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!

Monday, June 12, 2017

EXTREY EXTREY! Read all about it. 8th edition game played. Met expectations- -First game of 8th edition played. Laughs and fun had. Minimum expectations met.

-First game of 8th edition played. Laughs and fun had.
Kevin and I got together for a game Saturday night, pitting my newly assembled Raptor’s Nth company marine army against his mothballed Craftworld elder army.  Heading to Kevin’s house, I realise I had played Kevin in a 1 on 1 game, for 7-8 years.  The game was great fun and it made me realise I could not let it go so long again without playing one of the most fun and most tactically skilled players in D-Company. 
Before the game we sat and discussed out reflections on the game so far.  We’re both pretty excited about the game for the most part.  We had already built our Power level 75 army lists. I had seen most battle reports were focusing around 50pt and I wanted a game sized more typical of what we usually play (which would be around 100 power level). Kevin was a voice of reason and negotiated us down to 75pts.  Given this was our first game and that the crappy PDFs we had in hand made navigating our lists and rules harder than need be, I was later glad he had talked us down.
The events below are approximate and might not depict the exact play (though key items in more thorough detail are likely correct as those are stronger memories), as it is 2 days later and the game was a lot of culture shock, learning and a bit exhausting.

You’ll also noticed that while we each had 6 command points, we never used any. Kevin certainly could have benefitted from rerolling late in the game, but both of us had forgotten about them until the last turn.  We both vowed we would just ignore command points for this game and mine sat unused as well.

Raptor Chapter Nth Company expeditionary force
Power Level
Marine Captain
Master Crafter Boltgun,  Relic blade
Imperial space marine
Combi-distingrator, disintigration pistol
Tactical Squad A(10)
Grav Cannon, Grav Gun, Sgt with boltgun and grav pistol
Tactical Squad B(10)
Heavy Bolter, Grav Gun, Sgt with boltgun and boltgun and Power Sword.
Tactical Squad C(10)
Heavy Bolter,plasma gun, Sgt with Power Sword and grav pistol
Tactical Squad C(10)
GravCannon,plasma gun, Sgt with Combi-Plasma
Scout (5)
Camoeline cloaks, 2 sniper rifles, Rocket launcher, Sgt with Combi plasma
Storm bolter smoke Launchers
Storm bolter smoke Launchers
Storm bolter smoke Launchers
Storm bolter smoke Launchers
StormHawk Interceptor
Icarus StormCannon, Skyhammer missile launcher, 2 assault cannons, Infernus halo launcher

The return of the Eldar!
Power Level
Doom Guide

5 eldar rangers
sniper long rifles
10 dire avengers
Avenger Catapults, exarch with power glaive and shimmer shield
10 dire avengers
Avenger Catapults, exarch with power glaive and shimmer shield
Bright lance, 2 flamer, wrath sword
Frie prism
prism cannon, shuriken cannon, vectored engines, Crystal targeting matrix.
10 Striking scorpians

5 dark Reapers
understrength. Exarch with a better reapear missile launcher

I put together Kevin’s list from memory.  It seems like Kevin was down a few power level points, but it’s possible I forgot a unit or missed something else.
We both had adhered to the
We played the Retrieval mission I think using a standard long edge deployment.  4 objectives were placed on the board and worth 3pts at the end of the game. Slay the warlord, first blood, and line breaker were also in effect.
I chose table edge and opted for the only obvious piece of cover(a ruined Chimera and bunker).   (we later determined that other pieces of terrain would count as woods, so that Kevin would have some cover too.  I forget the important step of discussing the game board before the start of game. 
Kevin had first turn and I was unable to seize the initiative.
Deployment was pretty unpotable, both of use line up along our edges. The elder had focused their forced on the side with my ruined Chimera.(which a battle squad  fire base containing a grav cannon and plasma gun resided in).

I had 2 rhinos and my Stormhawk interceptor on the opposite flank. So it was clear how the manure game would play.  The scorpions waited in reserve so they could later spring at me using their dreaded shadow deployment.

Turn 1.
The dire avengers, Avatar, and wraithlord moved forward while heavy weapons and snipers of the Eldar laid back and laid down deadly support fire. The A made all Eldar within 12” immune to morale checks,  so he was positioned to give most of his infantry the bravery of the eldritch!
His first shooting phase was brutal.  A dire avenger loosed a storm of catapult fire into the entrencthed combat squad and quickly I found 3 of the marines lie dead.  The sergent shout to his Grav Cannon gunner to hold the line.
Massed fire from the dark reapers and some other fire pelted a rhino on the same flank.  It burst into flames and 4 of the 6 models inside (5 boltgun combat squad led by the IMPERIAL SPACE MARINE!).  The surprise volley was brutal and unexpected to the rhino driver and the vehicle burst into flames, 4 of the marines succumbing to mortal wounds!. The Imperial marine knew dratic action need  ot be taken and strode ahead of the smoking wreck( which melted away into the ground  in video  fashion.) the lone trooper sat out in the open a few paces behind him.

A rhino on the the opposite flank took hits, and was crippled, but sputtered onward.  I had lost approximately 25% of my army before I had even moved. 
In my turn, My strong flank rhinos moved forward towards the advancing wraithlord.  The Stormhawk interceptor flew overhead (I did not realize how important this one unit would be in my army, as I had not unit that have true firepower wallop it had.  Except for this flyer, my fire power all lay in the traditional fire power for of Marine Tactical squads.(which is certainly good, but FEELS inadequate after you received a strong volley of heavy weapons and reaper missiles the first turn!)
The Firebase squad opened up on the Avatar, as did the Imeprial space marine, causing significant damage.  The Avatar is an terrifying angry god and was not slowed at all at the carnage inflicted.  The scouts split their fire at the avatar but had little effect.  The Stormhawk was an Aircraft killing monstrosity with 14 nasty shots per turn (half of its weapons gaining a +2 to hit a model with the FLY keyword).  The Fire Prism has the FLY Keyword, so I took my opportunity to hit on 2+ and I quickly crippled the eldar hover tank with missiles and Stormcannon rounds (Note: I did forget to take the -1 penalty to hit with moving heavy weapons, but the only weapons effected were the duo assault cannon which only did a single point of damage.  
At the end of the turn, I had lost 25% of  my models.  Kevin had only lost 1 or 2 dire avengers but his tank and avatar had both been severely hurt.  It was probably even, but I silently felt this was going badly for me.

Turn 2.
The eldar continued their assault, the assaulting units moved into close on my army. 

What’s worse, The Scorpians faded into view in the middle rear of my deployment zone. 10 elite Close combat troops were had caught my fire base by suprise!.  The eldar on the far flank shot and assault the beleaguered combat squad.  The Avatar and a fresh Die avenger squad moved forwards, launching a great attacks, supported by eldar ranger fire ALL at the brash little Imperial Space Marine.  He was no slouch and was a hero of the line. We went to ground in a small patch of cover, and shrugged this off with only a single wound taken (he has 4!)
The fire prism and dark reapers, loose great volleys at the StormHawk intercepter, crippling it down to 4 wounds left.  The wraithlord shot at and assaulted one of the rhino of my strong flank, reducing it to a single wound, but leaving the troops inside untouched.  The long Grav Cannon gunner survived both shuriken fire and an assault and fell back to the top of the terrain piece where he would make a last stand for 2 fight  phases before he would eventually fall to numbers

In my portion of the turn, I quickly began disembarking the marines on my strong flank. I needed to bring every gun I had to bear on the wraith lord and the supporting hover tank.
The Stormkhawk veered towards the middle of the board because flyers have compulsory movement still.  In old editions, this compulsory movement strongly limits where and how you can deploy firepower from fighter craft. In 8th edition, my forward mounted guns still were allowed to fire at the fire prism (now at the flyer’s 7 O’clock position),  and loosed its crippled fire power into the fire prism, knocking it down to 3 wounds (making the hover tank VERY CRIPPLED).  The disembarked tactical and combat squad fired onto the wraithlord (with at least one krek grenade thrown in for measure), augmented by the scouts sniper rifles and krak missiles.  I’m not sure if the wraith lord die this turn or in the next, but this mass of fire power was able to feel this wraith bone monstrosity in 1-2 shooting phases, with the boltguns playing a healthy role in it.(rolling 5’s to wound make massed boltgun fire scary against all but the toughest foes). A full Tactical squad in the middle disembarked and had a mass of Grav weapns that would fire at the Avatar, while the boltguns began putting fire on the Striking scorpions.
The Imperial space marine held his own and shot is distingrator into the Avatar.  ( I think this brought him down to a single wound, but it might have been something else.  STILL, the Avatar fought like it was unscathed.  It’s a monster! Tactical fire from one full and one combat squad cut the scopians numbers in half.

Turn 3.
The  Eldar were relentless in their advance. I could not put any significant fire on their read echelon units (aside from the fire prism, so Kevin had a potent fire base in the rear the entire game and Dar k reapers are nothing to scoff at.)
The Avenger shuriken volleys were as scary as my boltgun volleys(but even worse since they counts as -3 AP on To wound rolls of 6) .  they will scare Land raiders in their tracks as any shiruken weapons that wounds will pierce land raider armor on a 6+!!. They also counts as hitting on 5+ in overwatch, so any thoughts I had to ever assault these troops were thwarted if I couldn’t bring massive numbers to bear (which my army could not as I had built it).   I would play a classic game of fight and displace. The Mantra of My tau army? Hmm… is it possible that these Time Travelling Space marines MAYBE work with my Tau Secret subsect who also TRAVEL THROUGH TIME?!
Turn 1 had been slightly unlucky for me, but from turn 3 on, it seemed like I had bribed Kevin’s dice. Kevin had launched 4-5 assaults  with superior troops and numbers.  Only the Single wound Avatar had a decent turn, annilating one of the full tactical squads (7 died to shooting and melee, and the remaning died in morale even with ATSKNF.)  the single Grav Cannon gunner fended the undamged Dire Avengers yet another turn and the Imperial space marine absorbed everything the other Dire Avenger could dish out (taking 1 wound, but losing 2 ancient eldar in the process!).  Even the mighty Stricking scropians bounced off of their combat squad target, reduced to  wounded exarch while 3 space marines still stood.
The crippled storm hawk continued flying lengthwise down the field, all the while putting his guns on the fire prism in his rear view mirror.  Finally, the great eldar hover tank grew silent
 I found pistols interesting. Twice I used pistol in the shooting phase in place of falling back to finsh off crippled units.  This results in a dead scropian exarch from a sergeants unassuming grav pistol! ( I think I tried this on the avatar later with a different sergent, but if I recall correctly, I missed and that sergeant briefly stared up at the looming eldritch god and gulped.

Turn 4-5.
The Eldar offensive was stalled in failed melees.  The giants of the eldar army mangled or destroyed. All the while, half of my army was gone. It was still a close game.  Each play had decent hold of 2 objectives, Kevin had claimed first blood.  We couldn’t tell who would edge out the other’s army, but it was going to be close either way!
Kevin’s firebase  could not finish off the stormhawk despite Farseer powers aiding the dsheer fire power of these eldar elite heavy weapons. They would spend the rest of the game inflicting little to no damage on the crippled interceptor.  The laughing god seemed to be laughing at his children.  The flanking dire avengers moved into my deployment zone to secure a line breaker. And the avatr followed.  This seems to be the decisive mistake in the game, as it made it nearly impossible to claim one of the middle objectives Kevin required to stay in good standing. I think the game went from Kevin slightly winning to Kevin slightly losing.
I shored up a marine squad on an objective in Kevin’s deployment zone, shield by 2 rhinos (one only having a single wound).  I moved a combat squad and the scouts up into the open to lock in another objective (kevin’s snipers dropped my scouts to 2 models.

Turn 6 and (theoretically 7).
Random game length had the game go past turn 5.   Very little changed at this point as few units were left and those

We didn’t do strong math, (we skipped learning whether Linebreaker was a per unit or once per objective, and neither of us cared at the time.  I think the results was both had line breaker, no commanders were killed (I think the farseer war the warlord).  I had 2 objectives to kevin’s 1. Which left an end score of 6 to 4.  I know this is probably called a win, but I consider this a draw or indecisive victory. It seems like the points can sway greatly with just a bit of luck or one bad decision, just like it always can in the grim darkness of the 41st millenea.

These were general feelings I came away from the game with.  It was mostly positive experience.  It should be.  It’s a game I love and a hobby I have adored longer than some D-Company member have been alive. 1987 has me at 30 years…) It was very unlikely this beloved hobby would have me cursing and hating it.  The game was also not without faults and some feel significantly worse to me. Some of these rule changes I’m unlikely enjoy as much as I liked it’s previous edition as counterpart. How things.
Some of these are rehashed from a facebook post I posted on D-Company.
1). Using Leaked PDF files:   the game is not meant to be played using 2 small photo captured leaked PDF files for your introductory game (LOTS of time spent slowly scrolling through pages) having books (or official ebooks) should make this much more tolerable.
2). Some new Good things:   There were some neat new things that came up and things I liked (or needed) in the game.  My Best fire power in the game was my flyer Interceptor which had plenty of big guns. In previous flyer rules, I would not have been able to keep it’s fire focus on Kevin’s Fire Prism because of fire arcs and its long compulsory moves. I NEEDED to do (he had too many big gun
I like the Save Modifier system and the weapons used so far seem interesting and balanced within that system.  I had somewhat expected the ASMs to look more similar to 2nd edition or Necromunda (where Boltguns and lasguns had an ASM of -1). These weapon profiles seems more scaled back. The fact that most Basic arms have no Save Mod make initial armor value relevant (power armors make 3+ saves against basic arms and weapons like the Heavy bolter only put a small nick in your saving roll.
I liked pointing the army via Power level as I thought I would (Lazy).  I do think that the power gaminess might worse than expected though as there seem to be more common army building sceanrios that affect unit potency without affecting power level of a unit. Vehicle upgrades are a very interesting case. These is no reason not to take ALL Vehicle equipment upgrades provided to a unit which are not incorporated into the power level value. There is not reason not to have a HK missile on your Rhino (other than you don’t have it modeled and the knowledge that historically few rhinos take them).  These might be protected by WISIWIG requirements. There are other vehicle kit that have no commonly modeled equivallant (Eldar and Tau Vehicle gear fall heavily into this camp) where wargear historically is Commonly used and have no WISIWYG basis.  Kevin used haf vehicle optinos he was allotted and I had no issues with this as Fire prisms typically had Holofields, spirit stones, and some other kit that was always taken.  This is a case where I have no issue, but MIGHT if I see some player suddenly modelling new fleets (or worse new whole fleets of units that have no modellig needs)  with MAX wargear. It will always be based on what I think the oponent’s intent is and how much I feel they are gaming the system. This is admittedly a very subjective judgment I make on someone and the more familiar I am with them helps govern how I feel about this. Game play wise, the other guy will be able to do whatever, but it may affect how I perceive you if I don’t play against you often or know you well.

3).Some Bad new things.  I don’t hate the use of wounds in place of vehicle armor.  It played well enough, (though the game now feels VERY video game RTS to me complete with Wall-hacking fire arc on vehicles.  I still don’t like it and am unlikely to think it’s a positive change over the previous system. It is also a less immersive feeling system of a game where we had wrecked vehicles on the table and had thematic smoke indicating vehicle damage. Simplification-1, immersion -0  
I don’t like the limited effect of terrain on maneuver. It seems necesary with the shorter game length (5 being the new standard game length it seems), but I found that it abstracted the mobility of troops too much and that for the most part, terrain just doesn’t matter.

3). Flyer Rules:  Flyers have and always will have a strong place in my heart. I loved them before I even had a flyer.  I hated the original FW flyer rules compared to what they evolved into, but after that hiccup, it was a steady change that was easily integrated into the corerules.  From what I got to study so far, flyer do not seem over/underbalanced, despite their radical changes. They awesome(frustrating based on your perspective) flyer rule durability is mostly kaput, but they seem to have attributes similar to some ground light vehicles, so this loss of rules is not overtly detrimental. I still don’t like them and don’t see how they will have more than a cosmetic feel on the game.
4). Rule confusion: Cover. We had an issue with both of us having different understanding of how cover worked and both had referenced different places in the rules (Cover in Core Rules vesus in the “advanced” rules.) The fact that the Terrain Advanced rules were still nothing more than thinned down versions of what had been basic rules in the previous editions, this points to Simpification for simplification (not elegance)sake.

5). Basic Weapons pretty usefull:  if all you have is boltguns, you can make Boltgun-ade and still do pretty well. I had very few heavy weapons in my army, and I leaned heavily on the boltgun’s ability to wound everything in Kevins army on no worse than a 5+. This added up over time.

6). Morale Phase:  I did not dislike the morale system despite my general feel that 40k has a poor battle field psychology system. (it does, but I may just have to come ot grips that the grim darkness of the 41 millennia does not have room for the true horrors of war).  This is likely something that I don’t like, but will succumb to not caring about the more I play. I could respect it’s elegance since old psychology rules were always underwhelming to me from a design perspective.

8). I liked the Fight phase.  Assaults in our particular game were short single unit engagements, so we didn’t see any of the more complex happenings, though I *THINK* I wil like the system in more complex engagements as well.

10). Luck! It is clear that I owe Kevin’s dice a drink due to their mid game betrayal!

13). Game Size: I expect that a common play value (based on how most games we play in the past would make Power Level 100 seem standard fare.  (but not while we all still have our training wheels on.)

Well, that’s what I came away with.  My minimum expectation for a game based hobby is that the game would still be fun.  My expectation from a company building and supporting my (hopefully fun) hobby should see that as NOTHING LESS that the minimum requirement they are committed to providing, so I’m not going to pat any GW personel on the back for meeting what I consider to be the minimum requirement for making a living off of my dollar playing with their flashy toys.

If I have to put a single rating on the 8th edition game so far is:  It meets minimum requirements and is still fun… but it used to be better.  

Wednesday, June 7, 2017

Power Levels: 8th edition’s single major benefit and why it scares me to death

Warhammer 40k 8th Edition.  You might Love it, and you might hate it.  You might hate to love it or love to hate it.

Regardless of your position it has quantifiable merits and flaws.  As a whole, I rate it around a C-/D+ in what has been a steady B+ for 40k’s entire lifecycle.  It is summed up by a methodology of simplifying without streamlining.  It employs a few enjoyable gimmicks to cover the fact that the game system as a whole has been reduced to a resource less Real-Time Strategy Game. That is not to say it will be a terrible game.  a game is only a set of guidelines in a contract of 2 or more people in an effort to have fun. I've had hilarious fun playing games with Terrible rules.

There are some good things in the new rules as well. Modified Die Rolls bring variety and lessen the Rock/Paper/Scissors mechanics found in the old AP system.  i'm sure there are many others.  My focus in this article is one the game concept I'm most excited about AND most afraid of.... Polwer Levels and Narrative style play.

Power Level: My new favorite thing

That said, there is a major merit that I find highly appealing, and that is the concept of Narrative Gaming using armies based on Power level.  The Power level is a very powerful system that allows players to build an army quickly with their existing models with very simple math.  The idea of Power level is relative rather than detailed, so the minutiae of selecting and accounting for individual pieces of wargear is unnecessary (and is general such, the games run on such a high grade of variability that such granular decisions generally do not have a typically large outcome on victory).  Army build to me is the least interesting and most time consuming portion of the game.  The Power Level methodology seems aware of this and just works to get players into throwing down armies quickly.
The weakness of the Power Level Mechanic is that we have not real idea of how well balanced the units are.  Power Level itself, is only modified by unit size and occasionally some wargear (like Jump packs) that change the units core rules.  Weaponry is never factored in (on the assumption the power levels control a median rating based on weapon choice)  This is okay when the Delta shift of units is fairly small (such as the 3 options slots of a tactical squad(Sergent/Assualt Weapons/Heavy Weapon))  There are some units that have large deltas in their combat effectiveness based on their unit choices (for example a Sternguard unit with no upgrades is only generally powerfully, but 10 models now  with Combi-weapons is nearly game breaking).  I think GW was lazy in their approach to building Unit Datasheets that accommodate SOME level of weaponry choice.  I can find a great many instances in the Army lists so far that indicate that their generation was not fully vetted or playtested for what a Majog edition change affecting all armies should have entailed.

GW expects that you’ll only modify SOME of your SternGuard with weapon updgrades, but now that combiweapons aren’t one-use weapons (and free), one can expect that 10 Combi-weapons will be the Power-gamed standard of the unit in Power Level based play.


It seems to me that for some units with high model counts that can make dynamic upgrades across the entire unit that has drastic changes in their effecteness. (Sternguard will be my current posterchild). A unit containing 5 combi-flamers and 5 combi-meltas would be nearly unassailable and capable of annihilating nearly anything it set its mind to (probably annihilating a FEW things a turn).  It becomes clear fairly easily that this unit only being about 40% more costly than a tactical marine squad seems like the bargain of a century.  Units like these allows a scary level of Min/Max and Power Gamers will be quick to exploit these obvious game balancing holes in the rules.  The Datasheets could have made some,however small, attempt to account for these types of weapon/upgrade excesses. (5 Sternguard  weapon upgrades cost an additional Power Level or Scouts select Cameoline cloaks cost an additional Power level).  This would still have allowed for quick simple army building without Certain units exploiting their free stuff or non-brainer choices (like the scout cameoline cloak upgrade)

These guys should have brought their free Camo cloaks!

I’m not generally afraid of my usual gaming cohorts moving to this (like to use the units they’ve already built who through previous edition balancing limited their excess of wargear base on point cost effectiveness).  It will be the dreaded “Others” who will jump to taking awful advantage of these rules.  Because of this, the “Match play” point system is the only true way to keep these types of abuses in check (though we have no actual idea if the point values in Match play are balance and more than the power level.
In the face of the Power Level Narrative play, game design, I pretty much hate the “Match play“ point value system.  It chooses to retain the most time consuming and complicated (and mistake prone) part of the hobby after providing a simpler method to build armies, mainly because they didn’t put their full effort into ensuring the Power Level system was  solidly constructed.  Neither system is. What we essentially have is GW giving us their word that these are “balanced”, these points values were derived through a system that ensured they are “better”. They are obviously more granular, but the same could be said about the 6pt plasma gun in the early 3rd edition codices.  6pts was a very granular and incorrect point value that infested the 40k gamescape for YEARS!!!!  I have nigh-zero confidence that what has been provided is anything more than the SAME as what we’ve had forever… but probably worse…. They did the absolute minimum to push these lists out to the public and obfuscated the lackluster effort with “2 tiers of play” that define mechanics for army building what should be a fairly simple process.  I don’t think this is necessarily intentional and I respects the Game Developers in the company.   But when the accountants walk into the Game Dev office and start talking about the “bottom line” and “diminishing returns on investment”, I firmly expect GW as an organization to fail in bringing us a better more balanced game.
Of course, what GW intended for a given unit in their Power Level Rating is subjective and prone to debate.  Some people won’t find 10 Combi weapons unbalancing, some player will find abuse in taking all lascannons and powerfist toting sergeants in their squads as game breaking. Those discussions will be had and always will.  But hopefully in that discussion we come closer to approaching balance.

Going forward

  I like the Power Level System, and my hope is that my gaming group will adopts it and that the overall abuse of game breaking builds will be small. I know I intend to. I take responsibility to the fun and wellbeing of myself and my opponent while in game and I consider not bringing the biggest broken rifts in the Gameplay universe to be a part of that.   My laziness certainly already pushes myself towards sticking to the Power Level type of design. And in the end hopefully, most players I deal with will realize that one does not need every tweak at their disposal to have a good time playing with little toy dolls.