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.

Monday, June 17, 2013

Eldar Allies just got a whole lot better.

As a Dark Eldar player, Allies were pretty limited for me.  You have a few armies that you can take as Desperate Allies, but there is so much extra micromanagement, and they don't really serve any purpose other than unlocking access to certain units in that army.  Eldar were the only Battle Brothers that we had, the big problem was that they didn't synergize with my play style as well, and were overcosted in a list that was already very points heavy with Grotesques and Pain Engines.  Granted, a farseer for psychic defense was nice, but where did you go beyond that?

All that has changed though.  I had a chance to run a 1555 pt game this weekend running a Coven list with Eldar Allies.  It was the standard foot bound Grots, this time adding Urien and a Spirit Seer, two 5 man wrack units in venoms, 2 Talos and a Cronos, along with two units of Wraithguard and a second Spirit Seer (I was using 2 because of what's been leaked in the Iyanden book, just waiting on it to show up).  It was facing a very mobile Tau army that included 3 Riptides.

I had some thoughts going in on how some of the things would synergize, but I was quickly amazed at how far beyond my expectations the psychic powers performed.  I figured this would be a good test of the resilience of this list because the Tau army has access to a fair number of high strength low AP weapons,  that high strength tops out around 7 or 8  now on average instead of 10.  It was very quickly frustrating for the Tau to have to rolls 4+ or even 6+ to wound vs the large array of high toughness creatures, and what little headway they would make was quickly negated.

Why?  Spirit Seers = pure gold.

One of the two Spirit Seers ended up with the Destructor/Renewer and Enhance/Drain, the second one had Protect/Jinx and Embolden/Horrify.  I'll be honest, I was going to ditch Embolden/Horrify for the Primaris Conceal/Reveal, but since he was in a squad of Wraithguard and lined up to march through ruins I thought it wasn't going to be worth it.  That was the best decision I could make.

Renewer was used over the course of 5 rounds to heal a wound each time since I went second.  1 to a Grotesque, 1 to a Razorwing flock, and 3 to the various Pain Engines.  This was pure gold, and if I could get that on two or three Spiritseers, I don't even know how you would kills some of these squads.  Destructor could be helpful if you get up to terrain and want to soften something, but I think Renewer is the break and butter power there.

Enhance/Drain never got used, I think it would probably have seen use more for the debuff than for the buff, pushing enemies closer to needing 5s to hit in close combat.  In most cases I think both powers should be close to the same, with the major difference coming in making them fail initiative tests easier.

Protect/Jinx was interesting, and also the only power I failed my psychic test on, perils once, and just a normal fail twice.  So one round it gave the Wraithguard a 2+ save, which is nothing to sneeze at for a model that is T6.  The other round it reduced a Riptide to a 3+ save, making it much more vulnerable to the torrent of splinter fire.  I think both of these are very strong powers, but I  think where it will really excel is allowing a squad of wyches to hit a squad of terminators harder than before.  An Agonizer Hekatrix, and the pile of attacks against a 3+ save Terminator is going to be great.

Embolden/Horrify was almost thrown onto the scrap heap, mostly because Embolden isn't going to do much for Dark Eldar who can gain Fearless through Pain Tokens, or the Wraithguard that are already fearless.  Horrify though, is absolutely amazing.  -3 leadership is a huge debuff, and has so many uses.  Couple that with the Torment Grenade Launchers on a Raider and you can put units at -4 vs tank shocks, or shooting.  This was used very effectively to shoot a unit of Firewarriors and make them run off the table in a couple instances.  Even better, although Eldar lost the protection of Runes, a quick cast of this on an enemy psyker means they aren't getting off all those powers.  Better still, my beast pack was left without any beastmasters, and inevitably failed it's leadership, a fall back into the 18" range and Embolden put them right back into the fight.

I think the Wraithguard add another tougher dimension to the army, and instead of two squads I think I could be better served by 1 squad in a Waveserpent, but to better enhance the overall army, I may be just as likely to stack with as many Spirit Seers as possible and as cheap an HQ as I can get once I get a hold of the Iyanden supplement.

The game overall was going to be a loss because of some sneaky kroot and good gameplay, but it definitely gave me a lot of perspective to go back and re-tool my army to add some more mobility and maybe get a little closer to the old Dark Eldar playstyle.

Thursday, May 30, 2013

SkaredCast Battle Report

So I saw that Skari was going to be up in my neck of the woods for work and looking to get some games in.  So I got in touch with him and we managed to get together and do some games in my basement; the lighting isn't the best for the camera, but go take a look and enjoy.  Remember to hit up Skari's blog and take a look, he's been great at churning out lots of content every week.

Monday, May 27, 2013

Archon Showcase

Just a quick update on the video front.

I had converted and painted up this Archon a little while ago.  I then built a quick backdrop using one of the tutorials from Ichiban Studio, instead of just a single flowing piece I made a small diorama box.  Took a couple quick videos and pieced it together in Adobe Premiere Pro and did a voice track, since my girlfriend has an Adobe subscription for school it's a free added benefit for me.

I like the way it turned out, both the video and the model.  I'm going to give a few more small videos a try in it before I switch off and try Vegas Movie Maker.

Saturday, May 18, 2013

Webway Woes

One of the favorite themes of the Dark Eldar army has always been the strike from the shadows type raiding mentality.  Nothing embodied that more for me than the WebWay Portal.
Shortening the commute to the battlefield
Even back in the days of late 3rd edition when I started to play with the idea of the Dark Eldar, one of the biggest complaints that people had with the army was that they were so fragile.  It was an obvious flaw, but I quickly realized that they were only fragile if you got a chance to hit them.  This was incredibly obvious in close combat, where the high initiative value often meant there were less enemies when it came time for them to swing back.  So what if we could do the same thing in the shooting phase?  Behold the WebWayPortal.  This allowed you to keep units in reserve, and then deploy them when the portal became active, preventing units that you wanted to get into assault from being shot.  At that time it was a much bigger gamble, as you had to declare what units were coming in from the portal, and they could only come in once the portal was active; if the portal carrier died, those units were lost.  It was why you almost always had to take 2 portals, but with a late deploy you take advantage of the reserve rolls and make a focused late push.

When the new book came out it changed up the portal strategy a bit.  Now you couldn't hold units for a late portal deployment, they made normal reserve rolls and the portal merely acted as a table edge.  The plus side to this, is you gained a bit more flexibility in putting units where they needed to be.  Infamously, this lead to bait and switch tactics where opponents would avoid the portal and push towards objectives in my backfield, only to have a unit come on from the board edge and take them out.

Now with 6th edition, I'm left wondering if someone really got mad at our portals.  Reserves come much faster and more consistent so that portal has to be down turn 1, we can't get quite as deep into the opponents backfield with the new movement and disembark rules, and even if we do get the portal setup there is no more assaulting the turn we come in from reserves, and only half the army could be in reserve.  On top of all those nerfs, the addition of Interceptor weapons mean even if we do manage to come in from the portal and expect to shoot, the major advantage is gone, we cannot avoid being shot at.

We are at that point now in 6th edition where people have begun to accept that the ally rules add such a great dimension to armies that there are any number of combinations that could produce unexpected results.  As such I've seen more talk about trying to incorporate the webway portal in again.  While I believe that I could work the portals in to have units of warriors, wracks, or jetbikes come out of the portal to shoot/turbo boost, the only real benefit I see to using the portal over putting them all in a Raider is that you could have more than 10 guys; i.e. 10 wracks and 3 haemonculi for 5 liquifiers.  The only tactical option that comes to mind is to use the webway portals for board control, try and drop 2 or 3 of them at the mid-table range to cut the table in half.  The problem being, how much will you have coming from reserve that will need 3 portals.

I really enjoy the webway portal, and will continue to see if I can work it into my army, but I think it has slowly lost all of it's benefits over time.

Saturday, April 6, 2013


Updates will be coming, April is officially my re-focus month.

I haven't played any games for about the last month, mostly been getting together and doing some painting.  So that means some new eye candy coming.  Mostly with the general disgust with the GW happenings, I've been focusing a lot on Malifaux.  I've finished up my Rasputina crew and hope to be getting some games in shortly.
My Rasputina Crew

As we roll into April, I am looking forward to the summer and the July 26th Apocalypticon date.  I'm still not certain if I'll be able to make it, but with MWG closing, my worry is this may be the last one for a couple years.  

One of the requirements for this year is that all your models have to be painted.  For just my Dark Eldar,  that means I have to finish up some vehicles and obviously the Titan, but more importantly I have 30 Grotesques that need to be finished for the Carnival of Pain.

One of the pluses is the inclusion of Allies this year.  The way it will work is you can take any ally you could normally take in a 40k game; in addition you can take a second ally provided they could ally with your army and your ally normally.  I think I'll probably end up with only a single Chaos ally force, since Chaos and Eldar cannot ally.  The driving force behind that is I've already got some some Chaos Apocalypse scratch builds; the Doomsday Device, and the Silver Tower of Tzeentch.  The Doomsday Device is mostly done, just needs a paint job, the Tower needs a bit of work still.

Videos may be a bit fewer and further between updates, I'm trying out a new video editing software to give me access to better voice over and effects.  I'm currently trying Vegas Movie Studio for 30 days, and I have access to an Adobe Studio suite so may try whatever they have available.  The goal is to try and do some small model showcase videos to test out the capabilities, so feedback on those posts will be greatly welcomed.

The Rasputina Crew and the converted Dark Eldar Archon will probably be the features so stay tuned.

Wednesday, March 20, 2013

Customer Respect?

This is obviously the way to shut GW up
So, I do have a couple posts just about ready to go up, a battle report, and a model showcase, but don't expect those for a while until I've reconsidered my own position in the community.  I've got a bad taste in my mouth, like many hobbyists right now, so I apologize for the rant that will follow.  Jump to about the 5th paragraph if you just want to read the more level headed observations.

The new GW policies had me concerned, I do almost all of my wargames shopping online.  The major reasons are that the local store doesn't keep much stock or provide much support, and I usually have other products that I have to purchase that the local store doesn't carry at all.  Those online retailers are often US retailers like the Warstore, primarily because of the secondary products that I'm ordering, not the GW products. So the changes in the GW trade agreement will limit my primary source of GW models in two ways, first a number of the potential online sellers will disappear because of the online selling restriction.  Second, because a number of those retailers are in the US, so they technically cannot sell GW products to me.

So the one online Canadian store that I do order from is MiniWarGaming, they have become a great hub in the online community providing a number tutorials and battle reports, even extending to starting a small wargaming television network.  Of course, the Apocalypticon event is a signature collaboration with Black Knight Games in Hamilton.  If you've visited and watched some of the various discussion videos you will know that Matt and Dave started the store from a love of gaming, and slowly expanded it into the online venue it is now to try and make their loving venture profitable, or at least viable. Unfortunately, the online sales restriction with a combination of a low profit margin from the online store means that MiniWarGaming is closing it's store, with the GW trade agreement changes being the final major factor.

This absolutely infuriated me, a visible hub that has worked tirelessly to support the community and the GW brand, with no help from GW, is having the rug pulled out from under them because GW thinks there may be an extra penny for them.  This is more of GW's historic us versus them mentality that they have with their 'trade partners' and the player base.  There are any number of horror stories about dealing with the GW trade reps, and their ridiculous minimum order requirements, it's the primary reason stores can't survive in a smaller market, and if the market is big enough, GW want's to stick their own store in to take the sales.  They don't respond to any client feedback, shutting down forums and facebook pages, disabling comments on what social media they do put out, let alone give any timely FAQs or go back and fix rules for the new edition, or even proof read the rules in the most recent books it seems.  God forbid that they do anything to promote the community, cancel and scaleback Games Days, no support for any of the independant Cons even when they are GW only.

So why don't we just quit GW and move to something else?  I had to stop and think about this for a while, and it made me realize a few things.

Really, the biggest reason that we don't switch is because there isn't really anyone viably competing against the Warhammer properties.  We are at a very young stage in the development of any competitors in the table top space.  Off the top of my head the major names that jump to mind are Warmachine/Hoardes, Malifaux, Dropzone Commander, and Warpath.  Currently, none of these are on the same scale in some form and I think that's where they fail to compete.  Dropzone Commander is physically not on the same scale, the smaller models in my mind make it harder to emotionally invest in and customize.  Warmachine and Malifaux while on a closer physical scale, are not on the same scale of conflict.  They are both skirmish games, although Warmachine can be bigger, it still revolves around the caster/general.  Warpath is obviously the most likely candidate to compete against 40K, but it needs the time to develop it's story and expand the universe to something more than just a 40k clone. They are still pretty early in the modelling process too, much of the work feels like that 2nd edition 80s GW work, which is also something they need to move away from.

GW does work at putting out high quality models at a scale that is easily accessible, and has a decent customer service to ensure the quality of the models are maintained.  They also have a long history, they've been doing this since the 80s, they've had time to expand their universe and provide enough variety to appeal to most players.  It also means that most people have heard of the game, so there is an established playerbase.

The biggest reason GW keeps going is WE enable them to.  We are doing all the work of promoting the games for them.  Major independant tournament circuits, huge conventions and events, numerous blogs and message boards.  Most of us are too invested in the games and have become complacent to the idiocy of GW to step away forever, sure we may leave in protest, but the nature of their business model will draw us back in.

I know I'm one of those players, I would like to boycott them and say I won't play anymore, but I enjoy games with friends, and the few events I get to attend.  I don't want to work to play, and promote some other game.  I did that already, I know it will destroy the new game for me and I don't know how to solve that.  But I know there are people out there that can, so I'll continue to watch what the independent circuits are pushing and make sure I give the alternatives a try.  In the mean time, I am going to let my dollar speak, and drastically reduce the number of GW products I purchase, look to more scratch built stuff, and alternative models from other companies,  like GW's bestie Chapter House.

Friday, February 22, 2013

Games Nook Tournament

So last weekend I managed to make it to Sudbury for the tournament at the Games Nook.

My original travelling partner had to cancel because of personal reasons, so my girlfriend offered to go along, because she felt bad for me.  So over the course of 5 days last week, we gave her a quick crash course on 6th edition, and built a couple different lists for her.  I dismissed her Eldar because she didn't have a defense line, or any consistent way to deal with flyers(turned out it wouldn't have been an issue), so with a choice of Chaos and Tyranids, she opted for a psychic heavy Tyranid swarm and off we went.

The event was a little different, a custom mission where you basically made a V pointing toward the defenders side, with a 12" no mans land on either side of the V.

I forgot to bring out the camera for the first game, after making sure to pack it, and bring it to the store.  So video is limited, but I tried to fill in as best I could.

We both did pretty bad, 3 points for me and 1 point for her out of a possible 24.  The dice didn't seem to be with either of us.

The Grotesque conversions went over well, even though one didn't have his stomach gem in, and even though the army wasn't based, I manged best painted because of a technicality.  The other two armies that were better painted had one that was out of contention because it was a pro-painted army, and the other army won best general I believe.  Since they don't like having players double up prizes, I got the prize.

Monday, February 11, 2013

Changes, and the obligatory "what I've been doing post"

So I've had a couple projects that I've wanted to get posted up here for a while, but I started a new job last week.  That meant a busy few weeks closing out the new job, building training documents, and bringing the replacement up to speed.  Then of course the fun of learning a new job.

Plus side, hopefully more time and income for wargaming, starting this weekend.

On of the toughest problems for me currently is my location.  There isn't really a FLGS that runs any tournaments, and being in a remote location it's atleast 3 hours to drive to anywhere else with a decent population that may run something.  So I lurk around on a few boards, watching for stuff that is upcoming and try and see if I can fit it into my schedule.  Luckily, this coming weekend there is a small 1250 point tournament happening in Sudbury and with a slightly later start time, a friend and I plan on making a day trip to compete.

One of my biggest problems with buying into any giving any tactica advice is two fold.  First, I don't get nearly as many games in as I would like to give a thorough evaluation of my lists.  The games I do get in are predominantly the same 4 or 5 armies/lists.  Second, I don't always play the same as most people; I rarely step up to a table and use the optimal strategy to win.  As a matter of fact, I often set goals for myself and work to achieve them.  The goal may be something like seeing how well the beast unit can take out that chimera, or leman russ, just so I can plan to do it later and get a better understanding of the army.  Alot of that comes from me wanting to put a false idea into my opponents head, and make them see something as more or less of a threat than it actually is.  The very Dark Eldar-y nature or feint and strike, it's why I love to use the 'worst' or under-powered armies, because they often still have some very deadly and overlooked combos.

So the plan for this weekend is to try and bring the camera and get some video, and try one of those 'weak' lists, the Dark Footdar.  The plan will center around the Archon (who by the way has a nicely new converted model that needs to be showcased), and a squad of between 6 and 8 grotesques depending on my points distribution, followed by a small 3 man bike squad and a beast pack.  There should be atleast 1 talos.  The real decision is deciding on 10 man warrior squads with lance/blaster, or trying to push more towards the coven list and build some wrack squads into venoms.

Dark Eldar Archon Artwork
So hopefully in the next couple weeks, I'll have a few HQ models to showcase.  As I mentioned there is a new Archon model, inspired by the artwork from the rule book, built up from one of the old Drazhar models I had.  Somehow I had 4 copies of the model, and only 5 arms.  I've also made some progress on my Baron conversion, I made an attempt at my own greenstuff cloak which I'm not entirely pleased or displeased with.  Finally, I've had a Duke conversion sitting on the shelf for a while and it may even get some paint.