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.


  1. Actually, as I found out with my Daemons at Valhalla, it makes MSU viable again. I've noticed that the people who run Death Stars have a wierd fear of actually moving the characters out of the Death Star, meaning with a good MSU build they can't get many points while you pick off the weak stuff.

    As soon as they start realising that characters are actually quite good by themselves, things might change, but I'm enjoying running chaff at Death Star builds, and cock-blocking them in the meantime.

    Maybe after a few draws or only low point wins, for mid-ish table finishes they might realise they need some more options...

  2. I'm not too sure what else I could do with Warriors. I'm thinking of giving a more MSU style a go, but to make it work I think it'd need 2 Hellcannons and they keep getting comped out for some reason(Yet Empire can have 3 cannons, go figure).

  3. Hang on a second're having a moan because your WS5, S4, A2 3+ armour save, possible ward save of 5+, possible 3+ ward on Chosen can't have TWO Hellcannons....? Mate, when the Empire can field core troops with those stats, that will be the day we can't take three cannons! Aren't Marauders WS4 and 4 points??? Go figure????

    What I find most interesting is how out of sync most of the 7th ed. army books are compared to the 8th ed. These design disparities couldn't be more obvious than in the Dark elf and Skaven books with their abundance of magic items and poorly thought out monsters/magic items and balance between core and special or vice-versa. Case in point (in my view) the 7 wood elf armies at's not that Wood elves have become any better suddenly, but they're another army that has access to a vast magic item arsenal. Now combinations that weren't particularly appealing are now being thought out by players, because their usefulness has increased since 8th ed. books have been released.
    Additionally, for the new 8th ed. army books the old builds that were trusty and reliable are no longer the case, therefore as new 8th builds have come out other armies can now be more competitive (wood elves). I think we are just starting to see the game enter a one to two year period of rapid change, chaos (literally) and certainly some degree of unfairness for some 8th books. However, I believe this will change back to a more ordered affair when there are more 8th than 7th ed. books in print.

    To be honest the 8th ed. books can't come out fast enough...but when they do, Warhammer is going to be simply unbelievable!
    And to all the Warhammer haters out there....Warmachine sucks.



    1. Hi Rory,

      Ok, yes I complain about my army's comp a lot, and also Cannons, though I'm biased due to our local Empire player, who cant seem to roll less than a 5 for number of wounds with his.

      But hey, I think everything that isn't Warriors is broken :D

      Aren't Hellcannons 205 free points for you Empire chaps anyway? XD

      My dual Hellcannon list has no Chosen, as its based on lots of units, but it's more defensive and I think it needs dual Hellcannons to make it work, so I can't play it under current comp. Hellcannons aren't amazing or anything, they just bring enough firepower to make your opponent more inclined to come to you, which the list relies on to some degree. A single Hellcannon isn't reliable enough to do it. No Warshrines or EOTG shenanigans in the list either!

      I wouldn't mind a comp system that was more "You can't have 'x' if you take 'y'" rather than just flat out banning it.

      Agreed with you on the 8th ed books, the game is getting increasingly better for it (And Watchtower, my biggest gripe with the 8th ed ruleset, is a rare species nowadays!)