Friday, December 31, 2010

Daemon Prince and Dreadnought (WIP)

The only thing better than not having to work is getting to play with minis while not having to work. If all goes well, I’m gonna throw some paint on the DP tonight. Happy New Year everyone!

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Target Priority: Kill Points Missions

Let’s talk target priority in kill points missions. Yeah, I know, no self-respecting comp player does the whole KP thing, and I agree that KPs have their problems, but let’s just say- for the sake of argument - that you are slumming it with some fluffies or playing your little cousin and still want to kick some ass.

Question is, do you give target priority to threats, or easy kills? Your gut reaction (if like mine) will be to go for taking out threats. After all, your opponent’s nasty tanks are blasting away at you and you are going to shoot at the harmless little combat squad 12” behind them? Having played (and lost) quite a few of these missions I feel qualified to say, yes, go for the kill, collect your point and move to the next easiest thing to kill.

That’s easy to say, but perhaps we should see this idea put into action.

In the first situation, we have my Eldar army vs. an Ork horde. As you can see, I have two units of Nob bikers coming in from the left and a horde of boyz midfield. Behind them are some killa cans and gretchin. I concentrate fire on the bikers T2-3, and the horde mid-late game. I ended up losing the match, and well I should have.

Do you do the math there? Gretchin and killa cans were worth 3 points and could have been neutralized easily by my army in T2-3. Instead I went for the ‘threats’ and ended up having most my shots bounce off the high toughness and FNP of the bikers. In the end I only killed one squad of bikers. The cans and gretchin survived. Mind you, I was worrying about foot-bound orks and bikers when the majority of my army was in fast skimmers.

But that was just a noob mistake, against a horde army right?

Lets try a more recent example, this time against the ever-shooty Tau. Note totally different play style of my opponent’s army, but the principle remains the same: go for the easy kills. In fact, think of KP target priority as if you are a boxer faced against a heavy weight champion, an average adult and a six year old girl. Get the kid. Don’t be scared.

Here we are midgame, I’ve managed to neutralize some piranhas, a crisis team, and some devilfish. So far, so good. In the backfield you can see two de-meched squads of fire warriors (the “little kids”), another crisis team and a devilfish (the “adults”), and some broad sides in cover with shield generators (the “heavy weights”). My reasoning had the best of bloodthirsty intentions– kill the broad sides, then nothing can contest my mech for the next 2-3 turns. On T4 I spend a turn firing two preds, two blast masters, and a handful of havoc launchers at the broad sides. Through a bit of luck (not much though) the filthy Tau pull through unscathed. His turn they knock out another of my tanks, taking the lead and forcing me out of cover to try and catch up.

Could I have got lucky, killed the broadsides and then achieved a massacre? Possibly, but the smarter play would have been to take out the two fire warriors squads backfield. With my massed templates and their crappy Ld this would have almost been a foregone conclusion. This would have put him down two points and forced him to take risks in order to play for a draw.

Situations like these present themselves time and again in KP missions, and it is difficult, not to mention counter intuitive, to avoid nasty units in favor of easy points, but bitter experience has taught me that it’s the easy kills that win the game. Remember in KPS landraider = rhino. Abbadon = space marine captain. Ten gaunts = 20 plaguemarines with full command and weapons.

Don’t over work your self. Go for the path of least resistance.

Sunday, December 26, 2010

Noise Marines at 1000 pts.

Rumor has it that next month’s tourney at the FLGS is going to feature a 5 round, 1000 point tourney. While this would be a great time to try out the Necrons, unfortunately both budget and time constraints mean I won’t be able to have 1,000 ready to go by then. February however…

In the meantime, it will have to be Chaos. This is not a big setback as I’ve got a solid variety of models to choose from, and at this level of points the constraints of the Chaos FOC aren’t felt as strongly as at say, 2k or 2.5k.

Let’s get to business. Here’s the list:

Daemon Prince w/ wings, Warptime (155)

3 Chaos Terminators w/ combi-melta x 3 (105)
5 Chosen w/ meltagun x 2, flamer x 1, IoCG (125)

5 Noise Marines w/ sonic blasters x 5, icon (130)
5 Noise Marines w/ sonic blasters x 5, icon (130)
5 Lesser Daemons (65)
5 Lesser Daemons (65)

Obliterator (75)
Obliterator (75)
Obliterator (75)

TOTAL 1000

Now for the breakdown. With this build I’ve eschewed all mech in favor of extra troops, hoping that my opponent’s dedicated anti-mech unit(s) will be effectively out of the game. Obviously there’s going to be a heavy reliance on deep-striking, and hopefully the abundance of icons in the list will keep any related wackiness to a minimum.

While in large games I think you can get away with ‘dedicated’ units, at 1000 points everything should as ‘swiss army knife’ as possible. Overall, the prevalence of icons and flexibility of units (oblits, daemons, and Prince esp.) should allow for just that. Against a shooty list I’ll hide everything off board in order to deepstrike dog pile exposed units. Against assaulters, I can probably stay more on the ground and use the termies and daemons as speed bumps and re-directors; hopefully buying more time for my oblits and Noises to shoot my opponent down to size.

One weakness as I see it now is going to be AP3 templates, as with 5 man strong units, one ‘hit’ with one of these virtually ensures the total destruction of the unit. MCs can also be a problem, as my ‘speed bumps’ won’t really hold them at bay long and I don’t enough massed shooting to be reliably pulling them down with guns alone. Here I’ll have to be careful to keep my DP alive long enough so that I can take 3-4 wounds off the MC so that he can finish them off.

Finally, although the deep striking gives me a good deal of initial mobility, the army post turn three is basically foot bound. This means that much of the tenor of the game is going to be set by my initial initial deployment, and a big mistake there will be difficulty to recover from.

That said, I’m pretty happy with the build and eager to give it a go.

Friday, December 24, 2010

Merry Christmas!

On this the celebration of the winter solstice, I wish for peace and goodwill to all. In lieu of that however, I'll accept the gods turning our suffering into plagues.

Thursday, December 23, 2010

Do Necrons Dream of Electric Marines?

So I’ve been mulling over (less generous people might say obsessively so) the idea of picking a new army. I still really enjoy playing Chaos and definitely think there are a few more lists still to write for this army, but I've been doing them for well over a year now and its time to move on to something different.

My criteria for the next army was pretty simple: I wanted something that wasn't a 3+ army, that had a 5th ed. codex, and that had great models. The main contenders thus far have been Tyranids, Dark Eldar and Necrons; the first two of which fit the mold very well.

Naturally I choose the third option.

I'm know I'm raking a bit of a gamble with an army whose release has not been confirmed by GW yet, as it could very well be another 2 years before we see a Necron codex; and thus they would not meet my 5th ed. criteria or the model criteria noted above. Furthermore, there is the chance that the new codex will be a dud or there will be some glaring defect with their new rules/army composition. Given the consistent tenor of solid releases GW has been making over the last year however, I think this is not very likely to happen. Even so, with the money spent on a new army its always a chance.

Truthfully, I'd still like to have a bug army or some DE down the road, but with the prices of minis and my budget, I need to stay focused. One set of villains at a time.

So why Necrons?

From a fluff standpoint, I've always liked their feel. Of all the 'evil' armies, Necrons are arguably the most depraved - and that wins big points with me. All the rest of the bad guys have a motive for their mischief: Tyranids are ravenous bugs who don't know better, DEs are at heart just some emo kids who got mixed up with the wrong crowd, and Chaos is, IMHO, almost an anti-hero when compared to the totalitarian theocracy of the Imperium. Necrons? Well they are just plain mean. They entered this world in a harsh star system which gave them nothing but ashes and spite, and they've been lashing out at the galaxy ever since. Sign me up.

And while I hear a lot of griping on the interwebs about the 'Crons being 'souless', frankly I don't see it. There are at least a dozen good sci-fi movies showing the 'human side' of robots gone bad, and besides: at their core they are really just space undead, and undead are chock full of personality.

Modeling wise, their mins aren't too bad looking, with the exception that being an older army they still have quite a few metal models. I imagine this will resolve itself with the new relase, so this really isn't a huge drawback. Haven't settled on a conversation theme and paint scheme yet, but that's a topic for another post.

From a play-style standpoint, I also like their form. For one, they are a nice break from the mech madness that still permeates so much of the 40k universe. In addition, I like the hyper-mobility offered by their jetbike destroyers, their ability to phase in and out, and their ability to use Monoliths as onfield transports. Not unlike Eldar, this is a hit fast and run army, but with their WBB and generally higher toughness, they can actually absorb some punishment. Plus, I think that if the new codex adds some assault options, they are going to have some real interesting builds to throw out.

Finally, their battalions are still a good deal for the money, and investing in 2 now will give me a good leg up on the competition when the codex arrives.

So there it is. My first box set is already on order with my FLGS, and will be here w/i the week. Now it's off for an orgy of Google image searches and pondering a paint scheme...

Eldar for Sale

After a good deal of reflection, soul searching, and quiet walks on the beach with soft piano music playing in the background, I have decided to sell my Eldar army.

They have been an absolute blast to play with and have served me well as an excellent introduction into 5th Edition 40k. I have always liked their sleek, highly mobile skimmers and there punch-and-run gameplay.

That said, I’m ready to move on and would like to see these go to a happy loving home. I’m selling them with the help of NW Game Supply Store, who has taken some terrific pictures of the army and put them on their site.

If you are interested, feel free to leave a comment or contact them through their webpage.

Monday, December 20, 2010

Necron Rumors...

Johnny Five. Currently tougher than the average Necron foot troop.

So I know by now I'm almost two weeks behind the curve on this story, but I've been intrigued by the latest set on Necron rumors and, as I’m in the process of selecting a new army, thought I’d put in my own two cents. Without further ado:

New Codex drops mid year.
Let’s hope so.

WBB changes to FNP for “most” units
Given my druthers, I like the fluff of WBB, but I understand the want to move to a Universal Special Rule.

New HQ options include “One” new C’Tan. .
Not a fan of hero-hammer, and think C’tan would be cooler if left to the imagination.

Nightbringer and Deceiver to get new models…and at least one will have optional “incarnations”
See above.

New Tomb Spider plastic model. option to create alternate model that is Heavy artillery.
Um… yes please.

New fast cc focus unit. jump infantry. warrior sized.
Is this going to be a remake of wraiths? Let’s hope it’s a sign GW is going to revive the more assaulty elements of the old ‘dex. Speaking of which, Flayed ones might make a nice plastic kit…

New models for immortals.
Stands to reason. My guess is they will be plastic too.

New “tank” – could be the TS based artillery just referenced from different source.
I’d be surprised if they added anything that had an AV value, as it would stick out like a sore thumb (and make an easy target to boot). The monolith excepted, of course. Personally, I think they can easily fix the Necron’s mobility issues by allowing more ‘portals’ on the field.

new MC walker – likely the rumored “Necronmancer” – may be HQ or Heavy-conflicting rumors here.
If its anything like the Forge world Tomb Stalker this will be sweet. Again, more MCs would be nice as they would help give some more aggressive tactical options.

New plastic Lord with all options.

New named Lord metal blister. .
While the kit would be nice, what Crons really need is some HQ choices ala 5th – HQ’s that encourage alternate list building by allowing changes to the FOC. This is what Necron’s really need: rules that help them move away from the monobuilds they are currently stuck in, and allow them better longevity (both on and off the board).

New Monolith option…not represented in models to be released.

Given GW's current consistency with solid releases, I think there is little to fear from being saddled with a 'mono-build' codex, but with the amount of money ($500?) needed to complete a new army, the more reassurance the better.

While these rumors are tantalizing, I’m going to keep saving my money and wait a few more weeks before committing to anything for sure.

Monday, December 13, 2010

Chaos - FTT!

So the results are in, and all I have to say is at least it wasn't another Klendathu.

Thursday, December 9, 2010

“I'm from Buenos Aires, and I say kill 'em all!”

As Johnny Rico’s timeless words suggest, this weekend is going to see a couple of matches between me and the Bugs. While I’ve only played a few games against Bugs version 5.0, they have as always proved to be entertaining opponents, and not simply because you can quote "Aliens" movies for the entire game.

Fighting Tyranids is, as always, a game of target priority, but in this recent incarnation the waters have become a bit more muddled. I remember back in 3rd Ed when all you had to do was shoot the closest ones (well, the rules kind of mandated that you did…) and if you were feeling particularly spry, you could maybe even run up and give some of the small ones a good kicking. 4th ed bugs also lent themselves to easy target priority: shoot the big ones. That was easy because in 4th ed all the Tyranid list was made up of was big ones.

5th ed not so much. In fact everything we know just got a lot more complicated. Now we don’t worry about stealers so much, but we do worry about warriors, get caught off guard by Magic Gaunts™, and just can’t seem to pull down those Tyrant’s with their retinues. What are the Iron Minstrels to do?

Well the basic tenant remains the same: avoid fighting the bugs, shoot bugs instead. This can be achieved by movement blocking (expect some empty rhinos to be whirling around the field) and castling; but even at its best, this trick will only delay the inevitable when facing a good opponent. Oh, and the guy I’m facing just won the recent tourney at my FLGS. Even knowing what you want to shoot doesn’t always help.

Take for instance a Carnifex coming at me. With my list (below) dedicating about 85% (and yes I’ve done the math) of its full firepower, it can probably bring down one of these per turn at range. That’s not particularly good any way you cut it. Add some ablative wounds like I’m bound to see in the average Tyrant and Guards, and I could literally spend an entire turn shooting and not bring down a model. Needless to say, against nids this won’t work.

Conversely, with the now ubiquitous Tervigons crapping out 3D6 Magic Gaunts™ each turn, you can’t exactly afford to avoid shooting the little ones, nor will wiping them all out be in any way effective.

The solution? As I see it, target priority will need to occur in the movement AND the shooting phase. I will have to rely on the fact that most Bug guns aren’t high enough strength (tyranofex excluded) to reliably destroy things. In fact, I’m going to have to be hoping for a lot of ‘wrecked results’ on my extra rhinos and hope they block off the big bugs T1-2 while I’m busy shutting down all my opponents support options. Once the big bugs can no longer be avoided, I’ll attempt to shoot them down to 1-2 wounds and move on to the next target (allowing me to take on two per turn). Weakened bugs will then be dealt with by my assault terminators or by dog piling them with everything nearby.

Is it a perfect plan? Perhaps not, but it should hold up well. That is unless, of course, they brought some kind of ‘smart bug’ along with them.

As always, this isn't intended to be "Best List Ever", only a good 'all comers' list from my models on hand...

Chaos Sorcerer w/ terminator armor, Warptime, MoS, combi-plasma (150)
4 Chaos Terminator w/ IoS, combi-melta x 3, H. flamer, chainfist (170)

5 Chosen w/ meltagun x 2, flamer x 2
Rhino w/ (155)
5 Chosen w/ meltagun x 2, flamer x 2
Rhino w/ (155)

5 Noise Marines w/ blastmaster
Rhino /w havoc (190)
5 Noise Marines w/ blastmaster
Rhino /w havoc (190)
5 Noise Marines w/ blastmaster
Rhino /w havoc (190)

Land Raider w/ DP (240)

Defiler w/ 2 close combat arms (150)
Chaos Predator w/TL autocannon, lascannon sponson (130)
Chaos Predator w/TL autocannon, lascannon sponson (130)

TOTAL 1850

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Chaos and Suppression Fire

I’ve been loitering around 3++ a lot these last few months and have generally found their tactical articles to be spot-on.

One concept in particular that they cover in some depth there is the idea of suppression fire in competitive lists. Basically, suppression fire in 40k consists of high volume, mid-strength shots (i.e., scatter lasers, Necron Destroyers, brain leech worms, etc) which are designed not to destroy armor, but to stun and damage it just long enough to disrupt the enemy’s plans and perhaps move troops towards/away from the enemy vehicle.

Sadly, suppression fire is another area in which the Chaos codex falls short. People have already touched on the fact that Chaos units are generally overcosted as compared to the 5th edition armies, as well as the fact that their ‘specialist’ units are a bit outclassed by their counterparts. Few, to my knowledge however, have touched on the lack of suppression fire most Chaos lists are able to throw out, and this is a significant shortcoming that deserves closer inspection.

So what types of suppression fire units does Chaos have? In short: missile launchers, blast masters, autocannons, Bolts of Change and plasma guns.

Now let’s look and see why these all problematic for Chaos.

Missile launcher: The units that can carry these are Havocs, CSM and Dreds. Dreds have some potential, as with mutlimeltas they can put out some decent S8, however without a solid FAQ ruling on their fire-frenzies, they can be a bit unreliable, IMO. CSM only have access to a launcher at 10 models strong, and even then you’re only getting one. This is quite expensive and not really ‘suppressive’ due to a lack of shots. Havocs can take four, so they have a real chance at putting out some fire here, however going this route means you have to sacrifice a heavy slot (usually losing actual anti-tank options, such as Oblits or Preds). Plus, in order to get all four shooting, the Havocs need to be on foot. At almost 200 points (with a rhino and no ablative Havocs), this option is a big investment for what amounts to a stalling tactic.

Blast masters: Readers of my blog know I’ve run a few lists with these, but even I’ll confess they are not optimal. At 40 points, they are a very expensive missile launcher (with less accuracy) which basically requires the parent unit (also expensive at 20 points model) to sit still most of the game. While they can put the fear of god into elite infantry with their AP3, you basically have to couple them with sonic blasters and havoc launchers in order to get the volume of shots needed to reliably stun things.

Autocannons: The effectiveness of this weapon for suppression has been demonstrated by our non-spikey brethren, esp. with the now-popular rifle dreds. Unfortunately, they are not much of an option for Chaos (our dreds can’t take them for one thing). Havoc’s can have them, but being unable to split fire, you run into the same problem as launchers above. CSM can also take them, but again, the same tactical restriction applies as running CSM with a missile launcher. Preds can run them, but realistically these should be using a combo of AC/LC to work on priority or harder targets. Defilers have a TL Reaper AC, but to fire this you have to NOT fire the ordnance weapon, which is a difficult temptation to pass up, not to mention rather counterproductive (who designed, that one BTW…). Termies can also take a Reaper AC, and this is tempting, as they can shoot and move, however this too comes at a price. Chaos termies are generally used as either a suicide deep strike squad, in which case they are slinging combi-meltas and don’t need the AC, or they are in a raider and (likely) kitted out for assault, which will minimize the amount of shooting they will get with this 25 pt. weapon. Finally, Chosen have access to one AC, but with their ability to carry meltaguns and infiltrate they are better served either in a rhino or pushed forward in cover as an actual anti-tank option.

Bolt of Change: Need I really cover why this is a bad idea for suppression fire?

Plasma guns: Here is an interesting option that tells us a lot about how Chaos plays in 5th. Plasma guns are the closest thing Chaos has to reliable, massed suppression as they can be taken 2 to a CSM squad of 10, or with Chosen packing 4-5, with plague marines taking 2, or on oblits, and havocs. Notice a pattern here? Almost every netlist has some form of these, and with good reason: this is the only viable suppression fire Chaos has, and as result most competitive will have a couple of these units.

And while the plasma gun is undeniably useful, especially within 12”, here too there are limitations to be considered. With a range of 24”, the type of suppression a plasma squad throws down differs greatly from say a 36” scatter laser, or a 48” AC. Not only is Chaos suppression is shorter ranged, but it is often wielded by foot troops (unless you are pulling the 2-guns-out-the-rhino-hatch trick) with limited mobility. Whereas Eldar Vypers and Necron Destroyers can stun and escape, Tau missile pods come on jump infantry, Marines and IG can spam 48” ACs, etc., ‘suppression’ as it applies to Chaos still means your opponents are going to be left close to your troops when all is said and done. This means that in order to be truly effective, the fire must come from a unit which can also fight (i.e., tarpit like plaguemarines) or which has friends nearby to bail them out of an assault, and this contradicts the whole purpose of suppression fire in the first place – namely, throwing shots at units that you’d rather not deal with ‘right now’.

To wrap up this rather long-winded discussion, Chaos lists have a hard time bringing cheap suppression fire to bear on their opponents, and that which they can bring is often short-ranged enough to still leave you under threat of assault most of the time. I won’t make any sweeping conclusions as to whether this renders Chaos hopelessly undergunned for tourneys, but I will say that it is a big disadvantage, and it is something that every Chaos player is going to have to deal with if they wish to be competitive in their own circles.

Sunday, December 5, 2010

'Nother Pred Done

Not much to say on this one. This was the last model I needed to finish to get my 1850 list ready for an upcoming match against the Nids this weekend.