Tuesday, 24 September 2013

Grav Gun...how much ?? (including Centurions vs Bikes)

How much ??

It's not surprising being a Dark Eldar player that I like fast armies.  The ability to outmaneovre your opponent, and slaughter what appears to be a tougher force by taking it apart bit by bit is very rewarding.

However the problem comes when you want to play marines.  They have a wonderful stat line, and the new codexs dropping the basic points to 14 is one of their great strengths imho.  But the problem with tactical squads is that they are slow, and even with a rhino it doesn't take away the fact that they are slow.

You could try having a fast attack focussed army, and to be fair I've got a Space Wolves army with Thunderwolves, Fenrusian Wolves and a pair of Landspeeders.  However I really wanted fast marines.  Unfortunately assault marines don't really cut it in this edition, and Bloodclaws are not good bikers.

Now with the new marine codex I am (like loads of people) going gaga over the lower cost of bikes, the ability for them to be troops, and Khan giving them scout.  Not to mention that imho they are the best platform for grav weapons.  Lets compare 3 devastator centurions against bikers:


3 Centurions with Grav Cannons, Grav Amps and Missile Launchers = 270 pts
2 x 5 Bikes with 2 Grav guns each, and a combi grav on the serg - 2 x 145 = 290 pts

The centurions throw out 15 grav shots (rerolling to hit) and 3 missile launcher shots.  Their best chapter tactic would probably be Imperial Fists to give them tank hunters.

The bikes throw out 12 grav shots and 6/12 bolters shots (or for one turn 18 grav shots and 4/8 bolter shots. Best chapter tactic would be White Scars, and a bike mounted captain or chapter master makes them troops.

Now for raw firepower I think the centurions have it, particularly with the grav amps allowing the grav cannons to reroll to wound.  However what I think brings it back in for the bikes are the resiliance (they have more wounds, have a jink save, and can lose some wounds without losing grav weapons) and their speed (although both centurions and bikers with grav weapons have a 30" threat range, the option to turbo-boost with the bikes is great to redeploy mid game).  When you add Khan can make bikes scout, and that they can be scoring I believe Bikes win out.

If like me you have choosen bikes as your grav platform (that's if you want grav weapons at all, which is a perfectly valid option) then you have to source the grav weapons.  GW gives one in a tactical squad, and a combi in the sternguard squad.  Therefore not surprisingly ebay prices are insane (like £6+ per gun), and Bitz sites are no better (if you can find one in stock).

However if you like me you go to independent tournaments and aren't likely to ever go to a Throne of Skulls tournament than a blog has come to the rescue.  Not this one, but Against the Grain, which recently posted a great post on options among the many 3rd party manufacteurs with pictures and links to the various manufacteurs.  Although I was tempted with a couple of the examples shown, surfing the websites linked I came across the following:

for Grav guns and Combi-Gravs from Anvil Miniatures, here's a link to their Specialist/Energy weapons.  Although the nozzle does look a bit like a melta gun, the cabling from the nozzle should make it stand out as a different weapon, plus painting the ridges down the sides of the gun a distinctive colour will make it look very different to a melta gun.

If you don't like this gun I recommend you check out the blog listed above, as there are many more options including one which had a nozzle very similar to a Grav gun.

The 3rd party manufactuers are definitely worth a look, whether it's for a special gun, shoulder pad, or something different you want to add to your force.

My marines/wolves will have to wait as I'm busy painting up my Tau, as I've been given the go ahead for my alternative Riptide model by the tournament organiser, so its lots of painting required to get the other elements of my army ready in time.

I'm torn on my marines whether to have Khan and 2 full bike squads with either Imperial Fists Tactical squads and Devastators, or to ally them with my Space Wolves taking a Rune Priest on a bike, Grey Hunters, Thunderwolves, Fenrusian wolves & Long Fangs (in this case the Bikes will bring along a Stalker and a Storm Talon for anti-air).  I'm sure I'll have fun trying out both ideas.

Until next time...


Monday, 16 September 2013

Tau Re-Emerge & Moray Battlesuit

A Tale of Two Tau's

It's been a long hiatus since my Tau hit the gaming tables.  Hitting the Tau label on this blog takes you back a while.  There was a game (here) at the University gaming club, when I didn't want the first game they saw me play to be with my, very tuned by multiple tournaments, Dark Eldar list.  Then you would be sent back to 2011 when the Dark Eldar codex was released, and Dark Eldar were added to the painting log.  It was a time where Tau were struggling, but also a time where I had many years of experience of taking them to tournaments, and could still surprise a few people with how effective they could be.

Now the same is happening with my Dark Eldar.  They are not struggling as much as my Tau were back in 2011, but the inclusion of Tau & Eldar which bring av12 & 13 vehicles, plus high rate of fire medium strength guns to the meta is making it harder (but more on that in a later post).

Before the new Tau codex came out I took them to a 500 point tournament at the local GW as part of a final send off to the old codex.

I took a list that had lots of models, but was a bit lacking in low ap and anti tank, so I got a swift lesson when I faced this in my first game:

Overall I learnt that although there was lots of blob squads and cheap troops allied in you still needed to have decent low ap for when heavy infantry turned, plus you still needed to ensure you can crack an av13/14 tank.  On the plus side I continued to enjoy the improvement 6th edition had given rapid fire weapons, and my fire warriors and kroot were very effective over the day.

Next I tried a before and after pair of games against my mates Dark Angels.  I took the following army:

It was a close loss for the Tau, so when the new codex came out it was no surprise that I got a good (but not excessive) win.  My initial army was below:

Quick changes I made was changing 2 broadside units for 2 hammerheads, and swapped a pathfinder devilfish for a second unit of pathfinders.  Not surprisingly a unit of crisis suits got upgraded to a Riptide.  A new addition was a unit of Piranhas for more str 5 firepower.  Also trying something new out I dropped the commander for an Etheral as he wasn't compulsory anymore.  You can see the Moray Battlesuit, that I have had since I first started Tau standing in for the Riptide in the above pic.

Other changes that have since happened to my list, because I didn't appreciate the change after my first read of the codex include:

1) Not being limited to 2 drones a crisis/broadside team.  This is huge and allows some cheap ablative wounds that can take the first str8 shots that would instant kill the suits.  The drones are worth it for that let alone what they add to the unit's firepower, particularly if they compliment the units role and range that they want to operate.

2) After the knee jerk reaction of removing broadsides from my list due to drop in the strength of their rail weapons I added a small unit of 2 with high yield missile pods back in the list along with 4 missile drones.  In my first few games they have done well, and will be a stable of the my lists going forward, and points permitting I would expand the unit, but I am wary of having a lot of points tied up in the same unt.  Too many battle reports I have seen on Youtube of big units being killed/decimated completely turning the battle.  The last example was a full broadside team with maximum drones and attached commander and etheral; when a close combat unit weathered the counter fire and massacred the unit it combat it was immediately game over.

3)  If pathfinders were fragile and an opponents first easy target before they are even more now with improved markerlights and worse armour save.  Although I haven't had a game with them yet I am going to try out Tetras, now that their markerlights are a reasonable Heavy2 rather the ridiculous Heavy4 they used to be.

4) I have fallen in love with Ion weapons.  Although risky (which can be mitigated by using markerlights to raise BS to 6) having low ap large blasts is lovely.  Initially I had 2 Ion weapons in the army, and I'm considering increasing that.

5) I've added a skyray, which helps with anti air wonderfully.  In most games I will just markerlight turn one, and then unleash all or most of it's missile against a key flyer on turn 2.  So far the skyray is my only skyfire model, relying on a few markerlights hits and twin-linking on my str7 firepower to help out.  However I haven't faced a heavy flyer list or the dreaded Helldrakes, so I may need to revise this.

At the moment I am rushing to paint up my new additions (Broadsides, Tetras, loads of Drones) to be able to take the Tau to their first tournament in nearly 3 years.  Time will tell if I can quickly adapt to the new playstyle compared to my Dark Eldar in such a sort length of time with a lack of test games.

Moray Battlesuit

So here's a close up picture of my Moray Battlesuit:

I got him at the same time I started my Tau, and for a few games I proxied him as a Hammerhead against my mates until I painted up the proper model.  His weapons of Ion Cannon and 2 Burst Cannons then, would need to change to Ion with Fusion Blasters.  The fusion blasters were already under the shoulder pads, so the burst cannons just needed to be removed for WYSIWYG.

He'd suffered a bit of battle damage, so I had to find a new gun for his right forearm mini drone.  It's only cosmetic but I wanted the model looking for his new outting. Finally I could use the model as I wanted, as a large crisis suit, now that the codex had Riptides in it.

Comparing him to the Riptide model, he needed bigger thusters.  I dithered over using piranha or tetra engines, but eventually decided on hammerhead engines with some crisis circular shields to cover where they attached to the hammerhead..

Like the Riptide I placed them higher than the shoulders. I removed the burst cannon barrels, leaving the nibs to make it look like they were tracking the sky. Finally my Moray is reborn as a Riptide.  Here's a picture of the final model against a normal Riptide:

What do you think of the model ?  Would you be happy playing against him ?  I think it's got the right height and size.  The big difference being the existing Riptide model has the gun outstretched, but as a gun doesn't count for Line of Sight it shouldn't be an issue.

All comments are greatly appreciated.


Next time, it'll be back to Dark Eldar, and my experiences facing the Wraithknight along with the rest of the new Eldar codex

Thursday, 12 September 2013

Mind the Gap (Space Marine Allies)


The new Space Marine book is out, and while it’s definitely an improvement, time will tell if the new lists people are coming up with are enough to make a Pure Space Marine army competitive.

Perfect for filling multiple Gaps ?

However one of the biggest things that they bring to the meta are perfect allies.  Space Marines seem to have good units in every slot, and have units that are good at particular aspects of the game, eg. tough troops, flyers, anti-air, anti-tank etc.  Not only that but there is normaly multiple units across different force organisation slots that can perform the same task (eg, Stalker in Heavy Support & Storm Talon in Fast Attack).  This makes them very good for filling the gaps in other armies.  This is magnified by Chapter Tactics which allows you to pick the Chapter tactics which benefits the gap you are trying to fill.

Lets take a look at my armies; both Space Wolves and Tau can ally with Space Marines as Battle Brothers.  One of the big weaknesses of Space Wolves is their anti air.  Now the Space Marines can bring some brilliant anti air in the form of either a Stalker or a Hunter, plus a Storm Talon.  When combined with a Quad gun it gives a Space Wolves chance to compete against multiple flyers a bit easier.

No more huddled in cover from flyers at the end of the game for Wolves ?

Space Marines bring some nice firepower when used with the Imperial Fists Chapter Tactic, which allows shots with Bolter Weapons (excluding Sternguard special ammo) to reroll 1’s to hit and give Devastators and Centurion Devastators Tank Hunters.  For 144 points you can have 6 Devastators with 4 Missile Launchers, which should contribute 2 HPs against Wave Serpents (before cover saves) a turn.  Now this is not quite  as good as MissileSides or Deathrains (dual missile crisis suits), but is good if you gave run out of Heavy Support slots, as Hammerheads, Skyrays & Riptides all compete for the same slots as Broadsides and Deathrains.  It also allows you to spread your long range anti tank across another unit, making it harder for the enemy to eliminate all of your long range anti tank quickly.

Tau lack an in your face distraction unit that will distract the enemy from advancing towards the Tau.  Basic marines in a drop pod, can be a great distraction that doesn't break the bank.  A full tactical squad with Heavy Bolter, Flamer and Combi-flamer in a Pod is only 200 pts, and if played right can be a thorn that is hard to get rid of that demands the enemies attention.  In some games the distraction and the damage they can do coming down turn 1 can win the game there and then, by giving the Tau elements the extra breathing space they need to decimate the enemy.

Another unit to distract and get in the face of the enemy fast is Space Marine bikes, which got cheaper, access to multiple Grav weapons (which are great on relentless platforms) and can still be made troops.  Again picking the right Chapter Tactics (in this case White Scars) can make these allies even better at their job.

Normally Chapter Tactics will make some of a pure marine army better (sometimes the majority of the list if it is built well, but that risks making the list unbalanced), however when picking only a few units to plug a gap you can choose units which will all benefit from the Chapter Tactics you are picking, as you are not picking a balanced Take All Comers force, but only units to fill a specific requirement.

Overall Space Marines add a lot to the game, before you even consider the new units (eg. my Riptides will target Devastator Centurions with Grav Cannons with extreme and excessive prejudice !!).  Whether they can really affect the top armies will take a bit of time to see.  The next tournament I am going to will be allowing the new codex, so it will be interesting to see the effect they have.

How do you think Marines will change the meta ?  Are you tempted to use them as allies ?  Do they add enough as allies to take points away from the main detachment (and in the case of Tau using the excellent Farsight Enclaves supplement) ?


PS. It’s been a while since my last post, but I’m hoping that after my hiatus things will get back to a more regular posting schedule.  Upcoming post will include:
How my Space Wolves from my last post (here) got on, and my learnings
How my Dark Eldar have got on over the year, including a one-day tournament win
My experiences facing Eldar and in particular the Wraithknight & Wave Serpents
And finally my Tau, which I am busy expanding so they can attend their first tournament in a couple of years.  As a tease my list has no rail weapons, no pathfinders, no plasma and no gun or shield drones (all stables in my previous lists).


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