Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Games Day Skaven Warlord

If anybody in North America is going to Games Day or has access to the Games Day figure (below) then I would love to get hold of one:

Happy to fix you up via PayPal or similar.


Monday, November 22, 2010

NZ Masters Lists Released to Participants

Over the past week while I've been negotiating the political minefield that has been Australian Masters composition, I've been organising the New Zealand Masters due for the weekend of 4/5 December.

The players in the 40k and Fantasy fields have now submitted their lists, these have been checked and have been sent out to competitors to mark. The process progressed without anyone feeling it necessary to send out a list of guidelines for their peers.

As it stands the makeup of the fields is as follows:


3x Daemons of Chaos
2x Lizardmen
2x Warriors of Chaos
1x Bretonnian
1x Dark Elves
1x Empire
1x Orcs & Goblins
1x Skaven


3x Imperial Guard
2x Eldar
1x Chaos Space Marines
1x Necrons
1x Orks
1x Tau
1x Witch Hunters
1x Tyranids
1x Space Marines

The players have until Wednesday evening to get their scoring of the lists in. I'll be releasing the lists and the scores to this site on Wednesday/Thursday.

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

My Australian Masters List

Ten days out from the Australian Masters and I am looking forward to the event immensely.

Last week we had to lodge our list so that it could be peer-marked by the other participants.

My list was as follows:

Lords (310 points 15.5%)
Grey Seer – General, Earthing Rod (25), Talisman of Preservation (45) – 310

Heroes (466 points 23.3%)
Plague Priest – Furnace (150), Flail (4), Dispel Scroll (25), Opal Amulet (15), Ironcurse Icon (5) – 299
Engineer – Doomrocket (30) – 45
Chieftain – Battle Standard Bearer (25), Storm Banner (50), Shield (2) -122

Core (501 points 25.05%)
25 Clanrats – Full Command, Shields – 132.5
25 Clanrats – Full Command, Shields – 132.5
35 Skavenslaves – Musician – 72
40 Skavenslaves – Musician – 82
40 Skavenslaves – Musician – 82

Special (397 points 19.85%)
22 Plague Monks – Champion, Standard, Banner of the Under-Empire (25) – 199
5 Gutter Runners – Slings, Poison – 90
6 Gutter Runners – Slings, Poison – 108

Rare (325 points 16.25%)
Warp-Lightning Cannon – 90
Hell Pit Abomination – 235

Unfortunately for me, at least five of the other fifteen participants viewed my list as too hard for the event and I received a veto notice which meant I had to re-submit. I was disappointed (and surprised) that the list was viewed as negatively as I see it as a standard Skaven list. However the people have spoken so I had to make changes to my selection.

After discussions with the Tournament Organisers I dropped the Storm Banner and the Warp Lightning Cannon. My new list is:

Lords (310 points 15.5%)
Grey Seer – General, Earthing Rod (25), Talisman of Preservation (45) – 310

Heroes (446 points 22.3%)
Plague Priest – Furnace (150), Flail (4), Dispel Scroll (25), Opal Amulet (15), Ironcurse Icon (5) – 299
Engineer – Doomrocket (30) – 45
Chieftain – Battle Standard Bearer (25), Obsidian Amulet (30), Shield (2) - 102

Core (505.5 points 25.28%)
26 Clanrats – Full Command, Shields – 137
25 Clanrats – Full Command, Shields – 132.5
35 Skavenslaves – Musician – 72
40 Skavenslaves – Musician – 82
40 Skavenslaves – Musician – 82

Special (402 points 20.10%)
22 Plague Monks – Full Command, Banner of the Under-Empire (25) – 204
6 Gutter Runners – Slings, Poison – 108
5 Gutter Runners – Slings, Poison – 90

Rare (335 points 16.75%)
Plagueclaw Catapult - 100
Hell Pit Abomination – 235

The composition system being used means that I will score 0/10 for my list so I’m going to have to play well if I’m going to achieve my goal of finishing in the Top 10.

It will be interesting to see how the other armies fare once the results of the comp scoring process are released. At least one other (also Skaven) has received a veto.

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Tips to Speed up Your Tournament Play

One of the greatest causes of annoyance for both tournament players and organisers are games that are not completed within the alloted timeframe. An unfinished game is enormously frustrating and can ruin both a player's enjoyment as well as distorting performance.

There are some serial offenders when it comes to not finishing their game and in most cases it is not deliberate but through a lack of organisation or an overly relaxed approach to speed of play [That said there are players who do see slowing the game down as an integral part of their arsenal in an attempt to preserve their win-loss ratio].

All of us are guilty from time to time of relaxing into a game and not watching the time but I do feel that we owe it to our opponent to be organised in both approach and execution. Taking it to its most mercenary people pay four a 6 game tournament, not a 5.5 game event.

So here are some of the things that I do when I am concerned time will be an issue:

1. Army BuilderHave a copy of my list in Army Builder format. This has all the statistics related to my actual list so I don't need to look up basic stats in the middle of the game.

2. Cheat SheetI have a cheat sheet for my army. On it the basic stats are repeated but there is also a copy of the misfire tables (important for Skaven), the range and spell rules of the spells I use plus a list of things I have to remember each turn.

3. Gaming AidsMake sure you have dice and templates sufficient for your game. To this I now add the Battle Magic cards that cover your opponent's spells.

4. Time Management If you work on the basis that Pre-Game, Spell Generation, Deployment and Post-Game take approximately 30 minutes then both players are left with an hour each in a 2.5 hour game. That works out to about 10 minutes for each player turn. Some will be longer, some shorter but if you strive to an average 10 minutes for your turns then you should be right - Dwarfs of course should only take 5 minutes as they ignore both the Movement and Magic phases.

5. Practice When you play your non-tournament games adopt the same discipline. Get used to playing at speed so it becomes your normal habit.

6. Reputation is Important If things start going against don't slow down. There is nothing wrong or dishonourable fighting a rearguard action but there is in playing purposely slow. bad reputations are easy things to acquire, hard things to lose. Be mindful of that.

To all my opponents - if you ever think I'm taking too long then put a rocket up me. I certainly won't begrudge it :-)

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Rules Lawyer vs. Risk Manager

One epithaph that is thrown around a lot is that of "Rules Lawyer". The term has different meanings to different people but the inference is hardly ever positive.

I believe that one of the key characteristic of a good tournament gamer is good rules knowledge. In every wargame I've played competitively (DBM, 40k 3rd and 4th Ed,Fantasy 7th and 8th Ed) I've always invested a significant amount of time in learning the rules and, in particular, the specific nuances of the rules. The intracacies of the mechanisms and importantly variations from the norm have a significant effect on your play.

Sometimes those with a heightened rules knowledge are branded "Rules Lawyer", generally in a derogatory fashion to label what some people see as pedantic play. In some cases this may be the situation but generally I feel it is a term thrown around by those who have been surprised that something actually plays differently than they thought.

And that is probably the crux of the matter. I'm a strong believer in playing RAW (Rules As Written) especially in tournament games. Why? Because that is really the only fair basis on which to run a game in which the two participants may be largely strangers. Some people will talk about common sense or rules writers' intent but these are very subjective.

Where I depart in defense of "Rules Lawyers" is where people try to manipulate a series of rules to reach a convoluted outcome that satisfies their "interpretation". It's known as "looking for Easter Eggs". There are a few axioms that should guide you if you find yourself proceeding down that path. Firstly, if it seems too good to be true then it probably is. And secndly, if there is any doubt about the rule then you should probably play it as least beneficial to you.

What anybody with an intimate knowledge of the rules knows is that there are a number of questions/rules/situation that have no clear answer. Try as you might you can't reach a conclusion that you are 100% sure of. There are more than a handful that I've identified in Fantasy 8ed and these normally occur where there is an interaction between the standard rulebook and one of the army books.

Here is where the Risk Manager comes in. Before a tournament if I think these could be an issue I'll ask the Umpire how they will rule on them if asked. This is a continuation of the "no surprises" way I like to play the game in relation to the rules. I'm aware that there is no definitive answer so I'm happy to go with how the Umpire wants to play it. As least with prior knowledge I can factor this into my planning and if there is peer comp, factor it into the score I give.

Just like a boy scout it's best to "Be Prepared".

Monday, November 8, 2010

The Australian Masters

So I have snagged an invitation to the Australian Masters at the end of the month. In fact I snagged two invites, one of the auto-invites based on the Australian Rankings (I finished #11 - not bad given I only attended 3 Oz events and had to rely on one of the smaller sized NZ events for my 4th score) and one auto-invite as the #1 in the NZ Rankings.

Unfortunately I wasn't able to accept the Aussie invite so that the NZ one passed down to the next NZer. Grrrr!

Still I'm very happy to be going and I'll be looking to finish better than 10th out of 16 (my result at the 2008 Australian Masters). If I can finish in the top half I'll be overjoyed.

The system being used is one of Comp-Battle where your Comp score is added to your battle score each round.

Here are the particulars of the Comp Scoring:

For 2010 we will be reverting back to the classic Masters pier judged voting.

• Players will judge and vote the composition of prior to the event for every other player's army.
• Gavin and myself will also cast a vote resulting in 17 votes.
• The highest and lowest scores will be removed leaving 15 composition votes for each player.
• The 15 qualifying votes will be added together to derive the composition modifier.
• Each army will awarded 10 base points per round to represent the composition component of their tournament score. Their composition modifier will be added to their base points to get their composition score for that round.
• The maximum composition points a player can receive is 15. The minimum is zero.

Example 1:

Player A submits their army and receives the following 17 scores:

0, -1, +1, +0.5, 0, 0, -0.5, +1, +0.5, -0.5, 0, 0, 0, +0.5, +0.5, +2.0, -0.5

The highest (i.e. +2.0) and the lowest (i.e. -1) scores are discarded leaving 15 scores. The sum of these scores is 2.5. The score of 2.5 is the players composition modifier. This is added to 10 to give them a composition score of 12.5 which is added to their battle score each round.

Example 2:

Player B submits their army and receives the following 17 scores.

0, -1.5, +0.5, 0, -0.5, -0.5, -1, +0.5, 0, -1, 0, 0, 0, -1, 0, +1, -1.5

The highest (i.e. +1) and the lowest (i.e. -1.5) scores are discarded leaving 15 scores. The sum of these scores is -3. The score of -3 is the players composition modifier. This is added to 10 to give them a composition score of 7 which is added to their battle score each round.

Note that in the two examples above if the composition modifier is greater than +5 it will be capped at +5, and similar the composition modifier is capped at -10 at the other end of the scale.

The following are guidelines for players to consider when marking army composition:

Very Soft (+2): Highly themed and forsaking most of the tougher choices available in the army book.

Soft (+1): Player as made an obvious attempt to bring an army that is

Standard (0): This army is considered a standard army for a competitive tournament such as the Masters. Good solid tournament army that will be a challenge to play with and against.

Hard (-1): A tough list that has a few strong combinations and potentially pushing the envelope in some areas.

Very Hard (-2): The player has gone all out to put together the strongest army they can. This will be one of the toughest armies in the field. Not a rejection but close.

Note that 0.5 fractions can be awarded if you think an army sits between two categories.

Rejection: This army does not belong at tournaments.

If an army receives 5 rejection votes from the players (and organisers) the it will be rejected and the player will be asked to resubmit. If a player is asked to resubmit their list then when the players vote on the new list any positive votes (soft, very soft) will be discarded. Therefore the best composition score a resubmitted list can be awarded is zero.

Note: a player's composition adjustment will be added/subtracted to their battle score after each round during the tournament. Their adjusted battle points will be used to determine the draw each round.

On the WargamerAU boards the campaigning has begun in earnest! We are being regaled by some of the comfirmed participants about how soft their armies are and why they should be scoring positive comp. And from some of the comments I'm guessing an army of Skaven Clanrats led by two naked characters would struggle to get a positive score.

Call me cynical but I'm going to wait until I see the lists before I start drinking too much of that Kool-Aid! I'm yet to be convinced that you can make a Slaan soft when he has Becalming and Rumination....and Light is not a weak lore. Similarly a Dwarf army that stops a magic phase dead and is backed up by the Guns of Navarone ain't no candidate for beatification.

The lists have to be in this weekend.

Sunday, November 7, 2010

Next Projects

Thought I'd talk about the various things I'm working on at the moment. It will then act as a reminder to me that I need to finish these things.


Plague Lord Nurglitch model to use as a new Plague Priest.
More Censer Bearers to use as my Plague Monks
Spinetail model I picked up to use as Champion or naked Engineer
Rat Ogre Bonebreaker to put my Lord on
Screaming Bell
Assassin models for Night Runners
Island of Blood Rat Ogres (x 6)


2x Temple of Skulls as per the recent White Dwarf. Very very bleak
Fortified Manor
Basing Conflix Buildings for a town


The Iron Warriors that have sat downstairs for the last 6 years. All with Iron Hands bionics and Iron Warriors Forge World stuff - inspired again after reading "The First Heretic"


Bought two gangs to paint - Lady Justice and McMourning - and I'm keen to give the game a run over Summer

So plenty there to paint and build. I'll keep you updated.

Saturday, November 6, 2010

So the Watchtower Gets A Run....

Tom and I gave the newly finished Watch Tower a run down at Warlords today. We rolled up a random mission and got........Watch Tower...spooky yeah?

Unfortunately for Tom the dice abandoned him - when you play Daemons you've got to be able to make the 5+ ward. He won the roll for the tower and put his Bloodletter block in.

I been thinking a lot about this mission lately and have worked out a few strategies for playing it which I was able to try out.

The closing date for submitting my list for the Australian Masters is next Saturday. I'm hoping I can get a couple of games in this week before I finalise it.

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

True Line of Sight = Y2K

By my reckoning the True Line of Sight (TLOS) is Warhammer's equivalent of the Y2K bug.

At the introduction of 8ed we heard that moving to TLOS was going to be a cause of friction in the Fantasy community. I hated its inclusion in 5ed 40k (sufficient for me not to want to play the game) so was waiting with trepidation for the shitstorm to explode.

Fast forward four months (is it only that long?) and the noise has been deafening...ly quiet. In fifty games I have not had one disagreement over TLOS and touch wood this will continue. People just seem to get on with it and adapt. Generally I assume everything can be seen and if there is doubt I use a tape measure/pointer to determine if that is the case. There is a little known rule in the book that everything in the first two ranks of a unit can see (and by extension/implication can be seen). That's good enough for me.

There also was much gnashing of teeth that existing terrain collections couldn't cope.....well guess what? They can! It just means that your big beasty can be seen. I can live with that.

What is interesting with the "current terrain collection can't cope" crowd is that there appears to have been little traction in replacing the offending pieces. Far easier has been to impose changes in the core rules. What I generally sense is a 7ed hangover that dovetails with a general unwillingless to let go of those great skills they built up distinguishing 13.9" from 14.1" (grrrr bad Pete).

The inability to "hide" your uber unit is just another piece in the Brave New World that is 8th Ed. Perish the thought you'd have to adapt!


What is it about wargaming forums? IMO they seem to be becoming more irrelevant and in some cases counterproductive.

I'm sure that I've probably got rose-tinted glasses but that didn't always seem to be the case. Certainly 8-9 years ago the various forums I belonged to seemed more helpful, more collegial and generally a wothwhile use of time. Yes I can rant about the youth of today or rednecks insisting on their right to free speech but over the past couple of years (especially) it seems that there has been a rise in the number of internet warriors and a decrease in the signal to noise ratio.

Forums used to be the place where you asked for assistance, discussed lists and tactics and you could be pretty secure in the knowledge that you'd get the required help. Now any kernals are buried in chaff, people use them as an outlet to whinge and moan and to point score off people they haven't met or aren't likely to meet.

It's all a bit pathetic really.

I can understand why those that do have knowledge and experience now avoid participation on various forums given they are likely to be countered by somebody who has no experience of the topic massaging their e-penis.

I now frequent very few forums whereas 3-4 years ago I saw them as a key part of my hobby.

Here's a list of the ones I do:

The "Warhammer Fantasy" Forum at www.warhammer.org.uk - this is still the best place to get a definitive answer when you have a rules related question. Generally you'll get an answer on the front page, as well as any dissenting argument. After the first page things are likely to descend into arguments over semantics or Rules As Written (RAW) versus Rules As Intended (RAI).

The "Warhammer General Discussion" Forum at www.wargamerau.com - Almost exclusively my use is information around specific tournaments I am attending. Avoid all threads on Composition, the State of the Game, Rage quitters etc

Previously I contributed a the City Guard forum, Warlords forum, Dakka Dakka, NZ Wargaming discussion Group but have pulled back both my reading and input. Unfortunately the Skaven specific forum "The Underempire" seems to have a large number of posters that appear to have little on-table experience (with a few notable exceptions). I have always avoided Warseer and by all accounts I'm not missing much.

Around 12 months ago I set up a private forum which has a limited membership and cuts across both Fantasy and 40k. This has been reasonably successful as most of the participants know each other and user names are actual names rather than non de plumes. The signal to noise ratio for a closed forum is much much higher and I would encourage any gaming group/bunch of gamers to do the same. It might not broaden the community but in these end days it seems as though the community doesn't want help.

Increasingly I spend my online time reading blogs. If someone has taken the trouble to set one up then generally they have a commentary worth reading (well I have to say that given you're reading this). More importantly you can choose to read their thoughts uncluttered by the ill-informed input of BLORK_69_R_L33T (or suitable equivalent).

Grumpy old man mode off!

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

My Dwarven Thoughts

Since January I've played over 100 games with my Skaven, fifty of these since 8th Ed has come out.

I am a bit of a conservative in that I tend to settle on a list and then build tactics around it rather than constantly change my list. However in the time since Orktoberfest I've had a bit of a play around with different ideas. I feel as though I am starting to get my head around the meta and this has been helped by playing the rules as per the book including scenarios and victory conditions.

The toughest matchup for Skaven in 8ed are Dwarfs. Their Magic Defense is very strong as is their Leadership. They usually have a similar number of DD to your PD as well as access to multiple scrolls. They have access to a variety of warmachices that can be runed to increase their offense capacity while protection can be bought to reduce the chance of mishap. They are T4 which makes them hard for troops that are S3 to hurt. In short Skaven struggle to get points out of them.

That said I think they are a very fair army, they just happen to be the Rock to the Skaven Scissors. I like playing against them far more this edition as after a cleansing period most Dwarf players have realised that making the play is a two-way street.

Against Dwarfs you are still in for a very hard game and I think they are a good army at Masters type events as they negate two of the stronger armies Lizards and Skaven. Fast armies can still be a problem for them as are the Warriors of Chaos. The mega-blocks WoC can put out mean that Dwarfs need bigger units than they had before.

All in all thought I reckon Dwarf players must be enjoying this edition far more than 7ed.

Sometimes You've Just Got To Let It Go!

One of the most important things to come out of Orktoberfest was the success of the valiant Seerlord Morskitta in turning back the ambush by Brad Morin's Daemons. As regular readers will remember


the Seerlord was ambushed by Brad Morin in some all-consuming thirst for revenge that had festered for four or more years. Have coaxed the unaware Skaven into accepting what they thought was a friendly game, Brad turned up with his "Nails Daemons", fresh from bashing noobs at Melbourne's Conflict event. Brad had even gone to the extent of adding in a fully-equipped Bloodthirster to ensure he would right what was obviously a heartfelt "wrong".

Knowing he was up against it from the beginning it took all the tactical genious of the Horned Rat's favoured son to see off the challenge. Key to what turned out to be a hallmark victory for the rats, was removing Brad's magic offense and defense when on Turn 2 his Horror block with Herald found that they had ascended to Ratdom!

These newly converted rats joined with the Abomination to see off the Flamers which meant that now the Daemons had no ranged capability. As you'd expect given Skaven's innate superiority to all lesser races and forms, the Seerlord pressed home his advantage to rout the pretender and his rabble.

The More I See You......

The more I play the scenarios the more I enjoy 8ed.

While there is some grumbling that not all scenarios are internally balanced, I personally think that any shortfalls are down to list design by the participants. Sure you can get a bad draw but if tournaments run the scenarios as a block rather than try to "pick winners" then I think that given average player skill the balanced army will win out over an extreme build. And to be honest that's how it should be.

Over the past month my approach to each of the scenarios has evolved. This is reflected in both the tactics I deploy and in list construction itself. If I'm looking to play the full gamut of scenarios then my list needs to be broad-based than if I was only going to play "Battleline".

Playing games other than "Battleline" increases the meta in Warhammer 8ed. for instance, there has been a lot of comment that with "The Watchtower" scenario the game is normally decided by the die roll to see who occupies the tower. The inference is that it is impossible to dislodge an opponent if he deploys there at the outset. I believe that such analysis is overly simplistic and that as long as youhave design your list to deal with this scenario as well as the others then you can get an extremely challenging and exciting game.

Last night I had a 2000 point game against Dwarfs. The scenario was "Blood & Glory". My Fortitude level was 6 while that of my opponent was 7. Seeing that my opponent had spread his FP out across a variety of units so I knew it was going to be difficult to win via scenario. Similarly I knew that if I concentrated my FPs in a single unit which I protected then the Dwarfs probably lacked the mobility to break me. This meant that we probably both realised that VPs were going to come into it at the end but that we needed to be careful not to overcommit - especially in my case. In the end he got one of my FPs and I got none of his. The game did come down to VPs and I made sure I had hunted down easy points in his list when they were on offer. I also tried to look for kinghits if possible. The game did eventuate in a draw but it was on a knife-edge in the last turn where I was close to scoring some big VPs for what I saw as calculated risk. My opponent also had opportunities in the last round but these had a more limited payoff profile versus risk.

Immense fun.