Monday, July 30, 2012

The 40k Community Has a Loser Mentality Part II

In my previous angry rant, I went off on some BoLS commentors who are clearly idiots.  It isn’t just that they have strong ideas about what the game should be, it’s that they feel that their ideas are superior to everyone else’s’ and consequently anything contrary is to be dismissed, and dismissed with maximum indignation.

WhenI talked about scrub mentality on 3++, I was NOT talking about them.  As I admitted in that article, I have my own self-imposed rules and limits about what kind of army I would play.  These rules do probably limit how competitive my armies could ever be, but there is always a chance that my rules would happen to coincide with what’s good, and I could end up playing a hyper competitive army.  But really, the point is, my rules are for me, not anyone else.

Unlike these BoLS commentors, I don’t think the type of lists I prefer should apply to everyone else.  I don’t think that the level of competitiveness I prefer to play at is the only level everyone else should play at.   I cannot fathom being under the delusion that my happy medium is what everyone else should be forced into. 

So this brings me to my conclusion.  The scrub mentality is completely different than the loser mentality. 

A scrub would say: I only enjoy playing foot lists, but I try to have the best foot lists possible and I love smashing people’s mech armies.

A loser would say:  Full mech armies are WAAC garbage and if I see my opponent put down 8 razorbacks I’ll pack my army up and leave.

I have no problem with the scrub mentality, and I’ll admit I have strong scrub tendencies as do most competitive players in the hobby, simply because aesthetic appeal of the armies and units is a strong reason to play a particular army.  Playing an army you hate aesthetically just to be as competitive as possible seems really rare in the 40k community. 

I have a big problem with the loser mentality.  Whether they use fluff, or “what the game designers intended,” or claim to not be competitive, they are similar to the scrub.  But the scrub holds only himself to these rules; the loser tries to hold everyone else to them.

The 40k community is, in fact, a community.  The key to being a member of a community is understanding that people can hold incompatible ideas to yours, but rather than “packing up your army and leaving” you learn to coexist.  If you don’t like playing against hyper-tuned competitive opposing lists: don’t play against them.  Find members of the community with a similar interest to you, and play against them.  There is nothing wrong with asking your opponent before the game whether he is bringing a tournament testing list or a fun list.  Packing up your stuff and leaving is a sign that you are not ready to be a member of the community, and it’s seems clear to me that if you’re that upset you should probably avoid playing publicly. 

Thoughts?  Comments?  Questions?

Friday, July 27, 2012

The 40k Community Has a Loser Mentality

Reference: This article.

No, not the article itself, but the comments.  The author of the article has a winner mentality, actually.  He, or his playgroup, found a cool and innovative combo that most people probably hadn’t discovered.  And being justifiably excited about this discovery, he posted it to share with the world.

And he got pilloried for it.  By a bunch of people who take being ‘scrubs’ to a new level.

Could you imagine this happening in another game with a different community?  Imagine a Magic player discovering a new combo that no one ever thought of, crafting a pretty cool deck out of it, and sharing it with the community.  He would be complimented, encouraged and would set off a chain reaction hundreds of other players rushing out to test it out themselves in order to tune and improve the new interaction further.  If the deck turned out to be really good, he would probably have it named after him, and would have a measure of immortality in the community.

Not in this community.  Nope!  All innovation is strictly punished by a bunch of fucking losers who hate the idea of progress, innovation or competition.  These are the types of players who want to play infinite games of their Space Marine battle company list against their buddy’s 180 Boyz Ork army until the end of time.  They interpret any sort of discovery of a clever rules interaction as ungentlemanly at best, and cheating at worst.  Fuck them.  They are holding this game back, and holding the rest of the community back.

And let’s be frank: this Daemon/Ork list probably isn’t even very good.  But it isn’t about whether it’s good or not.  It’s fucking creative and innovative.  It pushes the boundaries of what players consider possible further out.  That is good!  Even if the idea itself isn’t good, we should encourage this kind of experimentation and innovation and creativity.  That is what a winner mentality is.  If you’re not on board for it, you’re a fucking loser, so shut your mouth.

Thoughts?  Comments?  Questions?

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

40k Metrics: 6th Edition Vehicle Mathhammer

It’s rather obvious to everyone that I enjoy mathhammer.  I feel that there is an edge to be gained by being aware of the average potential of your units, and the ability to know which of the units in your book are most points efficient. 

6th Edition threw the old mathhammer for a loop in regards to killing vehicles.  It used to be rather straight forward to calculate the amount of shots it would take to shoot down a Rhino, but in 6th Edition it is very, very difficult.  I doubt most players have bothered trying to do it, so they may not be aware how tough it is to hammer out.  What makes it so hard?

It's still all about the numbers
In short, it’s because we have two parallel systems for killing vehicles operating at the same time.  One system is the hull point system, and the other is the penetration chart.  It is rudimentary to calculate how many hull points a unit can shoot away per turn, but what you cannot account for within that is the fact that at least 1/6ths of penetrating shots will explode a vehicle.  If you explode a vehicle with the first shot, it doesn’t matter how many hull points you can peel off with the rest of the shooting for the unit.  Additionally, some weapons are better at exploding vehicles than others, and that has to be taken into account.  Simply put, you have to take into account the overall likelihood that either one of these systems will kill a vehicle in a given turn, which is a really rather complex set of maths.

To solve this dilemma I created a script within Excel that calculates the odds of a particular unit to kill vehicles and I’m rather proud of it.  It uses the following logic to calculate the vehicle kills:

1.       At the very start of a simulation, create a unit of AV___
2.      Start Round 1
3.      For weapon #1, do a hit/miss roll.
1.       If the weapon hits, do a strength roll
1.       If strong enough, do a point of damage.
1.       If the damage kills the unit, skip remaining weapons and move to Round 2.
2.      Otherwise, if damage is high enough for penetrate check, then do it.
1.       If penetrate succeeds for instakill, then skip remaining weapons and move to Round 2.
2.      If the weapon misses, go to the next weapon for the round.
4.      If the unit still lives, repeat Step #3 for Weapon 2, 3, ....
5.      Start Round 2
1.       If the unit never died, it starts Round 2 at its current hull level.  Otherwise, start Round 2 with a fresh unit.
2.      Round repeats as Round 1 above.
6.      Repeat through Round 5.

A few comments.  As you can see, it presumes a 5 turn game, but you can tweak the settings for longer games if you like.  It runs 10,000 simulated games to get an average that should eliminate the outliers.  Also, it doesn’t allow for split firing, so units that can do that are shit outta luck.  This is much more refined than the 5th Edition mathhammer, since it allows for vehicle damage to carry over to the next turn.  You’ll also notice that logically the most vehicles any unit can destroy per 5 turn game is 5, which makes complete sense.  A unit with 200 meltaguns will still only be able to kill a max of 5 vehicles per game.
After I finished it, I went back and made it user friendly so you can literally put any shooting weapon in the game into it and custom make your unit with whatever loadout you want and run the analysis.  Download the .zip file hereOn the bottom right is your weapon pool.  Feel free to add every weapon in your codex in there.  It has slots for Weapon Strength, roll needed to hit, how many dice to add to strength for armor penetration, and what bonus you get rolling on the Penetration Chart.  Once you have the weapon pool filled, you go to the unit load out section on the left and add the weapons for the unit.  If you put Krak missiles as #1 in your pool and your Long Fangs have 5 of them, put “1” in the first 5 entries.

Once you’re done with the unit load out, hit “run analysis” and it will give you the results.  You’ll note that it changes slightly every time you run it.  This is because instead of just running the straight average of rolls, it simulates 10,000 actual games.  This is a large enough sample size, I think, that the results can be accepted.  But you can change that variable at the top too, if you feel like the results of 50,000 games is more reliable.

All in all, I’m very stoked about this and I hope you guys enjoy it.  Since 6th Edition vehicle damage is so much more difficult than previous editions, I would assume most people are going to get some value from it.

Last note, I couldn’t figure out a simple way to do twin linked weapons, so for my personal assumption I just raised the BS of the unit firing by 1.  Not perfectly accurate but good enough for me to draw conclusions from.

I’ll do a follow up article next week detailing some of the interesting results this program uncovers, and hopefully various people around the web will find some unconventional conclusions as well to add to the discussion.

Thoughts?  Comments?  Questions?

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

My Current Lists: 6th Edition Space Marines 2k

Hey all.  After playing my 6th Edition Templar list a bit to get a handle on 6th, I realized I didn't want to be in Templars after the FAQ.  Simply put, having to bring an Emperor's Champ and another obligatory HQ is pretty points prohibitive.  It basically eliminates me bringing allies to make up for the shortcomings of the Templars.  What I basically found was that while Templars are shooty enough to compete in 6th, the added price of the 2nd obligatory HQ is one burden too many when it comes to list building.  Additionally, the lack of mobility is a problem, only the Terminators and Typhoons can really move and shoot effectively and I just felt outclassed by highly mobile armies.  Lastly, despite a lot of firepower, I ran into the problem of dealing with deathstars effectively without a ton of AP1 or 2 to put shots into them.

At that point I decided to give vanilla Space Marines a chance.  Their firepower is only slightly less than the Templars can bring, but they are much more flexible in that there is are more good units at each FOC slot to bring greater variety, plus they can add in allies a lot more flexibly.  One of the things I wanted most was a 10x strong Terminator Assault Squad.  Compared to other deathstars in various lists, they come in the cheapest, and they are a decent trump card against them.  And if your opponent isn't bringing a deathstar, they are a threat to assault both infantry and vehicles.  Just an all around great unit.  The only other things I figured to be mandatory was bringing two Riflemen, and Predators in heavy support.

After a few games with my initial rough list, I came to the following conclusions:

1.  Codex Space Marines are generally not going to curb stomp your opponent.  You're neither cheaper, nor stronger, nor tougher than your opponent.  But the strength is versatility; your tactics have to change against each opponent.  Some games you have to play aggressive and others highly defensive.  Other armies are a bit more linear from a tactical perspective.  They have their game plan, and they try to execute it.  If they succeed they win, if the opponent can counter it, they lose.  When making a C:SM list you have to acknowledge the fact that you aren't going to just steamroll someone off the board, and that every game against a good opponent is going to be relatively close.  This means you build into your list the tools to attack or defend.

2.  Predators are good, especially with lascannon sponsons.  Very few other heavy support units can interact profitably with them.  They have enough firepower to just outshoot opposing heavy support choices, though AV14 is a problem.  That said, they struggle against infantry.  There are a lot more foot or hybrid lists out there it seems, plus a lot more deathstars.  For the same reason Predators got good (AV13, resistance to being Shaken/Stunned) Vindicators did too.  The "one gun" tank problem is largely gone now, and Vindis are pretty great.  They just smoke infantry, even deathstars, and being Str 10 AP2 Ordinance means they can drop anything short of a Land Raider with ease.  And with the new blast rules, they will smash a parking lot to smithereens.  If you tally up the things a Predator is better against than a Vindicator, the Vindi seems to come out on top in 6th Edition, at this point.

3.  I prefer the age old Gate/Null Zone Libby powers over taking Divination.  While some of the Divination powers are potentially stronger, I don't want to get worthless stuff, and honestly the Primaris power for Divination doesn't impress me a great deal.  I would rather take a 7/10 guaranteed than the gamble of a 10/10 or 4/10.

4.  I'm not opposed to allies, but I haven't found an ally component that goes with this list in a way that doesn't seem flawed to me.

So here is where I'm at today...

I painted this, which explains its startling mediocrity

-Force Maul
-Null Zone
-Terminator Armor and Storm Shield

[Fairly typical.  I was going to just go Power Armor and keep him el cheapo, but there are situations where you can't avoid him being in challenges, and that's a problem, so I bought him some protection.]


10x Terminator Assault Squad



[I explained the Termies above, and I think most people know the merits of Rifledreads, especially as this is really my only protection from flyerwings.]


10x Tactical Squad

10x Tactical Squad

10x Tactical Squad [break into combat squads]
-Plasma Cannon
-Las/plas Razorback

10x Tactical Squad [break into combat squads]
-Plasma Cannon
-Las/plas Razorback

[After playing with four of the melta Rhinos, I felt it just wasn't necessary to have that much.  melta, and that the benefits of the Plasma Cannon was pretty great now.  Also, I had a Typhoon in the early incarnations of this list, and I found it to be fairly meh as a one of.  The Las/Plas Razorback is a serious threat to most opponents, but with all the other threats in the list it ranks pretty low on target priority.  Part of the philosophy I outlined above for Marines to be versatile means spreading out your threats so you don't have a single point of failure, and I think these help a lot in that department.]

Heavy Support

-Dozer Blade

-Dozer Blade

[I explained these earlier, but they do work.]

Total: 2,000

What do you guys think?  

Friday, July 13, 2012

Better Playtesting: Playtest Like a Pro

Just thought I would share this article on professional playtesting, written by a master.  The Magic stuff is irrelevant, the lessons are applicable to 40k.  

Have a good weekend folks.  Go play 40k, I will be.

Tuesday, July 10, 2012

A Brief Note on Comparative Analysis

Nothing long today, but I did want to point out a fallacy that I'm seeing everywhere.  First, I'm 100% guilty of doing this too, so allow this to serve as my formal mea culpa.  

A lot of people are saying "Unit A is more effective in 6th than it was in 5th, so you'll see it in more armies."  Feel free to change Unit A for a weapon or type of unit or tactic etc.  

This is wrong.  

Units are not to be evaluated in an isolated vacuum, they exist in relation to every other unit in the game and just because they became more useful in general does not mean necessarily that they will be played more.

Example:  Plasma guns are more useful in 6th.  This is a fact.  Their anti-light mech capability greatly increase, and being AP2 they are useful at doing damage to some of the more powerful infantry in the game.  So in isolation, they got a huge buff and the general internet consensus is that we will see more Plasma in 6th.

Possibly.  Or not.  Let's say we rated Plasma 3/10 in 5th edition.  Meltagun being 8/10.  In 6th, we rate Plasma 6/10.  Meltagun slightly less useful 7/10.  Guess what: if these ratings are accurate, melta is still better despite plasma being better.  I just made up these ratings and I don't claim they are true, it's just an example.

So take this away, 'better' means 'better.'  It does not necessarily mean 'optimal' or 'competitive' or 'good.'  It could turn out to be those things too, but don't read too much into 'better.'

Monday, July 9, 2012

40k Theory: Finding the Edge

This is a rather basic list building theory article, but I think with the launch of 6th Edition it’s a good time for it since everyone is back to square one with list building ideas.

The beginning of every good project is an Excel spreadsheet
My initial thought rests on the following premise: in a tournament setting the only safe assumption you can make is that your opponents will be better players than you.  By operating on this assumption, you avoid making plans that will only payoff if your opponent makes a mistake.  Assuming the opposite, that your opponent is going to make a mistake, is a great way to lose the game.

So if we are starting from the premise that our opponents are at least as skilled as we are, we have to look for places to gain advantage wherever possible.  If we were using identical lists, this would be a very difficult challenge.  However, we have the luxury of stacking the deck so to speak: we can bring whatever list we want.

Warhammer 40,000, despite the occasional potential alpha strike first turn blow out, is an attrition game when played by skilled, experienced players.  Killing a unit here, losing a unit there, trying to gain incremental advantage until by the end game you have an insurmountable lead. 

But that’s a 50/50 split, at best.  You need to build into your list a way to get advantage that will compensate for your potential play mistakes or a few turns of sub-average rolls.  Where do you start?

Like most wargames, 40k is a game of threats and responses.  Your units are both threats and responses to your opponent’s threats.  This is important to remember.  To gain an edge, you have to answer your opponent’s threats, while having your threats go unanswered.  There are a few common methods of doing achieving this in list building…

1.  Points efficiency.  If your units are identical to your opponent’s, but yours are 5% cheaper across the board you have a decided edge.  Since our units are not identical (despite the cries of Xenos players!) we have to make sure the units we do select are as points efficient as possible.  Always compare the potential damage output from a unit vs. the points it costs against units of a similar role within your book.  Yes, Black Templars get cheaper Land Speeder Typhoons than Ultramarines, but that doesn’t mean that Typhoons are an inefficient unit for Ultramarines.  We cannot control external balance except by playing a different codex, so you should keep your comparisons internal.

2.  Multi-purpose units.  Auto-cannons and missiles are good at killing vehicles and infantry.  Lascannons are only really good at killing vehicles.  Heavy bolters are only really good at killing infantry.  Therefore, your best bet is brining significantly more auto-cannons and missiles than either lascannons or heavy bolters.  Multi-purpose units allow you to answer a greater range of your opponent’s threats.  It prevents your list from having a single point of failure.  If all your anti-infantry is a set of Devastators with 4x Heavy Bolters, all your opponent need do is kill them, and his infantry go unanswered.  The important lesson is spread your answers and threats out over multiple units, and bring units that can threaten multiple types.  When 6th launched lots of people proclaimed lascannons as “back.”  I wouldn’t be so sure about that.

3.  Difficult to answer threats.  Like the others, this is self-explanatory.  If your opponent has no answers to your threats, you will probably end up winning.  Let’s look at Nob Bikerz again.  By the end of 5th they were hardly a threat, because they stopped being difficult to answer.  When every army had 20+ missiles per turn, these lost their mojo.  Now with 6th, that particular answer is not an answer at all, and the Nob Bikerz are now a difficult to answer threat.  Land Raiders are also difficult to answer for people without melta.  There is a fine line between brining difficult to answer threats and bringing an imbalanced list.  If you sacrifice too much of your list in bringing rocks/deathstars etc then you run the risk of not having enough multi-purpose units. 

4.  Isolate a short-coming in answers.  Spamming vehicles, or running hordes of infantry isn’t in and of itself a great strategy.  They are the brute force way of isolating a shortage of answers, and not the sort of thing us creative types want to do.  Take a look at BA Jumpers.  People realized that jumpers with priests took advantage of a lack of efficient answers.  Nobody was bringing plasmaguns in large numbers, and nobody was bringing Vindicators.  So nobody had enough guns to shoot the FNP 3+ armor jumpers off the board with ease.  They took advantage of a ‘hole in the metagame.’  Nobody is bringing Plasma weapons?  Bring an army that can only be stopped by lot’s of plasma.  This seems obvious, like saying, “if nobody plays scissors, play paper.”  But it really isn’t because 40k is infinitely more complex than RPS.  Most people gear their lists to beat Marines, Rhinos, hordes of cheap infantry, and Land Raiders.  Attack them in a way that differs from all of those things (like BA Jumpers) and you can gain huge advantage.  Fliers and allies allow these types of out of the box threats to see a lot more play, and I think Timmah does a good job of breaking down the concept for 6th in his post here.

Again, this stuff sounds like pretty basic stuff, but we are all in uncharted territory and a back to basics approach is a productive way to go.

Thoughts?  Comments?  Questions?

Sunday, July 8, 2012

Hobby: My Workbench

Just a brief aside from all the captivating theory posts, I thought I'd share what's on my workbench.  I've been working on a vanilla marines list (to be posted soon!) and I've had to paint.  My goal is to paint my vanillas and BT's to have the same color scheme as my Grey Knights so they can all use the same Dreads/Vehicles etc.  The plus side is the scheme is very easy for me to paint, and at least from a few feet away looks like a good paint job.  So here is a shot from my current workbench, 10 TH/SS termies and a few random tactical marines that I need to get done to fill out my squads.

About 90% done, and then will need to be based.  But I predict I'll be done by the end of this weekend.

Friday, July 6, 2012

Things That Were Awesome In 5th And Suck In 6th

When we last met, I made a list of things I’ve observed that were not as valuable in 5th Edition, but are going to be much more important in 6th Edition.  This time I would like to touch on some things that dominated 5th Edition, but are not nearly as overwhelming in 6th.  The title is misleading, most of these things don't suck now, they just aren't as awesome as they used to be.

Shaking like an epileptic
1.  Fortitude.  In a world where vehicles were suppressed by shake stunning, Fortitude was the king.  Most armies loaded themselves up with Strength 6-8 weapons in order to suppress as many vehicles per turn as they could, which allowed them to “deal” with the vehicles with minimum firepower.  This in turn allowed them to focus overwhelming resources on immediate threats.  Grey Knights trumped this.  If you wanted to suppress the Psyfleman dread, or the Rhino full of Purifiers, you had to kill them.  This was a force multiplier for the outnumbered GK, which allowed them to avoid being defeated by simple torrent of fire. 

Unfortunately (or fortunately?) this paradigm is over.  Vehicles will only rarely be shaken or stunned.  Vehicles are more likely to be destroyed before they are shaken.  Therefore, anything that mitigates shake stun effects are vastly reduced in value.  The very torrent of fire that they were designed to be immune from is now deadly.  Additionally, the downside of Perils on a Fortitude test used to be negliable.  A glancing hit, no big deal.  Most likely it would be another shaken result, which was what they were hit with anyway so it was no drawback at all.  Now suffering a glancing hit is downright deadly.  You have a Psyfleman with 1 hull point left.  You gonna take the risk of rolling Fortitude?  It used to be a no-brainer.  Now, you really have to weigh your options.

2.  Missile Spam.  Missiles are still good, make no mistake.  But as we came to find out, they dominated 5th Edition.  Not only were they great at playing the light mech game, but they had another function few give them credit for: they made Nob Bikerz go away.  The solution to the menace of Nob Bikerz was putting instant death wounds on them which ignored their Feel No Pain and removed whole models, which meant Strength 8, 9, or 10 wounds.  Missiles were the cheapest option of these, and most armies could take them.  Once most armies began loading up on missiles, Nob Bikerz stopped winning.  In 6th Edition, Missiles neither ignore Feel No Pain, nor remove whole models of Nob Bikerz.  Uh oh! 

Since missiles are no longer a win button against deathstars, their role is primarily anti-vehicle with some modular usage against infantry.  But as a primarily anti-vehicle weapon, they are outclassed by Auto-cannons (rate of fire) and Lascannons (quality of fire and all important AP2).  They are increasingly beginning to look like a jack of all trades in an environment where specialization is the key to success.  I don’t know yet if krak missiles will be totally sidelines in 6th, but they certainly aren’t going to be the kings of the battlefield anymore.

3.  Fire Dragons.  These took a big hit.  In 5th, melta was so vital that their existence was the only thing that kept Eldar on the map after the novelty of Bike Seer Councils wore off.  In 6th, melta is so much less vital.  Except against Land Raiders, melta isn’t required to stop vehicles reliably.  Now, any high strength weapon with decent rate of fire can do it reliably.  Melta appears to have gone from a generalist weapon, to a specialist weapon.  Since Eldar do not get cheap Lance weapons, they still need their melta to stop certain threats, so Fire Dragons are still obligatory.  So while they are still obligatory, they go from being a 5 star unit to a 3.5 star unit.  Also, you Eldar players are probably going to find that in a world where AP1 and AP2 is very valuable, you have a codex with no Plasma guns on infantry, and Fusion Guns will serve as a bad version of a Plasma Gun.  I predict Fire Dragons will be shooting a lot of shots at Paladins and Nobz in the coming months until you get a new codex with cheap lances, and Star Rifles (or something like that to fill the Plasma role).

4. Fateweaver.  Say what you will about Fatecrusher being a noob slayer: it’s powerful.  Fateweaver was previous stopped by focus firing and running him off the table or just killing him.  But, as many armies were composed of single shot missiles, there was a decent mathematical chance of him surviving the turn.  In 6th, I predict that the average rates of fire will tick upwards across most armies.  If this is so, Fateweave may be in serious trouble.  A world of 12 missile shots per turn at his head was scary.  A world with 24 autocannon shots per turn coming his way is a death sentence.  Oddly enough, if Autocannons come to replace missiles where possible, Fateweaver will get worse.  But the Bloodcrushers will get better.  Curious!

5.  Vulkan.  So the stuff I said about melta for Fire Dragons?  It is a knock against Vulkan too.  In 5th, marine armies having enough melta was absolutely crucial to success, and Vulkan made that game plan even better.  The fact that he also buffed Thunderhammers (which were super good) and Flamers (also good) was a bonus.  As melta goes, so goes Vulkan.  And in 6th it does not appear to be the game changer it was.  Oh but Thunderhammers.  They are good, but since they don’t do anything to vehicles anymore, they are Powerfists for all intents and purposes.  Which is fine, except outside of terminators you pay a points premium for them over fists, so bump that now.  Lastly, Flamers took a hit.  They were never mandatory in marine lists, but Heavy Flamers on a Speeder or combi-flamer on a sergeant were always strong in Vulkan lists. 

Those things are still decent, but with cover going from 4++ to 5++, the value of cover ignoring weapons is correspondingly less valuable.  In summary, all three things that Vulkan buffs are either directly nerfed, or paradigm shifted out of favor.  Vulkan, naturally then, went from being one of the best units in the game to being more marginal.  Still good, but not dominating.

Thoughts?  Comments?  Questions?

Wednesday, July 4, 2012

Things That Sucked in 5th But Are Awesome In 6th

Hey gang.  After having a few games under my belt I'm going to refrain from claiming to have solved the game or know what's the end all, be all of 6th Edition.  That said, I have made some observations that I think stand up pretty well.  

Fortunately for the world, everyone and their brother have been talking about their views on 6th Edition.  Rather than rehash everyone else's topics, I thought I would discuss units that were either bad or mediocre in 5th edition which have become strong in 6th.  This can be either rules that directly improve them, or more commonly, rules encourage a style of play that indirectly benefit them.  So without further adieu...

Oh wait, I was good in 5th too!

1.  Deathstars.  But only certain ones.  Multi-wound models are ideal, but what's most important is the models count as upgrade characters: Sergeants, Warlocks, Nobz, etc.  The key to manipulating wound allocation now is being able to bounce wounds as needed regardless of positioning.  Farseer with Fortune leading a unit of Warlocks with an attacked 2+ armor save Phoenix Lord are cute, because on a 2+ you can't move any AP2 shots directed at the PL to a Warlock who gets a 4++ re-rollable save.  Conversely, if you get lit up by a Battle Cannon, on a 4+ you can move wounds to the PL who gets a re-rollable 2+ armor save.  This will ensure that an already tough to kill unit is even tougher to kill.  Multi-wound units like Mega-Nobz are even crazier to get rid of, and if they are on bikes the old plan of Power Fists/Thunder Hammers instant killing them doesn't work so well.

2.  Powerfists.  As a corollary, IC's armed with Fists/Hammers are insane.  They have a 2+ LOS to keep clean of wounds.  What this means is, any Fearless/ATSKNF unit with an IC with a fist is going to inevitably grind you to nothing.  The Fist will do a couple of wounds every turn and will never be killed, and will never break.  This is very scary.  A lowly Ork Warboss with a Claw in a unit of 30 Boyz can easily wipe units several times their points value if you can't kill the IC.  A possible solution is gearing your IC's to beat up other IC's in challenges, in order to mitigate the damage they can do.

3.  Attack Bikes.  Multi-melta attack bikes were outclassed by MM Speeders in 5th.  In 6th, however, Attack Bikers are survivable whereas MM Speeders are not.  Attack bikes are mostly immune to Instant Death now, whereas before one Krak Missile ended their day.  Attack bikes can still be torrented down by small arms fire, but they stand up better to lascannons/missiles than Speeders.  Typhoon Speeders are still good, but bringing an MM Speeder into a range where it can be effective is suicide.  As Attack Bikers are slightly more survivable, and cost fewer points, I see them replacing MM Speeders by and large.

4.  Predators.  Oh yes.  These are all stars now.  Doubt me at your own expense.  Predators are now the choice de jour of Vanilla/BT/DA/Chaos Space Marine Heavy Support.  BA and SW get insanely cheap Devastators that you can't pass on, but everyone else should be taking Predators outside of special builds.  Here why: fire suppression is dead.  The entire concept of Shake Stunning a Predator the whole game until you randomly Wreck it is over.  AV13 at 36-48" is going to shoot at you every turn and you won't stop it until it's dead.  Sure, you can focus fire on one, but it's going to take 5 or 6 Missile Shots from an MEQ to remove one Hull Point.  So essentially, to Catch a Predator is a significant firepower investment.  You might get lucky and Explode it, or Shake along the way, but for the most part, the overall firepower a Predator brings to the table over the course of the game is vastly improved from 5th.  And from a cost effective standpoint, they compare favorably to Devastators for the books I cited above.  This is similar to the next entry...

5.  Vindicators/Demolishers.  I said it.  They sucked in 5th, but they have game in 6th.  For starters, the drawback of "one gun syndrome" is significantly lessened.  You're just as likely to Explode it as you are to Weapon Destroyed it.  And you are significantly more likely to simply Wreck it long before either of those results.  So guess what: it will shoot it's Cannons every turn until it dies.  And unlike 5th, they smash vehicles to smithereens.  And they kill Nob bikers to smithereens.  Don't get me wrong, they are not the end all be all, but they are vastly, vastly improved.  For Templars and Blood Angels, they should be strongly, strongly considered as they will get to shoot before midfield weapons like Psycannons/Multi-meltas can even think about stopping them.  Going back to the Nob Bikerz, if T5+ deathstars (which several codices can do now) become a force on the tournament scene, the value of Vindis will only increase.

6.  Chaos Havoks with Autocannons.  In my opinion, if you gave me the option of a gun that fired one shot that could easily penetrate a vehicle, or a gun that fired multiple shots that easily glance a vehicle, I'll take the latter.  Glances are how you reliably kill anything short of AV14.  That being the case, Havoks with Auto-Cannons are kings of the battlefield.  A single unit of AC havoks will do about 2.66 glances to a Rhino per turn.  A unit with Krak missiles will do 1.75 glances.  Yes, the Kraks are more likely to penetrate, but you are going to kill the Rhino with glances before you kill it by exploding.  That being the case, Havoks with AC are the superior choice for Light Mech control.  Additionally, the AC Havoks have more game against Monstrous Creatures, Flyers and random Infantry than Missiles.  Unfortunately for most loyalist Marines, their Devs don't get AC, so that leaves Chaos Marines smiling.  Do you bring Predators or Havoks?  Either choice is good, but Predators are clearly more cost effective with AC/LC than as Dakka Preds.  If you want anti-heavy mech, Predators.  Anti-Light Mech or MC, Havoks.  It comes down to how good the remainder of your list is at killing the other stuff.

I have some more of these, and I'll share them with you guys in future installments.  So for now I'll warn you about this: if you dismiss AV13 long ranged firepower as non-competitive, you'll be making a huge mistake.  Keep bringing Missile Devs and MM Speeders to your own detriment.