Friday, November 29, 2013

Early Impressions of X-wing Miniatures Game

I took the plunge and purchased the Fantasy Flight Star Wars X-wing Miniatures game (catchy title that). Mind you it isn't much of a plunge at around £25 for the starter set. Anyway, let's have a look at the game in more detail.

The Miniatures
There's a lot of debate about whether pre-paints are a good or bad thing. Personally I'm a huge fan. Obviously they aren't stunningly painted but each expansion is basically a tenner for a pre-painted model with all of the rules for it. There are lots of examples across the interwebs or people repainting these things but I won't be doing that. Frankly it's a relief to have a game where you've got painted models straight out of the box. It's actually one of the reasons I was attracted to the game in the first place. Whenever we consider starting a new game system my first thought is "that'll be even more models that I've not painted".

As anyone knows from 40K, playing with a pair of fully painted armies does wonders for the level of immersion. Maybe I'm spoilt by the quality of the GW models but the x-wing miniatures don't come close to that level of detail. That being said they're just right I reckon. There a few worryingly flimsy looking bits like the guns on the x-wings and the flying base pegs but if I take care of them I'm sure they'll survive.

Final thing on the miniatures is that, for someone arriving late to the party, it's frustrating trying to get hold of the models. I picked up an A-wing and YT-1300 easily enough but I've struggled to find the X-wing and B-wing. There doesn't seem to be any Y-wings at all at the moment wherever I look! I'm sure they'll print some more but apparently they aren't that great anyway.

The Rest of the Starter Box
Image from Dad's Gaming Addiction
Essentially you get everything you need to play some basic games. Of course GW starter sets offer this kind of thing but Fantasy Flight goes a little further as they include counters and markers for things. Obviously I'm aware I'm getting excited about a few bits of card but that's the kind of thing that makes a difference. I haven't played all that many games yet but it appears to me that they've thought of pretty much everything. There's an abundance of counters and, as ever with FFG, they're excellent quality.

Everything in the box is aesthetically pleasing. There's a definite Star Wars feel throughout with some nice touches like the range ruler being green on one side (Empire) and red on the other side (Rebels). The starter box isn't perfect though. Even with the limited ships in the box you don't actually get enough dice. When a ship is firing at close range you need 4 attack dice for the x-wing and there's only 3 in the box. Similarly for a tie-fighter evading at long range there aren't enough evade dice. You can, of course, buy some extras for £7-8 but it really only needed them to throw one more of each into the box.

My other, minor, gripe is that you don't get any kind of playing surface. Obviously GW doesn't provide one (or even any scenery) in their starter kits but it would've been nice to get one and I'd have happily paid £50 if they'd included one. I'm aware they're about to release a set of tiles though. As I say, not a major issue but something to think about.

I really feel like I'm getting value for money here. Perhaps that's because I'm used to GW prices but if you bought one of everything they've released so far it'd set you back £200 (assuming 10% off) which you wouldn't even buy you a single 40K army these days. For that you're getting one of every ship from each side and excellent replay value from all the combinations you can create. Each little £12 box gives you a new model, cards, counters, etc. I feel a lot more comfortable buying these than I do shelling out double for some 40K miniatures that I've got to cut off the sprue, build, spray and paint.

The bigger boxes e.g. Slave 1 and the Millennium Falcon add extra missions to the game too. At the moment we've been having some straightforward shootouts and have only tried the missions a couple of times but suffice to say I like the idea of more depth from these additional missions.

Like any game you'll probably want multiple copies of the models and as such you'll end up with a crapload of counters and cards that you don't want/need. Can't really complain for the price though. It seems most people buy a couple of starter sets so that they've got four TIE fighters, two X-wings and enough dice!! If there's two of you wanting to get into the game you can get a set each and then swap models once you've decided which side you want to play as. Annoyingly you'll probably still want to get one each of the X-wing and TIE fighter expansions for the pilot cards. I don't mind this too much though as it means I'll have a decent collection of ships for when I'm playing someone different who doesn't have their own set.

The Rules
That's enough rambling about all of the bits. What's it like to actually play the game? A lot of fun actually, so far at least. The reason Matt and I wanted to get this game was that we wanted something that wouldn't take too long to play but that was still varied and tactical. It's a refreshing change of pace from 40K with play flowing quickly. There are plenty of videos online about how the game actually works so I won't go into too much detail.

I love the idea of the manoeuvres being secret. It adds a touch of realism to the dogfighting as you have to second guess your opponent and hope you'll get yourself into a good position to shoot. The movement feels about right for the ships. The TIEs are pretty nimble but flimsy whereas the X-wing is sturdier but slower and heavier. The models in the box are reasonably balanced if you use the recommended pilots. Some of the pilots, like Luke Skywalker, feel a bit too good even when you've upgraded the TIEs to the same points. I'm hoping that in bigger games those special rules won't seem quite as good as in small games Luke feels pretty invincible.

We had a fantastic game the other day with two tricked out TIEs taking on an X-wing and A-wing (the only models we had at the time). The X-wing was double teamed early on but the brave A-wing pilot managed to out fly the TIE pilots and take them both down by the skin of his teeth. The game concluded with one TIE and the A-wing trying to make attack runs on each other but never quite doing enough damage. Eventually both ended up with a single hull point and the A-wing got lucky with the dice to win through.

I've not played bigger games yet so I'll have to report back when I have but at the moment the games feel reasonably balanced. I've read that eventually the Empire's cheaper ships mean they have a slight advantage but that remains to be seen. For now, I'm pleased with my purchase, the rules are straightforward and most situations are pretty much black and white. There's no "I don't think he can see him" or "you're just in/out of range". That's a big thing for me. I don't enjoy the arguments that inevitably happen in 40K.

Matt and I are determined to keep this as a casual game. From what I've read online there's a big competitive scene with 40K-style spammy lists and general dirt. Being competitive types I'm sure we'll be tempted but we're going to try and self-police it so that neither of us takes something that is particularly nasty. We want to encourage variety over spam. Obviously it'd be fun to have the Falcon taking on a swarm of tie fighters solo but I don't want us to get drawn into diry lists. For that reason I want to steer clear of tournaments. That way we'll be playing for fun rather than testing lists like we're so often doing for 40K.

The shine has worn off a little bit with 40K. I'll be posting in more detail about it later. I'm certainly no quitting or anything but it's nice to have a game to be excited about. I can't wait to test out my Falcon and play some bigger games. We wanted something to play a bit more casually and I'm sure this will fill that role nicely.

Finally, one thing that I think X-wing does well is that it introduces players to miniature based games without the steep learning curve of 40K. The rules are simple enough for anyone to understand no matter what their background and you don't need to be a hobby god to enjoy immersive games. Speaking of which, I've picked up a mat from GF9 which really adds to the enjoyment of the game and despite being a little pricey (£30) it seems to be a quality product.

I'll be posting more as I have more games and hopefully be putting up some battle reports. If you haven't already tried it I'd recommend giving it a go for £25.

Saturday, November 23, 2013

A Change is as Good as a Rest

It isn't what you're thinking, I'm not quitting 40K. I may have been quite over recent weeks (and I still haven't finished writing Blog Wars stuff up) but that's largely down to trying to get everything ready for our new arrival rather than losing interest in the hobby. What I mean by the change is that I've been playing Tau rather a lot recently. I was simply having too much fun using an army I've loved for a long time and actually winning games. There's no doubt that the codex is incredibly powerful at the moment. In fact, unless another book comes out that can really deal with them, Tau will remain high up in the rankings for a good while I'd expect.

Trouble is, if you show up to an event with a Tau list you're generally met with groans and sighs. When I used to take them in 5th edition and early 6th they'd be met with a much more welcoming atmosphere. This was probably mostly due to people being pretty confident they could beat them which is rarely the case at the moment. Anyway, my last tournament of the year will be Kill It With Fire at the Outpost next weekend. Whilst I'm a big fan of tournaments that encourage fully painted armies, the tournaments at the Outpost don't require any paint at all.

This gives me an opportunity to take my Dark Eldar to a tournament. I've used them at a previous Blog Wars towards the end of 5th edition but that was a webway based list that simply isn't viable anymore. That meant I hadn't needed to paint all my vehicles up so they're mostly sprayed black. I'd love to say I'll get some more paint on them by next weekend but that simply won't happen. Anyway, here's what I'm going to take:

1,750pts of Dark Eldar
Duke Sliscus
9 Trueborn (5 shardcarbines, 2 blasters, 2 splinter cannons, haywires) in a Raider

4x 5 Kabalite Warriors (Blaster) in Venom (two cannons)
9 Wyches (Haywires) in a Raider

2x 6 Reavers

2 Ravagers (Flickerfields)
1 Voidraven Bomber (Flickerfield, 2 Necrotoxin Missiles)

Short but hopefully sweet. In these days of alpha strike I was tempted to run Baron Sathonyx just for the better chance of going first. However, by taking Dark Eldar I'm already not worrying about competing too much so I've gone for Duke because I find him more fun. The problem with Baron is you either need to take some Hellions (which are fairly crap unless you take hundreds) or some allied Eldar seer council kind of thing. Neither of which really appeals.

Essentially my opponent is presented with four venoms, two raiders and two ravagers. Now it's well known that AV10 open-topped vehicles are pretty much paper but hopefully I can keep them alive long enough to do some damage. Any Dark Eldar player knows it's difficult to take down vehicles but with the ravagers, multiple blasters and dark lances from the raiders I should be fine. Failing that I've got the haywires but they should be a last resort.

Duke is great when combined with wyches/reavers as he makes two rolls for combat drugs. This gives you a good chance of getting the appropriate drug for the job. It also helps avoid the useless 3D6 run which can't even be used by the reavers. He's also pretty fun when you combine him with the trueborn. Thanks to his Serpent's Venom rule his squad are wounding on 3s against everything. Combine this with the blasters and his blast pistol and they can soften up an MC before charging in. Sliscus can then either strike first or else hopefully survive with his shadowfield long enough to make the most of his 2+ poisoned blades. His squad have taken down dreadknights and the like in the past and they'll be awesome against riptides (assuming they survive long enough!

There's a lot of fire coming from the venoms and kabalites. Obviously it's tricky to keep the venoms alive but you can keep range from most things and if something comes in close you can get into rapid fire range and hopefully deal with it. The reavers are also anti-infantry but might be useful in objective games (not that there are many at this tournament) for that last minute contest.

My only nod to anti-air is the voidraven which can be nasty if you can use the void mine to full effect. I usually end up missing with the void lances but in theory they can be good for taking down enemy flyers. Of course it'll flop to interceptor fire but there's a chance the flickerfield will keep it alive long enough to at least get some shots off and it'll never need to evade.

Ultimately, you can't play Dark Eldar if you're worried about losing some vehicles. Hopefully I've got enough of them to keep most opponents busy but as ever it really depends on what I come up against. I'd love to play bikes or similar as their T5 is irrelevant.

If nothing else I'm lookign forward to taking something different. Perhaps I'll be inspired to finally get these guys painted up. I hope so anyway.

Saturday, November 16, 2013

Games Workshop Christmas Bundles

I may have criticised GW in the past for their patronising 1-click bundles which gave the impression of a bulk buy discount but actually cost the same as everything individually. This time though they're doing it right and it only seemed fair to acknowledge that for a change.

In case you haven't seen them yet GW are doing some bundle packs for Christmas. Unlike the 1-click collections these all come in a single box and actually offer a decent discount. There are three for fantasy but obviously I'm more interested in the three for 40K. Element Games are doing 20% off them and all but the Stormwing will give you free shipping (orders over £80 qualify).

Astartes Stormwing
This contains two stormtalons and a stormraven and comes in at £85. Obviously that's still a decent chunk of cash but the models individually would cost you £105. The key thing is that any player thinking about starting a Space Marine army might actually want these models. In the past the battleforces and megaforces we've seen contain models that aren't wanted by most players e.g. the vyper in the Eldar battleforce. However, stormtalons and a stormraven are actually a great addition to a SM force. These appear to be available through your FLGS which for me means 20% off. That means I can pick up the set for £68 which effectively gives me just over 35% off the RRP.

Of the three bundles this is the one that tempts me most as I may actually get use out of these. I was having a self enforced ban on buying 40K models until I'd painted more stuff but this might just tip me over the edge.

Tau Empire Firebase Support Cadre
You might think I'd be tempted by this bundle too but I'd be too tempted to build all the broadsides up as HYMP suits and I've vowed never to use them! Anyway, this set contains a riptides and six broadsides for £175. That's not small change but if you were starting a Tau army then you could do worse than buy this box. Any Tau army could benefit from these models and the discount is decent again. The combined total would be £230 for the individual boxes so that's a saving of £55 which is essentially a free riptide! If I was buying this from my FLGS at 20% off I'd save a whopping 39% off RRP! That's great in anyone's book.

I'll definitely not be getting one though as, if nothing else, I've nearly run out of Adeptus Battlegrey and the new colour just isn't a match! I'd love to own some broadsides as I love the models but I'd just feel too dirty using them! I can see them shifting a lot of these bundles though as they're great value (if such a thing is possible with GW products). Let's say for a minute that like me you already own a pair of riptides and you're unlikely to run three. Buy the box at 20% off, sell the riptide for £40 (not an unreasonable amount to get for it) and you've got 6 broadsides for less than £17 each which is 55% of their RRP and about as cheap as you'll ever get them!

Eldar Ghost Warriors
Last but not least we come to the Eldar collection. It's no surprise that GW have done bundles for what are likely to be the most popular armies at the moment. Not everyone will jump at this bundle as it's very much themed towards wraith units. If you were thinking of an Iyanden army though then this will sort you out. The set gives you one wraithknight, two wraithlords and 15 wraithguard/blades for £160. If you total up the individual boxes you'd be paying £216 which gives you a huge saving of £56 which is the best of these new bundles. Again assuming I got this from my FLGS I'd pay £128 which would give me a huge 41% off RRP. This is GW we're talking about here! Obviously your results will vary depending on what your local shop offers but even 10% discount like that offered by Wayland Games would give you 33% off RRP.

In a similar way to the Tau collection if we sold the Wraithknight for £56 (20% off RRP) then you'd have paid £72 for two wraithlords and 3 boxes of wraithguard which is better than half price!

The Other Stuff
GW have also released six new paints today. I can see a use for all of them in my armies but they're mostly for finishing models off and I'm a long way from being able to do that!! Even so it's worth checking out the videos on the GW website to see what each one does. Obviously they're a bit patronising but the important thing is to see how the paints work.

Sadly GW has also taken the opportunity to put up more of their stupid 1-click bundles that save you no money so don't get carried away with the bundles and think that you're actually getting the rest at a discount too.

Finally, we've got some limited edition things for Chaos. Firstly there's the Chaos Collection which is £175 for two codexes and a supplement (need I say anything else?!). Then there's the Armies of Renown book which is £20 and contains shots of their 12 armies of the month from WD with a few painting tips again a waste of money if you ask me. Finally there's the Chaos dice which come in different colours depending on which Chaos god you're worshipping. GW dice are always more expensive than you can get them from eBay etc but for £6 they're hardly going to break the bank.

Right, that's it for now, sorry if this whole post seemed like a massive advert but I felt it was only right to spread the word about GW offering a genuine discount for a change!!

Thursday, November 14, 2013

Blog Wars 6 - My Battle Reports

As promised (what seems like ages ago), here's a rundown of my battles from Blog Wars 6. I wrote about the Tau army that I took in a previous post so take a look there for my list. As a reminder, Blog Wars runs slightly customised missions which are based on the rulebook ones but with slight variations to fit in with the special character theme.

Game One - Tau vs. Dark Eldar/Eldar
My first opponent was Daniel Russell who I was actually quite concerned about since he really didn't seem well! Anyway, Daniel's list was a Dark Eldar/Eldar "Planes and Bikes" list. He'd got 2 razorwings, a voidraven and a crimson hunter for the planes and 3 squads of reavers and two sets of windriders for the bikes bit. Elsewhere he'd got a farseer, haemonculus, 3 small squads of wracks, a support weapon team and Duke Sliscus as his special character. We'd be playing the Blog Wars version of Purge the Alien which is based on old school VPs with a bonus 150pts for killing the special character.

Most of Dan's army would be in reserve, the planes obviously had to be and the guardians and wracks would also be kept in reserve to minimise casualties. I won the roll off and in my first turn I decided to target the weapons batteries which would be a threat to my riptides. I probably should've targeted the reavers though since they'd be a threat to my pathfinders and it would've been wise to hit them before they got their 3+ cover saves. It was pretty irrelevant mind you
because one riptide overheated and the other scattered wildly giving me a less than devastating opening salvo.

As expected the three reaver units went straight for my three squads of pathfinders with their bladevanes and caltrops. When the dust cleared I was left with 2 out of 18 pathfinders! The support weapons also did a number on my crisis team killing two and wounding a third.

Shadowsun arrived as did one of my kroot units. The kroot went after one squad of reavers killing them off with help from some fire warriors who'd disembarked from their devilfish. The other fire warriors, remaining crisis team, shadowsun and one of the riptides all combined their firepower to kill off the haemonculus, farseer and support weapons leaving just Duke Sliscus in the crater in the middle of the board with a single wound left after failing his Shadowfield roll. The other riptide went into combat with another squad of reavers hoping to kill off a couple and make them run. He fluffed his rolls and only killed one biker with the rest just passing their morale check.

With one riptide locked in combat I was frustrated to see all four flyers and most of the other reserves arrive at the same time. The free riptide took some pot shots at a razorwing but could only strip a hull point. The voidraven used its void mine to great effect killing off Shadowsun's bodyguard. The razorwings used their missiles to kill swathes of fire warriors with one squad losing its nerve even with Ld10 from the Ethereal. Duke Sliscus was frustrated by Shadowsun's drones in the first round of combat but soon dealt with her.

The riptide finally finished with the reavers and now I needed to focus on the flyers for my best chance of scoring some points. One squad of kroot arrived on the right flank but fluffed most of their rolls and could only kill two out of three wracks for a measly 15pts. Sliscus, the remaining wrack and another squad of 3 charged into the kroot but only killed a handful. In response a single kroot managed to hit and wound with his one attack which was enough to kill Sliscus despite FNP. Another kroot killed the solitary wrack scoring yet more points. Not bad for a 60pt throwaway unit!

I had further disgusting luck against the flyers. The remaining fire warriors were able to take down the crimson hunter, some jammy shots from my three pairs of drones killed a razorwing and a riptide killed other. The voidraven fell to the crisis suit I think. From that point it was difficult for Dan to score many more points and I was able to clear up a few more of the bikes to give me a 20-15 win with two secondaries each.

Game Two - Tau vs. Necrons
I'd played Peter Barrett at the last Blog Wars with my old gunline Tau. He was less than pleased to be facing my new list but this time he was fielding Necrons instead of marines. Not the usual Necrons though, Peter had taken a destroyer lord with two units of destroyers, some scarabs, two triarch stalkers, three squads of 10 warriors, 10 immortals, a royal court (split between the troops) and Trazyn the Infinite for his special character. The mission was the Emperor's Relic which had one fixed central objective and one objective each in our deployment zones. The central objective was worth 10pts and your own objective was worth 5pts to you but 10pts to your opponent, again giving a maximum of 25pts. The nominated special character on each side would be scoring.

Apologies to Peter because with all the chaos surrounding the tabling issue I didn't take many photos. Not only that but my report will probably be sketchy (feel free to correct me on the details Peter). Anyway, with that aside I won the roll off but Peter seized the initiative (I think). This allowed me to get my fire warriors into range straight away. The riptides nova'd for the Ordnance blast. Combined with the fire warriors they were able to decimate one of the units of warriors whilst destroying one of the stalkers. The crisis team didn't manage to roll enough sixes to destroy the other stalker.

The scarabs ate one of the devilfish but were eventually gunned down by the fire warriors. A squad of destroyers arrived on the right flank and I should've targetted them with the riptide but I was too distracted to notice them arriving. The fire warriors and riptides slowly chipped away at the troops. Shadowsun arrived from deep strike and blew up one of the stalkers. The rest of her squad with help from fire warriors killed off most of the nearby warriors. Shadowsun made her way over to the Necron objective. A unit of kroot had arrived and attempted to hit the Necron objective but had failed to kill any warriors and soon fell victim to Trazyn and his unit. The warriors then used Veil to move over to my objective but when Shadowsun killed Trazyn the veil cryptek was taken over by him. Great for keeping Trazyn alive but it pretty much gave Shadowsun their objective.

In the centre of the board the drones from the devilfishes were being annoying little gets and screening the Necron warriors so they couldn't advance into rapid fire range of the fire warriors and nor could they move onto the central objective. Towards the end Peter got frustrated and was forced to charge them to try and clear them out of the way. Sadly this eventually proved to be the death of the unit as my fire warriors moved up to claim the objective and gunned down the remaining Necrons. Meanwhile I'd failed to keep one of the riptides far enough away from the destroyer lord so he fell victim to the "stop hitting yourself" effects of the lord's mindshackle scarabs. The other riptide took revenge and killed the lord with his fusion blaster. With the destroyers in combat with the suits the riptide was free to kill off the warriors on my objective and take Trazyn with them. This gave me a 20-0 win with 3 secondaries to 1. Had I managed to get another turn in I could probably have killed off the destroyers by charging the riptide in but it wouldn't have changed the result since I would've tabled without being on all three objective.....

Game Three - Tau vs. DA/BA
For my final game of the day I was astonished to find myself on the top table. I'd scored well in the first two games but was certain there'd be more than a few people who'd scored better. My opponent Chris Cowburn was a single VP ahead of me so I expected this game to be pretty close. However, sadly for Chris this game was a bit of a mis-match. Chris was running DA/BA with Belial, a terminator librarian, 10 deathwing, 5 deathwing, dreadnought in a pod, reclusiarch, sanguinary priest, 10 assault marines (jump packs) and a dakka predator. With my large amount of AP2 and high volumes of S5 fire I was confident I could deal with the relatively low model count in Chris' army.

The mission was Crusade with 5 objectives (worth 5 VPs each) and Dawn of War deployment. Special Characters were scoring again. Chris went first I think with the dreadnought coming down and targetting one of my devilfish. This allowed him to flame some pathfinders whilst still getting a melta shot off against the tank. Sadly he was only able to Stun the devilfish but a handful of pathfinders were vaporised. Elsewhere the Blood Angels leapt ahead of their slower Dark Angel cousins.

The devilfish disgorged their cargo and combined with the riptides they were able to kill off all but one of the assault marines with the reclusiarch and priest falling victim to the weight of Tau fire. The crisis team attempted to down the predator by stripping hull points but could only score 1. The terminators advanced again and wrecked the previously damaged devilfish eventually gunning down the occupants with assault cannon and storm bolter fire.

Shadowsun and her squad landed with the commander splitting her shots between a predator and the nearby terminator squad. Her melta shot was enough to destroy the tank and combined with the bodyguard she was able to kill most of the terminators. The remaining marines were killed by weight of fire from the crisis team. Some kroot also arrived and headed towards one of the objectives away from the fighting on the right flank. The riptides combined to kill off the dreadnought leaving Chris with Belial, the librarian and the squad of 10 terminators.

Shadowsun stayed to claim an objective on the right whilst her bodyguard, along with the rest of the army, focussed on taking down the remaining terminators who'd still be able to claim two objectives if left alone. The kroot arrived on the left flank and got into position to claim the objective. The drones were used to screen the terminators and prevent them advancing on the objective but it didn't stop them from killing enough kroot to force them to run and deny me the nearby objective. Fire from the kroot, riptides and fire warriors reduced Belial's unit to himself, the librarian and two terminators. In a bold move Chris decided his best chance was to charge the drones and attempt to stay locked in combat during my turn.

The pair of terminators charged a pair of drones with the drones being lucky (actually unlucky in this case) enough to kill a terminator. The remaining terminator fluffed two of his attacks and therefore only killed a single drone tieing the combat. Belial and the librarian had similar "success" killing two drones and the survivors passed their leadership test!

There was nothing for it but to charge in with the riptides. The single remaining terminator won his combat but was eventually gunned down, however, I'd not be able to claim that objective with anything as the kroot continued to run. Belial and the Librarian survived for a couple of rounds on combat with one riptide but once the other was in range (after it had destroyed the drop pod) their smash attacks were enough to seal their fate and complete the tabling. This game me a 20-0 victory with all 3 secondaries. If I'd missed one more objective then I wouldn't have done enough to win the event!

Well I can hardly complain at taking 20/25 points in all three of my games. It was, however, massively embarassing to have won my own tournament. Despite not taking the conventional "power" lists from the Tau book (e.g. Broadside spam, Farsight bomb or Taudar) the codex is still incredibly strong and there's no doubt I met the right armies on the day to flatter my list. There were several armies that I'd have really struggled against but then I suppose luck is always a major factor in any tournament victory.

There were several times during the day where I was incredibly lucky. Killing so many planes in my first game with flukey shots from drones and suits was a fine example. The drones were generally pretty good. Incidentally I'll write a full rundown of how my list performed in the next post. Suffice to say I've been using Tau a lot recently so I think the time has come to bench them for a little while.

I've only got one more tournament arranged before the baby arrives (assuming he/she doesn't arrive early!) which is a 1,750pt single day at the Outpost. The venue doesn't insist on painted models so it might be chance to finally take my Dark Eldar to a tournament. That or I might proxy my Dark Angels as White Scars and throw in some allied Space Wolves. At some point I'll have to start thinking about what I want to take to Blog Wars 7. This partly depends on when the Ork codex arrives but I might play around with my SW, DE and DA and see which appeals the most if I don't bring Orks. Details of Blog Wars 7 should be up soon(ish).

Finally, thanks to all three of my opponents for putting up with me and apologies for posting this so late, it's been a busy couple of weeks.

Sunday, November 10, 2013

Blog Wars 6 Painting Competition (pic heavy)

As ever the standard of painting at Blog Wars was high considering the small number of armies in attendance. Once again I didn't get time to go around and judge them all for myself but I was still pleased with the results. At Blog Wars there are competitions for Best Army but also for Best Special Character. Somehow the same person never wins both!

Here's a selection of some of the armies before I get onto the winners.

Here's Jamie's entry this time around. It's a really impressive collection but I'm actually relieved it didn't win so that the event wouldn't look like a complete fix!!!! The farseer in the last picture is based on the PC game Dawn of War and acts as Eldrad. I particularly like the runes orbitting her but I'm sure they wouldn't last five minutes in my stubby fingers!

Tyranids were the best army this time around with Dave Weston taking the title with some beautiful conversions. It even managed to win despite being displayed on a red plastic tray that didn't really compliment the army!

Finally Chris Benstead (who won Best Army last time), took the prize for best special character this time around for his Abaddon. His Iron Warriors are stunning and I failed to get pictures last time so I'm pleased I (well Matt) managed to get some shots this time around.

It's always my favourite part of the event and it's just a shame I didn't find the time to judge them myself. I'm thinking at Blog Wars 7 I might have a TO's choice award for my favourite which isn't always the same as the voting.

Saturday, November 09, 2013

Blog Wars 6 - Tabling for Maximum VPs

Sorry for the delay with these posts. I've had a busy week getting the house ready for the in-laws coming this weekend so I'm just catching up.

So entering round two I was somewhat flustered by having to sort the scores out and going from 15 minutes ahead of schedule to 5-10 minutes behind. I was hoping that I'd be able to make the time back by playing my second game quickly allowing me to sort out the scores and hopefully get us back on schedule. That all went to pot when Dan Lane and Franco called me over to adjudicate on their game....

The Incident
Before I get into it I want to say that I'm going to attempt to write this as impartially as possible. I'm sure Franco will mention it on the 40KGlobal podcast so please read this and listen to that and form your own conclusions.

Anyway, they'd reached the end of their game and Franco had tabled Dan at the end of turn 4 (although it may have been turn 5 depending on who you asked). The rules pack stated that tabling your opponent did not automatically give you maximum points. Knowing that this is something that is somewhat controversial I reminded everyone before the event that this was the case. I'll go into more depth about why I decided to use this system later but suffice to say it'd been in the rules pack from the start which had also been sent out to everyone a couple of days before.

Well Franco had tabled Dan but wasn't controlling any of the objectives. Franco's argument was that he should be allowed to play his turns which would easily allow him to claim the objectives. Now I could understand Franco's frustration that he'd tabled his opponent but yet would actually be given a score of zero (although he would get 3 secondaries). I hadn't specifically said that people couldn't have their remaining turns but it's generally accepted that the game ends immediately when the last unit dies. In his mind though anything other than ruling that he could have his turns would be "ridiculous". If I ruled against him he would "leave now, and never come back". With both players (quite rightly) trying to argue their case and me struggling to think clearly I made a mistake. First, I tried to get both players to see it from the other's point of view. Dan could see that to table and score no points sounded daft but justified this by saying that the rules pack was quite clear. Franco refused to see it from Dan's point of view.

I was hoping there might be a middle ground so I assessed the situation on the table to see if, in the "remaining" turns Franco could get the objectives. Sure enough he'd got Farsight (scoring thanks to the BW rules) near the central objective, a landspeeder full of scouts near his objective and some kroot outflanking near Dan's objective. Essentially then I was rulling between a 25-0 defeat and a 0-0 draw. The kroot weren't guaranteed to make it to the objective so I thought I might've found a middle ground. The kroot would need to move 11" through cover to get to the objective. With Move Through Cover they moved 5" but they'd still need a 6 to run into range of the objective. Of course Franco rolled a 6 thus removing my option for middle ground. Having allowed him to do this though I'd essentially permitted him to have his turns and backed myself into a corner.

I wasn't happy with the decision but I needed to get back to my game. In the meantime I was chatting to various people who'd finished their games and had heard about the problem. Some of them had tabled their opponents but not claimed full VPs, as the tournament rules stated. Clearly then I'd need to decide whether I was changing the rules in the middle of the game or if I should go back to Franco and tell him I'd changed my mind.

I probably should've decided sooner rather than later but I wanted to get my game done as my opponent had already suffered enough delays. With the clock ticking down I got my game finished and there was now no choice but to make a ruling. Knowing that other people at the event had managed to play to the event pack I decided that I should enforce this in Franco & Dan's game too. This would therefore mean a 3-0 win to Franco (on secondaries). This wasn't good enough for him though and he stuck to his guns, packing up his models and leaving the event probably never to return.

I'm not thrilled that this happened as Blog Wars is supposed to be a friendly event that welcomes all comers. To have someone leave over a decision doesn't fit in with the Blog Wars philosophy of friendly competition. Whilst I still believe I made the right call in the end the problem was that I hadn't made it straight away. The rules in the event pack should be gospel. This means everyone is competing within the same parameters. To change them in the middle of the event is unfair.

Lessons Learned
I'm sure any 40K player who's been at it for a while knows that the rules aren't perfect. At a tournament you want the referee to make confident decisions that are based on a deep knowledge of the rules. The worst thing they can do is to go back on a call. That's the main thing to take away from this I think.

The other thing to think about is being totally explicit in the rules. If I intend to keep the rules regarding tabling then I need to specify that the game ends when the last unit is removed as a casualty. There are no further turns and if you haven't got the objectives then you don't score any points. Provided everyone is well aware that this is the situation then they can play their games accordingly.

Franco argued that "no other event since 2011" has used this system. At the time I was thinking that perhaps it was a good idea to follow suit to avoid situations like this being repeated. However, with more time to think about it I think it's something that should stay. It's important to realise why I want to keep the rule.

Why I want to keep the rule
The scoring system at Blog Wars doesn't have a binary win or loss result from each game. Instead, players are rewarded for winning convincingly and not penalised too heavily for a narrow loss. This may not be the way other tournaments do it but personally I think it works. Obviously there's the potential for someone to win all three games and not finish very high up (it's been Luke Fogg twice now - sorry Luke) but hopefully they've still enjoyed the day and their games will have been close.

That's the crux of it really. Winning doesn't actually matter that much at Blog Wars. Your ticket costs £15 and the most you can win is £25 for 1st place. Essentially then you're playing for a tenner when you take away your ticket cost. That's hardly stellar. Conversely the raffle offers a couple of hundred pounds worth of prizes which you're eligible for regardless of where you finish. Perhaps then Blog Wars shouldn't be viewed as a tournament but rather a social club. Yes there's a competition but, cheesy as it sounds, it's more about playing different people and having fun.

That's why I started going to tournaments in the first place, to play different people. If I win my games great if not who cares. Obviously I bitch and moan about it with the best of them but hopefully my opponents don't think of me as a power gamer.

So anyway, if you aren't awarding full points for tablings then you're encouraging people to play their games differently. In fact you're encouraging them to build their lists differently too. There's no doubt that the current meta encourages people to take cheap scoring units like kroot, cultists, etc so you can afford to pump more points into units that will devastate your opponent. Look at the top lists right now and with the exception of lists where the power comes from the troops section (e.g. wave serpent spam) the lists have barely any points in troops so they can afford the deathstars.

If you don't get maximum points from tabling you can't build your list that way. Your opponent may look at your list and think "I can't hope to beat that" but when they see your scoring is some kroot they'll be thinking they can easily take away your opportunity to score too many points. At Blog Wars the number of points you give away is almost as important as the number you score.

The Blog Wars system isn't the same as the major competitive events and it never has been. For starters there's the compulsory special character rule which came at a time when a lot of the major events were banning special characters. I don't post the results on Rankings HQ which I've been asked to do in the past.

The point is that I don't want Blog Wars to be like other events. I don't get a huge number of players attending but I don't want that either. I'm not trying to make money, I'm not trying to compete with the big GTs. What I want is for people to come to the event, no matter how experienced they are, and enjoy the day. The rule will be staying because Blog Wars is different by design. Perhaps I'll spell it out more clearly next time though.

Sunday, November 03, 2013

Blog Wars 6 - The Aftermath

The sixth (can you believe it?) Blog Wars happened at the NWGC in Stockport yesterday and there was plenty of drama! Before I get to that I want to talk about the good things. First off, a big thanks to the staff at NWGC for keeping us fed and watered. I know the venue was cold but next time it will be June and Darran from the venue has promised that for the next winter one he'll have a heating system.

Secondly, thanks to everyone who came. I don't know about the rest of you but I think there's a great atmosphere about the event and generally everyone seems to be playing in the spirit of the thing. There are now just 3 players left who are veterans of all six Blog Wars and they are Matt Greenwood, Graham Sanders and Chris Benstead. A special thanks to those guys for their unerring support of the event.

Around two thirds of the players there were veterans of previous Blog Wars which I hope shows how enjoyable the day can be. There are plenty of tournaments out there that get more players but I hope people think the Blog Wars atmosphere is worth coming back for and I still can't think of a tournament that offers more in prizes for such a relatively small player count.

Anyway, let's get the embarrassment out of the way right now. Here's the results of Blog Wars 6 which have also been added to the Blog Wars Results Archive.

As you may have spotted I unwittingly won my own tournament. I know that's a ridiculous situation but I'll explain more about it when I cover my Battle Reports. Suffice to say, announcing myself as the winner wasn't the only time during the day that I wanted the ground to swallow me up but before I get to that I'll talk about a couple of other things with the results. First off you'll notice Franco's absence but I'll get to that in another post.

The other thing to note is that of the five Tyranid players three of them finished in the top 5. We know the codex is stronger thanks to Biomancy but it goes to show you can find life in the older books even with the ever-changing meta. The Eldar lists are pretty well spaced through the list but I should point out they weren't the standard competitive lists you might expect. Finally, congratulations to Ross Mason and Aaron Shrive for taking 2nd and 3rd place respectively at their first Blog Wars event.

The Scoring System
Here's a reminder of how the results are sorted:
  1. Total VPs scored (Primary plus Secondary)
  2. Goal Difference (total VPs scored minus total conceded)
  3. Total Primary VPs scored
  4. Total Secondary VPs scored
  5. Total VPs given away
The theory behind this was that I should always be able to separate two players on something as it was very unlikely that people would score the exact same points in all categories. Of course that ended up breaking in the first round with Matt Greenwood and Daniel Lane scoring identical points across the board. For the first time in Blog Wars history I made a massive error on the scoring in the first round too. I'd had two players drop out, one to illness and one absent without any explanation. Luckily I was able to call in a couple of standbys to fill in the gaps. I assigned them the numbers of the missing players but then entered them on the spreadsheet the wrong way round. This meant the scores for their games were entered wrong causing the whole kerfuffle.

Anyway, this gave me an opportunity to realise that the scoring wasn't in fact broken and I could split Matt and Dan up by the number of VPs they'd conceded (old school VPs that is) when their maximum 2000pts and equal secondaries wouldn't help. Problem solved.

The idea of this scoring system, coupled with the tweaked scenarios, would result in each game being worth a maximum of 25pts. This would give plenty of scope for separating scores and would reward people for winning more convincingly. Obviously as a winner you don't care how decisive the victory is but if you lose the game it matters that you get recognition for making it a very close game. I understand the argument that a win is a win but that's fine for the competitive events. Blog Wars is different by design.

Overall I'm pretty happy with the scoring, I know it has issues (which again will be discussed in more detail in another post) but to me it works how I want it to. Right, sorry this post was a bit later going up than usual but I was too knackered to post last night and have been out all day today.

Over the next few posts I'll discuss the big drama of the day, cover the painting competition, report on my battles and generally cover the action from the weekend. Once I've run through all of that I'll do the same as last time and take a look at what worked and what didn't in order to make Blog Wars 7 better for it. Hopefully you all enjoyed it and some of you are reading this hoping to come along next time.

Friday, November 01, 2013

My Tau Army for Blog Wars 6

Unbelievably Blog Wars 6 is tomorrow and as I write this I've still not finished painting Shadowsun and her drones for my army. She's up to three colours but only just and I hope I have enough time to improve her before the big day. I'm starting to sound like a stuck record but at some point I intend to come back to my Tau army and add some highlights and washes to actually get them "finished". I use the inverted commas because I'm not sure it's a real thing! Anyway, here's my list:

1,850pts of Tau
Commander Shadowsun (two shield drones, comm-link drone)
2 XV8 Bodyguard (fusion, plasma)

11 Fire Warriors in Devilfish (disruption pod)
11 Fire Warriors in Devilfish
11 Fire Warriors in Devilfish
10 Kroot
10 Kroot

Riptide with ion accelerator, fusion, VT, EWO
Riptide with ion accelerator, fusion, VT, EWO
Crisis team (2 suits with 2xMP, flamer & shas'vre with 2xMP, PENchip)

6 pathfinders
6 pathfinders
6 pathfinders

On the face of it there isn't a huge difference between this list and the one I took to BW5. The major difference is that Shadowsun is now my SC and not Longstrike and she replaces my usual commander. The bomber is gone too and replaced by another unit of pathfinders. All of the fire warriors are now mounted up in devilfish making my army a lot more mobile.

I've spoken about Shadowsun at length when I was trying to decide between her and my regular commander. Ultimately the BW rules swayed my opinion as she allows me to take an Ethereal along whilst still bringing an SC.

The Fire Warriors are still the core of the army but instead of standing on the back line in cover they can be much more aggressive. The Ethereal helps them put out a decent volume of fire too. They're more durable in their transports and the Ethereal's 'fish is given a disruption pod to allow him a better chance of survival. These should hopefully be able to combine for some classic fish of fury action.

The kroot have lost their hounds as I simply couldn't find the points for them but 2 out of 3 times I'll get them on the side I want anyway. They proved to be vital and surprisingly deadly in my games at the tournament last Sunday so they're a must for me. Combined with the Fire Warriors I've still got 5 troop choices and they should be more durable than last time around.

This time there's a pair of Riptides. They're undoubtedly the powerhouses of this list. There's no denying that twin-riptides isn't a totally friendly build but the rest of the list isn't one of the typical competitive builds you see around. They're incredibly flexible with their Skyfire and Interceptor combined with their ability to throw down pie-plates.

The missile crisis team is my version of the HYMP broadsides effectively. They don't put out anywhere near as much firepower but they're more mobile and thanks to JSJ they're more likely to survive I reckon. Obviously they're vulvnerable to krak missiles and the like but hopefully they can bring down a couple of vehicles or an MC before they bite the dust.

Finally there's now three units of Pathfinders to provide markerlight support. I've toyed with all of the options for getting those vital marker hits but I always come back to Pathfinders. They're easily the least durable and least mobile of the marker platforms but they're easily the cheapest when it comes to points per marker hit.

So there you have it. I've still got work to do on Shadowsun but otherwise I'm pleased with how the army looks on the table and the switch to (mostly) mech doesn't have make deployment quicker and should hopefully make for quicker games which are vital when I'm trying to run the event at the same time!

I've had a couple of test games against Andy Lane from Claws and Fists (who sadly can't make it to Blog Wars) but I'll let you read about how they went over there. See you all tomorrow!


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