Restructuring the First

“Brothers” Supreme Grand Master Azrael intoned “We have received word from the Primarch of the Ultramarines regarding the reorganization we have begun to undertake.  Today we will discuss how we will reorganize the Dark Angels, and our brothers and successors have all sent observers to better match our decisions…”

With this Azrael turned and the cloth fell from a large display on the wall.

The Chapter is dead.  LONG LIVE THE CHAPTER!  For a long time GW has insisted that there are 1,000 Chapters of 1,000 marines.  This makes very little sense if you understand how military organizations are formed and fight, but it looks good on paper.  So Bobby G has started his project to re-write the codex, and with the massive reinforcements all the chapters are receiving, keeping them under 1,000 simply won’t happen.  Frankly, the legions are back.  Not the quarter of a million Ultramarines, or hundred thousands of the other legions, but 4000 or so will likely become the new norm.  I think the companies will be doubled in size, and then each company duplicated to create 20 double sized companies.  It may even progress more to where each company expands to the size of a Battalion, with Lieutenants taking the roles of current Captains and Captains moving up to command the Battalions.

But first let’s rebuild the Battle Company.  6 squads of Tactical Marines, with 2 squads of Assault Marines, with 2 squads of Devastators make up a current Battle Company.  First I think they’ll add 2 squads of 10 Intercessors.  Over time this will swell to where the intercessors will match the numbers of Tactical squads.  Inceptors will come in the form of 2 squads of 6, comprising a dozen to reinforce the 20 assault marines currently.  Finally a single squad of Hellblasters will be added, eventually increasing to two.  Finally I foresee heavy reinforcements among the specialists.  A full command group, with communications, medical, and other support specialists.  Specifically I would expect to see 2 or 3 Communications specialists, 4-5 Apothecaries, 2-3 Chaplains, most likely 1 or 2 techmarines all more or less permanently attached to the new “Company”.  In addition to this there will be a horde of serfs, servitors, and other support personnel who aren’t Astartes.  The enlargement extends to the vehicle assets as well.  Currently there’s at least 10 rhinos, and probably a couple razorbacks, assigned to each Company.  Each primaris squad will likely include a Repulsor, which represents a huge boost to the firepower of the Company.

And no, I haven’t told the wife about the extra models I will need to finish the new, larger company.

The Deathwing will be enlarged, but until we see the full extent of Aggressors and Gravis armored Primaris, I’m going to hold off on how exactly they’ll be extended, although eventually I feel it will be equally 1:1 over time.  Next  we get to the Ravenwing.  This is even more obscure than the Deathwing.  Inceptors are the only possibility, and I’d like to paint some up as Ravenwing because I think they’d be very fun to do, but they don’t fit in terribly well.  The Reserve companies will be pretty straightforward.  Double the current number of squads, with Primaris making up the new squads.  Maybe a few extra squads of Inceptors.  The scout company presents a unique challenge.  Frankly a 100 man scout company makes no sense even today.  500 would make more sense, and 1,000 wouldn’t be that unreasonable given how few would make it to be full marines, and how many they would need.

The Reivers and Inceptors could be formed into a similar close support squad for veterans, a Dreadwing Company to bring back one of the old elements of the Dark Angels Legion.  They could support the Deathwing and Ravenwing combining some of the speed of the Ravenwing with some of the staying power of the Deathwing.  This would enable them to enter the inner circle of the Dark Angels (which some would have started to do over the century since their appearance).  If the Dark Angels wish to resurrect the Hexagrammaton the Reivers could be the Dreadwing, the Inceptors the Stormwing, the Aggressors the Firewing, and of course renaming the tanks to the Ironwing hardly requires a lot of work.

This would resurrect many elements of the ancient Dark Angels, and would allow them to grow the resurrected legion quite quickly in the new, resurgent Imperium.  Narratively I think the Hunt will come to an end very soon, I doubt the Lion will be less secretive on his resurrection, however I do see him working with Cypher to bring back the Fallen who didn’t go over to Chaos, while openly crusading against those that did.

So my 5th Company will be adding some more Primaris.  I already have some Inceptors, as I just LOVE the models, I’ll probably add a box each of Intercessors and Hellblasters and another Repulsor.  Soon I’ll add a post on the future of the Marines, both in fluff and in the meta.  Here’s a hint, it goes badly for the regular marines.

To wrap this all up, the Legion will end up with 5 specialist Companies, each double the size of the current companies.  Deathwing, Ravenwing, Firewing, Stormwing, and Dreadwing.  This would create veteran elements open to pretty much any speciality.  The vehicles would get consolidated into the Ironwing, most likely greatly aided by the techmarines and the renaissance that Guilliman is trying to build with regards to science and reason.

The three battle companies will also expand, and be doubled up so that the 3rd, 4th, and 5th will be joined by the 14th, 15th, and 16th companies; with the 11th, 12th, and 13th being the Firewing, Stormwing, and Dreadwing (in some order).  The 17th, 18th, 19th, and 20th would be the remaining reserve companies, with the 10th merely being massively expanded.  Each company will mix troops, that is, traditional marines and primaris will be mixed in each company, and I expect specialists and company command positions will see a significant number of Primaris as time goes forward.

So that’s where I see things going.  More troops per company, more companies per “Chapter” and no hard caps on either.

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Jam the Radar!

This is my first post on some more game theory-ish topics.  I play games for fun, but sometimes I’ll dig into the numbers behind the game and try to figure out better ways to play.  This is an example of a games-theory concept that I encountered a lot in Warmahordes that I think has become extremely relevant in 8th edition 40k, with the rise of melee, hordes, and the ability of units in melee to affect vehicles during their own turn.

Jamming is a big part of some games, in others it barely makes the lexicon.  Traditionally Warhammer 40k has been one of those games where it is a rarely used tactic as it is incredibly hard to do with any sort of efficiency.  Well 8th edition has changed that in a big way.

jam

Land Raider About to be JAMMED

So first let’s talk about what jamming is in a wargame.  Jamming is when you use a relatively unimportant unit to deny an enemy the ability to move, shoot, or pick his own charge target by charging into him.  The benefit of jamming is it can give you a lot of board control, while saving you from a substantial amount of fire.  The downside is, unless the unit doing the jamming is a really good tarpit, they are probably dead as doornails.

The biggest target for jamming in 40k right now is vehicles.  Vehicles often have a very high damage output, and are extremely hard to destroy quickly.  They have too many factors making them very hard targets to be destroyed without a massive concentration of firepower.  However all it takes is 1 model starting its turn within 1″ to block the vehicle from shooting.  A predator has the weapons loadout of a devastator squad, with more mobility and far more toughness.  It can’t take cover as well, vehicle cover rules basically meaning vehicles don’t get to take cover, but it can inflict a lot of damage in a very short period of time, and removing those guns takes a lot of effort.

However one stormboy with a choppa disables all those guns for at least one turn.  And he does it for pretty cheap.  Jamming into a tank does three things.  It reduces my firepower, it forces me to fall back and disrupts my gunline, and it forces me to find another unit to engage the jammer, either with enough firepower to destroy them or to charge into melee itself, and if my opponent picked the right unit to do so, it’s a unit he can afford to lose while I have multiple units dealing with them.  If he has multiple, small units available to jam, or if I mess up and he can charge multiple units with the same unit, he can turn my shooting phase from the height of my turn into a really frustrating exercise in trying to do more with less.

Now let’s say he gets a small unit of stormboyz into melee with my predator.  Maybe he knocks off a wound, maybe he doesn’t.  Now I have a predator pulling back, I have a squad of tacticals coming over to shoot, and probably charge them to finish them off, and I have nothing shooting at the deff dread rolling down on my battleline trying to keep it from getting its claws on my precious marines.

On the flip side of the tactical coin is horde armies.  Boyz mobs, genestealers, hormagaunts, all are incredibly powerful if they crash into your army and get off the first attack, but they have to be unengaged to charge, so you have to lock them up.  This can be tricker, and you have to break out the Mathhammer to figure out how best to do it.  Let’s take a unit of genestealers that I have to delay for a turn.  20 stealers of course, attacking MEQs, first we’ll see what happens if the ‘stealers can charge.

80 attacks, 54 hits (I’m going to round up because I’m a pessimist.  Similarly armor saves will be rounded down) 9 wounds at AP-4 from rending claws, 18 wounds at AP-1.  On generic marines that’s 9 wounds just going straight through, and 9 more after armor saves.  That’s almost 2 squads of tactical marines, or nearly 1 full squad of intercessors.

That example is worst case.  Let’s look at if I charge them (without shooting) with my trusty 10 man tactical squad.  My typical squad is 10 marines, combi-plasma, plasma, and Heavy Bolter.  So they charge in, 11 attacks, 2 from the sergeant, 9 from normal marines.  7 hits, 3 wounds, 2 dead genestealers.  Not exactly great, but it does clip a couple of wounds off the return attack.  Not enough to save a normal tactical squad from being summarily destroyed, but it does help a bit.

Let’s say they pour some fire into the stealers.  I’m going to assume they moved during their turn, because in order to get a charge in on genestealers you practically have to, so here we go.  7 rapid fire bolters:  just over 3 wounds on average.  1 combi weapon bolter adds about 1/3 of a wound, combi plasma adds enough that with the bolter fire we’re calling it 4 wounds already.  Heavy bolter – just under another wound.  We’re being pessimistic so, 4 dead stealers, charge in, kill 2 more.  Now we’ve removed 24 attacks from that incoming salvo.  Still not enough that the basic tactical squad will survive.

That’s how nasty hordes are this edition.  14 Genestealers coming back with 4 attacks is 56.  37 hits, 6 automatic wounds, another 6 or 7 normal wounds.  Still a dead tactical squad and the surviving stealers can move up and charge in their own turn.  Remember, moving 9-11 inches for normal troops is trivial this edition, and genestealers can start 18″ away from you and reliably get a charge in so you HAVE to burn them down, or keep them at arms range.

Now let’s look at something I’m looking at very hard, the intercessor squad.  One thing I didn’t mention is that my tactical squad only costs about 2/3 of a genestealer mob, Intercessors cost just around 5/6 of a genestealer mob.

So, the bolt rifles, 10 of them with no special or heavy weapon, 4 wounds.  Charging in these tough bastards have 2 attacks, the sergeant has 3 (and a power sword).  That’s another 5 wounds (combining average extra wounds from shooting and melee) leaving the Genestealers with 11.  44 attacks.  29 hits, 6 wounds that go right through armor, 11 other wounds.  That leaves the sergeant and 1 other marine holding on.  That’s not enough to be comfortable that the genestealers would be stopped during their turn, but I could divert some fire from another unit to increase that margin a fair bit.  While it’s not the topic of this post, I have to say Intercessors are looking better and better in comparison to basic marines when it comes to objective play.  The only thing they lose out on is heavy firepower.

Growing the Army

So I have a truly ludicrous amount of points, and nearly as ludicrous amount of models.  Thanks to my airbrush and some nose to the tiny lump of plastic painting I’ve actually been painting more than I’ve bought this year, although I do have some projects still to do.  Right now I have a couple priorities for what I plan on buying, and the order I plan on painting.

Inceptors – I’ve been waiting on these bad boys since I saw them in the big box set.  I’m excited to see the multi-part kit coming out next week, and cannot wait to get my hands on them.  I have some ideas for how to do them and I think they’ll be a lot of fun to field.

Different Azrael – I’m planning a conversion as I really don’t like the sculpt of the old model much, and it’s metal.  I do not like metal.  I do not like backpacks.  I do not like models without helmets.  The question is how to do it without spending 50-70 bucks on one model.

Dark Talon – I need a flier.  Period.

Transports – To get enough wheels for my battle company, even pre-primaris I need to get 6(!) Razorback kits and build/paint them where I can swap them for Rhinos.  I have one Repulsor so my first Primaris unit that isn’t interceptors is fine, but every unit after that I would really want a Repulsor for.  I also would like to find some alternative turrets, I have had no luck reaching Chapterhouse studios, but would like to get some turrets that feature twin assault cannons without spending crazy money.

Those are the only real “Must Haves” and while it’s a lot of plastic, it’s not very diverse.

Wants

Hellblasters – Come on.  Who doesn’t love plasma wielding maniacs.  At least in a Dark Angels army.  Still have to fit them in Heavy Support somehow.

Bikes – Super useful in this edition, and I have the command to support them, but with the Darkshroud locking down one fast attack slot….

Deathing Terminators / Command -Much more a want than a need.  I have more than 20 terminator models, but only a few are the modern plastic kits.  Lots of metal squatters and even a few wolf guard.

Predator – MAN these are so good in 8th.  Holy cow,  Just the perfect MBT.  Not ideal for everything but I could totally live with 2 of these in a 1500 point list

Scouts – Definitely not a core unit for me, but I could use some lighter infantry and something that has mobility without needing a transport.  Rievers would also be ok here I guess?

On the fence.

Intercessors.  The new tactical marines just don’t seem good at the things I need them to be good at.  I love the models and I could be convinced otherwise but… They just seem meh in an army packed with awesome.

Redemptor Dread – SO MANY POINTS.  SO HUGGY.  SO CONFLICTED.

Sammael – Cool model but… just not wowing me unless I go whole hog on bikes.

Aggressors – Are we going to have them be part of the Deathwing?  Are they going to get enough mobility to make them worthwhile?  Even with all the dakka, can they kill enough?

Things I’m eagerly awaiting –

Transfer Sheets – Holy hell do I wish the old Dark Angels transfer sheet would be reprinted.  I’d buy 2 right away.

The Lion – Come on GEEDUBS.  COME ON FORGEWORLD.

Picking in a Crowded Field

So this post was kind of on the back burner, then GW announced Chapter Approved.  I really like the whole idea of a “Living Ruleset” but I hope they keep rules “updates” free or inexpensive rather than charging us for quarterly rulebooks.  Anyway on to the point.

My Dark Angels have some hard choices to make.  I need to take a lot of troops to hold objectives.  Don’t mind that too much, it’s fluffy, the Lion knows I have a ton of tac marines and even some scouts, and eventually I’ll even get some intercessors, and I like getting Razorbacks for said tacs.  No problems there.

However they eat a lot of points.  The three tac squads I run eat up 370 points, and only fill a battalion detachment.  Oh and GW please learn what a Battalion and a Brigade are.  They should really be called Patrol, Platoon and *MAYBE* Company, detachments if anything, but I digress.  From a 1500 point army, this is close to 25% of my army, and characters will easily eat another quarter.  This leaves me with maybe half my points to spend on “Optional” units that do the real fighting.

What’s more, these units come with some real limitations on slots in the org chart.  0-2 elites, 0-2 heavy support, 0-2 fast attack, 0-2 flyers.  And you really want this detachment because 3 CP is really good the way stratagems are working out.  To get more than this I would either need to add another detachment or add 3 more troops and another HQ.  That’s pretty rough on a marine army, and it won’t leave me with enough points to fill those slots.

So lets look at what I’d actually want to take.  First let’s look at Elites.  Apothecary, Company Ancient, Company Champion, Company Veteran squad, Deathwing Ancient, Deathwing Apothecary, Deathwing Champion, Deathwing Knights squad, Deathwing Terminator squad, Dreadnought, Imperial Space Marine, Primaris Ancient, Primaris Apothecary, Ravenwing Ancient, Ravenwing Apothecary, Ravenwing Ancient, Ravenwing Apothecary, Ravenwing Champion, Reiver Squad, Servitors, Venerable Dreadnought.

The two Terminator squads are simply amazing.  I’m a big fan of both, slightly more on the basic terminators so far, but Knights will get their time.  Ancients are AMAZING this time around, really taking the bite out of casualties under some circumstances.  Apothecaries are getting some bad press so I will probably not need those too much, Champions are really good for some extra melee bite, although Dark Angels don’t really need that much.  Dreads are AMAZING in 8th, with the venerable especially getting a shout.  Servitors usually get rolled up into a Techmarine so I’m not worried about them, but you can see that there will be times even a limit of 6 could pinch a bit.

Fast Attack is equally crowded with *takes a deep breath* Assault Squad, Inceptor Squad, Ravenwing Attack Bike, Ravenwing Bike Squad, Ravenwing Black Knights, Ravenwing Darkshroud, Ravenwing Land Speeder Vengeance, Ravenwing Land Speeders.

Not as many choices as the Elites, but some really good ones.  Darkshrouds are nearly automatic right now IMNSHO.  -1 to Hit and the way re-rolls works that helps even more (remember you don’t apply the modifier until AFTER you count how many misses you can re-roll) making this such a good unit for boosting deathballs.  Assault squads are still pretty forgettable, I’m looking forward to trying Inceptors, which fit my flavor of fast attack more anyway, and of course any ravenwing bike unit is going to be good.  You do take Land Speeders in squadrons, which is very nice, but they compete with so much else for the one spot left after the Darkshroud that it’s hard to justify bringing them.

Heavy Support is just… a mess.  Aggressors, Devastators, Hellblasters, Land Raider, Land Raider Crusader, Land Raider Redeemer, Predator, Redemptor Dreadnought, Repulsor, Vindicator, Whirlwind.

fuck

I really can’t beat this for how I feel about picking JUST two.

I can only pick two?  I was an artilleryman damnit!  I love big guns!  They enhance my manliness and fill my life with purpose!  Seriously though, I can eliminate the Whirlwind and the Vindicator up front.  I think they are vehicles that work best en masse, and we only have two slots.  Everything else?  MAN.  Predators are AMAZING.  Land Raiders are AMAZING.  Repulsors look AMAZING.  Devastators are real good (lets you get another Razorback AND 4 heavy weapons!) Hellblasters and Aggressors deliver an amazing amount of firepower and are super tough to boot.  Once I get my Repulsor built, and some Hellblasters, maybe even some Aggressors… I’m going to have a real conundrum as to what to take and what to leave at home!  Oh and don’t forget that Hellblasters without a Repulsor are VERY slow right now so… that’s two right there if I take Hellblasters!

The hardest part of Marines right now is building an Army that balances the need to deal with Objective Secured with the requirements to have firepower and tools in the box to deal with fighting the actual combat.  I will say this though, it’s a fun time to build an army!

Space Marine Tanks and You

So I’m going to write this article on something near and dear to my heart.  Big, nasty, heavy armor and what I think about it in 8th edition.  First I’m going to talk about the classifications of armor; which should give you a glimpse into how I think of them in my head.  There’s 4 classifications that I think matter in 40k.

  1. Tanks – Predators, Vindicators.  Vehicles designed first, last, and always to do the damage.
  2. APC (Armored Personnel Carriers) – Rhinos.  Vehicles designed to transport troops primarily, with minimal armament.
  3. IFV (Infantry Fighting Vehicles) – Tanks that can carry troops (Land Raider, Repulsor) or APCs that carry big guns (Razorbacks).  These really blur a lot of lines, and the Repulsor in particular just does everything, while the Land Raider has the best armor of any tank in the index.
  4. Artillery – Hi whirlwind.  We see you in the corner, you’re a very pretty girl and we probably won’t be seeing you this edition either.

Tanks can usually be built to murder infantry of some type, or armor.  APCs have pretty limited, but useful firepower, IFVs usually have one big weapon system, but again for the marines the Land Raider has a powerful set of weapon mixes, while the Repulsor has a choice between an insane amount of anti infantry firepower or an equally ludicrous number of lascannon shots.  Artillery tends to have one huge gun, that can pound the hell out of an area, although in this edition it generally just means whacking one unit.

It’s also important to note the characteristics of the units they operate with.  Tanks are self-contained.  To do what they do, they don’t need another unit.  APCs always operate with troops, and IFVs nearly so.  Let’s look at a Razorback working with an anti-tank devastator squad.  Assuming you want to hug up on them to move them later in the game you want to pick weapons that compliment the devastators.  Let’s say you went lazy and picked 4 lascannons.  Well they sure don’t want infantry coming close so you pick a twin linked assault cannon to deal with hordes or even light vehicles that try to swarm up on you.  IFVs role is defined as much by what it’s supporting as what you want it to do in and of itself.  Tanks are defined by what you want them to do, 100%.

All of these vehicles are TOUGH.  T7, 10 wounds for a Rhino or Razorback, with a 3+ save.  T7 11 wounds 3+ for the predator, T8, 16 wounds(!) and 2+ for the Land Raider.  The repulsor is (I believe) T8, 16 wounds, 3+.  It will take a LOT of shots to crack open a tank, even a lascannon will require multiple shots to kill a lowly rhino.  Forget a Land Raider, that’s something you will struggle to crack in a single turn, or even two, unless you really go all in on anti-armor.  At which point you have to worry about what is IN the Land Raider.

So what about the Rhino.

Rhino

I’ve actually painted it more I just haven’t got a good picture!

Well I kit mine with dual Storm Bolters.  Rapid Fire 2 means they roll a respectable 4 attacks at close range, they can pick up, drop off, or rescue squads, move them across the battlefield, and even provide a couple extra dice of shooting.  Now let me emphasize rescue.  Got a squad down to 1 or 2 guys?  Don’t want to give up a victory point?  Pop them back in the rhino.  You can even do this with multiple squads because you don’t have to worry about only having one unit in there.  Rescue work is a great role for these vehicles because it’s so much harder to crack them, and you can run back to a building and drop the troops off someplace safe without sacrificing too much firepower.

Razorback

This is like, 1/4 of a picture I took with a phone…. that’s insane

The Razorback can do all that and provide some great single-role firepower.  Twin lascannon, Twin Heavy Bolter, or better yet, assault cannon, give you a great choice between vehicle killing and killing lots of infantry.  I love razorbacks and plan on mounting as many squads as I can in the little bastards.  I have 3 and plan on getting 4 more AT LEAST.

FB_IMG_1501518278310

I promise a better picture soon!

Predators are simply great.  The local Warhammer store can’t keep them in stock, Mayhem down the way can’t either.  I love the autocannon and lascannon loadout, and plan on eventually getting more.  They can sit back, ideally someplace well supported by characters, and just shoot, shoot, shoot.

Land Raider

I’M WORKING ON IT OK?  YOU’RE NOT MY MOM!

Land Raiders are all stars.  INCREDIBLY threatening with between 24 and 36 anti infantry shots (12 of which can threaten vehicles to a fair extent at S6 Ap-1) as well as the practically obligatory multi-melta, it demands to be shot at.  Oh and it’s T8 with 16 wounds and a 2+ so good luck shooting it.  Godhammers bring 4(!) lascannons, and twin linked heavy bolters, making it a superb vehicle killer, with the firepower of a devastator squad and the staying power of, well, the heaviest tank of the Space Marines.  Finally the Redeemer is the odd man out.  It’s definitely the weakest of the Land Raiders but, two Redeemer flamethrowers at S6, AP -2 D2 is… very impressive damage against MEQs and even TEQs.  What pushes them over the top, again, is command bubbles.  Any kind of re-roll or invuln save makes it practically unfair.  Azrael, btw, does both.

So let’s wrap up by talking a bit more about the kind of support.  Obviously any chapter master letting you re-roll any to-hit is great, or even a captain letting you re-roll 1s (half your misses) is fantastic.  Lieutenants let you re-roll 1s to wound.  Believe me I’ll be getting some *GLARES ANGRILY AT HIS CRUSADER’S MULTI MELTA* which might be even better than re-rolling to-hits as there’s more failed wound rolls than hit rolls in general.

Finally, someone needs to bang out the dents these monsters pick up over time.  Techmarines can pick up D3 wounds on a single vehicle/turn.  If you are committed to bringing a lot of armor, having this guy running around in the bubble, especially the bubble of someone like Azrael, banging out dents, can make an armor-heavy list simply unpleasant to play against.

So now you know what the vehicles are, what they can do, and how to make them do it better if you want to go all in.  Go forth brother, and smash your foe in the name of the Emperor!

Quit Whining About Your Dice

We play games to have fun.  Those of us playing 40k are playing giant superhuman Space Marines, twisted Chaos daemons, hordes of Solid Guardsmen and Tanks.  Sneaky Eldar, Tough Orks, what have you.  Either way the army you play is generally built of tough, mean, fantastically well armed individuals.  Or at least a lot of guardsmen.

So why are you whining about your dice?  No one wants to hear it, and dwelling on it will only make you feel worse.  Last week my dice were all over.  I missed 3 shooting attacks all game.  Partially because I abused re-roll bubbles but also because my dice were “hot” for that.  Wounds?  Oy gevalt…. my multi melta was apparently in operation making burritos for the Crusader’s crew, and the las cannons were under 50%.  Did I whine about it?  No.  Did I whine about my awful armor saves?  No.  Did my opponent whine about his awful morale checks or his dreadnoughts inability to score wounds?  No.

And we had fun!  Me a bit more than him because my army was a brick of medium cheddar and I was stomping him due to the scenario; but we both had fun!  We got to roll dice, he got to hammer away at my tanks (splitting his fire a bit too much).  On the other hand, another game I was watching featured a player who bemoaned every casualty as if she had to drop the miniature into a fire.  Every missed shot was money she had to pay for ammunition.  Her opponent was actually getting thoroughly stomped but reality didn’t penetrate her bubble of misery until the last turn when she was able to finish tabling her opponent and pack up in smug silence.

Sportsmanship matters and complaining about dice is about as bad as it gets without getting into actual cheating.

Here’s my take on cursing your dice.  If your whole game comes out to one dice roll, your plan failed.  You shouldn’t be rolling one dice to save your army, you should be rolling ten and only needing one to get through.  You want to roll as many dice as you can on your turn, to force your opponent to roll as many as possible.  Conversely you want to roll as few as possible on your opponent’s turn, because nothing good can happen then. Focusing on one super unit doesn’t tend to work well because one unit isn’t that hard to counter.  Having lots of dice coming from different units lets you have worse-than-average luck and still get results. So quit whining about your dice and roll a few more!

Konor Missions, Steering the Narrative

So the Fate of Konor is being decided ahead of time.  Week one’s mission featured rules that basically required the attacker to table the enemy given the length of the battle and the lethality of fire in 8th.  Week one was doomed to be an Imperial victory, even without factoring the number of Imperial players compared to Chaos.

Week two is a bit more interesting.  There’s still a couple fingers on the scale, Chaos gets the mission advantage with what amounts to a free victory point.  However the majority of games will field Imperials vs (Xenos/Chaos/Other Imperials) where there will be far fewer games featuring Chaos armies.  This amounts to a fundamental shift towards Imperials just due to them scoring more points, even if their win rate isn’t quite as good.  Winning games against other Imperials still nets the Imperials a win, and losing to a Xenos player might subtract a point from Chaos depending on how the Xenos player logs it.

So the Imperium is going to get a fair number of wins just by having the most players.  By a lot.  Because GW pimps them all the time.  By having them win all the events.  So there’s more of them.  Which results in… do I have to go on?

So GW can decide from Week to week how things will be decided just by changing the mission a bit, or by giving one side better stratagems than the other.  I think they actually tried this week 1, with the attacker having a great stratagem, cheap, very useful, and fitting the scenario, where the defenders had an expensive one that was extremely unreliable and situational.  There was also a great week 1 stratagem that both sides had access to, improving the bubbles that leaders have.  However the scenario was simply too unbalanced for a stratagem to bring it back into balance.

This week there’s good stratagems for both sides, but the attacker has the advantage there, while the defender has a worse power, but a free VP unless they just get stomped, and if they get stomped, well, who cares about the scenario.

So GW can influence the winner of any given planet, and has a definite desire to see the Imperium win to keep the majority of players happy.  Not the largest faction, the majority.  I expect GW will fiddle to make sure most of Konor stays safe, while ensuring that if things look bad in weeks 6 and 7 I expect we’ll see missions as unbalanced as last week.

Anyway, my plan for this week is 2k points, going to try to dominate the center of the field, the next weeks is all about tanks.  *muahahahahaha* rubs hands together.  I may expand to 2500 points.  I may go to 1500, depends on who I am fighting.

The week following I am going to try to work with the LGS to play on a non-league night as league nights (Sun and Mon) overlap the eclipse, that I’ll be travelling for.  I also need to paint Zeke and have him handy for my week 4 army.  Week 5 has fast attack.  I’ve more or less decided to paint the Darkshroud, but I may have some inceptors as well to try out.  I’m really looking forward to mixing them into my army.

The last week is the knight.  Man that’s going to be rough.  I’m going to get it ready to paint over next week, then break out the airbrush for the big bits, but there’s still a LOT of details, and only so much nuln oil.  Also, need to learn to magnetize.  Sigh.

The Dreaded Empire State Formation

So I’m a bit of an old skool gamer.  I’ve played many a wargame, spanning many an era, and seen many an argument get made over and over and over.  One of the longest run arguments I’ve seen was/is for a game called Starfire.  Fleets in starfire tended to run in one massive stack, with only minimal scouts detached.  This was the dreaded Empire State Formation (ESF).  It has been a problem in Starfire from the beginning, and it continues to be one today as far as I know.

What does this have to do with 40k you ask?  Everything.  I’m going to take an extreme example, but it’s one I’ve already put into play on the tabletop.  Azrael.  Azrael is on about a 1″ base.  This makes his 6″ auras actually about 6 1/2 inches.  One of his auras covers whole units with even one model in the area.  This is the re rolls on to-hit rolls.  He also has a 6″ 4+ invuln aura for every model in that area.  So you want to pile a bunch of important models in super close to the Supreme Master of the Dark Angels.  Meanwhile you want as many units as possible to have at least one model in 6″ of him.  In previous editions the solution to this was pie-plates.  Big templates of high damage weapons that would murder the shit out of an Empire State formation.

Pie plates are no longer a thing.  The formation remains.  What makes it crazier is you can layer them.  I can take a Lieutenant, which allows re-rolls on to-wound rolls, I can add a Darkshroud which gives a -1 on to-hit rolls aimed at me, and layer ALL of this (although the base of the Dark Shroud will be a problem) on a couple units, while still getting at least Azrael and the Lieutenant on a wide area, with a smaller, more important set of units getting potentially all four bonuses, two from Azrael, one from the LT, one from the Darkshroud.   This tends to mean that battles that don’t feature large numbers of objectives, requiring the army to spread apart, devolve into death stars like this dominating the battlefield.

As previously hinted at, objectives are the major deterrent to the ESF.  This matters far more in claim and count objectives where you have to get there first to get the points, and rather less when objectives go to whoever holds them at the end of the game.  Unless there’s an element of “sudden death” to claiming objectives to create urgency in getting there first, there really isn’t a lot of discouragement to towering up and dominating the first 3 or 4 turns, before the tower shatters to chase objectives at the end, or hangs together in order to finish tabling the enemy.

The downside of this is with enough terrain on the table, someone who doesn’t tower up will risk defeat in detail by having a small portion of their army getting dakka’d to death, while other elements can’t even get effective fire on the small footprint the other army takes up.  This forces you to look very hard at how you can build your own Tower of Power, and dueling ESFs is just dull, dull, dull.

The nice thing so far is that it’s hard to bubble wrap these.  You want vehicles and infantry with lots of firepower, but they are vulnerable to assault.  Even weak melee units can tie up vehicles that don’t have an effective ablative layer of troops screening them from close assaults.  Were I to try to crack one of these formations I would put a good bit of effort into getting troops in melee with vehicles to degrade the shooting coming out while eliminating vehicles as best as I could, or anything that has fallen out of protective auras.

All in all it’s interesting to see that GW has fallen into a trap that has been plaguing other games for decades.  It’s not as prevalent a problem as it was in Starfire; because there are mitigating factors inherent in 40k.  You do still have a balance being sought, and I expect to see a lot of updates trying to pry apart the formation through rules changes to make the game more tactical rather than just building a better wrecking ball.

Victory for the First!

Yesterday was a banner day for the sons of the Lion.  I did a LOT of painting, finishing a Predator and getting a Razorback tabletop ready.  The Predator needs just a bit of touch up and the Razorback needs a bit more detail work, touch up and then they are both done.  Vehicle wise this leaves me with 2 more Razorbacks, a Rhino, a Land Raider, a Land Speeder, a Land Speeder Dark Shroud, and a Dreadnought.  The Rhino will be relatively simple, but I plan on ordering some vinyl stencils to add some designs to it without trying my freehand skills.

Hobby wise this leaves me with about 1/3 of my marines painted, about the same percentage of vehicles, but none of my terminators or bikes are painted.  My goal tomorrow is to paint the Terminators to at least tabletop standards if not “Complete”.

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Yeah, my Freehand game is weak.

So let me define these terms a bit, because everyone seems to have different definitions of the terms.  Tabletop ready means all major details (weapons, eyes, major insignia) are painted, 3 color minimum, no repair painting needed to fix glaring mistakes and at least a quick wash.  Complete means all details painted, washes and highlights, transfers applied, ready to be/already varnished.  Done done.

I have 12 or so terminators to do.  I have to have at least 5 ready to go for next week’s Fate of Konor battle (theme next week is Elites).  Being Dark Angels I can take mixed squads which I’ll probably take advantage of just because I don’t like the sergeant with his face exposed.  It’s a veteran thing.  Wear your damn helmet.  I’m probably doing assault cannon, two bolter terminators, two thunder hammer/storm shield guys, and one with lightning claws.  That gives me at least one guy to swap out if next week’s Konor battle uses Power Level.  If they use points it gives me 6 guys to drop on the table / pour out of my land raider.

Speaking of the Land Raider, let’s talk about this weeks MVP in the Fate of Konor campaign.  This week was the battle for Astaramis with a scenario written to give the Imperials a pretty sizeable advantage.  Basically the Imperials deploy on half the table, Xenos/Chaos forces deploy 12″ away and score by moving a unit into the Imperial deployment zone.  Imperials score by killing units.  8th is absolutely lethal, so killing 1/2 the enemy force (and ideally their warlord) means the Imperials are going to win.  The attackers did get a nifty stratagem this week that lets them advance and charge, letting them deliver charges from a really long range, but it didn’t really factor much into my battle.

So I matched up with a guy who plays both at Mayhem and the local Warhammer store, I haven’t played him yet, and I haven’t played necrons in forever.  Deployment was pretty standard.  He went really wide, assault troops on one side, his bike equivalents on the other side, big blob of warriors in the center, and his dreadnought backing them up.

I death bubbled around Azrael with a tac squad, Autocannon/Lascannon Predator, Lazorback, And Land Raider Crusader.  Frankly, this was cheddar.  Not even mild cheddar.  Azrael grants a re-roll on missed to-hit rolls for all DARK ANGELS models within 6″.  He also grants a 4+ invulnerable save for all DARK ANGELS models within 6″.  Including vehicles.

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That blob in the center is within 6″ of Azrael

The other squad I deployed first to draw out some of his forces.  It worked.  His warlord and melee squad ended up way out behind the AA gun in that picture.  The first turn I shot half the wounds off the dreadnought, and he moved up putting a couple wounds around my vehicles.

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Start of his second turn he moved a bit further down and plinked some more wounds, starting to focus more fire on my Land Raider.  However T8, 2+/4++ and plenty of command points to let me re-roll the odd multi-wound attack that got through, making the vehicle stupidly tough.  His Lychguard landed on my exposed squad and destroyed them clean.  My turn was a bit more eventful, My tank blob focused on his big unit of Tomb Blades out on my right flank and destroyed them.  The amount of concentrated firepower I generated, especially with re-rolls to hit was scary.  I can’t wait to add a Lieutenant to the mix to let me re-roll wounds *Glares at the multi-melta that did NOTHING all game*

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At this point his luck completely crapped out.  He didn’t want to eat overwatch from my Lazorback for some reason so just charged the one squad, which had inflicted three wounds on him during my turn.  He managed to whiff most of his attacks, which left my squad able to fall back, and left his warlord completely exposed to my Lazorback.  I shifted my army around and annihilated his warlord, and Lychguard in a storm of point blank fire.

At that point it was all over but the screaming.  Mathematically he had to table me at that point.  His dread hid at the back taking potshots at me, and his troops came up firing and plinking wounds off of me but not really doing much.

I think he made a couple mistakes.  The key to beating a vehicle blob like this is getting into melee with as many of the vehicles as he could, and tying them up.  I have to be clumped up around Azrael for this list to work, his warriors could have rushed up the table, forgoing shooting and charged into multiple vehicles, denying me shooting.

On my side I could have made better targeting choices, and shooting weapons in a better order.  My Crusader was my VIP by a large margin, soaking up an enormous amount of firepower, and putting out enough dakka to justify the focus put on it.  The predator got a sneakily large number of kills, and the Lazorback did manage to gun down the enemy commander, with a few extra kills.  Massed bolter fire did a ton of damage, whether from storm bolters on the two lighter vehicles, or the hurricane bolter arrays on the Crusader.  Azrael paid for himself several times over just in re-rolls.  Let alone his invulnerable save bubble, and, you know, personal firepower.  I kept him pretty well hidden for most of the game so his own attacks weren’t terribly important.

It was a fun game for me, and my opponent seemed to enjoy himself, next week I’m taking a different list, built around terminators (and Azrael) delivered by the Crusader.  Not sure exactly how it’ll work, as week 2’s mission/details aren’t out yet, but we will see.  I do like the lower power level.  It’s pretty easy to build a list, especially using power levels, and we finished a game in about 1 hour 45 minutes.  Maybe even 90 minutes.  My goals next week are to bring a more balanced list, have a higher % painted, and keep racking up points.  I will be missing one week of the event to go see the Eclipse this year, but I am on track to hit every other week.  Just need to get the Knight painted up in time for Lords of War.

7th vs 8th

So 8th has been around long enough to get a handle on the rules, and 7th is thoroughly consigned to the trash heap.  No one will do a “Kings of War” style game to resurrect 7th because nu40k is so bad.  In fact 8th might well be the best system that 40k has ever had.  This is quite a pleasant surprise.  What’s even more surprising is that GW was able to make such dramatic improvements while not fixing the two most game-breaking things in 7th, and even amplifying one.

The first big issue with 7th was invulnerable saves.  These were ubiquitous in 7th and could render some units nigh unkillable.  Magnus with his re-rollable 2++ was just ridiculous.  There were too many invuln saves and a lot of characters had 3++ or even 2++ which just sucked, especially if they could finagle access to re-rolls.  This led to incredible death star units that would either obliterate the table, OR run into each other and roll 2nd edition shadowrun levels of dice until someone rolled too many ones.

Well, rerollable saves are still here.  What’s more, some of them are grantable auras, some entire ARMIES feature them *glares at his wife’s Harlequins*.  I can only complain so much with Azrael handing out a 4+ in a 6″ bubble to go with his re-rolls on to-hit rolls.  This hasn’t been as bad because I have yet to see one better than 3++, and it’s hard to get re-rolls for it without using command points, which are a rare resource.  Even 3++ is rare.  Still, I’m sure issues will develop around them, invuln saves are just too potentially unbalancing to have in game without them causing issues.  Once GW starts handing out ways to re-roll them more, or boost the save, problems will happen.

The other big problem was re-rolls.  Re-rolls were a huge problem in 7th, largely related to invulnerable saves, but they gummed up the game.  It seemed like you were constantly re-rolling for every little thing.  This is still a major thing with 8th.  In fact a lot of army planning is figuring out how much you can fit into the 6″ re-roll bubble around your commanders.  8th edition games revolve around clumps of units orbiting Captains and Lieutenants, using re-rolls to apply as much firepower as possible to enemy units.

This problem it seems GW has used to solve itself.  The first couple rounds can be incredibly deadly.  Twin-linked weapons firing twice means you can build incredible firebases using razorbacks, land raiders, or dreadnoughts that can take advantage of re-rolls to put immense volumes of highly accurate firepower downrange.  However once these firestorms have gone back and forth a few times, well, there’s not nearly as many dice to re-roll.  Armies get pared down fairly fast to the bone currently, due to the sheer firepower a 40k army can develop on a target.

While 8th has not dealt with these issues directly, it has streamlined so many things to speed up play, and has become generally so much more lethal that neither slows down play, or is so difficult to deal with that the game is negatively affected by it.  You know.  Yet.