Thursday, October 27, 2011

Warhammer Fantasy on the Cheap: Dark Elves

I figured I should start this new series with Dark Elves, since it’s the Fantasy army I know best.  The goal here is NOT to build the cheapest army.  It is NOT to build the most competitive army.  The goal is to build an army that is both cheap and competitive so that a fence sitter might get that final push to pick up the game.

So for the first thousand points I’d like to establish a nice base of Core units and a Hero choice to lead them. 

Let’s start with the Hero…

Dark Elf Sorceress.  This a $13.25 model and for the purposes of a 1k list, she is about 185 points as a Level 2 caster with equipment.  The best part about this model is that it can also represent a 400 point Sorceress Lord when we expand the list to 2k.  Nice, now that is value!

Moving onto our Core units…

Let’s grab two boxes of Dark Elf Warriors.  That gives us 32 baddies.  We’ll use 30 of them to make 3 units of 10 Repeater Crossbowmen.  Each with a standard bearer and musician comes in at 348 points.  And leaves us 2 models to spare…

What the?!  Let’s buy another box of warriors and make them, and the two spare from the first batch into spearmen… but wait.  Paint them differently (black and gold) and you have Blackguard, since the DE spears look like halberds.  This is a neato trick and by far the cheapest way to get your Blackguard.  This gives us 18 Blackguard.  With full command, and the champion carrying the Crimson Death, and standard of Murder, this clocks in at 316 points of very killy death

And to finish the list, we have a Hydra!  I know $66 isn’t a cheap model at all, but we do need this list to be competitive.  175 points for a War Hydra brings us to a total of 1,024 points.  Let’s see how we did…

-20% internet discount
$147.40 out the door.

Not bad at all, and a very, very tough 1k list.

Let’s expand it to 2k.

We already own a Sorceress model, but this time she will be a 435 point Sorceress Lord.  Nice!  Next!

We’re gonna need two more boxes of Warriors.  One of them becomes more Blackguard.  One of them becomes more RXB. 

So we now have four units of 10 RXB.  Each with a standard and musician and shields.  This gives us a Core unit fill of 504 points

We also have enough Blackguard to make two units of 20 strong.  One gets Sword of Might, one gets Crimson Death.  One gets banner of Murder and one gets Razor Standard.  Total Specials: 663 points.

Let’s finish up with…

A final Hydra.  At 2k, two War Hydra are nutty good.

Total cost for the 2k expansion…

-20% net discount
$108.80 out the door.

So the final 2k List…

Sorceress Lord
Level 4
Misc Equipment

10x Repeater Crossbowmen

10x Repeater Crossbowmen

10x Repeater Crossbowmen

10x Repeater Crossbowmen

20x Blackguard
-Full Command
-Crimson Death
-Banner of Murder

20x Blackguard
-Full Command
-Sword of Might
-Razor Standard



Total: 1,969
Total Cost: $256.20
So for around $250.00 we have a very competitive 2k DE list.  The only thing I would do differently to make it more competitive would be to drop equipment off the Sorceress and lose the champ in the BG and their equipment to buy a Master BSB which would cost you an additional $15 or so, and I highly recommend that.  The only reason I didn’t make it part of the list is the two BG units are Stubborn and ITP which means the list as a whole is pretty good about leadership tests.

What do you think?

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

New Feature: Warhammer Fantasy On The Cheap

Many 40k-people (translation: broke nerds) seem to be put off from starting a Fantasy side project army because they hear about how much you have to buy to get started, since the unit sizes are huge and that means more models.

This criticism is true, to an extent.  However, I’d like this series to be a guide on how to start various armies in Fantasy as cheaply as possible.  What I want to avoid is a “BUY TWO BOXES OF ISLES OF BLOOD AND SPLIT THEM WITH A BUDDY” advice that we hear all too often.  Not everyone wants to play High Elves or Skaven.  So as I plan to cover each army, I’ll be leaving those two out since the path to a solid army is very easy to decipher for those two.  The rest of the armies need a game plan and I intend to draw them up.

To get back to the original criticism that you have to spend a lot on a Fantasy army relative to 40k, this is true of the first 1000-1500 points.  Luckily, expanding a solid 1500 point base to a 2k list is often as easy as adding two models, since Sorcerer Lords are expensive no matter what army you pick to play.  Going from 2k to 3k is an expensive proposition, usually, but since 2k is a perfectly fine points level to play competitively we can stop there.

Lot's of points, not many dollars

So for each army I’ll suggest the first 1,000 points to buy, and then how to expand it as painlessly (but still competitively as possible) to 2,000.  When possible we will take advantage of battalions, but as all GW aficionados are aware, battleforces are only a good deal if you intend to use all the models, and unfortunately, GW often includes some head scratching-ly poor choices.

I’ll close this opening article out with some basics before I get into individual armies next…

You’ll need a rule book.  You can get the Isle of Blood 8E mini rule book on eBay for next to nothing.  Do it.  Read it.  Love it.

Dice, tape measurer, playing area, and terrain you already have.  See: you’re saving money already.

Monday, October 24, 2011

Email In: 40k-Metrics, Dark Eldar, Apples, and Oranges

Email In:

Mr. Nike40k
     I hope I can get a moment of your time, and ask you what is (hopefully) a simple question. As a bit of background, I have, for over a decade, played 40k in a fluffy style. I was always happy to paint my models and get a friendly game in. I didn't have any issues with the better players (because that's what they were, better at the game than me) who played to win. Now things are changing.
     Now, I want to start breaking into the more hardcore scene, and I stumbled across your 40k-metrics. I had always known the basics behind statistics in the game (how to calculate shooting and wound percentages) but this novel approach is a delight. My problem comes to this. I'm working on a dark eldar army, and all of the advice I get is bringing me up crucially short in the area of penetrating Rhino-equivalents. Even with 5 Dark-lance armed raiders and 3 ravagers, my DRPG and DLRPG are still areound 30 and 20 respectively. I may just not know what to look for still, but the lack of powerfists seems to be killing me. Even 40 wyches with power fists doesn't get me to the GT levels of transport-popping that the statistics seem to demand.
Am I missing something crucial that should be very obvious, or am I worrying for nothing?
Eric V.

Without seeing your list, it is difficult to say with absolute certainty.   There are a few possible things at work here…

1.  You have a crap list that isn’t good to start with and making changes makes it no better.

2.  You’re discovering correctly that dark light weapons are crap at popping light mech.

3.  You’re comparing apples (Dark Eldar) to oranges (Marine variants).

I suspect it’s a mix of 2 and 3.  But mostly a problem of ‘3.’

This is a key point I’ve tried to explain over and over again; namely that not only does each codex have its own “GT  levels” of scores, but each army type does as well.  Comparing one mech marine list to another mech marine list provides a useful and valid comparison to each other.  A mech marine list compared to a foot marine list provide a much less useful comparison to each other.  A mech marine list compared to a foot Dark Eldar list provides almost no useful comparison.

The key is that each army/playstyle needs to do different things to win the game, and thus will have different scores.  For some reason this is obvious in many cases but not so in others.  No one would be surprised when an IG list has below average close combat scores, right?  But clearly people are surprised when Dark Eldar score low on anti-light mech.  It comes down to managing your expectations.

If you want to know how your Dark Eldar list works, compare it to good Dark Eldar lists of a similar style.  Playing Venom spam?  I would suggest that your list score similarly to Dash’s 2011 NOVA list.  Playing Baron/Hellion-star?  Compare yours to Xaereth’s.  And so on.

So the bottom line is, compare apples to apples, Eric.  If you compare your DE list to a similar proven GT DE list, and you’re still coming up way short, write me back with your list and we’ll see what is happening under the hood.  But if I was a betting man, I would suggest comparing apples to apples will solve your problem.


Friday, October 21, 2011

Email In: Dark Elf List Help

Email In:

Hi there,  my name is Isaac chiang and am a big fan of your blog.  Found it when I was starting up dark elves and found it informative and helpful.  Now if I may, I would like to ask you for some help making a 2000 point list.  Its for a tourny and I know it won't be straight up beat your opponent.  There will be some objectives that does not emphasize winning at all costs, though I know there will be some players like that attending.  The armies I will be most likely facing will be Tomb Kings, Orcs and Goblins, Wood Elves, Vampire Counts, Ogres, and Chaos Warriors.  I enjoy using magic a lot and this is a list of models I have available.  I know it is a bit much asking you for help making a list but am hitting some serious writer's block haha.

Supreme sorceress on dark pegasus
3 sorceress models
5 shades
1 assassin
3 chariots
1 War hydra
20 Black guard
1 Cauldron
20 Corsairs
10 RXB
27 Warriors with spears
5 Cold one knights
10 Dark Riders
and a box of un-built warriors

Initial idea was to have 2 units of 10 crossbows, 25 spears, 18 blackguard, sorceress on foot and supreme sorceress on pegasus, cauldron, 5 riders, and 6 shades.  I am trying to make a good list out of what I have and trying not to buy any more at the moment.  Again, thanks for any advice you could give and thank you for your time.

Max me out!
This will be tough.  You have a lot of one-ofs.  That makes creating a focused tournament list rather tough, but you have some decent stuff.  I know you say you don’t want to buy anymore models, but quite frankly, you need a second Hydra.  There is no question about that.  Your initial list is basically a battleforce with some super trashy units. 

So here is what we are going to do…  The box of unbuilt warriors will go 3 into spear dudes, the rest into RXB.  You’re buying a Hydra; expensive but you’ll have to deal with that.

This I see you making best is a foot horde, heavy magic based around Ockham’s Mindrazor.  As you’ll see, there are no bad Mindrazor targets in the entire list.  Even if someone is in combat with your Warriors, they will be Str 8 Init 5, with Hatred.  Not bad.  And woe to someone who gets charged by a Mindrazored ADH Corsair unit with SSS or Blackguard.

Supreme Sorceress L4 on foot Lore of Shadow Lifetaker Sac Dagger
Sorceress on foot L2 Lore of Shadow Tome of Furion
Cauldron BSB

30 Spear Warriors with flaming banner
20 Corsairs with SSS and ADH

20 Blackguard with Banner of Murder
2x Chariots

2x War Hydra

So the nuts and bolts.  You have a horde magic bunker of Warriors using Power of Darkness and Sac Dagger to power out all your spells every turn.  You should actually WANT low power dice, so your opponent will have very little to dispel with.  In any event, the key to your turn will be when you cast Ockham’s on the unit of choice.  That unit should win combat with ease and make your life easy.

Your Corsairs should be in front of the bunker moving forward as fast as possible.  The Cauldron should be right behind the bunker spreading BSB love to the left flank and center.

Left flank should be monster mash, two chariots and two Hydra.  Remember, a Mindrazor’ed chariot has Str 8 impact hits.  Right flank will be held down by the Stubborn Blackguard

A lot of threatening targets.  Is your opponent going to ignore your nasty infantry to focus on Hydra’s?  Or ignore chariots and Hydras?  Tough decisions.

The only thing I worry about is the vulnerability to warmachines since you have a lot of big infantry units.  Not much you can do about that, but many of the opponents you’ll be playing against don’t have many warmachines and the ones who (OnG) I suspect won’t be maxing them out if their collections resemble yours.

Remember too, that even though Mindrazor is your #1 gameplan, there are times and opponents where Pit of Shades will be your big spell.  Against them, be sure to use Mindrazor as a bluff to draw out their dispel dice before you toss a Pit of Shades onto their horde of Savage Orcs.

Good luck, hope this helps.  Lemme know how it works out for you.