Thursday, March 31, 2011
Wednesday, March 30, 2011
Essentially it is a software interface that lets you build your list and generate a roster without needing to go through a labourious spreadsheet process. Oh, I know there are going to be those that say “I can do all this on Excel and it doesn’t cost me a cent” and yes you are right, however look at the features you get with Army Builder:
• Multi-system software
• Monthly updates for new codexes/army books/bugs
• Multiple output options
Army Builder works on a license basis (USD 29.95 per year) but with the appropriate datafiles (free) you get access to all the armies in the system. The software allows you to build your list to a given points value and has an in-built validation system that checks that you satisfy all list criteria and importantly don’t break any of the list rules. There is no chance to generate a list with multiple Arcane Items or for your BSB to have a Magic Banner as well as Magic Items, to name two common list mistake.
As a TO I commonly use the system to validate participants’ lists and in the past five years and almost 1000 lists, Army Builder may have had a “bug” less than 10 times. Where else would you get 99.9% reliability?
Army Builder lets you build your own lists and easily change items and units at a keystroke. It is a great tool if you are thinking of a new army but want to play around with lists before you commit.
Seriously if there is one purchase you make this year then Army Builder should be it.
Tuesday, March 29, 2011
For mine, I think that the best roll is either 5-4 (giving 9PD to 5DD) or 4-4 (giving 8 PD to 4DD).
A lot of people might instinctively think that 6-6 would be the best as it gives the most PD and it gives the greatest range between PD and DD. However I don’t think it is the most effective.
Why? Well your opponent has a lot of dice in his hand and so can keep them to stop the spell that he has identified as your most critical. The more dice he has to throw the greater the chance that he can get a double “6” which automatically dispels. Obviously you have the opportunity as well to throw six dice to try and achieve “Irresistible Force” but your result comes with some downside (the roll on the “Loss of Control” table) whereas his doesn’t.
Generally I am most happy with the 5-4 or 4-4 roll as it really pressures the other player. He cannot afford to use dice on your lower level spells if you have a clear follow-up. It is the one set of rolls where I am generally pretty confident of getting two spells off – a 2-3 dice spell and a big one.
So if you are on the other side of it how do you protect against it? Well a lot depends on whether you have a scroll or not. If you do then the best option is to use all your dice against the lower level spell(s). You then hold your scroll against your opponent’s big spell – knowing your dice were useless if he rolled six dice and got Irresistible Force anyway. However because you are holding a scroll you are forcing him to roll six dice to get the IF he needs. Either way it is win-win – he doesn’t and you use your scroll if needed. He does and you watch him roll on the miscast table (always fun especially if you are a WoC with the ubiquitous Infernal Puppet).
If you don’t have a scroll then you need to determine whether he can get the “must have” spell off relatively risk-free. I generally view a score of <16 (including Caster Level) as easy to achieve without risk i.e. caster throws 4 dice. You need to make a judgement call….but then that’s part of the fun.
Monday, March 28, 2011
I was playing Tim Norling’s Warriors of Chaos (100% Characters and Core) and felt that I had the winning of the game early. Unfortunately, for me, I then made a series of decisions that in retrospect were all the wrong ones and my army self-destructed in conjunction with some error-free play by Tim.
These are important games. They are the ones you can learn from. I could say that I was rusty and that contributed to the errors but that would be disguising the fact that in the heat of battle I made poor decisions. The important thing here is to acknowledge these mistakes and see how you could have addressed things differently, with a potentially different outcome.
In this game I made two charges when I shouldn’t – one because it was the wrong thing to do and the other because I hadn’t checked the loadout of one of Tim’s characters – and fled one where I should have held. The results of these poor decisions compounded and allowed Tim to win the game and a little bit moreso, me to lose it.
As I said these are the important games because they remind you that you are not half as good as you think you are! After a loss I like to sit down and really dissect the game as to what I could do differently. Generally this comes down to recognising some bad decisions but it may also be that your tactical plan was wrong or a catalyst for a list change. I generally find that a lot of players blame their list rather than focusing on the first two reasons. In my experience once you’ve got a bit of experience, poor decisions account for 50% of losses, bad plan 30% and bad/sub-optimal list 20%.
I generally analyse all my games, win, lose or draw but a loss does tend to focus the mind more. Really think that they are an opportunity to be a catalyst for better play in the future. Or I guess in the end you can always blame the dice (or the scenario).
Saturday, March 26, 2011
Friday, March 25, 2011
This is representative of the new approach GW are taking to releases. A couple of years ago just about everything was leaked, sometimes 2-3 months in advance. The sieve has been plugged and now we get nothing.
I can understand ensuring nothing gets out on the rules but I think GW are missing a trick by keeping pictures of the new models under wraps as close as a month out from release. Surely they want to create a buzz around the release and the best way to do this is having people talking about the models.
The overlap between GW's current release this month (Grey Knights) and Tomb Kings is likely to be very small so I can't see earlier discussion cannibalising sales.
Still I expect starting this weekend we'll start to get more Sneak Peeks so keep your eyes peeled. Personally I'm keen to see if they do a "Vampire Counts" on the skeletons - remember the models were re-done to reflect a human skeleton i.e. smaller. I hope they don't as I like the current models - but then I don't know how much better they would be because no pics. I expect we'll see new Tomb Guard to take advantage of the new GW 10 Plastic Models philosophy but I'm unsure what else they will do (without redoing the whole range - Skeletons, chariots, horsemen). We know we are getting a new Sphinx model and I hope we get a new Giant. Rest is really up in the air.
Thursday, March 24, 2011
The headline act this month is the Grey Knights with Designer Notes from sculptors and rules writers, a battle report and sprue pics and construction advice for the new plastic kits. This is takes up two thirds of the magazine which is great if you are into the army. As a Skaven player I know I can’t complain given the love WD has showered on them over the past 15 months. My opinion of the figures hasn’t changed much with a White Dwarf viewing. The infantry figures are nice but not a great progression on the previous Goodwin/Diaz sculpts. The article by rules writer Mat ward is very disappointing with little or no insight into his thinking behind the new codex. It is more (than usual) a puff piece on the Nemesis Dread Knight.
There is an article showcasing some international winners of the Golden Daemon but again this is strangely uninspiring. The UK diorama looks very uninspiring but I’m not sure that this isn’t the angle of the photo shots.
Jervois Johnson’s Standard Bearer article is more of a ramble than normal. I thought last month’s one on dice was a bit weird but this one is truly bizarre. It is based around a saying he heard called “Kill your darlings”. Yep, I joke not.
The most interesting thing for Fantasy players is the inside back cover – “Tomb Kings – Coming in May”. Rattle your bones!
Unless you are into the new Grey knights i think it is perhaps a good one to miss
Mr. Whiskers fires up the Ratpanzer unfortunately failing to notice the lack of wheels
So what do I see as the challenges in the list?
Well first and foremost, it reinforces one of the inherent weaknesses in the Skaven list, the ability to finish units off to gain Victory Points. Without Gutter Runners and Engineers that finishing power is greatly diminished, requiring the enemy to be beaten and “harvested” in the Close Combat phase.
Secondly, it removes one of the big damage-dealers that Skaven have to weaken stronger enemy before combat ensues – template weapons. Part of the strength of the Skaven list is its access to templates be it the Doomrocket, Warp Lightning Cannon and Plagueclaw Cataput, and to a lesser extent Poisoned Wind Mortars and Warpfire Throwers. This leaves only the “Scorch” spell to deal out template death. Without the ability to weaken enemy units before combat I doubt that the core Skaven units have the necessary resolve for the task over a sustained period.
A lot of responsibility therefore falls on the heavy hitters. I’ve got more than the normal sense of trepidation about the likely success of this build. However it should be fun to try out. I’ll let you know how I get on next Monday.
Wednesday, March 23, 2011
Much like Charlie, I figured I’d start my contributing by giving you all a rundown of my experiences at Equinox last weekend. I went to the inaugural Equinox Tournament last year, playing Fantasy with my Dark Elves, and wound up placing 4th overall on countback. I originally wasn’t going to go this year, but the TO Phil Wu offered me the chance to play as the bye buster in the fantasy event over the weekend.
The tourney was 2400pts and used a set of comp rules very similar to the current version or a previous draft of the ETC pack. Luckily I didn’t have to worry about any of that, since I was just going to show up and get given a High Elf army to use by Phil. I sort of figured that the army he gave me would be around the same power level as everyone else’s so that I could put up a bit of a fight despite never having played with High Elves. Sounds a fair and reasonable assumption, right? Well…
Me, when I arrived on Saturday morning!
It turned out Phil had given me a list that I would call ‘soft’. That’s not to say it can’t win (as we’ll see), but there were definitely some suboptimal elements to this list. If it were up to me, I’d definitely be making a few quick changes to bring it into line with my personal style of play (which I’ll go into later). I didn’t mind though, as I only there to have some great fun games of Fantasy and this list would just add an extra level of challenge to each game.
Here’s the list I was given:
Archmage, Level 4, Scroll, 4+ Ward
Noble, BSB, GW, Armour of Caledor, Dawnstone
Noble, GW, Reaver Bow, Dragon Armour
28 Spearmen, Muso, Std
18 Archers, Muso
12 Archers, Muso
17 Phoenix Guard, Muso, Std
17 White Lions, Muso, Std, Gleaming Pennant
6 Dragon Princes, Muso, Std, Banner of Ellyrion
Game 1 to follow soon…
The advances of the past few years are in no small part due to the output of The Black Library. Their books have allowed the backstory to blossom. In particular, the Horus Heresy and Time of Legends series have added immeasurably to the narrative.
If you are at all interested in the Horus Heresy and the story of a favoured son’s betrayal by a jealous and vengeful father, then I recommend checking out the latest podcast by World’s End Radio (www.worldsendradio.com). The two hosts give a potted history of the fifteen HH novels to date discussing some of the “new” revelations and new questions raised. It’s an excellent summary for those interested in this pivotal phase of the 40k history.
Hopefully you’ll gain a greater appreciation of what a small minded, neurotic spiv the Corpse-god actually is.
Tuesday, March 22, 2011
The two new contributors are:
Charlie St. Clair (Proximity) – Charlie has been NZ’s #1 Ranked 40k Player for the last three years, dominating the scene with first his Tyranids and then his Orks. In between time he built a Pre-Heresy Emperor’s Children army that was voted one of the 20 Best Armies by The Warhammer Forum’s Glass Cabinet section.
Jack Dunn (Little Horus) – Jack is NZ’s enfant terrible. Last year he was ranked #2 in Warhammer fantasy and in year’s past has had the same rank in Warhammer 40k. The youngest person to win a National Championship he picked up the 40k title at the age of 14. He now left the family nest and in his second year at the University of Auckland. Jack is also an excellent painter having completed award winning Eldar, World Eater and Dark Elf armies in the past three years. He is now working on Dark Eldar and his Night Goblins.
I’m sure both guys will be excellent contributors to Fields of Blood.
I am seeing a lot of Warriors of Chaos and Ogre Kingdoms running huge brick armies.
What is the best way for Skaven to deal with these armies? So far I have just been throwing Slaves into them and shooting them with 2 WLC and spells but it never seems to be enough. Ogre Kingdoms seems worse because I cannot use the 13th Spell on them and their regeneration spell is so cheap. Also they keep stacking multiple copies up to make dispelling them harder.
I have to be honest playing against armies that literally have 90% of their army in one block is not what I thought fantasy would be. Everyone was telling me that fantasy is a more tactical version of 40K, but I really do not see the skill or tactics in moving one unit down the table. I am not losing horribly in these games, but I am not able to kill off the death star units in 6 turns either (I usually get down to 4-6 models left which nets me 0 points).
The big Death Star units are very difficult for Skaven, particularly if they are Warriors of Chaos with their Stubborn 3++ Chosen or Ogre Kingdoms with their non- infantry models.
The first thing I would suggest is to play the scenarios if you aren’t because these do have some aspects which limit the effect of the Death Star – e.g. those that can effect deployment.
Let’s take the two armies separately, first Ogre Kingdoms. One of the best ways to deal with the big block is to use your Slaves as an anvil (as you point out that you are doing). If you can, include a 15 point Engineer in the block and run him out in front (more than 6” away) to act as a diverter. He’ll be killed and they’ll likely reform but it gives you an additional round of shooting for 15 points.
Let the block charge your Slaves, on the proviso it is 30+ and your General and BSB are in range. One of the best things about Slaves is that they let you use ranged attacks into combat. So tarpit the block with your ranks and then hit it with everything. You don’t randomise so only the ogres will take casualties. I find Gutter Runners great for this with their poisoned sling attacks, Engineers with Lightning, Ratling Guns etc. Lacking a decent army save you will soon deplete them.
Finally look at Plague Monks and especially Plague Censer Bearers to charge the unit once they are pinned. PCBs with Gas attack and then 3 re-rollable Str 5 attacks at Init 3 will do real damage to most Ogre units. Seven PCB, 35 Slaves and an Engineer costs around 200 points so they are pretty cost effective investments.
For WoC I find that the biggest impediment is the Infernal Puppet which limits my ability to trow magic dice. However you can give your Seer some protection by taking an Earthing Rod which means you’ll generally be able to get one 13th Spell off with limited damage. I tend to wait until Turn 4 or 5 so that a high Miscast Roll isn’t too limiting. You can usually remove a unit of Chosen with this before it gets into combat especially if you have some engineers.
The keys are to only ever fight these units on your terms. Therefore delay, divert or feed it crap while all the time chipping away at its numbers. For Ogres use the Slave tactic above backed up by PCBs into flank and for Chosen line them up for the Turn 4-5 13th. Alternatively if there are sufficient points in the rest of the army then focus your energies there while frustrating the Death Star.
Hope that helps.
Monday, March 21, 2011
Mal has been dominating the Christchurch gaming scene recently and also won Wellington's Call to Arms last year. He finished 4th at the NZ Masters in December and was selected for the 2011 New Zealand ETC team.
From all reports Mal was using a UK-inspired Lizard list with a cut-down Slaan (I'm guessing Ethereal and Beast Magic), an Oldblood on a Cold One and 3 Scar Vets on Coldones. This is backed up by one big Saurus block and numerous support units.
The Scar vets are all very formidible and able to take a lot of punishment.
If you’ve played someone over a period of 12 months and you’re sitting 0-10 then it’s pretty clear what you are doing is not working. They say the definition of insanity is to do the same thing over and over and expect different results.
We see this play out at a lot of tournaments and from a dispassionate observer it is fascinating to watch. Typically the “patsy” is big fish in their own little pond and they come together with other “ponds” at 5-6 events a year. Mr. Patsy thinks he’s a contender but his record against the real Big Fish is probably 0-10. He goes along with the same list and lo and behold his record is 0-11.
What I never see is that Mr. Patsy has sat down and had a little think. He should have realized that to actually be a contender he needs to beat Big Fish and therefore his list should be solely aimed at being 110% effective against Big Fish. It shouldn’t matter if it is only 80% effective against other players if Mr. Patsy really is a contender.
But you know what? It’s easier for Patsy to go along doing what does because in the end he doesn’t have to take the risk that he really tries (to play the meta) and loses. Then he would have to admit he wasn’t really a contender after all.
Friday, March 18, 2011
This pricing disconnect has interesting hobby effects. Our local GW Manager is rumoured to have said “Every time I send a person up to the Warlords, I lose a customer”.
I must admit I have some sympathy with his position but by any measure a 30-40% local pricing premium is ridiculous.
Prior to the release of the new Skaven book I always used to include 1-2 units of five Jezzails in my army. Once the new book came out they went back on the shelf. Why? They lost their 360 degree arc of fire which for a unit that has “Move or Fire” was absolutely critical. The limited arc they now have means that the inbuilt protection they had against fast moving units has gone. In effect, they have a massive blind spot. Flyers and very fast units move done the flanks and take them out without potentially ever getting a shot against them from the Jezzails (depending on S&S distance).
The warmachines and the weapons teams teams (albeit with a shorter range) don’t have this limitation as they can pivot in shooting phase.
Against this, for cheaper than the same price as a team of 5 Jezzails you can take a team of 5 Gutter Runners with Poisoned Slings who do a similar job to the old Jezzail team, better.
There is one situation where you can maximize your Jezzails. Take a Lord choice, normally a Warlord, and buy the Folding Fortress. You then have the ability to put this in your deployment zone preferably on the baseline. If it has sufficient floors (2+) then you can put your Jezzails in and have 360 degree arc, shoot every turn and 36” range. By having your Warlord and BSB nearby you can bolster their morale if they have to take a Leadership test. Lots of points but also a lot of fun…..think of it as the Skavenblight Sniper School.
Hope that helps Dan. And thanks for the question.
More than happy to answer any questions people have on the Skaven and will always give you my opinion on all things wargaming. Any queries send them through to Fieldsofblood@paradise.net.nz
Thursday, March 17, 2011
The intention of this score was purely to act as a handicap because I believe that GW can’t balance a dozen plus codexes over three editions and over a decade. This balancing is not a precise science but I firmly believe that it is a better alternative to believing that the 3rd Edition Daemonhunter Codex can go toe to toe with the 5th Edition Space Wolves and Imperial Guard armies.
At each of those events the best player won, in two cases the same player while in the fourth that dual winning player lost his first game and never made the ground up on the eventual winner.
After the recent Battlecry event in Auckland where composition scoring could most charitably be described as “problematic”, there has been a call to move to a No Comp environment. This is a very very tempting proposition for a TO because it removes one of the major causes of bitching after the event. Certainly for the gun-players (and those that think they are gun players) it is also very tempting. They can push efficiency to the extreme.
In NZ, the Nicon event is going to be No-Comp. I really want to encourage the New Zealand community to support this event. However……and this is pointed at those who think they are good but ultimately get exposed….remember, no tears. This is big boy pants time and there is no point whining after the event about other people’s armies if you get flogged seven Sundays sidewards.
Everybody starts with a level playing field. You have the choice of 12+ codexes and a Force Organisation chart the same as everyone else. You only have the figures for one army? Bad luck. There’s no could’ve, should’ve, would’ve…..if you take an army less than the most efficient build for your likely opponents and the given missions then you are handicapping yourself and it’s your choice. Not the TO, not the other players, not God…..just you :-)
Next time play better! Oh, and have fun!
Disclaimer: As an ex-tournament player I would have loved it if it was always No-Comp. It rewards people who put thought into army construction and takes one variable (Comp Scoring) out of the equation. However it does discriminate against those that don’t have access to a variety of “powerful” armies. There is also an argument around Market Efficiency that says over time you limit the breadth of armies you will face. That is not a bad thing from a competitiveness point of view but does assume you’re main reason for attending is to win.
The model is huge 4" high and over 4" wide. I've based it on a 90mm wide base
Here's some pictures of the finished model:
From the photos I've found some areas I need to touch up and some detail I missed.
Happy though with how it turned out.
Wednesday, March 16, 2011
The initial 4 Orc & Goblin positions are taken, as are three of the four Dwarfs. I'm the lone Skaven player at the moment.
Orcs & Goblins
I do have a second Skaven army if anyone wants to run the Master Race and help me remove the flotsam and jetsom from the mountains.
As we fill the initial 12 places I'll be adding more participants in lots of 6!
The Players Pack should be available by the end of this weekend
This year I would suggest that the field is even better than last year when it drew most of the top ranked players. I am expecting a hard fought competition but my money is on the wily Tony Vodanovich to sweep all before him. After him I think the battle will be fought out for second and third by a mix of players running Warriors of Chaos or Vampire Counts. Could be interesting too when the Bye Buster is the country's No. 2 ranked player :-)
In the 40k event there is a very large field partici[pating. However it lacks quality and depth so I'll be very surprised if anybody emerges to topple last year's winner, Charlie St. Clair. Given that this event has a TO that has put in a robust scoring system and has a sound knowledge of army strength I'll be amazed if we have a repeat of the Battlecry outcome. Hopefully, the participants can exhibit a little more decorum at the presentation ceremony!
The organisers of Equinox have done a great job with this event, making it a cornerstone of the tournament year.
Good luck to all attending. I'll be watching the results with interest.
Tuesday, March 15, 2011
There are a number of potentials for this week’s painting.
Firstly, my Nurgle Plague Hulk arrived yesterday and last night I cleaned up the resin parts and tonight I’ll look to put the kit together. I suspect that that won’t be a particularly onerous exercise so that is a candidate.
Secondly, I have one of the Merchant’s Town Houses 80% put together. I’ll look at finishing it tonight and that becomes an option as well.
Finally, there are a multitude of Skaven models sitting on the painting desk in a half finished state:
• Ratling Gun
• Rate Ogre Bonebreaker
All of these need to be finished in the coming weeks.
I also have the Mighty Empire tiles to paint for Runefang IV. I don’t suspect that these will take too long to do but I’d like to have them finished by the first week in April so I don’t have to rush them near the date.
So good variety there – should be sufficiently varied to keep me motivated and hopefully of interest to the blogosphere.
One of the best tests of how good a book is, is when you go through the various units and determine whether or not you would run the unit in your army. There are 20+ units and 20+ character choices in the new book and there are only a limited number that I think I would run from an “efficiency” point of view:
• Goblin Shamen (the Night Goblin choice is far better – Mushrooms, anyone?)
• Night Goblin Warboss (if my General I’d go with a Goblin Warboss instead)
• Orc Boyz – if you only have room for one unit then use Big Uns instead
• Snotlings – single Trolls do the same job cheaper or you can get wolf Riders for 10 points more
• Giant - Five points cheaper and still a big load of poo!
I can see a place for virtually every other choice though personal preference will result in certain choices over others in a reflection of play style. One unit I am really keen to see how it works is the new Goblin Wolf Chariot unit….the possibility of 3D6+3 Str 5 impact hits plus 9 Goblin attacks (6 @ Str 4 Spears?) and 9 Wolf attacks is pretty mouth watering – all for less than 180 points. Yes, the unit has risks but it looks like it could really do damage to an anvil unit that other O&G units can then exploit.
Squig Hoppers look interesting now, especially with the addition of models that allow you to re-roll your random distance. Effectively they can become the ultimate hit and run unit.
The other thing I really like about the book is the limitation on O&G Magic Items. There has been much gnashing of teeth on this but I still hold the view expressed in the post “This Is Why We Can’t Have Nice Things” that restricting army-specific magic items leads to a tighter book. And to be honest if you can’t build some pretty tasty characters and units using the 81 Common Magic Items…..well, you’re not really trying.
I still hold the view that the most common army will be a “Pick’n’Mix” with lots of sub-100 point Rare units but I could be well off the mark. Personally I can’t wait to face them across the table.
Monday, March 14, 2011
Sisters of Sigmar (need about 15 assorted....happy to take any)
Possessed Brethren (as many as I can get)
Poisoned Wind Globadier Backpacks
Metal Dark Elf Corsairs
Gobbla (that comes with Skarsnik)
As I said if you can help let me know.
So it really was “Welcome to Jurassic Park” as two crusty old dinosaurs got out their models and pushed them around.
John was using an all foot Iron Hands army while I was using mechanized Death Guard. We played Annihilation with the Spearhead deployment.
The game was interesting because I quickly realized I couldn’t assault John’s position – I lost a Plague Marine squad trying and so I pulled back. John could have sat on his 1-0 lead but pushed forward and going into Turn 5 I was up 5-4 on Kill Points (helped in no small way by the explosion of an immobilized Rhino that wiped out most of a tactical squad).
It was in this last turn my rustiness showed. John had a unit of Assault Terminators bearing down on me the previous turn and rather than pull back I stood and shot. At the end of his Turn 4 he assaulted the unit. Having sacrificed that unit for no purpose, I moved my Daemon Prince into a position to assault even though he had failed his Warptime roll. Suffice to say I ended up losing him as well and the game 5-6.
I really enjoyed the game and in particular I liked the random game length. As I’ve mentioned previously on this blog, it is a rule that I think Warhammer Fantasy would really benefit from (not just in Watch Tower games).
Friday, March 11, 2011
So how do you do that? Firstly through army choice and then secondly through unit choice.
Army choice is pretty self-explanatory. If you’re preferred play style is reserved then Bretonnians are probably not your army. Likewise if you are looking for subtle it is going to be hard to find it with Warriors of Chaos.
Once you’ve settled on an army, I think that the best process is to sit down with the army book and go through the list entries unit by unit. Spend some time on this and look at the possible uses for each unit and how they might fit the needs of your style. Key to this is looking at the potential ways the inclusion of characters and magic items (usually banners) may modify their surface characteristics. For instance the inclusion of a magic banner and proximity to a Cauldron of Blood changes the nature of units in a Dark Elf army markedly. Similarly in this brave new world of magic augmentation the functionality of a unit may be changed by the possible selection of one magic lore over another.
Once I’ve gone through this process I’ll generally have three groups – units I’ll definitely include, those I definitely won’t include and a number of possibles. This then gives you a framework on which to build your list.
One thing that is important here are “synergies”. The word is often bandied about in discussions concerning list construction as something you want to achieve. For me synergy is where the outcome of two or more things working together is more than their individual contributions. Good examples are a block of Marauders and a chariot – the chariot joins combat in the second round to add impact hits after the initial onslaught (str bonus, charge bonus etc) has occurred. In my Skaven I see great synergies in using a block of slaves and a Gutter Runner unit in tandem versus elite low Toughness enemy such as Marauders, Swordmasters etc (the slaves engage them in combat and then the Gutter Runners abuse the no randomization rule by shooting into combat with their poisoned slings).
So when considering units always work through how they will operate and whether working in tandem with another unit makes them a better choice.
The next post in the series will focus on what elements you need to cover off in your list construction.
R.I.P. Thomas Henry Dunn 5/09/21-11/03/81 - Missed every day.
Thursday, March 10, 2011
In those first few years everything was new and you saw marked improvement every time you learned a new technique. After awhile though the learning curve starts to flatten and you reach a plateau. Every advance in technique after that is very hard fought and the achievement less and less of an improvement. To move to the next stage you probably have to have talent rather than perseverance.
So what do you do to maintain motivation?
Well here are a few things I think works.
1. Something Different
Every now and then I try and paint something different. Over the past 12 months this has usually been a terrain piece which is sufficiently different from the figures in a Fantasy army to give me a break. Similarly over the last couple of weeks I finished off the figures in my historical Mongol Conquest army, again enough of a difference to be a holiday.
2. Revisit An Old Army
As above, sometimes a change is as good as a rest. Have a look at one of your existing armies and look at adding a new unit to it or replace an existing one. At the moment I am painting the Forgeworld Great Unclean One for my Death Guard army and I have the FW Nurgle Plague Hulk on order. Neither choice is particularly fantastic in a CSM army but they are a million miles away from painting clanrats.
3. Ignore the Meat and Potatoes, Focus on the Dessert
If you have been painting rank and file and the line still to be done stretches to the horizon, then switch to a “treat”. Skaven armies, for example, have warmachines, weapons teams (though perhaps not after yesterday’s bagging), a multitude of characters etc. If you have hit an impasse with lowly unit types then treat yourself by painting one of the “ornaments”.
4. Carrot No Good? Try the Stick!
If treats don’t work then try the stick. Enter a tournament. That gives you a ready made deadline by which you need to finish your painting. You can either put on your big boy pants and do it or suffer the inevitable sense of failure if you don’t. Stories abound of people hurriedly painting their army the night before a tournament to make sure they complete it.
5. Ear Candy
Listen to podcasts while you are painting. The podcasters should be enthusiastic about the hobby and hopefully inspire you to great deeds. I find it less of a chore when I am listening to a podcast when I’m painting.
If all else fails then take a break. Give yourself a few weeks off and vege on the couch watching “old media” or reading a book. Use the time either to take a break from the “hobby” side or do something different like converting models etc.
Wednesday, March 9, 2011
So how good are they?
Rather than write a Tactica for Weapons Teams I’m going to lay out my thoughts on the key underlying rationale for including or excluding them from your army.
The teams range in cost from 55 points through to 75 points and can be bought to supplement another choice. For most teams the required unit is either Stormvermin or Clanrats, the exception being Warpgrinder which can come with Night Runners or Gutter Runners.
The cost may seem cheap but as I’ll highlight later this is a two edged sword. They do have Heavy armour for protection and a 4+ ward if in the vicinity of their parent. That said, they only have one wound. In all seriousness someone needs only to look at them threatening like and they are in trouble.
Again their offensive abilities look really good on paper….flamer template, strength 4 shots, impact hits and artillery dice attacks, template that wounds on 5+ etc ….however I have found that the reality does not reflect their promise.
Apart from the Poisoned Wind Mortar the other teams with shooting abilities are Move or Fire. This means they need to be positioned the turn before you use them. Generally this exposes them to a turn of magic and shooting and as I pointed out above their defensive qualities are very poor. On top of this they are very erratic. The Warpfire Thrower can vary by +/- 4” from average result while the Ratling Gun now needs to roll to hit removing its key function [removal of skirmishers] under 7th Edition (oh how it loved Wardancers and Shades).
The PWM offers more potential as it doesn’t need line of sight and it can move and fire. However the potential for self-damage from a misfire is quite damaging when you yourself are running blocks. Still, it probably represents your best offensive option.
The Doomflayer looks good on paper but is very susceptible to match-ups. The D3 impact hits are distributed as shooting which reduces the ability to snipe characters and the ability of characters to make way means that if they have a higher Initiative the Doomflayer will be dead before it gets its other attacks.
Finally, the Warpgrinder. No-one will ever put it with the Gutter Runners as it will only limit their contribution while who ever takes a block of Night Runners? No, really who?
I suspect the key reason people take Weapons Tests is to pad out their Core requirement. Generally it takes time to paint a Skaven army and when a Weapons Team (1 model) costs the same points as a unit of Slaves (20+ models) I can understand why we see them on the table. However I suspect as you continue to build and paint your army well I know what I think offers the best value point for point.
One function they do have is in the support of Slave units. Because you can shoot into a slave combat with impunity, if you can set up an enemy unit you can drill them with a Ratling Gun. However it is very situational and I think you can achieve the same thing far more reliably with Gutter Runners if the opportunity present.
The Weapons Team can be used as a redirector to set up an enemy unit. However it is an expensive option for the role when a 5-6 ranked units of Slaves costs the same points.
Yes, you may get a Stand and Shoot reaction but you are unlikely to stop a charge.
The biggest downside I see to Weapons Teams is that they present your opponent with a very easy opportunity to harvest points in a game where for most units yielding points has got much tougher. If I was playing Skaven I’d see the inclusion of Weapons Teams as a gift from the Horned Rat. The work to get those points is significantly easier than getting them from a potentially Steadfast ranked unit.
In the UK situation where 100 VPs is a win, I’d be very surprised if you ever saw them at all.
So my wrap-up is not going to be a surprise to any of you. Unless you don’t have the necessary core points I don’t think there is a compelling reason to take them versus say a unit of Slaves or even a Level 1 Engineer (similar points). They struggle to harvest points and they give them up easily. I have been using 2-3 teams throughout 2011 and I’m about to give them away. It takes a better player than me to get value out of them.
Since the introduction of 8th Edition most areas have played the game straight out of the book…..and rightly slow. It is important to play the rules and give the chance to learn the nuances of the rules before imposing “fixes”. This is never an overnight process despite what some people think.
After a period of time it is possible (with confidence) to isolate some of the aspects that might reduce the opportunity for a fair contest. Again here this has to be done with some context, Games Workshop have a 4-10 year release schedule stretching over three editions so it is a little demanding to expect the power levels of all armies to be comparable.
Post Xmas on this blog, I posted a very little approach to Composition which hopefully addressed a number of the abuses. This looked at the selections that caused the most angst, repetition of some Rare choices, spamming of an efficient Special choice through to the one thing I think is truly broken, the Power Scroll.
One criticism of this approach is that not all units are created equal and there is a big difference between three units of Gutter Runners and three units of Rat Ogres, in terms of efficiency. Under a comprehensive system there will always be units that look unduly penalized but it does stop abuses such as double Hydras, two units of Flamers, two HPAs, three units of Shades etc. However, it also stops things like multiple Eagles, multiple Fiends etc.
Now I have some sympathy regarding Eagles (not so much on the Fiends ) and one amendment suggested (and adopted) was to allow duplicate Rares if they are below a certain points level. The question was where you set that points level. If you set it too low there is no point whereas if you set it two high abuses wriggle under the fence. In the end, for my system, I set it at 80 points).
The restrictions were:
• Maximum Power Dice usage of 12 in Magic Phase (as distinct from maximum of 12 dice in pool at any time)
• Army to have no more than four (4) potential template weapons
• Army to have a maximum of four (4) warmachines
• No more than two (2) of any Special choice
• No double Rare choice worth more than 80 points (single 2:1 choices excepted)
• No Power Scroll
Army Specific Restrictions
• Daemons of Chaos: No duplication of Daemonic Gifts
• Empire: Steam Tank is classed as Warmachine in terms of General Restrictions
• Lizardmen: Slaan may have maximum two of Focus of Mystery, Becalming Cogitation, Cupped Hands or Focused Rumination
• Skaven: Maximum of three Engineers
• Tomb Kings: No Wizards Hat
• High Elves: Only one of the Book of Hoeth or Banner of Sorcery
• Vampire Counts: Only one Vampire may have the Loremaster ability
In light of the new Orc and Goblin book I think that there is still a case to allow multiple Rares because that section contains a lot of choices that will make the army more viable and these are pointed at sub-100 points. Much as people don’t like to face two Warp Lightning Cannons or two single Salamander units, I can see that facing two of the new improved Doom Divers won’t be fun.
My initial thoughts would be to continue to allow duplicate Rare items but to drop the points threshold to 70 points. This allows people to include multiple re-directors from the Rare section e.g. Trolls, Eagles, Fiends while keeping the system relatively straightforward.
The tournaments I run this year will be using this as the Composition framework
Tuesday, March 8, 2011
My initial thoughts are that we are likely to see “Pick ‘N Mix” armies in the first instance. What I mean by that is I think people will be taking units from across the spectrum of the book rather than following any tight theme.
This means we’ll potentially see a variety of characters rather than just Orcs, just Goblins, just Night Goblins etc. Similarly armies will have a hodge-podge of units from the book to build a list that ticks the boxes on conventional 8th Edition list building.
So things we’ll see:
Single characters built to hold up units similar to the Scar Vets in Lizardmen armies. Boar-mounted, stubborn crown, defensive items.
Single Trolls as cheap redirectors.
Multiple pump wagons
Very few Orc boys….Savage Orcs look a better buy
Night Goblins over other Goblins – nets, fanatics trump skulkers
Giant Spiders only in fluff bunny lists….points better spent elsewhere
Night Goblin Shamans – who doesn’t like free “non” Power Dice
Doom Divers – can I get away with two?
Clearly Rare points are going to be under pressure but you’re definitely going to see 4-5 units all sub-100 points coming from that section.
So there you are…..a Skaven’s thoughts on what the new “black” will be!
Monday, March 7, 2011
I really enjoyed painting the figures and though I wish there was greater potential for variety I'm happy with how they came up.
Being skirmishers I need to make special movement trays for them. Unfortunately most manufacturers do them in ranks of five and I wanted mine for the unit of six. In the end I bought a 15 (5x3) skirmish tray from Litko and cut it longitudinally into two 3x2 and one 3x1 (useful for a small units of Wraiths).
In keeping with the rest of my army I used some of the old Lord of the Rings building walls on the edges. This means I can pick up the tray easily and move it where I need it to rain poisoned death. This is especially important for these models as they are metal figures and constant handling is not good for the paintwork.
The model is one big lump of resin. I have undercoated it with Chaos Black spray and it will hit the painting table tonight. I’ll try and remember to take WIP shots as I paint it.
I intend painting it in my traditional Death Guard scheme that’s caused comment in the past. When my Death Guard won Best Painted at the New Zealand Grand Tournament in 2004 the guy who came second told me “I can never tell whether your stuff is well painted or just messy!”
Know your limitations – Purple and Green FTW
Last Week's Painting
Finally after a couple of weeks of inactivity I finished my two new units of Gutter Runners for my Skaven, including their skirmish movement trays. Pictures up this evening
Fast-forward 5-6 years after I left DBM and the scene fractured. DBMM was the updated version of DBM, still abysmally presented, and one of the DBM authors entered the new world of “accessible’ rules and published Fields of Glory. These rules followed the GW presentation model, lots of diagrams, short sentences and pretty pictures. I really tried to like the game but it quickly became clear to me that it was the ultimate game of points denial as the rules mechanisms encouraged this style of play. The tournament scene reflected this development. After a few games the Ancients went back on the shelf.
A few weeks ago I was downstairs and saw my Mongol Conquest army which was 95% completed. I decided to finish it off and this weekend I had my first game with them. I played DBMM – of abysmal presentation – and I really enjoyed it. It was a game of push the models around and though I did win, the enjoyment was getting the army on the table and reconnecting with a bunch of gamers I haven’t played for 10 years.
DBMM won’t become my game of choice but it will be something I do play reasonably regularly. Wargamers tend to put their hearts and souls into their current love, becoming, if my own experience is anything to go by, mildly obsessive.
Sometimes it is really cathartic to stop, look around and smell the flowers.
Kumbaya, my friends.
Sunday, March 6, 2011
Friday, March 4, 2011
However, the one that really caught my eye is this month’s “Battle for Karak-Eight-Peaks”. The campaign is centred around the ongoing war between Skaven, Goblins and Dwarfs in the mountains to the east of the Empire. Played over 4-5 rounds the campaign uses rulebook scenarios as well as campaign-specific scenarios culminating in a three-way battle at the end.
I am going to run this campaign at my club, Wellington Warlords, convention “Call to Arms” in August. If you have a Skaven, Orc & Goblin or Dwarf army and would like to be involved in the two day event then please let me know. If you don’t have one of those armies but would still like to be involved then also please let me know. I’ll have spare armies that people can borrow.
Initially I’m looking at 12 players – four for each race – but that may be revised up or down depending on interest.
Thursday, March 3, 2011
However I have found myself reading battle reports on Dakka Dakka as well as reading more of the 40k posts on the Bell of Lost Souls blog. It got to the stage this week where I bought Forgeworld Greater Daemons for my Death Guard and Emperor’s Children armies and the Nurgle Plague Hulk to use as a Defiler.
As I said, I’m not sure what has brought this all about. I pretty much gave the game away upon the release of the 4th Edition Chaos Space Marines which saw the trashing of the Traitor Legion background and lists. I never drank the Kool-Aid at the time 5th Edition was released and so was quite happy to let it pass me by. However, I never really fully gave it away. I still bought figures – I have a full Ork army being painted by my son, Jack though its progress keeps getting sidetracked. I generally buy the new codex when it is released – the exceptions being Imperial Guard, Blood Angels and Space Wolves, three armies I either don’t ”get” or despise – and I buy and read the various Horus Heresy novels on release day.
Perhaps I’m picking up the currents of the Warp which suggest that a Traitor Legion book would really help revive GW sales. Perhaps it’s when I look at the Forgeworld stuff there is something that inspires me to want to paint it. Perhaps I’m just getting old(er). However I do know that when I go downstairs to my gaming room and take a look at my Death Guard and Emperor’s Children, there is something that makes me want to take them out of the glass cabinet they are in and get them back on the table.
And that’s got to be a good thing!!!