Wednesday, 26 October 2011

Apocalypse ~ Formation: The Battle of Traitors Gorge

Another formation review this week and again from the peculiar list GW has up online. Most interestingly this is the only multi-codex formation I know of (excluding homebrew stuff).

Kantor threw himself into the task of cleansing the remnants of the greenskin horde from the mountains of Rynn’s World. Yet in the depths of Traitor’s Gorge, a Warboss was crackin’ ‘eads together, forging the Ork survivors into a new warband. It was fortunate for Rynn’s World – whilst perhaps less so for Kantor – that one of the Chapter Master’s expeditions led him, by chance, into the teeth of this nascent army. Within moments the narrow ravine was thick with the blood of Orks, but Kantor was badly outnumbered. Kantor’s survival that day was only in part due to the valour and prowess of his Battle-Brothers. As the battle turned ill, a small group of Eldar from the Alaitoc Craftworld appeared from the shadows of the mountainside. Their uncannily precise shots lanced into the Ork flank and threw the greenskins into disarray, giving Kantor a chance to rally his Battle-Brothers and seize victory.

As with all formations, much of the fluff is an example description and never has it been more so than this formation which describes the past events of a single battle, while the formation can be used to represent a great many occurrences of Eldar intervening in others affairs .
Crimson Fist players may have noted the importance of the above exert. Rynn's World is of course the chapters homeworld and it was during the massive Ork invasion this battle occurred after that a freak accident resulted in the loss of their fortress-monastery.

Formation Makeup
The formation consists of two parts, one Space Marine and the other Eldar.
The first half is made up of Chapter Master Pedro Kantor, a Tactical squad, a Sternguard veteran squad and a Terminator squad. The second half is comprised of a Farseer and two-five units of Rangers with the option of a unit of Warp Spiders as well.
With the formation cost of 75pts, this gives the formation a minimum cost of 930, although since you'll be likely to include more than minimum size units, some wargear and transports it would certainly be more than that usually.

Formation Rules
This formation hasn't got the Strike Force rule to affect deployment, instead it uses two unique rules, one for the Crimson Fists and the other for the Eldar. After placing all the standard objectives, an additional objective is placed and all the Space Marine units in the formation must be deployed within 3" of it.
The Eldar are not placed on the board, nor are they treated as in strategic reserve. Instead they simply appear at the start of the players second turn, anywhere within 24" of Kantor, within 6" of another of the formations Eldar units.
Bringers of Doom has to be one of the more interesting and potentially powerful abilities about, it takes effect on two different circumstances. Firstly if an enemy unit is within 6" of one of the formations Space Marines and secondly whenever an enemy unit makes a shooting attack at one of said Space Marines. As soon as either ability applies, that enemy unit is treated as if under the effect of the Eldar psychic power Doom (allowing re-rolls to wound against them) until the start of that units next shooting phase!
However Bringers of Doom ceases to apply if the Eldar Farseer is slain and worse, if Pedro Kantor is slain the Eldar portion of the formation decide their presence is no longer needed and all simply disappear.

Thoughts, Opinions and final Review
While you could say its expensive, the formation cost is actually quite cheap and there aren't any required units you wouldn't usually be okay taking anyway (assuming you collect Crimson Fists and Eldar). This means the cost is actually pretty good.
The most interesting feature is that by the RAW the formation gives you an additional objective which you get to place, the enemy can of course attempt to take the objective but the Bringers of Doom ability will not make it easy for them to do so at all, especially when you consider that Bringers of Doom means if your Crimson Fists are in melee, they get re-rolls to wound (as if Kantor didn't make combat dangerous enough)!
In regards to the rest of the board, the Eldar Rangers appearance ability can allow them to appear in positions and support other sections of your army, protecting other objectives perhaps. Since they can form a charm rather than appearing in a clustered group you could perhaps support several.
Of course, you need to be extra careful to protect your characters. placing the Farseer at a distance from the enemy as part of a Ranger unit (for stealth) is obviously going to help, as it putting Kantor in a largish unit to give him some protection.
One last trick that comes to mind is purchasing the Tactical and/or Veteran unit a basic Rhino, which you can then use to move at full speed at enemy units, forcing them to suffer the effects of Bringers of Doom!

End Result
A nice formation if you've the models and perhaps a reason for a Crimson Fist player to invest in a handful of Eldar models, the potential is certainly worth it and the Eldar portion of the formation isn't that costly in points.

Tuesday, 25 October 2011

GW Teaser ~ Necrons

Short but sweet with a truly fitting music in my opinion, if this doesn't get your interest up then I don't know..

Saturday, 22 October 2011

Forgeworld New Releases ~ Land Raider Proteus & Relic Contemptor

More new releases from Forgeworld today.

Firstly we have the body for the Relic Contemptor, pictured left.

Given the rarity of the Contemptor-pattern chassis, it is not uncommon for those Chapters blessed enough to count these ancient war machines amongst their arsenal to embellish their armoured sarcophagus with scripture, honour scrolls and additional details to commemorate the heroism and indomitable valour of the Ancient enshrined within.

In addition there are two new weapon options for either Contemptor body. The claw arm as shown on the Relic Contemptor and a Multimelta.

The last release today is the Land Raider Proteus:
Mechanicus tech-savants believe that the Land Raider Proteus is a precursor to the Phobos pattern vehicle now found amongst the armouriums of the Adeptus Astartes.  Bulkier and faster than the Phobos, ancient and forgotten data-looms describe the Proteus as a forward assault vehicle, commonly fielded in Explorator missions during the dawning days of Mankind’s fledgling galactic empire.

Along with the model comes its experimental rules which I must say are rather interesting.
Downsides include a lack of an assault ramp and smaller transport capacity compared to the usual Land Raiders. The fact that it is an elite slot rather than a heavy could be taken either way. However the many pros are a slightly cheaper points cost, the Scout USR (pretty interesting this) and the ability to either assist your reserves or hinder the opponents.
Perhaps the most striking feature however is that it still has the benefit of Power of the Machine Spirit when taken in a chaos army (albeit under a different name).

Wednesday, 19 October 2011

Apocalypse ~ Formation: Deathstrike Vortex Missile

This week rather than go on about a general subject regarding Apocalypse, I thought I'd go into detail and give thoughts and a sort of review for a formation. So here we have the Deathstrike vortex missile..

Of all the myriad of weapons at the Imperium's disposal, few are as revered or as devastating as a Deathstrike vortex missile - a doomsday weapon of truly apocalyptic proportions. When the missile's warhead explodes, it tears the very fabric of reality, creating a raging maelstrom of destruction that destroys anything and everything it touches. So rare and valuable are these weapons that Segmentum Command must nominally sanction their use, but unleashing such a battlefield asset can swing the course of a war.

Sounds deadly, but before I go into thoughts and opinions I'll go through the rules.

Formation Makeup
The formation consists of a Deathstrike Missile Launcher, a single Lord Commissar and a minimum of one Infantry Platoon although you can add additional Infantry Platoon's if you wish.
This together with the expensive 200pt price tag of the formation upgrade, puts the formation at 560 points without additional wargear or special/heavy weapons on the units.

Formation Rules
The formation has special rules, the first of which being a restriction rather than advantage.
As with a lot of formations the restrictive rule is 'Strike Force', in this case all the units must be deployed within 6" of the Deathstrike Missile Launcher or enter the table within 6" of the point it does.
The second special rule is that the formation gains the Camouflage strategic asset (Units gain a 5+ cover save and vehicles count as obscured for the opponents first shooting phase), unfortunately by the wording only those units which make up the asset gain the bonus, not the whole army.
The last two special rules regard the Deathstrike Missile Launcher itself, firstly gaining a +2 bonus for determining when you can launch it as one would expect a higher level of maintenance and preparation compared to a standard Deathstrike missile. The second is of course the effect of the missile itself.
The missiles stats are completely different from a standard Deathstrike missile, its range has a minimum distance of 48", extending to unlimited (however if you use the house rule limiting such ranges to 72" then I strongly suggest allowing the 960" range of the normal missile for fairness). It is still treated as a one-shot ordnance barrage weapon (which is still unable to fire directly), however it uses the 10" apocalyptic blast marker.
Once the weapon has been fired and the blast marker placed however, you simply remove all models and removable terrain features that touch it (with the exception of flyers, gargantuan creatures and super-heavies). Unlike Destroyer weapons, this ignores eternal warrior, all forms of saves and other special rules etc and does not require a roll of vehicle damage charts at all. Gargantuan creatures take D6 wounds with no saves of any kind allowed and super-heavies lose D3 structure points.
Last but by no means least, you leave a 3" marker in place which acts like the Vortex Grenade strategic asset.

Thoughts, Opinions and final Review
While I've actually built up this formation for fun I actually feel it to be very lacking. On first glance and basic calculation it is immensely powerful and I expect a lot of people who have seen the formation list or read the above are thinking it to be so, perhaps even exclaiming it to be overpowered.
Before explaining my dislike I'll clear up the parts that I do, obviously the fluff and background behind it are wonderful and the vortex missile will forever be considered an iconic weapon for many players. I also really like the formation makeup, as I've never felt it right to field super-heavies or similarly powerful vehicles without a number of infantry to protect it, both fitting real-world ideas acting as spotters against ambush in battle and the gameplay role of preventing opponents getting within melta range or close combat. The Lord Commissar watching over the vehicle to prevent trouble in the ranks fits wonderfully.
Why don't I like it then? Well in truth the weapon is extremely flawed, firstly while it does gain a bonus for determining when it can fire, it still cannot fire on the first turn and at best has a 3+ chance of happening on the second allowing the enemy plenty of time to prevent it firing at all (especially when flyers, flank-march asset users and suchlike exist on the battlefield). This also restricts your tactics, as you'll have to keep your units distant from the area near your intended target for several turns.
Secondly, the Camouflage asset. With the 48" minimum range you'll be distancing yourself from the enemy and will have armed the Infantry Platoon for range accordingly. As such, terrain permitting, you'll have deployed in cover anyway and the Deathstrike itself has Smoke Launchers, so in truth the special rule is really only sparing you a turn of using smoke.
The range is also punishing, since you cannot fire on the first turn. Even if the opponent doesn't have units able to strike at the launcher before it can fire, he has the option of simply getting his most valuable units within 48" in the turn or two before the weapon is able to shoot.
Lastly is the points cost, no matter how powerful it is you cannot deny that since the Commissar & Platoon will be trying for actual cover all the points are going towards the Deathstrike Missile Launcher itself resulting in a single tank for 360pts. For a one-shot weapon that can be taken out by a reasonably clever opponent before it can fire, it being only armour 12/12/10, that is a lot! At best you can hide it behind other friendly tanks (remember that the missile itself does not count as part of the hull and is ignored for determining if the vehicle can be shot) but that doesn't help against flyers etc.
As for the power itself, unless the enemy is cramped together or you happen to get a shot at a formation command unit (Masters of the Chapter, Ulthwe Seer Council etc) you're unlikely to actually make up the points.

End Result
I'm not saying it isn't extremely powerful, just that it is far from reliable if against a clever opponent (or even with bad luck as you can simply miss since its barrage). I would have expected the formation to be cheaper or having something extra but there we are.
Very fun to use but once word gets around, you'll likely never get a chance to fire it again.

Monday, 17 October 2011

Raven Guard & Grey Knights Vs Orks ~ Battle Report

Before I get into the report, I'll begin with a little backstory.

A friend and I are planning to attend an upcoming doubles campaign/tournament at Warhammer World and have thus been undergoing a couple of practise games recently, both to test how our lists work together and of course how we do together ourselves.
In previous tests we've done well with only very minor mistakes in teamwork, this game shows us working well except for one rather obvious mistake on my behalf. *laughs*

The upcoming event requires teamed players to build a 750pt army each with a required HQ and Troops choice, so that together they fit on a single force organisation chart. Quick thinkers will already realise that unlike the standard FOC this requires the army to have a minimum of two HQ as well as two Troops.

This game was planned to involved an allied imperial force consisting of 750pts of James' Raven Guard Scouts and 750pts of my Grey Knights, against which another friend of ours, Richard, would be pitting 1,500pts of his assembled Ork horde.

Allied Imperial Force
James' Half:
James designed the core of his force for me to build around before we got down to discussing details and alterations. Before this game he had included an Autocannon Dreadnought in place of the Scout Bikers, yet for this game he wanted to test his Scout Bikers, partly due to his Dread having little use in a previous game but mostly as he'd recently acquired the unit and wanted to try them on the battlefield.

Master of the Forge - Conversion Beamer

Scout Squad - Additional Scout, Missile Launcher, Sniper Rifles, Camo Cloaks

Scout Squad - Additional Scout, Missile Launcher, Sniper Rifles, Camo Cloaks

Scout Squad - Five additional Scouts, Missile Launcher, Mix of Sniper Rifles & Shotguns

Land Speeder Storm

Scout Biker Squad - Cluster Mines, Astartes Grenade Launcher, Combi-flamer, Meltabomb


My Half:
Since I knew James was going with a heavily ranged force, I'd decided upon Grey Knights since I feel a mid-long range force would compliment his force well. In my original list I included a Psy-Bolter Razorback for one of the Strike Squads, which I decided to swap out for a lone Paladin for this games test.

Inquisitor Malcolm Elderflower - Power Sword, Rad Grenades, 3x Servo-skulls
6x Death Cultists
> Chimera - Heavy Bolter & Heavy Flamer

Vindicare Assassin

Paladin - Nemesis Force Halberd

Strike Squad - Psycannon

Strike Squad

Dreadnought - 2x Twin-Autocannons, Psybolt Ammunition

Richard's Army
Richard has admittedly only been back into 40k for a month or so, having last played back around 2nd/3rd edition beforehand. As such this game was as much for him to learn & practise as it was for James & I to prepare for doubles.
He has yet to really settle on any regular units, with the exception of Lootas which he does rather well with. This game was his first time trying Burna Boyz, Slugga armed boyz or a Deffdread.

Warboss - Bosspole, Power Klaw, Twin-Shoota

Weirdboy - Warphead

8x Burna Boyz

5x Lootas - 1x Mek

5x Lootas - 1x Mek

6x Ork Nobz

30x Ork Boyz - 2x Big Shootas, 1x Rokkit Launcha

30x Ork Boyz - 2x Big Shootas, 1x Rokkit Launcha

5x Deffkoptas - 5x Twin-Rokkit Launchas

Warbuggy - Armour plates, Red Paint Job

Deff Dread - Big Shoota, Rokkit Launcha, Armour Plates, Grot Riggers

2x Killer Kans - Armour Plates & Skorchas

Terrain & Mission
The board was an urban 6'x4' field upon which we'd placed a number of ruins, seven of turned out the shape the game. Two relatively intact buildings were placed near each of the long edges with the other three ruins along the central line, from what turned out to be my point of view these were a large mostly collapsed ruin slightly off centre to my left, a half intact ruin on the other side of the central city square, separating the right end of the board where another heavily rubbled section lay.
Dice rolls revealed we'd be Seizing Ground in a Pitched Battle with three objectives, one of which was placed in the central square near some walls with the other two in the buildings to its left and right.

Richard won the roll off and elected to go second, so James & I prepared for deployment, taking only a small break for me to position my servo-skulls and for us to briefly discuss James' Cluster Mines which were secretly noted to be set in the collapsed ruin to our left of the central square.
James positioned his Whirlwind behind the walls on our side of the central square, in front of which I placed my Psycannon unit, Paladin and Dreadnought. I then deployed my other strike squad and chimera covering the clear ground on the far side of the left ruin and James decided to combat squad his largest unit, placing the ranged half on the balcony of the left half of our deployment zone with his Master of the Forge, above which on the next floor I placed my Vindicare Assassin. Lastly James placed his Speeder on our right flank, within which the shotgun armed combat squad sat ready.

Richard placed his Deffdread, Deffcoptas, Burna Boyz and Warboss across from my Chimera, supported by one of the Loota units in a ruin. His weirdboy was placed near the central square with one of the boyz mobs, with the Nobz nearby and the other Loota's supporting from behind in the other ruin. Against our weak right flank he placed his second boyz mob, the Killer Kans and Warbuggy.

When it came to deploying Infiltrators (the phase James dominates) he used both his smaller scout units and bikes to support our right flank, placing one unit in the building near the central square with the ruin near our table edge, with the bikers between the two.
James won the scouts roll off and raced his bikers against the right edge of the board, Richard then considered his options for his Deffcoptas, however my servo-skulls had not left him with many so he decided to turboboost them to a position central to his board edge.

Turn One
Richard failed to seize initiative, so after I moved my Grey Knights forward and James moved his fast units into better ranged positions we began our shooting with the Raven Guard dropping a mass of blast markers upon the Ork ranks reducing their numbers. On our left the strike squad and Chimera cut a number of the Burna Boyz apart, while the Dread cut down a number of the Ork Nobz despite their cover. The Vindicare fired a turbo-penetrator round, yet found himself less than an inch out of range to the Deffdread. Fortunately for the imperials both the Burnas & Nobz failed their leadership tests and fled back off the board.

Taking the loss of two units so early quite well, Richard began his advance.
Even tho his forces on our left side now consisted of only his Warboss and Deff Dread they started forward while the Deffcoptas led the way into the central square followed by the Weirdboy mob, both setting their sights upon my Dreadnought since the Orkish psyker had generated the powerful Zzap anti-tank power.
Shots from the Deffdread and Warboss dropped two of the Grey Knights who held fast, whilst the combined psychic bolt and mass of rokkits tore into my Dreadnought tearing both arms off and rendering it immobile and unable to affect the game further.

On turn one, with a roll of a one my Weirdboy started to shake and his eyes bulge with the raw power. The boyz next to him were taking cover behind all the rubble nearby and thanking that their trousers were already brown! Just when the weirdboy was about to explode and take half the surrounding mob with him he used his warphead training to control his powers and form his anti tank physic blast with a roll of a 3! ~ Richard

After our first turn I was feeling we might manage to clear the Orks out faster than expected, yet the effective destruction of my Dreadnought in his turn left me far less sure... ~ Elle

Turn Two
James continued to maintain range on the right flank, whilst I moved forward centrally moving my Psycannon squad towards the Deffcoptas and the lone Paladin towards the Weirdboyz unit. Over on the left flank I decided to move the Chimera full speed towards the central square whilst the remaining Strike Squad moved into the collapsed ruins to gain cover from the Deffdreads Rokkit, however shortly after I'd finished moving James gave a groan of despair and reminded me that it was that area which his Bikers had booby-trapped.
Accepting my foolish mistake, much to Richards amusement James made his rolls, with the blast causing an impressive eight wounds. Luckily I was able to roll a more impressive series of armour saves leaving the Grey Knights unscathed but rather embarrassed.
Shooting began with the Paladin calling forth a Holocaust upon the Weirdboyz mob, killing eight and leaving around a third of their original number. My central strike squad opened fire with their Psycannon and Stormbolters causing one of the Deffcoptas to crash to the ground, however my Vindicares supporting shot failed to wound.
James had managed to reduce the number of boyz on the right flank a little yet had unfortunately failed to make a dent in the vehicles, elsewhere his Master and units fire managed to shake the Deffdread, making my earlier mistake unnecessary. His Whirlwind however flew off course and failed to bother the Lootas.
In the assault phase my Paladin found himself just out of range, however my central Strike Squad threw themselves upon the Deffcoptas. Deciding to activate the units Force weapons rather than use Hammerhand I managed only three hits, yet luckily this was enough to wound twice. My luck continued as Richard proceeded to fail to kill anything with his attacks and then fail his morale check and get run down.

I think this may have been the first time my Strike Squads have proven themselves capable of combat, I can see why I've heard worry over their Force Weapons ~ Elle

By now the Ork lines had met heavy resistance everywhere except for the relatively out of sight section along our right flank, which continued forward led by the Warbuggy which sped well into the imperial deployment zone. Over near the central square, the Weirdboy found himself charged with the Frazzle power and decided to lead his mob clambering over the walls towards my Strike Squad near the objective rather than the lone paladin. At the same time Richards Warboss closed in on my other Strike Squad as they were composing themselves.
When it came to shooting, Richard's Lootas manage to drop a scout each as the big guns from his boyz mob on the right flank opened fire upon the Scout Bikers, slaying all but the sergeant. His Weirdboy was lucky enough to blast my Psycannon armed warrior into oblivion, yet his luck fell through when it came to assault as the walls prevented the boyz getting in. Richards Warboss however managed to charge the other strike squad, who activated their force weapons yet failed to land a wound, in return the Warboss' Power Klaw cut all three down with ease leaving the Ork to climb atop the highest pile of rubble to celebrate.

Turn Three
Hearing the Orks yells, Malcolm Elderflower and his retinue of Death Cultists piled from the back of their chimera and rapidly took positions surrounding the boss. In the central square my Strike Squad and Paladin both turned on the Weirdboy. Knowing his remaining bike was useless against the approaching Killer Kans, James had him turbo-boost off round into the central square.
Entering the Shooting phase, mass shotgun fire from the back of the speeder shook the Warbuggies crew, although the speeders Heavy Bolter failed to damage the Killer Kans. In desperation the forward scout group fired upon the Killer Kans to no avail, leaving the unit helpless in the face of the Ork's return fire.
Centrally the Whirlwind again missed its mark and failed to hit any of the Ork Lootas, while my Strike Squad and Paladin blew apart a number of the remaining boyz and wounded the Weirdboy.
The Vindicare turned his sights back on the Deffdread and with two rolls of one failed to hit, gah!
In the assault phase the death cultists threw themselves upon the Ork Warboss as the Grey knights struck at the Weirdboy and his unit, neither combat lasted long with no Ork getting a single attack off.

While he was proving strong on our right flank, Richard was now left with only his Loota squads and Deff Dread elsewhere on the board, yet he played on with the Deffdread moving ever forward. On the other end of the field the Killer Kans followed suit, followed by the mass of Orks behind them.
Richard again proved uncannily accurate at shooting, yet our saves mostly held out with the Deffdread slaying a scout and the Lootas slaying another in a different unit.
As expected the Killer Kans unleashed their Skorchas, melting all but one of the scouts on the right flanks objective, luckily for the remaining man, who held position, the Ork Boyz failed to finish him off and the Kans were unable to get through the difficult terrain to assault.

Turn Four
Centrally my strike squad fell back to the objective as the Paladin started in the direction of Ork Boyz on the right flank yet found himself overtaken by James' remaining Scout Biker.
On what remained of our right flank the surviving lone scout near the objective moved away slightly, forcing the Killer Kans to enter the difficult terrain if they wanted to flame him, while the Speeder fall back towards our edge beyond range of the Skorchas if they went that way.
Shooting began with the Whirlwind missing the Lootas for the third time. The Biker fortunately was able to avoid this problem against his target by using the flamer on his combi-bolter, which managed to slay seven of the Orks who had not expected the attack. Behind him the Paladin failed its psychic test however and was unable to lend support where needed. Elsewhere on the right flank the Warbuggy managed to ignore the shotgun fire this time around as the Speeders Heavy Bolter managed to cut down one of the Ork Boyz, yet many remained.
Fire from the Master of the Forge and the missile launcher with him cut down two of the Lootas opposite them and in the central square the strike squad opened fire on the other Lootas, killing three. The Vindicare also managed his first effective hit during the game, yet still only managed to immobilise the Ork Deffdread.
With shooting over and little else to do the Biker threw himself into combat and managed to slay an Ork before he was torn from his saddle and ripped apart.

Knowing that he at best could scrape a draw and that even for that he would need for his Boyz to survive the Paladin and reach the objective, Richard decided it would be better to concede now to pack up and head home to appease his girlfriend.

The Result: Conceded
While disappointed to have yet another game which didn't reach its actual end, I can understand Richard conceding as while his Killer Kans had proved unstoppable the rest of his force had dwindled away to very little remaining.

Not entirely unexpectedly Richards shooting had proved impressively accurate for Orks (better than I'd expect of my guard usually), yet his numbers dwindled too fast for him to bring any real power to bear. I do feel sorry that he didn't get to test his Burna Boyz (I both love and fear them, hehe) and feel his playstyle did better with shoota armed boyz, so he might need to rethink his style when using slugga boyz.
His Killer Kans proved a real nightmare for James who in hindsight perhaps may have been better off abandoning the right flank to them and racing his speeder far across the board towards the objective which neither side had the units nearby to claim.

I'll begin by saying I'm glad I had previously agreed with James that his Dread would be better than the bikes in the Tournament. They did not do badly in the game, yet my foolish mistake with the booby traps just proved that while good for his army of relatively immobile or skimmer units, they are not the best choice for a double game where your ally already has a number of considerations.
Additionally a second autocannon dreadnought would have been wonderful since it would have been able to cut through the Killer Kans and similar units, especially since mine got disabled on the first turn.
As usual my Vindicare seems to be rather hit and miss, performing amazingly well in some games yet barely being effective in others. If I had the model built I'd consider replacing him with another Dread for the tournament.
The Paladin proved strong however and if James decides to use his Dreadnought in our final list, I think I'll use him in place of the Razorback. Perhaps with a Daemon Hammer for vehicles..

Wednesday, 12 October 2011

Apocalypse ~ Strategic Assets

My first continuation of what could possibly become a regular feature on Igota4.

After going over the concept of Formations in Apocalypse and my thoughts on them last week I thought I'd discuss the basic idea and tactics behind Strategic Assets this time.

People seem to give far less attention to these than they do their formations or legendary units when discussing Apocalypse games, which is understandable from a modelling standpoint but from a competitive or army list standpoint it seems rather odd.

As before I personally feel Apocalypse should be about making use of your collection in ways you wouldn't usually, whether by fielding things you wouldn't normally, forming them into a formation or just fielding everything you have for one huge attack. Alternatively it should be able the story, which is where special missions, home-brew items and umpired games tend to appear.
This doesn't mean it shouldn't be somewhat competitive and challenging. You perhaps shouldn't build a highly tuned and designed list as you would a tournament, since your opponent is likely using whatever models they have together (by all means pick a force that fits together tho, don't just take whatever). Instead the competitiveness should come by making the best use of what you end up using.

Strategic Assets then, all too often I see these taken as a gimmick or last minute "that seems kool" idea with little to no thought on how it affects the strengths or weaknesses of the force you'll be using. At times I've even seen selections which totally go against or mess up the game plan you'd typically use for your force. So my first golden bit of advice is:

Always keep your list in mind when selecting Assets.

Careful Planning is a common one, selected by people wishing to get their stuff on the field as soon as possible. In my area it seems rare for a player to try and purposely hold troops back, which is a shame as there are so many possibilities with this (grabbing objectives with less risk of destruction for one).
Worse is the player who selects careful planning in order to bring their units on early instead of deploying, since they intend to bid a single minute in order to gain the first turn. Okay this works with some armies, but when you intend to use devastators or similar it is detrimental. Especially as unless you are a fast paced force like Dark Eldar it allows the opponent to make a grab objectives in the no mans land or your deployment zone easily.

Selecting Assets without considering your list or plan just gets worse if you are able to select more than one asset or if you've gained a few extras already from any formations. A number of Assets simply don't work well together, so my second golden bit of advice is:

Keep in mind your other Assets when making selections.

Selecting Flank March and Scheduled Bombardment may give your opponent a bit shock, but if you are not careful your own troops will be in the opponents deployment zone where your bombardments are landing.
On the other hand a number of Assets work really well together, for example if you intend to use Flank March for a large portion of your force then Careful Planning will mean that large portion is on the board when needed.

My third golden bit of advice applies when playing as part of a team, whether against a single opponent or another team. That piece of advice is:

Check how your Assets affect your allies.

Careful Planning, Hold at All Costs and a great number of other Assets only affect the player that selected it, not his team members. Others such as Recon affect all models on one side, making them more worthwhile in teamed games. Lastly, some like Vital Objective and Scheduled Bombardment should definitely be mentioned to your allies so they can take them into account during play.

Monday, 10 October 2011

Rules Intrigue

We've all come across rules intrigue before... Such as how does this rule interact with that rule and unfortunately I've seen players valiantly defend the result which favours them despite the way the rules actually seem written.

Before I get started however, credit where its due: The idea behind this article was inspired by Natfka's Rules of Our Game posts over on Faeit 212.

My greatest dislike when players begin defending certain results over the rules (whether it favours them or not) is the claim of 'realism', such as the commonly phrased 'realistically in that situation this would happen'.

Two things I quite certain of in this regard are as follows:
* Claiming to know what is realistic in a fantasy world with heavily advanced technology and arguably different physics (Psykers, the Warp etc to say the least) comes across as rather silly.
* As with many common arguments regarding the game (fluff for example), realism is entirely subjective and can be explained in multiple different ways which all seem 'real' from different angles.
I'll explain my second point by detailing two sides of a conversation regarding assault grenades.. Person A was explaining how assault grenades only apply to the model carrying it because realistically they can't pass out grenades to the whole unit he joins and take them back when he leaves, even if he could carry enough grenades on his body. Person B responded that realistically assault grenades are designed to flush the enemy out of cover so they don't have an advantage over the attacker, in which it isn't realistic for the grenades to only assist him.
Arguably they could both be correct, but the RAW (rules as written) state the assault grenades only benefit the model armed with them, so that is what actually matters.

This post however is to detail a number of other such situations I've come across which result in what I call Rules Intrigue. I'll include some comments on how I see the RAW and how I would personally play if the situation would arise. Of course I could be wrong (all the more intrigue), so I welcome comments.
Some are more clear than others and less intriguing but still interesting I feel.

Meltabombs Vs. Ceramite
What penetration do you roll for Meltabombs against things such as Storm Ravens which are detailed as being immune to the Melta rule?
This obviously arises as some FW vehicles note they are not subject to the Melta special rule and the Ceramite Plating rule for Storm Raven's detail that melta weapons do not gain the extra D6 armour penetration.
The section on Meltabombs in the rulebook however does not note them as having the Melta rule and make no mention of an additional +D6, they simply seem to roll 2D6+6 instead of the usual D6+Str penetration rule.

Turbo-Penetrator round Vs. Wave Serpent
What penetration do you roll for a Vindicare's Turbo-Penetration round against a Wave Serpents front/rear armour?
The Wave Serpent's Energy Field rule notes that ranged attacks never roll more than +1D6 for their armour penetration, while the Turbo-Penetrator round reads a turbo-penetrator shot has an Armour Penetration of 4D6.
My interpretation of the RAW here is that the turbo-penetrator round isn't adding any D6's, but is completely rewriting the standard penetration value (The usually 3+D6), as evidenced by the 3 no longer applying and thus technically the round isn't getting the initial +D6 let alone anymore. As such I'd say the turbo-penetration rolls 4D6, however I would say the energy field prevents any bonus D3's from Rending. Opinions please?

Hades Breaching Drill Vs Units in Cover
Does a unit in area cover gain a cover save against the blast effect from a Hades Breaching Drill arriving from reserve, considering that the arrival causes the removal of terrain features under the blast?
This highly puzzled me, there is nothing in the RAW to allow or disallow the cover save and no real note on whether the terrain is removed before, after or at the same time as units are hit. Luckily this is one I wrote to Forgeworld about and received a reply stating: The rules as written are indeed slightly ambiguous, and we’ll cover this in an FAQ next time we update the document online. Cover Saves DO apply, representing models diving aside, or behind rocks etc, but the terrain piece itself does not benefit and is removed at the end of the Shooting phase.
Brings back images of old cartoons where they'd hide behind a rock, which would subsequently collapse to dust with them safely behind it, hehe.

Night Shields Vs Inferno/Infernus Pistols
Can Inferno/Infernus pistols make use of the Melta rule against Dark Eldar vehicles with Night Shields?
This arises since the Night Shields wording of reducing the range of the weapons of enemy units wishing to fire at the vehicle by 6" along with the section noting The extra distance is also counted for working out if the vehicle is in rapid fire range, half range for melta shot, and so on means that Meltagun's cannot gain an additional D6 for being within half range. However it also says Night Shields have no effect on template or barrage weapons, as well as weapons with a maximum range of 6" or less.
To me this is quite clear tho I've had responses otherwise (usually with the realism reasoning), the Night Shield has no effect on Inferno/Infernus pistols and thus when within 3" they do get the +D6 additional penetration.

Night Shield Vs Conversion Beamer
Does a Night Shield affect the profile (Str/Ap) of a Conversion Beamer?
Those familiar with a Conversion Beamer are no doubt aware that it gains in power the further away your target is, from Str6 Ap-, through Str8 Ap4 all the way to Str10 Ap1. I won't repeat the Night Shield rules again but one can easily see how this question arises.
This one I found quite fun and interesting. It can be said that as a Conversion Beamer's profile is calculated after rolling scatter that the Night Shield has no effect, weapons are allowed to scatter beyond their maximum range. However Conversion Beamers are an exception since if they scatter to a point more than 72" away they automatically miss which defeats this argument.
Personally I find the argument is that since the table for the Conversion Beamer has a column titled 'range' (which matches the wording for the Night Shield), that Night Shields would affect the profile of the Conversion Beamer, which is rather unfortunate as the Night Shield actually weakens the vehicle in this case.

Soul Trap Vs Saint Celestine
Can a Dark Eldar character with a Soul Trap take the test to double his strength by killing Saint Celestine and if yes, when and how many times?
Soul Trap is worded Whenever the bearer kills an enemy Independent Charecter, yet this question arises based on when (if ever) do you count Saint Celestine as being killed? For the purposes of this question we'll assume that Saint Celestine is an Independent Character despite the WD Codex being uncertain on that regard.
Another fun one, my first thought was the Grey Knight FAQ which notes that Justicar Thawn counts as being killed for the purposes of rules like Power from Pain the first time he is reduced to 0 wounds after he has left his unit. By this one can easily assume that Saint Celestine (whose ability works virtually identical to Thawns) does count as being killed, but only the first time it occurs for such rules.

Flat Out Destruction Vs Skies of Blood / Grav Chute Insertion
Are units inside Storm Ravens, Valkyries or Vendettas removed as casualties if their transport is destroyed after moving Flat Out?
By now I assume that everyone has seen the FAQ regarding transports being destroyed after going Flat Out, if not I'll include it now:
Q: If a transport vehicle is destroyed in the same turn as
it moved flat out what happens to any embarked
models? (p70)
A: They are removed as casualties.
This FAQ is due to the fact that the Fast Vehicle rules prevent units from embarking or disambarking from vehicles which have gone flat out, which thanks to the FAQ has ben clarified to also include forced disembarkation from vehicle destruction, although the FAQ doesn't actually explain this reasoning. However Skies of Blood & Grav Chute Insertion both begin with If the <Storm Raven/Valkyrie> has moved flat out passengers can still disembark.
If the FAQ had explained its reasoning as above, then this would be a definite no they are not destroyed. I'm still inclined to say that this is the case, which would go a long way to explaining the existence for those rules as I've rarely seen them used in other cases.

Warp Quake Vs A lot of things..
Does Warp Quake affect units disembarking from a Valkyrie/Vendetta using Grav Chute Insertion? Units disembarking from a Storm Raven using Skies of Blood? Librarians using The Gate of Infinity psychic power?  Callidus Assassins appearing via Polymorphine? - And if so, how does it?
This question is based off the Warp Quake section noting any enemy unit deploying by Deep Strike within 12" of the squad (after scattering) will automatically suffer a Deep Strike mishap.
Unfortunately at first glance (and quite bizarrely) the answer seems to be yes in most of those cases. Skies of Blood & Grav Chute Insertion both note that you deploy the squad as if it were deep striking onto that point and Polymorphine notes The Callidus Assassin in then placed anywhere within 3" of that unit using the Deep Strike rules, but does not scatter both of which could be translated as deploying by deep strike. The Gate of Infinity would be an exception as it simply notes removed from the tabletop and immediately placed back together anywhere within 24" using the Deep Strike rules which cannot be interpreted as deploying at all, this is rather strange as fluffwise you'd assume things to be the other way around.
I don't really agree with such translations for the Storm Raven/Valkyrie however. Personally the as if it were deep striking section of Skies of Blood and Grav Chute Insertion mean they are not affected by Warp Quake. I can't even see the Callidus as being affected as the wording of placed rather than deployed affects it. Of course in both these examples, the simply question of 'How would the mishap rules work?' suggests Warp Quake can't affect them, is doesn't make sense for Warp Quake to freeze a unit in midair (the delayed result) or blow them along (the misplaced result), nor can one assume that Warp Quake allows a Callidus Assassin to have her disguise reaccepted after she has killed members of the unit (delayed result) or somehow have killed her victims from a huge distance (the misplaced result).
The Gate of Infinity is obviously safe from affect anyway by its wording and due to my reasons in the last paragraph I don't believe the other rules would be affected either.

Doom Vs Friendly Units
NOTE: This one came to my attention moments after I finished this article when a friend of mine texted saying a temporary staff member filling in at our local GW suggested the tactic. I'll first say I've less trust in GW store staff than it seems the majority of people online, tho the usual manager is very kool.
Onto the actual Intrigue, the suggestion was an alternative use of the Doom psychic power available to Eldar Farseers where you cast the power upon one of your own units to force the opponent to reroll successful to wound rolls.
I'd normally disregard such an idea but as it came from a GW employee (even if just a replacement while the usual manager is on holiday) I feel I should give it some thought. Part of the wording for doom is The Farseer can target any non-vehicle unit within 24" which means there is nothing to stop you casting it upon your own units in the RAW, despite the fluff sentence beforehand explicitly stating enemy (would such fluff count as RAW?). Doom's wording continues saying All hits caused upon that unit gain a re-roll to wound until the start of the next Eldar turn. Presumably the mans point was that it doesn't state that it is unsuccessful rolls that are re-rolled and on pg2 of the main rulebook it states pick up the dice you wish to re-roll.
By the RAW however I would say this tactic is illegal as it will be the person making the attacks who would get to choose what dice to re-roll and thus, Doom'ing your own units will (unsurprisingly) bring about their doom as he will choose to re-rolls those that failed.
Additional Thoughts: This brings two other ideas to mind however... If you can choose what to re-roll, there is nothing preventing you from re-rolling some successful wounds to keep the enemy alive (In an attempt to keep your unit in combat when it comes to the enemies turn) or even re-roll successful wounds that aren't 6's with Rending attacks. *bites lip* Opinions people?

There are a few more I could list, but as many of them regard Necrons I'm going to not include them and optimistically assume discussion is not needed as they'll be updated soon.
Rather foolish of me I'll admit.

One last note, I'd planned this to be up over the weekend but unfortunately other issues took up my time as I was in charge of running a LARP event sunday which was my top priority.. Things went well and everyone had a good time and we all received the usual amusingly high number of beatings *laughs*

Wednesday, 5 October 2011

Apocalypse ~ Thoughts on Formations

A number of my friends are highly keen on Apocalypse and I've regularly discussed the subject with them, as such as I'm trying to post more regularly I'm considering a regular (perhaps weekly) post about it.
As a start I thought I'd consider Formations as a whole, such as are they needed and why?

Originally I thought that Apocalypse was designed primarily as a means to use large model collections, add some more flavour and interest to your games and allow the use of things not normally allowed (such as Super-Heavies). Over time however it seems some strange things have popped up, one I'd like to discuss is why the high focus on formations when building an apocalypse force?
I'm not saying formations are bad at all, many of them are interesting, fun and add some interest into games (unlike spearhead which in my experience renders the rest of the army as a sort of backdrop, but I digress). Formations are good and are great to use in apocalypse games. *nods*
My point is why a number of players I've seen seem to forget things other than formations & legendary vehicles exist..
Before I give an example I'll note that me & my friends use 5th edition objective capturing rules for our Apocalypse games to keep some infantry focus and give the 'Hold at All Costs' strategic asset a use (important as its one of the assest granted by battle company formations etc), as such only units counting as troops (and not swarms,vehicles etc) are scoring. In 5th edition this isn't hard, especially as we don't restrict HQ's so tis possible to take several characters and make a great many units count as troops.

My example then... A friend of mine was recently building an Apocalypse list and seemed concerned he lacked scoring units in the formations he was planning as he had his heart set on a strategic asset other than Hold at All Costs, so he set about a long search for a formation which included troops units he could use to capture objectives.

Why he couldn't simply include a number of troops units more suited to assisting the rest of the army, rather than units restricted by a formation I'm unsure. I would have also thought that as he lacked scoring units, he'd be better spending all his remaining points on bodies rather than a portion of it on a formation cost.


The flip side of the coin is can you play without formations? I have regularly done this since I play both Sisters of Battle & Grey Knights (which I believe have less than a handful of formations between them, with a Grey Knight one only being usable if the opponent has a greater daemon).. This of course means I often have more models on the field since portions of my points are not spent on formation costs.
Yet on at least one occasion the manager of my local Games Workshop store has limited Apocalypse games to formations only, although he did mention he'd consider home-brewed formations as he agrees that Apocalypse encourages it (I'll note he is actually a lovely guy and is usually quite relaxed, I consider this as exception to his norm).

Is apocalypse no longer about being able to use large model collections or build interesting characterful forces such as a Word Bearers force, led by a Dark Apostle (using chaplain rules from the space marine codex)?
Is it now about buying specific models to complete formations?