Sunday 21 June 2020

Battle Report - Salamanders vs Rift Wardens

Salamanders vs Rift Wardens.
1500 points.
Dawn of War.
The Scouring.

First 40K game post-lockdown and most likely my last 40K game of 8th edition. My friend Gary messaged me to ask if I fancied a social-distancing game in his purpose built gaming shed. Of course I was going to say yes! And so on a cold, windy and rainy evening in June, we convened to get our gaming fix sated. I still only have my fixed space marine list and Gary put together a collection of less played models from his collections to simulate a Salamanders army.

Gary has a nice selection of solid LOS blocking terrain and we set those up to provide both a nice table layout as well as some places to hide. Deployment and mission were then determined, with the six objectives being fairly evenly spaced out across the board. I ended up with both the superior and inferior objectives pretty much in my deployment zone or close to. I completed my deployment first and I decided that since it was an objective holding mission that it made more sense to go second, so that if needs be I could try and steal them away on a potential last turn of the game.

For a seemingly random collection of units, Gary's army started dealing a fair bit of damage straight away. He had two artillery pieces, Quad-launchers I think, that started killing my models in the first volley while his other units slowly moved up to grab some objectives. It meant that I was forced to play fairly static to start with, try to keep the objectives I had and get some massed firepower into his lines. His first casualties were his scouts who were proving annoying to me and to my poor aggressors. I had placed a dreadnought with lascannons and missile launcher on my right flank in hopes that I could remove those annoying quad-launchers and although it took me a couple turns, the dreadnought did his job. 

With those artillery pieces gone I was not losing so many models and I was able to try and consolidate my positions a bit more. The ensuing fire fight was wearing us both down and when we were close enoughto assault one another things got interesting. My chapter master tore through his cataphractii terminators and a few marines before being brought down. He will be remembered with honour in the annals of the chapter. This is where the game started to go all too well in Gary's favour as my army isn't really built to handle too many assault right now. My central objective was fairly open and that is where the bulk of the fighting took place with us both sending fire and blade in to try and get that objective.

When Gary sent his bikes up I was forced to put a lot of firepower into them. I think my hellblasters did the most and left only a couple bikes. I brought my inceptors and had to ponder whether to finish a small group of scouts or the bikes. Gary offered his advice and I agreed. The scouts went down and he was left with a single bike. I assaulted the bike and failed to finish it. The bike pulled back and his marines gunned down my inceptors. If that had gone my way I think it might have turned the tables in my favour but with them gone, I was looking at a total loss here.

By turn 5 I had lost nearly my entire army and was holding just the superior objective as I recall. I conceded at this point. Victory for the Salamanders.

It was a good game after nearly three months of not playing. I didn't forget much but there were a few things I had to check the rules and codex for. Fun game with some nice cinematic moments and definitely worth the wait. 

My chapter master leads his marines into battle at the start of the battle.

Vulkan, centurians and the quad launchers.

The battlefield at start of play.

My chapter master laying the smack down on those Salamander terminators.

Friday 12 June 2020

Happy Days!

With Lockdown coming to an end here in the UK, it looks like I might get my first Warhammer game since it all started. Can't wait. Hopefully it'll all come back to me and it'll be a good match.

Keep an eye out as I'll write up the battle report soon.

Thursday 11 June 2020

9th ed Terrain

We're being hit hard and fast with new 9th edition teasers, and today we have received a look at the new terrain rules. You can see the full article here.

Well... knee jerk reactions aside... I do and I do not like them. 8th edition had the problem that terrain was pretty much pointless in the game when it needed a more dedicated set of rules for their use. That seems to be what we are getting here so why do I have a sense of being not happy with what Games Workshop have showcased here? I think because in one example of rules changes, which I will come to below, they seem to have listened to the nonsense that comes out of the ITC format.

Let's take a look.

Terrain Traits
When setting up a battlefield, you and your opponent(s) decide which terrain traits will be applied to each piece of scenery. The traits are designed to be stackable, so a single terrain piece can actually be given as many different traits as you wish. For example, you may decide to count a bunker as both Light Cover AND Heavy Cover, offering the benefits of cover at every range.

I'm sorry... what? We have to agree on what each piece of terrain counts as? That will end well outside of tournaments. TO's will set that up themselves but in friendly games there are already rules arguments and this will probably generate more. Why not just assign specific rules to specific terrain types? That would solve this issue. I'm on the fence with this one.

This is nice and I like that the two types can be stacked. Ruins should always be both though rather than something you should be picking. About time that melee allows cover saves in ruins though. Why did it take nine editions to add that?

This is where I start to have issues and call BS! This is what they have copied from the ITC tournaments where complaints were made about being to shoot through ruins with windows or doors, so they made it so that doors and windows are effectively walls. I hate this concept. If you don't want players to shoot through such gaps, don't build them into your terrain pieces. Simples! I really hope this is one of those optional traits so that you don't have to have to use it.

Secondly, what happened to Aircraft that they need that second bit? Last I knew aircraft were not hiding behind walls on a regular basis and were not overpowered (well, maybe one or two Aeldari ones... *Ahem*). Models that are Titanic I get. Those things are towering over the terrain anyway realistically. I just don't see why aircraft are being singled out. But hey, I guess it won't be too much of an issue.

Oh look... ruins should be obscuring.

Yes, I am having a knee jerk reaction but I've walked away from the computer, painted some models and watched some Youtube to chill before I made this post. I've thought about it and chilled but some of this just is not sitting well with me. It seems like they have gone from minimal rules under 8th edition to the opposite extreme under 9th.

We shall see. While I'm not keen on the idea of 9th yet, and they are messing with my game, you do have to accept that editions change.

What do you think about what has been showcased today?

Monday 8 June 2020

40K through my years

First edition, aka Rogue Trader, was where I started with the game. One cold and windy October Saturday my best friend at school and I went down to London, to Games Day 1987 for this release. That was my first and arguably best gaming convention I had ever been to. Nothing I have been to since ever came close to how awesome that day was. I still have the little pamphlet flyer thing they gave me at the door as we went in. On that day I bought my copy of Rogue Trader, the old plastic space marine box set and the metal space orks box set.

Sadly, my friend Chris and I only ever played a handful of games. About five or six I would say. I have always loved space marines ever since that time and is why I go back to them time and time again, even when they fail me so much. I ended up ditching them though when the Realms of Chaos books came out and I bought a sizeable Black Legion army. Once we left school though, Chris went off to university and with no one else to play against, I ditched them and continued with my main love of table top role-playing games.

There was always something cool about the universe of the game back then. It didn't take itself seriously and there was so much room for individual interpretation of both the universe and one's own army. Back then the game wasn't so up it's own backside as it is now. Random mission scenario generators could have your ork mercenaries paid by an Imperial governor to rescue his daughter  who had been kidnapped by squats. Or space marines could be sent in to break up a mining dispute. While silly really, the universe was more fluid and less set in stone like it is today.

The rules were... well, let's be honest in light of modern game design, were awful. I wouldn't even want to try and play that system again. Too complex and awkward. Warhammer Fantasy Battles 3rd edition, which used basically the same system, suffered by this as well. I don't know what it is about war gamers that they want massively over complicated rules systems.

I no longer have my original copy as that fell apart in about 1989 due to the amount of reading and rereading I gave the poor thing. I do still have a well worn second hand copy though which I keep for the nostalgia of those days.

Thankfully I avoided the horror that was 2nd edition. It was many many years before I saw a copy of these rules and from my personal opinion this was just terrible. An overly complicated system yet again and a universe setting that had all the life in it just bleached. Bland and dull. I know there are many players out there who fondly remember this edition and it's probably for the same reason that I fondly remember Rogue Trader but for me, 2nd edition was a big no no.

And what was with all the bright colours? The grimdark had turned the lights on. I was told a story by a Games Workshop manager back in the mid 90's of which I do not know the full truth about. He told me that it was due to someone on the old 'Evey Metal team leaving the company but it was in their contract that all models painted by them belonged to them, so when they left, they took so many models with them that Games Workshop had to rush out new fully painted armies for the photos. As I say, I take that with a grain of salt but it makes me wonder just how much truth there is in that.

I came back near the end of the 90's when a friend at the time wanted to get back into the game. We went over to our nearest Games Workshop store and pooled our dosh for a single shared copy of the rules. He went with Chaos Space marines, Black Legion specifically and I decided to try out a new army that didn't exist in my day, the Tau. After reading their codex, and deciding that this was not to my liking, I went back to my trusty space marines. I created a homebrew chapter called the Sons of Osirion which were painted this lovely colour that Games Workshop used to do called Fire Dragon Crimson. We built and painted a few models before he lost interest and we dropped it. Somewhere I think I still have that copy of third edition.

Rules wise, it was the first edition I think where the game was more like how we have the game these days. A far cry from those Rogue Trader days. Rules were simpler and easier to understand. A lot of the unnecessary elements had gone. Although I never actually got to play it, I think I would have enjoyed this rule set quite a bit.

By the time of third edition the universe of the game was much more set in stone than it was under my day. You could still see some of that whimsy in the lore and even the models, but you could see them cementing more and more together.

The fourth edition of the game was really where I came back into it. By this time we had our own local gaming store where we went to for board games, card games and role-playing stuff, and the owner was interested in stocking Games Workshop. A few members of our gaming fraternity said that yes they were interested. As I had been running tournaments and such for a few other games, I said that if there was enough interest then I would put a club together and that is how our current club came to be - all because of Warhammer 40K 4th edition. I decided on space marines once again and bounced between Silver Skulls and Ultramarines during this edition.

Unlike third edition, fourth had become a little more rules heavy but nothing too unwieldy. The only real issues I had with fourth edition was just how overpowered it made certain assault based armies. Khorne Berzerkers got three or four times as many attacks in melee than the equivalent shooting army could put out. Genestealers could outflank coming in from the sides of the board, assaulting your units and cutting them down before they could ever do anything about it. It really used to get on my nerves, and I'm being polite in the way I am saying that. The rules were fun to play but certain aspects were OTT.

By this time the universe was pretty much what we know now. Gone was the openness and in it's place was a huge stone with everyone chiselled on it. It took some of the enjoyment away but I think that was the nostalgia talking.

Fifth edition was an edition that I loved. A lot of mechanical issues seemed to be fixed and in general the game flowed better. It carried a much more narrative feel although I probably can't tell you why I feel that. Games just worked better under fifth edition. It still experienced certain issues like the psychic phase being overpowered, especially by the Eldar and to a lesser extent Chaos Space Marines. 

At this time I came up with a new space marine chapter, again, called the Knights of the Void. Ice Blue in colour and with the concept of them being knights in space. Had fun with those but by the end of the edition I had lost interest and swapped chapters.

When sixth edition was launched I got a half six in the morning bus over to our nearest Games Workshop for the release day and I was rather disappointed. I was there during the last days of Rogue Trader for the Games Workshop stores' grand opening and I had to get there for the same time to be ready as I helped out in store from time to time. The crowds were huge even at seven in the morning. I expected the same for the sixth edition release but there was no one. Disappointing. No one else turned up for like two hours! Oh well. At got my copy though.

Sixth edition was good but it started to ramp the power level. Units started to become slightly too overpowered. The psychic phase was again too strong for certain armies and underpowered for others. One thing I really did enjoy about this edition was the addition of what we would consider now to be war zones. Sixth edition introduced basic rules for different planetary types and the club used these in a lot of their games.

During this edition I read the Salamander trilogy of books by changed my chapter yet again to Salamanders. I enjoyed playing them but I started into a spiral of not winning matches and losing interest in the game.

Seventh edition. I had an issue when this edition dropped. I have the opinion that an edition needs several years to mature before it should get replaced. Sixth was only out for two years before it was replaced. This put me in a bad place for some reason and I stopped playing for nearly six months. I still run the club for the guys though. It took my friend Jon to bring me back into the fold. He showed me the new tactical objectives deck and we played a game of seventh using them. That one new mechanic reversed my opinion and I jumped back into the game.

I had sold my Salamanders by this point and so I decided to start something new. Watching my friend Joel with his chaos daemons I decided that I wanted to play an army that could summon. I started a Death Guard army with some summoned plague bearers as support. Through this edition I had a really good time with that army and especially when they released the Traitor Legions sourcebook which made them so much better.

Then along came eighth edition and this has been without doubt my favourite edition thus far. At first I was a little sceptical after all the changes to this edition were major. It became a whole new game in my eyes. You had to forget everything you knew about the previous incarnations and start a fresh. Some of our gaming club didn't like it. They felt that the game had lost it's way. No strategy and no tactics but they were so wrong. Things just changed and we have to change with them.

I don't know what happened about my Death Guard under this edition. They went from being a really good army under seventh edition to losing something once they received the new books. Gone were bikes, raptors and heldrakes and in their place they got some cool new toys but nothing that compensated for the lose of those units. In the end I lost interest and sold them, and bought a Genestealer Cult army. I wanted something different and unfortunately they just didn't play the way I wanted them to. I returned to my old reliable, the space marines. Since the release of eighth edition I had been curious about an all Primaris army so I decided that they would be my next choice. The Rift Wardens were born... a crusading Imperial Fists successor.

I haven't done amazing with my Rift Wardens chapter but I have enjoyed every game I've played. Eighth edition certainly does seem to play better when you let go of the mechanical aspect and just focus on the fun.

I'm not sure what to make of what we have seen of 9th edition yet. It seems as though for the most part the game system will remain the same but with some small changes here and there. We shall see when the game comes out.

Thursday 4 June 2020

Command Points

Today we have another 9th edition from Games Workshop and this time it deals with command points. You can find this article here.

The number of command points is now based on the point size of your game with both players receiving the same initial number. This then get's modified by the detachments you take. The standard Battalion detachment is effectively free as it appears to give you it's points back. Other detachments will now cost command points.

Initial, maybe knee jerk reaction, to this is a little disappointing from my narrative perspective. If, for random example, I played a Dark Angels Ravenwing or White Scars army with everything on bikes then thematically I want my default detachment to be the Outrider (I think that is the name) where Fast Attack choices are dominant. You can't do that now without it costing you command points. Also, and I am assuming this is covered, what about Imperial and Chaos Knights? As I recall they don't use the default battalion detachment. At initial glance, they are getting screwed over by just being the army that they are. As I say though, I hope this gets covered either in the new rules or the 9th edition temporary FAQ.

I was correct when I said that the new command phase would be the same as Age of Sigmar's. Also, you get a bonus Command Point at the start of this phase so you always have ways to access your stratagems. I like this a lot because one thing that never quite seemed right under 8th was how few of your stratagem's you actually got to use during a game.

So far with the new edition there are some things I like and a few things I need to wait and see how they actually play out. 

Wednesday 3 June 2020

Crusade Mode

Yesterday Games Workshop revealed to us the first look at the new Crusade mode of the game. You can find it here.  At first glance it appears quite interesting although I'm not sure exactly how it will work long term.

If you like the idea of building an army up from scratch, then developing and adding to it over the course of multiple linked battles, you’re gonna love playing Crusade campaigns. From humble beginnings, your army will grow in size and strength as you spend resources you’ve earned on adding reinforcements while your units unlock new skills from their hard-won experience in battle.

Over the course of a campaign, your Crusade force will forge its own narrative, winning glory and earning enmities with each fresh victory and defeat. Heroes will rise from among your ranks, earning great renown or the honour of bearing mighty relics – maybe even ancient archeotech wargear – into battle…Meanwhile, others may succumb to their grievous injuries, becoming pale shadows of their former selves as ill fate takes its toll on their war-ravaged bodies. 

What’s more, you’re not even limited to your local gaming group – you can use your Crusade force in any games you choose to play, be they friendlies against your regular opponents or competitive matches against hardened tournament veterans. In essence, provided you’re using the Crusade rules and your opponent is happy to have a game, every battle counts!

This all sounds quite cool. I love the narrative concept behind it where your force suffers injuries or gains access to something over time. That is great. However, it goes on to say that you can play your crusade game against any opponent if they agree. That's cool but let's say you play a game at home against someone, rather than at your club with other players. Does this mean that we are expected to take the honour system and trust the player with whatever happens to their army? Hopefully this will be covered in the new rules.

To take part in a Crusade campaign, you first need to create an Order of Battle – a list of units drawn from one of seven factions (Imperium, Chaos, Aeldari, Tyranids, Orks, Necrons, T’au Empire) with a maximum Power Rating of 50.* This is your Crusade force’s initial Supply Limit, from which you can choose an army list to field in each battle. Your Supply Limit can grow in size as you gain resources over the course of the campaign, enabling you to gradually recruit new units to strengthen the existing pool at your disposal.

Each unit has its own Crusade card to keep track of its progress, experience, upgrades and bonuses, as well as any Battle Scars they’ve picked up along the way. As the campaign continues, your Characters and units will become increasingly defined by the battles they’ve fought in and the narrative you’ve created for them, making it an entirely different gaming experience. As if that wasn’t already awesome enough, each new codex released in the future will include a wealth of additional, thematic options for that army specifically for Crusade campaigns for even more narrative-driven punch. We’re as excited as a Tech-Priest who’s just discovered a long-lost STC!

I find it odd that it will use power level over points but I guess that is for ease. Or maybe they are looking at making power level style games more desirable with this?

Crusade sounds fun but it makes me wonder how many groups will actually play with this. People seem to prefer points over power level, for understandable reasons, and I guess these updates/changes to units through the crusade might affect an army so that points wouldn't be so good a choice. I'm hoping that my local club members will be willing to try it at least.

What are your thoughts on this new format?

Monday 1 June 2020

New Game Phase

It looks like we have a new phase in the 9th edition game turn, the Command Phase. We don't know what this means but I'm putting imaginary money down to say it will be like Age of Sigmar where characters have a command ability. Not a bad idea I guess but depends how it works out.

Crusade Battles catchup

 It's been a few weeks since I last updated and in that time I have played a further three Crusade games. I am really enjoying playing C...