Friday, September 25, 2009

Why use a suboptimal unit build?

Thousand Sons
I often discuss unit efficacy with my 40k friends. We choose a unit, and try to come up with the most optimal way to kit it out for a plethora of hypothetical situations.

This is a great way of coming up with a good loadout or role for a unit that can operate effectively while isolated and/or unsupported on the battlefield. For example Terminators, Land Speeders, Falcons, Hammerheads, Tau Battlesuits, Daemon Princes, and so on. However, when it comes to selecting an entire army, a collection of individually excellent units can be a mixed blessing. Even if these units are great at what they do, the synergy of the army may be hurt in the process.

A great example of this line of thought is the meltagun. It is widely renowned as the most cost-effective anti-tank weapon in the game. Taking all meltaguns must be the way to go, then? No. The meltagun is only effective if you can get it into range of enemy armour. If you don't have a single lascannon in your army, you're giving the enemy the freedom to move his vehicles outside the range of your meltas. Letting the enemy move freely around the board is a sure-fire way to lose the game in Warhammer 40k.

Another example is the guys in the picture up top. Thousand Sons are a peculiar bunch, and I've often seen tacticas on the web, telling everyone that the Doombolt is the only power one should give the Aspiring Champion. However, even if the power neatly matches the rest of the unit's shooting, one of the things I often lack in my Chaos armies are mid-range anti-tank. Something that fits neatly between the Lascannons on my Land Raider and the meltaguns on my Chaos Marines, is the awesome power of the Bolt of Change. Even though the unit of Thousand Sons themselves benefit more from the Doombolt, the army as a whole will benefit more from the Bolt of Change.

To emphasise my point; even if the Land Speeder with Multi-Melta is the greatest thing since Rending was on to-hit, if your army has enough mobile anti-tank, you should consider the Typhoon instead. Even if it is less cost-effective on its own, your army may benefit way more from an "inferior unit" than the optimized build.

What do you guys think? Are you always checking the internet for the latest optimized build of single units, or are you experimenting with which combinations of units works and which doesn't?

Monday, September 21, 2009

Video Battle Report: Chaos Space Marines vs Tyranids

After losing to Briefspite in the last battle of the Invasion tournament, I was looking forward to a rematch. Well, not a rematch per se, because this time I would bring my Chaos Space Marines to the battlefield.

We rolled randomly for mission and deployment, and got Annihilation (Kill points) and Pitched Battle (deploy up to 12" from the board edge).

My list:
2 Khorne Daemon Princes with wings
5 Thousand Sons in a Rhino
8 Khorne Berzerkers in a Rhino
14 Lesser Daemons
10 Chaos Space Marines
Land Raider

His list:
Hive Tyrant (shooty) with 2 Tyrant Guard
Broodlord with Genestealer retinue
Dakkafex (twin devourers)
3x8 Gaunts
2x6 Genestealers
2xSniperfex (Venom cannon & barbed strangler)

My plan
Exploit outflanking Genestealers and race up the center of the board. If I could get into close combat before the Genestealers got into the fight, I would be using my 1500 points to attack his 1100 points. Add to this that my forces were very close combat oriented, whereas his were not, I would just have to get there to get a big advantage.

He gave me the choice of table edge, and I set up with some mobile forces on the edges. I hoped this would make him put all his stealers in outflanking reserves. Unfortunately for me, he didn't. The Broodlord and 'stealer retinue was right in the middle. Crap...

In addition to this, he seized the initiative! I had not deployed in anticipation of this, so I was expecting a pretty brutal end to my mobile infantry forces. Watch the video battle report below to see how the game progressed.

Music from

Monday, September 14, 2009

Tournament report: Invasion 2009

Invasion 2009 was a blast! 5 brilliant games against friendly and sporting opponents.

Game 1
I played last year's winner. Last year, he played Sisters of battle, and this year he was playing Space Wolves. Logan Grimnar, a Wolf Priest and a Venerable Dreadnought, combined with 20 Blood Claws, 10 Gray Hunters and a Dread made me fear a big close combat.

The deployment was Pitched Battle (table quarters). I placed everything in reserve, and he did not. Unfortunately for him, he didn't know that my reserves could enter from my entire table edge, not only the corner. This allowed me to get all my meltaguns in range of his two Dreadnoughts, killing them and immobilizing a Predator Annihilator in turn 2. From here on, it was a simple matter of shooting up the rest of his forces from a safe distance, and take objectives for the win.

Game 2
In the second game of the day, I played Trond from Team Stormbolter and his Biel-Tan Eldar. I have played Trond's Eldar twice before, and both times he's beaten me thoroughly. I was pretty sure this time would be no different, as he deployed two Fire Prisms, a Falcon (with Fire Dragons), two Wave Serpents with Brightlances one unit of Warp Spiders and two units of Pathfinders.

The mission was to control more objective markers, of which there were three on the board's center line. With this in mind, I noted that he had few Troops choices and focussed on taking his long range firepower and his mobility. This went far better than I had expected, and in just two turns I had destroyed both Fire Prisms (which had both Holo Fields and Spirit Stones) and the Dire Avenger's Wave serpent. The rest of the game was a pretty one-sided affair, and the Witch Hunters grabbed first place in the tournament.

Game 3
Enter Kenneth's Imperial Guard. Kenneth believes in mono-themed lists, having played a Necron phalanx with two or three Monoliths or all-terminator Dark Angels in previous tournaments we have both attended. This time he brought a min-maxed list that went something like this: Company Command in Chimera, Two minimal platoons with all units in Chimeras, 2 Devil Dogs, 2 Demolishers, 1 Leman Russ with Plasma Cannon sponsons. All guys that could had either a Meltagun or a Flamer.

No disrespect to Kenneth, but that is a boring list (effective, though)

We played on a board where hiding things were almost impossible. The mission was Kill Points. I decided that I was not in any shape to try to win, so I bunkered up in a corner and tried to use my Lascannons and Exorcists to snipe tanks. Unfortunately, I rolled pretty poorly and either failed to hit, penetrate or do permanent damage to his Chimeras and Devil Dogs, which were my main targets. We played to turn 6, and it was then clear that he had won with 4 KPs to my 1 KP.

Game 4
The second day of Invasion 2009 saw me a little down on the rankings, but I was still a contender for a pretty good position.

The fourth game was against Thomas' Tau Empire. His list was a mobile cadre (Shas'El, 2 Hammerheads, 2 Devilfishes, 6 Stealth Suits) with a solid firebase (3 Broadsides, Fire Warriors). The mission was 2 objective markers, which we both placed in opposite corners. The entire battle would be played at night, so the Night Fight rule would apply. "Great", I thought as I read his army list. He had Blacksun Filters on both Hammerheads, so he would be able to spot me long before I'd reach his lines.

I considered bunkering up and hiding from the Railguns and Markerlights, but decided to go for broke. I'd already lost one game, and if I kept this up, I wouldn't be able to reach my goal of placing in the top 10. I deployed aggressively, hiding as much as I could behind the Land Raider and a centrally placed building.

Fortunately for me, both his Broadsides and Pathfinders failed to spot anything first turn, and his Hammerheads either missed, or I made my cover saves. Driving forward, all my long range weaponry shot at his Hammerheads, spotting them with ease. One Hammerhead got blown up, severely reducing the strength of his flank attack.

The rest of the game, he was on the defensive, reversing towards his objective. I pushed on, but was unable to quite get to it. Those three Broadsides (all with Drone Controllers and Shield Drones) were a great deterrent to my advance, and his defence held. I had destroyed almost everything in his army, but it was not enough. The game ended in a draw. Fortunately, I made both my secondary and tertiary objective and got enough points to get me up a few places on the rankings.

Game 5
The final game of Invasion 2009 was a strange one. Our deployment zones was 24" in from the short table edges, with a 24" no mans land and six objective markers in the middle.

My opponent for this game was none other than my buddy Briefspite. Check out his 40k blog over at He was playing his balanced Tyranids, with both big bugs (4 Carnifexes and a Flyrant), medium bugs (Lictor, Warriors, Broodlord with Genestealers) and small gribblies (4 units of Gaunts with without number).

I gave him first turn, hoping for some turn 5 shenanigans, stealing some objectives at the last moment.

The game was a real nail-biter, especially because of his three units of scuttling Genestealers, which would possibly Outflank behind my tank line. I put shot after shot into his Sniperfexes, but he kept passing about 75 % of his cover saves. That's one of the few problems I have with 5th edition; stuff dies too quickly out of cover, and lives too long when in cover.

I killed only one Carnifex in the first two rounds, and failed royally in handling the single unit of Genestealers that outflanked behind my lines. Not only did they kill an Exorcist outright, they even lived through a turn of me shooting everything I had into them!

In the end, we got to turn 5, with him holding 5 of 6 objectives. I went through with my plan, even though I wouldn't gain any points from it. I raced one of my Chimeras and one Rhino up to the closest objective markers, contesting two of them. I then rolled for game end, and got a 2. Game end, and only a minor loss for me.

Closing thoughts
I finished 7th, and my buddy Briefspite got 2nd place. I had a great time and five exciting games. I'm already looking forward to next year, and have started thinking about which army I would like to play.

I shot some video, which I will post when I've finished editing it. More to come :)

Friday, September 11, 2009

First tournament in over a year!

This weekend, I'm attending the tournament "Invasion" i Kristiansand, Norway.

I'm not bringing a very powerful army, and you'll not be finding this list on Warseer anytime soon, if you know what I mean. I'm a little tired of the guys bringing the latest internet list and doing well, not because they are stellar players, but because the list is very, very powerful.

This time, I thought I'd aim for the lower tables, where the not-so-powerful armies and not-so-competitive opponents are. Hopefully, I'll play someone I haven't met before.

Check out for more on the tournament.