Monday, 28 February 2011

Giving Yourself Over to the Dark Side


Although I haven't got any gaming in recently, due to my nasty commute to work combined with my mates preoccupation with Magic, it has allowed me to embrace the Dark Eldar codex with a passion; each day on the train allows me to clock up hours of reading time, and time to develop battle plans.

An essential rule to becoming good at 40k is first to learn your own codex like the back of your hand. All the basic stats should become as second nature as reciting multiplication tables, but that's only the start of the story.

Next must come the impartial look at every unit, including delving into their wargear options, and wargear combos. You must ensure that you never right a unit off too early, and spend the time to think of all it's uses on the battlefield, plus the combinations with other wargear and/or units available.

The next stage is army list building, but rather than just build a list look at the balance accross the army, do I have enough:
  • Anti-Heavy tank firepower
  • Anti-Light Tank / Trasnport firepower
  • Anti Heavy Infantry Firepower / Close Combat Ability
  • Anti Light Infantry Firepower / Close Combat Ability
  • Number and Resiliance of Scoring Units
  • Ensuring that the qualities above are spread accross enough units
The last point is crucial, if a part of your firepower / close combat ability in a particular field is concentrated in too few units you open yourself to the risk that those units are prioritised by the enemy giving you a gap in your abilities.

A good example is a heaviy mech force taking out your ravagers early; can your list recover from this with its remaining anti tank ? Another good example is a MEQ or terminator army (mainly without storm shields) takes out your only incubi squad with your HQ character, do you have enough AP2 firepower that can be diverted away from anti-tank duty, enough liqifier guns for MEQs, and close combat weapons that ignore armour (power weapons, agoniser, talos or pain engine attacks etc.) to take up the slack.

Lastly you can consider how your army can do when faced against one of the top tier armies and different types of armies, examples include:
  • Mech space wolves with supported by thunderwolves
  • Missile spam space wolves
  • Heavy Assault Terminator army
  • Mech guard
  • Guard blob army (big fearless units, still supported by a high number of various heavy weapons, and probably still a good number of vehicles)
  • Decent of (Blood) Angels (60+ marines with 75% landing on your doorstep turn 2)
  • Ork Horde with Kans & Buggies in support
  • (4-5) Battlewagon Orks with Loota support & Kustom Forcefield in the middle battlewagon, plus Gaz giving them a close combat threat range of 28" from the front of any battlewagon.
  • Twin/Triple Landraider army
  • Nid Zilla (multiple tyranid monstrous creatures)
  • Tyranid swarm
Run through battles in your mind, is it better to reserve the majoity of your army ? will a refused flank tactic work ? what strengths and weaknesses does your army have against theirs ? how do you best capitise on your strengths and their weaknesses while mitigating your weaknesses.

As well as looking at the armies suggested above, browsing forums and blogs for army lists gives you lots of material (which will probably be more balanced) to compare your army against. Always critic the listasking yourself questions such as; how would I play against that ? what's the threat the must be taken out early ? does it have a weakness that would allow you to deal with the army early, eg. crippling a few key transports allowing you deal with the army easier ?


All of these things can be done before your army is taken out of it's case for a real life battle, and while nothing can make up for battlefield practice, it doesn't mean you can't prepare yourself.

Go on, give yourself over to your army, live, breathe and think it. The ideal is that never again will you see an army accross the battlefield and stumble to create a battle plan.


PS. Aan example of my own gaming where this could have helped is two tournaments last year. My Tau were on the top tables in each tournament (table 1 and 2) in the last game of the day, and stumbled to form a good battleplan. Result was I was slaughtered, and dropped out of the top 3. Even though I had not faced those army types before I could have done better preparation.

An example of applying this method recently is I have been looking at the Dark Eldar list I created recently and worrying about it's close combat ability against heavy infantry. It was all isolated in one small incubi unit. Dropping one small warrior squad in a venom would allow me to:
  • bring the rest of the troop choices up to full strength (to offset losing a scoring unit)
  • add agonisers to two wych squads
  • add 2 members to the incubi squad (so they weren't so frail)
Although it will still take battles against various armies to see if this change is best, at least I am aware of the weakness and can take account of it while playing (ie. be careful with the incubi against an MEQ army).

Wednesday, 16 February 2011

Lacklustre Dark Eldar 2nd Wave


Well the Dark Eldar 2nd Wave is available for advance orders on the gw website (here).

Unfortunately the venom is not part of the second wave, and the entire wave are metal models. The second wave consists of:
  • Succubus
  • Beastmaster
  • Kyhmera
  • Clawed Fiend
  • Razorwing Flock
The variety of models are pretty poor, with only one beastmaster and one clawed fiend model. There are also only 2 varients of the khymera and both look very simular.

Being metal the price of buying a decent beastmaster unit is very expensive. To build the unit I discussed in my previous article would cost:
5 Beastmasters = £43.50
10 Khymera = £87.00
6 Razorwing Flocks = £46.20
Total = £176.70 - OMG, You could do a LoganWing army for that

Compared to £62 to get 20 hellions, I can see very very few people using beastmaster units, and those that do will not use the official models. A much cheaper option would be:
5 Hellions (modelled as beastmasters, ie. without the glaive) = £15.50
10 plastic choas hounds (khymeras) = £15.50
2 Blisters of Fantasy Bat Swarms (3 bats per base for razorwings) = £17.60
Total = £48.60

Even the forgeworld flying rippers work out cheaper than the official razorwing models.

Overall I think it's a disappointing wave. The saving grace is that they are nice models and I can see myself tempted to pick up the clawed fiend, even though the succubus is a nice model, it's probably easier to convert one out of plastic as metal is harder to convert. After all who wants their succubus to have the same pose as everyone else's :)

Below are pics of the models, let me know what you think of the models, price for a unit or anything else about them.


Monday, 7 February 2011

Cutting to the Bone (Dark Eldar List)


Well my gaming has still not been happening. I’m still not getting back from work anywhere near a time that would allow me to go to my local club, and to make matters worse my mates have had 2 magic nights in the last 7 days with no indication of 40k in sight.

What this does means that apart from assembling models I’ve been tweaking army lists to ensure I’m happy with the intended army list I’m building towards.

Recently under the hammer was my Dark Eldar list. After looking at Beastmaster units and really liking them, I went ahead and ordered some Forgeworld flying rippers to represent razorwing flocks.

I really like the beastmaster unit, so I wanted to see if I could squeeze them into a 1750 point army. I took as my base my current 1750 point army (in this post). I didn’t really want to lose any units, but came to the conclusion that I would probably have to lose one of the wych units to fit it in.

That's by the by, as I want to talk about a technique I always use when building lists. When you build a list you always run out of points before you put everything you want in. Worse case you have an army with lots of interesting units which have nice equipment, but overall don't work well together and is probably a small army.

My technique to avoid this is to cut all units to the bone. If I see a piece of wargear that is at all situational, or may only be useful in some/most games but unlikely the vast majority of games it also goes. Squad leaders and characters are also on the cut list. Going from leadership 9 to 8 will only change the outcome of a leadership test one in nine times on average, would it not be better just to have more models ? Will a character be better than another whole squad ?

Taking this method to my Dark Eldar. I first started by stripping the enchanced aethersails from all the vehciles. To start with I didn't want to go any further as a wanted to include 2 liquifier guns (one on the wracks, one on the haemonculus), and a 4th trueborn. However taking a second look because I wanted to put in a beastmaster unit several elements hits the chopping board:
  • Succubus – although a nice cheap character, she only added 1 or 2 wounds per combat, so she went. The Haemonculus got the nod over the succubus because he's even cheaper and could give a wych unit Feel No Pain
  • 4th Trueborn – a situational upgrade, and I expect many times the whole unit would just get destroyed
  • Liquifier guns – again a nice upgrade with the potential for carnage, but sometimes it's dangerous to fire flamers when you're a combat unit because casulties removed may stop the charge, plus the random AP may tempt you into situations where you need a good AP roll.
  • Hekatrix Agoniser – a nice weapon, but's it's very expensive. Running some number crunching against MEQs, the agoniser hekatrix did more casulties (as expected) compared to a venom blade armed hekatrix, but as the agoniser was so expensive the venom blade hekatrix did more casulties per point.

With these changes I was suddenly up to 132 points saved. Although I was no where near the cost of the beastmaster unit I wanted, I was very near the cost of a 2nd trueborn squad, and it would be nice to a bit of redundancy trying to get multiple blasters in range of enemy tanks.

Lastly reducing 2 units of wyches from 10 to 9 models, allowed me to include the trueborn squad transported in a venom and upgrade the existing trueborn squad's raider to a venom.

The revised list is bare bones, but it does have more firepower and a very respectable 71 models, including 12 vehicles. 22 Lance weapons (14 Dark, 8 Blasters), and 8 Splinter Cannons.

Although these points of the list look nice the list is crying out for a huge number of upgrades, such as:
  • Agonisers
  • Liquifier guns
  • Wych weapons
  • Flickerfields for the Ravagers
  • A Combat Character
However once this list as been built it acts as a counter to any spending whims, because instead of saying “this upgrade would be nice” the question is also posed “what do I lose to fit it in ?” which helps to ensure any upgrades included are only efficient ones.

Finally at the end of the day, everyone includes some units which are not totally bought for their efficiency, but at least this method lets you know what you'll be giving up. For example I could lose a warrior squad and a trueborn squad to fit in my beastmaster unit, however I know I'll be losing 2 vehicles sporting 4 splinter cannons, and 8 models carrying 4 blasters between them. That's an awful lot of anti-tank and anti-infantry firepower, plus the loss of a scoring unit. Will I still do it; definitely, but probably not for all games :)


PS. For those that would like to see here is the final list

Bare Bones Dark Eldar List

Haemonculus - 55
Venom Blade

6 Incubi - 132
in Raider with Dark Lance - 60

3 Trueborn with 3 Blasters - 81
in Venom with 2nd Splinter Cannon - 65

3 Trueborn with 3 Blasters - 81
in Venom with 2nd Splinter Cannon - 65

9 Wracks - 90
in Raider with Dark Lance - 60

9 Wyches with Hekatrix with Venom Blade - 105
in Raider with Dark Lance - 60

9 Wyches with Hekatrix with Venom Blade - 105
in Raider with Dark Lance - 60

9 Wyches with Hekatrix with Venom Blade - 105
in Raider with Dark Lance - 60

5 Warriors with Blaster - 60
in Venom with 2nd Splinter Cannon - 65

5 Warriors with Blaster - 60
in Venom with 2nd Splinter Cannon - 65

Ravager with 3 Dark Lances - 105

Ravager with 3 Dark Lances - 105

Ravager with 3 Dark Lances - 105

Totals: 1749 Pts, 71 Models (including 12 vehicles), 14 Dark Lances, 8 Splinter Cannons & 8 Blasters

The list seems nice overall, with 5 raiders of combat troops going forwards, flanked by trueborns and warriors carrying blasters in venoms to both help open up vehicles and soften up enemy units about to be engaged. All supported by 3 ravagers at the back. What I really like about the list is that everything is a threat; give the opponents lots of threats and he's more likely to get target priority wrong :)

Tuesday, 1 February 2011

[40k] January Review


Well January has flown by, so let's take a recap of what's happened with my armies/hobby and other events that have happened.

40k Painting

Early in the month I wanted to increase the amount of painting I did on my armies, with the intention of going from one tournament ready* to three by the end of the year. What came out of these blog posts (link and link) was that I wanted to stay focused and try to catch some painting time in whenever possible (even if it was only half an hour at a time).

Coming out from this I put a army progress tracker in the sidebar:
As you can see there has been a bit of progress in January; the Space Wolves assembling is going well and I should have the army in a state where I can play games against my mates without borrowing their marine armies by the end of February. Unfortunately when I paint the infantry I paint the heads and backpacks seperately, so the army is will not be in a state to take down the local GW store or gaming club till it's completely finished.

The Dark Eldar are also making progress with the venom cut-up and put back together. The plasticard has been bought for the new crew area, and a simple design created on the computer to use as a template. The new raider keel blades have also arrived. I just not sure what to use for the splinter cannons (which go for quite a bit each on ebay). I have four of the old splinter cannons so I may use those (but they don't look nearly as nice as the new ones).

I've also been redesigning the blog a bit, and a new area is a My Armies page. At the moment it only contains my current army lists, but here's a sneak peak of some of my Dark Eldar pics that I will be putting in there soon (including one of my converted Talos you've probably read me lament that it won't be in my new army list):

Goal for February will be to get the Dark Eldar Venoms fully assembled, paint the new Ravager (it's was converted to match the rest of my army this month), and finish assembling the Space Wolves up to 1500 pts.

Other Hobby News

Later in the month my Tau were not forgotten, and I considered removing both railheads to increase the firepower in the list, in this post. I have another broadside unit, but it needs painting, so some Tau might make it onto the painting table.

Other Hobby news is that a tournament that I want to attend (A Small Matter of Honour, hosted by the Sad Muppets Society club in Basingstoke), will be allowing people to reserve and buy tickets soon. My Tau have gone 2 years in a row (and came 3rd last year), should they be given another chance, or should they move a side for my Dark Eldar ?

Grey Knights looks like they are coming soon, Warseer is good if your want to see all the current rumours. Personally all three of my armies like the idea of expensive marines to kill, but we'll have to see what nasty new toys they bring to the fight.

GW has released some updated FAQs, highlight being DE have a FAQ now, and Dark Angels and Black Templars being updated with the new marine codex equipment (they can now use the new storm shield rules). The DE FAQ was not mind blowing but is nice to have an official ruling on some ambigious rules (blog post here). While they were at it, GW also released the Stormraven and BA Dreadnaught for preorder.

Gaming News

Unfortunately gaming was a complete fail for me this month. My new job is a nightmare commute, so if I leave at early at 5pm, I'll barely make the local gaming club for the 7pm start, and so far I've been able to leave anywhere near 5pm on the club gaming night. To make matters worse my mates have got into Magic, so there's been half a dozen magic nights over the month, but only one 40k night, for which I got to late (work again) to see the end of a Dark Eldar vs Guard battle before the rest of the night was taken over by Magic.

I'll try and get some games in during February especially as I need the practice, either my new Tau list, or my Dark Eldar which I definitely need more practice with.

So what's happened with you over January, and what are looking forward to in February ?


* in this case tournament ready means painted and ready to be allowed in a tournament, not how competitive it is.


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