Monday, 23 July 2012

First Forays Into 6th Edition: The Vehicle Damage Table

Yes, yes.  Everyone’s done it already.  Never mind, eh?  On with the sixthiness!

Now that I’ve played a few games of 6th edition (not as many as I’d like) I can form a bit of an opinion in gameplay terms.  So far, the results are very positive.  Vehicles have naturally been toned down, which many people will probably not agree with.  I’m very much in the other camp, viewing the vehicle damage table as one of the greatest blights to confront the game in quite some time.  Well, maybe that’s overstating things a tad, but it was still annoying as hell to only have a 1 in 3 chance of killing a vehicle with a penetrating hit and to have nigh-on no chance when glancing.  Given the semi-competitive circles I play in quite often, it did reduce a lot of games to pure chance.  I mean, what can you do to improve the chances of killing a vehicle in 5th?  Just score more pens.  That was it (at least until Scarabs came along).  It led to infuriating situations when you just couldn’t roll a 5 or 6 regardless of how many chances you got. Adding more order to the proceedings has edged the game more towards the tactical as opposed to blind chance.

It also reducing the ‘bunkering’ tactic that I disliked so much in 5th.  Vehicles in 4th Ed were pretty much regarded as metal coffins for the troops inside, what with the punitive damage tables and harsh penalties for passengers.  5th Edition swung the other way, thanks to the resilience of the Vehicle Damage Table, and mechanised infantry ruled the board.  Well, not quite.  Light vehicle squadrons packed quite a punch to, adding the squadron damage allocation shenanigans to the damage table for added resilience, but that’s beside the point.

Mechanised troops were a big thing in 5th, due to the fact that they could score tucked up inside their metal boxes, shrugging off the majority of incoming damage.  Hell, even if the bunker was killed, the guys inside would be fine (give or take a few shrapnel-based casualties) and they would still be scoring, plus in receipt of some fancy bespoke cover saves, courtesy of their former ride.  They were hell to dislodge with shooting.  If you were running an assault army, it was even worse.  Vehicles didn’t need to move far to be very hard to hit in assault, reducing your mob’s already slim chances of cracking it open.  That has been remedied (possibly a little too much, but that discussion’s for another time), and vehicles are a lot easier to take down in a fistfight, helping out the assault armies a bit and devaluing the mechanised infantry brigades.

Don’t get me wrong, the game wasn’t bad in 5th, and I’m aware that the previous few paragraphs may have just been an extended, poorly punctuated rant on a single perceived ill of the system.  It’s just that the introduction of the Hull Point system has really helped mitigate a deficiency in the old edition.  The vehicle damage table still exists, and on the surface, it’s got even less forgiving.  You need a 6 to kill a vehicle flat out with penetrating hit, but the glance = hull point system keeps this table from being a hugely defining factor in the game.  The end result has been that vehicles are now easier to kill, but harder to suppress.  They will keep doing the job you bought them for until they die.  Which will probably happen much sooner than it used to.

As a Dark Eldar player, I really don’t have a problem with that, as all of my vehicles were built to perform a specific task and then die to the return fire.  So, to everyone complaining that their Chimeras and their Rhinos are just too brittle in the new edition, I say this: 

Welcome to my world, suckers!

Wednesday, 4 July 2012

Overthinking the Overload: Part 2

The next game was a bit of a whitewash, unfortunately.

My partner was Powderfan from the forum, playing a Space Wolf Drop-pod army with far too many Rune Priests. Our opponents were my podcasting colleague Dagmire and club regular Kipper (yes I use forum names all the time.  It’s easier for me to remember for some reason), and they were both bringing Guard to the party.  This could be seen as a big advantage for them, but it was not to be.  The mission set up really worked against the vehicle-heavy guard list.

The deployment we rolled up required three units to be deployed at the start of the game and everything else in reserve.  Everything.  This can really screw with a battle plan.  Luckily, both Powerfan and I had a way round the restriction.  My mechanised assault spearhead turns up on turn 1 regardless, and half of the Drop-pods would turn up on turn one as well.  Add that to the three units that I deployed at the start of the game (Spyders and Scarabs, since you ask), and we were fairly well represented turn 1.  The same could not be said of the Guard, who fielded a Basilisk, a Sentinel and a company command squad in defensive positions in the back field.  All their tanks had to roll for reserves and trundle in their short edge.  This lead to a major problem for Tank Brigades in the game.  Logjam.  The game started with both Powerfan and me putting on a lot of pressure in the opponent’s backfield and the Drop Pods deployed very aggressively and the Command Barges (although they rolled the wrong side for outflank) were a clear and present danger.  By doing this, we managed to basically control our side of the board for rearguard troops to advance without any Guard fire being lozzed at us.

When the Guard tanks did turn up, they elected to move slow and let rip with their guns at the melta-toting Wolves that were always too close for comfort.  We responded by fling more drop-pods and jump infantry (wraiths) into their deployment zone and restricting tank manoeuvrability even more.  There was hope for the Guard in the shape of a spearhead of tank-busting Vendettas filled with melta-wielding demolition veterans from Dagmire, but due to unlucky rolling, they didn’t show up until turn 5.  It was too late in the game for them to dig out our entrenched troops.  We had enough firepower secreted about the battlefield to enact very swift and unremitting punishment to the poor humans.

The game was an undisputed win for the Necron-Wolf alliance, although a bit unsatisfying, as whitewashes tend to be.  We just rolled a setup that really punished our opponents and played to our strengths.  We were good enough tactically to take advantage of the situation, but it was really just down to that starting roll and the late arrival of Dagmire’s reinforcements.

The final game was more interesting.  This time, I was playing against two previous allies from my two previous games, and allied with a recent enemy.  I had allied with Kipper’s guard against the Necron player (sorry, no forum name for you!) and Powderfan.  I’ll tell you this; my Initiative two units were not looking forward to tangling with Jaws of the World Wolf coming from multiple sources (and every one of Powerfan’s many Rune Priests was packing that filthy little power).

We rolled the escalation setup again (three units, everything else in reserve) and Kipper deployed his Basilisk and a couple of other vehicles, while I kept everything back.  However, seeing how badly logjam crippled the Guard last game, we played very much with that in mind.  Fortunately, my Necrons don’t take up anywhere near the same amount of  board space as a Guard armoured detachment and most of them are Skimmers, so I could mitigate this to high degree.  Our opponents deploy their heavy support spearhead, but were unable to capitalize on it due to low range on the Annihilation Barges and bad scatters on the Doomsday Ark.  My Overlords outflanked nicely on the correct side of the table (this time) and immediately struck powerful blows against the Necron heavy support, with one Barge blowing up and another losing its gun.  That was basically what my Overlords were doing the entire game.  Turbo-boosting merrily from one place to another and smashing things up with Warscythes.  Brutal.  The Sweep Attack is a very powerful tactic, especially combined with the difficulty of bringing down the Command Barge.  I don’t think it’ll fare so well in 6th edition though.  Just a feeling, I’ve got.

Powderfan tried to put pressure on us early with bold deep-striking on his drop pods, but his Necron ally wasn’t manoeuvrable enough to back up the initial assault and our reserves made a good impression on the isolated Wolf squads.  I had a couple of assault units roll in early and the Wraiths and Spyders did a very good job chewing through some Wolf units, while my Scarabs devoured the pods they rode in on.  The forward assault plan form the Wolves was dropped soon after and they concentrated more on claiming objectives rather than applying direct pressure on our units.  The enemy Necrons boasted an impressive quantity of foot troops (about forty of them!) and they were swamping their end of the board in a slow march.  The objective marker on their side was pretty much lost to us in a sea of Robot Zombies.  So Kipper and I focussed more on the middle objective, which would be the decider.

Unfortunately for our opponents, they lacked the speed to make good on reclaiming the middle ground and after clearing out the deep-striking Wolves, we had a good defensive perimeter going.  If the game had continued another turn, the bulk of the Necron foot troops might have reached it, as they were proving very hard to shoot down (as it is meant to be, really).  The game didn’t continue though, and the middle objective resolutely remained ours.  Our rear objective was under threat from the final Wolf drop pod, but their run move was (thankfully) too low for a contestation result.  It’s odd when a game really can rest on a 50/50 roll of a single die to decide between a victory and a draw.

Luckily for us, it was a victory!  I managed to place joint first in the competition, winning my three games and claiming four objectives throughout the day, but my other podcasting colleague Jason, managed to equally my tally and in the final roll-off, he proved to be luckier and so I didn’t get the big prize.

Well, balls!