friday 40k humor

friday 40k humor

Wednesday, July 31, 2013

The Truth About Cover Saves in 40K

There's a decent chance you are capable of shooting more enemy models dead per turn. There's a chance you've been giving enemies cowering in cover too high a save. There's a chance you can get your basic squads to operate more like Snipers. And there's a chance you can find ways to shoot enemy models without causing your assault on their squad to fail.
After seeing a debate about Cover Saves in the 3++ chatbox yesterday last for more than two hours, I thought it worth taking a stab at the rules. Most of the site's visitors are the more competitive, tournament-orientated 40Kers, so if we're one year in to the 6th Edition Rules and there is still that level of confusion, it must be worth an article.
Half of this article is very much a back to basics article, but it should include at least something to help gamers of all levels kill targets more efficiently.

The Basics

At it's most basic level, cover saves are done on a model by model basis, rather than unit by unit.
If, when you come to allocate a Wound, the target model's body (as defined on page 8) is at least 25% obscured from the point of view of at least one firer, Wounds allocated to that model receive a cover save.
What saves do you get?aegiscalm
  • Razor wire 6+
  • Intervening Models 5+
  • Gaps between Intervening Models 5+
  • Forests and area terrain 5+(Vehicles that explode are replaced with Area Terrain (5+ cover) page 74 or a crater 5+ cover)
  • Ruins, ruined fortifications and trenches 4+
  • Fortifications 3+
  • Aegis Wall 4+
What bonuses does Going to Ground give?
  • Go to ground behind Aegis 2+
  • Go to ground adds 1 to cover save (6+ in the open) Page 18
  • Go to ground in area terrain adds 2 to the model's cover save Page 18
Nothing note-worthy yet, right? Well actually no, we've already passed one of the most important pieces of information about cover, one that was misunderstood by several people in the chatbox conversation and one that I very frequently hear a tournaments.

The Myth of 2+ Area Ruins.

Area Terrain is always difficult and always gives 5+ cover regardless of whether models are 25% obscured or not (page 91), with the exception of Vehicles, which are not obscured by Area Terrain and must be 25% obscured from the point of view of the firer. (page 75)
The key is that Ruins are not Area Terrain, and Area Terrain is not ruins. They have seperate entries on the Cover chart, but it is extremely common for players to class terrain as ‘Area ruins' or say ‘This ruin is area' while setting up, and then get 2+ when going to ground in it.
If it's a ruin and the model goes to ground, it gets a 3+ save (one better than an a ruin's 4+). If it's area terrain and the model goes to ground, it gets a 3+ save (two better than area terrain's 5+).
Either way, the best save without stealth, shrouded or other special rules will be a 3+ save. If you're one of the many players who have been giving opponents 2+ saves, feel free to kill them faster.

What if it’s both Area and a Ruin?

Area terrain should have a base that shows its boundary (page 91), and it is true it is reasonably common to see area terrain on a base with a clear boundary that contains ruins and rubble, and could be considered a ruin. GW acknowledge this in the rules (Page 98) :
“Ruins with Bases
A ruin might be mounted on a base, decorated with rubble, and other debris. In this case, treat the base as area terrain.”
That means a model on that base is in area terrain, and gets a 5+ save. It could GTG and get a bonus of 2 for a 3+ save. If the base contains enough walls and rubble to obscure 25% of the model as in the illustration below, then the player could instead GTG and get a bonus of 1 to the Ruin's cover save. In either case the result is the same and the model gets a 3+ cover save.
Killer Tip 1: In neither case can the model gain a 2+ save. The model gets a 4+ save from Ruins with a GTG bonus of 1, or an area terrain 5+ save with a GTG bonus of 2.
It is still important to define whether this sort of terrain piece is Area or Ruins however, since models from the smallest ratlings to the largest Monstrous Creatures gain cover from having a tippee-toe in Area Terrain, but need to be 25% obscured to gain cover from ruins.

Focus Fire

While the above covered one of the most misunderstood basic rules about cover, the following will cover one of the most overlooked advanced rules.
Focus Fire (page 18)
“Sometimes, a target unit will only be partially in cover, with some of its models in cover and some not. In this case, you have a choice: your unit can either shoot at the squad as a whole, or you can declare that they will Focus Fire on the enemies who are less hidden. If you choose to Focus Fire, you must state your intention before making any rolls To Hit.
If you choose to Focus Fire, choose a cover save value. This can be between 2+ and 5+. Your opponent can only allocate Wounds to models with a cover save equal to or worse (i.e a higher value) than the value stated. “
I consider this rule so powerful that it is a potential game winner for a shooting-orientated army, and yet it doesn't seem to get used all that much. I'll give you a couple examples of it from the final rounds at the last tournament I went to.
In the first example, a Tyrannid player fired 16 shots into a unit on my objective. The closest two models were behind an Aegis wall, and the rest in the open from the firer's perspective. In a friendly game I'd have suggested focusing fire on models in the open, but this being a tournament I let them try their luck. After ground to ground for a 2+ save, only a single model died, rather than the 8 who would have been almost certainly dead to fire that was focussed on models with no cover save.
In the following game, I was up against Tau with the immortal Iridium Commander leading Crisis Suits. My opponent had the Iridum Commander and two other suits touching area terrain, but the other two behind them were in the open. Seizing the opportunity, I moved a PBS into range and focus-fired plasmaguns at the rear Crisis Suits, bypassing the Commander and his fancy saves and rules, and caused two casualties. Casting Weaken Resolve on them meant the Commander and the remaining suits fled off the table.
Both of those examples were game-changers, but this sort of situation comes up in most games if you look for it (although unfortunately this particular Tau opponent has kept his suits all in equal cover in every game since then).
Here's a third example using a photo from a game at my house last week. The Librarian (who I will admit looks suspiciously like Darth Vader) is attached to a squad of Marines. Unlike the example with Tau above, most of the time the Independent Character is the best target in the squad, so rather than using the Focus Fire rule to avoid putting wounds onto the IC they can be used to put them onto him. The fact he is at the back of the squad is irrelevant – using Focus Fire can turn any unit into snipers.
By declaring Focus Fire against models with 6+ or worse cover, the Dakkajet's shots will all go into the librarian, as the 5 black and red marines are all in or touching area terrain. Rather than being wasted on cheap MEQ ablative wounds, the shots can go straight in to the Sith Lord himself.
From even this simple example there are three more things to keep in mind
  1. Should all models with this level (or worse) cover save be killed, any remaining wounds are lost. “Your opponent can only allocate Wounds to models with a cover save equal to or worse (i.e a higher value) than the value stated”. That is a downside, particularly when firing as many high strength shots as that Dakkajet will.
  2. Characters can still use “Look out Sir!” to bounce wounds on to other models in their squad, regardless of their cover save. That makes Focus Fire more useful when trying to avoid characters like Iridium Commanders, Draigo and similar than when trying to kill them, except:
  3. In this case, the closest marine to the character has a lascannon, and the second closest is the sergeant. If the player is unlucky with LoS rolls, the Librarian may die. If the player is lucky with the LoS rolls, the Lascannon and Sergeant will probably die instead of cheap chumps. If the player is really unlucky, they will bounce enough wounds to kill the lascannon and then keep enough on the Librarian to kill him too. That happens more often than you'd think.
Killer Tip 2: Start using Focus Fire. Use it every time it won't result in over-kill, even when you don't need to; just get into the habit.
Killer Tip 3: You can create cover saves for your enemy's models. Just as experienced players block their own unit's line of sight using vehicles in order to prevent shots going into undesirable targets, you can also use your own intervening models from other squads to give cover saves to some models in enemy units – for example, using Grey Hunters to give a Tau Iridium Commander a 5+ save from your Long Fangs means with focus fire all the missiles will go in to the Crisis Suits behind him.
And here's one to bring a tear to the eye of general's commanding less shooty-armies.
Killer Tip 4: Use Focus Fire to shoot your pistols at low cover save models at the back of enemy units before you charge. You can kill enemies without shooting yourself out of range and causing your assaults to fail!

Now, get out there and kill something.


Friday, July 26, 2013

CONCEPTS: Netlisting

By Sentinal:

It seems like netlisting is a four letter word amongst a lot of gamers, often used as a derogatory term for an army list that appears to be copied from the internet. Netlists are also often assumed to be high-powered lists, and that by using them you are somehow cheating or playing with an unfair advantage.

This CONCEPTS: article seeks to establish a clear understanding of the definition, pros and cons of netlisting.

For the purposes of this discussion, I will define a netlist as an army list that is commonly found on the internet, whether it be on forums, blogs or wherever, including minor variations on it's build-up. I will not include any and all lists that are on the web, uncommon or unique lists, otherwise every list on the web would be a netlist!

Personally, I can understand how satisfying it can be to create and play (and win!) with your own unique list. The army is your own and can be an extension of your personality and preferences, both visually and strategically. However, when playing competitively, I think that this attitude can be restrictive.

As I have briefly said before, a netlist can be a very useful tool for players looking to learn an army or particular playstyle. Also, choosing a list that consistently does well across a number of different tournaments means that any purchases are much more likely to be useful, hopefully avoiding dud units or models. This is a massive put-off for new players, having spent however much money and time getting their army ready to play, only to find out that half (or more!) of it is commonly thought of as terrible.

Using a netlist can give you the confidence that your army has the capacity to win games. I have heard so many players blaming their army or their dice for their losses, but I've never seen anyone with continually bad luck and when you're using a proven list, I'd humbly suggest that repeated losses are down to the general! At least with a decent netlist you can identify where the weakness is and work on improving your gameplay, rather than keep swapping around units or blaming the dice. It's also possible to read battle reports to see how others are using the list against different opponents to pick up strategies and tactics you might otherwise have missed.

As useful as it can be to learn the ropes using a netlist, there are plenty of pit-falls and disadvantages.

Choosing the right list
Although it seems like an easy thing to do to just go on the net and pick up a list, there are lots of bad ones around! When you're still getting to grips with a game, the problem is you might not know how to differentiate the good from the bad. Not only this, the lists you find may not be accurate. Sometimes lists are typed up by opponents who remember certain things incorrectly, so I strongly suggest verifying the list's authenticity before spending any money copying it!

To further complicate matters, there are some lists that are specifically build for certain tournaments and their variation of the rules. For example, if you were to take a list from NOVA, commonly accepted as one of the most competitive tournaments around, without doing some research you may not realise that the terrain set-up always includes a large line of sight blocking piece in the centre (greatly assisting assault oriented armies), that the missions are tiered into primary, secondary and tertiary objectives or that vehicles can never be scoring (e.g. in The Scouring).

Looking at the lists that did well in this environment, it was clear that many of the armies were built specifically to take advantage of, or at least avoid the disadvantages, of the tournament specific ruleset. This means that the performance of a list from that year's NOVA playing basic rule book missions with normal terrain is likely to be very different (and presumably worse).

Another example is the ETC (or equivalents). These team tournaments allow captains to pick their match-ups, so it is possible for a list to be designed in such a way as to be very strong against certain enemies, with the intention of tying to avoid it's bad match-ups. Copying a list that appeared to do very well doesn't mean that it would necessarily do so in a standard tournament setting.

Added to this, a large number of tournament players 'metagame'. This topic may well end up as a future CONCEPTS: article, but suffice to say that these players are well aware of what is popular and what they are expecting to face, and so tailor their lists against the common builds. However, this can leave vital tools out and weaken their lists against other builds.

I can throw in a personal example here of my first game at the 40kUK GT heats in 2012. This was my first ever national level tournament, and so you can imagine my joy following the random pairings when I found myself playing against the reigning UK Masters Champion (actually I was really pleased about this as I had gone to get some hardcore games!). After a really good and enjoyable game, much to my surprise I ended up winning. Chatting afterwards, he said that he hadn't built his list thinking that's he'd play anyone running my kind of list. Looking back over the lists 9 months later, I don't think that the match-up was actually that bad, but I use this as an illustration that there are top players out there who bring what they think will do best in the current 'meta', and that there are risks involved with this.

Before you have even found the list, others will have played against it and identified how to beat it. The more well known your netlist is, the more your opponents will have played against it. Knowing how to fight against an army is a massive benefit, so be aware that you will be making your opponent's life a whole lot easier by netlisting.

Learning Curve
Picking the latest GT dominating list is not an 'I-win' button! The players using those lists will know how to use them and are likely to have years of experience informing their decisions. I wouldn't expect to get into a Ferrari for the first time and win every race, so I wouldn't expect to know how to use a netlist to its full potential without practice and understanding why it works. That said, some lists are easier to pick up or more forgiving that others!

The originators of successful netlists have a good understanding of the game, and presumably didn't copy the lists from anywhere! They may have taken parts from various sources but combined and used these in a way no-one had thought of before, or perhaps have found an undiscovered combo or underrated unit. After all, the internet can be wrong (shock!), and as lists progress older netlists can seem weak and outdated. Only playing with netlists may therefore hold you back as a player.

Using a netlist as a learning tool can be really valuable, and save a lot of wasted time, effort and money. However, there are limitations to be aware of, and simply picking up a list without knowing it's context can be risky. Tournament specific lists aren't necessarily good outside of their format and meta lists go out of date and aren't balanced anyway. If you are going to use a netlist, I suggest doing your research, trying learn why it is good and how to use it, and then using that to inform your own list building and continuous improvement as a player.

Monday, July 22, 2013

Deal With It (If You Can)

by AbusePuppy


When you're writing lists for a tournament, there's a ton of considerations. You have to look at the balance of killing power versus scoring power versus survivability, your mobility and reach, the different types of firepower you have against different targets, your ability to fight off enemy melee and shooting units, how you fare in different deployments and missions, etc, etc, etc. It's a nigh-infinite list of things to worry about, and it's easy to get lost in considerations and counter-considerations.

One way to help organize your thoughts- and to make sure there's nothing critical that gets overlooked- is to have a checklist of Things You Need to Be Able to Do. While the basics are easy (capture at least three objectives, hold the Relic, and so on), there are a lot of things that can be overlooked when it comes to determining how you will face various matchups. For that reason I try to keep a list of important army archtypes available for myself and go over them, thinking about how it is I'll deal with each of them if I have to face it. It's no substitute for real practice and experience, of course, but many of the lists are niche enough that you can't realistically expect to test against every one of them. But knowing you have a plan- and a solution in your list- goes a long ways towards making things easier.
This, then, is my list of Important Matchups in 6th Edition. It doesn't even try to cover every possible type of list, only the very general varieties of threats you can expect to face.

The first thing you absolutely MUST be able to stop is units that will drop a scoring force on an objective in the last turns of the game, like Night Scythes and Vendettas. If the other guy goes second and the game ends on T5, do you have a plan? Do you have enough guns to shoot them down prior to that so they can't just scoot about unmolested? Can you hold objectives securely enough that they can't easily get onto them or take them away from you? Knowing how your list functions against 2-4 AV12 or 3-5 AV11 transport flyers is an absolutely critical measure of its viability in the game today. If you can't do anything about them, scrap the list and try again, because you are not a competitor.

Is it telling that the first two things on this list are flyers? I think it is. Heldrakes get an entry all to themselves because they singlehandedly can shut down a lot of lists because they bypass so many defense types. No hit roll, no armor save, no cover save, wounds on a two (with a potential reroll); if Heldrakes want something on the ground dead, it probably is. If you see 2-3 Heldrakes enter the table on the second turn, can your army do anything but roll over and die? Do you have AA platforms that will be able to stay alive and shoot them? Many of the usual solutions to airplanes just won't work because, lacking Interceptor, they aren't given a chance to take a shot before a Heldrake wipes them off the table- and make no mistake, your AA is the first thing they will get rid of.
Power Blob
Forty guys with three or more AP2 power weapons buried inside. Essentially immune to Leadership-based effects in most cases. Meltabombs or Krak Grenades to handle bigger targets and prevent getting stuck. Flamers for charge defense. Could easily be FNP or have extra attacks an invulnerable save or any other number of nasty buffs. Can your army stop that from crossing the table and sitting its ass on one of your objectives? Anti-infantry is very important in 6th edition and the Power Blob is a good test of how well you handle light infantry- if you can't take it down reasonably quickly, you are going to struggle with many armies, not the least because IG is such a popular ally choice.

Deep Strikers
If someone puts something in your face immediately and demands you deal with it, can you? Even if it's their whole army? This can include stuff like Drop Pods and Deathwing Assault, but also other fancy deployments (Infiltrating with ICs to drag along a squad, Ymgarl cheatyness, etc.) Can your army stand up to a short-range firefight/assault in the early turns of the game? 6E might be about shooting, but that doesn't mean there are no side chapters in the book. This test is especially critical for IG, Tau, and other armies that rely exclusively on guns to win the game for them.

MEQ Horde
Tying into the above, how many Marines can you kill? 60+, even if they are sitting in cover? What if they have Feel No Pain or are Fearless or are T5 or have some other benefit? While still not a good army, a lot of people are trying to push tons of supersoldiers around the table and you will feel absolutely terrible if the guy with six full-size Tactical Marine squads beats you in round 2. Make sure you have enough low-AP firepower and the ability to contest objectives from the other guy. Make sure you can stop someone from wading through midfield shooting Bolters at you.

Here's another unit good enough to warrant an entry (and an army) all its own. While obviously supported by other parts of the Tyranid army, Tervigons compromise the essential core of pretty much every ‘Nid force that has been seen for the past four years. Not only that, but their popularity seems to have seen a bit of an upswing thanks to psycher shenanigans and generally benefitting from the new edition. Make sure you have a way to deal with 30+ T6 wounds of critters and all of the little bugs they will spawn. Many lists will start assaulting you on turn 2 unless you do something drastic to stop them- make sure you have solutions. (Green Tide can also be conceived of as fitting into this category, as it has a similar main threat and profile.)

Can you stop a deathstar? An honest-to-goodness one with all the trimmings that gets in your face nearly immediately and tries to punch you? Usually with several layers of defenses (armor/invuln/cover/FNP/toughness/multiple wounds) and crushing offensive power, a deathstar can absolutely destroy you if you deploy wrong and don't have tools to break it. TH/SS still hold primacy in this arena, but Nob Bikerz, Paladins, Harliestar, etc, all play a similar game.

Metal Bawkses
CrunkMech ain't dead! Although the new edition changed the balance between infantry and vehicles rather dramatically, having an AV still provides protection from a lot of threats in the game and many tanks come pretty cheaply compared to the amount of shots it takes to kill them. Being able to shut down 4-6 transports that are firing away alongside the units they were purchased with is a pretty important thing still.

Flying Circus
While Daemons may have largely fallen off of the internet's radar, it can present some very legitimate threats to a list, not the least of which being the 3-6 flying monstrous creatures it can bring to the table. While superficially similar to flyer-based armies, FMCs present a very different kind of profile to the table and have very different strategies involved. Having enough high-strength and ROF guns to bring them down in short order is fairly critical. (Puppy Rush gets a nod as the also-ran here; 30+ Hounds in your face before the game even starts is nothing to sneeze at, and ditto for Screamers.)

One of the big threats from the DA book, considerations of its overall power level aside, is the ability to pour out absolute gobs of anti-infantry shooting thanks to Banner of Devastation. Usually sitting inside a Land Raider and coming in either mobile (i.e. bike) or cheap (i.e. Tactical) form, it can tear down most kinds of infantry in a very short time period. Being able to eliminate either the Banner itself or its support is paramount.

Team Tau Flak
Flyers got a lot of talk at the beginning of the article, but there's another side to that now- Tau can bring enough guns (as either ally or primary) to give any flyer a really bad day. A Quad Gun, 1-2 Interceptor/Skyfire Riptides, and as many as nine Skyfire Broadsides is enough to give any flyer list out there fits, not to mention the Commander giving out Tank Hunter and potentially Skyfire himself. Obviously seeing that much on the table at once is unlikely, but if you see 10+ wounds (with 2+ saves, no less) of enemy Skyfire plus a fortification, can you reasonably down them before they cut your army to pieces? Can you absorb four S7 shots rerolling everything whenever one of your flyers enters the battle? With as strong as flyers are, it's not unreasonable to assume that many players will bring Tau along to help them out.

Land Raiders are dead, they say. Land Raiders are better than ever, they say. No one seems to be able to make up their mind about whether they're at all viable, but they're still around, and with fortifications there are even more high-AV targets to deal with. If you count in the AV13 targets as well (like Annihilation Barges and Predators), the environment is practically lousy with them- so what do you do when Lascannons and Missiles just don't cut it anymore? Does your army have the specialist weapons to get rid of such tanks? You really can't afford to be caught completely helpless by them.
Hopefully this will be a useful guide for people to judge lists by- it's by no means exhaustive, but if you can at least check off everything I've talked about here with reasonable honesty, your list is well on its way to being balanced enough to try and fight its way through a big tournament. Whatever the internet may say, balanced lists are still entirely possible in 6th Edition. There are always going to be armies that you struggle against, but a bit of forethought and good list-writing can minimize the number as much as possible and maximize your chance of going undefeated against the field.

Friday, July 19, 2013

Feeding Yourself 40k

by Sentinal:



I like to consume as much 40k (you can replace this with your game of choice) as I can in my free time. Such sustenance comes in various forms, but I find that I run out of good quality food for thought fairly quickly, as I seem to get though it so fast!

This CONCEPTS: post looks at a few of my hunting grounds and suggests a few places to forage for the good stuff.

The one thing I do get to do a lot of is read blogs. Having a smart phone means that whenever I have a few minutes, I'm usually reading about 40k. There are a few regular sites that I'm often on, and I will regularly check through my blog list to see if anything new has been added. Once I find a good blog, I will generally take a long look through their past posts, as this can be a great mine of interesting stuff that is still relevant.

If you sign up with Blogger, you can also follow your favourite blogs (hint!). When you log in, you get a dashboard of the latest posts from each of the sites you follow. This saves you the effort of going to visit each site to look for new stuff, as it is done for you. I didn't create an account for a couple of years as my method of accessing the net (my first smartphone) didn't quite have the facility or speed to do this. However, with my new one and another (sometimes unreliable) source of internet on my netbook, I created a profile and signed up to all those blogs I had read for years but not followed with a profile. Very convenient!

I'd guess that this is painfully obvious to anyone reading this, but for completeness I also recommend taking a look at different site's blog rolls. These are usually sidebars that update automatically with recent posts from other sites the authors follow. I found nearly all the sites I like via the blog roll of ones I already visit, and I tend to take a look at a site that I see coming up frequently on multiple sites I know.

Finally for blogs, there is stalking, erm, I mean looking at what blogs other people follow. If you click on someone's profile on Blogger, a helpful little list comes up with all the other blogs that person follows. If you happen to recognise that the person is a internet celebrity or high ranking tournament player, it may be worthwhile taking a look at what else they are reading. It might be drivel, but then again, it might be a valuable source of information! This is not stalking. Honestly...

Thankfully I don't need to buy every codex to take a good look at it, thanks to the library at the club. There is usually a copy of a codex that I haven't had a good look through, or one I feel like going over again, sitting around waiting to be borrowed. I'm trying to get into the habit of writing lists for different armies, even if I don't intend to play them, to get an idea of what I could create and use this to try and find the strengths and weaknesses of the codex.

This also helps widen my knowledge base for tournaments, as players at the club generally don't play every single army. Even if they did, it is unlikely that they would all be playing the latest power-builds, so trying to get an idea of what popular units can do is really handy. Since memorising every codex is going to take a little time (if I manage it at all!), rather than stick with one army until I know it I decided to break down the task into parts and not beat myself up if I didn't find the time or the willpower to digest the whole book.

My first stage is trying to familiarise myself with army wide abilities and generic stat lines to classify the troops as GEQ, MEQ or TEQ (some codexes may have more than one). This helps me assess the relative strength of the units I expect to see in the bulk of the army, e.g. guardsmen are squishy but cheap, marines are tougher but typically less numerous, etc.

Next is getting to know the units I'm most likely to see at a tournament. You can easily find these out by reading the most popular army lists, or even better - records of tournament army lists from the organisers (akin to gold dust). If I see a lot of armies using wraiths, it's in my best interests if I make the effort to find out what they can actually do as I can more accurately assess their relative threat level *to my army at that time*, rather than think 'the internet says they're amazing - I'd better avoid those'.

This is generally as far as I get before I give the codex back, but the next thing I look for is the weapon profiles. When I was (and still am) learning what different units can do, the first question I ask my opponent when reading their list is 'what weapons have AP3 or better', shortly followed by 'how about mid-high strength weapons'. As a marine player, I'm not too concerned by big scary weapons that can't ignore my armour. As a mech player, I am concerned about the number of shots that can reliably damage my metal boxes. The next question for most would probably be 'what anti-flier is there' or 'what ignores cover' now I'm using guard allies. You could go on for some time, but since you don't have that at a tournament, these quick questions help me form a very quick basic threat evaluation before I plan my strategy (unfortunately it also gives an astute opponent an insight into what I find most threatening, but at this stage you gain more than you loose!). As you can see, reading up on expected threats before the stress of a tournament environment takes a lot of pressure off!

Finally there is getting to know each unit, weapon and rule in detail. I find this much easier for armies I find interesting, or for armies I face more often, as I will read the codex for longer and more frequently. To reference a famous ancient tactician, know your enemy, as you can plan more effectively how to beat them. It is also quite handy to make sure that you know if your opponent has 'forgotten' or misunderstood the rules in their favour!

This is used as a four letter word in certain circles, but there are some very popular forums out there that some absolutely swear by. The risk is that you will find many conflicting voices or an overpowering wrong one that can sway you from the path of true knowledge (or something less pretentious). One of the early pieces of advice I read on YTTH was to avoid forums like the plague, and stick to a few good quality sources for your opinion forming input. I have stuck to this largely, and try to avoid muddying the waters with masses of opinions. Instead I have tried to seek out sources that I have found to be consistent and of high quality. That said, reading some of the bar-room brawls on the Space Wolves section of Bolter & Chainsword have been just brilliant fun. I think what I'm getting to on this one is be aware what you feed yourself with and why you're having it, and know you're junk food from your award winning pie.

Social Media
There are some very active Facebook (and I assume Twitter) pages and groups out there. From my experience these are great for quick interactions, sharing photos and arranging games. As with blogs, just search for your army and I would be surprised if you couldn't find somebody somewhere who is talking about it. As with forums, be aware of who you're letting influence you!

I used to collect a magazine named after a white bearded dwarf when I was younger, I loved every single page. A combination of growing up and a change in the function of said magazine into a catalogue/advert has changed my opinion of said publication, but if you're looking for somewhere to see the latest shiny toys, this is one of the first (legitimate) places you'll find the goodies.

I will also include the Games Workshop and other online retailers in this section, as these provide a quick way of seeing what's available. I've used this to take a look at the models for units I keep seeing mentioned on the next but have know idea what they look like in the flesh. This won't help against 'count's as' armies, but being able to tell a Vulture from a Valkyrie or identify the types of weapons a unit has just by glancing at them in game saves a whole lot of time and mental energy.

Not everyone has friends who play, so clubs can be a great way of getting more games in. If you have the luxury of choice, I would recommend finding a group of like-minded gamers. Some clubs have a different flavour to others, ranging from campaigns to tournament play, and others allow some expansions (e.g. Forge World) as standard whilst others do not. Finding a club that suits your tastes will make gaming there much more fulfilling.

Basic Rulebooks (and FAQs)
I've left this one to near the end because it's easier to remember - read the basic rules! So many people have been playing for ages and still don't know the rules properly (I count myself in this too!). There is a load of stuff to remember, sure, but in my experience most people stop reading the rules after a few games and think they know enough. But my motivation is simple and selfish. I have lost games because I though I knew a rule, but was argued out of it or defaulted to a more experienced player's opinion. That's no good! I don't mind losing a game because my opponent was better than me, the dice actually failed me the whole game (unlikely) or I made a mistake(s) that cost me the game (as I can learn from these and play better next time), but to loose because I didn't know where to look for a rule that I know is right really irritates me (until I remember it's a game of war dollies and there are much more important things in life). So from time to time I pick up the rule book and take a look through. Highly recommended.

Create Your Own
When you can't get enough from anywhere else, you can always do it yourself! This is much easier as it seems thanks to a wide variety of free operators such as Blogger, WordPress, Facebook and Twitter. I find writing articles and posts really helpful in encouraging me to articulate and consider my own thought process and ideas. I also use mine as a custom gaming resource, where I can effectively bookmark all my favourite sites, shops and articles. It's also fun to put up my own gaming photos and hobby progress too. Really the level of effort and commitment is entirely up to you and you get to set your own pace, which is really nice. I'd say it's one of those things that you get out of it what you put in, except maybe for proper battle reports because those things take an age to do properly!

There are loads of different ways to immerse yourself in the game, whether it be to get information, to see great hobby projects or to be part of the community. I hope that this article has offered a few different ways of feeding yourself 40k/your favourite game and has offered a few options that you may not have considered. Bon appetit!

Sunday, July 14, 2013

Edge takes Best General!!!!

Buckeye Battles proves to be another great tourney this year. Props to Dan for a timely and smooth run event. Great prizes and pizza!

Martial Law's very own Battle Brother Edge took 'Best General' while HoD took the 'Best Sportsmanship' award. Hope to see everyone next year for the next one.

Tuesday, July 9, 2013

40K Army Lists...How Do You Write Them?

CONCEPTS: List Writing

by Sentinel


This CONCEPTS: post looks at the process of physically writing an army list, rather than exploring strategies on building and developing an army (covered in various other CONCEPTS: articles). I will
highlight some of the advantages and dangers of the most common techniques, and I'm also going to discuss some alternatives including some unorthodox methods for different types of thinkers (visual/kinesthetic).

Why write your own when you can copy someone else's? Well, there are lots of reasons actually, and I will cover this topic in more detail in it's own CONCEPTS: thread at some point, but you could do worse than starting with a proven list to learn the ropes. The major disadvantage is the risk of not understanding how the army works, so picking up the latest 1st place GT winning list is not an 'I win' button! However, finding a list does consistently well and learning how to use it can be a great training tool, and is also unlikely to leave you with a bunch of useless models barring a bad FAQ or change in the game system (note - these are entirely possible!).

Typed Lists
I.e. what you see if you're on the internet. Whether generated from a programme such as Army Builder, or typed out manually, this method is very common. This can be quick and efficient, and is also easy to read for your opponent or tournament organiser (TO).

Hand Written Lists
I do this a lot when developing an idea (although I will type up the list if I'm giving it to someone else). I have a sketch pad full of scribbles and ideas. I find that using different media helps access different parts of my brain when I'm designing, and list writing is no different. Forcing an idea through a pen rather than typing or copying on a computer/phone makes me look at a list in a different way, and this can trigger different ideas I may not have thought of otherwise. This leads to my secret weapon...

Short Hand vs Long HandAs you become more familiar with your army, you will pick up the abbreviations for units. It's common to save time by writing lists in short hand, and I do this all the time too. However, one quick note is the danger of presuming that you know all the entries well enough, especially in regards to unit options and equipment. It wasn't until I looked more closely at some other people's long hand lists that I realised that I had a choice to make when swapping out weapons for a combi-weapon for my wolf guard, or that I could do this for both weapons if I wanted to. Details like this can easily be missed when writing everything in short hand.

From Memory
Another warning is the pitfall of writing a list from memory and not checking afterwards. I have read horror stories of when this was done the night before a tournament, even by vetran players, then the points didn't add up and the subsequent penalty significantly affected the player's overall standing. So if you want to avoid the pain of dropping X amounts of tournament points per game or avoid the chance of playing with an under-pointed force, check and double check that list! In casual games, it also helps to have a legal list if you want to keep on good terms with your opponent, especially if you're playing a pick up game.

Sketching (with Hand Written Lists)
We play a visual strategy game, with models we spend a huge amount of time creating and painting (oh, for a world without mold lines...). The chances are that there are a good number of us that are visual thinkers (see Further Reading links if you are interested in finding out more about the different types of thinking/learning). When I started writing lists, I didn't have a feel for what any of my choices really looked like, or the consequences of their preferred deployments/roles (e.g. how much space in my deployment zone 6 or more razorbacks really took up, especially when you take into account terrain and the locations of mobile and static fire support).

So I started drawing out the units next to my hand written lists. A unit of 5 Grey Hunters and a lasplas razor would get 5 circles, i.e. 'ooooo', and a box with a turret. The attached wolf guard would be shown as a '+ o'. This was really easy to do, especially with a MEQ army. I imagine that I might have done this less frequently with an infantry horde army, but then again, this would remind me that I'd have to be moving and rolling for that many models in game and how slow that could be!

The next step was to sketch out these units in their relative preferred battlefield positions next to a list. So I would have the bottom row with backfield units, such as fire support or objective babysitters. The next row would hold the midfielders (grey hunters), the next the forward units (TWC), and finally the units that would be aiming at the enemy backfield (speeders, wolf scouts).

Developing on from this I started to add arrows to certain units, for example to flanking fire support units (rifledreads). Occasionally I would try my hand at typical deployments, drawing relatively to scale where possible.

When you don't get the chance to play a lot of games or whilst your learning the game, this sort of thing can be really helpful in visualising your army, and can quickly highlight the balance of your army across the different battlefield positions. When looking at the weight of the rows, there is a very obvious difference between a gunline army compared to a pure in your face force. This should give you the opportunity for a quick check against the strengths of your army, so a Tau army with the backfield crammed isn't to be unexpected, but alarm bells should be ringing if this happens with an assault army! Continuing with a gunline example, this technique should help flag up that you've got nothing to deny/take far objectives, or that you've vulnerable to assault and that you need some bubble wrap or tar pit units in midfield.

I could give further examples, but suffice to say that sketching out the units, typical positions and deployments should match your expectations and the abilities of your army. I found this method really useful when starting out, and although I don't do it so much now, this is because I've had more experience and familiarity with my primary force, but I would certainly do it again when getting to grips with a new force.

Models on the Table
One for people with large model collections or who find physically placing/seeing the models in front of them useful (kinesthetic thinkers). Although I haven't personally used this one as a list writing technique, I do this when I'm modelling/painting a tournament list to see how much I still have to do to complete the army (e.g. I've got all the wolves to three colours with details and highlights, but my 30+ guard infantry only have legs and torsos and I've only got X weeks to go!).

There are many ways of writing a list, and I wouldn't suggest that the techniques discussed above are exhaustive or compulsory. However, I hope this article has offered an opportunity to reflect on some of the benefits and pit-falls of the different methods, and give you the chance to consider trying something different! I'd be really interested in hearing if anyone else uses unorthodox methods, and how this has helped them improve their game.

Wednesday, July 3, 2013

Eldar Review...Wave Serpents

Wave Serpent:

Ok, so here is a question for the Eldar players out there- how many wave serpents do you have?
Second, did you think the mech of 5th edition was gone?
Enter the wave serpent.
Wave serpents are now godlike, and who would have though a 5th edition army build would be rocking 6th edition...
…here is why.
6th is about mobility and the ability to kill masses of cheap troops- numbers by no real armor saves. Cover is now everywhere and even at a 5+ when you have 100+ cheap scoring units, can your army really clean them out in X number of game turns AND deal with the other stuff in your opponent’s list coming at you.
Wave serpent has the mobility, and the ability to take out those cheap troops with the scatter laser, shuriken cannon, and energy shield. Six serpents moving up and together popping off the shield and then disembarking the avengers or guardians for mop up duty is very effective…
…while the other elements in your warhost take out the non-scoring units that your opponent has.
But it gets even better with holo-fields- getting a 4+ save on six grav tanks (not even talking about the prisms yet) and the shield potentially negating pens, the serpents WILL clear out the spam troops and deliver the cargo long before your opponent takes them out.
True bikes are also a power house in the ‘dex, but in terms of competitive play are they even needed.
Eldar “Template” for 6th…
Autarch/farseer + jetbike + mantle
6 serpents with guardians/aspects ratio depending on points.
3 fire prism.
Perhaps a bit boring but very deadly….and most of us long time Eldar player already have the models sitting on the shelf.

by Fritz:

Monday, July 1, 2013

Eldar Review...Striking Scorpions

New Eldar Codex Review: Striking Scorpions – Viable Eldar CC Unit?

I was kind of holding my breath with the striking scorpions in the new Eldar codex- what role would they fill, and would we have a viable close combat unit to add to the warhost other than the one-trick-pony harlequins?
Like many of the other units in the codex they just got an update to 6th rather than an upgrade or new set of rules…which is ok, and update will be fine…
3+ save, I5/6, and plasma grenades means they will hit first for the most part and can take a few normal hits back- but don’t be fooled by the 3+ save- it only goes so far when you are T3 base. Eldar players need to keep this in mind with all the 3+ saves now handed out in the codex.
Mandiblaster gives you another “free” attack, but for a dedicated aspect the base scorpion still only has one attack.
Why not two?
I’m not complaining, just asking.
You can upgrade thee exarch of course with power weapon/fist like options, but it is only one model.
So what’s the problem I’m seeing with scorpions?
Same issue that existed in the old codex- how do you get there to chop up dudes in the assault?

Assault marines have their jumpacks to quickly close the distance.
Generic marines have their 35 point rhino box.
Scorpions have a wave serpent, which MUCH better than before,  is not 35 point rhino for sure…
Infiltrate opens up some options if there is some big terrain you can hide behind, but we can’t always count on that.
Take one big unit as a distraction/syphoning unit- it will work, but what if you were waiting for this codex to unlock your scorpion themed army?
What if you wanted to take thirty of them lead by phoenix lord?
I think about this stuff…
Infiltrate the 30 would be cool, and put some real forward pressure on your opponent, but you better have first turn since your scorps are mid field and exposed to everything at close/rapid fire range in the opposing army.
You also would need another large element in your warhost to occupy your opponent on the first and second turn so they can’t shoot at the scorpions- they may want to shoot at them, but there are scarier targets for the moment…
…and then when the scorpions hit the lines and crash and burn after a few rounds, which is OK, what element in your list is going to follow up and take objectives and finish off what is left of your opponent?
In theory.
These are the questions I ask with scorps, and harlies, and my hopefully soon to be banshee chick army- you see, I’ve been stocking up on Eldar stuff for the past few years since nobody played them, wanted them, or could use them.
I’ve got 30+ banshees, and lots of guardians with female torsos, for an all space elf chick army.
But we will look at that in some more detail when we get to banshees in the new ‘dex.
Posted by Fritz