Monday, November 22, 2010

Battle Report: CSM and Daemons 2v2


It’s Monday and I can’t think of a better way to start this week then with a battle report of this weekend’s tournament at my local GW. In the interest of layering content I will also discuss the awesome-ality (this is totally a word) of Noise Marines and that insatiable pervert Slaanesh.              
It’s the perfect conflict. A storm whose elements have so conveniently assembled themselves that rain falls like bombs onto the earth. The precise heat and pressure has been applied to death that it becomes a diamond of war. Unlikely allies share battlefields with even more unlikely enemies. In acts of betrayal, blood stains bonds held together for millennia.

This tournament was three rounds, each with different objects. First round is straight up pitched slaughter, kill or be killed and the Tally Man counts it on his abacus of death. Kill Points are recorded in the case of ties. Turn two is Assassination. Simply strike down the heads of your opponents’ army from table quarters. Finally hold objectives in Dawn of War. The game is two versus two, 750 points each, one mandatory HQ and Troop choice each. No more than two HQ’s per side. I and my partner decided to go with a deadly combination of CSM and Daemons and fluff it around Slaanesh. So I took two six man squads of Noise Marines with Sonic Blasters and a Blastmaster, two Rhinos, a Defiler, and a Flying Slaanesh Daemon Prince with Lash of Submission. My partner took, a Keeper of Secrets with Unholy Might, eleven Daemonettes, Soul Grinder with all the Mawcannon profiles, two Fiends, and five Seekers.

Since there are actually three games to be reviewed I will simplify all events into the major events and the strategies that won/lost games for us.

Game One: We deploy first. They have decided to bring Space Wolves and Tyranids, most notably a Swarm Lord and a Trygon Prime, but otherwise the most lethal thing I recognized was the Devastator squads. So we deploy away across the board and but unfortunately my partner gets the lame half of what she wanted to come in turn one. So her Soul Grinder and Keeper get to sit out for a while. So we go first and I lash the Space Marine Devastators out of a building but not far enough to get them all out, my Defiler kills only a few rather than all of them. That is pretty much turn one. Our basic strategy was avoiding the Swarm Lord and his two Tyrant Guard, pick off Space Marines when applicable, and gun down that Prime as soon as it shows up, of course it was Deepstriking. We intended to Lash/Pavon all the marines and Gants and drop our two S8 AP 3 large blast and our two S8 AP3 small blast templates on them. Unfortunately, we made a critical mistake. Instead of avoiding the Swarm Lord we decide to hit it head on with our Daemonettes, Prince, Seekers, and Fiend; thinking that we could over power it all at once. This was not the case. We got tied into combat where eventually our enemy had reinforcements join the fight. The Keeper came in but misshaped into my tank and got placed too far away to ever be useful by our enemies. When her Soul Grinder did show up it got only one round of ineffectual shooting before being wrecked by a lucky Lascannon. The Prime did show up and killed a few Seekers and my Noise Marines unloaded five wounds into it. By the end of the game our sluts (Daemonettes) were dead, Prince was dead, and a barely standing Swarm Lord and Prime came down on the Noise Marines. To the fates of the Defiler and Keeper you ask? They never manage to run fast enough to combat.
Conclusion: We underestimated the Swarm Lord; I play Tyranids and did this. We failed to think ahead and see that reinforcement would turn combat. Misshaping and rolling bad the half of the daemons army was unfortunate. The biggest issue we had was the understanding of our army. I never used Noise Marines before and she never ran Daemons in 40K.

Game Two: This game was a give. Our enemies were two new players playing Thousand Sons and Dark Angels, they had one tank. The objective was kill your opponents HQ’s. In a tricky display of wit our enemy loop holed a Greater Daemon HQ into the game and against the two HQ limit, I don’t mean this negatively, good for them that they figured that out. We decided to play it easy and light. The wrong half of our Daemons came in again, although to our advantage, that left the Keeper off the table. I kept my Prince in cover and lashed troops for the Defiler to pie plate to death. Most interesting point in the game, my Daemon Prince and the Lord with a Khorne Daemon Weapon duked it out, but my Prince won thanks to higher initiate and my opponent rolling a one for his attacks.

Conclusion:  We got a better understanding of our army while had a light and fun game, no need to go into detail.

Game Three: This is the game that defined the tournament. It was five objectives, of which we got to place the greater amount. We were up against Imp Guard and Blood Angels. These guys came to win. They had Chimeras, a Lemon Russ, a Ball Predator, Librarian Dreadnaught, Stormraven and lots of troops. We knew right away that we had no chance of out gunning them or their amour. So we decided to throw as much stuff at them as possible in a single large block. We deployed everything we had in a single corner of the table. Again, we didn’t get the half of the daemons we wanted. Our enemy deployed likewise knowing that they could take us. By turn two we had killed a tank but lost our Prince. Daemonettes and Seekers landed in the middle of No Man’s Land. To make a slow slaughter short, I will condense the rest of the game. We killed almost nothing of theirs and they killed everything of ours. But, this is where strategy outweighed strength. My partner cleverly dropped her Keeper and the Soul Grinder behind our nemeses, on the weaker side of the board. I kept my still living Noise Marines in the back near our objectives. There was a crucial moment were our enemy used three Meltaguns but still failed to kill the Soul Grinder. It and the Keeper started cleaning up tanks and troops and even triple assaulted at one point. By the end of the game: The SG (Soul Grinder) contested one objective, one was left all alone, one of my CSM squads was wiped out and our opponent took an objective, and my other CSM took the last objective. The game ended in a draw.

Conclusion: I feel very accomplished from the results of the game. We were out listed and still managed to tie the game. We learned that overwhelming forces can be beaten if you out smart them. If you make that aggressive force meet you head on and commit too much, you can lead him where you want. The only regret I have is that we forgot about a Fiend who, if we had remembered, could have contested their only objective. Also, we might have been able to Pavon that unit off the objective but that too we forgot about. We learned a lot about our armies and next time we will be ready to deal out more hurt.

Overall: In its entirety we did well for having run what we did. We showed that 40K is still a game of strategy and not just list building. I also fell in love with Slaanesh that day. Noise Marines are not properly appreciated. Sure they are a bit expensive but a squad of ten gets you 18 assault Bolter shots and two S5 assault hits, or 27 Bolter hits and a small blast S8 AP3. Not to mention a S5 AP3 flame template. They are the most versatile units in the codex. And Daemonettes can deal out a lot of pain in a charge. But, they don’t have staying power; they are best used to wipe out units that they know they can beat quickly. And, I admit it begrudgingly, the Soul Grinder is better than the Defiler. The theme of Slaanesh is speed. They are generally faster in initiative and almost always have fleet. Outside of the Noise Marines who display a very well balanced approach to combat, as they should as they were bent on being perfect, Slaanesh favors a swift combat. If you run Slaanesh Daemons you need to keep target priority and deployment in mind. You have no shooting, so when you DS in you have to make it to some cover. When you assault, you cannot charge into anything that can force you into prolonged combat or your 5+ save will fail you.

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Editorial: The Cheese Does Not Exist



delicious, delicious peeps...oh um...never mind.

Hello People.

Today I want to discuss the Phantom Cheese. What is the Phantom Cheese you ask? Well it is this illusion that all gamers have of cheesy units and lists. I will simply start by saying that there is no cheese.

Every one of us hears at some point about "that cheesy list" or "this cheesy unit". It’s the nature of the beast. But I am here today to dispel the myth that these even exist. The fact is that every codex has what people say is "Cheese". We all have lists that are "Cheese". But I pose this psychological analogy; it is commonly thought by psychologists that if an abnormality is common throughout a population then that abnormality is not actually abnormal but normal. For example; a large percentage of Americans suffer from depression. It is believed that depression is not abnormal but a trait that our culture shares. The relevancy of this analogy is that all codices have some features that hit hard and make you cry. But that doesn’t make them bad. 

Tyranids have their Trygon Primes, Blood Angles have their infinite number of lighting claw dreadnaught attacks, daemons have power weapon carrying Bloodletters, Imp Guard have leaf blowers, Deldar have spamming dark lances, and so on and so forth. You see we all have power hitters, but that doesn't make them cheesy that makes them normal. Things that don't go against the norm cannot be criticized as being different. This edges along the topic that complaining about lists and units only serve to make the complainer look bad. 

I hear all the time about how players shouldn't tailor a list, or use certain list configurations because they are commonly used to win tournaments. It is true that you should keep your competitive levels appropriate for the game. If you playing a tournament and know your opponents then go ahead and tailor away. But if it’s a friendly game you should try and avoid taking advantage of your opponent because in a friendly game you both want to have fun. It is hard sometimes when you know what you are facing to do this. If you know you are taking a horde on, then why would you not take a flamer? There is a level that is competitive and fair and it is up to the player to decide where that line is. But, there is an even simpler way to do it.   

I never write a list to fight a given enemy. I never think about what my opponent is bringing to the fight, except in tournaments. When I play I pull whatever list I have written and want to try. Sometimes I run my CSM with nine obliterators, sometimes with all Dreadnaughts, MC, and Defilers, and even sometimes I run nothing but Raptors. You see I like coming up with exciting and different ideas and testing out how they work. I love the science of the game; testing variables in different environments to see their effects. I prefer winning with style over just plain winning. That doesn't mean I don't ever write up All-Comers lists and keep them on hand. I do and you should too. But there again, that doesn’t take unfair advantage of your opponent.

And even if your opponent does tailor his list, and does run what normally wins on the internet, and does run his big fancy units. So what? It’s in the codex and he has the right to do that. Learning to overcome those lists rather than complaining about them makes you a better tactician and may even force that player to come up with new ideas.

The biggest point here is to try and enjoy the game. It is a hobby. It is for fun. I see many people turn the game into a stressful adventure into how to torture yourself and your opponent. Just keep it loose. It's not like you’re playing for money or anything...unless you are...in which what is the buy in?

This is ZombieJoe saying, "Please Do Not Stare Down The Operational End Of The Device."


Monday, November 15, 2010

Squad Formations: How to grab some cover.


Hello World, or at least the important parts, today we shall discuss the merits of squad formation. This article really is intended for 40K but no reason some of the soon-to-be mentioned points couldn’t be used in conjunction with Fantasy.
                I know that today’s games are Mech games, we all know this undeniable truth, but at times our troops will have to hoof it across the field, especially my fellow Hive Mind followers. So I pose the question, how do you place your squads? Do you just drop them on the board and move them along? Or do you give them the formations they deserve? To help with your musing let’s consider the following.
                There are three formation types that I like to use; the V, the O, and the Wall. To start, the V is exactly as it sounds. You make a wedge or spear tip of units that can either hold their own to gunfire or have portable cover and inside that V you place your escorted squad. For example, from time to time I will forgo vehicles or if my Berserker squad loses their tank to a dastardly opponent with a Lascannon right before they had they were about to assault and I have a squad of Thousand Sons nearby to help them out.  When something like this happens I will make a wedge out of Thousand Sons and place the berserks inside that wedge. This gives the Khornes 4+ cover and the Thousand Sons get their invul.
                The O shape borders on the same principle but is a bit more defensive. It gives you 360 degree cover but tends to make the units hard to move and squeeze into places. I find it works better with Nids for objective holding. Let’s say your last Warrior is down on his luck and your enemy is looking to kill your last bit of precious Synapse. You take your gaunts (of whatever flavor you like) and form up around him.
                The Wall is my favorite personally. It advocates small blocks of units to work well but for us Horde guys it couldn’t work better. You basically make walls or lines of units, one in front of the other. To give a bug’s perspective on it. Rather than taking a large unit of gaunts you take many small ones, assuming you have the slots for it, and form the up line by line. Now instead of having a 30 man unit get blasted to dust and slag because 6+ basically means no save at all you have 4+ cover on everything that isn’t monstrous except one small frontal unit.
                These scenarios are not absolute in their design. I am sure that many more examples of the importance of squad formations exist. What do you all think? Any good stories or examples?
                This was ZombieJoe, “What do you mean I can’t take of my sweater? I’m hot!”

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Vamire Counts Tactics: Death Star



ZombieJoe Joe here and it's time for Zombies! Today I will give a little Vampire Counts tactica based on my experience with them as well as discuss the future of VC. The list I have listed is actually very successful for me. On more than one occasion I defeated my opponent in the first two turns. Now before we get to deep I will like to make a disclaimer for this list. The ability to defeat an opponent in turn one or two only works in non-standard games, meaning that you cannot make it to combat in turn one as the tactic would suggest because that actual game rules say you must be over 24” apart. So that being the case it is not possible turn one, but turn two...
            The list includes:
           
Vampire Lord – decked out pretty much however you like just as long as you give him the entire lore of vampires and Staff of Damnation.

Vampire – again gear not specific just give him the signature lore of beasts spell, and ghoul kin.

Wight King – must have the Drackenhoff BSB.

Konrad – because he is awesome sauce.

Ghouls x 50 – what could be better

Ghouls x 50 – redundancy is key.

Corpse Cart x 2 – because they know how to buff.

Blood Knights/Vargulg/Black Coach/ ect.

The peripherals are really up to you and your liking. I take 5 x Blood Knights and a Vargulf in a 2500 point game. But oddly enough this list does not depend on them.

            Now this strategy works really well against Skaven and there Screaming Bells or Plague furnaces , depends on where they dumped the most points. Put all vampires and Wight Kings in one of the ghouls units (yes it’s a death star)

What you do is:

Deployment- Move up as far as the game parameters will allow.

Before first turn – March your ghouls via ghoul kin as far as you can.

*Get first turn, or don’t and it will work in standard games if the enemy goes first.

Your turn – March up then use Danse Macabre to get to combat.

*Now for the fun stuff.

Use a corpse to give yourself always strike first. Use lore of beasts to buff your ghouls. Use staff of damnation to get one round of free combat. Then after you have done all your other spells go into combat and wreck face. I suggest using Konrad to tear open any Bells or  plague furnaces.

There you have it, simply and very effective. What you have here is a Laser Guided Nuke. You destroy the most expensive unit in turn one or two and surely you have won the game.

Part 2:


From Part 1 you know that I favor using death stars for VC. The reason for this is that I think the days of small units are gone for the vampires. The magic phase has become unreliable for us. Any given turn can be awesome or terrible. So the old ways of spamming spawned units is gone, we all know this. But what does that do to the army? Well it forces us to fight as we always should have, as a horde. Sending massive blocks of undead to the door step of our enemies. Hiding our Heroes and Lords among the dead and generally trying to make a single massive unit. Done the way I see it, it is unavoidable to make a death star.
If you run the Drackenhoff BSB as I do then you would want to put that big point addition in a unit that would matter, that leaves us with a large block of something. But then you have your Lord and your Heroes, wouldn’t they live longer and be more effective if they had some Regen? Yeah, they would. So we put them in the Regen BSB unit and now we have a death star.
Simply put, small block of units don’t work for us. They die just way to fast and we cannot count on bringing them back. Personally I barely use summoning powers to increase or even revamp (pun intended) a unit unless it is really important that I do. Instead I use the lore’s to make my units stronger and throw some death on my enemies. That’s all I use my power dice for. The most wounds I recover I put on characters.
That really about covers it, what do you all think? Is a death star the only logical place for VC to go?
This is ZombieJoe saying, “Remove the head or destroy the brain.”



Monday, November 8, 2010

Chaos Space Marines: A close Up


Hello Children of the Inter-tubes, this is Zombie Joe and its Monday and I am at work, so what better thing to do then update my blog. Today’s topic is, if you haven’t already noticed then you need to start reading the headings, Chaos Space Marines.
CSM are my first love. I started them all those years ago at the age of twelve. Back when Abbadon was cool looking. They were then and still now a very balanced and easy army for any age war gamer to start, and yet they are completely capable of opening up a can of whoop-ass soup. Why is this? Well let’s begin with the basic Chaos Marine.
                To start each Marine is fifteen points and comes with two close combat weapons, a bolter, frag grenades and some cheap upgrades. Couple this with the fact that they can take marks that increase their stats further and you have a very stable and cheap basic unit, cheap enough that a horde wouldn’t be impossible to do. For beginner there is nothing simpler to understand than a Space Marine. They are walking tanks full of PewPew. But it doesn’t stop there.
Given how balanced the codex is a new player doesn’t have to worry about his obvious weakness. Such as with Eldar if they bring too much of one and not enough of the other to the game and get their all assault army shot up, or Necrons who need to use their teleportation to flee from assaults. The CSM codex gives access to hardy and power HQ’s, i.e. Abbadon himself or even better the dreaded flying Tzeentch Warptime Daemon Prince, cheap troops, acceptable elites, and powerful heavy support.
While on the topic of troops I would be disconsolate if I were to forget to mention the patrons of dark gods. Death Guard, Thousand Sons, World Eaters, Emperors Children; the best of the best in the CSM codex, capable of turning this army into any type of fighting force. With the staying power of Death Guard and there T5, the shooting majesty of the Thousand Sons, and the face to face bashing of World Eaters and Emperors Children, this codex and be altered to fight any force without giving its self up to weakness. Such as, if I were to take Berserkers into a fight against a unit even more elite in combat then them, I still have space marines! That is 3+ save and fours across the board. I can weather the hits and let the rest of my army do the crushing. That is where the Obliterators and Defilers come into play.
There is nothing bad in the CSM heavy support chart. Predators, Landraiders, and Vindicators being proven stables in any army, we find ourselves looking to the other choices. Nothing in the chaos codex has more artillery then the Defiler. Sure we lost the barrage feature from the previous codex, but who cares. You run these beasts as objective protectors and lob S8 AP 3 pies and obliterate your enemies. Speaking of obliterating, how about having access to a Deepstriking universal weapons platform. You use the Icons of Chaos and you have a unit that never mishaps and can come crashing down on tanks, troops, and objectives with an array of weapons that would make the Kremlin cry. The last unsung hero of the heavy support column is the lonely Havoc. Seldom seen in my communities but such the torment of enemies of players who know their value. Being able to take four Missile Launchers or four Lascannons in a single squad can make that squad an insta-boom tank killer.
Elite slots have two really good choices and two fun choices that competitively I would think twice about. CSM Terminators are comparable to any other terminator out there, unless that other Terminator has storm shields and an Austrian accent. They can use the same icon Deepstrike methods as Obliterators to drop down and lay down some hurt or be thrown into a Landraider and launched into a twenty seven inch charge if you properly use your Lash of Submission. However, it is the Chosen that give me the vapors. These guys can infiltrate and drop twenty plasma shots onto unsuspecting troops or infiltrate and nuke silly Landraiders looking for that early morning assault. These guys make outflanking Genestealers look like pesky ants when equipped and used properly. That leaves only the Dreadnaught, an awesomely fluffy addition to an army but not always the most reliable. Just to make this clear, I am not saying that it is bad, personally I love using them especially three of them with flamers and three Defilers and two Daemon Princes and a greater daemon to make bug paste out of Nidzilla lists, but they do get confused at times and that hurts when you’re at the winning moment about to contest and take an objective and your Dreadnaughts run the wrong way or shoot you in the arse. That leaves the Possessed troops as well. They fall into that same category as the Dreadnaught. They are fun and if you get power weapons very useful. But, in the end, that unpredictability makes them less advantageous then other more competitive choices. They take skill to use because you can’t predict what they will have. I find it is the mark of a great tactician to find ways of making any unit work but if you are one of those players more concerned with winning then winning with style then you probably won’t take these as a unit in your army.  
All that remains is the Fast support and limited daemon resources the codex offers. It is commonly accepted that the CSM Fast support lacks in power. Now this is true and untrue at the same time. They are all perfectly acceptable additions to any list and if used properly are quiet successful. But, what they lack is that special quality that makes them seem specific to the army. They don’t have any special Chaos powers, other than marks. The Bikers and the Raptors are nothing more than slight variations of the basic troop, but that doesn’t make then worthless. Too many players these days think that everything needs its own obvious ability, that its tactical use should be simple. This is not true, some units don’t come with AP 3 Bolters or Lance weapons, some units are just plain reliable.  
Daemons. Daemons are the biggest gripe that veteran CSM players have. We miss the choices that we had with Daemons before they went rogue. No point in complaining about what cannot be control. We are but flecks of sand in a universe dictated by chance and chaos. So we accept our fate and look at what we can do with what we got. Greater daemons, being only 100 points, are excellent shock troops when you’re taking the fight to your enemy. When at the last crucial moment when you got only three marines left and the enemy is chopping the up, then suddenly, your champion falls to the ground as his body is wracked by change. His limbs extend, his flesh boils, his eyes burst, and he explodes into a mighty daemon that turns the tide of battle. Nothing beats that moment. Lesser daemons can do the same thing though with less narration. Cheap and taking no force organization they can bolster lines or distress your thinned out enemy formations. They are fantastic tactical choices.
That covers this dissertation of the CSM codex. Without doubt if you’re new and want an easy but powerful army than you know where to look. You got the options and power to make a fighting force that can weather any storm and break any fortress. But they also have tactics. They aren’t some leaf blower list that doesn’t require any more thought than “how many dice do I roll?” you got choices that can solely depend on how good you can think on your feet. You got choices that, although strong, mean nothing if you put them up against the wrong enemy or in the wrong place. CSM offer you the world in options and who could ask more for.
So my friends that concludes this session. This is ZombieJoe saying, “You can’t stop the signal.”

Sunday, November 7, 2010

Tyranids: Drybrushing vs. Highlighting

Hello World! This is my first post and I figured what better way to say hello world then by discussing something that hits home to me. This very first post will be over the topic of dry brushing vs. highlighting Tyranid models. Now I have heard it told that to properly paint a Tyranid we need to highlight the musculature. I have seen some very well painted Trygons with highlighted muscles. Now, sure it looks good but does it make sense? Since Tyranids don’t actually exist (or so they will have us believe) we will have to rely on the closest things in nature that resembles them, the mighty Arthropod.
            What is an Arthropod? Well, it is animal with an exoskeleton, also sometimes known as a carapace, and soft or thin spots over the joints. One look at an Arthropod and you can see why I think that highlighting muscles doesn’t make sense. There just isn’t any muscle to highlight. More so, since it’s a harden surface, dry brushing the edges would bring out the worn or slightly more harden edges of the carapace. The only possible point on a Tyranid that could pass for muscles is at the joints.
            Here again, the muscles on an Arthropod are located underneath the carapace or in some cases Arthropods use an almost hydraulic like feature to move their limbs. So all this being the case, we look back at the hordes and it becomes apparent that there just isn’t any reason to highlight the muscles that don’t exist. Some people might say, what’s the point of any this anyway? I mean, who would won’t to paint 60 gaunts with that level of detail? Not me. But, it does apply to the bigger guys.
            Well thanks world for reading the first of hopefully many posts. What is your opinion?
                                         








                                                              ...yum crab