Wednesday, March 21, 2018

My recent 40k Sebatical

Be warned: This blog entry is fairly narcissistic and it’s audience is myself as much as it is anyone else.  

Note: This might seem like a furious anti-GW rant, but I assure you it is not. I assume GW is trying to make the best games they can and appeal to the largest consumer base they can.


It would be hard for me to have animosity for a company that has brought me so much joy over the years.
While it is not a comforting thought for me, I assume that much of my issues are due to me not being a key demographic in the customer base they are striving for.

Many of my friends know that Warhammer 40,000 has been one of my greatest loves.  I have been playing it since its inception in the late 80’s and my fascination with the hobby has always grown steadily.  This is not to say there haven’t been little uglies along the way or that there were parts I wasn’t fond of.  

Honestly, I can say there have always been major properties that didn’t suit me personally.  I tend toward wanting more of a combat simulation game focused on maneuver and combat psychology over raw destruction.  I have always been forgiving in this respect, as at its closest, 40k has hasn’t presented itself as a combat simulation game of a real sort since 2nd edition.  And even there, it delves into areas (such as psychic powers) and a grim future aesthetic that really push a cratered, destroyed universe where a single human life means nothing.

Despite this, the game has always been a canvas for my imagination that I’ve been nigh-addicted to. I have an embarassing story where I caught myself thinking about 40k armies while I attended a family funeral.

I’ve always loved the general philosophy of the old school Dev Studio where the game praised making the game your own, brewing up house rules and cool model conversions.

The games we usually dynamic and interesting, with a 6 turn game that heavily followed the pace of a narrative 3 act structure:  the first 2 turns set up what the geometries and conflict of the games, Turns 3-4 convey the rising action as the battle climbs to it’s eventual climax, and by turn 5-6 the game provides a fulfilling resolution. 

This format yields itself to being great at spinning narrative stories while pushing little plastic men around the table top.  It has been a great canvas to narrative gameplay and being that, I could not see a future where I gave it up.  

The end of the beginning of the end (but hopefully not the end)
When 40k 8th edition came out in June 2017.  I immediately had concerns, which is the first edition of the game where I was not immediately optimistic about.  I gave it my best go, hoping that substantial playing would prove my concerns wrong.  By the end of 2017, I had largely stopped playing 40k altogether. It has brought me NO joy to stop playing and I do not encourage players to stop playing if they still get a steady measure of enjoyment from the game.

There are a number of reasons for my decline.

1.Streamlined rules
I found the streamlined rules and general modelling of the game to “dumb it down”, especially for one who wants more combat simulation than game.  I know that term is a trigger word for many and I apologize for using it.  Changes like the lessening of terrain effects, the loss of facing and vehicle armor values are just some of the design changes that makes 40k now feel more like a flat Real-time strategy video game than the immersive social event table top games are for me.

2. The Irony of Narrative play

The new edition’s “Narrative Play”, I initially found this to be its greatest asset.  Purchasing an army based on a units general power level to be a great way to speed up the army building process, knowing that (in the past), the details of what is purchased in a unit probably did not create so much of a difference that the individual purchases of weapons and equipment needed to be accounted for. 

To me, I expected that this would invariably result in players fielding units which didn’t flatten down to 1 or 2 key builds.  My example of this was the marine tactical squad. I had made some really cool conversions of Heavy bolter marines, and I thought it would be really cool to field these in games, compared to other more traditionally valuable and expensive weapons like lascannons.   I figured that we’re playing the “Narrative” form of the game, this type of philosophy would show itself to be the dominant form of army design.  I think my thoughts on this were naive and that given the option to take "the best" option a unit had to offer, the average gamer is inclined to always take the best if there isn't a hint of cost to each upgrade.

I was wrong about Power Level army building and it has led me to think I am out of touch with the common gamer, even some of my closer friends in the hobby.  I began to detect certain trends in “friendly play” where the armies were even more heavily sculpted than they ever were in the past. 

This is partially due to the loss of the armor value system and also due to my darling Power Level Army building system.  The version “Min-Max” took on a whole new definition in 8th edition; the goal being to take a minimum number of super powered units (to maximize the ability to go first) with the best options always taken (generally to maximize the ability to inflict the greatest number of wounds).  This was a very rapidly growing menace, the effect being that I feel players were losing their previous concepts of building a “fair and balanced” army.   

I had even constructed a spreadsheet analyzing 6 games and logging key elements in both mine and my opponent’s armies, and these factors (the one I most commonly reference is “’Lascannon-ish’ volume”) nearly doubled over a month and a half.  The game was retraining the players themselves (myself included) to be worse “beer and pretzels” players.  More now than ever, the game was being won and lost in the Army building phase.

3. Game Pacing
The last main feature that led to my 40k sabbatical was the pacing of the game. Weaponry is now so potent that a game is often (more or less) decided in the first 2 turns of the game.  It makes it hard to construct a narrative when the game is only a one act play, and 4 turns of epilogue.

Where do I go from here?
It has been a very depressing time in my gaming life and, devoid of children or other distractions, has sent me into an existential quandary.  I am still hopeful though.

1. Down but not out?
I still have hope that 40k might turn itself around, but I feel it is a long time (possibly years) off.  Barring that, I assume that I still will restart playing 40k 8th edition again and try and find some way to enjoy it.  There are still things to like about it and it still retains some feel of it's former self.

Also, the recent Tau codex gave me a HINT of aspiration to play the game again, presuming that they play so different traditionally, it might conceal the many grievances I have with the current game.   They already tended to focus on heavier/special firepower that might not feel like such a compromise of my feelings towards army aesthetics.  They retain an innate fragility, either with non-elite troops or tough, but extremely pricy battlesuits.  Provide you don’t take the Dal’yth sept, they have a strong emphasis on mobility (which at least casts the illusion that maneuver is important).

2. Horus Heresy
I am finally constructing my 30k Space wolves army which plays in a version of 7th edition rules which can still be good fun. I have 30 of my core troops put together and imagine I can be playing the army by summer.

3. Necromunda and other skirmish games
If you’ve talked to me as of late, you know I am playing A LOT of Necromunda.  Necromunda (new or old) have always been fantastic games and I find the game design to be well constructed and entertaining.  The nature of skirmish play also puts focus on the individual model, conveying a strong narrative feel and an easier ability to tell stories on the tabletop.

I’ve also began some attempts at making my own skirmish games. Generally, these have not gotten very far, but I think the Necromunda ruleset has a sturdy enough base that I can quickly build some trial games using a modified version of those rules that can be used in a variety of skirmish style game genres.

Monday, October 9, 2017

Primaris space marines in a super cool Raptors army that can TRAVEL THROUGH TIME!!!

Anyone who knows me know I love making my own divergent fluff for my armies.  My new Raptor Nth Company is no exception.  They were borne about 6 years ago from an idea to have a subset marine chapter working clandestinely with a subset Tau faction (Kind of like a more extreme Farsight enclave).  I always loved the raptors basic Olive Drab color scheme. As their background became more pronounced as an elite mobile raiding force relying on tactical firepower and surprise…they became a lock for me. When My Tau gained their Time Travelling component in their background, it only seemed fitting to push my semi-heretical marines into the fold as well receiving this shared technology from their secret Tau Allies. 
I started the Nth company as my first “Tru Scale” marine army wanting my marines to actually dwarf other army units as they are supposed to. When Primaris Marines were announced and they looked so similar in design to what I had already been building for myself…I knew I would be making heavy use of the Primaris in my army of further technologically enhance super marines.

Since then I’ve been making healthy use integrating the Primaris marines into my Raptors army and wanted to discuss some of my general findings to date.

Primaris in Summary
I think the Primaris perform well as their own army.  They play somewhat like many xenos designs, focused less on traditional dispersed weapon upgrades and tactical flexibility.  Rather each unit has a defined role in the army and they are specialized to perform that role.
As part of a mixed Marine force, they also perform well, but it’s important to make sure the army as a whole has enough diversity that too heavy a focus on only particular Primaris units may give the army certain vulnerabilities.  I tend to take lots of tactical Intecessors for my core troops (taking 20-30 in a standard game).  This makes my armies become very reliant on other key units (like my flyers) to accomplish their tasks and then continue to support the intecessors.

I really like that GW has drawn a hard line on transport options being mostly separated between primary and regular marines. It creates a push to have them as their own army rather than being a new supplemental unit to existing marine armies.
In general, Primaris design components seem to be:
·         lack of customization
·         Increase durability of typically marine units, but less so than more durable elite marine units like terminators and land raiders.
·         Above average capabilities on a model basis.
·         Reliance on utliziing the different types of Primaris units to support each other making them a “Value exceed a sum of their parts” army.
·         In many cases wield more firepower than their point cost might suggest.
I think as a “new army” in their current state, their lack of options makes them a tad drab in design.  I expect hat as their product line develops, they will develop more into the role of traditional marine units, only being fewer in number(point cost).

Primaris Units(in order of potency)
The listing below are my current appraisal of Primaris units in order of value(best to worst) as I currently see them and may be subject to change the more I use them.
Inceptor squads (Fast Attack)
They are at the top of my list despite having not yet seen them on the table.  They are flying heavy armor troops toting a brace of short ranged powerfull heavy weapons. They make use of the potent Gravis Armor, which provides a +1 Toughness bonus.
Their Mobility and Keyword fly in tow thier their potent close range firepower makes them very useful at taking the fight to the enemy. Either brace of guns (Essentially assault 6 heavy bolters or 2d3 Plasma guns) give them incredible firepower that can even be used after fallback moves.  Their Crushing charge rule, which lets them inflict 1 mortal wound on a 6+ (up to the number of models in this unit), sis just icing.
They are very costly (10 PL for 3 models) is their greatest deficit, as they will always be few.

Aggressor squads (Elite)
These are the ground troop variant of Gravis armor.  They may be my favorite unit in the army and can’t wait to field some. They are also armed with impressive short ranged firepower, either being equipped each with 2 flamers or a potent boltstorm array augmented by fragmentation grenade launchers.  The unit does not suffer penalties for shooting while advancing and should they have the luxury of being in range WITHOUT having to move, they fire twice in the shooting phase which seems nearly terrifying. (the bolt gun/grenade variant would get 12 +2d6 18” range str attacks PER MODEL!).  they are also equipped with powerfist, making it no simple task to just count this unit by charging them. 
As a Primaris player, though, it is easy to mistake these as a Primaris version of terminator. This should be obvious from their relatively cheap point cost (2 PL per model, purchased in 3 man chunks) This mistake can be costly, as despite their numerous advantages, they lack of 2+ save, lack of invulnerable, and small unit count prevents them from absorbing the punishment terminators are known for.   
Still, I see them being quite valuable as “in your face” units that you force an opponent to deal with.  In my raptors army, I can see utilizing my “Strike from the shadows” stratagems to infiltrate 1-2 units of these into an opponent’s back field to disrupt their plans.

Repulsor Grav-Tank (Dedicated transport)
I fell in love with this model the instant I saw it(only a tad bothered by it having too many guns on it)  It is the only Transport option for Primaris short of thunderhawk and Stormbird Drop ships.  It is Very expensive for this role (at 16PL), but I think it is a high value unit regardless of it’s monopoly on Primaris transporting.  It’s is a very durable model, though not quite up to speed with it’s brother Land Raiders. It’s weapons systems are also very strong, but are misleadingly underpower from what it’s 9-11 weapons might imply (most of these are small storm bolter/Frag grenade-esque weapons systems). Either way, it deploys an impressive array of firepower.
It is a grav-tank with Keyword FLY, so it can fire it’s guns after falling back so you know it will be shooting until it dies.  It also has Power of the machine spirit which negate the moving penalty for heavy weapons and a repulsor field which shortens charging units charge move by 2”, which might save it from some sneaky opponent assaults.

Despite its above PL value the vehicle implies, it’s main weakness is still it primary deficit, as including 1+ of these severely impacts the total composition of a Primaris armies.  It is also the only Long ranged Anti-Tank Primaris unit, which also makes it a near “must have” unit to include in a Primaris army.

Redemptor Dreadnought(Elite)
This is a beautiful beast of a model and were it not for other Forgeworld Dreadnoughts, might feel like a king among other walkers in the game.  It’s 10PL cost reveals that it is NOT A contendor for tru super-dreadnoughts like the leviathan and even most contemptors, lacking the armor and durability to stick it out.  It is better to think of it as a king among regular dreadnoughts. It prices similarly to regular dreadnoughts. It has 13 wounds which gives it some additionaly staying power, but it its mass of low caliber fire power that distinguishes the units value.  It boasts a power main weapon (either a gatling gun or big plasma gun), it retains a healthy powerfist attack and still boasts 4 supplimentatary guns (though only 1 of them is much more than a stormbolter-esque weapon. Like the Aggressor Squads, this is a good price efficient “in your face “unit that performs best as a loss leader unit that an enemy has to deal with. Don’t expect it to survive beyond turn 3 however, as it just doesn’t have that kind of durability.

HellBlaster Squads(Heavy Support)
Part of me REALLY LOVEs these guys. Another part finds them very hard to field.  They are essentially marine squads equipped entirely with plasmaguns of 1 of 3 types (assault, rapid fire, or long range heavy).  They are potent in the shooting phase as you might expect, and seldomly does a target squad survive a volley from 10 of these models at short range. But their high cost (8PL per 5) makes these units have a hard time surviving multiple volleys from enemy units and susceptible to being mired in assault (having no weapon option upgrades to dislodge them from a melee quickly.)

Intecessor Squads-(Troops)
My favorite unit in the whole marine army, it is on the near bottom oy my unit potency list. They have the usual Primaris bonuses in statline and a very similar PL value to Tactical squads.  Additioanly, their primary rifle (in 1 of 3 forms) are all modestly, but still significantly, superior to a traditional boltgun. It has limited upgrades of taking grenade launchers (extends the range of their Grande throwing attacks) and a power sword option on the sergeant.  The end results is a very durable cheap unit that can combats by grinding in protracted combats with enemy units.  They are good as attrition fighters but succumb quickly to enemy units with massed or potent upgrade options. It only takes a meltagun or pair of lightning claws to see the combat flip backwards on the primaris squad.  They are still a highly capable unit and once I can deploy them as mechanized infantry, I expect them to continue as a mainstay in my army.

Primaris characters-(HQ/Elite)
This includes the Captain/Librarian/Apothacary/Chaplain/Leitenant/Standard bearer.  They each have the Extra wound and attack making them a bit cooler than their regular marine counterparts. In all cases though, they suffer from extreme option upgrades, often only having a SINGLE way to deploy the unit. Only the Captain has any options and they are modest by any standard in other codices. (Even with the expended rules from the “Store Birthday”, the captain is limited to 4 total options.(Gravis armor, take a powersword, swap his storm botler-y boltgun with a Stalker boltgun, the Powerfist/Plasma Pistol Birthday captain)
They are all nice models and mean in their own respect.  In a army lacking options though, I almost nearly find myself taking their Non-Primaris counterparts just to squeeze SOME Meltaguns/powerfists’etc… into the army.  In a competitive sense, I feel the characters lack of options make them poor choices, but I’ll still be fielding them a bunch.

their even fairly limited in the relics they can take (I think they have access to 3 and only the Armor Indomintus has any significant value for them)

Riever Squad-(Elites)

One of the coolest looking new squads (minus the skull helmet IMO), I find this unit very hard to field.  They kind of fall into a shout-like infiltrator role. They can be kitted with a storm-bolter-esque carbine for shooting or with pistol/Chainsword for assaulting. Even 10 strong, this unit has a hard time punishing enemy units of any real caliber and lack the ability to ever shift an enemy from their position. Lack of Sergeant upgrades really makes this unit suffer in melee.  It does have a few modest rules making them slightly faster or inflicting morale penalties on the enemy, but not enough to make them a really viable unit. This is probably the only truly poor unit in the Primaris Army.  I have 10 of them and will occasionally play them because they look and feel like the kind of troops I’d have in the Raptor’s Nth Company, but it’s never a choice based on merit.

Friday, July 7, 2017

Tau analysis: Heavy Support

Sniper drones- on their own, they are a fairly poor option. The gun is very nice though.  It lacks the Mortal Wound feature of most sniper rifles, But it is rapid fire 48” with a STR5 shot….nothing to scoff at.  Like many other Tau units, it suffers from placement in the Org chart.  A Heavy slot really probably needs to be more heavy hitting than what these little guys provide the army.
Skyray missile support ships seem to have lost their place in the army at the moment. Traditionally an Anti-aircraft or missile support weapon, Their main armament their markerlight/6 seeker missiles seems to be a hard fit for a valuable Heavy slot. Still, it is slightly cheaper than a Hammerhead and it’s weapons suite might make it something like a Basilisk traditionally with a bent toward precision ordnance. (which is EXTREMELY fluffy from original Tau fluff, who dislike Area effect weapons.)
HammerHead gunships- It used to be a mainstay of my Tau armies when Broadsides were popular, then took a back seat once Tau had access to a range of fighters/flyer (See ref: Tim’s fascination with Air superiority) .  The HH Railgun is now a beast!.  It’s initial damage is similar to what you’d expect (str10,-4AP, d6 dmg), on a to wound roll of 6 it also deals d3 MORTAL WOUNDS.
Broadside Battlesuits  with the ability to move and shoot and their fire power doubling since Twin-linked weapons are now 2 weapons, broadside regain their ability to be mean anti vehicle units.  High Yeild missile pods began to replace the Hvy Rail Rifle as the weapon of choice on Broadside, but Suspect to see tau players snapping the missile pods of their broadsides.  At a cost 9 PL a piece though (the cost of a 10-man marine tactical squad!), they MIGHT  be a touch expensive. I’ll certainly be trying them out for sure!

Lord of War

StormSurge the Tau Heavy Ballistics Battlesuit, it’s about as mean as you’d expect. It has no Melee capabilities of note. (as one might expect except that historically we’re used to Gargantuan creatures having some punch no matter what).  Comparing it to a traditional Imperial Knight, it costs 2 power level less, has poorer Accuracy, trades the knight’s impressive melee capabilities, less heavy firepower, but gains a slew of massed antipersonnel weaponry(which is still valuable against all units since everything is now based on a wound system).  If it remains stationary, in the movement phase,  it can offset the accuracy penalty gaining a +1 to hit.  All that said, I’m a touch jealous of the imperial Knight.  

Thursday, July 6, 2017

Speedy Tau Things: a Review of Tau Fast attack, flyers, and transports.

Fast Attack
The Tau have a variety of capable Fast Attack units.  Outside of the Pathfinder though, most of these units will be competing against other Org Slots for their Point/Power Level cost. Tau need heavy firepower to bolster their mid-range infantry and require heavy use of Elite and Fire Support units, so Fast attack is often an afterthought.
Pathfinders as the main method of gaining marker lights into an army, these will still be useful.  Their recent Recon armor nerf (5+), is less penalizing in 8th edition. Rail rifles continue to be one of the BEST Sniper style weapons in the game (they are not actually traditional sniper weapons, but they fulfill this role in the traditional sense).  They do have above average speed, which I suspect is nice if they need to beat a quick retreat.   They are high strength high AP, d3 Damage dealing weapons that are Rapid fire AND gain the additional MORTAL WOUND on a 6+ to wound. THAT IS AMAZING.  Still, a Tau player fights to push marker lights into their army, so even as good as these weapons are, it will be hard to put these weapons into the army. Comparatively, The Ion Rifle was already an uninteresting upgrade, and is even less interesting.

Piranha skimmers squadrons-Vehicles that have the FLY Keyword are great for jumping out of Close combat and shooting.   Decent Firepower, good speed.   They’re cheap enough to be decent wall/distraction units, but will not compete against their closest equivalent, the Vyper Jetbike.

Drone Squadrons- Also have the keyword FLY, making them a good close range hit and run unit as long as they don’t get hit too hard by a charging unit.
Vespid StingWings-  I’m not a fan of the Auxilliary races in the tau empire, but they give a player who likes to convert models okay proxy rules to play by. Their statline  and Playstyle would be a good fit for Fire Caste Jump troops. And their high mobility and decent firepower. 

Dedicated transports
 Devilfish APC -  Me always lovses all things Grav-Tank. (All GW has to do is pull the tires and treads off a model, and I can’t stop from buying at least 3!).   Heavy firepower attached to a unit with the Keyword FLY
 seems a no brainer choice in an arm because as long as it isn't dead, it's capable of shooting.   I have a hunch that people will take fondly to Heavy skimmers in all of the races.

More expensive than its Imperial counterparts(PL7), they have slightly more wounds than most APCs.  They seems to play like they always have and will be a regular part of my army until the Tau gain a flying transport. (the only thing I like more than hover tanks….PLEASE GW!!).  

Tau Flyers
Razorshark fighter:  My favorite of the GW Tau Flyers,  (no contest for the FW flyers tho...)

It traditionally has been a rare sight on the table due to a mediocre weapon system with too high a point cost. When equipped with Missile pods so that it can combat vehicles and other big models, this unit seems like it may warrant slightly more common use.  EXCEPT that in the flyer vein, the SunShark Bomber still seems superior!

Sunshark bomber when GW Tau flyers are referred to on the internet, you’re likely to see the Sunshark get more attention than it’s little brother, the Razorshark.  This looks like it continues to hold true. It already wields the missile pod and has cool interceptor drones that detach and distract enemy units (the only place where I don’t mind field Ion Rifles) . the real charm of this craft is the pulse bomb.  In the movement phase, if can drop a bomb over one unit it flies over in a turn. It rolls a d6 for each model in the enemy unit(up to a max of 10d6) each roll of 6 inflicts a MORTAL wound.  It can then proceed to attack in the shooting phase as normal. WOW!  I can see real value in that.

2 more of these to go.  next up will be the Heavy suport choices and the dreaded Stormsurge.

Wednesday, July 5, 2017

Tau Analysis: Elite Choices

The Tau Elites section has always been the most difficult section to use, as it has so many great units and you want to take all of them.  While now one can take way more elite choices (6 in a standard battalion org), the big models can no longer be fielded in squads, so they continue to suffer somewhat(though I suppose lots of other units which lost their squadron capabilities have as well.

Battlesuits in General
Battlesuits still fill the same dynamic Fire fighting role as they always have, filling gaps in the line, eleimnating key targets with massive firepower having both high speed and durabilty.  Because of thehir FLY keyword, they can jump out of contact with the enemy and still fire and nearby drone squads can be used to selectively absorb the enemy’s scarier firepower.  The smaller suit (Stealth/Crisis) weaponry allow for them to fire while advancing, so they can move quickly to take objectives and disrupt an enemy’s maneuvers.  The larger suits wield heavier weapons, slowing them down if trying to fire effectively.


Despite their elite status, their best natural ballistic skill is a 4+ to hit, meaning they are reliant on markerlights to ensure their maximum effect.

Stealthsuit Battlesuits are all now fast to make of for the loss of the assault phase jump pack move, but these guys can advance and still fire without -1 to hit, so are even faster. Camouflage field now subtract 1 from ALL to hit rolls against this unit (shooting and melee) so they have some decent resiliency. Homing Beacons now allow battlesuit units to set up within 6” of an enemy unit when deepstriking instead of the usual 9”.  (I’m using old edition common terminology to describe this to avoid confusion with new wording).  They have a high power level cost for a 3 model unit(6), but I think it’s worth it.
Ghostkeel Stealth Battlesuit-  Continues to be my favorite unit for my army theme (stealthy, direct-firepower force with lots of flyer support).  They have amazing firepower, can gain up to a -2 to hit in the open (-3 if cover allows!!) and a 12” move.  They cost 12 Power Level each, so they are pricey. Also, their cyclic Ion Raker was a faster shooting high strength weapon in the last edition, which made it pretty good at killing everything.  Now, this weapon is still good, but only causes a single point of damage (like assault cannons) so it’s not AS universally useful as it has been.  It is still DARN GOOD though.


Crisis suits (and bodyguard)- now can wield a 3rd weapon if desired which can be cool, have a nice 8” move and have T5 and 3 wounds each. Bodyguards can also take wounds for a Tau CHARACTER.  Crisis suits come with a BIG point cost, with 3 models costing 11 PL base.

Riptide Battlesuits Still a potent force (and I think they MIGHT be a touch tougher than they used to be ;) ).  They resemble other faction’s dreadnought type units.  These have always been super-dreadnoughts of this class, being about twice as tough and costly as other faction dreadnoughts.  The same still holds with these units also being TWICE as fast. (this was also true previously since jump packs essentially doubled their movement.  Nova Reactors now AUTOMATICALLY force a mortal wound when used, so it MIGHT not be an “ALWAYS use” item, but it might still be. Both main weapons are potent in their own right.  (the more common Ion Accelerator having a smaller volley of better AP shots that have the ability to inflict multiple wounds with some “gets hot” style risk). Given hot Drone SAVIOR PROTOCOLS work, these units work great with drone nearby, as their Toughness is used to make the to wound roll, but the wound itself can be assigned to a nearby Drone unit.  This makes these already tough monsters hard to land decisive hits on.

FarSight Marksmen: Previously, these attached to the sniper drones, but are now a separate entry in the army list. This is interesting and allows them to play like they were originally lay when they were first created (playtest rules had the drones acting as a separate unit that used the Marksmen’s BS to spot targets. They are in the coveted Elite section of the army, which means they won’t really compete for a spot unless you’re looking for a way to fill out the last few points in your army list.costing  (PL1).

Next time I'll hit the Fast Attack and flyers in the Tau Arsenal.

Thursday, June 15, 2017

Tau Analysis: HQ and Troop Choices

The compulsory choices in any army are HQ and Troops, so I find it fitting to start my Tau unit analysis with these two rule section.  I will not likely mention ALL units in each section, just the ones I tend to use or have a reason to comment on them in the new rules.

Commander- a Solid HQ choice just like they always were and likely the goto choice for most Tau armies.  They have a one use buff that makes a nearby squad much better in shooting (or moving and shooting) for one turn, unlike other buff provide less value but over the course of the whole game.  Not too much else has changed,except they can carry and fire 3 Weapons systems.  I’m inclined to make a Commander wielding 3 weapons as I think this would be an impressive amount of firepower with a great accuracy (2+).  Given that 8th edition is now in an age where characters often tote combiweapons and can fire 2 guns, this seems like a smart design decision to keep the fire power based tau ahead of the game in the shooting phase.
ColdStar Commander- Like the above, but trades weapon choice for an average weapon loadout but with an outstanding 20” movement characteristic. This in combination of character rules in general, will make this a neat character that can be where you need him when you need him.   I used to have a “Proclamation of uselessness” tagged to this unit choice despite how much I loved the idea of a flying battlesuit.  I am glad to rescind that proclamation.
Ethereal- they are kinda cool but highly vulnerable to enemy snipers. As long as you don’t make them your warlord, their low point cost make this still a decent choice as long as they last.
Shadowsun- This is the most common HQ I field (Being a proxy model for Shas’O “ColdWind of Destiny” Sha’is Y’he Sas Run’ka) .  This unit still continues to play as it did previously.
Aun Shi’- A still modestly cheap, but more durable ethereal that can have a bit of melee punch.  This is a common proxy for my Progeny Caste scientist Fio’O Solin Larsus (Cool Mordin Solus figure I have seemed to have lost to the WARP!! L)
Fire Warriors- Pretty much covered in general notes in the last post, I think they will be cooler for me than they have been in the past few editions.   I miss the official fluff of EMP grenades (though I can imagine that some of the dame inflicted by pulse rifles is caused by flung EMP grenades).  The mobile turret that now comes with Fire Warrior teams can only deploy once, where it used to redeploy every time the unit went stationary…which is a bit of a loss.  But given that the turret comes free in narrative play…that is small potatoes and is still cool.  I like that the pule pistol option exists on the Team leaders, but with only 1 pistol in the squad and the Tau’s fear of staying in assault, I wonder how much these weapons will ever fire.  Against this is still a free option in the Power level game, so that is small potatoes.
I wish the Carbine had some special rule over the pulse rifle. It has a useful statline, but the weapon includes a grenade launcher (which was the thing that caused the pinning tests in the previous incarnations of the game if you didn’t know).  This grenade launcher is a prevelant piece of the weapon visually, so I wish it still had some tiny rule benefit.  The carbine is still a fine choice though.

Breacher Teams- Breacher teams are a shock troop offshoot of the fire warrior. They play like they did in the previous edition.  I think the Pulse blaster is tough, but I have aesthetic problems with it’s design. (Hate the 3 range bracket thing when this doesn’t occur in all weapons and just wish it had a simpler rapid fire base with a shorter range (18”) and a better ap(-1) to the Pulse rifle.) This gives it a space with both the pulse rifle and the carbine without the unnecessary special rules.  I do still like the unit and and slowing building 40 of these guys to alternate into the gameplay fold.  As long as their Gaurdian drone squads are still alive, this unit gains a 5+ inv save, which is pretty nice.
All Things Kroot- I like the concept that Tau integrates all races into their empire. But so far, I have not found any of the races they’ve included as army units to be particularly engrossing.  ( I do often like using their rules as proxy units for droid soliders or other things).   They are actually fulfill different ORG sections in the rules, but I want to hammer them to all in one shill blow.  In General, ALL kroot are cheap(The highest Kroot unit cost is 6 and that includes 20 models)
The basic Karnivore unit typically is a lowcost troop choice for the tau army. They also have an infiltrate type ability so they are one of the few units in (any of my) armies that I feel comfortable throwing them into a dangerous place as attribution units.  Having lost most of their forest type rules, it is even easier for me to think of them as my attrition droid sodliers without having to justify these additional stragne added odd rules.
Krootox riders are Elite choices and make decent mobile heavy weapon batteries who can also melee decently. With 48” Rapid fire big guns, these modeled can lay out 6 str 7 shots inflicting d3 damge per wounding hit.
Kroot hound are very cheap, 12 of them costing 3 Power Level.  They are extremely fast (12” move) so they would be a great harassment unit working along side infiltrating karnivore.
The Kroot Shaper is an HQ CHARACTER who is also a cheap choice (2 Power level) and boost near by Kroot Leadership and allows Kroot units to rerolls to wound rolls of 1. The Shaper’s Ritual blade allows nearby kroot units to ignore morale tests.  Given that he does NOT infiltrate, I forsee him often having to race across the board to catch up with his Kroot troops (or forcing Kroot troops to not infiltrate)
Kroot, even as proxy units,  will rarely have a place in my tau force, but this is almost entirely due to my preference of liking how an all Fire Caste army looks.

Tuesday, June 13, 2017

Tau Pre-play Analysis: Early Warning Override! (that's a Tau thing you xenophobic cretons!)

I've been enjoying this recent foray into blogging.  Because of this, I’m going to write a mutli-part analysis of the Tau Army list to be published over the next few days/weeks.
I am JUST NOW at a point where I’ve played a Tau army longer than I played the game before the Tau ever existed, but most people who know me associate me with Tau without much thought.  But there was a time of darkness where Space Wolves were my main army.
Here is the introduction and General thoughts regarding the Tau army at this current time.

My Tau are themed around my personal background for a secret Tau Para military organization called Task Force: Legacy.  Those familiar with Mass Effect might think of this as similar to the Salarian Special Tasks Group (and IS a lot of the inspiration for it). Those with a Start Trek knowledge might think of this as the Cardisian Obsidian Order or the Romulan Taal'Shiar.  Task Force Legacy has one major advantage over these inferior secret societies. This Band of Tau are safe-guarding a deep secret that would create schisms all throughout the Tau Empire.  they are aware of a newly evolved caste of Tau that encompass properties from ALL Tau Caste and have even stronger ramifications.  The Ethereal circle would destroy this organization if they were aware of it's existence. but this discovery of this secret is nearly impossible to unearth. You see, this organization has develloped one of the most advanced technologies in the known(and unkown) galaxy. they have developped the Fetter Drive, a gravatic distortion envelope generator that creates a Time-AntiTime effect on matter. Once Matter is disrupted by the Fetter Drive Effect, it is no longer bound by time and space and must purposefully re-tether itself back to time-space. Or as you might have hear me more commonly say, Did you know MY TAU CAN TRAVEL THROUGH TIME?

this organization has a deeper concept of the Greater Good, and studies the effect of timestreams and historical manipulation of time-thread to create desired effects in the future. This Tau Strike force attempt to perform small surgical strikes in key time Data points to secure the Greater Good.  these surgical strikes typically consit of small stealthy mobile strike forces arriving from out of no where and then disspearing before a full counter-attack can be mounted. when a Tau of the Proh ja'Hinn (Progeny) caste "die", their connect to Time-space is lost and they blink out of Physical existance. Death is an affect of Time however, and without time, Death is just a temporary state of being.  Defeat on the field of battle is not bad in that units are destroyed, but rather, they will have to re-attempt the mission so that victories that must be achieved WILL be achieved.    

the motives of these missions can oft be difficult to determine as military victory might not be the goal so much ans some smaller ancillary situation, such as the proverbial "Killing Hitler while he was still a child" type of Timeline influence.

this background all falls in line with my Tau army approach of mobile Tau units using stealth technologies and surgical Close Air Support to achieve objectives.

Image result for tau markerlight

Introduction: Why Tau
Since I first heard of Tau Rumors before the first Tau codex, I was already in love with this new race in the 40k universe.  I was first drawn to their tech, their look and their fire power.  I was then drawn in by their naiveté about the Grim Darkness.  I was finally drawn in by their potential to show the transitional arc they will get to display, reminding us how the races of man and Eldar manage to start with noble goals and then reach their dark corners of morality.
I have played nearly every army ever produced for the 40k universe, but it is the Tau I am bonded to, like my own personal Ta’lissera (bonding knife ritual for you xenophobic cretons!)
I want to make an early assessment of the Tau in 8th edition.  The new edition is too new to make infallible analysis, but analysis is a good exercise in study.  I’m pretty sure I like the rules and that they seem reasonably balanced that I can determine without playing the game more.
As an Army, Tau are a firepower based army, though never as accurate as elite shooting armies without the aids of cross unit markerlight support.  They are faster than their imperial counter parts, but only slightly in the overall sense and never as fast as FAST armies.  Lastly they hate melee. This all seems to hold true to how they work in 8th edition.

General Overview
As a whole, I think the Tau seem as balanced as any other army I’m able to judge so far(without any Tau games under my belt and using my style of play compared to a pure power gamer mindset).
1 .      I think in the era of a new “to wound” chart and the loss of the Vehicle armor system, the Pulse weapons have a breath of new life and may make fire warrior’s limited loadout options a less uncomfortable concept for me.(not unlike how I see the shuriken Catapult now).  I’m still upset about the disappearance of EMP grenades(not commonly used by the Tau community as a whole, but a mainstay in my Fire warrior units). It think the loss of these grenades is a cosmetic loss over actual game play (as the pulse rifle fulfills the role of modest anti-vehicle functionality similarly to the EMP grenades of old).
2   1.       I think Markerlight are better than ever (though I think this is the opposite of the Tau community common thought.

                 Image result for tau markerlight

      It take more markerlights to achieve the same results for an individual shooting, but Markerlights stay on an enemy unit for the entire shooting phase and affects ALL shooting directed at the target unit. Even a single markerlight has value, but 5 on a single target will virtually ensure it’s demise.

     2.      Jump-shoot-jump is now gone, but has been replace by Shoot-fallback-shoot.  Not as great, but not bad at all. This means if you manage to survive the assault, you’ll still get to jump out of melee and continue your blasting the enemy with your considerable firepower.

                Image result for tau battlesuit             

     3.   Drone SAVIOR PROTOCOL.

       Drone 185 from the movie Oblivion.  I know have cool third party drone models that blend tau tactical drones with this neat design!

       I consider this both an amazing and terrifying rule (good and bad) for the Tau depending on the mission. Any Drone unit within 3” of another infantry or battle suit unit can take a wound suffered by the nearby unit, meaning drones finally act  as the attrition units I thought they always should be.they are considered a separate unit from the squad that buys them as an upgrade which is potentially a HUGE downside. For missions where points are scored for units destroyed, these tiny 2 man units each counts as a victory point AND ensure the Tau will never be the UNDERDOG in a game. Those things are very scary, but the attribtion ability is AWESOME!  Also for this reason, we might never see drones leave their devilfish mounts (not too huge a deal).  It’s very cool, but a mixed bag.
     4.  Their special rules (for the greater good and bonding knife ritual) seem enough like their previous edition rules.  their support fire rule  (now For the Greater Good) stilll allows nearby units that are being assaulted by adding to their overwatch,  if they do this, they surrender their abilty to overwatch any more in that Charge phase.  Now that a unit can overwatch any number of times in a Charge phase. 

     speaking of the charge phase/assault phase, The Tau's leadership is comparable to imperial guard (base leadership 6), with the elite battlesuits being base 7 or 8.  The bonding knife ritual rule makes a Morale test of 6 always succeed, which means there's now always a lucky chance that they survive the morale test unscathed no matter how great the odds are.  it's not as generally good as And They Shall Know No Fear or  insanely high leadership stats like Chaos with Mark of Vengeance Icons, but it gives them a shot.
     5.   Photon Grenades are potential great at close range against opposing units.   They essentially get d6 opportunities to force a -1 to hits a single target unit within 12”

7   6.       Seeker missiles are weirdly interesting now, they hit on a 6+ unless guides by a markerlight, and then they only hit as well as the unit it is shot from).  They inflict a MORTAL wound.  This is great in some cases, but will not be all that useful against models with lots of wounds. This is not a complaint at all, and I expect to be loading out devilfish with these weapons about as much as I typically do. They seem to be more surgical strike  than vehicle killer. With TH/SS terminators being the BANE of my Tau existence, these are welcome changes to the army, even if they seems a little odd.
    7. Tau can expect to be slaughter in melee now more than ever for the most part. even if they only lose a few models to the melee itself, this essentially doubles with a poor More morale phase roll. I do think the Battlesuits have a greater ability to endure melee damage with their better statline and wounds, but as it has been in the past, this is offset by significant Point Level cost for all battlesuit units.

t    Tune in to the next transmission intercept for an analysis of Tau HQ and Troop Choices!