Monday, February 28, 2011

40k Hobby Update

I did it.  Despite partying both Friday and Saturday night, and getting 85 miles of cycling in, I managed to complete my hobby agenda for the weekend.

Almost.  The only thing I didn't touch was the Rhino/Razorback.  After I finished my 5th Land Speeder Typhoon, my interest level in assembling any more models was basically zero.  But the good news is, once I finish that Rhino/Razorback I can move onto painting, which is a lot more enjoyable.

And once painting is done, and Adepticon is over, it will be 40k play time.

My work table after the madness ends.  Note my finished Predator Destructor turrets.
I'm keeping this short, because I'm working on part 2 of my 8th Edition Magic synergy project, which should be up tomorrow.  See ya then.

Friday, February 25, 2011

8th Edition Primer: Magic Synergy Part 1

A bunch of people have done some really great review of the different Lores of magic in 8th edition, so I don't want to do a bland Lore by Lore review.  There is, however, a missing picture that most people haven't thought about, and that is synergy.

Now there are two types of synergy and I'll cover them both.  First will be covered in this article, and it is the synergy between multiple Lores on multiple casters in one army.  The second is the role of magic in creating a synergy with your list.

So let's get into it.  Pack a lunch, this will be a lengthy one.

Most folks play between 2k and 2.5k.  Yes, there are some armies that can bring two level 4's with full access to two Lores.  But for the most part, people will be playing with a level 4 and a level 2, and that is the assumption I'll be making for this article.

Since spells are random, we can safely assume that the level 2 will have the signature spell from that lore, since it's assured and you can make plans based around that.  The other random spell is just a bonus that sometimes becomes useful.

What I will do is go through the 8 signature spells, and detail how they interact with each other lore that will be used by your level 4.  Let's get to it.

Fireball - Lore of Fire - Magic Missile Str 4 d6 hits.  Can be boosted to have longer range and more hits.

Fire - Fire is a lore, thanks to the innate ability, that gets better when working with other fire wizards, especially for lower level casters.  If you have a level 4 with Fire (why?!) taking a level 2 also with fire isn't a horrible plan.

Beasts - A level 4 with Beasts is based around one thing: turning into a big, bad monster and/or casting Pan's Impenetrable Pelt on buff with the army.  The magic missiles in the lore are rather weak.  You can cover that weakness by bringing multiple level 1 fire wizards with Fireball.  Once your wizard transforms into a Mountain Chimera, you'll have plenty of dice left to spam Fireballs each turn.

Metal - Not much synergy here.  Metal already has good direct damage in Searing Doom.  Fireball is redundant, and adds nothing to your list if you have a level 4 of Metal.

Light - In a lot of ways, Shem's Burning Gaze is superior to Fireball.  That doesn't bode well.  If you have a level 4 of Light, a minor wizard with Fireball won't be adding much to your list.

Life - Life doesn't have great direct damage spells, as your might expect.  Most Life wizards who roll Awakening the Wood trade it for Earth Blood.  If you have a Level 4 of Life, there are other Lores that synergize much better with it than Fireball.  

Heavens - Heavens has some great utility and some great direct damage.  However, all the DD spells are expensive.  A level 4 with Heavens could get some mileage out of a level 1 or 2 with Fireball.

Shadow - This lore has no real direct damage spells, so there is an opening for Fireball.  Especially if the Level 4 casts Withering and then two level 1s blast that unit with Fireballs.  There is some synergy with Withering, but for the most part, armies with Shadow don't need to do their damage with magic directly, since Shadow supports the shooting or CC of the army.  

Death - Now this is decent synergy, as much as you can get with Fireball anyway.  Toss a Purple Sun with the level 4.  Fill up your power pool again.  Since most of the rest of the spells in Death are short ranged you need something to do with all those dice.  How about casting decently long ranged pumped up Fireballs with a couple of level 1s?  Not saying this is the best plan out there, but it can be a nasty turn 1 alpha strike.

Summary- Fireball has a surprising amount of synergy with other Lores, considering how basic and non-subtle a spell it is.  I think the Death plan is the best, but I could also see it working very well with a Lore of Beasts plan.

Lore of Beasts - Wyssan's Wildform - Target unit gains +1 Strength and +1 Toughness until the start of your next magic phase.

Fire- If your army has a level 4 with Fire, I'm not sure why you'd take a random level 2 with Wyssans Wildform outside of a very specific list, in which case, wouldn't you take a Level 4 with Beasts?  A level 4 of Fire means you plan to do serious damage to your opponent in the magic phase and this is a close combat buff.  Pass.
Beasts - Obviously, this combos well with the Lore of Beasts as you might expect.  The Lore is full of buffs designed to make you a badder baddie in close combat.  I think the best use of this spell in a Beast Magic based force is to throw it on a chariot after the charge.  The extra strength on the impact hits and the extra toughness will make the chariot a bruiser, and suck out some dispell dice prior to your level 4 becoming a Chimera.

Metal - This combos very well with Metal.  A Level 4 of Metal is based around three main spells: Final Transmutation, Enchanted Blades, and Glittering Robe.  Wyssan's Wildform combos extremely well with Glittering Robe and Enchanted Blades.  Generally, speaking Glittering Robe is great in armies with weak armor.  If your Chaos Warriors or Brettonian Knights already have a 2+ armor save, going to 1+ isn't going to blow anyone's mind.  But Wyssan's Wildform on those units makes them scary.  Throw the Enchanted Blades on them, and they become monsters.

Light - This Lore also focuses on close combat buffs.  It has it's direct damage and utility (in the form of the excellent Protection of Pha) but the offensive combat buffs are the bread and butter.  Wyssan's is also a close combat buff, and whereas Light buffs initiative, leadership, attacks, and Weapon skill; Wyssans does strength and toughness, which are always welcome additions to the close combat party. 

Life - Compared to Wyssan's synergy with Metal and Light, this one is somewhat of a sleeper.  The only thing Wyssans adds is +1 strength.  That's a yawner.

Heavens - Heavens is based around direct damage, with a few combat buffs.  The combat buffs are relatively weak, and having a guy running around with Wyssan's isn't going to suddenly turn any tides in a Heavens based list.  Very similar to Fire in that regard.

Shadow - Ah, now this is interesting.Wyssan's works extremely well with Shadow's debuffs, and it does it at the signature spell level.  Shadow's debuffs work well with both shooting and close combat, Wyssans is basically for close combat.  If your army is more CC oriented than shooty, Wyssans will work very well for you.

Death - Death has two of the best close combat debuffs in the game already, Death and Darkness; and Soul Blight.  Generally, Death magic has a lot to do in the magic phase, and it's hard to see how Wyssan's fits in there doing something unique.  Generally, pass here.

Lore of Metal - Searing Doom - Magic missile that wounds inverse to your armor save and doesn't allow armor saves.

Fire - Fire has some pretty good magic missiles.  But they are relatively low strength.  Searing Doom is strong against all the units that Fire magic is generally weak against.  It can be nice addition to the offensive suite.  And hey, if your other spell is enchanted blades or glittering robe, all the better.

Beasts - Once you turn into a Chimera, a direct damage anti-armor spell is pretty tame.

Metal - As usual, it synergizes with the rest of the Lore quite well.  Being able to pack two copies per army means that against lists with high armor, you can vaporize a unit per turn, and generally those units won't be cheap.

Light - Light buffs and direct damage are decent, but much like Fire they don't really scare high armor armies.  Str 4 hits don't scare knights.  Searing Doom scares knights.  So this can fill in a gap in the offense.

Life - Metal in general works pretty well with Life, as they are very similar Lores.  If you're going to bring a level 2 purposefully for some direct damage, to compliment your Life suite, you might as well bring Searing Doom, but I wouldn't.

Heavens - Searing Doom doesn't really add much to Heavens that it didn't already have.  I wouldn't highly recommend that combination.

Shadow - Shadow debuffs are pretty great as we all know.  But there is no great direct damage in the Lore, and Pendulum and Pit of Shades are expensive and situational.  Searing Doom covers two niches at once that Shadow lacks, direct damage, and anti-armor.  Searing Doom plus Shadow magic isn't an oh my god homerun, but it isn't bad, either.  

Death - This one is just bad news.  Death magic is already all about ignoring armor damage.  Searing Doom gives you more of what you already have.  Sometimes that's good, sometimes that's really useless.  There are better lores to couple with your Level 4 of death.

Lore of Light - Shem's Burning Gaze - Magic Missile with str4 d6 flaming hits.  Can be buffed to strength 6.

Fire - Shem's Gaze adds very little to a Fire magic brigade.  You have to ask yourself why you'd add a level 2 of Light instead of another level 1 with Fireball.  Unless your only opponents are undead or daemons, you shouldn't.  And if those are your only opponents, why aren't you running Light on your level 4?

Beasts - Similar to Fireball.  Beasts could use a good direct damage spell to cast after you morph up.  Shem's is better in a lot of ways than Fireball as a one off.  It does similar damage, but has the ability to do extra to Daemons or Undead, always nice.  Plus if you have tons of dice, you to bump it to Str 6 to kill Hydras and HPAs.

Metal - Doesn't do anything for you that more Searing Doom wouldn't do better.  Pass.

Light - The best reason to take a level 2 with Light when you already have a level 4 with it is to make sure your level 4 gets the spells he needs, as two copies of it aren't as good as two copies of Searing Doom is to a Metal list.

Life - I've said it before, Life's gameplan is usually based around close combat or Dwellers Below.  Shem's doesn't add anything to that gameplan you need.

Heavens - Heavens can use Shem's because it does need a simple direct damage spell, as the good ones in the Lore are expensive.  But I can't see anyone actually making a list where this option is better than others.

Shadow - Unfortunately, Searing Doom tends to do this better.  With one exception: killing monsters.  Having the ability to pump it to str 6 means your fear of Hydras and HPAs goes down drastically.  This is a metagame call.  However, remember that many armies that can take Shadow can't take Light, so it is a limiting factor.

Death - This is one case where Fireball is distinctly better than Shem's.

Lore of Life - Earthblood - The Wizard and his unit get a 5+ regeneration save.

Fire - Fire magic wants lots of Wizards in a magic bunker casting lot's of Fireballs.  Good magic bunkers need a ward save of some kind, since they will attract shooting.  This has a pretty decent synergy, actually.

Beasts - Pretty good here, if you run a shootier army.  You can buff toughness army wide easily, and giving a unit a regen save means you will be able to out shoot most enemies in an attrition battle. 

Metal - Not a bad combo with Glittering Rob, but otherwise, meh.  Wizards who cast Earthblood don't want to be in combat.  Metal buffs want to put you in combat.  That is pretty much the opposite of synergy.

Light - Much like Metal, Light wizards cast buffs on combat units.  Earthblood is a defensive unit buff.  Not really good synergy.

Life - Can you believe the intense synergy with Throne of Vines?  I can.  Plus, it's not too bad with Flesh to Stone, either.  Problem is, your level 4 already has it most likely.  You don't need two copies of it in the same magic bunker.

Heavens - Heavens is a sit back and shoot lore.  Earthblood makes you want to sit back and shoot.  Sounds good to me.

Shadow - Now this is a good combo, thanks to Smoke and Mirrors.  The Shadow wizard being able to change places with the Life Wizard means that you can get the regen save where and when you'll want it, rather than being in a backline unit.  This is good, good stuff.

Death - I don't see anything especially synergistic about giving the wizards unit that screams "wow this would be good with Death magic" but maybe I'm wrong.

Lore of Heavens - Ice Shard Blizzard - Hex spell that gives -1 to hit in shooting and close combat.  Shooting attacks that don't use ballistic skill need a 4+ to be used.

Fire - No combo here.  In a Fire heavy list you have to have a great reason not to add more fire.  This is not that reason.
Beasts - Shutting down 50% of a warmachine's effectiveness can help your Mountain Chimera last a lot longer.  Not a bad thing to have when your Mountain Chimera is your main offensive strategy.

Metal - Again, halfing the effectiveness of a single warmachine is ho-hum for most Metal lists.  The -1 to hit and -1 to shoot is more relevant for them.  But better than double Searing Doom?  Nope.  Not when you have Glittering Robe, too.

Light - We have a winner.  This, plus Pha's Protection is super duper fly.  If you are going to go magic bunker crazy, this is how you do it.  Level 4 with Light.  Level 2 with Ice Shard.  Go ahead, shoot my Slaan with your cannon.  After you make two 4+ rolls.  Oh you're going to charge the Temple Guard instead?  At -2 to hit?  Good luck winning that!  One of the best combos in the game.

Life - Nearly as good.  A typical High Elf Phoenix Guard Life Bunker has a ward save and doesn't need regen from Earthblood.  But they do need the -1 to hit and protection from strong throwers.  This is it.  A very good idea.

Heavens - Not surprisingly, a Lore that is focused on sitting back and shooting getting a great defensive tool.  It's especially good in non-bunker lists.  Being able to have two mages with it in two units shitting on two warmachines makes your list really defensive.  Have you ever wondered how Empire gunlines could possibly beat Dwarven gunlines in a shoot out?  Now you know.

Shadow - If there is a drawback to Ice Shards, it's the short range.  Smoke and Mirrors buddy.  This combos ridiculously well with Miasma.  Declare a charge, "stand and shoot."  "Ok since you have Miasma and Shards from last turn, you hit on 8's.  Good Luck!"

Death - Generally speaking, Miasma from Shadow does what this does for Death but significantly better.

Lore of Shadow - Mystifying Miasma - Hex Spell that gives -1 to your choice of Init, BS, WS, or Movement.  Can be buffed to affect them all.

Fire - Broken record time, Fire wants more fire.  Unless you have a really good reason, add more Fire.

Beasts - Shadow works well with Beasts.  Beasts are good at buff your units up.  Miasma is good at knocking them down.  Miasma is very versatile.    The knock to BS is very defensive making the horde of xbowmen hit on 8's is nice.  The knock to WS is very offensive.  Your unit hitting everything in the game on 3's is dope.  The init knock means your buffed units smash first.  The movement means your buffed unit gets the charge off.  This is all good stuff that heavy Shadow lists do, but with Beast buffs you can work both angles nicely.

Metal - These go together like PB&J for the same reasons as Beasts, but with the added benefit that Metal has better direct damage spells to add to the buffs.  Win/win.

Light - Pass here.  Light magic already buffs your WS and Init.  And defends you from shooting.  You don't need Miasma here.

Life - This comes down to how your list is constructed.  Magic bunker?  Go with Ice Shards.  Buffing combat units like Lion Chariots and Sword Masters?  Use Miasma.

Heavens - No real synergy with Miasma beyond Miasma's general awesomeness.  You can do better.  Like a second copy of Ice Shards.

Shadow - More betterness.  Combos well with Penumbral and Pit of Shades, ofcourse.  But also makes your other debuffs more effective.  

Death - Oh this is good stuff.  Not only are the debuffs generally useful, but Death is short ranged.  You don't want your Level 4 Death magic in charge range, even to cast a snipe spell.  Snipe the BSB, cast Miasma somewhere, bring your Death Lord back to safety.  Wins.

Lore of Death - Spirit Leech - 12" contested Leadership roll.  If you win, loser suffer unsaveable wounds equal to the difference. Can be buffed for more range.

A snipe spell on a hero level guy, usually leadership 8, isn't going to set the world on fire.  Repeat this statement for all the Lores except...

Death - The combo with Doom and Darkness is strong. The other snipe spells in the Lore can't compete with how nice that is.  It's the bread and butter with the Lore.  

Whew.  Now that was long.  I'd love some feedback.

Thursday, February 24, 2011

Even more 40k Hobby: Busy Weekend Ahead

In addition to the Rifleman arms that came from Forgeworld, I have some other projects on the horizon.  Namely, getting my 40k 'Ard Boyz list put together.  To do that, however, I need to assemble all this...

5 Typhoons and a Rhino.  The Rhino will be magnetized to be a Razor too.  The 5 Typhoons will be boring as hell, though.  I have half a mind to go to the LGS and pay one of the broke teenagers some chump change to assemble them for me.  The only way I can see myself assembling them all in one sitting is if there is some really good sports on this weekend I can put on in the background and zone in and out.

We'll see what progress I can make.


This article on YTTH spawned a pretty epic discussion in the comments.   I'm stuck somewhere in the middle.  Stelek is right, the Lore of Metal is pretty good.  Especially in lists with dual level 4's with Loremaster.  You can do nutty stuff.  Stelek's theory (the way I'm interpreting it) of Magic in Fantasy is in line with mine, namely, pick a Lore that makes what you do well already even better.  Magic should have a synergy with the rest of your list, not a bunch of random spells that might do good things, but not necessarily anything that furthers you winning the game a great deal.

On the other hand, the dual Slaan skink list is pretty bad.  Even with Lore of Metal, you can't keep those Slaan alive for long, and the Skinks aren't very good even with metal buffs.  Stelek seems to think it will be no problem to flee react and cause charges to fail.  When someone says, "well you're playing MSU so I'll redirect my charge into one of your other units" he responds by saying that isn't possible since good players won't deploy that way.  I just don't buy that.  If you have 70+ skinks on the table, divided into units of 10, there won't be enough real estate for you to deploy them and maneuver where I won't be able to re-direct my charges if one of them flees.

That said, I'm not picking on Stelek too much here.  The people criticizing him are just as flawed in their rationale, because at the end of the day, it's just theorycraft.  Fantasy, unfortunately, doesn't lend itself to practical theorycrafting like 40k due to a more complicated maneuver and close combat system.  There are simply too many variables to say X beats Y.  You can do that, to an extent in 40k, but it doesn't work in Fantasy beyond a very surface level.

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

40k Hobby: Look What Came In The Mail For Me...

I've wanted these for a long time.  I finally pulled the trigger.  Kinda dumb since I have a huge backlog of modeling projects ahead of this in line, but it's nice to know I have them.

Tough to see?

3x Rifleman dreads coming to a table top near me.

In other news, I got to spend some time with the new Orcs and Goblins book.  I will tentatively say that they will be about the same on the power spectrum as before.  This is good, because I rated them highly before.  When I get a copy I can analyze in depth I'll post a full review.  But for now, I'll say that they have good troops and plenty of warmachines still.  Stay tuned.

By the way, this BoLS article is total fucking bull shit.  The author contradicts himself saying the book has a couple of good GT builds and plenty of fun builds, but is neither competitive or fun.  How's that work?.  I don't know who this clown is, but I have less than no respect for his poorly written opinion.  Maybe he is a non-comped six time GT winner, maybe he is Big Red's internet BFF.  I don't give a crap.  The guy doesn't make a cogent argument, and the article is so far below the editorial standards of that site that Big Red should be ashamed.

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

I "Get" Fantasy... I think...

So yesterday in classic Stelek fashion, he posted an epic rant about Fantasy.  It's quite good, and he makes a ton of strong points.  I'd suggest everyone who is interested in Fantasy give it a read.  

When I first read it, I was bothered.  Maybe I am one of the "Fantasy Experts" who don't really "get" the game whom he was railing against.  I think I have a pretty good grasp of what makes 8th Edition tick, and how to build an army that can win in it.  Plus, I usually agree with most of the concepts Stelek says when he talks Fantasy theory.  So why did I feel like he was talking about me?  Mostly because I thought the past few DE lists he has posted that I saw were kinda, well, bad.  Very odd, because many of his lists are quite excellent. 

So I thought, I should go through his rant and pick out the points where either I disagree, or where I want to go into more depth.  Follow along!

2) However, unlike in 40k, in Fantasy–not only are Stubborn/Unbreakable units common, you can generate them in virtually any army.

This is very true.  The fact that most armies have stubborn units, or can simply be stubborn by virtue of having more ranks than you, adds a balance depth to the game.  It is the factor that allows cheap horde armies able to compete toe to toe with more elite forces.  Some would argue, in fact, that the cheap horde armies have the advantage in combat.  Crown of Command is an asskicker.  Believe it.

3) Almost everything is a LD test in Fantasy, barring Magic (psychic powers). So if you have your General and a BSB nearby, you get improved LD and a re-roll. This means you can take shitty troops, make them super LD units that rarely run, with re-rolls. 

Yep.  Battle Standard Bearers and Inspiring Presence mean that cheap troops that aren't armored heavily are often better than units that invest points in armor over bodies.

4) Being unbreakable is great. Until you are dead. Grail Reliquary and Plague Monks come to mind. So too do hordes backed by crazy LD options. Skaven and Lizardmen can do both remarkably well. LD10 with rerolls, or LD7 unmodded with re-rolls and/or 3D6 dice? Yeah, good times.

More truth.  Skaven and Lizardmen generally have to be killed to the last man.  And generally, they will wear you down before you wear them down.  This is a good place for me to bring up the dichotomy between WoC and LM.  Both feature powerful casters and elite infantry and big monsters.  But Lizardmen are better.  They also have good cheap infantry and significantly better at the leadership games.  And sadly, they are better at shooting than WoC, too.  Both are weak against shooting and warmachines, but at least the LM have magic that can counter that.  The WoC are left out.

 5) When you have your General, you don’t want to lose him–because he’s worth points, and earning points is difficult. You don’t want to expose your standards either, nor your BSB. This is why killy Generals are generally considered ‘bad’ by me, if someone brings along a bigger knife, your General is going poof. Or worse, his unit goes poof, your General snacks on a champion, and then loses combat when challenge is refused, still leaving a couple killy heroes on your General along with standard combat resolution to make you run. 

This is very true.  You general is worth more for his Inspiring Presence than he is for the handful of models he could potentially kill over the course of the game if you equipped him with fighty equipment.  However, Stelek usually keeps his characters barebones for this reason.  I disagree, I think they should all have some kind of defensive equipment.  If you get him a 5+ ward and it keeps him alive for even one extra turn, it is worth it.  I'm becoming very convinced that the BSB and the Inspiring Presence models should be able to take hits, because they are coming.

6) So, most people run these big ass units towards the enemy, trying to buff them so they won’t disappear and give up points. They try to minimize the damage you can do to their army by having huge blocks. Which is funny when a couple purple suns run over their super units and they aren’t so super anymore. Add in a hundred plus shots a turn, and your life sucks when you play that way. What’s the usual answer to that? “Well Skaven with a Storm Banner, blah blah fucking blah.” Yeah, it’s a single item. You have magic then shooting, right? You have Spirit Leech, for example? Kill the BSB. You have a magic weapon that lets you snipe enemy characters? Use them. Got any suicidal template droppers you can get into the enemy army? Oh dear, storm banner doesn’t affect them. Playing say High Elves? Vaul’s Unmaking. It’s not like you don’t know which unit the banner is in, you know. It’s as if these things are insurmountable obstacles, but they aren’t.  

Agree, and not too much to add. 

Now  while you have more potential to run across the tabletop, what happens when there are numerous cheap units in the way? Right, not only can you not move around them (with rare exception) unlike 40k where you often can do an end run around blocking units, or shoot holes in them and then charge (not allowed in Fantasy–it’s charge first, shoot later–although a few armies can magically shoot you then magically charge you) 

Here I disagree.  You can smash into them, wipe them over and overrun into the next unit usually.  The general response to that is, "well my units will be at angles so you can't overrun and if you do you'll be out of position and set up for a flank charge."  This doesn't work in practice.  In reality it's not my one unit vs. your one unit, and I will rarely be in a position where I'll get flanked after wiping out your unit.  I'm much more concerned about getting flanked for FAILING to wipe out your unit.

but you also can’t multi-charge (against competent players, generally speaking)

Again I will disagree.  If you are loaded with MSU units, and I declare a charge with 3 of my, let's say chariots against one and you flee react to the last one, I will redirect my charges into your other MSU units.  And you will be taking tons of leadership checks for panic.  Yeah, you'll pass most of them thanks to BSB and generals, but not all of them.  The more your units have to flee react the happier I am.  

You can't have it both ways.  You can't say my ability to cross the battlefield to your money units will be stopped because your side of the board is littered with MSU throwaways, but then say that I won't have anything to redirect my charges to.  Either the battlefield is clogged with units, or it isn't.   

11) In short, Fantasy is not something you can walk your crappy ass 7th edition armies into and do well with. 1 big caster, 1 little scroll carrier, 1 BSB, slide these two small blocks into a horde, call it good. NO, it doesn’t work! Play 8th edition.

Good statement to close this out with.  My Daemons opponent from this weekend had a very 7th Edition-y list, and he paid for it.  The units (Fiends, Bloodcrushers) are all very good at wiping out the first row of enemies each turn and not getting hit back.  Unfortunately, that is a 7th Edition concept.  In 8th you need units that can win combats reliably over the course of 3 turns.  Or lose the combats, but not run away, and give time for help to arrive.  Either you have to be killy and tough or steadfast/stubborn.  Oh you don't do either?  Sorry about your luck.


Monday, February 21, 2011

WHFB Battle Report: Dark Elves vs Daemons of Chaos @ 2,200

Sup all.  As promised, here is my bat rep from this weekend.  More Adepticon playtesting.  I played the local Daemons player, who is quite skilled.  I don't think he had a super great list, mostly because this is the first game of 8th he played below 2,500.  That, and he was experimenting with some new stuff.  The list has some battle-forcey elements, but the core elements I would expect to see in any good Daemons list I face.

As usual, I played my Adepticon list that you've all seen before.  He played the following (near as I can recall) list...

Herald of Tzeentch Lvl 3 Master of Sorcery (Life)
Herald of Khorne on Juggernaut BSB with the -2 leadership Icon
Herald of Khorne on foot
Keeper of Secrets level 2 (!!!)

[The KoS was his big experiment in this one.  It has good synergy with his BSB.  I don't think it was hugely effective, or a good use of his points.  I would have ditched it and beefed up the units he did bring more.  Or bring a few noticeable absences.]

20-30 Bloodletters
30ish Pink Horrors

[Typical core choices for Daemons.  If he didn't have the KoS he could have beefed the 'Letters into a horde, which I think they benefit from.]

5 Bloodcrushers with the banner that adds a d6 to it's first charge distance
4 Fiends of Slaanesh

[These were odd choices.  With the Herald on Jugger he was trying to create a mini-deathstar that would pretty much always get the charge off.  Except, I don't think Juggers were the right unit to use, I would have used Flesh Hounds.  Fiends are puzzling.  They charge a loooong distance, but they do nothing in combat and die easy.  Flamers of Tzeentch would have been tougher, especially for my army.]

So we rolled pitched battle, and set up like so...

Typical deployment.  Dark Riders on the far right.  Xbowmen in the center.  Beefy stuff on the left.  Supreme Sorceress safely out of LoS behind stuff.

He had Fiends on the right, next to his 'Letters.  Crushers in the middle and Horrors on the left.  After that, I deployed my Shades in his right deployment zone 12" away from the Fiends.  I vanguarded one of my DR to the center and one further up the flank.  Daemons got the first turn...

Daemons Turn One

His army lurched forward.  The Fiends turned to face my Shades.  In the magic phase, he only had 5 dice and threw them all at Throne of Vines, and failed to get IF.  I managed to dispell it.  Turn over.

End Daemons turn 1
Dark Elves Turn One

Movement phase I move the motor pool forward.  In the magic phase, I failed to Miasma his Juggers.  I dropped a Pit of Shades on them but it scattered far and only clipped one, he made his initiative test.  I cast Ockham's on the Xbowmen he was likely to charge the next turn as a deterrent.  That plan worked.

Shooting phase I put a lot of bolts into his Juggers, and did a wound.  My Shades' shooting did a wound or two to his Fiends.  End turn.

End Dark Elves turn 1

Daemons Turn 2

His mini-star was deterred by the Ockhams, so he charged a Hydra.  His Fiends charged my Shades.  In the magic phase, his KoS cast a spell giving ASF to the Bloodcrushers.  That... is going to be a problem.

In combat, my Shades lowered the boom and killed a few Fiends.  See, lots of attacks on my end, plus Fiends having low toughness and crap save means they suck.  I did 6 wounds, he killed 4 Shades.  I won, but he made his leadership to avoid more wounds.  The Crushers did 3 wounds to my Hydra, nasty.  My Hydra was manly though, and did a bunch of wounds back.  I only lost the combat due to the fact he flank charged AND had a banner and BSB.  Due to the -2 leadership, I bitched out, even with the BSB nearby.  Hydra ran, taking another wound as it moved through chariots.  Luckily, he rolled very low on his overrun and didn't charge into combat.

End Daemons turn 2
Dark Elves Turn 2

I charged his Crushers with my master, but my BSB who also wanted the charge didn't have the room to wheel to get to them due to intervening units.  Hrm.  So now I figured my Master was toast.  I marched my Hydra right up to his Letters.  My 3 normal chariots were all Stupid, thanks to his -2 Leadership icon.  Bad.  I brough my far unit of DR around to shoot at his KoS.  My fleeing Hydra rallied.

Magic phase, I lowered the strength of his Crushers, super key.  I dropped a Pit of Shades on his 'Letters, killing 4 or 5 of them. 

Shooting phase, my 2 DR and 2 units of Xbowment opened up on his KoS in short range.  Killed it. It took 76 bolts shot at him to do it, but he went down.  That was huge.  My Hydra breathed on 11 of his 'Letters, killing 5 or 6 of them.

In combat, I my Shades did a wound or two to his Fiends but he killed 3 or 4 of them, and they fled off the table.  He went off the table while pursuing.  My master's impact hits did 2 wounds, killing a Crusher.  My chariot's regular attacks did nothing.  Thanks to his Enfeebled strength, he didn't do any wounds to my Master.  We drew combat.

End DE turn 2
Daemons turn 3

His Fiends walked back on.  His Letter didn't charge my Hydra for some reason I can't recall.  He was too good of a player to make a mistake like that, so I'm not sure what happened, I only know he didn't charge for some reason.  He reformed his Horrors to have a view of the center of the field.

In the magic phase he rolled 4 dice maybe.  Now I remembered.  He was going to magic the Hydra to death.  The plan was to draw out my dispell dice with Throne/Flesh to Stone, then cast Flickering Fire on my Hydra, to kill regen, and then kill it with Bolt of Tzeentch.  Didn't work with only 4 dice.  Lesson to you Fantasy players out there: Don't come up with a plan that fails if the magic phase fails.  Make a plan that can win, but wins easier with a good magic phase.

In close combat, his Herald did a wound to my Master thanks to 3 successful 4+ armor saves, but the master kill his last Crusher.  He won combat, but I miraculously held.

End Daemons turn 3
Dark Elves Turn 3

My Hydra charged his Letters.  No surprise there.  The big surprise was my BSB being Stupid, thanks to the -2 leadership Icon.  Had my BSB charged into his Herald, he would have killed him with ease.  Oh well.  My Dark Riders moved around to the flank of the Horrors to take some pot shots.  Some of my other chariots were stupid and the whole motor pool was really slow.  Story of the game for me. 

In Magic, I Enfeebled his Bloodletters to help my Hydra.  Ockham's, however, failed to cast on my Master's chariot, so chances are he wouldn't be able to kill the Herald through 1+/5++.  Oh well.

Shooting I did some good casualties to his Horrors.  In total I killed 5 or 6 of them.

In combat, my Hydra weathered the storm from the Letters relatively easily, and in total killed about 9 of the Letters.  Instability took care of the rest of the unit.  I reformed to face the oncoming Fiends.  Somehow my Master managed to not die, since the Herald only managed to hit him once and failed to wound. 

 End DE turn 3. 
Daemons Turn 4

His Fiends charge my Hydra.  His Horrors moved backwards to cast and not get attacked.

In Magic, his horrors did some Tzeentch spell that hits everything within 12".  Wiped out a unit of DR, and killed 2 of the other causing them to flee.  He got Throne off, and cast Regrowth on the Horrors, bringing back 6 of them.

In combat, against all odds my Hydra didn't do much, but neither did his Fiends.  I think we drew.  His Herald finally killed my Master, but his chariot crewman held on valiantly!

End Daemons Turn 4
Dark Elves Turn 4

One of my chariots flank charged his Fiends who were locked in with Hydra.  Unbelievably, my BSB was AGAIN Stupid thanks to rolling a 10 and 11.  The -2 leadership didn't even matter.  The rest of the motor pool moved forward.  My fleeing DR rallied.

In the Magic phase I failed to cast Ockhams on my master-less chariot, and the phase was over for me, despite having 6 power dice left.  Lesson learned, just rolled the 5th dice for Ockham's and be safe.

In combat, my chariot killed his fiends with impact hits and overran a few inches to get me closer to his Horrors.  My Hydra reformed to face the Horrors.  But amazingly, my Master-less chariot took 3 wounds from the Herald, surviving, and did 2 wounds back, killing the Herald.  Woo!  Finally dead.  Now that all he had left was the Horrors and I had virtually my whole army, the game was over, but we played on for the fun of it.

End DE turn 4.  His Horrors are a bit outnumbered, no?

Daemons Turn 5

His Horrors pulled backwards and cast some magic, doing some wounds to my Hydra, but that's all they could manage.

End DoC turn 5
Dark Elves turn 5

Everyone moved forward towards the Horrors.  My furthest chariot charged them.  My Hydra was 2" short on the charge.  I figured my chariot was in big troubles.  In magic, I Miasma'ed the Horrors and lowered their strength. 

My impact hits killed a few.  The crew and the cold ones killed his Herald of Tzeentch.  Thanks to his banner and rank bonus I think I only won by 1 or 2 and he managed to hold his ground.

End DE turn 5
Daemons Turn 6

Despite all odds, thanks to his rank bonuses he managed to win combat against my chariot and caused it to flee, but it outran him.  He reformed to brace for impact from the Hydra.

End Daemons Turn 6
Dark Elves Turn 6.

For fun, I mind razored my Hydra and charged.  My fleeing chariot rallied.  My Hydra won combat with the Fiends by a lot, and they instabilitied out.  So it took 6 full turns, but I did table him.

End Game.
Well, I whipped him pretty bad there.  The VP score was something insane like 2500-250.  There was a lot of luck on my side, to make it that lopsided.  After his Crushers broke my Hydra, he only rolled 3" on pursuit which wasn't enough to carry him into combat with the Master.  So the Master charged him next turn.  That 2 point swing in combat resolution no doubt saved the Master, but also saved the BSB would the Crushers would have overrun into next.  There is a good chance it would have collapsed that whole flank.

But it didn't.  Despite the vicissitudes of fortune, even had luck not been on my side there, I would have won anyway.  My list is fairly well tuned and his wasn't perfectly optimized and had questionable unit choices, so I was a heavy favorite going in just based on lists, and the results bore that out.  

Go Naggarond!

Friday, February 18, 2011

Friday Odds and Ends

Good morning peoples.  Sorry for the lack of updates the past few days.  I've been swamped with work, but also pretty uninspired on the writing side.  A big Guild Wars update got pushed last night, so I was playing GW late and I'm paying for it today.

I'm sure you've read it, but Stelek's live blogging deployment guide is most excellent, and I highly recommend reading it if you haven't.  It's so good, I'm really tempted to get vassal set up so I can do similar things for Fantasy.

Just as an aside since I mentioned it, do any of you play Guild Wars?

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

BT 'Ard Boyz Triple Rock

Please note, I will not be playing this in 'Ard Boyz.  This would be a "for fun" list that I will use when people want test games at the LGS leading up to 'Ard Boyz.  I said yesterday that I am dead set against list tailoring and would never do it personally.  However, as someone who has won or placed in the local 'Ard Boyz 3 years in a row, there will be several people who are going to tailor against me, and have said as much.  

In years previous, I played double or triple rock BT lists.  The assumption among the local players, who don't read this blog, is that I will play a similar list.  One dude already told me, "I have 18 melta weapons in my list for you this year."  That isn't an uncommon sentiment locally.  So fine.  If they are going to list tailor against me, I have no problem feeding them misinformation.  I've already arranged to play test my real list privately with a disinterested 3rd party, so when I play at the LGS I'm free to spread false ideas about what I'm actually playing.  If they think I'm bringing a triple rock, let them.  That said, I want my fake triple rock list to be good enough to scare people into taking it seriously.

The list...

EC with AAC 150
3x 6x Assault Terminators w/ LRC and Furious Charge 1569
5x5x Crusader squads with meltagun, multi-melta w/ Rhino with smoke and extra armor 790

Total: 2,499

So it's pretty non-subtle.  Everything moves forward as fast as possible and attempts to blow the opponent off the board.  Sure, if you pack a ton of anti-tank you will do some damage to it, but it should be scary.  Going 4/2 TH/LC load out gives the assault terminators insane killing power on the charge and enough resiliency if their ride gets popped too early.  The list has no long range anti-tank, but whatever, I'm not seriously running this competitively.  If people are afraid of this and bring 18 multi-meltas to 'Ard Boyz, they deserve what they get.

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Tavern Talk: List Building

I posted my thoughts on basic Fantasy list building a few weeks ago here, but Kuffeh's Tavern Talk topic this week goes a bit deeper, so I thought I'd dig into it some more.

The beginning of every good (and bad) list

I wanted to see how people went about building their lists.  There are a host of methods people use.  Some start with the rare slots or their character choices, while others get the core choice out of the way.

In my case, as I outlined in my list building primer, I pick how I plan to win the game.  Shooting, Magic, or Close Combat.  Usually, a good list will have one area they are particularly vicious in, with the other two supporting, and enhancing further, the main strength.  This is how I approach my lists.  For instance, my Adepticon list started as a close combat based list with magic support and some shooting.  I went with points efficient units that were likely to beat nearly anything they face in close combat (Chariots and Hydras) and supported this theme by having a strong Shadow Magic presence that accentuates the strength of the list: high strength and high toughness units.  Shadow lowers the attributes of my opponent's units, making my already tough and strong units even better.  As you can see, my supporting role (magic) has tremendous synergy with my primary strategy.  My shooting is my weakest leg, but it supports my army nicely but filling in a weakness: warmachines, which don't care how tough my beater units are and can kill them relatively easy.  I have Shades and Dark Riders, both of which are excellent at hunting warmachines.  So my whole list is designed around a plan of killing my opponent with chariots and Hydras in devastating charges, and the remainder of my list is geared towards making that plan easier to accomplish.  

Do you see a difference between a friendly pick up game list and a tournament list? 

I do not.  I'm not a WAAC douche, but I don't have the ability to make a list with units I know are horrible and have fun.  If I know unit A is terrible and a waste of points, I simply won't add it to a list, whether it be for tournaments or random pick up games.  As I said in a comment on some blog, once you've eaten off the Tree of Knowledge it's almost impossible to get the genie back in the bottle.  How's that for a mixed metaphor?

One thing it seems many gamers often appear to view and consider with their lists is the meta game - how much attention do you put on the local meta-gaming?

In Fantasy, I don't.  Fantasy is much harder to metagame against, because generally what's good against one good army is strong against other good armies.  Obviously, if your 5 buddies all play Dwarven gunlines and that is your only opponent, this changes.  But if I played in a 2k tournament at my LGS tomorrow I wouldn't metagame at all.

Are your lists consistent or do you change from game to game?

Depends.  If I am playtesting for a tournament, they are going to be very consistent, with only minor tweaks until I get the build dialed in, or thrown out completely.  What causes my builds to change the most is the changing of point levels.  At my store we play 2k, 2.5k, and 3k roughly equally.  My list at each points level is radically different from each other, as certain units shine at 2k (Hydra) that don't shine at 2.5k.  So in that regard, what I deploy on the table top changes from weekend to weekend.

I have heard of gamers tailoring their lists to work against certain armies or lists, does this appeal to you?  How do you feel on the topic of tailored lists?

I am whole-heartedly against tailoring.  All lists should be built as all comers lists.  When I go for pick up games, I don't even show my opponent which army I brought until he has already finished his list.  Tailoring for a particular opponent or army is stupid, because it doesn't prepare you for tournaments if you are competitive, and doesn't contribute to having a fun game if you aren't.  If you are a non-competitive hobbyist and you want a pick up game for fun, how fun is it when your opponent stomps you with a tailored list?  Not fun at all.  So if competitive players don't get anything out of it, and non-competitive players hate it, who does like it?  WAAC douchebags who would rather club seals than have a hard fought game.


Monday, February 14, 2011

WHFB Battle Report: Dark Elves vs Orc and Goblins 2200

So the Dwarf player I scheduled to play didn't show, luckily my Orc and Goblin opponent from a few weeks ago had his stuff and kindly obliged me a game.

I used my list from this battle report with no changes.  My OnG opponent had the following list...

Black Orc Big Boss
2 Lv 2 Goblin Shamans
Big units of Night Goblins
Big unit of Orc Boys
3 units of Arrer Boys
Large unit of Spider Riders
3 Trolls
4 Spear Chukkas
2 Rock Lobbas
1 Giant

Not the most optimized list ever, but a lot better than what I faced last time we played.  Fella is finally learning his book, too bad it changes in a week.  We rolled pitched battle and I deployed like so...

My usual strong flank deployment.  Fast cav on the left, archers in the center and the hitty stuff all on the right.  The OnG deployed like so...

His left flank (facing my hitty stuff) was the trolls, spider riders, Orc boys, a Chukka, and giant.  In the center he had two units of Arrer boys and black orcs 2 rock lobbas and 3 chukkas.  On his right he had his boar chariot, night goblins and Arrer boys.

Dark Elves Turn One

Rather inconsequential moving, shooting and magic.  I lowered the Init of his Black Orcs and dropped a Pit of Shades on them, but didn't get irresistible and he used a Dispel Scroll on it.  I positioned myself on the right so that he would have to charge his trolls into my Hydra, who would flaming breath attack away their regeneration and murder them.  With vanguard movement and 18" march my left flank vanished to reinforce my center.

End DE turn 1
OnG Turn 1

His turn 1 was more interesting.  His trolls were stupid and couldn't charge.  He did 3 wounds to a Hydra with a rock lobber.  He moved his giant through the choke point followed by the black orcs.

End Orc and Gobline Turn 1

Dark Elves Turn 2

I charged his trolls with my wounded Hydra and failed to charge his boyz with a chariot  due to a flee reaction, but the flee caused his spider riders to run off the table, win/win.  During magic again I lowered the init of his black orcs and again cast pit of shades but this time he threw enough dice to stop it.  I then cast Withering on his trolls, bringing them to toughness 2.   My shooty stuff in the center began playing a war of attrition with his shooty stuff, which I was happy to do as I'd win in the end.

In combat, my Hydra did 10 strength 2 flaming breath hits, killing all but one troll.  Then his 7 attacks smushed the last one.  I restrained my overrun and positioned myself to receive a charge in the front if he had one.

Dark Elves End Turn 2

Orcs Turn 2

He failed to charge with his giant, but in the Magic phase he moved him forward 2d6 into a charge with my lead chariot.  He moved his other stuff forward, and rallied his fleeing Boys.  His rock lobber shot targeted a Hydra, but misfired.  His other Lobber misfired and exploded.  In combat between his giant and my chariot I did a wound to him, and he headbutted me doing a wound.  He won by one, and I held.

Unfortunately, I did not take a picture of this turn.

Dark Elves Turn 3

This was a good turn.  I charged his spear chucker with my wounded Hydra.  Magic phase I began to throw debuffs on his Black Orcs, since they were either going to charge turn 3 or get charged turn 4.  I rolled a 14 on 4 dice +4 and failed to cast Pit of Shades.  Note, had any of these 3 Pit of Shades been successfully cast, his Black Orcs would have been smushed and the game would pretty much have been over.  Alas...

In combat, his giant headbutt again and I did nothing, but I held.  My wounded Hydra killed his Chucka and could not restrain its overrun and was set up to be flank charged by his Boys.

End DE turn 3
Orcs Turn 3

His team didn't do well this turn.  His rock lobber scattered off the table.  He charged my wounded Hydra with his Boys.  Magic he got nothing off.  In combat, my Hydra killed 10 or so Boys, but they managed to do 3 wounded to him.  I failed 3 armor saves and 2 regeneration saves.  Dead Hydra.  Otherwise I would have won combat and sent them off the table.  Oh well.

End OnG turn 3

Dark Elves Turn 4

This turn two chariots charged his Giant. I charged his BO with a Hydra and a Chariot.  The chariot smacked into them, but the Hydra failed it's charge.  Poor chariot.  Such was my plan.  I tried to cast Pit of Shades on his Boys, but he dispeled it.  I threw Miasma and Withering on his Black Orcs just in case.  Again, my shooting was trading successfully with his center.  My shooting broke his Night Gobbos who ran away 3".

In combat I killed the Giant finally, but one of my chariots failed to restrain its overrun and was a sitting duck for the Black Orcs.  My Dark Riders defeated his shot up Arrer Boys and overran them in the center.  My lone chariot respectably killed a handful of his BO, but his Big Boss and BO with Great Weapons murdered it.  His BO were now set up to charge into another chariot on his turn.

End DE turn 4
Orcs Turn 4

Scary turn for me.  He failed to charge my chariot, but in the magic phase he Hand of Gorked his Black Orcs into it.  Unfortunately for him, he got it with irresistable, and rolled a 4.  Both his casters died, and half of the BO died.  Brutal!  Saved my butt big time.  His NG continued to run.  Best of all, his boar chariot charged my Shades on the rock, but rolled a 1 for dangerous terrain and died.

In combat he killed the chariot, but not before I did a few casualties.  Unfortunately for him, he had about 7 BO and a Big Boss left, and I had 3 chariots and a Hydra intact ready to multi-charge the fuck out of them.

End OnG turn 4.
Dark Elves Turn 5

I multi-charged the hell out of his Black Orcs and once I rolled successfully for all, he conceded.  I was going to Pit of Shades his remaining Boys and blow away his BO and Big Boss in combat.  All he would have left is a rock lobber and a couple of Spear Chuckers, who I would kill on Turn 6.

Notice the Black Orcs are now gone.

Victory Points...

DE: 1925
OnG: 375

It wasn't as bad a game as the final score indicated, but still very affirming for my list to beat a war machine heavy opponent.  Next weekend I scheduled a match against Daemons of Chaos.