Monday, January 26, 2009

A Treatise on Special Characters: Or How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Trust That the Paradigm of the Use of Special Characters has Shifted in 5th Ed

So today we've got a write-in post from JibJeb. Here goes:

Your views may not be completely unfounded (only mostly), oh 40ker from editions past, but they are certainly antiquated. As you all very well know, the nature of special characters has been given an overhaul. Most noticeably, for C:SM, a chapters identity and how it differs from those of UM are completely dependent on purchasing a 'special' character instead of a 'normal' character. This, for the majority of SM fans, is a travesty....why must each IF force be lead by Lysander? The changes in regards to the availability of special characters leads to the famous observation: "I've killed Eldrad about 8 times this tourney, (darn) dude just won't die!" While these things seem silly, the venom and 'turned-up-nose'-yness of 40K boards and gaming groups by diehards from editions past has caused some tension between gamers. The purpose of this post is for those out there to challenge my personal opinion on the matter: the anger is completely misdirected, and should be directed towards GW in general and not the users of said characters. Namely, a never ending cycle of complaining and hypocrisy ensues with blaming players for playing within the rules, and this isn't healthy. Having seen the light in regards to this a bit back, I've been a much happier player.

To keep this semi-short, we'll dive into the heart of things: there is a following that preaches that if you take special characters (SC) you are somehow not being very sportsmanlike. If we look at this closely, however, I believe the SCs are getting a disproportionally large amount of attention because of there previous segregation within codexes. No longer do you need your opponents permission to take one in the 5th ed codexes, and moreover, you can play many special characters in a given engagement. The codex layout in general suggests we need so see these SC in a different light. Using C:SM as an example, not only are the selections for SC not set aside, they bleed right into the other HQ selections directly. If we look at the 2nd Ed C:UM, we see this is not the case...same for the 3rd Ed. While you learned and got an opinion of SC back then, and rightfully so, didn't see many SC, the normalizing of SC within the codex, and the unlocking of chapter specific 'traits' through there purchase means that we cannot lump the new SC in the same category as the old SC, even though many share the same name. Realize then, that some players are not just players, but enjoy the universe, and are emotionally invested in a given chapter lets say. Not everyone wants to be an UM. So the choice, as an opponent, comes down to realizing that if you are playing someone who enjoys the stubborn determination of IFs, and the only way to get that to play out on the battlefield is by taking X or Y now, it isn't their fault. GW leaves only these options, and these alone, and these options coincide with the changing of how SC work, and thus how they should be viewed.

Also, as noted above, you also open yourself up for criticism, and the never-ending cycle of what is 'cheese' in a given army or build, and how it is unfair with focusing on SCs. This is unhealthy in all settings. In a tourney setting especially, where people are approaching things with a competitive attitude, seeing SC should not be a shock anymore. They have a name, yes, but this alone does not warrant criticism (see above). Moreover, powerful HQ units are found in all codexes (122pt Canoness, C:BT Chaplain and the ability to give any HQ eternal warrior, Mephiston, LS Sammy, Kharn, DE crazyness, and on and on), and so if you play guard congratulations for avoiding the list (oh, that is until May or so). It's the 'cast not the first stone' syndrome. What is also true with all codexes is that they are the only official, end-all-be-all enders-of-arguments as they contain the rules...the HQ selections that appear in them that are not prohibited in any fashion are a part of the 'big picture' of the given game-tested and balanced codex (this point [balance] is to be contended, but this is where GW gets the blame and not the player). Kharn might seem insane, or 'zerks in general, but man are they a rule the bigger picture is almost missed when comparing HQ units directly from codex to codex.

As an example, for the tourney at AGG, I took Kantor (as noted in the tourneyrep by Farmpunk). I was going to use my Khan build, but felt it would go against my Dornish nature and instead felt Vladimir Pugh (as Kantor) would lead the IF to battle. I made this decision out of my own personal view that I'd rather win with Dorn, then win with Khan (a better, more dynamic list for a tourney on 4x4 tables, but against my nature). If I made this choice to avoid criticism alone, I believe it would have been the wrong choice. In a tourney setting especially, relish the challenge, 40ker of editions past, of beating a SC, but as noted above it is now given by GW as a valid choice.

Try seeing the light, or wait until your codex gets the same treatment (different colored necron lords are coming, and the IG rumours are well known) and then make judgments, but until then, see that the nature of the SC is different, and as they are not set aside in any fashion within the codex anymore, the players who enjoy their use should not be set aside either. The cheese game in general gets tiresome, and a happy 40Ker is one who accepts challenges instead of glaring at the players who present them with such sport.

Sigismund's Own Jibjeb.

Thursday, January 22, 2009

building 1000pts WitchHunters

I was talking to Isen, DONKEY and SandWyrm last night about maybe writing up a bit of a tactica about my mindset when writing up a list, and how I execute those lists.

My lists tend to be very shooty, almost to the exclusion of CC. I feel this leaves me with some gaping holes composition wise which can be exploited. Whenever I play Leaky Water Faucet, he finds good ways to exploit my CC weaknesses.

So I checked Bell of Lost Souls today, and lo and behold, Bigred wrote a list using some of the gunline principles I tend to stick to as well. But I'm not marines, and have to play a little differently.

I'll look at building a list, and later I'll doublecheck my point costs.

I'll use WitchHunters as a primary building start. It's my first army, and one with a few tricks, and shortfalls.

we'll start with a Cannoness, and give her a Blessed Weapon (for +2 str, Master-crafted Power Weapon), a cloak of St. Aspria (for an improved Armor save), a Book of St. Lucius (for Unmodifiable LD checks within 6" of her), a Bolt Pistol (cheap shooting option), Frag Grenades (for assulting into cover), and finally a jump pack (to get her where she needs to go fast.)
All that should be coming out to 122pts.

She's one of my few CC type-units. She can tie-up non-CC units, and act as a sort of speedbump against CC units. The biggest trick with her is getting to use her LD to do faith. The option to turn a 2+ armor save into a 2+/2+Inv save is invaluable.

From there, I'd go to troops next. I like similarity in my troops, as the redundancy can help me mend some problems. For instance, If my opponent stops my main anti-troop unit, it's nice to have another that can do the job.
I go with Sister of Battle Squads. they're one of the most economical troops choices in the game. Minimum squad size is 10 though. (1 sarge, with 9 regulars) This is just the right size for a rhino.
I load out a Heavy Flamer / flamer combination, as it focuses my Sisters on troops. Their bolters are good anti-troop weapons, so choosing flamers re-inforces that start. I also ALWAYS upgrade the Superior to a Veteran. It's worth it. It makes the unit Faithful, generates a faith point, and when she dies, generates another faith. I usually give her a Bolter, rather than a pistol and CC weapon. I like the extra shot, and it's round numbers for rolling.
so I've got 2 flame templates and 16 bolter shots. I put them in a rhino for transportation, and give the rhino at LEAST extra armor. I want the rhino to move, and get troops where I want them too.
I double up on that basic Sister Squad. it comes out to around 202 points, 205 if I put smoke on the rhinos. not a bad price for a short range shooting unit.

For Heavy Support, I go with the Star of the WH heavys, the Exorcist tank. it's a hard-hitter. I put extra armor on these as well. If I get hit, I want to get back out of the way of what shot me, if it didn't happen to destroy me. I generally run 2 of these, at 140pts a pop. The random shots number can be annoying, so I highly recommend using these tanks in a two-some. If the first one fails, the other should hit. between them, they average 7 missiles. which is enough to shake up most things, except a Landraider.

now we're close to the last unit area. You could go one of 3 ways from this basic list, another Sister Squad, a Seraphim Squad, or an Inquisitor Lord. Another Sister squad isn't a bad choice, maybe a unit in a rhino with meltas. you're going to have to shave some points to make it. A seraphim squad with twin inferno pistols is another good choice, you can keep it about the same cost as a unit in a rhino, and they have great special rules. For an Inquisitor Lord, I go with the DemonHunter variety, as he's shootier.

For Seraphim, I go with 5+a Veteran Superior. giving her the option to carry wargear, and more importantly, and Eviscerator. The unit ends up with 2 inferno pistols, 3 bolt pistols (all twin-linked) and a Veteran Superior with a Bolt pistol, Eviscerator, and a Book of St. Lucius. The unit gets a free imagifier for making faith checks, and has the Hit-and-run ability from it's codex. The unit's small enough to hide behind terrain, and still can pack a punch against non-CC units, or armor.

For the DH Inq. Lord, I outfit his retinue to be a shooty firebase. He's good at it. Give the Inq. a Psycannon to go with his power armor, and give him a retinue with a Plasma cannon Servitor, and 2 Heavy Bolter Servitors. Then 2 sages, for increaded BS on the Inq, and the important re-roll on shooting. (I think the re-roll for shooting has to be one of my favorite little abilities in the game. it allows a re-roll of the 'gets hot' on the plas cannon, or the scatter for it.) Then I put in 2 Mystics for the ability to shoot at any Deep Strikers that fall within 4d6", or the ability to designate someone ELSE to shoot at the Deep Strikers. plus, they're wounds if your opponent doesn't Deep Strike. I usually give an extra targeter to the Inq. Lord. the Servitors come with them. I often put a Psychic Hood on the Inq. Lord, to frustrate anyone who relies on psychic tricks.
This unit can put out some major shooting, and rarely miss. It's become possilby one of my most reliable, and favorite units. It can do a lot, and trade fire with Heavy Weapons teams with ease.

That summarizes a breakdown of how I'd go about making a 1000pt list. it's a basic list, with some options, and some potent units. I'll try to write more on deployment and overall tactics later.

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

AGG Tourney 1/17/09

So even though it was boot-crack cold outside, I ventured back to C-U to play in the Tourney.

There were 6 of us total. SandWyrm came over to play too.
in addition to SandWyrm, and myself, Iron, JibJeb, JumpShootJump, and Zerkerboy showed.

First Round:
I was up against Zerkerboy, and his Khorne-inspired list. 2 'zerkers in rhinos, Jump Lord, and one squad on foot, with a squad of Devs, and a Defiler. The Devs went in a building in his deployment, with the Defiler to my right of the building, and a squad standing in ruins to the right, next to the objective. there was a rhino to the right of the ruins, with a lord behind it, and a rhino behind the building.
I had the Inq. Lord on top a building on the left center of my deployment zone. with the objective on the bottom floor. Exorcists behind the building. Seraphim and cannoness ready to jump to the front. Rhinos to the right to go forward and engage the enemy, then whichever squad got chewed up would fall back to my objective.
I felt good about facing an assult army with my amount of long range threat. The Inq. Lord squad did a good job tearing up the Devs, and got them to run. I had angled one exorcist around to get shots from my right side of the board, since the Lord was jumping close behind a rhino. The defiler never really did a lot, as I kept hitting it with some anti-tank. It was immobilized on turn 2 I think. I ended up contesting his objective, and managed a slight victory. I managed to get a SoB squad over to kill off one of his squads sitting on his objective.

2nd Round: was JibJeb and the only named character of the tourney. Pedro found his way to the battle. there were 2 tac squads with lascannon, broken into combat squads. I think there were meltas in the other comabt squads. 2 rhinos, 10sternguard borken into combat squads. 1 squad with a missile launcher, the other squad with Pedro there was also a techmarine with a thunderfire in the building with a lascannon and missile launcher.
I honestly don't remember what the mission was. It had something to do with Troops being scoring, which I knew would be bad for me having 2 troops vs. his 6 troops. He also had the las cannons to mess up my exorcists.
to summarize... when you go for an agressive gambit to kill 2 combat squads and Pedro in rhinos in the center of the board, it helps to be able to crack open the rhinos. I think Pedro's rhino withstood 7-8 penetrates to it, and because of smoke, nothing happened to it. so Pedro's Sternguard and the other assult-y tac squad got out and beat the crap out of my girls, who were close to the rhinos now. I got massacarred.

3rd Round: after feeling badly beaten up, I played Iron. Iron plays Iron hands lists, I expected a lot of armor. There was an Ironclad Dread, an Assult Cannon Dread, a Las cannon/ ML dread, a Vindicator, and an autocannon pred. Then 2 5-man tac squads, and a Techmarine w/conversion beamer. and a Land Raider. gah. armor. lotsa armor.
it was a good game. the goal was to keep troops alive and scoring at the end of the game. I for the most part hid the girls behind a building, and used the Seras, cannoness, and Exorcists to beat up on stuff. I got a massacare. Iron had too few troops. I just had to kill his small squads, and keep mine. admittedly the troops in the Land Raider were tough to get to. He got the satisfaction of shooting the cannoness in the face with an autocannon, and taking her head off in a failed 2+ save.

4th Round: I played JumpShootJump, and his Tau. He was running 1hammerhead with railgun, 2hammerheads w/Ion cannon. 1 Devilfish, 1 Crisis suit leader, 4 squads of firewarriors, and a squad of pathfinders. we had 'L' shaped deployment zones. I had first turn. The Inq. Lord got the pathfinders to below 50%, and they ran away. the Seraphim were able to get a 1st turn charge because of the deployment zones, and made a firewarrior squad run, then got shot up by the other firewarriors. Cannoness ended up missing a charge by an inch, and getting eaten alive by rapid fire plasma rifles.
In the end, I had 2 troops sitting on uncontested objectives, he had 2 hammerheads, a devilfish, and a crisis suit left.

So, JibJeb got first, I got 2nd, and Zerkerboy / SandWyrm tied for 3rd. It was a good day. All had fun, I believe. We need to find the army that can survive Iron's horrible rolling.


Thursday, January 15, 2009

new year, back at it again.

I returned to the Game Preserve North after the Christmas gaming hiatus there, to see who had come back after Isen let us know it was game on again.

I should come up with callsigns for everyone. I will work on that.

I walked into the store to Graz and a new guy playing a game. Graz had his Chaos boys out (I think he had Thousand sons today), and the new guy was playing SISTERS!?! so I cheered the girls on. I didn't look too close, but he was using Hflamer/melta/combi flamers in squads. I think he had 4squads in rhinos, and 2squads of Seraphim w/flamers and braziers.... interesting. I know Graz won, but had accidentally put a Demon Prince in a rhino, which iritated the new guy to no end.

I'm not used to seeing other versions of my own army on the table, so when people do things differently, I'm not sure what to think.

I walked back to the back to find Gore's talarns playing a new-ish guy with Tau. The new guy had taken a few years off playing, and was getting back into it again. Even though they were on the table next to me, I don't recall who won. I think Gore. He was trying out his tourney list for this weekend, so I was trying not to look too closely at it, as I'm not sure what I'll play.

Isen and I squared off. He wrote up a 1000 pt list, and I pulled out the 1000pt GK list I've got. I haven't played the boys in Grey a lot.
Isen pulled up a Serpent with dual lances with Warseer, Exarch, and Avengers (yikes!), a 5-man pathfinder squad, Hawks, and a Falcon with 5banshees and an exarch. interesting.
I had a Brother Captain, 7vanilla GK's with Justicar w/targeter, 4GK's w/2 psycannon and justicar. Inq. lord w/psycannon, 2 mystics, plas cannon servitor, shelia the Callidus, and the big, Land Raider Crusader for the boys to ride in.

it was a pitched battle, 3 loot counters game. Isen got to choose sides, and go first. I had a building in my right hand deployment zone, and a hill on my left side. There was a giant power Generator (Warmachine terrain) in the center, and a hill on Isen's side on the left, and trees on the right side, across from my building.

Isen set his pathfinders up in the trees, and his tanks with cargo up behind the power station, in front of his hill.
I put the Inq. Lord on top of the 2story building, and the mini-purgation squad inside the building looking out. The BC and vanilla squad were behind the LRC, which was behind my building, to the right. I sieze no initiative.

Turn 1.
Isen moves, and shoots his pathfinders into the Inq. felling a support mystic, who concentrated too hard. His falcon and serpent move 18", If I remember correctly. not far enough to do a lot though.
my guys jumped into the LRC, and zoomed 12" forward, towards the pathfinders, waiting for someone to get out of their transport. hurricane Bolters fired at the pathfinders, and 1 drops, multimelta ineffectively towards a falcon. the psycannons don't do much to the falcon, and the inq. lord prevents the falcon from shooting.

Turn 2.
Isen's hawks come in, but miss with grenades. they land wide of the inq. but their shooting lights up the Inq. squad dropping all but the Inq. and the plas cannon. the falcon and serpent shuffle, waiting for an opening, with shots pinging off the LRC.
Shelia is apparently not done watching her TV show, and stays home. the mini purg. squad lights up the swooping hawks, and so does the inq. Lord. the Plas cannon hits, but the hawks get some cover from a power pylon. Swooping hawks freak out from all the shooting, and run.
the BC, and GK's get out of thier ride, in front of the pathfinders. a hurricane sponson killed off a pathfinder, and Stormbolters from the GK's kill off another, leaving 2 to assult. The multimelta on the LRC, stuns the falcon, making it not move or shoot. The charge from the BC and GK's kills off the pathfinders, and backs away from the banshees in their falcon.

Turn 3.
banshees stay put, the last 2 hawks run away. The farseer guides the Avengers, and the wave serpent moves up for a kill on the mini-purgation squad. The Avengers gun down the 2 GK's with stormbolters in a hail of shuriken fire, with the Justicar and psycannon brothers shrugging of the hail of finely crafted projectiles.
The Inq. Lord and plas cannon fire into the avengers now located behind their building, with the plas cannon taking a round to cool off from overheat. the purgation remnants move towards their new target, to deny any charge, and kill off a few avengers. The GK's charge the avengers, and force a push in CC.
the LRC moves closer to the stunned falcon, and hits with the multi-melta, destroying it. Then peppers the banshees with huricane fire. The GK's move towards the banshees, and unload stormbolters. The banshees make a lot of saves, and only loose 1 to the fire, with the GK's just not quite able to muster the charge on them. The banshees make a run for it.

The banshees regroup, and the fight with the GK's drags on. the Inq. Lord joins in, the GK's lose combat by 1, and make their fearless armor save.
The LRC polishes off the banshees. Shelia shows up at the Farseer's side, and stabs an avenger down. combat goes to a push, and we call the game. the GK squad in the center sitting on 2 objectives.

Banshees had me worried. I think Isen put together the list with the units he likes best, not necessarily with the best synergy in mind. Fire Dragons out of the falcon would have been scary for me.

Tuesday, January 6, 2009

movin right along...

whew. the Farmpunk family move to Indy is over. I think I survived. We're still digging out from under boxes, and trying to decide what we need (metal dollies), and what we don't (more shoes).

Work's been rough this week, as I've been completely in charge of the lab. My coworker's been ill. So only me to do what both of us did before. blah. at least I've got some time to kill while I do a sort, and wait for another customer.

With the move, I'm not sure I'm going to be able to get a game in this week. I'd like to. The Game Preserve North is starting up again, and there's a guy down south I'd like to buy old metal girls from.

we'll see what I can work out.

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