Wednesday 19 September 2018

Are Kill Team Gun Drones As Good As They Say

A quick follow up my initial Tau Kill Team post, is taking a closer look at one of the two Tau units thats getting a lot of interest; the Gun Drone.

The main reason the Tau Gun Drone is good, when in 40k it is rarely seem since their points were increased 12, is actually nothing to do with the Gun Drone itself, but comes from the Kill Team rules itself:

This means that the Gun Drone can only effectively have a -1 to hit modifier.  This is huge in a faction that only starts on a 4+ to hit generally.  When most shots are at -1 or -2 to hit, and their are three very common ways to get -1 to hit (Long Range, Obscured Target & Flesh wounds) along with many others (eg. Moving/Advancing with Heavy/Assault weapons, firing at Stealth units) other Tau units can see themselves firing on 6's as well.

Some abilities can give +1 to hit or ignore the obscured penalty, but these will only work on 2-3 models a turn leaving the rest of the Tau army at the mercy of the negative to hit modifiers with no way to buff their to-hit chances.

However Drones have an even worse chance to hit than the rest of the Tau, so lets check whether the extra shots that Gun Drones have offset this poor shooting accuracy.  For comparison lets compare the Gun Drones to two other Pulse firepower units, the Strike Team Fire Warrior with a Pulse Rifle, and Steath Suit with a Burst Cannon.  To even out the comparison for points costs I'm going to compare a single Stealth Suit to 3 Gun Drones and 3 Fire Warrior Shas'la.

The charts below shows the average number of Injury rolls against a MEQ (marine equivalent, ie. T4, 3+ save).  Normally I would also compare against GEQ (Imperial Guardsmen equivalent), but all the rolls are the same apart from the save, so just double the MEQ figures to get the GEQ figures)
The Math
The basic Fire Warrior is going quite well out of this (well comparatively).  It wins with the extra range, although the damage output at 30" is not that great, and even wins against Gun Drones in the 9-15" range, where the Gun Drones is still at long range, but the Fire Warrior is getting 2 shots and not getting the Long Range penalty.  This still holds up when the target is obscured with Gun Drones and Fire Warriors tied when within 15" of the target.

The Stealth suits comes in last, however it has lots of other benefits which I'll talk about later that means it should not be ignored.  If we moved the comparison onto targets with -2 to hit, then the Gun Drone would easily be the best as it's damage output can not get any worse.

The quick conclusion is that Gun Drones are the best firepower unless you are consistantly at greater than 18" away from the enemy, which shouldn't really happen, as in most Kill Team games you can get Gun Drones in range on the first turn (they should even advance, and not hit any worse against a target they already had a -1 to hit against).

However as with any mathhammer, lets look at the only factors that this analysis does not take into account/  Lets first look at benefits of Gun Drones vs Fire Warriors (I'll look at Stealths later):

Gun Drone Other Advantages
  • Faster Movement
  • Ability to Advance and Fire
  • Saviour Protocols (great for saving Stealth Suits, Leaders and Specialists)
  • Higher Toughness (offset by a worse Save)
  • Can't gain experience ? (see note below)
Fire Warrior Other Advantages
  • Better armour save (offset by lower toughness)
  • Can take a DS8 Support Turret
  • Can be a specialist (however this is normally taken by the armed Pathfinder Gunners and Stealth Suits)
  • The option for a Shas'ui with better leadership and access to a markerlight
  • Can gain experience ? (see note below)

Note: Gaining experience is a double edged sword.  Models can gain extra abilities, however they will then cost more.  Even if its only a few points, 2 or 3 models that have advanced a level is the same cost of an extra model.  As the benefits of the better experience levels (outside specialists) is minor I think its best not to have higher experienced models.  having Gun Drones which can't gain experience helps stop Kill Team Bloat, where you have fewer models in a 100 point game in exchange for a fw minor abilities.

Overall I think the Gun Drones wins overall against the Fire Warrior, particularly after you've picked a Shas'ui.  Saviour protocols is huge saving Stealth suits and Pathfinder Gunners is huge, and the extra speed is very useful.  The icing on the cake is that the Gun Drones can't be affected by more than 1 negative to hit modifier.

Stealth Suits

[My Stealth Suit conversion, based on the conversion by Adam from Grotskull's Workshop]
Stealth suits against Gun Drones is an interesting one. Apart from Saviour Protocols, Stealths Suits just have all the advantages:
  • Much better save
  • Innate -1 to hit to enemy shooting at them and in combat
  • Option to carry a tank busting (and Infantry Obliterating) Fusion Blaster
  • Option to be a Specialist (with some very nice combos available)
  • The toughest Leader option
  • Much higher leadership
So how should all this affect your Kill Team.  Pathfinder Gunners, and a Recon Drone are still auto includes in my eyes (leave a comment if you disagree).  Stealth Suits are still good, but after 1 or 2 you have to ask would 3 Gun Drones be better than 1 Stealth Suit.  Personally for casual and for the local GW Store campaign I'm still going to use a Fire Warrior with a DS8 Turret, a Stealth suit & a non-Gunner Pathfinder, and my current list only has 2 Gun Drones, its a nice bit of everything (except Breachers) type list.

However, definitely not for a Store Campaign or anything like that, if I was going to a super competitive event I would consider the following methodology:
  • Take the cheapest leader
  • Take 3 Pathfinder Gunners
  • Take a Recon Drone
  • Take as many Gun Drones as possible
This would lead to the following list

Pathfinder Shas'ui (Leader)
Pathfinder Ion Rifle Gunner (Comms)
Pathfinder Ion Rifle Gunner (Demolitions)
Pathfinder Ion Rifle Gunner (Sniper)
Recon Drone
Gun Drone
Gun Drone
Gun Drone
Gun Drone
Gun Drone
Gun Drone
Gun Drone
Gun Drone

13 models (including 8 Gun drones, plus a Recon drone), costing spot on 100 points.  This list is putting out, at 18", 38 str5 shots, and 3D3 Str8, ap-1, 2 damage shots (save those command point rerolls for the overheats).  If you like Rail Rifles rather than Ion Rifles (I think they're good, but wanted to squeeze in another Gun Drone) you could lose 1 Gun Drone to have Rail Rifle rather than Ion Rifle Pathfinder Gunners, and upgrade the Pathfinder leader to a Fire Warrior leader.  If you like Stealth Suits you can easily swap the Pathfinder Leader & 2 Gun drones for Stealth Suit Leader with a markerlight and target lock.  Making both changes would still leave you with 5 Gun drones and a Recon drone.

Honestly don't take something like this to anything but a large competitive tournament.  So what do you think, are Gun Drones that good in Kill team, is this (too?) competitive ?

Are you tempted to put a few more Gun Drones in your Kill Team ?  What's been your experience with our Flying Frisbees ?

Back to painting for me, but until next time, happy gaming !!


Wednesday 12 September 2018

Dipping my Toe into Shadespire

When it first came out I wasn’t too interested in Shadespire, having chosen to end my Fantasy playing days; lack of time to devout to as many games, the demise of Warhammer Fantasy Battle (not that I’d played it in its last two years) and really not liking the look of Stormcast when they first came out.

Overtime the great models that have been coming out for Age of Sigmar have pipped my interest, but the overall blockage that I didn’t enough time to plat mt existing games enough to warrant picking up AoS still stood.  That didn’t stop be picking up some models.  I picked up 2 Silver Tower Skaven Assassins to be extra Gutter Runners for my Skaven Bloodbowl team.  The Dark Elf Assassin was converted to be a second Succubus (with massive Blood Glaive), and I even picked up another Silver Tower model when in a moment I weakness (before the codex) I bought a model to be a Farseer (Doom is just too good of a psychic power).

Shadespire came out, and I thought it would another splash in the pan, and then disappear; Shadow War anyone.  However as with many gaming journeys I was convinced to give it a game by two close mates who had bought it.  One mate, Mike, who had stubbornly stuck to one faction in Infinity had gone all in buying every faction, including sleeves and dice.  We had a few games and was presently surprised and thought it was a good fun game.

The different warbands appeared relatively balanced (let me know your thoughts), and I liked the idea of the deck building aspect (eg. can tweak to be more killing or objective based), but I was weary that it would turn into Magic the Gathering when buying the last few cards for a deck can prove expensive, especially as you can’t buy the cards separately at all from GW.  However I didn’t intend to go to tournaments and the mates I knew would keep thing balanced, and wouldn’t go out and buy the top builds to smash by newbie deck; well not until I starting winning 😉

[I just need Ironskull's Boyz to get free postage - SOLD]
So with the decision made I bought the main game.  Then I made a unusual (for me) decision about painting.  I knew I would never have the time to paint the warbands with all of my 40k, Bloodbowl & Infinity projects., so looked at buying some painted warbands.  My favourite warband so far is the Khorne Bloodhounds, so I quickly found one on ebay at a reasonable price.  I was buying a well painted warband, rather than some of the top notch painting you can find.  Then I found an ebay listing of someone selling the main boxset with both warbands painted.  I liked the unusual Stormcast paint scheme, but thought the Khorne paint scheme wasn’t that good, so I would sell them on ebay.

I managed to pick this auction up for less than the cost that I had bought the brand new boxset for 😊  This gave me lots of cards, and allowed to me to keep he initial starter decks in the boxset complete (to play my son), while I built decks to use against my mates.

My last investment was a custom foam tray, which fitted in the box and perfectly held the warbands, tokens, dice etc.  This made it perfect to take the box and holiday, and I was able to pla a couple of games against my son in the evenings.

So far I’ve been having a ball playing Shadespire, and most importantly having fun with it.  Against my son’s Stormcast I’m 2-1 down (sometimes pesky Stormcast refuse to die!), I’m 3-0 up against Mike (horrendous dice in the 1st game against Undead, and then two close wins with both being equal as we headed into the last turn), and then I’m 1-0 down against my other mate’s Undead (first game playing with the short board edges touching).
[The surrounded Stormcast just wouldn't, even when a 4th Khorn guy joined in]
I’ve recently bought the Ork warband, so my next post will be a review of my first expansion box, and I’ve got my eye on a 4th warband when the Shadespire Season 2 comes out.

Have you been playing Shadespire ?  What do you think of it, and are you excited for Season 2 ?


PS. There are actually some ebay auctions selling the cards from the expansions individually, however in nearly all cases the best cards are sold out, but if you're not playing super competitively there are a nice way to pick up some extra cards.  If you want a lot of cards it might be worth buying an expansion and selling the models (and faction specific cards) on ebay.

Thursday 2 August 2018

Kill Team / 40k Differences from a Tau Perspective

By now there’s quite a few Kill team reviews and many of those go over the differences between the 40k and Kill Team rules.  For this post I wanted to go over the differences that specifically affect the Tau army.  So without pause here we go...

Markerlights Table

The first change that is noticed is the markerlight table is better than 40k:

Hey it’s shorter (due to losing the seeker/destroyer missile line), you only need 4 markerlights to get to the +1 to hit level.  This initially sounds great, but due to the increased number of negative to hit modifiers in Kill Team (I’ll come onto that shortly) it’ll be harder to get to that level.  Next you’ll have way less markerlights in a Kill team that you will in 40k, and lastly you’ll be affecting a single enemy model rather than a entire unit.  All these factors means markerlights are worth much less (even considering pathfinders only cost 75% of their 40k cost).  The resources needed to get +1 to hit on a single model, may only benefit the first short, eg. with other buffs a rail rifle gunner, particularly within 15” should kill the markerlighted target.

There is one thing to offset these issues, and that is the Uplinked Markerlight stratagem.  Like 40k it changes one markerlight hit into D3+1, but it costs 2 Command points, which makes it very expensive compared with 40k, as you only get 2 command points a turn (and that’s if you still have your leader alive).  These two command points have three very very good competing uses (each only costing 1 command point each):

  • The generic dice reroll
  • Sniper Stratgem (allows a Sniper specialist to get +1 to hit)
  • Heavy Stratagem (allows a Stealth suit Heavy specialist to fire 5 rather than 4 shots with his burst cannon)

Overall I think means its not worth investing too much in markerlights, and having only a few to get the first markerlight hit to reroll 1s for overcharging Ion Rifles.

Negative Modifiers To Hit

Anyone who’s played any of the -1 to hit armies in 40k, particularly Eldar which stack the neg modifiers know how deliberating it is to the Tau shooting.  Additional negative to hit modifiers in Kill team include:

  • Firing at over half range
  • Firing at a model that is obscured
  • Having a flesh wound

It’s important to reduce the negative modifiers, and a key to that is closing the distance.  Let’s look at the basic fire warrior firing at an enemy in the open, at 15-30” its 1 shot on 5+, at 15” or less it increases to 2 shots on 4+ thats triple the damage on average for getting within half range.  Sorry this is another edition your carbine armed fire warriors will not see any play.

When firing at an obscured model its 4 times as much damage firing with 15” compared to over 15" range.  This leads me to conclude that the best Tau playstyle is likely to be getting within rapid fire range, while hopefully staying obscured, with the intention of killing your target but not leaving yourself too open to retaliation.

What can help with those Negative Modifiers:
1) Use longer range weapons and play aggressively so its easy to get within half range
2) The Comms specialist can give a nearby model +1 to hit
3) The Recon drone can allow a nearby model to ignore the obscured penalty
4) Throw more shots, eg. Stealth Suit with a burst cannon Heavy specialist (for 5 shots), or gun drones.

 A quick note on Gun drones.  Gun drones seem bad when you consider they are BS5+ with no drone controller in the game, but they can advance for 8+D6 movement and fire at 18” on obscured targets on 6’s (6s always hit in Kill Team), that's only 1 less than normal even with a -3 to-hit modifier.  Remember though that if the target it not obscured a fire warrior would get 2 shots at 4+ to hit just a bit (3” inches) closer, so consider 1-2 gun drones to fire at those obscured targets using their speed to outflank the enemy with the Stealth Suit(s).  With so many negative modifiers in Kill Team I’ve seem some people saying the only competitive Tau Kill Team will be one with all but 2-3 members being Gun drones.  I’m not convinced yet, but time will tell, plus I don’t think I’d enjoy playing a Kill Team where I’m just rolling lots of dice needing 6s.

Although Kill Team in general, and the way I think Tau will need to play, will be at closer ranges than we’d like to play a 40k game, I think charging is not as much of an issue, as charging happens in the move phase and it a straight 2D6 charge, not the normal move and then a 2D6 charge.

Although this is not strictly true, because it is possible to get a normal move, and then a 2D6 charge by doing it in two parts.  The enemy can move and advance in one turn, and then if they get to move first in the next turn they can immediately do the 2D6 charge, so be wary about getting too close to models which haven’t moved yet.

Overall we should have a good chance of rapid firing at a model trying to make close combat in Kill Team, where as we're used to some models charging us when they start the turn miles away in 40k.

Model and Weapon Changes
Drones are not as tough as 40k with their save reduced to 5+.  There is no way to get a drone controller in Kill Team, so drones are stuck with their poor BS5+.  Marker drones do not ignore the negative modifier for moving and firing a markerlight.  The Pulse and Grav drones while being a point cheaper will be benefiting a lot less models than in 40k.  Overall drones are a lot worse, but most are a lot cheaper at only 7 points.  However, the stand out is the Recon drone which, while being the same 7 points, has 2 wounds and can offset the obscured modifier for a nearby model.

One small but crucial weapon change is that Ion Rifle overheating is on an unmodified 1 to hit.  So if you get +1 to hit you can still overheat, but more importantly with all the negative to hit modifiers you don’t die on a 1-3 when you shoot at something with -2 to hit.  If you get 1 markerlight on your target (to reroll 1's to hit) they are quite reliable, and punch very hard for a 10-point model.

General Tau Kill Team Types

[I'll be using one of my Firesight Incursion team, as a Railrifle Sniper Specialist for my Kill team]
So far, I’ve seen two types of Tau Kill teams being used.  One is stealth suit based with 4 Stealth suits and 2 other members to fill out the remaining points.  This list is very fast, hard to hit with a natural -1 to hit modifier on top of all the usual Kill Team modifier and are also one of the toughest units in the game with 2 wounds, toughness 4, and a 3+ armour save.

The other type, is one that I am favouring which still uses a Stealth suit (as they are so good) with a mix of pathfinders (making use of their excellent gunners) and fire warriors (with their long range rapid fire guns).  Some drones are occasionally sprinkled in.

Here’s 2 youtube battle reports I’ve watched with each type to help you see what you prefer:

Primarchs Youtube Channel Steath Suits Battle Report 

FNP Wargamers Youtube channel Tau Kill Team Battle Report

Here's what I'll starting to play with, any comments, tips or criticism in the comments would be greatly appreciated:

Fire Warrior Shas’ui with Pulse Rifle & Markerlight, Leader Specialist
DS8 Tactical Support Turret with a Smart Missile System
Fire Warrior Shas’la with Pulse Rifle

Pathfinder Shas’la with Pulse Carbine & Markerlight, Comms Specialist
Pathfinder Shas’la Gunner with Rail Rifle, Sniper Specialist
Pathfinder Shas’la Gunner with Ion Rifle
Pathfinder Shas’la Gunner with Ion Rifle

Gun Drone with 2 Pulse Carbines
Gun Drone with 2 Pulse Carbines
Recon Drone with Burst Cannon

Stealth Suit Shas’vre with Burst Cannon, Heavy Specialist

 - I'll be painting a XV25 Stealth Suit and a DS8 Turret for this list, now that I've completed (bar basing some models) my new 40k Tau list, but that's another blog post.

Overall I really like the look of Kill team, and look forward to playing it, ie. take everything I say with a pinch of salt, but I’ll report on my experiences so stay tuned for more updates.

Let me know in the comments what you're initial thoughts on Kill Team are, what you'll be using, and what tactics you think will work best for the Tau.


Friday 5 January 2018

Conversion Corner [Bloodbowl - Chaos Dwarves]

Just a quick post to let you know about some converting I've been doing.

With a new season of bloodbowl with my mates about to start I decided to start a new team.  Last year I converted a Norse team:
and keeping the Av7 lineman theme, but with tougher, slower other players I opted for Chaos Dwarves, a team I'd always admired.

I used the new GW Dwarf linemen as the Chaos Dwarf Blockers.  For the hobgoblins I used the bodies of Skaven Stormvermin, with the tails snipped off.  For the hand and heads I was going to use old fantsay hobgoblins, but I found the hands looked too big compared to the stormvermin bodies, so I used the new GW goblins, using the goblins heads with helmets as they looked the closest to the old hobgoblin models.

For the Bull Centaurs I used AoS Chaos Knight horses, with the new GW Dwarf blitzer with added horns made with the spikes from the Dark Eldar Venom.  I'll eventually get round to converting the Bull Centaur star player using another of the Dwarf positional players, and the other Dwarf positional players will be good to convert into other star players.

I was tempted with buying the really nice Forgeworld Minotaur, but I'd already purchased the Silver Tower model to be my Minotaur, and he has an imposing stance.

Here's the team ready for battle:

For my first game I played my mates Underworld team, and I was feeling good having killed a Goblin, until a Chaos Dwarf blocker died in turn 8 of the 2nd half.  It was a fun but brutal game, not surprising with the Underworld team fielding all 3 big guys:
[Turn 1 with Underworld about to receive]
[It looks like a great confrontation, but the Bull Centaur is happy there's a square between them]

I still need to green stuff the gap where the Bull Centaur torso meets the Chaos Knight horse's lower body, but they are ready for a few games against mates.

Unlike my Norse which are still grey plastic I hope to get this team painted over the season in between my Tau and Dark Eldar painting, so further updates will follow showing my progress.  Well I won't be using my full compliment of Chaos Dwarf blockers for a while, so I have a model to test my paint scheme :)

What do you think of my new team, and what projects are you working on ?


Tuesday 26 December 2017

Keeping the Quad Fusion Commander Alive [40k 8th Edition - Tau]

Priorties for 8th Edition

With the release of 8th Edition, all my armies would need work, so in an effort to get armies up to spec as quickly as possible I decided to concentrate on my two favorite factions, which also happen to be my largest, so Dark Elder and Tau it is.

[Tau Commander Progression, from the 1st I bought 10 years ago when I started Tau, to my 7th edition Tau Commander and current Commander that I've only just finished, above is a WIP shot]
I thought my Tau would need more work than my Dark Elder, so oddly I decided to concentrate on getting my Tau redone for 8th first, including getting it fully painted, while I assembled the few extra models for my Dark Eldar so I could play them at my local club.  My decision was also driven by the fact that I had quite a few Tau models I wanted to finish painting including one of the new commanders, a forgeworld commander, some XV9s, and an idea I had for converted Vespids (as they don't suck this edition).

[Isn't there a weapon that is good at all targets ?]

The Right Tool for the Right Task

The biggest change in 8th, in my opinion is that you had to diversify the weapon types you used. No longer would a multiple shot mid strength weapon cover most of the targets in the game.  Against infantry they would wound most targets on 3's rather than 2's, most monstrous creatures had doubled or tripled in wounds, and vehicles tripled to quadrupled their hull points into wounds, plus gained a save.

One of the odd weaknesses of Tau is their long range anti tank. While Marines can spam lascannons and missile launchers quite efficiently, both predators with 4 lascannon shots and 5 devastators with 4 lascannons are under 200 points (190 & 165 respectively). Tau Railguns and Heavy Rail rifles are on much more expensive platforms for how many shots they get (chepest Hammerhead & Broadside are 171 & 165 points respectively).  Missile Pods are nice, but the poor AP modifier and D3 wounds means that it can strip a few wounds off vehicles but will struggle to do much to tough vehicles.

The best Tau answer to vehicles and monstrous creatures is fusion (melta) weaponry, having the same hitting power of a single shot from a heavy railrifle (less the chance of extra mortal wounds) with more reliable damage within 9" (rolling two D6's and picking the highest). Being the most efficient fusion platform; the Quad Fusion Commander, a Commander equipped with 4 fusion guns, was born. The QFC has a number of advantages over the other fusion platforms:
  • BS 2+ makes the Commander a very points efficient choice
  • The ability to carry, and shot them all at the same time, 4 fusion guns is 33% more than crisis suits can carry, and the same number of fusion shots (on average) as Ghostkeels and XV9 with Fusion Cascades.
  • Being a character the commander can't be attacked in the shooting phase unless he is the closest target, barring other special rules such as Snipers.
  • The commander can deploy in manta strike, so it can't be targeted until it deploys on the battle, hopefully within range of a juicy target
When combined with protection drones provide these advantages have seen people spam commanders, however while they are as tough as a space marine character on a bike (toughness 5, 6 wounds, 3+ save) that is not hard to get rid off if they are focused on.  It doesn't matter how efficient a unit is if it only gets to fire once before dying.

A perfect example is when I played a 1000 point game against Guard.  I identified the opponents Vanquisher as a key threat to Longstrike.  First turn my QFC manta striked 18" away from the tank, which was about 12" away from the Guard front lines, and after Longstrike fired the QFC finished off the tank.  However Pask in a Punisher tank (old rules so only 20 shots) made the QFC a red smear on the battlefield.  My QFC managed to kill half a Leman Russ before being removed, not the best return, even if Longstrike had a much easier game without the Vanquisher around.

So lets look at the ways to keep the QFC alive longer

Ablative Wounds

The obvious solution is to take ablative wounds, ie. drones.  You could use crisis bodyguards but drones does the job so much more efficiently.  The only issue we have is that a commander can only bring two drones.  You can take multiple commanders and they can all share the protection from all the drones, but that's still not many drones for how many points they are protecting.

You can deepstrike on mass with Crisis suits near the commanders.  Crisis suits can bring 2 drones per member of the squad, so it you have 2 commanders and a unit of three Crisis suits you could have 10 drones for protection.  Now were getting somewhere, but 10 drones aren't that hard to destroy, so there's one more option for heavy deepstrike, and that is to use Forgeworld XV9 Hazard Suits.  They can bring 4 drones per unit (I'm almost sure that this is a typo and should be 2 drones per squad member, but we have to work with the actual wording in the Index).  Luckily the XV9s can come in units of 1, so if we have 2 commanders and 3 monat (single model) units of XV9 Hazard Suits we can have 16 drones.  Not only will the 16 drones protect the commanders, but the enemy also has to kill (and most likely overkill) the individial XV9 Hazard suits.

As well as deepstriking with the commanders, you can have infiltrating units already in range which can have their own drones.  Both Ghostkeels and Stealth suits can infiltrate and bring their own drones to protect the commanders.  The Ghstkeels and Stealths suits are also great units to screen the commanders as their negative modifiers to hit make them harder to take out before the enemy can even target the commanders.

Being More Conservative

Rather than opting for the first easy target for the commanders to deepstrike against you can be more conservative and wait for a better position where their commander is less likely to die the following turn.  There are a couple of good options to help you deepstrike more conservatively while still getting a first turn hit against a good target.

Deepstriking behind advancing friendly infantry can allow the commander to still hit target units in your opponent's deployment zone while being safe for reprisal as he can't be targeted unless he's the closest target.  Tau have some good units for this.  Kroot and Pathfinders get a free 7" move before the game begins (and key, after the roll for the seize the initiative).  If they use this free 7" move combined with  7" move plus D6" advance on the 1st turn they can be 29-34" up the board, with the usual 24" gap between armies on deployment this 2-7" from the edge of their deployment zone, plenty of space to deepstrike behind them and hit something deep into the enemy's deployment zone with 18" range fusion guns.

If going 2nd you won't be able to be so aggressive with the pre game move, but a few inches move forwards into cover can help.

Kroot Hounds are another good unit to do this tactic with as they have a fast 12" move, so can be at the centre of the board (before the extra D6" advance move) still allowing commanders to deepstrike behind and fire into the front edge of the enemy's deployment zone.

Lastly Fast Attack slot Drone squads can also advance to give additional ablative wounds to the ones deepstriking with the commanders.  A decent advance roll will see the drones on the half way line, plus they have the advantage over other infantry in that they only have to be within 3" of the commander to offer protection rather than having to be in front of the commander, like kroot or kroot hounds.  Again this can be used to shoot fusion guns into the opponents deployment zone without being as risky as going it alone.

Another further tactic is building your list to be ready for going 2nd.  If you can build your list to be resilient to enemy firepower, eg. key expensive units protected by drones, having lots of units so it is easy to out-deploy the enemy with units that are expensive and can't be shielded by drones (eg. Stormsurges and Hammerheads) placing them in areas where they will face less enemy firepower (line of sight blocking terrain and/or out of the enemy's range).  In this scenario you have less need to kill the devastator type units straight away, and can focus on the fast moving enemy elements as your army moves up as a whole.  This gets you board control (especially good in maelstrom games).

Well that's my main tips on keeping the crucial Quad Fusion Commanders alive to keep killing the enemy armour and monstrous creatures as long as possible.  Let me know what you think of these tips, and how you keep your Tau Commanders alive.


PS. Next blog post will be an review of the models I've painted up for my Tau force since 8th hit, and the units that I'm still using, and the units that are moth balled until at least the codex comes out:
[My current non-forgeworld army list I'm using]

Monday 16 October 2017

What I got up to before 8th Edition hit - Part Two [40k - Dark Eldar]

So as 7th drew to a close I had one last tournament to go to.  It was a small local 1250 point Highlander tournament, and I used it to paint up some more units.

With my trueborn with blasters always being envious of Eldar Fire Dragons I decided to paint some up.  To tie them into my army better I used Dark Eldar heads and used a darker than usual colour scheme (well apart from the guns).  Here's a work in progress pic:

[a pic of the painted Fire Dragons and Starweaver will follow in a later post]

The main reason I finally included Fire Dragons was because at the time they were allowed to go in Ynnari Harlequin Skyweavers.  This was important because I do not like the aesthetics of the Eldar transports, while the Harlequin vehicles are similar to my converted Venoms.  You can see my Skyweaver in the pic above, again I couldn't leave the model standard and mounted the 2 shuriken cannons each side of the cockpit, and adding spikes to the front of the hull to tie it into my army, as my converted Venoms have the same, finally I used a reaver jetbike helmet for the pilot.

Both units did well in the tournament, and when Soulburst works on the Fire Dragon it's deadly.  Unfortunately with the move to 8th edition, and the very sensible ruling that each faction of Eldar can not go in each other's transports both the Fire Dragons and the Skyweaver have not made my initial 8th edition list.  However the Skyweaver may make a come back, although it can't transport any models (I have no other Harlequin models) its a very good gunboat compared to the Venom for nearly the exact same points.  The Skyweaver has a better invulnerable save, and 6 shots at Str6, in my opinion, is better than the Rapid 6 from 2 (4+ to wound) Splinter Cannons on the Venom.

After the tournament I converted up my next unit, which was originally going to be some Warp Spiders.  I saw a great conversion online, from Mantle on Dakka Dakka (link here):
The conversion used Dark Eldar Scourge legs with all the spikes and blades cut off, Eldar Guardian torsos, arms & heads, Wraothblade Hip Plates on the shoulders, Wraithblade Loin Cloths and Guardian Aerials for the Warp Jump Generator, and finally the front of a Shuriken Catapult replaced with the end of a Wraith Cannon.

The only change I made was to use Scourge heads rather than Eldar Guardian heads.  Here's the first two models assembled:

Painting went on hold with the rumours of 8th edition approaching.  As soon as the Index's were released, in an effort to return my army list to mainly (if not totally) Dark Eldar, the leader of the unit got his weapon converted to a Shard Carbine, and the unit will now be Scourges with Blasters.

The tournament I won but didn't

The tournament organiser had made the scoring system to hopefully make it more enjoyable for all players.  He didn't like the idea of a player knowing their going to lose and having nothing to fight for with 1-2 hours left of the game to go.  In this tournament each player's tournament points was the amount of victory points they scored during the game (using points killed as a tie break).

While fine, this can lead to two unintended consequences:
  • Fast armies tend to do well regardless of whether they win or lose.  Your score can be more impacted on the cards you draw.  This has impacted me both ways.  In a previous tournament at the local GW store I had a close game where both my opponent and myself (playing Necrons) kept drawing maelstrom cards we couldn't do.  I lost the game, but because we both scored very low victory points it basically put us both out of the running.  
  • The results are polarising, in that the tournament the top players all scored high victory points even when they lost, eg. one of my losses was 16-19, and my 16 points would have been one of the highest in the room.  This makes later round's matchmaking a nightmare for the TO.  In the last round people at the top had to be moved, sometimes by 2-3 tables because we had all played each other.
In the final results I came 4th (knowing my victory points I guessed something was probably wrong), and out of the four games I had played the person in 1st, 2nd & 3rd.  What turned out was that my game against the person in 1st place had been entered the wrong way round.  Normally this wouldn't have affected the results much but in this case the game had been a 25-10 win to me.  The TO let me know later when he checked it would have swapped my position with the winners.  With my 25-10 win it meant that even losing my last game to the person who came 2nd it wouldn't have been enough for them to catch-up.

I am concerned that the winner in tournaments which similar scoring systems (tournament points = game victory points) is the one who gets lucky and wins by a landslide in one of their games wins.  Yes I played well in that 25-10 game, but not to justify 25 tournament points, compared to what people on nearby tables would have got.

So I won, but not officially, my last tournament of 7th.  Most importantly I had 4 great games, painted up some new units that I can draw on for years to come.  Plus it got me back to the converting and painting table, in time for 8th edition.

What comes next

It's been busy since 8th edition came out, and over the next few posts I will cover:

  • The tournament list I used for this tournament, and how I think 8th edition affects it, and the Dark Eldar list I will be using going forwards
  • How my Tau will transition to the new edition, and the new models I have built and painted
  • How much I love Bloodbowl (well you already knew that), and the new teams I am converting to use in my mate's annual winter league
It'll be much less time between posts going forwards, but in the meantime let me know how you have been finding 8th edition.


Friday 28 July 2017

What I got up to before 8th Edition hit - Part One [40k - Dark Eldar]

With a new edition coming up I wanted to move back to my Dark Eldar.  There were a few units I still didn't have, and I missed the army's aggressive playstyle.

Disclaimer: This post has been sitting in my draft box for way too long, so I've added some 8th Edition comments into the mix

Initially I considered Mandrakes.  I remember using a unit of three wracks back in 6th edition to hold objectives for a measily 30 points.  In 7th the minimum unit of wracks went up to 5, they lost the ability to become troops, poison got worse in that you only rerolled to wound if you had higher (rather than the same) strength compared to the opponents toughness, and lastly they competed with the much improved Grotesques, plus Trueborn and Incubi in the Elites slot.

Since then I've moved away from using Incubi and only use at most one unit of Trueborn, so spending 36 points on a small harassment unit in the form of 3 Mandrakes could at least be useable.  In fact I had seen Skari (link to his youtube channel) use them very well on multiple occasions.  Skari's channel also has some great 8th edition battle reports already.

I got as far as ordering the models, but the Gathering Storm Book II game out, which gives a huge boost, even if you don't include any Eldar or Harlequin models to a Dark Eldar force, Mandrakes were not allowed in the Reborn Warhost detachment :(  I also found I was being distracted, so to focus myself I signed myself up for a tournament.

The tournament was an escalation tournament, with games at 400, 800, 1200 & 1600 points, so I decided to use the event to paint up units I didn't have.  First up was a converted Shadowseer I assembled about a year ago and undercoated grey, but then hadn't got any further:

I had initially converted it to use as a Spiritseer (one of many times I have flirted with using Eldar).  I added extra pipes to his back with extra phastasm grenade launchers from the kabalite warrior box, and the weapon was converted from a wrack blade at the bottom, a hellglaive for the middle section and a venom blade for the top.

Although I could spend more time on it, the model turned out good enough for the tournament, and I could return to it later:

Next up were Medusa.  Although I already had some Lhameans and Sslyths I thought Medusa deepstriking on a venom could be very nasty in a Ynnari force, potentially able to take out 2 small units close together with their Str4 Ap3 flamers.  Shame their weapons don't ignore cover in 8th Edition

Now the issue with Medusa is that it is a single pose Finecast model, however I noticed that the kit had 2 heads, and I had a few Warhammer Shadow Warrior legs (old project that never happened), so I converted 2 using kabalite warrior torsos and medusa heads, and put a reaver jetbike head on the finecast medusa body to get 3 different medusa models:

I have to say I really avoid finecast models, particularly as a lot of them are direct only which means you are playing Russian roulette as to whether you get a nice one or one with horrific amounts of flash on them (let alone mis moulded parts).  The medusa I received had lots of flash, but at least I only had the single model:

I think the required clean up was worth it as I now have a nice unit to use:

Last up was a conversion I originally was going to use as Corsair Jetbikes, so I wanted to incorporate elements of all the other eldar factions.  For the moment I would use them as Scatbikes, but with magnetised weapons they could be refitted to be used as reavers jetbikes.  I am sure the Ynnari as it is now will only be playable for a few months until 8th edition comes out.

Well I was wrong, but the latest FAQ meaning I have to use one of the Ynarri special characters to play Ynarri, and the better Dark Eldar power from pain table, will mean that I will just use an army with the Aeldari faction keyword until the Dark Eldar codex comes out which may make a pure Dark Eldar force have more benefits, and it allows me to play with my Jetbikes.

[Magnetised Scatter Lasers - I only see them being used for the next few months until 8th Edition hits]
The jetbike started out as a reaver jetbike then I removed the back vertical blade, and used 2 blades from the reaver weapons to make two more diagonal blades simular to a eldar windrider.  I then added a Skyrunner canopy over the front of the jetbike to which I added spikes from the raider set (to tie the jetbikes into to my army which had similar spikes on my converted venoms).  Lastly I used scourge heads on reaver pilots.

Here's the jetbikes ready for the tournament, again not finished but most of the way there:

and a group shot of all the new models:

Unfortunately due to family issues I wasn't able to make the tournament, but its nice to get new models for my army.

I've managed to catch three games down my local GW.  Two were small games at 800 points, the last one was at 1200 points.  However the 1200 point game started very late so we didn't get to finish, which was a real shame as it was the only game that included the Medusa, and they stayed in reserve all game.  However I could see they had potential looking at where they could have come in and the damage the small unit could have done.

The Shadowseer has been very lacklustre so far.  Not surprising when he's a lvl 1 psyker with no other psychic support, its a bit hard to get spells off.  Another issue he has, is that he is very fragile, and I move him into my Court's raider on turn 1, so he normally in the thick of combat soon, and being the only character in the unit he is normally challenged out, and he has struggled, dying most times, against squad leaders.

Oddly enough with Furious Charge and +2 Str on his weapon he's surprising effective against non-walker vehicles, and managed to kill an unharmed Rhino on the charge by himself.  This is really useful in a Ynarri force because the Shadowseer has a high Initiative, which meant that the Court he was accompanying was allowed to charge the occupants immediately.  However while the Court killed the occupants of the rhino over 2 or 3 combat rounds the Shadowseer died to the squad champion.

Obviously this has changed in 8th edition, with vehicles and monsters needs more dedicated weapons to take them out, rather than just glancing them to death with mid strength weaponry.

In 8th edition Beastpacks can not benefit from Strength from Death.  Ynnari works better with shooty Infantry units and Jetbikes, rather than my typical Dark Eldar list which focuses on Vehicles and beastpacks, even my Court of the Archon has been changed significantly, both becoming more expensive and individual models.  An Eldar army made of up of Reapers and Windriders would do well with Ynarri.

That's all for now, next up I'll show some more models I've painted up for a tournament I did make, before getting onto my 8th edition adventures.



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