Sunday, 31 October 2010

[Tau] Starsmash Tournament Results & Day One Games

Last weekend I went to the Starsmash Tournament, run by my local gaming club, Spiky Club, in Reading.

This tournament was my worse result for the year :( With the tournament having a lower points limit of 1500 pts, I followed my, up till now, tactic of putting in as much firepower as possible. Going down to 1500 pts meant I dropped my troops to 2 units of 10 kroot and 6 firewarriors. In hindsight doing this meant that you have to extremely protective of your troops in objective games, and be willing to lose another unit to protect them at times. Fire warriors should never start on the board (and ideally never be out of a devilfish) and kroot should only be sacrificed when necessary.

The list I used for the tournament was:

Shas'el Commander Ra'star - 102
Cyclic Ion Blaster, Missile Pod, Multi-Tracker
Hard-wired Drone Controller with 2 Gun Drones

Crisis Battlesuit Team - 187
1 Crisis Battlesuit Shas'ui
Twin-linked Missile Pods
Drone Controller with 2 Gun Drones
2 Crisis Battlesuit Shas'ui
Plasma Rifle, Missile Pod, Multi-Tracker

Crisis Battlesuit Team - 124
2 Crisis Battlesuit Shas'ui
Plasma Rifle, Missile Pod, Multi-Tracker

Crisis Battlesuit Team - 163
1 Crisis Battlesuit Shas'ui
Twin-linked Missile Pods
Drone Controller with 2 Gun Drones
2 Crisis Battlesuit Shas'ui
Missile Pod, Burst Cannon, Multi-Tracker

6 Fire Warriors - 60

10 Kroot - 70

10 Kroot - 70

5 Pathfinders - 60
Devilfish - 85
Disruption Pods

Hammerhead Battle Tank - 165
Railgun, 2 Burst Cannons
Multi-Tracker & Disruption Pods

Broadside Battlesuit Team - 283
Shas'ui Broadside Team Leader
Advanced Stabilisation System
Hard-wired Target Lock, Hard-wired Blaksun Filter
Hard-wired Drone Controller with 2 Shield Drones
2 Shas'ui Broadsides
Advanced Stabilisation System

Hammerhead Battle Tank - 130
Ion Cannon, 2 Burst Cannons
Multi-Tracker & Disruption Pods

1499 Pts, 13 Kill Points

Game One

First Game was against daemons. I faced a nurgle greater daemon, a daemon prince, 2 units of slannesh cavalry, 1 unit of khorne cavalry, 30 flesh hounds, 3 units of 5 plague bearers for troops. This list was very very fast, with 5 units that could charge 19-24". Added to that night fight which stoped most of my firepower. One weakness of my opponents army (in my mind) was the few troops, if I could kill all the plague bearers and not get tabled I could at least get a draw.

The mission was a new one created for the tournament, you won if you had the most scoring units within 6" of the centre of the board. I won the roll of for first turn and gave it to my opponent, and choose to deploy nothing so my opponent had no idea where along my board edge I would be.

Even though after the poor shooting on the turn 1 night fight, and using both units of kroot to mean that it was turn 4 before anything but kroot was charged, I fired eveything I had at plague bearers I was wiped out before I had killed 2 units, because they constantly went to ground for a 3+ cover save and feel no pain against most of my firepower.

Gaining only 75 victory points (the tournament tie-breaker) I went down to bottom table :(

Game Two

Now daemons are an army that normally either wins big or losses, so I meant the only other daemon player who had faced an eldar army with 4 warwalkers and eldrad in his first game. He droped units and he took units off the board as the eldar opened fire. He was wiped out without getting a single victory point.

He had a simular army, again 3 units of 5 plague bearers, unit of khorne cavalry, 2 units of slannesh cavalry, nurge greater daemon. Differences were instead of 30 flesh hounds he had a second daemon prince, a tzeentch character on a chariot and 2 units of screamers for anti-tank.

Playing the rulebook mission with multiple objectives and quarters deployment made the game a bit easier. Firstly I was able to spread the objectives out so the daemons couldn't focus all his army in the same place. Secondly I could put some distance between me and the enemy, and I had further distance to fall back to if necessary.

My two units of kroot lined the other edges of my deployment quarter to push him back. The rest of my army were spread behind them to make deepstrike impossible for units and quite risky for single models.

One of the kroot units died early, and the other one died to the tzeentch character on a chariot. However everything that hit the kroot line. The second kroot unit dying was probably my first big mistake of the game. I was left with only 6 fire warriors coming on from reserve. I could have moved and run the kroot back into my deployment zone, as there was nothing apart from the tzeentch character and screamers in that area.

My Tau firepower did was it says on the can and obliterated all the cavalry units, even the nurgle greater daemon, tzeentch character, and some screamers. One daemon prince kindly mishapped and died trying yo drop into my lines.

My second big mistake of the game was moving the pathfinder devilfish to contest an objective held by plague bearers as it was the vehicle furthest forwards, knowing that the 6 fire warriors could run to claim an objective deep in my deployment zone.

The devilfish supported by a unit of crisis suits contested an objective. However with hindsight a hammerhead although slightly further back should have done the contesting, because 6 fire warriors out of a devilfish tend to be dead firewarriors. Late in the game the last daemon prince deepstriked and landed spot on target, even though I'd even used the devilfish's drones to make the area risky for dropping. A big piece of terrain stopped some of my army from having LOS to the prince, and when I opened up with everything within LOS he passed all his 4+ inv saves. Next turn he flew over the LOS blocking terrain and munched the fire warriors in combat. Although the rest of my army killed him easily the next turn the damage had been done.

Although I had neutralised one unit of plague bearers, contested an objective that another unit wanted, there was still one unit in cover near an objective very far in his corner of the board, so I lost 1-0. I lost about 350 vuctory points, and he had only 12 plague bearers remaining. Lesson learnt protect your troops at all costs.

Game 3

I was playing marines, who used the special character khan to allow them all to outflank. The mission was the one objective each mission (normally the draw mission). He had sternguard outflanking in a razorback, 2 units of tacticals in razorbacks (put in reserve to get his objective), a big squad of bikes that combat squaded (big enough to allow them to count as troops), a large bike command HQ unit.

My whole army deployed in the middle 24" with the kroot on the outside edge. Having been given 1st turn I had two turns of my army surging forwards intent on killing the tctical squads as soon as they came on to take his objective.

This tactic worked well, as the tacticals were taken out easily as they came on. A bike squad and sternguard were taken out as they came on the side my objective was near. On turn 5 the bike command squad which came on late had killed the kroot on the right, and charged the broadsides. Next turn I would have to sacrifice a crisis suit unit and the pathfinders to stop them getting to the pathfinder devilfish which was sitting on the objective with 6 fire warriors inside. If the game continued to turn 7 I would have to use careful placement of the devilfish to ensure that if the command squad blew it up with a charge they were still more than 3£ from the objective and the disembarked fire warriors could still claim it.

On his objective 2 hammerheads were sitting on it, and 1 unit of crisis suits were in the upper levels of a building over looking his objective, the small unit of crisis suits with the shas'el were also in the middle of the table ready to support. Against this my opponent had a combat squad half of a bike squad. On turn 5 all they did was immobolise one of the hammerheads on the objective (as they had both moved 12" the previous turn).

Luckily the game ended on turn 5 giving me a 1-0 win :)

So end of day one, and I was on 2 losses and a win. Day Two will pit me against a librarian that would not die and a tyranid horde. Brief summaries and my learnings will follow shortly.

Tuesday, 26 October 2010

Dark Eldar Army List Revised for New Codex

So after visiting my local GW to read the new Dark Eldar codex, I'm in a position to rewrite my army list for the new codex. My current army list is a mix of shooting and assault which should be easy to replicate in the new codex, max shooty lists would find it hard to replicate since the new codex loses the 100 pt squad of 10 warriors with 2 dark lances.

Without further ado, here's my current list to use as a baseline:

Archon - 137
Punisher, Tormentor Helm, Plasma Grenades, Combat Drugs, Shadow Field

Dracon's Retine in Raider - 56 + 136 + 55
Dracon (Agoniser, Pistol)
4 Incubi with 2 Blasters
3 Warriors (bullet catchers :) )
Raider (Dark Lance)

Wyches in Raider - 134 + 55
8 Wyches, including Succusbus with Agoniser & 2 Blasters
Raider (Dark Lance)

Wyches in Raider - 134 + 60
8 Wyches, including Succusbus with Agoniser & 2 Blasters
Raider (Disintegrator)

Warrior Raider Squad [joined by Archon] - 97 + 60
7 Warriors, including Sybarite with Agoniser, Splinter Cannon & Blaster
Raider (Disintegrator)

Warrior Raider Squad - 105 + 55
8 Warriors, including Sybarite with Agoniser, Splinter Cannon & Blaster
Raider (Dark Lances)

10 Warriors with 2 Dark Lances - 100
10 Warriors with 2 Dark Lances & 2 Blasters - 110
10 Warriors with 2 Dark Lances & 2 Blasters - 110

Ravager (3 Disintegrators) - 120
Ravager (3 Disintegrators) - 120

Talos - 100

Totals: 1744 Pts, 78 models

[NB: The talos was in the list to draw heavy weapon firepower and it's ability to kill MEQs in combat, but it's inclusion was mainly because I had a converted model I wanted to use. Most people would just swap the talos for a 3rd ravager]

My old army list was quite shooty (9 Dark Lances, 8 Disintegrators, followed by 12 Blasters at short ranges), but still had 5 raiders moving forwards to get it's occupants in combat, plus the list had 11 models with melee weapons that ignored armour saves to help against heavy armour.

Thoughts on Revising the List

The new pain tokens are a nice addition to the list, and wyches with Feel No Pain would be great in combat (apart from all powerweapon weilding units such as terminators), therefore the Haemonculus' and wracks looked nice to include.

The heavy weapon shooting element of my current list would take a serious hit under the new codex. To get 2 dark lances from a warrior squad would cost 230 pts, not the 100 pts currently, although the new codex unit would have 10 extra bullet catchers if you wanted a unit to stay back and pick off transports to allow the assault units to kill the occupants warrior squads would not be the answer.

Alternative sources for the firepower could be scourges with either blasters or heat lances. When looking at the points they seemed a bit expensive and fragile. Another option would be to use some of the new heavy support vehiciles; str9 lances weapons sounded nice, however without buying a forgeworld flyer I didn't have a model. As I owned 4 heavy support choices already, and was looking to pick up a 3rd ravager from ebay I thought I would try to build a list without them, but would bear them in mind as I really like the forgeworld Void Dragon Pheonix model.

Blasters options were also changed. No longer can wyches include blasters, warriors can only include one (and the price tripled), and although characters and wych/warrior leaders can take blaster pistols (at 3 times the cost the the previous codex's blaster) it won't make up for it.

The last solution would be to admit that such a shooty force would not be competitive, and instead include enough heavy firepower to take down vehicles and instead concentrate on the strengths of the new book.

In my mind a few units stand out as nice to use. Wyches which got cheaper, became troops, and have access to pain tokens, stuck me as a good core to start the army out. Wracks also seem good, and start with a pain token (shame I only have one unit of 9). Ravagers got better because they can move 12" and fire all guns, also the ravagers would have to change from disintegrators to dark lances to cover the anti-tank that the troop choices would lose.

A Quick Note on my Initial List Methodology

Now when I build a new list I first ignore alot of the interesting upgrades to get the most models on the table. If the opponent has enough lascannons left to kill 2 models it's better to have more than 2 models left compared to 2 which are really expensive.

Further iterations of the list will include those hard decisions of what to lose to fit in the more expensive characters & nasty looking upgrades/wargear. I believe if you look at some of the nice wargear/characters in isolation it's easy to say they are an auto include, but once you have a base list and say I'd have to lose one assault unit and their raider which brings the size of my army much smaller than say a Tau, Guard or Tyranid army and on par with a Marine army, you have to remind yourself that an the end of the day the Dark Eldar are an army of T3 models with an armour save that a splinter rifle gets rid of.

So without further ado below is my first list for the new codex:

Archon - 135
Agoniser, Blaster Pistol, Shadow Field, Comabt Drugs

Haemonculus - 55
Venom Blade

6 Incubi - 132
in Raider with Dark Lance and Sail* - 65

9 Wracks - 90
[joined by Archon]
in Raider with Dark Lance and Sail* - 65

9 Wyches with Champion with Agoniser & Blaster Pistol - 135
[joined by Haemonculus]
in Raider with Dark Lance and Sail* - 65

10 Wyches with Champion with Agoniser & Blaster Pistol - 145
in Raider with Dark Lance and Sail* - 65

10 Wyches - 100
in Raider with Dark Lance and Sail* - 65

10 Warriors with Dark Lance & Blaster - 130
in Raider with Dark Lance - 60

10 Warriors with Dark Lance & Blaster - 130

Ravager with 3 Dark Lances - 105

Ravager with 3 Dark Lances - 105

Talos - 100

Totals: 1747 Pts, 75 models

* I can't remember the exact name of the sail, but it allows the raider to move an extra 2D6"

Now I have missed out on loads of upgrades that look good:
  • The wracks could have a champion with an agoniser (30 pts extra), plus they could have liquifer guns (Template, Str4, D6 AP) at only 10 pts each
  • The talos has upgrades for an extra attack, it's attacks cause intant kill, and/or twin-linked liquifer guns
  • the last wych squad has no upgrades, however normally there is a target that doesn't need an expensive 55 pts character (wych,10,champion upgrade,10,agoniser,20,blaster pistol,15), such as any unit with low armour save and/or low toughness
  • Night shields and or Flicker fields on the vehicles, although they would be nice, adding the upgrades accross the 8 vehicles (or 9 if I drop the talos for a third ravager) would mean I would have a lose a unit plus more reduce the size of at least one other.
Army List Comparison

Now the new list has much less firepower (9 Lances, 8 Dissies, 12 Blaster vs 12 Lances, 2 Blasters & 3 Blaster Pistols), but it has much more of an assault element, plus the 2 units starting with feel no pain and all the other having the protential to get it.

Both the old and new lists will be fun to play, and I will have to wait and see whether the extra assault power will offset the extra firepower that has been lost.

What The Future Holds

It will also be interesting to see what wargear I may have missed in the new codex that I will deem has to go into the list once I get my hands on the book. Also it will interesting whether the Scourges and/or Reavers will make it into the list after playtesting.

And Now Onto You

So what are your revised army lists looking like ? How many heavy weapons are you fitting in your list ? Has the Disintegrator disappeared from your lists ?

I'm particularly interested to know what you think the size of dark eldar army should be ? I am concerned that many dark eldar lists will be too small for how fragile they are - I hope to be proved wrong.


NB: After 6 tournaments this year with Tau, Should I take Dark Eldar to a potential last tournament of the year ? It's less than a month after the codex so it will use the old codex - who needs feel no pain when my dark lances open your tin cans and the disintegrators vaporise the occupants :)

Wednesday, 13 October 2010

Dark Eldar - First Look at the Codex

I was expecting it to be another week or so until the GW stores would be getting the Dark Eldar codex in, so imagine my surprise when I walked into my local GW to ask when the codex would be on show to see a customer reading the codex and the new raider and warriors on the painting table.

Fortunately for me the customer with the codex had to dash back to work, so I was able to get a good read through the army list. Apart from browsing the pics of the new models in the book (there are some amazing models), I mainly looked at the army list for the points values, as a lot of the rules are already out on the web. Lots of things sound great, but it all depends on the points cost as to whether it's going to be effective in a game.

First Impressions

The points costs and unit structures have been bought in line with the current codexs, ie. you can have only 1 heavy weapon for every 10 models in a warrior squad. This effectively is the death of the sniper squad. Where as before we could have 10 warriors with 2 dark lances for 100 pts, now to get the same number of dark lances in a warrior squad we have to have 20 models, and with dark lances costing two and a half more, and warriors being 1 pt higher than before such a unit would cost 230 pts.

With there being no distinction between warrior unit and raider units, the other element of the dark eldar gun line (small raider squad) is not hit as bad as the sniper squad, as you just have to increase the unit size to 10.

In line with other codexs the cost of heavy and special weapons have gone up. Blasters (although increasing in range to 18") have tripled in cost. Worse yet wyches have lost access to special ranged weapons, no shredders or blasters for wyches.

Looking at the changes to a gunboat unit of 5 warriors, with dark lance, blaster & raider, which at the moment costs 110 pts, we now have to use 10 warriors and the unit costs 190 pts.

My conclusion is that getting heavy weapon firepower from the troops selection is not cost effective.

Ok, so the old dark lance gunline army is gone (or will have to change radically). There are alot of good things in the book.

Wyches went down to the cost of a fire warrior. Elite versions of wyches and warriors were created in the elites section. Both have an extra attack, and only cost 3 pts more than their troop versions. The elite warriors also have the option of carrying up to 4 special weapons, but beware the cost of the unit will spiral up fast.

For those trying to get dark lances into their list the good news is that the cost of the ravager has remained unchanged, and owners of 3 disintegrators have dropped to the cost of dark lance ravagers (bear in mind the change to the disintegrator, S5, AP2, Heavy3). Ravagers also gained the ability to fire all weapons after moving 12".

Jet Bikes and Scourges can also help to add firepower, both can take the new heat lance weapon, as well as the longer ranged blaster. Scourges have also joined Jet Bikes in Fast Attack.

Well the Dark Eldar can still get the firepower they used to be able to get in the troops choice from other areas, but what are we going to use our troops for ? Well my initial reaction is close combat wyches, at the cost of a fire warrior they seem like a good buy. Add in that web way portals have gone down by the cost of a space wolf grey hunter.

So my initial thoughts on an army would be 2 Haemonculi with Portals, accompanied by warriors (which get feel no pain from the pain point that the Haemonculi start with), run forward first turn hopefully into cover. They may be only T3 but a 4+ cover save, and a possible 4+ feel no pain on top, should mean the portal can be activated on turn 2. Firepower supplied by ravagers, jet bikes and scourges. Close combat supplied by an archon and wyches coming out of the webway portal. Whether this will fit in any sensible points limit will have to wait until I have my own copy the codex to go through the finer points.

Edit: Having found out that vehicles can not come out of the webway portal, so the Haemonculi will just join wyches to give them feel no pain, and the warriors will have dark lance, blaster & raider. Although they don't give the firepower as before they are 3 AP2 shots at short range (dark lance, blaster & blaster pistol on sybarite) is useful, and the raider is useful as a spare for the wych raiders start blowing up.

Lastly I was disappointed by the incubi rules. They have gone down only 3 points, although they gainted fleet, and access to come nice abilities on the leader they will always have a huge hit me sign on them, and their raider will be blown out of the sky at the first opportunity, meaning how often will they reach combat. Maybe a small squad in a webway portal. Soon tales of incubi squads slaughtering whole armies by rolling loads of 6's to get extra attacks will mean that an opponent may be distracted by even a small squad.


Overall I like the codex, it brings it in line with the current codexs. We lose some of the staple of current lists, such as sniper squads, and small wych units with two blasters, however we keep some, such as ravagers, and other get better (ie. scourges, wyches, additional weapon options). Also the character of the army will remain the same, it will hit like a hammer, but shatter like glass if it meets organised resistance.

Roll on the 6th Novemeber :)


PS. If you have any questions please post a comment, and I'll try to remember what I saw.

Sunday, 10 October 2010

First Steps in Warmachine

I've been getting into Warmachine lately. If you read my previous Warmachine post you'll remember that I was waiting to start Retribution, well things have changed since I last posted.

Years ago before the retribution fraction even existed I bought a Menoth starter set, but with no-one to play against it eventually was sold on ebay. A well painted (but simple color scheme) Menoth army came up on ebay. It was just the starter set plus a unit of errants but the different yet simple (ie. I could copy it) paint scheme inspired me.

Buying the Menoth fraction book I liked the synergy of the units which was essential to overcome the weakness of the jacks; slow as khador but with the armour and damage grids of cygnar.

Luckily for me, when I posting on my local club's forum for list advice someone mentioned they had some Menoth they wanted to sell, so I was able to pick up some more models. The models bought are nicely painted, but I'll have to repaint them to match the the starter I bought off ebay.

With the purchase of a unit of bastions (absolutely gorgeous models, that happen to also be good on the battlefield) I had enough of an army to join my local club's Warmachine campaign. I've played 3 games now (the last of which was the first game of the campaign), and I'm learning loads.

An upcoming post will go through what happened in my first 3 games and what I've learnt so far, plus I think I've found a fraction that really appeals to my playstyle (even more than Menoth) with models that will inspire me to paint them. Can you guess it ?



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