Thursday, July 23, 2015

Guild Wars 2 Theorycraft: Boss Difficulty Coefficient

Hello.  Today marks sorta a new beginning for this blog, since Games Workshop has effectively killed my interest in tabletop wargaming.  Thanks GW, you saved me a lot of money!  In all seriousness, though, I still enjoy creating content and writing.  There are a lot of concepts I would love to share on my YouTube or Twitch but due to needing a lot of explanation or math the best place to share them is in written form.  Instead of making a forum post on my guild's public theorycraft forum, I'll post them here.  I'll reserve post on the guild forum for finished products and fully fleshed out concepts for the greater community.  My plan is to use this blog to spitball ideas and innovate new concepts that might not actually go anywhere.  Additionally, I will use it to share my thoughts on community issues that are a bit more longform than would fit a snarky Twitter post.

Warning possibly bath math ahead

My impetus for today's post was to deal with the many people who criticize our published DPS numbers on the basis that "DPS numbers calculated on an inert target in a vacuum mean nothing."  I find this criticism personally baffling.

For starters, the goal in any PvE encounter is to figure out how to counter or negate the boss mechanics so you can  focus as much as possible on DPS.  Since your goal is to literally make the fight as close to fighting an inert target in a vacuum as possible it stands to reason that you'd want to know what your optimal DPS rotation actually looked like so you could endeavor to remain as close to it as possible.

Secondly, in an action combat system like Guild Wars 2 a concept like "real world DPS" is meaningless.  Every boss, every fight is different.  The DPS you could get against an easy boss is different than a super challenging boss.  So if your DPS changes so much from encounter to encounter, doesn't that mean "real world DPS comparisons" are simply cherry picking data from whatever boss fight or encounter justifies your position?  A lot of stupid people pick the Veteran Giants in Cursed Shore as a "real world DPS comparison."  These giants can be killed in under 3 seconds or less with a build tailor made for that purpose.  What does Veteran Giant kill times prove when comparing two to each other to say which one has generally higher DPS?  Almost nothing, since the only thing that comparison is good for is evaluating which one if better at killing Veteran Giants.  The best build for solo killing a Veteran Giant is substantially different than the best build for solo killing a challenging boss like Lupicus.  

Since "real world" comparisons are essentially meaningless except when you have an actual goal (aka we want to set a speed run record for a particular dungeon or boss fight) since builds designed for actual specific goals are purpose built.  When it comes to making a general comparison for the purpose of comparing the relative DPS among classes, the only methodology that makes sense is against a static target using optimal rotations.

Onward!
So what about all those dead Veteran Giants?  Do we learn nothing?  Actually we learn quite a bit... about Veteran Giants!  Which leads me to the purpose of this post (glad you stuck with me!), namely, using the ratio of optimal DPS achievable against the test golem in a vacuum vs the actual DPS achieved in game.  Guess what that ratio tells us: how easy (or hard) a boss is.  If one boss has challenging enough mechanics to limit your DPS to one-half of what it would be in an optimal rotation, we could say that boss has a .50 difficulty coefficient.  If your meta berserker warrior build achieves 7,500 DPS against the test golem, but manages to achieve 3,750 against a Champion Broodmother in Malchor's Leap, she has a .50 difficulty coefficient.  Simple enough right?  

Now, there are some really cool things you can do with this framework.  First, interestingly, some mobs will have a difficulty ratio of greater than 1.0!  This is because when we calculate optimal DPS rotations against the test golem, we estimate 30 second fights.  There are many reasons for this, but for today the important thing is that if you can kill a Veteran Giant in 8 seconds you can be reasonably sure that your DPS will be greater than our 30 second optimal number, since you're bursting the target using high damage, long cool down skills that get averaged out when calculating the sustained DPS you're capable of in long fights, but in short fights will give you spectacular DPS numbers.  If you get 7,500 DPS over 30 seconds against the golem, but manage to get 12,500 DPS in 8 seconds against the Veteran Giant, we can see his difficulty ratio is 1.66.  So a pretty easy fight!  

Another thing, a fight that is easy for a warrior, might be hard for a Mesmer.  Not because the warrior is capable of higher DPS necessarily, but simply because the warrior might be able to bring more defensive utility or CC or evasions than the Mesmer can without breaking from his optimal rotation.  So it's entirely possible for there to exist bosses that might be a .75 difficulty for a Warrior but a .35 for another class.  This, again, explains why "real world DPS comparisons" are worthless: the situation could totally be reversed for a different boss with different mechanics!  Then how are you supposed to decide which class has better DPS?

A cool feature is that as you add more players to your party, fights get easier.  Duh.  Well that means your DPS will get closer and closer to the optimal even against challenging bosses as you add more players to your party.  So you can use this framework to measure the difficulty of bosses for 5 man teams too.  If raiding is introduced in the expansion, it will be very valuable to know your party's effective DPS vs optimal.

What else can this be used for besides cataloging bosses?  Glad you asked, because cataloging boss difficulty is probably the least valuable information you can get from this.  Why?  What does YOUR difficulty ratio have to do with MINE?  Simply put two players at different skill levels will have different ratios.  And the ratios might not be consistent between bosses.  A boss I've practiced a lot I might have a 1.0 against but you might only have a .75, but you could be a better player in every objective regard.

The ultimate use of this system is tracking your development as a player.  If you get a .60 against a boss in May, and you practice and get a .80 in June, you can see a measurable improvement.  If you play a lot and practice and you are getting improvements on nearly every boss even without putting in specific practice, you are objectively improving as a player.  

Tuesday, July 21, 2015

Remember That Time Games Workshop Ruined Warhammer Fantasy?

I do!  

I miss my Dark Elf Lord.

Remember when 8th Edition came out and there was legit hype that we might finally get a ruleset on par with 40k 5th Edition?  I do!

Remember when they almost actually did it, except the Magic phase was grossly overpowered compared to the rest of the game and if they had only toned down the magic phase they would have had a game that had great rules, the same great minis, and the awesome variety of army that doesn't exist in Space Marine dominated 40k?  I do!

Remember when they took our feedback ("magic phase is too OP") and instead of tweaking it and perfecting their game, they doubled down on it with the expansion that BUFFED THE GODDAMN MAGIC PHASE and made magic even more gamebreaking?  I do!

Remember when that effectively killed the game and all of us threw our hands up and said "fuck this, I'm going back to 40k?"  I do!

Remember when they subsequently fucked up 40k?!  I do!

Remember when they desperately tried to cash in on the last bit of community goodwill for Fantasy with the End Times expansion which basically added more BS over the top units, merged all the armies into a play-whatever-you-want-yolo mess which destroyed the flavor of the individual armies which was the best goddamn part of Fantasy in the first place?  I do!

Remember when they scrapped Warhammer Fantasy and replaced it with a little kid miniatures game that would be most ideally played with pre-painted unit ala Clix and the game was designed solely to appeal to little kids who like 40k but doesn't actually interest little kids and ofcourse Fantasy vets aren't interested because the game is complete horse shit garbage?  I do!

______

What should you take away from this?  That GW has absolutely no understanding of who their Fantasy audience was, what they wanted from the game and essentially delivered the exact opposite of what was needed on multiple occasions.  Gamers have not abandoned Fantasy: we are still interested in WHFB.  We would still play warhammer fantasy battles if there were solid rules and support.  Pro tip: release WHFB 8th edition, but eliminate every magic spell above number 3 in every magic line and you instantly have a game that is fun, balanced and playable.

RIP WHFB.  It wasn't euthanasia, it was a murder.

Wednesday, February 18, 2015

Stupidity on the Internet: BOLS Edition

OMG hi everyone.  I was roused out of my torpor by one of the dumbest articles I've read on the 40k blogosphere in ages.  While I don't play 40k anymore, I still do my best to keep up with it because who knows, something may happen that causes me to jump back into the hobby with a vengeance.  Once a competitive player, always a competitive player.

In ages past this segment was always one of my most popular but also got a lot of hate thrown my way.  The good news is now that I am not part of "the community" I don't care about the hate!  Today's subject is this abortion:  http://www.belloflostsouls.net/2015/02/40k-deep-thought-40k-7th-ed-less-competitive-40k-5th-ed.html



Not gonna lie, this article is atrociously written.  From the start it seems to fail to meet the same level of professionalism from most BOLS articles, which implies whatever that standard means to you.

The author of this piece seems to argue (because he isn't bold enough to actually come out and state his thesis directly) that 7th edition is just as competitive as 5th edition.  His arguments exclusively fall into the "back in my day" line of argumentation.  He cites the flavor of the month tournament lists from each previous edition as evidence that the game has always been poorly balanced.  Congrats dude.  You cited the names of lists.  I guess that about wraps up the debate!  

Me:  5th Edition was the most competitive edition of 40k
Him:  LOL LEAFBLOWER LOLZ
Me:  How can anyone argue with logic like that?!  I surrender!

Ummmmm no.  Sorry bro, that doesn't settle anything.  I don't care if vehicles were insanely overpowered in 3rd edition, that has no bearing on 5th edition.  Many a good tournament player from the 5th edition era will tell you that the original leafblower list wasn't all that good after the first few months in the metagame.  5th Edition was about mech and shooting, and that list was definitely that.  But it took advantage of players who hadn't fully adapted to the "mech and shooting" metagame of 5th edition.  Once the community adapted, by adding more anti-mech firepower and bringing "mech and shooting" lists of their own I would argue that the leafblower list wasn't even that good.  There were MANY lists I was much more afraid of running into at NOVA than mechguard,  

There were a couple traits that made 5th Edition the golden age of competitive 40k, traits that are missing now.

1.  Simplicity:  Stelek's 5x5 and the NOVA variation thereof created a very MOBA-like battlefield where everyone was on even ground.  There were no asymmetrical scenarios.  If I have to explain why asymmetrical scenarios are non-competitive in tournament play you should probably stop reading and attend to your head trauma.  Hell, even if you stuck to the 3 (yes 3) book scenarios the missions were at least relatively symmetrical.  No matter which side of the scenario you rolled you had a more or less equal chance of winning.  The same cannot be said of 7th edition.  In 7th the scenario you roll is very capable of determining the winner before the first bolter is fired in anger.  Sure TOs can ignore all that and run tournaments the way they were run in 5th edition, but they shouldn't have to.

2.  Variance.  Any game with as much dice rolling as WH40k has going to have lots and lots of variance.  In ANY game, the better players desire less variance and worse players desire more variance.  There is a healthy balance between luck vs skill.  A skillful player should be favored to beat a less skilled play in a healthy game.  But there should be enough variance so that a less skilled player can still pull off and upset some amount of time.  5th Edition struck a good balance between the two.  I've seen some savage losses to bad rolls, some close games that shouldn't have been close and some other games where the dice had very little say in the matter, the skill gap being that wide.  Quite frankly, all the RPG elements in 6th and 7th edition added too much variance.  Warlord traits being rolled adds stupid variance.  Random charge distance added stupid variance.  The scenarios (mentioned above) added too much variance.  Even worse: a lot of these things are rolled before the game even starts.  Having the outcome of the game tipped in one player's favor before the game starts based purely on luck is ridiculous.

3.  Balance.  Was 5th edition perfectly balanced?  Hell no.  There were plenty of armies that were at a distinct disadvantage ::cough:: Nids and Orks ::cough:: but the tiers were not NEARLY so pronounced as in 7th edition.  In 5th Edition I could play against a "tier 1 list" with my "tier 3" Black Templar army and get a close game.  It was not a forlorn conclusion.  I won several 5th edition tournaments with Black Templars, which were not considered an especially powerful army.  Sure this is anecdotal but everyone would agree that the distance between the best list in the worst book to the best list in the best book were significantly smaller than it is today.  This matters.  It matters a lot.  Saying "LOL Leafblower" is meaningless.  Leafblower wasn't anywhere near as dominant as Eldar or Tau are in 7th.  

So that's my case for 5th edition as a more competitive format: it had significantly better army balance, lower variance, and better scenario symmetry.  Now that I've made my case let's get into the fun...

"Balance – lol that one is a red herring. Most guys that want competitive tournaments actively try to break the game in the list building phase. The list building phase is the biggest factor in tournament gaming if you are playing to win – show up with a weak list and no matter how good you are you are going to be at a severe handicap."

Everyone tries to make the best list they can. Duh.  No one is arguing that 5th edition allowed people to play weak lists and be competitive.  In fact, that would be the sign of a non-competitive game.  5th Edition, as I said, had smaller space between the tiers and more codices had relevant tournament lists.

"Still others cite shoddy rules – but again the rules have always been complained about. Every edition there have been reams of threads about how crappy the rules are, but still tournament players were content with rolling until 6th."

The rules could always be improved regardless of the edition, no one is arguing that.  What you miss is the qualitative difference.  If the rules of 5th edition were bad and complaint-worthy, and 7th Edition is also bad and complaint-worthy that doesn't mean that 5th and 7th are equally bad.  One can be bad, but still vastly better by comparison.

"I think the biggest change that is commonly griped about are two fold:
1) allies
2) forge world"


These DO matter.  The option to include allies and OTT forgeworld bullshit means that any chance of balance between individual codices is ruined.  GW made the list-building so open-ended that there is no reasonable way to balance them competitively.

"In 3rd, 4th, and 5th edition there were usually three power builds that the vast majority of players took (i am speaking from heavy 3rd and 4th tournament experience and saw it in 5th after i had gotten out of tournament play)."

That's right folks:  you're being lectured on tournament balance between 5th and 7th edition by a guy who hasn't played in a tournament in a decade or more and hasn't played in a competitive tournament in either of the two editions he is talking about.

"Today you can face six or seven power lists and the listbuilding phase is much harder to win in."

This is where the author lets you know the reason people hate 7th edition is because there are TOO MANY good lists, rather than too few.  You see, us bad tournament players apparently like it when there are only a handful of lists to prepare for since our pea-brains can't handle anymore.  Once you introduce "six or seven" possible tournament armies our donkey brains can't cope and we just say the game is broken.  That's a weird conclusion to draw when I can argue (as someone who actually played 5th edition tournaments, as opposed to the BOLS writer) that were were many, many competitive lists in 5th edition, and based on everything I see now, there are far fewer good options in 7th.  

Well that's it.  I'm going to crawl back into my cave.


Tuesday, April 1, 2014

Dark Elves Army Book: Initial Impressions Part 2

I'm back already.  I wasn't kidding when I threatened to said I would post again.  You wanted it, you got it.  I want to do the next section of the Dark Elves Army Book impressions.  Again, I want to stress I haven't played this book yet, or a game of Fantasy itself in almost two years so there is a good chance my impressions of the viability of units is 100% wrong.  If I am wrong, please explain why in the comments so I can learn what's good more quickly.


Lords and Heroes

Dreadlord - In the last book with it's OP magic items, we had the "unkillable" dreadlord with a 1+/2++/4+regen save, often mounted on a Pegasus who causes all sorts of trouble.  Now, unfortunately, it appears you cannot really craft a DL that is worth the points.  Taking advantage of the 100 points of magic items is hardly worth it with such a paltry selection and it seems like there is no reason to bring this guy, unless you wanted a dragon mount which is hardly worth it.  I feel a pretty big 'pass' here.

Supreme Sorceress - The level 4 wizard is a pretty obligatory choice so unless I see some reason here not to take this... nope.  Give her a Sacrificial Dagger and a large unit of Spearmen, Lore of Shadow and she is good to go.

High Beastmaster - Hmmm.  Stats are in between a dreadlord and a master, but it gets a free Manticore or Chariot.  The selling point here is the Chariot with its Ravager Harpoon.  A strength 7 d3 wound bolt thrower that can move and shoot is pretty nifty but this is quite a bit of points for that.  I think I would pass.

Blackark Fleetmaster - A weird choice.  Show No Weakness is geared towards a character winning challenges being part of a unit.  So to maximize this, he has to be set up to win challenges by have his unit lose the fight.  I'm not a fan.

Sorceress - Lowbie wizard who for 115 points can get Tome of Furion and a Dark Pegasus to unleash a Black Horror that devastates the enemy.  I might not be able to find points for that in a 2000 point list, but I could see one in a 2500 list to cause chaos.

Master - This is the affordable combat character choice.  Last edition I liked this guy on foot in a unit of Executioners or on a Chariot.  You can't give a deathhag BSB anymore unless I'm reading this wrong, so this seems fairly obligatory in most lists to me.  Perhaps not on a chariot but existing in some form.

Deathhag -  I'm a huge fan of the Cauldron of Blood and what it does for your army.  Frenzy is often maligned as allowing your opponent to control you, but the other side of the coin is that it allows you to dictate the flow of the game.  I'm a fan.

Assassin - Playing with an Assassin is like playing with a unit that has Frenzy in a way.  If you play to maximize the Assassin it becomes obvious to your opponent that you have one.  The best use of an Assassin is always to kill your opponent's level 4 wizard early in the game, but most players go to great pains to keep their level 4 out of combat early so it will be pretty difficult to get that done.  Really cool theme but I don't think it is practical now.

Thoughts?  Comments?  Questions?




Monday, March 31, 2014

Dark Elves Army Book: Initial Impressions Part 1

Uh hi.

Remember me?

No?  Well that's OK anyway.

The long story short is that I was once a competitive 40k/Fantasy player who got run out of the hobby by GW.  8th Edition Fantasy was pretty casual, and 6th Edition 40k was just soul-crushingly bad.  So bad, in fact, that I couldn't stomach playing it anymore.  When the new Marines book came out I thought, "maybe this will do it."  Then I read how Templars are rolled into it and are extremely non-competitive.  

Alright.  It's fine, I've gone almost two years without playing 40k and I don't mind waiting another few years before I play again.  

So why am I here?  The short story is that Xaereth's casual Fantasy comeback inspired me to take a look at the new Dark Elves book.  I don't think I'll ever play in another tournament, especially not one I have to travel for; but I can still enjoy a beer and pretzels game once a month, right?  If that is the type of experience GW wants to sell to players maybe I can enjoy that.  I went to the LGS and purchased the "new" Dark Elves book.  I won't lie, our 7th Edition book had some insanely OP stuff.  The units, the magic items, the special rules: it was easy for a 40k player who dabbled in Fantasy to beat players much more experienced than myself simply by overpowering them.  I don't expect this ability to continue.  

According to Xaereth, the army is a glass cannon now, my old list packed chariots and Hydras and all the characters had insanely good ward saves and the heaviest armor.  The only thing squishy were my troops, and a good Dark Elf Lord know they are expendable anyway.  For an army of Elves, my army was a cannon but it was anything but glass.  

Enough summary.  What am I going to do here?  I haven't played any games with this book so a review would be silly.  A review of an army you haven't played is like reading a review of a car written by someone who has only read the owners manual.  I won't pretend to know the current tournament meta (still crazy OP magic and ultra-powerful warmachines?) so I'm sure I will say stuff that sounds dumb to experienced players.  But what I will give you is my initial impression of each unit and the magic items and how I think they would play.  I might be right on or I might be way off.  In either case, maybe I'll have some insight into the book that someone else could find useful.  Hopefully my experience playing the old book and a lot of 8th edition won't steer me completely wrong in an embarrassing way.

You ready? Let's do it.

My Guild Wars 2 Thief would make a great Dark Elf Assassin
The best place to start is with the magic items, I think, because you can't make a greatly informed decision about the Lords and Heroes without knowing what OP things you can give them.

Magic Items

Hydra Blade - 100 Point magic weapons are almost never viable.  One with a drawback is instant pass.

Chillblade - 50 point magic weapon that doesn't have to roll to wound.  Anyone hit by it has to pass a toughness test or be -3 attacks for a while.  Seems like a weapon you would put on a high initiative low strength character whose goal is to not die rather than to win challenges.  Pretty marginal utility.

Black Dragon Egg - One use item that grants you strength 6 and toughness 6 and a breath weapon for one turn.  I am not in that business, though its a nice trick to have when someone thinks they are going to kill your squishy sorceress.  Still, I don't see this being competitive.

Cloak of Twilight - 3++ save vs ranged weapons and magic.  In the first round of any close combat the wearer has killing blow and multiple wounds d3.  This sounds like it was tailor made for a character on a chariot and/or dark pegasus warmachine/character hunter.  This might be viable.

Black Amulet - 4++ save that inflicts an unsaveable wound back on anyone who have an attacked saved by it.  60 points is a bit steep but the effect is pretty good.

Ring of Hotek - Magic Resistance 3 and a 6" aura where snake eyes and double 6 causes miscasts.  Pretty powerful.  It's best on a front line unit that is fast enough to get close to the enemy's magic bunker or a character on a pegasus.  I still think 6" is pretty prohibitive to use though.

Banner of Nagarythe - A banner that grants Unbreakable for 100 points.  No thanks.

Gem of Spite - I'm not in the business of intentionally miscasting to maybe hurt other wizards.

Sacrificial Dagger - Oh baby.  This was by far the best item in the last book.  Only 50% effective now, but if you fail to generate the power die you can try again.  Only 25 points, even at a reduced effectiveness, is still priced to sell.  This seems like it is still a must have.

Tome of Furion - 25 Points for a free Dark Magic spell you can choose.  This was good last edition and is good now.  The best use previously was to give a level 2 sorceress a 3rd spell of her choosing, and I reckon this is still the best way to use it.

Lore of Dark Magic

Spiteful Conjuration - Attribute - basically a buff to your spells that adds a few low strength hits.  A lot of the spells in the Lore are strong against plentiful weaklings so depending on the match up it can be great or terrible.

Power of Darkness - Signature Spell - Give a unit +1 Strength, generate d3 Power Dice.  If you generate 3 dice you take a wounds.  I envision having a level 1 sorceress with Tome of Furion casting a huge spell once per turn with this.  If she dies, she dies, but at least she gets off one mega spell.

Doombolt - Signature Spell - 2d6 strength 2 magic missile that reduces the enemy unit balistic by 1.  A good way to slow down a large unit of archers, but how can that compare to the Power of Darkness?

Word of Pain - Hex spell that does -d3 to weaponskill and ballistic, can be buffed to affect Strength and Initiative as well.  Pretty strong on the 12+ version and ensures that your unit will win any combat.

Bladewind - Direct damage spell that requires the unit to pass a strength test or everyone takes a strength 4 hit.  Really good against large units of weaklings, obviously.  

Shroud of Despair - Hex prevents enemies from using Inspiring Presence and hold your ground.  This can be situationally powerful against low Leadership armies who rely on their general for Leadership.  Easy to think of a few like that, otherwise skip this.

Soul Stealer - A small blast template that inflicts Strength 2 hits with no armor.  You wizard gains wounds up to 10.  Another good spell against weak hordes.  Ideally super strong on a roaming pegasus sorceress who will be soaking up some hits.  Strength 2 hits even with no armor are nothing to be super excited about.

Black Horror - A magic vortex that forces strength tests and kills outright and can backfire spectacularly.  Yet another spell that picks on weaklings.  Sensing a theme here?  This one is pretty meh, but when used on a Pegasus Sorceress it can do serious work devastating someone's entire line.  

Summary: The best magic items appear to be geared towards increasing the capabilities of your casters.  The combat weapons are fairly weak, though the cloak of twilight seems good.  The magic lore seems like a good support Lore.  I would guess the best thing would be to take Shadow on your Supreme and then a level 1 who likes to live dangerous with Tome of Furion to being Power of the Darkness and Blackhorror on a Pegasus or dark steed.  My impression is that the only time you want to really go Supreme Sorceress is when you're facing an s3/t3 army.  But even then, the Lore of Shadows seems superior.

Thoughts?  Comments?  Questions?




Wednesday, March 13, 2013

Checking In and Where I've Been


Hello, Nikephoros checking in. 

I’ve had a bunch of emails lately from you nice folks asking what I’ve been up to and what my thoughts on the state of the game is.  So I think I should make a post about those things.

I have been still going strong with Guild Wars 2 to get my gaming fix.  I am a member of a srs bsns guild, Death and Taxes [DnT] on Blackgate server.  The guild is a PvE dungeon/fractal speed clear guild with the top players, and has been super fun.  We have started playing tournament pvp for fun and its hilarious since we are so low ranked in pvp yet since most of us are really good players we still beat much higher rated teams.  Lot’s of QQ and all that.  A guildmate, Strife, posts video speed run guides to each dungeon some of which I am in so if anyone is interested I can post those here. 

In non-gaming updates, I’m still going hard with my cycling training and racing season starts for me this Sunday.  I have a 60 mile road race, which is a fun way to kick off the season since in a large field race I don’t have high expectations and I can just test myself and get a gauge for my fitness.  I hit 12,000 miles on the bike last year, and I basically had to destroy my social life and alienate all my friends and family to do that.  This year I am paring it back to 10,000 in hopes of maybe having some kind of interpersonal relationships with other humans.

So enough about my life, what about Warhams?!

Bluntly: 6th Edition killed 40k for me.  I played a bunch of games when 6th came out and I didn’t have any fun.  After the last game I played I asked myself, “Am I even enjoying this?  If not, why am I spending my valuable Saturday free time doing something I don’t enjoy?”  The answer, sadly, was that I wasn’t getting anything from it.

6th Edition forces me to play a style of army I don’t particularly enjoy.  I am 100% sure that when I say “6th edition doesn’t reward maneuver” someone will try to prove me wrong.  Fine, whatever.  Maybe I am wrong.  But my experience was that 5th Edition greatly rewarded playskill by emphasizing maneuver and timing.  In 6th Edition, my experience has been that the ability to outmaneuver your opponent to gain an advantage is significantly less.  Again, I’m sure someone will try to tell me that isn’t the case but I really don’t care as I’m talking about my personal experience.  I don’t want to play an IG blob, I don’t want to play with allies, and I don’t want to play an all foot army against other all foot armies.  So the style of army is not my cup of tea.

Additionally, I like to play Black Templars.  I think we can all agree that BT are essentially unplayable in a competitive setting at this point.  Especially without allies, because as I said above, I don’t want to use allies.  I do still have my GK that I could readily play but I would have to spend another couple hundred dollars to make them ready for 6th edition, and that would mean a foot army.  Since I don’t enjoy foot armies, spending hundreds of dollars and hours of time modeling and painting just so I can play something I don’t enjoy… that makes no sense.  My vanilla marines army is what I played in the games I did play, and it just reminded me how little I enjoy vanilla marines.  Boring army with no flavor that just does stuff and has no edge to leverage.  The wins are close and the losses are close.  Maybe that works for some people but it’s not interesting to me.

When the new BT codex comes out in the White Dwarf in 2015 or whatever the rumor is this week, I’ll buy it and if I like the way it looks I’ll give it a shot.  But I don’t see any chance of me coming back to 40k without a new BT book OR a vanilla marine book that is like the 4th edition book that allowed you to use traits to make interesting armies.

As far as fantasy goes, 8th Edition was never seriously competitive due to the magic system being so over the top.  What killed Fantasy was the Storm of Magic or whatever supplement that came out and took the worst part of 8th edition, Magic, and made it 10x worse.  I COULD just ignore that supplement, except for a good 6 month period no one locally played anything else.  And once ‘Ard Boyz was canceled there was literally no reason to play what passes for competitive Fantasy.  If you’re going to go carebear fluff bunny, might as well go full carebear and play Storm of Magic.  Unfortunately, going carebear doesn’t interest me.  So much like 40k, I’m not going to waste my Saturday playing a game for 3 hours that I don’t find compelling.  I read on the rumor site that Dark Elves are getting a new book next year.  Sad to this one go as it has some pretty OP stuff I enjoyed using, but maybe the next one will rekindle some kind of interest in Fantasy for me.

That’s about it, I’ll check in again when I have something for ya!

Tuesday, December 4, 2012

Life on Death Row: Black Templar Allies in 6th


Things look bleak for Black Templars these days.  Their current codex is ancient and strictly non-competitive in a tournament setting as the main army.  All the rumors point to the BT getting a White Dwarf codex sometime in 2013, and based on the history of the last few WD codices… let’s just say we might actually prefer to keep our ancient over-costed codex if the alternative is anything like the Sisters of Battle.  Our current codex is a dinosaur on life support, and our future codex has a good chance of being still-born.  Things could be better.



The BT are all but useless as a main army in competitive 6th edition.  Our HQ and Troops are significantly overcosted, and as those are areas that every army needs to compete, it puts a strain out.  So where is the glimmer of hope?  Simply put, as allies.  The BT have some interesting units that can be complimentary as an allied force, and I’ll go over the options here.

HQ:  BT can bring a Terminator captain with a retinue of Tank Hunting 2x Ass-can/cyclone terminators.  When is this useful?  Let’s say you have a good codex that has good options in heavy support and elites, but you still want some more strong and tough anti-tank.  Getting a shooty anti-tank unit out of an HQ slot is rare.  Not many modern armies can bring shooty anti-tank units in HQ so if you are strapped for empty FOC slots, this can really bolster your army

Troops:  As I mentioned before, our troops are stiflingly overpriced.  But we have one attractive option: 20x man crusader squad with krak grenades.  This is a fairly tough to shift blob that is Fearless in assaults and, when a chaplain is attached, will be in your deployment zone immediately if you choose to shoot at them.  This unit is pricey for a Troop choice, but it provide something only Chaos normally has access to: a 20 man MEQ unit with close combat potential.   There are a lot of armies who bring allied CSM just for this type of unit, and depending on the army and their ally options, this might be better.  Or at least legal.

Elites:  5x Terminator squad with 2x heavy weapons and Tank Hunters.  These are almost strictly better than any modern codex’ similar options. 

Tank Hunting venerable dread with TLLC and Missile Launcher.  The ability to glance kill the dread hurts the points investment you take in Venerable.   However, your guns are 48” range and hit really hard.  There are not too many better anti-heavy tank units in the game.  I could easily see this incorporated into a GK list as the “fourth” psyfleman.  Or in a C:SM Master of the Forge list as the “sixth” rifleman. 

Heavy Support:  Power of the Machine Spirit Vindicator.  Our FAQ weakened this option by changing PotMS to match the new codices.  However, other books can’t take PotMS on their Vindis, so this is a unique option.  Many SM lists these days are bringing Vindis, and some other armies that can’t wish they could.  This is the option to take an upgraded Vindi.  I would definitely consider this one in any list that is considering bringing a Vindi.

That’s about it.  Like I said, this codex is on life support/death row; so us remaining Black Templar players have to do the best with what good options are left.


Thoughts?  Comments?  Questions?