Thursday, May 31, 2012

Nicon - Form Guide

So this weekend is NiCon and there are a few Wellingtonians venturing up to Auckland to battle the northern barbarians.

Looking through the field I’ve worked out that there are 60% of participants that I have not played before and only two of the non-Wellingtonians I’ve played more than three times. Therefore I’m hoping to get some games against new opponents over the course of the weekend.

My target in Skaven tournament games is always a 14 point average. At Runefang I failed to get there while at NatCon I managed to achieve it. This average is realistic given that Skaven aren’t generally a combat army so struggle to get the big 20-0s you need to average higher. Scoring 84 points over the 6 games puts you in the mix to achieve a Top 5 finish.

So who do I think will be there or thereabouts at Nicon?

Well my Top 5 in no particular order are:

Dan Butler – using Skaven and needs to show some form going into the ETC. The pressure is all on Dan and this is his chance to show that he can do more than roll 5s for Daemonic Saves and six-dice monkey the Dreaded 13th Spell. Will try to tell people that the Jezzails are a fluffy choice but they are in the list at the direction of his ETC captain so you can judge that for yourself.

John Willenbruch – I’ve never played John (in fact never met him). However he is coming off some very strong form winning both Over the Top and The Wandering Orc with his Brets. Hoping we get to play at some stage over the weekend.

Reid Pittams – Nobody will get many points off Reid. His Vampire list is the ultimate bus with accompanying support units generally hard to harvest. On top of this he is NZ’s premier Fantasy player of the past ten years. He is my favourite to win the event.

Sam Whitt – Sam will have learned a lot after a horror Day 2 at The Horned Rat. Sitting on Table One going into Round 4 he endured little luck in his battles versus Ogres and Empire. I suspect that he is less likely to repeat the errors he made that day and with his combination of Destroyer, Taurus, Warmachines and Metal Magic he has the tools to hurt a lot of his top table competitors.

Tom Dunn – this list is speed personified with the bonus of the all-encompassing 5+ Ward Save. Sporting a Bloodthirster, Tom doesn’t want to see cannons and with only one Dwarf, two Empire and bugger all Ironblasters I’m sure he is very happy. Coupled with that the presence of seven Wood Elves in the field is going to only increase his smile. More than any other army in the field this is the one that can get the big wins.

Of the rest of the field, I think the most likely to force their way into this group are Phil Wu (High Elves), James Page (Dark Elves) and NZ’s ETC Dwarf player Thomas van Roekel. Ross Hillier-Jones won’t lose a lot of points (given 2000+ points in three units) but I suspect that he will spend the weekend being re-directed and chasing shadows. Rory Finnemore was fast finishing at The Horned Rat but here he is using a new army.

There are seven Wood Elves playing and I think that any of them will be doing well to make the Top 10. Why? The preponderance of armoured units and/or deathstars will hamper their ability to gather points. With the need to average 13 points/game to make the Top 10 I think it will prove a target too difficult.

Wednesday, May 30, 2012

8th Edition Rule Change Redux - The Unpredictability of Magic

The last of the items on my list of 8th Edition Rule Changes to review two years on was the (un)predictability of magic.

Here’s what I said two years ago:

In 7th Ed, magic was largely predictable and to a large extent people set themselves up from a defensive standpoint. You knew if you had 5 DD plus 2 scrolls you could stop most things especially in the Comp environment which had a 10PD max cap. Yes there was still one die raising and the odd game changer got through but it was rare at the top end of tourney play.

8th Edition is much more fickle. You can't rely on it either way as much as you could. The ability for a Lvl 1 to pick up 6 dice means it is high risk/reward. You can build a magic phase to defend against it but the certainty is less. For my Skaven list I've gone through the books and built a list that can grasp the winds of magic if they are there but can also go a game without me getting anything off. I think this reflects how magic should be.

Re-reading it I think that the analysis stands the test of time. Magic in 7th Ed was very predictable and it was mostly a defensive phase than an offensive phase (magic missiles, VCs and TKs excepted). Effectively everybody acted like a Dwarf and built their list to ensure that they rarely got hurt. If anything looked like it would break the mould then the Comp stick came out and bashed it back down.

And this fitted the ethos of 7th Edition, where everything was about certainty and removing the unlikely from the game. If you knew your distances and knew your rules then it was unlikely you’d be put into a position where you’d have to adapt when something unpredictable occurred and bit you in the ass. It was the time of the micro-manager.

Magic now is entirely different. It is unpredictable. You know that you will likely have a lot more spells flying your way over the course of the game and as a result you’ll have to swallow a few dead rats. The skill now is knowing what to let through and what to stop – and also knowing what you’ll have to stop later in the game.

The decision-making that occurs in the game now is far more interesting for me as a player than I felt it was under 7th. There a good eye and a good list went a long way. Now the list still has to be “good” but there are layers that you need to build and offsets you need to make. And at the end of the day you can still get steamrolled by the Winds of Magic if they fat-tail.

Isn’t that what you should expect from the Winds of Magic? A degree of fickleness.

Rule Change: A

Tuesday, May 29, 2012

8th Edition Rules Change Redux - Scenarios

I’ve blogged numerous times regarding the use of scenarios at tournaments. My point in the past is that the rulebook scenarios act as a natural determinant of comp given the victory conditions or special situations inherent in each.

The UK – which is currently the home of most of the warhammer media (podcasts) – is heavily lined up against scenarios. Their opposition is generally based on the potential for non-games or the introduction of luck. I can’t help feeling that some of the most vocal detractors of scenarios dislike the fact that they are forced to adapt either their standard list (pre-event) or tactics (during the event) as a result of scenarios. I may be doing them a disservice but I don’t think that is the case.

To me the scenarios provide an extra layer of complexity into the game – and tournament planning – that requires a player to think more. It adjusts builds – inclusion of standards for B&G, increases the risk of deathstars (Meeting Engagement and Dawn Attack) – and has the potential that you’ll be faced with a situation outside your comfort zone.

The discussion around randomness and the introduction of luck is fine until you consider that there is luck pretty much involved in all aspects of the game – be it charge distance or the number of wounds caused by a warmachine, for example.

The introduction of scenarios was for me a key part of the 8th Edition experience. It reinforces that the game is now about risk management more than anything else. I see the removal of this aspect as a bit of a cop-out that makes the game less variable and rewards a standard build for each army which is generally centred on a concentration of force). If suddenly your Mage is off the table then this can either be a good thing or a bad thing – and if you can’t see that it can be both then you really haven’t thought about that scenario. Likewise if you haven’t paid for protection on your character and he is isolated from your army in Dawn Attack then you’ve made a choice by investing the points elsewhere. Like all army choices that should come with risk, not certainty around an impossible to get to bunker being available all the time.

Quite clearly for me scenarios are a win (and probably reflect my background in 3rd Edition, less so 4th Edition, 40k).

Rule Change: A

Weekend Hobby feat. Pete's Bits Emporium

I had a bout of manflu over the weekend and didn’t get anything like the hobby I wanted to get done.

On Saturday I had a game against Mike using our NiCon lists. I’m pretty sure that our dice sensed the impending dose of sickness I was to be afflicted with as they were atrocious. Mike had two turns where his Slaan failed to cast the first spell he tried causing him to forfeit the rest of the phase. He also had a Stegadon die which caused a block of Saurus and a Skink unit to flee off the board.

I had my Doomrocket misfire for the second time ever (I note your concern) and in a combat where Mike’s Salamanders and Skinks air-balled my Skavenslaves rolled eight “1”s and two “3”s for their attacks. Over 50% of my artillery dice rolls were misfires and when rolling six dice at Plague I managed 15 after adding in the +4 for my Seer. It really was one of those games. Just shocking rolls – both ways.

The good thing is that I have obviously got it out of my system ahead of Nicon and so next weekend my dice are going to be on fire. I feel I should apologise to my opponents now given how good they are going to be.

Hobby-wise I tidied up some of my Skavenslaves and re-based some weapons teams. I also re-started work on a Doomflayer that has stayed half-finish on my desk for the past six months or so.

However, the big thing I did was start to clean up my surplus bits. For years I have sorted them by race and kept them in separate containers. This has led to a massive requirement for storage. This weekend, accepting that a large number of projects that I had planned are never going to occur I started going through the boxes – keeping models I wanted – and putting all the bits into a single 40k box or a single Fantasy box. My intention is to bring these to local events and people can take what they want. There’s lots of crap in both boxes but maybe there is the odd gem people want e.g. 25 Lizardmen standards, 200 Skaven shields, Steam Tank cannon and wheels, Orc lobber crews (x2) etc. Similarly for 40k, I have vehicle and infantry parts from most races that people may find useful. From now on as I finish building models I’ll look to re-stock the two boxes.

I hoping people will find the boxes useful and take advantage of them to track down models/bits they are after.

Guardcon Comp Restrictions

The Players Pack for Guardcon is up on the Cityguard Forum and included are the comp restrictions. Again it is a Hard Cap system (hooray) with what look like reasonably light restrictions for most armies.

I have cut and paste the restrictions (below) for those that don’t venture north of the wall into the wastes that are Auckland.

The restrictions are pretty light for most armies. I'm personally not convinced by the restrictions on the CoC for some armies. I think that you could restrict it to model on foot only - and that would get rid of the Pegasus/Disk builds which seem to being targetted.

My only concern on the pack is the restriction on Big Magic. I think that giving characters a Look Out Sir encourages Death Star builds. The NZ scene has not cottoned on to adding MR3 to their death stars yet but when they do and it is coupled with a LOS against big spells it will make them almost impervious to all but other death stars.

Monday, May 28, 2012

Nicon - "It's Mine, You Can't Have It"

Looking through the Nicon lists over the weekend, there has been a real shift in the game meta.

Putting aside the Athel Loren House Party for the moment, the lists of a lot of the participants are characterised by a nod to points denial than has been seen in the NZ game previously.

What do I mean by Points Denial?

Effectively, it is concentrating the points into a limited number of units so that unless your opponent destroys that unit there is only a limited size loss that you can take.

For instance, look at my Skaven. My Screaming Bell unit contains two characters and a sizeable core unit and tips the scales at 871 points. Given it is Unbreakable and well warded it is very hard to destroy. To get its points takes awhile and I do my best to ensure that my opponents have to invest an awful lot of resource to get it. Therefore they need to make a decision early to commit to taking it out or concentrate on my other units.

However, in terms of Nicon, such a concentration of resources is not unusual. On the blog on Friday, I noted in the comments section the growing phenomena.

One of the Warriors of Chaos lists has 2000 points invested in three units of Chaos Warriors & Chosen. Checking the Vampire lists it is even more pronounced. One of the two lists running the Black Knight "bus" variant has the potential to concentrate 1800 points in a single knight unit while the other uses two knight units to corral 1700+ points. Even the Ogres are starting to get in on the act; there is potential for one of the builds to concentrate 6 characters into a 16 Ogre Bull unit and have it weigh in at 1700 points.

Now this is not a criticism of the tactic - how can it be I use it myself - rather it is an observation of how the game is changing. Last year Mal Patel used the tactic with his Lizardmen "Fun Bus" and was very successful, rising to New Zealand's #1 ranked player while winning multiple events.

Two of the last three books - Ogres and Vampire Counts - actively support the build and I'll be surprised if we don't see other armies look at the build throughout the year. Dark Elves, for instance, can construct their "Death Star" with Cold One Knights and characters as a lot of the Europeans have been doing lately e.g. Danes at last year's ETC, more recently Ben Curry in UK.

So what will it mean here?

I'm not sure. It could lead to much tighter games in local events where the battle is focused on harvesting "support units".

I'm hoping that it stops the move to put restrictions on "Big Magic" which is the natural defence against the Death Star. Giving characters "Look Out Sirs", restricting Mindrazor attacks etc just encourages the concentration of points into units. Personally I think there has to be a downside to Points Denial builds - yes even Skaven and Ogres - and that is in part the susceptibility to "Big Magic".

Looking forward to NiCon. I think this move in the meta is fascinating.

Friday, May 25, 2012

Music To My Extremely Pointed And Twitchy Ears - The Joys of Hard Caps

I’m really enjoying the Skaven-Envy (I hesitate to call it ‘hate”) both here and on the City Guard forum after the release of the NiCon lists.

See to me this is the joy of a Hard Cap composition system. The criteria are all there upfront so you know exactly what you could be getting into when you put your list together. So my sympathy level is flat-lining.

When I chose Skaven I looked at the various criteria and what I had seen at recent events before I wrote up my list. My biggest fear was that I would run into a VC-Scream list which hurts both of my current armies – Skaven and Ogres. As a result I knew I had to have a solution or I had to take a chance. I think my list is mid-ground. But boy was I happy to see neither a Terrorghiest nor a Banshee in any of the Vampire lists. They are still extremely dangerous to Skaven but would have been worse with the “scream”.

These choices apply to all armies. In a hard cap system you should always look at what you are likely to be facing across the table. So if you are a Warrior of Chaos player and you fear the 13th Spell then you need to have an answer… obvious one is to bring a Knight bus. Another is to have the option of Pandemonium in your spell choice.

Oh course, all this planning goes for naught when I miscast Turn One and my Seer disappears into the Warp!

NiCon Fantasy Lists

The lists for NiCon have been released and you can download them here

A quick race breakdown:

Wood Elves 7
Skaven 4
Warriors of Chaos 3
Lizardmen 3
Vampire Counts 3
Ogres 3
High Elves 2
Empire 2
Dark Elves 2
Chaos Dwarfs 2
Tomb Kings 1
Orcs & Goblins 1
Bretonnians 1
Daemons of Chaos 1
Dwarfs 1

So all the races sans Beastmen. Very pleasing so see that all but one person has decided to act responsibly and not take Dwarfs.

Seven Wood Elves!!!! Tree-hugging is alive and well in Auckland, it appears. Imagine what would happen if they got a new book!

There are some interesting builds there.

For the record I'm taking Skaven - and the first thing I checked - there are no Puppets listed in the WoC lists!

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

GW June Releases - Pictures of Flyers from White Dwarf

So the call on "Flyers" for June was the right one.

Three flyers to be released:
  • Space Marine Stormtalon
  • Necron Night Scythe
  • Ork Bommer

For Fantasy there is an enormous amount of the range being converted to Finecast. Pretty much all the remaining metals for O&G, Dark Elves, Tomb Kings and Lizards are making the transition.

Coupled with this it looks like the USA is having a price rise - which probably means us as well. The numbers quoted are 5% for Finecast and 10-15% for plastic kits in the USA so brace yourselves

Tournament List Submission

One of the things that is most annoying for a TO and/or Umpire is when participants fail to make the deadline for army list submission.

You will generally find (always in the case of events I run) that the date when army lists are required to be submitted to the Umpire is stated upfront. That some people can’t work to the timetable is incredibly frustrating to the umpire.


Well Umpires (like participants) have a life. It is an unpaid role (I give a small gratuity in models) and it takes a fair whack of time. Not only do they give up their weekend – when I’m sure most would rather be gaming – but also there is preparatory work before the event. This includes checking participants’ army lists to ensure that they are correct and legal.

Most umpires will seek to put aside a lump of time to do this so that they can go through them methodically – usually race by race – to reduce the overall requirement. It can be exceedingly frustrating to get lists late (and wrong) which drags out the whole process.

It also penalises those people who have got their lists in on time, in the expectation the rest of the field would do the same. How? Well increasingly TOs are sending out the lists to participants before the event so they can familiarise themselves with opponents’ lists, checking out items or units they don’t know the rules to. This is a good thing as it decreases delays at the actual event where people need to go through and explain their list to their opponents. It also acts as a second check for Umpires that they haven’t missed anything when vetting the list.

Given this, it is annoying that the Umpire for Nicon has had to send out two reminders for lists that were due last Sunday. The deadline was clearly stated in the Players Pack so it shouldn’t come as a surprise to anyone). With 35-40 participants at the event I can sense his frustration at not receiving them all as requested. He has indicated that he will be penalising players one tournament point if they are not in on Thursday.

To me this doesn’t go far enough. In future I will be asking Umpires at any events I am organiser of to penalise people 10 Tournament Points for not having their list in by the deadline and 5 points for every day after. Penalties need to be meaningful if some individuals feel that the tournament rules that apply to other participants don’t apply to them. It’s another symptom of the Generation Me and their sense of entitlement! Too busy on the Facetwitter and Diabolical 3.

This will be in force for both Warhammer Achievements and Fields of Blood – The NZ Warhammer 40k Grand Tournament.

Skaven Dice

Just an update on the Skaven dice I was selling earlier in the year. They have all gone to good homes now and are serving the Horned Rat in the USA, Australia, Spain, France and Sweden.

May all their new owners roll "6"s.........even, for leadership tests! Less competition for the Horned Rat's blessing!

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

8th Edition Rules Change Redux - Terrain

When the new edition came out there was a general call that (in combination with TLOS) the changes to the terrain rules made terrain irrelevant in the game.

I never really subscribed to that theory. It certainly had its impact downgraded relative to what it was in 7th Edition but I still felt that it had an impact on the game. Part of the reason for the general view was that most tables had had 4-6 pieces of terrain on them and those terrain pieces were either hills or woods (sometimes ruins which acted like stone forests). Both had blocked line of sight but woods also slowed movement to half speed and prohibited marching.

What you rarely saw on tables were any other types of terrain e.g. buildings, marshes or ponds etc.

Woods now have some variety to them – if you use the Mysterious Woods’ rules, which we do – so you need to calculate the risk before you enter them. While they don’t limit the extent of movement they do have benefits/downsides if you finish moves in them – both for combat and for shooting.

I play most of my games on a Realm of Battle Gameboard and I love how it works for higher ground and TLOS. I understand that a flat table with hills reduces some of that rule interaction.

While I know some people hate the building rules, I think the introduction of buildings into games has been a large positive. Once the “dirty reform” into buildings was prohibited, most of the problems around buildings evaporated in my view (one rule I would like to see is to allow skirmishers to charge from a building so that you can’t anchor your flank with impunity – or at least burning two enemy movement phases).

(Due to the nature of terrain at the events I run – buildings on base boards – we play that the whole base blocks LoS – that is an abstraction that helps movement. It could just as easily be played the other way – TLOS – but movement would become more "gamey".)

So from my point of view I like the terrain rules (which was a surprise because I hated the removal of area terrain in 40k). I think they can be improved particularly in increasing the penalties for ranked/mounted troops in woods.

However part of my preference for the new terrain rules is the so-called “cinematic” aspect whereby we now see much nicer terrain on the tables – which for me is a key part of my enjoyment.

Rule Change: B-

The Bad Dice Daily

If you like your podcasts (and I do), then you’ll be happy to know that Ben Curry has started a Bad Dice Daily service. This means each evening (NZ time) you will have a 15 minute episode on all things Warhammer Fantasy.

I think this is a big commitment from Ben but if anyone can pull off a daily service then it is “The Jolly One”. For those that don’t know him, Ben has probably been the most consistent UK tournament player in the UK over the past 5 years. He is also – by far – the most insightful of the UK’s podcasters on the intricacies of the game having an innate ability to analyse both rules and strategies.

You can subscribe through iTunes.

Give it a listen……everyone deserves their 15 minutes of fame!

Wellington Wargaming Option

The Wellington Warlords have changed their policy with regard to non-members attending meetings. Members can now invite non-members to play at club meetings. Whereas previously there was an expectation that after three visits you would look to join the Club, there is no such expectation if you are invited by a current member to attend.

The Warlords meet on the 1st, 3rd and 5th Saturday of the month at the Khandallah Presbyterian Church Hall (opposite New World). Meetings run from 10am-5pm. There are also monthly Wednesday night meetings.

Monday, May 21, 2012

"Tastes Like Chicken......"

On the weekend Mike and I had one of our ongoing battles between the forces of good (Skaven) and evil (Lizardmen). Mike was trying out some changes he was looking at for his list for NiCon which involved removing BSB from his Slaan.

Late in the battle a unit of depleted Skavenslaves who had fled earlier in the fight and rallied 2” from the board edge, managed to get a charge into the flank of Mike’s Slaan.

Charge, flank, two ranks and one wound were enough to beat the frog in combat and in the ensuing pursuit, the Slaves ran him down. There was much feasting on Saturday night….

More Terrain Purchases

Any surplus I have left over from the events I run goes back into terrain purchases so that future tournaments have increasingly better tables to fight over.

Last week I got an email from a local gamer going overseas who was offering me the chance to purchase some of his terrain as he was having a cleanout.

As a result I picked up the Games Workshop Helm's Deep terrain piece:

I also picked up the Dwarf Fortified Hill terrain piece that GW released about 2000.

Because Even Hell Pit Abominations Get the Flu.....

I have a lovely Hellpit Abomination. It is based on a MacFarlane kids' toy. You can check it out here

However when you hangout with the guys from Clan Pestilens you never know when you might pick up a tickle in the throat. To that end I have been meaning to paint a second HPA for those weekends when #1 is having an off-day.

About a year ago I purchased "Flint-Flang" from Bane Legions. Surprisingly for Maelstrom, the figure was delivered almost straightaway (Maelstrom Games service having deteriorated horribly over the past 24-30 months). Here's the box art for the model:

The model has sat on my painting desk for almost a last week I picked it up and thought I would see how it painted up.

Here are some shots of the finished model:

Sunday, May 20, 2012

WIP - Mortis Engine

A couple of weeks ago....okay James, a month.....I said I was trying out the new GW paints by painting the Vampire Counts Mortis Engine.

I never got around to posting any photos until now but here are a couple I took tonight. I am halfway through it but it gives you an idea as to where I am up too.

It still needs some highlighting and I'm going to mute the blue to a more whitish blue-green.

Saturday, May 19, 2012

Something Stirs In the Northern Wastes

There is a reasonably new wargaming club in the greater Wellington region - the Kapiti Wargaming Club.

These guys meet every Thursday and from a recent article in the Kapiti News play games across a wide range of genres including Warhammer 40k and Fantasy Battle. They also appear to run organised events, including a recent Apocalypse game and a themed Vampire Counts battle.

You can get details about them, their venue and meeting times at

They also run a Facebook page and have a regular newsletter.

Hoping to see some of their members at upcoming events here in Wellington.

Friday, May 18, 2012

The Eye of the Beholder

The foibles of the human mind. We are all subject to it from time to time and one area that you really see it in wargaming is in relation to our own armies (and those of our opponents).

When we look at comp systems the glass is always half empty. I know when I consider my Skaven I rant/rave (90% internally) as to how stupid the restrictions are. Why can’t the TO see all the weaknesses I can see in the Skaven book? Why is he trying to penalise me far more than anyone else.

And then the dichotomy. Someone will post a thread on a forum and the same people will go on what a great book they have, how well rounded their army is and how everybody else’s army is boring (true for Dwarfs) etc.

And so it continues. You look at someone else’s list and all you see are the overpowered bits that are going to hurt you. Or you see the over-reliance on one phase – give you a clue if you have more than 6 levels of magic or you have more than 45 shots then you are placing a lot of reliance on that phase.

In the old peer marking of comp (yuck) you used to see it all the time. “

My “soft and fluffy” Emperor’s Children was definitely worth a 4/5 while your “All Big Monsters Except for the 50 Ripper Swarms” Nidzilla was definitely a 1/5.”

The mind is a funny thing….you look at your own list and see roses but look at your opponent’s list and all you see is a polished turd.


"There Will Be Blood" - Tauranga Edition

Up north this weekend the Tauranga Gaming club are holding “The Wandering Orc II”. The event has attracted around 16-20 people, is 2400 points and interestingly is “No Comp”.

I understand the lists vary from Nails to Newborn Seal Pup so it will be interesting to see the outcome. Hopefully it won’t result in any new gamers being put off tournaments if they take a warm bristly muzzle to an axe fight. I’m all for clubbing baby seals however my idea is more to buy them a few drinks and ask them for a dance.

As they say in the shark pool….It’s all fun until someone loses a limb, then it’s lunch.

Personally I have no problems with no comp events as long as everyone knows what they are in for. The problem comes when people have different expectations as to what they are signing up. Hopefully the TO has told all participants to bring their big boy pants.

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Games Workshop Release Schedule 2012

The latest rumoured release schedule for Games Workshop for rest of year is:

June – Flyers

July – Warhammer 40k 6th Edition Release

August – Chaos Legion

September – 6th Edition Box Set

October – Warriors of Chaos

November – The Hobbit

Now this is very interesting. Four 40k months in a row. And it certainly reinforces GW’s hype that 2012 was the “Year of Chaos”.

I’m sure that people will disagree with this schedule. I’ll be interesting how right it is over the next six months.

Monday, May 14, 2012

8th edition Rules Change Redux - Charging

After being accused of being all kinds of a GW fanboi for my rosier assessment of TLOS, I’m going to be on top of my game for the next rules change review.

No rosy glasses with this one….just the facts, the cold hard facts.

One of the great skills of 7th Edition was the ability to be able to judge the difference between (x-1).9” and x.1” where x = charge range. If you could do that 9 times out of 10 then you were a tactical genius –especially because if you charged you got to go first, could potential kill all opponents before they hit back etc.

The measurement of charge distance including the inclusion of any wheels was one of the biggest sources of conflict in the game – and not in a good way. I was reasonably good at estimating distances but unlike a lot of people I didn’t necessarily think it should be the most important skill in the game. The risk around getting it wrong had all sorts of flow-on effects and was a prime encourager of shooty-avoidance lists (if you don’t engage you don’t get it wrong).

Fast-forward to 8th Edition and the charge mechanism has changed completely. First, striking is now initiative based rather than who charged. Second, you measure from the nearest point to nearest point between units – and you can agree before the charge as to the distance. Finally, the charge distance is now random.

This has changed the dynamic from one where being able to estimate to the millimetre is less important than knowing the chances of successful charge completion and more importantly focusing around the risk of various scenario outcomes and how you manage or mitigate this.

To me, this is a massive improvement in the game. First, because it has cleared up a massive source of tension and second because it encourages skills that I think are more relevant.

So a massive positive for me. I am struggling to find any downside.

Rules Change: A+

The New GW Paints

Over the weekend I had my first chance to really use the new GW paints. Previously I had used a couple of the dry paints to paint spectral highlights on my Mortis Engine, but this was the first time on a traditional model.

Well colour me impressed!

I am halfway through painting up the Gamesday Skaven Warlord (thanks to John Matthews of Battlefront for getting it for me) and the new paints are very very easy to use. I painted red robes on the model and one coat each of the new base colour – Khornate Red and Mephiston Red – gave me phenomenal coverage and great depth. This was enhanced by a wash of my existing Baal Red wash.

To finish the robes I have highlighted with a 50/50 mix of Mephiston and the dry paint Kinderflame and then used Kinderflame as the edge highlight. The rat flesh was east with the base flesh colour and wash then a highlight of Dwarf Flesh. I intend using a second highlight of 50/50 Dwarf and the dry paint flesh.

Even on this single figure I can see these new paints speeding up my army painting immeasurably.

NiCon Next Cab Off the Rank

NiCon is coming up in three weekends and looks like it will have good numbers. It is being run by the Cityguard in Auckland and as it stands has 36 people signed up to play.

The last event I attended in Auckland – Equinox – was very heavy on Warriors of Chaos and Empire armies. It will be interesting to see if that continues here. You’ve got to think that with a new Empire book out and lots of new toys to try that the Empire will continue to prove popular.

I’m hoping that the Cityguard will post a list of participants so we can see who is attending. Hopefully, it will get good support from across the North Island.

Friday, May 11, 2012

8th Edition Rules Change Redux - True Line of Sight

This really is an easy one. When it was mooted it was seen as very controversial change - for some an asteroid had entered the atmosphere.

The Europeans hated it and insisted on v7.5 being played at the ETC where they invented a whole new mechanic they called "Systematic Line of Sight". This was led by the Danes who instituted it at the Giant Fanatic tournament less than two months after the release of 8th. Did they give the actual rules a fair go? No.

It wasn't needed. Even now two years on they can't quite let go. They have a new bastardised system mashing TLOS and SLOS together for this year's ETC.

Guess what? In two years of 8th I can count the number of discussions I've had about TLOS on one hand. The only places were a "problem" is seen to exist is in Central Europe and parts of Auckland. Seriously it is not needed - change your tactics, change your list - you don't need to change the rules.

Hills still matter. You get +1 for charging off higher ground. They give an elevated perch for shooting.

You can't hide half your army behind one looking to create a non-game.

Rule Change: A+

Wednesday, May 9, 2012

8th Edition Rules Change Redux - New Victory Point Conditions

One of the more controversial rules changes with 8th was the overhaul of the Victory Point system. Out when points for quarters, units under half strength and units fleeing at the end of the game.

When this was revealed, there was much gnashing of teeth and angst that the world had ended. Immediately some TOs started re-writing the rules to award points if a unit was fleeing or under half strength.

“It means that you can flee charges with no impact on the last turn” seemed to assume the same importance as the Global Financial Crisis had on the Greek way of life. The world was ending, we just weren’t sure how soon.

Similarly, tactics whereby you reduced a unit below half strength and then went and hid in a corner – preferably also collecting 100 points for the quarter – suddenly weren’t tactics. Now the shooty avoidance army is largely a bad memory. You have to be able to finish the job if you want to win big.

And guess what? Again the change didn’t herald the end of the world. Instead it meant you had to change tactics and your list build – and ADAPT!

These days you only rarely see TOs meddling with the Victory Points – for example at the home of v7.5, the ETC – the rest of us have gone on adapted.

That means a few things:
  • Sufficient firepower to finish units off
  • Some combat/magic offense (predominantly) to get points out of the bigger units you see. This means big spells but also some combat capability if you want to win big
  • Secondary chargers with 20” reach – so that if people flee then you make them flee again
The game changed and those that adapted continue to do well.

For me, there are far more big combats involved in the game now. That surely is a positive. Evolve or die!

Rule Change: A

Tuesday, May 8, 2012

8th Edition Rule Change Redux - The Horde Formation

One of the new rules from 8th that got a lot of attention when it was first released was the "Horde Formation". This gave you the opportunity to get a second rank of supporting attacks. This meant you were rewarded from going wide by getting a bazillion attacks. I saw it initially used but then it fell out of favour as people focused on depth to break Steadfast.

Lately though it has made a comeback, particularly where your front rankers have a high A characteristic. So we see it on Savage Orcs and Ghouls where going 10 wide can result in an awful lot of attacks. For instance a unit of 40 Ghouls 10 wide can generate 29 attacks against a Clanrat unit.

But the real value in Horde is when you have the synergy of Buffs to improve your troops. Anything that gives you ASF, high initiative, increases WS (e.g. Light Magic), or the ability to transfer WS (e.g. Tomb Prince), or re-rolls (Vampire Lore) or Poison - increases the effectiveness of your points investment.

So we are starting to see the Horde Formation used as a force multiplier.

Now the biggest bane of the Horde, are template weapons. Because you need to be at least 30 models you have a huge footprint. With that footprint comes risk - no more than going deep - but the size of the unit attracts much template interest. Similarly any spells that affect "per model" are very dangerous for the Horde particularly if they hit before it has managed to get into combat.

Overall I think the Horde Formation is a great addition to the game. It is certainly not overpowering, as it has downsides as well as benefits.
Rule Change: B

Day Two At Horned Rat V

Into Day Two and after watching the Warriors win (Yay!) and Liverpool lose the FA Cup Final (Boo), I was more than a little grumpy. I was looking for someone to vent frustrations on and that was Sam and his new Chaos Dwarfs.
Game Four – Sam Whitt (Chaos Dwarfs – FW Book) – Blood & Glory

As I noted in a prior blog, I was concerned with playing Sam’s list for two reasons – first, unfamiliarity with the book and army, and second he had most of the toys. Where I thought he did have a weakness was in regard to mobility and in having no real chaff to control space on the board.

We both had Fortitude of 5 (General, BSB and two banners) so it required either of us to only get two items – one if general – to break the other and pick up 600 points. Both of us put both scoring characters in a single unit, my BSB forsaking his usual Bulls for the safety of the Ironguts, Sam’s in the Infernal Guard.

With so few drops, Sam went first after deploying back. In came the Kadii Destroyer to threaten my line of three units of mournfang while the magma cannon killed two Sabretusks. The Dreakquake Mortar exploded – even with its reroll – and one of the key threats was gone.

Then came what was probably the key moment of the game. I declared charges with two units of my Mournfang on the Destroyer. I then had the third unit charge a unit of Hobgoblins which if successful would free my Guts to also charge the Destroyer. Sam should have fled…..he would have gone off the board. I suspect he was concerned that it would have opened up a charge of my Maneaters on his Bull Centaur unit. However by holding it allowed me to get the Guts into the Kadaii bringing with them an extra +5CR on top of the +1 for charging. With +6 CR and a series of Str 5/6 impact hits before a further swathe of Str 6 IG attacks, the Kadaii was always going down.

After that my Maneaters and Mournfang cleared out the Centaurs and I started picking up points across the table. In the end Sam had his Lord and BSB left plus two Hobgoblins. I lost the three Sabretusks.

Win 20-0

Monday, May 7, 2012

Day One At Horned Rat V

My weekend started by meeting up with Tim Joss after work on Friday. Little did he know that when I said he could spend the weekend at mine for Horned Rat that I had an ulterior motive. It gave me a captive pair of hands to move tables prior to the event. Tim, Hagen and Tom helped me move the terrain and collect the tables so we could set up the hall Friday night. Thanks.

Late Friday Raymond the Umpire sent out a cryptic email telling us he had split people into one of four groups based on whether they had “Light” or “Dark” armies and whether they resided in Wellington or not (“Home” and “Away”). So being a Dark Hom(i)e I knew I could only be playing a Light Awayer in the First Round.

Saturday dawned and off to the hall.

Game One – John Murrie (High Elves) – Dawn Attack

John’s army consisted of two medium blocks of Swordmasters, big block of White Lions, a massive spear block, two medium blocks of archers and two eagles. He had a Level Four Shadow and a Level Two High mage plus a BSB.

My plan was to pick off John’s softer units – e.g. all but the White Lions and Swordmasters – and then attack them in the later part of the game. This worked well in that I quickly removed the archers with Maneaters and Bulls. I frustrated John by fleeing my Mournfang units (back into my Leadership bubble) from his White Lions and Swordmasters. He was hampered by poor charge rolls and I was able to get the Bulls behind his big Spear unit and then charged them with Ironguts. This deleted the unit and I was then able to multicharge the White Lions with 5 units (11 dead from impact hits). From here it was a relatively straightforward mop up of the Swordmasters.

Win 20-0

John won Best Sport at the event. However, I didn’t vote for him as he normally plays Dwarfs.

Game Two – Josh Kennedy (Wood Elves) – Meeting Engagement

Again a very favourable draw for the Ogres. Josh had three blocks of Archers, two blocks of Treekin, a Treeman, two Eagles, a Level 4, a BSB with HODA and two Branchwraiths. He deployed well back while I deployed as far forward as I could.

I was trying to monster one side of his army while ignoring (initially) the other. This had Maneaters threatening his flank Josh made an early error in that he moved the two Branchwraiths forward about eight inches in front of his archers. This allowed two units of Mournfang to charge and one to overrun into his archers. On the flank with the Maneaters, his Treekin were tripled charged by Bulls, Guts and Maneaters – the Guts failing to get in. As his Treeman moved over to intercept my Mournfang the Ironblasters opened up and destroyed him.

From here it was a mop-up exercise and my Mournfang were able to clean up the remaining flank over the last few turns.

Win 20-0

Game Three – Tom Dunn (Daemons) – Watchtower

By this stage Tom and I had made our way to the top table, in his case courtesy of two 19-1 wounds. I wasn’t keen on fighting his army – it is more mobile – and particularly in this scenario (30 Bloodletters including a Herald are impossible to shift from the tower).

I had control of the tower but had no unit suitable for occupation. Anyway, why give those bloodletters a charge first turn. I realised that there was nothing I had that could stop them entering the building so knew I was giving away 600 points. My hope was that Tom went in early so I could concentrate on the rest of his army. Tom didn’t. He moved the rest of his army to encircle me. I shot Billy Bloodthirster twice on Turn 1 but Tom made both his ward saves. On Turn 2 I got him which effectively cancelled out the Watchtower points.

The Ironguts charged the Bloodletters (sans Herald) and cleaned them out in a turn. One of my Ironblasters was mugged by two units of Furies and a Bloodcrusher while the Mournfang cleaned out a unit of Flamers. From here Tom played very well and managed to save the various parts of his army before I could get them. I did get the Horrors and the Herald but that was all. I charged the tower last turn but we both knew it was forlorn.

Win 14-6

So I had a very good first day finishing on 54 points. Tom was 3rd on 44. Sunday morning would see me battle Sam Whitt’s Chaos Dwarfs which were sitting on 52 points and had been scaring the bejesus out of all of his opponents.

Horned Rat V Impacts NZ Rankings

All change at the top of the New Zealand Fantasy Rankings after Horned Rat V. The Lizard King has been toppled! There is a new #1 and from my memory it is the first time that he has held the spot.

#1 Peter Williamson 268.8

#2 Pete Dunn 267.3

#3 Mal Patel 263.6

#4 Tim Joss 262.2

#5 Rob Sadler 254.4

What is interesting is that Peter has achieved the top mantle using three different armies – High Elves, Tomb Kings and Brets – none of them killers (nor has he used netlists). I think that speaks volume as to the achievement.

Also interesting is just how national the rankings are. Peter lives in Masterton, I’m in Wellington, Mal is in Christchurch, Tim in Invercargill and Rob in Auckland.

Horned Rat V Results

As you'll be aware Horned Rat V was this weekend here in Wellington. The event attracted 30 gamers from as far apart as Auckland and Invercargill (top of the North Island to the absolute bottom of the South for the geographically challenged).

The Umpire, Raymond Dick, did a fantastic job and set new standards for organisation. The mechanics of the event went without a hitch - one walkabout player turning up late on Sunday morning excepted. I'm pretty sure that with these organisational skills a life as a project manaager beckons!

There were 5 games (100 Battle Points) which were converted to a score out of 70 and 15 points each for Sports and Painting both checklists. Everyone scored max for Sports (which was great) and there was  minimal differentiation in Painting (25 people scoring max) which were the behaviours being encouraged - make an effort to paint your army to tabletop standard and don't be a tool. As a result your Battle score largely reflected your placing.

Best Sport - John Murrie

Best Painted (Players' Choice) - Sam Whitt

Best Army (Umpire's Choice) - James Millington

Best Newcomer - Bo Patterson

Sam's army was fantastic. He had made Bull Centaurs out of Bloodcrushers and had a MacFarlane figure as his Kadai'i Destroyer. Certainly was a deserved winner - by what I suspect was a landslide.

Looking at the results, it looks like something is stirring in the jungles of Lustria. All four Lizardmen made the Top 10. each was using a single Slaan but with different make ups.

Thanks to all those that travelled to the event and thanks to the Wellington community for supporting it. And thanks once again to Raymond for putting up his hand to run it.

Friday, May 4, 2012

Horned Rat V This Weekend

Horned Rat V is on this weekend and yesterday I posted up the lists that will be on show.

Personally I think we are starting to see people adapt to a hard cap world far more than was the case even six months ago. The comp being used here is largely SCGT (without special characters). With the balancing of the books and coalesence of well thought out light hard cap composition systems, I can see why I would ever want to play under subjective comp again.

I believe that the lists that will be participating are the best set of lists I've seen at a NZ competition. What I mean by that is that at the top end at least a third of the field are highly competitive while the general competitiveness stretches further down the field.

It also looks like more people are thinking about the meta game and thinking about what they will likely face. Looking through the lists five really jump out at me as "interesting":
  • Tom's Daemons - these are just nails. Five units that can move 20" - one of them a Bloodthirster - is going to give people very little time to think.Back this up with two big units of Bloodletters, two single Bloodcrusher Champ and two minimum size Flamers and there is going to be some serious damage handed out. I can't see how he can fail to make Top 5.
  • Mal's Lizards - Cloud of 1000 cuts. Mal won't lose any game by more than 2 BP as you've more change of catching a rainbow than getting really serious points out of this. However I think he will struggle to score more than 14 BP in a game as it lacks serious damage dealing - Final Transmutation excepted. Mal will squeak into the Top 4.
  • Peter's Brets - this is a real meta list. Brets have had a resurgence in the UK as a potential cure for an outbreak of Ogrenitis. The same principles apply versus the new Empire Demigryphs, the ability to match the charge Neutralises a key advantage. backed up with Beasts magic, a Treb for monsers I think it is a good list - though like Mal, Peter won't want to play Tom.
  • Sam's Chaos Dwarfs - the element of surprise is a big asset here. Sam has quickly distilled the best of the book into a list. People will not know what to expect and Sam will then destroy them. He has a real lack of chaff and that will be his biggest problem. i expect him to go Top 5, possibly podium.
  • Glen's Vampires - Scream and scream again. Four Banshees! The Beastmen and the Ogres will love this. Backed up by big Crypt Horror unit and a horde of Crypt Ghouls. The big weeakness I see in the list is a lack of staying power if somebody gets into the two fighting units.
These were the lists i found the most interesting (in Mal's case in terms of its total arsey-ness) but there are other lists that arehard (if not interesting). Tim and Joel are bringing 1000 shots each, Hamish has got a wall of steel as has Ben. Rory has a strong list though I think he is lacking Captains.

It should be a fascinating weekend. I just hope I don't have to play any Dwarfs (just jokes: I'm sure they are perfectly nice, if unimaginative people).

Thursday, May 3, 2012

The Horned RAT V - Army Lists

You can see all the lists for the Horned Rat Gobbo right here

There a real mix of lists from Baby Seals to Absolute Nails.

Wednesday, May 2, 2012

Ogres for Horned Rat V

Last night I finished the new terrain pieces for Horned Rat and today new storage buckets for all my terrain arrives. I’m very happy with the way the new pieces came out and hopefully they’ll bring some visual variety to the tables. I’m hoping to pick up the trophies this evening which will be another job out of the way.

So three days out from the event and I’m guessing all the lists are in. I’m taking my Ogres and using the same list that I used at Equinox. I thought about using the list I’ve been running in prep for NiCon but decided to stick with the tried and true.

The list is as follows:

Slaughtermaster (General) – Level 4, Fencer’s Blades, Glittering Scales, Ironfist, Opal Amulet, Dispel Scroll

Bruiser – BSB, Enchanted Shield, Sword of Striking

Firebelly – Level 1 (Fire), Extra Hand Weapon, Dragonbane Gem, Ironcurse Icon

8 Bulls – Full Command, Ironfists

8 Ironguts – Full Command, Standard of Discipline

3x 2 Mournfang Cavalry – Ironfists, Heavy Armour

3x 1 Sabretusks

4 Maneaters – 3x Extra Hand Weapon, 1x Great Weapon, Scout, Immune to Psychology

2x Ironblaster

So thirty four models – smaller than one of my Skavenslave units!

Tuesday, May 1, 2012

Chapters of the Astartes

Post Adepticon and the UKGT, the Imperium has published an updated "Chapters of the Adeptus Astartes". I've been given a sneak peek at one of the identification charts contained within: