Monday, October 29, 2012

What makes Warhammer 40K games fun?

It’s a basic question.  After you play for a long time I think some kind of forget what makes it fun because we are just sort of invested in it to the point that we feel obligated, in a sense, to keep playing.  That compunction (and some would say, addiction) has been talked about by a lot of gamers.  Many who have moved on to exclusively play other games cite very different reasons for leaving 40K which leads you to think:  well okay, then why was it fun before if it isn’t fun for them now?  And that led me to think about what I found fun about it.  After all, I have branched out into many more games than most gamers ever do and spent more money than most gamers can spend.  You might think “Why bother spending money in so many places and splitting time amongst so many hobbies if you don't even know why you like it?”  The only answer I can think of is that they are fun.  But are they?  Do I really believe that or did I just sort of stop asking myself that question along the way to avoid having to justify the cost?

So I came up with this list of reasons why I like playing this game and would be interested in seeing yours posted as well.

  1. Friends.  I have grown my base of friends (and enemies, oddly enough) a great deal through this game and as one who has never really fit perfectly into anyone’s circle, making friends was a big draw for me.  I think differently and I am keenly aware of that.  Here was a place I could BE different and be accepted.  Of all the reasons I could list, making friends has grown from it’s place way down the list to become a larger and larger reason for continuing to be a part of the gaming community and 40K is in fact the largest of its kind outside of CCG's..
  2. Warhammer 40,000 allows me to compete.  I am at my core a competitive person who has always felt a strong need to try and be the best.  One needs arenas to fight in and sports only lasts for so long.  I was a three sport athlete in High School and got a full ride scholarship for college because I wanted to be the best at school too.  After that what do you do to feed that need?  Well you compete in the job place and in my case (so i started a business).  I also found Warhammer and those kinds of games give me the ARENA to fight to the top in another way, a sensation I find enjoyable even when I don’t quite make it.  As a song once said, "It's the struggle that makes us strong". 
  3. Warhammer is a story.  I am a big time role player and I love the ideas and the stories behind the factions.  The universe has been fleshed out a great deal.  While most games are miniatures companies, Warhammer sort of elevated itself above that and made it a story that you can be a part of.  I identify with the motivations of the factions.  The Story is appealing to me (most of it) and being a role player I can hardly resist inserting myself into it.
  4. The likeness of some of the models to things I held dear when I was younger is cool, such as the animated series Robotech, Transformers, Silver Hawks, Inhumanoids, StarCraft the video game, Mechwarrior the video game, star wars…  The list goes on of things that connect me to those memories and joys.  It’s a subliminal thing but it’s real.  I can play the Tau Empire and imagine myself fighting for the Southern Cross army against the Invid in my Tau Hove Ttank.  I can imagine the Bioroids and other elements of anime in general that are represented.  The dying elven race is an old and used Tolkien idea but it's great because I loved Tolkien.  And I love the models and they’ve gotten a ton better since even I started in 2004 which just adds to it.  
  5. Recognition.  While it’s not higher on the list, it’s there.  Being good at something gets you noticed, and having people ask you for help and advice will make you feel good and validated, I don’t care who you are, even if it is only a game.  That they would even ask me my opinion is kind of a motivator for me.  I almost feel compelled to master the game just so I am actually worthy of being asked those questions and don’t let people down.  It’s one thing to say you’re good.  Much harder to actually BE good and harder still to stay that way as the rules change and evolve.
  6. The mental Exercise is good for anyone.  You must not only account for what an opponent might do before you even get to the table, but the terrain forces your mind, in every game, to shift it’s gears into operation.  So much is different from game to game that the same two players facing each other with the same army must do things completely differently every game and some units that were great in Game 1 are now trash in game 2 because of the terrain or mission…or both!  So there is so much mental exercise going on and it’s good for you.  The geometry of the game and the List hammering are all sort of necessary byproducts of the struggle to be able to adapt and overcome the battlefield situation and it feels good not to stare at numbers on a computer screen all day.  Situation is king.  The game provides me a great way to keep my mind engaged.

So there are some reasons why I still love the game after all this time.  And I do love it.  It isn’t just something I do here or there for fun.  I actively find myself trying to grow it, writing this blog to help people with it or letting people borrow armies to get new players involved. My passion extends to a lot of games other than 40K too but most of them are cool to me for very similar reason.

But the most important thing I get out of it is friends and an excuse to be with them.  People just like you.

Saturday, October 20, 2012

Warhammer 40K Double Force Organization (DFO)

What does it add?

I tried to love it but all I can see when I finish a double force org list is the ridiculous levels of Heavy weapons redundancy which stilts the batle in favor unduly towards the person who goes first.  Armies start looking awfully one dimensional.

I do not like the idea that the roll to go first becomes this important.  That is what happens though with nearly every army when you embrace the DFO at tournament.  The SIX Longfangs are GONG to get First Blood if they go first.  It's not an if.  There's no amount of clever deploying that will hide you from so many in order to avoid that.  Imagine a Daemon army where one HALF the army Deep Strikes at the same time and all SIX units deep striking are triple Flamers of Tzeentch.  6 Dominion squads?  Oh yeah.

In the Relic Mission this is a big issue.  First Blood is the key to being able to tie that mission and even if you get the Relic before the guy who goes first, he can ALMOST assuredly tie YOU.  So the main mission isn't even the Relic anymore once he has First Blood which heWILL if he rolls to go first with almost every army.  That might be the case without DFO, you might be thinking, but it would not be the GIVEN it is with DFO.

Lets assume the Relic mission didn't show up in your tourney though.  Best case.  Is first turn still unduely affecting the game with DFO?  It sure is.  With so many heavy units, you can most definitely blow through much more "secure" bodyguards than you used to in round one and that bodyguard unit the Warlord is hiding in better not be one of the types you need to kill in Scourging or the Big Gunz or Purge the Aliens. 

Remember how much people HATED 8th Edition for turning it into a "Horde in the middle" thing instead of a tactical movement heavy exercize?  Now horde units are nearly a must in evey 40K force in order to guard against the heavy weapons overload and some codex's simply don't do that.

Over the course of the game you can still com back from that round 1 beatdown, and as one who tends to make a lot of comebacks with his style of play, I'm not saying you will lose.  But you can never get First Blood again and you're really all but guaranteed to get it with six heavy (or whatever) weapons squads firing.

I like the First Blood objective, but I feel like DFO just stilts things to much to "player 1".

Monday, October 8, 2012

40K Chaos Space Marine Codex 6th Edition

For more Chaos Coverage also see:


The other shoe has dropped and the proverbial stork has delivered a new baby from Phil Kelly.

May I just say how nice it is to read a codex where you can build ten different versions of a list and do well?  That is what I see coming down the pike. 

As usel, Phil Kelly went options nuts and he pretty much DE-constructed every unit and made them into lego blocks.  The most basic of examples and what I mean are below:

Chaos Space marines:  the basic soldier setup is terrific.  Instead of paying for options you don't want, he deconstructed the unit.  Now the basic fig costs 13 points in essence and you ca THEN add the various things that make it equivalent to an old Space Mrine or slightly better, or somewhere inbetween.  The beauty and elegance of this deconstruction is that you can use the Troops choice for objective babysitting or make them an active part of your attack strategy.  Your choice.  If you make them an active part, they cost ther same as before.  If not, they cost less. 

Mutilators:  this unit wil not be well received in general, as it is a limited obliterator.  As Phil did throughout the codex, he took the melee aspect of he Obliterator and poured it into a much more well suited unit that only does melee, no shooting.  At a considerable reduction in cost, he made what is in essence 6 wounds worth of Assault Terminators that can actually use any of the various Power weapon variants that matter, and gave them Eternal Warrior for 155.  With a Mark of Tzeentch (4+ invul), you're paying 189 for them and if you like Hatred as a rule forthem, that's just 12 points for the three of them.  Far more adaptable melee threat and not terribly cost'd.  it won't get a lot of praise BUT it is a great example of the deconstruction ideal at work here. 

LandRaider:  20 points less expensive than th Space marine version and with the option to take a veritable cornocopia of awesome, but the main one is the Dirge Caster.  It eliminated Overwatch for its unit!  Yet here again, if you want no upgrades, you just saved 20 points over what a Space Marine would be charged.  Land Raiders ae apparently more common in Chaos Armies.

Raptors and Warp Talons represent a similar "division of labor" as the Mutilator does.  The Warp Talons are a melee only oriented raptor unit with a PAIR of lightning claws for very few points and the ability to Blind (Reduces BS and WS drastically) nearby opponents who might strike at them after they Deep Strike.  Don't want to spend all those points on the Warp Talons or you need your Drop troops to kill tanks for you?  Raptors are deconstructed Assault Marines with the Fear rule installed and they can take a plethora if icons, marks and even (again) hatred to make them fearsome hammers if thats your pleasure.  But if not, you're not forced to overpay for a unit with options you may or ma not find overly useful.  The "base package" of most units sort of follows this antra of not forcing you to pay for what you do not need the unit to do.

the Heavy Support units really carry on this pattern.  A maulerFiend and aForgefiend are regenerating Fleet war engines with a 5+ invul save!  the ForgeFiendis devastating in its shooting phase, especially when it activates the once per game DaemonForge ability they both have.  The Maulerfiend moves like a Beast does, lightning quick and giving most enemies more than they want to handle.  Both are fairly good at their job, but the split role allows them to focus onwhat they are good at and allows the General to decide which need he needs to fill without again spending points on the element of the unit he doesn' want.  TheDefiler is sort of the hybrid of the two, carrying a load of firepower and melee ability but without the fancy speed albeit as such it is more expensive than either one and a discerning general now can choose if versatiluty or purposefulness is his need there.

Other generally important tactical considerations come up in the new codex.

Chosen are no longer scouts.  To get an outflanking unit you now must rely on your Warlord Trait to give it to you or have a guy with a steed of Slaanesh leading the unit (although, lets face ha ving a cool model lik that ever realy a DOWN side?) because the Steed grants the Chaos Lord, and therefore his unit, the Outflank abiliy.

Bikers are much cheaper now and will be seeing far more widespread use I imagine.  Their old price with champion was 114 and is now only 70!  The bike is decontructed, so if you want the 10 leadership you used to get, you just pay an extra point per model and now they also get hatred!  A better way to look at it is, if you were to pay 114 NOW you'd have a 3 man BikeSquad that has Hatred, and an icon of vengeance or off Wracth buit into that cost!  Needless to say, better bikes.  here again, if you don't need bikes to do anything but sneak objectives late, no need for all the points upgrades...but they are there if the Chaos Gawds offer of might proves too much...

Good stuff so far.  Your thoughts?

Monday, October 1, 2012

Warhammer 40,000 Fluff

The Fluff of the 40K universe is copious, now celebrated in novels, novellas, online websites dedicated to certain factions, forums, magazines and a long list of other places.

The fluff is most likely why the game has enjoyed popularity for so long.  The interesting stories of the different races and mankind’s struggle to survive a universe that has grown awfully cluttered with dangers to their sovereignty that have necessitated apocalyptic measures just to defend, on battlefields as far reaching as Death worlds, Agriworlds and even the battle for your very soul.

Star Wars made Pseudo-mysticism and science fiction meld well and probably spawned a fair amount of these kinds of things, but few in the world can boast the popularity of the 40,000 universe.

So you would think, then, that the story would be sacrosanct, something to be protected and proud of.  That of all the game elements, whether it be rules or artwork, the one thing they wouldn't change too substantially was the underlying story of the various factions.  Advance the story?  Sure.  Most games do that.  But utterly cast out all history and remake it?  Are you not playing with fire and arguing with success at that point?  I think you are.

That is just what has been done.  In the newest codex's, instead of adding to the ongoing story, they have literally DELETED it in many places.  Literally. 

In the main rulebook which so many players will probably never own thanks to the overwhelming demand for the "mini-rulebook", you will find that seriously important story elements are simply gone.  Vanished in fact.  Gone is mention of the Exterminatus order on Tau.  Gone is the mention of the fungi-origins of the Orks.  Gone is the dominance of the Star Gods in Necron mythology and in practice.  Gone is the entire history of the Grey Knights, replaced with the Men in Black image (and the retarded moniker of being the 666th Space Marine Legion, a drop of irony in a pool of tongue in cheek references that make it hard to take that seriously).  Sisters of Battle aren't even part of the Inquisition anymore (yeah...  I know right?) and instead are the Ecclesiarchy only.  Now they were always the Roman Catholic Church of the Emperor and weren't SPECIFICALLY part of the Inquisition originally, but they were adopted into the Inquisition in the last codex for almost 8 years...only to be expelled again?   I could understand them always having been in some way part of the Inquisition and it just not being seen as that important, then having it made more important.  But to pretend like it never happened?  Not even a line of text to explain it away?  Even crappy movies know to do that.

The Dark Eldar codex was a tremendously well done book, and hope rose anew after that for fluff, but really, it's a disappointing spiral we are on.  The Chaos Space marine codex and the Advanced ordering stuff looks promising and I am hopeful that it will be a return to glory for the somewhat...  uninteresting codex that so many abandoned in disgust.  Dark Angels appear to be close on their heels. 

I just pray that when the dust settles, they won't turn Tau into amphibious creatures instead of the steppe hunters they've always been.  But you never know...