Friday, 12 February 2016

LVO Results - A chance to look at the 40k meta (Beware: Mild Number Crunching)


The LVO (Las Vegas Open) Results are out, and as it's one of (if not the) largest tournaments in the world it's always nice to crunch the numbers and see does the meta of that tournament follow our thinking of which armies are the top dog.

First some pretty huge caveats:

  • This is one tournament, and even if it is large it is still a small sample size as any statistician would tell you.
  • With most tournaments having comp that will always change slightly which armies are good, with some armies being able to adjust to the comp better than others.  For the comp in this tournament, please look up the ITC (Independent Tournament Circuit) Rules
  • Results can be skewed by several factors, eg. some people do not complete all their games leading to them having a lower placing than someone who does complete all their games, an army's primary detachment may be a very small portion of the overall army.
So while we should treat all such analysis with a pinch of salt, hopefully the above factors in some cases even themselves out with a large number of competitors.

The full results of the tournament can be found here.

So lets start off my with my predictions (honest I did these before the analysis):

  • All the analysis tables will be dominated by the top 4 Codexs (Eldar, Necrons, Marines for which I include Dark Angels & and finally Tau), ie. the recent codexs with Decurian type detachments (although in the case of Eldar I think their detachment is not their strength, which I think is the base unit cost of their units meaning a CAD with an allied Aspect Host(s) being very powerful for them.  Mainly the top 4 are the most recent codexs
  • They will be some placings for some armies, such as Daemons & Khorne Daemonkin, but the results will show the rest of the codexs are definitely chasing the top 4 in terms of performance, however good generals can get good results.
  • The last stat I like to do, which shows how widespread an armies results are, which to me shows how much a good or bad general can influence the army, I'm not to sure on what this will show.  People like to say that anyone can win with Eldar, but to me they are becoming (like Marines) an army that everyone knows because they are so powerful and becoming so popular.  When I'm playing my Necrons or Tau I feel I know the Eldar better than my opponents know Tau or Necrons and that I have less to fear if I'm playing a worse player.  However in general I still see Eldar smash average generals with average armies whoever they are piloted by.  I think Marines will still have a wide spread of results as they are a popular army and many beginners start with them.
Well onto the stats, and lets take a look at army popularity:
Well no surprises here with my view of the top armies dominated both the field and also the top 50 placings.  A shout out to Dark Angels which got 10% of the top 50 placings while being only 4% of the field.

A stat that starts to shows the power of a codex is to look at how much more they factor in the Top 50 compared to the overall field.  If we ignore the armies with less than 10 armies, we get the following table:
A bit of a surprise (for me anyway) with Dark Angels topping the list, I suppose I need to pay more attention to them.  Apart from that things were as expected apart from Marines, which had nearly the same percentage in the top 50 as they had in the entire field.  Cult Mech and Nids also did well (however the Nids sample is very small, eg. it could have been just 2 armies with loads of Flying Hive Tyrants making the top 50, which would say much for the rest of the codex).

Now lets look at the average placing:
Eldar still dominate along with Marines, Tau & Necrons, but Cult Mech gets a good showing.  I particularly like to look at the stats for the top 50, as this shows what a good general can get out of the army, and also gets rid of the newer players bringing marines.  This brings up a few things, first being the Necrons did very well in the top 50 along with Daemons (although a very small number, 3, made the top 50).  The Chaos Marines, Nids and Daemons armies indicate that is may have been a very specific build that made the top 50 as the overall performance of the three armies was very low.

And now we come to the last stat, which tries to represent the spread of the armies.  To calculate this I looked at each player and how far their position is away from the average for their army, and then divide this by the number of players.  Again just looking at the armies which had 10 or more entrants we get the following table:

At the top of the list we have the armies which had the narrowest spread in the army placings.  In the case of the top three I think it's because it's hard (not impossible) to place in such a competitive field regardless of how good a general you are.  Another view could be that people who take the weaker armies are there more to have fun and socialise, my counter is that even if you are there to have fun and socialise a good general should do better than a worse, and although this is true with these weaker armies it isn't as much as other armies.

Next we have Cult Mech and Eldar.  It may be controversial to some, but it can be hard to pick a weak list for Eldar once you don't pick silly choices, a complaint I've even heard from Eldar players trying to tone down their list when playing against some of the lower tier armies.

Next we have the middle of the road (in terms of spread), here we have Space Marines (being a very popular first army, so can have lots of newer players as well as experienced players), Daemons & Dark Angels.

Lastly we have a big surprise, in the bottom three we have both Tau and Necrons, which had bigger spread of performance than the average, only beaten by Nids.  The new Tau codex might have had an impact with people trying out the new toys and formations, and not having enough practice time with them, but the Necrons is definitely a surprise.  My only idea is that Necrons can be a win big or lose big army, in that they are very resistant to most shooting, but can be susceptible to some types of firepower and can get sweep easily in close combat.  Examples include a Cavalry and Beasts Space Wolf army could go throw a Necron force like a knife through butter, sprinkle in some allied firepower or a Knight and it could be very tough prospect for a Necron force.  Even though these two armies being low on the spread chart is surprising, and I'm sure the Tau will improve as people get used to the new options in the new codex, or maybe even realise that some of the old ones are still good (I'm doing well and i haven't built my Ghstkeel yet or even purchased a Stormsurge)..


So did anything surprise you ?  Why do you think Tau & Necrons had such a huge spread (I may expand on my thoughts in a future post) ?  Personally I'm going to have another look at the Cult Mech codex and the nasty formation that combined Cult Mech with Skitarii and Imperial Knights.

Lastly this was the meta at this one tournament, and is irrelevant for your local meta, and more importantly the group of mates you play with.  The meta in the UK will be different, the meta in the north US, the meta in the next tournament will be different, however I think it does give an indicator of what codexs are the most powerful, and wasn't toooo far out on my initial predictions, but even I will be doing a bit more research to be more familiar with Dark Angels and Cult Mech.

Rathstar

Monday, 8 February 2016

Curse of the Wulfen - New Rules and Codex

Hi,

We now have an onslaught of information about the new Space Wolves rules in the Curse of the Wulfen supplement, due to a teaser video which allows us to see the rules of the new formtions, plus confirmation on a new codex, which is a digital only.  Also here I'm going to touch on two of the new entries; the Iron Priest's updated rules and the Wolfkin (a new formation for fenrusian wolves).

The teaser video can be seen here, and someone has kindly freeze framed and captured the images on Imgur here, which makes it possible to click on each image and zoom in slightly to read the rules.


Other information that has come out yesterday is a pre-order on Black Library for the Space Wolf Codex: Wulfen Edition (link here).  This codex is a digital only exclusive, and takes the existing Space wolf codex and adds the new Curse of the Wulfen Space Wolf rules, including all the new dataslates and formations.

This would make this the cheapest way to get access to the new Space Wolf rules, with the tablet (android) edition being £22.

All this information gives us a very good idea of what the Space Wolves are getting rules wise:
  • 7 New Formations
  • 4 New Dataslates, for Wulfen, Wolf Lord Krom, plus updated rules for Ulrik and the Iron Priest
  • 6 New Great Company Formations
  • A "Decirion" style detachment called the Wolf Claw's Strike Force

The Great Company formations are a bit big, requiring a large number of units, however they do not require the specific Wolf Lord, and can instead be run by a Wolf Guard Battle Leader.  Some of the benefits are quite good (eg. units get free drop pods and they all come in turn 1, or units can disembark after a vehicle has moved 12"), but I'll have to look at them more closely to see if they are worth the heafty points investment, and can compare them to the straight forward but very nice +1 WS for Wolf Guard and Thunderwolf Cav from the Champions of Fenris' detachment (Company of the Great Wolf).

I now want to look at two of the updates close to my heart, first up the Iron Priest.


Iron Priest Update


The first thing you notice is that he has gone up 20 points, but then you notice that he has moved from Elites to HQ, and that his stats have improved.  As well as his WS increasing to 5 he also has doubled in wounds to 2 and gained a point of leadership.  The extra wound is huge, plus the extra WS will come into effect often, overall very much worth the 20 point increase.  His change also puts the Iron Priest in even more direct competition with the Wolf Guard Battle Leader.  The Iron Priest is 25 points more, but comes with a Thunderhammer and Servo arm for weapons, plus having Runic armour, while having one less Initiative (nearly irrelevant when using a Thunderhammer).

A Wolf Guard Battle Leader with a Powerfist and Runic Armour is 100 points.  Both Strike at Initiative 1 with their weapons, the Wolf Guard Battle Leader, and they have the same attacks in combat because although the Wolf Guard Battle Leader has one extra attack on his profile the Iron Priest's Thunderhammer and Servo Arm are both specialist weapons so can be used together to get +1 attack.

The move from Elites to HQ is an issue for people using the Company of the Great Wolf detachment from the Champions of Fenris supplement which requires 2 Elite units.  Previously the Iron Priest was the go to option.  Luckily the new Wulfen unit is an Elites slot to help here.

The other big changes to the Iron Priest is the cost of Cyberwolves.  Previously they were 15 points each, but now they have significantly increased to 25 points stayed the same.

As pointed out by aracersss in the comments section Cyberwolves have not changed in cost - I looked to quickly at a slightly blurred number :(  So every thing is as usual and I think cyberwolves will still be joining Iron Priests in battle

One of the main uses for an Iron Priest was to mount him on a thunderwolf, give him 4 cyberwolves and join him to a thunderwolf cavalry unit, giving them a 2+ save tanker with some ablative wounds to Look Out Sir any nasty hits to.  Now I've been correctly informed that cycberwolves are still 15 points this tactic will be sure to continue :)

It's quite ironic when my painting table has 4 (high elf) lions for cyberwolves, which will quickly be reassigned as leaders of fenrusian wolf packs or character fenrusian wolves:


Wolfkin Formation


One of the unintended ways that formations are great is that they gets units out of a CAD's (or simular detachment's) limit on particluar slots, eg. in my necron army I use a Havest and Destroyer Cult formations, effectively using 5 Fast Attack slots which would not be possible in a normal CAD (Combined Arms Detachment).

At the moment I use Thunderwolf Cav, Fenrusian Wolves & Skyclaws (I know, but I like them) as my 3 Fast Attack units, this formation would free up a Fast Attack slot to allow me the option of putting in a second Thunderwolf Cav unit (or splitting up the existing one into two units).  So how good is the formation ?

It consists of 2-5 Fenrusian Wolf units, which is quite flexible as they can come in units of anywhere from 5 to 15.  They gain Monster Hunter, which is ok, but their low strength will make them struggle against most monstrous creatures.  They gain Outflank, I've never been too much of a fan, but 5 wolves to gain line breaker might be useful.

The big benefit is that the units can all join together to form an Alpha Pack, and additionally when they do they all get +1 attack if the units if 20 models or more.  Now keeping this unit over 20 models will be hard if the enemy fires at them, as they only have a 6+ save, but it will force the enemy to choose between them and the thunderwolves.

I already use a max size unit of fenrusian wolves with Canis, who boosts the fenrusian wolves in two ways already.  When he's with them they reroll to hit in the first round of combat, plus (because of his warlord trait) he gives them furious charge if he's within 12" at the start of the assault phase).  I was thinking Canis with 5 units of 5 wolves, which would give 100 attacks, rerolling to hit, at Str5.  Now this will rarely happen, what opponent wouldn't put some fire into such a large unit ?  Killing 7 models would reduce all the remaining models attacks by 1 each.  However a swarm of 8 point models can be underestimated in both their hitting power and speed compared with other threats like a drop podded Murderfang, Thunderwolf Cavalry, and even Assault Marines accompanied by a Iron Priest on a Thunderwolf.  I just have to paint up some more fenrusian wolves, and unfotunately I use old Khorne hound models for mine, but I think I have a few more lying around.

[My "Fenrusian Wolves" can be seem on the right of the pic]

So overall there's lots to take in with the new information about the Space Wolves release, and I'm looking forward to having a more in depth look at all the other formations.

What part of the Space Wolf release is most exciting for you ?  Which models are looking forward to getting on the battlefield ?

Rathstar


Post Edited 8th Feb to correct the cost of the cyberwolves for the Iron Priest

Wednesday, 3 February 2016

Curse of the Wulfen Campaign Book [Space Wolves] - To Buy or Not to Buy ?


Hi,

As more and more information comes out about the Curse of the Wulfen campaign book, the less I feel like shelling out the cash for it.  Like most gamers I have other game systems crying out for my hobby money, which is ever shrinking due to family commitments.

The limited edition Curse of the Wulfen camaign book (pictured above) looks absolutely stunning, however the actual contents is a bit disappointing from the point of view of a player.

I'm more than happy to shell out £35 for a box of 5 Wulfen, even through I think that price is a bit excessive, but what will I get for shelling out another £45 on the standard campaign book.  I will get:
[Includes background, so spoiler alert, don't click on the pic to make it bigger and (just about) readable
if you don't want to see the Wulfen background from White Dwarf]

  • The rules for the Wulfen - which I can get from White Dwarf
  • Some nice background, that probably the equivalent of any 40k novel
  • Some extra Echo of War missions, that I have never seen anybody play, and would rather play any number of alternative missions I already have
  • Some new formations "based on the Great Companies"
  • Lots of Daemon rules, formations & background that I am not that concerned about
For me, who's into playing with my Space Wolves, and not interested in Daemons, I don't think I get much over the £4 cost a White Dwarf for the Wulfen rules.

Unless the formations are very good that I want to put them in my army I won't be buying this £45 campaign book.  I was tempted with the Tau one, but this was has so little content that I probably won't get it even if one of the formations is very good, because £45 for a formation is more than my hobby budget can justify, when then is so much more that I can get for £45.  That £45 may still get spent in GW (eg. it's half way towards a Stormsurge, it's a second Ghostkeel, or second unit of Wulfen with change to spare for other games), but is this campaign book the best way to spend £45 on the hobby.

I just can't see that I'll get much enjoyment out of this campaign book for £45.

On the other hand if I had a Daemon army I would be tempted with their limited edition box set, which comes with a small format codex, all the daemon rules from Curse of the Wulfen (6 Dataslates and 10 formations), plus all the tokens, Warlord Traits and Tactical cards:

So will you be buying the Curse of the Wulfen campagn book, and why ?

I think the Wulfen themselves will sell well, but I'm not so sure about the campaign book, what's your thoughts ?

Rathstar

Friday, 29 January 2016

Hunter Contingent [Tau] - Part 3 (Coordinated Firepower - how do you play yours ?)


So after looking at the Core formation for the Hunter Contingent (and the change to our previous formation, here) and the imho the best of the new formation in the codex (here), it's time to look at the main reason to take the Hunter Contingent, the Coordinated Firepower rule.

As well as being able to reroll your Warlord Trait, the other rule of the overarching Hunter Contingent is the Coordinated Firepower rule:

At first glance, and I mean glance it appears to be a nice fluffy rule that rewards combining units to boost accuracy, and will help Tau take down big deathstars.  Against smaller units it has to be carefully used not to cause massive overkill, eg. in most situations if I fire my Riptide and my 2 units of Broadsides at a unit they are normally dead whether I have any buffs or not.

Overwhelming consensus is that Rule As Written (RAW) this rules means exactly what it says, but one of my favourite quotes from all of the reviews I've watched and the people I've talked to is from Matt from Miniwargaming where he adds "but sure as hell there's no way I'm playing it as that".

When you take this RAW interpretation, it's like going down the rabbit hole when the implications are considered.  As well as my explanation here's a good series of videos by Minwargaming, where Matt (who started Tau a few months ago) goes through the new rules with Dave (a Choas worhipping fish-face hater - well as nice one at least):

Miniwargaming Tau Review (here), including the episode where they discuss the codex and the Coordinated Firepower rule (here)


Stage 1 - Targets Locks and Split Fire

The background to the Coordinated Firepower is that by working together and sharing targeting data the Tau become more accurate, well it makes them better at shooting that guardsmen :)

This kind of goes out the window when you look at the availability of Target Locks, which allows a model to fire at different target to the rest of their unit (and costs 5 points per Commander/Crisis/Ghostkeel/Broadside Suit).  Although most suits would give up the opportunity to get Early Warning Overrides (giving Interceptor) it can completely negate the issue that the units combining fire have to fire at the same unit to get the benefits.

An example is a Crisis Suit unit of 9 models, 8 have target locks.  They combine fire with 2 units of drones at one target to get +1 BS.  Now RAW the Crisis Suit unit gets +1 BS because their combining targeting data etc.  BUT 8 of the crisis suits can fire at different targets, which begs the question why are they getting +1 BS.  When you combine this with the Stormsurge being able to fire each weapon at different targets you could have a sizable portion of a Tau army firing at loads of targets all getting +1 BS.

My personal preference would be the rule to be amended that only "models" firing at the target of the Coordinated Firepower get the benefits.

However we're just started, lets take it to Stage 2


Stage 2 - Conferring Universal Special Rules




The Tau get access to two good Universal Special Rules (USRs) which are conferable on the rest of the unit; Tank Hunter & Monster Hunter.  The only two main ways to get these rules are to use the Firebase Support Cadre or for a Commander or Crisis Shas'vre to take the Signature System (relics in other codexes) Puretide Engram Chip.

The Firebase Support Cadre has to fire all models in the whole formation at the same target to get Monster Hunter and Tank Hunter (much reduced from it's previous incarnation when they got Tank Hunter and Preferred Enemy (Space Marines) inanely.  The rule is good against deathstars, but against other opponents is overkill, after all if you fire 2 broadside units and a riptide at a single unit it is very normally dead without any buffs.  In my last game I combined fire once to get Monster Hunter against a formation of a Talos, Cronos Pain Engine & a character that was a single unit, and I never combined to get tank hunter as it was just overkill against the Dark Eldar vehicles.  It has to be an av12 or 13 vehicle that is very important for me to kill to fire 500 points of what most people would agree is 2 of the best units in the Tau codex at.

The other main option is the Puretide Engram Chip this can be used more easily, at the expense that it's normally on a Commander.  Here even though GW has been asked and responded that there is nothing to FAQ with the rule and it means exactly what it says, can a piece of wargear that was worth 15 points in the old codex where it could only affect one unit really still be worth 15 points when it can affect multiple units.

One last way to get Tank Hunter is to take te Special Character upgrade Longstrike on a Hammerhead, as he also has Tank Hunter.

Lastly Tau Battlesuits also have Night Vision, this confers to the rest of the unit once one member has it, so Crisis suits combining fire with Fire Warriors for example would confer Night Vision on the Fire Warriors, by RAW.


and this is where it gets crazy...


Stage 3 - Wargear that Affects the Rest of the Unit


The issue here is the sheer number of combinations, and for wargear that was pointed when it could only affect one unit, it seems unbelievable that GW would think they would be fine at the same cost if they have the possibility to affect many units.

The list of wargear that confer benefits on the rest of the unit (and therefore by RAW all the units combining in the Coordinated Firepower attack):

Command & Control Node (Signature System): Once the bearer does not shoot all other models in his unit gain twin-linked

Multi Spectrum  (Signature System): Once the bearer does not shoot all other models in his unit gain ignore cover

Drone Controller (Battlesuit Support System): All other drones in the unit use the bearers Ballistic Skill (BS)

Pulse Accelerator (Exclusive to a Drone only allowed useable by Pathfinders): The range of all pulse weapons are extended by 6" - this was intended for the Pathfinders 18" range pulse carbines, however by combining fire with fire warriors it will extend their pulse rifles to 36" range


and when we want to get really crazy we have Dark Strider's (an HQ Special Character, that is the cost of 2 Ethereals) Structural Analyser.  This item reduced the enemy's toughness value you use to wound against by 1, which also counts for instant death.  Marines would now count as T3.  This is not too bad (and to be fair I've never seen Dark Strider being used) when he could only effect one unit, because he also had the restriction that he could only join Fire Warriors and Pathfinders.  However now he can be in a Fire Warrior unit that combines fire with a Broadside team or a squad or Riptides/Stormsurges, in those example the -1 toughness would be huge.


How Have Others Ruled It

We have the Independant Tournament Circuit rules pack, that is big in the US, and it used as the basis of the majority of the tournaments in the US:

Frontline Gaming ITC (Independent Tournament Circuit), link here,

The ITC tries to give FAQs but also adds comp by modifying rules, examples include that the Invisibility spell reduced shots to BS1 rather than Snap Shots (meaning blasts can now by used against Invisible units), and 2+ rerollable saves only pass the reroll on a 4+.

The ITC had a vote on how they wanted the Coordinated Firepower rule to be played (not what RAW was).  In that case the vote was a narrow win that it should only give the +1 BS and joint use markerlight abilities.

The other big ruling organisation is the European Team Championships, which has a very comprehensive Composition (Comp) pack:

Current (as at 24th Jan '16) ETC Rules Document: link here

Within in this they have ruled the same as the ITC that the Coordinated Firepower only gives the +1 BS and the ability to jointly use markerlights.

Strangely neither changes the wording of the rule to stop target locks getting round the ability of target lock members to benefit to from the +1 BS (as it is conveyed on the unit) even through they are not firing at the target of the Coordinated Firepower attack.

Conclusion

Basically with most issues with 40k, it comes down to what type of game you want to have with your opponent.  If it's a nice friendly game I would advice only using the +1 BS and jointly using markerlights.  If you are using no-Comp balls to wall type lists and practising for a no-Comp tournament, and the opponents has the type of list that has stuff like D-Scythe Wraithguard deepstriking without scatter confered from attached Dark Eldar characters or unkillable Necron deathstars then you may want to play Rules As Written (RAW).  At the end of the day it's best to have a conversation with your opponent before the game starts, rather than these situations come up in the middle of the game.  They may not like the ability but at least they know to expect it.

So far I have only played the Coordinated Firepower as it giving the +1 BS and joinly using markerlights, but then I haven't played a cut-throat game, and even them I would have the conversation with my opponent first.

If you going to a tournament and your note sure on their ruling I would e-mail them before hand for a ruling (and have it printed out ready to let you opponent know at the start of each game).  It not only saves arguments, but it may impact how you build you army list.

Questions to Agree With An Opponent or Check with a Tournament Organiser:

First quote the whole rule, particularly the "resolving their shots as a single unit" part, then:

1) The +1 BS conferred by the Coordinated Firepower rule is given to the whole unit.  If a member uses a target lock (or other ability) to fire on a different target do they still receive the +1 BS ?

2) Do Universal Special Rules that confer to the rest of the unit if one member has it (eg. Tank Hunter) confer to all units combining in the Coordinated Firepower Attack ?

3) Does wargear that affects the rest of the model's unit confer to all units combining in a Coordinated Firepower attack ?

With these questions sorted out before you start playing, it will lead to better games where both you and your opponent can focus on rolling nice and moving plastic models round the table, rather than arguing over rules (when it crucial to an in-game event) or one player fun being soiled by what they believe is a Over the Top rule.


Hope this helps show the full implications of playing the Coordinated Firepower rule as written, and what to clarify before a game starts.

Now off to bed for me, one more day of work, a bit of painting tomorrow evening, and then my Tau get a run out in a 1 day tournament :)
[My 1500 point Tau army, set-up for their practice game, last Tuesday]

Rathstar

Wednesday, 27 January 2016

New [Space Wolf] Wulfen First Impressions (Updated with Curse of the Wulfen & Weapon Option Rules)

[Click on pic to see it large to make out the Wulfen stats]
Rumours of new Space Wolves have been doing the rounds the last few weeks, which have coalesced into the rumour of a new campaign book featuring the Space Wolves and Daemons.  However more concrete evidence was light on the ground until this morning when I came across the pic above courtesy of the Space Wolves Blog Facebook page (link here).

The pic is from the German White Dwarf, and the Space Wolves Facebook page gives the following translation:

"Special rules:
Berserker
Know no Fear
Curse of the Wulfen
Counterattack
Sharp senses
Feel no Pain
Bulky
Todesraserei/Deathfrenzy: If a model in this unit is killed it can move up and attack at the end of the current initiative step. This even applies if the model already has attacked.”
Weite Sprünge/Leaping Bounds: This unit can run and attack. It also reroll failed charge rolls.

Options:
May contain up to 5 more Wulfen…. 30p/m
Each model may take a salvo grenade launcher 2p/m
Each model may take one of the following:
Two Handed Frost Axe 8p/m
Two Wolf Claws 12p/m
Thunderhammer and Stormshield 20p/m
One Wulfen can be upgraded to Wulfen-Pack Leader with two Frost Claws 20p
This unit may take a stormwolf as a dedicated transport"



Initial Impression

For this initial impression I'm going to assume the unit has rending (maybe it's part of the Curse of the Wulfen rule), so my view may change if they don't have that.

Update:  It appears that the Wulfen do not have rending, but for 30 points they still have a nice number of str5 attacks.  However the rules for the weapon options, which I think combined with the Death Frenzy rule (see above) gives them a nice boost, see below, with the icing on the cake being the buff to nearby units in the Curse of the Wulfen rule (see below).

The obvious comparison is to Thunderwolf Cavalry, our go to assault unit.  Both are 2 wounds, and are designed to kill things in assault.  The Wulfen come off significantly cheaper to start with 30pts vs 40pts), however the Thunderwolves win when it comes to natural speed and toughness.

The T4, 4+ save & Feel No Pain is not as good as T5 and 3+ save.  The Feel No Pain is nice, but I believe it doesn't make up for the worse toughness and save.  The Thunderwolves also get the option to pick stormshields on their own.

Thunderwolves move 12" in the movement phase compared to the Wulfen's 6".  The Wulfen ability to run and charge is nice, but they need to roll a 6 for the run to be as fast as the Thunderwolves, and outside of charging the Thunderwolves are on average 7" faster a turn (being fleet the Thunderwolves normally get a inch further with their run moves on average).

The Thunderwolves also do well when in comes to attacks getting 6 attacks on the charge compared to the Wulfen's 4, plus there's the warlord trait (that 2 special characters come with) that makes the Thunderwolves even better on the charge.

The weapon options are nice on the Wulfen, and are comparable to the Thunderwolf options, however they are slightly cheaper meaning a tooled up wulfen unit will be much cheaper than a simularly tooled up Thunderwolf unit.  Another bonus is that the smaller size will make the Wulfen easier to hide around terrain.

Overall I don't think the Wulfen top Thunderwolves (if the rules for the Thunderwolves do not get worse in the update).  The Wulfen are stunning models, and they would be good as a second assault unit after thunderwolves, as they are cheaper and occupy an Elites slot.

As they occupy an elites slot you could take other Fast Attack slots (eg. flyers, Swiftclaws etc.) rather than a second thunderwolf unit, or more likely you could split your thunderwolves into smaller units, eg. instead of having a thunderwolf unit, a fenrisian wolves unit and a skyclaw unit in fast attack, you could drop the skyclaws for wulfen allowing the thunderwolves to be split into 2.

My last concern with the wulfen is how to transport them to get them across the battlefield fast enough.  They can take a Stormwolf as a dedicated transport and another option would be the landraider.  A Landraider crusader with 8 wulfen coming out would be a scary opponent, and I think that will be the best way to use them.  The Stormwolf is nice, but it has one turn zooming (after it comes on) where it is a sitting duck for enemy anti air, which would be a tempting target as the enemy would kill around 500 points if they killed the flyer.  The flyer itself; is around 250 points and then each model inside takes a str10 (and I beleive ap2) hit which would instant kill the Wulfen allowing no save or Feel No Pain.

I do think the comparison to Thundrwolves is a bit harsh, as Thunderwolves are undoubtedly a very good unit.  Now the Wulfen are good, it's just in my mind they don't top the Thunderwolves for the 1st choice for an assault unit, however they should be in the running for a second assault unit to put into your army.  After all, after a landraider has moved them 18" closer to the enemy on the first turn, they are ready for a turn 2 charge, and they epitomise Space Wolves in assault.


I'm seen people take large bloodclaw units in Landraider Crusaders, and I think Wulfen would be perfect to replace them.  I'll definitely be picking up this unit to add to my Space Wolves, will you ?  A great excuse to finish off painting my landraider crusader.

Update: The weapon options include the following:
"Weapon Rules:
Salvo Grenade Launcher: 12", S4, AP5, Assault D3, assault grenades in close combat
Frost Claws: +1S, AP2, Shred
Stormhammer: X2 S, Concussive, Helfrost
Two-Handed Frost Axe: +3S, AP2, Unwieldy, Merciless Swing (Strike at normal Initiative when charging)"

What immediately jumps out is the Two Handed Frost Axe, which is Str8 Ap2 and keeps Initiative 5 on the charge.  The Pack Leader with 2 Frost Claws is also a steal at 20 pts.  Next we have the buffs from the Curse of the Wulfen rules:

"Curse of the Wulfen:
ALL non vehicle models within 6" affected.
Blood Claws, Skyclaws, Swift Claws affected within 12"
Long Fangs affected with 3"

Wulfen, Servitors and units that start in transports are not affected.

At the start of the player turn, roll a dice for ALL units. The affect lasts until your next player round.

Units outside of combat roll on the Hunt Table.
Units in combat roll on the Kill Table.

Hunt
1-3: re-roll failed charges and get Hammer of Wrath
4-5: +3" when you move, run or charge.
6: Furious Charge and +D3 attacks when charging, unless they have Rage

Kill:
1-3: +1 Initiative
4-5: Re-roll to wound
6: Death Frenzy (see Wulfen rules)"

The rules for the Curse of the Wulfen makes the Wulfen a good force multiplier as well, if you have other assault units nearby the Wulfen they can give them some nice buffs, and as a Space Wolf player you're bound to have some extra assault units.  Wolves and Cav units would benefit tremendously from the extra movement making them almost fly across the board (giving them an extra 6" of movement, from move and run or move and charge). plus the additional initiative would make them strike before other marines.  However the gravy would be the possibility of a models gaining an extra D3 attacks each and Rage on the charge.  Cav and Wolves would turn into complete blenders.

Overall these extra rules (weapons and Curse of the Wulfen) have lefted the Wulfen in my eyes into a very nice unit.  I'd still take Thunderwolf Cav first, but the Wulfen look like a very good choice for 2nd assault unit.  I think they'll be replacing my Assault marines in my current list, which frees up a Fast Attack slot for a Drop for 5 of them to deepstrike in (another option for a small unit of them).  It may be a small unit of 5 but it's still 10 wounds with Feel No Pain

I'm looking forwards to what else this Space Wolves update will bring, hopefully some formations will get leaked soon.

Rathstar

Friday, 15 January 2016

Hunter Contingent [Tau] - Part 2 (The Best of the New Formations)



Well after looking at the basics of the Hunter Contingent, and the change to our pre-existing formation (here) it's time to look at the owww ahhhh part of the codex, with a look at what I think are the best of the remaining formations in the new Tau Codex


Optimised Stealth Cadre


This is my favorite formation, it includes the stunning new Ghostkeel model, the formation is so good that it gets my XV15 Stealth suits that haven't seen a battlefield in years out of the case, it helps with anti-tank, and is very very markerlight efficient.

For this formation you will need a unit of Ghostkeels and two units of Stealth Suits.  There is no restrictions on size of the formation so it can be as cheap as 310pts (however I think you should always upgrade the Ghostkeel's secondary weapon to at least a twin-linked burst cannon, making the minimum cost 315pts).  What makes this formation so good is the Wall of Mirrors special rule:


Basically at the start of the game you should just tell your opponent that this formation will be activating the Wall of Mirrors every turn (as there is no downsides).  It's interesting to note that the units in the formation do not have to fire at the same target to get the benefits, so you could fire at three different targets all with +1 BS, Ignore Cover and hitting rear armour.  However if you do decide to all fire at the same unit then they can benefit from the Hunter Contingent's Co-ordinated Firepower rule to gain a further +1 BS to mean all the shots will be hitting on 2+.  Hitting on 2's with Ignore Cover is like having 4 free markerlight tokens against any of the formations target - that is just a brilliant bonus.

Since the previous codex when broadside railguns were reduced from strength 10 to 8, Tau have struggled a bit with high value armour.  A hammerhead is a bit expensive for 1 shot a turn that misses a third of the time.  We were almost forced to take fusion guns and try to get within 9" to get the melta effect with either Piranhas or Crisis Suits.  However most vehicles have low value rear armour, perfect examples being Predators, Necron vehicles with Quantum Shielding, Leman Russ tanks.  For most of the these vehicles the rear armour is 2 to 3 points less than the front armour, meaning that the strength 5, 7 or 8 (all three units can get fusion weapons) guns in this formation could really do a number on them.

Lastly be aware that the Ghostkeel is the lynchpin of this formation.  If the Ghostkeel's are dead the Wall of Mirrors does nothing, so if you opponent snipes your Ghostkeels you'll just be left with subpar Stealth Suits.  Keep your Ghostkeel(s) safe (well as much as possible given the short range on the Ghostkeel's weapons).  For this reason I think the formation really starts to shine when you put a 2nd Ghostkeel to the Ghostkeel unit, making it much harder to take out the Ghostkeel unit.


Burst Cannon or Fusion ??

This is more of a personal choice and will depend on the type of vehicles you normally encounter and how much anti-heavy tank firepower your army already has.  With fusion to get the most of it you have to get within 9" for the melta ability to take effect, which may be dangerous.

Outside of 9" you may think that with ignore cover you'd want the AP1 of the fusion gun, however with four times the shots and a good strength of five, the burst cannon will kill as many marines as the fusion gun.  Going against rear armour, in terms of stripping hull points the burst cannon does just as well as the fusion gun against anything it can hurt (AV10 & 11).

The fusion also has the chance of causing instant death to T3 and T4 models, but to start with I'm going to try saving points and just using the burst cannons.  This will give my 315 point formation 6 str 7 shots and 30 str5 shots.  I can't wait to assemble and paint my Ghostkeel so I can try it out.


Retaliation Cadre


The biggest issue with this formation is that it is quite a large formation, which may make it hard to fit into a Hunter Contingent along side a Hunter Cadre*.  The formation consists of a Commander, 3 units of Crisis Suits, a Broadside unit and a Riptide unit; taking the crisis suits as units of one, but giving them weapons will see the formation cost roughly 500-550points, and this will rise sharply if you add more crisis suits and additional wargear.  Personally I also don't like spending too much on HQ characters and this formation forces you to bring a second commander* (after the one in the Hunter Cadre).

The whole formation gains Relentless (only really a factor for the Broadside, but a very nice buff).  If the whole formation is kept in reserve then they all deepstrike on turn 2 automatically (even the Broadside) and get +1 BS on the turn they deepstrike.

Again nice benefits, and will cause absolute havoc the turn they deepstrike (with a guarantee that they will come in early).  To make the most of this I would try to put a few homing beacons in your army.  Ethereals, Tetras & Stealth Suits & Pathfinders (one of their special drones) can buy them.  Also remember that a unit does not need to be on the table at the start of the turn for it's homing beacon to be used (unlike the Imperial equivalent) so you could deepstrike a Stealth unit with a Homing Beacon and then deepstrike Crisis Suits with 6" with no scatter (you just have the risk that the Stealth Suits arrive after turn 2).

Also be wary that deepstriking the formation will mean a large amount of points are off the board for what could be 2 enemy shooting phases, so you will have to build the rest of your army with this in mind.


* Both of these issues can be removed by playing the Dawn Blade Contingent from the Montka Campaign, for which the core formation can be the Retaliation Cadre.


I think the top 3 picks for formations to add to a Hunter Cadre to make a Hunter Contingent are the three already discussed (Firebase Support, Optimised Stealth & Retaliation), and along with the cheap Drone Network auxiliary choice, are the main ones you should choose between.  There is however one more formation that I think is good, it's just very expensive to field:


Heavy Retribution Cadre

This formation is expensive.  It contains a unit of Ghostkeels and 2 units of Stormsurges, making the minimum points 850, and you will want to spend more on weapon and wargear upgrades (eg. replacing the flamer secondary weapons, giving the Stormsurges an invulnerable save etc.).  To field the formation as pictured above (from the GW website) the unit would cost a minimum of 1110, and more importantly cost you £315 to buy.

Although the formation is (in my mind) impractical to field apart from in the largest of battles the formation rules are nice.  The Stormsurges can reroll to hit against targets within 12" of any of the formation's Ghostkeels, plus if an enemy unit is fired on by 2 or more of the units in the formation then they can not Run or move Flat Our, plus must halve the results of charges range in their next turn (helpful to reduce their mobility and keep the Ghostkeels from being charged).

If you have big pockets and regularly play big games this formation may be worth it for you.  However in smaller games I would rather have a Ghostkeel unit as part of the Optimised Stealth Cadre and not be forced to bring at least two Stormsurges.


Well that's it for the formations from the new Tau Codex that I believe are going to be used regularly.  However that's not all the new formations that will be used in Tau armies.  The Montka Campaign supplement gave us other formations, such as the Riptide Wing, Drone-Net VX1-0, Etheral Council & Ranged Support Cadre among others.

Next post I will go over the Co-ordinated Firepower rule and it's implications and then look at the additional formations in the Montka Campaign supplement.



What do you think of the formations I've dicussed ?  Will you be using them ?  Did I miss out a formation that you think is great ?  Let me know in the comments.

Until next time, happy gaming :)

Rathstar

Sunday, 27 December 2015

Hunter Contingent [Tau] - Part 1 (Overview, Firebase Support Cadre & Hunter Cadre)


Note: This post was originally started in November, and since then I've been waiting for the controversy about the Coordinated Firepower rule to settle down.  Well now it is time to finish this part of the post, and put my thoughts on the Coordinated Firepower rule in a seperate post where I can do it justice - not the rule itself, but the options on how it could be played and Tournament Organisers could rule it.



In a previous post I said I was amased that there was going to be practically no changes to the stats, weapons and options of the Tau units which did not have a new release.  This lead me to stupidily think there would be little change in how competitive the Tau army would be, and that there would be many new units being used in Tau units.

Well I still think that there will be little change to the units seen on the tabletop for Tau armies, it'll be the same as before with the addition of the Stormsurge (see below for my change of heart) and the Ghostkeel (again I'll explain further down why).  Breacher teams will be seem briefly until most people see that a 5" range (the only range it's better than a pulse rifle armed fire warrior) combined with a overpriced devilfish to get them into range is not that effective.

So what's changed ?  Well formations :)  Tau followed the trend of previous codexs and got a Detachment of Formations and Codex enties.  The Tay version is called the Hunter Contingent, and like the ones before it requires a core formation (in this case the Hunter Cadre) and 1-10 Auxillery choices.  Here's the rules for the Hunter Contingent::


[Click on the pics to read them better]

The thing that jumps out is the Coordinated Firepower rule:

Caveat Controversy:

I think the biggest thing this rules shows is that GW doesn't playtest any rules in any depth.  Any casual Tau play immediately looks at the Coordinated Firepower rule and thinks, a nice fluffy rule that really helps against deathstars and must be used carefully not cause overkill and waste firepower, but then in seconds will think "hang on a second, have that thought this through", when they consider all the rule interactions and wargear that was point costed when they could affect only one (in most cases a specific) unit and now could affect multiple units under the coordinted firepower rule.

Now the rule (to me anyway) quite clear, most most people (myself included) thought GW would no doubt GW will FAQ it, as they couldn't have considered all the implications.  However to our surprise GW has been silent on the matter, and the closest thing is an e-mail from GW saying that the rule would not be FAQed because they meant exactly what the rule said.

Link to Facebook showing reply from GW: here
and the same from Imgur: here

Rather than discuss the Coordinated Firepower rule here, I'm going to leave it to another post (not to soon, as I promised a tournament organiser I would spell out the issues and options for his tournament).  Instead I will highlight the top formtions, just my opinion, that the Tau can now take (in no particular order).



"Mark a target and we will wipe it out"

Although this was a quote from the Skyray in Dawn of War I think it's a good for what I believe was the only Tau formation we previously had and the one I believe will still be a popular with the new codex (although it will get a lot of competition now); The Firebase Support Cadre:
This formation consists of a (unit of) Riptide(s) and two units of Broadsides (any size now).  The formation, compared to before, and been both nerfed and buffed.  Before  the formation got Tank Hunter and Prefered Enemy (Space Marines) innately.  Now they do not get Prefered Enemy at all and the formaton all has to fire at the same target to get Tank Hunter.  On the plus side the broadside units do not have to have the maxiumum of 3 broadsides in the team, meaning this formation does not have to be as many points as it was before.  The formation is also careful to say that all "models" have to fire at the same target unit (rather the all units have to) to get the formation benefits so target locks can not get round this.  A second nice bonus is that when the units fire together at the same target they get monster hunter as well as tank hunter, meaning the targets that the formation is very good against has expanded, partiularly when Wraithknights and Guargantuan Bloodthirsters are around.

Overall the changes are definitely a nerf compared to the previous formation, however I think it will still be popular because it gives a second access to Tank Hunter, and now Monster Hunter (the first being the Puretide Engram Chip signature system available to Commanders, and Crisis Suit Shas'vres).

At decent range the Tau have alot of str 5 and str 7 shooting, but at that range they struggle with the weaponry to kill av13 and av14 or T8 Wraithknights.  Before I used the Firebase Support Cadre to allow me to deal with av13, with so many str7 shots from the broadsides they could take out av13 targets like Imperial Knights, and luckily av14 targets were rare.

Without massed Sniper Drone and Broadside firepower boosted by Monster Hunter (and in the case of Sniper Drones also boosted by the Ethereal's Storm of Fire ability)  I think there's only one way to effectively deal with Wraithkights and other high toughness Guargantuan creatures, and thats a Stormsurge with markerlights making the destroyer missiles str D (that's the game changer that was not in the Wgite Dwarf preview that has changed my mind on Stormsurges).  Some people will take the Stormsurge route, but for those that don't I highly recommend the Tank Hunter and Monster Hunter available from the Firebase Support Cadre (along with the Puretide Engram Chip).



Hunter Cadre


This is the Core formation of the Hunter Contingent.  It is a very flexible formation, that will mainly be taken to get access to the Coordinated Firepower rule of the Hunter Contingent.

It's best to think of the formation as a slightly more onerous CAD, with a fixed HQ option.  The requirments are:
1 Commander
0-1 Cadre Fireblade
1-3 Elites
3-6 Troops
1-3 Fast Attack (excluding the flyers)
1-3 Heavy Support ot Lords of War (excluding Skyrays)

Notable exceptions are the remaining HQ choices, eg. no Ethereals or Darkstrider, unless you have a seperate CAD, no forgeworld, and no (non formation) fotifications.  Darkstider will not been seen unless you play that if he joins a unit that his part of the Hunter Contingent his structural analyser works on all the units that are part of a Coordinated Firepower.  Ethereals can be included in your army in one of three ways;
  • as part of a Command choice of the Hunter Contingent, which also requires a Commander and a Crisis bodyguard team.  The crisis bodyguard team is inefficient compared to normal crisis suits, and while a Commander is ok, is a second needed when you already have one in the Hunter Cadre.
  • by including a CAD detachment, for the min expenditure of 90 points for 2 units of fire warriors and an Ethereal, you open up lots of slots, that can also be used to include forgeworld, and fortifications - this is my preferred option as it also allows me to use my Tetras (although MSU Pathfinders and Marker drones give them more of a run for their money).
  • one last option is the Ethereal Council formation from the Mont'ka suppliment, however you have to have 3-7 ethereals that have to join together as a single unit and still a give up an additional victory point for each one killed
The Hunter Cadre is so flexible that it is easy to convert any old codex list into the Huntre Cadre as it plays like a slighter larger CAD.  However there is a sizable minimum points cost to the formation, which may become an issue if you want to fit in a number of other formations.  For example if you want to use the Firebase Support Cadre you may not want another Elite or more Heavy Support choices.  This is particularly an issue if you want to play the Retailiation Cadre (which includes 3 crisis suit units, a broadside unit, a riptide unit and a commander).

Some of the Tau formations are so good, that an argument could be made for just taking the formations and not bothering with the Hunter Cadre, or just taking a very small CAD (which also has the benefit of having Objective Secured) for a much smaller points cost, allowing more points to be spent on the good formations.  If you took the Retailiation Cadre, Firebase Support Cadre and the Optimsed Stealth Cadre that could be a fluffy suit based army in itself that also has very additional formation good rules, that can be built to deal with any enemy force.

The main benefits of the Hunter Cadre is ok (units can give supporting fire within 12", and can run and fire if close to the commander or cadre fireblade), but in many cases these benefits are not as good as some of the benefits in the other formations.

Ultimately if doesn't come down to whether you like the special rules of this formation, but whether you want the special rules of the Hunter Contingent, mainly Coordinated Firepower.

The Coordiated Firepower rules makes markerlights much more effective, as they can affect multiple units, however if your army is less depenent on marker lights, and/or has large powerful units (which will ovekill units if they combined firepower) then you could be best not using the Hunter Contingent.  Another benefit of the Coordinated Firepower rules is the +1 BS if 3 or more units combine fire but if your formation already gives you extra BS (eg. the Optimsed Stealth Cadre) or gives twin-linked, you may not need the Coordinated Firepower rule as much.

My current army has lots of units, and most of them are in the 80-150 points region, so I know combining 3-5 of them will not kill a unit of marines, so I could do with the +1 BS and more efficient use of marker lights, so I will take the Hunter Cadre because I want to use the Hunter Contngent rules, not for the formation in itself.

In time as I buy more models and experiment with Stormsurges, units of multiple Ghostkeels, and some of the bigger formations I may not need the Coordinated Firepower rule as much, and therefore I would forgo the Hunter Cadre to spend more points of the formations I do want.



That's all for now, next post I wlll look into the best (imho) of the new formations.

What's your opinion on the Hunter Cadre and the Firebase Support Cadre ?  Do you use them, and what do think of the competition they face from the other formations ?

Rathstar

PS.  I little gem I found while researching this article is a formation compendium located on the Blood of Kittens website (link here).  It has a record of all legal formations and is a great resouce

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