.

Monday, 20 January 2014

Help, I've got plastic eyes!

Everything I see at the moment is in that mid-grey tone, it must be due to all the kits I've been assembling over the weekend.

Friday, 17 January 2014

Underworld Misfits vs Asgard's Wrath

Wow, that was tense, and a damn sight more so than it should have been! Last night I played another game in the MAD league bloodbowl at my club, against an underworld team with just two games under their belts.

Wednesday, 15 January 2014

40k variety bucket


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.


1.       Missions

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!


2.       Army

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.


4.       Leagues/Campaigns

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

Raiding realspace - with mixed results

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.

Monday, 13 January 2014

Monday hobby update

Hi all, Monday comes round quick doesn't it! Still, here's my regular painting and construction update for you all.

This week has been entirely focused on my iron fists, and though there doesn't seem to be a massive amount of progress from last time, believe me some hours have still gone into them. I'm now at the stage where all the bikes and almost all the riders, plus the tactical marines have got the basic layers finished, that comprises 'The Fang' undercoat, Fenrisian Grey for most areas, with the engine parts in lead belcher and the trim in Balthasar gold. This is then washed all over with agrax earth shade and left to dry for a while. Over that is layered more Fenrisian grey, leaving just the recesses with the wash in them, whilst the trim is layered with gehenna's gold and the engine and exhausts with ironbreaker. Finally the Fenrisian grey areas will get an edge highlight of ulthuan grey, rivets are picked out in iron breaker and the silver and gold areas will be highlighted with runefang steel and auric armour gold respectively. All that then remains is to paint the auspex screen on the bike and the switches and we're done.

Once these bad boys are finished I'll be assembling and painting the next batch, I've got another 12 bikes, 2 attack bikes, a stalker tank and 3 devastator centurions on order. That's plenty to keep me busy for the foreseeable!

Hope you enjoyed the update,

Tuesday, 7 January 2014

Monday, 6 January 2014

New Year Hobby resolutions

Hi all, so we're into a new year and I have to decide what my hobby goals are going to be for 2014.

This is a whole lot more organised than I've been before, when I've basically let the hobby flow over me and take stuff as it comes.