A breath of fresh air

Saturday, September 17, 2011

We're one week away from the Battle at Blob's Park tournament, and I can't wait! For starters, I absolutely love the fall; it's by far my favorite season. Crisp clean air, hoodies, most of the annoying bugs (mosquitos) die, the Renaissance Festival, good beer... the list goes on! Anyway, I'm hoping for some great weather next saturday at the event that features some tasty bbq, several kegs, and 100 of the top local gamers around, and that's just for the 40k event. The competition around here is quite high as this area, up until recently, was the main headquarters for GW in the US. Many in the local gaming club have repeatedly claimed the top prize at some of the biggest GTs in the country, so I'm expecting some really tough but awesome matches next week.

Even though many are some of the top competitive players, they are a really great group of people who haven't lost sight of the other ways in which people enjoy the hobby, and are extremely friendly and helpful to play with. I especially appreciate this as I've been out of the gaming side of things for quite awhile now; Nova was my first big step back into playing, and it was a great one! It's unfortunate to read some of the bigger blogs out there where the super competitive just come off like douchebags who think they are god's gift to gaming. It's sad to see some push this agenda / narrow view that everything in the hobby must be reduced to some formulaic, copy/paste, net-list BS in order to be taken seriously or avoid public ridicule. It's cool if this is how you choose to play the game, just understand, like most things in life, there's more than one way to approach it.

I was first drawn into the game because of the models and overall aesthetic. This is still the main factor for me when I make purchases to expand my armies; if I don't like the look of a unit to begin with I probably wont like playing it as much on the board, let alone spamming/maxing out said unit. Don't get me wrong, I spend a lot of time going through codices, building army lists, thinking about tactics on the tabletop and coming up with combos and effective synergies. In all honesty, I'm a fairly competitive guy myself -- I grew up playing on all sorts of sports teams, used to play chess competitively, and my family is the toughest group of Scrabble players on the east coast! haha
I do enjoy the competitive aspects and some of the more complex inner-workings of the game; it's one of the factors that keeps me coming back. But this wasn't my starting point, nor is it my frame of reference for everything 40k related. Awesome new models and gorgeous sculps keeps me coming back as well; those new Ogre models are even tempting me to jump into an entirely different game system! I know nothing of Fantasy Battle or how 'competitive' Ogres are, but I do know there's a high chance of me asking santa for some of those for christmas ;)

My point is we all get into the hobby and stay in (or leave!) the hobby for various reasons, none of which are more "correct" than others. Personally, I don't approach 40k with my super competitive side because that's not why I play; it's first and foremost a hobby, a pass-time, a fun stress-relieving activity that helps me relax. You don't have to have the same reasons and that's OK!

Anyway, I was going to talk a little bit about the list I plan to take to Blob's next week. I started with my Nova list then thought about making a few radical unit changes without deviating too far from the overall bike theme. Going through my collection, I discovered that somewhere along the way I had purchased six Scout Biker models (I know what you're thinking..."did he even read the scout bike entry in the codex!?") I admit, they don't exactly jump off the page, but since I already had some I thought I would see what I could come up with. They're on bikes so it fits with the rest of the army theme; they're scouts which fit with the Raven Guard theme; and the models aren't terrible. But there's obviously some downsides, and just to name a few, if these things were different or changed in the next edition I think you'd see a lot more people fielding them:

1) I wish they could be taken as troops instead of taking up a Fast Attack slot (I don't think it's unreasonable for the 'Mounted Assault' rule to extend to Scout Bikers).
2) In keeping with Scout fashion, let the bikers have the ability to be equipped with 2 close combat weapons! This one alone would be a game changer, in my opinion. I think the extra attack would mitigate the lower WS stat, much like the twin-linked bolter on the bike helps against the lower BS. This would open up a few more possibilities and make the unit far more flexible in their role on the battlefield; not to mention it would bring them more in line with their points cost, which would be the next biggest downside to them as they exist today.
3) Points. They are just too expensive a unit for what you get. So what do you get?

Here's what I was thinking with the 6 scout bikers I have... I would split them into two units of 3; equip the sergeants with combi-meltas and meltabombs to threaten enemy armor on turn 1. They do infiltrate which is awesome, and starting the game so close to the enemy with melta will definitely give your opponent something to think about during their deployment (they could also outflank). The grenade launcher option could be decent but I don't like taking away the twin-linked bolter when you need 4's instead of 3's to hit, and 10pts a pop isn't cheap when they will likely get eaten up early. Add in cluster mines, extra bodies or better equipment for the sgt, but then the overall points cost get a little too high for what is essentially a throw-away / distraction unit. After all the add-ons to make the unit more useful, I realized I could easily add on another regular bike squad that not only counts as scoring but is more durable and better equipped with actual melta guns.

So that's what I decided to do. One of the shortcomings of my Nova list was not having enough troops. In my game earlier this week I tried out taking more squads, just smaller sized (4 bikes + attack bike to total 5 models so they count as troops). I liked the way it played. I have more access to special weapons and attack bikes in this configuration. A unit of 5 are much easier to hide / maneuver around terrain and it also removes the combat squad rules confusion from the equation. With Khan in the list, I plan on outflanking at least 2 of the bike squads with 2 more starting on the table. Speaking of Khan, him teamed with a Chaplain and command squad is pretty devastating; just the close combat punch my army was lacking! In the end, my list wont be that much different; I'll still have the sniper scouts as well as the armor and threat from the vindicators. But this time I'll have more bikes, more scoring squads, a lot more melta, and a much bigger close combat hammer. This army will also be a lot easier to prepare as I only have to build a Khan model and a few bikes with meltas which will hopefully be finished up this weekend. I'm going to try and get one last practice game in before the tournament next saturday, which I also plan to do some coverage for.


  1. Hello!

    I'm also going to be at Blob's park next week! It's exciting to find another person who will be going other than my little group. Great article, I'm 100% with you on having different reasons to get into the hobby. Anyway, I'm the hulking giant (6'9", 270 lbs) Blood Angels player, so if you see me, say hello.

    -Brad Powers

  2. Hey Brad! Thanks for the comment; I'll definitely look for you next weekend and say hello. It should be a great weekend. I'll be the guy with all the bikes and most likely have a beer (or 2) in my hand, lol


  3. Hey, nice photos...

    I think you were halfway to winning that one at deployment, you played well and I was relying on feel-no-pain (which is awesome, but not good enough). We'll have to get a rematch in sooner or later.

    Good luck at Blobs!

  4. Thanks John! It was a good game and I definitely appreciated the extra practice with multiple IC's in close combat - I was pretty rusty with those rules as I normally rely on shooting. I also lucked out winning the first turn and getting to place my infiltrators in the middle like that. I really like the direction of your new list and FnP is awesome! Definitely keep going with that. My list just happened to have an inordinate amount of ap 1/2 weapons, which isn't all that common (especially all those plasma guns, haha). I'm up for a rematch anytime!