Tuesday, November 29, 2011

The Riders Make The Race

There is an age old cycling adage that says, “the riders make the race.”  What this means is, the race organizers can make the most brutal course they can imagine with cobble stone roads, mountains, hairpin turns and so on; but if the racers don’t feel like pushing it, or no one takes the initiative and attacks then the race won’t be that eventful.  On the other side of the coin, a completely flat straight course could be an absolute bore, but if the racers attack, counter-attack, and ride aggressively it could be quit exciting and difficult.  In essence, the riders make the race, not the course.

Nikephoros dominating a bike race
 In Warhammer, the opposite of this dictum is true.  Since fully painted and modeled armies are time and money consuming to build and collect, there is really no metagame among players.  If radically changing your army composition-or even your entire army- was something we could do in a day or two, you’d see a real metagame as players adapted to each other’s builds.  But as it stands, people try to bring lists that are generally good against a general field and hope that the things outside their control go their way.

But just because you can’t really modify your list in a big way in order to attack a metagame doesn’t mean there are no worthwhile modifications to make.  Remember, the biggest variable you face at each tournament is the terrain and house rules.  It goes without saying that a lot of people underestimated the impact of 4++ area terrain and large LOS blocking terrain in the middle of the table at NOVA this year.   People who playtested their lists on emptier, shooting gallery tables common in the U.S. were obviously caught off guard when their long range shooting failed to replicate the successes they were used to.

So what can you do as a player to avoid this?  My hope would be that as time goes on, TO’s will do a better and better job of letting people know what to expect the tables to look like before the tournament.  Mike does a great job on the Whiskey blog of discussing this sort of thing, and I hope that level of openness catches on.  

Nikephoros dominating a 40k tournament.  Well, at least this game.
If we know, for example, that a tournament will have the same terrain and cover rules as NOVA, we can adjust our lists to take advantage; perhaps by bringing more mid-range firepower instead of long range, or by bringing more dedicated close combat units than you would normally.   And since most units will have some kind of 4++ it doesn’t pay much to spend extra points for units with 4+ (or worse) armor.  You can shave points from unnecessary armor saves and spend them on things that become better under the tournament conditions, like Dozer Blades.

Obviously, the alternative is true.  If you know that the terrain will be sparse you would be stupid not to bring good long range firepower, or at least ways to mitigate your opponents’. 

All of this is should be pretty obvious, but my thinking is that very few players take these things into strong consideration.  The difference between a 4-0 day 1 result and a 3-1 result could easily come down to a Dozer Blade or a close combat unit you could have brought to take advantage of their increased survivability.

In the end, in any type of gaming from Warhammer to Poker to video games comes down to controlling what you can control and playing around what you can’t.  Any time that we have an avenue to assert control over something (in this example, tournament terrain rules and conditions) you should take advantage of it.  The more that you control for, the less luck becomes a factor and the more successful you’ll be.

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Email In: Orcs and Goblins List Advice

The Antipope writes...

"Hi Mr. Νικηφόρος, 

could we possibly discuss the following list over your blog? It's for 2400 points. 

Goblin Warboss, Great Weapon [74]

Savage Orc Great Shaman Lv 4 [205]

Night Goblin Great Shaman Lv 4, Talisman of Preservation [220]

Night Goblin Shaman Lv 2, Dispel Scroll [110]
Night Goblin Big Boss, Great Weapon, BSB, Standard of Discipline [74]
Savage Orc Shaman Lv 2, Lucky Shrunken Head 155
Night Goblin Big Boss, Great Weapon, Light Armour [36]

Night Goblin Big Boss, Great Weapon, Light Armour [36]

Night Goblin Big Boss, Great Weapon, Light Armour [36]

Night Goblin Big Boss, Great Weapon, Light Armour [36]

Night Goblin Big Boss, Great Weapon, Light Armour [36]
30 Savage Big 'Uns, Full Command, Second Choppa [365] Pts
39 Night Goblins, Full Command, Netters, Spears, 3 Fanatics [267]
5 Goblin Wolf Riders, Spears, Musician [65]
5 Goblin Wolf Riders, Spears, Musician [65]

Spear Chukka [35]

Spear Chukka [35]

Spear Chukka [35]

Spear Chukka [35]

Mangler Squig [65]

Mangler Squig [65]

Rock Lobber, Bully [95]
Rock Lobber, Bully [95]

Doom Diver [80]

Doom Diver [80]

It's based on bits of info I picked here and there on the Internet and also what models I have in my collection. 

Few points on the list. All the Goblin characters are going in the Night Goblin unit. I wanted 5 Bosses with Great Weapons so the unit is good enough for close combat as well. I realise I only need 2 Bosses in order to push the Warboss, BSB and Shamans to the second rank and keep them out of CC. Maybe I could drop a couple and get 2 more Spear Chukkas?

I know that spells can really hurt the big units so I will opt to get the sniping spells on the Savage Orc Greater Shaman and target his Lv4 all the time. Not sure what other items would be good on the shamans though to be honest. The Night Goblin Greater Shaman has a Talisman of Preservation to protect him from the mushrooms but that might be an excess maybe? Maybe a power scroll on the Savage Orc Greater Shaman  to cast Foot of Gork with 2 dice? I really need help here. 

That's about it, the rest units have obvious uses. Thank you for your time!

The Antipope"

Here's my two cents...

I really like this list in design and concept.  It's got great magic, good combat ability, and lot's of warmachines.

Just some minor things I might change if it was me...

Lose either the Orc Greater Shaman or the L2 SO Shaman.  You have more casters than you'll almost ever have power dice for, I think you could use the points more effectively elsewhere.  Diminishing returns and all that.

Those points should get you some more Spearchukas, which are definitely good to add more of.

I love Savage Orc Big Uns as you know so not much to say here about those.

I might drop 2 of the Goblin Bosses and the Talisman to try to squeeze in two more units of wolf riders.  That should give you lot's more flank disruption and fast attack threats which is what this list needs more of to compliment its strong center and rear lines.

Anyone else have anything they would like to add?

Monday, November 21, 2011

Email In: High Elf List Help

Peter writes...

"Hi, I know this is a bit of a random request, considering you dont play HE, but I really like your mindset on WHFB so i was wondering if i could pick your brains! Ive not played fantasy since 6th ed, but now I've got the urge to adapt to 8th edition and start tournament play again, so though i have an army already im not afraid to go out and buy some extra stuff if its really necessary. So here goes:-

Teclis: 475pts

Mage: Level 2, Annulian Crystal, 175pts

Noble, Heavy Armour, Ogre Blade, Enchanted Shield, 139pts

Noble, Heavy Armour, White Sword, 129pts

Spearmen (19), Full command, Gleaming Pennant, 201pts

Spearmen (20): Full command, 205pts

Archers (10): 110pts

Archers (10): 110pts

Swordmasters(11): Full command, 195pts

Swordmasters(11): Full command, 195pts

Pheonix Guard(19): Full command, Banner of Sorcery, 365pts

Bolt Thrower: 100pts

Bolt Thrower: 100pts

The idea is that i totally deny the enemy magic support through the banner and crystal, dominate my own magic phase and then use my shooting and combat ability to finish them off. Im not sure about the 2 swordmaster units myself, the nobles used to join these and together they could easily wipe out an enemies front rank but now that they will have to weather return attacks. The spearmen arent ideal, but they are very useful as flank guards and can contribute to the fight as they are superior to most races basic troops. Teclis hides in the pheonix guard, the nobles join the 2 units of swordmasters, and the mage joins the spearmen unit with the banner to avoid them running turn 1.lol

Thanks for taking the time to read this, and if you could spare 5 minutes thought to critique it that would be great! And saves me painting useless units. lol

He is a very bad man.

Hi Pete, thanks for writing.

Your general concept isn't bad at all.  A Phoenix Guard magic bunker is pretty darn nasty if your opponent doesn't have the tools to deal with it.  That said, you have a few minor things that can definitely be tweaked to make it a bit more efficient in my opinion.

First, you have full command on every squad.  The only unit that needs a unit champ are the Phoenix Guard, so the champ can eat a challenge and protect Teclis.  The other units don't need to pay a points premium for an extra close combat attack.

Second, since you're using Banner of Sorcery rather than World Dragon, I assume you're using Life Magic instead of Death or something else kooky.  Generally speaking, you're going to want to run fewer and bigger units to take advantage of unit-wide buffs.  For instance, it does no good to give one unit of Sword Masters regeneration if your opponent will just target the other one.  So consolidate those Swordmasters into a single unit.

Third, the Nobles don't need magic weapons.  A simple Great Sword is a fantastically cheap, amazingly powerful weapon for them.  Save some points there.  Also, one of them needs to be a BSB.  And both of them need to hang with the Phoenix Guard.  The idea is to push Teclis and the other magic to the second row (so they can't be CC''ed) but also to prevent people from rushing headlong into combat with them.  You opponent will not want to send his unit headlong into two Nobles with great weapons, not to mention the Phoenix Guard attacks.  Lastly, the unit will draw warmachine and shooting, and magic attacks.  The BSB will prevent something bad happening on the off chance you fail a leadership test.  Your magic bunker running off the table would be awful.

Fourth, your Spearmen need to be Seaguard.  This is a list that wants to sit back and force the enemy to come to you.  The best way to do that is shooting and magic.  You have the magic, but your shooting is only eh.  If those Spearmen became Seaguard, suddenly you have a lot more shots and crossing the battlefield to get to you becomes a scarier proposition.

Lastly, the bolt throwers.  These are hit or miss.  Against certain armies they are worth their weight in gold.  Others they are useless.  Same can be said for Eagles.  Nothing is better than wrecking a cannon with great eagles.  But nothing is worse than having great eagles in your list when you face Daemons.  So whether you go Eagles or Bolt Throwers is a local metagame call.  If you play opponents with lots of warmachines, consider bringing Eagles instead.  If you're playing on a big tournament level, I'm tempted to lean towards the Eagles actually.

Hope this advice is helpful.  Any commentators have more, or different, advice?