Monday, December 28, 2015

"Meta" is stupid.

I decided to write up a little rant here.  I don't tend to rant because, honestly, results always speak for themselves.  It is when someone actually questions this basic law of reality that I start getting a little warm around the collar.

For those who even care about such things, let me tell you that if you look in the top 40 ITC rankings as of today, you will find the names of no less than eight people who attend the events I'm at.  That's just the ones whose names I know.  5 of them are in the top 25.  I normally wouldn't bother pointing that out.  I don't find that particularly relevant, because it ignores the FAR more numerous games you play outside those events which are no less difficult and against the same competition. That being said, it was brought to my attention on a forum I frequent that my "meta sucks".  I laugh for all the obvious reasons and wanted to offer a point of reference people can't argue with.

Aside from these players, a large number of other notables play in my "meta".  One of them placed in the top 5 of 'Ard Boyz when that was a thing, and the field of competition was pretty large every year (basically you had to win 12 games in a row, just about, to make it).  Another pair are twins (the infamous Skewis brothers), who win nigh every tournament they enter, though they play less now.  I myself have gone undefeated in 50+ player events in several states, and once more at a heavily comp'd event.  I attended TSHFT, plus a couple Seattle GT's and never lost more than one game.  I have a sack full of medals and other honorifics for the various other tournaments and Best Generals I have won, not just in 40K but also in Flames of War and Star Wars X-Wing etc...  Pretty much any tabletop game you can compete in, I've probably got awards for.

Why do I waste your time tooting my own horn about all this, other than to squash some know-nothing on another forum who thinks, wrongly, that he knows me and my meta?  Here's why:  the idea of meta is stupid.  I want to address that.

Even though I play in what any fair minded person would consider a strong meta (decide for yourself but I 'd say I do), and complete with the usual Forge World nonsense and uber builds showing up from Portland Oregon to Vancouver BC, it doesn't matter.  Every single person reading this blog plays with the same codex's I do!   Everyone has access to the same online resources I do.  Every one reading has the  same rulebook (give or take the occasional linguistic difference of course).  Everyone.  If people choose, they even use the same house rules (ITC for example).  So really the only difference in "meta" is whether or not you use ITC rulings or something similar for the event!

Yet this word has been expanded by people to mean a LOT more than that.  They have pooled player quality, list strength, and a variety of other less significant factors into a thing they collectively call "meta".  Those things aren't one thing.  They are multiple things.  However "meta" has wrongly been made to mean all of it because people who run out of things to say, attack "your meta" as if they could even know.  Lol.  The last bastion of cowardice for online folks is to attack that nebulous "thing" called "Meta". 

It isn't as if Eldar players on one coast don't know what the ones on the other coast do!  This isn't mysterious stuff.  Suggesting that the lists these people know how to make are different is asinine.  So why don't all armies look alike?  Why is it that in a field of 250 players, you can't find two identical lists or if you do, it's the needle in the haystack?  The answer is, there is no true "best list" against which no one can prevail for Eldar (I'm speaking of ITC-like events).  There is no such thing for Space Marines either.  Several Eldar Generals with highly similar lists to the winners, lost.  How could it possibly happen if the list or codex were beyond any doubt the cause of wins and losses?  Lol.

At the Ambassadorial Tournament this year, two Eldar lists that were markedly different won their respective brackets.  One was pretty well a balanced bag of Eldar tricks while the other was a sledge hammer.  Both got the job done.  The year before?  No Eldar at the top at all.  There really are more ways to skin the cat and a "weak meta" isn't one in which the non-sledge hammer plays nor is the "strong meta" the one in which the sledge hammer plays.  Both were present.  Did the lists win or did the Generals?  Before you say "codex", notice the Eldar didn’t even make top table the year before!

You know where they proved their ability?  On the tabletop.  Not on some forum.

I am often quoted as saying that "The General matters more".  So how is it that a "meta" can "suck" when its Generals are in the top 25 plus those playing/learning against them?  What, did these top generals not take some online personalities pet unit so now maybe they should give their victories back?  Absurd.  These generals didn't subscribe to some online personalities concept of a mythical "best list" so they don’t get to count their tournament wins?  Ridiculous.  It's so stupid to even have to discuss this, yet these are what the online conversations are like.  Keyboard courage is a thing.

Moreover, there are several excellent Generals in our area who don’t even show in the ITC rankings (or are way down at the bottom) because, like me, they don't care enough about the rankings to bother with it.  Someone told me "well if you're not going to ITC events then…"  Oh really?  You want to know how stupid that makes one sound?  Here's a true story:  the last two ITC events I went to were 8 man affairs in some one's garage.   Lol.  People have a really inflated idea of what "ITC event" even means, just like they do the word "Meta".  I think I got points for those events, if they even get reported.

Doesn't matter.  What I do know is the guy who beat me for the win is really good and he's got the same stacks of wins to prove it that I do.  Beat him if you think you're up to it.  Yet the ITC barely knows who he is.  Thus my disdain for even bothering to mention rankings; but again, apparently, people think they matter so I mentioned them for a point of reference.

Unless we are going to start requiring people to win 50+ events or Adepticon just to have opinions on forums, people need to get over this "meta" argument altogether and deal more directly with one another.  It's a garbage argument.  Every one of those smart asses on those forums would be absolutely silent if that was what was required to be heard.  There would only be a few of us talking then, wouldn't there be?

There is some truth to the idea that in certain places, excellent generals choose to play friendlier lists out of a sense of sportsmanship.  Never mistake that courtesy as weakness.

/End rant

Thursday, December 10, 2015

Chaos Space Marine strengths

Every Codex has its strength.  Despite the many forums where a legion of trolls stand ready to harvest your outcries and indignation, I can tell you that the Chaos Space Marines codex was quite a departure from the bland garbage pail the previous 5th Edition codex was.  The Furies just kind of completed the emasculation of the entire group of proud warriors.  In its place was a considerably better 6E Codex filled with war machines s well as the old stand byes.  It added a lot to the arsenal and though it now feels its age, the reality is even now, it has some excellent units.

I include the Black Legion with my praise.  Like Mont'Ka and Kauyon, the Chaos Space Marine discussion should rightly include that volume as well.  After all what is more iconic than the Black Legion when speaking of the Fallen.

As Heavy Support units go, one of the best for a long time have been the tenacious Obliterators. Obliterators are able to Deep Strike into any battlefield situation, causing immediate impact while being a bear to kill.  The nastiest variety of them is the Nurgle Obliterator.  At toughness 5, many otherwise deadly Instant Death threats are negated, which is of key importance to a two wound critter and that leaves it plenty of fortitude with its 2+ save to absorb more than its fair share of attention.  The big thing with Obliterators is they can be used to gain target saturation.  The Chaos Space Marines function well as an MSU (multiple small units) army.  Things like Obliterators can drop from the skies at the same time fast and deadly troops are arriving at the enemy front door forcing a plethora of target priority headaches all at once.  Optionally you can use these doughty warriors as a gun line if the enemy calls for that approach.  Their Powerfist makes them unusually dangerous compared to other otherwise dedicated shooting platforms.  All in all you never really feel robbed when taking them.

The Forgefiend rarely saw use compared to the Maulerfiend, but the Forgefiend has STR 8 AP 2 Blasts it can fire, which is a pretty insane amount of firepower, plus its Daemonforge ability to ensure a maximum amount of misery is inflicted.  Daemonic Possession means those guns will fire until that Forgefiend is obliterated and it comes with It Will Not Die as a rule!  I think that Obliterators give you  a heartier and comparable role for the cost, so I think they really need to tone down the points on it in the next codex.  But it is a nightmare to deal with if you can't get enough shots into it, and with some cover to hide behind, the Forgefiend can be just what the Doctor ordered if you don't own the Obliterators or just haven't got enough of them.

The Heldrake remains a huge winner in the Codex.  The Vector Strike at STR 7 and the Flamer are both just pure wins.  It's price is appropriate and its abilities commensurate.  You get what you pay for and it is terrifying.  One of its best abilities as to be able to hover.  Underrated ability but one that has made more than one opponent quirk an eyebrow when I stole victory from the jaws of defeat by declaring unexpectedly that my bird of prey would be alighting.  The Chaos Codex to this point has never seen a strong entrant into its annals of Warhammer history, in my opinion.  Even those who speak ill of the codex will quickly let you know that they respect the hell out of that bird.

Chaos Spawn are a unit everyone wanted to love for a long time but couldn't.  Now they can.  Spawn are extremely reasonably priced.  A mere 30 points for a Beast which has no fear, instills it in others and d6+2 STR 5 attacks on the charge?  Yes please?  You can place Nurgle or Slaanesh blessings on them and it will be a party.  An entire unit is only 180 points, so you really can afford them and delivering them with a Land raider to lead the way works if you're willing to dedicate one to the task.  Alternatively if you like Slaanesh, you can lead them onto the board by a Chaos Lord on a Slaaneshi steed. from the flanks.  Endless fun.

Noise Marines involve a serious expense but they are very effective units for dealing ranged damage and advancing on the enemy with a cacophony of unpleasantness to share.  The special weapon for Noise Marines are amazing, so if you're looking for a "faction" to start a Chaos Space Marine army, there are far worse than this.  If you are willing to dedicate some points to them, they can dish out a serious amount of long range damage.

A word about Dirge Casters:  Mandatory.  While Overwatch certainly isn't the end of the world, it is a thing, especially against the Tau Empire and against Dark Angels.  The Dirge Caster needs be on a living Rhino (with or without treads) to perform its essential duty of allowing your legion to run unabated into the enemy with no fear of casualties at all.  Spend the points.  Get them.  Use them.  Love them.

Winged Daemon Princes are another thing I like about the Chaos Codex got right.  They are fantastically useful and it's advisable anyways to have an aerial threat to deal with the enemy flyers.  That they can be powerful Psykers is a big bonus, and the power of several winged terrors in the air is something many competitive players know the pain of well.  Even excellent lists can take a beating when the Winged Psykers come to town and that they are more than capable of close combat just adds to their cache.

I also think Chaos Lords are very reasonably priced.  They don't wow you with what they can do, but they don't "tax" you either.  They are simply solid and affordable.  That they are fearless is a big deal as is the fact they can accompany any unit type just about because of their options.  The Black Legion in particular has ridiculously excellent war gear for the intrepid Chaos Lord and if you get the chance to test their ferocity, I think you'll come away somewhat impressed.  The Eye of Night and the Hand of Darkness in particular give the army an element it really needs against certain forces, and I have hi-lited those items in my other articles so I will leave it at that.

The new codex is coming.  Time for some insane predictions?  Sure!  Those are fun!

Maulerfiends and Chaos Dreads will undoubtedly be given four attacks.  It would simply be unthinkable for them to remain at the two base attacks they have now.

I think that the Tzeentch legions will be given some love.  They were given a very high price tag and when you see 9 point Fire Warriors with an AP 3 weapon, you immediately have to think the Thousand Sons are not going to be left in the cold.  My prediction?  Assault 2, AP 3.  My other wild prediction based in no way in fact:  two wounds each.  Same cost as now.

Another crazy prediction:  Squadrons of three will be available for most if not all their main battle tanks except perhaps the Land Raider!  I don't find this very far fetched to be honest and it's almost assured to happen.

Chaos Space Marines:  the return of their banners for summoning?  Many old school Chaos players would love to get their banners back.  It may come in the form of a banner that allows the Deep Strike to be flawless within 6" of the banner like a teleport homer, plus the added bonus of an extra die when casting summoning powers.  What would you say to that?

Crazy idea #5 would be that the Terminaotrs will get access to some sort of Storm-shield effect.  I am not sure if it will be literal storm shields, but just something to allow them to act like Assault Terminators.

Add any other crazy thoughts you might have below!