Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Dark Eldar: Making it work

Let's give this another go.

For a while now, I've thought about just putting my Dark Eldar army on hold until the new book.  Rumors have been circulating that we'll see a new book by the end of the year, but like anything GW-related, I tend not to hold my breath these days.  Even though I feel that the book is really showing its age, I've decided to get a list together and play a game of 7th in the upcoming days.

Before I get into the list details, I want to expand a little bit to why I feel the book is showing its age.
  • First and foremost is the points associated with the units and how much bang for the buck you get for them.  When you compare likewise units from the newer books, you'll see that firepower increased or stayed the same, but the points have decreased from their previous incarnations.  When prices decrease and your firepower stays the same, this is a huge indication that you're playing with overpriced units.
  • Second, is that the game has changed radically from 5th to 7th.  Many of the special rules that the Dark Eldar book associates with has been nerfed repeatedly either voluntarily or involuntarily.  What does this mean exactly?  Well, FNP is now 5+ from the 4+ it was before, explosions inside Open-Top vehicles is no longer S3 but is now S4, Night Fighting only giving Stealth, the inclusion of hull points, the vehicle damage chart changing to benefit all vehicles, Overwatch being a thing, Allies being included..etc.
  • Third, is that while other armies get stronger and receive more toys, the power of Dark Eldar has declined from 5th to 7th.  It's been a constant stream of decline due to voluntary and involuntarily nerfs, but it becomes a double-whammy when Ignore Cover and Overwatch run rampant.  I believe Dark Eldar were designed to be a glass-cannon faction.  It moves fast, hits hard and cannot really take a punch unless you were clever in execution and cunning in placement.  Ignore Cover simply doesn't give a shit and Overwatch made our premiere assault unit (Wyches) look overpriced.  Not to mention that the new 7th Ed. Jink makes shooting relatively pointless on vehicles that are designed to shoot on the move.

While I understand there are a few good things to come out of these editions, I can't help but feel we got the short end of the stick here.  No matter, because I pride myself as a good player and I've beaten netlists throughout the editions with good plays.  As good ol' General Patton once said:  "Good tactics can save even the worst strategy."

At 2k points, here's what I plan on taking for my Dark Eldar/Eldar allies.

2000
19 kp

HQ:
Succubus (VB, Haywire) = 75
Farseer (JB, Spear, Mantle) = 160*

TROOPS:
5x Warriors (Raider FF/AS, Blaster) = 135
5x Warriors (Raider FF/AS, Blaster) = 135
10x Warriors (Raider FF/SR, Blaster, SC) = 195
10x Warriors (Raider FF/SR, Blaster, SC) = 195
5x Dire Avengers (Holo/SS/Scatter/SC) = 220*
5x Dire Avengers (Holo/SS/Scatter/SC) = 220*

FAST:
Crimson Hunter Exarch = 180*

HEAVY:
Ravager (FF) = 115
Ravager (FF) = 115
Ravager (FF) = 115
Night Spinner (Holo/SS) = 140*

With this list, I hope to accomplish two things:  Maximize on firepower, and maximize on Objective Secured troop choices.  I felt a good balance between the core army and Eldar allies was to maximize on poison shooting, Dark Lances, and bring enough high-powered shots as possible while still maintaining a good spread.  By that, I mean I have poison to cover MCs and high toughness, multiple all-purpose S6 shots from the WS, Ignore Cover shots from the WS, anti-air from the Crimson Hunter, Dark Lances from the Ravagers, and a Spinner to keep blobs honest.

For scoring, I have two durable ships in the form of the Wave Serpents, fast back-field lanceboats with the two Aethersail Raiders, and two fully geared Raider gunboats carrying full mans.  Also, I changed all of my Raiders and Ravagers from Night Shields to Flickerfields.  There's just too much Ignore Cover out there and sometimes, I will want to shoot over Jink on my Ravagers.  As always, I refuse to use the disgusting Haemonculi and I would rather see a Succubus run the show at a few points more.  It's purely for principle at this point.

Lastly, I think the Farseer will be rolling with Divination.. although the thought of Telepathy's Shrouding and Invisibility looks great.  What you guys think?  Looks pretty good to me.

Tuesday, July 22, 2014

My Dark Eldar in 7th

The gig is up.

It has been a very long time since I played 40K, mainly because of other hobbies and real life getting in the way.  Let's just say that I'm not a super huge fan of 7th:  They did a few things that were good for the game, but it mostly felt like a patch that to 6th Ed. that was released for full price.  I guess you can say that I'm not the biggest GW fan right now.  Even though I've been playing their games for 14 or so years, I dislike their business model, their prices and the direction that they're taking their company.

Despite all this, I still really like the army design and most of the lore behind it.  This got me thinking: Maybe I should break out my Dark Eldar for a little bit and maybe mix it up with some Eldar.  It's been a while since I've played and it will be my first game of 7th Ed., although I don't think much have changed.  The big ones for me are the changes to Jink, all vehicles got more durable (mine and my opponents), and the fact that most of my army scores now, including my dedicated transports.

When I look over my Dark Eldar army, it's pretty clear to me that the book is starting to show its age pretty harshly.  If you compare the Dark Eldar book to the Eldar book, you'll see that a lot of the units are overpriced in terms of cost and effectiveness.  With the changes to how Psychic powers are executed in 7th, having a psyker in my army is also very desirable, especially since the DE book was made in 5th when things were a lot different.  I think that overall, I need to re-purpose my army to fight the newer edition more than anything else.  It's quite clear that we need a new book (rumors say by the end of the year).

Whatever the case is, it looks like I'll be adding more Eldar to my Dark Eldar forces.

Sunday, June 29, 2014

X-Wing: Crying about the Phantom

Seems appropriate.

I don't usually browse the forums, but when I do its to look for one thing:  Discussions centralizing around game imbalance.  Call it a hobby of mine, but I really like reading what others have to say and the arguments they put forth when talking about specific game features.  I find it highly entertaining because most of the time; the arguments are poor, the assumptions are premature and the theorycrafting is astronomical.  For example, there's this article on the official FFG forums talking about the Phantom being the best ship.  You can find the ridiculous 9-pager right here.

One of the first things to keep in mind when reading stuff like this is that most of the time, it's coming from an inexperienced player.  Experienced, tournament-faring players with lots of games in a diversified meta do not outright claim game imbalance when they get beaten.  They first analyze their play, see what went wrong and try to adjust their plan of action for next time.  That's what I did when I played pro (in other games), that's what my colleagues did and that's what every competitive player I ever knew did.  They analyze their mistakes and rectify it first thing.  What do they do next?  Play it again, and again, and again until it's clearly in both players' minds that there's nothing more can be done.

Most of the time, competitive players have played the game a lot.  They played it enough that they know what's in their meta, but also in the national and global meta as well.  If a competitive player starts to present anecdotal evidence through several playtests against equally competitive players who are also pitching in their feedback, and no one agrees that the ship in question is answerable, then there might be an issue.  This is a natural form of check and balances to make sure there's no weak link, and that the argument for the eventual problem is clear, concise and accurate.

This is one of those times where people misunderstand the concepts of game imbalance and things that change the metagame.  Like I said in that thread, this is Wave 4, a major release that throws 4 different ships into the meta with all different kinds of upgrades and options.  Just before that, we got the Rebel Transport that had a good amount of Rogue Squadron upgrades.  Shortly before that, we got Imperial Aces and now in the next couple of weeks, we'll get Rebel Aces.  What this means to the game is that everything will change:  Not just a little, but a lot because of all the different player options coming into the mix together.

When you look at what has been released before this, you'll find a common thread of meta-changers out there.  The Falcon and Han Solo changed how the game was played because of 360 firing arcs, solid damage output as well as fire consistency.  Not to mention the Falcon has a crap ton of health.  Then you look at the Imperial equivalent in the form of the Slave, the release of the TIE Bomber, named Interceptors like Soontir Fel and Turr Phennir, turret-based Rebel ships like the Y-Wing, Ion Cannons, Heavy Laser Cannons, Carnor Jax.. the list goes on and on.  The point is:  Whenever something new is introduced into the fray that people are not comfortable with yet, the most common reaction on the internet is to panic and post shitty threads crying imbalance.  Most of the people who post this shit are inexperienced players who haven't seen enough game time.  Even fewer are players who think they know what they're talking, but end up talking out of their ass because they play in a meta where the competition is weak, thus destroying the check and balances anomaly I talked about earlier.  I think I read in that thread somewhere where some dude proclaims that the Phantom single-handily destroyed 100 points worth of enemy ships.  That just smells like scrub-bashing.

I personally can't wait to get my Phantom and fly it around in a few games.  While I think it's a powerful ship, it's the epitome of a glass cannon and there's a huge number of counters out there.  Specifically, I'll target "Echo" for the purposes of listing out some counters:
  • Higher PS pilots who shoots before him at his 2 defense dice before ACD triggers.
  • Ships who ignore his maneuverability e.g. 360 turrets, Falcons.
  • Player-induced stress tokens e.g. Flechette Torpedoes, R3A2.
  • Ion Cannons are seriously bad news if they hit the ship.
  • Bad luck, because it happens and I've lost Fel with full health off  5 evade dice before.

So the moral of the story is this:  Before you cry imbalance about a near 40 point ship with 4 hull points, at least have the common courtesy to know the difference between changing the meta and a balance concern.  Once you figure that out, at least try to defeat the problem instead of complaining about it on the forums like a giant bitch.  Maybe if you think about the issue long enough, it'll suddenly dawn upon you that there is no spoon [problem] in the first place.

Tuesday, June 24, 2014

X-Wing: Echo, echo

Ooo, new toys!

Yes, I'm making a pun off that Disney movie that's about a cute little robot alien.  You know what game I haven't played in a long time because of overtime?  X-Wing.  You know what game I need to play immediately?  X-Wing.  It's a shame I wasn't able to find a game tonight, but then again I'm not too upset because I didn't get my TIE Phantom yet.

Just so you guys know, I plan on fielding a TIE Phantom in my next list just so I can do all the outrageous things with it that you think it can.  I'm planning to field "Echo" along side two of my favorite Saber Squadron pilots, Soontir Fel and Turr Phennir.  Combined with the new TIE Phantom, I plan on making quite an impact on the battlefield as all the ships I have are ridiculously maneuverable.

First, let's take a look at Echo:

Seems good.

The greatest thing about this guy (or girl?) is the ability to go anywhere I want on the battlefield with his ability.  As you can see from this article on the FFG website, Echo can fly anywhere he wants as long as there's enough room to move around.  While this is great and all, I'm quite worried about how the presence of asteroids will limit his ability.  When you think about competitive play, players have the opportunity to place asteroids one after another, in alternating fashion.  A lot of the better players know exactly how these asteroids can affect how the battle plays out:  Tightly clustered asteroids gives TIE Swarm players a fit while more sporadic placement of rocks gives Interceptors and flankers an edge.

Regardless, I think the sheer number of movement tricks will make Echo worth his points.  So what will the layout be do you ask?  Well, I'm thinking about taking Veteran Instincts, Recon Specialist and Advanced Cloaking Device.  This will bring his price up to a whopping 38 points, but hopefully the Recon Specialist and ADC will be worth it.  The reason I chose these abilities is pretty well-reasoned I feel:  Veteran Instincts gives me PS8 so I can move later and shoot quicker.  Recon Specialist gives him double Focus tokens so I can choose to Decloak, Focus x2, Attack and trigger Advanced Cloaking Device.  I will then either have a focus to make my attacks more powerful and keep a another with 4 dice on defense.  If I hit with everything and I'm satisfied with my result, I can hold back both focus for two rounds of enemy shooting.  This greatly prolongs the life of a relatively lightly-armored ship.

Again, just like the motto of the TIE Interceptors, the idea here is to not get dead.  It's a lot harder than it looks when you're playing against skilled opponents, and even harder when they're well-versed in fighting against Interceptors.  To make matters worse, what hurts Echo is the same thing that hurts Interceptors and that's good ol' Stress.  If you get stressed in a Phantom, you're going to feel it as soon as your opponents start opening up.  Since Cloak/Decloak itself is an action, and ADC is a free action, if you can't take actions you're not going to be well-off on defense.  In fact, you're probably going to lose your 38 point ship.  I guess it's also important to point out that ADC only triggers after you attack with Echo.  This means that PS9 pilots or anything that outspeeds you (including pilots shooting first) is going to have the advantage offensively vs. your ship.  Hence why I chose to go with a 99 point list.

This is the other 789 list I have.

As for the rest of my dudes, Soontir and Turr will be flying escort for Echo.  The list itself looks like this:

99 points

"Echo" — TIE Phantom
Veteran Instincts
Recon Specialist
Advanced Cloaking Device
 
Soontir Fel — TIE Interceptor
Push the Limit
Hull Upgrade
 
Turr Phennir — TIE Interceptor
Push the Limit

Let me know what you guys think about the list.  I'm pretty confident it'll do well.  I'm used to flying elite lists by now and this one is no different.

Wednesday, June 18, 2014

Skorne: pMakeda and Marketh

Chopping up dem plebs.

After deliberation, I've decided to change up my pMakeda list slightly.  I took out the Krea and included Aptimus Marketh with her.  Sure, I get less protection from shooting, but I get some major benefits from including Marketh.

The first benefit is the ability to recover from Purification being spammed on my army.  With Savagery and Defender's Ward both being upkeep spells, having Makeda casting them constantly is a bad for my Fury economy.  Instead, Marketh can pick up the additional spellcasting because Spell Slave allows him to cast it for free.

The second reason to include Marketh with pMakeda is the ability to cycle through spells.  You can cycle a super powerful spell like Savagery across multiple units by spacing out the activation.  Makeda can upkeep or cast Savagery on a unit of Cetrati, allowing them to advance 10" under Shield Wall.  She can use her activation to throw up Carnage, making everyone super accurate in combat.  Once they activate, Marketh can cast Savagery on another unit like Tiberion and having him walk 9" to punch someone in the face, or 11" if you want to play with the Nihilators.

Lastly, the third reason is for additional Fury-efficiency.  Since I have enough infantry models in my army that will die and give away souls, having Marketh spend souls to upkeep spells is a great way to keep Makeda healthy.  She doesn't need to camp everything of course, but it's straight up good fury management.

Oh, and I guess I also get a tortured baby elephant to go along side Marketh.  That's always cool.  New list looks like this:

Points: 50/50
Archdomina Makeda (*5pts)
* Bronzeback Titan (10pts)
* Tiberion (11pts)
* Titan Gladiator (8pts)
* Aptimus Marketh (3pts)
Cataphract Cetrati (Leader and 5 Grunts) (11pts)
Nihilators (Leader and 9 Grunts) (8pts)
Paingiver Beast Handlers (Leader and 3 Grunts) (2pts)
Agonizer (2pts)

Overall, this list seems much better than the previous.

Thursday, June 5, 2014

Skorne: Matchup Analysis

Death awaits those who defy me.

Now that I have my two lists for dual-list SR2014, let's talk about matchups and what to expect.  Let's take a look here really quick and see what caster I plan on dropping vs. any given matchup.  The main thing to take away from this is that you'll know one thing and one thing only:  Which faction you're going to play against and that's it.  You have to use your knowledge of the faction, which casters are the most powerful, and which ones you'll be expecting in your meta.  Keep in mind that your local meta can be something very different when competing on a national-level.

With that being said, let's go straight into it.  Here are the casters that I plan on dropping without knowing what's in my local meta.  I've been out of the tournament scene for a while and there's a few more players around here, but I've done my research, I still remember a ton of stuff and this should be a pretty good place to start.

Cryx - eMakeda
Cygnar - pMakeda
Khador - eMakeda
Protectorate of Menoth - eMakeda
Retribution of Scryah - pMakeda
Covergence of Cyriss - pMakeda
Mercenaries - eMakeda
Circle Oroboros - pMakeda
Legion of Everblight - pMakeda
Skorne - eMakeda
Trollbloods - eMakeda
Minions - eMakeda

The total count for this comes out to: 7 for eMakeda and 5 for pMakeda out of the 12 factions presented in the game, including the Skorne mirror.

Now, let me go over my thought process of when and why I plan on playing specific versions of Makeda. The biggest difference between the two casters is that while they both offer me threat, mobility and accuracy, pMakeda plays a solid attrition game and eMakeda gives me the assassination.

Wednesday, June 4, 2014

Skorne: Dual Makeda

Let's do it, why not?

One of the biggest challenges for me when I build lists is coming up with two lists to run in SR2014.  I have one mainstay caster in the army and that's eMakeda.  There's something about her that I absolutely love and she's my favorite caster in the faction.  In a lot of ways, she's very similar to eCaine.  Her playstyle and army is high-reward, some risk, and most of the stuff in the list is pretty fragile (for how I take her anyway).  I just love the fluff behind her and the fact that I get to play with my favorite model in Warmahordes (Molik Karn) makes me very happy.

As most of you know by now, this is what I'm packing for eMakeda.  However, I'm also thinking about taking the Prime version of her for my dual list.  Before you guys start judging, here's the list.

Points: 50/50
Archdomina Makeda (*5pts)
* Basilisk Krea (4pts)
* Bronzeback Titan (10pts)
* Tiberion (11pts)
* Titan Gladiator (8pts)
Cataphract Cetrati (Leader and 5 Grunts) (11pts)
Nihilators (Leader and 9 Grunts) (8pts)
Paingiver Beast Handlers (Leader and 3 Grunts) (2pts)
Feralgeist (1pts)

The idea with this list is very simple.  I need something that can play attrition while giving me the speed and accuracy that I desire naturally.  It's all about playstyle at this point and I think pMakeda will give me the best of that over Xerxis (which was my other choice).  The fact that I can apply Savagery on any of my Titans and extend their threat range walking by +5" is absolutely ridiculous.  This is why I love having both Tiberion and a Bronzeback in my list despite other people trying out the Mammoth.  I can't for the life of me justify taking something that costs 20 when I can get both Tibbers and a BB for the same amount of points, I'm sorry.

This version of Makeda allows me to run hard on the first turn and stay there.  Next turn, I pop some Shield Walls, Krea goes to work with Paralytic Aura on the Cetrati, and Nihilators go jam up someone with Makeda's feat up.  If things die, I don't care.  If things don't die, they're going to hit a lot harder next round, and that's always a good thing.  More attacks equates to more enemy models dead.

Let's be pretty honest here.. this Makeda's spell list is absolutely fantastic:  Defender's Ward on Cetrati is borderline godly because it makes them 16/24 in Shield Wall vs. Shooting with the Krea.  Carnage allows everything in my control area to hit with insane accuracy, which boosts Cetrati/Nihilators/Bronzeback/Tiberion to an effective MAT9.  Muzzle isn't a bad spell when it goes off vs. warbeasts, but the main money-maker in this spell list is Savagery.  This gives me insane flexibility for a 2-cost Upkeep spell.  Having the ability to give any of my units +5 SPD when making a full advance is borderline obscene.  This allows my Nihilators to jam further into enemy lines, Cetrati to full advance 10" with Shield Wall, and gives Tiberion a walking threat of 13" with Rush.  Since it's not a charge or anything, this allows me to be very accurate in how I navigate around the battlefield and makes my threat vectors highly unpredictable.

The only thing that really sucks here is that I don't have Molik Karn in this list.  You know what?  That's OK.  I think eMakeda has better synergy with him as she threatens for longer distances, provides Free Strike immunity for Fate Walker on feat turn, and makes him even more accurate.  As long as one of my Makedas has MK, I can sleep easy at night.

Stay tuned for tomorrow's article, I'll talk about which casters will be dropped against which factions.
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