Saturday, October 31, 2009

Tactica: Stormtrooper (Part I)

I'm a fan of some of the supposedly "inefficient" choices in the IGuard codex as you may be able to tell from my first tactica on Armored Sentinels. Stormtroopers are the "glory boys" of the Imperial Guard, entrusted with missions and equipment that are not given to lesser, less reliable soldiers. Years of punishing training have honed their minds and bodies to the peak of human perfection. They are ruthless, proficient killers whose skills within the Imperial Guard are second to none.

Of course most of that is just fluff. In the codex the Stormtroopers are having role identification problems with the formerly elite choice of veterans. Both can carry quite a few special weapons, both can wear heavy armor, and both shoot like space marines. And to top it all off the veterans are scoring, cost much less and can carry an additional special and heavy weapon over the "Big Toy Soldiers." So what's a poor stormtrooper to do?

Stormtrooper is sad because nobody understands him...

Fortunately for the humble ST he (or she, the Schola Progenium doesn't discriminate!) has three important advantages over the veteran: improved basic gear, better special-weapon to point ratio, and excellent deployment options.

The improved armament is probably the bulk of the reason that storm troopers cost so much. Carapace armor alone drives the cost of a vet squad up to 10 points a pop and the ap 3 lasguns are assumedly not cheap either. Plus STs have frag and krak grenades, hotshot laspistols AND close combat weapons.

The special weapon to point ratio is also very good and reflects the higher equipment standards that the Schola Progenium graduates get. Assuming that the vets have carapace armor a vet squad with 2 melta guns costs 120 points while a 5 man stormtrooper squad costs only 105 points. Even if we take the vets' armor away the comparison is still in the same ball park, 90 vs 105, and that's leaving out the awesomeness of the hotshots.

And then there's the deployment options... for those not in the know, Stormies come equipped with the Deep Strike USR and have a choice of three different special missions that they can undertake:

Airborne Assault grants the squad a re-roll on their scatter die when deep striking, Reconnaissance gives the squad Scout and Move Through Cover, while Behind Enemy Lines allows the squad to Infiltrate and allows the first shots that they fire to cause pinning.

But the great thing about these missions is that they don't cost any points, and you can choose them at deployment, allowing you to deploy your Troopers in the most effective way possible every game.

Well, this tactica is getting a bit long, so I'll end it here for now. Stay tuned for the second part where we learn all about Stormtroopers and strategy.

Friday, October 30, 2009

Must Have Units: Stormtroopers

As many of the blogs around here have been doing, I'm participating in the FTW community post on "must have units," units that we just can't kick out of our lists. For me, it's my stormtroopers, the Black Jacks. While a lot of people have written them off as too expensive, for me they are one of the great multitools in the Guard armory.

Want to get rid of tanks? Give them meltas and Airborne Assault and go wild. Want to eliminate Marines? Max the squad out and load up on plasma. Troops in cover keep on getting you down? Flamer stormtroopers outflanking in a heavy flamer bedecked Chimera FTW! As long as you have a specific plan in mind for them, the Glory Boys can get the job done.

In fact, I like them so much, that I've been working on a tactica for the Big Toy Soldiers. Look for it to arrive over the next couple of days.

Monday, October 26, 2009


Just some pics of the tank that I am working on for one of the old ToEMP challenges. I just need to actually put the lascannon and side panels on him, then do a bit more weathering and he should be good to go. I also need to work on a stencil for playing card suits- the sides of the tank are too bumpy to paint on, so hopefully a spray template will work.



Thursday, October 22, 2009

Most Awesome/Geekiest Thing EVER

Normally I don't like to post anything non-40k related, but this was too awesome to pass up. Many of you probably read Penny Arcade and/or subscribe to Wired so you've probably heard of this before, but for those of you who don't:

Surfacescapes Demo Walkthrough from Surfacescapes on Vimeo.

Wow- and that's just with D&D. Can you imagine this tech being used with Warhammer? With a large enough table you could play remote games with ease, or simply use the board to know the rules and apply them to your game with sweet special effects! And if all of the terrain pieces are programmed into the board, applying cover saves/checking LoS would be automatic, which would definitely remove a lot of headaches around my neck of the woods.

More actual Warhammer stuff next time, but what do you guys think? Any other cool uses for this tech with our game of choice?


Apparently there has been a version of this made for 40k! Here it is:

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Belated ToEMP Challenges 4,5 and 6

Long period of no updating was brought on by me getting the Death Plague, battling through the physics GREs and starting 3 new classes at work. But now that I'm back, I have some pics of the tanks that I have been working on. I recently discovered that if I finish them all I will have completed challenges 4, 5 and 6 of the Tale of Even More Painters, so I'm going to try and do them quickly to get on to challenge number 7.

Here we go:

I painted them using masking tape and two different spray paints that I got from the hardware store. The khaki is basically the correct shade, but I may have to go over the white with bleached bone to get it the right color. So far the treads are all painted except for some wash/brown highlights for mud, and of course weathering and insignia need to painted on all of them.

Leman Russ' of the 24th Fortunan have a distinctive paint scheme. On the left track are four stripes of colors for the four suits (I'll eventually paint the suit symbols on there), as well as the regimental designation.

On the right side will be the name of the tank, which is accompanied by a varied number and color of stripes. While the majority of my tanks will be named after various Euchre slang terms (including the tank on the right- I haven't decided between the Lay Down Loner, Ace-No-Face and Farmer's Hand for it yet), the tank on the left is going by the name that I gave it when it arrived at my doorstep- the Poorly Planned Purchase.

Hopefully I can get this lot finished soon so I can move on to my Sentinels; wish me luck!

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

Thoughts on SW, part II: SW as a 5th Ed. Codex

Last time we developed and explained the four key areas for a 5th edition codex: mobility, flexibility, price fixing and special characters. Let's see how the Wolves stack up in these areas.

The Wolves are definitely built to take advantage of mech. Standard 5th ed costs for rhinos, drop pods etc. will make any army eager to mechanize, but the close combat nature of the wolves feeds into this need greatly. With few heavy weapons to worry about the Wolves need to close with the enemy, which means either huge squads or meching up. However, here the wolves have a bit of a disadvantage as in order to get a Wolf guard in the squad they need to forgo  the second special weapon, leaving them at almost the same combat effectiveness as a standard SM squad.

I'd say that GW has done a good job of pushing mech here but at the same time curbing some possible abuses of the system with restrictions on special weapons and squad leaders. Reducing the drop pod maximum to 10 is the real kicker, as with 12 the Wolves would have a very abusable advantage.

The Wolves get very high marks here as well. To be honest, I'm not sure if there is an ineffective unit in the whole codex. Certainly some are better than others, but all definitely seem useable. Even the Techmarine version has something going for him in his Saga, allowing his vehicle to launch towards the enemy with great speed, and we all know how the Adeptus Mechanicus gets no love on the table top normally. Heck, I'm not even thinking of playing Space Wolves and the Iron Priest is calling to me for some reason...

So I guess the question is: is having too many viable units a bad thing? I personally don't think so. If you want to use that sweet mini you should be able to with pride and no incoherent apologies about fluffiness. It will also hopefully get rid of what we call in the Magic world 'netdecking', which can only be a good thing.

Price fixing
Here is the part that people are all getting in a fuss about. People seem fine with most of the units in the codex, pretty much everything except for Grey Hunters and Rune Priests. Since these make up Troops and HQ, something that every army needs to have, they're pretty big. There have been many comparisons of GHs with normal and chaos marines so I won't go into that, but my current stance is that only time will tell. The same goes for JotWW- it's a crazy psychic power, but I'll have to see it in more than one game to be sure. Plus it's ruined by mech, which is the name of the game in 5th. I'll get in a few games with the Wolves and see how they feel.

The real question, however, is how does the Wolf codex stack up to the other 5th ed codices? I think IGuard definitely has a shot against it, and Space Marines still have the tactical flexibility to outthink and outmaneuver the wolves. It's a tough codex, but definitely beatable.

Special Characters
This is the part that I think the SW codex really knocked out of the park for four reasons:
1) the SCs are special. They do things not because you want your army to have an additional USR (well, at least for the most part), but because you want a bipedal tank in power armor on your side. Each does things that no other unit can do and they do it well.
2) they have a lot of character. All of their abilities are exceedingly flavorful and give you a reason as to why they can do what they can do. They are big, boisterous and have crazy powers that match their land raider cost.
3) Since the Wolves are a Great Company you won't have people bitching you out for using Logan and Ragnar in the same list- they're battle brothers! They ALL fight together!
4) You can saga up HQ choices to gain the same kinds of abilities normally only limited to special characters. This is the option that I wish was available to all the armies- instead of buying a special character just buy a "stealth commander" or a "tactical genius" and have the SC be a super powered version of that.

Conclusion and Codex Creep Final Word

I think the Wolf codex is an excellent example of what 5th ed codexes can be. It is exceedingly characterful and embraces all of the strengths of the new codex system without going overboard. And it fixes the problem with special characters by taking their ridiculousness and price to the extreme while offering "budget" characters in the form of exceedingly customizable HQ and "sarge" options.

As for codex creep... all of the 5th ed codices have that over the older books. Reduced price in transports alone results in that thanks to the improved durability of vehicles in 5th. It doesn't mean, however, that an older codex can't outfight a newer one- I've seen it happen many times. It just means that the spectrum of competitive lists and the room for mistakes is smaller.

Monday, October 5, 2009

Thoughts on SW, part I: The 5th Edition Codex

Theme of the month/season seems to be Space Wolves, either calling pepper jack (extra spicy!), bashing people who want to switch over, cursing GW for wanting money or (very rarely) not running around with your head cut off. So I thought that I'd like to jump on this particular bandwagon and share my own thoughts and experiences.

Let's start this thought exercize with a discussion of what GW has been doing with 5th ed codices. There are four basic themes: mobility, flexibility, price fixing and special characters. All of these play into standard wants and needs of gamers, but some are more warranted than others.

Mobility is the GW push for more mech. Now there is of course the economic angle for this, as it doesn't take a genius to see that a couple hundred $35 tanks will help any company look towards the black, but that isn't the only angle as far as I'm concerned. Mech plays into the basic gamer desire to not have your precious army obliterated before they get to do their 'thing'. This theme is compounded in the 5th edition push for ubiquitous 4+ cover saves, yet another nod toward the basic survival instinct that most players (and especially new players) appreciate. Tanks offer a solid barrier between your soldiers and enemy firepower, as well as offering them a quick way to get to the front lines.

Flexibility is the tendency of the new codices to allow many different viable strategies. I'm not 100% certain on this, but from looking at the various army books it seems like more units in 5th edition codices are viable than in older books. By viable I mean that they aren't relegated instantly to the role of the 'fluffy' unit that you only took to give your army character- they can hold their own and you won't be laughed off the table when you field them. Once again, this plays into popular gamer mindsets. If I see a cool unit in the army book, I want to be able to play it and for it to be useful, or at least not a hindrance. Increasing viability across the board also (hopefully) leads to a greater variety of army lists, as the number of working combinations increases dramatically.

Flexibility also ties into new units. Since they are new these are the units that garner the most attention and are the 'shiniest' GW also often prices them into the viable range and/or gives them ridiculously splashy abilities. Here's where flexibility runs into the BoLS idea of spectacle, which I personally am all for. If you want to play a serious wargame, picking the one with the gothic space knights and undead robots was probably the wrong call.

Price fixing is the changing of different units' prices, most often in the downwards direction. This is the area that most people call codex creep on, and in some sense they are right. It is completely logical that if a unit retains the same functionality or receives increased abilities at a lower price the new version of the unit will be more powerful than the old unit. While it is unfortunate for older codices that still retain archaic pricing it has become necessary to grant all new codices the same pricing schema. In some cases this fixing goes too far, especially when extra functionality has been added to a unit- the new and improved Chimera being a sterling example. This plays into the gamer mindset again with the theory that more cool stuff = better.

And finally there are the special characters- each book has plenty of them, and they help play into the flexibility element as well, allowing you to switch you army's theme by spending a few points. The characters are uniformly ridiculous in nature (as befits the setting) and offer either unit or army-wide changes in composition. The part of the gamer mindset that this plays into is the hero- here is the big badass who is going to ruin your opponents day. Why does he have an instant death power sword? Who cares? He's awesome!1!!!1!

This is probably the part of the 5th ed codices that I like the least as it takes away from the 'ownership' of armies. You make up your own chapter/regiment/hive fleet but in order to have it operate other than a bog standard army you need to take a special character who belongs to another force. For instance, for my (mostly) light infantry Guard force there are three special characters that add the requisite sneakiness necessary for them to be light infantry: Al'Rahem, Harker and Marbo. These are legitimate choices in my codex that add a fun little bit of tactical flexibility, yet every time I take them outside of their specific regiments I feel like I am committing a grevious sin. And even if I greenstuff up a character I will still refer to him/her by the codex name just to have people understand what I am using.

These four things- mobility, flexibility, price fixing and special characters- are the reality of the 5th edition codex, so judging a new codex must be based on these principles. Next time I'll take a look at the Wolf codex and see how it stacks up to this (exceedingly unofficial) rubric.