Friday, 31 January 2014

Fiction Friday 1

Well, here we go!  The first of what will hopefully be a monthly ficton post lies below.  there won't be any greatv rhyme or reason to the fiction.  There's likely to be a decent amount of 40k-based stuff, mainly due to my love and familiarity with the universe.  However, there will also be a fair amount of my own garbage.  We'll start with one of my own pieces.  I apologise in advance for the incoming crapness...

Thursday, 23 January 2014

Chitin Chatter

Well, it looks like I have done something stupid and, after a vague interest initially, have talked myself into playing Tyranids.  Thanks a lot, Brain.  Didn’t need that right now.  Hopefully it will only be small project.  Wait a minute…

Just setting up the cognitive dissonance…

…And we’re good.

Right.  Yeah should only be a small project as I don’t really have a character or story hook to grab hold of with the Tyranids.  It’s the stories and characters that really get me invested in an army.  The aesthetics can be a good part of it, but I rarely become as invested in an army as one where I can create a distinct character HQ and get some storylines going.  Every list from my first Eldar collection 8 years ago (or thereabouts) had a key character and story behind them.  Even if it was just window dressing for the fact that “Wraithlords have swords now!  That’s soo cool!” (Actual quote).

The ‘Nids don’t have that.  I like a number of the models and the monster designs are very cool, but without a core personality to hook it on, this is more of an exercise in tactical curiosity.  The codex hit and, as is my way, I bought a copy and had a read.  It seemed good.  An improvement on the last one.  However, many existing ‘Nid players on the Internet seemed to think differently.  A number of existing units had been removed, which is something of an unusual move and something to be annoyed about, certainly.  I felt though that a number of the reactions to the codex were knee-jerk, unjustified and, frankly, embarrassing in a number of cases.  I’m just fortunate that the smart part of my brai9n asserted its dominance just enough to stop me looking at Dakka or Warseer.  I just restricted myself to the Overlords Facebook Group (Join today for a free gift of bupkis and bonus pocket lint!).  There was a fair bit of negativity there, some anti-hate backlash and so on.  But there was also discussion and rationality from pretty much everyone I approached, which was good because I don’t like pointless shouting matches, nor do I hold with bellowing aimlessly into the void.  I tried to counter some of the complaints with observations I’d gleaned from the new rules and units.  In my opinion, it’s a really solid ‘dex.  But it’s not OMG OP!, to take on the gaming parlance.

A number of the generic complaints that I’ve heard about seem similar to the problem people had when 6th ed came round in the first place.  The loss of outflank assault really got underneath some people’s skin.  Personally, I was glad of it.  The all-too-common argument of ‘Why are they outflanking and just standing around before attacking?’ was easy to counter with ‘What were the guys with guns doing before you outflanked? Why were you invisible until that moment?’  Anyway, I don’t want to make this a sour post so let’s move on.

Unfortunately, given my natural mildly tactless nature and various communicative difficulties, I am aware I can often come across as being arrogant and dismissive, which is rarely my intent.  I feel that happened a number of times in my defence of the new codex and although I can bring up a number of things from my reading, that kind of paper knowledge and mathhammer can only get you so far.  It’s best when combined with practical experience.  I also found myself genuinely intrigued by some of the options I was seeing and became more and more curious as to whether I could get a few of the tactics to work on the tabletop.  I’m not trying to change anyone’s mind, really.  I just want more of an insight into a different type of army that a lot of people keep saying isn’t good.  I happen not to agree, and I felt that this time, I needed to put my money where my mouth was.

And besides, a forum thread encouraging people to send their crushed Gaunts to GWHQ in protest?  That’s just fethin’ pathetic.

Friday, 17 January 2014


Well, it’s that time of the year.  Tournament prep time!  Nothing too serious.  I left all pretentions to ‘serious’ competitive stuff behind me a while ago.  It was just stressing me out and making me too much of a downer.  Nevertheless, I still love the odd tourney.  The ones coming up are of the ‘not-entirely-competitive’ stock, or at least I’m not entering them with that mindset.  Coming up, I have a Throne of Skulls event in March, the Warzone-apolooza in Adepticon and the Team Tournamentathon the day after.  To make matters worse, I’m probably taking significantly different lists to all three!  And none of them are painted yet! Yay!

The Throne of Skulls is a tournament I haven’t been to for a while.  I can’t remember if I went to it at all last year, which is unusual.  I normally have a great time there and I try to go at least once a year.  This year has me a little trepidatious though, as Forge World and Superheavy, etc. stuff is now allowed.  I’ve tried my best to stay positive about this and ultimately, the proof is always going to be in the pudding.  I just personally feel that too much of the Forge World stuff and too many of the Superheavies are too unbalancing at this low a points value.  Most of the superheavies I don’t have a great deal of problem with though.  It’s mainly the presence of D weapons that irks me.  D, in this case, stands for ‘Delete’.  The complete lack of anything you as a player can do to mitigate or ride through the damage really doesn’t sit well.  In big games, that’s fine.  You have a bucketload of troops, vehicles, buildings, targets of all varieties.  Small games, much less so.  In small games you also have far less opportunity to deal with the superheavies in the return punch.  In a way, this makes sense and when written into a specific scenario can be cool and thematic.  But that requires preparation.  From a ‘fun game’ perspective, if someone puts a Transcendent Ctan with the Hellstorm D-weapon and plonks it behind a Bastion, I’m going to find it hard not to concede Turn 1 and have a good time elsewhere.  Much of the arguments in favour of these units is that ‘You don’t have enough points to have much in the rest of the army’ and that’s true, but you don’t need it.  Necrons and Eldar (the two main offenders in this little rant) both have ways of buying fairly cheap troop units and keeping them safe for the entire game (wave Serpents for the Eldar and Night Scythes for the Necrons), that the lack of backup is not that big of a problem.

I realise these games are far from unwinnable, provided you have the right set up.  If you’re playing marines you can drop pod sternguard and tactical squads with meltas for a heavy turn 1 or 2 meltafest that will end the overwhelming majority of tanks and titans and deal significant damage to a lot of the Gargantuans. Tau have a lot of high strength long range stuff to deal the punch.  Dark Eldar have a lot of options with lances, poison and haywire.  Monstrous Creatures have a far better chance of survival versus D-weapons, so lists with a lot of them would have a good shot at surviving enough to deal their damage.  However, most of these shift very much into a ‘who goes first wins’ format.  If the D-weapon goes first, they will eliminate the significant threats to limit the received damage.  If the takedown units go first (particularly in the case of the drop-podding melta marines), then the Superheavy goes down Turn 1.  Either way, that game either goes to a straight rolloff or a scissor/paper/stone style of play that goes counter to what I enjoy about the game.

Also, while I’m in a whingeing mood, another thing that really annoys me about D-Weapons is the auto-‘splode for vehicles.  A shot that automatically destroys a Land Raider if it so much as gets clipped, may well only deal two hull points of damage to a superheavy given the majority result of D3+1 Hull points removed.  This wind me up, as on a raw damage perspective, the Land Raider (or Defiler, or Monolith, etc) could shrug off two out of the three results.  I would be far more optimistic about all this if it just dealt a number of auto-penetrating hits instead of “Nope, Dead”.  Oh, and the Revenant can suck my balls.  4 D-weapon blasts a turn is bullshit, whichever way you slice it. Ugh.

Anyway, my sincere apologies for the negativity of this post.  I will be happier in the next one now that I’ve got this out of my system!  Like I said earlier, I have had a great time far, far, more often than not at Throne of Skulls and I’m fairly optimistic that my opponents will be decent guys or girls who will be playing for fun rather than an uninteresting victory and, without the D-weapons, most of the Superheavies and Gargantuan Creatures strike me as a different and interesting challenges to come up against.  Just ditch the D-weapons okay?

End of line.

Thursday, 9 January 2014

Hands Over Fists: Techmarines II

Follwing on from December's post:
But that’s enough of me complaining.  What about the good things with Techmarines?  Yes, there are good things, so I can’t pout too much.  Here we go.  You may have noticed that in my previous griping post, I was going on and on about how they are nowhere near as good as they used to be in combat.  But that’s a little too narrowly focused to be a fully valid complaint.  Techmarines are a lot easier to accept when you realise that their role has become more of a support than it was before.  They used to be a nice close-combat surprise with an added ability to repair vehicles and do the whole Dreadnought unlock thing.  Now, with Hull points being very much de rigeur in 6th edition, their repair ability becomes much more of a primary focus.  In 5th ed (and you may be spotting a theme here), vehicle destruction was very much in the lap of raw chance with that bloody damage table.  Vehicles could keep going forever if your opponent kept rolling those ones on the table.  Now, with Hull Points, vehicles die quicker, but are functional and useful for longer (snap firing’s still better than no firing).  It’s very difficult to stop a vehicle firing without killing it completely.

The ability to restore hull points can be crucial when dealing with attrition, especially in the higher AV units that are more likely to receive glancing than penetrating hits.  As to whether that ability alone is worth the points, I would hazard not, unless you have entire vehicle firebase at the back of you army.  The servo-arm alone only gives you a 5+ chance, but that can be readily upgraded with cheaper servitors who also act as ablative wounds. 

Speaking of servitors, they are the cheapest way of getting plasma cannons into your army if you want that kind of thing.  A handy bolster for a firebase, as you can get two cannons for only 60 points total.  They still mindlock like the lobotomised little cretins they are, but if you have a Techie in there they’ll be fine and can still fire while he focusses on repair.  Either that or you go for more of a firebase feel with a conversion beamer Master of the Forge.  Remember, you don’t need a servo-arm to repair, just the Blessings of the Omnissiah rule!  Also to bear in mind is the handy rule that the heavy weapons guys can still fire as normal if they personally stood still, allowing greater freedom for the repair guy to get into the gut of the nearby damaged vehicles, particularly if you’ve decked the unit out with additional servo-armed guys.

The other deployment option for them is to stick them in your front-line units and view them as squad upgrade guys more than anything else.  They come into their own in transport vehicles to keep them going where they need to go.  But once they are out of the vehicle, what do they do.  Is there any point to getting them out with the rest of the unit?  I think so, as they are still useful at a pinch.  2+ armour and a S8 AP1 attack are not to be discounted, especially as the combat rules can have you deflect damage to the Techmarine onto the other squad members, meaning he is far more likely to land the blows you want him to and helping make up for the lack of an invulnerable save.  There is also the possibility of using him as a bit of a damage soak if you want to entrust his fate to a tonne of 2+ armour rolls.  Probably not your best call in a bog standard tac squad, but could be useful for more specialised units, or when you want to keep that troops choice alive as long as you can.  Personally, I feel that is you are going to go for a front line Techmarine, you are far better served by taking a deep breath and going for the full servo-harness.  This gives far more than the 25 points bump should do, certainly when you compare it to some of the other tactical squad options.  What’s the better deal: giving your Sergeant a power fist, or giving the Techmarine an extra attack with a better power fist, a flamer, a twin linked plasma pistol and a better chance to keep the transport running?  I know which I’m rooting for.

A final point to bring up is the slight tweak they’ve received in the Force Org chart.  Instead of consuming an entire Elites slot to themselves, they now take a phantom HQ slot, one per regular HQ choice.  This gives you far better flexibility in your choices, as now he doesn’t have to content with the host of other, more combat-effective Elites options.  I’ll also add that the Iron Hands expansion allows you to take two per regular HQ slot or three per Master of the Forge, really opening up your choices, and looking damn cool while they do it!

Friday, 3 January 2014

New Year's Dissolutions

Well, Bah Weep Graaaagnah Wheep Ni Ni Bong everybody and Happy 2014!  As I am sure many people and news sources have reported, it is now a whole new year in the Western calendar.  The Earth has completed one full orbit from its initial arbitrary starting point. Yay.

As is traditional, now is the time for resolutions to be made before be swiftly rationalised into ever more watered-down and unimpressive versions of themselves prior to being disregarded and forgotten about entirely for the rest of the year.  Yeah, bleak, innit?

Nevertheless, I plan to thwart this sequence of events by aiming deliberately low to start off with.  Ha-hah!  I’ve got the standard personal resolutions (become less spherical, learn Gaelic, win a fight with bear, etc.) but the hobby ones are, I think, most applicable for this venue.

1) Update the blog once a week.  I know, I’ve been playing this tune badly for quite a while (again, with decreasing standards of what’s acceptable), but I couldn’t resist give on more encore that no-one asked for.  Hopefully I can make Mondays regular post days.

2) Have at least one painting session a week.  Regardless of how much I get done during that session, if I can get into the habit of sitting down with a paintbrush and some models, eventually something will get finished.  I don’t actually enjoy painting.  I’m slightly jealous of those who do, as it is a major part of the hobby and playing with and against painted models just feels better than the bare plastic or undercoat versions.  My entire painting philosophy and method throughout most of my hobby life has been conveyor-belt style painting to get armies ready for events.  I think I still need that as a motivating factor, so I should have a bunch of club and third-party events over the coming year to keep some level of deadline pressure going.

3) Attend the Overlords at least once a month.  Apart from the occasional special event, I was barely in the HQ at all over the past year.  I live annoyingly far away from it for public transport not to be a massive ballache.  However, another driving test beckons in February, so maybe (if I don’t cock it all up again) this process will be made significantly easier.  I feel like I should make more of an effort to support the club over just turning up at the Podcast Bunker every few weeks to talk bollocks for three hours.  Plus, I now also have:

4) The Escalation League! Really up for giving this a go as it gives me a good consistently moving deadline for fairly small points-value painting every month.  For those not part of the Overlords Facebook Group, the escalation league is a club event whereby everyone starts with 500pts at the beginning of the year, and end with 2.5k at the end.  The points value goes up each month and you’re expected to play at least two games at that month’s points.  The nice bit about it is, that you can’t get rid of units you’ve previously added to the list, and your downgrading opportunities are limited to 10% of the current points value.  This means that you have to think about what units you include in each army expansion, because once they’re there, you’re stuck with them.  This works nicely for me because, I can choose some slightly unusual choice and try to find a niche for them over the year because, well, I’ve got to.  I’m throwing down with Chaos Marines over here and, for once, I won’t be allying in anything from the Daemons Codex.  Admittedly those armies complement each other very well, but I have other plans; ones that allow me to use models I barely ever have a role for, but would be perfect for the League.

5) Write more fiction.  I’m fairly certain I will never be an author, but I still come up with stories for various things that crop up in my head.  I mainly just lack the focus to put many (or any) of them down on paper.  I’m going to try to change that this year, and I’m aiming for a monthly short fiction post on this blog, just to keep in practice and mess around with a few ideas.  As ever, thoughts and feedback on whatever I write will be appreciated.

And that’s that as far as these resolutions go.  There are many more posts on the horizon, more fiction to read (and write), more podcasts to befoul, more games to play and a club to mismanage.  I’m swamped…

So long!