Thursday, 27 March 2014

Distraction projects

Welcome to the latest of my random musings, and today I wanted to talk a little bit about distraction.

First off I think I need to explain exactly the type of distraction i mean. A few posts ago, I mentioned that I'd decided to concentrate on my bloodstone knights for a bit in terms of painting. Yeah that went well, a couple of friends of mine who I've been playing necromunda against are getting into 40k, and invited me to go and spend a day playing 500 point games of 40k at the end of April. Erm, yes please! I cleared it with my wife, and as luck would have it that particular day she has a friend coming over to see her and our daughter so me being out of the house was fine. There was just one problem, I didn't really want to try and assemble a 500pt army from the blood angels stuff I've got (it would be horribly unbalanced for starters). 

As a result, the bloodstone knights went back in their box once the sternguard were largely finished, and two iron fists tactical squads started getting some attention. As I'm writing this, my eyes are recovering from painting base coats, scrolls and armour washing 16 tactical marines. They're now just about usable, but need as much time again to be finished. In the meantime of course, I've now got a game with my bloodstone knights arranged for next week, so plenty more frantic work on the horizon.


So back to the main topic then, and hobby distractions, good or bad?

Well I'd have to say in this instance very good, as although I can't wait to get my bloodstone knights onto the tabletop, I now have 4 viable troops units for my iron fists, 2 bike squads and 2 tactical squads, but more importantly, I've had a significant sense of purpose over the last couple of days painting these guys up, I'm even looking forward to getting some bases done for them to match those I've done for the bikes.

Of course it's not such good news for the bloodstone knights, but I'm still looking forward to doing some more on them in the near future, in fact I need to get them at least tacked together for next club night!

Wednesday, 26 March 2014

The temptation of new toys

Hi all, those of you who read my post yesterday will know I've got some 500pt games arranged at the end of April, so today I thought I'd post up a few thoughts about tactics and list building in smaller games.

Monday, 24 March 2014

Monday Hobby Update

Evening all, and welcome to another Monday hobby update, this week I've got the latest pictures of my sternguard for you, along with a few pointers as to the games and events I've got coming up soon.

Without further ado then, here are close ups of the sternguard as they stand this evening (I'm hoping to get more done on them later once the good lady wife has gone to bed!

First up is Dumitru Macek, the Sergeant of the Squad
In-game he may or may not take the power sword, depending on points available and my opponent.

Next is Gheorghe Prodan

Ion Lacusta
And Nichifor Blaga
Finally we have Sorin Noica, the heavy weapon specialist
Further down my painting list is the Soarta Squad, who you can see here supported by Ancient Nemirul, the Death Company Dreadnought. Also in the picture is Vlad Stoichita, who longer term readers may remember as the first of the Soarta that I completed.

In terms of the Value Project, that puts the sternguard at roughly £5.30 per hour I've spent on them (which includes their drop pod, on which there's plenty still to be done!

Finally, here's Astorath with just a few highlights and layer colours left to apply (and his base to do, which I'm expecting to be tricky)

In terms of games therefore, I'm testing out the bloodstone knights this week at my club and then next week I'm hopefully going to be doubling up with another blood angels player for a 3000 point MAD DoGS game, opponents yet to be decided.

Friday, 21 March 2014

What do your dice say about you?

What do your dice say about you?

Hi all, extra bonus post for you this week, as I've just taken delivery of some new dice and I've been thinking quite a bit about them since last week's nightmare.

Tuesday, 18 March 2014

Assault vs Firepower

I've been undertaking more work on my bloodstone knights recently, and so the idea of assault has been on my mind much more. Here's a few thoughts I've had on the comparison between assault and shooting.

40k is a game set within a futuristic setting, albeit one where any form of technological progress has stagnated. The first thing that springs to my mind when I think about 'sci fi' is 'will the guns look cool'. 

Taking a few examples, some really good looking guns are the morita from starship troopers, Han Solo's pistol, and of course, the space marine boltgun. At the other end if the spectrum we have (all) the guns from Blake's 7, the rifles from Flash Gordon, and those carried by the clones in Star Wars episode 2.

Now if history has taught us anything, it's generally that killing stuff from far away is much more efficient than killing stuff up close and personal (otherwise we'd all still be carrying swords!)

There's just one problem there (at least in terms of the tabletop wargame), and that's that if you take away all the variety in terms of method of killing stuff, you end up with two armies that will just sit on either side of the board flinging ammunition back and forth between them, and the only variety becomes how many guns you have and how powerful they are.

Add in armies that don't have a huge number of guns however, relying instead on killing things within arms reach, and all of a sudden you have movement in the game, with some units hell bent on all-out attack, racing across the table at full speed, whilst their opponents try to bring enough firepower to bear to stop them getting close. Much more exciting and cinematic.

I have a certain amount of sympathy here with the GW design team who write the rules, because balancing so many different armies and play styles cannot be easy when the codex release schedule is also so staggered. That's not to say however that I think they got that balance right in this edition, but I don't think it's as broken as it seems. 

I can think of two main issues, the first being getting units into combat without them being so decimated by the time that they get there they don't have enough attacks to cause significant damage. The second issue is that units that you expect to be good at combat aren't as effective as their background would suggest. This is exacerbated even more by armies without assault transports - take howling banshees for example, their transport option is the wave serpent, but the banshees must stand around getting shot (or counter charged) for a whole turn before they can even think about charging, and any player with half a brain is going to be moving his units away from them once they're on the table.

Let's take for example a unit of dark eldar wyches, which should be good at combat according to their background, and do a quick check. Let's also assume they get into combat unharmed against a squad of marines (unlikely I know, but bear with me). Each wych will have three attacks, so 15 that should hit home, of which 5 should wound, causing 2 casualties. In return the marines should hit with four attacks, also killing 1-2 wyches, whose efficiency drops in the next turn thanks to fewer attacks. Of course in reality, overwatch kills two, and a turn of shooting before that (outside rapid fire range) takes down 4, reducing the wounds caused to 2, which could easily both be saved by marine armour.

Against a softer target however (guard) those 30 attacks result in 20 hits, and ten wounds, or 6-7 dead. That would be a won combat and a likely wiped out unit, though you still have the issue of overwatch and shooting beforehand. 

So in the wyches case, it's their strength that really causes them problems. Go up against a unit of bikes for example, and only wounding on '6's makes them really worthless.

Now here's where I try to correct things, and I'll take the wyches as my example. There are two ways of achieving a greater result for them in combat against marines. The first is to limit the maximum save an opponent may take, and in some instances (for example choppas and chainswords) that approach makes a certain amount of sense. It shouldn't be universal though, and particularly in this case, making their attacks poisoned (4+) just nudges the marine casualties higher without impacting on their performance against guard. Of course taking that one step further and making their attacks poisoned (3+) is even more true to the background, and would help to compensate for the likely casualties beforehand.

I don't claim to have all the answers, but it seems to me that combat can be rescued without wholesale rules changes, with a lot of the necessary amendments capable of being addressed in codex entries.

Assault can, and does, work in this edition, but the rules are such that in order to make that the case, you need to focus on it almost to the exclusion of all else, and very few armies can do that.

Monday, 17 March 2014

Monday update

Morning all, another Monday report eh, they do come round quick don't they!

Fairly brief one today for you though, as last week I didn't get much done besides tidying up my kill team with a last few details (ironically after the event, I then dropped them in the car park so they'll need some repair work before I can use them again).

Apart from that, last week's measly painting efforts were spent giving some love to my bloodstone knights once more (for those of you who don't like red marines, this could be a bad month).

With that in mind, here's the latest work on my favourite named character in the book, Astorath the Grim.


Next on the bench for attention is the sternguard squad and their drop pod, which is coming along nicely.


Also needing brushwork are the Soarta, the Sanguinary Guard, a Tactical Squad and an Assault Squad, pics of progress so far follow.


Thursday, 13 March 2014

Kill team tactics

Hi all, so I'm writing this post before the Dirty Sevens event at my local club, which is a kill team event played over the course of one evening. Each of the seven participants will play six games with a one game break at some point in the evening. 

There are several reasons for this, the first being that the first time I ran something like this, the eighth player dropped out. Turns out that was a good thing though, as it's fast and furious trying to fit them all in anyway, and a half hour mental rest is a good thing. It also means we have one spare player to take pictures of the games going on for a write up afterwards.

So a few thoughts about kill team itself then, which has changed since the last dirty sevens just before Christmas last year.

You now need a minimum of 4 models (that's one of last years teams out then!) that's three specialists plus a leader, with the specialists skills broken down into 5 different categories. 

We also now have six missions to choose from, though that makes splitting players by victory points more difficult. I'm going to give it a go though, but might revert back to a single mission next time if it doesn't work.

On to individual tactics then.

Choosing your kill team.

 

Your first decision in choosing your team is whether to go for lots of cheap models, a few elite ones, or a mix of the two. None is an automatic ‘win’ choice, though swamping your opponent with lots of models can make things difficult for a truly elite opponent. Next, you need to think about vehicles. They’re limited under these rules, but even with that limit many (not all!) kill teams will struggle to take down armour. Next up is combat – and bear in mind that unless you’re facing an opponent who also wants to get in close, combat can be tricky to initiate without taking some method of moving much faster than your opponent.

 

Your main decision however is which unit(s) you go for in the end, and I have one simple rule here that I use when picking a kill team. Always choose a unit that has special rules. Specialists are a bonus in kill team, and the special rules you choose will make a difference in the game, so by choosing a unit that already has some special rules, you’re getting the jump on an opponent who takes basic troops (take for example the Legion of the Damned. All their firepower ignores cover, meaning you can make your specialists even better).

 

The first mission is a straightforward scrap for objectives, and therefore positioning at deployment is a crucial part of the game, setting up fire lanes to keep your opponent off objectives if you’re placing the majority, or having a sufficiently strong force to claim an enemy held objective will be key to winning. Similarly, keeping an opponent’s fire from causing you casualties is also important, since each model killed affects you far more than in other games.

 

Mission 2 is a night search, and so night fighting rules are on for the whole game, plus part of your kill team may start by outflanking. I’ve played this mission before and 60% of my team decided they were searching somewhere else, which really hurt me against a team that was all there from the start. Putting that random element aside however, it’s then a straight fight as before but in the dark. One tactic that’s viable in this mission however, particularly if you win the roll off to place objectives, is to deploy right over to one side of the board, since any opponent models outflanking may then arrive on the other flank, unable to affect the outcome of the game. Choice of units becomes important in this game, since night fighting can really boost a team’s survivability. Taking models with the night vision rule or weapons that ignore cover give you a big advantage in this mission.

 

The third mission is a headhunt, pure and simple, with victory points on offer for the leader and the three specialists on the opponent’s team. Needless to say therefore that protecting your own guys is priority one in this mission. I’d strongly recommend deployment out of sight, and if viable, keep them out of sight during the game, since any casualties from specialists or your leader not only reduces your effectiveness, puts gives victory points to your opponent. If you must reveal your specialists to the enemy, try to do it in such a way that the only model that can see them is their target, and make sure you’ve got a better than even chance of taking them down.

 

Mission 4 is basically a breakthrough mission, with the attacker trying to exit the table via the defender’s table edge, and the defender trying to cause maximum casualties. As an attacker, you can’t use the outflank special rule, so infiltrators and scouts are great for achieving your objective. That’s not to say that you should place them carelessly, or in the open however, since the defender will get points for killing your models you need to hop from cover to cover, running if necessary. Clearly the faster you can move in this mission the better, so jump troops and bikes will also help enormously. As a defender, you’ll need to spread your net wide to prohibit deployment of infiltrators too close to your board edge, whilst trying to remain dense enough to put up a decent weight of fire should your opponent aim for one exit point on the board.

 

Mission 5 is basically capture the hill, with the win going mainly on how many models are within the central hill terrain piece. This mission clearly favours a kill team with massed numbers of models moving quickly to the centre, or a kill team with sufficient firepower to take down a substantial number of the enemy and then quickly relocate to the board centre.

 

The final mission is effectively a search and hold type, with your kill team (and your opponent) rifling their way through objective markers to find a crucial supply crate. Again, fast moving units are the order of the day here, since being able to identify the supply crate before your opponent and then relocate to defend (or take) it will give you an advantage. Bikes, jump troops etc are the order of the day therefore!

 

So there you have it, my take on tactics for kill team and its missions. Hope you enjoyed the read, and it gives you some incite and encouragement to pick up the rules and give this version of the game a go – the reduced numbers of models make for a tactically interesting challenge very different to a typical game of 40k, where increasingly size matters.


Wednesday, 12 March 2014

What would you wish for?

Hi all, my first random musing for a while, and it's inspired really by another blog I frequent occasionally and its review of the space marine codex. Now I'll admit I'm a big fan of the current codex and the balance it has, but the review I read felt like that of a different book, and when I read it again I realised why - it seemed to really focus on the negatives and why this unit didn't have access to this weapon, or why this piece of wargear should be left behind.

Tuesday, 11 March 2014

Picking to a theme

Hi all, here's today's post on the topic of picking a new army and list with a theme in mind.

Monday, 10 March 2014

Monday update

Hi all and welcome to another Monday in my hobby world. I generally use Mondays as a time to look both back and forward, back at what painting etc I've managed in the last seven days, and forward at what's coming up over the next seven.

Limited painting progress this week I'm afraid to say however, I managed a few little updates to my kill team but nothing major, needs to be finished by Thursday though so could be a late one this week!

What I did manage to achieve though was to sort through many of the models I've had earmarked for my iron fists collection, attaching heads, arms and guns to get them ready for painting and looking a bit more like crusaders. As such I've now got three full tactical squads ready to go, along with my terminator captain (possibly my favourite marine model of all time) and quite a lot of terminators (23 to be precise) awaiting a new can of undercoat.

Next up for sorting will be my assault marines, as I've got plenty of them sat around waiting to be used. Who knows, I might even look at updating a couple of razorbacks too.

Saturday, 8 March 2014

It's War - Phase 3 (the final)


Hi all, so today I've got a battle report for you, the final games of the It's War campaign I've been running at our club with the assistance of Frank over at 'The Eternal Wargamer'.

The final matches are two doubles games using 1500 points per player. I'm teaming up with Andy's Imperial Guard to take on Frank's Dark Eldar and MJ's Tau. We've added a little twist to the last games, allowing players to swap 500 points of their list.

Monday, 3 March 2014

Monday update

Hi all,
I know it’s been a while since my last post, I had a week away from things last week, though it has meant I’ve made a lot more progress on models than previously. So in today’s bumper edition, I’ve got painting and modelling updates, a brief summary of my last battle report, and a look forward to what’s coming up in the weeks ahead at MAD Wargaming.