Friday, 5 July 2013

How I play my Russian Tank in Flames of War

Check out How it Works

When you need to absolutely positively kill every last motherfucker in the foxhole, accept no substitute.

How the Russians play - quantity has its own quality.

Russian Infantry has a lot of advantages, and Russian infantry is very reminscent of the Guard blob in 40k.  They can take loads of damage, lose loads of guys and still stay in there thanks to the Commissar.  They are also able to attach heavy machine gun elements.  This gives them some of the best anti-infantry firepower in the game.  The downside is that they are general 'trained' at best making them weaker in combat and easier to shoot (remember to hit is dictated by the shootee's competence, not the shooters), they can't carry much in the way of anti-tank (flour bombs and close combat generally, never stopped them!)

So the basic infantry is good, but where's the real strengths?

Heavy Mortars: The russians have some of the best mortars in the game.  They combine the ability of accuracy (reroll to hit on the first roll), with the firepower (3+) that other mortars lack (normally 5+ or even 6).  This means that they are the 'go to' unit for clearing enemy infantry out of cover.

Infantry Antitank: It doesn't do the biggest amount of damage, but for a flexible infantry gun unit you cannot get much better than the 57mm antitank gun.  Its got enough penetration to put holes in a Tiger (maybe), but it'll certainly see off all standard tanks below that.  They are equally good at killing machine gun nests and the like.  The bullet shield automatically gives them bullet proof cover against anything in front, so walking up to less than 16" ain't no thing.  Thanks to 'roll up the guns and volley fire), they move up like a light guns team and then let rip with 3 shots each, with a reroll to hit at less than 16".  Good bye.

Assault Gun: The difference between an Assault gun, a tank killer and an vehicle artillery is no different to a russians, they all got SU on their name.  But the best value for money in my opinion is the SU-122.  It's got next to no armour and the gun doesn't penetrate armour, but if you want to massacre infantry, clear bunkers/buildings and dominate, then these slow vehicles are awesome.  The 122 offers a reroll to hit a less than 16", 2 shots with a breakthrough gun with 2+ to kill.  This means the weapon denies the enemy a saving throw of 3+ (breakthrough) and then give a 2+ to kill if they are in bulletproof cover.  Nice.  When you need to absolutely positively kill every last motherfucker in the foxhole, accept no substitute.

Tank Killer: The SU-100 or SU-85M are a toss up in value, price and effectiveness.  Both have the same frontal armour which is the same as a tiger tank.  From there its a question of adversary.  The SU-100 is a single shot high penetration weapon (anti-tank 16!), but suffers from a combination of hens and chicks and ROF 1 weapon meaning a +3 (+1 for H&C, +1 ROF1, +1 over 16" range) which means this tank is near useless on the move.  Stationary, and with a 40" range, this is a great tank killer.  The 2+ firepower help pop tanks nicely.  The SU-85M brings the strength of the T-34 85mm gun with a tiger armour.  This tank doesn't suffer as much on the move, but also can't handle the worst types of opponents.

"...sweeping advances and flanking maneuvers are an 'on the table' reality, instead of being a series of crow barred rules which result in unintended surprises or failure on the capricity of dice. "

Tanks: The best tank in my opinion is the humble T-34.  The T-35-85mm is a fantastic tank, but in return for much better penetration you lose both the wide tracks AND the 'fast tank' ability of this vehicle.  Wide tracks gives the tank the ability to re-roll bogging down tests for cover cross, and you will cross a lot of cover.  Fast tank gives this tank the ability to move 32" at the double.  They normally move and fire at 12" per turn.  This gives the tank the ability to swarm parts of the board and opponents that otherwise would easily pick off this underpowered tank at range.  Once they've surrounded the opponent, shots into the side and rear armour will quickly subdue them.  You sacrifice one point in armour (6 to 7) for immense speed and the assurance that you will probably get there.  Hands down a game changer.

Example Game

 In the following game I use all the elements above against a crack German tank unit comprising 4 panthers in two groups of two, 3 late Panzer 4's, a Jadg-panther and several infantry antitank option.

The two panthers on the right were charged by the SU-122's, they promptly get popped (but as they can't hurt anything this was my plan).  The SU-85M's then drop in behind their carcasses and start exchanging fire with the panthers.  Its attritional and not very effective, but they hold this unit in position.  The 57mm antitank rolls up the middle and massacres the Panzer 4's facing them.  The T-34's are my strike unit, as 11 tanks (2x5unit plus commander) rush 32" into the face of the two panther's on the left flank.  The panthers get double shots each, but can only target one tank each as they are securely boxed in.  The surviving T-34 fire into the rear and side (AV 5 instead of 10) easily massacring the outnumbered tanks.  It's then rinse and repeat against the jadgpanther.


The beauty with these tactics of sacrifice and rush with overpowering numbers, is that this is exactly how the Russians approached the problem of technically superior German armour in WWII.  The examples in Kursk of T-34s swarming and ramming Tiger tanks is testament enough.

Playing armour in this way just makes you realise how 'cramped' the 40k table is for armour.  In 40k you can hide one tank behind a hill, in flames you can hide 11!  This movement produced by the scale means that sweeping advances and flanking manuerves are an 'on the table' reality, instead of being a series of crow barred rules which result in unintended surprises or failure on the capricity of dice.

And I thinks that's the core of the difference, good tactics in Flames work.  They can be undone by bad luck or poor dice, but you are not dependent on that 'must have' reserves roll for flanking (there are nearly always reserves in Flames, but it's clever, intelligent and mission relevant - another post methinks), or the chance they your opponent will simply overturn your tactical superiority with a 'HEROBOMB' or even imported herobomb.

So if you thought WW2 was boring (how could you), and that the lack of space monkeys with pew pew lasers meant it would be simple - think again, Flames is where tactics beats gimmicks.

Wednesday, 3 July 2013

M42 - something really interesting is occuring

Sandwyrm and Eriochrome have 

been doing something really interesting.

For those of you who work somewhere near technology, open source should be familiar.  Crowd surfing is also a common thread.  This is the idea that rather than ferreting away creations behind closed doors and with limited playtesters, you create your product in full view.

When this first started, I was intrigued and even offered myself up to help (I couldn't help, but I tried).  The idea is to create a new set of rules which are based around original material, formented from the experience of Flames of War, 40k, Hordes, etc etc and trying to distil down a game that brings back the balance and dynamic to 40k.

The only thing you need is a series of 'proxy' models, luckily a company called games workshop sells those.

I'm AM SO IMPRESSED with what these guys have done.  These guys were always stat hounds in playing 40k, and the thought processes into the game mechanics are stupendous.  Even more impressive as they are right up there, in the open.

It's like watching the growing portfolio of the worlds greatest game designer.

IF it was just the mechanics it would be enough, but these guys have really grabbed the bull by the horns and got to grips with producing some very impressive narrative.  In this their sensitivity is spot on, as it is the fluff that sells the concepts and 'sells' this version.

The level of detail is impressive.

It's like 40k and Flames had a lovechild and adopted it to hordes and Infinity.  It's very very clever stuff indeed.

So head over to "The M42 Project" and bask in the glow of their collective creativity and awesomeness...

Tuesday, 2 July 2013

Are Allies in 40k a good thing?

I haven't played a game in a while.  In fact I've only played a single 6th Edition game, something keeps putting me off... I've got the models, the dice, the latest codeci, I should be all over it, shouldn't I?

It's Allies.  I can't get my head around it, it just feels like cheating.  Now don't get me wrong, I'm a player who brought a superheavy tank full of Tau Broadsides to an APOC game and murdered everything... I'm happy to WAAC with the best of them.  But allies intimidates me.

It's so many options, so many flavours.  I can see the logic behind it.  After all, if everyone needs every codex and you can cherry pick cool units from other places.

Tau getting smacked - grab a Wolfpack of Terminators.

The problem is that (in line with my opinion on the meta of the 40k codex anyhow), complete freedom does not lead to a world of win... in fact it leads to predictable power play and only a handful of 'best builds'.

Necessity is the mother of invention, not complete freedom.

"Its like bringing a handgun to a game of Rock-Paper-Scissors."

I find myself totally unspired to even start to begin to learn the new 'allies-meta'.  I'm imagining a whole trope of 'auto-take' and must have unit combos that grace the least fluffy of WAAC armies.  Necron add in's combined with Wolfpack gribblies and the occassional Ork Looter air defence.  In short, I find the freedom depressing.

I've always played armies with mixed records.  I own over 5000pts of Imperial Guard and don't own a single hydra, manticore or Vendetta/Valkyrie.  I work hard to make Rough Riders and Mortar teams really work.  I own Tyranids ... but the least said about that the better.

It strikes me that handy everyone access to those 'autowin' units that every codex has opened a pandora's box where any tactical acumen is sacrificed to the 'cool stuff' of the inspired codex.

40k has always fielded deathstar units, Mephistons etc aren't unusual.  They are useful as the Doom, Mephiston or an Eldar deathball forces the tactics away from the table and into a new paradigm.  Its like bringing a handgun to a game of Rock-Paper-Scissors.  Marneus is pulling down his trousers again, ready to shaft or shit on his own tactical codex.

So I'm uninspired.  Maybe I'm old and over the hill, but if I want to play 'titan-battles' I'd rather get into Hordes... 40k should have some tactics to it... shouldn't it?

Monday, 1 July 2013

Three things in Flames of War that GW should learn from... but could never do.

 " watching Marneus Calgar dump a turd on the Codex Astartes."

 World War 2, that's not really interesting ... is it?  Well, yes it is.  Its a conflict where technology advanced of a level we only now see in silicon valley.  Put simply, the tactics, technologies and capabilities of war were refined, devised and created in this fulcrum of change.

So why the defence ... well compared to 15+ variant armies of space bugs, little blue men, alien elves, corrupted monstrosities and EPIC HEROES, world war two seems a little drab.

That is until you play a game like Flames of War.  The devil is always in the detail, but flames do some things very very very cleverly.

The One to Watch

Well yes it is, despite GW being inhabited by a soulless horde of nefarious profiteers, laughing manically while ensuring that we all switch from autowin unit A to autowin unit Z, there are a few gamers still in there.  GW had overwatch in second edition, during the hey day of Space Hulk and Advanced Space Crusade... but it took a little Kiwi firm to make them think how to use it properly.

The Snap Fire or Overwatch rules which now pepper the oncoming horde with 6's to hit is a core skill in Flames of War.  As is the ability (say Tau) to combine fire and fire on charging units that are attacking troops near you.  It makes charging Heavy Machine guns completely pointless.

Unlike 40k you fire your weapons at full rates of fire and normal to hit ratings ... which makes things very deadly.  Also you only need five hits to deter a charge and send them skulking back.

Close Combat is VERY effective in FoW, but getting into combat is really risky.  Solution - suppression.  Putting 5 hits on an enemy unit means their RoF drops to (normally) 1 shot.  This turns suicide into easy peasy, and forces you to play suppression and combined arms ... its like tactics stupid.

Option One: I hit you!

The first thing that Flames does better than 40k is that the 'to hit' roll is based on the shootee's competence, not the shooters.  This is based on the assumption that despite an individuals ability, it is the ability to use cover, situational awareness and competence that dictates whether you are shot.  In flames shooting recruits or conscripts is easy, shooting veterans is an almighty pain in the arse. 

Despite there only being three variants - crap, average and stellar (actually conscript, trained and veteran) the ability feeds across all sections.  This means that a veteran unit is as hard to shoot out of cover (and even impossible to hit, unlike 40k a 6 doesn't ALWAYS HIT) with a conscript unit as a veteran unit.  This enduring durability gives you confidence in the unit, but also means you need a different set of tactics than the 'stone, scissors, paper' of 40k unit statistics.

Elite units are expensive and cannot afford losses, this actually limits their tactical freedom while increasing their capabilities, oooo balance - who'd have thought.

Option Two: No heroes.

Action Heroes are great, Action movies are awesome.  Action movies are also the biggest pile of shite going.  Rewatch 'Commando', 'Predator' or Rambo movies with a tactical head on and realise that the 'hero' is actually going to die within half a minute in the real world.  The sort of monsters and heroes available in 40k is like watching Marneus Calgar dump a turd on the Codex Astartes.  Super units, super tanks, super monsters, spaceships and wound sinks.  How often do real dependable tactics get bent over and rogered by the 'half painted Mephiston in a  hat' card.  Nob biker hordes, Eldar Deathstar units etc etc.  They all gather tricks and gizmo's into a single Avengers unit and then stomp all over the enemy.

Tactically its a bit shit.  It's a one trick pony of autowin.  It doesn't require any sopisticated tactics, it dictates the battlefield and the response of your opponent.  It automatically puts them on the back foot.  It's a really cruddy way to win and a shitty way to lose.  I have exploited it tenaciously in the past.  Most WAAC players would, and even those would admit its cheese.  But when the whole gaming world doesn't take 2/3 of all codex entries - lay on the gorgonzola!

Flames snuffs that out.  The closest thing to a super unit is the Tiger tank - and that's because it really really was.  Suddenly, real tactics play a much bigger part and they are far more sophisticated.  Try taking two GW matching armies - without OP units and then see the 40k tactics blossom.

If you are looking for a heroes game, get good at infinity or Warmachine/Hordes/Malifaux.  These games better reflect to 'individual skirmish' aspect of the original Rogue Trader (infinity), or pumped up superpowers on a WAAC clash of micromanagement (t'others). 

Option Three: Army lists with purpose.

Put simply, the codex is a broken format.  There will always be good and bad units in any codex.  WW2 has plenty of examples of broken units, and often you are looking at an outdated piece of technology.  However, what they do is force particular 'formats' of army list on you.  This means you can choose an armoured company, or a recon unit, or a infantry company, etc etc.  Choosing one sacrifices another option.  Some are over powered is some fashions (the russians can field a penal legion full of flamethrowers, it actually existed...), but the more specialised, the more vulnerable you are.

You rarely get first choice in any structure.  And importantly, you sometimes are forced to field sub-par units as the 'best' option isn't available.  You have to make sacrifices.

This means that unit spam, cloning and redundancy are all nice to haves but actually you have to make 'real' sacrifices (not just leave behind some commander toy that may have been useful, maybe).

The other advantage is that an infantry company automatically defends against a tank company (because the opposite is absurd)... which brings me to some final few thoughts.


There are some other incidental problems with 40k.  For example:
  1. Why are dug in troops so easy to kill?  In Flames, dug in troops are harder to kill than tanks - which is kinda the point?  You can charge them, or flamethrower them, use antitank weapons or assault them with tanks - but regardless of the infantry type - rifles and machineguns should be of marginal effectiveness (dirt equally fucks up laser, bolts, pulses or spines, its amazing, direct fire weaponry is completely shit at going around corners).
  2. Why are tanks often slower than troops?  This makes no sense at all.  Even the best vehicles are a 'little bit' faster than running troops, unless they are driving at 30mph (turbo boost) and then they can't do anything else ... hang on a minute?
  3. Why is there no downside to running?  Moving at the double has a serious downside in Flames.  If you are running about enemy units can roll DOUBLE their dice at you.  This neatly demonstrates how FUCKING STUPID it is to run into the line of sight of the enemy.  Moving at the double is something you only do in Flames if you REALLY need to be there, or can end the move behind something really solid.  Genestealers running at me with abandon, really hard to shoot - not.
So that's my round up, to each their own and there are lots of positives in 40k.  But some of the issues above continue to irritate me and positively disbalance the game, to the advantage of the share price and the WAAC player with deep pockets.

Friday, 14 June 2013

When are GW gonna get a grip? More thoughts on Tau.

Great comment on the last post pointed out that GW had dropped the ball again.  Only Broadsides can take Missile Drones.  Which means a highly versatile mobile firing platform is tied into a unit that doesn't really want to move.  Way to go GW, lets turn a win into a fail ... again!

This changes the dynamic quite a lot and balances the book better, as it quickly reduces the overpowering effectiveness of the "Commander+Drone Controller+Missile Drones" Blitzkrieg.  No one in 40k should have that kind of spammed firepower at their fingertips, unless they are Space Marines, or Space Wolves, or Imperial Guard.  Anyone non-human anyhow...

(Anyone from Nottingham may wanna skip the next paragraph, it's meant in jest, kinda.)

So is GW racist?  Well, dah?  Course they are, they're based in Nottinghamshire, (originally mistyped Nottinghamshite, oooo freudian) what do you expect?  I grew up not 30 miles from HQ and I can categorically state that while the 'gamers' were the most thought provoking of all my classmates, I also lived in a region that won 'whitest' in the UK.  Let's just say that if Morgan Freeman really had accompanied Kevin Costner to Nottingham Forest - he'd have been 'fuck this racist shit' in about four days.  That's not to say that Nottingham does not have a black and asian culture, it certainly does.  It also has one of the highest gun crimes rates in the UK, a big problem with gangs and drugs.

Anyhooo, my own childhood trauma aside... how does this effect the Tau list.  What would work?

Crisis Suits, ok they can't take Missile Drones, but marker drones are only 1 pt more expensive than pathfinders.  For one point they are toughness 4, gain a 4+ save over 5+ and most important are jetpack troops - allowing them to move-fire-move thanks to their relentless jetpacks.  They are BS2, but the addition of a drone controller makes them BS3, a commander with said controller makes them BS5.

So the real question is how many markerlights are effective.  This is a balancing act between several factors:
  • Enough Markerlight hits to refuse cover save and give BS5 to an engaging unit (4)
  • Having enough units to spread enough hits to 'spread the pain' around if needed.
  • Making the unit big enough to impact severely (remember that each unit that shoots at the target will require 3-4 markerlights to maximise impact)
  • Making the unit small enough that it can use cover effectively and minimise retaliation.
So lets see, the strongest contenders (ignoring Forgeworld loveliness) for 'markerlight' has to be the SkyRay, followed closely by the markerdrone (especially with a drone commander).  The last contender has to be pathfinders. 

4 drones at BS5 will score 3-4 hits, 8 drones score 6-7 hits.  This thrashes pathfinders raw, as two to three hits of each 55 point team is dire, PS: Using markerlights to 'breed' markerlights also seems shortsighted.  Yes, handing your team a 2+ to hit is nice, but it cost 2 markerlights.

There is another way...

Commander Shadowsun + Pathfinders

Commander Shadowsun and 10 pathfinders, including a command-link drone and an MV-52 drone costs 285pts.  Here's the advantages.   The MV52 'confers' a 3++ invulnerable save.  It doesn't have this, it confers it.  Let's share it around.  Shadowsun also just made her unit Stealth and Shrouded, oh AND night vision.  Your pathfinders now have a 2+ cover save and 3++ invulnerable save.  Hmmm, you still need a couple of markerlight bonuses to get 2+ to hit for your targets, but your command link drone also give you a reroll on 1's. 

Upside: That's pretty damn hardcore.  That's like Thunder termie saving throws on a markerlight until almost guaranteed to score 9-10 markerlight hits a turn.

Downside: Static and very squishy on the charge.  As upgrades go, she's pretty expensive and it ties her down to a low toughness unit.  Shadowsun will keep vehicles at bay though.  Although charging hordes aren't worried.  It's also expensive, just like the Stealth team below, it offers marginal advantage over just spamming pathfinder teams (285 buys nearly 26 pathfinders) and its not like there's loads of competition in the fast attack slot.

Stealth Team Rethinking...

Ok, here's my thinking.  A Group of Crisis Suits are hard to hide.  A Group of Stealth dudes, less so.  Combine the following:

Commander, 2 x Plasma Rifles, drone controller, ATS, 2 marker drones: 156pts
Stealth Team x 3, Shas'Vre with Markerlight and Target Lock, 3xATS, fusion blaster, 2 Marker Drones: 143pts

Total: 299pts

Now hear me out.  The advantage of this is as follows.  The unit is majority T4, it has 7 'disposable wounds'.  It makes 4 BS5 Markerlight shots a turn.  It's small, easily concealed and gets a 2+ cover save easily.  It has enough antipersonnel firepower, anti MEQ and anti tank firepower to make any unit wary of approaching it, and it can still be tactically useful while 'holding' an area.  Add in to this that the whole unit has ATS, and that means that the Shas'Vre can drop a markerlight precision shot on a specific model on a 5+.  Follow that with a Seeker Missile (no cover save, S8 and AP3) That's something worth talking about.  The rest of the team have enough firepower and precision shot ability (6's on 8 S5, AP5 shots, 5+ on the commanders 4 shots) to make terminators blush.

Is it better than a crisis team, or three large 9 man Pathfinder teams?  Sadly no.  But it's the most use I can make out of what GW have done to the Stealth team.  They would be a pain in the arse, they would be a super mobile toolkit of doom, they would be arguably less effective than a huge hulking elite robot.

Fecking GW.

Kroot Sniper Horde.

7pt each 24" range sniper rifles.  What's not to love.  They have some stealth ability, are slightly less accurate than ratlings, but 2 x 20 infiltrating snipers for 280 is awfully tempting.  Yes, they are prone to dying, but they will also throw a lot of firepower out before they do.  As an ambush unit, this is their best use, lulling the enemy into thinking they are 'just a deployment screen' and then unloading 40 sniper shots at point blank.  Add in enough markerlights against aggressive opponents (and try to save 4 for their charge and boost your snapshots to BS5) and watch the enemy drop.  40 shots should produce 5.55 rending hits with just 2 markerlights.  Remember to deny them cover with an extra two.  That's potent stuff.  That's a whole unit of space marines dead, or nearly 4 terminators.  Hmmmm.

Just watch out for Landraiders...

Tanks and Heavy weaponry

Speaking of which ... I can't see anything in the codex that beats the good'ole Hammerhead in tank destruction.  When you really positively have to kill a landraider, that's your only option (beyond suicide suits with fusion missing risk).  Even Broadsides with the Puretide engram commander only gets a reroll to penetrate, and that's expensive and also pretty shit.  If you want a killer, choose Longstrike - the combination of BS5, tank hunter, black sun filter and defensive fire automatically means he actually only costs 34pts for BS5, reroll 1's against Imperial Guard and reroll failed and non-penetrating hits on tanks - that's like a no brainer.  The downside is that Sensor Spines, Disruption Pod etc are essential - as this guy will attract Loads of heat.

Blocking with two sets of SkyRay's could do the job though.  4 markerlights, 12 seeker missile (for those precise Stealth team shots) Plus 2 Skyrays can block a charge, give cover to the real target and give you the option of 12 twin-linked Smart Missiles flying out every turn, as you retreat in the face of the charging enemy. 

New Thoughts, New List - 1502 pts
  • Commander, 2 x Plasma Rifles, drone controller, ATS, 2 marker drones: 156pts
  • Commander, 2 Missile Pod's, drone controller, ATS, 2 marker Drones: 156pts
  • Stealth Team x 3, Shas'Vre with Markerlight and Target Lock, 3xATS, fusion blaster, 2 Marker Drones: 143pts
  • Crisis Suit Team x 3, 6 Missile Pods, ATS, 6 marker Drones: 237pts
  • Riptide - 180pts
  • Fire Warriors x 9, Shas'Ui: 91 pts
  • Devilfish, disruption pod, drones and sensor spines: 100pts
  • Fire Warriors x 9, Shas'Ui: 91pts
  • Kroot Sniper Unit, Shaper and 20 kroot, sniper bolts: 155pts
  • Hammerhead, Longstrike, Disruption Pod, Sensor Spines, TL Smart Missile System - 190pts
  • SkyRay, Sensor Spines, TL Smart Missile System - 120pts
  • SkyRay, Sensor Spines, TL Smart Missile System - 120pts
Tactics:  consider this an army made of mobile sniper units.

The Kroot hold a flank, preferably in a bit of woodland for some extra cover.  The Shaper hopefully keeps them together long enough to launch a sniper ambush on them.  The on-foot firewarriors come on late for home defence, or take up a strong position.  The Sky-Ray's escort the Hammerhead to LoS on targets of opportunity and run interference.  Marker drones in both units attack targets of opportunity, with the riptide and kroot focusing fire.

Once vehicles are downed, it's on to the troops, which I believe this list will thrive at killing.

The danger is that the enemy get the drop on Longstrike... but then it's just a game of relocate for the win.  The inclusion of Shadowsun or the Stealth team really hold the same impact.  One has the ability to splatter a unit with so many markerlight it'll be taking every shot at its vulnerable bits.  The other has the ability to be a swiss army knife of killing at medium range, complement the markerlight tally and get away from the bad guys.

First rule of shooting is target priority.  If you have to drop a target you want the markerlight hits to make it hurt with everything you've got.  10 markerlight hits on a charging unit can give 2+ to hit for 3 units and still save 4 lights to give them a 2+ on the unit when it charges.

On that analogy, the static, high stealth unit is stronger - offering a big juicy, hard to kill unit which will kill a lot of the enemy.

The mobile list above offers 14 markerlights, the static version offers 22 per turn. 

It's gunline versus mobile again.  Does the static variant sacrifice too much firepower to enable markerlights?

Thursday, 13 June 2013

Thoughts on a Tau list

Commanders and Crisis Suits are the start and end of the Tau list.  With the nerf to Broadsides, now only toting S8 weaponry, there's some real question marks over their 'requirement' for an army list.  This, combined with the general meta moving away from tanks and I'm seeing the dominance of crisis suits coming through.

Here's my first thoughts on a Crisis Suit strong list:

1503 list
  • Commander, 2 x Missile Pod, Drone Controller,Advanced Targetting System, 2 Missile Drones - 156
  • Commander 2 x Plasma Rifles, Drone Controller, Advanced Targeting System, 2 Marker Drones - 156
  • XV8 x 3, 2 x Missile Pod, Flamers and 2 x Missile Drones each - 243
  • XV8 x 3, 2 x Plasma Rifles, Flamers and 2 x Marker Drones each - 243
  • Fire Warriors [9] x 4, with Shas'Ui and Bonding Knives - 400
  • 2 x Devilfish, sensor spines - 170
  • Hammerhead, submunitions, Smart Missile System and Sensor Spines - 135

The tactics are quite straightforward.  The 2 firewarrior groups form a gun line in supportive proximity.  One group of Crisis Suits light up units with markerlights for the fire warriors and hammerheads to pummel.  The other crisis suit unit pounds targets with missiles.

The Missile Team throws out 12 missiles at BS3 and 12 missiles at BS5
The Marker/Plasma team throw out 8 markerlights at BS5 plus 12 Plasma shots at BS3/5 at things that get too close.  The Commanders both precision shot on a 5 or 6.  Allowing you to pick off plasma/missile launchers and the like.

The plasma rifles are there just in case anything gets too close.

Assuming 2 markerlight hits on a longfang unit, they would be saving against 17 (rounded up) wounds with hopefully no target to return fire on.

Tuesday, 11 June 2013

Lament to the Stealth Team

Loving the new codex ... but...

What's with GW's continuing insistence of making perfectly viable units redundant?  The Tau codex now mirrors my Nid, CSM and Imperial Guard Codex.  With a detritus of murdered models surrounding a last stand of 'must-have' units.

Arguably, only Imperial Guard (and Smurfs, of course) have a multifaceted approach nailed down.

It boggles my mind thatGW can be so bad (so good?) at not balancing their codici.  When I compare my flames lists, it's laughable.  In the russian armada, I have different tools for different goals.  Infantry balance tanks, balance artillery, balance anti-tank, balance aircraft.  You can strive for an specialist list, but advantages are automatically curtailed by your lack of tanks (for a scouting unit) etc etc.

The problem I find is this.  Why include Kroot or Stealth Teams in the codex at all?

Stealth Teams

30 points for a stealth dude is an ok price.  Stealth and shrouded combined with jetpacks give you a fantastic (almosted guaranteed) 2+ cover save unit.  Add in the increase in firepower with 5 stealth dudes firing off a wicked 20 S5 shots, plus the fusion blaster and WOOP, infilitrating motherfucking scouting motherfuckers who can gun run the enemy.  Nice.

Except, Crisis suits are 22pts.  WTF?  Crisis Suit with a burst Cannon, 32 points.  You lose the great 4+ cover save, but you gain a wound, toughness 4 and a weapons platform that CAN ACTUALLY ENGAGE FROM RANGE!

Bong - death knell to the Stealth Suit.

Most importantly of all, ANY crisis suit (shas'ui or shas'vre) can take 2 drones each.  3 Crisis suits with 6 jumping out and marking marker drones - nice.  6 missile drones nice, 6 gundrones ... ummm why?   But Stealth teams get a maximum of 2 gundrones and only if you upgrade a Shas'Ui.  Shit.

And this despite having a backstory including 'markerdrones' pwning Ork horde.  Argggghhhh!  Fucking GW.

Anyone with half a brain can see that Stealth teams are high risk, as such they should be cheaper not more expensive than Crisis teams.  If Space MArines at 3+, T4 are 15-18pts.  Shouldn't T3 stealth teams be less.  Even taking into consideration the gun at Assault 4 and the Stealth - they can be caught by any number of beasts, cavalry or bikes and they squish pretty quick in close combat and they have to engage at 18-24"... poor bastards.

20pts tops.  Easily.  Add in gundrones (2 each motherfucker) and you've got a viable, useful and high risk unit.  You are still sacrificing a Elites slot for them, but at 100pts for 5, its worth a gamble.

Otherwise, why bother.


Boohohohoho.  I mean what did the kroot ever do to GW?  They are a great nation with a fantastic backstory and they get a big chunk of the 'fluff' part of the book.  But they've been nerfed to S3, instead of S4.  Their weapons are now AP5 in close combat, but killing guard was easy anyhow.  They get a mighty 6+ saving throw.  Feck.  They can't take any upgrades worth mentioning.  And they are 3 points cheaper than a Tau.  Even with Kroot Hounds, and don't get me started I own 12.  They are 110 points for a 20 body unit.  Which is ok.  The guns are good... but they are now even squishier.  It's like GW decided that the ONLY job kroot can do is as a disposable deployment inhibitor.

I am tempted to take 20 kroot and arm them with sniper rifles and then see how things go.  4 markerlight hits would make 20 kroot score 2.7 rending shots and 5.6 wounds.  That would almost be worth it...

The good news is that they are troops and that they do get stealth in woods.  But compared to 9 point each firewarrior, with one of the best rifle weapons in the game? 

Why bother.

Friday, 5 April 2013

Wolfpack Tactica in World of Tanks

Short video showing a crakcing game where our little platoon (3/15 players) chalked up 11/15 kills.  It also gives some great example of platooning with medium and wolfpack tactics, using our greater speed and different skills and tank capabilities to overcome opponents.

I hope you enjoy it.

Friday, 22 March 2013

Patton - killing multiple heavy tanks and holding a flank.

Just a quick post to highlight a cracking game taking a tank with no armour but a cracking gun up against opponents with all the armour and all the guns ...  and how to win!

Monday, 11 February 2013

Pershing Tactics II - Agressive tactics and an awesome dogfight with an E75 (Supertiger)

Check out wikipedia
 My second Pershing posting.  When you aren't spotting and sniping, mediums like the pershing have an even more important role - exploitation!  The ability to rush a side of the board and get the drop on a weakened flank is important.

In WoT you are not playing against an all knowing general or computer, but against a disparate group of Europeans spread across 20 odd countries and age ranges.  As such, ability, coordination, tactical awareness and stupidity will vary hugely.

The medium, although vulnerable, is perfectly place to exploit these gaps with it better speed it can make the breakthrough required.

It doesn't always work though, but a tier 7 tiger and a tier 8 medium have to work VERY hard to beat a tier 9 E-75 prototype next gen German post war tank.

VERY HARD!  Enjoy!

Wednesday, 6 February 2013

World of Tanks Tactica

Just a short World of Tanks Tactica on playing the Pershing.  This tank is very much an experienced players tank, tactical awareness, reactions and planning are key.  It's a great tank for exploiting opportunities, but requires careful play style.

Hope you enjoy!

Thursday, 31 January 2013

The parasitic growth of underhand sales techniques

You're smiling now ... but wait til the 'stealth bill' arrives!

Grrr ... slightly off topic, but this one angered me.  I bought a product called PC Cleaner Pro last year.  My PC was slow and needed cleaning out.  £25 for a PC cleaner to do the job didn't seem that bad.  It worked brilliantly - I thought, great job.   Anyhow ... I checked my credit card randomly and saw a bill, a year later, for PC cleaner.

Hang on a minute, I already bought that.  Apparently, it a stealth subscription product.  Why?  Is a few updates and some patches worth a whole payment. It's hardly World of Tanks or Warcraft, I haven't noticed any new 'worlds' turn up on the PC cleaner front.  Maybe I don't play it enough, if I really put in the PC Cleaner hours perhaps I could level up and get access to a whole new vista of cleaning products, deep clean areas, eradication missions .... Oh wait ITS A FECKING SPAM CLEANER!

I contacted customer support - only to be met with this: 

Your chat number is 10C-189CF2B3-050D
Chris: I got billed on 26/1/13 for a pc cleaner product I bought last year...
Gio: Hello! Welcome to PC Cleaner live chat! My name is Gio, I will be assisting you today.
Chris: Hi Gio
Gio: Hello! Welcome to PC Cleaner live chat! My name is Gio, I will be assisting you today.
Gio: You can also locate by SafeCart number found in the confirmation email sent to you by safecart following your purchase. The order number will begin with NWPC.
Chris: yes you said that
Gio: I'm sorry for that
Gio: You can check it with our online look-up.
Chris: I have no email from you or safecart. I purchased this product last year.
Chris: Why am I being billed again?
Chris: There is no record of my credit card on safecart.
Gio: Please check your safecart if you are enrolled in automatic renewal.
Chris: Is this an annually renewed product?
Gio: Yes
Chris: Why?
Chris: That isn't made clear in the purchase process.
Gio: To disable auto renew please send your request to and they will assist you immediately.@@SPACER
Chris: I don't like this approach ... its underhand.
Chris: The products good, but it feeling like you're stealing money for a product I've already paid for. Do I get anything else for the renewal price?
Gio: It is stated in the terms and condition
Chris: Yeah, fineprint backside cover - real upstanding. You just got screwed because you didn't read every page of the EULA. Never saw that before. Doesn't improve how this feels, does it?
Chris: I like this product, I'd like to use it on multiple computers... that would make it worthwhile. Can I do that?
Chris: Round robin PC maintenance would make the £25 a year worth it.
Gio: One license key one computer policy.
Chris: You're not winning me over are you? You really don't give a damn about your customers do you?
Chris: This is it, take it or leave it. We'll stealth bill you and take your money... and the customer service amounts to 'told you so, hahaha' - cute
Chris: I would like my invoice sending to cd****@****, as you are legally obliged to provide. Otherwise I cannot claim the payment and I'll have to bounce your payment as fraudulent and without my consent.
Chris: You have given no notification of an invoice, I have had no notification of your renewal from your 'payment handler' and the payment handler has no record of the charge. Please issue me the invoice.
Gio: Please send your request for refund to our billing department they will just notify you an email the status of your request.
Chris: Will they refund me?
Gio: Yes
Gio: Thank you for contacting PC Cleaner PRO Support, have a nice day!
This live chat session is no longer active

Now there's charm for you eh?

Professional Sales Hat Talk

 So what's wrong with this picture?  I like the product, I would have renewed but the company weren't interested in sales.  They had spent so much money invested in product development, but have a mindset where 'product = auto sales'.  By shying away from the price (a common problem and something to be learnt), they opted for underhand payment tactics, ass covering T&C's and poor sales approach.  The 'customer service' (STOP SNIGGERING AT THE BACK) guy had an easy response for me, here it is:

"We're really sorry that the subscription came as a surprise, it is in the terms and conditions, but some of our customers have missed that.  As a conciliatory gesture, would you be happy if we enabled your account to work on another computer?"

Cost to them - none.  Value to me - I get to keep the product I like and feel I'm getting 'special treatment'.  Value to reputation - priceless.

I may have been writing a better review.

Tuesday, 15 January 2013

The Clash of two of my greatest loves....

No, before you ask, the Wife isn't rug-wrestling with Salma Hayek, slight detour to daydream....

Where was I, oh yes - check this out.

And for those who can't be bothered to click on the linkylink.


Monday, 7 January 2013

Boxing up and Packing Away

Conversion with my three and a half year old called Ptol:

Ptol: What you doing Daddy?
Daddy: I'm packing away my tanks.
Ptol: Why?
Daddy: We need to tidy up because we're trying to sell the house and I don't play with them anymore.
Ptol: [pause for thought] I like your tanks Daddy.
Daddy: I know Ptolemy, and when you're bigger we'll get them out and play them together, 'cause you're a little bit too little at the moment.
Ptol: Yeah ... I like playing with your tanks...
Daddy: Uh-huh.
Ptol: When I bigger we can play with your tanks.
Daddy: Uh-huh.  When you get to eight?
Ptol: When I big, I play tanks.
Daddy: Yup.

EBAY - you lose.