Wednesday, 23 May 2018

Is Competitive Play Hurting 40K?

Sometime ago I was involved in an online discussion about whether or not competitive play was actually being a detriment to the game especially after events at the Las Vegas Open at the start of the year.

The main three arguments that started this discussion were:

1. Soup lists would not be as effective if players stuck to an army list that was pure fluff by the universe/lore of Warhammer 40K.

2. Games Workshop would not need to nerf units and rules so much if they were not used and abused so much in tournaments.

3. The overpowered units get buffed by Games Workshop because then more players would buy them.

I think that the people I spoke with were forgetting a specific fourth point which is that in any game that pits player versus player, there will always be an element of competitiveness. That just cannot be helped as even in a friendly fun game both players want to win. It's simply human nature.

The main responses to the three points above were:

1. If Games Workshop did their job right then the game would be balanced and problems like soup lists wouldn't be an issue.

2. People should not be punished or put down because they enjoy the play style they find most fun.

3. It's Games Workshop's fault for releasing a rules set that can be abused like this.

You can certainly see that this is a topic that resulted in a lot of discussion, much of it heated. But it raised a further three points that I am going to try and address here myself:

1. Is competitiveness ruining/has ruined Warhammer 40K?

2. Why is it ruining/has ruined 40K?

3. How can we fix this?

In this particular discussion my response to point 1 was "yes, somewhat". War games by their very nature are meant to be competitive exercises. The problem is that Warhammer 40K is a game that generally draws two sorts of people - competitive players who play the mechanical side of the game and casual / narrative players who (usually) want to play less competitively but are more interested in playing because of the fluff side of the game. In my experience, the two sides rarely enjoy a game together because they want different things out of it.

Competitive play is about winning, although not necessarily WAAC (win at all costs). It's turning up with a perfect list and playing it to achieve victory. That is fine when it is competitive versus competitive. More often than not though I see competitive players using that same style against less competitive players and casual players, usually to detriment of the casual players enjoyment of the game. It is almost as if some competitive players cannot tone their play style down to accommodate the play style of their opponent. That however is not the fault of the game but the problem of having two very different styles of play. I sometimes wonder whether traditional historical war gaming has the same issue?

Some may disagree with me here but I have found that the 8th edition rules do not support a competitive style of play very well. It is too easy to break the mechanics and push the envelope too far. However, if played for a fun and casual format that isn't built around using and abusing the mechanics of a much simpler system than we have had before, it works fantastically. It is a war game so it is going to have tournaments and competitive events but I don't feel that that is where the heart and soul of 8th edition lies. Nor do I think it was the intent of Games Workshop was to produce a competitive game system.


Why do I think this? It's because I am a casual player. I can't say that I have a single competitive bone in my body. It's just not in me. It is why although I am intrigued by tournaments I don't attend them. 

One of the arguments that I made at the time, was that casual players cannot always play up to the level of competitive players. Some simply don't want to play like that, others (myself included if I am to be honest) just don't have the mindset to understand points to worth ratio or have the same level of tactical skill. But when you raise this, competitive players frequently state that they shouldn't be the ones to lower their game but they fully expect casual and less experienced players to raise theirs despite the reasons that I have just mentioned. Essentially it is a no win situation because neither side seems willing or able to accommodate the other. 

At tournaments we have seen some absolutely silly competitive lists. But we also have to consider what the definition of competitive play is. A well constructed list where the player has thought through points and upgrade combinations to make the best possible army is often seen as competitive but it is also the play style - playing to win by analysing the game and making no mistakes - that falls under that heading too. The ten plagueburst crawler list at the Las Vegas Open while probably not a optimized list was certainly a competitive move by the player, even if it was supposedly fielded just to make a point to Games Workshop. 

Games Workshop has two ways of examining the state of 8th edition. They can look at comments and feedback on their community site which may not always been accurate as people have a tendency to overreact to something they don't like, and rarely do people praise the things that they do like. Secondly, Games Workshop watches what gets played at the major tournaments. This is the only way they get to see really what players are taking in their lists because they can't see what the rest of us play at home or at our gaming clubs. Since tournaments are the ultimate competitive environment Games Workshop are forced to use these as the means of which they decide whether a unit or upgrade needs a points raise, points reduction or an FAQ/errata.

I'm not convinced that the design team over at Games Workshop do a lot of play testing and if they do, I certainly don't think they play competitive lists of the sort that we see at tournaments. Which again strikes me that 8th edition was not designed for the competitive sort of play. If it was I think we would have a much tighter set of rules and far less ambiguities in games.


I'm not saying that tournaments are the root of this problem. Tournaments are just an outlet for the competitive player where they can let go and really show what they are made of. The problem is that Games Workshop have given us a great brand new system for Warhammer 40K that if played with an even hand and a casual mindset works wonders. It is when the competitive mindset takes over and lists are build around the mechanics to achieve victory at the expense of the opponent's enjoyment in a non-competitive environment that we have a problem.

Can we fix this? Unfortunately after nearly a year of pondering this and reading similar topics online about this same problem I don't think we can. We are going to be stuck with the competitive and casual players at opposite ends of the gaming spectrum and as long as Games Workshop uses the competitive side of 8th edition to monitor the health of the game and adjust elements, competitive play will always remain dominant. Things will only change when competitive players actually try to play down to a casual level and see things from a different point of view.


"In war, nothing is more honourable than victory."
- Worf, Deep Space Nine - "Way of the Warrior"






Tuesday, 22 May 2018

Revolt! - Susperia


Planet: Susperia.
Region: Eye of Terror.

Death Guard vs Death Guard
1500 points.
Mission: Dominate and Destroy.
Deployment: Hammer and Anvil.

The ranks of the Death Guard have become split between those loyal to Mortarion and those who serve Typhus. Typhus has become insensed that Mortarion continues to support the situation on Susperia. The true enemy, the Imperium, is where the servants of Nurgle should be directing their attacks not playing to the whims of the Ruinious Powers. Angered by Typhus blasphemy, Mortarion marches into the enemy camp to show who is in command of the Death Guard here!

Jack is a new member of the club and last night we played our first battle against one another. It has been an entire edition ago that I think I last experienced some Death Guard on Death Guard action so I was looking forward to this. We chose 1500 points because it fits easier into the club's time limit than a 2000 point game does and since I don't believe that I have played Dominate and Destroy before it seemed like a good choice. We rolled Hammer and Anvil for deployment and Nurgle was with me for I rolled a 7 to get first turn and Typhus didn't seize the initiative.

Despite Jack holding most of the objectives on his side of the table I decided to play a more defensive game. Two plague marine squads held the objectives that I started with and everything else moved up the table. I kept the plagueburst crawler back to provide artillery fire. As usual my shooting was pretty bad and I think I knocked 1 wound off of a bloat drone.

Jack's first turn saw most of his forces moved forward, including his plagueburst crawler which I found a bit strange but it did have plaguespewers so understandable. He was able to grab the more central objective giving him the edge.

I'll be honest that from here the next few turns blurred together for me as we were having too much fun with this match. I was doing terrible even so. I was being forced to hold the two objectives I had unable to go forward. My hellforged contemptor was destroyed far too easily for my tastes by Jack's plaguespewers if I remember right. Likewise my poxwalkers did not survive the firepower pumped into them.

My saving grace had to be Mortarion. He spent up the battlefield hewing through traitor plague marines, blightshroud terminators, poxwalkers and a daemon prince with ease. The problem was that he had not charged up Lantern before the battle, and either that damn pistol either failed to hit or failed to wound. It did nothing all game which was both amusing and just utterly frustrating. Mortarion did survive the game however, having only lost two or three wounds, and was the only chance I had of scoring linebreaker.

Mortarions greatest moment came because I think Jack made a small mistake. Second or third turn he deepstriked his blightshroud terminators and his daemon prince (also his warlord) into my deployment zone in the hopes of taking out one of my plague marine squads sitting on an objective. They failed to do anything and Mortarion ended up charging into the terminators, cutting them down with ease. The daemon prince ran away and tried to deal some damage to my plagueburst crawler, but the daemon primarch caught up with him and delivered a lethal swing which sent the traitor screaming back into the Warp. It made a for a cool moment in the game but in hindsight perhaps they should have dropped more central and held up my advance even more.

The game kept going until the very last second of turn 5. Neither of us really had much left on the tabletop. I think I had just a plague marine squad, plagueburst crawler and Mortarion, while Jack had some poxwalkers and a plagueburst crawler of his own. I had not been counting points for both sides but I figured it was close but he definitely had the win. In the end I think Jack was on 25 to my 12. A much bigger gap than I had thought.

----

This was a great game and we both thoroughly enjoyed it. I always have fun but sometimes it is really nice to play someone who also has that same level of fun and not take things too seriously. I am really looking forward to future games against Jack.

If I had a grumble... well two, considering Mortarion's pistol not working... it would be that damn plaguecrawler. I know that a 4+ BS is 50/50 but that damn unit never seems to be accurate for me. If it wasn't such a good choice I'd probably shelve it due to it hitting for toffee.

---

++ Battalion Detachment +5CP (Chaos - Death Guard) [57 PL, 1027pts] ++

Use Beta Rules

+ HQ +

Lord of Contagion [7 PL, 117pts]: Manreaper, The Suppurating Plate

Malignant Plaguecaster [6 PL, 110pts]: 1. Miasma of Pestilence, 6. Curse of the Leper

+ Troops +

Plague Marines [13 PL, 218pts]: Icon of Despair
. Plague Champion: Plague knife, Plasma gun, Power fist
. 4x Plague Marine w/ boltgun
. Plague Marine w/ melee weapons: Great plague cleaver
. Plague Marine w/ Special Weapon: Plague Spewer
. Plague Marine w/ Special Weapon: Plasma gun

Plague Marines [10 PL, 174pts]: Icon of Despair
. Plague Champion: Plague knife, Plasma gun, Power fist
. 4x Plague Marine w/ boltgun
. Plague Marine w/ melee weapons: Flail of Corruption
. Plague Marine w/ Special Weapon: Blight launcher

Poxwalkers [3 PL, 60pts]: 10x Poxwalker

+ Elites +

Hellforged Contemptor Dreadnought [10 PL, 196pts]: Havoc launcher
. Left Arm: Hellflamer, Hellforged deathclaw
. Right Arm: Kheres assault cannon

+ Heavy Support +

Plagueburst Crawler [8 PL, 152pts]: 2x Entropy cannon, Rothail volley gun

++ Super-Heavy Auxiliary Detachment (Chaos - Death Guard) [24 PL, 470pts] ++

+ Lord of War +

Mortarion [24 PL, 470pts]: 4. Blades of Putrefaction, Warlord

++ Total: [81 PL, 1497pts] ++


Typhus and his traitors advance.

The instigator of the Death Guard rebellion.

The battlefield bathed in the glow of an unnatural sun.


Friday, 18 May 2018

Missions - Only War

Welcome to the first in a series of posts where I take a look at the missions of 8th edition 40K. I'm starting off with a single mission - Only War. Only War is the introductory basic mission and one that is sadly ignored or forgotten by the majority of players it seems. I've never even seen this mission even discussed on internet forums or at my local club which is a real shame.

The purpose of Only War is to showcase the new edition rules without having to worry about complex mission additions. It is a simple roll to choose sides, and the winner picks half of the table to deploy in. It doesn't specify that half the table means the traditional across table deployment. You could choose table length or even the awkward corner to corner. You then deploy 12'' from the central line.

The mission specific rule involves placing two objective markers each and then rolling to see what you are doing with them.

1. Each marker is worth a set 2 points at the end of the game and has slay the warlord.

2. Randomly pick one and it becomes The Relic mission with the difference that the relic itself could be anywhere on the table rather than in the middle, making it potentially a lot harder for one player.

3. Each objective is worth 1 point at the end of your turn if you hold it.

Even though this mission is all about teaching the basics of the game, and the proper missions later on in the ruebook in a simple format, I have found that it is just as fun if not more so than the regular missions. My reason for saying so is that it makes a refreshing difference not having to worry about the secondary concerns of slay the warlord, line breaker and first blood all the time. You can just focus on the actual objective of the game, whatever you have rolled.

As I mention above, I never see this mission being discussed probably because players want a more complex gaming experience. It was September 2017 that I last played this mission (as of writing this post) and while I am trying to play the other missions for the experience I'd like to play this one more often I think.

If you have played it what did you think? And if you haven't what not give it a try.

Tuesday, 15 May 2018

Gathering Dark tournament report - 2018



A couple weekends ago I ran a small 8th edition tournament for a handful of my friends. I've been doing these once or twice a year for the last four or five years but this was the first event under the 8th edition rules.

Eight players came on the day to fight for supremacy.  Previous years we had played 2000 points but this time around we decided to try something a little smaller and went for 1500 points. It certainly made a difference to the sort of armies that we normally saw.

On the day our eight generals were:

1. Jon Q - Aeldari (craftworld alaitoc).
2. Alex G - Space Marines (raven guard chapter tactics).
3. Thomas S - Space Marines (salamander chapter tactics).
4. Dan D - Drukhari (kabal of the black heart and prophets of flesh).
5. Ashleigh G - Astra Militarum (cadian regiment).
6. Ian T - Necrons (sautekh dynasty).
7. Jaime J - Space Marines (ultramarines chapter tactics) and Astra Militarum (mordian regiment).
8. Chris H - Adeptus Mechanicus (forge world stygia).

Table one. The Necron monolith was used as a little extra terrain.

Table 2. A nice simple battlefield.

Table 3. The three drop pods and crashed stormraven were used as terrain pieces.

Table 4. This table was set up so that the ground floor ruins had their windows covered to prevent line of sight.


 The way I ran the event was 1500 points, three rounds of three hours each, and the missions were determined ahead of time so that players could build appropriate lists. Usually we play purely maelstrom missions because we enjoy the randomness of the cards but this time I decided to keep to a kill mission, objective mission and one maelstrom mission.

Round 1 - Front-Line Warfare.
Round 2 - Ascension.
Round 3 - Kill Confirmed.

I used a small swiss tournament app on my phone to handle who played who, but ultimate victory was decided by total victory points over the course of the day. I prefer this method as it makes players play to the mission rather than go all out for the table win.

Round 1.

The first round went nicely and everyone got into the spirit of the day quickly. Good clean competitive fun without being a dick. Just the way a tournament should be played. Some solid victories although Chris and Dan timed out as a draw.

T1. Chris vs Dan - Draw.
T2. Jon vs Ian - victory for Jon.
T3. Alex vs Asheigh - victory for Alex.
T4. Jamie vs Thomas - victory for Jamie.

Round 2.

For some reason the second round seemed to overrun a little bit but I let it run for fairness and we were ahead on time for the day anyway. Dan did fantastically well achieving a victory that none of us expected but we could all tell that Alex was going to be the most likely winner for the day.

T1. Ian vs Thomas - victory for Ian.
T2. Jon vs Dan - victory for Dan.
T3. Chris vs Ashleigh - victory for Ashleigh.
T4. Alex vs Jamie - victory for Alex.

Round 3.

The final round of the day. Round three also seemed to overrun a little but we wanted to see the true outcome so we let it run. As expected Alex seized victory and with it the tournament.

T1. Jon vs Jamie - victory for Jon.
T2. Dan vs Alex - victory for Alex.
T3. Chris vs Thomas - victory for Chris.
T4. Ian vs Ashleigh - victory for Ian.

Final Standings.

Victory points were totaled over the day and that determines who wins the event. I prefer this method as it forces players to play to the mission rather than try to table wipe their opponent. Makes for a far more enjoyable play style.

63 : Alex G. - Victory!
57 : Ian T.
47 : Chris H.
37 : Dan D.
28 : Jon Q.
22 : Ashleigh G.
18 : Jamie J.
  9 : Thomas S.

We had a great day with some fun 40K games and friendly banter. Congrats to Alex for his win. I'm hoping that I can try to organize another one later in the year and hopefully make it a bigger event with more players. The ultimate goal being to create an annual tournament for this corner of Cambridgeshire.

But until then here are a few samples of the photos taken during the day. Enjoy.

Necrons control the skies.

Guardsmen hiding from incoming fire.

Raven Guard (successors) commanding an impressive field of fire.

Roboute Guilliman leads his chapter into battle.

Only way to decide this... FIGHT!

War of the ancients.

The Mechanicus marches to war.

Mordians take to the battlefield.







Friday, 11 May 2018

Nurgle Pushes Back - Bludhaven

Planet: Bludhaven.
Region: Seraphon Sector.

Death Guard vs Orks.
750 points.
Mission: Annihilation.
Deployment: Hammer and Anvil.

After suffering severe losses and frequent defeats, the ork hordes retreated back towards their landing sites to regroup. This gave the Death Guard the opportunity to harry their flanks as they fled. Plagueburst Crawlers decimated the fleeing hordes with their mortars before the plague marines themselves marched forward to mop up the survivors. 

This game was the following round of the small escalation league run by my friend Shadbolt. The points have increased to 750 which didn't give me much to play with. I decided to stick with the original army configuration for now, add a plagueburst crawler to handle horde and tanks, and bring the plague marines up to 10 men with some close combat weapons. Even so against a horde list was not convinced especially with so few infantry on my side.

Luke's ork list looked nasty at this points level to me because I don't usually have much luck with horde style armies. I was fully expecting that two big twenty man strong boyz squads he was going to overwhelm me in assault very quickly.

First turn was mine and I decided that rather than being defensive like I wanted to be, that I should actually play more aggressive. If I wasn't going to win then I would take down as many of his little green men as I could before the end. With that in mind I marched the hellforged contemptor up the table and got the plague marines closer but largely behind cover. My shooting was not great and I think I only dropped two maybe three boys.

Luke moved everything except the lootas and his warboss forwards. In hindsight, after the game, I think he should have perhaps left the boyz squad facing the contemptor back a bit and decimate it a lot more with the lootas heavy fire. His shooting did strip a couple wounds from the contemptor but that just made me want to get it into combat even more.

Our second turn saw me drop a loota with plague mortar fire. I tried to to get the deff dread with my entropy cannons but the damage rolls kept rolling 1's and 2's. I could have used my paltry three command points but I wanted those more to keep the contemptor alive. Combat was soon forthcoming as the boyz and the contemptor starting swinging. Luke tried to maneuver both his deff dread and his warboss around behind the fight. This was good for me as the entropy cannons on the plagueburst crawler finally found their mark and turned the deff dread into so much rusting scrap.

I the contemptor smashed three boyz on average each round and was slowly healing back to full strength when Luke's warboss got to it. He knocked it down to 5 wounds meaning that I had to turn the contemptor's wrath upon him. 9 wounds later and a successful heal roll, saw the contemptor open up and eat his warboss!

Meanwhile Luke continued to ignore the plagueburst crawler and focused all the heavy weapon fire on my plague marines. Somehow I survived most of what struck the unit losing only a total of three plague marines. I got the upper hand when my lord of contagion charged his second boyz squad, losing one wound on the way. The plague marines then made in after him and despite his numbers I was mowing them down with plague weapons and mortal wounds. Lots of liquefied ork bodies drenching the mouldy earth. Luke did have a spot of luck when finally he was able to bring down the contemptor but it was too little too late.

Finally probably about six turns in the last ork fell or fled leaving the Death Guard were left holding the battlefield.

---

In the week leading up to this game and perhaps up to half way through the game I still thought Luke was going to win just by the numbers game so I was surprised that I went through his army as easily as I did. I thought the lack of infantry was going to be my downfall but the contemptor is a real monster once it gets to it's destination and it did carry the game quite a bit.

I do hope that Luke wasn't disappointed by the outcome. I know as a newer player he is expecting to lose a few games but I hope he had fun and I look forward to a normal game rematch at some point.

---

Lord of Contagion - tainted regeneration trait - suppurating plate.
10 man plague marine squad with icon, 2 plasmagun, plague spewer, flail of corruption and great plague cleaver.
Hellforged contemptor with kheres assault cannon, hellflamer and havoc launcher.
Plagueburst crawler with rothail volley gun and two entropy cannons.

The green tide readies for battle!

Battle is joined at the center of the battlefield.

A mighty Deff Dread!

Friday, 4 May 2018

First Battle for Gothos - Cerberus

Planet: Cerberus.
Region: Cerberus sector.

Death Guard vs Adeptus Mechanicus: Mars.
500 points.
Mission: Annihilation.
Deployment: Hammer and Anvil.

The battle for Gothos took place several months into the war and although only a skirmish compared to the rest of the conflict, it proved to be a turning point for the Death Guard.

Despite their reinforcements some months earlier, the Death Guard had seen more defeats and loss of manpower than at any time previously in the Cerberus campaign. The change came when the forces of Mars began to ignore orders from Guilliman and focused on choosing their own targets. This lack of communication allowed the Death Guard to make specific retaliatory strikes to weaken the Mechanicus advance forces.

The second match up in Shadbolt's escalation league pitted me against Alex and his Adeptus Mechanicus force. I took one look at his army, which was very much mechanical and I despaired. This was going to be a tough match but I figured if I played it cool I might be able to snatch a victory.

Although I deployed first, Alex took the first turn and initiative was not to be mine. The Mechanicus began by opening fire almost exclusively upon my hellforged contemptor. The dice were not with me and it was reduced down to three wounds before it even had a chance to do anything. I moved the contemptor forwards utilizing cover to try and get close to his skitarii. I tried a charge on the hopes of getting in and killing a few to recover some wounds, but the charge failed and a re-roll didn't help. As for the rest of my army I decided that sitting at long range was only helping Alex so the plague marines and the lord of contagion picked up and advanced.

The next couple turns saw the skitarii burn down the contemptor although they lost two of their number when their ancient plasma guns overheated. Things did not go so well for me as the plague marines were whittled away on their advance up the table by three kataphron destroyers. Soon the only unit I had left on the table was the lord of contagion.

At was at this point that Grandfather Nurgle took pity on me. For about two turns every single shot that the Mechanicus put into my warlord either missed or I passed the armour save or disgustingly resilient rolls. Even once I had smashed through the skitarii and kataphron's in assault my warlord recovered every wound back to his fall via his warlord trait. After Alex's tech priest warlord was cut down, he conceded the game.

---

I was quite rankly shocked that my lord of contagion survived everything thrown at him. After the luck of the contemptor to survive the previous escalation game I think it was understandable. But I was pleased with the outcome and we had a very fun enjoyable battle.

Due to time, we were unable to play the third round this week so next Thursday I get to face Luke's Ork army. That's where I have to give consideration about to play as he is very much a horde force.

---

The Martian force arrayed against me.

Once again, the plague marines hide in a crater.

Battle of Bannerheim - Abraxes

Planet: Abraxes.
Region: Ceres Sector.

Death Guard vs Tyranids.
500 points
Mission: Annihilation.
Deployment: Hammer & Anvil.

Following the decisive Tyranid victories over the last few weeks, the Death Guard forces have been pushed back even further. The Tyranids hungry for biomass did not pursue but paused in their advance to devour what they could from the fields of rotten flesh. This allowed the Death Guard to regroup and launch a counter attack.

My friend mister Shadbolt decided a while ago to run a small four person escalation league and tonight was the start. The idea was to play everyone once at 500 points over the evening but it didn't quite work out that way so we tweaked it a little. I played Shadbolt and his Tyranids for the first round. I was very much outnumbered and not entirely sure how I was going to manage this.

Shadbolt got the first turn and sped his gaunts and genestealers up the table. My word, genestealers are fast these days. I hoped that my plague marines could handle those and send my hellforged contemptor towards the mass of gaunts surging up my left flank. Turn two and combat was swiftly joined. The genestealers took care of my plague marines  although the lord of contagion slew several. He in turn was killed by the broodlord, who then died to the spray of goo from the suppurating plate. A good case of mutually assured destruction.

The left flank was a bloodbath but one were the contemptor made himself man of the match. At best I think the gaunt's managed to take one or two wounds off of it but every turn it managed to eat enough to recover any lost wounds. Over three turns it killed off the gaunts, three tyranid warriors and two surviving genestealers. It was the last unit left standing. Victory went to the Death Guard!

---

A really good game here. I truly thought at the start that I was not going to get anywhere with this match. I was outnumbered and I've never done well against Tyranids especially in larger games.

I had taken the hellforged contemptor because I knew one of the other players in the league was going to be playing Orks and I wanted something that could hopefully mow down plenty of boyz and still hold it's own in close combat. It did leave me with very few models but I hoped it would do me well and I was pleased with the outcome.

---

Patrol detachment.

Lord of Contagion - tainted regeneration trait - suppurating plate.
7 man plague marine squad with icon, plasmagun and plague spewer.
Hellforged contemptor with kheres assault cannon, hellflamer and havoc launcher.

---

The Hellforged Contemptor rips through the alien menace.

A genestealer horde led by the broodlord descends upon the plague marines.

Saturday, 28 April 2018

Death in the Rain - Miridian

Planet: Miridian.
Region: Cadian sector.

Death Guard vs Drukhari
1500 points.
Mission: Secure and Control.
Deployment: Vanguard Strike.

Bad weather and shattered roads hampered the Death Guard's pursuit of the Drukhari after the battle of Miridian City. In the autumn rain, forward elements of the plague marines encountered fire from a combined Drukhari force just north of the city ruins. This started an impressive three day battle. When the Drukhari reinforcements arrived on the battlefield, the xenos gained an overwhelming advantage, forcing the Death Guard to withdraw back into the city.

My first game against the brand new Drukhari codex. I was looking forward to this and dreading it at the same time. With a new codex to hand I fully expected to get my backside handed to me plus I don't often have much luck against Dark Eldar Drukhari due to their annoying poisoned weapons ignoring my T5 benefit. Dan and I agreed to a smaller 1500 points game. I chose Secure and Control as a possible easier mission than going for a kill point total. With some annoyance I yet again rolled the hated Vanguard Strike deployment.

I managed the first turn but with no visible targets to really shoot at all I could do was move a few units forwards. To protect my daemon prince I used my psychic potential to miasma the deathshroud terminators and up their strength and toughness just in case. My only shooting came from the plagueburst crawler which was able to ineffectually shoot at a group of venoms and a talos.

Dan's first turn saw him move everything forward bar one unit which sat back on his own objective far away from anything I could throw at them. His shooting stripped a few wounds off of my vehicles and daemon engines but nothing I couldn't handle.

Turn two was where it started to go horribly wrong. My advance was blocked in both routes by the Drukhari. A flight of venoms to my left flank and a pair of talos to my right. I did manage a few more wounds but not an awful lot. Dan's turn was a lot better. I lost a significant chunk of my army to Dan's phenomenal round of shooting. From that point the game was lost to me.

Turn three and there was little I could do. From the shadows burst forth wracks and mandrakes behind my lines. Dark lance fire burnt my daemon prince down, and assault decimated what few infantry I had left. I think by the end of the turn I had two or three plague marines and a couple cultists left while Dan's army was almost untouched. So I conceded.

---

++ Battalion Detachment +5CP (Chaos - Death Guard) [85 PL, 1500pts] ++

+ HQ +

Daemon Prince of Nurgle [8 PL, 156pts]: 3. Tainted Regeneration, 5. Putrescent Vitality, Hellforged sword, Warlord

Malignant Plaguecaster [6 PL, 110pts]: 1. Miasma of Pestilence, 6. Curse of the Leper, The Pandemic Staff

+ Troops +

Chaos Cultists [6 PL, 48pts]
. 9x Chaos Cultist w/ autopistol and brutal assault weapon
. Chaos Cultist w/ special weapon: Heavy stubber
. Cultist Champion: Shotgun

Plague Marines [10 PL, 186pts]: Icon of Despair
. Plague Champion: Plague knife, Plasma gun, Power fist
. 4x Plague Marine w/ boltgun
. Plague Marine w/ Special Weapon: Plague Spewer
. Plague Marine w/ Special Weapon: Plasma gun

Plague Marines [10 PL, 177pts]: Icon of Despair
. Plague Champion: Plague knife, Plasma gun, Power fist
. 4x Plague Marine w/ boltgun
. Plague Marine w/ Special Weapon: Plasma gun
. Plague Marine w/ Special Weapon: Blight launcher

+ Elites +

Deathshroud Terminators [11 PL, 180pts]
. Deathshroud Champion: Manreaper, Plaguespurt gauntlets
. 2x Deathshroud Terminator: 2x Manreaper, 2x Plaguespurt gauntlets

Hellforged Contemptor Dreadnought [10 PL, 185pts]
. Left Arm: Hellflamer, Hellforged deathclaw
. Right Arm: Kheres assault cannon

+ Fast Attack +

Foetid Bloat-drone [8 PL, 158pts]: 2x Plaguespitters, Plague probe

+ Heavy Support +

Plagueburst Crawler [8 PL, 152pts]: 2x Entropy cannon, Rothail volley gun

+ Dedicated Transport +

Chaos Rhino [4 PL, 74pts]: Combi-bolter, Combi-bolter
Chaos Rhino [4 PL, 74pts]: Combi-bolter, Combi-bolter

++ Total: [85 PL, 1500pts] ++

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After game thoughts...

I didn't think I was going to have much luck in this game. Mainly due to a combination of new codex and not having the sort of options to handle what the Drukhari are good at. Even so I tried a list that I hoped would get me across the table and deal with the sort of Drukhari infantry armies that I have faced previously. Still, a very good game and maybe next time I'll have better luck.

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Monday, 23 April 2018

Grey Knights review - part 2

Following my recent post about the Grey Knights codex, one of my good chums posted the following in response on our Facebook group.

The way I see it is this code was designed for soup. Alone GK are not very competitive. Mix n match them with some IG or ad mech etc and you can build a decent force. It's not really a stand alone army. Too much middle ranged weaponry and nowhere near enough long range. Very limited choices. Designed to be used in a mix of detachments as an elite combat core.

I hadn't thought about the idea that the Grey Knights codex might really have been designed as an ally for the Imperial armies. In that contest I think they fit well as the initial 8th edition release always screamed to me that the Imperial, Chaos and Aeldari factions were supposed to be mixed within themselves making some nice fluffy armies.

Another chap then posted the following:

The thing to remember as well is GW is a business first and foremost. GK have never been a massive hit and they don’t really have a big range. Every infantry unit other than terminators can be built with the same single box. This keeps cost down to make the army. The new edition HQ was just a dread knight and a picture of how to convert it. The only new model they have got in a few years was the HQ in the ultramarines primarch box set because it was the only way they would make money on it.
GK will never be a competitive codex because it doesn’t warrant the effort in money and development to increase there range and rule set. It’s a shame that’s the case but that’s just the way it is. I have just excepted that my GK will be a low tier army and they won’t ever win me many games. They will just come out whenever I fancy trying something or if I cab actually arrange a game with a daemon player for fun.

This could be very true but if so why even bother with the army. It also brings to mind an apocryphal story from about ten years ago. When asked at a Games Day seminar whether Dark Eldar would ever get a new codex, the GW developer said it was unlikely because the army wasn't played very much and how many people here played that army? The resulting number of hands going up stunned him. A couple years later there was a new Dark Eldar codex.

The same thing comes to mind about Sisters of Battle. Games Workshop don't seem all that interested in updating them in recent years because they don't sell despite all the vocal fans crying for a new codex and plastic models. If you don't put out new models people won't buy the army. You have to produce new stuff to keep interest alive.

So is that the problem with Grey Knights? Were they meant to just be an Imperial ally force under this edition? And if they want the army to sell, they need to produce new stuff.

Thoughts?

Saturday, 21 April 2018

Codex Review: Grey Knights


My first experience with the Grey Knights was under 4th edition when one of my friends decided to get into 40K with this particular army. At the time I remember that they were rather good and frequently won their games against all manner of different armies and codexes. Subsequent editions seemed to systematically weaken and nerf them as they went along. I'm not convinced that they have done all that well under 8th either.

Grey Knights are what I would call an "Elite" army, meaning that they tend to be very good at what they do but you'll never have enough of them compared to what other armies will bring to the table. With Grey Knights I think that this is quite a weakness that isn't adequately prepared for in other areas.

Their biggest problem is in fact that the entire army is built around the concept of fighting Daemons. This leaves them being rather weak against anyone else. What Games Workshop needed to do was go back to how they used to be when they were dedicated to fighting Chaos as a whole. Make their abilities work against the Chaos faction keyword rather then Daemon and they might, just might, have a decent role to play in 8th edition.

So, let's look at the units we have within these pages...

HQ.

I feel strongly that the generic HQ choices in this codex are rather bland, with the exception of the Librarian, Brotherhood Champion and Chaplain, who don't have a named variation. Even so, I feel that the named characters, except for Valdus - who seems to be just a slightly better Grand Master - are far better choices for your army. Again it comes down to the abilities. Draigo, Stern, and  Crowe are my favourite choices because their abilities stand out more to me as being useful during a game. Each is useful in a different way. Perhaps if you know that you are not playing against Daemons, you might consider playing a generic choice but as an assault based army in that instance I'd take Crowe to lead my army.

I was disappointed by the Grand Master in Dreadknight armour. Why would you take this for your HQ, other than cool factor, when you can already take Dreadknights in your army. This needed to be a new special character with his own anti-daemonic MC abilities to be worth a consideration. If you think otherwise I'd like to know what makes this new option worthwhile?

TROOP.

Two choices presented here, Strike Squads and Terminator Squads. Strike squads are cheaper out of the two but Terminators have a bit more chance of surviving. At the basic level they are equipped the same so I would say your choice of which to take is based purely on the points level of the game you are playing.

ELITES.

The Elite choices I find largely lackluster. The Apothecary is okay and the Dreadnoughts are always a nice choice for this slot. You have two Ancients and you just have to choose whether you want them in terminator armour or not. The Purifier Squad is the one that grabs my attention. Get them into combat, and next psychic phase immolate the enemy with mortal wounds.

FAST ATTACK.

You only have the Interceptor Squad under this bracket. With the ability to ignore terrain on movement and even once per game teleport anywhere on the board these seem like a good choice. You could use these abilities to get them closer into combat or grab a much needed objective

HEAVY SUPPORT.

Firstly, Grey Knights have access to the Land Raider and it's variants. These, although highly costed, are a great choice. Really though, for cost value, you are looking at Purgation Squads and Dreadknights for your Heavy Support slots. Dreadknights are better than Dreadnoughts if you ask me for this army. Purgation squads have some nice weapon choices but ultimately due to the nature of their expected enemy, they seem rather short range to be much use against many other armies.

TRANSPORTS.

Grey Knights have the obligatory Rhino as well as the Razorback. Razorbacks are good mobile fire support but as with other marine equivalent armies, I find the Rhino is too expensive and does not have much staying power.

FLYERS.

Grey Knights still have the excellent Stormraven which I really like for this army, but they also have the Stormtalon and the Stormhawk. The Stormtalon makes for a nice anti-infantry role much like it does for regular space marines. The Stormhawk seems an odd choice as it is mainly an air superiority fighter. Not something that Grey Knights would really need in their war against the Daemons. Especially as most of the weapons it can take are already a fixture on the much better Stormraven.

LORD OF WAR.

None, which is kind of a shame but then what would you give them? Id have given them a named Grand Master in Dreadknight with some cool new abilities.


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It has taken me quite a while to write this review because I've had to go back over the codex again and again to try and understand it just a little bit more. Even so, I find this codex really bland and uninteresting. I think because it is both an Elite army, as I mentioned initially above, and because it is focused so heavily on waging war on Daemons that it feels woefully inadequate to handle anything else very well.

In order to compensate for this I wonder whether they need a general points reduction or even just some new options for their units. Even more so, I would change their rules to target the Chaos faction rather than specifically Daemons. That I think would help them a lot as lets face it, a player is more likely to be fighting some sort of Chaos Marine army than they are a Chaos Daemons one.

I don't want to put down anyone's favourite army here. I really hope that despite several read throughs that I am wrong about this book. I want to be wrong really as I love the concept behind the army. If you play Grey Knights or have played against them plenty, then please let me know where I am wrong in the above thoughts.


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