Tuesday, June 24, 2014

Brief Hiatus in Posting

Just a quick post today to say that I won't be posting for a couple of weeks as I'm pretty heavily snowed under with postgraduate work at the moment. In fact, that's the reason my posting has been sporadic at best recently. I might be able to get the odd post up if I find time but it'll probably be pretty quiet on here until after my deadline (July 8th).

This is hugely frustrating as I've been waiting for the Ork book for a long time now. I'm planning on the usual full rundown of course, but it will be a little later than usual. I've also got to finish my rulebook review and continue where I left off with the AM review. Normal service will be resumed as soon as possible! Please stick with me!

Ironically I've probably written more words on here over the last few months than I have in my uni work!!

Thursday, June 19, 2014

Blog Wars 7 - Feedback Discussion

Normally this post would be covering my games at Blog Wars 7 but since I didn't participate I'll use this as an opportunity to respond to some of the feedback from the comments section of the previous post. I was pleased to see some excellent discussion going on, that's exactly what I want from people so I can work out how to improve things for BW8. Please keep the comments coming either on here or by e-mail.

Missions & Scoring
As I said in the previous post, it seems the first two missions work pretty well. Obviously Cleanse the Xenos is particularly favourable for shooty armies but hopefully the objective missions level the playing field somewhat. I think it's important to have at least one mission without objectives not just for variety but also to give people a straightforward first game without too much thinking! The blood points system seemed to work well from my end at least and hopefully it wasn't a headache for you guys.

Personally, I loved going around the tables during the last two missions and seeing the armies smashing together in the middle of the board but it'd be great to hear more from you guys about how well the objective missions worked.

It seems from the comments that most people like the idea of the final mission being 6 turns with no scoring on game turn one. This makes sense to me as it minimises the advantage of going first and makes the game longer (since some had found it was over too quickly). I've also had a suggestion that a score sheet for this round would be helpful as a reminder to keep track of the points during the game. This is easily accomplished so I'll be implementing it assuming the mission doesn't change.

Please bear in mind that as I play more games of 7th edition the missions might evolve slightly. I'm keen to avoid changing things too much though so that people can start to get used to the Blog Wars format and plan their lists accordingly. Did people think the scoring system was straightforward? I know there were some minor issues but I'll take steps to minimise those.

There were comments that the terrain was too sparse on the tables. I have to say that walking around I tend to agree. I have very little input into the scenery set up as I'm usually busy getting everything else set up. I'm not blaming Matt and Jamie though as I know they can struggle to get it all laid out in time before people arrive. There's plenty more scenery available at the venue though so we'll make a conscious effort to have more laid out. That being said I think it's important to have some more open tables. Not all battles are fought on city streets and it gets monotonous to play with the same ruins on every table.

Assuming the last mission stays the same I think it's important to consider terrain placement in relation to where the objectives will end up but this is something I can address fairly easily.

The Painting Competition
This is a tricky one. I know that this time around some people intentionally avoided voting for armies they'd seen win before either at BW or elsewhere. I can understand this but at the same time, best painted should be just that rather than "best painted that I haven't seen before". That creates one of two situations. Either people up their game to try and top the winning armies or they give in as they don't think they can compete. Obviously the former is preferable and I'd like to avoid the latter.

That being said, I think the BW regulars are fairly self policing in that they try and vote for something different. As has been pointed out, there were still some people playing their games whilst others were already voting on the best armies. This meant some armies may not have received the votes they deserved. Time is always tight but perhaps only opening the voting after all games have finished is possible.

I'd like to expand the painting competition and I think Best Conversion is a good idea to showcase that side of the hobby. Often I find the army that wins best painted is actually the best converted rather than the best technically skilled paint job. The conversions in one army can distract the eye away from another army that actually has a better paint job so giving a separate category should help. I may also include a Best Theme prize but I'm conscious that there'll be considerable overlap and there's only so much time for judging and voting. 

I like the idea of a showcase. This would allow the past winners to show off their armies without being eligible for votes (unless they've made significant changes) and it also works well for commission paintjobs. Potentially it will cause confusion if people aren't clear on who they can vote for. This can be addressed easily by having clearer labels for armies.

The consensus seems to be that there doesn't need to be many drastic changes but rather some tweaks here and there. I'd like to keep the debate going though so please comment below to give me more feedback to work with. Nothing is set in stone for BW8 yet so I'm open to suggestions on every aspect. I'll need to explore how to incorporate 7th edition so any thoughts on that are welcome too.

Tuesday, June 17, 2014

Blog Wars 7 Painting Competition (pic heavy)

I say this every time but the standard of painting was particularly high this time around. There were several armies that I'd have been happy to see win the best army and plenty of characters that could've taken that prize. As a reminder there's two prizes up for grabs, Best Painted Army and Best Painted Special Character. Yet again we managed to avoid a situation where the same person won both!!

Of the field of 38 players, 33 of them voted which is fantastic as it's nice to see people supporting the hobby side of the event too. It's also a better turn out than a general election.

Best Army Runners Up
This category was a closely fought affair with the winner scoring 7 votes and two players tied for second with 6 votes each. The first being Ben Greaves, playing in his first Blog War, with his tank heavy Astra Militarum army featuring Pask Ben's army has a beautiful weathered look to it with fantastic attention to detail.

The other player tied at 2nd was Dave Weston with his Tyranids. Dave's Tyranids have won numerous awards including Best Army at BW6 where he won despite them being presented on a red plastic tray. This time Dave had gone to town on his diorama as you can see in the pictures. I feel a little guilty that he put that extra effort in only to come second!

In fourth place with 4 votes was Martin Waine (another newcomer) with his Space Wolves featuring Canis and a whole host of wolves around him.

Best Army Winner
The winning army was Chris Benstead's stunning Iron Warriors army which features some excellent conversions, third party models and a well executed paint scheme that makes them really look gritty. Chris is one of only three people who've been to all seven Blog Wars events and he's always performed well in the painting competition winning Best Special Character twice and now also two awards for Best Army. I should point out that these awards were not all for the Iron Warriors, as in previous events Chris brought his equally beautifully painted Tyranids with Swarmlord. He also came second at BW5 meaning he's probably taken more prizes from me than anyone else!! I wonder why he keeps coming.....

Anyway here's some shots of his army but for more pictures and details of his conversions please head over to Weemen.


Best Special Character Runners Up
This category was even closer with the winner scoring 6 votes, two players tied for second on 5 votes and a three way tie for fourth at 3 votes each. Martin Waine featured here again with his Canis Wolfborn tied with Michael Towers Sanguinius (counts as Mephiston). The three way tie for fourth was between Nathaniel Gibbs' Draigo (resplendent in gold). Chris Benstead's Abaddon and Dave Weston's Deathleaper.

Best Special Character Winner
The winning character came from Jamie Jackson's army. He was fielding Iron Hands (who lack a Special Character) so he dreamed up a Chapter Master on a bike conversion that would act as his SC. This is no ordinary Chapter Master though as, in typical Iron Hands fashion, he's actually more machine than man! For more information on the conversion and more shots of Jamie's army head over to his blog, Index Astartes. The rest of the army is beautifully painted and features some excellent conversion including a full track land raider and modified attack bike.

Honorable Mention
Despite forgetting that I'd said there'd be a TO's choice award at BW7 I wanted to mention one army that caught my eye. The first of which is Ian Connolly's pirate themed Dark Eldar army with some beautiful conversions and the best army list I've read in a long time. Instead of Power from Pain they gain Power from Rum as alcohol numbs their pain, makes them want to fight and then eventually makes them fearless (literally). The one and only time I had a Best Theme prize it was Ian who won it and I'm certain he'd win this time if I'd have kept it up.

Thanks to everyone for putting the effort in to make some cinematic looking battles. Sorry to anyone I haven't mentioned here. I look forward to seeing what people produce for BW8.

Sunday, June 15, 2014

Blog Wars 7 - The Aftermath

The seventh (!) installment of Blog Wars was held at the NWGC in Stockport yesterday. Despite being the seventh blog war the tournament was the last one of 6th edition 40K. I'm still waiting until I've played more games of 7th edition before I make any decisions about what will happen at BW8. I've some ideas of what I want to do but I don't want to commit to anything until I've played more games.

Anyway, there was a Blog Wars record of 38 players in attendance yesterday. I want to start by thanking everyone who came along for making it such an enjoyable day. The atmosphere was a friendly one which is always my intention. When new players come in you never know how what to expect but everyone seemed to play in the spirit of the event. There are still three players who've been to every single Blog Wars with no sign of any of them missing one any time soon. Maybe they'll get entry to the 10th one for free if it gets that far.

I've often thought about expanding the event as it becomes more popular but I'm keen to keep numbers relatively low so that we can keep the close-knit atmosphere. I hope this is the one thing that brings people back time and time again. That being said I may extend it to 50 players if the demand is there in November for BW8.

Here are this year's final results. I ducked out this time so we have a new champion in the form of Gary Percival who played White Scars. Gary was on table two in the final game and scored a whopping 29/33 points to leapfrog Matt who struggled to score enough in the final game to hold onto first place. As ever these results will be added to the archive.

In case you're wondering the reason the results aren't a whole number is that in the first round I use old school Blood Points as a scoring mechanism. These are then converted into tournament points but I leave the decimal place there to help me distinguish between closely matched scores. All victories are based on TP total (Primary VPs + Secondary VPs) and in the first game Gary only won his game by 0.2 TP!! I think it's great to be able to see just how decisive (or not) a victory is rather than just having a straight win/loss/draw up on the board.

I think the scoring system worked pretty well. There didn't seem to be any major issues that people came to me with but as ever I'm open to suggestions for improvements. I'll talk about the missions themselves shortly but the scoring system seemed to give a pretty good representation of what happened in the games. There was one game in round two that was won 2-1 where neither player controlled an objective and it came down to secondary VPs.

If you look at the bright green column of total points won (TW), you can see that 12/13th and 16/17th appear to be tied with and the goal difference (GD) between VPs scored and VPs lost appears the wrong way around. In actual fact Dave Weston scored 54.03 to Thomas Carr's 54.0 and Ken Morley scored 48.42 to Tom Brown's 48.38. That's incredibly close!

The Missions
I think the first mission works pretty well in that two armies basically try to smash each other in. I think it's a good way to start the day and having that round before lunch gives plenty of time for players to add up the points without it making the next round start late. The mission definitely favours some armies over others but I hope the others balance this out a little.

The second mission is interesting as your opponent's objective is worth more to you than your own. In one game this resulted in a 25-15 scoreline with neither player holding their own objective but one of them having control of the centre. As I say, there was also a game where no-one controlled anything! I think this mission prevents the boring games that Emperor's Will and Relic can sometimes create.

The final mission is a new one for Blog Wars. Control Freak has three central objectives that give a point up at the end of each player turn. For the most part I think people enjoyed playing a different kind of mission. When I decided to run this I didn't realise 7th edition would contain something similar in the form of Maelstrom of War but I'll be looking at those tactical objectives for inspiration to improve Control Freak. There were some players who commented that this game was over too quickly and that sometimes their opponent built up an unassailable lead leaving them as spectators.

I think this could be addressed by increasing the turn limit from 5 to 6 and preventing any points from being scored in the first game turn. That should go some way to preventing the person going first from having an advantage. This mission was a test of something different to try and break up the monotony of the rulebook missions so I'm keen for everyone to give me as much feedback as possible to help improve it.

I made it very clear this time that tabling doesn't give full VPs and I think for the most part people played with this in mind. There were a couple of very quick tablings where the winner didn't score full points but that's the idea. I was also aware of a couple of games where the guy doing the tabling was stalling for more points which isn't ideal but hopefully players can keep to the spirit of the competition and keep this to a minimum.

The End of 6th Edition
This was the last Blog Wars of 6th edition and I have to say for the most part it's been a good run. There's no doubt that there's some dirty combinations that can be created with the allies system but most of the players at BW seem to have kept their lists in the spirit of the event.

As I've said, I'll be trying to play plenty of games of 7th edition over the next few months so that BW8 will offer the best 7th edition experience possible. I will, of course, be blogging about it and I'll want your feedback on how BW8 adapts to the changes in the game.

Your Feedback
Blog Wars only works if I'm running an event that people actually want to attend. For that reason I rely on getting a good deal of feedback from the people who come along. This is especially important for the new guys so please get in touch with your impressions of the event (good or bad) so that I can make it better next time around.

Finally, I again want to thank everyone for coming along and the staff at the NWGC for their continued support of this event. I hope to see all of you again at BW8 in November. Keep an eye out for details of that.

Saturday, June 07, 2014

Armies at Blog Wars 7 - The Obligatory Pie Chart Post

It's that time of (half) year again, the army lists are all in and with the exception of a couple of queries they're all good to go. Please check your emails (and junk folders) to see if I've picked up any issues with your list but otherwise if you haven't heard from me please go ahead and assume your list is fine. As usual I've updated the BW7 page with details of who's bringing what race (I'm calling them that until we start using 7th ed at Blog Wars and I have to start saying "Factions"). Of course, information in this form is of little use to you and tricky to digest (pie pun) so I think it's only right that I throw some pie charts your way.

Before tackling the latest pie charts help yourself to a slice of tasty BW6 pies and if you're still peckish some crusty BW5 pies. Back in November there was a meaty dose of Tyranids on display along with fairly equal portions of CSM, Eldar, Wolves and Tau.

Still hungry for more? Here's BW7's tasty goodness:

Primary Detachments
Although present at BW6, Chaos Daemons are a much bigger part of Blog Wars 7. Not suprisingly Tau are still very popular but perhaps what is surprising is that there aren't many Eldar armies. This becomes even more significant when you notice that there's actually quite a few Blood Angels players on board (4 to be precise).

The pleasing thing for me is that there's still a huge variety of different armies represented which I hope makes for a more interesting tournamet for you guys. The odds are actually against you meeting the same race twice and it's incredibly unlikely you'll meet the same one in all three of your games. I often find that makes a big difference to my enjoyment of a tournament. If I'm playing Necrons in every game then I get pretty mardy! Incidentally there's only one Necron player this time which has been the trend since BW5.

You'd expect there to be a decent number of Imperia... Astra Militarum players and indeed there's a decent chunk of them. This gets more interesting when we get to the Special Characters but worth noting here too. I'm extremely sad that in the last four Blog Wars we've only had a single Ork player. Hopefully that's about to change with the new codex but I won't hold my breath. On the other hand I'm happy to see that Space Wolves are still well represented (as this used to be a Space Wolves blog). Hopefully we'll see a new codex for them soon too.

Allied Detachments
The first thing to note here is that the number of people taking allies has increased fairly dramatically. At the first Blog Wars of 6th edition (BW4) there was very little uptake of the allies system. This has steadily increased to the point we're at now with over a third of the armies including allies of some kind. Of course some of these are Inquisition and Dataslates and there's only a single Tyranid list this time but still I think it's fairly solid increase.

I make little secret of the fact that I'm not a huge fan of allies but it does make for more variety in the lists I suppose. There's a big chunk of SM allies here, especially when you take the Stormwings into account. There's a formation in one of the other armies which isn't included here (as it's the same race as the primary) but there isn't much uptake on the formations front.

No other really stands out as a popular choice for allies but for the most part at least the allies used are Battle Brothers with the primary detachment. Interesting when you consider a lot of these combinations won't be as useful in 7th edition.

Special Characters
Finally, my favourite part of Blog Wars, the special characters. For those not aware, each army MUST include one in their primary detachment so there's guaranteed to be plenty of them in attendance. Some armies have taken more than one too. Coteaz proves to be a popular choice again (helped by the Inquistion codex of course) but Knight Commander Pask is the most popular with all four AM armies including him. Expect to see a lot of Leman Russ tanks this time!!

Happily though there's 29 different characters represented across the 38 lists (yes, there's been two dropouts). There's some characters I've never seen in play before like the Changeling, Ku'gath, Skarbrand and Masque from the Daemons lists. Kheradruakh is even making an appearance!

I have high hopes for this Blog War. There's a great mix of armies in attendance and a nice combination of veterans and new players to build the atmosphere. This is the first one I'm intentionally not playing in so I'm insanely jealous of you all getting to roll dice together. I will, of course, stand in if there's an odd number so I'll be posting up my backup list for you all to see in the coming days. I'll also be showing you what you'll be able to win both for the spot prizes and the raffle so stay tuned for that.

BW6 saw the biggest attendance yet (32) and as it stands at the moment we'll smash that with 38 players at Blog Wars 7. As ever, I'm hoping it'll be the best yet. If nothing else I hope it goes a bit more smoothly than last time!! One thing's for sure the raffle prizes are bigger than ever!!

Tuesday, June 03, 2014

The 7th Edition 40K Rulebook Review - Warlord Traits (Part 5)

Just a (comparatively) short post today to talk about the Warlord Traits in the new rulesbook. Tomorrow I'll be talking about army selection in the new edition and as you'll see there, the advantage of a Combined Arms detachment is that you get a re-roll on the traits table. That's a pretty big deal when you're often getting a trait that simply doesn't apply to your army or isn't particularly useful if it does.

In the 6th edition book we were offered traits from Command, Personal and Strategic. These tables are still there but in addition we've got Tactical traits which are closely related to the Tactical Objectives and hence the Maelstrom of War missions (there'll be a post about those too).

Command Traits
Inspiring Presence - same.
Intimidating Presence - same.
The Dust of a Thousand Worlds - same.
Master of the Vanguard - changed to a +1" to run and charge moves rather than simply a extra dice when running.
Target Priority - now gives re-rolls on 1s to hit all the time not just when shooting objective holders.
Co-ordinated Assault - no longer affects charge distance but now gives re-rolls of 1s to hit in combat.

Not a bad selection really and most armies will find any of the results useful. I can't remember ever rolling on this chart as I was usually trying to get night fighting with my Dark Eldar so rolled on Strategic. Speaking of which...

Strategic Traits
Conqueror of Cities - same.
Night Attacker - same but now your army gets Night Vision making it useful for everyone.
Master of Ambush - allows three non-vehicle units to Infiltrate (used to give Acute Senses to Outflankers).
Strategic Genius - same re-roll to reserves but now also gives +1 to Seize.
Divide to Conquer - same.
Princeps of Deceit - no silly redeployments, instead causes three enemy units to take a Pinning test.

Like the Command traits these have received a bit of a buff. Dark Eldar used to love Night Attacker but now any army can make use of it. I sincerely hope that Dark Eldar have a way of making it night fighting outside of this though when their new book hits. I don't think there's a bad trait in this list actually. Only way for some armies to get Reserves manipulation too, especially with a lot of Battle Brothers being taken away.

Personal Traits
Master of Defence - gives Counter Attack all the time now, not just in deployment zone.
Master of Offence - as above, now get Furious Charge all the time but only the warlord, not his unit too.
Master of Manoeuvre - still gives Outflank which is passed on to a unit he joins.
Legendary Fighter - same.
Tenacity - just warlord gets FNP but all the time, not just when controlling an objective.
Immovable Object - Fearless and It Will Not Die. Used to make him scoring but everything is now!

Generally these traits have gotten more personal which you'd expect from the name. Easier to remember them though as they aren't specific to where the warlord is e.g. in his deployment zone. That makes them more useful but I think this is probably the weakest of the tables since, for the most part, they only benefit your warlord. Could be useful for a particularly powerful warlord but I'd rather have army-wide benefits.

Tactical Traits
These traits basically manipulate the Tactical Objectives allowing for more discards, extra VPs, etc. Difficult to say how useful these are because I've not played a Maelstrom game yet. From what I've read though these games can often result in a gap opening up between players, so it's probably worth rolling on this chart to give you the best possible chance of victory in your games.

There's some nice changes to the existing warlord traits with things getting a lot simpler and better for the most part. Still, generally speaking, the codex specific traits are better. Having the option to roll on these tables does give you some flexibility though depending on the army you're facing and having that re-roll will really help to get a trait that's useful. As it stands at the moment my Orks, Space Wolves and Dark Eldar are all forced to roll on these tables but I'm hoping not for much longer. In the meantime though I won't be complaining too much.

To be honest though, this was one of the things that I didn't really see the point of in 6th edition. It adds a random aspect to the game which can make things more interesting but in practice it's another thing to roll for during pre-game and another thing to remember. How many times have you only remembered your warlord trait after he's died? It's also frustrating that some of the special characters have a fixed trait which just feels like a special rule has been stolen from them.


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