Saturday, November 5, 2011

#1 learned after my first 10 games of Warmachine

An all shooty list won't work.  It will put out some serious damage and can cripple and kill a lot of models but it won't win you any games.  Part of the fault is that the game of Warmachine/Hordes is heavily geared towards close combat.  The clearest example I can cite for that statement is that a Warjack/Warbeast can get extra attacks in close combat by using extra focus/fury but cannot do the same with ranged attacks.
There are precious few exceptions to this rule, I can only think of 1 in the Cygnar faction book that can get a single extra attack with an extra point of focus.

This statement of mine doesn't suggest that shooting is worthless.  Hardly so, I've won games with a couple of well placed shots at an exposed warcaster.  I am suggesting is that an all shooty list isn't going to work.  What will work is a well balanced list with a more or less equal amount of shooting and close combat ability.  Let the shooters do what they do best, pick off the weak supporting ground troops and exposed warcasters.  The close combat should be left to the specialized infantry and warjacks who can be given extra focus.

That should work.  If it doesn't then expect me to post my frustrations again.

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

A bump in the road for TEW

Word has got out that TEW may be calling it quits.  That's only half true.  The full truth is that Dave, Chris and I announced to the other members of the Hobby Talk Network on a private forum that we were pulling ourselves off the show.  An incident happened and I will not go into detail.  It was enough that the three of us felt that killing the show was the better option.  We asked that everyone in the network respect our wishes and not repeat this news for a week and a half time just in case the issue between the three of us and Rich could be resolved.  The next day Rich posts to the world that he is quitting the show thereby ending any chance for a resolution.  Later that day we came back to reclaim the abandoned show.

As to the future of TEW; I'm not sure.  The three remaining hosts are severely hurt by the way things went down.  Chris and I are especially crushed because we lost a decade long friendship with Rich.  We do not give up on friendships like that lightly.  With all my heart I wish things were different but the deterioration between us had been going on for years.  More recent incidents have proven to me that the former friendship is now dead and buried.  For the life of me I cannot understand why someone would choose to give up all of his friends so he can win an argument over an indefensible act.

This leaves TEW in an awkward position.  The entire concept of the show is a friendship between 4 gamers.  It's pretty damn hard for us to keep on going after one of our closest friends for a decade has abandoned us.  Can we continue?  Should we continue?

Our ability to put a show together is not the issue.  Any idiot can hit record, convert the file and upload it to the web.  The simple truth is making a podcast is easy, making a good podcast is what's difficult.  The real problem with us is our energy.  This entire experience has sucked the life right out of us.

As for myself;  I enjoy being a podcaster.  Getting in front of a microphone and speaking my mind is a very liberating experience.  I love generating new content, I love the research that goes into an episode, I love the feedback from listeners and most especially I love meeting the listeners.   Being a podcaster has become a part of who I am.  Yes I want to continue.

I have a ton of good ideas that I'm excited about but they won't go anywhere if Dave or Chris don't have the energy to go on.  I understand where they're coming from, it will be good to go back and just be a normal gamer again.

Monday, October 17, 2011

Diet Coke and Mentos never gets old video of the week

video
I present to you my Diet Coke and Mentos video of the week compliments of Break.com.
This never gets old to the juvenile delinquent in me.

Sunday, October 16, 2011

Apple and it's rumored TV set

     As a die hard Apple fan I'm always interested in the next thing from Uncle Steve.  Even though he's gone from us now his legacy will live on for at least a few more years.  Most products have a 2+ year development cycle and Apple's tends to be a bit longer.  Rest assured that we will continue to see Steve Jobs designed Apple products for the next few years.  The rumor I'm interested in is a LCD TV set by Apple.  I found that rumor on the huffington post and theapple.tv.

It makes sense.  The product Apple sells now that's called Apple TV is somewhat unimpressive from what it could be.  It's great for Netflix and youtube but not being able to use Hulu is a deal breaker for me.  When you look at the cost and features the roku is a much better product.  That being said it's still not perfect.  Both missing the ability to be a DVR and record what you watch, tune into broadcast TV, and be fully integrated to the display screen.  That's where I figure Apple could swoop in and do their magic.  Fully integrating the screen into the interface is something Apple can do better than any other company.  I for one, would buy it.
     The lack of Hulu won't be a major sticking point for long.  The rumored Apple buyout of Hulu seems to have been nothing more than rumors but what it did was expose Apple's desire to duplicate the same type of service on iTunes and iCloud.  If the predicted time frame is correct (late 2012-early 2013) the iCloud will be out there with an established customer base and ready to accept a product that was custom designed for it.  The Apple TV and iCloud will be what the iPod was for iTunes.

Thursday, October 13, 2011

To an Elf, people are just like dogs.

     I've been gaming for a very long time.  Long before I rolled a ton of d6's on a table top for a wargame I was rolling d20's on a D&D night to keep my character alive.  Like any good pinball wizard I've played them all.  My first character was a Paladin named Max.  I named him after my new puppy that I was crazy about.  As you can imagine, naming things after that dog became a habit of mine.  His stats were pretty memorable; 18-95 strength (after all nobody ever believed an 18-00), 17 dex, 18 con, 9 intelligence, 12 wisdom and 17 charisma.  They were bullshit stats but I didn't care and neither did the rest of the party.  We needed a tank and I was it.  Although that character is still alive I don't play him anymore.  He's stuck in some dungeon trying to keep his Vampirism under control.
     Since then I've had plenty of more memorable characters.  A few of my favorites were a Hobbit thief named Ross that the party decided to entrust with the loot after every adventure (big mistake), a Human fighter named Vinnie that never used a weapon (he just punched and body slammed his way through 2nd edition AD&D rules), a drunken Dwarf named Ghaston with a life long ambition to found a brewery, an evil Necromancer named Cranius who forged a friendship with a Knight of Solamnia.  One of my absolute favorite was a Swashbuckling Grey Elf named Tom Juan Demarco.
     Tom was an interesting Elf.  He had a very long back story that took 2 DM's to fully form but it largely revolved around being raised in a Human world.  He was forever out of place.  It wasn't until I reached 15th level that the a DM finally understood what I wanted in the character.
     When I first created this character I was faced with the following numbers to use for stats; 16, 18, 12, 16, 10, 14.  We were still pretty generous for stats but not as bad as the noobs we once were.  The first DM looked at those stats and assumed that I would make an Elvish wizard.  Grey Elves make great wizards due to the bonus to their intelligence.  That thought didn't appeal to me, I wanted to run a different kind of Elf.  I had a desire to break the mold of typecasting and make an Elvish fighter who fought like a Human.  So Tom was born with 14 strength, 18 dexterity, 12 constitution, 16 intelligence, 10 wisdom and 16 charisma.  I was making a character to role play with.  The DM was looking for characters to roll play so I made a few changes and Tom swapped his strength and charisma score.  To fight with I gave him a Rapier, a whip and a set of throwing daggers.  Armor?  Tom didn't need any armor.
     He was a very challenging character to take on a dungeon crawl.  He was miserable at monster killing which unfortunately made up the vast majority of my early encounters. I admit that my old Dwarf would have been much better in those adventures.  But what Tom lacked in killyness was flair.  His whip was for snapping in his opponents eyes to blind them or take their weapon away and the rapier was for for the kill.  I developed a signature move that revolved around carving a "T" in my opponents forehead during the heat of battle.  You have no idea how many times I got pounded for doing that.  Small weak Elves should not piss off big angry Orks.
     But I survived.  Only one encounter ended badly as I usually played it safe.  The whip was also for keeping distance from my opponent.  I was role playing a life story of an Elf who knew a lot about mortality.  A Grey Elf in a Human world knows a lot about death.  According to the Player's Handbook Elves become adults around age 125 and live up to 500 years.  Grey Elves live even longer.  What my second DM finally understood is that because Tom lived in a Human world by the time he became a mature young adult he had already seen at least 6 generations of Humans born, grow up, live their lives, get old and die.
     Think of it, how would your perspective on life be if the friends you had today were the great great great grandchildren of friends you used to spend time with.  In time he would know their great great great grandchildren as friends.  How tight of a bond would he have with humans when their entire lives would flash before him?  The answer is very clear to me, to understand one only has to own and love a dog.  Their lives flash before our lives and do we love them any less?
     The picture on the left is my dogs.  Max is on the left and Kaylee is on the right.  Max passed away 2 years ago and Kaylee passed away a four days ago.  Despite knowing them only a fraction of my life I'm stricken with grief over their loss.  From newborns who looked like a hairy sausage to elderly canines with bad gas I loved them with all my heart.  I have a new dog named Jack who looks just like them and he's a brat.  I love him and in 12 years I'm going to mourn his loss too.

Sunday, October 9, 2011

The innovative side of Apple; What we can thank Uncle Steve for.

    Some technical innovations have been out for so long and have been so widely adopted that people forget a time when they weren't standard.  I'm old enough o remember so let me highlight a few things that we can directly credit Steve Jobs and Apple for.  He and Apple may not have been the original inventor and they may not have been the first to bring it to market.  But you will see that he and Apple were the ones to make them a standard in the industry.

#1 Steve Jobs was instrumental into turning computers from this;
into this;

    This was Steve Jobs innovation #1.  Despite the meager start Steve was the leader in taking the computer into the home.  Before the Apple 1 the vast majority of computers were in cooperate and university environments or scratch built from kits by geeky techy types.  Even if you have never used an Apple computer you have Steve Jobs to thank if you're using your PC and do not have an engineering degree in computer science.

#2 Keyboards on all computers
     Apple 1 was the first to come with a keyboard but the Apple 2 was the first to mass market and force the rest of the industry to adopt keyboards as standard on all personal computers.

#3 Computers in Schools
     It's also safe to say that the Apple 2 was probably the first computer you ever used.  Steve invented the entire concept of marketing the computer to schools below the university level.  This idea created an entire generation of computer savy kids.

#4 The Computer Mouse
     IBM invented the mouse but it remained as a curious lab experiment for years before Steve and the Apple Lisa.  The Macintosh made it an industry standard.


#5 The Graphical User Interface
     How many of us know what that phrase even means?  It's so ubiquitous on every computer has it we forget what an innovation it was to click on an icon and not type in lines of computer code to get the computer to do something.

#6 Color monitors
     Before the Steve advanced the Apple 2 this was what almost all personal computer screens looked like;

then they became this;
#7 Web Browsers
     The first web browser was wrote on one of these;
     The web existed before then but to use it you practically had to be a computer expert.  


#8 The complete computer

     The first to market the "all in one" computer was Apple with the Macintosh.  It was the first computer designed to eliminate the birds nest of cables that dominated the vast majority of computers.  

#9 the USB and Firewire ports
   The first USB and firewire ports I ever saw was on a Macintosh.  Before the USB port the back of most computers was a vast array of various ports.  The USB made life simpler with standardization.  

Firewire mad it faster;

#10  Portable Music
     Portable music existed before the iPod but the iPod is what turned this;

Into this;

#11 Paying for Digital Music
     Despite all the populist and libertarian rage the fact remains that downloading music from a file sharing site is still theft.  Someone created that music with the expectation of being paid and just because you can doesn't mean you should download it without payment.  All credit must be given to Steve Jobs for making that a possibility.  Without him and iTunes the music would still be stuck in an 80's industry mindset and fighting (suing) the public. 

#12 Tablet computers

     Forget the iPad, that's the machine that made it successful.  The first real tablet computer was the Apple Newton.  That one didn't take off but it set the early stage for what did.

#13 Smart Phones
     The iPhone is the basic design that all smart phones are based upon today.   Before it phones were for calling people.  Now they do almost everything.  

#14  Apps

     Micro-programs (apps) didn't first appear in the iPhone.  They've been a feature of computers for years.  The iPhone is what brought them to the phone.

#15 Podcasting

     It's a simple fact that Podcasts are named after the iPod.  The 2 are forever linked.  Without iTunes or the iPod the podcast would have remained a wonky internet thing for geeks and nerds.

    The simple fact remains that without the influence of Steve Jobs and Apple the computer industry would probably still be stuck in the 80's.  Almost everyone of these innovations I listed existed before Steve brought them to the public but it was Steve who forced the industry to advance.  It doesn't matter if you like Apple, Steve Jobs or the products he brought into the world or not but if you're reading this Steve has changed your life.

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Noooooooo! Not Uncle Steve.

And so an era in computing comes to an end.  Steve Jobs has passed away.
If you want to know how the company feels about it then download the pic they used to announce his death.

The people who worked with him everyday and knew him best named the filet_hero.png  
That alone should say enough.  
I'm a bit crushed.  I've been a loyal Mac user since 1986 and have never owned a PC.  


Uncle Steve understood computers and their users better than anyone.  The machines he created are more than just a beige box with a keyboard.  They are an extension of a person's personality and creativity.  
He was a true innovator who could take a half understood idea and reform it into pure brilliance.  His passing leaves this world a lot more bland.  
Let's not remember him for the wonderful computers he created.  Let's remember him for what we did with the wonderful computers he created.  

Saturday, October 1, 2011

WTF Geek video of the week

This one ranks pretty high in the WTF department.
Yet I still declare it awesome.

Sunday, September 25, 2011

Cool geek video of the week

This ranks a perfect 10 out of 10 in the awesome video scale.  I could watch this all day long.

Thursday, September 22, 2011

Seriously guys... WTF happened to us?

Short post here but seriously guys.... WTF happened to us?

When did so many of us become such wimps?
How many of us wear more than 1 piece of jewelry?
Who among us likes to go clothes shopping?
Why do some of us get manicures?
How many of you don't know how to change your own damn oil?
How many of you can't drive a nail without bending it?

Stop it!!!!  All of you stop it.  Learn how to do these things and what you don't friggin do.
Become MEN!

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Captain Obvious says "........

    The other day I blogged that the Tyrannofex isn't your best anti-mech option.  In fact, he sucks.  I won't go into detail on why now.  Click the link, read up and learn a bit of wisdom.  But I'd say that 90% of Tyranid players who use him do so in an anti-mech role that is lacking in the codex.  I also blogged last week on a quick and dirty review of your basic anti-mech options.  Today I'm going discuss the most obvious option.
    You actually have multiple good choices that are very effective at taking out mechanized units.  The first and most obvious is the Hive Guard Brood and the Zoanthrope Brood.  They may have some issues with limited range but Tyranids aren't mean to be played as a long range shooty force.  If you're running them in that way then you're doing it wrong.  So my first and best advice is to load up 2 Elite slots with Hive Guard and one Elite slot with Zoanthrope.  
    Done.  You now have effective short and medium range anti-mech that is potent, survivable, and relatively cheap.  When you play Tyranids this should be your default option for anti-mech shooting.  Allow me to explain why;
  • The Hive Guard can lay out more anti-mech firepower on the move for less points than any infantry in the game.  This is quite a statement but how many other infantry units can put out 6 strength 8 shots a turn at BS 4 that can go around corners and deny vehicles a cover save for 150 points?  My only complaint about the model is that it's weighted too nose heavy.  The modeler to the right solved that problem by putting him on an angled base.  I suppose the new Finecast won't be as nose heavy but if you do get a metal model you'd be best making an angled base too.
  • Warp Lance can rip the top off of almost any vehicle in the game easily.  Land Raiders don't like being reduced to AV12 by a weapon strength 10 AP 1 weapon.  Only a Multi-Melta comes close and those don't have the option of launching AP 3 blast templates for 55 points and have a 3+ Invulnerable save.  My only complaint is the fact that it's an ugly spud of a model.  I absolutely hate the legless and armless look of it.  I tend to use the shorter old 1st edition version on the right.  It has legs and arm like a proper nid should.  The conversion on the left is one I found on-line and appears to be a Nid Warrior with a Zoanthropes head.  It's a nice conversion even if the head looks far too large.


Tuesday, September 20, 2011

A Ymgarl themed list

    The first and my absolute favorite themed list based upon the "other elite units" is the Ymgarl Genestealer list. I've had great success with them as they are now the only unit that can strike unopposed and un-counterable from reserve.  To use them properly you do need to build a list around their unique special abilities.  I'll blog about my love affair with them later and why they're so awesome but for now accept the fact that they're good.
   To begin with I need to overcome the fact that if I want to run 3 full sized broods of Ymgarl Genestealers I'll need to get my anti-mech shooting from somewhere because it ain't coming from my Elite slots.  That will ensure that the Ymgarls will have something to assault when they pop from hiding.  Since I need to also fill 1 HQ and 2 troops I'll use those first.  For my HQ choice I'll use a Hive Tyrant with 1 Heavy Venom Cannon and 1 set of Twin-Linked Devourers with Brainleech Worms.  With 1 strength 9 shot and 6 strength 6 shots it's a shooter than can open both light and medium armor.  I need more shooting so I'll go to my best shooters in the troops section, Tyranid Warriors.  I need to maximize my target priority so I'll keep the broods small with 3 models each so I can have as many shooting units as possible.  Each will be armed with a single Venom Cannon and 2 Deathspitters.  Each brood will be packing 1 Strength 6 shot and 6 Strength 5 shots.  Between the Hive Tyrant and the Warriors my weakest shooting is able to damage a Rhino and with side shots can take out a Chimera.
    Is this enough?  I think so.  Remember the idea of this list is to spam the Ymgarl Genestealers.  They are the center piece of this army.  The rest of the list is devoted to making them work.  What I have right now is only 1160 points with 1 Hive Tyrant, 30 Ymgarl Genestealers and 6 Warriors.  I now need to improve the list to make it work.
    The Ymgarls need reliability to their reserve roll.  Experience has taught me that.  I need to use any trick I can find to bring them in as early as possible and in this case that means Hive Commander on the Hive Tyrant.  Now 1 of my warrior broods can outflank and everyone gets a +1 to their reserve rolls.  I also want more shooting to guarantee my Ymgarls have infantry targets when round 2 starts so I double the Warrior Broods.
    Now I'm at 1445 and each round I've got 1 strength 9 shots, 10 strength 6 shots and 24 strength 5 shots, 4 troop broods with 9 wounds each plus 30 Ymgarls to handle the close combat.  It's a lot but it's also missing something.
    No other unit in the codex compliments Genestealers of either kind better than the Swarmlord.  He's a ton of points but he give you a few synergy tricks to your list.  The first and most useful is the +1 to your reserve roll.  It's been FAQ'd to stack with Hive Commander so now the reserves will show up on a 2+.  He also has the special rule Swarm Leader.  That allows him to bestow upon 1 friendly unit within 18 inches Acute Senses, Preferred Enemy or Furious Charge.  If the game starts with Night Fight rules he should bestow the Hive Tyrant with Acute Senses so he can see farther, when the Ymgarls pop out of cover have him give one Furious Charge (especially good when combined with the Ymgarl's Alter Form, Slashing Claws.  That's 30 Strength 6 rending attacks on the charge.)  If the Ymgarl's get stuck in close combat give them Preferred Enemy.  If all else fails throw him into close combat, he's a beast.
    The Ymgarls also need a bit of protection.  They're good but they're still toughness 4 with a 4+ save.  Heavy Bolters will tear them up.  Have the Hive Tyrant and Swarmlord keep casting Paroxysm on every shooty unit they can target.  Lowering them to BS 1 will do you a lot of good.
    Is this enough?  Maybe.  I'm 5 wins 0 losses with this exact list in non-tournament play.  It would probably get ruined in tournaments but in local play it's a ton of fun.

Sunday, September 18, 2011

Tyrannofail

  What's big, costs a ton of points and is full of fail?
  The Tyrannofex.  
   There is simply no other way to put it, this nid sucks.  I'm not saying this after playing some weak metagame theory test I'm saying this after at least a dozen games that ranged from small 500 point battles to Apocalypse sized battles.  Normally I'd field just 1 or 2 in a 1750 battle to deal with vehicles but the most I've ever fielded was 3 in a 6,000 point Apoc battle.  Not once in all of these battles could I finish the game and say he was worth his point investment.  
  In all that time the Tyrannofex reaped a total of 4 vehicles kills and he went down 6 times.  All of those death occurred early on when he was still a new unit.  After my local metagame got used to him he tended to be ignored as "not a threat".  
  While even his biggest cheerleading fans have to admit that he is point expensive they will counter back that in theory he should at least be a creature with potential.  It has the longest range gun in the codex and with a strength of 10 one of the most potent.  With a second shot it's also likely to hit at least once per round and occasionally (25%) twice.  Toughness 6, 6 wounds and a 2+ armor save should also leave it relatively safe from enemies.  With it's various gun options it also has some flexibility to take on multiple roles on the battlefield; anti-mech, anti-infantry and anti-horde.  I'll also hear that he's meant not to destroy vehicles but to shake and stun them.

  So where does the Tryrannofex become the Tyrannofail?
  1. Points-  Even at it's cheapest it's still more expensive than an upgraded Trygon Prime which excels at it's role.  It's also more expensive than an upgraded Tervigon and small Brood of Termagants.
  2. Ballistic Skill 3-  Missing sucks.  At ballistic skill 3 it's missing half it's shots.  Even with 2 shots a round and range enough to hit 95% of the targets you want to hit you're only going to score an average of 6 hits a game with the Rupture Cannon.  If he goes into reserve, the game ends early and the opponent puts his vehicles in cover it may only score 1 or 2 hits a game.  This situation happens more than you think and it happened to me in a tournament.  
  3. It's too easy to kill-  Toughness 6, 6 wounds and a 2+ save is still wounded on a 2+ with no save vrs Powerfists, Thunderhammers, Lascannons, Meltaguns, Dark Eldar and Eldar Lances........
  4. Mech units are relatively safe from shooting-  If you're only getting an average of 6 hits a game and your opponent is able to claim a cover save then you're down to an average of 3 hits a game.  Even if all 3 hits penetrate (and they won't) statistically only 1 will destroy a vehicle.  Congratulations, you just spend 265 points to destroy A 35 point Rhino.
  5. Shaking and Stunning a vehicle isn't enough-  These days mech is so cheap that shaking and stunning isn't an option anymore.  Cheap means redundant so shaking and stunning one means there are more out there that aren't shaken or stunned.  Nor does it mean that the vehicle isn't doing anything; extra armor, power of the machine spirit, squadron rules and psyker powers all keep that vehicle effective on the battlefield.  No, these days dealing with mech means turning them into a smoking wreck on the battlefield.
  If the Tyrannofex is the Tyrannofail you still have a need to deal with mech units.  As I've wrote before, mech units are the Tyranids weakness.  It goes like this; Tyranids = Rock   Infantry = Scissors   Mech = Paper.

  If you had 265 points to spend on something to deal with mech how would you spend it best?  I'll blog on that later.

Friday, September 16, 2011

Beep Beep, here comes the Raveners


They're fast little bastards and in 40K speed kills.  Anything you do to move this brood even faster is worth doing.  Of course there's a bit more to it than simply winding them up and watching them go.  Don't expect to win games simply because you collected, painted and deployed a big brood of Raveners.  You still have to use them correctly.
The first key to getting the most of these little speed daemons is to know their limitations.  They're relatively cheap per wound, roll a ton of dice on a charge that re-roll misses, are fast as hell and can tear up most squads before they can an attack.  Unfortunately toughness 4 with a 5+ save means you're bolter bait.  Therefore you need to expect losses.  That doesn't mean you throw these broods at your opponent and hope for the best while ignoring the worst.  Making the best use of cover will help save them from needless losses but that tends to slow them down, Feel No Pain from a nearby Tervigon casting Catalyst will help out but your speed will probably outrun him when you need him around the most.  They also lack some of the best upgrades like Boneswords and Fleshhooks.

So what does a Ravener have going for it?  The first and most obvious is it's speed.  Move through cover, a 12 inch charge and fleet means you can cover a ton of ground fast and with decent predictability.  That speed has an unspoken secondary effect.  If a Ravener player times his charge just right he won't ever be targeted with rapid fire.  The Ravener has a minimum threat range of 19 inches.  Beasts allows it to Fleet and charge 12 inches in addition to it's standard move.  A Marine squad's threat range when rapid firing is 18 inches.  As long as no cover slows you down you should only suffer 1 round of shooting from long range.
How would I use this type of brood in a Tyranid army?  My biggest worry in early rounds is the Ravener's poor leadership.  If it's not in Synapse I'm going to loose control if this unit to Instinctive Behavior or it will suffer a few bolter shots and run off the board.  It's speed also needs to be addressed for synapse.  Although a Tervigon can provide Synapse it can't provide it fast enough.  The Ravener's charge range is enough to get it out of synapse.  You will need a synapse creature fast enough to keep up or with a long enough synapse range to keep these guys under control.  Tyranid Shrikes can do a decent job.  They can keep up fast by flying 12 inches a round.  They're also just as fragile as the Raveners so you might want something tougher.
A flying Hive Tyrant is another good option but at 230 points it's an expensive beast.  My personal favorite is the Swarmlord.  Pardon my hypocrisy for complaining about the winged Hive Tyrants price when this model is a full 50 points more expensive and isn't any faster.  The Swarmlord can some abilities that no other model in the codex can match.  It has an 18 inch synapse range which is long enough to keep up with the Raveners.  It also has the Swarm Leader rules.  This rule allows the Swarmlord to bestow Acute Senses, Preferred Enemy, or Furious Charge to a unit within 18 inches in the shooting phase.  Obviously I'd pick Furious Charge to boost their strength up to 5.  Since this happens before the charge the Raveners won't be out of range.  Preferred Enemy is nice but the Ravener's have 2 sets of scything talons.  They get to re-roll misses anyway.
How does this work out on the battlefield?  Vrs Marines the Ravener gets to attack first at Initiative 6, rolls 5 attack dice, hits on 3+ with a re-roll, and wounds on 3+.  A medium sized brood of 5 should be able to kill 5 Marines on the Charge.  A combat squad will be wiped out completely and a full sized squad should be weakened enough to be ineffective.  Swap one set of scything talons for rending claws and you should kill an additional 2-3 Marines and pose a serious threat to most vehicles.  In either case a squad of Guardsmen will be wiped out completely.
Is this a guaranteed win?  No.  Will it make an easy win?  No again.  Will it make a win easier if you can learn to use it's speed and mass of attacks to your advantage?  Yes.

Thursday, September 15, 2011

Tyranids and cover

If you're new to playing (or fighting against) Tyranids the first thing you absolutely have to learn is that Nids live and die because of terrain.  Terrain rules are the single biggest contributor to a Tyranid win or a Tyranid loss.  The faster a player can learn to use terrain the better they will play nids (or play against nids).
The first and most beneficial aspect of terrain for Tyranids is cover.  Before you roll your eyes and say, "Gee thanks Captain obvious" here are a few facts.
  • Only 2 models in the codex have an invulnerable save vrs shooting and they're both toughness 4.    
  • Over 40% of the units in the codex won't get a save vrs a bolter.
  • Over 70% won't get a save vrs a heavy bolter.
  • Only 3 models in the codex will get a save vrs a Missile Launcher.
In a typical battle the Tyranid player will have about 3 rounds of movement before he can get into assault against a typical opponent.  In those 3 rounds you'll probably have to suffer 2 rounds of long range bolter shots and 1 round of rapid fire.  A good tournament player might delay the assault to round 4 if he's good but let's look at 3 rounds for argument's sake.  If one squad of Marines with 7 bolters, 1 bolt pistol, 1 plasmagun and 1 missile launcher focus fires on one brood of nids this is the damage they will do in those 3 rounds of shooting.
  • Vrs Termagants and Hormagaunts the Marines will kill an average of 19 models.  If you're running broods of 20 the last Gaunt isn't going to do much in close combat.
  • Vrs Genestealers the Marines will kill an average of 15 Genestealers.  If you're running broods of 12 then .... um.... you're dead.
  • A toughness 6 monstrous creature will suffer an average of 5 wounds.  The 4 wound Carnifex never stood a chance.
Give them a cover save and the situation changes.
  • The Gaunts now only loose between 9 and 10 models.  A brood that started with 20 can now do some good when they get there.
  • The Genestealers now stand a chance to do something.  Their losses of 7 models still leave enough to have an effect.  
  • The Fex now has 1 wound left.  It's not much but if it were a 6 wound Trygon it would still have a lot of fight left in it.
Now comes the bad effects of terrain on nids and it comes in 2 flavors.  The first and easiest to overcome is the slowing effect of cover.  It's difficult terrain and only models with wings, the Move Through Cover rule, or a Monstrous Creature will have a way around this effect.  Fortunately most of the models worth taking have one of these rules.  In fact of the models worth taking, only the Tyranid Warrior doesn't have a way around the slowing effects of cover.  Just keep that in mind if you have to charge through cover, you may not make it.  I've lost 1st place at tournaments because my nids came up 1 inch short on a charge attempt.  Trust me, it sucks.
The second way cover can work against a Tyranid player is our lack of assault grenade effects.  In my opinion this is the single biggest handicap in the codex.  Most Tyranids have a fairly good initiative statline.  Genestealers have a fantastic Initiative statline.  Without any assault grenade like effects that great initiative is reduced to a miserable 1.  

Guardsmen will swing before us, Orks will swing before us, everyone except friggin powerfists will swing before us.  Those 10 Gaunts and 5 Genestealers who survived all that shooting now have to survive close combat before finally getting their attacks and it ain't looking good for the hive.  Fleshhooks and Frag Spines do exist and they will provide the needed assault grenade like effect but none of those are troops or even worth taking.  
Tyranids are stuck pulling tricks to maintain our speed and initiative.  They can be tough to pull off and be point expensive but they're all we've got to work with.  I shall blog about them next week.

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Putting the fluff into scale

Here is a link to a site I've mentioned multiple times on the show that appeals to the SciFi fluff nut in me.
It, better than any other site I've ever seen, demonstrates visually exactly how large warships in 40K fiction truly are.  What inspired me to write this post was the book cover from A Thousand Sons by Graham McNeil and Cain's Last Stand by Sandy Mitchell (Alex Stewart).
See all those little dots up in the sky over the pyramids of Tizca?
See that thing in the upper right hand corner over Cain's shoulder?

Those are battleships and cruisers in orbit.  They're big, really friggin big.  Big enough to make out individual details of the ships from the planet's surface.  But is that an accurate portrayal or just another example of artistic exaggeration?  After all isn't orbit really far away?  The largest man made object currently in orbit is the International Space Station and every time I've seen it overhead it was nothing more than a bright fast moving dot.  See for yourself on a clear night.
So I began to try to figure out just how big do 40K starships appear during an assault/bombardment when they enter low orbit?  To answer this out I needed to find out how high assault/orbital bombardment orbit was.  My answer was found in chapter 19 of Cain's Last Stand when he describes a Chaos cruiser needing "....about an hour.  More or less." to line up an orbital bombardment shot.  That duration of orbit around what's described as an Earth sized planet would put an assault/bombardment orbit at just under 150 miles high.  If a Retribution class battleship is 7.5 KM long then it's distance during an assault/bombardment would be about 20 times it's length from the viewer.
Do you want to see with your own eyes just how big these ships are?  Open this image in another window and leave it full sized, walk back about 14 feet and turn around.  This is how big it would appear to the sorry sap on the receiving end when it's firing shells and assault craft are being launched,

Does that put the size of these things into proper perspective?  Black Library book covers may be a bit on the dramatic side but they're accurate with the background imagery.

Monday, September 12, 2011

Rest in peace James Ayles aka "xxxjammerxxx"


This post is in honor of a friend and long time listener of our show dating back to our Dice Like Thunder days.  James Ayles aka "xxxjammerxxx" passed away recently from a sudden massive heart attack at age 45.  The entire crew of the Eternal Warriors would like to offer his wife, young children and his extended family our most sincere condolences.  We never personally met James, he was always an internet friend who we'd meet on-line on our forums or on facebook.  Despite never meeting in person we got to know him quite well and feel his loss.

To honor a request from his wife to us I'm going to post a letter on Gamer Health written to us from "Ben", another long time listener.

    • Gamer Health
      This topic may seem a bit funny or awkward, but it is a very important issue that is facing many of us, especially gamers. It is the issue of health. The hobbies we love demand alot of our time. Whether its painting for hours on end, traveling hundreds of miles for a tournament, or standing still at said tournament or one-off game all day, too many gamers simply do not get enough excercise. We take great pride in our armies. We use the best paints. We transport them in cases to protect them. We spend a great deal of time on them. Yet, so many of us take better care of our armies than we do our bodies.
      This is not a direct attack on gamers by using the cliche' that they are fat and smell funny. But, look around the next time you go to your local game store or tournament. In fact, look around you anywhere you go. Look at yourself. What do you see? Do you see a healthy group of people? Do you care about you and your friends? This isn't a joke and it really is a matter of life and death.
      I, personally, have lost three friends in the past few years because of health issues. All of them were under the age of 30, and they did not take care of themselves. One of them committed suicide, one of them had severe diabetes that lead to cancer, and the other died of a massive heart attack in his sleep. All of them were overweight and unhappy. At tournaments and during friendly games, they would eat exactly what you see most other gamers eat and drink. It was either the stuff from the vending machine, pizza the tourny organizers would order, or fast food from the closest place to the bunker. These are not just opponants to roll dice against. These are real people and they are your friends.
      There has got to be a coorilation as to why so many gamers do not take care of themselves. Game nights are full of junk food, beer, coffee, sugar, carbs, cigarettes, energy drinks. Combine all of these things with non-movement over hours at a time and you end up putting on weight and adding depression.
      We play these games to escape from reality, and these are some really awesome games. Whether its playing an MMO, table top rpg, video games, poker, or 40k...they are all great games. However, our bodies are still in reality when we go to our favorite escape.
      These hobbies do take time, and they do require us to stay still and steady. But we do not need to spend hours at a time staying completely still in order to finish one task. If you have a unit or army to paint, allow yourself an hour of painting, and then walk outside. Set a timer for 10 minutes. Walk one way. Beep. The timer goes off. Then, turn back around and come back the other way. Get a glass of water, and sit down and continue to paint. You might notice something different this time. Your mind will be clearer. You will have better focus. You will even enjoy painting alot more. Before a tournament, go for some excercise and eat a good breakfast. You will also notice that your mind can think easier, rather than the Mountain Dew thinking for you. Your moral will be higher, and you will have alot more energy to stay alert throughout those long days of gaming. Also, pack a few "small" lunches when you go gaming. If you are hosting a game at your house, make it a healthy potluck. Everyone loves veggie trays. Nobody will even notice fat-free turkey over ham. Take a walk around the neighborhood with you and your friends before you start.
      If you know a friend who might be suffering from obesity, you don't even need to say anything at all. The best thing you can do is to lead by a healthy example.

  • Sunday, September 11, 2011

    Looking back on 9/11

    I have only had 2 moments in my life where time seemed to stop.  The first is when the space shuttle Challenger blew up.  I was a kid in high school and word got to us between classes.  Everyone spent the rest of the day riveted to TV news watching anything we could find.  This was long before cable news so there wasn't much other than watching the same video of the explosion over and over and over.  It's an often used cliche but time did seem to stop.  
    9/11/2001 was a different day.  I was running late for work and heard it live on the radio on the Mancow show.  Before the second plane hit all I could imagine was a small plane and an incompetent pilot.  The reality of what was going on never occurred to me until I got in front of a TV and saw the video of the second plane hitting.  
    There were a few other things I remembered from that day.  It was the first time I ever saw the internet truly crash from everyone trying to get on cnn.com all at one.  I also remembered the sick feeling I had watching the towers fall live on TV.  I could not shake the thought that I had just witnessed a thousand people die.  I remembered the news casters talking about jumpers.  
    I remember the wild theory and speculation about who and why.  I don't believe the wild theories that the US government did it.  No I don't believe the towers were blew up with explosives or that anyone in the government knew it was going to happen in advance.  In my personal opinion the government at the time was simply incompetent and arrogant.  I believe that the tragic moment was taken advantage of by a political opportunist to do promote other agendas that existed before.  

    So now it's 10 years, 2 1/2 wars and thousands of lives later.  
    This country has changed, the world has changed and I have changed.  The moment the planes hit was a moment I can't forget.  It's burned into my memory just as much as the moment the shuttle Challenger blew up.