Thursday, October 9, 2014

New Dark Eldar book

So a new Dark Eldar book dropped and helped to pull me back from the distractions I've been working on lately. I haven't gotten a game in with the new book yet, but I'll update more as I come across any other observations.

So my first impression of the book after going through the whole thing; did they have 3 different groups write this in complete seclusion from one another?  Seriously, the book seems to be Coven units(who are only going to get better with their own supplement), other Dark Eldar units, and then special rules.

The Coven stuff all seems pretty good compared to the last book, I'd almost say everything is better.  The notable exception to that may be Wracks.  But I think if you could put these Wracks into the Troop slot, everyone would be raving over the fact we can actually put a ranged gun on them, and that the hexrifle is more viable.  The rest of the units were generally tweak in a positive manner overall, there were some points increases and some simplification of abilities but it was positive overall.

The remainder of the Dark Eldar units were all pretty much the same or worse, with a couple notable exceptions for the worst units in the old book.  I'd say 90% of this is because of the simplification of units and removal of the unique elements.  The big one to me is that they took away one of the quintessential Dark Eldar items as the default loadout, the  Dark Lance.  Vehicles all start with Dissentigrators and have to upgrade to a Dark Lance, and pay to upgrade!  Anyone who's played vs Dark Eldar know that they army has always been about Dark Lances, Wyches, 2++ save, then poison with the last book.  There are even strategies that talk about Dark Lance/100 pts balance.  So the gun boats got a little less 'gunny' and the heavy support main stay, the ravager, got kicked again while it was down as it can no longer fire all weapons when moving 6"-12".  So now you have to choose 1 weapon that has to sit out, apparently that gunner is helping the other two target, or jumping up and down to provide stability.

Finally we got all the special rules, like warlord traits, combat drugs, force organization, special objectives, and wargear.  Combat drugs were sort of a cop out, they all give +1 to a stat, but the only people who really get combat drugs are primarily combat focused, and not all of them are useful combat stats.  I would much rather have the re-rolls to hit back over +1 T or +1 Ld.  The warlord traits are plain generic garbage, not one thematic warlord trait in the bunch, no one use only abilites, no helping the army in any meaningful manner.  I honestly feel that the warlord tables from the main rulebook are still a better option.  All of the special objectives seem to require you killing a unit, in close combat often, but the book provides no meaningful way for you to get your very fragile units into combat with something.  These objectives don't take advantage of your movement at all.  Again, normal rules are better for the army.  Finally the wargear and it's special rules, god what a HUGE missed opportunity.  There were a few changes that just boggled the mind, Str 3 Liquifiers, no AP 2 weapons for the Archon (I don't mind the change to Huskblade but a combat HQ needs a powerful combat weapon), all the coven weapons were drastically changed, wych weapons do the same thing in differnt ways(would you like to re-roll, or re-roll hits, or re-roll 1s?), but bare non the biggest thing that missed the mark was the new fear weapons like the phantasm launcher.  So these strike me like the old Terrorfexes from the 3rd edition book, but the problem, they don't work on models that are fearless or have ATSKNF . . . . so they work against virtually nothing; and where is the cool artifact or warlord trait that removes/negates fearless/ATSKNF???? Gods, the synergy that could have been made with these weapons.  It could be worse, we could have nothing but that weapon on one of our flyers . . . sorry Eldar.

So overall, my initial impression is we have sort of come full circle, the 3rd edition book was a very predictable army, with far too many units being subpar that you were handicapping yourself., which resulted in only a couple optimal builds.  While I think there may be a little more variation than in 3rd edition, I suspect we will only see maybe two or three viable lists coming out of the book, unless they get an awesome supplement as well, none of them will involve wyches.  But unlike in 3rd edition, where bringing vehicles vs Dark Eldar was futile because of the number of lances, I think Dark Eldar will struggle against vehicles.  I fully expect most Dark Eldar armies to be Coven supplement armies, and I'm personally fine with that, as I sit on 30 converted Grotesques, I just need figure out my anti-vehicle.

Monday, June 9, 2014

Quick Chaos update

So just a quick update on my Chaos army for the escalation league.

The league has be sort of hit and miss, so I haven't nearly gotten the number of games in that I want, and with the onset of 7th, it sounds like it will wrap up sooner and we'll move onto something else.

The two most recent completions were a couple more vehicles.  I happened to luck into building a good looking Chaos army that was going to be walker/vehicle centric, just in time for the new vehicle buffed 7th edition.

Anyhow we have a couple shots of the Rhino for the first group of Chosen (they are mostly done, just the Asp. Champ to finish, I might put pics up later this week)

Next up was one of the bigger center piece models, and one of the keys to the theme of the list, the Maulerfiend.  I had already built up a custom lava base for it, and had test fit where it was going to go.  I wanted it to sit a little more flat on it's rear legs so I could pin up through the base, so I had some left over plastic parts from a Storm Eagle I assembled for a friend, so I grabbed a suitable part, stressed the edges and put some girders in behind it, then painted it up to look like a wrecked Salamanders vehicle.

The scales have been a lot of tedious work, but I love how they are coming out.  My biggest problem is that it is not always easy to tell when the toothpick is starting to wear, and I'll end up with oddly large scales when I stop and examine the work.  Luckily, it isn't terribly noticeable in most cases.

Thursday, February 6, 2014

Bits Review - SpellCrow

Time for a bit of a review.

As part of my decision to build a Chaos army I made two decisions; first it was going to be thematic and walker heavy to start, and second that it was going to try and look great.  So for the second point, that meant a lot of conversions/kitbashing and some third party bits.

One of the best places I've found for the very specific bits I wanted was SpellCrow, I think I found them through a Dark Future Gaming conversion article on building a better noise marine.  The dragon/salamander range of bits was going to fit perfectly into the Dragon Warriors look that I was going for.  I was going to start with a small order of bits and see what I thought of them and then likely go back for more as I expanded the army in the future.  So I was browsing just before Christmas and they had a nice little offer where if you got 4 kits you got a 5th for free; I thought this was a great opportunity.  So I knew I was going to need probably 3 sets of the Dragon Melting Guns, and was going to grab a set of the Dragon Tabards to help make the Chaos Marines look more like Chosen.  With the opportunity of the free kit, I knew I had some Chaos Terminators that were short shoulder pads because of some other Obliterator conversions, so I grabbed a set of the Dragon Knight Heavy Shoulder Pads.

The company is based in Poland, so I knew they weren't going to show up right away, and I think the total time was about 3 weeks.  They showed up last week, and I was extra impressed.  Not only did I get everything I ordered, but there was also a small bag labelled Freebies.  It contained a couple of their Dragon Torsos, and 2 of their Gravity Guns.  I'm sure these were left overs from bad cast sets, but I always like when a company does stuff like this.  Even more, it could just be dumb luck, but I'm more inclined to say it was smart business sense and marketing that I received samples of torsos I'd be likely to buy in the future, and probably the very high demand Gravity Guns that I showcased to others who are doing Marines.  For the 4-15 dollars a piece that they want on E-bay, the 5.80 Eu(approx $9) for the four pack is a great deal.

So on to the actual bits.

First up the Dragon Tabards.  They are nice quality, maybe a touch long for a normal set of marines but easily enough trimmed.  They are obviously built more for a Terminator and would look great.

Dragon Meltaguns.  These were the primary reason I was going to order from them.  A normal Meltagun is going for $4+ on Ebay, and were going to look fairly plain.  Since I was going to be melta heavy, needing 12-15 in the end, that wasn't looking promising.  This was a great alternative, with each gun costing half that at about $2.25.  The guns themselves are a little oversized, but do the job wonderfully.

Dragon Heavy Shoulder Pads were a nice little bonus, and I have to say they are the bits I am the most pleased with.  They have a nice shape that make them stand out, and a good amount of detail while maintaining a certain simplicity.

Dragon Torsos were bits I was considering originally, but there were two things holding me back.  First is they look more like torsos layered in scaled robes, which isn't quite what I wanted.  Second, there are no matching legs, I'd end up with highly detailed torsos without matching legs.

Gravity Guns aren't something I'm overly familiar with; I'm aware of how they work in general, but wasn't so familiar with the look.  So I took a quick look for the bits on E-bay and was surprised at how dead on these looked.   I'd say this is where you should look for the Grav Gun conversions.

Friday, January 17, 2014

Dragon Warriors - Chaos Space Marines

Hey guys, I'm back with some test miniature shots of the Dragon Warriors that I'm working on.

In case you missed it, I'm building this army for a small paint and play escalation league being run locally.  Since the Dragon Warriors are basically as close as you can come to fallen Salamanders (they are led by a former Salamanders Librarian Nihilan, check out the wiki), I wanted to use lots of meltas and lots of vehicles, preferably walkers.  So I decided I'd start with a Warpsmith, and a Helbrute, and when I looked around, I decided the Black Legion book would serve me the best, since I could take Chosen as troops, and load them out with Meltaguns.  I know the Chosen are not going to be cheap, so a couple units of cultists would provide some cheap objective control in my back field.
The inspiration from an old codex.

I was inspired by a bottle of metallic red paint that my girlfriend had picked up quite some time ago.  I looked at it and was reminded of the Dragon Warrior scheme from an old Chaos Space Marine codex.  It wouldn't be easy, but I could probably pull off the scales now; I was never confident, or patient enough in my painting to think I could do it before.

So I did a quick test pattern on some cardstock, and liked the way it looked.  So a quick basecoat of the Helbrute, some paint and lots of dabbing later I had the guy pictured below.

Camera loses some detail at this size, CLICK IT!

Top view of scales.
Overall, it turned out pretty good.  I think next time I'll try and do smaller scales all over.

So with the Helbrute done, I was decided on a similar scheme for the Chosen, but I had to wait on some bits.  So I moved on to the cultists.  I had wanted something a little more different, so I got some of the Wargames Factory Shock Troopers, and put Cadian arms on them.  This gave me a great militaristic feel that reminded me of the Death Korps a bit.

At first I tried doing the entire trench in red with black trim, and putting scales across all of the red areas, but it looked too busy.  So I tried reversing it, black trench with red trim, and then just do the armoured bits in red with scales, shoulder pads and helmet.

They are all going on custom lava bases made from corkboard.  The first batch turned out a little too digital in the transition, so I'm working on more of a wet blend on the second batch of bases.

Overall I like the way they look, certainly much more eye catching in person, but at least it gives people another idea on what they can accomplish with some practice.

I just got the bits order in to work on converting the Chosen, I'll probably do a quick review of the bits in the next few days.

Monday, January 13, 2014

Long Overdue update, and Tyranid thoughts.

So it's time for a long overdue update.  Unfortunately I hadn't been doing much table top over the last little while, I've done more board games with the family and some MOBAs like League of Legends and SMITE, but luckily that is changing.  The local store in the Michigan Sault has a decent sized group running, and while they have been more Fantasy oriented, they are running a 40k escalation league (not super heavy Escalation) over the next few months that is geared to be a paint and play league.  So that means more games.

The bad news, my Dark Eldar army is vast and about 75% painted, so I wanted to do something different and build/paint to a ridiculous scheme.  So I'm breaking out the Chaos Space Marines, technically it will be a counts as Black Legion army painted in a Dragon Warriors paint scheme using lots of walkers and warpsmiths.    I've got a couple test minis that I will upload this week, a cultist and hellbrute; hopefully the camera can pick up the scale details.

So this past weekend, I went across to play a warm up games and picked up the new Tyranid codex.  I was excited about this, the Tyranid kits are all awesome to put together and paint, and looked forward to seeing some viable non-Doom lists.  Boy was I disappointed; almost everything in the book took a nerf.  I don't get it, an underpowered book became more underpowered, and while a lot of things saw points reductions, it was offset by increased upgrade costs.
Tyranids, brought to you by Raid!

So I'll start with the things I did like in the book.

  • Sporemines: the player actually moves the spore mines now.  They move and assault, and explode when they get into assault.  I love this, it reminds me of the 3rd edition Scarabs.  Better still, other mines hit by the blast aren't wasted now, they add to the strength of the initial blast.  This makes running them down with tanks a bit scarier.
  • Harpy: This mostly ties into the point above, because it can drop spore mines all game now.  I double checked and it doesn't seem to be once per game spore mine bombs, correct me if I'm wrong.  Also it's an actual bombing run now.
  • DeathLeaper: Overall, worse or equal to what he was before, but it adds some nice variety by putting him into the HQ slot.  Interesting point, he can only ever be shot with snapfire, so no flamers(why didn't all Lictors get this?); now if you have to snapfire your Overwatch will that mean that you cannot overwatch with your flamers?
On the fence.
  • General points reduction: Good and bad, instead of targeting the units that needed the points reduction to make them viable compared to other choices, looking at you Carnifex, they just reduced everything so units that were overpriced compared to the rest of the Force Org choices are still overpriced.  The swarm will get even swarm-ier now with gaunts seeing a 1 pt reduction.
  • New units: I'll give a nod to the fact that they added some new units.  Nice to see, but they seemed too forced either thematically, or visually.  
    • Haruspex has rules that seem to fit with the existing tyranid theme, but the model seems a little too forced.  
    • Exocrine on the other hand, looks awesome, but while the model screams 'BIG BIOVORE' he ends up being something else.  
    • Hive Crone has a bit of both, the model seems a little clunky, and the rules don't really mesh to make it seem like part of the lean, world devouring Nids.  I think the hyper-evolution experienced a hiccup here, it was supposed to be anti-air, but then someone gave it a flamer?
  • Tervigon: Got nerfed really hard, as expected, but no upgrades to bring it back.  Need 30 gaunts to make them troops, no more giving gaunts the benefit of Tervigons biomorphs, Master Level 1 and no option to increase that.  The last one is probably the worst, I would gladly have paid 30-50 pts to make him mastery level 2, it makes it much tougher to get the FNP gaunts now.  These aren't the force multipliers they were for the swarms, I think they will be seen less and less on the table.
The bad.
  • Genestealers: No points reduction, worse Broodlord powers, no new tricks to get into assault and there were so many easy outs; give all Broodlords the option to buy the Ymgarl artefact, give them an invuln save vs. overwatch, allow them to assault from outflank.  These guys needed something, everyone wants to see the genestealers again.  Space Hulk and genestelaer cults, they are as much a core theme in the game as Space Marines.  These guys are what would have sold the Tyranid army and they missed the boat, a big boat full of money.  Lets hope we get some sort of supplement that helps these guys out.
  • Old One eye:  Moved to HQ, awesome, doing nothing to make Carnifex in the army better as an HQ, not so awesome.  Being a worse 'Old One Eye' than the new Haruspex? absolute joke.  So the theorycrafted reason to take OOE before was the crazy regen, but now he regens just the same as anyone else, so with the addition of the regain a wound in combat of the Haruspex they have better regen than OOE.
  • Warrior Prime still no wings:  So the removal of the Parasite seemed like a great reason to give the Prime access to wings and let him run with a Shrike brood to make awesome 'big gargoyles'.  But he was pretty much a cut and past from the last book.
  • Zoanthropes: I know the change needed to happen, 3 individual psykers in a unit made for a lot of book keeping, but I'm not sold on the brother hood of psykers.  I don't think there is enough return on investment to take more than 1.
  • Biovores: Biovores are still great, and the new spore rules are awesome, but I dislike that Biovores are worse with bigger broods.  Here's the issue, the new spore mine launcher determines where the "first template" will land, and if it does not hit anything you place a D3 spore mines.  So 3 biovores can potentially get 1 spore mine, while 1 biovore(or harpy) could get 3 spore mines.  When I first read through I thought it was d3 per biovore, and many will likely see that, but after re-reading it a few times, it was much more underwhelming.
Overall, somehow GW managed to convince us to buy less models with the new Nid book, and with so many little nerfs made the combined army so underwhelming that I think the bugs will continue to live in the closets and dark corners like true insects.

Tuesday, August 6, 2013

Always re-read the rules!

So I'm once again trying to help my girlfriend get back into 40k after the edition change.  Her best armies always seem to be Orks and Eldar, and with a shiny new book (and supplement), she's willing to try the Eldar again, though not thrilled with the changes.  She ran heavy with Pathfinders and Dire Avengers and is not happy about the losses of the Ranger Rifle AP1 shots and Bladestorm.

So I was going over the rules and explaining the changes and noticed a big one that I completely overlooked.

I always thought Dire Avengers were very versatile troops, being able to shoot, and then tarpit into assault with Defend reducing enemy attacks, and the Shimmershield giving a 5+ invuln in close combat.  So I was going over how they were still pretty good, they lost defend but the Shimmershield still gives you a 5+ invuln save . . . . . wait, where was that next sentence that said 'in close combat'?

Pays to re-read the codex completely, Dire Avengers can now run with a 4+/5++ save against everything now for a mere 30 pts.  It definitely makes them a better comparison vs. the guardians that everyone has been touting.

Tuesday, July 23, 2013

The Journey of Allies

One of the major flaws that I fell prey to in the transition from 5th to 6th edition was relying too much on things outside the Troops slot.  In my 5th edition lists I regularly ran 5 or 6 troops, a couple squads of wracks, a couple squads of wyches, and sometimes even some warriors.  It was up close and personal units coming from a webway portal.  Because of various changes, the list wasn't viable any longer, those troop units didn't accomplish what I wanted.  With an even bigger emphasis on objectives, this left me further behind the proverbial eight ball.

This became overly apparent last month when I went to Sudbury for a tournament; a win, a loss, and a draw saw me place in the middle of the pack.  The problem with my list was I had two 5 man warrior squads in venoms, and allied wraithguard as troops.  The warriors were often focused and easily mitigated because of a lack of target saturation.

So this left me with a challenge, return to a troop-centric army that could be competitive.  My first thought was "I dont' know if I can do that with Dark Eldar for my playstyle."  Again, a very 5th edition reaction.  But I thought about why 6th is better than 5th, and one of the main selling points I've used to get people back into the game.  6th edition has Allies, so an army has a multitude more permutations to how it can be run; it is part of what seems to balance 6th edition in my mind.

So I'm going to take a page out of Skari's book.  I'm going to play a Dark Eldar Allied list for a series of 10 games, and then evaluate how they did.  I've already got some ideas on what I want to try, but here is my criteria for allies:

  • Allies must contribute something that the Dark Eldar list cannot already do.
  • Allies are not a bolt on, they have to provide some sort of synergy with the Dark Eldar list.
  • Allied lists will be judged on how the Dark Eldar performed and how the Allies performed and compared to how I have seen the Dark Eldar forces perform previously.
I'm considering two forces.

The first is going to try and resurrect the webway portal list using Eldar allies.  The force will consist of a small unit of Grotesques in a raider with WWP carrier, with 3 units wracks entering from the portal(s).  The key to this will be manipulating the reserves with an allied Autarch accompanying some Warp Spiders, with Rangers filling the troop selection and camping any objective it can.  I think this will be the most ideal list, fast moving with a lot of table control if I add a beast pack, and some Ravagers or Flyers.  I'm considering the Voidraven Bomber for this list just to finish up the conversion.

The second list will try and increase the effectiveness of a wych cult list.  We all know wyches are absolutely decimated by shooting, even if it's just overwatch, each hit is almost always a kill; so lets try and elminate that problem.  Looking at the Chaos forces, they both have ways to mitigate overwatch; Chaos Demons have psychic powers in the Slaanesh discipline that really hamper a unit and it cannot overwatch.  This would provide more control over what units can overwatch, especially versus Tau, but being a random chance to get the power isn't the greatest.  Chaos Space Marines bring the Dirge Casters on vehicles, giving a 6" no overwatch bubble.  The problem with this is they need to be closer, and not all vehicles can take them.

I think Chaos Space Marines will win out here for dependability.  Likely a two 5 man CSM units in rhinos with Dirge Casters, throw on a Sorceror who will hopefully get some debuffs from Biomancy.  I'd love if the Dread could still take upgrades, or even the Maulerfiend, but the only walker that can is the Defiler, and with 4 HP and a large blast template, it could be a good distraction to get the Raiders in closer.

I will likely start with the Chaos Space Marine list, because I have almost all the models I need for it.  The Eldar allies, need the Autarch and Warp Spiders at the very least.  They may just turn into a hobby project to convert some Dark Eldar versions.