Wednesday, December 31, 2014

Review of 2014

I'm interrupting Matt's review of the Blood Angels codex with my traditional end of year post. This is the time when I look back over the year of gaming and see what I've achieved. If you ever really achieve anything by playing with toy soldiers that is?!

Well, as you can see from the graphic on the right, this has been a bumper year for From the Fang. I had my highest monthly figures in August with just over 59,000 pageviews. That's unbelievable really. It was mainly down to the codex review posts as I think that's what a lot of people search for once the new books are released. They're a lot of work but they really help me get to grips with the new codices and work out what I'm likely to run in my own armies or face in other people's armies.

Clearly having a child has affected my blogging time though as I've only posted something like 120 times this year. That's still a lot but it's down from last year. Still, looking back at last year's review post I can see that I've racked up a whopping 431,630 views this year which is nearly half of my all time figures so perhaps the quality of my posts has improved eh?

I'm actually planning on scaling my blogging down a bit in the coming year. You may have noticed I'm rarely posting battle reports from my friendly games and shortened reports from tournament games. They take a hell of a lot of time to write up and I'm not convinced people really take the time to read them. I intend to keep reviewing the new books though as it will help me keep abreast of the new rules and units. I'd like to include more hobby content on here but I think I say that every year.

Hobby Progress
Well having read Garfy's post over on Tale of Painters I'm thoroughly depressed with my lack of painting this year. As ever it's been a year of half finished things. I think the key problem is that I don't write enough about my hobby on the blog. If I forced myself to complete projects so that I could post about them I'm sure I'd actually get things done. My main motivation for painting is usually to get things ready for a tournament. I painted up two SW drop pods and a stormwolf for an event at the Outpost and a Skyray, Farsight and some drones for the team event. Of course, none of them are finished but good enough for a tournament.

That's kind of the issue really. When I look into the cupboard at all my models on shelves I struggle to find anything that's actually finished. There's my Kabalite Warrior test model that's pretty much done but the basing is half arsed and there's some details I haven't done. It's the same story with my most "complete" army the Space Wolves. All of them need their faces doing, more of the gold details painting in and company markings adding. Of course the issue is time. I actually get a decent amount of free time but painting is often way down my list of priorities. At the moment I'm getting back into video games in a big way since I bought an Xbox One. This means most of my evenings (once my little boy and wife are in bed) are spent playing Madden, Halo, etc instead of blogging/painting.

The thing I'm most frustrated about is that looking at my gaming table I can see it's pretty much all still grey plastic scenery with very little painted. I'm absolutely determined that this is the year when I start playing with some fully painted scenery. Jamie will no doubt find this funny since I've been saying this for a long time.

Part of the problem has also been this relentless release schedule. I was inspired to start painting my Orks only for Space Wolves to come out. This prompted renewed progress on the Wolves until the DE book to hit shortly after. I've got a pile of kits that I bought with the book releases for both DE and Wolves that I haven't even taken out of the shrink wrap!

Despite what I said last year I have no plans on starting a new army at the moment. I had toyed with the idea of a Tyranid force but I really want to get everything finished that I already own. To that end I've decided to sell my Dark Angels so expect to see a plug for some eBay auctions in the near future. I simply have no love for them and the money would be better spent bolstering my other armies, particularly DE and Wolves. It's a shame that I actually put some time into painting the Ravenwing but I can't see me sitting down to finish them and they're just collecting dust.

More Big Changes to 40K
In last year's post I was talking about how there'd been big changes to 40K in 2013. Well who would've thought we'd be sitting here now with all but one army having a hardcover codex? There's been an insane number of new books this year and I don't think any of us truly expected 7th edition to arrive so soon.

Generally speaking the new books have lost quite a bit of their character but there's a definite streamlining too them and some nice new ideas. My biggest disappointment of the year was losing so many special characters for several books but most notably the Dark Eldar codex. We have had a few extras I suppose but it's a shame that they came at the expense of Vect, Duke Sliscus and others.

I'm quite optimistic for the game in the coming year though. If they start to redo some of the hardcovers into this new datasheet format we might see a bit more balance in the game. I think the new books feel pretty well matched against each other (although DE are still on the weaker side). It's only really when comparing them to the powerhouse books like Eldar, Tau and Necrons that they look poor. Matt and I had a great game of BA vs SW yesterday as a matter of fact.

Tournament play has been a bit of a bug bear for me this year. The 7th edition army selection system is frankly stupid and it's meant a huge disparity between what different TOs are doing. Our FLGS now alternates between LoW and non-LoW tournaments so we only tend to go to the non-LoW versions after some bad experiences playing in the others.

We took part in our first team event this year though (which made up for the absence of 40K doubles in the latter half of the year).

Blog Wars
Blog Wars 7 had a record attendance and BW8 was probably the best event I've run to date. Suffice to say I'm looking forward to 9 and 10 and I hope a lot of you guys are too. It's becoming increasingly difficult to create a rules pack that pleases everyone but I hope I'm still doing a decent job. I'll be posting more about the events soon so stay tuned.

I started playing X-wing last year and I'm completely hooked. We'd promised ourselves we'd avoid playing in tournaments to keep it friendlier but I'd be surprised if we make it through 2015 without dipping our toes into the competitive scene.

I currently own at least one of every Rebel ship (barring Tantive and Transport) and multiples of several. This gives me a massive amount of variety in the squadrons I can put together. Matt has a decent range of Empire ships too and we've got Scott interested (who's collecting Rebels). We're also hoping that Sam will pick up some Scum and Villainy ships. Incidentally we're meeting up on the 10th for 6 of us to play X-wing which will hopefully sell it to some more people and therefore create a bigger gaming group for us. I've gone on at length about what I like about the game so I won't gush any more here.

Finally, I'm just slightly shy of one million pageviews for the blog so I'll be running a little giveaway to celebrate once I pass that milestone (which should be in the next couple of days). Keep an eye out for that and for details of Blog Wars 9 which I'll hopefully finalise soon.

I'll post up my resolutions fairly early on in the new year. As ever, thanks to everyone who reads this little blog and for all the comments. Keep them coming.

Tuesday, December 30, 2014

New 7th Edition Blood Angels Codex Review - Fast Attack

Another short post for a fairly short section. It's pretty clear already that BA lists will be dominated by Elites choices which is echoed in the Baal detachment. 

Rhino and Razorback
These are both fast vehicles and get it for only 10 points more than the regular Space Marine version. This is great and makes these transports much more useful in my opinion. If you run them as dedicated transports for Troops in a Combined Arms Detachment then they gain Objective Secured which makes them very annoying for your opponent as they zip around the board controlling and contesting objectives. Even if they aren't Objective Secured, they are still much better as they can deliver carry units across the battlefield faster and can still go on to claim hard to reach objectives due to their speed. Rhinos are really quite durable these days and I have often found them surviving far longer than you expect them too in more recent games. Also due to being fast, BA Razorbacks can be used as fairly effective mobile gun platforms with twice the move distance before firing.

Drop Pod
My favourite thing in this section. Being able to take these empty is great, it means you can put whatever you want into it, from any Armies of the Imperium codex (as long as it fits).

Assault Squad
I was one of the many people who were bitterly disappointed to see that assault squads weren't in the Troops section. However it's not all bad for this unit. They get more special weapon options than regular marine assault units, such as meltaguns and plasmaguns and they can still take 2 special weapons no matter the size of the unit. So many people will see this as an opportunity to put a 5 man unit into a drop pod (for free as they lose their jump packs) with 2 meltaguns and a sergeant with 2 melta pistols for a total of 4 melta shots!

They could also be used in a similar way with their jump packs on in a jump themed army they could run around with a few meltaguns trying to blow things up. Otherwise the jump assault units in the Elites section are just so much better in close combat, that this unit really isn't worth considering for that role.

Bike Squads
Everyone knows how good these can be with a load of grav guns and they are just as good here. I personally don't like bike armies, partly because everyone runs them at tournaments and partly because Space Marines on motorbikes is just a bit weird.

Two more posts to go then to wrap the review up. I'll be interrupting it again briefly to review the year and write up my hobby resolutions for the new one.

Sunday, December 28, 2014

New 7th Edition Blood Angels Codex Review - Elites (Part 2 of 2)

Back on track with the review series and onto the second part of the Elites section. I'm certainly finding it useful to know what I'm going to be facing next time Matt and I play.

Only difference this has over any other Space Marine dread is that it has Furious Charge. Not important for a dreadnought, I suppose it also has initiative 5 on the charge if part of Baal detachment. But all this is pointless discussion as no-one will run them when they are in the same slot as the following two selections….

Death Company Dreadnought
I love the idea of a dreadnought falling to the Black Rage and rampaging through the enemy ranks. I think that the rules for the Death Company Dread do it justice and definitely make it a viable choice in a very crowded Elites slot.

Get one of these to charge into combat and it will do immense damage to a unit. On the charge it has 6 attacks at initiative 5 (Baal) with S10 AP2. Give him talons and he will also re-roll wounds. He ignores Shaken and Stunned and can take magna grapples which will help him get there too. But this of course is the main weakness of a dreadnought, getting them there. They will be a prime target to any heavy weapons fire that your opponent has, so what are your options? Well you could run several dreadnoughts in your army, I already discussed the possibility of running 6 (7 with Cassor the Damned as a troop selection) maximum including 4 Elites and 2 libby dread HQ’s. This is extreme of course, but it is reasonable to run a few in drop pods and have them all come down turn one, this gives your opponent too many targets and should allow some to get in to combat and start wrecking stuff. Your other option is a Stormraven, put one in raven and it can assault straight out, this coupled with the ravens manoeuvrability should ensure the dreadnought gets into combat as long as the raven survives long enough. The other problem with this idea of course is that it has to be in reserve, which sometimes means it doesn't arrive until turn 4, which also means the dread can't charge until turn 5, which is a complete waste and a massive points sink. You could make this less likely to happen by having something that helps reserves to arrive such as the Descent of Angels warlord trait, which Dante has. Even so I personally prefer dropping a few dreads on top of my opponent  turn 1, but I would also use the Stormraven method, especially if only running a single Dreadnought.

Furioso Dreadnought
There is an interesting comparison to be made here between the Furioso and the DC dreadnoughts, as they are both exactly the same points value, but both have very different rules and stats.

So lets say we kit them both out exactly the same way, with two blood talons:

Kitted in this way the DC dread gets 6 attacks on the charge at WS4 I5 S10 AP2, re-roll wounds. Against a WS4 opponent that gives 3 hits and 3 wounds. When not charging he will get 2 hits and 2 wounds.

Furioso on the charge gets 4 attacks at WS5 I5 S10 AP2, re-roll wounds. Against WS4 opponent will get 2.67 hits and 2.67 wounds. When not charging he will get 2 hits and 2 wounds.

So when fighting WS4 oppoents with this loadout both are closely matched, but the DC dread edges it offensively with the potential to get many more hits and wounds if you have some lucky rolls. However defensively the Furioso has the edge, just because it is AV13 compared to the DC dreads AV12, the DC dread ignores Shaken and Stunned, but this is nowhere near as good as the extra armour point on the front, which is especially good in close combat, it makes even power fists and thunder hammers struggle sometimes. Of course the other thing to consider is that not all opponents are WS4 and any other WS will tip the balance even more in favour of the DC dread in terms of damage output, for example if assaulting a vehicle then the DC dread has a much better chance of wrecking it. But the main selling point of the Furioso for me is the AV13, it makes it so much more durable, which is what dreadnoughts need. AV13 rules out any weapon below strength 7 and makes strength 7 weapons (the most common strength of weapons capable of doing damage) half as likely to do any damage, and incapable of penetrating. (don't forget WS5 also adds to the defense as it's more likely your opponent will be hitting on 4s and riptides etc will be hitting on 5+ - ed.)

The other reason I like Furiosos is because you can give them frag cannons. Many people don't like these, but I do. It's a 2 shot strength 6 Rending flamer, what's not to love? Equip your Furioso with a frag cannon and heavy flamer and put him in a drop pod, 4 high strength flame templates straight out of the pod turn one and the dreadnought is still very capable is combat too.

Vanguard Veterans
These are the 4th option for a fast moving hard hitting squad, after looking at DC, Command Squads and Sanguinary Guard. If you are only wanting a small 5 man unit then any of the other 3 options are better than vanguards. For example a 5 man command squad with jump packs is 15 points more than a 5 man vanguard squad with jump packs. For the 15 points extra you get a champion with a power sword and combat shield (and better WS) and Feel No Pain as standard for the unit, otherwise they have the same stats and access to similar wargear (with some unit specific options). So for a small unit don't bother with these.

However if you are wanting to run a specialised 10 man unit then vanguard vets are the way to do it. They can all have thunder hammers and storm shields if you want or they could all have dual inferno pistols. Obviously this is massively expensive, but you can do it.

Sternguard Veterans
It is worth noting that a 5 man unit of BA Sternguard are 10 points cheaper than regular space marine Sternguard, which is nice. I definitely think these are still worth consideration for many lists. The special issue ammunition is as always very versatile and the ability to kit them out with loads of combi-meltas is always attractive. Of course they can now be put with a priest to make them more survivable plus the WS boost coupled with Furious Charge makes them pretty decent in combat too.

That wraps up the Elites section then. Onto the last couple of articles covering Fast, Heavy and Lords of War. I'll try and get Matt to wrap the series up with some discussion about list building and general tactics. 

Friday, December 26, 2014

Comp in 7th Edition - Does Highlander Work Now?

Matt has been taken down by Nurgle's Rot so in a change to the advertised Blood Angels review I'd like to talk today about comp.

Whenever you're planning a 40K tournament the concept of "comp" rears its ugly head. The problem is that it's a necessary evil thanks to the way the 40K rules are "designed". Let's look first at what comp actually is and why it came about.

A Brief History of Comp (well since I started playing competitively)
The competitive 40K scene has, at least during my period of involvement, been dominated by "netlists", "cheese", "spam" or whatever term you care to use. Back in 5th edition when I started my competitive journey there was very little in the way of comp. Some tournaments used to ban special characters (which is why Blog Wars went in the opposite direction, making them compulsory) but generally speaking there weren't many restrictions to how you could compose your army. This was largely due to GW having restricted things quite a bit themselves.

The Force Organisation chart was a universal constant meaning everyone had to bring Troops and HQ. Of course there were mechanisms for shifting things around e.g. Baron making Hellions troops but generally speaking everyone was singing from the same hymn sheet. Not only that but people could only choose from a single codex (imagine that eh?). That doesn't mean to say there weren't dirty combos but nothing like the kind we see now. Each new codex seemed to bring the new power army. Space Wolves with their long fang missile spam, Blood Angels with Mephiston and hard hitting durable assault troops, Grey Knights with Coteaz and razorback spam and finally Necrons with well, pretty much everything in the book. Your army had their moment in the sun and then were quickly replaced. Comp never seemed to show itself that often. You either brought the latest book or struggled. That's a sweeping generalisation of course but that's how it felt a lot of the time.

The advent of 6th edition brought allies back to the game (they'd been around in earlier editions). The dirty combo was reborn with people picking and choosing from books to bring the best they could find. There was still codex creep with Tau, Eldar, etc but nothing like as drastic as in 5th. Comp started to become a lot more necessary with some hideous combos around. This was a particular problem towards the end of 6th with the many "death stars": Farsight bomb, O'Vesastar, Screamerstar, etc that were around.

Roll on 7th edition (sooner than we thought) and GW actually, at first glance at least, had taken steps to make these combinations more difficult. The Tau plus Eldar/SM/etc combos were stopped by removing Battle Brothers and hence psychic powers. What I hadn't quite realised on my first read through the rulebook was that GW had totally fucked up everything else about army selection. If you write your list to the letter of their rules there are practically no restrictions even if you're avoiding Unbound. As ever, where GW fails to restrict army selection the community steps in and finds it's own way. Comp is now present in pretty much every 40K tournament to a greater or lesser extent. In some cases it's simply limiting to two detachments, in others Lords of War are banned, etc etc. Either way it's very difficult to run an event without at least partially restricting army building. Still, the word "comp" is still banded around as if it's a dirty concept. No one likes being told what to do but it's a necessary evil.

The Trouble with Comp
Before any discussion on good or bad comp it's worth saying that there is no perfect system. It can't be done. Of course there are better methods than others but 40K is, by it's very nature, imperfect. As much as people whinge about it it's the reason people love it. They may not realise it but if this game were perfectly balanced it would lose a lot of its charm. There will always be a rock-paper-scissors element to the game.

The basic problem with comp is that no matter what method you use, there'll always be some factions that come off better than others. Restrict allies and some armies struggle, ban formations and other forces find it difficult to compete. Of course, that doesn't mean we shouldn't strive to make everyone happy but as long as we realise that this too is impossible. Over the course of the eight Blog Wars events I've run so far I've come to accept that no matter what I try to do there'll be people I piss off. I've always tried to run an event that isn't overly competitive but instead promotes a friendly atmosphere. My overriding technique is to make the raffle prizes (which you can win by just showing up) better than the tournament prizes. This hopefully encourages people to write their lists and play their games in the spirit of the event. I still have to restrict army selection though.

I doubt many tournament organisers sit there and say "how can I screw over Eldar players today" but that's generally the response from the community. Generally speaking TOs want to try and make their events enjoyable. No matter how difficult I find it to understand, some people want to bring a list that is dull for both themselves and their opponents. Seriously how much fun is it to bring 15 broadsides and simply shoot your opponent off the board? Why would you even buy the models? I could perhaps understand if the top prizes at events were into the hundreds of pounds but for the money, time and effort that goes into a 40K army I want to actually enjoy myself. Anyway, I digress.

Does Highlander Work Now?
For those of you not familiar with it Highlander comp says "there can be only one" just like in the films. That means no duplication. In its purest form it's that simple but often there are exceptions such as transports. In older editions Highlander didn't really work, in my opinion at least. This was because of Troops being (pretty much) the only scoring units. Those armies with just a couple of Troop choices struggled because they could only ever have two scoring units and most of the time one (or both) of those choices was poor anyway. Some versions of Highlander addressed this by only limiting non-Troops units but that too has its problems.

Well in 7th edition everything is scoring. Well pretty much everything. It's amazing how often you have to make that statement in 40K, you can never say something without saying "most of the time" or "pretty much". Anyway, with everything scoring the Troops issue isn't such a big deal. Of course there's still a 1 HQ and 2 Troops requirement but it isn't so bad if you know you can minimise it without hampering your army too much. It's obviously much easier if you combine it with Allies but does it work for a single faction?

I actually think it does for the most part. There are armies that will find it easier than others but looking through the list of codices I think most would be able to make it work. Dark Eldar will struggle since they rely on being able to spam things like Venoms but even so with formations and faction specific detachments they can probably make it work. Remember that you're going to be playing other Highlander lists so you're not going to meet 5 daemon princes, three wraithknights, three riptides or 3 hive crones. It's difficult to get out of that mindset but I think most armies could compete. Of course there'll be armies that are stronger than others. Tau spring to mind as they have such a wealth of viable options. Eldar aren't quite so devastating without multiple wave serpents and wraithknights but even so they're strong. Generally speaking I'm a fan of anything that forces you to think outside the box a bit without relying on netlists.

Will I use it at Blog Wars though? Well frankly no. The event has its own character and making it Highlander is a big step. I think the current army restriction works pretty well (although I will be tweaking it) so I don't see a need to change things. I would like to try a couple of Highlander events though. Next week I'm having a few games with Matt where I'll put it to the test and I'm going to take a Highlander list to a regular tournament to see if it can hold its own.

Wednesday, December 24, 2014

New 7th Edition Blood Angels Codex Review - Elites (Part 1 of 2)

Since the Elites section is considerably more chunky than the Troops portion of the book, Matt has broken it into two posts. The first today and the next on Boxing Day. This is probably the most important section of the book and even more so when the BA faction detachment lets you take an extra Elite choice. Here goes....

Command Squad
These will definitely see some use in Blood Angel armies. The main reason for this is the fact that the squad comes with a Sanguinary Novitiate who gives the squad Feel No Pain. This means that you do not have to buy a Sanguinary Priest for the unit and can attach an Independent Character so that he also gets FNP. This is not the only reason to run this squad of course, another popular choice will be to equip the 3 Veterans in the unit with dual pistols, this will allow the unit to fire 6 grav, plasma, melta or flame template shots while still retaining the extra bonus attack each for carrying two CC weapons. The other option is to equip them with storm shields which can be very effective against some armies that rely on low AP firepower or low AP melee attacks. Obviously these loudouts come with a price, which is the price, each veteran with 2 pistols or a storm shield and fancy CC weapon will cost a lot of points and are still no more survivable against high AP shooting than regular marines. Overall I do like this unit and the potential it has and it does certainly its purpose, which is of course protecting and supporting your commander.

Death Company
One of the best units in the codex, perhaps the best. They are 20 points per model, but I suspect most people will run them with jump packs at 23 points per model, so lets consider that setup. For 23 points you get a model that can move 12" before charging which gives him a very good chance of getting himself into a position where he can get a charge off against the enemy. When he does charge he gets 5 attacks at strength 5 initiative 5 (if in Baal detachment, which lets face it, he is). So pretty good offensively, but then defensively he is Fearless and has Feel No Pain in addition to his regular marine hardiness. No this was assuming that you had run him with 2 close combat weapons, but you could of course make use of his other special rule, relentless, and give him a boltgun, which loses him an attack but makes him more dangerous at range and means he can still charge after firing.

So even without any upgrades the Death Company are pretty awesome, but they can get even better. First of all any number of marines can take power weapons/fists and thunder hammer, plus they can take any of the special pistols. Now you obviously shouldn't be equipping a full ten man squad with power fists as it makes the unit far too expensive, but 3 or 4 in a 10 man unit is reasonable (and devastating).

The other upgrade to the squad has already been mentioned, and that is putting a Chaplain in there, preferably the high chaplain, Astorath. Run a 10 man unit of Death Company with him attached and there isn't much in 40K that could withstand their charge. Running just 3 power fists/hammers in the unit would give 35 S5 I5 attacks that re-roll to hit and to wound plus 12 S9 I1 attacks that re-roll to hit and wound, plus Astoraths 4 attacks at S6 I1 that re-roll to hit and could cause Instant Death. You get the idea.

I mentioned this guy in the HQ section. I think on first look you will probably think why would I bother, but if you are running an army with 2 big squads of Death Company then this is your (second) man. Astorath should really be first choice for buffing DC units, but I if you want to buff 2 units then I think Lemartes is a better choice than a regular Chaplain, this is of course assuming that you are running your DC with jump packs. If you run a regular Chaplain with a jump pack he comes in at 105 points, so that makes Lemartes 25 points more, so what do you get for that? Well his stats are exactly the same, except for his Initiative which is 2 points higher! He also has all the same special rules plus a few extras that come from being lost to the Black Rage: FNP, Rage and Relentless. He also has his own special rule that gives him +1 to his strength and attacks when injured. So on his own he will put out 5 S7 I7 attacks on the charge, but only at AP4 (although his weapon is master crafted), plus he confers the re-roll to hit to the Death Company unit he is attached to on the charge. So really when you think about it 25 points isn't much for all those extra bonuses over a regular Chaplain, definitely worth taking if you are already running Astorath as well and want to run 2 or more Death Company units. Otherwise though probably not as Astorath is a better choice for a single unit of Death Company, although he does save you an HQ slot and is cheaper, so he could be considered an alternative to Astorath for those reasons.

Sanguinary Guard
I've already stated that I think that this unit is probably second choice for me when choosing a jump assaulty unit, and that is probably joint with a command sqaud. I think DC are the best value and I also think that a Command Squad is good value due to already having the medic in there. This unit is probably still going to be some players first choice though and for good reason. 33 points per model isn't actually bad for a jump infantry marine with a master crafted power sword/axe and 2+ armour. To kit out a Vanguard Veteran with a power sword and jump pack costs 37 points and he only has a 3+ save, but he has an extra attack, which is better than master crafted of course. This leads me on to my annoyance at their weapons, they are called encarmine swords/axes, which makes them sound better than a power sword or axe, but they are actually worse, just because they are two handed. Yes they are master crafted, but the extra attack is better because sometimes all 3 attacks will hit and even if they don't you have more chance hitting twice with 3 dice than you do with 2 even when you can re-roll a result of a 1. Also I've never really understood why Sanguinary Guard aren't weapon skill 5 when they are "the best the chapter has to offer"?!?

But saying that they are still a really solid choice and with the Fearless rule and their 2+ armour they offer excellent protection and support for Independent Characters. They can also take power fists for a 10 point upgrade (a good idea to take at least one) and the other good upgrade is a Chapter Banner, which gives everyone in the unit +1 attack, extra good when someone like Dante is attached to the squad…..

Right more Blood Angels after Christmas. Let me take this opportunity to wish all of you guys a very Merry Christmas. I will, of course, be interrupting the BA review to bring you my review of the year and hobby resolutions (a.k.a delusions). Whatever you're doing I hope you have a good one that's filled with plenty of time for hobby/gaming! 

Monday, December 22, 2014

New 7th Edition Blood Angels Codex Review - Troops

A very short post tonight for a very short section of the codex. On a personal note I still find it frustrating that some books have just two options for Troops whereas others, such as Eldar, have an array of options. Anyway, here are Matt's thoughts:

The troops section only contains Tactical Squads and Scouts. Now, often players these days will just run Scouts as they are the cheapest and offer other bonuses such as Scout and Infiltrate for getting onto objectives etc. However, in this codex I do think tactical squads are worth more consideration. This is mainly because they have access to heavy flamers. Heavy flamers are great at the moment, many armies run large and/or many infantry squads and often these have low armour ratings and rely on cover, even against heavy armour flamers are good just because they can cause a lot of wounds from a single shot. In addition to this it is worth noting that a heavy flamer is an Assault weapon, this makes it the only heavy weapon that can be fired before charging into combat, which suits the Blood Angels down to the ground. If you really wanted to go template crazy a full 10 man squad can fire 4 flame templates if you take a heavy flamer, flamer and a sergeant with 2 hand flamers (or a 5 man squad with 3 templates of course)! Drop that out of a pod next to a cover hugging infantry unit and watch it disappear.

Also don't forget tactical marines, like everything else in the codex, have Furious Charge which makes them much better than regular marines on the charge. I think I will probably run a mixture of Tacticals and Scouts in my lists, Scouts still have a place and are very useful (even if that utility just comes in the form of keeping points costs down).

Generally speaking then the Troops section here is the same as in the SM book. We all know that if they weren't compulsory we wouldn't take them any more. Since the faction detachment is pretty much a given there's no Objective Secured to worry about so I'm thinking the general rule of thumb will be min-max with basic Scout units. The Elites section is more interesting....

Saturday, December 20, 2014

New 7th Edition Blood Angels Codex Review - HQ (Part 2 of 2)

Today Matt continues his look at the HQ section of the new Blood Angels codex:

The Sanguinor

I could never really decide whether or not I liked the idea of the Sanguinor. I don't really get what he is supposed to be, not sure he fits with the rest of the army. Anyway, if you are running this guy then it should be alongside an infantry heavy army for 2 reasons. One is that his warlord trait gives all friendly units with 12” Fearless and the other (better) reason is that he gives all models within 6” an extra attack. So if you run him alongside a load of Death Company, Sanguinary Guard or Veterans he will boost the attacks of the surrounding units quite a bit. Obviously it would have been nice for him to give it to all units within 6” as realistically he is going to have to be in the same combat most of the time in order to confer the bonus. His real downside is his lack of Independent Character. If you couple this with that fact that he is only toughness 4 and 3 wounds you quickly realise that he is just going to get shot down fairly quickly by any army with even a mediocre amount of ranged firepower, even with his 2+ and 4++. Then if and when he does reach combat he isn't actually that devastating anyway, only 5 attacks on the charge at S6 AP3, Mephiston is much more dangerous and has much more potential. I think the only reason people may consider running him is to boost surrounding squads with Fearless and +1 A, but even that doesn't really warrant his price tag when you consider the other options available in HQ.

I really wanted Astorath to be good in this codex as I love the model but never used him with the previous codex. On first look I was a little disappointed but after writing some lists I find myself putting him in nearly every time, why? Because Death Company are so good. Death Company are one of the best units in the codex in my opinion and Astorath makes them even better. He has Zealot which gives them re-roll to hit on the charge plus he allows them to re-roll wounds too! So put him with a large unit and they will put out a huge amount of damage on the charge.

And actually although I was a little disappointed at first with the fact that his axe is unwieldy, he still has loads of potential in combat mainly due to the fact that his axe also causes Instant Death on a roll of a 6 to wound. Also, although he only gets 4 attacks on the charge, he is S6 AP2 and so when you think about those attacks (that are potentially Instant Death) added to the attacks of the big DC squad he is with he starts to become a very attractive choice for HQ.

Sanguinary Priest
I haven't found myself putting these guys into many of the lists that I have written so far, this could be because I am tending to lean on Death Company squads to be my infantry, but also I think it is because I'm not wanting to use a HQ slot up on them. I do however think that they are a very good choice with the right unit. Remember that although the +1 weapon skill bonus does not apply to allies, the Feel No Pain bonus does, so this is a way of getting Feel No Pain on to allied squads as well as BA ones. In terms of which BA units to run them with, really I think that they only ones that would really benefit are Vanguard or Sternguard squads because they are likely going to be pretty expensive anyway and so it would be worth spending the extra points on a priest to give them the extra survivability and, for Vanguards especially, the WS bonus. Command Squads are going to be quite popular and they already have their own mini priest, so its not worth it for them and Death Company already have Feel No Pain so 75 points to give a jump Death Company squad +1 WS is just not worth it, especially if they are being run with Astorath or a regular Chaplain as with the re-rolls to hit that they have already +1 WS would only net the squad another few hits on the charge, plus not all enemy squads are WS4, so then it is a complete waste. Better to spend the points on more Death Company instead.

Brother Corbulo
He is basically the same as a priest except his stats are better, for example he is initiative 8 on the charge if he is warlord and in a Baal detachment!! Plus he has 1 more wound and 1 better BS. Also he has a +1 strength Rending chainsword, which is nice. But the best thing about him is that his chalice has an area of effect, so all BA units within 6” gain +1 initiative and +1 weapon skill (note he still only confers FNP to his squad). Now these bonuses sound great and they are if he has a few units within range, but the downside here is that he is just Infantry, if he had a jump pack I think he would see much more use, but in 7th edition speed is really important, especially for close combat units so Corbulo just isn't going to keep up. Perhaps he could be dropped in via Drop Pod with a unit ready to boost onrushing assault squads when they reach him. Or he could be used to boost a couple of key units that are dropped in or assaulting from Land Raider. His other ability is that he allows you to re-roll one die per game, which is really nice just for Seize the Initiative or for re-rolling a reserve roll, it could be game changing, but probably won't be. Just remember he is twice the cost of a regular priest and you have to wonder if the +1 Initiative boost is really necessary when you already have a boost from the Baal detachment, the boost from Corbulo is there all the time, not just on the charge, so it could be important in the right circumstances.

Techmarine and Chaplain
I'm not going to bother going through these as they are the same as in every other Space Marine codex, except for the fact that the Chaplain may see more use here if you don’t have the points for Astorath or you are running two units of death company, but if you are doing that then maybe Lemartes is a better choice…….

That's it for the HQ section of the book then. At the start of next week Matt will be looking at the Troops portion of the book. Once again, I hope you're enjoying this series.

Thursday, December 18, 2014

New 7th Edition Blood Angels Codex Review - HQ (Part 1 of 2)

Welcome back to the Blood Angels codex review. In this second guest post, Matt will start to look at the units in the new BA book beginning with the HQ section. Since this is a pretty meaty portion of the book Matt has decided to split it into two posts with part 2 coming later in the week. I hope you enjoy...

No-one runs SM Captains generally. I think it's because they don't benefit the rest of the army in any way and Chapter Masters are a better choice if running regular marines. I think that the same is true here, there are better HQ options and I can't think of a good reason to run a Captain over one of the special characters or a Librarian/Priest. Even with the relics they are not that much better in combat than a Librarian or Priest who can also take  relics.

These will see some use, especially when run alongside beatstick characters (explained below). The downside is no access to Telepathy and therefore they can't cast, everyone's favourite power, Invisibility. However, the Blood Angel powers themselves are actually pretty good (well half of them are):

  1. Fear of Darkness was my favourite power back in 5th ed. and it is still really good now. Even a unit with leadership 10 is made to take a test on leadership 8, which is very easy to fail. Proper use of this power on units close to the board edge can cause those units to run off the board (I still remember destroying a large unit of Alex's thunderwolves with this power back in 5th by doing just that! (thanks for reminding me - ed.)) At the very least against non-ATSKNF or Fearless units it can break them, making them pretty useless for a turn 
  2. Unleash Rage – this is great when cast on any unit, but especially nice on Death Company. Run a large unit of Death Company and hope to roll this. +1 attack for the entire unit on a unit that already has a shed load of attacks, great.
  3. Shield is now a 5++ save, a bit weak compared to some of the other powers especially since it only effects the psyker's own unit. If it had a radius of effect then it would be great, but as it is it's OK, and will be useful in some circumstances, but overall with the current meta of high volume fire it's not that great
  4. Blood Boil - pretty similar to Haemorrhage from Biomancy, both are warp charge 2 and both are probably the worst power in their respective discipline. I don't know why they thought it was worthy of warp charge 2, but saying that Blood Boil is slightly better due to the large blast explosion if the model dies. Against most units it won't be a worry but against low toughness low armour save units such as Kroot or various Eldar it could wreak havoc and potentially almost destroy the unit or cause enough damage to make them run due to the blast also ignoring cover.
  5. Blood Lance – pretty good, shame its not 18” range though, beams are much better now that they don't drop in strength after every hit. Get a few models lined up with this and see them vanish, even multi wound T4 models have to worry due to it being strength 8. AP1 gives it a decent chance of one-shotting a vehicle (or 2 if they're next to each other)
  6. Wings – same as levitation, great if your Libby is with a shooty unit with shortish range, also not bad if he is with a CC unit who needs to get up the field sharpish, just a shame that you can't assault after the move. But wait! Levitation is only warp charge 1 while this power is warp charge 2. That's not fair I hear you cry but what you may have missed is the fact that wings can be cast on any friendly unit within 12”, that makes this power much more useful and random units suddenly moving an extra 12” is likely something that your opponent won't see coming!
  7. (Primaris) Quickening – an excellent primaris power if used correctly. I suggest running your BA Librarian with a big beat stick character (*cough* Dante) and cast this on him, turns him into an absolute beast! Of course there are plenty of other Imperial beat sticks out there so choose one you fancy beefing up and get this cast on them. For example, Draigo would enjoy having 8 attacks on the charge at initiative 8!!

I think I will mostly run these just as ML1 with a jump pack to go with a large CC squad and another character to beef up. I think that this is the best option as you can guarantee getting the primaris and so you may as well make use of it and the other power he gets will either make the squad even better in combat or it will give the unit a bit more utility in the form of an offensive ranged attack.

What. The. Hell. What kind of Blood Angel Captain goes around without any form of close combat weapon? Especially considering Erasmus Tycho is supposed to be a crazy bastard bloodthirsty killing machine who goes absolutely mental and falls to the black rage, but apparantly doesn't like knives. I don't get it, he's loads of points for a Captain with a one shot long ranged melta, WHAT?

Librarian Dreadnought
I used to love these when they could fly. Not anymore, decent idea but I can't make my mind up about them. I think most of the Sanguinary powers work best when the librarian is in a squad and half the Biomancy powers won't work, you aren't gonna use him to summon Daemons, so that leaves Pyromany which is rubbish or Divination where some of the powers are pretty useless. What also annoys me here is the fact that it gets less attacks than a regular Furioso due to the force halberd not being a specialist weapon and so not giving an extra attack for 2 weapons. I suppose Force is nice for killing MC's and armour 13 is very hard to get through these days in CC due to the changes to the Smash rule. He would still be annihilated by a Wraithknight though, but should take it with him if he charged at initiative 5 due to the Baal detachment, fairly unlikely scenario though. It's a shame but unless you are running a dread heavy list (which this is actually great for as it allows you to have 6 dreads in your detachment) then I think a regular Librarian is a better choice.

This is my favourite character in 40K, I knew he would get toned down stat-wise but I also thought he would get an AP2 sword, oh well, there is still some good stuff here. He is still an absolute beast and without comparing to how he used to be (which I'm trying not to do remember?) his statline is pretty hefty. The big thing to realise here is that he is an ML3 psyker and he has a statline which rivals many other beatstick characters out there. He still has 6 attacks on the charge and if he takes the Quickening he can boost this up to a potential 9 attacks at initiative 8!! Plus he always has the option of being S10. But if you are going to run him then a much better option is to roll on Biomancy, except for Haemorrhage every power in there is good for Mephi, but obviously what you really want is Iron Srm, this power will give you the old Mephiston back, maybe even better than before with T8 S8 and AP2 attacks. Best scenario is probably Iron arm and Warp Speed if he is protected in a squad, this would make him S10 T8 I8 A8 (9 on charge) and AP2 Force! Nice!!!

Which brings me on to one of his downsides, which is his AP3 sword, but then again that only really matters against Terminators, which lets face it he would struggle against anyway due to his lack of invulnerable save and their abundance of fists and hammers and probably storm shields. Characters and Dreadknights are the only other things that really have 2+ armour and could cause him problems, but don’t forget that his sword is also Force and so one failed save will normally mean instant death, but of course gambling on the fact that your opponent will roll a one is very risky (better to just roll iron arm).

His other downside is his mobility. It is difficult to get him into combat as he is just regular infantry, although he does have Fleet which helps a bit. He is probably best used attached to a decent shooty unit as a counter charge model and gradually moved up to wreck things as the game goes on.

In summary, this guy is still a beast and will make a mess of most units and vehicles in CC, plus he is hard to take down due to being an IC and has the potential to be absolutely ridiculous in combat.

Come back later in the week for the rest of the review of the HQ section and remember that Matt will be working his way through the entire codex over the next few posts. I hope you're enjoying the series so far, don't forget to post comments/queries below.

Tuesday, December 16, 2014

New 7th Edition Blood Angels Codex Review - General Overview

Firstly an apology for the absence of any posts recently. I've recently picked up an Xbox One (as an early Christmas present) so I've been playing quite a bit of Madden etc. which has eaten up my blogging (and hobby) time. I'll return in full force in the new year though. 

Meanwhile, this is the first post in another guest post series by Matt as, like with the Grey Knights, he's far more familiar with their rules and how to use them to great effect on the battlefield. Over to Matt...

Hello everyone, I've returned for another codex review on Alex’s blog due to my favourite (and first ever) army getting a new codex.

This is my second review after doing the GK codex a while back. I will be sticking to the same format of first looking at army wide rules and wargear before moving onto units one FOC section at a time. I will only be reviewing units that are unique to Blood Angels (or have unique abilities etc.) as we all know what a space marine bike squad does or a drop pod, although they may get mentioned when discussing tactics and army choices.

I also like to try and review the codex based on its own merit without too much comparison to how it was before. It is irrelevant how it was before because those rules are now obsolete, a much more useful thing is to look at how the rules in this codex will work in 7th when compared to other current armies, which is the angle I will look at it from.

Army Wide Special Rules
Combat squads – I only mention this to point out that neither Sanguinary Guard nor Death Company squads have this rule. Death Company perhaps makes sense as they are a bit too mental to tactically break off into smaller units, but you would think Sanguinary Guard would be able to.

Furious Charge – Everyone in the codex has this, which is great and really makes sense for Blood Angels. That extra strength on the charge really makes a difference too especially when charging with a large number of attacks (don't forget this doesn't work on disordered charges).

Warlord Traits
Most of these only affect the warlord and so the table is somewhat similar to the personal table in the main rulebook.

  1. Warlord has Rampage – a bit rubbish, your warlord is often going to be in a unit and so you often won't even get the benefit.
  2. Warlord gets +1 Initiative – Also a bit rubbish, your warlord's initiative will already be quite high, it could make a difference sometimes and is better than the previous one I suppose.
  3. Make a weapon master crafted – perhaps the worst one yet? Re-roll one dice to hit if it's a one. It's fluffy as Blood Angels like to make stuff, but they could have done something better than this like +1 strength to a weapon or something
  4. Warlord has Adamantium Will – now sometimes this really does help, but its still a rubbish trait, if someone really wants to get a power off against you they often will and +1 to Deny is not going to help, sometimes you will roll this when the opponent doesn't even have any psykers.
  5. Descent of Angels – finally a good trait! All skimmers, flyers and jump units re-roll reserve rolls. This is excellent, even if it's just to get your Stormraven in. Plus D6” less scatter on jump and skimmer Deep Strike, which is also great and allows for much riskier deep striking to get those meltaguns in range or to stop enemy units getting out of charge range
  6. All armies of Imperium units are fearless within 12”. This could be awesome if used correctly. The warlord could be in the middle of an Astra Militarum infantry army for example, making the entire army fearless.

The best one here is clearly number 5, which thankfully is Dante's warlord trait....

Most unit specific wargear I will cover when I come to review that specific unit. But there are a few Blood Angel only pieces which can be purchased for a range of units that I want to look at:

Overcharged Engines – One of the best things in the entire codex! Make any vehicle (except Land Raiders) gain the 'fast' unit type. Awesome! Especially on Whirlwinds…… OK, not Whirlwinds (unless the only opponents you play are Orks). But Vindicators really do benefit from this upgrade. A Vindicator always seems great on paper with a S10 AP2 large blast, until you remember its only 24” range. But make a Vindicator Fast and now it can move 12” before firing giving it an effective 36” range, much more viable.

However, my favourite always has been, and probably still is, Fast Predators. Many people will think that making a predator Fast is not worth it, these people are wrong. Making it fast allows you to move it up to 6” and still fire all weapons, this is infinitely better than pivoting on the spot for getting firing solutions and for making it harder for close assault units to get to you and to hit you if they do. Also you can move 12” and still fire 2 of the weapons on full BS compared to all on snap shot without overcharged engines. Predators can be kitted out in many different ways and are perhaps a little underrated at the moment. I used to run mine with autocannon turret and lascannon sponsons, but with the changes to vehicle damage and lower costs I actually think that the classic predator annihilator (all lascannons) is the best way to kit them out for tank and MC hunting. The other way to kit them out is autocannon and heavy bolter sponsons, which puts out 8 shots per turn, 3 of these gives you loads of dakka and will cause massive damage against infantry heavy armies.

Don't forget being Fast allows BA vehicles to deliver passengers and get to objectives much quicker. A Fast Rhino with objective secured could be a game winner.

Magna Grapple – These are great, giving dreadnoughts Move Through Cover all the time and also Fleet when charging vehicles really makes a dreadnought a more tempting option. I'll cover this in more detail when I get to dreadnoughts in the elite section.

Relics of Baal
I'll only talk about the ones that are perhaps worth considering here:

Angels Wing – a jump pack with re-roll scatter (this coupled with Descent of Angels is almost as good as not scattering). Plus can only be Snap Shot when intercepted, makes landing next to Riptides safer (assuming you can kill it before the Tau player's next turn). Also, re-roll results on mishap table makes risking those tight Deep Strike spots much safer. This is definitely worth considering if you plan on deep striking a jump unit in.

Veritas Vitae – gives another roll on Strategic table. If you are not taking a special character as warlord then I suggest taking this and rolling on the Strategic table twice. It is the best warlord trait chart in 40K at the moment so getting two traits from it is great (especially when a CAD will give you a re-roll on the first one - ed.).

Gallian's Staff – this is just like the Liber Daemonica in the GK codex in that it allows you to re-roll 1s when making psychic tests. This is great except it causes an automatic wound if you re-roll a one into a one, which happens to me regularly, so I think I’ll be steering clear. Not bad for the points though I suppose

Valours Edge – for 5 points more than a power sword this is well worth it. I would argue that it is as good if not better than a power fist in many situations. Allows you to strike at Initiative and gives the additional attack if paired with a pistol. This is the sword that Mephiston should have :(

Baal Strike Force
As a BA player you should always run this detachment over a CAD. It is same as a Combined Arms Detachment except that you have to have at least one Elite and can have up to 4, which is nice for lots of Dreadnoughts or Death Company etc. But what makes this detachment great is the +1 Initiative to all BA units on the charge for the entire game. This puts all units on at least Initiative 5, which is above most other armies average initiative. Couple this with Furious Charge and loads of attacks and you will be able to create units that can potentially wipe out enemy units before they can even strike back!

That's it for the first post then. Matt will return in a couple of days with a look at the HQ section. Feel free to post comments here and I'll get Matt to respond. I hope you enjoy the review and that it helps see the silver lining in this book.

Thursday, December 04, 2014

Tournament Report - Allies of Convenience (1,650pt - Teams)

Firstly, apologies for the lack of posts recently. With my limited free time last week I was concentrating on trying to get my Tau army ready for this tournament. Since it was a team event and A LOT of the guys there were ETC players we knew we'd need to bring out the best armies we could to even be competitive. That meant I needed to convert up some more marker drones, paint Farsight, convert an existing commander into a buff commander (i.e. break off the weapons and stick on sensors), repair a damaged riptide (his arm fell off) and finally buy, build and paint a sky ray. I also had to spray Matt's C'tan too! Suffice to say I haven't found the time to blog!

This was my first event at the beautiful (but freezing cold) Sanctuary Gaming Centre. It's a disused gothic church turned into a gaming centre (hence the dark pictures) which makes for the perfect setting and the "all you can eat" lunch didn't hurt! Tempting me to move venue for Blog Wars! Anyway, there were 10 teams of 4 players who would be paired up over 5 rounds. In each round you had some control over what each of your lists was facing and the added dimension of bluff and double bluff was a welcome change from other events. Each team could only feature each codex once. Our lists were the following:

Tau (Me)
Farsight, 4 bodyguard, buff commander, two riptides, crisis missile team with markers, two kroot units and two sky rays.

Necrons/Assassins (Matt)
Overlord, veil/haywire court, two 5-man warrior units, 3 annihilation barges, transcendent c'tan with seismic shockwave, seismic assault, wave of withering and a culexus assassin

Eldar/SM (Frank)
Farseer on bike, 3 wave serpents with dire avengers, two wraithknights, CM on bike, 6-man bike squad.

Daemons/CSM (Rob)
Two flying nurgle DPs, 2x 10 horrors, 3 soul grinders, CSM nurgle DP, 5 nurgle CSM, mauler fiend.

The tournament was using what I understand are the UKGT missions which have a primary mission (Eternal War), secondary mission (Maelstrom) and tertiary mission (secondary objectives e.g. linebreaker). To get the maximum 20 points from a round you needed to win all three but could still win without. When I first read the pack it came across as a bit confusing but once I was into it I actually quite liked the system. Matt and I have never played with tactical objectives before as we think they're too random, however, with the reduced deck employed here I think they work pretty well (more on that later).

Round 1 - Tau vs. Tyranids/Eldar
I was paired against Nathan Roberts and his flying tyranids with eldar. We thought this would be a pretty decent matchup for me but hadn't reckoned on the eldar being used to summon daemons. To add to the problem Nathan rolled the infiltrate warlord trait bringing his crones right in front of me for turn 1. He took the first turn and I lost a sky ray straight off to the haywire missiles. In response the remaining sky ray took down a hive tyrant after hitting with both it's markerlights. The rest of the army combined to bring down a crone and it was looking like a decent start.

Of course the problem was that the tyranids were right in my face so I had to pretty much ignore the Eldar and their summoning. We were playing on a densely packed table (Nathan's choice) which didn't help matters. Ultimately he was simply killing me quicker than I could him and the spawning daemons made things worse. I was eventually tabled for a 0-20 loss with only Matt taking any points from his game (despite also losing) across the rest of the team. Still this was always going to be a tough matchup against ETC players who are well used to these missions.

Round 2 - Tau vs. Space Marines
Finding ourselves on the bottom tables, I was now playing Myles Davies who was running a flyer heavy Space Marine list. Since my list is pretty much designed to take down his it wasn't long before the largely foot slogging non-flyer portion of his army was reduced to a single marine. His four flyers arrived in two pairs allowing me to take them down piecemeal. It was one of those games where you feel incredibly guilty for bringing the army you have simply because it's a terrible mismatch. With me going first it was never going to be easy for him but with most of his army on foot and my bomb arriving T2 (instead of T4 as in my previous game) it was game over before it had really started.

I took the tabling for a 20-0 win with the rest of my team also securing 20-0 wins of their own for an 80-0 whitewash. I think out of all the rounds we played this weekend, this was the one where we really got out pairings right.

Round 3 - Tau vs. Tyranids/Necrons
Back towards the top then and another ETC heavy team. My opponent would be another Tyranid FMC list but this time with some teleporting necrons to go with it. Once again my opponent rolled the infiltrate warlord trait so once again I'd got FMCs in my face far too early. At the end of my opponent's second turn he flew all of his FMCs off the table leaving a scattering of ground troops. I saw an opportunity to complete a surprise tabling and decided to go for it. It was a hell of a long shot but worth a go. Sadly the odds weren't in my favour and I fell some way short of the tabling. When the FMCs returned I struggled to deal with them thanks to FNP etc. I still had a chance of winning though since I was ahead on tactical objective scoring and there was only the relic to consider for primary.

The mistake came towards the end of turn 4. I had a tactical objective card that needed me to control two objectives and double my opponent's total. I therefore moved the recently arrived bomb towards one of the tactical objective markers instead of the relic. I realised too late that I was already controlling the required two with kroot units on the flanks. This left the relic wide open for one of the necron units who'd been locked in combat with my riptide for most of the game but now used hit and run to hop out of combat and teleport onto the relic in their turn. I managed to kill all but Obyron (or the other guy I forget) who was still clutching the relic when the game ended. With me winning secondary and tertiary objectives (mostly thanks to the disgusting luck I had with the 2+ saves for my buff commander) I took a 10-10 draw.

The rest of the team didn't fare so well. Matt won his game but Frank and Rob both lost which would mean a loss for us overall. Not a great end to the day.

Round 4 - Tau vs. Blood Angels/Imperial Knights
We returned for the second day to find one of the 10 teams had dropped out. The bottom team therefore played a mini tournament between them whilst the rest of us played on. We were paired up with the Claws & Fists team led by Graham Sanders. My matchup would be with Darren Grainger who's had a good while out of 40K but this wouldn't hamper him too much as he's a great player and was using a pretty straightforward to use Imperial Knights and BA list.

The three knights were deployed with the two BA drop pods in reserve along with a stormraven. I tried to down the knights as quickly as I could be should've fired off the sky rays earlier. Instead I intended to save them for use on the stormraven but perhaps would've faired better if I'd fired all their missiles at the knights to whittle them down. The bomb dealt with one of the knights with help from a riptide but were subsequently charged by the seneschal. The seneschal and the other knight survived the game but the BA forces were gunned down before the librarian could summon more than a single khorne herald (who my kroot shot down). Once again the buff commander kept the crisis team alive against the rapid fire battle cannons of the knights.

We were playing the Scouring as the primary mission and I held onto a 3 pt and 1 pt objective to tie with Darren controlling the 4 pt objective. I ended up taking the win on tactical objectives and tertiary mission. The rest of the team had all won 20-0 thanks to some good matchups again.

Round 5 - Tau vs. Space Wolves/White Scars
In our final game we reckoned on playing the team from the Outpost (our FLGS) but thanks to some duplicate matchups we were swapped to play the Peaky Blinders. They had a similar C'tan list, Eldar list and Chaos list to ours. Matt's Necrons were paired with their Eldar and Frank's Eldar were paired with their Necrons. The two Chaos players squared off leaving me to play the Wolves and White Scars combo. This is becoming an increasing common list from what I can tell with bikers supported by multiple TWC characters using the Champions of Fenris supplement. I'll do a more in depth report of this battle as I felt I played it pretty well despite the final result.

Joel was using scout bikers to help him Infiltrate some TWC characters and get them close to my lines straight away. This would negate any advantage I had from playing Hammer and Anvil. I therefore gambled on being able to win the infiltrators roll off with a unit of kroot. The gamble paid off and I was able to string a line of kroot down the centre of the board that prevented him from deploying anywhere but inside his own deployment zone. The kroot then also acted as a screen for my army since he had to shoot at them to make a hole to get his assault units through. Sadly he got the first turn but simply move then turbo'd/ran to get as close as possible.

This allowed me to spend my first turn trying to gun down the grav bikers to protect my riptides. One unit was destroyed for First Strike (like First Blood but each player gets a chance to score it) and I reduced another unit to two bikers. I then moved my missile team forward and used their drones to create another screening unit to slow down the Space Wolves again. They soon fell to TWC but now the Farsight bomb arrived (this time with the buff commander attached). Two of the suits split off to try and finish the grav bikers but fluffed most of their shots (even with a re-roll to hit) and left a biker alive. The rest of the squad struggled to get past the TWC's storm shields but with help from a riptide they cleared some of the scout bikers out.

Joel now moved his ICs around so that the TWC unit no longer had characters in it but instead all of the thunderwolf characters were lined up to charge the bomb with devastating results. One of the riptides held it's own against the remaining scout bikers and a wolf lord but eventually succumbed. The TWC unit now smashed into both sky rays at once leaving just a riptide an a unit of kroot on the table. The riptide perished despite getting a 3++ save from its nova reactor which meant Joel had to cover the length of the board in the remaining turns to kill the kroot and take the tabling.

He sent over the chapter master with a wound left and a wolf lord with two wounds remaining. They got into charge range and I managed to put a wound on the wolf lord with overwatch. They then failed their charge giving me a turn to shoot them which was enough to kill the chapter master. In Joel's turn they again tried to charge after throwing a frag grenade which hit 8 but only killed 1. The kroot overwatch struck again finishing off the wolf lord at the end of Joel's turn 7. With the objectives in space wolf hands and Joel having taken a 10-5 lead in tactical objectives I was left with just the tertiary objectives which the kroot had practically won for me on their own by killing the warlord and scoring linebreaker! That has to go down as the best ever performance from such a flimsy unit that I've ever seen. Yes I lost the game but it was a great way to end the tournament.

The rest of my team had mixed results giving us 42/80 points which was just 3 points shy of the win threshold and hence netted us a draw and 5th place overall.

Considering we've never played in this kind of team event before I was reasonably happy with our results. We were unlucky with some of the matchups and particularly in the first round we didn't really have our share of luck with the dice rolls during the games. Matt's c'tan didn't manage to beat John Holland's wolves list for example thanks to some poor rolling.

I was happy with my performance but incredibly frustrated by my two losses to the nid players. On paper my list should be great against FMCs with the sky rays likely to kill a tyrant in a single volley if they get their marker hits. I'd love to replay the games without the sodding infiltrate warlord trait and see what happened. Still, the rest of the guys in my team probably wouldn't have faired any better as they lacked the amount of skyfire that I had. I was really satisfied with how well the kroot blocking paid off in the final game. Using them to prevent infiltrators might have helped me in the tyranid games had I thought of it then. It's a shame I didn't as things might've played out differently if I had. Of course the FMCs could easily hop over the kroot but they'd have been forced to deploy further back which would've helped.

The buff commander proved to excellent and made the missile team an extremely potent threat to ground and air targets alike. The combination of re-rolls to hit and Tank Hunters coupled with skyray markerlights meant they could deal with flyers pretty well. There was only one game where I put the commander in with the bomb as I was concerned about when they'd arrive and wanted to be making the most of his buffs with the missile team whilst they waited. In one game he then moved over to the bomb when they landed close by.

I must say I enjoyed the team format as a welcome change of pace. It added a different dimension to the games having to think about pairings in advance and relying on the performance of others. If the event is run again next year I'd love to go along. It was great to see Frank, Rob and Gary too and we're determined to get a mini tournament going between us with Jamie roped in as the 6th man (not that he knows that yet).

Finally, the use of tactical objectives has given me a lot to think about for Blog Wars 9. I'm extremely tempted to replace the marmite final mission with Maelstrom to give a bit of variety and embrace 7th edition properly. Watch this space.


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