Monday, September 29, 2014

7th and I: A Gamer's Lament

Hey guys, BBT back on the blogging horse as I'm struck by a thought during my Communications class. Today, I'm simply going to tell a little story and some reflections. Have no fear, this isn't all doom and gloom, merely a sharing of personal thoughts and feelings.

I remember starting this hobby, in the glorious heyday of 4th, many years ago. As a 23 year old, I can say this was more then half my life ago, when I was too young to truly care about rules, and rulebooks were the neatest things I'd ever seen, and I cared so deeply about the stories, the thoughts and feelings reading about my favourite army (the Greenskins - man was that book fun!) evoked. I didn't look at what build was the most powerful and decide to collect, I saw something really neat, I related, I felt that they best reflected my vision for the army I wanted to wield as a hammer to crush my foes on the far flung galactic battlefields. The rules were neat, I honestly couldn't even tell you about balance or proper book design because I just don't remember, but I will never forget how much fun I had flinging my models at the enemy with heartfelt shouts of Waaaaaagh! that almost never failed to shock my friend's mother into checking on us in the basement. That, to me, was the perfect game, because it was fun, we always had fun, and the little plastic soldiers we treasured so deeply did nothing but enrich our young lives.

Now, I can understand that in large part, that was our youthful acceptance of things simply being as they were. We didn't know any different, so how could we judge the validity of unit statistics and game design? The mentality was simply "let's play a game and enjoy it." That said, I think that what made the game so much more appealing then was that game designers were fans of the universe, and wanted to put things out to evoke emotions and passion.

My next foray came years later, after I fell out of the game by life moving forwards, discovering the oys of girlfriends, partying, and the less enjoyable but fulfilling adventure of employment. I was in my twenties, and I did research into the game. Endless youtube videos of battle reports (a massive shout out to MiniWarGaming and the Beat Matt batreps, if it weren't for you guys I may well have never gotten back to something I love. Thank you guys for your massive efforts and incredible contribution to the community) and blogs and newsfeeds, and a great deal of scouring the used market for cheap, shoddy models later, and I was the proud Norn Queen of a splinterfeet. It was nice to be back, and I loved my army.

All this research and time spent analysing the numbers led to a phenomenal streak of 13 straight wins as I swarmed over the battlefield, and I was hooked. I was in a position of consistent, if unimpressive income, little in the way of expenses, and plenty of spare time, and I could devote much of both to the hobby we know and love. I began to focus more on winning then ever before, in part because of my state of ambition and desire to prove myself in all aspects of life as great and successful, and while it worked, it cost me many opportunities for developing healthy, fun, mutually beneficial gaming relationships. I don't regret it, exactly, but I wish I'd had the clarity of hindsight. I still have not painted a full model, despite several hundred dollars in paints and supplies, and becoming the owner of a compressor and airbrush. This was a very different state of gaming, and I believe this mentality is the source of a great many of the problems faced by the gaming community at large, not just this one lonesome soul. I played many more games, started a Dark Eldar Kabal, won a lot, bought more, and amassed an ever greater collection of models based on stats and performance.

Then came the new Tyranid Codex. This, to me, was the beginning of my shift away from the hobby. I didn't overly like the new book. I found the focus on objectives and playing against the game rather then fighting a battle much like the difference between games like golf and games like tennis. I wanted more focus on the assault phase and wiping out tactically selected units, not more focus on the movement phase and careful deployment of my weaker, unimpressive troops. I loved my Monsters being the focus because of their fearsome ability to destroy my foes, the ability to count on my damage dealers to win games. Alas, this focus on rules and game strategy disheartened me, and with school and work and life all taking up more and more of my time, my lacklustre inclination to game led to making less time for the hobby, and the actual hobbying falling from minimal to nil. The cuts of units from the game, and the clear balancing factor in the design of the new units drove me further into the mentality that was tearing my interest away. Gone, in my mind, was the passion that drove codex writers and the community that read and talked about their work, replaced by cold analysis of numbers and research.

The nail in the coffin was 7th. I have the book, I have the codices, but I have yet to play a game. I don't think it is bad, I don't hate my armies, I simply don't have the passion required to force time into my schedule for games. This is my Lament. I miss the days of simple, unfiltered joy in the game. I miss the casual attitude towards rules, and the focus of game designers and players on balance and a properly competitive environment. The wargaming world has plenty of arenas filled with proper balance and meticulously designed armies focussing on an even footing. I choose warhammer because I own some 80 black library books, and my plastic soldiers have more heart and soul then any other game on the market. I have written thousands of pages of role playing for Dark Heresy, Ascension, Deathwatch and Rogue Trader, even some Black Crusade. I've written background for my Kabal in huge amounts. I didn't need GW to force a narrative, because I forged one for myself far from the gaming table, and I lost the will (or maybe ability? I'm not sure) to bring that narrative to what I see as a colder, detached battlefield. I'm selling off much of my army, and I don't see too much trouble with this, as I'm keeping a great deal, but I do see the lack of will to find time for games as the terminal symptom of the disease of apathy plaguing our community. We deserve the experience I had as a kid. We deserve, as fun, imaginative people, the joy and fulfilment that comes when both players smile, shake hands, and mean it when they say the words "Good game."

On that note, I'll wrap it up. This is no great rallying call, nor is it a condemnation of anyone for participating in the hobby in their chosen way, from game designers to marketing executives, all the way down to the glorious few who own no more then a single tactical squad lovingly assembled and painted. This is simply my experience, and my hope that I can recover from the spiral towards exiting the hobby and recover my joy.

BangBangTequila signing off, with the promise that I will be posting some fluff based articles within the week. May you find your next Good Game soon!

Tuesday, February 4, 2014

Tyranid Review: Troops

Hey guys, I'm back with another part in my review of the new Tyranid codex. This time, I'm going to break into the Troops - namely Gaunts and Gargoyles this part.

These are the bread and butter of a good swarm. I recall once upon a time, the MC spam lists tried to avoid having great piles of these guys, but it is by far the most efficient expenditure of points you can have. You need target saturation, and even if it isn't much, a 20 gant squad for 80 points is something that needs to be dealt with and if left alone, can either swamp units or simply exist to score. They are very flimsy, dying in droves with no save to damn near anything, even getting mowed down by guardsmen flashlights with nothing but a 6+ to save them.

Be very careful with charges. Over watch can wreck these critters, and losing 2-3 to rapid fire is often enough to shore up the required charge roll and make success less likely. Once in combat, they can do some damage on the charge but flail ineffectually in following rounds of combat, so don't rely on them winning much unless they face terrible opponents (like fire warriors).

I love these, based on fluff, and crunch. The skittering tide bounding across the field is fearsome indeed, and on the board it will be something to be reckoned with. At one point more then a Termagant, or two termagants if you give them Toxin Sacs, the Hormogaunt is a cheap and versatile assault unit. They boast modest combat ability bare, able to reliably put a hurt on any basic troops choice and threaten low model count/low attack level specialists such as Crisis Teams, Marine HQs that don't have a high-powered combat escort, Tac squads, Dire Avengers, etc. With 3 attacks on the charge, and Bounding Leap, they absolutely force a threat starting turn 2. Bounding Leap is the main beauty here, as they retain fleet, but also gain a permanent +3" to every Run move. That makes the average, with Fleet re-roll, 7.5" or there around, giving these guys turn 1-2 movement close to that of Jump infantry. Combined with Toxin Sacs, these guys put a huge threat out there to anything not bearing a coveted 2+, and can be counted on to tear down anything they get into combat with so long as they hold some numbers. Alternatively, Adrenal Glands can make them a massive threat to any vehicles, with a long charge range and a mass of attacks, a unit of Hormogaunts can reliably glance any rear AV10 vehicle into scrap in a single charge . The problem, of course, is very low survivability, and expense. They remain pricey for what you get, at 100 for 20, or 160 for 20 poisoned, that can be easily wiped off the board by massed bolter fire. I personally recommend they be taken as a single unit of 20, bare, to be used as a front line screen that, using the huge first turn move+run, forces the opponent to use up valuable early game firepower on one of your cheap, disposable threats instead of your tyrants and carnifexes.

I know, these are fast attack, but they fall under the Gaunt heading in the Codex, and I include them for that reason. Please keep in mind this is NOT a scoring unit.

These guys took a big hit in the form of Blinding Venom. Instead of automatic wounds on every 6 to hit, they now may opt to swap out all their attacks for a 6+ poisoned blind attack at strength 3. That is a massive nerf, and the increased cost of biomorph upgrades means they are now best run as a fast, cheap, and ultimately disposable screen unit. They are fully capable of damaging units, but they are no longer the rampage they were, so do not count on them to destroy the enemy front line. Use them as a replacement for Hormogaunts, or a cheap distraction unit to deep strike in turn 2 or 3 and disrupt the enemy units.
If you want a fast reaction unit, they are very survivable in your backfield, able to move quickly into cover and out of line of sight, and they can use their fast movement to form a powerful quick-response fire fighting unit, or late game denial.

Thursday, January 23, 2014

Tyranids Mk VI: Overview

Hey guys, this is BangBangTequila's several part series on the latest and greatest to come from a galaxy far, far away. This chapter will focus a little on units and stats, but mostly I'm going to cover my general thoughts on the book and the broad changes made since last edition. Without further ado...

1> First thoughts.
This book is beautiful. I bought the enhanced iPad version, and I'm wildly impressed. The artwork, the interface, and the way you can have long, independently scrolling windows of sub-text is just great. The way rules can be brought up and inspected with a tap is wonderful, and means I never have to pick up my BRB unless a game rule is in question. Very sleek, and the Force Requisition program is a phenomenal start up as an army building app. There is a great deal of recycled fluff and artwork, particularly at the beginning, but I can deal with that. After all you have to respect your beginnings before you can add meaningful background to a race, unless you do a full retcon a la Wardian writings, which I would not enjoy at all. I was only initially disappointed by the artwork because they kept the same tired colour schemes. I wanted Gorgon! Or Eurimedes!

2> Big Changes
At first, I got the impression of laziness. Things weren't balanced... In a vacuum. Things seemed nerfed, or discounted, or actually cost more. No biomancy. Instinctive behaviour became less of a mild inconvenience and more of a cripplingly dangerous situation. Some of our best stuff, such as scything talons and instant death, ap 2 boneswords got turned into jokes. Then, I read a little deeper. Lash whips and our two assault grenade equivalents are exactly what we needed, if not in the best spots. Venomthropes became incredible. Biovors got cheaper and better. Carnifex became just, mind blowing. Tyrannofex got an enormous discount, making them damn near a must-have. The powers became almost universally force-multiplying. The Horror may not be too devastating on the surface, but it could easily become the difference between a key turn of shooting or overwatch from an enemy unit. Fire Warriors become Ld 6! Crisis Suits getting pinned down when they were expecting to jump back, or a bunch of Eldar trickey bastards getting pinned in the open. Catalyst is amazing, Dominion became one of the staples to consistent success by extending your synapse web. Venom Cannons became way less terrible, and most of our guns became a little cheaper. Mostly, most of the codex became drastically cheaper. You get 10-25% more units in the same list as before, and the fundamental way in which you have to play the game has changed. We don't have the same sort of "build-and-win" lists we used to, but played well with a little luck and good use of target prioritization and threat-saturation you can do very, very well.

3>New Guys
You can play this well, and have fun. Haruspex, which comes from the ancient term referring to a type of oracle that reads the future from the entrails of the dead, is a fantastic unit. It is damn near guaranteed to kill whatever it fights, being able to fully mow down infantry and heal itself of those pesky powerfist wounds that come creeping up on it. The Exocrine is a game changer for sure, able to lay down unit-shattering firepower. Blasts will demolish high end infantry, and the 6 shots means things like broadsides and crisis suits have very good reason to fear closing in. The Crone is... disappointing. It is certainly neat, and is a huge threat but it is very vulnerable, and pretty much has to vector strike to be useful. While a nice gimmick, it isn't reliable enough to be viable at the points cost. It has a purpose, but the drool cannon lacking torrent really hobbles this unit as the staple we were hoping for. Vector Dancer, and torrent on the drool cannon and she'd be a hero. As is, a C at best.

So, in conclusion, I'm happy. I loved the monster mash before, and lovely balanced gribbly-swarms with a smattering of monsters. Like a chocolate chip cookie, it will be balanced and glorious. Enjoy, and as well like and follow me! Stay Hungry!

Tuesday, January 7, 2014

The Swarm Feeds: 1500 point Battle Report vs Eldar

I did a pre-codex release battle in preperation for a tournament I'm attending on the 18th. Big Guns Never Tire on Hammer and Anvil deployment, Eldar first turn. The lists:

Hive Tyrant, wings, dual Devourers, rolled Iron Arm, Warp Speed

3 x Hive Guard

2 x 15 Termagants
2 x Tervigon, Toxin Sacs, Adrenal Glands, Extra Power (rolled endurance and lifeleech, Life Leech and Enfeeble)

Fast Attack:
2 x 10 Gargoyles, Toxin Sacs and Adrenal Glands

Heavy Support:
2 x Biovores
Trygon, Regeneration

Farseer, witchblade

Fire Dragons x5, Waveserpent w/ scatter laser

2 x 10 Guardians, with Bright Lance, Wave Serpent
5 Rangers

Fast Attack:
5 x Warp spiders w/ Exarch and fast shot

Heavy Support:
Wraithknight, bare
2 x 2 Warwalkers, scatter laser and bright lance

Turn One:
He lead off with turn one, being very slow, only his 3 serpents and rangers on the board. They killed ~10 termagants, and shuffled a bit.
I got my flyrant stoked with iron arm and endurance before flying him over to the rangers. He could not Vector, unfortunately, but it still put him in range of the waveserpent bearing the warlord. Combined fire from the biovores and the flyrant got the rangers for First Blood. One hull point done with the Hive Guard. My first Tervigon spawns 8 and plugs, the second spawns 8 and continues for next turn.

Turn Two:
Deep striking Wraithknight rolled a mishap, and I got to place. I put him in the middle of 2 units of spawned gaunts, and laughed as my gribblies closed in. His outflanking warwalkers came in in his deployment zone and hammered shots at my flyrant, but feel no pain and the need to snap shot saved him, along with all the other wave serpent shooting.
My Tyrant rolled up S and T 9, putting me in a position to vector strike the HQ serpent to death, which I failed miserably, rolling 1 to pen. A unit of gargoyles charged, inflicting 2 hull points. My Hive Guard wrecked a serpent bearing guardians, and the Biovores whiffed. Ended free up the Farseer unit for next time. Trygon continues moving virtually unopposed up the board in the centre, but he's well out of range to charge or shoot. My Tervigon spawns 7 and plugs. My gaunts charge the wraithknight and deal a singular wound.

Turn Three
I'm getting a little hazy on turns now so I'm just describing things in vague order
Here was a big turn, as my Tyrant shrugs off the majority of fire. That failure to kill him really spelled the future doom, as my gargoyles ravage his warp spiders and my biovores demolish guardians left and right. He did kill one with the surprise of the spiders. My Trygon and Tyrant kill off the fire dragon serpent, and tey in turn help to bring my tyrant down to 1 wound, before he starts healing from it will not die. My tervgon dies to his wraithknight after 2 turns of assault, but brought it down to 1 wound where he eventually falls to the poisoned Gaunts on the final turn. My Hive Guard destroy both units of war walkers in turns 4 and 5, and my tyrant and trygon kill the last 2 infantry units on the board for a clean table.

Reserves really hurt armies opposing a wide spread tyranid list, as denying the board is easy and sweeping up can only really be stopped by mass anti-infantry fire. I'm happy with the way my list performed, though I may consolidate the 2 gargoyle squads to make them better at standing up to combat strength. Likewise, I may cut some costs and make my Trygon a Prime for added range and another tough synapse point.

As always, please subscribe at the side of the page, followers keep me posting new stuff!

Saturday, January 4, 2014

Adventures in Air: My new Airbrush!

Yeah, I finally took the plunge, and over Christmas, I received a 2 gallon, 1/5 horsepower compressor with a line regulator, and an Iwata Neo gravity fed dual action airbrush!

I am very impressed with the way a local hobby center handled my inquiries and questions, they were incredibly helpful and informative. Anyone living in the Ottawa area should check out The Hobby Centre, near the costco on merivale road. Excellent guys there.

I'm going to be playing around with my brush all day, I'll post photos and first thoughts after I prime some models!

Tuesday, November 26, 2013

Awakening The Swarm: 1500 Point Tyranids

With all the rumours floating about, I want to set up a solid comparison. I'm excited to see the new codex, and build a hundred lists with brand new stats, units, and costs. That said, I feel it is very important to remember your roots, and think I can only appreciate the new if I remember the old. With that in mind, here's my baseline reading on a "competitive" 1500 take all comers list.

230 - Hive Tyrant - Wings, 2 x Scything Talons


150 - Hive Guard x 3

120 - Zoanthrope x 2


180 - Tervigon - Toxin Sacs, Adrenal Glands, Cluster Spines

180 - Tervigon - Toxin Sacs, Adrenal Glands, Cluster Spines

140 - Termagants x 10, Devourers, Mycetic Spore

100 - Termagants x 20

Fast Attack

160 - Gargoyle x 20, Toxin Sacs, Adrenal Glands

Heavy Support

240 - Trygon Prime

Total - 1500

Here's the plan:
I have a large mass of heavy duty models that can take a pounding while they storm across the table. With 3 dangerous monstrous creatures on foot (the tervigons make up for a lack of combat prowess with the added threat of spawning - I'd rate them very similarly to Trygons for target priority at the start of the game) to soak fire, my relatively few infantry models will be spared most of the heavy weapons fire. Turn 1 I'd likely deploy my Gargoyles and Flyrant behind the three big walking monsters, with a 2-man line of Gaunts in front to provide cover. Turn 2, My whole line will have run forward the previous turn, so this movement phase involves clearing my screen from in front of the Tervigons, so they can spawn 6", move those gaunst up 6", and go for the assault. Average threat range is 19", which combined with the average 9.5" move + Run from the previous turn should get some gaunts into combat. Combined with this are the Flyrant and Gargoyles, who are what I like to call my Hammer units. They are highly mobile units that get into combat, and whatever they assault first dies, either by mass attacks or by few, powerful attacks. These two Hammer units will have used the previous turn to use their extensive movement to position themselves to back the less manoeuvrable gaunts by picking out the enemy's counter assault units or heavy firepower and either killing them or weakening them so severely that even my weaker units (tervigons, gaunts) will have nothing to fear.

Of course I also have two scary and resilient elite choices that provide some ranged support and help to diffuse oncoming fire while restricting highly mobile enemies (skimmers, jetbikes, etc) from outflanking and moving into my army's blind spots.

Now, from you guys, I want some feedback. I'd like to see how you'd play against it, what you think would be hard counters, and what you'd change.

And as always, please Subscribe! Having some followers is the biggest reward for my efforts, and keeps me motivated. Thanks!

Saturday, November 9, 2013

Tyranids: Moved To December, and why I am excited!

So, with news that a hive fleet is so much closer then we thought, my mind flies back to the bugs which got me back into 40k. First of all, I want to point out I am one of those players who thinks Cruddace did NOT give us a book that sucks. He didn't do the bugs justice, but in the game at the time if they'd been any better they would have been wildly over powered. In today's meta, powering up our favourite hive mind, and likely lowering the costs of upgrades rather then units (even Hormogaunts going from 10 points tooled up to 8 - making the upgrades 1 point instead of 2 each - would be a huge difference, essentially giving our 20 bug squads mycetic spores with the savings!) will bring our wonderful swarms in line with the powerhouses of Space Marines (3+ spam is pretty darn good now that they are so cheap!) and Tau and Eldar.

What I'm most Excited for:
1) Assault Bugs. I LOVE Hormogaunts. They're among my favourite units in the game, along side the humble Slugga-boyz. They are just the embodiment of the swarm, a ravenous tide of unrelenting fury that is damn near the perfect predator. Right now, they don't see as much use as they could, failing behind the Termagants due to, in my opinion, the "free" upgrades you get and free models when you bring a Tervigon. Seeing the book shift away from Termagant spam would really perk me up.

2) Tyranid Psychic Powers. I hated that ours were so good until we lost run + assault, and then generally better to swap for biomancy. Seeing an Eldar-style boon/curse would be neat, and giving us some cool mind-melting offence would just be gravy. Shadow In The Warp needs to be made better as well.

3) FULL PLASTIC KIT LINE UP! This is actually #1. Having every model available, viable or not, floats my boat. Having them all plastic just makes me rip my shirt off and howl at the heavens with joy. I really just cannot wait, even if the models don't change, I'll be putting some 300$+ into new kits on release day.

4) More viable units. Right now, I'm a little fed up with monobuild critters. I'm not saying there aren't list options, I just want to see new combos. Mycetic spore-pyrovore spam? Cool. Biovore barrage backed by elite Stranglethorn Cannon-MCs with spike rifle termagants "manning the line" would be so cool! A fast attack "swooping" army filled with Harpies and Gargoyles and such just because we can! Not only that, but we can have new biomorphs and new cool combos of them, rather then the same 2 cut and pasted under every entry, with Regeneration thrown in if you're really ambitious.

5) Finally, I want to see a big army wide change in rules in the form of a single, neat, unique concept. I want a "battle-focus" or "supporting fire" or "chapter tactics" that people talk about. I want a ravenous advance, where we may run and still charge with any creature that has the feed behaviour. Something that fundamentally changes OUR games, the way those rules do theirs.

Those are my thoughts, what are yours? Comment below, and as always please subscribe to keepthese coming!