Monday, February 28, 2011

Competitive Ulthwe revisited

Two years ago, I wrote a blog post on Ulthwe Eldar being competitive. It was written before the new Space Wolves, Blood Angels and just as the Imperial Guard codex was released. Looking back at the post, I see that some of my points aren't valid anymore, and the army wouldn't be able to beat the armies I am playing against today. So let's take another look at it!

Eldar Seers

Keeping in mind my rules for Ulthwe Army Lists:
  1. No Aspect Warriors
  2. No Wraiths
  3. Only Farseer as HQ
  4. At least one unit of Warlocks as the Seer Council
  5. Only Guardians or vehicles driven by Guardians
Currently, we are operating at 1750 points in my gaming circuit, so let's keep to that.

A Farseer is essential, as is his Seer Council. Mounting them on jetbikes gives them mobility to use their Destructors is key if you want the Seer Council to be your hammer. If you rather want it to be your anvil, they can be on foot. The Fortune psychic power is also a must, as this increases their survivability no end! Last, Runes of Warding is a no-brainer which you should always take in a take-all-comers army.
  • Farseer w/Jetbike, Fortune, Runes of Warding
  • 6 Warlocks w/Jetbikes, 3 Destructors, 2 Embolden, 1 Enhance
We will also need some Troops. I have had great success with a small unit of Guardians with a Bright Lance, deployed out of harms way. They aren't quite dangerous enough to warrant many troops going after them, but can wreak havoc in the enemy's armour line. They get Embolden, so they won't run away after losing a few models.
  • 10 Guardians w/Bright Lance, Warlock w/Embolden
  • 10 Guardians w/Bright Lance, Warlock w/Embolden
Next, we need some mobile anti-tank. The Seer Council can take most hordes straight on, but will struggle aganst Land Raiders and the like. Ideally, this would be 5 Fire Dragons in a Wave Serpent, but because we don't like Aspect Warriors we can't take them.
  • 10 Storm Guardians w/2 Fusion Guns, Warlock w/Singing Spear in Wave Serpent w/Twin-Linked Shuriken Cannons and Spirit Stones
  • 10 Storm Guardians w/2 Fusion Guns, Warlock w/Singing Spear in Wave Serpent w/Twin-Linked Shuriken Cannons and Spirit Stones
We now have a lot of Troops. Let's take even more!
  • 6 Jetbikes w/2 Shuriken Cannons, Warlock w/Destructor
  • 6 Jetbikes w/2 Shuriken Cannons, Warlock w/Destructor
Finally, let's take some heavy support for all our Troops.
  • Fire Prism w/Spirit Stones
  • Fire Prism w/Spirit Stones
Total points cost is 1749, and we end up with a list that can be really annoying! It isn't easy to catch the Eldar on the move, and the slow elements in this list isn't really that important for the enemy to take out! You have quite a lot of firepower, high mobility, a Seer Council that can both take and dish out a lot of damage and a lot of Troops to take those vital objectives. In a pinch, you have 4 Fast Tanks that can crash enemy-held objectives and contest for that turn 5 win.

It should be noted that this list is highly inspired by my buddy Knut's Eldar list. Even though he runs Fire Dragons, an Autarch and no normal Guardians, the feel of this army is still pretty much the same.

Friday, February 25, 2011

Excel army list makers

After yesterdays post about the program Army Builder, I got a tip from a reader. He calls himself fester40k, and told me to Google up Alice40k and their army list makers.

Lo and behold; Excel army list makers for all current codexes! I hadn't even heard of these, so they could do well to market them a bit more!

I decided to check them out. However, I don't own Excel. Excel is 189 € (about 260 US$), so it's way over what I think the software is worth.  I use a Mac, and the spreadsheet software I have available is Google Documents, Numbers on my iPad and OpenOffice Calc.

Google Docs could open the Excel files just fine, but all macro-based functionality wasn't there anymore. Fail
Numbers on iPad couldn't even open the files, claiming they were encrypted. Fail
OpenOffice could open the files, but there were pretty much nothing that worked. Fail
Frustrated, I tried my old-old laptop from work that actually has Excel 2007 - Norwegian version. Unfortunately, the army list makers aren't compatible with non-english versions of Excel! Fail

I should note that Army Builder isn't even available for Mac, so that's another fail for me. I use an old windows laptop to run that software, as it isn't very demanding.

If you have an English version of Excel, try them out! As far as I can tell, they are great tools for making army lists a bit easier and quicker than with pen and paper.

Thursday, February 24, 2011

Make army lists easy!

Writing an army list by hand is a lot of work. You have to select the units you like, select all the wargear and options you want your units to have, calculate the points total. When calculating the army's total points cost, you will almost always have gone over the points limit, and you have to go back and adjust. This can be frustrating and take a lot of time. Even worse, with a lot of adding and subtracting from the points total, you often end up with a mistake somewhere. Then you have to do it all over again!

All the way back to 3rd edition I've used a brilliant program called Army Builder. It makes army list creating more about the army list and less about calculating points cost. It supports Warhammer Fantasy Battles, Warhammer 40k, Battlefleet Gothic, Blood Bowl, Warmachine and pretty much any other miniature wargame I can think of.
Every unit, wargear option, psychic power. It's all here, folks!
A trial can be downloaded for free, but to get the full experience, I fully recommend a license. It's only $39.99 for a license you can use on two computers. That means that you and a friend can split the cost and get it for one computer each!

Please note that I have no commercial interest in this product and receive nothing from the authors for writing this blog post. I just use and like it a lot, and that's why I recommend it.

If you don't want to spend money on making your list building easier, there is a free solution! At least if you have Microsoft Excel and play Necrons or Eldar. YouTube user matteo311GameMovies have made army builders for Necrons and Eldar. He's giving these away for free, and explains about them in this YouTube video. If you support him by downloading the army builders, commenting on and spreading his videos, he might just make the next one for your army.

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

How about them new Grey Knights?

So, the Grey Knights are next. Gone will be the Daemonhunters of old, the restricting codex that required you to use the Space Marine codex and the Imperial Guard codex if you wanted to exhaust all the options within.
The Inquisitors made it into the Grey Knights codex! Who'd have thunk it!
The rumours have it that this time around mankind's most elite defenders, the Grey Knights will not be overpriced vanilla Space Marines with Storm Bolters. No, this time they will be awesome!

Two of my gaming buddies, Knut and Illumini, have done a few playtests, using the leaked dex that's floating around. They're not convinced that it's the ultimate cheesefest some people are making it out to be. Paladins with W2 Sv2+/2++ and Feel No Pain is not the way to go, though the rumours were sexy indeed!

The Grey Knights will depend on their Special Characters for most competitive builds (Coteaz comes to mind), but that taking a standard Grand Master also can be made to work pretty well. Also, the Dreadknight is an incredibly solid choice!

In fact, Illumini thinks that any all-comers Grey Knight build will include three Dreadknights. They simply are that good!

A list @ 1750 points:

Grand Master, psycannon, nemesis warding stave

4x Meltagun warrior, 1x Jokaero, 5 Warriors, Chimera
1x Meltagun warrior, 1x Jokaero, 3 Multi-melta Servitors, 6x warrior, Chimera
4x Plasmagun warrior, 1x Jokaero, 5 Warriors, Chimera
4x Plasmagun warrior, 1x Jokaero, 6 Warriors, Chimera

Dreadknight, teleporter, heavy psycannon
Dreadknight, teleporter, heavy psycannon
Dreadknight, teleporter, heavy psycannon

Illumini comments: The Grand Master can give the Scout ability to D3 units (Dreadknights). You then have a massive advantage in the map control department, as they will be firmly in your opponent's face. Coteaz makes it so you are almost immune to getting seized, so you can safely deploy fully forward if you get first turn. Because of the scouting Dreadknights, deploying against this army will be a dangerous prospect indeed. Many opponents will try to reserve their stuff, or find themselves in close combat with three Dreadknights by turn 2 at the latest.

If your opponent reserves his entire army or you are playing Dawn of War, the Dreadknights can get scoring status instead.

The inqisitorial retinues want to roll 2 on the Jokaero chart, making the Meltaguns 24" and the Plasma guns and Multi-meltas 36"!

After testing out this army, Knut had some thoughts about it:
Those Terratrons (Dreadknights) are a royal pain to play against! Even though Illumini had a bit of bad luck on his 4+ invulnerables, they took an incredible beating before going down. In one turn, i shot 15 Fire Dragons,  6 War Walkers with Scatter Lasers and 2 Wave Serpents with Scatter Lasers, and the bastard only lost 2 wounds!

Coteaz is a steal! His ability to shoot at outflankers more or less neutralized my War Walkers in his back field. In a Dawn of War match, where he can deploy far forward, he can pretty much deny an entire flank. And that's not even one of his best abilities!

After a little bit of consideration, Knut fashioned this list @1750:
Grand Master, Nemesis Warding Stave
Librarian, The shrouding, Warp Rift, The Summoning, Might of Titan, Teleport Homer, Nemesis Warding Stave

5 Grey Knight Strike squad, Incinerator
5 Grey Knight Strike squad, Incinerator

Storm Raven, TL-Multi-melta, TL-Lascannon
Storm Raven, TL-Multi-melta, TL-Lascannon

Dreadknight, Teleporter, Heavy Psycannon
Dreadknight, Teleporter, Heavy Psycannon
Dreadknight, Heavy Psycannon

In objective missions, you can get D3 scoring Dreadknights if you want it, so the 2 Troops isn't much of a problem. The Librarian and Grand Master takes a Storm Raven each. The Librarian can use The Summoning and his Teleport Homer to get Dreadknights out of sticky situations if needed.

The Storm Ravens can go Flat Out 24" and still shoot their twin-linked Multi-meltas at enemy armor. If either is shot at, the Librarian can use The Shrouding to give both of them a wonderful 3+ Cover Save.

There you have it, folks! Our first playtest of the leaked Grey Knights codex. It seems very interesting and fairly strong so far. I especially like the Inquisitorial Henchmen! I'm definitively going to get my guys together for this one!

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Space Wolves commission and the Scorpion Defiler

Here is a little runthrough of the Space Wolf army I'm painting up for my buddy Norau. As a litte bonus, at the end I'm showing off my Scorpion Defiler.

Friday, February 18, 2011

Preparations for Winter War 8

Our gaming group is going to Winter War 8 in March. For preparations, we are playing a lot of games with the scenarios in the rulespack. Some of them are pretty strange, so it will be useful to have tried them out in advance.

We are also required to bring two armies. One 1750 point and one 750 point army. Army selection has been difficult, because some armies excel at 1750, but struggle at 750. Black Templars struggle very much at 750, for example.

Also, at 750 without any restrictions, it pretty much comes down to matchup. If you get a good matchup you win, if you get a bad one you lose. You can meet Mephiston, a Dreadnought, a Land Raider and a 5-man naked Tactical Squad or you can meet 120 Orks. How do you build a balanced army that can win against both of these extremes? 750 points in a competitive environment is a bad idea.

Regardless, we are looking forward to going and meeting lots of 40k players. The tournament filled all 50 spots a month ago, so it should be a blast! Expect video battle reports ;)

Strategikon 5 secondary missions sneak peek

At the next Strategikon we're mixing things up a bit. Instead of simply playing the standard missions from the rulebook, we're adding secondary missions. Here's a little sneak peek of what these missions can be.
Daemon Prince of Khorne
Great leader
The enemy commander is pivotal to the enemy in the ongoing conflict. You must eliminate him/her/it!

You will get 1 point if you kill your opponent’s most expensive HQ model.

If the enemy doesn’t have a single HQ model with a points cost, you must kill the most expensive HQ unit to fulfill this objective.

Greater Daemon chargingControl the field
This area is of vital tactical importance in the ongoing conflict.

Split the battlefield in four quadrants. You will get 1 point if you have one or more units completely within each quadrant at the end of the game. Note that ANY unit can fulfill this objective, not just units from the Troops category. The enemy can’t contest the quadrants for this objective.

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

More Special Characters from Imperial Armour 9

They're green!
Of course they get +1 Cover Save!
Last time, we explored the possibilities Captain Tarnus Vale gives a Space Marine Army. This time, let's check out the sneaky Chapter Master of the Raptors, Lias Issodon.

Chapter Master Lias Issodon - 140 points

Issodon is the leader of the Raptors, who are apparently even more sneaky than the Night Lords and Alpha Legion combined! His special Chapter Tactics rule is that all units exchange Combat Tactics for the Stealth Univeral Special Rule.

This is insanely good! Space Marines benefit greatly from cover against low-AP weapons. Giving them all +1 to their cover save is pretty ridiculous. However, just like Tarnus Vale, only foot troops have Combat Tactics and benefit from his buff.

He also gives your opponent -1 to any reserve rolls, and 1 unit D6 wounds or a glancing hit after deployment. This is also awesome, but we won't be exploiting this today.

Let's try a list! 1500 points:

Chapter Master Lias Issodon
Space Marine Captain w/Relic Blade, Artificer Armour & Space Marine Bike

4 Space Marine Bikes w/2 Flamers, Attack Bike
4 Space Marine Bikes w/2 Flamers, Attack Bike
4 Space Marine Bikes w/2 Meltaguns, Attack Bile w/Multi-Melta

2 Attack Bikes w/Multi-Meltas
2 Attack Bikes w/Multi-Meltas
2 Attack Bikes w/Multi-Meltas

5 Devastator Squad w/4 Missile Launchers
Thunderfire Cannon
Thunderfire Cannon

No Scouts in this list, even though they would also benefit greatly from Issodon's abilities.

We exploit Issodon's Chapter Tactics twice in this list:

  1. The Techmarines manning the Thunderfire cannons can use Bolster Defences on two ruins giving 2+ cover saves to themselves, Issodon, the Devastators and any bikes hiding behind the terrain piece at the start of the game.
  2. The (apparently stealthy) Bikes can Turbo-boost, giving themselves 2+ cover saves until they are ready to strike (with 4 Flamers, 2 Heavy Bolters, 7 Multi-Meltas and 2 Meltaguns. Oh, and a bunch of Twin-Linked Bolters).

What do you guys think? Is it to powerful? Try it out, and let me know how it went! ;)

Sunday, February 13, 2011

Missions at Strategikon 5

Alexander Sawyer's Catachans

The fifth tournament in the Strategikon series is from April 30th to May 1st. At Strategikon 3 and 4 we simply played the standard missions from the rulebook. Win, draw or loss was the name of the game, giving 3, 1 and 0,5 points each. The feedback we got from the players indicated that they were very happy with the missions being simple and familiar. However, several players also said that they wanted to mix things up a little bit.

This time, we're going to try to do just that. We're still playing the standard missions, but are also introducing our secret secondary mission cards. After matchups, each player is given a card with a secret mission objective. If they manage to fulfill this objective during or at the end of the game they get 1 point extra. The secondary mission isn't something you compete with your opponent to do, and in most cases both players can fulfill the requirements for the secondary in the same game.

Victory in the primary mission will still count much more than the secondary, so that will still be imperative to win if you want to do well in the tournament.

Another reason for including the secondary missions is that many players ended up with equal scores after five games. We did have tiebreakers to separate them, but several players voiced their discontent with this solution. We hope that the secondary mission will separate players more than before, so it will be more clear who are the top 40k players in Norway and who aren't.

Saturday, February 12, 2011

Exploring Special Characters from Imperial Armour 9

Last time we made a Daemons army using Blight Drones to dramatically increase firepower and block movement. This time, let's check out some of the many Special Characters from Imperial Armour 9 - The Badab War part 1, and what they can do for your army.

Captain Tarnus Vale - 175 points

This guy is the Praetor of the Fire Angels 3rd company and has a thing for armoured warfare. He is a regular Captain stats-wise, but isn't a powerhouse in close combat or shooting. He is a 175 point army buff because of his Chapter Tactics rule:

Chapter Tactics: Vale is a master of the mechanised assault and anti-armour warfare. If you include Captain Vale then all units in your army exchange the Combat Tactics special rule for the Tank Hunters USR. In addition, any Rhino or Razorback bought as a dedicated transport for squads affected by this change gains the Extra Armour upgrade for free.

In addition he has the following special rule:
Master Gunner: Any vehicle with the subtype (Tank) that transports Captain Vale gains the Tank Hunters USR.

Put him in your army, and all your Devastators' Missile Launchers are S9 versus vehicles. That's pretty hard core! Put him in a Land Raider and your Godhammers will pummel the enemy tank lines with two Twin-Linked S10 shots per turn. All the Krak Grenades in your army are S7, Power Fists S9, Plasma Guns S8 and even the humble Bolter gets bumped up to S5 as long as a vehicle is the target!

Sure, he's a liability if you expect to meet a lot of footsloggers like Footdar, Tyranids or The Green Tide, but the strength of getting Tank Hunters on all your foot troops is immense!

Let's try a list @1850 points:

Captain Tarnus Vale

5 Assault Terminators, Land Raider w/Multi-Melta

10 man Tactical Squad w/Meltagun & Lascannon, Sergeant with Combi-Melta, Razorback w/Lascannon, Twin-linked Plasma Gun & free Extra Armour
10 man Tactical Squad w/Meltagun & Lascannon, Sergeant with Combi-Melta, Razorback w/Lascannon, Twin-linked Plasma Gun & free Extra Armour

5 man Devastator Squad w/4 Missile Launchers, Razorback w/Lascannon, Twin-linked Plasma Gun & free Extra Armour
5 man Devastator Squad w/4 Missile Launchers, Razorback w/Lascannon, Twin-linked Plasma Gun & free Extra Armour
5 man Devastator Squad w/4 Missile Launchers, Razorback w/Lascannon, Twin-linked Plasma Gun & free Extra Armour

That's 75 free points of Extra Armour! 12 S9 Missile Launchers and 4 S10 Lascannons should make short work of any Razorback or Chimera spam on the other side of the table. All the Extra Armour will keep your tanks moving and your deployment zone from clogging up with stunned tanks.

If the enemy tries to rush you, the Meltaguns are S9 and should stop any vehicles coming too close for comfort. Sure, 5 Assault Termies aren't the best counter charging element there is, but they should be able to hold up most units that have weathered the storm of fire.

Next time we'll look at Chapter Master of the Raptors, Lias "The Grim" Issodon and his stealthy ways. His boys are even more stealthy than the Night Lords!

Friday, February 11, 2011

Let's try Imperial Armour!

I guess most of you guys are familiar with pretty much all the codexes out there, and all the major blogs are churning out lists for Space Wolves, Blood Angels or Dark Eldar. But very few places have I seen people talk about the wealth of stuff contained in the huge tomes known as Imperial Armour. Sure, they are seldom considered "official" by hardcore gamers, and I know of only one tournament that allows them. Incidentally, this is the tournaments I and Briefspite host, called Strategikon.

I recently acquired all the Imperial Armour books released to date, and have had many good evenings in my comfy couch with a cup of gourmet coffe and a big book in my lap. Let's try to make a decent list using some stuff from IA7 The Siege of Vraks part 3. And none of that really freaky stuff like Structure Points or  Flyers or anything like that. Plain 40k rules here.

Chaos Daemons: 2000 points
Bloodthirster (Might, Instrument)
Bloodthirster (Might)
5 Plaguebearers
5 Plaguebearers
5 Plaguebearers
2 Blight Drones
2 Blight Drones
2 Blight Drones
Soul Grinder (Phlegm)
Soul Grinder (Phlegm)
Soul Grinder (Phlegm)

The Blight Drones are Fast Skimmers with AV12/11/10 and the same Vomit and Phlegm attack that the Soul Grinder has, in addition to a Reaper Autocannon.

The idea behind this list is that your opponent's small arms are completely nullified. Your preferred wave can bee all six Blight Drones and all three Soul Grinders. This gives you nine S8 AP3 large blasts from wherever you want in turn 1, from a wall of AV12/13. The Blight Drones are even pretty much impervious to close combat troops, requiring sixes to hit them!

Assault Terminators in a Land Raider is a typical example of this. You can't really threaten the Raider with shooting, but the Soul Grinders and Bloodthirsters will rip it up if they can survive to the turn after the drop. The Blight Drones are perfect for this. The Land Raider can't easily Tank Shock the skimmers away (3+ dodge save), and then the Terminators won't be able to get to your Grinders.

If you get the other wave, no matter. Just sit in cover with the Plaguebearers and try to get the enemy moving, exposing their sides and rear. Then you drop the Blight Drones and Soul Grinders on the flanks or up their tailpipes.

Next time we'll take a look at two Space Marine characters from Imperial Armour 9 - The Badab War part 1.

Thursday, February 10, 2011

Let's ban all Special Characters!

After becoming the team captain for Team Norway at the next year's European Team Championship, I started reading both the rules pack and the discussions in the Captain's Council that lead to these rules.  You see, all aspects of the ETC is decided in a democratic process, where the team captains of each nation have one vote each. The majority rules.

Most of the decisions have been excellent, and the tournament format is undoubtedly very good for this kind of event. I did however wonder why they decided to ban all Special Characters Here in Norway, we have allowed SCs for  quite some time now, after GW started removing the need for "opponent's consent" whenever fielding an SC.

The discussions prior to the vote mostly dealt with some characters breaking the game. Some argued that allowing Special Characters would decrease the number of viable builds available to players. If Vulkan was allowed, for example, every Space Marine player would do a flamer/melta-heavy Salamanders list.

I don't agree with this at all. I find that by banning all SCs, you limit the possible number of high-level armies and skew the metagame into something that is easier to quantify and systemize than you would by allowing them. Sure, the SCs are powerful, but they all have drawbacks. Some are expensive which gives you less support (Logan Grimnar, Ghazkull Thraka, Abbadon), some are great in close combat but lacks firepower or are slow (Swarmlord), some act as a force multiplier but are vulnerable to shooting and assault  (Eldrad).

You pay premium points for their abilities. Sure, some of them are cheaper than you'd expect, but that can easily be said about many units too! Terminators with Thunder Hammers and Storm Shields are cleary undercosted. Let's ban them. Thunderwolves are a little too god, let's ban them too. And Fire Dragons. And while we're at it, take the Vendetta, Manticore, Plague Marines, Obliterators and Hive Guard too. In fact, the best way to make sure the game is fair is if we all play Necrons!

And ban the Monolith...