Friday, 29 April 2011

Inquisitorial Stormtroopers, We Hardly Knew 'Ye


This article is for the guy with 40+ metal Wulfen models. 

We all tend to get pretty excited when a new release comes knockin'. New models, new rules and new background are a wargamer's nerdy delight. There's a feeling of history in the making - a new generation of whatever race is being updated. Standards are typically raised and we all settle in for a four-to-ten year ride as the new codex/army book works its magic on tabletops across the world. 


But what about that guy in the corner? What's he so upset about? He's selling his army or switching game systems or throwing up his hands in disgust and leaving the hobby altogether. But didn't his army just get an update? Shouldn't he be leaping for joy?


Every new release has new players flocking to the hobby, attracted by ever more robust sculpts and streamlined rulesets. However there are those that get left behind after years of anticipation and brand loyalty. Some players are put off by a change in fluff. Others feel that their codex/army book is now far too mainstream and shirk away from the thought of playing against the same army over and over again.


Still others are repulsed by the new rules and this is the saddest case of all. If you enter the hobby based on an attraction to a certain unit, it's playstyle, it's fluff or both and that unit is erased from the face of the hobby this likely leaves you feeling betrayed and not a little pissed off. "How could Games Workshop do this? What were they thinking?"


There's been plenty of examples over the past few years. Mild instances might include items like Carnifexes or Leman Russ Vanquishers - models that are still playable, even in competitive environments, but are a shadow of their former selves. No one likes it when the unit they spent years building a strategy around, converting painting and collecting suddenly becomes an exotic paperweight. Still the rest of the army is updated and many other models that might have accompanied these "nerfed" units are still very usable and may even be better than they used to be. 


More extreme cases are of course where units are erased completely from the game. All 'Chapter Approved' entries fall into this category as do many units whose models now only "count as" something in the newest iteration of their army's rulebooks. Some older examples of the latter are Tyranid war veterans and 13th Penal Legion. Both of these cases are tragic due to the vast potential these units held to become characterful entries in their respective codices. All of those beautifully converted models reduced to playing the role of the "rank-and-file" entries. Boring and sinfully wasteful. 


The most recent and perhaps the most perplexing of these cases is of course the removal of Inquisitorial Storm Troopers from the game. Do not pass go, do not collect $200 just get the hell out of the game. This is distressing on a number of levels. Firstly because it is worrying to see a core part of an army erased without even a reference. Inqusitorial Stormtroopers are not once referenced in the entire document which is meant to update a book that could field nothing but Inquisitorial Stormtroopers. 


Secondly it is equally distressing that GW would imply the use of the Warrior Acolyte entry to replace Stormtroopers but did not spend more than three or four minutes contemplating, designing or testing this unfortunate entry. Thus they wash their hands of the issue for the next few years until it becomes profitable to produce plastic Stormtroopers. Ironically the implication that IST's are now to be used as Warriors comes in the showcase section wherein an "Imperial Guard Stormtrooper" model (which is of course the same model the studio used to represent IST's in the previous edition), one of the few models in the industry that actually has grenades visibly sculpted on to it is offered as a representation of a unit that does not even have the option for grenades. 


This gruesome level of carelessness will likely cost the company a great deal of profit as the opportunity to give Imperial Guard players a bandwagon to hop on is missed. Simultaneously all those that shunned the "Grey Knight" codex as a "fly-by-night" Space Marine update are not given the chance to take their Inquisitorial force in a different direction.


Luckily Rules Manufactorum agents need not fall prey to this poor re-conception of  non-MEQ Inquisitorial forces. Rather this seems an excellent opportunity to take matters into our own hands and see just what we can do to redesign IST's and all those neglected units that accompany them in dusty display cases worldwide. 


-Atrotos

Thursday, 28 April 2011

Home Is Where the Hobby Is



An introduction to my beloved new games room. General house expansion left this room spare, so I nabbed it to replace the freezing portacabin as my hobby space.

Exhibit A: the table. Painted as the frontier of a Martian desert of some kind. I need to finish painting scenery and get a little bit more of it, but otherwise it's the second-best use of cupboard doors I know of. This is the warmest room in the house, so I'm never freezing my fingers off when I paint. Out of shot is the swivel chair I paint on and use to move around.



Aesthetically pleasing display shelf. I've started basing models to blend in with the sandpaper I line it with. Usually the display contains stuff I'd use in a quick battle to save hassle. Currently Daemons, Nids, Orks and my first army, Necrons. My other armies are kept in boxes under the table or in one of the two cases.




This is the WIP Window, where I keep...works in progress, obviously. In plain sight to encourage me to actually finish them once my wrist heals. Currently in the WIP stages are: Duke Sliscus, Lady Malys, 9 Trueborn, 1 Kabalite/objective, Captain Al'rahem that's really a LotR guy I got for free, Crusader Aragorn, 2 Storm Bolter Warriors, 2 Plascannon Servitors, GK Techmarine with servo-assisted particle beam cannon (C-Beamer), a Vindicare Assassin aand a Shadowseer.


Coming soon: two battle reports! In reverse chronological order!

Player 3 Has Entered The Game! But Is This Wise?

A-HA! That's why the pictures were so small... Right, a foreword. I have broken my left wrist. It hurt a bit. It's fine now. But blame that for spelling and grammar.

The 'traditional 40k game' is played between two sides, but this isn't set in stone. When 5th Edition rolled out the official rulebook included a special scenario in which three armies set about each other, able to fire into combats and a rotating first turn, which I suspect has something to do with preventing armies ganging up on the last one to go and neutralising it early. Normally I don't need to go this deep into the rulebook, however something has come up to make it relevant.

It's my birthday on Saturday, just after I've finished not caring about the Royal Wedding. Since two regular opponents of mine are moving to London after exams, I'm planning a last battle. However, as a rule I hate, hate, hate three player games. This is for many reasons.


Reason one; most tables aren't build to accomodate them. My game table, and all the tables of my LGW are standard 6 by 4 rectangles. This makes deployment biased in most cases, as an equal distance between all armies that allows them to shoot either army is near impossible. The Rolesboke here suggests the idea of base camps, all at least 30" apart and not within 18" of the centre. This inevitably leads to a sort of triangle forming, with two sides in one table half. These two will then attack each other and the third can relax for a while, unless one side is super-mobile, which isn't always going to happen.

Reason two: the player skill needed to win diminishes. In fact, it could be biased against the better general, as the weaker players could end up forming an impromptu alliance. Now, I'm a tea-and-biscuits gamer (underage and no access to pretzels I'm afraid), but I like to put in an optimal tactical performance. In a three way the main tactic becomes 'hide until the firepower goes away', and your excellent assault unit is always exposed, something you want to avoid.

I haven't a clue how to fix three player, but I do know what extra ingredient I need for a better last battle. A fourth player.

Four-way is in many ways a better system on paper. Table quarters can be utilised, giving equal deployment distance, with some no-mans land between adjacent quarters. Ganging up is a less profitable tactic, as there are still 2 sets of guns pointing at each player afterwards, and if two 'teams' naturally form, it's still more equal.

The hurdle I face is that I haven't done it before. So any help I am given beforehand would be great. So, here's the basics.

Deployment: Each player deploys in their own table quarter. They cannot deploy within 12" of the board centre, nor within 6" of the long quarter boundary (on your table edge) and 9" of the short quarter boundary (up the short edge).

Objectives:


Right now, I've set up a central rectangle, at the corners of which are an objective. Any unit may hold an objective unless its rules state it can never be scoring. The objective furthest away from the player's army is their Vital Objective and is worth 2 points to that player only.


Reserves come in from your own table quarter. Armies are 1000 points.


So, how can I improve this? For a practical analysis of how this game goes, wait a few days and then I shall post it over on Bryssling. Possibly Monday. Go there now for more shots of previously shown games table.



Friday, 22 April 2011

Planning a New Army- Exercitus Ordi Heretici (Part 1)

Can you tell I study Latin yet? Because High Gothic isn't real Latin, the dative of Ordo is dubious, but ah well...

So, to my plans for the new Grey Knight Codex. When I initially set out on my 40k journey, Marines were my third army, and right then I vowed never to collect spin-off chapters. I have since amended this vow so I can use my existing army under the BA dex, but the principle still stands. I don't want a Grey Knight army. I want an Inquisition army, maybe with some Grey Knight support to fill slots.

I've had the old Witch Hunter codex for some time, but didn't collect too many models for it, mainly using it to put a Callidus in my Guard army. However, the new style Inquisition is too good to pass up, as it essentially puts a whole Stellanesque army in one slot. And so, I borrowed the Codex from a friend (we'll call him Cyberscape7 after his online prescence) and had a practice with a ragtag bunch of all my Inquistion stuff versus 1000 of his Ultras, plus a GK Dread to fill in points.

Details are hazy, but I eked out a win. List was as follows:

Countsyas
Callidus Assassin
Vindicare Assassin
4 Crusaders and a Servitor in a Plaslasback (Countsyas went here)
12 Warriors with 3 plasma guns in a Chimera
3 Warriors with a melta gun in a Rhino
3 Battle Sisters (Warriors with carapace (maybe power)armour and bolters) in a Rhino
GK Dreadnough with missile launcher and multi-melta

If anything, that should epitomise my attitude to list building. I don't learn to use armies through theoretical musing and powerlisthammering, I learn by fighting. I don't see much fundamentally wrong with the list, although a Banisher would work better as a hidden fist than a Servitor in situations with no Coteaz in squad.

Scape's list went as follows:

Teminator Librarian with Null Zone and Machine Curse
Venerable Dreadnought with assault cannon (he used the match to try this)
Tactical Squad with flamer, missile launcher and a Twinlasback (combat squads)
Tactical Squad with melta gun, Fist Sarge and a Rhino
5 Scouts with sniper rifles
5 Scouts with sniper rifles, missile launcher

Game was three objectives, Spearhead deployment. This isn't a 'proper' battle report (there will be one in May though) so here's the basic turn summary.

Pre-game: I choose to go second and reserve the mini squads in Rhinos and the Callidus. 'Scape reserves nothing.

Turn 1: I lose the Vindicare to the Dread and Scouts. His rocket Scouts and rocket combat squad settle in a terrain piece. Other stuff moves forward. I lose the Crusader's transport. I inflict minimal damage on his forces but blow up the Razor.

Turn 2: I take minimal damage (one Curse). I immobilise his Rhino and hurt his other forces somewhat, as he loses the flamer combat squad. The melta squad comes in but is too far away to do much. Coteaz rolls 6 shots with his Doombird....and misses with all of them.

Turn 3: The two Dreads get locked in combat and his Librarian teleports closer to me. I lose a Crusader. In return the big Warrior squad takes the Libby down to one wound and Coteaz's eagle repents for its abysmal aim and pecks his eyes out, killing him. The Callidus comes in and halves the size of both a Scout squad and the combat squad with her ranged weapons and morphdrugs. My melta warriors drive to the central objective. My Dread dies in my turn.

Turn 4: The Crusaders are assaulted but hold firm, with one loss. The Cally refuses to die. His Rhino starts working again. Coteaz and the Chimera with warriors rush to the centre objective while the Callidus makes up for the Vindicare's sorry performance by killing off the Tac squad.

Turn 5+6: These sort of merge into one big blur. Basically, I lost all my Crusaders after a constant battering, but the Sisters came in and managed to get the far right objective on Turn 6. I have a scuffle in the middle with his big Tac squad, with Coteaz, the mini Warrior squad and the big one all pitching in, at last sealing me the objective.


Lessons learned: The Callidus. "It's been nerfed!" people cry. Not really, it's just not the Cally you knew and loved. "No poisoned attacks at the end of combat!" What did anyone ever kill with those? "It doesn't ignore Invulnerable!" Nope, but it does kill Nobz, Suits, Nid warriors... besides, isn't that the Vindi's job? "It lost Word in Your Ear!" I do actually miss that, but it's not the end of the world. "It doesn't auto-glance!" Why are you hunting tanks, when you could be neurally shredding that heavy weapons team you can't move anymore? The Callidus can still be used effectively versus most non-Marines army (works well on combat squads, but not full squads). Yes, you have to wait a turn to charge, but this is 'meh, 4+' Edition and you have Stealth. If your opponent invests that heavily in killing one woman then the rest of your army lives.

Crusaders rock. End of argument. These guys easily beat TH/SS for points efficiency.

The Vindicare died, so I've no clue how good it was. Keep it alive though, and that Defenit-Kill Rifle should prove its worth a hundred times over.

Coteaz needs a range unit to better fulfil his potential. Otherwise, he's just a key. The eagle's not bad though....

Next time, I outline my plans to expand my Hereticus based army.

Monday, 18 April 2011

in Bryssem 2: Mission Statement



I want to keep this 'prologue' short so I can actually get to writing about 40k. This is how the site will operate, what will and will not appear, and my goals in writing this.

1. Schedule: This is labelled as a 'companion' blog, as it accompanies my articles for Rules Manufactorum. Writing for that on a regular basis (I'm trying to get to a 'three a month' structure in addition to Atrotos' stuff) is the first priority.

2. Outlook: I play 95% of all my games at a casual level. The exception to this rule is tournaments and less than 800 point games, which I find is more fun the more units you can actually fit in at that point and how good they are.

I have little patience for people who talk about '40k' and mean 'competitive 40k.' However, I respect that 40k is all encompassing and therefore am not against competitive gaming. If anything, there is really only one thing I don't like about it.

In battle, I use whatever the feth I want to units-wise because this appeals to me. Identical infantry units are few and far between, although I am more lenient with vehicles. If I want two units that do the same role, I use different units both equipped to do the same thing, as long as it means I don't scrimp on unit quality.

Tactics-wise, I play to the best of my ability and will readily accept good advice.

3. Content: Posts should generally go into one of these categories...

Reviews of units and armies that don't involve their mechanics and focus more on how and whether I'd use them.

My existing armies and how I put them together.

A small bit of painting and that, but as I'm not as good at that this will probably mark my improvements, model concepts, etc.

The odd battle report. If it's a home game, I'll include pictures as I do quite like my gaming table (and the room it's got now).

I shall not gripe, moan and complain in a hyperbolic and profane method. I'll leave that to the experts.

Last. Philosophy: If you can't paint, that's fine. if your rules knowledge needs tweaking, that's fine. If your conversions suck, that's fine. If your army sucks... well, guess. After all, it can only get better, right?

40k is a game of tactical chance which can and should be shaped to the opinion of the player.

Sunday, 17 April 2011

Forge World Analysis: Wraithseer



Been a while since I've done one of these, so I'll do this one. So, this is the Wraithseer. It looks great, doesn't it?

First. let's look at what has been done right. Believe it or not, this is the only Eldar psyker that doesn't have to pay anything for powers. This is a good move, as it makes the model slightly more worth it, even though the powers are a mixed bag. Giving a Wraithlord Fleet? Fantastic. Barely viable extra save? Not so great. On the other hand, no line of sight is needed, which is especially good with the fallback power.

Greater Spiritseer is another thing done right. Reducing the 'traditional' Cover Save to 5+ can be great againt Guardsman, Gaunts and that, especially combined with the Eldar Missile Launcher with its AP4 pinning blast, although admittedly it's about the only weapon to really benefit from this (maybe starcannons to a lesser extent).

Despite this, I can't see myself using the W-Seer. Why? Well, it costs 290 points. This puts it at a level with the C'tan, and we see them running around freqently, don't we? And to make matters worse, that cost includes the 3-man Wraithguard unit that's got Fire Warrior Disease and serves only as a waste of an Elites slot and a free Kill Point.

The W-Seer has the unique option of my favourite support weapon, the D-Cannon. Unfortunately, I only like the Cannon for its looks and that's a 50 point sink for a small blast with mediocre range. If Forge World replace the 'D' with 'Prism' then I may be interested....

Summary: It's the Nightbringer with the second best Deceiver power, a worse Inv save, overcosted weapons and a free Kill point 33% of the time.

Aesthetics:8
Viability:4
Performance:6.5
Overall Score: 18.5.

Feel free to disagree with above score. Now, an announcement. Like Atrotos did before me, I've now got a pet project blog, Bryssling. It will serve as my blog for my thoughts on 40k that don't involve custom rules and design, ie my playstyle and why, my armies, my thoughts on the new Inquisition and the odd battle report. I shall post my Inquisition thoughts there shortly.

Monday, 11 April 2011

in Bryssem I



Well, I've hit a button I meant to hit for some time, and this came out the other end. I don't know how half the buttons work, but I'll get by.

So, I'm Bryss. My laptop is convinced my name is Ed, despite me constantly telling it otherwise. When I'm not trying to pacify the Machine Spirit, I write for Rules Manufactorum, try to prepare for Higher exams I want 5 As in and play not as much 40k as I would like.

Why have I obtained a blog for myself? Simple, I have no pet project. I had a pet project in the form of a C3 (Custom Chapter Codex), but I can't see myself taking it any further, and I'm apparently capable of much better things than it. So, this is Bryssling, which is exactly like it sounds, a pet. It's not going to interfere with my other writings. Articles I post here will likely have nothing to do with custom rules and more to do with the other things I do within life and 40k. This will likely include my armies, my thoughts on certain units, my battles, acidic dream sequences, the works. The main inspiration for the site is probably The Jungle, a place for some pretty good ideas.

I'll put up a manifesto later, but for now I'll say this. I am not a professional painter, nor a competitive gamer. I am not a GW fanboy, nor a fluffy bunny. I probably lean further towards the 'collecting' aspect of the game, taking units I like and then striving to do the best I can with them on the battlefield.

I play for fun, for laughs, and to try out whatever I want.

Thursday, 7 April 2011

Where is Atrotos?



Dead? Missing? Imprisoned? On safari? Going through a surgical sexual metamorphosis? Transcended reality to seek a higher existence? 


While any of those is fairly likely what I've actually been doing is getting a business up and running. I know, I know - lame excuse is lame but let me interrupt that thought with: 


Pictures!


Before






After:



Yes those pictures are all of the same place. Taken about 3 months apart.


Not Pictured: 40-odd hours of waiting in line and unyielding aggression in the face of Greek bureaucracy. 


Games Corps. has been open about 10 days now but we're still only halfway there. There is still an outdoor space of about 100 square meters to prepare for gaming and a bar to open! 


The store features virtually every kind of dork activity that can be (safely) pursued. Gaming space that can tasked to any interest, snacks and beverages and even satellite TV for the sports fans. The store is shaping up to be the place for gaming events in Athens. 


Once everything is settled down the upstairs will be converted to a design studio where the real occupation will take wings.


-Atrotos

Wednesday, 6 April 2011

Artillery: Old Relic or Still Viable?



Short answer: Old Relic.

Long Answer: Ever since I started playing back in 4th Edition something to me seemed odd about artillery. The basic premise seems simple enough; a combination of infantry and vehicle, but in practise I didn't think it worked. I still don't.So, why do I think Artillery as it is should be scrapped? Well...

1) Lack Of Units: There are currently three Artillery units in the game; Big Guns, Support Weapons and the Thunderfire Cannon. This makes them by far the smallest unit type in all 40k-dom, and yet they get equal space in the rulebook with Beasts, who are rather well represented in Chaos, Dark Eldar and even Guard (who had the good sense to mount their artillery on proper vehicles).

2) They're not as tough as Infantry OR Vehicles: Artillery seems to inherit the negative charactertistics from both its parents. Yes it can get a good Cover Save but unless you're Orks and therefore can get extra crew, your unit size is so small you can't help but be wiped out easily. And no crew means no gun. On the Vehicle side, the gun goes beyond the impossible and actually manages to be more fragile than the paper boats the Dark Eldar sally forth in. Even with a 4+ Obscured save the fact that a glancing hit from a bolter kills it without even a damage table makes them the worst vehicles in the game, ever.

3) Misc: These are minor points.

Artillery uses Heavy Support. This means they are competing with proper, resilent vehiciles and will always be overlooked.

Artillery can be quite expensive, yet easy to kill. The Thunderfire Cannon is 100 points. For slightly less I can have a Dakka Pred, which has good front armour and kills infantry reasonably well.

Look at the Eldar Support Weapon. It, and the Guardian Heavy Weapons for that matter, reminds me for some reason of the hovertank from Space Invaders. The Support Weapon is SCREAMING "I want to be a vehicle!" It should get its wish and become a real tank.

So, how could Artillery be made better? There are two routes it could use. If it could be used as a detachment for Troops units, (non-scoring) Platoon style it might see more use. I'd probably also reduce the cost of the Thunderfire and of D and Vibro Cannons by a bit as well. This would give them a more justified place and allow the current rules to be kept.They may be too fragile for Heavy Support, but they are slightly better than IG weapons teams, so are just right as a Troops detachment.

The other alternative is to make them a new class of Vehicle proper. They could be made cheaper and allowed an AV of less than ten. The current crew/gun divide could be swapped, so if damage is cause on a 5+ it hits the crew. Another table could be used for them (1-2 shaken, 3-5 stunned, 6-crewman killed) with the gun taken out of action if all the crew die or the weapon is ripped off (with the gun using the standard table). They could probably stay Heavy Support or still be moved to Troops in this case, and they would certainly be more viable in smaller games.

So that's me on Artillery, an old concept that won't go away. Next time I write here, I'll ask whether or not it is possible to design a truly unique Troops choice. See you then.

Friday, 1 April 2011

Rules Updates: Stelek Bannus



Stelek Bannus is, as he will tell you multiple times, the greatest warrior in the galaxy. He is capable of annihalating entire armies without so much as getting out of his transport, which only he is allowed to occupy. Recently he has begun a Great Crusade of his own, travelling around planets and finding armies to 'improve', by a carefully planned method of hyperbolic, profane and ego-boosting shouting. After a year or so of this, he reorganises his lucky victims into new formations. Tzeentch has expressed his desire to bless him for his changes, but as he has decided that Tzeentch is terribad, Stelek refuses the blessing.

Stelek is a HQ choice in a Space Wolves army.

WS/BS/S/T/W/I/A/Ld/Sv

6/6/4/4/3/5/3/10/3+

Unit:
1

Unit Type:
Infantry

Wargear:
Meltagun, Improved Digital Weapons, Iron Halo, offensive and defensive grenades, melta bombs

Improved Digital Weapons:
After Stelek injured his hand and whined about it for five years, the Adeptus Mechanicus couldn't take it any longer, lopped off both his hands and replaced them with bionic ones. The middle fingers host power laser blades that count as a pair of Lightning Claws that bestow +1 Strength.

Special Rules: Independent Character, "I can take YOUR army...", Just Won't Die, It Should Be In Cover!, Kill Points are Shi'ite (a follower of Shi'ah Islam)

"I can take YOUR army...": ...and beat MY army with it. After both sides have deployed, roll a D6. On a 1 both players switch armies. Stelek joins the other army, switching places with 1 HQ choice. He must take his mandatory transport with him.

Just Won't Die:
It is said that the only way to stop Bannus for good is to convince the entire world that there is no such thing as casual play and the term '40k' can only be applied to competive play, something currently only he does. Because this is clearly impossible, Stelek cannot be reduced to below 1 Wound.

It Should Be In Cover!:
Stelek frequently advocated putting things in cover, not taking into account the battle conditions in any way. Designate one unit in his army (after any swap). It gains a 4+ Cover Save for the rest of the game, even if it is in the open.

Kill Points are...:
You get the idea. Only Seize Ground and Capture and Control can be played if Stelek is present. If the unspeakable other is rolled, roll again.

Transport: Stelek MUST be mounted in a las-plas Razorback bought with him.

So that's it. I personally believe this to be the greatest ruleset I have ever made, and it will be instrumental in allowing homebrew into major tournaments, along with my new Tau transport, the Flying Pigfish.

Next time I discuss whether or not there are any point to rules for Artillery.