Monday, 28 April 2014

Still brushing away

Morning all, Monday again eh? Well I've been remiss in my updates recently, I'm blaming holiday and illness.

Now I know this picture looks a lot like the last update for the iron fists, but I can assure you it's different, the reason being that I'm mainly now onto highlights and minor details with them. To account for that, here are a few closer shots of some if the models in the above picture.

Mistakes I've made when list building

Morning all, apologies for missing my tactics post, it's coming today instead. And today it's all about list building, in particular, not cutting corners and doing things 'the easy way'. I'll finish up with a few thoughts about the 7th edition rumours.

I was just tinkering this morning with some ideas for army lists, and as I was doing so I noticed something I tend to do that with the benefit of hindsight I think is particularly stupid. It all comes about from being a bit lazy. Whenever I collect an army, I always have in mind a ‘master list’ that contains all the units I want to have in my collection. When I come to construct a list, the quickest way of doing this of course is to make a copy of the master list and delete units from it until I’ve got down to the total for that particular game. What this tends to result in of course, is me taking out units simply because they’re either the most costly, or because I happen to need to lose those last few points and that particular unit is just right for doing that.

 

I don’t need to tell the experienced generals out there that this isn’t a clever way of deciding what to field in your army, and doesn’t result in a balanced list.

 

There is a simple solution to this problem though, and it works in a similar way. I use Battlescribe Pro on my phone for making my lists, and it has a ‘favourite’ function within it, so once you’ve put together a squad with a particular combination of weapons etc you can mark it as a favourite and it will always then be available for selection later, speeding up the list building process no end. Now I always tailor my squads for particular purposes anyway, matching up weapons wherever possible, meaning that I can take particular units to meet the minimum needs (HQ and two Troops, anti tank, anti flyer and anti infantry) and then fill out the rest of the list depending on what else I need to achieve.

 

I guess the real thrust of this post however is to hammer home the point that if you want to have an effective list, you need to build it from the ground up, not take things out of a list written for a different game level. It will also help to have ‘filler’ units, by which I mean for example a squad consisting purely of bolter marines, with no upgrades or special weapons (in my case it’s a bolter bike squad with a heavy bolter attack bike). If you have an odd number of points left to spend, this squad can be chopped about or adapted to suit the points gap you’ve got available without affecting your specialised units, which would compromise the integrity of the list as a whole.


This week I'm up against the only player to beat the Iron Fists so far, in a 2000 point game. After the result last week, which at times looked a little hopeless when 7 carnifexes were bearing down on my lines, I'm looking forward to another game at a relatively high points limit, allowing me to take toys I wouldn't normally bring. In this instance, it's some of the big boys, though they'll need stripping and base coating tonight ideally!


Finally then let's have a think about 7th edition and the rumours that are doing the rounds. First off, I'm an optimist, so I'm starting from the point of view that GW aren't just doing this to make money, they can do that well enough without new rules, and changing the whole system would be fairly likely to drive many people away from the hobby.


So why change 6th? Here are my thoughts.


1. Too many supplements. GW have released supplements before such as cityfight, but these were always alternative ways to play the game, not part of 'ordinary' 40k. Having released the supplements, I think they like the way they work on the whole, and are therefore bringing those elements, possibly tweaked, within the main rulebook.


2. Assault. My experience with this edition is that unless your whole army is geared towards combat, getting into assault successfully is extremely difficult, with random charge distances and overwatch combining to put a lot of charges out of range. This may be realistic in a futuristic combat game, but it doesn't really lead anyone to want to add the odd combat unit into an army.


2a. Assault part 2. This is about balancing assault unit capabilities. You may have heard me talk about it before but let's look at the marine assault squad. Fluffily these guys are tough as nails and we've all seen images of chainswords ripping entrails from all manner of nasty creatures. In game terms though, a marine assault squad hits about as hard as a powder puff, because a) they don't have a really high number of attacks, b) their strength isn't earth shattering so wounding is often on 3's or 4's, and c) chainsword rules are pants, with a guardsman's rifle bayonet having the same penetrating power. I'd love to see some close combat weapons back to modifying armour saves, by all means keep AP2 for power fists, and AP3 for power swords etc, but the chainsword should be, for example, a -2 to your armour save to represent how it works. This split really shouldn't be too hard to operate in-game, since it's effectively how shooting with different weapons in a single squad works now.


3. Balancing army lists now lords of war are available. These models are game changing, and, in theory at least, could be used in games as low as 600-700 points. This would not only completely dominate such games, with very few armies being able to combat such units at these point levels, but would be particularly 'realistic' as such units would never be deployed without substantial ground and air support (thunderhawk being the possible exception). The rumoured introduction of percentage limits to each section of the force organisation chart would make it simple to limit use of a model such as this without the army as a whole being of a certain size.


So there you have my thoughts, I'm comfy with how psychic powers work at the moment, though I know some are expecting a psychic phase. I'd rather steer clear of this though, because I think different powers should work at different times of the turn.


Friday, 25 April 2014

Wading through chitin and entrails!

Wow, what a fun game that was, 3000 points per side with no lords of war and no void shield nonsense - an old fashioned game of 40k if you will, the momentum swung from one side to the other and back, and in the end the Iron Fists pulled off a last minute draw with the final roll of the dice.

These are the games that keep you hooked on the hobby I think, and the beauty of playing so many points meant that I could afford an unlucky turn or to lose a particular unit without it completely scuppering my chances.

Before I look at the game itself, I just want to talk about dice, and say that their favour definitely swung back and forth, sometimes favouring my opponent and sometimes me, so no complaints on that score this time!

I rolled for mission and deployment, and we would be playing big guns never tire on the hammer and anvil table. That really couldn't have suited me better, my six heavy support units would all be scoring, though they would give up victory points for being destroyed, and I would have the longest time to shoot at my opponent before he got close. 

I deployed first, making the most if the building in my deployment zone to conceal my sternguard and two combat squads (plasma squad and missile launcher unit), with my centurions on the top level giving them a commanding view of the battlefield.

The rest of my force spread out as you can see in the photo above. My opponent then stole the initiative, surging forwards on turn one and negating the advantage I had from deployment. The only benefit from this was that it meant he would be within range of many more if my guns by the time he'd done moving and running.

My first turn's shooting was frustrating. With three carnifexes (dakka versions) a warrior brood, a venomthrope and a tervigon bearing down on my left flank, I concentrated my fire on the spawning creature to make sure I wouldn't be overwhelmed with hordes of little gribblies too. The tervigon was quickly reduced to a single wound by the centurions and the land raider, but then nothing I threw at it would take the final wound.

I also concentrated some fire on my right flank where the second of three trios of dakka carnifexes were advancing, taking one down through a combination of fire from bike squads, enhanced by my librarian enfeebling the carnifex unit, reducing them to T5.

The next turn saw the eight remaining carnifexes heading for my lines, supported by two venomthropes, two warrior broods, three raveners and a zoanthrope. The second hive tyrant overflew the centurions, trying to cause some damage from its vector strike, but their armour was proof against such attacks. This turn saw the arrival of both 30 strong units of termagants that had been outflanking, one arriving each side, the fire from the unit on my right flank taking down the thunderfire cannon despite the gunner’s 2+ save.

 

The librarian had blessed the bike squad on my right flank, giving them feel no pain, which saved their bacon to a point from the dakkafexes each hurling 12 twin linked S6 shots their way, though I still lost a few, leaving little protection for the melta guns in the unit. On the other flank, the other bike squad almost disappeared under the hail of fire, the attack bike and a single biker surviving, but falling back from the sheer weight of fire coming their way.

 

In return, the sternguard unleashed their secret weapon on the termagants, the two heavy flamers clearing 18 of the 30 strong units on their own, with fire from the rest of the squad killing most of the remainder. Lascannon fire took down another carnifex on my left, and the captain and command squad charged the three strong unit in the centre, killing one but being wiped out in the following turn when the warrior brood also joined the fray. The melta bike squad stripped wounds off a dakkafex on the right, and were intent on charging the unit, but the sheer quantity of overwatch fire wiped them out first. The vindicator spoke against an enfeebled unit of carnifexes, killing one and also damaging the adjacent warrior brood, but the hive tyrant and venomthrope passed their cover saves. In return, the vindicator was first stunned by a warp blast and then destroyed by the dakkafexes. The termagant unit on my right flank shot then charged the tactical squads, who put up a valiant fight but were dragged down by sheer weight of numbers.

 

The tervigon was taken down, the resulting backlash causing the termagant units to attack themselves, wiping out one of them and leaving just half a dozen on that flank. The second tervigon at the back of the board was resolutely holding the objective, having exhausted itself spawning a unit on turn 1.

 

On turn three the storm talon arrived, gunning down one of the venomthropes and taking away its pesky cover save, finally meaning my lascannons would be doing a bit more damage instead of facing a 3+ cover save. The icarus lascannon on the bastion hit the flyrant, dropping it from the sky and causing another wound in the process though I’d run out of guns to hurt it enough to kill it that turn. The zoanthrope sent another warp blast into the land raider, mangling one of its godhammer pattern lascannons, and the sternguard were wiped out by twin linked devourer fire. The raveners charged the two remaining bikes, but thanks to their T5, the bikes, over the course of several turns, managed to wipe out the combat monsters. The Storm Talon went on the rampage over the next few turns, killing the second venomthrope, then knocking the flyrant out of the sky for a second time, enabling the marines on the ground to finish it off, and then in the final turn it transferred to hover mode, sending two krak missiles into the last remaining carnifex and scattering it into its component parts.

 

With the venomthropes gone, the centurions, land raider, bastion and melta tactical squad set about the carnifexes on the left, killing both, and the hive tyrant and zoanthrope, all of them falling by the end of turn five. Turn six saw the death of the last remaining synapse creature bar the tervigon holding the tyranid objective, and that meant that the two termagant units on my right flank both broke and ran from the fight, releasing the objective there and ensuring my opponent didn’t score a linebreaker point.

 

That break test proved the decisive roll, with both warlords dead, first blood went to my opponent and I managed to pick up an extra point for killing more heavy support choices meaning I had earned a 5-5 draw. Looking at the table though, I had two centurions, a whirlwind, damaged land raider, two tactical combat squads, two bikes and a devastator marine left, my opponent had about 20 termagants and a tervigon. I’d have taken those odds every day of the week at the end of the match.

 

When I saw my opponents list at the start of the game, I revised my expectations, I’ve faced dakkafexes before and the 12 twin linked S6 shots combined with their own T6, 4 wounds and 3+ save makes them really difficult to take down, especially when they’re supported by venomthropes, and these guys were in area terrain too so their cover save was boosted to 3+, completely negating the low AP of the lascannons I’d taken to face them.

 

Analysing my army’s performance I’d say there were three units that served me well, and a couple that were meat for the grinder. The Storm Talon basically won me the match, taking out both venomthropes to make my lascannon fire much more effective before downing the flying hive tyrant so the tactical marines could kill it and then taking the last wound from the last carnifex. Similarly, and as expected, the centurions killed just about anything they looked at, and they easily made back their points investment in kills. Finally, the bastion. It frustrated me immensely over the first two turns, as despite my devastator sergeant making the lascannon gunner BS5 I managed to roll ones for its first couple of shots. After that though, the lascannon downed the flying tyrant the first time, and its heavy bolters added to the combat squad with melta gun and multi melta inside meant my opponent had to place his models carefully to avoid their fields of fire.

 

Conversely, although it was expected to a point, the captain and command squad proved outclassed in combat after the turn in which they charged, and though Sakai himself took down a Carnifex, once the warriors added the weight of their weapons to the combat my HQ unit disappeared. If I were going fully competitive, I’d have left this unit out, dropped the chaplain and probably left the captain to man the bastion’s lascannon, and in doing so I could have easily afforded another 3 centurions or similar. My own placement of the thunderfire cannon was what signed its death warrant, and although I only failed one save I was required to make, that was enough to kill the techmarine gunner and see it nullified.


Overall it was a really enjoyable game played against a good opponent, both of us playing to win without arguing over the finest details.

Thursday, 24 April 2014

Bring em down!

Ok so this week my game is a full blown tyranid invasion, with my iron fists facing 3000 points of the gribbly blighters.

Last time I played these guys, 2000 points made mincemeat of a thrown together blood angels list, so I'm hoping a carefully thought out marine list will perform rather better.

So what am I taking then? Hope you're sitting comfortably, this may take some time!

HQ
Three choices here, the first is my heroic captain Sakai on a bike with the teeth of terra and a storm shield. He'll be accompanied by a command squad on bikes, two carrying power axes, two with power swords, and including a banner bearer and apothecary (feel no pain can be so annoying!). 

The second choice is to boost this unit, and is a chaplain, also on a bike so that I can maximise damage on turn 1 of any combat. Don't be fooled though, this unit is intended to combat only those units that need engaging, I'm not planning on taking the fight to the nids particularly!

The final choice is a level 2 librarian with the primarch's wrath boltgun. I'm hoping that I can use his powers to weaken the tyranids as they advance, so I'm going to go all out with biomancy to try and get myself enfeeble, which will combine nicely with a dirty trick I have in mind.

Elites

 

It seems a little strange really given how many options there are in this category in the marine codex, but my elites section is rather bare, with only a sternguard squad filling out the roster, their special issue ammunition will (hopefully) make a huge difference, and I’ve given them a couple of heavy flamers too so that if my opponent tries to swamp them with hordes of mini-gribblies they’ll be able to clear my lines.

 

Troops

 

Here’s where I like to think I’ve learned my biggest lesson in 6th edition. Games are won and lost with Troops choices, so having plenty of solid, reliable units to hold objectives is key, particularly against an opponent who is likely to be spawning them left right and centre from turn one (I can hope for doubles on his tervigons I guess but I won't hold my breath!). First up therefore was my mobile element, two big units of T5 bikes, one with a heavy bolter attack bike and the other with two melta guns and a multi melta bike (3 melta shots backed up by the rest of the unit’s bolters should put paid to a carnifex in one turn I’d think). These guys would be held away from the thickest fire with a view to scoring me linebreaker and/or claiming objectives in my opponent’s table half. I’m likely to split one of the units into combat squads so that I can concentrate that melta fire without wasting a lot of the shots from the bolters of the rest of the unit.

 

Next then I plumped for three full tactical squads with as much weapon variety as I could muster, one squad packs a plasma gun and plasma cannon, the second a flamer and missile launcher, and the third a meltagun and multi melta. These units also I will probably combat squad, unless we end up playing purge the alien, when I’ll be limiting the number of units as much as possible.

 

Fast Attack

A Storm Talon, which would be my only reserve unit, I’m planning on having everything else on the table from turn 1. A twin assault cannon in the nose turret backed up by the typhoon missile launcher has always served me well previously, the high strength and high fire rate of the assault cannon backed up by two missile options meaning it can easily target either high toughness or horde units. My only concern for it is its light armour, so I’ll need to be very careful with its positioning.

 

Heavy Support

Any of you with an idea of the space marine codex will realise that a lot of my points is going into this section of my army, and faced with a horde of gribblies sporting high toughness, lots of wounds and good armour saves that’s hardly surprising. Before I get into that however, I’ll note that I’ve included a bastion in my list with an icarus lascannon emplacement on top, because I really don’t want to have any nasty surprises from flying monstrous creatures. This will be manned by my devastator squad, who carry no heavy weapons themselves. The tactic being to use the sergeant’s signum to make the gunner BS5, pretty much guaranteeing me a hit on anything that’s flying, or a ground based monster if need be (and this is why I left the stalker at home, its lack of the interceptor rule meaning unless there are flyers it’s pretty useless)

 

Next up then is my go-to unit for heavy support, and believe me I’d have taken more of these guys if I had the models, my centurions. Twin linked lascannons backed up with chest mounted missile launchers means this unit has the potential to take down a tervigon in a single turn, and I’m expecting them to cause a lot of damage to my opponent, my biggest worry being if he brings a Mawloc to burrow up from under them.

 

To sort of help guard against that, on the basis that the burrow attack can’t hurt it and therefore would cause a deep strike mishap, I’ll be taking a land raider and placing the centurions as close to it as possible. The land raider will also give me yet more twin linked lacscannon goodness, taking the total of twin linked up to five, with a 6th hitting at BS5.

 

Next, and to help against the potential hordes of gaunts I’ll be facing I’ve packed in plenty of artillery, bringing along a whirlwind, thunderfire cannon (another model I’d have taken loads of if I had the models) and vindicator. There are a few nasty tricks in amongst this lot, with the whirlwind being able to ignore cover and still beat a gaunt’s save, the thunderfire cannon can use its tremor shells to slow my opponent down early on, and combined with the results of a successful enfeeble, the vindicator could be instant killing those nasty monstrous creatures with its demolisher cannon once they’re within 24”.

 

The plan therefore, depending on mission type, is to man the bastion and my deployment line with infantry squads as far forward as possible to start with, before falling back to increase the number of turns of shooting I can get. My bikes will either pick the weak flank if it’s not full of monstrous creatures, and head straight for it, rolling up one side of the table, or failing that will hold back adding their weight of fire before making a rapid redeployment once a hole is made. The big guns will all deploy quite far back hopefully with good lines of fire, the heavier guns picking on targets one at a time and making sure they’re dead before moving onto the next, with the horde killers focusing on keeping the number of models facing me as low as possible. The bastion will be useful to restrict lines of fire to these targets, and if it becomes necessary, the infantry squads will add their fire to the mass, 6 full squads with special and heavy weapons should certainly make a difference there!

 

I’ll make no bones about it, I expect to be fully up against it this game, and I’m certainly thinking that perhaps the combat oriented models I’ve taken may disappear like a drop in the ocean, with those 525 points potentially being spent more efficiently elsewhere, but similarly I really don’t like going into a game without at least something to throw into combat when the time comes.


Wish me luck!


Tuesday, 8 April 2014

My brain hurts - thinking hard about tactics

Hi all, I've been pondering today on the topic of chapter tactics and how they can influence our games - from both a fluff and tabletop efficiency perspective.

Monday, 7 April 2014

Monday update

Morning all, I know it's been a few days since my last post, by I've been on leave and other things took over.

Needless to say with two weeks away from the office I was anticipating significant hobby progress, but as ever, things have progressed more slowly than I would like. Still, at least I'm still loving the colour schemes I've chosen!