Sunday, 27 February 2011

So just what have I accomplished this year?

A fair bit, I think. The last 12 months on blogging have had a sporadic structure, with a lot of ad hoc entries and later evolved into having articles propers. I have produced around 20 rules entries, with one for every race bar Daemons and Necrons, who are harder to write for in some ways. I have reviewed 3 FW entries, created a new army structure which I hope to get back to and modify further at some point, created 2 scenarios and some minor work.

Outwith RM I created the Angels of Secrecy Codex, an unholy cocktail of Sisters, Marines and Eldar and did some of the work on Spec Ops Killzone, a shining example of what teamwork can achieve over a moderate period of time. I also did a sort-of Dark Eldar Codex and even managed to get a few things right (I put flyers in, although I was sad the Raven didn't make the proper Dex.)

But why? What is the point of all this? Well, it's capability. In my beginnings as a hobbyist I, over time, found I had a soft spot for pretty much every race in the game bar spin-off Marines (BA may change this), and I wanted to be sure I could cover everything. Over time I've built up a sizeable folio of ruleswork, which as a collective whole shows what I can do, and hopefully proves that I am a competent designer.

If you look at my most early entry, you'll find it to be pretty bland and uninspiring stuff, but in more recent times doing all these sporadic entries and watching how GW's own stuff has evolved, I'm starting to take more risks and change more things around. Ravenor, A-2, the Soul Prison, all much more complex and playing around more with mechanics.

This site dragged me out of the niche I had to occupy before, and gave me more scope and a wider audience. The future will be different, less sporadity and more serious articles, but I'll probably do a few more for fun. Now, I have three exams in two days to study for. I'll return in March.

Next time, I'll kill all your troops in the Movement Phase!

Friday, 18 February 2011

Feedback: Codex: Adeptus Arbites v1.6

Crazy work hours have kept me from really contributing to The Codex Project in the capacity I would like to but periodic visits to the forums have brought this gem to my attention. I really love the Adeptus Arbites. They are the most blatant rip-off GW has ever stooped to (and they've got some light fingers when it comes to sci-fi IP) - a Judge Dredd clone transplanted to the 40k universe. Ruthless, uncompromising, just - the Arbites are a beacon in the fog of corruption that roils across the Imperium.

Now with most homebrew efforts you can get an idea of how the army works after a quick perusal. However, this was not at all the case with the Overlord's version of the Adeptus Arbites. After about 20 minutes of reading I began to feel overwhelmed by the volume of material in front of me. Where I expected to find a rough-shod amalgamation of special rules cherry picked from other races what I got was a set of totally original special rules and equipment. What really helped my digest the ruleset was the topical podcast interview with the design team. The podcast really broke the unit entries down and gave a "big picture" view of how the various rules were meant to work together.

What I quickly realized is just how much thought had gone into this document. When compared to the more well-known FlyLord's Arbites mini-dex it does feel much more like a full sized codex and one that stands independently even from its Imperial sibling races. This codex really does excite the imagination and gets you in the mood to create crazy conversions and intricate, well-balanced army lists. 

I don't have the time to get into the details the way I'd like to. There are so many unit types that going through them all one by one just wouldn't be possible (at six in the morning). That means that my feedback will fall short of a complete review.

Aesthetically speaking there isn't much to say. The codex is incomplete in terms of fluff or artwork in that it is just a bare skeleton meant to communicate the rules and nothing else. Sad if you ask me but probably necessary at this stage in the codex's development. Even in terms of simple layout the codex can be a bit frustrating lacking even page numbers, a table of contents or anything at all that makes using the codex easier. Some allowances can be made given the it's still in development but I would like to, at least, not have to scroll through massive blank spaces. 

That's more or less it as far a negative remarks go. Being a codex designer myself I am biased and I'm hesitant to criticize any design decision too heavily. I'll wait for the first impression to wear off and see what turns up.

A unit that really sets the tone for the codex is the Mobile Command HQ. A heavily armored but lightly armed buffer unit that lumbers across the table radiating special rules for nearby units to take advantage of and for the owning player to build strategies around. A converter's dream you can easily imagine a land raider with a bastion added to the flat roof replete with comms arrays and turret weapons. A strong dystopian Icon of the Law. 

The rest of the codex follows suit pretty closely. Units are designed to support one another to the extent that they are almost useless when used independently of another. They capture well the feel of upholding the law in a future torn with strife and unrest. Special weapons, special rules and a force organization that reflects the brutal nature of the far future. 

There is only one unit that forces that "must-have" feel (stingers) and you really see the difference between a codex created by a bunch of guys that love the fluff and a bunch of guys that have model sales in mind. Unfortunately this also leaves me feeling like the codex doesn't have any units that I can really rely on to fulfill their roles. Listening to the podcast I caught the defensive posture the designers adopted when questioned about their heavy support section and was a little let down. "Overcharged Lascannons" might sound totally ridiculous in an Imperial Guard army but in this document it's clear that it's a tool that addresses (albeit unimaginatively) a glaring weakness in the rest of the list - that of long range firepower. 

And this is really the tragedy of the of the whole codex: it's (IMO) completely unplayable. How on earth am I going to tackle 12 AV 12 vehicle chassis lists? Or any army with more than one AV 14 vehicle? 2 "Stingers" definitely won't cut it and my other options are... hope I can glance them with my Containment Team which only goes up to six guys. There's a couple of other melta options miserly sprinkled throughout the list but the bottom line is clear - this codex is not tournament capable. 

Perhaps this is what the designers felt was best. I won't get into the topic of standing by your work and being resolute in the face of scorching criticism. If we lived in a world without Lash, Nob Bikers or Razorspam I could condone a balanced designed effort such as this one. But in a world of scoring Terminators and cheap fast skimmers with 6 Lascannons strapped to them I need more options before I can invest in buying and learning a custom army such as this one.

The designers asked for a list and so I'll close with the build I find most appealing. I'm still unfamiliar with most rules and so it may contain some errors but hopefully it will also illustrate the final point I made above.

1750 Adeptus Arbites

Mobile Command Center            120 
4 HK Missiles                               40 - Why must I pay for these? 
T. Int. Array                                  20
2 T. Protection Arrays                   40 - Overcosted! 

Mobile Command Center             220 - I need 2 since one AV 14 vehicle on the table is suicide
                                                           - plus they're cool 

10 Enforcers                                 210 - !!! They don't even come with Krak grenades, compare to Vets!
Heavy Flamer                                   5 - No AT options :(
Rhino                                              35

Operative                                        30 - why 0-1? "Operative" needs to be changed to "hammer"
Bloodhound                                     15 

10 Arbites                                       105 - Trying to shove more subjugators in forces me to copy/paste
2 Subjugators                                    30
Rhino                                                 35

10 Arbites                                       105 
2 Subjugators                                    30
Rhino                                                 35

10 Arbites                                       105 
2 Subjugators                                    30
Rhino                                                 35

10 Arbites                                       105 
2 Subjugators                                    30
Rhino                                                 35 - 1415 and haven't even touched the Heavies or Fast Attack

I would take Restrictors if the Mesh Carbines did something against vehicles. Or if I could give them all subjugators. 

2 Stingers                                        100 - 
Autocannon                                       40

2 Crowdbreakers                            100
TL AC                                              80 - 

Total: 1735 :(

The Heavies are overpriced - which is to say they're fairly priced but when they're a 'must have' you have to give me room to make their mandatory addition. The designers have kept a conservative stance throughout the codex in terms of points cost but it's clear to me that they have not understood the opportunity cost theory - the design theory that proves you must undercost in order to make up for all the choices you don't have because you chose to play this codex rather than another. A debate for another time.

Now I must retire. The sun is up and I have some much to do today it's inconceivable. I hope my input has helped at least to some degree and I rush to add that I would love the opportunity to furnish this codex with some background material and more feedback in the future. Good luck to the designers and I'll be looking forward to their next version. 


Thursday, 10 February 2011

RM is 1! Fabricator General Atrotos of the Rules Manufactorum

Well, it's been one year since the inception of this little corner of the blogosphere, so now I've lit the cake I'll have a bit of fun making rules for Our Glorious Leader.

Fabricator General Atrotos

The intelligence gathered on the mysterious figure known as Atrotos reveals very little. It is clear he studied on Mars and joined an expeditionary fleet, but after that the fleet went missing in the Warp and records became vague. Years later he resurfaced into the world accompanying regiments of traitors and servitors, whom he orders around using wireless relays in their brains. His equipment is unheard of and strange, with armour that seems to possess rudimentary AI that goes far beyond the capabilites of a regular Machine Spirit. Recent 'evidence' linking him to the force known as the Stellan Hoplites is pure conjecture.

Atrotos may be taken as a HQ choice in an Imperial Guard army, or with a Stellan Hoplite army with at least three squads of Cataphracts.

Cost: 225

Unit: 1 (unique)

Unit Type: Infantry

Wargear: Gnosis Armour, Covenant Pattern Plasma Cannon, Haephes Axe, frag and krak grenades, servo-arm.

Gnosis Armour: The Gnosis suit is an intelligent power armour able to adapt itself to protect against different methods of attack. At the beginning of each of your turns, declare one type of weapon (this can be a ranged or close combat weapon). Until your next turn, all attacks made against Atrotos with that weapon have their Strength reduced by 1. Againt power fists and thunder hammers, the point is taken off after the model's S is doubled, and against weapons that wound on a set value (witchblades, poison, etc) the set value is increased by 1 (so 4+ becomes 5+, etc). In addition, Gets Hot only affects Atrotos on a roll of 4+.

Covenant Pattern Plasma Cannon: This is a range weapon with the following profile:
Range: 24", S:7, AP:2, Type: Assault 1, Blast. If Atrotos does not move, the range increases by 6".

Haephes Axe: This is a power weapon that improves Atrotos' S by 1. In addition, models who suffer a wound to the Haephes axe in close combat have their Initiative reduced by 1 per wound.

Special Rules: Independent Character, Blessing of the Omnissiah, Herabionics, Coded Order System

Herabionics: Atrotos' extensive, seemingly god-gifted bionics grant him Feel No Pain that works on a 6+. In addition, this save may be taken against close combat attacks that allow no armour saves and weapons that cause Instant Death.

Coded Order System: Atrotos may hack into Servitors using a wireless device to give Orders to units of Servitors with a Command Radius of 18". For the purposes of Orders Checks all units of Servitors count as having Leadership 10. He can use the Orders below:

System Restore: Atrotos reboots a nearby unit of Servitors. This order is used on a unit of Servitors that are in a state of Mindlock. The unit may Run or shoot normally this turn.

Delete: Atrotos forces the Servitor's firing algorhythm into a loop. If used successfully, the unit immediately makes a shooting attack, and their weapons count as twin-linked.

Upgrade: Atrotos updates the Servitors with new enemy information. If used successfully, the unit counts as having Preferred Enemy until your next player turn.

Servitors: Units of 5-10 Servitors may be taken as Troops in an Imperial Guard army (or may be taken in a Stellan Hoplites army) but are not scoring and do not use up a Force Organisation slot. For every three Servitors taken one may upgrade to a Heavy Bolter, Multi-Melta or Plasma Cannon (one per unit) for the points cost listed in Codex: Imperial Guard.

And that's one year gone. A huge thank-you to Atrotos for letting me work on this project and for inspiring my creative juices. You may have the cake. Later on, I'll review my own progress throughout this year. See you next time, and as always, C+C appreciated.