Saturday, August 19, 2017

Black Templars and Warhammer 40K 8th Edition first games


I got in my first two games of Warhammer 40K 8th edition over the last two weeks.

My first game with the new system was at a Games Workshop store in Tokyo (yes, I still never call them "Warhammer Stores", no matter what the sign on the shop says!). I thought it would be good to have a game with the staff to get used to some of the new mechanics, and to help refresh my knowledge of the game as I haven't played in months.

Before I went I spent some time putting together a Black Templars list using the new "Power level" system. This is designed to be a quick and easy way to put together an army without worrying about calculating the exact points value of everything. Each unit has a clearly marked power level, which is adjusted based on the number of models in the unit, but not on their wargear or accessories.

Overall, this system works quite well in specific circumstances, and I was able to pull together a bunch of my old Templars models with relative ease. It makes calculation pretty easy, and various list building apps have already included it. (I used Battlescribe and this seemed to work fine). In a few minutes of playing around I put together a 75 point army of Black Templars (50 points is about 1,000 points according to some sources). More on that later.

Black Templars bike squad zooms in.

++ Game 1: Black Templars v. Ultramarines ++

Here is the 75 Power Level list I used:

  • Captain on Bike
  • Chaplain Grimaldus
  • Crusader Squad A (9 Initiates with Chainsword, 5 neophytes with combat knives, 1 Sword Brethren).
  • Crusader Squad B (4 initiates with Bolters, x1 with Flamer, x1 with Plasma)
  • Crusader Squad C (5 initiates with Chainswords, x1 Flamer)
  • Dreadnought with Autocannon
  • Land Raider Crusader for Squad A
  • Razorback for Squad C
My opponent had about 70 points of Ultramarines. From what I remember:
  • Captain on foot in Terminator armour.
  • Venerable Dreadnought with Las cannon, Dreadnought power fist/ flamer.
  • x1 smaller Unit of Primaris Ultramarines (x5?) on foot.
  • x1 large unit of Ultramarines (x10, with Missile Launcher)
  • x1 large unit of Ultramarines (x10, with Missile Launcher)
  • Close combat Terminator squad. (x10 or so, brought in from reserve. Half with lightning claws, half with thunder hammer and shield.)

If I can, I'll put together a separate report in more detail, but the highlight of the game had to be my excitement at using Chaplain Grimaldus, only for him to kill himself in his first shot of the game when his pistol overheated and exploded in his face. 
Classic WH40K Bittersweet moment™!

My opponent was the underdog in terms of points, but his large Terminator squad pretty much made mincemeat of my troops. That, coupled with some bad placing of charging bikes on my part opened them up to a lot of attacks that overwhelmed them.

10 Enemy Terminators arrive (top right). The end is near (for me).


++ Game 2: Black Templars v. Tyranids ++

The Thin Black Line v. The Red Tide of Death...

In my second game (this time with a friend at home) my list was a little different:

50 Power Level Black Templars

  • Emperor's Champion
  • Crusader Squad (7 initiates with Chainswords, x1 flamer, x1 Sword Brother.
  • Sternguard x5 (x4 vets, x1 Sergeant All with flamer combi weapons)
  • Terminator Assault Squad (x Sergeant, x1 Storm Shield and Thunder Hammer, x2 with paired lightning claws)
  • Landspeeder x1 (Typhoon missile launcher, Heavy bolter)
  • Devastator Squad (x1 Sergeant with Plasma pistol,  x4 with Missile launchers
  • Rhino

49 Power Level Tyranid army

  • Hive Tyrant (Shooty) PL10
  • Carnifex (kinda shooty) PL6
  • Tervigon (kinda poopy - "releases" 10 Termagants every turn.) PL13
  • Genestealers (x5) PL4
  • Genestealers (x5) PL4
  • Zoanthrope (x3 in a single unit) PL6
  • Termagants (x10 on the table at first I think?) PL3
  • Hormagaunts (x10) PL3

We played an "Open Play" game to get a hang of the basic rules, using just the Indexes. 

There were four objectives, and points for control of each objective were collected at the end of each player turn. There is no 8th Tyranid Codex available at the time we played, and I don't have the SM Codex. Even if I know the rules, I didn't feel it would have been right to have access to my Chapter Tactics if my opponent didn't have any info from a codex of his own, so we didn't use those.

The Devastators...um...devastated (bottom left)


I ended up losing this game as well!

  • The Hive Tyrant and Carnifex pretty easily shot my Devastators off the table in the first round of shooting, meaning I was out of massed heavy weapons that could have seriously dented his Tyrant, 'Fex and Tervigon. This was even with an improved saving throw due to being in cover.(I still had the Land Speeder with heavy weapon and Typhoon Missile launcher, but felt that wouldn't do the trick)


  • The ability of the Tervigon in 8th edition to just add an extra 10 Termagants on the table without a chance of the ability stopping (as in 7th if I recall?) meant that the table quickly became full of little critters!


  • This small Tyranid force still has 3 psychic units, who in the psychic phase managed to get off Smite a fair few times, as well as some tasty buffs and debuffs (The Horror, Catalyst and Onslaught). As it only takes a 5 or more to get off Smite, it isn't difficult to get off, but even 1-3 mortal wounds on a small unit in a game of this size is going to hurt over time. (Bear in mind that as I don't own the SM Codex yet, I wasn't using Abhor the Witch, which would have given me a 4+ Deny the Witch roll, even without any psychers of my own.)


This loss was my fault too though for sure, with plenty of bad choices on my part:

  • I wasn't confident about driving my Rhino straight up to the Tyranids to disembark my Crusade Squad. It took me too long to do that, by which point there were lots of additional 'gants to deal with. They disembark now only at the beginning of your movement phase. If I had moved up within charge range, would the Tyranids have swarmed the raider and managed to simply take off enough wounds for it to explode? Once surrounded, the models inside have no exit point so simply die in that case? (My concern)! 

Because vehicles are more durable in 8th, being more confident about this is probably a key takeaway.

  • I became too distracted by worrying about the units I had and should have paid more attention to the game objectives, and could have contested those in his back field earlier (using different vehicles such as the Land Speeder) to take pressure off my front line.
  • I could have placed my devastators further back so they could have got one round of shooting off before being in range of the Hive Tyrant and Carnifex.
  • It was a mistake not to try and whittle down the large number of Termagants that the Tervigon was throwing out. By the time I got into close combat there were too many of them.
It wasn't all bad news though! :-)

Having been slaughtered by some Terminators in my first game, I had put a small squad into this game and they worked quite well. Those 2+ saves make a huge difference, even under quite a weight of attacks. After his compatriots were struck down, the Terminator Sergeant duked it out with the Hive Tyrant and brought him down with a thunder hammer (only then to face the wrath of the Carnifex...)

Classic WH40K Heroic-Moment to Enjoy before Death™!

Terminator Sergeant alone, but not unbeaten!
In the next turn, he takes out the Hive Tyrant (at right.)
Another positive was to see how the Sternguard did with their combi-flamers. After moving up, they quickly crisped a unit of Genestealers with no problems (but then fell to all that dakka from the HT and Carnifex.) Flamers = Fun (although somehow, I miss templates...)

Two Sternguard fall to incoming fire, but the other three advance
and fire their combi flamers into a unit of Genestealers.



To finish, here are a few takeaways of main mechanics (mainly confirming what I have read elsewhere.)

Power Levels:

It won't satisfy players who like to carefully calculate everything, or gamers interested in "Match play" style games where opponents want very evenly balanced points, but for putting together a quick "pick-up list" it does the job...
...as long as you accept there will be imbalances.

Depending on the army, some decent war gear or other options will slip in, and according to some reports, these could make make for an actual points difference of a couple of hundred "match play" points.

Simplified Gaming:

Yes, the game is more enjoyable with simplified shooting, wounding and saving. It will make things faster and easier for most gamers, and especially casual gamers (like me.)

Flamers Sans Templates:

With my dice rolls, I feel like I need to take flamers en masse. The D6 automatic hits sounds good, but with just one in a unit, that could just be one hit (for me at least!) 

Dataslates:

Mixed bag! Great to have all the rules for a unit in one place. Not so great if you don't keep a close eye on where the dataslates are (or if you have an army with a load of units.)

Thanks to both my opponents for the games. I'm looking forward to using 8th edition more than 7th because I think the overall simplification of the game suits me as a gamer.

Tuesday, January 31, 2017

Chaos Space Marines...where to now?

?++Next steps++Next steps++?

I posted a modified version of this post over on a 40K group on Google+ today, as I'm looking for some advice on where to go next with my small warband of Chaos Space Marines. If you have any advice feel free to chip in!

"Can I get done advice from any Chaos Space Marine players out there?

Took a look through my dusty case of Chaos Warrior odds and ends today...
...This is what I have, both painted and unpainted.

Heavy weapons.
  • X1 Dude with autocannon.(unpainted)
  • X2 with rocket launchers.(unpainted)
  • X4 guys with lascannons.(unpainted)

Infantry
  • X15 guys with close combat weapons (unpainted)
  • X2 melta guns (unpainted)
  • X2 flamers (unpainted)
  • X2 plasma guns (unpainted)
  • X2 heavy bolters (unpainted)
  • X14 CSMs with bolters (a couple of whom look like sergeants with pistol and power swords)
  • X8 CSMs with chainswords
  • X1 captain (?)
Vehicles
  • X1 Rhino.
  • X1 Defiler

Combine this with the Crimson Slaughter expansion kit I picked up http://chatteringhorde.blogspot.jp/2017/01/holiday-haul-of-chaos.html and I'll have a very infantry heavy force. If you don't know, it contains:
x1 Chaos Land Raider
x5 Chaos Space Marine Terminators
x5 Raptors/ Talons
x5 Chaos Cultists

Any advice on putting together a fun, fluffy force from these? (Photos below)

Autocannon (?)

x2 Rocket Launchers

x4 Lascannons

x15 Close combat weapons (Khorne berserkers?)

Chaos Metal Box (Rhino!)

x2 Melta guns

x2 heavy bolt guns

x2 Plasma guns

x2 Flamers

x6 Bolters and sergeant (plasma pistol and Power sword?)

Captain?

x9 CSMs with chainswords

x2 CSM bikers

x6 CSMs with bolters and Sergeant (powersword)


Thanks!

Saturday, January 14, 2017

Holiday Haul of Chaos (?)

While I was at Warhammer Shibuya a few weeks ago, I came across a bit of a commotion among the punters. A Japanese gamer was in store, looking to sell off some unopened items. 

At the time, no-one in the store was really interested - they weren't making armies that featured anything from the mix of items he had. I soon found out that he had some 40K items, and that he wasn't into 40K at all, and would I be interested in some still-shrink wrapped items?

Intrigued, I was shown the following:



1. A Stormtalon Gunship (Space Marines).
2. A Tau battlesuit box (set of 3 XV8's).
3. A "Crimson Slaughter" Dark Vengeance expansion set.

As it happens, I do have a Space Marine army (Black Templars, who only an hour later than this would suffer the ignominy of bitter defeat), a Tau army, and even a small band of Chaos Space Marines, so this fit me almost perfectly.

The price?

50% off list price for the whole lot.

I almost immediately said "yes!", not because I'm greedy, but because I thought that these items might help get me out of my painting funk and bring me back to the "hobby" side of the hobby. I had never finished the Chaos SM models that I had collected over time, and this might be just the thing to get me back into it. (In my next post, I'll crack open the old GW case that houses "Black Jack's Brass Legion" and we'll line up the squad to see what is there.)

I wasn't familiar with the Crimson Slaughter expansion set, so I set about finding out more after getting home. I had quickly looked at the back of the box, and at the time felt it would add a bit of punch to my current CSM troops.

Let's have a closer look:

Crimson Slaughter box image (front)
Crimson Slaughter box image (rear)
So "What's in the box?"
  1. A Chaos Land Raider
  2. x5 Chaos Space Marine Terminators
  3. x5 Raptors/ Talons
  4. x5 Chaos Cultists
Not a huge force, but it should supplement my footslogging CSMs (I seem to remember I only have a Chaos Rhino) and also give me a bit of close combat and fast hitting power. While the Cultists don't help me at the moment (as I don't have any others) they might form the basis of a blob squad later. I'm not sure if this still holds, but without some of other elements the army will stay quite weak (air power).

Now, will I actually follow-up on my good intentions and start painting again?


Friday, January 6, 2017

Frostgrave Fightin'

Happy to get in a game of Frostgrave the other day with an old friend and opponent. We decided to kick off a campaign as this was our second ever game. I dusted off some of my homebrew Frostgrave terrain and a GW battlemat and off we went!

Our warbands were very similar, here is mine:

Melvin the Mildly Marvelous and gang.

Battlescribe Screengrab. Double click to expand


Wizard: "Melvin the Mildly Marvelous": (Elementalist.)

Spells: (See image below)
Spell cards. Before you ask, can't remember where I got them...
As the elementalist has the image of a traditional "explosive" damage dealer, I went with Elemental Bolt and Ball, Grenade. I also went with a couple of buffs (Fleet Feet) and debuffs (Slow, forget Spell)
EDIT: A friend has pointed out to me that I have chosen my spells wrongly. You choose 3 spells from your OWN school, three spells from aligned schools (but each of these must come from a different school) and two from any of the five neutral schools, (but again, each of these must come from different schools.) Thanks for the advice, and apologies to my opponent.

Warband: Some heavy hitters (Knight and Infantryman), ranged damage (archers), fast mover (thief) and cannon fodder (thug.)

I've still got to get a more "frosty" battle mat, so the city of Frostgrave was a bit verdant, but here are some photos and highlights.

The Warbands:

First of all, team photos:

Melvin the Marvelous (wizard at right) and Halfnar (the Cack-handed) at left

Da enemies.

The (decidedly unfrosty) City of Frostgrave:

Drone shot: Avenue of Heroes and Wizards Tower at center. Wailing watchtower at right.

The City Graveyard (scratch build treasure chest at top right)

Wizards Tower (with treasure chest)

The Old Stone Circle

Treasure chest (out in the open? revealed by the melted snow) by the Avenue of Heroes

Treasure in the town hall.

Highlights:

With both warbands on the table, I deployed mine into three groups, wanting to head straight up the table for a treasure grab. One treasure chest was right in front of me in the Graveyard, so Melvin, guarded by a couple of the warband, picked his way gingerly among the bones ("Damnit Jim, I'm an elementalist, not a necromancer").

Another group composed of the thug, thief and an archer sneaked off for the town hall - those corrupt politicians would surely keep their ill gotten gains from over taxation and bribery there right?
Melvin makes his way across the Graveyard. Thug and Thief at bottom right.

All that glitters...is not gold! (pill box, and gold tape!)
In these opening moves, Melvin failed to cast "Fleet Feet" on his underling, instead injuring himself. Halfnar the Cack-handed meanwhile DID get the spell off and the knight found himself able to run further than usual. (Although, as we all know, Knights were actually very mobile in their armour.)

Enemy warband makes their move, hiding behind (foam!) walls...

...and swiftly grabbing some nearby treasure.

Across town, the other warband moved up, making careful use of cover. After quickly recovering one chest of loot, their wizard successfully cast "Glow" on Melvin. Now lit up like Tokyo tower, Melvin is a juicy target for ranged attacks. An enemy archer grazes him, but he is then struck in the head by their tracker, and drops to the floor! DAMN!



Before his untimely death, Melvin looses an Elemental Ball spell,
while one archer picks up some treasure at top right.
Perturbed by his mentor collapsing like a sack of non-magical potatoes, Halfnar nonetheless surprises himself (and me), by actually managing to cast Elemental Ball, taking a whopping 13 points off the enemy wizard. Seeing how badly injured the enemy spell caster is, one of my archers takes a pot shot at maximum range, and manages to hit him. The other hauls one set of treasure to safety, and will now trudge back to base
The end of turn 2, and already two wizards have bitten the dust!

With both wizards out for the count, the two apprentices square off. Glow proves to be a devastating spell for my opponent, and he makes good use of it. I probably should have tried to use Forget Spell because of this, but was out of range.

Now into turn 3 and noticing one of the enemy trying to sneak off with some gold, Halfnar aims an Elemental bolt, but fails to complete the enchantment and for his trouble gets hit with an arrow (2 damage).

Halfnar, supporter by the Knight, looses an Elemental Ball

Stepping up to the plate, my second archer wings the enemy apprentice. Meanwhile my thief and thug sneak around the buildings, still heading for the town hall for a bit o' burglary.

The enemy warband proves their mastery of using cover by moving into good positions and continuing to lay down a hail of arrows, one finding its mark in my infantryman, who suffers a minor wound.
The enemy lines up some cover, continuing to loose off arrow shows.

...the enemy tracker moves forward. Aware of his predicament, Halfnar
hides behind the outhouse (Wizard's tower lacks plumbing!)
They make good use of this maneuvering in turn 4. The tracker (surely man of the match?) looses another arrow at Halfnar, hitting him. The apprentice, (foolishly thinking that hiding behind the outhouse would keep him safe) sinks to the floor, ignominy adding to injury by the unpleasant smell of night soil that fills his nostrils before he succumbs (to the arrow injury, not the smell of night soil!)

Not wanting to go down without a fight, the now leaderless warband rallies and sticks to the plan. One of my archers hits the tracker, but doesn't kill him. My thug, thief and infantryman have continued towards the town hall, finally within reach of some treasure. The thug and infantryman now break off towards the enemy warband, hoping to put them under some pressure. On the right flank, the knight, now alone, makes a dash for home with some treasure. (This was a big error from the beginning of the game as I barely made use of him. I should have let an underling go for the treasure and run him into the enemy warband.)


My archer lines up a shot at the enemy tracker - and HITS!
Knight does a runner...

In turn five, the enemy apprentice fails to cast a healing spell on himself, resulting in more blood loss, and my second archer goes down to an enemy arrow, slumping lifeless behind a building. One of his band also gets a second treasure chest to the board edge!

With the tide turned against them, Melvin's band have some tricky choices to make. We have safely gathered two treasures, and the thief is close to a third, but will he make it back to safety? Over the next couple of turns my infantryman and thug decide to run interference, hopefully distracting the enemy as the thief gets his gloved hands on another box of treasure. The infantryman's leather armour doesn't protect him for long though, and he falls.

The thug does a bit better, tying up a few enemy in the center over a couple of rounds of combat. Despite his lowly reputation, he gives a good account of himself before being overcome by sheer weight of numbers.

Thug life...ain't no life.

In an exciting finish, and now totally alone, the thief makes off with his treasure. He runs from cover to cover trying to arrange arrow fire (pesky bowmen!) or magical interference. In turn 8, the thief makes a run from cover towards the solid stone walls of the graveyard. Falling back on an old tactic, the enemy apprentice casts "Glow" in the hope of aiding his archers, but fails! (taking another wound).

Sighting down his arrow, the archer lines up a final shot, lets fly...
...and misses, his arrow ricocheting harmlessly off a graveyard wall!

Behind the old tower...

...to the graveyard wall (notice the combat in the back as the thug runs in!)

...and to safety!

Relieved to have made it to safety, the thief staggers away into the mist towards the warband's lair with his prize, but with many injured, will anyone survive to make a run at the city again?


Post game!

Great fun! Lots of shooting (both mundane and magical) and lots of wounds and excitement to go around. In the final analysis I managed to get 3 sets of treasure out of the city, and he got two. As we decided to make this the first game of a campaign though, we consulted the treasure table. Here is what I ended up with:

Experience points:
-190 points of experience (I got off x4 spells, and 3 treasures)
-130 gold coins
-2 magic scrolls ("Write" and "Create Grimoire")
-1 "Banish" grimoire
-1 magic item ("Fate Stone")

Don't know if that is a good haul or not, but as to the warband itself:
  • Melvin survived (phew!)
  • Halfgar the Cack-handed recovers, but is "Never quite as strong" (so starts every game at -1 health)
  • Archer 1: wounded
  • Archer 2: OK, and hungry to return, and wreak some rewenge.
  • Infantryman: Dead, DEAD, DEAD!
  • Knight: ready for duty.
  • Thief: ready for pilfering.
  • Thug: Really dead.

Lessons

  1. It is super easy to die. Use those buff spells on yourself if you have them.
  2. Archery is really handy. Would it be fun to have a Robin Hood themed "Band of Merry Men"?
  3. If you have debuff, get it in when you can (for example, Forget Spell might have helped by causing his wizard(s) to forget "Glow", which tipped the archery battle in his favor.)
  4. Don't skimp on thinking about your deployment. As with many games, this is one of the most important aspects. I wasted my knight carrying treasure by putting him with the wizard. More careful consideration of who goes where at the outset might have helped me.
Cheers!


Wednesday, January 4, 2017

Shout Out to Battlescribe


Credit: calculator,pencil,pen by ShelbyCox on Flickr (cc by 2.0)

I'm going to get this out of the way first: I have no great love of writing up my army lists, running through the numbers, or fiddling around on a games day rewriting my armies. Some people DO have a great love of this, and see army list building as a fun part of the hobby - props to them, but that isn't me!

For this reason, army list software is a godsend, whatever game I am using. I have used both Army Builder and Battlescribe over the years, in both cases paying for full-priced versions (just to note that I have no connection - financial or otherwise - with either company or their owners). I started with the former, but then a proliferation of app and browser based options with lower-priced (and easier to manage payment) options came along, and I moved away from it. In particular, I found the payment process and licensing complex and frustrating (it may have changed since then.)

Over the last year, I used Battlescribe, but as I got in fewer and fewer games it sat mostly unused, until Jan this year when I wanted to prep for my first game of the year. That's when I noted that there is a new version, 2.0 (or maybe later by this point).

As I went to download the app, I could see that there was an unusually high number of very low ratings for the app (at time of writing) on the Google Play store. These were mainly to do with speed issues and how the new version was inferior to the old version. Some of these also noted that despite paying for the old "Pro" software they were now being asked to pay again for 2.0. (NOTE: As an existing user, I was able to input my old license on the website, and you can get a discounted price on the app if you bought the old version.)

With some trepidation, I downloaded the free app, which has ads and limited functionality, and set to work making a list.
Battlescribe (ver 2) on Android phone

I soon found out that on my tablet, the app was very slow, with some buttons taking seconds to respond, but overall, it was intuitive and relatively easy to use. Unlike some users, I didn't have massive issues (which is not to say that they didn't!) The app did what it said on the tin, and allowed me to make lists in short order and make on the fly changes to a list. It isn't likely to be perfect (as the app uses source data created and updated externally by others). It is faster on my phone by the way (Galaxy S7, so much newer and faster than my tablet).

Battlescribe on my PC (Win 10)

On that basis, I went ahead an also downloaded the new version for my PC. As you can see in the screenshot above (double-click to enlarge) it is quite barebones in terms of design, but it does what I want:
-Download the appropriate files for your game system.
-Select your army roster.
-Choose your units.
-Adjust their weapons and loadouts.
-Print roster (not that easy for me, as I use Google Cloud Printing and had some problems with the PDF) or save as a file.

Army Builder does these things, but could be said to offer a more polished interface and other advanced features, but at a very different price point ($39.99) and with a different model. No doubt Army Builder is the right option for many, even if not for me. (If I needed some of the features on offer, or played on a regular basis I would likely invest).

To cut a long story short, I became "a supporter" of Battlescribe, and paid for the Android app and the PC version at the cost of "$1.99 per platform, per year". Yes, it is slow on my tablet, but the developer seems active so I expect it will get better, and the app is faster on my phone and the PC version works well. I'm willing to pay a low annual subscription fee to a small firm for software that meets my needs. If it DOESN'T, then I will not renew my pass, but I don't begrudge spending less than $2.00 to a company that addresses a need I have for an enjoyable hobby, especially when getting into a game can cost hundreds of dollars.

To existing customers, (or potential customers), before purchasing anything take a good look at the Battlescribe website and the FAQ. In November, the developer made an effort to describe why the changes have come about, and provided further information about upgrade options and offers for existing customers. (The developer is also active on the reddit thread for the software).

So, Battlescribe, keep up the good work, and I wish you the best - keep at it!
:-)

Cheers.


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