Thursday, January 1, 2015

Happy New Year & 2015 Goals

Happy New Year from the Arborian Lascannon Squad!

I've been quite busy since my last post here, and not had a lot of spare time to highlight hobby progress or games played. I have been posting updates on the Indy40k Facebook group.

My Hiatus began in July at the height of summer. August and September are the busiest time at work, due to number of public outreach and education events that I work on. October is also busy with early archery season. Starting in November I was able to recommit some time to the hobby and to getting games in. I finished all the infantry in my Arborian Rangers company and played in an Apoc game at Indy Gamerz.

Imperial Commanders: Chili Waagh Apoc Game

Ork Bosses: Chili Waagh Apoc Game
Arborian Infantry Company: Finished at Last!

In October, Imperial Armor 13 came out. This renewed my interest in Chaos which had been neutered with the 7th Edition allies chart. No longer would my hordes of Blood Pact inspired infantry remain foam-case bound. I purchased a second-hand chaos army and have been converting it into an Iron Warriors & World Eaters war band.

IA:13 Resin for the Resin God
Iron Warriors Obliterators

I also acquired two Ikea Detolf glass display shelves to put my armies in. I'll need probably two more shelves to accommodate future army expansions, especially when I finish my Tempestus Scions and Chaos armies.

Detolf Shelves

2014 is arguably the most productive year in the Hobby for me in recent memory, thanks to two new hobby strategies:

1) Hobbying one hour a night. I don't always get this done, but instead of working on stuff at random times, I make incremental progress. Its hugely motivating to make progress. 

2) Painting to three-color and based first, then moving on to another unit. This allows me to get a whole army table-top ready, then come back later and finish the details. As details are what hung me up on the Arborian army for so long (mostly dreading the time-consuming webbing and gunmetal stages), this lets me play with painted models more quickly. 

Furthermore, I've made a dedicated effort to get more games in, as often as once a week, but sometimes 3 times per month. Actually playing the game motivates me to hobby more and makes me feel like I'm getting "value" from my time and monetary investment. 

2015 Goals

1) Forgeworld order: 2ish Sicarian tanks, 2ish Hell Talons, and some other odds and ends

2) Finish Iron Warriors and Renegades & Heretics armies

3) Get some more Chimeras for my Arborian officers. They get punked on turn 1 usually. Light infantry is for the birds.

4) Play in some 40k events at GenCon. I stopped going to GenCon despite it being literally across the street from my office because they offered no 40k events. 2014 was different and 40k events were there. So I'm going in 2015. 

5) Play more games & GM campaign. 

That's it for now. Happy hobbying and gaming!

Tuesday, July 8, 2014

A Tanker Commander's Guide to 7th Edition

Tanks, specifically the tanks of the Imperial Guard, were my introduction to the hobby. White Dwarf had a army list in 3rd Edition for a tank company, which was the first list I ever played. I have fond memories of my unpainted Leman Russ squadrons getting decimated by Dark Lances and Haywire grenades from games played while in high school.

My tank model collection consists of 14 leman russ hulls, in various stages of being retrofitted for the new 7th Edition IG codex. These models were assembled in pre-magnetism days with sponsons, in the glory days of STR 5 defensive weapons (4th edition). Why GW decides to alternatively buff-then-nerf sponsons every other edition and codex is beyond me. Lately I've taken them out for some 1500 games against Eldar and space marines.

What is a tank army and why should I run one?

I think of a "Tank Army" from the perspective of the IG is a list that fields more than 3 Leman Russ hulls in a single detachment. With 3 or less hulls, the tanks aren't the focus of the army, and will be there to support your other models. With 4+ tanks, they take up enough points and table presence that they become the core focal point of the army, with other units serving as support. As vehicles in general got a boost with 7th edition penetrating damage tables, the IG are well suited for the metagame of 7th because our vehicles can dominate the opposition's vehicles when brought in large numbers. Having 6 AV tanks in a 1500 point game might sound like a dick move, but considering how unbalanced this game is and always will be, don't worry about it. You'll need all the AV 14 to face down Eldar wave serpent spam.

Vehicle Selection and Armament:

I am an advocate of battleforged, because objective secured and re-rolling your warlord trait are big advantages for a small price to pay in the IG codex.

Running a "tank army" doesn't mean you have to go Unbound. Sure, you can run nothing but Leman Russes or other vehicles if you want, but such a list has very limited mobility. 7th Edition, especially Maelstrom missions, is all about mobility. A tank army is never going to match Eldar (nothing can match Eldar in 7th in mobility or firepower), Dark Eldar, or Scions in mobility, but it still needs fast units to claim midfield or backfield objectives.

Vet squads in Valkyries are perfect for the task of claiming contested objectives. All they need is a heavy flamer for light infantry, demolitions to threaten TEQs and vehicles in assault, and a push out the door! Taking 2 vet squads gives you the ability to claim enemy backfield objectives on turns 3 or 4, and midfield objectives by turn 2 if you grav-chute deploy. Personally I like waiting till turn 3 or 4 to deploy my vets, but that isn't always the best tactical option.

Obviously you'll need some Valkyries. Rocket pods are a good choice, as you'll be closing in on the squads dropzone on turn 2 or 3 and will want to soften up anything holding the objective. Heavy bolters are too expensive as you'll only get to shoot one at full BS if you fire the multilaser.

In short, vet squads aren't a troops "tax." They are something you want in a "tank army."

Tank commanders: Take 2. This gives you 4 leman russes, right off the bat. I like my commanders to take vanquishers, and the other squadron member to be an exterminator.

Vanquishers are the kings (queens if you are playing chess) of tank-on-tank warfare. Because the main gun is heavy and not ordnance, take a lascannon as the hull-mounted weapon as well. This essentially doubles the anti-tank potential of the vanquisher within 48". For sponsons, I think Heavy Flamers are a must if you aren't going with much infantry support (i.e. only air cav vets, no platoons).

The enemy will ALWAYS try to kill your warlord, and if he can't do it at range, he'll send specialists to assassinate your leader. A primary threat is close-in infantry, especially ones with grenades. Because you probably won't have enough infantry to bubble-wrap your tanks, having some heavy flamer sponsons to hit tightly-packed deep strikers is an excellent defense. The AP 4 helps against stormtroopers, carapace vets, swooping hawks, and a variety of other potential deep striking threats. Plus the H.F. sponsons are half the cost of the heavy bolter ones. As you aren't shooting ordnance, you can still fire your main gun and lascannon at close infantry (even terminators and oblits will be afraid)

The other half of the squadron is the Exterminator, which can deal with everything the BS 4 commander isn't optimized to handle: mass swarms of infantry at range, light vehicles, and aircraft. The twin linked autocannon is a beast, and the BS 3 the crew has doesn't matter. You essentially have BS 4.5 with twin linked BS 3 (75% hits). Kit this vehicle out with 3x Heavy Bolters and a stubber for maximum dakka. With the split-fire order, your squadron tanks can still target separate units. Just make sure you issue orders before you do any other shooting.

Other Unit Options:
You can round out your force with a 5th or 6th tank if you want and are playing higher points levels. Remember you still have all 3 HS slots despite having 4 tanks already. For more tanks, the basic Leman Russ is a good choice: its a generalist threat that MEQs despise. It's greatest weakness is that ordnance forces all other weapons to snap shot, making sponsons on a basic russ unusable. Heavy Flamers should be heavily considered instead of the hull heavy bolter. Template point defense is critical for tank armies, and you can never have enough of it.

A Vendetta is always a good choice for this kind of army. Either bring one of these or two Hydras for anti-air purposes. The vendetta is better because it's guns are AP 2 and can target ground and air targets with the same effectiveness. But you can get two hydras for the less the price of one Vendetta. Your exterminator autocannons can function as anti-air in a pinch.

A third Veteran Squad in a Valkyrie is another option to consider.

Stormtroopers: One thing lacking from the army is mobility. For Maelstrom of war missions, bare-bones storm trooper squads or 2x melta-gun or flamer squads can help with getting midgame VPs by simply deep striking on an objective. Resist the urge to buy plasma guns and consider not bringing any special weapons: they have their uses in a Scions army, but as support for a tank army, these guys are simply there to claim a VP and then get destroyed.

Consider allying these guys in from the Scion codex: the orders are simply better, especially if you are running hotshot-only squad weapons.

Thats it for now. Part II will cover deployment and playing the tank army on the battlefield. 

Saturday, May 31, 2014

Tactics: The 7th Edition IG Light Infantry Squad

I've held off making recommendations for the new IG codex until now, given that potential changes to the 7th edition rules set could have invalidated my advice. Luckily, the changes were between 6th and 7th were minor in nature (with the exceptions of wound allocation in shooting and the psychic phase). I'm starting my Tactics series with the core of the IG army, the humble light infantry squad.

Armamaent: So many options, so little time!
Infantry Squads remain essentially the same as in the previous codex. Points values for weapons options are different (and standardized across the codex YAY!). With my infantry squads, I like to be a threat to an enemy unit regardless of range or composition.

Multi-threat: The squad can engage vehicles, MCs, and infantry with its heavy and special weapons.
Multi-range: Every squad gets a heavy weapon. You want your units to contribute every round of the game. Also, the enemy WILL get close: either close enough to assault your lines or close enough to hit with flamers.
Modular: You should be able to swap your HW/SW combo for another without adding or subtracting points. I'm not talking about tailoring your list for your opponent, I'm talking about having the flexibility to make changes without reworking your whole list.

I like the following three 25 Point Options (my favorite): Plasma Gun + Autocannon, or Melta Gun + Missile Launcher, or Flamer + Lascannon. The grenade launcher is loved by many IG players, but its a bit of a throwback to 5th Edition days when Plasma Guns couldn't move and shoot 24". My 12+ models with grenade launchers are currently enjoying their retirement in foamville. The Melta + Missile Launcher is a new combo for this edition that I haven't run much before. I'm predicting a rise in AV 14 vehicles being used, and think the Autocannon will be of less use. Glancing vehicles to death is more reliable than getting a penetrating hit this edition.

I like keeping weapon option consistent in a platoon. This way if you blob up, all your weapons will be able to hurt the selected target with the same probabilities, making target selection easier.

Sergeant Options: Power Weapon (axe) vs Bolter

Unfortunately, power weapons for sergeants are prohibitively expensive for a GEQ model's statline. Yes, I know power axes add to the STR of a sergeant, and through buffing you can make your sergeants reroll hits the first round of combat and wounds if a priest gets his buff off. This just isn't points efficient. A power weapon is the same cost as a plasma gun Which one does more damage, especially in an edition that continues to favor shooting over assault? The age of the power weapons IG blob is over.

Instead, make the wise choice of giving your sergeants bolters. Yes, bolters. For a single friggin' point, you get the same STR as a power axe, two "attacks" at 12 inches, and the modeling opportunity to make some cool conversions. You can get 15 of these things (enough for all your sergeants and officers) in an IG army for the price of one power weapon. You tell me, what's the points-efficient choice?

The Blob: How Many is Too Many?

When IG squads gained the ability to blob up several codexes ago, there was much rejoicing, because of the MSU-crushing mission type known as Kill Points. The KP concept was a great equalizer and a necessary design element to reign in abuses by space marine players, but it hit IG armies hard, to the point where games were un-winable.

Blob Basics: 
You decide to blob or not to blob right before warlord traits are rolled. This means that you will usually know if KPs will be part of the mission before you have to make this decision. If you are running a single 50 man blob and KPs aren't the mission objective, it might be worth it to split up. For small games, smaller blobs or individual squads might be the way to go, especially if there are many objectives that need to be claimed.

Running a Battleforged Army makes your blobs super-awesome objective claimers. Even if the enemy has 10 WTF Elite Terminators with Abaddon next to your objective at the end of the game, you still get to claim the objective and make Ollanius Pius proud.

Blob Trade Offs: 
As blob size increases from 20 to 50, the blob gets better in several ways, and worse in several ways:
Positive correlations with Blob Size: Efficiency of orders, war hymns, and psychic buffs, survivability and resistance to 25% morale tests, raw attacks in close combat, volume of fire on a single target.
Negative correlations with Blob Size: Greater size means more enemy units will shoot at it (a blob of 50 becomes a huge fire-magnet), susceptibility to a small assault unit tying up many points in a protracted close combat, reduced ability to claim distant objectives, reduced number of enemy units that can be engaged in a single turn.

A IG commander can deploy 20, 30, 40, and 50 man blobs. Each size has its advantages and disadvantages. My advice is to try each size out and see what works for you. I've tried all sizes and prefer the 30-man unit, and can run 2 blobs in a 1000 point game and 3 blobs in a 1500.

Leadership: Voxcasters, Commissars, Priests, and Primaris Psykers
Blobs need buffs to go from good-to-great. The cheapest way to improve a blob is to make sure they follow orders by having a robust vox caster network. More expensive options are the addition of commissars and primaris psykers for higher leadership values.

Commissars are the classic infantry squad buffer. Since last edition, they transferred stubborn to their blob, and that continues in this edition of the codex. You can't go wrong with adding a commissar to a blob for his LD 9. A commissar might be the one place to take a power weapon in your blob, as his WS 4 makes him better at chewing through WS 3 enemies.

Primaris Psykers are the new hotness, allowing IG to play in the Psychic phase both offensively and defensively. Attaching them to your blobs protects them from many attacks, and makes sure they are in range to cast prescience, forewarning, or perfect timing on your blob. If you already have a commissar in the blob, don't fear the "It's for your own good." Perils is far less of an issue this edition, especially if you manage your warp dice well across multiple psykers. And if the commissar does "BLAM" your psyker, at least he saved some guardsmen from the potential of D6 STR 6 AP 1 hits. The Primaris has LD 9, helping with orders and morale should your commissar buy the farm. His Force Staff (using the GW model) makes him acceptable in close combat with STR 5 and AP 4, instant death if you charged it. I haven't experimented with Mastery level 2 on Primaris Psykers yet. Obviously you get more warp charge and another power in your arsenal. In games above 1500 points its probably worth it.

Priests completes the Emperor's Trinity of blob attachments. They bring fearless, a 4++ personal save, and rerolls-to-hit the first round of combat to the blob, all without taking a check. They also stop you from going to ground. If you think you'll need the blob to go to ground, to hunker down on an objective or whatever, just detach the priest from the unit (he's an IC) in your turn. In close combat, the priest can try to buff your blob (and attached commissar and primaris) with re-rolls to wound. This is very handy for STR 3 models. The other hymns are very situational, as rerolling your 5+ armor isn't going to help you much against power weapons, chainaxes, or MCs. Smash is interesting and could be helpful against a MCs, but on balance the re-rolls to wound are the best bet. The downside of hymns is that in the 7th edition rules (page 13), the test is taken on the priest's LD 7, not the highest LD model in the unit (LD 9 if you have a commissar or primaris). So your hymn may not go off when you need it most. Having a regimental standard in a nearby CCS won't help much either, as you can't get a reroll on that type of test.

The Best Troops in the Game?

I think that IG Light Infantry squads are the best troops in the game. They are points efficent, durable, reliable, can threaten all types of enemy units (even flyers with prescience!), modular, and flexible. Their ownly weakness is their statline, armor, and weak basic ranged and melee attack, all of which have never been something guard players have worried about. Now go forth and overwhelm the enemy!


Next time we'll look at Platoon Command Squads and Veteran Squads.

Wednesday, May 21, 2014

The 7th Edition CSM IG Breakup

*Editor's Note: The following is satire and in no way to be taken seriously by anyone, especially Games Workshop's blood sucking attorneys, especially especially that guy who thought it'd be a good idea to sue the author of the kid's book Space Marine. The only way to react to bad new is with humor*

Dateline: The Milky Way Galaxy; the 41st Millenium

After two years of wedded bliss, the Chaos Space Marines Codex and Imperial Guard Codex are breaking up. In a couple known throughout the internetz as "traitor guard," 40k players everywhere once rejoiced by fielding professionally trained and well-armed unit of basic human followers of the Gods of the Warp.

The story was broken by the new 40k 7th Edition allies chart, which revealed that the IG Codex and CSM Codex would only be seeing each other "come the apocalypse." For Imperial Guardsmen and their commanders, there was much rejoicing. Lord Commissar Markus Xerius said of the events "This is great news! I can retire now, knowing that only the Adeptus Astartes and common citizens [cultists] can fall to the temptations of the Warp. GW has decided all guardsmen are immune to corruption and would never serve the dark gods."

Korodus Etogaur, a leader in the Ashen Veil, a professional military unit based on the Sanguinary Worlds' Blood Pact, and dedicated to the Chaos god Khorne, was saddened by the news "We've been fighting with this group of Berzerkers for a couple years now. They really knew how to get shit done, know what I mean? Now GW says we have to abide by a restraining order and stay 12" from them? I just don't get it. Didn't Matt Ward read his Dan Abnett?"

Some Internet pundits have suggested that this breakup is indicative of GW's plans to introduce a Traitor Guard codex supplement. Other expert tea-leaf readers claim that because Forge World already has such as list (Vraks Renegades), that this imaginary GW product will probably be released "come the apocalypse."

40k players who have invested conversion time, money, and paint to create their traitor guard forces expressed outrage at the news. Many are looking to Forgeworld, commonly viewed as the more caring and resin-y side of GW by the 40k community, to update their Vraks Renegades list for 7th edition.

Sources inside GW claim the breakup was engineered by Matt Ward, ostensibly because one time his Ultramarines/Grey Knight Mary Sue Brofist army got "WTFPWND" by a Traitor Guard force with an allied Heldrake during early play testing.

In related news, the CSM Codex has recently been seen at a fondue restaurant with the NewCron Codex. While Necrons once considered the powers of the warp to be their anathema, clearly no fluff is too sacred or too good for GW to retcon away.

Saturday, May 17, 2014

Road Terrain Construction (that awkward time between editions)

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Well as I believe I've played my last game of 6th edition, I've been vacillating on how to spend my hobbying time. So many questions, so few answers until my preorder 7th edition rulebook (plus $5.95 sales tax, thanks Indiana politicians) arrives next week. Questions like:

1) Do I upgrade all my IG sergeants and officers to bolters?

2) Do I give all my traitor guard sergeants and officers power axes?

3) Will the Hydra still suck in 7th edition? Should I buy some?

4) Should I run my IG as vets with camocloaks or as blob squads (depends on how kill points work)

As I try to limit my gaming expenditures to a predetermined monthly budget, May's allowance is pretty much shot thanks to GW inflation. With all the uncertainty, I've focused my efforts into terrain. Terrain is recession and inflation proof: it's always needed for games, rarely gets nerfed, goes out of style, or gets squatted. My current gaming board is a generic green felt surface which, with the right additions, can represent a jungle death-world, an agriworld, or a forested terrain. 

This week's project is the addition of a road network to the terrain options. Here are the steps to completing these roads.

1) Buy a sheet of MDF (Medium Density Fiberboard, 1/4") from the local big box lumber yard.

2) Cut it into 12"x"12 squares for ease of use. I used my dad's table saw. I lost some length on a few of the squares because sawing removes some material, an amount equal to the thickness of the blade. This adds up over a big sheet, so you'll have to make some "fudge strips" one or 2 inches long. 

3) Plan out your road network. My big sections are 12"x6" wide, with 2 6"x6" . I have intersection pieces that are 6"x6", a few diagonal pieces for placing roads at a 45-degree angle on the battlefield, and some 2" and 1" fudge strips.

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Diagonal pieces

4) Cut out those pieces with any saw. I used a Jigsaw. Make sure to sand the edges before moving on to the next phase.

5) Add texture. I used basic sand from the hardware store. It has a few big rocks but is pretty consistent. You can use elmer's glue, diluted with some water, and just paint it on with a 1" or larger cheap brush. Then flock it just like you do when basing a model. Let this dry 24 hours before moving on to the painting. 

6) After the roads dry, paint them with a coat or 2 of glossy black spray paint. Glossy looks the most like asphalt on the highway. Let this dry for 8-24 hours or so. That gets you to the stage below:

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Textured and painted black
7) Now comes the difficult part. While the black paint is drying, make some stencils. If you made the roads like I did, you'll want one stencil 14" or 15" long and 5.5" wide. This is your white stencil. The yellow stencil is harder. I razorbladed a old oven pizza box in half, cut out small pieces 1" long and 0.25" wide in one half of the box, and then taped it back together. This is for the center lines on the road. 
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Yellow Stencil
8) Using your stencil, spray the white side lines. Place the stencil in the center of the road piece, leaving the far edges exposed. Do all the white lines, then go back and do the yellow stripes. This allows the white paint to dry. The yellow one is harder, because you have to make sure it is centered on the road piece. I cut out the corners to visually see everything was lined up before I painted. When spraying, spray straight on, not to the side like you do when you primer models. Side spraying will result in non-crisp lines. 

9) That's it, you are done! If you want to do some touch up, use your model paints to cover up any drips.

Thursday, May 8, 2014

The 4 Mantras of 40k: Play your game, let others play theirs

Keeping it Positive: The 4 Mantras for 40k: Play your game, let others play theirs

Patron God: Nurgle. Live and let live kinda guy. He's friendly and wants to give you his gifts of friendship.

Backgound Information (not important if you want to get to the Crunch below)

40k attracts many kinds of individuals, ranging in ages from pre-teen to older adults. Some come to the hobby at a young age, while others might not buy their first model until their mid-40's. Most, if not all, 40k players have some nerd quotient. My nerd quotient started as a child, with my father reading me books about Tom Swift Jr.. We watched Star Wars as a family, and in addition to a swingset, we had a plywood shuttlecraft in the backyard. My first model was a cardboard airplane glued together, which the dog promptly ate. I was devastated and my dad went and bought me a F-15 fighter model that we assembled and painted together. I was hooked.

My nerd quotient increased as a Boy Scout, when my friends spent many campouts and patrol meetings playing Magic the Gathering, Risk, Axis and Allies, Star Wars CCG. I enjoyed these games but enjoy playing none of these games today. When I was 16 the same group of friends picked up a Boxed Set of 3rd Edition 40k: Spaz Marines vs Dark Eldar. The first time I saw 40k being played was on a couple chemistry classroom tables pushed together on afterschool day at science club.

I don't remember what I thought at that time, but I remember that within weeks, I had the beginnings of my Steel Legion army (one infantry squad and a Chimera). By Xmas I had the army boxed set and was well on my way to 40k enthusiast. What really started me as a lifelong 40k player was reading Dan Abnett's first three Gaunt's Ghost books.

(The Crunch Starts Here)

I'm sure many (most) 40k players all have a similar story, while other 40k players have a much different story, of how they got into the hobby. For me it was a love of science fiction, building models, friendships, and great fiction. My game is to collect armies that match the fluff, build models, and play friendly games with friends while drinking a few beers.

Other players, and from my observations, the most vocally negative on the Internetz, are the FLGS pickup crowd. I am no knocking this market segment, because I've played many games of 40k at the FLGSs here in Indiana. For many 40k players, the FLGS scene is their only opportunity to play 40k.

The prevailing business model of many FLGS for other games (specifically CCGs and prepainted miniatures games.) By providing a location for players to meet up and get a game of whatever (40k, MtG, Heroclix) in, the FLGS acts as a facilitator and clearing house for players to meet-up. And every time someone plays a game at the FLGS and looses, its so easy for that player to look at the rack of models or binder full of cards and buy whatever they think will win them the next game.

All that is needed is a single coincidence of wants (I want to play MtG, you want to play MtG.) In the FLGS environment, I've found that there is a mix of four kinds players: new (and new-to-the-area) players, veteran competitive gamers trying out a tournament list, veteran narrative gamers trying to meet new 40k gamers, and players that are "that guy." This environment is competitive rather than collaborative. The tournament scene is an extension of the FLGS model. And that is great for some players, its just not for me. I've played too many games against "That Guy" and been rickrolled by the latest FOTM netlist enough times to convince me that games at the FLGS just ain't for me.

FLGS by their very nature drive out players like myself: hobbyists that collect many many models (full companies 4TW) who need online discount retailers to stay solvent, enjoy having a beer or 2 with their game, and would much rather play with a friend than someone they just met. We retreat away from the FLGS to basements and garages, forming close-nit but isolated groups that try to Forge the Narrative through fun games and cool campaigns. Now conventions are something entirely different. Adepticon is so close that I need to go, and it has something for every type of miniatures gamer.

Regardless of which camp you fall into, or if you span both groups (more power to you), don't ever forget there is always another side to the hobby and game. Tournaments might not be your thing, but that doesn't mean a tournament player's opinions or perspectives on balance are invalid. And if you are a competitive FLGS or tournament player, try to maintain respect for your opponent and don't be "that guy." Instead, strive to be more like "this guy."

Father Nurgle (GW) loves all his children: the ones who play in tournaments, in FLGS, and in basements and garages. As long as you offer up your hard earned (or trust fund) Cash for the Cash God to buy your plastic models and hardbound rulebooks, you've appeased GW. Once you've bought it, you've got to own it: by playing YOUR game how YOU want to play. Don't let anyone negative on the internetz or That Guy at the FLGS tell you differently.

Monday, May 5, 2014

The 4 Mantras of 40k: Embrace Change by Changing

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Keeping it Positive: The 4 Mantras for 40k

Embrace Change by Changing

Patron Chaos God "Tzneetch"

With the release of the IG Codex before this one, I took a break from 40k because I was ENRAGED at the fact the Valkyrie had its armor UPPED to 12 (it had been 11 in the Imperial Armor books). I was livid because GW clearly made the model awesome rules-wise (and created the bullshit that was undercosted Vendetta spam when IMHO they should have made a Vulture conversion kit for anti-tank) for its points cost and gave it better armor than a chimera tank. Yes, reader, that is correct. I raged because GW made something BETTER, not worse.

One key to avoid burnout is to embrace, rather than rage against, the changes GW makes to the game. GW is a "models" (not a "model", infact far from it) company, and therefore will often make newer units better rules-wise to buff sales. The recent IG codex release was an example of this: Stormtroopers went down in points and were made better by the addition of orders and command squads. Orgyns were made better, but not quite enough to justify their points cost, especially because their transport capacity is limited. Wyrvens are a new model, and therefore have some of the best rules of any of the Heavy Support choices, despite having clunky to-hit-and wound resolution mechanics. The only exception is the Hydra, which went from bad to worse because of a lack of interceptor. So overall GW TRIED to promote new models with better rules, and for the most part succeeded. People will buy the Hydra/Wyrven kit because of the Wyrven, and they might buy some Bullgryns for a mobile Aegis line.

GW also changes to rules to correct perceived rules imbalances. The changes do not happen quickly. Mostly it's over the course of a whole edition or Codex cycle that things get "fixed." The Vendetta points cost being upped to the current value and losing some transport capacity is an prime example. Everyone knew it was a problem, and it took GW years to fix the problem. There are probably dozens of examples of this just in 6th edition alone.

Its been like this for as long as I've played. Anyone remember 3rd edition Rhino Rush? Iron Warriors Obliterator and Basilisk armies? How about Nidzilla? The list of problems that GW has tried to correct go on and on. Many times, instead of just making a small correction, GW swings the nerf bat like a juiced-up MLB player. They overreact to small problems while creating new major ones, such as 2++ rerollable saves. Obviously this is the result of both a different focus (beer and pretzels and hobbying) for the designers than the majority of the US playerbase (tournaments and FLGS pick-up games), a disassociation of the GW studio with the competitive community, and a lack of adequate playtesting with players who love to find the next broken list and have a love of powergaming.

All this imbalance and, arguably, rules writing incompetence can be infuriating. In order to deal with much of the rules changes and blunders, a 40k player or group of players has only one option, and oddly it's the method GW suggests themselves: If You Don't Like the Rules, Change Them!

We'll cover this more in the next mantra, but the gist of it is this: You gotta own the rules like you own models. Tournament Organizers do this all the time: they change the rules to fit the kind game the organizers and players demand. Nothing stops you and your gaming group from sitting down, listing all the crazy mistakes that GW has made, and creating a list of house rules.

If more people took this proactive approach to change, there would be far less bitching and moaning on the internet forums. So what if GW took away your Marbo? Use his old entry from the last Codex. As long as your opponent agrees, its fine. The GW Arbites aren't going to show up in your basement or FLGS and arrest you. If the GW designers showed up, would probably high-five (do the Brits still high-five?) you for changing the rules to fit your kind of game.

My challenge to you is this: the only way to deal with change is by changing. Whenever GW makes a change you don't like, just change it back within the privacy of your own gaming group. Own the 40k game, don't let it own you.