Tuesday, 24 January 2012

Manufactured Conflict Meeting-ish Thing

Most of you who read this blog probably already know that I run a gaming club in my home town.  If you don’t, then: I run a gaming club in my home town of Dartford.  You should stop round if you’re ever unfortunate enough to be in the area.  Manufactured Conflict, the rates are reasonable.

Anyway, as a fairly young club (just passed our first birthday), it’s taken us a while to get our shit organised, but we are finally getting round to it now.  We’ve got a club bank account set up, we’re going through the process of joining the GCN, all that stuff.  However, the most interesting matter we’ve had to address recently is that of upgrading the club.  Due to some very reasonable rates by the landlord and a nice and consistent turnout, we’ve managed to acquire a bit of buffer in the account.  Naturally, when you have money, you kind of want to spend it.  So a few of us met up and started discussing it, complete with all the umm’s and ah’s of a group of guys who clearly have no idea what they’re talking about.

The first call was for scenery so we can outfit our tables better.  Recently we had a bit of a record club-wise and had five full-size gaming tables out at one time and all being used.  This is undeniably a good thing but it brought into sharp relief how unprepared the club is for that kind occasion.  We only had four Battle Mats (we had to draw the boundaries of the game on the MDF board with a pen) and it was only due to some of the regulars bringing their own scenery that we had anywhere near enough of it.  We were fine on the day, and all the tables ended up being decently stocked with terrain, but it was still cutting too close.  As a moderately successful club that looks like it could grow even more in the near future, that just won’t do.

Another thing we needed was definitely an improvement to the terrain that we have at the moment.  We’ve got a small variety of terrain (some hills, some craters some ruins, a castle, etc.), but it is mostly unpainted and some it has fallen into disrepair.  One way to combat this is to encourage people to take the scenery away with them and tart it up while they have it.  I basically just instituted a free-day-for-some-scenery programme and it seems to have been taken up by a good few of the attendees, so that’s encouraging.  Hopefully we’ll have the scenery looking decent and in good enough supply for our first all-day event in February (Saturday the 18th, on the off-chance that any reader is interested).

So, various purchases were agreed upon during this meeting (although meeting seems far too formal a word for what was actually going on), not least of while was another battle mat for our tables.  We also decided to buy some really cool-looking card scenery from World Works.  Terraclips scenery, to be precise.  Although this stuff is specifically designed for Malifaux, it would look great for most skirmish games, really.  Particularly now that we’ve decided on firing up a 28mm Inquisitor campaign.  I’ll be GMing that one, which will be a bit of a challenge, I’d assume.  It’s been years since I played that system, but it was one of my favourites from the specialist games line and I’m looking forward to introducing a load more people to it.  It really helps you get a different perspective on the world(s) of 40k.

Speaking of introducing people to new things (and speaking of scenery specifically designed for Malifaux), I’ll also be trying to get a bit of a Malifaux circle down the club as well.  I like the world and the test game I had at the IMPs was really enjoyable.  It’s also a really cheap buy-in for a game, as you can get starter gangs for about £20-25, so I’m hoping there’ll be a fair amount of interest in fellow MCers.

Well, that’s the round up from a club perspective.  Not really my remit on the blog, I suppose, but I couldn’t think of much to write today, and I don’t want to fall out of practice keeping this thing up to date.

See you all later.

Maybe even with something relevant to say…

Thursday, 19 January 2012

Necrautopsy FAQ Updates

Well, the Necron FAQs are out and have, rather annoyingly, invalidated a bit of I’ve written in the Necrautopsy series, most keenly with the Deathmarks.  When discussing them, I worked on the assumption that attached members of the Court could teleport down with them and a lot of the things I was talking about relied on finding nice Cryptek matches to make the most of this.  We can (almost) ignore this now, which is a shame.

First, a bit of an explanation as why I came to my now erroneous conclusion.  I thought that the Court would work kind of like Wolfguard.  When you attach a Wolfguard to a unit of Scouts, then he doesn’t make the squad lose the ability to outflank and in fact gains it to keep up.  I therefore thought it was going to be the same principle with the Crypteks and Lords.  Whoops.

There is good news for the Deathmarks though, if you don’t mind losing the ability to piggyback onto your opponent’s reserve rolls.  The Marking ability of the Deathmarks also carries over to their attached characters, which opens up the nasty combo of the Harbinger of Despair, whose AP1 flamer template now wounds on 2s against the marked unit.  Add that to the fact that you can teleport about the board with the Veil of Darkness, then you have a tight and potentially devastating assassin squad for 155 points.  You’d need to be bold with the Deep Strike placement, but at only 155 points, it shouldn’t be crippling if you lose them.

Anyway, enough about Deathmarks.  There are more horrible things the FAQ opens up for the discerning robot Overmind.  The official seal of approval for Writhing Worldscape stacking with Tremorstaves and Orikan’s Temporal Snares is blood-pressuring-heightening nastiness to abuse (if rather expensive to lay the groundwork for).  For those who don’t know, Tremorstaves are blast weapons that force any unit they hit to move as if though they were in difficult terrain for their next movement phase, whereas Temporal Snares inflicts this on the opponent’s entire army during the first turn.  Writhing Worldscape upgrades difficult terrain to dangerous terrain.  You can see the horror implicit in such a combo.  Won’t hurt shooting armies much, but an assault horde? Nasty.

You can also now attach two member of a Court to the same squad, provided they come from two different Courts.  This brings up some nice 1-2 punches, giving the attached squad the advantages of say, a res orb and a warscythe along with Cryptek equipment. 

One combo that I like quite a lot (given my affection for the anvil squad of warriors) is packing two Harbingers of the Storm both with Lightning Fields.  What this means is that any unit that assaults the unit will have to suffer 2D6 S8 AP5 hits before landing a blow!  It also significantly increases the quantity of short range fire (8 haywire shots within 12”) without breaking the bank. The Harbingers of the Storm are only 25 points base and the Lightning field is a snip at only 10.  Bung a cheap Overlord or regular Lord in there with a Res Orb and you have a unit that will pose a risk to any approaching unit.  Bitching.

Spyder spawning and Ghost Ark repairs have been downgraded a little, no longer being auto-successes, which isn’t too much of a shock.  The Entropic Strike rule vs vehicles has been cleared up a little so that we now know that, yes, you roll to reduce Armour values on vehicles and then you roll to pen on the new values.  This was something that I’d pretty much assumed was the case (after a GW staffer and I went through the rules for it), but it’s nice to have it in black and white.  Most of the stuff in the FAQ are things that we had figured out (res orbs increasing the Everliving roll as well as Reanimation, for example).  By clearing this up in an unambiguous fashion, the Necron FAQ has done what an FAQ is supposed to do, so I guess I’m happy with it.

I just have to rearrange my Deathmark squads.

And buy a C’tan…

Monday, 16 January 2012

Necrautopsy Part 6.2: Lychguard Finisher

In my last Lychguard post, I waffled a little bit and tried to explain my choice for Halberds versus Shields.  Obviously it’d be cooler if we could mix and match, but you can’t have everything.  Unless you’re a Grey Knight Player.  In which case you get everything, and at a discount.  I chose halberds as being my equipment of choice (I know they’re called Warscythes, but look at them: they’re bloody halberds!).  This choice does render the unit less durable than their more expensive shielded brethren, but ups the punching power to monstrous levels.  Monstrous Creature levels, to be precise.  As such, there are certain things they’re very good at killing, and certain things where the entire unit will collapse.

I’m used to dealing with that kind of mentality with my Dark Eldar.  There are just some units you know can take you apart, so you stay away from them and attack the softer targets while picking away at the scary one.  However, the Dark Eldar are speedy, dodgy little bastards, in stark contrast to the lumbering metal beasts of the Necron army.  They have the ability to pick and choose their targets.  What can the Lychguard do?  The answer is simple: bring a Harbinger of Despair. 

The Harbinger of Despair can take a groovy little piece of kit called the Veil of Darkness.  It’s a teleporter.  Provided the Harbinger’s unit is not in combat, then they can Deep Strike anywhere on the board instead of moving.  It is a key piece of equipment to get the most out of the Lychguard and I probably wouldn’t take them without it.  It doesn’t come without significant downsides though.  The veil and attached Harbinger is a pretty expensive combo, totalling 60 points (70 if you want to give him the Nightmare Shroud, but I wouldn’t bother; if you can’t assault, you should be running instead).  There’s also the risk of Deep Strike Mishaps on what is a pretty expensive unit.  260 points running at the bare minimum.  You need to pick your strike zone carefully, bearing in mind that they’ll be the target of a lot of attention wherever they land.

The other thing I tend to do with this squad is attach an Overlord to it, which is really doubling down on the risk/reward ratio.  The Overlord is useful for the equipment he can bring to the unit, but not as essential as I feel the Harbinger is.  The Resurrection Orb is a must-have for him, the Warscythe is always my go-to weapon for Necron characters and the Sempiternal Weave allows him to reliably soak up those krak missiles.  The Phase Shifter is ridiculously expensive, but a valuable addition to give the Overlord a bit of survivability against otherwise unstoppable damage.  Unfortunately, kitting him out with the above-mentioned trinkets runs the character at a hefty 190 points.  Whether that price tag is worth paying is very much a question of personal preference.  I like it, but can see why it could just be too much.

I tend to start off with these guys in a fairly unobtrusive place so they can be ignored by most of the enemy fire.  Thinking about it though, they could be used as a handy piece of walking cover for the rest of your army although, again, that could prove quite risky in practice.  Quite where I teleport the Lychguard depends entirely on my opponent.  A lot of the armies that I’ve been going up against with my Necrons split themselves into a forward element (typically assault-focussed units) and a back table firebase.  The aim of the Lychguard is to attack the firebase.  As I’ve previously mentioned, too many assault units can exploit the weakness of the Lychguard for it to be worth trying to go toe-to-toe with them.  The mainly shooty targets at the back however are a completely different story, comprising primarily of the soft targets that the unit can just walk through.  When it looks like my opponent’s assault element are too far forward to  easily backtrack, the Lychguard teleport into the backfield, run to spread the formation out a little, weather the enemy fire and then go to work.  If they survive to the last turn they can even teleport to contest an objective (don’t worry about Mishapping with them at that point.  What else are they going to do?).

So, that’s my take on the Lychguard thus far.  A very expensive unit, but effective when applied to the correct target.

And a lot of fun to play as well.

Thursday, 12 January 2012

Necrautopsy 6.1: Lychguard Primer

Recently, I’ve been experimenting with different (and some may say silly) list builds rather than the tried-and-true, blood-pressure-raising Tremorstave bonanzas that my serious lists style themselves.

Among the riskiest things in these silly lists is a single unit: Lychguard.  I’ve talked briefly about these guys before, saying that they didn’t really work for me and detailing bits and pieces about them, but never really going in deep.  Well, since playing them more and getting a bit more of a grip on them, I’m prepared to (potentially) rethink my opinion.

Just to sum up, Lychguard are one of the assault options in the codex.  There is a definite hurdle with a lot of the assault units in the Necron book and it’s summed up (for pretty much all of them) in one phrase: Initiative 2.  Assault is tough when you’re going at the same time as your opponent, but going last?  That’s an entirely new form of irritation.  The way most of the Necron assaulters try to deal with this is by being tough, and the Lychguard are no exception.  They are T5 with 3+ saves, lending them decent durability against low quality damage.  Against your standard small arms, they’re just as tough as Terminators.  In fact, they only drop to worse than Terminators when you hit S7.  And that’s not counting the Reanimation Protocols.  Even against your tankbusting weaponry, they can stand back up later, 50% of the time if you’ve got a Resurrection Orb in the unit.  Simply put, they are fantastically hard to bring down with shooting.  They should be just as hard to take down in combat, right?

Unfortunately this is not necessarily the case.  These guys are designed for combat, but you need to be very careful about what combat you throw them into.  Lychguard (like all Necrons) have Ld10, which is nice, but they lack Stubborn, Fearless or any chance for rerolls on Ld tests (chronometrons potentially excepted).  This is their major weakness.  If they lose a combat, they can run and if they run, with I2, they will most probably be swept away.  Then you’ve lost one hell of an expensive unit, especially if you’ve kitted them out.  As they will be striking last in the vast majority of combats, some Lychguard will probably fall before getting their returning blows, reducing the chance of you getting enough hits in to draw or win the combat.  This is a big deal.  If you see a unit that can take down a decent number of your Lychguard, then you have to avoid them until they’re weakened enough to deal with, or just avoid them all together.  This makes them a very odd hammer unit. But against the right opponents, they are one hell of a big hammer.

There are two setups for these guys; warscythes (S7 power weapons that roll 2D6 for armour penetration) or shields (4+ Invulnerable saves and bog-standard S5 power weapons).  There are definite advantages for either option, but I prefer running the Warscythe kit for a couple of reasons: I like halberds.  Don’t know why, I just think they look cool.  The other two reasons are mentioned in the weapon description.  They are Strength 7 and roll 2D6 for armour penetration.  Against most enemy infantry, they’re killing on 2s.  Against most Monstrous Creatures, they’re wounding on 3s and against most vehicles… You can imagine. 

Actually, you don’t have to.  They are penning 11 hits out of 12.  This makes them a riskier unit to use, as you don’t have the Invulnerable save to fall back on when you’re up against big assault threats or Demolisher Cannons, but conversely, it makes them far scarier for the opponent, because the things they are good against they can just tear apart without breaking a sweat.  The S5 power weapon and 4++ are more durable, but they’ll be winning fights through grinding attrition, rather than flat out eating the opposition.  Maybe I’m selling the shield variant a little short.  I haven’t used them, so anything I say about them is probably going to be conjecture.  Apart from this:  They definitely can’t kill vehicles as well.  In a Codex that lacks the amount of hardcore vehicle-killing that this dex does, this makes them a more attractive prospect.

Anyway, that’s the rough run-down of the Lychguard from where I sit.  I’ll go a bit more into how I use them, and how they’ve been working for me, at some point soon.  In the meantime, enjoy this list:

Things Lychguard can kill
Pretty much anything not on the below list

Things Lychguard should stay the hell away from
Furioso Dreadnoughts with Blood Talons
Anything with tonne of Rending or Poisoned attacks
S4 or S5 power weapons en masse (S3 power weapons are an acceptable risk)
Thunder Hammer/Storm Shield Terminators
Full strength Ork mobs (odd case, these guys.  If you charge them, you’ll probably be fine.  If they charge you, you’re doomed)

Any more you want to add to the lists?  Go ahead!

Wednesday, 11 January 2012

Commorragh Phase 5: Shadowplay

Commorragh has been lying fallow for a little bit, so I think it’s worth another visit and for me to unearth another half-baked idea from the ‘wouldn’t it be cool?’ files.  In this edition, the idea is lighting conditions.  This is a bit of an odd thing and could be very hard for me to implement, but in the Dark City (clue’s in the name folks!) I can imagine shadows and darkness playing a major role in tactics and execution of many Kabal skirmishes.  Whether it’s hiding from enemy fire, setting up sneaky ambushes or having you face bitten off by a hired Mandrake, darkness can be both a strength and a weakness in game, but always a factor.

The rough idea would be that several areas on the table would be classed as ‘Dark’ or ‘Shadowed’ or maybe ‘Sable’ if we’re getting needlessly poetic.  Darkness would provide handy protective points for the players to use and would add a little bit atmosphere and colour to the board.  If deployed into at the beginning of a skirmish (say as an ambush mission or something) they would be the equivalent of secret deployment.  The ambusher would note which dark areas his guys were deployed in secretly and not place the models on the board.

Sight into darkness would be quite simple to enact, I think, relying mainly on Initiative values of the models looking, so a Kabalite would see further than a human slave and so on.  This would encourage players to move their guys closer to check a darkened area for targets, potentially leaving them vulnerable.  Darkness would give a -1 modifier to hit at range as well I reckon (or something like that).  Options for firing blind into darkness would be open, but only for certain weapons or units.  A splinter rifle, for example, is a precision weapon and lacks the rate of fire for a ‘spray and pray’ approach to clear an ambush point.  Splinter cannons or Shredders, however would be perfect for the role.  Obviously large penalties would be involved when trying to hit someone you cannot see.  I’m thinking a flat roll of 6s to hit regardless of statline (Shredders would probably be relegated to D6 shots rather than a Blast for the purposes of blind fire).  However, in order to keep the secret deployment secret, you would roll to wound on every hit, regardless of whether or not anyone was actually in there.  This introduces a certain level of bluffing into the game, which I quite like.

It also brings an interesting element to some of the units.  Mandrakes for example (being semi-shadow-demon-things themselves) would have added bonuses to working in shadow and penalties for working in light areas.  One of the key shadow advantages for these guys would probably be the ability to teleport from one shadowed location to another to enact their grisly mandates.  There’s a fair amount of talk in the background to Mandrakes being able to materialise out of the shadows to prey on the unwary.  I think this would translate very nicely in-game.  I picture this working in a ‘secret deployment’ style as well.  At the beginning of the Mandrake’s movement the owning player would elect to use ‘fading into the shadows’ (or something like that), remove the Mandrake from the board and note down which darkened area the Mandrake would appear in next movement phase.  This again opens up the options for mind games and bluffing, as well as a relative test of nerve for the opponent.  Does he get all his guys out of the darkness to avoid getting surprised by a balefiring lunatic?  Does stay the course and keep all his guys where they are, confident in the knowledge that you can’t kill them all?  Or does he believe that he knows where you’ll strike and only move those key units out of danger?

There are many possibilities here, my (imaginary) friends…

And I’m enjoying them.

Monday, 9 January 2012

New Year's Update

Well, it’s 2012 now.  Generic calendar based greetings to you all.

After the standard Christmas and Terran Orbit Completion celebrations, I went on a bit of an inventory of some of my 40k in preparation for an Apocalypse game that, sadly, was not to happen.  But, in doing such a thing (and doubtless slightly high on glue fumes after assembling all my presents) I found that I had a surprisingly large force of Necrons loitering around my room.  About 3,000 points, in fact.  Which was quite a surprise as I never really intended to go into this army in a big way.  I started off setting myself the goal of assembling a 1,000 point force for under £100 (which I managed quite nicely due to Triple Helix and some cut’n’shut conversion work).  Then I got an old box of Necron Warriors cheap thanks to one of the regulars at the club, which I used as organ donors (mainly donated legs and chests) to make Deathmarks and Immortals using the left over bits in their boxes.  Which meant I need another box of Immortals and so on and so on.

I haven’t exactly broken the bank with Necrons (whatever the other podcast crew say, I am most assuredly not rolling in cash) but I’ve planned various bits and pieces and have made the most with the kits I’ve bought.  Tail end of this monologue though, is that I now have about 3,000 points of first wave Necrons (provided I’m generous with the wargear).  I was very eager to get these guys on the field for a big and silly game (especially as the entire list can fit in a single Force Org Chart and, handily, a single KR case), so I was a bit disappointed to find that game vanished in a bout of food poisoning.  I’d also dug out and salvaged my old Imperial Guard (the Boilerplates) for the event, designing a new list for them.

I’d normally run those guys in Grenade and Flamer heavy Vet squads, but recently the idea of Platoon blob squads had been forming in my mind and I managed to work them into the Boilerplates version 2.0, but I’m unlikely to find out how they’d fair any time soon.  I have too many other armies that I’d prefer to play.  Anyway, this post is beginning to sound ungracious, so I’ll move on to another topic.


On the 2nd, I visited a gaming day at a not-at-all local club in Finchley.  Whilst there, I got a training game in for this system.  It’s one I’ve been interested in for a while now.  I own the core rulebook, a couple of crews (unassembled, of course: I am very lazy).  However, I’d never got a game in until now.  It’s daunting to try a figure out a whole new game system on your tod and no-one in my local club plays it, so I’d just left the stuff to gather dust after the initial novelty wore off.  It was, in fact one of the main reasons I travelled all the way to this club (North London IMPS, if you’re curious), as the possibility of playing a game of Malifaux was raised beforehand.

For those who don’t know (and I don’t blame you on that score), Malifaux is a skirmish game (about 5-8 models a side) that runs on cards instead of dice.  The setting is odd, quirky and quite dark (putting it mildly), delving into fairytales, steampunk, magic, the Wild West and Victorian aesthetics.  As such, there is, quite frankly, a tonne of weird shit going on.  Despite the fact that the game is far smaller in size than 40k, it will take probably the same amount of time to play.  This is because every model you have has its own special abilities, spells, statline and weirdness to bring to bear and requires a lot of attention to individual actions than 40k does.  It also brings wildly divergent mission objectives for each side to achieve and extra schemes for bonus victory points and so on, to the point that both dies could probably achieve all they wanted with even going near each other.  But that wouldn’t make a good skirmish game, would it?  Naturally both players will try to achieve their schemes and objectives whilst preventing their opponent from doing the same (preferably whilst knocking the shit out of one another).  Suffice to say, I enjoyed the game and do plan on playing more, but it is still a bit of a daunting prospect.  At least it’s not going to be as expensive as 40k.

Well, that’s my start-of-the-year update.  I can’t imagine it’ll be of much interest to many (nothing else has been so far), but for the few…

Even then, probably not.  See you (figuratively speaking) later.