Tuesday, April 24, 2012

My Current Lists: Dark Elves 2,500

I feel kinda dumb doing this article since I just posted my “current” DE list last month, but since that one is out of date, this isn’t entirely inappropriate.  Not too many major changes, and it pretty much plays the exact same as before, just more reliable due to a harder to kill battle standard bearer.  Here goes…

Now where did I park my Dark Pegasus?


-Dark Pegasus
-Whip of Agony
-mundane armor kit

Supreme Sorceress
-Level 4 (Shadow)
-Dark Steed
-Focus Familiar


-Level 2 (Metal)
-Dark Steed
-Tome of Furion

-Cold One Chariot
-Mundane Armor kit
-Crimson Death

Death Hag
-Battle Standard Bearer
-Cauldron of Blood

[The big change here is the switch to the Cauldron BSB.  I’ve explained this change in length before, and it’s mostly all upside.  I love the Dreadlord, but there are times when I really wish I had a second level 4 in that slot; usually turns when I roll like 11 power dice, haha.  I think the DL is better for all comers than a second Supreme Sorceress would be, especially against warmachine or deathstar armies.]


12x Repeater Crossbowmen

12x Repeater Crossbowmen

5x Dark Riders
-Repeater Crossbows

5x Dark Riders
-Repeater Crossbows

5x Dark Riders
-Repeater Crossbows

[Same core as before.  Dark Riders really aren’t meant to last more than a few turns, which is a pre-emptive answer to people who say that they die easily.  I expect to be able to abuse their vanguard movement to screw up my opponent’s deployment, to use their feigned retreats to slow my opponent’s beater units and death stars, and to provide ablative wounds to my Dark Steed equipped casters through LoS saves.  All of these things are likely to result in their deaths eventually, sooner rather than later.  Which is fine to me because by the time my chariots and hydras are hitting their lines, I don’t need the Dark Riders anymore.]


3x Cold On Chariots


2x WarHydra

[Same beater units as before, same weaknesses against big blocks as before.  You need to skillfully use Magic and multi-charging to beat armies with big blocks without being bogged down.  Against elite or MSU armies you can just rampage at will.]

Total: 2,492.

This leaves me with 8 points extra, so likely some character will get a 5 point random magic item, unless someone has some cooler suggestions.  I’m all ears.  In any event, I hope to get some bat reps done soon with the list so you can see how it plays out.

Thoughts?  Comments?  Questions?

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Editorial: The Awesomeness of Being Totally Wrong

I love, and I mean I absolutely love, when I am proven wrong about something in a competitive game.  Most people would think the opposite; that I would always want to be right, and get the validation of everyone telling me how right I am.  Maybe some folks do prefer that.  Personally, I love when I’m wrong about a conclusion. 

Why?  Simple really.  Let’s say I think a Unit A is great and Unit B sucks.  I play with A, and I win a lot simply because I’m a pretty good player.  Then one day I try using Unit B on a lark.  And I find out that not only does Unit B not suck, it is infinitely better than Unit A!  That’s the best feeling ever.  It’s akin to being one of the best quarterbacks in the NFL, then having a coach ask you to change one small thing and after you do, you become an even better quarterback. 

It’s a total free-roll.  Playing with the house’s money at that point.  And I love it.

I bet by now that you are wondering what miraculous discovery I made that led me to make some sick brags about how I am so smart that on the rare times I’m wrong I impress myself.

So here it is, and it relates to Warhammer Fantasy Battles and Dark Elves.

I painted this, hence why it looks terrible.

The Cauldron of Blood is really good.  Especially in my chariot list.  The end.

Actually you deserve a bit more explanation for having put up with that lengthy preamble.

I was judging the CoB based on 7th Edition ideas, quite honestly.  In 7th Edition, Deathstars were godly for Dark Elves.  And the CoB made them even godlier.   So essentially, I was judging the CoB by the usefulness of the buffs it gives out.  And this was the correct evaluation, at the time.

However when 8th Edition hit and the DE deathstars died, I was quick to notice that the buffs weren’t nearly as useful unless you’re running big hordes.   Unfortunately, big hordes of ranked infantry are only useful if your units are dirt cheap, which DE aren’t.  So I didn’t give it much thought anymore.

Once I started down the road of developing my chariot list, my initial goal was to pack as many chariots in as possible.  And that necessitated having my BSB ride a chariot.  Under normal circumstances, I would never put a BSB on a chariot, because it would be a fire magnet.  Generally a BSB has to sit in a unit to keep the heat off of him.

In the chariot list though, he is safer because there are 4 other chariots in front of him and two hydras nearby that are probably higher priority targets for the same types of things you’d shoot at the BSB with.  And it was fine.  I played many games with the list, and won many of them.  The BSB on a chariot was rarely a liability.

But I started to ask myself questions like, “since I rarely commit the BSB’s chariot to combat where he could be killed much easier, why am I spending 90 points on a chariot that is essentially an offensive upgrade weapon?”  As a quick aside, it is important, even when you’re ‘sure’ you have a finely tuned and optimal list to ask yourself critical questions about it.  You may have a great answer for those questions which is fine.  Or maybe you won’t have a good answer and you’ll find out some great new information.

The answer to my question was unsatisfactory.  The chariot was by and large a waste of points since I rarely risked putting him into close combat.  But what was the alternative?  A walking BSB needs a big unit, and the strength of the list is not having big dumb blocks.  A BSB on a Dark Steed was a thought, but I ruled it out because while the Sorceresses on Steeds can play line of sight cute tricks to not get killed, the BSB kinda has to be in the right place at the right time.

So I considered, “why not use a CoB as a BSB?”  My initial reply was, “because the buffs aren’t worth it.”  And I was right, the CoB buffs alone are not worth it.  But maybe it’s strengths as a BSB are worth it.  It’s a Toughness 10, 4++ ward, 13 attacks plus Hatred behemoth.  It really is exceptionally hard to kill, which is a huge asset in a game system where the guy who loses his BSB first is at a tremendous disadvantage.

If you evaluate it as a tough as hell to kill BSB first, and look at the unit buffing ability as a nice bonus, the value of the unit really jumps out at you.  If my unit buffs end up not doing much, I’m OK with that because I’m getting such great value out of a T10 4W battle standard bearer.  If the buffs do end up doing something valuable, that’s icing on the cake.

And I was right, the CoB is a most excellent upgrade in my Dark Elves chariot list.  My list is now much better (post on the updated list someday soon) and wins more games more easily. 

The conclusion here really isn’t specific to Dark Elves or even Fantasy; it’s broadly applicable to anything you’re competitive about or even life in general.  Don’t be afraid to ask yourself tough questions about closely held ideas and challenge your faith in everything you have faith in.  Socrates was fond of saying that the unexamined life isn’t worth living, and he was right.  Be introspective about everything, and your life will improve in meaningful ways.  Be introspective about your wargaming lists and strategies and your game play will improve in meaningful ways.

Thoughts?  Comments?  Questions?

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Email In: Picking A Fantasy Army Part 2

Feliks writes,

“Many thanks for the fast response Nike, and good job on the well written article.

I have given it a couple of reads over and what it seems to reflect to me is that High Elves really are a good army, with strong magic (like I wanted) but also with a lot of strong options to play the army. I think that Dark Elves would most likely be my second choice, but hearing the fact that High Elves usually beat them puts High Elves ahead for me. 
In terms of the other armies, it is good that Lizardmen are slightly worse than HE since they have become a little boring for me due to the large amount of them at my local gauntlet; and the Daemons build does indeed sound monotonous (plus I have a small-ish force of them for 40k so I'd like to start anew). And yeah, the Skaven doesn't seem to really appeal to me; the rat hordes just seem too similar to Zombie hordes in VC.

So, I think High Elves are a clear choice for me :) Although I have no idea where to start at the moment (tactics, or army building) so I await your advice on this,

Thanks a ton,


I really want to stress that you have to like the aesthetic of the army you’re going to be playing.  It gets ugly painting 200 models for an army you don’t like the look of, or the color scheme for.  Plus, if you don’t like the look of the force, it won’t even be as fun to play.

But I’ll assume you like high Elves.

So what to buy?  We’ll start with a 2k-ish list.  First things first, buy a Teclis model.  Even if you get sick of his cheesiness, you can play him as an ordinary Archmage, but when you want to play a tournament, you’ll have him.

Second, you need 500 points of core.  You will want to get the Island of Blood HE dudes, since they are dirt cheap and you can run them as Sea Guard.  Maybe pick up 30-40 of these guys to make up the bulk of your Core.

That leaves about 1,000 points to flesh out the list.  I would buy 30 of the new plastic Phoenix Guard to form a magic bunker.

Buy a Noble BSB with Greatsword.  Cheap and effective.

Two Great Eagles for warmachine/harassment duty.

Then you can either go with a big nasty unit of Sword Masters.  Or as many Lion Chariots as you can fit in.  Basically, anything that can be fairly killing in close combat.  Sword Masters from the IoB set would be the cheapest way to do it.

I’m not a super expert on High Elves, but this seems to be a good start.  Even if you explore other options in the future, this is a solid competitive base to start from or go back to.

Thoughts?  Comments?  Questions?

Monday, April 16, 2012

40k Theory: Picking a Line Part II

In part one I discussed how to evaluate the midgame game-state to determine game play line to take in order to get to the desired end game.  As an aside, that is a lot of uses of the word ‘game’ in one sentence.  As some commentators pointed out, the end game should ALWAYS be on your mind, but it was also astutely observed that you can’t change your plan every turn as the result of a couple of bad rolls that will inevitably occur. 

Essentially, when you write your list and play your first few turns you should have an end game in mind.  When I created a hypothetical game to explain, I used Turn 3 as the ‘strategic moment’ but really the turn when you should pick your final line to the end game could come at any point in the game; Turn 3 was just an example not any kind of rule.  The optimal end game path could become obvious on Turn 2 or perhaps not even until Turn 5.  This does require evaluation throughout the game.  Enough said about that.

Taking the concept to the next level involves interaction with your opponent, because you’re not playing solitaire, but a living person who has his own plans to win the game with.

Identify Your Opponent’s Best Line

As easy (or difficult) as it may be to determine your optimal gameplay line, it should be very similar to do the same for your opponent.  If you can figure out how he is going to try to win the game before he does, you can shut the door before he even knows which door he is going to take.    But assuming your opponent is of equal or better skill to you, you ought to assume that he already knows everything you know.

So determine his best line of victory, and do your best to stop it.  Sounds simple enough.  But the key is doing that while advancing your own agenda.  A laser focus on, say, destroying all his Troops might not be the best move for YOUR best line which is playing for a Kill Point win.  It requires a careful balance, and knowledge of how the two goals interact.  At the end, it requires determining what the minimum of resources you need to dedicate to those two things is so you don’t over do it in one area and under serve the other.

Identify You Opponent’s Most Likely Line

This is so key.  Just because you know what the best line he should take doesn’t mean he actually will.  An Eldar player, for example, might be so used to the late game Objective grab that he ignores the fact that his best line is Kill Points in this particular game.  The more linear someone’s list, or the less experienced they are, the most likely they are going to take the obvious line, even if it is to their detriment.  So knowing their best line is good, but knowing the line they are actually going to take is better.  The only way to really know what they are going to do is from gameplay cues.  Is he prioritizing killing your Troops?  Why?  Is he focusing fire on your fast vehicles and ignoring the slow ones?  Why?  Is his shooty army pushing forward towards you backlines?  Why?  What units did he keep in reserve, and why?  These are all cues that can indicate what line he is trying to take.  The cues are constant and usually not subtle.  Which leads me to the next point…

Hide Your Line

This is the Jedi Mind Trick of Warhammer 40k.  In 40k you can’t bluff the way you can in Poker or Magic since you don’t have a hand with information unknown to the opponent.  The only thing your opponent doesn’t know is what’s in your mind, and that’s where you can bluff him.  Let’s say you know that your best line is Kill Points.  If your opponent also knows, and he knows that you know (this is very next level thinking) he is going to play Kill Point denial.  Anything else would be stupid.  This is when you can bluff/mind trick him.  So you are going to try to win by Kill Points, why not for a turn or two play as if you are going to try an objective grab?  If he feels that you abandoned the KP line, he will stop defending it.  That’s when he opens himself up for surrendering Kill Points.

As a corollary, even if your optimal line is Kill Points, and Table Quarters is a distant second, it might be wisest to play for the Table Quarters.  An opponent could easily analyze the game-state and determine that you’re going for Kill Points since it’s the “optimal” play… only to lose to you on a Table Quarters win that he didn’t see coming.  These next level meta-strategies require you to feed him misinformation, from relatively subtle gameplay clues to a little disingenuous table talk.  Make him KNOW you’re going for kill points, and he will act accordingly, even if he is wrong.  Maybe you think its not sporting to ask “how many kill points are your Elites worth in this scenario?” when you don’t intend to pursue Kill Points.  Is that sporting to purposely ask leading question with the intent to misinform?  Maybe, but you can bet that in a tournament where sharks are trying to gain incremental advantage over their opponents, someone will try it.  Either use it, or prepare to defend against it.  I’d suggest both, to be perfectly frank.

If you feel your opponent is trying to mind trick you, how do you know what line to actually defend against?  If you’re a mentalist, you could try to guess based on your perfect understand of human nature and ability to detect deception.  If you’re a normal person, you have to use a gamblers’ instinct.  There is a reason why calling a bluff in Poker is tough: if it was easy no one could successfully bluff.  In 40k, the simplest solution is to always defend against the highest percentage play.  Defend against his optimal line until it becomes patently obvious he isn’t pursuing it anymore.  If his best line is Objectives, and you kill all his Troops you can imagine he now has other plans and you should adjust to the next most optimal line. 

It takes balls of steel to defend against the 2nd most optimal line –while ignoring his best line- because you think he is trying to mind trick you.  That is a very risky move to call, and I can honestly say that you have to be pretty bold to make that call because the downside for being wrong is enormous.  This should also demonstrate how effective disguising your line will be: your opponent will be very hesitant to call your bluff so bluffs in 40k work pretty well.  It’s a tight rope to walk on both sides of the game, but the rewards are plentiful.

Thoughts?  Comments?  Questions?

Saturday, April 14, 2012

Email In: Picking a Fantasy Army

Feliks writes:

"Hi there, 

I've been avid reader and fan of your blog for some months now (after stumbling upon it on a random google search) and really enjoy your articles - being humorous - and hugely useful.

 I am a 40k player by definition, but reading over your Dark Elf army lists has really inspired me recently to take up Fantasy as I am intrigued by the Magic phase and other aspects of it. So I bought the rulebook, read it cover to cover etc. and have decided I'm ready to start properly. I was wondering whether you could help me to do this; I have seen your two articles on Daemons and WoC and did find them very interesting, but I think they were aimed at a more noob level? - At least that was what the comments seemed to reflect. 

Basically, I am asking for your advice/help in what to collect and what to buy for it, perhaps an army list up to 2000, with a 1000 one in between, would help? I would really appreciate it, especially if you included some basic tactics on how to play the build. I do pretty much play to win, so any army is ok and my price range is infinite (within reason). I only really ask for a couple of restrictions; no Tomb Kings and no Vampire Counts (I just detest self-rezzing armies probably stemming due to my hatred of Necrons) and I would like it to be an army capable of dominating in Magic because of my new found interest in this phase. 

One final thing is if the army could be good, competitive but not ridiculous like the one-turn win possible capable of war machine O&G armies (I think this happened at Adepticon?), anyway, I would really appreciate it.

On a side note; my local gauntlet seems to be a lot of Lizardmen, followed by mediocre amounts of Wood Elves, High Elves, Warriors of Chaos, Dark Elves, a little Orcs and Goblins and a fair amount of Tomb Kings coupled with a small amount of Vampire Counts.

Many thanks and I would reeally appreciate it, even if just a brief email back to me :)



Thanks for the kind words Feliks.  If you want to dominate the Magic phase, but still be able to throw down in close combat you have a few choices.  High Elves, Dark Elves, Lizardmen, Daemons, and Vampire Counts.  

Vampire Counts is out since you don't want undead.

High Elves are pretty good.  The army is relatively cheap to build, and their magic (with Teclis) is among the best in the game, especially with a Phoenix Guard bunker.  Sword Masters are also among the best fighting units in the game.  The upside to this army is you can build them a bunch of different ways and still be competitive.

Dark Elves are probably better than High Elves at magic, unless the HE have Teclis, in which case it will probably be edge HE.  Dark Elves' good combat units are among the most cost efficient in the game.  Unlike High Elves, the Dark Elves have a lot more dead entries in their army book.  I should also add that High Elves beat Dark Elves in head to head fights usually.  So if your local meta is heavy High Elves (thanks IoB!) you might want to avoid the DE.  However, if your locality is is a mixed bag like yours sounds, DE are pretty great.  This is a bit biased for me, but I'd say that DE have a much cooler aesthetic than High Elves.  Evil Elves with a dark color scheme are a lot cooler in my opinion than your stock High Elves.

Lizards are fairly insane in the magic phase but less so in combat.  Honestly, they aren't so much better than High Elves or Dark Elves at magic to make up for their lesser combat abilities.  That said, they have a cool aesthetic imo, and a list with skinks, temple guard, salamanders and Slann etc is pretty competitive.  Personally, I would only favor these over High Elves if you prefer the Lizards' aesthetic more.  I would say HE are near the top to Tier 1 armies, and Lizards are near the bottom of Tier 1.  They are both tops, but HE are a pip or two better.

Daemons are pretty sweet, unfortunately they are a bit of a monobuild.  You add a big unit of Horrors, Tzeentch wizard with Master of Sorcery (or two) to give them a 4++ and Skulltaker to keep people from trying to CC them to death.  A unit of Bloodletters with a cheap Khorne Herald is your beater unit, and you spice it with Flamers of Tzeentch and/or Flesh Hounds.  It's a competitive build for sure, but its a fairly linear strategy and you might get bored of it.  And unfortunately the Nurgle and Slaanesh stuff is pretty much uniformly unplayable.  If you enjoy the Chaos aesthetic, and don't mind a mono-build these guys are more than capable of taking down a tournament.

Lastly, Skaven.  I know I didn't mention them before.  Mostly because they can't dominate the magic phase.  Don't get me wrong, they have really good magic, but their magic can't really compete with the above armies.  They make up for being tier 2 magic with awesome warmachine shooting, and very cost effective horde units with excellent leadership.  I sounds like a broken record, but if the rat horde backed up by warp lightning warmachines blowing holes in the enemy sounds like a cool look, go for 'em.

In conclusion, the above mentioned armies are all capable of putting in a very strong magic phase, and also throw down in combat.  Which is why they are tier 1 armies, in my opinion.  I would pick the army from that list which you are most visually attracted to, because you have a lot to paint and you might as well enjoy painting them.  You won't go wrong with any of them.

One last thing I want to mention is that warmachine armies (Empire, OnG, Dwarves) tend to have weaker magic phases to balance out their epic shooting phases.  If you want to play a 'balanced' army that might be slightly weaker at magic but can shoot cannons and fight close combat, Empire and OnG are fun.  Personally, shooting cannons doesn't appeal to me as much as dominating the magic phase, so I don't go for these, but you may.

After you pick an army write me back and I'll give you some places to start with purchasing units and building a list.

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

40k Theory: Picking a Line Part I

In every game where skill usually (but not always!) beats luck, there comes a point in close matches where each player has to begin thinking about the end game.  In Warhammer 40k, and to an even greater extent Warhammer Fantasy, your opening moves are fairly rote; your deployment and opening turn or two tend to follow a fairly regular script.  At some point, however, the chaos of a closely fought battle will throw whatever your initial plans were into vapor.

It is at this point when the thoughts about how you’re actually going to win should start bouncing around your head.  In normal games there are two ways to win, mission objectives or tabling.  In tournaments, there mission goals are often complex enough that you can work towards drawing on the primary and winning on the secondary or tertiary goals if they are to your advantage. 

In a hypothetical game, it is your turn 3 and you’re evenly matched with your opponent in terms of resources remaining, as well as playskill.  You realize that you need to start crafting the game-state to support your end game strategy.  For instance, if your plan is to win by controlling table quarters you need to start positioning yourself to do that prior to the last turn.  The later you wait to begin crafting the desired game-state, the more easily disrupted by your opponent you will be, and the more likely luck will play a factor in whether or not it works.

But this is getting ahead. 

Pick a line, and then hold it

Picking a Line

This is the trademark skill of a veteran player piloting a list he is familiar with, and also the downfall of a new player, or someone with a list they have no experience with.  In our hypothetical game, on turn 3, you have several options in front of you.  You can go for the tabling.  You can try to win on Objectives.  Perhaps you realize that because you lost a lot of your Troops but not much else that you cannot win on Objectives.  So you can try to contest your opponents, tie on Objectives and win by Victory Points, or whatever the secondary mission goal is.

How do you know which line of play to pick?  Clearly, each line of play has a different probability of success.  Unlike Poker, there is no way to come up with a relatively accurate mathematical assessment of success with each line.  Here is where experience comes in handiest.  A veteran player has played enough games to see similarities between the current game-state and previous ones he has played.  His experiences in how those matches played out will inform him of his reasonable expectations of success in this one.  Obviously, the fewer games you’ve played, the smaller your sample size and the less reliable your experience is.

So play more is my advice.

But that is bad advice, and a bit of a let down, eh?  OK, well how do you pick a line in the abstract if you’re not an experienced player?  In my above example, I hinted at it.  If your Troops are decimated but everything else is intact, you can see that winning by controlling the most Objectives is likely to be difficult.  Let’s say it’s Turn 3 and neither player has had effective shooting and not much is dead.  Tabling could be rather difficult.  A player could say, “there are only two 3 turns left, and he still has 90% of his army intact, I probably won’t be able to table him.”  Perhaps it is the opposite, and it’s been very bloody and you realize that you each only have 25% of your armies left, at that point tabling becomes a much more probable result.

Additionally, your choice of army matters.  A defensive, tough to kill army is going to have a better chance on winning Objectives or Table Quarters than a softer army.  You have to take the unique characteristics of your Codex and list into account when you pick your line of play, as they can and should influence your ability to win with a particular line.  For an obvious example, Eldar are going to be pretty good at the late game objective grab, whereas Orks are going to be better able to win by kill points or tabling.

To continue our hypothetical game, it’s Turn 3, and you have a line of play in mind that you think will carry the game for you.  How do you make it actually happen?

Crafting a Game-State

In any good strategy game, you sow the seeds of your victory early.  Obviously, winning the game by Objectives requires you to play in a very different style than by trying to table your opponent.  Once you’ve chosen your line, it is highly important to craft the game-state in such a way as to make your line as successful a choice as possible.  This often means you need to do a complete re-evaluation of both your units, and your opponent’s.

In a game you plan by winning through Objectives, a particular unit of yours might be more valuable to you than normally.  As a corollary, a unit might be forced to take a different role than normal.  In the first example, a defensive tar pit unit with Feel No Pain rises from mediocrity to become one of your best assets.  In the second, it means an aggressive close combat oriented unit has to stay back and hold an objective.  In either example, you have to identify these things when you choose your line and make your subsequent moves with this knowledge in mind.  If you’re going to need that CC unit to hold a rear objective, moving them forward and into close combat is probably counter productive towards your goal, even if that was what the unit was ‘supposed to do’ in the objective sense.

As I said, you also have to evaluate your opponent’s forces.  You have your plan, what stuff does he have that can stop you?  Perhaps in a “normal” game, Unit A of his is the highest priority for you to kill.  It is entirely possible that once you embark on a line of Objective control that a different unit of his becomes more dangerous and becomes a higher priority.  If you figure this out on Turn 3, when you pick the line of play, you can start trying to neutralize his threats then, rather than sweating out the last turns.  This is the entire point of crafting a game-state: arranging your units (and his) to enact a specific goal so that on the last turn of the game you already have the win so firmly established that your opponent can’t disrupt it any longer.  Create inevitability.  There is nothing quite like the moment when your opponent realizes that the game-state you have carefully crafted is inevitable and he can’t win even before the game is officially over.

That’s a wrap for Part I.  In Part II, I will discuss how to take the concept to the next level, which is how to beat a capable opponent who also knows how to craft a game-state and pick a line.

Thoughts?  Comments?  Questions?

Tuesday, April 3, 2012

Increasing Confusion

Today’s post will be a collection of short rants that may or may not be worthy of a longer treatment, but this way I can touch on everything in my head and get it out.

Games Workshop is betting the house on 6th Edition
6th Edition: WTF?

I rarely comment on the business end of things for Games Workshop.  I usually leave that to the people on other blogs with MBA’s, and people who wish they had MBA’s and still comment anyway.  However, I feel compelled to comment on the handling of 6th Editon, or lack thereof.

Except for Apple, every other company (especially entertainment companies) hype their products before launch.  Even other game companies preview their new stuff before launch.  Why does GW not?  WotC sends out preview cards of new sets to the various fansites and blogs to show off.  This builds hype and anticipation, and allows people to make purchasing decisions today for things that won’t be happening until later.  Games Workshop could easily allow the bigger news blogs access to rule snippets and art work that would build anticipation while allowing people to make slightly better informed decisions.

From a personal standpoint, I am not (and have not) made any 40k purchases since the fake (or not?) 6E rules leaked.  There is far too much uncertainty.  Are vehicles going to be as good as in 5th?  Or bad now?  Is plasma going to make a comeback and melta catch a nerf?  WHO KNOWS?  This uncertainty has killed any sales they may have got from me since my last 40k purchase in November, and I suspect I’m not alone.  If a new player decided to get into the game, and asked me what to buy, I would tell him to buy as little as possible so in 6 months he won’t find half his good units reduced to unplayable.

Or worse, the game itself reduced to unplayable.  It could very well be that the game changes so radically from 5th that a great many players are alienated completely.  Right now, these are all valid possibilities.  It would certainly assuage some of the more extreme fears if the design team used the GW blog to discuss even the basic philosophies of 6th Edition, if not provide some rules snippets.

‘Ard Boyz

‘Ard Boyz for Fantasy sucked, I’ll admit it gladly.  3k points in Fantasy is like playing Apocalypse 40k.  It was unnecessary and gave a lot of people the wrong impression about the game.  Had they made it 2.5k, you may have seen a lot more participation.  Then again, maybe not because the people who were going to play played anyway and those that weren’t weren’t.  I don’t know that there were that many fence sitters.

40k though was always fun, in my experience.  In the four years of ‘ard Boyz prelims and semis I’ve played in, I’ve only encountered minor and infrequent douchebag moments and dick moves.  Am I lucky?  Nah, I think that what I encountered good and bad is fairly representative of the whole tournament scene and players associated.  If 10% of my opponents in ‘Ard Boyz were dicks, my guess is that the percentage is about the same at other local/regional/national tournaments I’ve attended.

My only big complaint is the unpainted armies.  I love playing with and against painted armies.  I won’t play a unit or model that is unpainted, even at ‘ard Boyz.  Maybe I’m OCD a bit, but it irks me to have my models be unpainted.  And if I’m going to lose to somebody at a tournament, I want to lose to a painted army that they clearly love and labored over.  So the unpainted thing bothered me.

So all in all, I’m sad to see ‘Ard Boyz go.  This makes me one of the few ‘competitive’ bloggers to say/admit that.  Most opinions have been ‘good riddance.’  I’m not going to shed any tears over it, but I’ll miss it nonetheless.

NOVA 2012

I’m doing my best to make it again this year.  It will be the last hurrah for 5th Edition, and likely the last hurrah for my Black Templars’ list before 6th Edition and a new codex changes them radically.  I’d love to make a run at the 4-0 day 1 bracket and see how well I could do playing a list that is truly competitive.  The stars would have to align financially for me to go again, and other activities around that time that I would rather do would have to fall through, but I’d say it’s 40:60 at this point.

I’d also like to point out that there has been some backlash against MVB for the terrain.  Personally I had 0 problem with the terrain rules, but some tables were admittedly pretty bad to play on.  A lot of vocal bloggers have said the rules don’t match what they feel the rule book says they should be.  I’m not going to debate that one way or the other, but what I will argue is that the NOVA rules –if different- are superior to the rule book rules.  In 8 games at NOVA I had zero arguments about terrain or cover saves.  That doesn’t ever happen in local games where the rules for area terrain are less defined. 

Mike did a smart thing: he simplified the rules for cover and terrain to the lowest common denominator in order to create a simpler, more understandable and faster game play.  Part of the reason why 7 turns at 2k points in 2.5 hours was possible was due to the uniformity of the terrain rules.  With the terrain rules so streamlined, the biggest cause of arguments and misunderstandings and room for shenanigans was removed and people could just play.  I was so impressed with the way it ran, that I have suggested that tournaments at my LGS be run the same way.  Not because it’s the closest way to the rule book, but because it eliminates a lot of the problems that often lead to unhappy players.  So kudos, Mike.  Whatever changes you make (or don’t make) I’m sure the interests of fairness and speed will be kept in mind.

Thoughts?  Comments?  Questions?