Friday, March 19, 2010

Nothing could be sweeter

Now, normally I'm a pretty laid back player.  But I do admit that there are few things finer in (gaming) life than taking some smack-talking chowderhead and completely wiping the floor with them.  Preferably with many witnesses.  It's fun to track the precipitous drop-off of their bragging as the game starts to go against them, and to see the fear and incomprehension come into their expression as their supposedly unbeatable master plan or killer unit goes into the toilet.  And once their overconfidence (which is often overcompensation to begin with) is broken, it generally gets even easier from there.

Maybe I'm not the best person for taking pleasure in that, but God help me, I do.

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Scenario: Bridgehead

Scenario: Bridgehead!

Note: Best played with an Imperial Guard attacker against a defender that is not all-deepstrike (like Daemons or all-pod marines).

High Command has determined to attack the enemy over a defended river crossing. Local units have been assigned to force the river and secure a bridgehead on the far side.

Table Setup: Any terrain may be used, with the inclusion of a river roughly in the middle of the table running the length of the board. Also place two bridges at agreed upon points.

Defender decides upon units that will use deepstrike/infiltration etc. Of their remaining units, set up half (round down) within 12" of their board edge and the rest arrive as Reserves. Attacker then sets up their force 12" from their own edge. Defender may elect to open fire and take the first turn if desired. If they choose to hunker down and let the attacker take first turn, defending units get a +1 bonus to their cover saves (to a max possible 2+) for the first turn only.

Scenario Special Rules:

Infiltration and Scout work as normal, with the exception that Outflanking can only be used to bring units in on your starting side of the river.

The River: The river is considered to be impassible terrain to infantry. The sides of the riverbank provide opportunities for ramps for the daring, so bikes may jump the river if they Turboboost, but must take a dangerous terrain test when doing so and may not stop on the river itself. Vehicles treat the river as difficult terrain, but dozer blades/rams other gear that allows rerolls/ignoring difficult terrain do not work against the river. Should a vehicle manage to get itself immobilized in such a way that passengers could not disembark without passing through the river, determine the access point closest to a legal non-river area for them to deploy to - take dangerous terrain tests and deploy survivors in base to base as close to the river/vehicle as possible. The unit is then considered Entangled. Walkers may attempt to wade across the river, treating it as difficult and dangerous terrain.

Bridges: Units that can fit on the bridge can cross it freely. The bridges may be destroyed in similar ways to a building - consider them to be AV14, and are wrecked on any penetrating or glancing hit. Should a sufficiently powerful blast land on a bridge be sure to check a hit against the bridge as well - be careful what you shoot at the defenders! If a bridge is wrecked any models on it must take an immediate dangerous terrain test or be destroyed. The bridge is thereafter considered difficult & dangerous terrain.

Optional gear:

Any attacking vehicle that is not already Amphibious may purchase pontoons to aid in the river crossing for +10 points. When crossing the river if the pontoon-equipped vehicle does not move faster than Combat Speed it may ignore the river's difficult terrain test. Clearly designate which vehicles if any have purchased this option.

Any attacking infantry unit may carry portable assault boats at no cost. Clearly designate which units if any have used this option. While carrying the boats the unit always moves as if in difficult terrain due to the extra load, except when crossing the river when they may move normally with no ill effects. Units in boats may not purposefully loiter in the middle of the river and must cross as soon as possible. Units may discard their boats at any time to return to moving normally, but once discarded the boats are gone.

Scoring: Defender gets one point for each enemy unit destroyed, falling back or immobilized. Attacker gets one point for each friendly unit (non-immobilized or falling back) either on a bridge or across the river when the game ends. Attacker also gets 2 points for each non-wrecked bridge they control.

Friday, March 12, 2010

Merkan 76th Armored Forces

Following my own advice to "do what you're in the mood for", I left the pile of 70% done infantry alone and knocked out some tanks over the last few days.

A couple had given me trouble earlier with the base spray, so stripped them down and when warmer weather came again this week sprayed them again, this time with no trouble. Then after finishing them and sealing them...the sealer has issues on some surfaces. But rather than start over, I decided to make lemonade from those lemons, and with some brushed on black turned the mottled paint spots into battle damage - glancing hits from lascannons, meltas and the like.

So, here's the tanks of the Merkan 76th!

The Hellhound turned out alright - either hasn't seen serious damage yet or has been scrubbed out and repainted.


 Being hated by enemy infantry, the Eradicator has taken a number of hits.




One Russ has taken a beating across the tops of hatches and track guards.  Ironically the engineering vehicle of the group hasn't taken much damage...perhaps ambushers wait until after the first tank has passed before opening up.


Thursday, March 11, 2010

40K Basics: Casualty Removal


One of the posts at Maunderings of a 40K Gamer in his "Back to Basics" series made me think about casualty removal, and how some folks don't take advantage of it.  If you have to take guys off the table in the first place, at least make sure you're taking the 'right' ones.

For more veteran players, I doubt this will be anything new.  But hopefully some newer players will get some benefit.  For ease of example, we're going to assume that the bulk of the unit in question is going to be in one wound group, that all roll their saves together.  These types of units where everyone or almost everyone is the same make these types of removals much easier - Guardians, Kroot, Necron...well, anything, Orks, and so on.  For units with more specialists like Chosen or Wolf Guard it's harder to do, and you have to think ahead more with your model positioning and wound allocation in order to take advantage.

This mainly looks at casualties from shooting, though some of the principles can apply to large units in assault, but with pile in moves you're less likely to be able to take advantage of them, and you're less likely to need to if you're in assault anyways.

So you've been shot and need to remove some casualties.  Just grab some guys and move on, right?  Well, you could do that, but if you take a second to pick the right casualties you'll see your game improve.

How can casualty removal help me?

There are a number of things you can do:

  • If you're moving towards somewhere, like an objective or an assault target, take away the models furthest away.  If you take away the models closest to your target, you've just added a few extra inches you have to cover to get there.
  • If you're partly in cover, you can remove the models not in cover first.  Sometimes this helps you to keep your cover save, other times it helps you to gain one against future shooting if through removal now over half the remaining unit is in cover. 
  • Similarly, if only a few models are in LOS of the enemy, removing them can spare the rest of the unit from fire from other enemy units. 
  • If other units likely to fire at you are at the limit of their range, remove models closest to them, leaving them out of range.
  • Is there an enemy assault unit nearby but it looks iffy as to whether or not they can make it into assault?  Remove the models closest to them and leave them stranded.  Doubly effective if they have to make difficult terrain checks - what seemed like a 'sure' 2" assault that suddenly needs 5" is now much more doubtful.  This can also be used to force bikers to make dangerous terrain tests to assault you.
  • Are you on an objective and the game may end?  For goodness sake, make sure you still have models in range of the objective!
  • Being escorted off the table by an enemy within 6" keeping you from regrouping?  If you have to take losses, remove the ones closest to that escort, allowing you to regroup.
  • Other range dependent abilities?  Make sure you're in/out as desired.  You take your casualties before morale checks - so if your surviving models can get out of 12" from those Pariahs or stay within 12" of your Regimental Standard, you should try to do so (unless you want the unit to break).  Don't find yourself out of Synapse range because you picked up one Termagant instead of another.
 So try to keep everything in mind when you go to remove those models.  Don't let their sacrifice be in vain!

Monday, March 8, 2010

Sunday, March 7, 2010

Battle Missions Review Part 3 - Special Missions

 

Besides the thirty 'normal' missions, Battle Missions includes three 'special' missions - Linebreaker, Clash of Heroes, and Kill Team.  I'm going to talk mostly about Kill Team, but will touch on the other two.

Linebreaker - take three Baneblades or other Apocalypse formation against a regular army of equivalent points.  With some modification to the Victory Conditions could also be fun to use something like a horde of zombies or a Green Tide vs. a regular force.

Clash of Heroes - Kill the other guy's named character with yours.  Nothing else can finish them off, and you track how much of the rest of the enemy your character kills.  Some mods to the FOC, and not a good mission for 'support' HQs like Creed, you'll want a tough mofo for this one.  From first glance it looks like there would be two basic strategies - one, try to pound the enemy HQ and finish him off with yours, or two, avoid hero combat and try to tarpit his hero while yours goes on an unstoppable rampage.  

KILL TEAM

Not the same as the 4th ed version.  200pts, limited FOC, every model becomes its own unit (which makes a number of things much less useful, some things more powerful I would imagine).  Cram as much terrain on the field as possible in a small (3x3 or 4x4) board and go to town in a semi-Necromunda type battle.  No turn limit, but they claim it goes pretty quickly.

Out of the three, this is the one I look forward to the most.  For even more fun I think you could incorporate some of the deployments and rules from other missions (and even later make a chart...) sometimes.  Like using an Ambush type deployment or some kind of random zone deployment like in Night Fight.  Or fight over a burning city like in Scorched Earth.  

Something to note in the Victory Conditions - when an army hits its break point, it has to start taking Leadership tests with cumulative penalties - not Morale tests.  So things like Stubborn or Fearless won't apply, and you won't have to hunt down every model of a Fearless force.

At such a low points level I think there has to be some more balancing factors.  The FOC restrictions are one step, but I think there should be a few others.  

Firstly, the more I think about it, the more in favor I am of just banning vehicles.  Otherwise if you come expecting a shootout you could instead find yourself facing the War of the Worlds, as the other guy with the Valkyrie/Marbo army just flits around invincibly after taking out your couple of guys who might shoot it down.  Sometimes it could work out, but I think at the very least you should inform your opponent of the vehicles you plan on taking so they can adjust their AT requirements.

Secondly, I think you should restrict models that can regain wounds or generate new models.  After the third Chaos Spawn, etc. pops up you may start cursing those abilities.  On the other hand the extra cost these units/abilities have may make it OK on the whole - but something to think about and pay attention to in your games.

OK, that wraps up my initial review!  If you haven't yet, go back for parts one and two!  Hopefully before long I'll be able to post up some battle reports using some of the missions, or even a Kill Team report!


Battle Missions Review - Part 2 - Mission Specific Thoughts

 

Some interesting bits (to me) from specific missions:
  • CSM: Pillage - Earn cumulative points for possessing objectives, not just hold at the end.  
  • CSM: Scorched Earth - Smoking and Burning terrain (either helps cover saves or makes it Dangerous, block LOS)
  • Daemons: Night Fight - Very random but looks like fun.
  • Daemons: Incursion - Would also be very appropriate as an Eldar/Dark Eldar webway portal, though of course could be used with any army.
  • Space Marines: Vanguard - Yes, as reported there is a mission where you can bring a Thunderhawk (though you need Apocalypse, etc. for the stats).  Given the point cost and restrictions though I doubt this will happen often.

Since many of the missions have unusual deployment zones, you should probably work out ahead of time with your opponent how Outflanking will work (assuming you can put the unit into Reserves in the first place).  Infiltration should work just fine except for in a few of the scenarios with random placement.

Reserves

This is a big thing IMO - we've all gotten used to unlimited Reserves, and indeed some armies and tactics are built around that.  With the missions here, it's not a sure thing.  Sometimes you can only put some units in, sometimes none at all.  So be forewarned - that double Autarch army or Al-Rahem platoon may not work like you expect it to.

That said, there are some units that can still go into Reserve, even if the mission disallows it.  So crack open your books and check through your army lists to see if your units can do this or if you may end up stuck.

Some example units that can still pull the trick, even if the mission says otherwise:
  • Eldar - Warp Spiders - Deep Strike regardless of mission.
  • IG - Marbo - Always in Reserve.
  • Orks - Boss Zagstruck - Must enter via Deep Strike.  Snikrot looks to be out of luck though.
  • SM - Drop Pods - Always enter play using Deep Strike.
  • SM - Legion of the Damned - Always in Reserve/Deep Strike.
  • SM - units with Terminator Armor - May always be in Reserve/Deep Strike even if mission doesn't allow.
  • CSM - units with Terminator Armor - as above for SM (though Obliterators are out of luck)
  • CSM - Lesser and Greater Daemons - always summoned
  • DH - various Grey Knight choices can always teleport
  • DH - Daemonhosts
  • DH/WH - Orbital Strikes
 There may well be other units that can bypass the mission restrictions - check your books!

Older missions (like 3rd/4th ed) seemed to focus more on building an army for a specific mission.  Those in Battle Missions seem to focus more on taking one army and putting it in a variety of situations.  And given that since most have clear attacker/defender roles, you'll have close to 60 new different situations to put them in. 

Battle Missions Review - Part 1 General Impressions

 

Picked up the Battle Missions book yesterday, gave it a good once-over.

Overall, looks pretty good.  Decent variety, even though most missions are basically variations of Seize Ground or Annihilation with tweaked deployments.  Out of the 30 basic missions presented, 17 are objective based, 9 use Kill Points or modified Kill Points, one uses a version of Victory Points, and three use something different (wipeout, slave points or loot points).

There's been some complaining that the Inquisition armies and Space Marine variants don't have specific missions.  For those folks, there is a tidbit that they do plan to publish more missions for other armies in White Dwarf and/or online, so hopefully we'll see some Witch Hunter, Black Templar, etc. missions down the road.

But even if you don't have a mission specific to your army, you should be able to find one pretty close, or just use any mission.  With a little imagination pretty much all of them could work with any combination of armies.  And unlike missions in some other supplements like Planetstrike, the 30 basic ones here all use the basic Force Organization Chart, so you don't have to make new army lists, making them easier to use for pick up games.  In fact, they advise choosing your army and setting up the table prior to determining the mission.  In a lot of the missions they are very specific about where objectives should be placed, so you may want to adjust the terrain into more dramatically appropriate placement sometimes however.  Also some missions have special rules for area terrain, so if you get those missions you may want to be sure that you have some on the board (shouldn't be a problem, most folks use area terrain anyways, right?). 

The example chart for totally random selection includes a section for going back to 'themed' (random choice from one of the army types being played) selection, but those rolls (11-16) could also be replaced with the standard book missions from the rule book or even other published or custom scenarios if you want even more variety.

Some general things about the mission writeups themselves:

  • Almost all (only one does not, one of the Chaos Daemon ones) of the missions use the standard random game length.  While I guess it's nice to see everything spelled out on the mission pages, part of me thinks that's a waste of space putting the same paragraph in 29 times.  One line saying "Random Game Length" and referring people to the rule book or a paragraph one place in the Battle Missions book would have been enough for me, and use the space for extra stuff, options, or more pretty pictures.  Still, it's only a minor gripe and overall the layout is very good.

  • Some missions have one side going first automatically, others on a 2-6, some are 50/50.  Many missions have a very clear attacker/defender which can provide for a different dynamic than the standard book mission meeting engagement style of play.

  • Some very close potential deployments in some missions, shooty armies be careful.

  • Very clear deployment zones and table edges designated.  (Unless you're red/green colorblind - I would think they might have problems since one table edge is in red and the neutral areas are in green)

  • Some add in army-wide special rules like Stubborn, Preferred Enemy, Hit&Run, etc. which can change the dynamic of some units/armies a good deal.  

  • Many missions mess with Reserves, some prohibiting all, some requiring some, etc.  (More on this in Part 2)

I think this is a good supplement for adding some variety to friendly pick-up type games and some good pre-fabs for folks to build narratives and campaigns around.  For extra wackiness you could also combine these missions with other supplements like Cities of Death or Planetary Empires and get even stranger/more varied games.

I'd be very careful about using these for competitive environments like tournaments though - some missions can be weighted towards one side or another, and some army builds could really excel or suffer due to special rules.  If you do use them for a tournament they should be looked at closely and perhaps modified.

Saturday, March 6, 2010

Army Makeover - Rhino/Dread

Another in an ongoing series on sprucing up my old Sons of Horus CSM, started HERE.

Here's what the dread and rhino used to look like:

 

And here they are after some highlights and some washes:


I've never enjoyed highlighting, I'm always sloppy.  Still, at a bit of distance it looks better and does help the black to pop a bit more.

Friday, March 5, 2010

White Dwarf Delays?

 
(image from www.games-workshop.com)

What's up with White Dwarf these days?

For at least the past few months - maybe longer, but I've only really been paying attention the last few months - I've been getting my WD subscription three weeks AFTER the copies come into the local store, not "Early - subscription copies are sent out to arrive before the magazine hits the stores" as GW claims on their subscription page.  

At first I just thought I was unlucky, but lately I've heard from other subscribers both locally and elsewhere that they're having delays as well.

How about you?  If you're a White Dwarf subscriber, post a comment as to how long the delays have been, when they started if you can remember, and where you're at (state or country).

Tuesday, March 2, 2010

Victory is Mine!

 
(image from webdesign via Family Guy)

Thanks to the generosity of Dverning and some blind luck, I am soon to be the proud owner of another traitor marine by virtue of being one of the winners of his banner contest over at Maunderings of a 40K gamer.  

Not only is he generous with his models and his plugs, he's got some good articles over there too, so go poke around!

I've been on a bit of a winning streak in my local games lately too - Chaos over Nids, Guard & Dark Angels, Tau over World Eaters, Orks over Black Templars.  Shouldn't be too long before a string of crushing defeats kicks in, just in time for a new Planetary Empires league!
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