Friday, 24 February 2012

Broadening My Scope

Hi everyone!

Recently I’ve been looking outside the 40K game a little.  Actually, it’s not really all that ‘recently’.  I’ve been on and off Fantasy for ages now (I’ve still got two decent-sized armies from previous forays).  Having played a couple of games of 8th edition, I do have to say that overall I prefer it to 7th.  It causes fewer headaches and seems geared towards a more fun game.  I understand some of the objections to it, what with uncounterable spells forcing gigantic blobs of death onto the field, but I don’t really play that kind of game.  Or, more importantly, my regular opponents don’t.  So this latest bout of square-basing has been brought on by one of my friends, Alex.  He (for some reason) seized on a Vampire Counts army book and then set to army listing.

Naturally, I couldn’t let one of my friends wander down this dark path alone, so I bought an army book for a force I’d been thinking about doing for a while and starting researching Beastmen.  I was initially uncertain about going for Beastmen, as the other two armies I own are Lizardmen (a lot of Stegadons) and Warriors of Chaos.  There is a common theme running through these armies as you may well notice.  Pretty much bugger all in terms of ranged combat.  That and the worrying level of anthropomorphism that runs through a lot of these forces.  Thank god I’m not doing Skaven as well.  I’d need to report to some body dysmorphia specialist or something…

Anyway, the new load Beastmen (if I ever collect them) will pose a bit of a challenge, painting wise.  One of the main problems I had with collecting Beastmen was from a painting standpoint.  They are just so, well, brown.  It’s kind of unavoidable.  I don’t particularly like brown, or many hues that fall into the earth tones range of utter tedium.  And the Beastmen, being Beastmen do tend to be focussed around one of my least favourite colours.  I have, however, stumbled upon a colour scheme that may well work and keeps the brown-ness to a minimum.

I plan on painting my army very pale.  Almost albino-style.  Certainly for the skin.  The fur I haven’t settled on the colour.  However, I plan to go for very pale flesh and some woad tattoos and plenty of blood splatters on them as well.  It think the deep red and blue will contrast nicely with the anaemic pale flesh and provide a distinctive look for the herd.  That’s the plan anyway.  To add to the challenge, I’ll also be trying out a different style of painting in general, namely wash-painting.  I love washes; they’re an excellent substitute for talent and patience.  I tend to go through a good amount of wash whenever I paint.  Undercoat, basecoat, wash the hell out of it.  But working with washes as the base of the paint job is not something I’ve ever done before.  Fortunately some of the guys at the local GW are going to show me how to do it (hopefully without needing airbrushes or anything that silly), so that’ll be another string to my unimpressive-looking bow.

It’s not just Beastmen on the horizon for me though.  I’ve finally started making inroads into Malifaux.  Down at Manufactured Conflict, we’ve got some of the very nice WorldWorks card terrain.  The only criticisms I have about it is the length of setup (it took two of us about 25 minutes to set up before we could start to use it) and the area of coverage.  The setup length is unavoidable given the amount of customisation inherent in the terrain, so I can’t realistically complain about that.  However, we found that we were just not able to cover the recommended area of ground for a game.  The rulebook states that small games should be played on 3’ x 3’, but we were just not able to cover that with the one box of terrain and one box of clips to hold them together. We got close (2.5’ x 2.5’), so maybe it’s just splitting hairs, but it’s still a bit of an irritation to need just a little more of a really quite expensive kit to fulfil its purpose.  Nevertheless the stuff looks really good and you can get some very interesting skirmish terrain out of it.  Soon we’ll have to break out the other two sets!  I’ll address more Malifaux as I play it more.  I’ve only got two games under my belt, so I can’t really talk with any authority other than to say that I’ve really enjoyed the system so far.

And I’ve won twice.

But that’s probably not statistically viable!

Thursday, 16 February 2012

Necrautopsy: Part 8

Here we go again.  More Necron blathering.  This time I’m dealing with some special characters, in this case, Nemesor Zahndrekh and Vargard Obyron.  These guys are pretty much the buddy movie of the Necron Codex.  To have one but not the other just seems slightly off.  Not only that, but you also miss out on some added bonuses on the Vargard’s end.  I’ve been using this double team for a few games now and find them interesting and fun to use, but not without their quirks which can make them difficult to get the most out of.

Let’s start with the reason why they’re a buddy movie.  I mean, aside from the back-story (which I advise you read, it’s quite amusing!).  The big draw to having these guys comboed up is that if you take the Nemesor, the Vargard doesn’t take up an HQ slot.  In larger games this can be a very big deal, as the Vargard has a couple of cool abilities and hits like a sack of bricks attached to a speeding bus.  The ability to fling another Overlord (or whatever HQ choice you fancy) can open up the game to some nasty combos for you to exploit.  But that’s for another day entirely.  Today (and possibly tomorrow), I’m just focussing on these two.

First up is the simpler of the two, and (in my opinion) the less viable on his own: The Vargard.  This guy is pretty much the best Necron assault character going in terms of damage output.  However, much like the halberd-wielding Lychguard, he needs to be precisely targeted to work.  Obyron is unique in a couple of ways, but the most obvious deviation from the norm is in his statline.  Most specifically, his Weapon Skill.  One of the (many) quirks with the Necron lists is that the characters don’t actually have improved statlines apart from wounds and attacks.  All Necrons are Ld10, all have WS4.  Okay, Overlords have S & T 5, but that’s nothing their regular elite entries can’t have.  Obyron breaks the mould in this regard by packing a WS of 6.  He is the only non-C’Tan in the ‘dex that has WS of greater than 4.  It won’t make him harder to hit for most opponents, but usually means that he’ll ht in assault a fair bit more than a Necron character normally would.  This is handy because another great strength of this guy is the wealth of attacks he can strike with.

His attack stat is fairly average at 3.  However, in combat he has a trick to play.  Every enemy attack that misses him grants him a bonus attack (up to 6 bonuses).  Here the character has actually managed to get the appalling I2 to work for him.  This means than, on a charge and with decent luck, he can rack up a full 10 attacks at WS6.  Add the bonuses of a Warscythe to that and you can see how much this guy can literally scythe through.  He has another major strength on top of damage output, but I won’t address it yet.

This guy, unfortunately has a pretty major flaw.  He has no invulnerable save at all.  This is a pretty major problem for an assault character whose main ability relies on him being endlessly wailed on.  If it’s a power weapon doing the wailing, then there is a great risk that he will not strike at all.  As such, placing him in any given combat is a precise affair.  Ideally you want him to be that target of as many attacks as possible, which necessitates him being in base-to-base with as many faceless grunts as possible whilst staying away from anyone wielding a power weapon, particularly a high strength one.  When he’s on his own, this is very difficult to do unless you’re dealing with a very large squad, so other tricks need to be employed.  The best way is to have another of your models in base with the power weapon guy.  Models have to attach an enemy in base-to-base contact as opposed to one that’s only within 2” of a friendly engaged model.  Mastering this form of combat placement is vital if you’re going to get the most out this whirligig of destruction.  It can often mean throwing your other models to their doom in his favour, but hey; that’s what the game’s about anyway!

Finally, we come to the true tricksiness of the Vargard.  He (and any squad that he’s attached to) can teleport, just like a Harbinger of Despair with a Veil of Darkness.  I won’t talk about the teleporting, because I’ve already done so in a previous Necrautopsy post.  However, Obyron’s teleportation doohicky brings a big advantage with it.  You can use it to get out of combat.  This can be fantastically useful, particularly if you’re running for a last-turn contestation of a point but getting held up somewhere else on the board.  His teleport also a couple of odd abilities that specifically tie in with the Nemesor.  If you’re aiming to arrive within 6” of the Nemesor, then him and his squad won’t scatter, which is a useful, useful little perk.  But the stranger ability that this brings is that if the Nemesor or his unit are assaulted, then Obyron has to leave wherever he is and teleport directly to that combat and pile in.  Immediately.  You get no choice.  On the plus side, it means that you HQ guy has a big heavy hitter suddenly turn up to help him out in a combat.  On the downside, it means that the unit he was with are now slogging it everywhere again, without you having any say in the matter.  The quickest way to rectify that is to have Obyron teleport out of the combat during his next movement phase and rejoin his unit again, but that’s a full turn down the drain for them.  That ability is really both a strength and a weakness.

Anyway, that’s a rough run-down of Vargard Obyron.  Later, I’ll approach his bestest friend, Nemesor Zahndrekh.  I’ll maybe even make sense doing it…

Thursday, 2 February 2012

Necrautopsy Part 7: C'Tan Shards

Last weekend, I went to the Throne of Skulls and, without false modesty, I can say that I did fairly well.  Four wins and one loss isn’t bad in anyone’s books (especially when that loss was one Genestealer away from a draw, dammit!).  Anyway, my brief summation about the tournament can be heard on the podcast, if you have the inexplicable interest in it.

This post is about a new unit I tried for the tournament.  I had used a C’Tan Shard once before going to Nottingham, so was still very much unsure as to its capabilities, especially when you have to spend so many points to acquire them.  However, now that the tournament’s over, I’ve bought another one.  My Shard was pretty much the man of the match in every game.  He was also good fun to play, which always helps.  So this blog post is going to focus on my experiences using the C’Tan and the lessons I learned.

First, the set up.  For this Shard I was going for a very specific build to complement the rest of my army.  Writhing Worldscape was the key ability here.  For those who may not know, WW is a passive ability that means for as long as the Shard is on the table, all Difficult terrain becomes Dangerous as well, and all Dangerous terrain will cause damage on a 1 or a 2, rather than just a 1.  Naturally, this applies only to the opponent.  Nice.  This was a cornerstone of my build, as I was running with three Harbingers of Transmogrification (probably one of the most clunkily named units in the game) who are, by default, armed with Tremorstaves.  Tremorstaves are a 36” range blast weapon that inflicts Difficult terrain on any unit it hits.  This stacks with the Writhing Worldscape ability to make a nasty little combo that can really hamper enemy movement and against which there is little defence.  A vehicle will immobilise itself on a 1 or a 2.  Hordes of guys will dies on rolls of 1 during their own movement phase.  Before, Tremorstaving was a delaying tactic.  With the addition of this guy, it was now a proper weapon.

The other ability I gave him was Swarm of Spirit Dust, a fairly unflashy and utilitarian piece of kit that gives the Shard assault grenades, defensive grenades and Stealth, allowing him to better resist being charged, strike at I4 when assaulting through terrain and also give him better odds of surviving being shot at (provided he can find something big to hide behind).  I found that the Annihilation Barges were about the right size and shape to provide this cover easily.

The statline of this monster also gives you a much-needed close assault element with S & T 7 and five attacks on the charge.  Combined with the fact that he’s a Monstrous Creature (it’s worryingly easy to play a NecZilla list!) and he’s very good at taking down swarms of S3 and decent quantities of S4 without really breaking a sweat.  Vehicles are, of course, easy pickings for him and his 4+ invulnerable save will also stand up against other MCs and power fist/klaw wielders with decent odds.  His downfall, as with most other Monstrous Creatures, is Rending (by the bucketload) and Poisoned Attacks.  That Invulnerable save will only get you so far.

My plans in each battle were fairly similar when it came to using the Shard.  He’d advance up behind my Barges for the first couple of turns and the engage small units of elite infantry where he could do the most damage.  In the first game he dealt with a weakened Strike Squad (Eternal Warrior was nice and the T7 meant that Hammerhand didn’t help them), the second game he tore through a terminator assault squad with their Chaplain, he ate a full squad of Striking Scorpions in the third game, the fourth game saw him dispatch a Trygon with ease (not a wound taken!).  Sadly, the fifth game he didn’t really get up to much, but that was Dark Eldar.  They were too fast and too far away for the most part.  His passive ability more than made up for his relative lack of activity in that game though, as four vehicles out of the ten he was field Immobilised themselves whilst trying to move throughout the game.

He died twice during the tournament.  Once when the Doom landed next to him and took three wounds off him immediately due to his death field effect (I had to roll very badly for that to happen) and having his last wound taken by a squad of charging Genestealers.  And second when I was up against the Eldar player and he spent two turns levelling every applicable gun at him to score a moral victory in a losing game.  Certainly not a bad survival rate.

Oh, before I forget, there are two more standard abilities for this guy that need to be borne in mind.  The first is that he doesn’t care about moving through Difficult or Dangerous terrain.  Having that full 6” move through craters and ruins is kind of liberating, especially if you’re trying to hunt someone down.  The second ability is the post-death explosion.  Everything within D6” of a C’Tan that loses its last wound will take a S4 AP1 hit.  This is a very nasty surprise for Terminators and Paladins!  However, it does necessitate you keeping him away from your more breakable infantry models.  There isn’t a more ignominious way to go.

Apart from perhaps Tesla-ing your units to death.  Which I’ve done.


And will probably do again.