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.