A Change In Direction

Monday, October 29, 2012

While Sandy doesn't appear to be changing direction, I've decided to put my hobby efforts into something other than 40k (and it's been long over due):

After a recent re-reading of the rulebook, I decided it was time to finish assembling my Cult of December and begin painting them. Nearly all of them have been pinned and attached to their appropriate Dragon Forge bases. The models are great but I was a little too heavy-handed with the soft metal on a couple, which then required some minor sculpting with green stuff to patch up. Nothing too difficult to deal with.

I don't have any pictures from this past week but maybe with this storm rolling into town this week I'll have some more time to document my progress. That will all depend on whether (weather) or not the power & internet stay on -- according to the forecast from a few moments ago when I checked, I live pretty close to where they anticipate this storm/hurricane to hit, so we'll see what happens. Either way, with or without power, I've got pleanty of models to paint and hopefully enough flashlights and firewood to paint by.

I just have to say, the second read through the rules everything seemed to click. Malifaux really is a great game and absolutely worth looking into if you're looking for a change of pace. The rules are air tight, no RAI vs RAW arguments, and the poker deck mechanic is awesome (especially if you're tired of losing on what seems to be the last dice roll). Fundamentally, it's a different game from 40k, but in a good way. You still have all the hobby elements of building and painting a crew, and despite having far fewer models, there is still a great deal of strategy involved and discovering all the fun & effective combo's with your toy soldiers. I can't wait to get my crew painted up and playing more games.

Thoughts on Necrons and 6th Edition

Friday, October 12, 2012

Let me start off by summarizing my thoughts on the 1750pt Necron list I used at a local tournament 2 weekends ago. Overall, I felt like it performed well for being a list made up of 'units that I own'; I purchased a few of the new kits for Necrons when they came out, but for the most part tried to keep the $$$ investment in this army to a minimum and use what I already had. I'm pleased with how the army looks on the table and also how it plays, but that being said, there are a few adjustments that could be made to "optimize" this list. None of this is groundbreaking advice, especially if you've played with or against the new Necrons, but I'm going to go through the exercise anyway ;)

The C'tan Shard needs to phase out of this list; the last time they were a worthwhile choice, that rule still existed. They look cool and I really wanted to get them to work in the new codex, but I just haven't found a way. That's not to say there isn't a way, but it'll take a better player than me to figure it out. Maybe if you teleport him in with a Monolith... but that's a ridiculously expensive combo with a whole new set of challenges. For the time being, the Nightbringer is getting shelved.

Next up, Wraiths. I need more of them in order for them to be effective. 3 just isn't enough. By the time I would reach close combat, I was usually down to 2 at most (and it was never the 2 with whip coils...) so then I found myself losing/drawing the assault, even to bog standard units like a space marine combat squad. I think upping this unit to 5 or 6 bodies would do the trick -- more wounds to go around and more attacks to get those juicy rending strikes.

The other fast unit in my army is Scarabs. While I originally planned to run more of them, they were the first unit I started subtracting from when I needed to free up points. The ability to generate more with Spyders makes this all too easy. And, hiding 3 bases out of LoS first turn so they don't die isn't that hard. They aren't great against close combat oriented units, but they absolutely melt armor and can make a decent tarpit for scary units if need be. 45 pts for 3 is a steal, and if I can free up more points I'll take a second squad. Combined with 3 Spyders, this combo is totally worth it as it can single handedly deal with mech, creates a huge distraction for opponents, and provides excellent counter attack for protecting my troops.

More Troops. Not much to say here other than I'd like to max out the Warrior & Immortal squads I have and add more units of them if I can. In my experience, Gauss has been superior to say Tesla Carbine Immortals, but ultimately the thing that makes these units is their staying power. Add a Resurrection Orb Lord to each if you can and watch your opponent's shooting become mostly ineffectual.

Also in the 'more' category: Tesla Destructors. Either with Annihilation Barges or Nightscythes as both are great choices. But wow, 90pts for an AB... almost makes you feel a little dirty with how good this is. Especially when it downs a 250pt Storm Raven in one turn, ouch!

Then there's Imotekh. I found him to be fun and useful -- he protects the rest of the army with Night Fight; seizes the initiative on a 4+; and his Lightning strikes can actually have a big impact on the game. I'll definitely be using him again, but there are a couple reasons he wont always make the cut. First is points. He did make his points back in about half of my games, but the other half you will miss those extra points you could have had by running a more cost efficient Overlord. Then there is the consideration of Allies. His lightning will strike against your secondary detachment if you bring one. Allies are a big deal in 6th edition, and I just tried them out for the first time in a 2500 pt game this past Monday. A lot of the pictures in this post are from that game. Here is what my list ended up looking like:

I was playing against Alex and his awesome looking Crimson Fists:

This was Alex's first encounter against Necrons since their new codex, so to say he was a little surprised by the rise in power level for the robots would be an understatement. I think a comment from a bystander during our game put it best: "It always pains me to witness a player experiencing the power of the new Necrons codex for the first time on the table."

Alex hadn't read the new codex or heard much about how they had changed, so we discussed some of the big stuff while we were unpacking our armies and setting up the board. Things like Entropic Strike, Whip Coils, Mindshackle Scarabs, rolling a 6 with Gauss and Tesla weapons, and how 'We'll Be Back' rolls can be taken against everything now unless the unit is wiped out... Man, when you mention all those things back to back, and consider points costs mostly went down in this book, they start to sound REALLY good, almost too good some have said.

This got me thinking about the drawbacks to the army; phase out rule is gone, so there goes the biggest one. They have unprecedented firepower, amazing survivability in the form of Reanimation Protocols/Ever Living, cheap access to a lot of AV13, and the best Flyer Transport in the game (for now). I think the only weakness is in close combat where Initiative 2 will mean you get wiped out if you lose combat and fall back. I agree that Warscythes are one of the best power weapons in the game right now, but you need the protection from Mindshackle or Whip Coils to guarantee that you can swing it.

Despite all of this, I still can't say they are too overpowered. As much as I wanted to believe that about Grey Knights after they came out, the evidence just isn't there to support a claim like that (these armies are not the only ones winning events). Sure, you find larger percentages of players bringing GKs and Crons to tournaments this past year, but I feel that is more because these armies are the new shiny kids on the block. I think you are going to see the same thing with future 6th edition codexes -- just wait and see how many Chaos and DA armies that will pop up in the coming weeks & months.

I will agree that these armies (GKs & Necrons) seem to have fewer weaknesses than older books and both have low-cost spamable power units, which as a result make them feel easier to play. My experience so far with Necrons in the handful of games I've played with them is that they are a more forgiving army in terms of tactical decisions -- certainly more so than my Space Marine Bike lists. But this is more a symptom of the game we play and how army updates roll out over time; what was new becomes old and what was once good becomes 'not so good' when compared to what follows. Each new release seems to trump the last, or "codex creep" as it is often referred to. This is even more apparent now because the game just entered into its 6th edition, so the gap between recent books that were written for 6th and older books that were written for 5th (or even 4th!) will feel much larger right now until more of the books are updated.

I've already gone way off on a tangent here, and much more could be said about this topic, but this much is true: while 6th edition is a different beast, the game as a whole has never had all army books perfectly or competitively balanced across the board from edition to edition. The great equalizer for any game like this (which is not chess) is to strive to have FUN. For some, this will be reading the backstory/fluff, building and painting the models, playing in tournaments with the latest and greatest redundant build, or whatever you make of it. When it stops being fun, change things up. I'm not going to worry so much about what army is "the most powerful"; inevitably, things will change. Even if it takes awhile between updates, people will get bored playing the same army or with an army that feels like it has training wheels.

We barely got halfway through this game, but what was FUN about it was seeing the spectacle of 5000pts of awesome looking models duking it out on the board. For me, I don't think that will ever get old!

Alex is a great opponent and we always have a good time. He was a good sport even though his dice were failing him miserably (and mine were as hot as the sun most of the time), the mission and deployment were not in his list's favor at all, AND he was still able to crack a smile even after driving his Land Raider towards my Scarabs ;) Now that's a stand up guy!

Till next time, don't forget to have fun!

Mini Blob's Tournament Recap

Saturday, October 6, 2012

Last weekend was the "mini" Blob's Park tournament at Dropzone Games (the official Blob's Park event will take place next spring and is supposed to be bigger and better than ever). Anyway, this tournament had a really good turnout and was 3 rounds at 1750pts. I had a great time and it seemed like everyone else did too! It felt really good to throw down with a fully painted list -- in a lot of ways, it didn't even matter how my games turned out; I just really enjoyed seeing these models in action after all the work that went into them.

Even still, the army performed well and with a few small tweaks and a little more practice, could do very well. Here's a brief run down on each of my games.

Round 1 was against a Pedro Kantor list with a couple of drop pods full of sternguard, a couple of vindi's, a stormtalon and a few other things. The mission/goal was to score a touchdown -- there was one objective placed in the center of the board and the goal was to capture it and run it into the opponent's deployment zone.

I seized with Immotekh's 4+, moved everything up then proceeded to strip a couple hull points with lightning. On my opponent's turn, he dropped a squad on top of the objective for an early grab then shot everything else at my wraiths, earning him first blood (although secondary objectives were not being used during the tournament).

My scarabs charge into the fortification to engage Pedro's unit that holds the objective, and holds them there for a couple turns waiting for reinforcements. Scarabs aren't nearly as effective against infantry as they are against armor, but I suppose they did alright as a tarpit considering they were the only fast unit I had left. The fail of the match goes to my Overlord (but ultimately to myself) for 1) not rolling a single hit against Pedro in the first challenge phase; 2) forgetting to use Mindshackle Scarabs; and then 3) forgetting that I had a Chronometron attached to the unit and could have rerolled the failed leadership check when I lost combat :(

As you can imagine, that was the turning point of the match. He continues to shoot up my left flank, eliminating the Spyders next. While I managed to regroup, I forgot that I can't launch an assault the same turn I regroup (what can I say, I'm used to playing marines) so I didn't put myself in the best position to recover and do some damage back. I should also point out that my Immortals were truly that... I was rolling extremely above average for my Reanimation Protocols. The Res orbs on my 2 lords and overlord were absolutely worth the points.

We make it through turn 4 when time is called. Minor defeat for me as my opponent controls the objective (football) but didn't make it into my deployment zone.

Round 2 I was up against a heavily mechanized Lamentors list; 11 tanks!

This mission was crazy! 9 objectives that formed a tic tac toe board with the goal to control more than your opponent; a major victory if you control more AND have 3 objectives in a row. My list was severely lacking in a game like this with only 3 total units that can capture objectives, so I had to be careful with my troops. Things started out great with Immotekh's lightning taking out 4 tanks and stripping a couple hull points off some other tanks. I send my wraiths and C'tan out to disrupt his line while my 3 troops secure the 3 objectives on the closer short side of the table.

We bang each other up for a couple more rounds...

Then something terrible happens...

What you're looking at here in this picture above is where my most expensive unit used to be standing, and the pitiful leadership roll of 9 that sent Immotekh, my Overlord, Harbinger of Eternity, and 8 man gauss Immortal squad running off the board at the hands of a 'Fear the Darkness' psychic attack (so they were LD -2). And yes, I again forget to reroll with my Chronometron...

That was pretty much it for game 2; I was down to 2 troops remaining that could capture and couldn't get to his objectives in time to contest. I did kill a lot more of his army than I thought I would, but a good portion of that was due to Immotekh's lightning; some games he more than pays for himself with that alone.

By the 3rd game, I was determined to not forget about the Chronometron. Round 3 was against a Blood Angels list with 2 Storm Ravens, a couple of Baal predators and some assault squads.

I was a little concerned about the Ravens.

So I had to make short work of the rest of his army that was deployed. By the time they showed up, I had put the hurt on everything except for one squad of jumpers.

My quad gun stuns 1 of the Ravens while my Annihilation barge takes care of clean up. These things are SO good for 90 pts. I even forgot to roll for Tesla Arcs the entire day and I still thought their damage output was amazing.

When time was called I had just taken over the 3rd and final objective while only 3 BA tactical marines survived. Unfortunately, they were able to run into range to engage me and contest the center objective, downgrading the victory from a major to a minor. Even still, I scored more battle/victory points in this 3rd game than I did in the first rounds combined!

Again, I had a great time and all my opponents were stand up guys! I can't wait for the real Blob's Park event, and by then I should be able to make a few small adjustments to this list. But I'll get into all of that later, this post is already long enough ;)