Flyers Inbound – At last!
Flyers Inbound – At last! avatar

May 31st, 2012

If you’re the kind of person that reads rumors about Warhammer on the internet, you may remember hearing about the so-called “Summer of Fliers”. Well, it’s finally here, about a year after we first began hearing those rumors, and hopefully the quality of models and rules continue throughout the summer. I’ve waited a long time to see things like the Dakka-Jet and Storm Talon become a reality, and I’m not disappointed with the results.

To me, these three new fliers represent a really good swing for the better in Games Workshop’s design mentality. Not only do we have three completely new, and quite excellent looking models, but new rules to accompany them. This means that they’re not just filling in the blanks to make up for gaps in their previous product line, but are actually interested in furthering the game by providing existing players with something new for their beloved armies. I have both Ork and Space Marine armies, and you better believe I’m to be getting several of these models. I’ve already got ideas cooking about a flyer themed Ork Army, complete with the runway field terrain piece to take center stage. Mostly though, I’m just excited that games workshop is using their magazine for something other than previews or painting tips. To me, this points towards a more proactive approach to their design, hopefully one which we will see during the lifecycle of the soon to be launched 6th edition of 40K.

But for now, let’s take a look at the new models and see how they might fit into existing and new army lists:

Will it be more useful than a land speeder's mutli-melta-- we'll see!

Storm Talon. I always felt that Space Marine vehicles are basically moving bricks, looking either a little bit outdated, or not nearly as bad-ass as they should. This is definitely the case with something like a rhino, or a land raider. But the new Storm Talon looks exactly the part. It looks very tough, but also functional. It’s much easier for me to imagine one of these descending from the atmosphere to gun down enemies with its weaponry than, say, a land speeder, which is nonthreatening by comparison. While they can be outfitted with very similar weaponry, the Storm Talons special rules will definitely give space Marine players some new tactics to play with. Since they can escort another deep striking unit, I can imagine them being very useful to accompany a drop pods. I’m interested to see you which Marine codices will have access to the, but no matter what it’s a beautiful model.

Queue the heavy-metal remix of "Flight of the Valkyries".

Ork Bommer. Now we’re talking. Not one, but three new unit’s added to the ork Codex. This is more than I would’ve ever hope for, especially because it includes new weapons as well. The variant ork fliers are going to give ork generals a lot of new tactics to use. Since they’re fast skimmers, they’ll be able to very easily move over terrain and get the side shots on enemy armor that orks always seem to have trouble getting to. I’m kind of skeptical that the bombs are going to be very useful, because orks are always more prevalent on the field than their opponents, which means that they might be more likely to be the victims of their own fliers bombing runs in the enemy — but who cares, crazy stuff like that is half the fun. I’ll be looking for ways to use my ork fliers to blast transport vehicles, or to gun down enemy vehicles looking to sneak up on my battlewagons.

I like to think that Nikola Tesla would be proud. Karl Gauss though...

Night/Doom Scythe. Of all the flyers, it’s this one that I’m the least sold on. Although I know that both of these models are actually quite useful in the necron codex, model turned out to be a little weird to me. Hs anyone explained why do necron vehicles have pilots? This doesn’t make any sense to me. Wouldn’t it be more interesting to have made the ship look like something that was actually an autonomous machine — they be something more like one of the new spyders — rather than a more conventional flyer that could be used by other races? Moreover, what’s with the little curve coming off of the ship’s spine like a tailbone? Still, it’s a nice model overall, and I’m sure necron players will be all over this one.

It’s going to be…Epic!
It’s going to be…Epic! avatar

May 15th, 2012

A long time ago, during my first writing stint for CMO, I got into Epic 40k.  Epic brings a lot of cool stuff to the table — it allows you to play battles with massive armies, with each squad being the size of a 40k army.  In exchange for a bigger army, the ruleset abstracts a lot of concepts and is focused more on a strategic level than a tactical level.  Also, it uses 6mm-scale miniatures which are adorable and painful to paint.

As I dug up my box of Epic, I realized I had around 30,000 points on hand.  Enough to get me, my household, and my entire neighborhood into Epic.  What sort of things does Epic really have to offer from a gameplay standpoint though?  Let’s take a look!

Aircraft

Image courtesy of GW.

Not “Flyers,” but actual aircraft.  They come onto the board for a strafing run, they take fire from anti-aircraft tanks, they try and drop their payload, and then they leave.  Bombers can do massive damage to ground targets.  Fighters can intercept bombers.  This makes for an interesting set of options for army lists and in-game tactics.  Players can guarantee air superiority, but be weak on the ground.

Titans

Image courtesy of GW.

Titans in 40k Apocalypse games are broken.  In Epic, they’re just a part of the game.  Every army has their own, and distinct grades of them too.  They can be geared up to soak up a ton of damage, punish enemy troops, or even duel with other Titans.  They have to be supported, because they can be easily outmaneuvered.  Still, a Titan in your lines will make a strong combat force, and it’s awesome to see that the scariest unit in your army is shorter than a Dreadnought!

Miniatures

Image courtesy of GW.

This brings me to another great part of Epic…they’re minis, but even more miniature.  This means that you get to see your favorite unit over and over again.  Want a squadron of 10 Leman Russ tanks?  It’s yours!  Want to bring 15 Dreadnoughts to the table?  Go right ahead!  Some of the recreations are downright uncanny, and can be adorable when you see something as visceral as a Landspeeder in 6mm scale.  Of course, you have to be willing to paint and base them to do them justice!

Gameplay

Image courtesy of GW.

I’d be remiss if I didn’t talk about any actual rules to Epic.  One of the things I love the most about Epic is its “we-go” system.  Unlike 40k, where players activate their entire army at once, players take turns activating one unit at a time.  This adds another layer of sophistication to the game without complicating it.  Certain decisions can have far-reaching ramifications.  For example, you need to construct your army so that you have a reasonable number of units.  If you’re short on units, you’ll be short on activations.  If you’re short on activations, then your opponent can simply wait to activate his important units and see what you do first.  It also requires a bit of gamesmanship to decide when it’s best to activate certain units, or when they should be saved for later in the turn.

Epic also has a number of cool orders, such as Overwatch.  Placing a unit on Overwatch allows it to wait defensively, reacting to an enemy that enters its firing range.  This allows you to combine tactics, using certain units in an offensive role and others to support the advance.  As with 40k, you can move and shoot with a penalty, or stand and shoot with a bonus.

Summary

Epic 40k is definitely worth checking out if you can pick up some models and get someone to play with!  Many argue that it’s one of GW’s best games, because it represents the variables in a large-scale battle with quick and fun gameplay.  The models are phenomenal and best of all, the rules are free!  Check them out and place an order with CMO, they’ll get Specialist Games for you if you ask!

Chaos Space Marines Part 2 — Marks of Chaos
Chaos Space Marines Part 2 — Marks of Chaos avatar

May 10th, 2012

Last time I talked about Chaos Space Marines in general, but now I want to dig into one of their most recognizable, and debatable elements—the Marks of Chaos!

The chaos marks is where a lot of the chaos space marines style comes from. While expensive, they can give your marines and edge in many situations to triumph over their prey. Let’s take a look at how they Marks affect your in practice. Specifically, I am going to evaluate the marks on standard Chaos Space Marines. Though their champions, princes, and sorcerers can be marked, the effects they bring to those independent characters bring different results than to infantry.

Chaos Glory: This is probably an auto-include for most lists. Making your marines fearless is simply too useful to deny. With it you can live till the last man to protect an objective, which has won me many games. If you don’t take this Mark, you’d better need that 10 points for something else in a big way.

Mark of Slaanesh: Hitting at initiative 5 will usually have you slicing up enemies first, with only a few exceptions. Here’s what that means when a group of 10 chaos marines charge 10 of their loyalist enemies (no power weapons).

  • Chaos charges. 30 attacks. 15 hits. 7.5 wounds. 2.5 kills.
  • Marines counter attack (down 3 models). 8 attacks. 4 hits. 2 wounds. 0 kills.

Is this better than a standard charge? Well, without the mark of Slaanesh the marines would you hit you at the same time for 1-2 kills. Winning the assault without a single loss is actually pretty cool, and if you had an aspiring champion with a power weapon you’d actually be in an ever better position. To, me, this kind of assault power is worth 20 points.

Mark of Khorne: Let’s see how much extra blood these chaos marines can splatter with the extra attack granted by this mark. Using the above example:

  • Chaos charges. 40 attacks. 20 hits. 10 wounds. 3.3 kills.
  • Marines strike back simultaneously for 1-2 kills.

Compared to the Mark of Slaanesh, you actually come out loosing, because you’re paing for that extra kill with the loss of a few of your own models. Not much of an advantage, but let’s compare this against a mob of Orks:

  • Without Mark of Khorne. 30 attacks. 15 hits. 7.5 wounds. 6 kills.
  • With Mark of Khorne. 40 attacks. 20 hits. 10 wounds. 8-9 kills.

A little better, but the real advantage comes from the bonus attack from your power weapon. Is it worth 30 points? Probably, but only if given to a full-sized unit. To me, the Mark of Slaanesh comes out a little better, because it keeps more of your team alive to fight again.

Mark of Nurgle: Enhanced toughness is always good, let’s see if it makes much of a difference for its 50 point price tag! Again using the 10 chaos marines vs. 10 space marine example.

  • Chaos charges. 30 attacks. 15 hits. 8 wounds. 2.5 kills.
  • Marines strike back simultaneously. 10 attacks. 5 hits. 2.5 wounds. 1 kill

Now on the defense.

  • Marines charge. 20 attacks. 10 hits. 2 wounds. 0 kills.
  • Chaos strike back simultaneously. 20 attacks. 10 hits. 5 wounds. 1.5 kills

Hmmm, it seems like you have an advantage here, but against marines this isn’t any better than the Mark of Slaanesh, which costs 30 points less! Let’s look at how much the Mark of Nurgle protects you against a battlewagon full of boyz!:

  • Without mark: Orks charge (5 dead by marines striking first). 60 attacks. 30 hits. 15 wounds.  5 kills.
  • With mark: Orks charge (5 dead by marines striking first). 60 attacks. 30 hits. 10 wounds.  3 kills.

A more appealing difference, but still not anywhere near the 50 point price tag! However, the true advantage of the Mark of Nurgle is that it helps you survive shooting. Let’s see how the Nurgle chaos marines standup to a fusillade of boltgun fire.

  • Without Mark: Space marines rapid fire: 20 shots. 10 hits. 5 wounds. 2 kills.
  • With Mark: Space marines rapid fire: 20 shots. 10 hits. 3 wounds. 1 kill.

Congratulations, you just paid 50 points to keep a 15 point marine alive. Obviously you’re more likely to get shot at by more than simple bolter fire, but when costs are such a premium for the chaos general, you need that 50 points for something more worthwhile, and you especially can’t afford to give EVERY unit of marines in your army that mark. This one is a no-go.

Mark of Tzeentch: As much as I love Tzeentch, this is by far the most useless Mark. A 5+ invulnerable save helps you little when you’re cruising in your rhino or lurking in cover, so it’s very hard to justify its high price tag. However, let’s see how it helps you against a pack of terminators!

  • Chaos receives charge. 20 attacks. 10 hits. 5 wounds. 0 kills
  • Terminators charge. 15 attacks. 7.5 hits. 6 wounds. 4 kills.

Without the Mark:

  • Chaos receives charge. 20 attacks. 10 hits. 5 wounds. 0 kills
  • Terminators charge. 15 attacks. 7.5 hits. 6 wounds. 6 kills.

Wow, this one actually surprised me. I can see this being useful, but only in the occasion that you fight an enemy that warrants the save. However, you’re probably going to lose combat by such a large amount that keeping those few models intact won’t matter much. Against something like a dreadnaught, where you’re overwhelming unlikely to damage it with greanades, this mark only becomes useful for tying up the enemy. Is that worth 40 points?

Summary: So to conclude, few of the marks are worth really worth it, which is too bad. They make the army fanciful, but don’t leverage benefits that will make or break your unit. Chaos space marines rely most on their good number of attacks and power armor, so I think that the Mark of Slaanesh or Khorne is probably the best option, since it makes the marines better at something they must do for you to win games. The Mark of Chaos Glory still takes the cake though; it’s sweet price and usefulness far outweighs the cost of the other marks. Disappointing.

After this experiment I’ve decided that Chaos is due for a facelift. In the coming weeks I’ll present some alternate rules to make the ruinous powers threatening again!

Pistoliers, Outriders, and You
Pistoliers, Outriders, and You avatar

May 8th, 2012

The Empire Pistolier/Outrider box is one of the fan favorites in the range.  It comes with loads of bits, has really characterful models, and provides a unique unit on the table for the Empire army.  With that in mind, the Pistoliers and Outriders aren’t straightforward to play, so I wanted to take this week’s article as an opportunity to go over them.

Pistoliers

Image courtesy of GW.

Pistoliers are a fast-cavalry unit that’s meant to be on the move, all the time.  As Fast Cavalry, they can march and fire.  They get free reforms, and they even get a Vanguard move.  Their weapons confer the Quick to Fire rule, which  means you don’t suffer the penalty for moving and shooting.

This means that with a unit of 5 Pistoliers (90 points) you get 10 BS3, S4 Armor Piercing shots.  You will suffer a -1 penalty to hit for multiple shots, and will also suffer a -1 penalty for shooting at long range if the enemy is more than 6″ away.  This means you’ll be hitting on 5′s or 6′s.  Considering the free reforms and marching for Fast Cavalry, it shouldn’t be too difficult to get within 6″ of an enemy’s side arc.  This will give you 3-4 hits per turn, resulting in a decent number of casualties against cavalry and expensive, heavily-armored T3 troops (-2 to armor saves!)

Of course, the Pistoliers don’t have much staying power.  In combat, you only get the 10 attacks, including Warhorses, at a low initiative.  You’re better off fleeing and regrouping if charged.  Make sure to use your movement to stay out of the front arc of threatening units, because a single magic missile or volley of shots can really do a number on them.

Outriders

Image courtesy of GW.

Outriders are a totally different story from Pistoliers, despite sharing the same models and box.  They’re Fast Cavalry, but their weapons are move-or-shoot so you won’t be using their mobility for anything but their Vanguard move.  Their Vanguard move will allow them to move up the flanks into a good shooting position, but they will be a target and every time you need to move them to protect them you’ll lose a round of shooting.

The Outriders are a bit more expensive (105 points for 5) but put out a huge volume of shots.  15 to be exact, at BS4 and 24″.  You’ll be hitting on 4′s because of multiple shots, or 5′s at long range.  Thus, you can expect 7-8 hits at short range, or 5 hits at long range.  That’s equivalent to about 15 Handgunners, which cost a bit more.  Of course, 15 Handgunners count towards your Core rather than your Special, don’t get a Vanguard move, and have a few more ablative wounds.

This brings me to the biggest problem I have with Outriders, which is survivability.  Your first casualty reduces your number of shots by 20%, and T3/5+ models aren’t exactly difficult to hurt.  Because of their Vanguard move, they’ll generally be away from your support bubble and won’t have the Leadership backup to stand up to Panics or other Leadership-based attacks either.

Conclusion

Pistoliers and Outriders are a very fluffy, flavorful part of the Empire army book.  I don’t think you’re really handicapping yourself by playing with them, but you have to recognize that their fragility makes them a finesse unit.  You also have to be willing to concede that there may be other elements to the army that are more points-efficient in terms of survivability and lethality.  Nonetheless, they’re an awesome unit to play with and play against, and either one is a treat to see on the table.

Force Org: Troop – Chaos Space Marines
Force Org: Troop – Chaos Space Marines avatar

May 3rd, 2012

When the ruinous maw of the warp opens to speak, it is the traitor legions of the Chaos Space Marines that take heed. These heretics are among the galaxies greatest threats, combining the impressive combat skills of the Adeptes Astartes with hatred unparalleled among humanity, for the Chaos Space Marines are driven by their disgust of the false emperor and exaltation of all that his slaves profess as “evil”.

Let the galaxy burn!

Chaos Space Marine Basics

  • Chaos space marines possess all the versatility of their loyalist counterparts, able to take a beating, deliver a beating, and stand undaunted against most foes.
  • Chaos space marines are incredibly expensive, making them more “elite” than even any other marine codex.
  • Chaos space marine can more easily be tailored to a variety of roles, being able to run in smaller or larger units, as well as accepting a mark of chaos to enhance their abilities.
  • While this all sounds great, chaos space marines lack quality support, since most other units in the Chaos Codex are mediocre. This means they require more skilled command then loyalist marine armies because they simply can’t rely on “And They Shall Know No Fear” to keep them in the game.
  • Chaos space marines are stylish, but ironically have more trouble killing space marines than you might expect.

Advanced Tactics

  • Chaos marines have an advantage in close combat over many other troop choices, since they have many attacks and the much envied 3+ armor save. Against non-Space Marines, they’ll want to get in close and stay that way to maximize this benefit.
  • Chaos marines are so expensive that you’ll need to carefully weigh the pros-and-cons of fielding units of their maximum size. A fully kitted-out unit equipped in a rhino is often 240+ points!
  • Always pair your chaos marines with something that can pick up the slack at range. Obliterators are probably the best choice, though my defilers almost always do a great job supporting the marines.
  • Pairing is especially important when deciding whether or not to purchase and equip an Aspiring Champion. While their leadership boost is always nice, the cost of the champion and his power fist further drives up cost. Do you really need him to be the one dishing out the big hits? Or can you rely on your Obliterators?

The Marks of Chaos

 

The chaos marks is where a lot of the chaos space marines style comes from. While expensive, they can give your marines and edge in many situations to triumph over their prey. In practice there is only one that is worth your time on chaos marines—the Mark of Chaos Glory. I’ll go into more detail on these next week, since they’re such a big part of the chaos codex that warrants a closer look.

Compact units striking in tandem often yields better results.

Wargear

Chaos Space Marines have a host of options, most of which are reclaimed from their loyalist brothers. Since the chaos marine’s core gear is worthy on its own, taking anything else warrants a game plan. Sadly, this is one of the areas where the chaos space marines begin to look outdated compared to other marines.

  • A team of 9 or fewer has access to either a plasma pistol, meltagun, or flamer. This one should be a no-brainer. Meltaguns are too good not to invest in.
  • Units of 10 or more unlock many more options.
    • Heavy weapons: missile launchers, autocannons, heavy bolters, and lascannons all sound good on paper, but in practice they split the marine’s focus. You need a big squad to bring them along, but need to stay put to shoot it. Big squads want to get into close combat, which wastes the powerful damage output of your guns. The alternative is to have a huge mob of guys hanging out on an objective in your deployment zone shooting all game. Not points well spent.
    • The second option is to load up on a second plasmagun or meltagun. This turns your unit into more of a close combat threat, but as mentioned before you’ll need a “buddy” unit to assist in mopping up after exposed or left over from the marine’s shooting.
  • The Aspiring Champion should probably always have a combi-melta, especially if you’re running a small unit. We all know the value of powerfists, so if you plan on getting him close I wouldn’t hesitate from outfitting him with one of those, too.

 

Builds

Here are a few sample Chaos Space Marine build how to use them.

  • Black Crusaders (255 points): This is the classic build, cumbersome but still threatening to most opponents. 10 models, aspiring champ with power fist, two melta guns, icon of chaos glory, all in a rhino. This is pricey—but a solid unit. You’ll need other threats on the table to ensure that this expensive rhino doesn’t get prioritized by your enemy.
  • Warbands (160 points): This build works for “multiple small unit” armies. 5 models, aspiring champ with combi-melta, one melta gun, all in a rhino with a havoc launcher and/or combi-melta. Having lots of these units is probably more competitive, since it costs considerably less than the Black Crusaders yet gives you more melta shots for less cost, and offers more targets for your opponent.
  • Defenders of Darkness (225+ points): Here is a long-range alternative. 10 models, plasma gun, and a heavy weapon in a rhino equipped with a havoc launcher. This build threatens enemies out to 48”, usually parking on an objective and defending it all game. This is mostly just for fun, since sitting back and shooting with a chaos marine army is not likely to win you many games.

    Parts include: chaos space marine, chaos spawn, chaos terminator sorcerer, and spikes from the warp.

 

Off the Sprue

The Chaos Space Marine boxed set is great. Not only does it give you dynamic looking marines, with either close combat/pistol arms or bolter arms, but there is a lot of stylish accessories for making them dedicated to the chaos gods. The only heavy weapon is a heavy bolter, but as a whole I’d say that this kit is better than the standard Space Marine one. Chaos Marines are more exciting to look at and actually look like they’re doing something other than standing at attention. Chaos Marines are also easy to convert, giving you incentive to make dramatic bad guys for your game.

The State of Empire State Troops
The State of Empire State Troops avatar

May 1st, 2012

State Troops are meant to be the building block of the Empire army.  Like the lowly Imperial Guardsman, the Empire State Trooper presents an array of underwhelming stats.  His only saving grace is the hundreds of equally underwhelming brothers he has at his side.  So what’s the deal with State Troops in the new book?  Well, they’re still pretty underwhelming, but there’s definitely not as many of them.

State Troops pretty much picked up a 1 point increase across the board.  With the exception of Archers, on the whole they’ve gotten more expensive and don’t have much to show for it at first glance.  You get all of the cool Detachment rules, but what are you really paying for?  Rather than compare your troops to troops from 7th Edition books which are universally accepted as undercosted (Marauders, Dark Elf spearmen, etc.) it’s important to remember that 8th Edition changed a lot.  Steadfast, Step Up, and other rules are big factors, and books need to be pointed appropriately.  For every book that’s full of undercosted units, there’s likely a book filled with overpriced units.

So where does Empire fit into this?  The State Troops getting +1 point a piece stings, but it’s not backbreaking.  Halberdiers used to be head-and-shoulders above the rest of the troops options, but that’s no longer the case.  That’s not to say Halberds are bad, but you’re really not shooting yourself in the foot anymore by playing something else.  So dust off those old Empire troopers, and take a look at what they can do now!

Spearmen

Image courtesy of GW.

Spearmen are the cheapest, and the only State Troop which didn’t get a point increase.  A block of 20 will cost you a cool 100 points.  When you compare that to say, a Chaos Marauder, it’s probably underwhelming.  But compared to a Skeleton, you start to see what you’re getting.  The extra rank of attacks is valuable, and being cheaper means it’s easier to bring that extra rank.  A horde of these guys can get 40 S3 attacks, which makes them a pretty decent anvil if you can get a Priest buff onto them.  Of course, you only get the extra rank’s attacks if you don’t charge, which may not be an option against armies like Tomb Kings or Ogres.

Halberdiers

Image courtesy of GW.

Halberds are still a strong favorite.  Losing the extra rank of attacks isn’t as important when you’re hitting with S4.  S4 makes it easier to wound, but it has the additional bonus of weakening armor saves.  Whereas Spears are great for standing and taking a charge, Halberds are great when you want to bring the fight to your enemy — you won’t feel that stabbing guilt of opportunity cost whenever you declare a charge.  Still, they’re 20% more expensive than the Spearmen and you have to be willing to accept that you’ll be bringing less bodies to the fight.

Swordsmen

Image courtesy of GW.

Swordsmen took a double hit: they’re more expensive at 140 points for a block of 20, and they lost their Initiative bonus above the other State Troops.  Swordsmen still boast WS4 above the other troopers, and get a 6++ Parry Save in close combat.  Whether this is worth the cost is up to you.  Some argue that WS4/S3 is just as good as WS3/S4 against WS3/T3 armored troops: it’s just a matter of hitting on 3′s/wounding on 4′s or vice versa.  Some argue that their 5+/6++ save in combat makes them more survivable.  Others argue that WS4 is only effective against WS3 and below, whereas S4 is always valuable.  Some also argue that 5++/6++ saves are pretty easy to throw around in the new Empire book, so the extra points increase isn’t worth it.  Swordsmen may not be the most competitive, but they’re hardly useless.

Statistics

With the above in mind, let’s look at some Mathhammer.  The table below details how a block of 210 points worth of troopers would perform.  This is to account for the relative cost.  Keep in mind, as combat progresses the numbers due to attrition will change.  This table assumes a horde formation for offense against varying Toughness values with no save, and a bus formation for defense against 20 attacks of varying Strength values. All attacks assume WS3 for the enemy.

Unit Wounds vs. T3 Wounds vs. T4 Wounded by S3 Wounded by S4
42 Spearmen 10 6.66 4.16 6.66
35 Halberdiers 10 (-1 save) 7.5 (-1 save) 4.16 6.66
30 Swordsmen 10 6.66 2.77 4.62

As you can see, each unit has its merits.  210 points is a relatively small unit, as you can see…a few casualties will immediately start to reduce the combat effectiveness of any of those units in a horde formation!  Nonetheless, for a big block you can make any of them work.  Spearmen can bring superior numbers to the table, and their rank bonus can give you steadfast.  Of course, you can get Steadfast/Stubborn elsewhere in the army.  Swordsmen can provide a more defensive unit by shrugging off 1/6 of incoming attacks with a Parry, although you can get the 6++ from the Luminark (or a 5++ from a Prayer).  Halberds are a middle ground of numbers, providing more offense and the same defense as Spearmen.

This table isn’t meant to argue that one troop type is better than another, but merely illustrate that they all have their uses.  This is a relatively contrived set of parameters (let me know if you play against an army that’s all WS3/T3/S3!) and Mathhammer should never be taken at face value in a vacuum.  Don’t forget Priests conferring Hatred, Hurricanum’s giving +1 to hit, and so on.  Just know that any kit for a unit of State Troops can be effective, so long as you use it properly!

Force Org: Troop – Space Marine Scouts
Force Org: Troop – Space Marine Scouts avatar

April 26th, 2012

Shifting through the jungles and crags of alien worlds, Space Marine Scouts are often the first members of the Adeptes Astartes to advance into enemy lines. Capable, resolute, and nearly as strong as their power armor clad brothers, scouts can prove vital elements to a successful captain’s victory on the battlefield.

The Scout sergeant leads a daring ambush through the forest.

 

Space Marine Scout Basics

  • Scouts are every bit as versatile as their brothers in tactical squads. Sometimes even more so, because of the numerous special abilities that allow scouts mastery of the battlefield.
  • When well used, scouts provide you with numerous tactics to capture objectives, ambush enemies, and support the rest of your army with their versatile complement of weapons and manuevers.
  • Units of scouts cost considerably fewer points than units of tactical squads, giving you points to spend on additional elements to your army, such as heavy support or elites.
  • Scouts aren’t necessarily the best at shooting down vehicles, or tackling skilled opponents in hand-to-hand combat; they are generalists much like standard Space Marines. This means that they have a fair shot at doing almost anything you need to, but can’t be thrown against specialists with reliable success.

Advanced Tactics

 

  • Luckily, scouts benefit from the “And They Shall Know No Fear” special rule, keeping them in the fight longer than almost anything else. Lean on this special rule to get out of dangerous situations, setting you up to shoot and counter-charge difficult opponents.
  • Use the “Combat Squad” special rule to cover more ground in objective games, especially if your scout squad has several different ways to take down vehicles, such as sniper rifles, missile launchers, or power fist. Park the missile launcher in a good vantage point while the sergeant leads a group of close combatants in close.
  • With creative use of the Scout special rule, your Space Marine Scout can create an excellent disruption in your opponent’s game plan. A group of scouts can infiltrate along the flank of the field, using sniper rifles or a missile launcher to get side shots on enemy armor.
  • You can also use your scouts to foil enemy infiltrators, placing them in positions on your flanks or far afield, preventing your opponent from getting his infiltrating units into tactically advantageous positions against you.
  • Keep your scouts out of direct combat for the first few turns the battle. They simply don’t have the gusto to meet your opponents army had on. Instead keep them lurking in cover, moving tactically to set up an effective charge in tandem with your other units, such as a group of tactical squads using melta weaponry.
  • Think of your scouts squads in either the sniper capacity, picking off vulnerable targets in preparation for your power, or as the cleanup crew, charging exposed troops after their transports description by your big guns.

 

 

Space Marine Scout Builds

 

Here are some of my favorite Scout builds and how I use them.

  • Hunters (175 points): These scouts hunker down midfield waiting for infantry coming their way, at which point they ambush them in a hail of shotgun shells. 10 models, shotguns, sergeant with combi-melta and power fist. Useful only if your opponent has other things to worry about in your army list, otherwise the scouts the first casualty. This is also probably going to be the most effective build when it comes to outflanking, since you need your unit to be able to accomplish something dramatic on the turn it comes in.
  • Snipers (150 points): This group of scouts infiltrates along a flank, combat squading and then using their Scout move to get into advantageous position. Then they use their sniper rifles to get side armor shots on enemy transports moving up field. Two units of these, on either side of the table, mean that no matter where your enemy goes, they’re to going to get shot at by snipers. 10 models with sniper rifles, missile launcher. Sergeant Telion is a great addition here, since he’ll be in a good position to pick off expose enemy commanders, or lending his high ballistic skill to the Scout with the missile launcher.
  • Recon (90+ points): These small scout squads prowl scattered across the field, using their camo cloaks to elude enemy fire as they claim valuable objects. Some may even set up teleport homers to call down powerful marines in terminator armor to help them defend their prize. 5 models with shotguns, camo cloaks.

Snipers at the ready, and... FIRE!

 

Wargear

Scouts usually rely on their core equipment and a host of special abilities to find success, but some of their gear can become very useful in certain army lists.

  • The first choice is whether to bring combat blades, shotguns, or sniper rifles.
    • On average, a group of 10 scouts shooting sniper rifles can expect only about 2 to 3 wounds per round of firing. Really, you’re hoping to get that roll of 6, so that the shots Rend. These scouts probably won’t be in close-combat the entire game, but let’s take a look and see which one of the other two pieces of work gear make them a better combat unit.
  • Combat Blades: For this example, 10 scouts will charge a battlewagon full of 20 orks.
    • Scouts shoot bolt pistols. 10 shots. 5 hits. 2.5 wounds. 2.5 kills.
    • Scouts charge. 30 attacks. 15 hits. 7.5 wounds. 6 kills.
    • Orks fight back (down 8 models): 24 attacks. 12 hits. 6 wounds. 3 kills.
  • Shotguns: Same scenario.
    • Scouts shoot shotguns: 20 shots. 10 hits. 5 wounds. 5 kills.
    • Scouts charge. 20 attacks.10 hits. 5 wounds. 5 kill.
    • Orks fight back (down 10 models): 20 attacks. 10 hits. 5 wounds. 2.5 kills

As we can see, the shotguns leverage a slight advantage because of their increased potential to deal wounds prior to blows being struck. This is especially useful for opponents that tie or exceed your scout’s initiative. For this reason, I’m a shotgun advocate – and not just because they look bad-ass.

Your sergeant’s war gear will also have a big affect how the scouts play.

  • Any of the combi-weapons are safe bet. They give you a useful weapon in certain situations, especially the combi-melta.
  • Power weapons are probably excessive, though the power fist is always nice insurance to have against any foe. Just assess whether or not you want your scouts to be aggressive.
  • Melta bombs are very useful if your unit is outflanking, because they are likely able to sneak up on a vehicle in the backfield which likely hasn’t moved, allowing you to easily destroy it.
  • The teleport homer is hard to justify; you have to try really hard to get your scouts into a position where deep striking terminators would be most effective, and you never really know when the terminators are going to arrive from reserve.
  • Camo cloaks the last piece of unique war gear available for scouts. When equipped to make sure scouts very difficult for enemies to dislodge from cover. Camo cloaks are most useful force units of scouts whose role is only to get onto an objective and stay there, going to ground most every turn outlast enemy shooting.

Off the Sprue

I think that scouts are great models. They have a lot of personality, a very cool style, and frankly – just look bad ass. Unfortunately, they only come in groups of five, so it’ll take some investing to build up units of scouts worth fielding. Their weapons and gear all look great. The bits especially I found useful for a variety of modeling projects, because they include things like ropes, grenade packs, and pouches that fit well into most other armies. The sniper rifle scout kit is somewhat limited though, because all of the guns are designed to fit to specific torsos and cloaks, limiting your conversion options. It would be nice if the camo cloaks were a separate bit, so that they could be given to scouts not using sniper rifles.

The Power of Prayer
The Power of Prayer avatar

April 24th, 2012

Last week I went over the new Detachment rules in the Empire book, and now I want to go over one of the most exciting components of that equation: the Warrior Priest.  Warrior Priests add a lot of power to a combat squad, including giving Hatred to the unit and having the ability to cast Prayers in the form of innate bound spells.  Because of the Detachment special rules, all detachments within 3″ of their parent unit gain Hatred…and the effects of the Prayers!  Let’s take a look at what Prayers are available:

Image courtesy of GW.

  • Hammer of Sigmar — Reroll failed to-wound rolls until the start of the next friendly magic phase.This is a huge deal, because if you get it off in the first round of combat you’ll be re-rolling to hit and to wound.  Keep in mind that a reroll of X is generally statistically better than a reroll of X-1.  For example, hitting on 3′s with a reroll is generally better than hitting on 2′s!  Getting this Prayer off will generally up your to-wound chance by 12 to 25 percentage points.Keep in mind that you get this bonus for 2 rounds of combat (your turn and your opponent’s).  On top of that, it is conferred to detachments, who get a free counter charge if the parent is charged.  You can have a hammer-and-anvil setup and make them both hit pretty hard.
  • Shield of Faith — Gain a 5++ save until the start of the next friendly magic phase.This cuts wounds by 1/3, plain and simple.  Keep in mind that aside from Greatswords, your troops generally have no armor (Free Company) or Light Armor (State Troops).  The Swordsmen are the most expensive option, bringing a shield which gives them a 5+/6++ save in combat.  Of course, any time you see Strength 4 (read: often) you may as well have no save.Shield of Faith is going to give you a save where you normally wouldn’t get one.  Between this and the Luminark giving out 6++ saves, there’s little reason to pay the premium for Swordsmen if you plan on including either one in your list.  This affords  you a way to give 3 units protection for a single 3+ Casting spell.
  • Soulfire — Gain Flaming Attacks until start of the next friendly magic phase.  Enemy models in base contact take a Strength 4 hit, Undead take a Strength 5 with no armor saves allowed.Soulfire is the most situational spell in the list.  It can do 3 Strength 4/5 hits, but that’s not why you cast it (unless you may be able to put wounds on a specific model in base-to-base).  Flaming attacks are primarily going to hurt Flammable targets, and stop Regeneration saves.  Regeneration is most commonly found on monsters, Trolls, and other scary things that you really shouldn’t be fighting in combat with your State Troops.  Still, if you find yourself in a sticky situation, it’s a good option to have!In a list with very few options against Etheral units, Soulfire is an option.  Those initial S4/S5 attacks are considered Magical, although the units’ subsequent Flaming attacks are not.

There you have it!  The Warrior Priest can add a bit of punch to 3 units at once, although due to their required proximity they’ll likely be focusing on the same target.  Still, you can pair a damage buff and a protection buff with 2 dice!  Now that Warrior Priests can channel power/dispel dice, you’ll be hard pressed to leave them at home.

Feeling that Shadow in the Warp
Feeling that Shadow in the Warp avatar

April 19th, 2012

The hive mind's coil unwinds.

The very first game of 40K I ever played was as the general of a tyranid army. I still remember how exciting just reading about the ‘nids was, from their disgusting weapons to alien life cycle. I don’t remember much about how the game went, but I have one distinct memory of my lictors that pretty put the tyranids into a special place in my heart. We were playing a huge, 3-way battle. The center of the board had a fabulous looking city ruin my friend had constructed. On the ruin’s roof was a squad of elder rangers using their sniper rifles to pick off open targets on the massive table. The lictors appeared via deep strike, scaled the building with their flesh hooks, and devoured the rangers in a single dramatic round of close combat. I am not sure if lictors could pull that kind of maneuver off in the 5th edition ruleset, but just the idea of it made me hooked on tyranids. Admittedly, it’s not much of a stretch. Alien(s) is one of my favorite movies, and I love monsters in general.

So when it came time for me to invest in my first 40K army, I made the natural choice… Tau! OK, so maybe not such a a natural choice after all.

Then afterwards I stumbled onto the Orks, Chaos Marines, and now Space Marines. In hindsight a very odd series of choices for someone who thinks that tyranids are one of the best looking and most stylish armies in the game. I think that during some of this time I purposely stayed away from the Tyranids because a friend already had a bunch, and I didn’t want to simply copy him. Then, after I got more and more games under my belt, I realized that Marines are pretty much the army to beat—and if you can’t beat ‘em—join ‘em. But that’s exactly the problem… everyone plays marines. Meltaguns and power armor pervade the game, and dominate the tournament scene. For experienced players who are interested in winning, this is a no-brainer, because many of the xenos codices simply aren’t as good as the Marine books. However, the game is poorer because of it. Marine versus marine games are very common, making so much of the 40K feel irrelevant as humanity’s most powerful heroes are pitted against… humanity’s most powerful heroes.

It’s because of this that I finally, after almost 5 years, am getting serious about fulfilling my Tyranid love affair. Really, there’s no better time to do it, because of his new releases of the excellent tervigon and tyrannofex models. But, before I just jump in and start buying one of everything in the army list, I want to get a good game plan so that I can really take advantage of the uniqueness of the Tyranidss.

To start, let’s take a look at what makes them a unique Army to play:

The wait is over!

  • their HQ’s are incredibly powerful monstrous creatures
  • their most effective builds emphasize hordes of individually weak creatures
  • they have a close combat emphasis
  • they can field lots, and lots, and lots of monstrous creatures
  • they don’t have any vehicles
  • they rely on synergy between units in order to be most effective
  • their shooting phase is more about suppression then destruction

In looking at this series of traits, the two things that jump out as being most unique is the Tyrnanid’s lack of vehicle transport, and proliferation of monstrous creatures in almost all force organization slots. Therefore, in order for me to play them differently in meaningful ways from my other armies, I need to find ways to emphasize these traits. I wouldn’t want my Tyranids to simply be a different colored version of my orks, nor rely on the Tyranid mycetic spore to emulate my drop pod heavy Marine lists. After reading through the Codex and reflecting on the Tyranids monstrous creatures, play style, and flavor, I’ve come up with a few list ideas to begin developing in preparation of my purchase. Here’s what I like:

  • the tervigon is just too cool, not only is a really tough, but it gives birth to scoring units; a great example of how a game mechanic can mimic the alien style of the Tyranids.
  • Monstrous creatures really don’t get any bigger than the tyrannofex and the trygon, and since they’re kits are similarly priced against the carnifex, getting them is a no-brainer.
  • There are a lot of really excellent flying units in the tyranid codex, from gargoyles, harpies, and especially the shrikes.
  • One thing I always like to keep in mind when building an army is the feasibility of creating my own terrain projects. With the trygon’s subterranean assault rule, I could create a very cool pits or burrows in the earth, filled with teeth, tentacles, eyes, slime, and pretty much anything else I can think of that would make the holes their most disgusting.
  • If I decide to go with the flying creatures I’ll instead create a giant alien tree, covered with spikes from which Imperial guardsmen and Space Marines are impaled upon. This might be growing out of the digestion pool. I love the idea of the shrikes carrying back victims and impaling them like their real-world namesakes for the benefit of the hive.

Just imagine this shrike with horns, claws, carapace, and a gun coming out of its intestines and you pretty much got it.

One thing is certain after flipping through the tyranid codex and getting myself excited for this project, I got serious planning to do. Starting an army from scratch can be a huge task, daunting not only for its price tag but for the amount of work that it will take to see it completed. However, despite the hard work and will take, my games need the Tyranids, Warhammer needs the Tyranids, and deep down in my shadowy, toothy, slimy heart—I need the Tyranids, too.

Detachment Issues
Detachment Issues avatar

April 17th, 2012

Detachments are meant to be a fun, fluffy part of the Empire army.  Normal battle lines would have supporting units, so GW wanted players to have the option to emulate that with special detachment rules.  If someone charges the parent unit, a detachment can lend a hand by charging into the flank of the attackers or opening up a volley of missile fire.  Unfortunately, there were a few limiting factors in the last book that made detachments an unattractive option.  Chief among these issues was that the points spent didn’t count towards Core, a place where Empire players try not to spend more points than they have to.

The new book has addressed this issue — detachments to a unit count towards that unit’s selection slot.  So if your Spearmen take a detachment of Crossbowmen, they both count towards your Core.  If your Greatswords were to take the same detachment, they would be Special.  This isn’t really a buff, this is just the way things should work in the game.  But there are a few very exciting buffs to detachments:

Image courtesy of GW.

Conferring Rules

Starting with the new army book, parent units confer a selection of rules to their detachments, provided that the detachment is within 3 inches.  If the parent has Stubborn, Steadfast, Stupidity, Frenzy, Hatred, Immune to Psychology, or Hold the Line then the detachments get it too!  Let’s take a minute to look at these implications:

  • Stubborn – This will mostly come from Greatswords, which means you’ll be paying Special points for normal troops.  Still, it’s pretty neat to have a couple detachments of Halberdiers get Stubborn for free.  Don’t forget that you can get Stubborn in your Core troops, using Crown of Command on a character for example.
  • Steadfast – This is similar to Stubborn, but is something to think of if you have a defensive block of Spearmen, for example.  Deployed 5-wide in a bus formation, they’ll have a ton of ranks, and can thus confer a similar bonus to detachments.
  • Frenzy – This is a great way to get a bunch of free attacks.  If you get Frenzy on a parent unit, through a spell or magical item, then you can have two 10-wide detachments running in to bring an extra 20 attacks to bear!
  • Hatred – Hatred’s quite prevalent in this army book, with Warrior Priests and War Altars abound.  Having a Warrior Priest in a parent unit allows the detachments to re-roll to hit in the first round of combat, which is huge.
  • Immune to Psychology – This is a pretty obvious benefit.  Immune to Psychology means you don’t care about break tests, panic tests, fear tests, etc.  Human Leadership isn’t the best, so this can save you quite a headache.
  • Hold the Line – This is a new little gem in the new book.  Any unit with a Captain/General in it basically takes Break tests cold-blooded (roll 3d6, choose 2 lowest).  Combine this with a BSB reroll, and you won’t be going anywhere anytime soon.

You can begin to see what kind of synergies this list has.  Keep in mind that there are plenty of other sources of these buffs: spells, prayers, and of course the new entries such as the Luminark and Hurricanum!  Next week, I’ll take a look at the benefits of the Warrior Priest, and the powerful cascading effects of his prayers.