friday 40k humor

friday 40k humor

Tuesday, February 25, 2014

Turn Order Tactics That Neutralize the Dice

by Nick Nanavati


I’ve come to the realization that in most of the armies I design (with 6th edition and the current meta in mind), I try to create many different deployment options. This allows me to always react to my opponent, which in turn allows me to always have positional advantage. Andrew Gonyo demonstrated the importance of going second in this article, which does a great job of highlighting all the main reasons to go second if given the option.
However, 40k is a dice game, and roughly 50% of the time you do not get the choice. Part of the challenge of 40k is implementing tactics and building lists to mitigate the opportunities for dice to screw you―this especially includes the roll for turn order. By creating a list that emphasizes multiple deployment options, you can certainly ease the pain of going first.

Reserves force your opponent to play differently; without knowledge of where your army is, your opponent will have to be cautious and keep up a strong defense on all sides in order to not get blindsided. This will severely limit his offensive capabilities as well as his ability to spread out for board control. Also, when you go first with a reserve-based army, your opponent will lose half the advantage of going second, which is the ability react to the enemy’s deployment. If most of your army resides in reserve, you can play cautiously and limit the amount of firepower you take, then come out of nowhere and decimate the enemy by coming in at his weakest point, or surrounding him and giving him no place to retreat.


Alpha Strike
Having the capability to Alpha Strike the enemy is also a wonderful tool for a 40k player. The term Alpha Strike means to deal a massive, crippling blow to the enemy on turn one (sometimes turn two), then pressing the advantage gained early on to carry out the win. Armies with large scouting opportunities or incredible firepower (White Scars, Ravenwing, Tau, and Dark Eldar) are the primary armies for Alpha Striking, although almost all armies can Alpha Strike to a lesser degree.
Often times however, it is not the Alpha Strike that will win you the game; it is merely the threat of being capable of launching one. If your opponent is aware of what your turn one damage output can be, he will deploy incredibly cautiously (even if going first, in case of seizing), which will immediately give you board control and allow you to outmaneuver the enemy army.

Rapid Redeployment
Rapid redeployment is the last step of having multiple deployment options. The idea here is basically to trick your opponent. Your army is designed to be so incredibly mobile that you can fake your opponent out by deploying in one section of the board and moving (and often turbo-boosting or moving flat-out) to the opposite side. After you have completely outmaneuvered the enemy, you can start taking his army apart piecemeal with the longer-ranged elements of your own.
One of the reasons Eldar are currently dominating the tournament scene is that they have the ability to play in all three deployment options. Eldar armies often reserve loads of Jetbikes, Spiders, and Swooping Hawks to come in and harass unprotected scoring units. Eldar are also very capable of conducting Alpha Strikes with multiple Wave Serpents, Wraithknights and the ever popular Tau allies. And lastly, they are easily the fastest army in the game with the ability to move their Jetbikes and Seer Council 48”, Wave Serpents 36”, and even put their Swooping Hawks back into reserve to re-enter them using Deep Strike on later turns.
It is clear that 40k is, to at least some degree, won and lost in deployment. Based on results found in Torrent of Fire’s Ultimate Weapon, Eldar seems to be one of the armies dominating in the deployment phase; however; other armies are capable of competing with them. I think the new and underused Space Marine codex is the army to do it

Wednesday, February 19, 2014

Deathstar Tactics: Get the Most Out of Your Army-in-a-Single-Unit

by Justin Cook                         


A lot of competitive lists in 6th edition are running high value, high cost units. These ‘deathstars,’ as they are often referred to, are typically reliant on having several characters add synergy to an already powerful unit, making them absolutely terrifying. We’ve all heard of the Jetlock council, Paladin star, the new kid the O’vesa star… they all have wild offensive capabilities and incredible durability.
But a lot can go into keeping them alive on the tabletop. Let’s look at some of the ways you can keep a high value unit alive against a variety of threats.

Put your best foot forward: Have a tank
Having a highly durable character out in front of a unit to ‘tank’ damage has been a common notion in most of 6th edition. These guys will be the ones taking a pounding and typically have a few of the following traits:
   1) high toughness and/or Eternal Warrior
   2) a good invulnerable save, usually a 3+ or better
   3) a large wound pool
   4) and this one is likely the most important―independent character special rule
The first three are natural durabilities anyone can understand and appreciate. Of course you want Draigo, a nova-shielded O’vesa, or your Eternal Shield Chapter Master standing in front of your valuable unit of Paladins, Centurions, or buddy Riptide.
The last trait, however, is a little more abstract. The independent character special rule allows for your tank to both spread damage around by virtue of Look out sir! and to take major enemy threats out of the picture in combat through challenges. Be sure to read up on Look out sir! on pages 16 and 26 of the core rule book, and how challenges work on pages 64 and 65.

Surround your tank with ablative wounds
Usually there are degrees of importance when it comes to any squad’s models, even a high value unit of Paladins or Jetlocks


Once you kit a unit out, you might have a few models that just don’t have any special gear or extra abilities. These are the models your tank needs closest to him to soak up the extra shots you don’t want him taking. Nothing’s certain―you still need to roll for Look out sir!―but it’s fairly reliable to send over Bolter wounds from Draigo or a Chapter Master to a Paladin or Centurion, respectively. They all have 2+ armor saves, so why risk losing an opportunity to take a 3+ invulnerable later to a wound you can afford to take elsewhere?
You also need to assess what kind of firepower you’re facing: Can you afford to have the secondary Riptide in an O’vesa star taking Look out sir! wounds, or is it better to take them on Shielded Missile Drones?
As an example: If you’re up against a unit or two of scatter laser War Walkers, it’s probably better to have O’vesa Look out sir! into the Burst Cannon Riptide, as both have the same save and you have a combined 10 wounds to work with for spreading out damage. If you’re playing against triple Wraithknight, however, you should likely be putting Look out sir! wounds into the Shielded Missile Drones. This is why I always splurge on getting the extra Shielded Missile Drones for my Burst Cannon Riptide, since it gives me four extra wounds. I don’t care as much about tank distortion shots.

Keep the synergy safe
Deathstars usually have one or more synergistic characters that make them the tabletop powerhouses they are. Typically these are Farseers, Inquisitor Coteaz, or the ubiquitous Tau ‘Buff Commander.’ These guys need to stay away from incoming fire, typically in the rear of the deathstar, far away from wound allocation through shooting and combat. You’ll also want to keep an ablative wound or two around them if you can―barrage can really put a wrench in the works. Also, never forget how Focus Fire works. If you stick the tank and first few models in cover but leave part of the squad out in the open along with your buffing characters, you’re begging to lose them to mobile firepower.
Here’s an example of how Focus Fire can be used against a deathstar: If I put every model except my Commander from my O’vesa star in area terrain, my opponent can declare Focus Fire on models with a 6+ or worse cover save. By doing this, my Buff Commander is hit first, even if he’s in the back of the unit. If this is a strength 10 weapon, the Buff Commander is now in danger of being insta-killed, when the closer Riptides would not have been. You should usually choose whether or not you’ll stick to cover and do so for the whole unit.
Also keep in mind that cagey opponents will move units between parts of the deathstar and their shooty damage dealers. This creates artificial cover, and they can then Focus Fire at the Commander who should be left exposed. Check out page 18 and 19 of the core rule book to learn more on how Focus Fire works, and read up on how intervening models create cover for units shooting through them.
These are some of the key elements to keep in mind when putting together and using a functional deathstar-type unit in 40K. There are a lot of benefits to these units, such as the fact they’re nearly impossible to kill and can dish out high amounts of damage between shooting and combat. However, it’s important to know that this is just one way of playing 40k competitively, and that it does have its downsides. The most notable of these is certainly the lack of Fearless in some deathstars, but there are other less obvious drawbacks, like the ability to tarpit them or play around them and kill the rest of your army. Nonetheless, deathstars will probably be around for quite some time, so it’s good to know how to use them and how to play against them.

Justin Cook notched an 8-0 record at NOVA GT 2013.

Thursday, February 13, 2014

Becoming a better 40k general tactical #1-Winning the pre-game

originally posted on TheBack40k
By Spaguatyrine

With 6th edition comes a new phase of 40K. I call this the pregame phase.
There are often anywhere from 15 to 30 minutes of pregame warmups before turn one even starts. In my opinion, whether you win or lose will often be determined by the pregame phase and deployment. I will even be brash enough to say more than 50% of games are won in this critical first 15 to 30 minutes.

Your brain starts a data dump:

This is even before you get to the table! When you do arrive, you say hello to your opponent and plop down your list while sizing up your competition’s list and army. The nerves and butterflies threaten to turn your breakfast into lunch. One of you might try some small talk to break the silence. As you scan each other’s lists, strategies start going through your mind on how you are going to beat his, and beat him as a player. Sometimes players who process more slowly can actually push this introduction phase to more than a few minutes―ultimately helping a game not play to the end. I don’t think this is done on purpose, but I have seen this a lot at tournaments.
The next order of business is to start rolling for deployment zones, warlord traits, psychic powers, etc. One of the most important aspects of the pregame phase is choosing sides based upon terrain, your armies, the mission, etc. With everything that has happened above, we can often forget to take into consideration the terrain layout and how this affects our game, or we just take a quick glance at it. Depending on your army, this is a critical step in the sequence of picking a side, determining turn order and warlord table, rolling for psychic powers and every other little accounting detail.

If you are playing on the table shown here, and it’s the first time you add its information to all of the data being shoved into your head during the pregame phase, you could easily miss some of the advantages of the terrain layout based upon the mission.
Trick #1
Before the tournament starts, walk the ENTIRE game floor and look at each table. While you’re doing this, picture your army on the table and which side has advantages for you. Observe firing lanes, hiding spots, where you might want to place your fortification. Yes, do this for all 100+ tables if necessary. I only spend about 30 seconds on each table, but it mitigates some of the input of data to your brain when you are actually there, giving you more precious time to find a way to beat your opponent. Even a 30-second snapshot greatly reduces stress on your thinking muscle. Plus, sometimes you walk up to a table and there is a 15″ line of sight-blocking building in the middle and you are like, “WTF!” If you’ve already seen it, the shock will not hit you as much as it will your opponent.


Trick #2
Practice against as many different armies as you can. This goes without saying, but search out players who have different armies, ones you normally don’t play against. In 6th edition, all army lists now have counters.

Maybe you have never played against Meganobs with Greentide Orks, or Necron Wraiths, or Mech Guard. Nothing puts more strain on the human brain than being in an unfamiliar situation. When an environment is unfamiliar and the stimuli to our brains is hostile and unknown, we begin to overthink, and that’s when most players make mistakes. There is a reason why Tony Kopach always appears calm beside the tabletop. When our brains are firing normally, we won’t overheat and blow a hose. Even if you crush that Greentide list, having experience to fall back on with your current tournament army against as many other armies as possible will slow the brain drain pregame.
If you do get blindsided by something you have never seen or are unfamiliar with, ask about the basics and ask to keep your opponent’s codex on your side of the table. Ask, What type of unit is that? What weapons and psychic powers do they have? A quick scan of the codex instead of the army list is preferable.

Outsourced Bookkeeping Options

Trick #3
Going second is often a good tactical choice depending on the mission, which army you’re playing, if Night Fight is in effect, etc. If going second, take two different sets of dice. With one set of dice, measure out the max effective range of all stationary units that can hurt you taking into consideration Night Fight cover and the other usual factors. With the second set of dice, measure out the max effective range of all units that can hurt you. This gives you a road map of where you can go and how safely you can deploy. I will also often discuss the deployment with my opponents: “This unit is out of line of sight from that unit, correct?” “By the way, this gives a 3+ cover save.”
Take your time deploying. Being out of position on the top of turn one can cripple you. Picture what your opponent can do after his movement. This is especially important with the new Riptide and Wraithknight models. Picture where they can be and what you can do to counter their shooting.
If you are deploying extremely defensively, a.k.a. staying out of range, DO NOT ROLL TO SEIZE THE INITIATIVE, unless you have the mobility to cause SEVERE damage. This backfires on many players, and they seize and lose because of it.
There are many strategies and tricks to consider as you prepare for a game; reducing the amount of information you have to think about in the pregame phase can ensure your processor doesn’t overheat and make you forget important steps and tactics. Get a routine down and stick to it. However you start a game, develop that routine to help reduce stress and guide your mind to a win.

Tuesday, February 11, 2014

The Dozen-ish Things That Will Help You Do Well and Have Fun at a Tournament

posted on 3++


I talk about tournaments and playing in them here fairly often, but mostly from a game perspective- what sort of list you'll want, what sort of lists to be worried about, what kind of tactics you'll need, etc. However, there is a whole other side of going to a tournament that I haven't really touched on at all, and that is the personal side- what YOU, as a gamer, will want to do to make your tournament experience better. Win more games, yes, but also have a better time and make it more likely that people will remember you as the cool guy they played last year rather than “Dead-Eye Johnny,” the assumed serial killer.
So this is my list of personal tips for having a better time at a 40K tournament. Perhaps you'll find some of them helpful yourself.

Play with your mans.
Before you ever go to a tournament, make sure you've got games under your belt with your list. At LEAST half a dozen, ideally a lot more than that if you're expecting a tough fight. It takes time to get used to how an army functions and ever change you make to the list necessitates more time spent. Don't walk in with a list you wrote last night- inexperience with an army kills more tournament dreams than practically anything else. Being practiced with an army means that you know its ins and outs and don't have to think so much about the routine actions- remembering to cast psychic powers, shooting in the correct order, etc- and that frees up brainpower to concentrate on the important things. You can have the best list in the world, but if you don't know what to do with it, it doesn't mean a damn thing.

Get some sleep.
Seriously. Yes, I know, you can run on two hours of sleep per night, and that's great, but the truth is that doing so is going to cost you. You might not notice, just like you won't notice a lot of things if you're lacking sleep, but it is going to come back to bite you in the ass in tons of little ways. It's going to affect your ability to think and it's going to affect your mood, and both of these are paramount at a tournament. Get. Some damn. Sleep. Six hours, ideally eight, each night before the tournament. Ideally you want to be doing this a couple nights in advance as well so it's not completely foreign to your body, but given some people's work schedule that can be a lot to ask.
(And, should it need to be said- take a shower and remember your deodorant when you pack. You're probably gonna be in close confines with half a hundred other people for most all of a day- if you smell like a deer carcass, they are going to notice.)

Eat well.
With two or three days of gaming back-to-back and often being hundreds or thousands of miles from home, it's easy to slip on this one. You need to shove something in your mouth between rounds and before crashing for the night, but you don't have a lot of time and you don't know the area so you just hit that Jack in the Box and call it good. Two or four hours later, though, you're really gonna regret it; greasy food all weekend long will take its toll on you and, like with sleep, your brain is going to suffer the consequences.
Not to sound like a health guide, but try to eat at least three meals during a tournament day and make them things you won't hate yourself over later. Even if you don't normally have breakfast, some oatmeal, fruit, or cereal will go a long ways towards making your round one matchup go smoothly, in both a game and personal sense. You'll probably have more time around dinner, so take that opportunity to make it your other decent meal- cramming in a burrito or wolfing down some Chinese during lunch is pretty par for the course, unfortunately, but try to avoid anything that's gonna weigh you down. Food expenses can add up pretty quickly, so canny tournament-goes often bring snacks (granola bars, trail mix, gummies or candy) and instant meals of their own (anything you can make with a microwave, basically.)

Be friendly with everyone.
Nothing will make your tournament less fun- and less successful- than starting off games on the wrong foot. Despite what the internet says, I have found that the overwhelming majority of players at tournaments are actually quite nice people and are doing exactly what you are doing- trying to have a good time and play some good games. Say hi, introduce yourself, give the handshake, and open things up right. You don't have to be a glib motherfucker, just be a decent human being. It'll help a lot down the road if there's some kind of rules dispute if the other guy thinks you're just a decent bloke trying to play a game rather than some sort of closeted weirdo who needs to win to validate his ego.
This goes for outside of the games as well- wander around, talk with folks, find interesting conversations. You're among like at a tournament, so let it go for a bit and feel free to be a nerd. Maybe you'll meet someone interesting, or maybe you'll meet someone you already knew elsewhere- it turns out that a lot of internet people also exist in real life as well. Chances are you're shelling out a pretty fair wad of cash to be here, so make the best of it and see who you can see.

Corollary: Ask people about their armies.
You know what people really like? Talking about themselves and the things they've done, and some of them are actually really talented folks. Take the time to ask people about their army if you've got a bit of time- the conversions they've done, the paint scheme they've used, and so on. I've gotten a lot of good ideas from other people's stuff at tournaments, and you just might learn the trick you need to make your next model really pop. You'll find folks with experience in just about every arena, from sculpting to airbrushing to casting, so take advantage of it. This goes for the game side of things as well- tournaments are a great place to encounter armies outside the scope of your usual local scene, so if you're interested in learning more about the game, ask folks about the army they've brought.

Have a legible copy of your army list for each opponent.
A lot of tournaments require this, but even if they don't, it's still a good practice. Have a readable- preferably printed- copy of your army list for every person you play, plus an extra or two. Handwritten isn't a mortal sin, but if you're like me and have scrawl that is cursed by the gods, you should probably go find a printer rather than smear ink and graphite all over a dozen sheets of paper. Make sure it's clear how many models are in each unit, any upgrades you selected (especially special or heavy weapons) and any other special choices you made. Also avoid the “spew of text” versions of AB and other programs that lists every single special rule and piece of wargear for every model in the squad- information overload is just as bad as information scarcity.

Know the rules.
This cuts both ways; you need to be able to explain what your units do to the other guy, but you also don't want to be forgetting important capabilities that might clinch you a game. Some people like Army Builder or other software for this, since it can give you summary sheets for your special abilities and units. Personally I'm not a fan, but there are many who are; “reference sheets,” whether a full-size printout or individual cards, can also be useful in this sense. You should know the basic statistics of most of your units and their weapons are by memory at this point as well as any psychic powers or other kooky nonsense. Be able to give quick summaries of your units for an opponent that isn't familiar with them- e.g. “These guys are like Assault Marines except that they're one lower toughness and they all have Rending in close combat.” Be familiar with rules of the game that you use a lot- if you are a shooting army, know how cover, morale, saves, and wounding work. If you are an assault army, know how charges, challenges, combat, and consolidation work. Every minute you have to spend looking things up is less time you get to spend actually playing the game.

Corollary: Know the FAQs and things not covered by the FAQs.
Sometimes GW's FAQs drastically change the way rules work or even invent new rules altogether. Make sure you are familiar with the rulebook FAQ and those of any codices you are using, at the very least; it wouldn't hurt to be at least passingly familiar with other books' as well. Just as importantly, know what situations aren't covered by the FAQs and be prepared to work these rules out ahead of time with the tournament organizer and/or your opponent. If there's a common issue with very little community consensus- e.g. Coteaz's “I've Been Expecting You” when used from a transport or building- settle the matter in advance so it doesn't grind the game to a halt.

Corollary: Know the rules of the tournament.
Every tournament does things a little differently, so make sure to read through that mission packet twice to make sure you got things right. You'll feel really dumb if the other guy has to inform you that Relic is the secondary mission not the primary and you actually lost when you thought you'd won. This goes double for “unique” missions and deployments. If at all possible, try to practice the mission format in advance so you get used to playing that style of game.

Let the little stuff slide.
Did your opponent forget to cast psychic powers before moving? Let him go back and do it. Missed a combat or a charge that should've happened? A do-over now and again is fine. You don't need to be a complete pushover on this- if someone repeatedly forgets or “forgets” to do stuff you certainly should draw the line eventually- but it's generally held as courteous to let people fix obvious mistakes, and it makes it more likely they will pay you the same courtesy. Being reasonably generous on this front lets people know that you are not a hideous parody of a human being here to ruin their game, and that is a good thing.

Sit down sometimes.
It might seem like you're just shuffling little mans around a board, but being on your feet for eight or more hours can be exhausting, doubly so if you are constantly leaning across a table. If you get the chance, give your dogs a rest and sit down for a few minutes during the other guy's turn. Even just five minutes every hour will make a startling difference. Oh, and try to have a decent pair of shoes for things, that helps a lot, too.

Realize your local rules are not everyone's local rules.
This includes a lot of stuff like interpretations for particular situations, which we covered above, but also little stuff about just playing the game. What counts as a cocked die? Balancing another die on it is a common solution, but some people prefer to simply reroll anything that goes onto terrain or models' bases. There's no right or wrong way to handle it so long as you're clear. Likewise, GW sadly has left the issue of whether you can move through the walls of ruins and whether walkers and MCs can get into the upper levels of such structures entirely up to the players- these are issues you may want to go over before the game starts.

Keep hydrated.
This goes along with the other advice about the physical demands of playing the game- you are going to lose a lot of water over the course of a day, between talking and sweating. You need to replenish that loss or you are going to feel its effects and that is going to make your experience a lot less pleasant. Some larger tournaments, hosted at a major hotel, will be kind enough to provide water for everyone, but many other events will not. Bring some water or sports drink (Gatorade, Powerade, etc) to keep you moving throughout the day. Coffee, soda, and beer will NOT help with this- feel free to drink them, certainly, but make sure you're getting something else as well.

Figure out terrain before the game begins.
This one should be practically second nature to players of all types- at the start of the game, figure out how you want to handle the terrain pieces on the board. Are those hills difficult terrain to get up? How are you going to treat that building/ruin over there? Is this piece impassible or just difficult? What counts as area terrain? Again, hammering all of this out with your opponent before the game begins can be a huge headache-saver later. Different people have different ways they are used to ruling things- I've seen some people who assumed all hills were area terrain and some who prefer to only count the “inside” of a ruin's base as area. So long as you can both agree to it, there's not really a wrong solution.

Take pictures.
Again, you spent a lot of time and money getting ready for this and you're at a gather full of (hopefully) cool people with cool armies. If you have a smartphone or a nice digital camera, some pictures of key game moments or particularly beautiful models are a great way to immortalize things. And if you like posting stuff to the internets, a couple of good pictures can make an after-action report worlds more interesting for your readers.

Don't be a dick.
I'm coming back to this one because, more than anything else, it's gonna influence how your tournament goes. Don't cheat, not even a little bit. Don't assume you're right about every little rule- it's fine to be confident, but admit the possibility of being wrong and be prepared to resolve the issue and then let it go. Don't complain about your luck every time you roll a '1′ or get a slightly-below-average turn of the dice. Don't whine about your opponent's army and how unfair it is. Don't gloat when things are going well. Don't go into mega-creeper mode the moment you see a woman. Treat other folk like human beings.
Tournaments can be a lot of fun, even if you aren't a huge competitive player- many tournaments try to cater to different types and are following in the footsteps of NOVA/Adepticon and holding narrative events in addition to the tournament proper. If you're making the effort to go out and see one of them, following the above guidelines can make your tournament experience a lot more successful and a lot more enjoyable, not just for you but for everyone. We play this game to have fun, and no matter how you have your fun- whether you like tuff games against tuff players, fantastic conversions, epic stories, or just finding some other nerds to hang out with- tournaments, properly prepared for, can be a great way to have it.