Tuesday, November 30, 2010

WHFB 6 Months Later: What's Winning?


We have had the 8th Edition BRB in our hot little hands for about 6 months now.  All the armchair critics have had enough time to give way to actual game experience.  And while anecdotal game experiences has nothing helpful to teach us, there have been some major tournaments held under 8th Edition rules that can show us a few things.

Five Things That Are Better Than The Critics Thought

1.  Warriors of Chaos.  Everyone knows they are an imbalanced army.  They are relatively show, can't shoot, and their magic is near the middle than the top like they were in 7th.  But yet they are still winning.  Part of me wants to think that since they are the most popular army, they are ofcourse going to have good results just because enough good players with a bad army will still get some good results.  On the other hand, there are players with huge units of Warriors just pushing them across the board and still winning.  Maybe that's a statement about the level of play of most players, but regardless, they are still winning.  And winning can't be denied.

2.  Orcs and Goblins.  Simply put, they have the tools to do it all, except really strong offensive magic.  They haven't won any major tournaments, but they are doing a lot better than a 3rd or 4th tier army is supposed to be doing.

3.  Army Book Lores.  With the major power boost to the BRB Lores in 8th, many naysayers said that the army specific Lores were dead.  Except, you know, for a thing called 'game balance.'  Even the lower spells in the BRB Lores are as hard to cast (or harder) than some of the elite spells in the Army Books.  Not every army is going to be able to consistently power out 18+ casting difficulty spells every magic phase.  Some armies playstyle is better served by casting a lot of smaller spells than trying to force through one or two major ones, and that's where the army specific Lores come into play.  Plus some, like the 13th Spell, are powerful compared to the BRB Lores too.

4.  Fast cavalry.  Everyone predicted the death of cavalry, since they can't break ranks easily.  To a large extent, that is accurate as you don't see people besides Brettonians running large units of heavy cavalry.  But fast cavalry, especially vanguards and scouts are very, very strong still.  I don't think many people predicted how powerful fast cavalry using scout deployment to set up on an exposed flank is.  It can be game breakingly good, especially when your opponent sets up in a very linear gunline style and he has to start the game with a unit or two of dangerous fast cavalry ready to charge into his backlines.

5.  Fighty characters.  Most pundits agreed that with step up and steadfast, fighty characters were done.  "Who cares if they wipe out the first rank, the second will step up and get to fight and probably kill him back?"  But that hasn't been the case at all.  Fighty characters are quite prevalent in good lists for a lot of good reasons.  Easy access to flaming attacks, the Crown of Command, easy combat res etc are all good.  But the biggest bonus is the ability to turn a run of the mill unit into a very strong one for a relatively small investment.  A unit of halberders is ho-hum, but add a fighty character with the Crown of Command for a relatively small amount of points and suddenly you have a stubborn unit that has a greatly increased offensive ability that your opponent has to take seriously.

Anything else I didn't list that everyone else sees winning contrary to early internet wisdom?  Part 2 will be things that everyone said were going to be amazing, that turned out to be less than expected.

Monday, November 29, 2010

40k Strategy: Defense in Depth Part 2

In part one I discussed why taking the midfield is important, and how you need to keep the midfield in mind when writing your list.  This follow up will go into more depth and particulars regarding how to capture and hold the midfield.

The Why:  A player needs to control the midfield for several reasons.  Most basically, it puts you in a position to control the midfield objectives and to move to contest/control the enemy backfield objectives.  That much is self-explanatory.  Unless your army is fast skimmers with Star Engines you can't go from your backfield to your enemy's backfield in one turn, so some presence in the midfield, at least towards the end of the game, is required in objective missions.  More in depth, controlling the midfield is the best way to protect your vulnerable backfield.  A Rhino with popped smoke containing a multi-melta and a meltagun sitting in the midfield means that your opponent's armor cannot speed right into your backfield.  Trying to get past your melta-bubble(s) without dealing with them first is certain death.  Your opponent will have to devote at least two shooting phases (at least) to killing your midfield melta bunker.  That is two turns where your backfield guns keep firing.  

Holding down the midfield.

Against an assaulty army, midfield units play a similar role.  Two Dreadnaughts sitting in the midfield is quite scary to assaulty armies.  The last thing a unit of 30 Boyz or Genestealers want to do is get stuck in with a Dreadnought.  Yes, the Dreadnought is probably not going to do anything for the rest of the game, but the fact is that their assault impetus is blunted.  If you can get the assaulty opponent commited to a quagmire in the midfield, rather than your backfield, you're ahead.  Lets say your opponent is using a Battlewagon with Nobs.  You have a Dreadnought with Multi-melta in the midfield.  Is he going to disembark to kill the dread in an assault and open his Nobs to a turn of unprotected shooting or counter charging?  Is he going to drive past the Dread and take a rear melta shot?  None of those options are exceptionally good.  Remember: an assaulty army wants its first assault of the game to be in your backfield.  If it's launching its first salvo 36" away from your backlines you are in very good shape.

The How:  You want the midfield, your opponent wants the midfield.  How do you make sure that you control it?  The key comes in with how much of your long range firepower you can commit to winning the midfield without ignoring more important targets.  Every map and matchup is different, but you have to decide how much of your long range firepower will be directed at the midfield and how much will be directed at your opponent's long range firepower.  If your opponent has infiltrating assault units, or fast transports bearing down on your backlines, you cannot devote all your firepower to helping win the midfield, you obviously have to use good target priority.  If your opponent has tons of artiller units in his backfield, you might have to silence those before you worry about helping the midfield.  It is difficult to give hard and fast rules about this, but my advice would be to try to create a disparity.  For example, if you each have 3 midfield units, use your long range fire to give yourself a 3:2 advantage, and then use your long range power for other targets.  So long as you maintain even a slight midfield advantage your opponent will have to commit more resources to it than you, which is a win.

The Who:  What constitutes a good midfield unit?  Melta is king.  Melta can hurt anything and is so deadly against vehicles that a single multi-melta Dreadnought in the midfield can lockdown a 30" bubble.  No vehicle can pass through that bubble with certainty, nor can an assault unit come within 12" of the Dreadnought without first dealing with the Dread.  So Dreads are very good in the midfield.  A



Not pictured: 3 dudes inside with meltaguns.

Rhinos (of any flavor) or Chimeras with dual (or more) melta inside is very good.  A smoked Rhino with melta inside will require a good amount of firepower to force the troops to out.  Then a good amount more to kill enough of the troops to silence the meltas.  This is all good.  A single Rhino unit can thus suck up a good amount of firepower and still be a threat. 

Go ahead and try to pass over him while he is sitting in the midfield.

Tyranids are a very good midfield army.  They have a lot of very resilient units with medium range firepower.  T6 beasts with multiple wounds and good guns bubble-wrapped by throwaway units means they can just sit in the middle and fire away until you deal with them, and much like Dreadnoughts, most assault units do not want a piece of them in close combat.

It bears mentioning, that some armies simply don't have strong midfield units, and they have to play a much less linear game, like the Eldar.  Or Tau, who eschew the midfield for bubble wrapped units of long range firepower.  There is no sense in fighting a battle you can't win over a resource you don't need.

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Real Life: I Raced



It was absolutely brutal. My moving time was 5'49", which is on the slow side for a century, but when you take into account the amount of climbing (over 4,000 feet) it makes a lot of sense. I had awful calf and quad cramping from my 65 on, and you can see that my speed dropped a lot once that started happening. Luckily, I wasn't the only one, most of the field was equally shattered by the difficulty. I can honestly say that was the single most difficult thing I've ever done in my life.

It gives me a new respect for professional cyclists: that would have been an average to moderately difficult Tour de France stage. And it left me completely wiped out. They would have to go repeat that ride, and much harder ones too, 20 more times before the end of the Tour. Their fitness is at an unreal level, and I completely understand the pressure on them to use performance enhancing drugs. To have to compete in races that difficult for 21 consecutive days, and to be expected to excel in them, let alone simply surviving them, the pressure must be enormous. When you expect people to be super human, don't be surprised when they resort to super human resources.

Anyway, I thought I'd share this with you guys. Have a good Thanksgiving.

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

40k Strategy: Defense in Depth

We all know by now that when making balanced, all comers lists we have to be conscious of having firepower, mobility and close combat ability.  I think these concepts have been repeated often enough that most competitive players utilize them unconsciously when making their lists.

People have fully digested the concept of having play in every phase of the game.  But I'd like to talk about another concept that is still in it's infancy, and that is board control.  Our lists now already have game in every phase of the game, now they need to be conscious of having play in every area of the table.  A list that doesn't have units that can control the midfield is missing as big a part as lists that are missing a close combat element.

A year or two ago, people would have suggested using either 4 Rhinos, or 4 Razorbacks in your troops selection.  I think we are slowly seeing a shift where lists with 2 of each are coming into vogue as people realize that the hybrid lists allow you to control your backfield with Razorbacks, as well as controlling the mid-field with Rhino melta bunkers.  People have begun to realize that hybrid lists are more "all comers" whereas the Rhino spam or Razor spam lists can only truly control one area of the board, and are thus susceptible to being out-maneuvered.

The game is won or lost in the midfield.
Do your units have to be single purpose "midfield" or "backline" units?  No, in fact they shouldn't be, because if they are so dedicated that creates a good target priority situation for your opponent.  Additionally, as I touched on in my "who is the gunline" article, there are some match ups where you won't want to move too far forward, and there will be some match ups where you won't want to passively sit back.  That said, a strong mid-field presence blunts the impetus of an assault army, and protects your backlines against a gunline army.

What you do want, however, are units that can flourish in the midfield, or in the opponent's backline.  The Rhino meltabunker sitting in the midfield says, "deal with me, or else you will have a melta bubble no man's land that will make your life hell."  The primary benefit of having must deal with threats scattered across the whole of the table is that your opponent is instantly reactive, rather than proactive.  He has to do with your Speeders in his backfield, your melta bunkers in the midfield and your long range firepower in your backlines.  Despite the passive nature of a melta-bunker Rhino, or the Razorback in the backlines, together they are an active threat, because it creates a solid 48" to 60" of table space where your opponent's army is going to have to pay with dead units if he wants to utilize it for his purposes.

I want you to take away from this article that the next time you're writing an all comers list to ask yourself, "which units are able to give me legitimately threat in each segment of the board?"  And if you're lacking in any of those departments, to consider beefing them up.  Hopefully, the results will be encouraging.
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That's all for today folks.  I'm leaving for a few days for the Holiday.  Your regularly scheduled updates will resume on Monday the 29th.

Monday, November 22, 2010

Hobby: Painting Dark Elves

Since I've been injured and not able to do anything physical, I took the opportunity to get my Dark Elves finished up.  All I have had left to do for about two months was two Reaper Bolt Throwers so it wasn't a huge deal, but it was one of those never-ending projects that I wanted to push out so I could move on to other stuff.

Even though I am a rubbish painter, I thought I'd do a step by step pictorial so you can see how my table top army is done.  This whole job took about 2 hours, so what I lose in skill and technical ability, I make up for with speed.  Here we go...






This is the primed Reaper and crew.  I always prime black, since it's good for speed which I value above anything else.  Plus, I usually paint dark colors and black basecoat suits that the best.





I do a quicky boltgun metal dry brush on the Reapers.  These aren't going to get a lot of detail, and this is a quick way to get that simple, dirty mechanical look.


Here I block out all the boltgun metal areas on the crew.  I also dry brush the boltgun metal on the chainmail sections.





Finishing the Reapers, I paint the bolts brown with red feathers.  Simple, no high lights.  I could put another 15 minutes into high lighting these to make them really look good, but I'd rather not.





Back to the crew, I block out all the purple sections, and unseen, all the flesh, bone, and paper.





In this step, I do a badab black wash on all the armor and weapons.  I also do a thick wash of Leviathan Purple on the purple parts of the crew.  I add a Sepia Greyphone wash to the bone and parchment areas.  Let sit for about 2 hours and...


...add Shining Gold details to the models.  This completes the painting.  If these were more important models and not wound counters for a warmachine, I'd do highlights, but these don't merit that.  So last step next.


Basing the models.  I use the basic Games Workshop Snow and some white glue.  The only thing left to do is give them a quick spray with some sealant and they are ready to play.

Friday, November 19, 2010

Friday Odds and Ends

First, an update on my crash Sunday.  I am walking much better now, but I'm not anywhere near full mobility.  The joint where my leg meets my hip gives me shooting pain still when I bend certain ways, so I'm definitely not fully healed.  I have a race this Sunday that more and more is looking like it's not going to happen, which is a bummer.  I've been looking forward to this event all summer, as it was the official end of the racing season, and its probably the hardest race of the year.

But my problems are small potatoes compared to what happened to the other guys involved in the crash.  Dr. Matt, who was the first to crash, is in really bad shape.  He suffered 6 broken ribs, a collapsed lung, broken hip, and shattered his shoulder.  He is really messed up.  He is a surgeon, and he had to cancel his surgeries for the next 3-4 months.  I couldn't imagine what I would do if I was facing his medical bills and the 4 months loss of income.  In all honesty, I'd probably be moving in with my folks.

Dr. George, the guy behind me who crashed into me, suffered a broken knee cap.  He had no idea at the time.  He finished the ride home and went about his day, but Monday morning when he woke up his knee was swelled up like a basketball.  X-rays showed a fracture.  So he will be out of commission for a few months.  So compared to these guys, I got off lightly.
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On the 40k end of the spectrum, Kennedy made an interesting comment in his already interesting article.  He advised us that it is profitable to not look at war-games as war simulation, but as a set of rules, like any of the rules we encounter at work or in life.  I interpolate that to mean that as people are adept at figuring out ingenious solutions to the rules they are given on a work project, why do so many people ignore that ability while gaming?  Clearly, they would be better and more competitive gamers for it if they did.  But you know what?  I'm glad they don't.  I was at a tournament once and had an extremely awful game against a gentleman who was the definition of WAAC douchebag.  The game was not fun for me, and I highly suspect that the game isn't even fun for him.  Afterwards, one of my buddies made a very astute comment about him, "that guy isn't even playing Warhammer, to him the game is a really difficult math puzzle, and he doesn't seem to even enjoy it."

And it's true.  He reduced the game to a set up rules to be exploited or overcome, and the end result was just painful.  I know Kennedy was not suggesting to do that, but I throw it out there as a cautious warning of what can happen if the game is taken too abstract and simply becomes a math puzzle.
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Dethtron coined a new term: FAAC.  Fluffy at all costs.  I like it.  I will do my part to make sure it spreads around the 40k-web.  I've already mentioned a "WAAC douchebag" in my post today, hopefully in the future there will be "FAAC douchebags" given similar mention.
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Kirby is exploring the depths of his love affair with Master of the Forge.  He subsequently posted a few 6 dread lists of various flavors.  I enjoyed this whole series and have been following it closely.  The only thing that I'm concerned with is that 6 dreads in a list is slapped with the label "competitive."  I'm not convinced these lists are winning in the real world tournament scene.  I played such a list at this year's 'Ard Boyz semis and the 6 dreads DID scare my opponents during deployment, but during the game they were simply a nuisance.  Granted this was at 2500 points; at 2000 points or 1750 points, I could see 6 dreads being significantly scarier as the opponent will have ton less utility to deal with them.  At this point though, I would caution anyone of running out and buying 6 AoBR dreads without playtesting first.  While lists with 6 dreads qualify as 'Tricky and Cute' for sure, 'Tricky and Cute' does not automatically mean competitive.

Thursday, November 18, 2010

40k: New BRB FAQ Out. Interesting tidbits.

First, go take a look at it. 

OK, now that we have read it, what big changes do we see?  As usual most clarifications were of the "I thought that's how everyone already played it because it was obvious" sort.  

But there were two things that I think will change the way people play, and the sort of armies that they play.  First, and least importantly, GW has shut down the stupid checkerboard tactic.  This is where you deploy two interspersed units in a checkerboard formation, with the theory being that they grant each other a cover save even when they are both in the open.  This was never something, in my experience, that happened all that much in practice, but I imagine the times when it was abused it really felt bad for the opponent.  So kudos to GW for shutting it down.

Second, when a vehicle moves flat out and is destroyed subsequently, the passengers are removed as casualties.  This is a big deal.  This is a nerf to Dark Eldar, Eldar, IG, and some Blood Angels' builds.  Basically, anyone who relies on fast transports to generate a cover save by moving flat out to provide some defense.  I'm guessing this hurts the BA heavy flamer razorspam builds pretty badly, since Eldar vehicles are already hard enough to kill, and Dark Eldar benefit the least from moving flat out since they already get a 5++ save.  But at very least, it gives those armies a pause for thought.  Will you really be moving that DAVU Falcon all out early in the game?

Who does this hurt the most?  Probably IG ships carrying melta/demo vets or stormtroopers.  The Valks are AV12 but they draw a ton of fire and they rely on that 4+ save on turn one to ensure delivery of their payload.  Now, if they rush forward all out turn one, they will probably lose their vets.  If they don't they might not get their vets where they need to be in time.  It's a tough position to be in.  We'll see how this shakes out, but being a veteran aboard a Valk just became a lot more dangerous of a job to have.

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Today in Awful Warseer Tactics Part 9


I hadn't been to Warseer in like 10 days until this morning.  I can't say that bothered me, in fact, I was pretty happy about that.  But on a whim this morning I went there to see what stupidly bad advice was being distributed by 12 year olds to 12 year olds.  The 40k forum had the usual tactica threads, which rarely create something noteworthy.  No gold there to mine.  The Fantasy forum did have this gem, though.  The OP has a theory that mono-Tzeentch Warriors of Chaos is pretty competitive in 8th.  I'm going to be be short and sweet in my answer: mono-deity is not ideal, but if you HAVE to go mono-deity, go Tzeentch.  Tzeentch is the only mark that has the tools to be competitive in the movement, combat and magic phase.  The other marks are missing something in those phases.  What will the Warseer answer be?

Hashulaman:  Is mono Tzeentch the way to go for Warriors in 8th? Are they one of the best configurations in WoC? It seems that they have gotten the best buff of the marks, the new parry is a 5+ ward, making the already tough Chaos Warriors harder to kill and cheap marauders better tarpits. With the new magic items they can abuse them in rather excessive ways. A 3+ ward is about as good as it gets in the game.

Then you got the new magic rules, a Sorcerer lord getting +5 to cast, plus 6 with Skull of Katam, + 7-9 with Homunculus, Tzeentch sorcerers can easily get off Gateway with 3 dice in 8th. The Teezntch lore is now much easier to get off whereas in 7th you had to take a gamble with gateway.

Like I said, Tzeentch is the only mark that has play in every phase of the game that Warriors are relevant in.  Being the best overall, though, does not imply best at everything.  They ARE the best at magic and movement, but they aren't the best in combat.  So to be fully optimized you should bring combat elements from other marks.


Theorix:  Yeah Tzeentch is very good, but i think that all marks are viable, and a good way to theme an army. Slaanesh might not be the best overall though.

First, not all marks are viable.  Mark of Nurgle is downright terrible in 8th Edition, and with psychology mattering much less, Slaanesh isn't quite as strong as it was.  Second, I don't recall anyone saying Slaanesh was the best overall.

ETA: A mix of marks is still stronger. Khorne on marauders or halberd warriors, Nurgle on Banner of Rage knights, Slaanesh on horsemen.  

Right and wrong.  A mix is best, but your examples are shit.  You still use Slaanesh horsemen?  What edition do you play?  Banner of Rage Nurgle Knights?  Don't answer that last question, you are hopelessly stuck in 7th Edition.

Enigmatik1: 8E stacked the deck heavily in favor of Tzeentch (+1 to cast and an inherent, stackable Ward save) and Khorne (Frenzy).

Whoa the correct answer!  This almost always happens in Warseer, but the post is ignored.  Let's see how it unfolds...  

PurpleSun: At one point a while back I converted my whole WoC collection to Tzeentch and run have run a 3,000 point all Tzeentch list for a while (Marauders, Horsemen, Warriors, Chosen, Knights, Hellcannons, Warshrine list). I find it to be the best WoC can field. 

I find you to be the worst that Warseer can field.  Go play your Thousand Sons 40k army and leave us alone.

CaliforniaGamer: or me: Tzeentch/Khorne +/- unmarked.  Also well supported combo in the fluff literature. "Palace of the Plague Lord" by Werner comes to mind as a strong example (Tzeentch and Khorne teaming up vs. the dreaded Nurgle).Blood for the Blood God is also a good reference. Kinda the muscle and the brain concept. 
 
No one gives a squirt of piss about your goddamn fluff based argument, you FAS baby.

Doommasters: can anyone post there mono TZ list? I like the idea of running a mono god and i find Khorne to be a little hit and miss sometimes. 

Take your minis and army books and throw them in the trash.  Then go ahead and delete the Warseer link from your favorites.  You'll thank me later.

VoodooJanus: Haha, I saw the greatest thing happen the other day with this [Infernal Gateway]. A fully decked out Lore of Life Slaan in a Temple Bunker got hit with this spell and the WoC player rolled a 12 for strength. WAY more effective than Psun, haha. 

Run the math on that and get back to me.

Hashulaman: Myself I think a 5++ is better than a 6++ 

You're such a genius, I think you may have to go live in a lamp. 
  

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Strategy: Who Is The Gun Line?

In Magic the Gathering theory, one of the fundamental articles is "Who Is The Beatdown" by Mike Flores.  Without getting too deep into Magic theory, the idea is that in any match up of two decks, one of them will have to take an aggressive role to win, the other a controlling role.  Even in a match up of two highly aggressive decks, one of them will be more aggressive than the other.  If the less aggressive one tries to play aggressively, chances are it will lose.   If you are playing a mid-tempo deck, when you play against a fast beatdown deck, you have to play a controlling playstyle, because you can't beat the beatdown deck in a race.  When the same mid-tempo deck plays against a true control deck, it has to switch to a more aggressive style since the longer the game goes the more likely the control deck will have the chance to assert control and win.

So how can we apply this to Warhammer (both 40k and Fantasy)?  By asking the question, "who is the gun line?"  

Gunline!

At a tournament, when you and your opponent exchange lists, the first question you need to ask is, "can I outshoot him?"  If the answer is "no" you are not the gunline.  You next question is, "can my army beat his in close combat?"  If the answer is "no" you are not the beatdown.  The last question is, "can I out maneuver him?"  Hopefully, the answer to one of these questions is a "yes" because otherwise you have a tough game on your hands.  But most times, a good all-comers list will have a yes answer to at least one of these questions.  Getting that right, as we will see, is the first step in avoiding losing to a "bad matchup."

Often times players will get a match up, lose, and then tell their buddies, "I couldn't help it, I got a bad match up for my list."  Sometimes there is nothing you can do and his list was truly a bad match up for you.  Other times, you could have pulled out a win, except that you didn't change your playstyle to suit the circumstances of that match up.  If you are a Razorwolf player, most times you will be the gunline.  But in the few match ups where you aren't, you better be able to identify that, and you better be able to change your tactics to accommodate the circumstances of the matchup.  In theory, a good all comers list should be able to adapt to situations where your square peg is presented with a round hold.  If you don't realize the hole is round, though, that's not a bad match up, it's a bad player.

The Beatdown!

Let's say you are playing a Razorwolf list.  In round one of the tournament you are matched up against a mech guard list.  You will not be able to outshoot the mech guard.  You are not the gunline.  If you try to sit back and outshoot them, you will lose.  You will have to win by maneuver and close combat superiority.  

Round 2 you are matched up against 2 Battlewagon Nobs Ork force.  You can outshoot him, and you cannot beat him in close combat.  You are the gunline.  You have to try to win by superior fire power because you cannot move him in close combat.  On the other side of the coin, he has to play aggressively and try to assault you because he has to realize he can't outshoot you.  If either of you confuse your roles and try to play the wrong style, you will probably lose.

Round 3 you are matched up against another Razorwolf list.  This is where it gets interesting.  In your list you have an extra squad of Long Fangs, and he has an extra squad of Thunderwolf Cavalry.  It is important that you realize that you are the gunline, and he is the beat down.  If you push forward and try to out-assault him, you will probably lose.  If you utilize your superior firepower your chances of winning are probably much greater.

As Mike Flores says, "Miss-assignment of roles = Game loss."  In 40k and Fantasy, we have to remember that the chances of having a true tournament mirror match where we play against identical lists are relatively small, but in GW systems there are 3 ways to win: shooting, combat, maneuver.  When you are matched up against an opponent you have to know which one you are in that match up.  In 90% of matchups your Razorwolf list is the gunline, but being able to identify- and then accommodate to- that 10% of exceptions is an important skill that will give you a greater chance of winning "bad match ups."

Monday, November 15, 2010

Crash!

So yesterday on the local fast group ride there was a crash.  We were in a 6 man paceline on A1A going about 30mph. I was in third position, the guy in front of me (Dr. Matt) rubbed wheels with the guy just in front of him and he went down. I crashed into him and the guy behind me crashed into me....

Dr. Matt, the guy who went down in front of me got taken off by ambulance on a stretcher, he probably has broken ribs and a broken hip. I got off relatively OK. I have bad road rash on my hip, and my jaw feels like I got smashed by a haymaker. My helmet is crushed, but my brain isn't, so that's good. I don't have anything broken but I'm guessing it will be a few days before I can walk normally again. I'll post pics of my helmet and road rash soon. Also luckily, my bike is OK, I think. No signs of concussion or hemorrhaging so I think besides bruising and soreness I'll be OK.

The wreckage of my helmet Part 1.
Outside view of my helmet and the chunk that got crushed.

Road Rash.

Sunday, November 14, 2010

Computer Issues

There was a whole bunch of stuff I wanted to get done this weekend, but thanks to my nVidia 8800GTS dying, I got basically none of it done.  Including modeling and painting.  Plus it's never fun to plunk down for a new video card at Best Buy prices unexpectedly.  If I knew I was going to need to a card I would have gotten one from newegg and saved a bunch.

Friday, November 12, 2010

Tavern Talk: Rituals

As we all know gamers are creatures of habit.  This extends into the realms of our gaming, whether it be how we treat our dice to how we prepare for a game.  Some place their dice with the 'six' up to "inspire" good luck, while others will not roll the same dice twice in a row.  Some gamers have mascots for their armies - either a specific model or even a cuddly toy.  So the question posed is; what are your gaming rituals? 

Oddly enough, I don't have a great many rituals, despite the fact that I tend to be very OCD about certain things.  While I don't have a compulsion to make sure all my dice are facing up as sixes, I do have a few things that I do compulsively.

A minor compulsion I have is using my own stuff.  I won't use my opponent's play aids.  I won't use their tape measurer.  I won't roll their dice.  I won't use their rule book.  In tournaments I have walked all the way around a table to the other side in order to roll my own dice rather than just quickly roll my opponent's.  I just have a feeling that I should be self-sufficient and be prepared.  Being prepared is absolutely key to my compulsions.  I am ultra-punctual in all facets of my life, and I excel at time management.  15 minutes early is right on time, and on time is 15 minutes late.  I will get a lot of anxiety if I am not where I need to be early, or if I am not finished with a project well before the deadline.  That parlays into wargaming in my need to be prepared with all my tertiary play aids.  

Despite that weirdness, my biggest compulsion by far is only playing painted armies.  I won't play with a gray or primed force.  I need to be full painted.  I simply won't play a list if I don't have it fully painted.  I know this makes me rare in the extreme when compared to the overwhelming majority of wargamers, who by my reckoning, play primarily gray, or basecoated, armies.  In a lot of ways, this ties into my obsession with preparedness.  Nothing will motivate me to finish a modeling/painting project like a tournament date scheduled.  The anxiety I'll get from having an unpainted unit or groups of units with a tournament date looming will motivate me to finishing the project.  Under normal circumstances, it may take me a month to finish a couple of units, but give me a tournament deadline coming up and I can power through that same project in three days.  

That is one area that makes me sad about other players.  As nice as it is to play with a fully painted army, it's super nice to play against one.  In my Fantasy 'Ard Boyz prelims this year, I played against a fully painted Lizardman army in the 3rd round after playing gray Brettonians and gray High Elves.  It was such a pleasant game to see two fully painted armies clash, it made me wish everyone else had my level of obsession with painted forces.

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Odds and Ends

Looks like I'll have a full menu of modeling and painting this weekend...






Ravening boxed set, command squad, and a pack of meltaguns.  Not pictured, the pack of storm shields I ordered.  Big pimpin' two wheeled command squad incoming.  

Before I put these together, though, I'll be painting my last two Reaper Bolt Throwers for my Dark Elves.  They are primed and sitting on my painting table.  I'll do a step by step pictorial on those for your viewing pleasure.

Now that the hobby crap is out of the way, I'd like to take the opportunity to criticize well liked people in the GW blogging community.

Stelek comments, quite rightly that 5 rounds of play is tough in a single day, but isn't too tough to ask when you're competing for a nice cash prize.  But I do have a bone to pick about the harshness of waking up at 7:30 to play.  Boo hoo!  I wake up at 6 A.M. everyday for work, and even earlier on the weekend for cycling training.  I don't think people who are out of college and living (ostensibly) in the real world should have any problems with being up and functioning at 7:30A.M.

This is a good tactical article.  This is not.  I love Fritz and I respect the work he has done for the 40k blogging community, but sometimes I feel like BoLS will publish some "tactics and strategy" articles that are basically filler.  I don't know what kind of pressure Fritz is under from Bigred to pump out articles regularly, but I think Spacecurves set the bar high enough that I'd rather reduce the posting schedule and put out more quality stuff than the current system.

In a non-wargaming note, it used to be that money could buy you the legal system through hiring a high priced defense lawyer and expert witnesses.  Now- apparently- money gets you off without even having to spend it.  Just BEING rich is now a defense in court cases.  If you are not familiar with this story, let me recap it for you.  

An ultra-rich hedge fund manager was driving down the road in his Mercedez, when he inexplicably veered into the bike land and hit a cyclist from behind causing life threatening injury.  Rather than stopping and calling 911 to get the cyclist emergency medical attention, Mr. Hedge Fund decided to just continue driving, probably to avoid having to take a DUI test would be my guess.  So he left the cyclist for dead on the side of the road.  The crime itself is heinous enough, smashing a 2500lbs vehicle into a defenseless person and fleeing the scene is absolutely awful.  But to have the temerity to argue that he should be let off with a slap on the wrist because a felony charge would "jeopardize his job" is the most egregious miscarriage of justice imaginable.   OFCOURSE IT SHOULD JEOPARDIZE YOUR JOB!  If I got found guilty of selling cocaine, the law firm I work for could, and should, fire me and I should lose my license to practice.  When you commit a fucking crime, you should pay the fucking price, even if that means you lose your fucking job.  

I don't blame the defense attorney for doing his job, but the prosecutor should be fired.  The guy's entire job is to see that justice is administered in the best interest of the citizens of the State of Colorado.  Unless you can possibly argue that the average citizen is better off with this maniac getting a slap on the wrist, this is gross incompetence.  Or maybe the State could just admit that it is a wholly owned subsidiary of the ultra-rich.  John Edwards (the disgraced political candidate, not the disgraceful psychic who takes advantage of old women) was right when he said that there are two Americas: there is the America that 99% of us live in, and then there is the America that the nation's multi-millionaires and billionaires live in which is essentially a consequence free paradise.

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

40k: Space Marine Bike Army Evolution pt2



Hola amigos.

I have a tentative 2k list that I like for my bike marines.  It has the things I want in it: Rifleman dreads and a tooled out command squad on bikes.  As you'll see, I have some extra points.  If I cut 20 more points somewhere, I can make each bike squad 7 strong instead of 6, which I think has definite merit.  I know how fragile this army will be, what with AV12 being the highest armor in the list and only 18 scoring bodies.  I think going to 21 scoring bodies might be worth it.  On the other hand, I could use those points to add power fists or combi-weapons to the Sarges in order to make the scoring bodies I have already more useful.

And I already know what the advice will be: ditch the command squad and go up to 8 in each squad and add three dakka preds.  That's probably good advice, but I have learned never again to play a firepower list that doesn't have a close combat element.  I could add a thunderbubble, but that's even more points than the command squad and arguably less resilient.  So rather than to advise me to throw the baby out with the bath water, indulge me my uber unit of death.

HQ

Space Marine Captain                    195
-Relic Blade
-Storm Shield
-Bike

Command Squad                           320
-Bikes
-4x Meltaguns
-4x Storm shields
-3x Lightning Claw
-1x Powerfist
-Meltabombs

Librarian                                         135
-Bike
-Avenger
-Nullzone

Troops

5x Bikes                                           205
-Meltagun
-Flamer
-Attack Bike with MM

5x Bikes                                           205
-Meltagun
-Flamer
-Attack Bike with MM

5x Bikes                                           220
-Plasmagun
-Plasmagun
-Attack Bike with MM

Fast Attack

3x Land Speeder Typhoons            270

Elites

3x Dreadnoughts w/ 2x TLAC         375

Total: 1925

So like I said, I have 75 points to play with.  3 more bikers is 75 points.  That 75 points could  alternatively buy me combi-weapons and leave me points to spare.

Where do I go from here?  More bikers?  Combi weps on Sarges?  Fists on Sarges?

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Real Life: Bike List

As a slight break from my Space Marine biker list, I thought I'd cravenly give in to popular demand (OK, one demand) for pics of my real life bike army.  So without further adieu...






This is my fixie.  I use this for riding around town, going to the bar, getting groceries, commuting to work etc.  It's a 2007 IRO Special Edition frame.  The leather Brooks saddle is pretty clutch and is the most expensive part of the bike.  The idea is it's a simple steel frame bike, very simple and easy to maintain.  Incidentally, it is very trendy and when combined with a hooded sweatshirt and a PBR tallboy, it gives me enough hipster cred to make it with girl who normally only date guys in indie rock bands.





This is my 2009 Motobecane LeChampion Ti road bike.  It has Ultegra components and a compact crankset.  This is what I do most of my training rides on.  The titanium frame is amazing and I love it, even though carbon fiber is the rage now.  Titanium has all the advantages of steel in terms of a comfortable ride, but it has none of the drawbacks.  It's much lighter than a steel frame, but actually stronger.  And unlike steel, it doesn't rust or corrode.  You could leave it at the bottom of the ocean for 20 years and when you pull it up the frame will look as good as the day it came off the delivery truck.





Here is my 2007 Cervelo P2C.  This is my time trial bike.  I usually do intense interval training on it.  As you might guess, it's also my time trial bike for when I do races that have a time trial component.  It's really, really fast.  It has Dura Ace components and a Selle SMP Stratos saddle which is really comfortable considering the body position you ride this bike in.  The disc wheel is for aero dynamics, which is all important in time trialing.  To give you an idea, the bike itself cost $3,400 new, $600 for wheels, and $300 for the saddle.  Not a cheap hobby, especially considering I race this bike about twice a year and do training rides with it twice a month.  But it is definitely the crown jewel in my stable of bikes.

People always ask, "how many bikes does a person need?"  And the answer is the same as what you give when people ask about wargaming armies, "however many you currently have, plus one."

Monday, November 8, 2010

Today In Awful Warseer Tactics Part 8: BoLS Lounge Edition


Warseer is dumb.  But let's forget about those retards for today, and let's focus on forumitis of a different sort: BoLS Lounge.  I rarely visit BoLS Lounge because it's not very active, and also because there are several know-nothing personalities there that derail every thread with talking about Footdar or Sisters of Battle.  

The Fantasy forum is even worse.  They get a handful of posts per day, and they are usually along the lines of "make my HE list better."  But there is one thread that rises above the rest.  I dare say it is the greatest example of forum idiocy in the history of Warhammer Fantasy "tactics" threads.  The thread in question is "How to beat MOK Marauder Horde in 8th."  Even I was unable to resist the allure of this thread: it was a mix of Drakr Noir and head lice medicine.  

The basic premise of this thread is that a horde of Marauders with mark of khorne and great weapons cost like 300ish points, and point for point, can defeat any other unit in the game.  The Marauders don't care if you kill 10 of them before they swing.  When they swing they will kill a dozen and a half of you back, and they will be steadfast in the process, and you will lose the combat.  So asking how to beat them is, at the surface, a worthwhile question that deserves an honest answer.  The actual answer is you don't fight them 1 on 1 in a head to head forward assault.  You shoot the fuck out of them since they don't have armor.  You magic them because they don't have armor.  You pie plate them with cannons and artillery.  You use redirectors to get a flank charge.  You multi-charge them with several strong units.  Any and all of the above are what I would consider basic Fantasy tactics.  If you don't 'get' the concept of re-directors, you aren't playing at a high level yet.  

I also want to talk more about multi-charges.  In Fantasy arguments, such as the thread in question, people ALWAYS assume a one on one, unit vs unit, frontal charge.  I want to know: who actually plays like that?  What game are you guys playing?  In the last dozen or so games of Fantasy I've played, at least 2/3rds of the charges in the game are multi-charges.  That's the whole point of the game.  Otherwise the game is rock, paper, scissors.  If  the first charge declared in every game isn't a multi-unit charge more often than not, you and your buddies are playing wrong.  

So the whole premise of asking "what unit beats this unit" is beyond inane.  You will NEVER be in a situation where that is actually a Sophie's Choice type dilemma.  Luckily, some of the posters get that, but even though they give the correct answers, it doesn't stop some of the "I smash my block into your block and hope for the best" tacticians from totally ignoring them.
________________________________________________________________

Cruor Vault: I have been doing the math on a 50 man unit of Marauders with MoK, FC, Great Weapons.

Can anyone figure out how to beat this unit? Without having to spend 600-900ots doing it?

Easily.  I cast Purple Sun of Xerus and half the unit dies.  Then I shoot them for two turns with repeater crossbows.  And then maybe another Purple Sun.  Then they are down to about 12 guys left, I charge with a unit of Black Guard, or a Hydra, and they go poof.  That was easy.
Ultramarinefan: As far as I can tell there aren't any less expensive ways, the best solution I can come up with is to field a huge horde of your own(as cheap as possible, cheaper than the marauders is the idea) and just keep them locked in combat till the end of time.

Wow.  Just fucking wow.  You are pure dumbass, man.  THE ONLY WAY TO BEAT THE BIG ROCK IS TO SMASH IT WITH A BIGGER ROCK I AM A FUCKING RETARD RAWR!
Winter12:  Just use a cheap throwaway unit to the front (a couple of inches away) and move another, ranked unit to the flank. The Horde of Marauders has the choice of charging or standing there. If they charge, they destroy the throwaway unit, then get charged in the flank. If they don't charge they get charged in the flank. Lose/lose.

Winner.  Thread over.  Since this is part 8 of this series, you know it will never be that easy...
Tacoo: Would using Doom and darrkness (-3 ld), following by flank charging with a unit of horsemen with terror from dreadnight spell work?

Since you are assuming you get the magic you want to successfully cast, why don't you just assume that you're getting Dweller's Below off?  Isn't that less convoluted?  Oh, and Frenzied units are ITP.  So be less dumb.
slxiii:  Don't think of this unit as a "nothing can beat this with a front charge" unit, because that is a flaw in tactics on your part. Think of it as a reasonably strong unit that can be defeated with the most simple tactics/support. Units do not exist in a void where they attack only one other unit at a time.

Gosh, it sure makes me happy to know that reasonably intelligent people do exist out there somewhere.
quinn: Obviously if you throw a lot of resources at it you can beat it. A lot of us think that for the points, it's a great unit. I'd rather have people spending time and energy worrying about this unit than killing the units that I really rely on.

You're a tard.  Why am I going to focus resources on something when there are other units you really rely on more?  Do you think your opponents all fail at target priority?  Or are you going to Jedi mind trick them into attacking your throwaway units?
majorcrash: Not to sure about the math, but I can say that Mauraders with mark of nurgle are about impossible to kill with just shooting. My empire crossbow and handguns, much less archers are barely hiting and by the time I lose the extra -1 for range he's in my face. So far only steamtank and cannons have had much affect. I also tried a horde blcok of swordsman and Then spearmen. Same result. Even if i get the charge thier higher Int spells doom for my troops

What is your insanity about?  Seriously.  For starters, who is talking about Mark of Nurgle?  Mark of Nurgle is by far the weakest mark in the book.  Get lost.

gcsmith: Teclis would be probably the best counter for this unit. for HE anyway. if you manage to chuck 6 dice for flames then its almost garunteed to irresistable cast, and given teclis doubles dnt miscast and he will ignore the 1st double 6 each turn im quite safe.

You use High Magic with Teclis?  Do you enjoy losing miserably?  Try the Lore of Life or Lore of Death, and suck a lot less.  I could think of a way better counter for HE, it's called Lothren Sea Guard.  50 of them will shred the Marauders.  They shoot for 2 turns at the Marauders.  Marauders charge, get shot again.  Then they get 50 attacks in their face that re-roll to hit.  They are dead.  That's much easier than gimping Teclis with a shit Lore.

Friday, November 5, 2010

40k: Space Marine Bike Army Evolution

I ordered some stuff.  

4 Ravenwing battleforces, a SM command squad, and 3 pairs of dreadnought Autocannon arms from Forgeworld.

With this stuff plus stuff I already own I can make the following...

1 Captain on bike (duh)
1 Command Squad on Bikes
1 Librarian on Bike (dark angel hooded bike guy from the battleforce can easily be converted to a Librarian)

3x 6 Bike Squads of whatever special weapon config I want w/ MM Attack bike

3x MM attack bikes extra

3x MM/HF Speeders

4x Speeders of whatever variety I want to build

3x Rifleman Dreadnoughts

10x TH/SS Termies

Now, I know there is a list in here, but just in case this isn't enough for a balanced list, I have basically everything a Space Marine player should have including all the usual mech stuff,  and Drop Pods, etc.

Is there anything else that I'm missing that I should look into getting?  Next week I'll post some 2k and 'Ard Boyz list ideas.  Until then, I'd love to hear suggestions if I'm forgetting anything necessary for a bike list.

Thursday, November 4, 2010

Real Life: Nutrition and Diet

As some of you know, I am a racing cyclist and as such, I pay almost obsessive attention to my diet and nutrition.  I am more passionate about diet and nutrition than I am about any other subject, really.  Without trying to offend anyone, I think it's safe to say that many (most?) gamers are either ignorant or indifferent to nutrition and proper eating.  While I'm eating carrots for a snack, I see people at the LGS eating Doritos washed down with a 64oz Super Big Gulp of Mountain Dew, and I literally cringe because they are killing themselves, and not slowly.

But there ARE gamers out there who do want to eat healthy.  Afterall, being fit and having visible abdominal musculature has certain benefits outside of general health.  Public schools do an unfortunate bad job of teaching proper nutrition to kids in a way that seems manageable, and most parents are just as clueless as their children.  It always shocks me when I hear someone say, "I was trying to be healthy, so I got the chicken McNuggets instead of a burger."  So what do you do when you want to eat healthy, but you don't know how to start?

Keep it really simple.  I use a method called Diet Quality Score that basically gives you points for eating good things and takes away points when you eat bad things.  At the end of the day you want as many points as possible.  The more points, the healthier your diet.  Counting calories is largely irrelevant with this system because you will get to 2000 calories around when you run out of healthy things to get points for.  Plus, overeating fruits and veggies isn't the easiest thing to do.

Use this chart to track your daily Diet Quality Score.  When you eat a serving of something, circle the points on the chart.  It's easy.  There are some notes on there that explain tricky things.  As you'll see the highest score you can get per day is a 29.  It is not important to eat a 29 every day.  I usually get around a 24.  Anything over 20 would be considered a healthy, balanced diet.

So once you're doing that, you're well on your way to a healthy diet.  I'm not saying it will be easy.  You'll have to cook most of your own food, I find the following tips help immensely.

1.  6 small meals.  I eat a 500 calorie breakfast.  I have a 200 calorie snack at 10am.  I have a 500 calorie lunch.  I have a 200 calorie snack at 3pm.  I have a 500 calorie dinner.  And I have a 200 calorie dessert at 8pm.  I'm never hungry, and I'm never stuffed.  

2.  When I say "snack" and "dessert" I am talking healthy things, not treats.  A typical snack for me is a handful of Almonds, a ziplock bag full of baby carrots with light ranch dressing, or a Greek yogurt.  

3.  Do some form of exercise every day.  30 minutes of cardio everyday will improve your health immensely.  I'd encourage you to lift weights at least twice a week.  Consult a personal trainer before starting a weight lifting regiment, because I don't want you to hurt yourself.

4.  Take an essential oil supplement every day.  Most people don't eat enough fish to get their Omega 3's.  I highly recommend taking a Fish Oil or Flax Seed Oil pill everyday.  There is no supplement or vitamin you can put in your body that will have as great a variety of benefits for you as essential fats.  If you go to Whole Foods/Fresh Market they sell tubes of the oil with citrus flavor that you take a tea spoon of and it doesn't have the awful aftertaste that turns people off to the oils.

5.  High protein.  I don't mean go eat three burgers from 5 Guys.  I mean, instead of a second helping of brown rice, eat a second piece of boneless, skinless chicken.  Protein has a higher satiety index than carbs, so you will feel fuller longer, which helps immensely when you're losing weight and will be having to get used to eating less than before.  Once you're at your goal weight, you can go to a more balanced diet where protein is lessened a bit.

6.  Low fat.  If there is a low fat or fat free alternative to whatever you want to eat, take it.  "Lean protein" on the DQS means meat that is under 9% fat.  Eggs and nuts are high fat, but studies have consistently shown that despite their fat content eating eggs and nuts contributes to a healthy body composition.

So what is a typical day's menu for me?  Here goes...

Breakfast:
-Multigrain bagel toasted with non-fat cheddar cheese
-1 Cup of V8 Fusion strawberry banana juice
-1 Cup of no-fat skim milk with sugar free chocolate syrup

Snack #1
-Handful of raw organic almonds
-Black coffee

Lunch
-Campbell's Healthy Select Harvest Chicken Tortilla Soup
-Handful of unsalted peanuts

Snack #2
-Ziplock snack bag of baby carrots with lowfat ranch dressing dipping sauce.  Use as little dressing as you can handle.

Dinner:
-2 Boneless skinless grilled chicken tenderloins
-1.5 Cups Brown and Wild Rice
-2 servings broccoli with salt and 1/4 tablespoon of lowfat butter

Dessert
-1 tub of fat free greek yogurt with fruit

I hope this is useful information for some of you.  If you have any nutrition questions, I'd be happy to answer them.