Wednesday, January 29, 2014

Eldar Outflanking maniacs

Okay, so I was flipping through pages, remembering my original post on Illic Nightspear.  Obviously people tried him out and you haven't seen much of him since.  I made a case for him in my post below:

Illic Nightspear!

Now I was not focusing on Illic as an ally at the time, but I have had some time to think about that and about lists that don't center specifically on Illic.

Illic is a ridiculous ally actually.  His battle brothers can use him to grant outflanking to a unit!  There are a large number of units that would not just benefit from the melee and shooting presence he adds, but also the mobility.

So I went and made a quick rundown on some of the fantastic options I found for this.

The first was pointed out to me by a friend of mine.  The ability to outflank Wraithguard or Wraithblades was tremendously scary.  No chance whatsoever to knock them out of their Wave Serpent.  They could travel in a FULL strength unit as compared to the smaller half unit they normally must come in if they want mobility (and they do).  This alone would make me a LOT more excited about Illic if I were one looking for the chance to use the model.  Its a fantastically scary proposition.

Here's another thought for you Generals of the Unorthodoxy Empire:  Karandras the Shadow Hunter no longer has the restriction of having to join an Aspect Warrior group.  Whuuuuuu?  True words.  Those who use Wraith armies could in theory use both Karandras the Shadow Hunter as well as Illic Nightspear to give their TWO Wraithguard/Wraithblade units outflank.  Can you imagine the havoc of having melee capable characters added to those units, let alone the sudden appearance of and destruction by said units?  Locking them up would be no picnic with Karandras and he'd get THEIR majority toughness, making him VERY hard to kill and an excellent sponge if the situation called for it.

This also means that the Dark Eldar can outflank their Beast Masters, or worse, use Illic to infiltrate them easily within striking distance in round 1.  Going second?  No problem!  Enemy has to kill them all or risk the charge and Beasts don't miss that often.  Frightening.  In fact Dark Eldar could bring a unit of fast striking Hellions or scourges on to make contesting easy ( in the case of Hellions) or tank hunting safer (in the case of the otherwise potentially deep striking Scourges).  And oh the beauty of bringing my Grotesques entirely across the board.  THAT would be awesome.

On the Tau front, you also have options.  The Tau codex already fields one of the most deployment tool rich codex's there is and it has always been that way.  But imagine what the addition of Karandras would do for an outflanking or infiltrating unit of Kroot.  Karandras and his 2+ save and stealth will protect them in any terrain for quite a while and will make going second from infiltrate position a much safer and more sure prospect.  While the Tau codex certainly benefits less from the synergies, it's still pretty awesome to contemplate.

Monday, January 27, 2014

Melee Oriented 40K Armies

You might have noticed that I've been focusing a lot of attention on the issue of melee oriented armies.  One of the most popular blogs I ever did was covering how to make Blood Angels work in 6E and it continues to see hits long after I posted it:

Blood Angels...Git 'em

People really enjoy the type of game that melee oriented armies provide.  It is really and truly a different feel.  The visceral fun that it is to heft your opponents head up on a pike is kinda... awesome.

As we know, there really IS no such thing as an entirely melee oriented army and in the 41st Millennium, why should there be to be honest.  It's absurd.  Japan was the last significant nation to try focusing on the warrior and not the gun.  I promise you, that was a long time before the 41st millennium!

So what's all this focus on melee oriented armies for?  I mean every codex, EVEN the Tyranids, allows you to bring massive bombardments down on the enemy in large numbers.  A Tyranid army can effectively drop 12 large blasts in rapid succession and it costs them a very affordable 450 points or so.  Yeah it's probably a bit of a shock the first time it happens.

The reason to focus a little on it is simple:  read the Blog introduction man!  If I wanted to tackle issues that an infant could tackle, I'd name the blog "".

So for those who really enjoy a good solid beat down once in a while and just have had no luck...  you might want to scope out these entries we did over the last year or two.  Just kind of a fun rundown of our top "melee oriented" stuff.

Friday, January 24, 2014

Codex: Tyranids army

A friend and I pored over the contents of the codex tonight as he is a veteran of many Tyrannic campaigns.
We dissected the units for about three hours before committing anything to paper. Here were our thoughts after that:

220 Flying Tyrant (Hive Commander)

285 Swarm lord

196 30 Termagaunts (19 x Devourers)

210 Tervigon (Cluster spines, Electroshock Grubs)

162 9 Skyslashers

90 2 VenomThropes

150 3 Zoanthropes

130 5 GeneStealers+ Broodlord

130 5 GeneStealers+ Broodlord

165 3 x HiveGuard

120 3 x Biovores

140 Mawloc

Took a while to work this out. We moved units in and out of the matrix to see which ones would do the thing we most wanted them to do and when we would want it. Pretty torn over the Hive Tyrant vs. Hive Crone but we finally decided on the Hive Tyrant. That was an area we talked about a LONG time. The Psyker powers of the Hive Tyrant were a big selling point though. Tyranid Psyker powers are pretty awesome and the more chances you get to give out FnP or to pin the enemy, the better. Its marginal performance against multiple flyers will have to be offset by what it contributes in defense.

Effectively the way it works is that the Broodlords will infiltrate and pin units down (using The Horror). The Zoanthropes roll for a second power may also yield The Horror, though many of the powers would be very good, as they will be helping to provide Synapse and they can do a lot to protect the various broods around them if need be.

We wanted something to counter the Eldar shenanigans with their Serpent hulls, so we included a unit of Hive Guard to help us bring down one or two of those. The fact is, Hive Guard can really take on a LOT of things and provide first blood pretty well if given a chance.  BS 3 isn't awesome but...

The Biovores are just a FANTASTIC tool. It's really amazingly worthwhile to take them. For one, it's a barrage, so yet another chance to pin the enemy (seeing a theme?). For two, for those who've read the rules, it can pump out an incredibly awesome and almost guaranteed blast of great power if it fails initially to do its duty. Talk about a fun unit. AP 4 is awesome against so many armies as well. Interesting tactics came to light while we discussed what a MISS would allows us to do and it was pretty fun to think about. You don't HAVE to ram the spores into anything. They can just form a fence when needed. They can also be used to slow enemy movement, cut off flyer movement and so on. It just has a lot of uses.

The Mawlocs function is fairly obvious: try to intentionally force the mishap so your weapon can go off twice, potentially killing any singular target you want. The important one preferably. Things like Riptides will care LESS, but they won't NOT care entirely! Against Markerlights, and other high value targets it will be immeasurably useful and if the enemy does not kill it, it gets to do it all again. If its not killed, it provides cover and forces the enemy to fire on it. If pinned the enemy may find that more difficult.
Venomthropes are there to protect the brood with Stealth. Der. not much else to say honestly. In a fight with hordes if they survive, they do do a fair amount of potential damage although... That's probably hoping for a lot.
Skyslashers are the spearhead. They can be empowered by the Broodlord and are a serious amount of wounds to get through. High powered weaponry will be forced onto them rather than higher toughness targets for a round, to try and double them out, which is a boon to the army. Optionally the enemy might fire behind them to hit Termagaunts BUT if they do, its 3+ saves at worst for intervening models and the Venomthropes, plus of course the Skyslashers are still there and threatening. Also, that leaves less shots to go into my Synapse.  Gargoyles are the other option but we are going to test the Skyslashers first.

The Hive Tyrant makes the Tervigon outflank, and in effect, allows its babies to have done the same. Great for objective stealing and surprising the enemy flank as well as affecting their deployment. All kinds of plus's. The Swarmlord ensures its timely deployment and the mawloc come on in turn 2 (we hope) and keeps on coming. This effectively gives the army 5+ troops choices. the Swarmlord has an immense radius of Synapse, which will help in the round after reserves arrive since Synapse is not checked on units newly arriving from reserve.

All in all I was pretty pleased with the concept. Anti-horde control for zombi armies is well under control. MEQ armies will find the army more than a match in melee and the availability of dual chargers and fleet units will mitigate the effects of overwatch. The lack of AP 3 is a bit of a blind spot and MEQ will not wilt easily under the shooting, but of course they are Tyranids...

One thing we didn't explore as much yet because we want to see what happens, is whether it makes sense to do two units of Sky slashers instead of one. Not too sure about that part. I think testing will give us a good guess. he plans to give it a whirl tomorrow.

Friday, January 17, 2014

Warp Talons

I was asked to comment on how to include Warp Talons into a Night Lords force as was described earlier at the link below:

Far be it from me to be short winded!  As for Warp Talons:  Not seen a lot, but let's look at how to use them.

The Trade Off For Ones Soul

First the bitter truth:  infested by Daemons, they gain the 5+ invulnerable save that marks the evil within.  Warp Talons stand up better to Eldar/Rending shooting than other units because they are Daemons.  They fare no better against shooting in general.  So the points can be difficult to swallow.

Oh Favored Son, Receive thy Reward

People underestimate the idea of two Gifts of Mutation.  That can be really big also.  Warp Talon champions can get that to start the game.  It can make a champion quite good, and as the killing begins, they can become special characters unto themselves.  They are likely to do some killing.  Nearly all of the Gifts of Mutation Boons are pretty awesome and rarely not useful.

Warpflame Strike

If you Deep Strike, this ability happens.  Let's face it, the reason to take them is their ability to BLIND everything within 6", forcing Initiative tests on them or be boned in the shooting phase (reduced to BS 1).  This is a very good answer to some important armies.  Necrons, some Tau and all Orks dislike this feature greatly and they are susceptible to it.  Other armies are no more fond of it, though they may weather it better.  It will hit a pretty darn fair number of units if they have clustered away from you.  Enemies that like to shoot often will, which is the purpose of this unit.  Consider the effective radius:  6 inches from the base.  2 bases wide center.  All directions.  It's cool.

BUT...  you must deep strike with balls of steel to make it a worthwhile effort.  If you possess such testicles, you may find that it is a VERY effective way to hammer the Tau Marker lights and, by extension, the entire army for a round.  Intercept, as well as all other shooting to the end of their NEXT round is affected so it can also help protect Heldrakes.

There are a number of challenges to be overcome.

1.  Talons are 13 points per model more expensive.  You can get basically 43% more Raptors.  That's not a small issue.  The Marks are even more expensive to get, for no apparent reason.  You really have to decide first and foremost whether more Raptors might not be the better answer.  However, if you want to make them work, read on.

2.  Not every enemy unit requires power weapons to kill and at AP 3 it's kind of not even useful against the ones who need heavier duty weapons like Terminators.  Having said that, I promise that a 4 attack Raptor charge will net you some results, Lightning claws or no Lightning Claws.  Winning and sweeping the enemy is usually the goal, not unnecessary creating an unnecessary pile of wounds though.

3.  ...and when its not the goal to cause crazy numbers of wounds, charging and staying in combat is a goal, which Lightning claws wont help you do.

Let's take a unit of 6 Nurgle Warp Talons and make them work for you.  About 214 points (plus any Gifts of Mutation) but let's see if we can make it happen.

"You ask for miracles?  I give you Warp Talons"

You may wish to deploy all your units on the table to start the game and maybe not play the reserve game with the rest of the Raptors.  You'll need the backup when the Talons show up in round 2 or possibly 3 but not before then.  Large units are a lot harder to fit in on Deep Strikes and mishaps as I have proven can be exceedingly costly to your chances so safe landing zones are a good idea.  Above all, you'll need the sphincter necessary, because you REALLY gotta land that unit CLOSE to enemies in order to make this count.  No fear. 

There are things you can do to help with that.  This may be one of the more interesting stratagems I have worked on in a while and you have to rely on a bit of luck to make this work as well as it CAN work.  But if it works…  It will be glorious tribute and many skulls for the skull throne.  How?

The Dimensional Key (read up on it so this will make sense), which would be the perfect tool for using Talons, makes all deep strikes flawless.  Once activated, the character with it need survive no longer for it to continue.  .  Unfortunately, it has two drawbacks:  You have to charge ASAP to ensure it works on time and you must try to hold reserves one more round if it goes to turn 2 before he kills someone.  That's a lot of list tailoring.  To do this you must:

1.  Infiltrate the leader.  That means taking Huron Blackheart into the list because his Warlord Trait guarantees at minimum that your Chaos Lord carrying the Dimensional Key can leach the life blood from a victim in time.  If fortunate, he will be able to take a bodyguard  unit with him, but we must assume the worst if we want a good enough plan.
2.  You need to go first.  No one can charge in the first turn, normally.  Therefore, going first is kind of important.
3.  You'll need a Palanquin to keep him from dying, hiding as close to the enemy as possible and ready to charge round 2.
4.  If the leader fails to charge, a Comms Relay almost becomes mandatory.  Assuming the worst, take the Comms Relay to ensure you can modify when things come in.

So let's see what that does to the list:

 Huron BlackHeart

Chaos Lord (Dimensional Key, Burning Brand of Skalathrax, Mark of Nurgle, Palanquin of Nurgle, Power Fist)

5 Chaos Marines (Flamer)
5 Chaos Marines (Flamer)
5 Chaos Marines
5 Chaos Marines

Rhino (Dirge Caster)
Rhino (Dirge Caster)
Rhino (Dirge Caster)
14 Nurgle Raptors (2 Meltaguns, Gift of Mutation+Sword+Meltabomb on Champion)
14 Nurgle Raptors (2 Meltaguns, Gift of Mutation+Sword+Meltabomb on Champion)
6 Nurgle Talons
70 Aegis Defense Line (Comms Relay)
Land Raider (Dozer Blade, Dirge Caster)

The List, Explained Further

We know what our objective is.  We know we have to start as close as possible.

The Land Raider will allow us a second way to get up on the enemy if they seem likely to advance and also a way to protect troops, bringing a Dirge Caster forward reliably in any event and providing cover to the rhinos which can hide in its shadow pretty easily.  Huron will be inside of course.  A  a Chariot befitting a Warlord and bringing him up will only encourage the enemy to either fire at it or face his wrath…  Unfortunately for the enemy, a similar choice as the Chaos Lord presents.  It has all kinds of value.

The Aegis should be placed midfield (writers note: no longer allowed in 7E).  It will provide the Rhinos excellent cover on the approach and let's call the kettle black:  you'll be at midfield or forward of it most of the game with most of the army.  There is no reason to slow your own army down by placing the Aegis farther back.

Keep in mind that the Warp Talons are there for causing a problem for armies that don’t advance (meaning gun line type forces).  Against any other, we need not worry nearly as much.  Warp Talons are an excellent X Factor against run of the mill assault units and if they choose to come at you, all the better.  Shooting armies are the primary concern for the Warp Talons.  The less shooty the enemy, the less pressing getting this strategy off will be.  So keep in mind that we are WAY ahead of the curve when using Warp Talons when we aren't facing such forces.  We prepare for the worst but hope for the best.

The Chaos Lord has the Brand.  It has the Torrent rule.  Use it to kill the second closest squad to the leader when he moves forward, not the closest (reasoning:  he will gladly accept the assault of a closer unit that much sooner to activate the Key).  In the case of Tau, that will ensure that defensive fire is minimized.  The Chaos Lord has a lot of wounds and is tough 5, but he's not immortal (yet).  So we must needs take care not to see him ended before his bloody business is through.

Having so little in the way of down the field fire is going to be the primary weakness of this list, and so stealth, use of terrain and the Land Raider to cover the approach and the Rhinos is key.

With this list, you will have to select the Land Raiders/Hurons target with care.  Anything with STR 10 weaponry is the target (T5 models with multiple wounds dislike STR 10).  If nothing falls under that category, you should be able to pull this off.

Once the dimensional Key goes off from the Chaos Lord killing a victim, any bleeding victim, He makes movement difficult for the enemy, and makes your deep strikes Pinpoint accurate.  Then who can stop you?

The Warp Talon drops in flawlessly (or the Comms Relay tries to hold them one round longer and then drops them in flawlessly!) and forces the Blinding check.  Those who fail lose their WS and BS (to a 1), and must face the onslaught of a melee oriented army with that both when charged… and their next turn thanks to Warpflame Strike.  Bon apatite

For other Chaos Articles:
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Monday, January 13, 2014

Dizzying turn of events.

40K went from a Codex every 4-6 months, allowing people to catch on to its nuances, buying the model stock they printed and getting most of those who were bandwagoneers to finish their buying cycles and 4-6 months later:  a new codex!

This pace was much maligned and ironically, someone shook the executives awake at GW and said:  "If you dummies would read the forums once in a while you'd know how pissed the gamers are about the slow releases and the lame FAQ rollouts; and the inconclusive and glaringly obvious conflicting answers people would get from the "boyz" when you called in for rules questions."

And someone heard, listened and said "Lets kick this bi**h into gear boyz!  They want more, we'll give 'em more.  Privateer is doing massive releases all at once, our competitors are stealing market share all over the place with X-Wing, WarMachine, Flames of War and a host of other games..."

And so it was that the wheels turned and they decided on an aggressive schedule of not only a new edition, but also a massive...MASSIVE...increase in codex production, product releases. FAQ's and essentially supplements to update EVERY aspect of the game, plus tie it all to the fluff just in case "narrative" sorts wanted to recreate the books in some cases.

And the vitriol and controversy was inevitable.

The irony shouldn't be lost on any veterans.  You know who you are.  YOU there in the back.  Yeah you.  It was you that grumbled and complained and always used those other companies as examples of "progressive and better" than GW because they "got" that everything should be released more or less en masse so it all flows".

And now let's count em, shall we?

SPECIAL Editions of every codex from Tau to Ultramarines.  Just the cover is different, and for $40 it can be yours!
Black legion
Farsight Enclave
Codex: Iyanden
Wall of martyrs
Armies of Renoun
Apocalypse (take II)
Death From the Skies
Warzone:  Armaggedon,
Warzone:  Damnos
Warzone: Pandorax

Then we have the Dataslates and other things recently:
Codex:  Inquisition
Codex: Tyranids and soon to be released "Dataslates"
Adeptas Astartes Storm Wing
Tau Fireblade Support Cadre
Be'lakor, The Dark Master
Sintinels of Terra (effectively like Farsight Enclave only for 3rd Company.  Still requires the SM Codex to use)
Clan Raukann (Like sintinels of Terra, only for Iron Hands)

And the list goes on.  I bet half the people reading this don't even recognize some of those titles, because it belched out like a cloud of smoke from the Willy Wonka factory.

Now if you want to keep up with what's going on in 40K, you have your work cut out for you.  To be an expert on the capabilities of all these things and the viability of them, the usefulness of them or the application of them, I'd say you could be overwhelmed relatively soon if you're a newer player and if you're not new.

That is really what ALL games must cater to:  the newest player.  new blood.  TSR was one of the foremost gaming companies of its time in the 80's with an indomitable market position:  books for miles and supplements constantly churning.  They learned that the newest players had slowed to a trickle and their entire company was going to collapse under all the expense they accrued to maintain such a library without the new players to keep it funded.  The same number of players could not.  And we saw the sale of that iconic company at a time when it had NO real competitors!  Even a company like that was forced to admit it had grown but not grown its player base.  This crucial error is seemingly being repeated.

Warhammer has a safety valve like D&D did:  new editions.  when 3.X came out, it was hailed and loved.  Still is in fact.  And at first it was a totally manageable flow of materials they put out.  As time went on they realized they had to release new product or face the same problem and the pace near the end became so great and the product so poor, that they were FORCED to go to 4E...  and that edition was villified and hated such that their problems are worse than before, or very nearly approaching it, giving birth, literally, to Pathfinder and seeing 4E market share drop precipitously.  What 4th Edition did right is focused ENTIRELY on growing the newer player base and tapping into the now fully matured wargaming scene that has boomed.  That foresight, while unfortunately accompanied by 4th Edition D&D rules(Yuck) put them in a better position for the FUTURE as they prepare 5th Edition for launch (and its well underway, I've play tested it quite a bit).

The parallels here are pretty obvious.  Games Workshops quality has gone up, their responsiveness has gone up, but their roll out schedule is oppressive and the spaghetti approach of throwing whatever they can out there and working their writers to death to create barely readable stuff like the history of young commander O'Shovah (which really is boring and amateurishly written) is going to weigh them down.  It may be less weighty than other companies because of their clever utilization of the Ipad phenomenon but still...  the patience of the players shrinks the base, the cost of the hobby shrinks the new players who can join and they are set up BADLY for the future even while profits stream in.

I think you will see that as 6th Edition rules age, and all that comes with it, the damage will become more apparent.  ANY significant misstep when that 7th Edition comes out could be as cataclysmic as Warhammer Fantasy:  8th was.

Time will tell if I'm right.

Monday, January 6, 2014

"Night Lords...ATTACK!"

This is a Battle Report you can enjoy.  As some have asked for a very long time for me to do these in a more  visual way, I did this because there's a lot of hoopla on the interwebz as to whether you can really play a melee oriented army.  As you know I have long posited that you can indeed do so.  I know that one battle report won't convince everyone, and it was a friendly game between friends, the battle report an after thought.  But it at least illustrates some potential strategies.

Be warned, I am not a veteran video battle reporter and there are a couple things that I messed up on during the course of filming it.  Nonetheless it WAS fun and instructional.

Below is the list I used.  For Boons, I rolled and got nothing for one of the Raptor Champions and Instant Death for the other at the start of the game.  For Warlord Traits, I was allowed to re-roll Boons.  I ended up, after re-roll, with +1 Initiative for the Sorcerer which turned out quite nicely.  For his Powers he got Doom Bolt, Psychic Shriek and Breathe of Chaos.

Hammer and Anvil was the Mission with three objectives, appropriately Night Fighting.  He got first turn.

2000 Pts - Night Lords

Total Roster Cost: 1998

Heavy Support: Havocs (5#, 165 pts)
   4 Havocs, + Missile Launcher x2 + Flakk Missiles (for Missile Launcher) x2  + Lascannon x2
      1 Aspiring Champion,

Troops: Chaos Space Marines (6#, 150 pts)
   4 Chaos Space Marines,
      1 Aspiring Champion, (Melta Bombs 5 + Power Sword x1)
      1 Chaos Rhino, (Destroyer Blades + Dirge Caster)

Troops: Chaos Space Marines (6#, 150 pts)
   4 Chaos Space Marines,
      1 Aspiring Champion, (Melta Bombs 5 + Power Sword x1)
      1 Chaos Rhino, (Destroyer Blades + Dirge Caster)

Troops: Chaos Space Marines (6#, 150 pts)
   4 Chaos Space Marines,
      1 Aspiring Champion, (Melta Bombs 5 + Power Sword x1)
      1 Chaos Rhino, (Destroyer Blades + Dirge Caster)

Troops: Chaos Space Marines (5#, 95 pts)
   4 Chaos Space Marines
      1 Aspiring Champion(Melta Bombs 5 + Power Sword x1)

Elite: Mutilator (1#, 61 pts)
   1 Mutilator (Mark of Nurgle)

Elite: Mutilator (1#, 61 pts)
   1 Mutilator (Mark of Nurgle)

Elite: Mutilator (1#, 61 pts)
   1 Mutilator (Mark of Nurgle)

Fast Attack: Raptors (15#, 360 pts)
   14 Raptors(Mark of Khorne + Icon of Wrath + Meltagun x2
      1 Raptor Champion, (Gift of Mutation + Melta Bombs + Mark of Khorne + Power Weapon x1)

Fast Attack: Raptors (15#, 360 pts)
   14 Raptors(Mark of Khorne + Icon of Wrath + Meltagun x2
      1 Raptor Champion, (Gift of Mutation + Melta Bombs + Mark of Khorne + Power Weapon x1)

HQ: Sorcerer (1#, 150 pts)
   1 Sorcerer (Mark of Tzeentch + Mastery Level 3 + Boon+ Jump Pack)

Heavy Support: Chaos Land Raider (1#, 235 pts)
   1 Chaos Land Raider (Dirge Caster)

My opponent played Imperial Fists with a pretty good counter considering my own list and a LOT od deployment options.  His list was almost as free to deploy as mine was with infiltrator/outflankers, Deep Strikers and harder hitting Assault troops.  His had super heavy hitters in melee like Lysander and his ironclad.  LOTS of shooting and indirect fire as well.  Very balanced.

Veterans with Camo cloaks.
Primaris Psyker (Telepathy Primaris Power)
10 Tactical marines in a Pod
Ironclad Dreadnought in a pod
10 Assault marines in a pod (I dont think they actually had jump packs even though thats the models he used)
Captain Lysander
Pedro Kantor
Sternguard with Grav Gun shenanigans.  etc...  those hurt and are troops choices)

Enjoy and comment freely.For other articles I wrote on Chaos check here:
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