Monday, July 27, 2009

Maximum Khornage!

I've gotten several more games in with my Daemons over the past few weeks and have, for the most part, done quite well with them.

In fact, until last Tuesday, I hadn't seen anything worse than a well-fought, skin-of-the-teeth draw. Tuesday saw two completely one-sided games: one in which overly-aggressive deep strikes and incredibly unfavorable scatter rolls helped John beat the living tar out of me and one in which everything in the army clicked together like clockwork and I steamrolled over Sean.

I've done some thinking about what's gone into my army, and have toyed around a little bit with it as I've gone along. Now's as good a time as any to document it.


HQ

The Bloodthirsters are great. Even when they're swinging for 6's on a Eldar skimmer, I never feel like they're being wasted. In my game against John, I wished I'd shelled out for Unholy Might, since it would have let me squish Pedro Kantor like the mortal bug he is instead of getting sucked into a three-round tickle fight... but 20 points is an awful lot to spend and it pushes the 'Thirster up to nearly 300 points!

I've yet to really use any of the Heralds (Skulltaker or one of the generic Khornate heralds). They look like they're pretty killy for the points (especially Skulltaker on a chariot), but come at the cost of my most effective anti-tank unit: a Bloodthirster.

Elites

I've yet to run Bloodcrushers, but I've got a stack of them to assemble. At first, I dismissed them as not giving me anything Bloodletters didn't already give me, but that's because I didn't truly appreciate how nice that 3+ regular save is. I'm looking forward to running a few of them.

Troops

Bloodletters are where I do the most waffling. I think I have a clear feel for what works well with pretty much all of the other Khornate choices... just not Bloodletters.

In small groups, they die too easily. In large groups, they're overkill. Without Fury of Khorne, they don't stand the slightest chance against a walker. With Fury of Khorne... they stand the slightest chance against a walker. When I give them Icons, I don't need them. When I don't, I do.

The only thing I do know is that I don't expect to ever need to give them Instrument of Chaos.

I'm also playing around with how many I deploy. When I first started working with the army, I'd drop 40 of them on the table (five squads of eight each). That seems to be overkill, but it has been working better than the three squads of eight that I've been running.

Next, I'm going to try a large squad (of sixteen) and a small squad (eight), each with an Icon. We'll have to see.

Fast Attack

These guys get poo-pooed by other folks I know who run all-Khorne daemon armies. "They cost nearly as much as Bloodletters," I'm told, "but they're not Troops and they don't have power weapons or WS 5." This is true... but I've yet to have Bloodletters be anywhere nearly as useful as Flesh Hounds.

The speed is the key. Fleet, plus the 12" charge range gets them engaged and very, very quickly. They fight like Chaos Marines / Assault Marines, and that's nothing to complain about. At the very least, they do well locking up units while nastier things (like Bloodletters) close in.

I've recently started giving them Fury of Khorne, and I'm very happy with it. It closes the gap a little bit between the Bloodletters and the Hounds. I've also been happy with Karanak, though I think that if I ever need to shave points, I'll drop Fury of Khorne in the unit that gets Karanak (since he comes with it as well).

Heavy Support

I've yet to really use Daemon Princes. I put one in the list I used on Tuesday as a points sink, but it didn't really get the opportunity to succeed or fail. It's slow, though, and it costs too much to buy Flight, so it seems like it's a poor choice... unless I'm running three of them.

And why would I, when I love Soul Grinders as much as I do? The model is awesome, and it's never really disappointed me. Fleeting into combat is a treat, and does a great job of locking up squads that can't hurt it. The close-range shooting is utterly devastating to 4+ save armies. I've also had a great deal of good luck with Phlegm, against 3+ armies. AP 3 Large Blast makes me feel a little guilty.



For the most part, I'm pretty settled on the things that I think work, save for how many Bloodletters I should invest in, and what I do with the points I have if I spend less on them.

In terms of getting the army together, I've got to assemble those Bloodcrushers and settle on a paint scheme. I've got some thoughts, including a non-traditional scheme that should look awesome if (and only if) it actually works. I've written of August to work and vacation, though, so at the rate I'm going I'll start painting them in December.

The list I'm currently planning on using is:
Bloodthirster
Bloodthirster
Bloodcrushers x4 - Fury of Khorne, Chaos Icon, Instrument of Chaos
Bloodletters x16 - Chaos Icon
Bloodletters x8 - Chaos Icon
Flesh Hounds x7 - Karanak, Fury of Khorne
Flesh Hounds x8 - Fury of Khorne
Soul Grinder - Phlegm
Soul Grinder - Phlegm

Friday, July 24, 2009

Painting Progress - 20090726

I've had a strange terrain fetish going on lately. It's probably the result of getting in the Imperial Strongpoint and Landing Pad over the weekend.

I've had the crashed aquila lander from the 4th edition Battle for MacCragge floating around in a tub for a couple of years now. Unpainted, no longer!

It's not the greatest job, in that it's 90% drybrushed, but I think it'll look good on the table.

I also combined the two bastions in the Strongpoint kit into a single, bigger bastion much like BrassScorpion did on Bell of Lost Souls. I'd forgotten that they'd written that article until I was nearly done with the project, though, which is why mine's not as good. I didn't think to use the spare door from the kit, so I ended up using a spare door from one of the Cities of Death kits. It looks... okay, but not as good, for sure.

I had more success with the Landing Pad! I'd had some concerns about storing it, that it would take up more space than it needed to and prone to breaking. At some warning about the poor contact points from John, I decided to magnetize the support struts.

I shaved off the lights inside the contact points and glue 20mm metal squares (of the sort I glue to the bottom of my WHFB figures) in their place.

Then, I cut plasticcard to fit across the inside of the strut, leaving room for the metal squares. I glued magnets to the inside of the plasticard before gluing the plasticard in place.

The end result are struts that are removable but, when placed, are disinclined to go anywhere. Had I used bigger, or more, magnets I'm sure the contact would be stronger, but what I've got is more than sufficient to make sure the terrain piece is stable enough to play with.

I also followed through on an impulse I had earlier this week: magnetizing my turn counter. I painted my turn counter last summer, when I got fed up with being unable to read the symbols on the (then) new 40K token set. I've been happy with it, and I always get a nice comment about it at tournaments.

The arrow's loose, though. I obviously can't glue it into place. So, I had the thought of drilling a small hole in each piece and glueing tiny magnets into them. Surprisingly, it worked really well! (Though, unfortunately, the process of drilling the holes seems to have pulled up some of the paint. Grrr.)

Thursday, July 16, 2009

Daemon Prince of Khorne

On a pseudo-whim, I decided to see if I could build a Daemon Prince out of a Chaos Spawn kit. On Tuesday, I'd seen that Casey had done it and it looked really good, so I figured why not? I've got a couple of Bel'akor models that I plan on using as Daemon Princes but 1) they're all winged (which I probably won't use on account of cost) and 2) are metal and therefore a lot longer to assemble.

So I popped into GW Fair Oaks on the way home from work and started fooling around.

I'm not altogether pleased with it. It's too runty for a Daemon Prince and the model has a strange balance to it. Also, I was shooting for "hulking, 'roid rage Bloodletter," and the Spawn model has too many freakish, lumpy and asymmetrical features to it to really get the effect I wanted.

But, it is what it is, and it'll do until I assemble some Bel'akors.

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Painting Progress - 20090715

Because it looked neat and because I wanted to use it as an objective marker in the Apocalypse game over the weekend, I painted up the Communications Arrray that comes with the Bastion kit. It's incredibly detailed for what is, ultimately, kind of a throwaway kind of model and it's just the right size for an objective. I'm looking forward to my Strongpoint coming in this weekend/early next week so I can assemble and paint the two that will come in that kit.




I've also made some more progress assembling Bloodletters (when I played Bill last night, I only had to proxy four!) and assembled my second Bloodthirster. Hopefully the rest of this week will see the last of the Bloodletters assembled and maybe a stab at either a Daemon Prince or some Bloodcrushers.

Monday, July 13, 2009

Apocalypse First Turn Deployment Thoughts


I got to play Apocalypse for the first time in ages over the weekend. I might get into what I brought (3,855 points of painted Dark Angels, 145 of unpainted Dark Angels) and how it went (tied); we'll have to see. Mostly, the undertaking was an exercise in making clear how essential planning is with an Apocalypse game.

One of the problems we ran into was with what I'm going to call First Turn Deployment. What I'm talking about is how half of the Drop Pods in a Space Marine army and half of the Deep Striking Terminators in a Dark Angels army don't actually get deployed at the start the game on the table, but instead get to enter the game at the beginning of the first turn. Chaos Daemons are the ultimate example of this, in that they don't even get to choose to start models on the table and, instead, must Deep Strike half of their army during their turn.

One of the players was relatively new to the game and was playing Chaos Daemons. Their team bid 10 minutes to deploy.... which ultimately became nearly an hour and a half as the Daemon player took over an hour to Deep Strike their initial wave of troops into the battle.

Mind you, this was unintentional. The Daemon player wasn't trying to take all morning putting their troops down, and she wasn't trying to abuse the bid/deployment rules. It just ended up that way.

It is a problem, however, because Apocalypse needs to move... and frankly it's unreasonable for a Daemon army to be able to bid zero minutes (ensuring that they go first) and then spend 45 minutes actually deploying their troops. So, I've come up with two solutions (and have been presented with a related Apocalypse house rule that also addresses this):

Option 1:
If you have units that are placed on the table after initial deployment or at the start of your first turn, you may not spend more time on these deployments than you bid for your initial deployment.
I've expanded the initial wording a little bit to account for Infiltration.

If your team bids 10 minutes to deploy, they get 10 minutes to do their initial setup and then 10 minutes to do any first turn deployment. This is still a good deal, as it effectively doubles your deployment time, but it does cap how long you can spend.

Option 2:
If you have units that are placed on the table after initial deployment or at the start of your first turn, the amount of time you bid to deploy is shared between your initial deployment and and subsquent "first turn" deployments.
This one is significantly more restrictive but even more fair, I think, to players without first turn deployments. If you bid, for example, 25 minutes to deploy and take 20 minutes doing your initial deployment... then you only have 5 minutes to do any first turn deployments.


Jay suggested the third option, which is what's in use at Games Workshop stores during their megabattles. It doesn't explicitly address this issue, but it does cover it.

Option 3:
Players have a set amount of time per turn. Bringing in units past the initial deployment counts against that time.
In other words, if you take too long doing your first turn deployment you won't have time to shoot, run or assault.

This is certainly the easiest to implement but seems a mite punitive towards armies like Daemons who really don't have a choice about the first turn deployment thing.

That said, there is something very attractive about turn time limits. If we'd gone with 30 minute turns, we'd have gotten 6 rounds in instead of 3... but sometimes it simply isn't feasible. (If we'd gone for 30 minute turns, this weekend's game would have been a complete disaster.)

What do people think? Alternative approaches to this problem?

Monday, July 6, 2009

Review: Avatars of War Netherhound

In starting up my Khornate Daemon army, I decided very early on that 1) I wasn't enthused about the Flesh Hounds (they fail to grab me and are all metal) and 2) I love the Warriors of Chaos Warhounds. So, it was a very easy decision for me to just use the Chaos Warhounds, instead.

When it came to Karanak, the decision was a little trickier. I didn't want to use the Karanak model, because it didn't fit with the Warhounds. I could have probably cut up three hounds and, with some greenstuff, made something work. Instead of doing that, however, I decided to use the Avatars of War Netherhound model. It fits much better with the warhounds, looks pretty cool, and will involve a great deal less sawing, greenstuffing and cussing, right?



Almost. As it turns out, this model involved a great deal of greenstuffing. Gaps were enormous and everywhere. Plus, I messed up slightly somewhere in my attemp to stick the front of the model to the two back halves (for things like this, where there's nowhere really good to pin, I use superglue / greenstuff / superglue; it's strong, but can be unforgiving), which made the non-negligible gap even more of a problem.



I'm more than a little disappointed by how much gapfilling I needed to do. If I want to add more to the model (and I'm debating it), that's one thing, but I can't think of another model I've had to work with that has had gaps like this out of the blister/box.

Even more disconcerting is the pose of the model. It doesn't actually work the way it's photographed on the AoW site. The flatness of the feet are out; the model is clearly sculpted to have its rear feet elevated half an inch!



Although this is manageable, it's also painful. I'm basing all of my models with cobblestone plasticard that I'll paint brassy. Now, I've got to figure out how to do a block beneath this model's rear feet and have it look like it fits.

Overall, I'm pretty disappointed by the model. It looks good, but really required more work than I think it should have.

Returning to 40K


For the past six months or so (really all of 2009 so far) have been spent not playing 40K.

I started out the year playing Fantasy, which wasn't so bad but would have been better if I hadn't been playing it with the oldest armybook currently in use. Fundamentally, it's not a bad game, but there are some serious army balance issues that I'm looking forward to seeing resolved (later this year, if rumors are true). Also, all this gaming took place within the context of an escalation league that was fun... but ran a couple of weeks too long.

I then followed up Fantasy with War of the Ring. It's new, looks neat, and I had a fun idea for an army. As I've said elsewhere, this is also a game that's fundamentally pretty fun but starts to have issues the closer you look at it. Although I'm less optimistic about the game getting cleaned up (since that would really require a new edition, and the game's not been out six months), I do think a little distance will help. Plus, as with Fantasy, all this gaming has been within the context of an escalation league and it's running a bit long, too (despite making this league shorter than the previous Fantasy league).

This past week, I decided I needed a short break from War of the Ring before the league wraps, so I played some 40K (against Bill, Sean and Tyler) and had more fun than I've had in a long time. All three of those games were nail-bitingly close. Two of them were games I shouldn't have stood a chance in (I went in knowing that mechanized Eldar should be nearly impossible for my Khornate Daemons to handle) but managed to eke out a win and a draw in. It's nice to come back.

This week's the last week of the War of the Ring league. I'm back to Harad for the week, and I think we'll be doing something to celebrate the end of the league (we were going to have our traditional Top 8 tournament, but given that WotR seems tournament-unready and we don't have eight players, it'll have to be something else). I hope to get some momentum up later for painting my Skaven in anticipation of the new book. Saving that, though, I'm very much back to Warhammer 40,000.

Painting Progress - 20090706

Things have, as usual, been slow with the Harad. I've gotten more than a little burnt out on War of the Ring, which helps nothing. Fundamentally, it's a fun game, but there are too many niggling little yet confusing rules inconsistencies that add up and what seems like some not insignificant balance issues (though I can't tell if that's because of my approach to the Fallen Realms or not).

I've finished a few more things, and am maybe halfway through some Half-Trolls. My goal is to finish the Half-Trolls by the end of the month, and not worry about painting any more War of the Rings for a while.

I've finished off a tray of Corsairs, as well as both a Bosun and a Captain. I'm not likely to ever run these guys, though, so I've been using them to fill out trays of Haradrim.


This is my Saruman. I could just as easily used a Saruman figure, but hey: this guy's got a cool, big hat so why not?


This is my WIP on the half-trolls. Weapons, bone ornaments, and belly/face skin are pretty much all that's left. I'm quite pleased with how the reed armor came out. I didn't expect it to look that good.


Outside of War of the Ring, I've been much busier. I've started to pick up some momentum on assembling my Daemon army. So far, I've finished putting together:
  • 16 Bloodletters
  • 16 Fleshhounds
  • 2 Soul Grinders
  • 1 Bloodthirster
  • 1 Karanak
Which means I need to finish:
  • 24 Bloodletters
  • 5 Bloodcrushers
  • 1 Bloodthirster
I'm also starting to think that I need a third unit of Fleshhounds, so we'll see.

I picked up a Bastion over the weekend: I've got more on order, but I figured an impulse-bought third wouldn't hurt anything. It goes together very, very easily: the only snake in the woodpile is that the middle section (the section that is neither the top nor the base) has two wall sections with windows and two without windows. I didn't realize this until after the glue had finished drying, so I had to get creative with placing things where the windows should have been to make the building look balanced. The communications array and Icarus-pattern lascannon that come with it are amazing... especially the communciations array. I think I might bits-order a few more and use them as objective markers in regular 40K from now on.

Finally, I made some progress on a Chapel that I'd bought quite some time ago, painted sandstone, changed my mind on and repainted dark grey. All it's needed is some drybrushing (which it got) and some minor details (torches, doors, rafters and window frames... which should happen tonight).

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