Saturday, January 29, 2011

Having fun with some fun lists

I've been playing a good amount of 40K over Vassal lately and I've having a good time.  The reason why is because the players aren't uber competitive and I'm getting a lot of play with fluffier and more casual armies.  I have no idea what this means.  Does this mean I'm losing my competitive edge?  Or does this mean I'm seeing 40K as more of a fun game than competitive one?  I don't think its neither because I still follow the same min-maxing mentality with every army I build.  Even though most (if not all) of my lists are min-maxed to all hell, they follow a theme.

Check out the lists I've been rolling with lately:

12 kp

Swarmlord = 280
+2x Tyrant Guard (Lashwhips) = 130

10x Genestealers (Toxin) = 160
15x Genestealers = 210
11x Termagaunts = 55
+Trevigon (Toxin, Catalyst) = 185
11x Termagaunts = 55
+Trevigon (Toxin, Catalyst) = 185

3x Hive Guard = 150
3x Hive Guard = 150

Trygon Prime = 240
Trygon = 200

Thursday, January 27, 2011

SW back then, SW today

You know, for such a characterful army, there's a lot of SW players out there that bring shame to Russ and the All-father.  That's right, I said it.  I've seen too many RB spam lists as of late and and the number of Thunderwolf + Wolf Lord lists sicken me.  Recently, a friend of mine participated in a tournament and six Space Wolf players placed in the top 10.  Out of the six that placed, half was wound-allocated TWC and the other was RB spam.

Now I don't know about you guys, but I like it when there's a theme going on with a army.  What theme is there in a list that's built for the sole purpose of winning?  It might be the Canis Helix in me running wild, but I don't think it's very thematic when a SW player puts down a min-maxed lists of maxed Long Fangs, Rifleman Dreads, 3 Rune Priests and as many RBs as he can field.  Gunlines are lame in general, but playing a gunline in a army that made out of a bunch of brawlers is even lamer.

When I picked up my Space Wolves, I picked them up for the sole reason that they're Space Marines that can fight in close combat.  They welcome any challenge, fight any foe and will take the fight to their enemies in a second's notice.  This is written in their fluff, enforced in their codex and everyone knows not to mess with the wolves.  Space Wolves are essentially Vikings in space.  Here's what Vikings did back in the day:  Eat, drink, fight.  Here is what they do now:  Take psychic tests with their Rune Priests and shoot things in Razorbacks while conveniently asking their opponents if they're having fun.

For the real Space Wolf players out there, I salute you.  For the RB spammers: Take a long hard look at the picture above and let it sink in.  Never forget where you come from.

Sunday, January 23, 2011

Revisiting Tyranids

So Tyranids have been out for a year now and people have got in a lot of games with them.  I've heard many things from many different people, but one thing's for sure:  A lot of players don't like the current book.  To make a long story short, they find the book stale, some thing's don't make sense, it's overcrowded and limited in competitive options.

This is not going to be another one of those posts complaining about Tyranids, but it'll be a post to talk about why I think Tyranids are actually fun.  Call me a loyalist bastard all you want (considering I have like 4 MEQ armies), but Tyranids is still pretty fun to play.  Let me rephrase; Tyranids is a blast to play in a semi-competitive to non-competitive environment.  At the top tier competitive levels, Tyranids just isn't there.  Now I know this depends from region to region, but there's a lot of competitive options from other books that causes a lot of issue for the options that Tyranids like to field competitively.  Big scary bugs are indeed pretty scary, but you can only get so many of them on the field before things get melta'd or plasma'd to death.  Compared to the Nidzilla of last edition, the combat effectiveness vs. cost just isn't there anymore.

I've been playing with my 2K Swarmlord list on Vassal lately and I have yet to lose a game.  Sure, I'm not playing against the most competitive lists vs. the most competitive people, but that's exactly what I'm talking about.  Tyranids might not be the best army competitively, but they're definitely not out of the game.  Check out my list:

Saturday, January 22, 2011

Uncharted Seas

Big surprise here huh.
Yeah.. so I ordered my Firestorm Armada stuff and it got all messed up by the distributer.  Not only is half the stuff I ordered out of stock, but the other half didn't ship.  The only thing that they shipped was a Battleship, and I can't really play a game of Firestorm with just a BB right?

No worries, I did a lot of research on Uncharted Seas after I placed my FA order and I'm quite pleased with what I saw.  With my FA order being canceled, I decided to pick up a Thaniras Elves fleet instead.  According to most of the players I've spoken to on the forums during my quest for knowledge, it appears that US has more going for it tactically.  Now don't get me wrong, both are really awesome games and I'm definitely going to get both, but I'll start with US first.  Here's what I find interesting about Uncharted Seas:

  • Line of sight matters.  This means that blocking line of sight also matters and adds a layer of strategic depth.
  • Faction specific cards plays to each races' specialties and playstyles.
  • There's actually collision in this game; ramming, boarding and trapping your opponents' ships in are all valid strategies.
  • There's subs under the water and dragons in the air; all with their own mechanics.  And I thought FA was 3-Dimensional.
  • Lastly, some ships have special rules that adds a little uniqueness on top of each ship's well designed stat lines.  Sharpshooters, for example, can pick off enemy crew.

Thursday, January 20, 2011

FA Fleet Analysis

This post will highlight and analyze the pros and cons of each faction of Firestorm Armada.  There's currently 6 factions for FA and all of them play very differently.  I'll use some bullet points for each of these factions and talk about their strengths and weaknesses.  For anyone thinking about getting into FA, this article is for you!

Aquan Prime
  • Their fighting style is like a pack of piranha.  Everything moves fast and like group up together to take advantage of their high PD.
  • Aquans have weapons on all arcs and torpedoes that shoot in all directions.  This means they can charge into the heart of the enemy fleet and explode in all directions.
  • Most of Aquan Prime's heavier ships are equipped with powerful mines.  This adds another layer of tactics for them as mines can do solid damage and provide area denial.
  • AP ships generally have above average DR.  This allows him to take more small arms fire and allow them to drop mines comfortably.
  • The damage output for each ship is really low compared to the other fleets.  AP really need to utilize their mines and stay together to get any real damage done.
  • Aquans are also really vulnerable to anything that reduces crew.  Boarding assaults, decompression or ship fires are deadly for them.

My next 2K DE list

I know it's been a while guys and I apologize for my tardiness.  There's a lot of game systems that I play now and all of them need my attention!  Check out this army list that I came up with today.

22 kp

Asdrubael Vect = 240

9x Wyches (Raider NS, Hekatrix/Agnoizer/BP) = 205
5x Warrior (Raider NS, Blaster) = 130
5x Warrior (Raider NS, Blaster) = 130
5x Warrior (Raider NS, Blaster) = 130
5x Warrior (Raider NS, Blaster) = 130
5x Warrior (Raider NS, Blaster) = 130

4x Trueborn (Venom NS/SC, 4x Blaster) = 183
4x Trueborn (Venom NS/SC, 4x Blaster) = 183
3x Trueborn (Venom NS/SC, 3x Blaster) = 156

Ravager (NS/FF) = 125
Ravager (NS/FF) = 125
Ravager (NS/FF) = 125

15 Opening volley lances with 48" threat
16 Blasters with 24" threat range, 1 Blast Pistol
32 Total Lance weapons
36 Splinter Cannon shots

Monday, January 17, 2011

A grumble about 5th Ed. 40K

After playing Privateer Press' Warmachine and Spartan Games' Firestorm Armada, I can't help but look at GW games and question the game system.  As most of you dudes know, I'm a hobby veteran.  I've been playing 40K and WHFB for about 10 years now.  I've seen the progression of editions like the changing of seasons and that's never going to change.  Unlike newer gamers who's only played the newest edition, I have something to compare to and to relate to.  Maybe I'm getting worn out by GW games and that's why other game designs are peaking my interest, or maybe because they just have a better system.

I'll tell you one thing though:  I'm a little put off by 40K 5th Edition.  I'm put off to a point where I'm starting to think of houserule ideas to bring the feel of realism back to 40K.  As a competitive player, I never do that.  I used to view houseruling as a sub-standard version of the game.  When someone asks you for advice or asks you what kind of strategies you employ, you answer them with what you would do "normally".  Normally refers to what everyone else is playing, not some private version that you made up.

My biggest gripe with 40K 5th Edition is when the rules of the book breaks my "immersion".  A huge part of successful game design is making you feel like you're in the game.  Whenever I'm playing Blizzard games, I feel actively engaged and immersed in the universe I'm playing in.  For computer games, this is the smooth gameplay, the graphics, the sound and the environment.  Visually, the game must make sense.  This is where 5th Ed. breaks apart for me a little bit.  Check out these examples:

How to read FA ship stats

There's 6 distinct factions for Firestorm Armada and each one has its own unique playstyle.  Unlike GW-style games, there's no special rules that makes each and every unit play differently.  Stuff like Lance weapons, Melta weapons or Holofields doesn't exist in FA.  What's unique about the game system is that each ship's stats (including weapons) is what separates it from other another of its class.

This is probably best done through example:

Check out these two Cruisers.  One is from the Sorylian Collective and the other is from Aquan Prime.  Before we talk about each individual stat, let's look at what each stat stands for.

Friday, January 14, 2011

Dark Eldar FAQ and more!

Let's look at some Dark Eldar ones first!  Then we'll move onto some Space Marine stuff.  Here are the ones that caught my eye:
Feel free to tag along with the FAQs.

Page 55 – Asdrubael Vect, Obsidian Orbs
Change “Each wound caused[...]” to “Each unsaved
wound caused[...]”

Slight nerf, but nothing too huge since it's AP3 and BS8.

Page 62 – Webway Portal
In the third sentence, change “in base contact with the
bearer when he activates the portal.” to “in base contact
with the bearer, and not within 2" of an enemy model or
another webway portal, when he activates the portal.”

Which means you can't stack WWPs and form barriers or LoS blockers anymore.  Not like that was a brilliant strategy to begin with, but now it's definitely not possible.

Page 48 – Baron Sathonyx, Bones of the Seer
Change “chooses deployment zone” to “goes first”.

I always assumed this was it.. but this made it more clear, thank you.

Q: What does Drazhar╩╝s Ancient Incubus warsuit do? (p52)
A: It gives Drazhar his armour save.

Probably the dumbest question someone can possibly ask.  What the hell do you think the warsuit gives?  Flowers?  Wow.

Thursday, January 13, 2011

Aquan Prime, I choose you!

For the last week or so, I've been doing some crazy research into Firestorm Armada.  I really enjoyed my first game with the starter sets and I can't wait to play more!  The most exciting thing about this fleet-based game is that it's different.  By different, I mean a different game system and balance design philosophy than GW.  Spartan Games actually shows off its timeline of what's to come and lets the community playtest their rules before finalizing them.  Even then the rules can change should the model become too imba because all the unit stats are online in .pdf files.  I have never played any fleet games before and this looks like the best game system I can get into right now.  Time, money and support is what I care about these days.

So what army did I eventually decide on?  I chose Aquan Prime out of the 6 factions currently available.  They have some of the fastest ships in the game (fastest Battleship), good defensive measures (high PD and DR) and they're one of the hardest factions to play.  Now maybe it's the elitist side in me thinking that I can handle the most tactically challenging factions, but I absolutely love a good challenge.  What makes Aquan Prime hard to play is their subpar ship damage.  Their main batteries are weak across the board except for the BB.  With 8" speed and 11/14 broadside lasers at RB1/2, the BB can put out a respectable amount of damage.  To nullify the weakness of the onboard weapons, the Aquans have retro-fitted all their ships with guns that can shoot in all directions.  Unlike the ships from other factions where they have torpedoes or guns on a fixed or specific arc, Aquan ships can deliver their payload (including torps) from all directions.  This, in combination with their ability to drop mines on the enemy, opens up another layer of stratagems.

In terms of tactics, the Aquan Fleet likes to engage fast and and deliver simultaneous damage from all directions. They do best when they stay together and fly straight up the middle of the enemy fleet.  If you have a BB and Cruisers swimming together into an enemy fleet, they can deliver powerful broadside and fore damage from all angles.  With torpedoes coming out of every direction as well, Aquan ships do the most damage up close and surrounded.  That's when they acquire the most targets to shoot at.  I think in terms of 40K, their playstyle is closest to Seer Council Eldar.  They like to get up close and personal with their opponents, but they have to use their tricks and maneuverability to survive prolonged engagement.

Addition to weapons on all arcs, most of the heavier Aquan ships come equipped with mines.  These are normally MN4 or 5 rating with the heavy cruisers and the battleships having MN5.  This means that when I fly over a batch of enemy Frigates or even Cruisers, each ship that flies over can drop a mine from their aft port up to 4" away.  If any enemy is within 4" of that mine on their next activation, they're taking 5 dice worth of damage.  Imagine the possibilities when 3 MN5 ships fly over and drop mines.  Awesome.

Finally, the last reason I went with Aquan Prime is because of their models.  I'm not a Star Trek fan, but I really like the look of the Enterprise and the AP BB reminds me a lot like it.  My friend tells me it looks more like the Mon Calamari cruisers from Star Wars, but who cares.. it's all good!  The rest of the ships are decent looking, but the capital ships (the BB, Manta and Triton) look fantastic.

The "I hate Apoc" rant

Every time I've played Apoc, I've hated it.  There's nothing more mindless and chaotic than putting every single model you own on the table with a bunch of other guys.

To spare you guys of a full-on nerd rage, let me sum it up with bullet points:

  • I don't have unlimited resources aka money to buy a billion tanks.
  • The same can apply to time and energy to assemble a billion tanks.
  • Both of these applies to buying, building, painting and putting a Titan on the field.
  • There's nothing I hate more than moving a billion models.  That's why I have things in transports and use a good amount of tanks.  Now I don't know about you guys, but I don't have a tank for every 10-Marines I own.  I would need something like 50 tanks.
  • There's nothing more depressing than watching a 10-year old kid paint up his minis, put them on the table, and telling him to take them off because some a-hole on your team dropped a apoc-barrage on his mans.
  • I hate those strategems that they use.  What did it for me is the lack of actual control you have over the game when entire armies start outflanking from your side of the table.
  • Speaking of structure, there's no such thing.  I've seen 6 Grand Masters walk through 6 Hierodules because that's how we roll.
  • Did I mention Apoc barrage and explosions?  I was walking along side a friendly Baneblade before with my Marines and I went to the bathroom because the turn was taking forever.  I came back to a giant ass crater and all my models relocated to the empty table next to me.  Apparently, the Baneblade went critical and bad things happened.
  • The time it takes to play a TURN.  You might make it to 3 turns after a whole day.

What about you guys?  The biggest apoc game in history is coming up and that should be a lolstorm to hear about.

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

BR: 500pt Terrans vs. Sorylians

I played a test game of Firestorm Armada today and I'm very satisfied with the game.  I'm going to keep this in note format so people can follow along a lot easier.  I played Sorylians and Dimitri played the Terrans.  We played with no wings and no game cards since this is our first learning game.

First, the army lists.  The starter boxes can produce the following lists:

"Razorthorn" Battleship
3x "Sentinel" Cruisers
3x "Pilgrim" Frigates
3x "Pilgrim" Frigates

"Swordbreaker" Battleship
3x "Skyhammer" Cruisers
3x "Scythe" Frigates
3x "Scythe" Frigates

As you can see, the two armies are very similar to eachother with 1 mainstay ship, 2 squads of smaller ships and 1 squad of medium ships.  Here comes the quick BR:

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Grey Knights by Robin Cruddace?

Well, the cat's out of the bag guys.  Grey Knights is definitely coming in April but we have no idea who the author of the book is.  Now.. let's look at a very narrow timeline of who wrote what recently for GW:

5th Ed. books:
Space Marines - Mat Ward
IG - Robin Cruddace
Space Wolves - Phil Kelly
Tyranids - Robin Cruddace
Blood Angels - Mat Ward
Dark Eldar - Phil Kelly

Somewhere in there, Jervis Johnson wrote Battle Missions.  I think that was between IG and Space Wolves, but honestly I can't remember.

Anyways, let's look at these authors' track records.  Let's start with Phil Kelly.  This guy is amazing and has written some of the best books ever produced in terms of fluff, design, cost effectiveness and overall power.  Mat Ward, on the other hand, has forever tainted himself with 7th Ed. Chaos Daemons.. which is the book that broke 7th Ed. Fantasy all together. On the other hand, aside from butchering fluff left and right, he also wrote some of the most balanced books for 40K.  Both Space Marines and Blood Angels are balanced books.. despite some minor oddities.  This leaves us with Robin Cruddace.  He wrote the best book in 5th Ed. 40K right now, his personal and favorite army, the Imperial Guard.  He also wrote arguably the worst book to hit the shelves since Chaos Space Marines by Gav Thorpe:  Codex Tyranids.  Needless to say, he can either go hardcore powerful favoritism or rush-job terrible spider monkeys.

Going by the trend of books above, let's make some educated guesses to who is writing the Grey Knights codex.  Ward looks like he's got a thing for Space Marines so let's not count him out just yet.  One could say that writing a book so soon will produce something of a rush job.. but if you look at Cruddace's Tyranids that came right after Kelly's Space Wolves then you won't argue.  The most likely candidate looks to be Cruddace.  He hasn't done anything since Tyranids and this might be his chance to redeem himself.  God knows that book was a major disappointment to the Tyranids community and GW would have to be blind to not see that.  On the other hand, we might just see a rush job by Mat Ward.. but that's unlikely because Daemonhunters needed a rewrite for a long time, and with an entire line of minis coming out to go with the book, I doubt GW would make it a rush job.

So what do you guys think?  Are we going to see the high-low bi-polar writing style by Cruddace or are we going to see something from Ward?  I'm still pretty bitter about 7th Ed. Daemons, but I do enjoy Ward's balanced work in 5th Ed. 40K.  I can't say I like how he butchers fluff, but game balance is more important to me because I'm a gamer first.  If anything, I just hope I don't get something overpowered like IG or god-awful like the Nids.

Friday, January 7, 2011

Firestorm Armada

I'm really thinking about getting the game.  First of all, it reminds me of Battlestar Galactica.  Second, it's about epic-scale space battles where ships blow apart other ships.  Third, a starter set that plays at 500 pts is 50 bucks.  That's pretty freaking awesome.

For those that want to check out what the factions of the game are like, check out this short pdf file here.  It's a link to Spartan Games' website where they have a bunch of files up for the game.  The game itself is relatively new since it came out in November '09 and there seems to be a good amount of support for it.  I never played BFG before, but from what I hear: the game is massively imbalanced.  I'm going to be honest here:  I absolutely hate game imbalance.  Aside from terrible game design, nothing puts me off faster than a imbalanced game.  I don't care if your game is beautifully designed, if it's imbalanced to a point where I can't field a army because it face rapes everything it touches, there's no point playing it.  My friends tell me that Necrons in BFG is laughably overpowered.

Let's talk about Firestorm Armada really quick.  The game has 6 factions and each faction has like 6-7 ships.  Each ship does something different with the big Battleships being the mainstay of each force.  There's also Cruisers, Heavy Cruisers, Frigates and Escort ships for each faction.  What makes each faction different is that their ships are designed differently; from the looks to the stats of the ship themselves.  There's nothing crazy like in BFG with Holofields or Lance-type weaponry.  Instead, there's more subtle changes to the ships stats like their armor, weapon systems, crew rating or defense stats.

Thursday, January 6, 2011

WM: Retribution Tricks

Playstyle: Movement manipulation via magic spells.
Feat: Magic spells gain +2 RNG and boosted attack and damage rolls.
Gimmick: Move your opponent's army around into favorable positions for you.
Units: Phoenix, Discordia, Battle Mages, Magisters

Rahn is all about the Feat turn.  When he pops Arcane Alignment, every magic user in his army gets +2 RNG to their attacks and they're automatically boosted.  That means more accuracy, more damage and a lot of rearrangement and death for the enemy army.  This is why most of Rahn's lists are based off of arc nodes, tons of Battle Mages and Magisters.  Obviously, the Phoenix offers the heaviest arc platform at a fairly affordable price and is Rahn's best friend.  The newer Discordia works very well with Houseguard Halberdiers because a reforming Shield Wall under Discordia's Imprint is just insane.  On feat turn, the Battle Mages spring into action to open up charge lanes and other opportunities via push and pull.  The army is very capable of pulling an enemy caster out into the open and to his death.  Rahn's spellpool is also fantastic:  Telekensis moves things around and turns targets around for backswings, Polarity Shield keeps your Halberds safe from charges and Force Hammer is a POW12 slam that can knock things down.  If any of your arc nodes get in trouble, Force Blast pushes enemy models back and the rest of your army can charge them afterwards for a quick kill.

Playstyle:  A very solid, balanced warcaster that has plenty of tricks to throw around.
Feat:  Everything in her control range gains stealth and cannot be charged.
Gimmick:  Allowing units to shoot through walls or killing the warcaster with Backlash.
Units:  Hydra, Mage Hunter Strike Force, Sentinels, anything really

Since Kaelyssa is one of the most balanced casters for Retribution, she can run with pretty much anything.  I've seen her do well with Dawnguard units, Houseguard units or Mage Hunter units.  Kaelyssa likes running with two full units of MHSF w/ Commanders just because she can.  The best thing about her  is her ability to give Phantom Hunter to one of her models.  The Hydra is a fantastic choice to give this to because he can shoot a POW15 shot from 15" through a wall and into your warcaster's face.  Her feat denies many opponents from getting the first charge and stealth keeps the army safe from shooting.  To sum it up, her feat is mainly a defensive one but can also be used to get your units into position.  Safety from both melee and ranged threat allows units like Sentinels to move into charge range next turn and force the opposing army into retreat.  Mage Hunter Strike Force(s) also add a great deal of threat not because of their stealth, pathfinder, AD, Phantom Seeker and 'Jack Hunter abilities (lol), but because any jacks with low DEF also fear Kaelyssa's Backlash.  If you think your warcaster is safe from damage because of their obscenely high DEF and ARM, Kaelyssa will just backlash a low DEF jack and go to town with her ranged units.  There's really nothing that Kaelyssa can't do and that's what makes her awesome.

Alright, I'm back

Prepare for some article spam coming up.  Here's a highlight to what's to expect:
- Next Tuesday I'm playing a 2k game DE vs. BA, so expect a BR.
- I might also play some Warmachine games with Khador by that time.
- I'm putting out the Retribution and Khador faction tricks articles, in that order.

Sorry for the lack of updates.. but Australia and New Zealand was awesome!