Tuesday, 28 July 2009

PONDER: Do Armies Reflect Personalities?

By Suneokun.

Recently I had a bizarre sense of deja-va. Playing at a 8 player Apocalypse game I came across a doppelganger. Out of the eight players (2 Tau, Space Marine, Ork, Guard, Chaos Deamons and Marines and Eldar), I was delighted by the positive play and great sportsmanship around the table. Everyone had a great game, and while the forces of good conquered the forces of evil, I was most entertained by the behaviour of the players.

There's a very strong case for saying that Dog owner's become alike to their dogs (At which point Admiral Drax points out Cadfael is Mrs. Drax's dog.) and that parents are crafted by their children ... but are gamers who craft their armies in turn crafted by them?

"And if you gaze for long into an abyss, the abyss gazes also into you." Friedrich Nietzsche

One of my favourite quotes but how does it reflect in 40k. I actually thought 'little', but the battle on Sunday has pulled me otherwise.

The Ork player was a jovial fella who I would gladly play again and enjoy the undertaking, his approach to his models was typical Orkish - ie: carefree and flamboyant, casualties were fun for him.

The Tau player (including me) were strategic and cunning, measuring their plans and yet (still) dying in droves. As a comment, I would point out that one of my firewarrior squad (almost single handedly) shot down a huge ork biker (non nob) horde and then 7 Tau beat the 4 Ork Bikers in close combat - oh how I gloated... meanwhile the cluster of deep striking stealth and crisis suits made a mockery of the evil forces backfield.

The Chaos players (Marine and Deamon) threw things in at random and trusted to errr... chaos? And were devastatingly effective. Tythus and 7 Terminator IS a big ask in your backfield!

The Space Marine Player was dependable and thorough, toughing out the majority of the firepower and making it through.

The Guard Player simply accepted his casulaties and soldiered on, levelling his ordinance at the enemy and holding back the tide.

But my special focus is on the Eldar player... He was fielding an Eldar Titan - which is a bargain by the way, best value for money on forgeworld - and a fleet of Grav Falcons flying about brightlancing everything in range he pounded the majority of our superheavies into dust with twin evil pulsars while laughing off our return fire with his 4+ holofields... Then out of nowhere the TITAN LEAPS 36", shoots at some Vendettas and then assaults my Tau Crisis Command Squad... mashing a group of 5 models (including two gundrones).

This model had singularly the most 'fun' on the battlefield ... and while Tau EMP grenades and Vendetta Lascannons played havoc with his grav-tanks - this lanky dancer pranced, blew up and squished everything...

My rambling point was that despite all this, the Eldar player was wholely ungracious when we responded by blowing up his Titan. In fact he'd removed AND left before its fate was sealed... which leads me to ask a pertient question.

Fritz is clearly an accomplished player with a determined tactical approach. Judging by his blog he's also a challenging but fun opponent to play, mocking his own 'Eldar trickery' ... however, in my experience this isn't the norm.

I've played Eldar Players a lot and well their temperments CAN be as spiky as their models pointy ears ... after the performance at APOC it got my brain churning ... what if its the army that makes them ... well, a bit precious about their men.

So I'm pushing two questions out there:
  1. Are you like your army?
  2. Are Eldar players well ... like Eldar?
What's your thoughts?

Thursday, 23 July 2009

D'oh my display Cabinet is full

By Suneokun.

Shortly after returning from a stellar holiday in bonny Cornwall, I partook to paint some models. Not wanting to get bogged down in a serious painting job I finished off a squad of random guardsmen that'd been knocking around on my 'to-do' shelf for a while (that's the one full of black basecoated figures)... taking the models upstairs to my (very slimlined) display cabinet, I stumbled across two remarkable discoveries:
  1. My display cabinet is now full. "We're gonna need a bigger boat!" and;
  2. I'd finished ALL my guardsmen...
Clearly this second revelation came as an utter shock. Ignoring converted Ogyrns, Rough Riders and Servitors (some paltry 10 models) and 6 heavy weapons teams, the lot were finished...

This is a sad day in the SuneoHome when so many wee-men have met their enamelled fate and been basecoated, brushed and varnished to a high quality.

I live in a single hope ... Gunnery Sergeant Harker has returned from a 'holiday' of hiding in a packing case, post APOC battle. There's a chance, just a chance that he's hidden some men from me... bastard!

The hunt goes on.

Still there's 9 Gargoyle and 2 Flying Warrior coversions to complete, I need to retrofit ALL my crisis suits with magnets and I have the desire to build 3 Tau sniper drones. Not to mention the Kroot (Which are wonderful models) of which only 11 need painting. Oh, and 2 Kroot hounds - and the 7 Deathguard I bought the other day ... and my second Devilfish needs a paint-job...

So I guess that light at the end of the tunnel WAS a train after all...

Or someone else lost in the dark (but with a flashlight)...

... was it you?

Monday, 20 July 2009

CHALLENGE: 40k Gladiator Winner!

By Suneokun

Further to a dramatic (weather wise) camping holiday in Cornwall, Suneokun's back on the ball with the results of the 150pt Galdiator Challenge. Many thanks to all the participants ... here's my crib on the following entries:
  • Jimmy: Straightforward balanced concept, nice and clean. They will struggle with monstrous creature (such as a Carnifex), but would be good against most adversaries. Storm bolters are very handy in Gladiator (like grenade launchers).
  • Raptor1313 #1: The Sisters of battle would offer a solid durable power armoured force, with the numbers that the above space marine force might struggle with. Down side in range and mobility (combined) as they're only really effective under 12" and could be wittled quickly by standing troops.
  • Raptor1313 #2: Eldar Warwalker and Guardians - Warwalkers are disgustingly cheap and can prove ridiculously effective at this side of game. That said the combination is very tempting as the warwalkers longer range (a whole 24" - oh my!) would compensate for the poor range of the guardians. I'd be tempted to swap out the guardians for Dire Avengers though...
  • Raptor1313 #3: 4 Jetbikes and a Warlock. Combining speed and small numbers, these guys would be effective ambushers, and like Stealth teams, the double move is very helpful. Suffers from low numbers and a lot of HEAT though.
  • Dave Huddleston: 5 Bloodletters ... I love bloodletters too - but who is their right mind is going to let these monsters anywhere NEAR your lines...
And the winner is ... the grey knights (mainly because I'm a little loath to give the prize to a player who's had three bites at the cherry!!! - but great entries Raptor. As I'll demonstrate below, the balancing limitations of Gladiator mean that some surprising units come to the fore.

Because you are facing multiple opponents, the force multiplier of 'percieved' danger become a lot more relevant. As anyone familiar with multi-player online games will be aware... sometimes being the uber godlike player will simply attract you the greatest amount of heat and subsequently firepower. In a normal game, such uber-units would attract firepower, but this would be mitigated through deployment, the use of reserves, transports or simply by hiding behind something durable (like 30 ork boyz!).

In Gladiator, such protection is missing (except if you bring a tank) and there are no plans to adopt deep strike or flanking rules. Effectively, your unit is on their own. As such many 'overlooked' units are ideal for Gladiator. This is many due to the fact that 'all-rounders' are less useful than 'specialists' in 40k.

Tau: Tau were built for Gladiator, their mobile infantry units give a combination of speed and high strength firepower. An all kroot unit (including krootox and kroothounds) would be a devastating force, 3-4 kitted up crisis battlesuits would also raise hell - however I'd plump for: StealthSuits: I'd recommend the 4 man (plus 3 gundrone) stealth team. Outside 21" they can effectively ignore everyone (thanks to their stealth field) and within this their combination of blistering firepower AND 3+ save is awesome. 3 gundrones are the same price as one stealthsuit with the same firepower and to hit. Additionally they give a chance to pin the enemy AND three disposable wounds when you DO get caught out.

Orks: Orks are a lovely option for such a close in fight. The ability to field a scrabbling mob of Ork Boys is a tempting prospect. Alternatively a solid unit of Nobs with a pain boy should offer serious consideration. However for a neat unit, I'd plump for Deffkopta's: 4 Deffkopta's, 1 with the rokkit launcher upgrade gives the unit with high speed (12" plus), high firepower and good saving throws.

Space Marines: I struggle to fit the space marines into this key hole as they really aren't designed (in price or configuration) for anything under 200 pt. The only suggestion I can make is the one fielded. 5 Sternguard, each with a combi-plasma boltgun. They are above average in close combat. Alternatively, I can see the much maligned Assault troops with their jump pack movement benefitting greatly in Gladiator.

Imperial Guard: The guard can field a glut of troops for gladiator. The combination of a basic platoon command and two guard squads (with a decent amount of upgrades) is remarkably effective. Gladiator ignores deployment rules - so it's possible to deploy a platoon command, a normal infantry and a special weapon team in this game. Personally though, I think a squad of Veteran troopers with grenade launchers (the 24" move and fire ability is brilliant in Gladiator) combined with some upgrades and a supporting squad of ratlings would be my recommendation.

Tyranids: The problem with tyranids is that they are the kings of specialised troop types. Clearly, no player in his right mind would allow a cluster of genestealers or hormagaunts anywhere near him. The Carnifex is a fun addition - but attracts so much heat it dies quickly under the combined attacks of all it's opponents. To top things off the cheaper Tyranid units are hamstrung by the 'Synapse' rule - which effectively leaves you with walking warriors (very vulnerable) or something a little different. I'd go with a squadron of 12 Gargoyles, they combine a powerful S4 gun with a 12" move - plus they are pretty handy in close combat too. As they don't have any high strength weaponry, they'll struggle against monstrous creatures or high toughness opponents - but if held back they would make a lot of trouble for the leftovers.

Chaos Marines: My latest purchase reflects my growing admiration for these warriors. After much thought I went and bought myself some DeathGuard. The combination of T5, FNP and Power Armour overcomes their shortcomings in range (12" if moving) and lack of heavy weaponry (although I will buy them a flamer and a meltagun!). 6 Deathguard could prove a formidable force in closecombat and in this close in arena. The only problem with them is that maybe they are too hard. Their appearance may require the addition of plasma weaponry!

Eldar: While the jetbike option above is tempting, I'd have to go with the massed firepower and devious movement of 5 Warp Spiders and an Exarch with twin deathspinners at 149pts. These guys would make the Tau stealth suits look tardy, while still combining a power armour save they can move, fire and then move up to 12" - nice!

And that's my suggestions for Gladiator. If you've got an hour to spare and a few takers - why not give it a go - the tactics are familiar and brutal and the gameplay fast and furious.

Friday, 3 July 2009

CHALLENGE: 40k Gladiator

By Suneokun.

Just a quick challenge to keep everyone on their toes ... unfortunately no prizes, but you do get the satisfaction and knowledge that you have come up with the winning option. Just like the BBC I have avowed giving away prizes as the cat got the wrong name...

As you may be aware from the previous post, I'm very pleased with my invention 40k Gladiator. In this game I've deployed Stealth Teams and a Carnifex and had some good fun. What I would like to be is inspired by all the codici I don't know as well...

So the challenge is ... choose 1-2 units totalling 150pts. You can choose any unit/s that you feel would work well in a gladitorial game. Nothing is excluded, but you get more points for 'balanced-fair' forces. Remember that the choices must be able to take on all comers and be able to cope with anything from light tanks (Chimera's, Rhino's etc) to Carnifi and everything below.

Accolades will be awarded on my return from Cornwall in 2 weeks time, with various winners for best organised, most balanced, best fluffed etc.

If you have a photo of the unit or units you propose, please link a post in for additional points...

Remember 40k Gladiator is about 3-8 players deploying 150pts units and each controlling the unit. You need to deal with those other units without attracting too much 'heat' from all the other players. So balance IS the key...

Good luck, and may the force be with you ... always.