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


  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 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.  

    Saturday, September 10, 2011

    Onslaught; One way to speed up your swarm

    Us poor nid players are a sorry lot.  It's nearly 2 years since the codex has been released and we're still waiting for the second wave of models.  There is still no official model for the Tyranid Prime, Harpy, Tervigon, Tyrannofex, Mycetic Spore, Swarmlord, Doom of Malan'tai, Parasite of Mortrex, or the Ymgarl Genestealers.  It's not big loss on some of these models as their rules suck anyway (I'm talking about you Tyrannofex).  Others like the Tyranid Prime, Swarmlord, and Ymgarl Genestealers can be fielded with current models with very minor conversion.
    On the other hand the Tervigon is a model which absolutely needs a model of his own.  Although a Carnifex can be used as an effective proxy (I use one myself) it's really a poor looking substitute compared to the picture in the codex. I'm 100% sure that if GW would come out with a decent looking model the sales on it would be fantastic.  It's rules are just that good.  Since GW won't do it then another company has;
    That's the conversion kit Chapter House Studios has put out to convert a Carnifex to a decent looking version of the Tervigon.  It's $22.50 and includes the oval base to put the larger beast on.  It's a damn good buy not because it looks great (and it does) but because it's one of the few gems in the codex.
    Everyone knows about the Spawn Termagants rule.  That's the one that allows it to "poop" out 3d6 Termagants.  It's a great rule that's very flavorfull to the spirit of the codex and effective on the battlefield.  The Brood Progenitor rule is another one that may not be as famous as the one that allows it to poop out models but is twice as awesome.  It gives Termagants within 6 inches the rule counter-attack and if the Tervigon has Toxin Sacks and Adrenal Gland bestows poison attacks and furious charge on them too.  I wrote a post on some tactics with that rule earlier.
    In addition this beast also comes with the Psychic power Dominion.  It's nice but I've never used it once.  My Termagants usually aren't very far so I rarely need to extend Synapse out to 18 inches.  The Psychic power I use a lot is Catalyst.  I'm also willing to be that it's probably the most often used Psychic power in the entire codex.  Why not, who doesn't love the rule Feel No Pain.
    There is one other Psychic power that's rarely used.  I just started using it myself and have never seen anyone else use it.  Onslaught.  It allows a unit to run, then shoot, and then assault if it has fleet.  It's a shame that most people (including myself) have long thought of only using it on Termagants.  Only recently did I even consider using it on other broods.  Here are a few who can benefit the most from it;

    • Hive Guard and Zoanthropes- The 24 inch range of their guns has long been lamented as short especially in Dawn of War deployments where they start off the board.  The Zoe's Warp Lance is especially limited with only an 18 inch range.  Hit them with Onsluaght and the Hive Guard can now move, run and then shoot at a target up to 31 to 36 inches from were they started from.  The Warp Lance enjoys a big bonus compared to it's original range and can now threaten from 25 to 30 inches from where it started.  
    • Harpy- A relatively weak monstrous creature it has to pick and choose who it engages and stay away from those that it does not.  Unfortunately to drop it's spore mine cargo it has to move over a unit in the movement phase.  That usually leaves it very close to danger.  While it's a decent attack it won't wipe out any squad in one blow.  That's why a smart player would either forgo the Harpy's shooting and run it into cover or pray to the dice gods that his ballistic skill 3 is good enough (and it usually isn't).  With Onslaught the Harpy gets to move into cover and continue to shoot the target he hit before.  The D3 spore mines, Stinger Salvo and Twin-Linked Strangelthorn Cannon is a lot of firepower and should break up a unit pretty hard and should not be wasted because of a need to find protective cover.
    • Dakkafex- The added d6 range boost is good for a beast with limited range but that's not the only reason you want to hit this guy with Onslaught.  It will allow you to keep him shooting and killing things as you move a strength 9 monstrous creature into close combat range.  Shooting will slow him down because he won't be able to run leaving you unable to get into assault range.  With Onslaught he can do both and maintain his speed while killing your opponents infantry every step of the way.
    • Trygon Prime- Not only is the Trygon one of the best models GW has ever produced it's also a fantastic beast on the battlefield.  He kills anything he touches.  Usually I tell everyone to save the points and only take the Trygon.  The only real benefit of the Trygon Prime is the Strength 5 Assault 12 Containment Spines.  It's a brutal load of dice and will rack up the kills.  Too bad he almost never shoots with it.  If he shoots he can no longer fleet and usually that means he's out of range to assault.  He's much better assaulting than he is shooting so most people don't shoot.  Hit him with Onslaught and he can do both.  That gives you the added benefit of softening up your target before the assault.  With luck you'll take out a few of the ablative wounds so when your real blows hit he'll be targeting the all important powerfist.  

    Thursday, September 8, 2011

    Tyranid anti-mech options

    The one bright and shiny spot of the Tyranid codex is it's ability to kill infantry.  They're so good at it that it's a crying shame that 5th edition is so Mechanized.  In many of my games there simply aren't any infantry on the battlefield for me to kill.  What I do have running around in front of me is a crap ton of little boxes with soft meaty parts inside that I simply can't get at.
    You see....  Mech is the Achilles heel of the Tyranid army.  If nids are making life difficult for you, buy transports.  That will solve most of your problems.  Tyranid players really only have a limited selection of anti-vehicle options available to them.

    Hive Tyrant- His main use is supposed to be as general of the swarm not an anti-mech gunbeast.  But if you do use him to crack a few armored nuts you have 3 options;

    • With Wings and 2 sets of Scything Talons.  The wings give him the mobility to catch vehicles and the 2 sets of scything talons allow him to re-roll misses in case the tank moved.  The added dice on the armor penetration roll is nice and his high toughness keeps him relatively safe if it blows up.  On the downside he's 230 points.
    • Venomtyrant with a Heavy Venom Cannon.  Long range and very high strength usually means a good anti-armor gun but this one comes up short due to it's -1 to the damage roll.  It's not good enough to only shake a vehicle anymore.  Plus it's 195 points base with a ballistic skill of 3.  
    • Dakkatyrant with 2 sets of Twin-Linked Devourers with Brainleech worms.  Rolling 12 strength 6 shots that re-roll misses is awesome in any codex.  It should shred light armor with ease.  Too bad it's AP- so it gets a -1 on the vehicle damage chart, has an 18 inch range and costs 230 points to field.  
    Hive Guard Brood-  This unit could be one of the best light-medium anti-armor shooters in the game.  50 points for a toughness 6 model with 2 wounds is very hard to complain about.  The only thing I can complain about is his inclusion in the Elite section when he should be in the Heavy Support section.

    Zoanthrope Brood-  Another awesome unit choice that is very effective at taking out any armor in the game.  The Warp lance is incredibly potent.  He has a few weaknesses such as his toughness 4 being magnetic to every missile launcher on the battlefield, too easy to counter with a Psychic Hood, and was wrongly placed in the Elite section instead of the Heavy Support section.

    Genestealers- Both Ymgarl and normal Genestealers are highly effective as vehicle killers.  Rolling a bucket full of rending attacks is a near guaranteed way of blowing up anything with AV13 or less.  That's where the problem is; it won't work on AV14 and works way too well on AV10-13.  I've had battles where I lost more Genestealers to exploding vehicles than I have to enemy shooting.

    Termagants- Don't laugh, they can do it.  If they can maneuver around a vehicle their Strength 4 Fleshborers can score a ton of glances and follow it up with an assault.  If they're equipped with Adrenal Gland they will assault at strength 4 against the rear armor.  Even though they're "only" glancing they usually do enough glances to take a vehicle apart piece by piece.  As a bonus they can't cause a vehicle to explode as rending Genestealers can.

    Warriors, Shrikes and Raveners- These 3 can be dangerous to light vehicles either through shooting or close combat with rending claws.  Too bad it's a crap ton of points to be marginally effective at anti-light mech duties.  They're much better at killing what's inside the vehicle instead of the vehicle itself.

    Harpy- At 170 points it's the cheapest Heavy Venom Cannon in the codex.  Too bad it's toughens 5 with a 4+ save on an easy to target monstrous creature who has a difficult time getting a cover save.

    Carnifex- While he's a bit over priced the original bad boy of the codex has a few builds that can do the job.

    • Basic with no upgrades will set you back 160 points but he will charge in with 5 attacks that re-roll misses and 2d6+9 to penetrate armor.  If he can catch the vehicle he'll probably wreck it.  Catching it is the hard part.  Those things won't stay still while he plods his way across the battlefield.
    • His shooting options are the same as the Hive Tyrant; Venomfex or the Dakkafex.  With these guns his performance is equal to the Hive Tyrant but at a cheaper cost, 185 and 190 points.  
    Tyrannofex- The Rupture Cannon is the only build I would take vrs vehicles.  It has 2 shots, beautiful long range at a very high toughness and none of that -1 on the damage roll crap.  It should be everything Tyranid players could ever want in an anti-vehicle shooter.  The problem is he's ballistic skill 3 and costs 265 points.  If the game goes a full 6 rounds he'll only hit an average of 6 times.  Now he has to roll to penetrate, roll to damage and hope they don't have a cover save.  Vrs a Marine list he's got less than 50/50 chance to destroy a 35 point Rhino.

    Trygon- With Fleet he moves fast, as a monstrous creature he rolls an extra dice to penetrate, rolls a ton of dice on the attack roll that can re-roll misses, and has enough wounds to survive your opponents attempts to stop him.  Plus he's the attention magnet the rest of your army needs to survive. The moment he gets close your opponent will stop at nothing to stop him from doing anything.  This should be your vehicle killer of choice were it not for the fact that he's still more expensive than 3 Zoanthropes or 3 Hive Guard who can do just as much and from farther away.

    I suppose the real weakness of the Tyranid codex is that it's completely boned by the current Mech centered metagame.  The best anti-mech broods in the codex are all in the same FOC section and compete with other just as awesome Elite choices like the Doom of Malan'tai, Deathleaper and Ymgarl Genestealers.

    Wednesday, September 7, 2011

    My thoughts on the Drake Equation

    I'm a science fiction nut.  Ever since I've learned how to read my mind has been wandering to one fantasy place or another.  When I was a kid I made up my own world of fantasy and now that I'm an adult I fill them with somewhat more realistic version of what I dreamt of as a kid.

    Add in my love of RPGs and an inherent nature to fill the gamer worlds I created with believable life and you can probably begin to understand my obsession with the Drake Equation.
    If you don't know what the Drake Equation is then let me explain; it is an evolving mathematic formula used to estimate the approximate number of intelligent communicating civilizations in our galaxy.
    You multiply the number of stars in our galaxy by the fraction that have planets, the fraction of those planets that are capable of sustaining life, the fraction of those where life actually develops, the fraction of those where intelligent life develops, the fraction of inteligent life that communicates and the final factor is the length of time the civilization lasts.
    At this point in science the entire equation is little more than an educated guess.  We're little more than galactic upstarts and know very little about the real numbers the equation represents.  After all we only have our sun, our planet Earth, our biology, our race and current civilization to go on.  We're largely clueless on what the real numbers are like.
    That being said I have a feeling our educated guess is probably pretty good.  With 100 billion stars in the Milky Way galaxy even pessimistic numbers come up with over 100 intelligent communicating civilizations in our galaxy right now.  One could argue that if there are that many in our galaxy then where are they and why haven't we heard from them.  I answer back that the Milky way is a very big place and we don't know where they're at or how they're communicating.  I'm fairly confidant that we'll contact one this century.  If we don't then we'll have to ask ourselves why.  It could be that we're a heck of a lot more special than we think.
    But back to science fiction and RPGs.  The Drake Equation is good for another reason.  We can guess how many world exist that are habitable and with life on them.  It's actually pretty easy, just stop short of the full equation.  I came up with nearly 2 and a half billion habitable world in the Milky Way galaxy even when I used rather pessimistic numbers.  When I used generally agreed upon accurate numbers I came up with 24 billion habitable worlds to explore.
    No matter how you look at it there are a lot of habitable world out there.  Too bad NASA canceled the telescope we were going to use to find them.  Those 24 billion habitable worlds will have to stay in our science fiction and Role Playing Games.

    Tuesday, September 6, 2011

    All hail the mighty Devourgant shooting

    In yesterday's post I described a Termigant Deathstar build that has serious potential to crush opponents in close combat.  It's a proven build that is effective vrs 80% of potential opponents.  The most obvious weakness it suffers from is it's dependance on the Hive Tyrant and the Tervigon.  Without those 2 models acting in support the Deathstar combo looses much of it's effectiveness.  They fall from being a close combat killing machine to a somewhat hazardous speedbump.
    So how do you include a bit of insurance in this build that allows it a bit of flexibility on the battlefield?  One way is to equip one brood of Termigants with the Devourer.  It's a major point investment that doubles the cost of the model, your 5 point Termigant is now a 10 point Devourgant.  What you get for those 5 points is an extra 2 shots and 6 inches of additional range.

    While nobody argues that the extra 2 shots aren't good the additional 6 inches of range forces a full change in tactics.  The Termagant horde tactics changes from a shooty/close combat combo to a shooty centric brood.  It has now become critical to keep the Devourgants out of close combat.  Toughness 3 with a 6+ save is far too weak to survive close combat especially in a 10 point model.
    So why would you use this model with it's extra range and shots;

    • A big brood of 30 models has 90 strength 4 shots.  Most opponents are freaked out by that much firepower.  This brood should stack an average of 22 wounds on a squad of Marines ensuring that every model will be forced to roll a save.  
    • The extra 6 inches of range allows you to keep shooting at maximum effect while staying out of your opponents rapid fire range.  If forced to function without cover and within flamer/rapid fire range a brood of Termigants will suffer an average of 11 wounds to a basic squad of Marines.  Staying out of flamer/rapid fire range brings that number down to 4 to 5 wounds.  If you can use the extra range to get them into cover you're down to loosing an average of just 2 models.  
    • That extra 6 inches of range gives Devourgants a chance to keep shooting even if they can't move while under the effect of the rule Instinctive Behavior-Lurk.  
    • You can have multiple ranks of shooters target the same unit.  
    • This brood isn't dependent upon 2 other models to be effective.
    To incorporate this brood in the same list I posted yesterday I would swap out 2 of the 30 model Termagant broods for 2 broods of 15 Devourgants and deploy them behind the larger Termagant broods.  As a smaller brood of models they appear less intimidating and therefore are less likely to be targeted.  In addition they are easier to hide in cover.  They are then positioned as shooting backup to ensure that if the Hive Tyrant and/or Tervigon falls even a weakened Termagant brood will be able to maintain the kill ratio they need.
    It is possible to build a list centered around the Devourgants anti-infantry shooting ability.  Since they can't take out anything except the most basic AV10 mech units they absolutely must be backed up with effective high strength shooting broods.  Fill your Elite slots with Hive Guard and Zoanthropes to crack the cans open.  Close combat duties can be filled with Tyranid Warriors with Boneswords.  The Warriors can also provide additional anti-mech shooting with Venom Cannons and Deathspitters.

    Sunday, September 4, 2011

    A Tyranid Deathstar that doesn't suck

    Tyranids don't suck completely.  I hope that doesn't surprise everyone that I've said.  I'm well aware that I've been saying the opposite for the past year and a half.  Please forgive me; try sticking a microphone in front of your face and not contradicting yourself now and then.  You'll see how difficult it can be.
    My prior statements of Tyranid suckyness can be supported by tournament results.  The recent NOVA open results demonstrated that they are the worst performing 5th edition codex.  My own personal experience has also demonstrated the inherent limitations of Tyranids.  I have also recognized what Tyranids are good at.  I can sum it up in one simple statement; they are great at killing infantry.  What they suck at can also be summed up in a simple statement; they suck vrs mech units.
    I'm going to start this series of posts that will examine the Tyranid codex with the most humble and underrated model in the codex, the Termagant.
    Although their stat line is unimpressive this can easily be overcome with very large broods and proper support.  In the picture above I'm running 4 broods of 30 backed up with a Tervigon with Toxin Sacks and Adrenal Gland and a Hive Tyrant with Old Adversary.  This 6 unit 1,100 point combo is being run as a single large Deathstar swarm.  Supporting them is a brood of 4 Warriors, 3 Zoanthropes, 3 Hive Guard and Doom in a Spore Pod.
    What makes it good; To begin with it's cheap.  At 5 points per model you can afford to make large broods.  A maxed out brood of 30 models will only set you back 150 points.  This is important because to get the most out of little bugs you need a lot of them.
    It also benefits from a few rules.  The Tyranid codex may be one of the weakest 5th edition codex's but it does have synergy that most codex's lack.  The Brood Progenitor rule on the Tervigon gives all Termigants with a model within 6 inches of it the Counter-Attack rule and bestows Furious Charge and Poison attacks if the Tervigon has Toxin Sacks and Adrenal Glands.  The Hive Tyrants Old Adversary special rule bestows the Preferred Enemy rule on broods with a model within 6 inches if it.  Careful model placement can ensure that your entire army can benefit from these rules.
    This is a brutal combo.  Since the Fleshborer is an Assault weapon that shoots at strength 4 they could soften up their target before the charge.  Each brood of 30 will charge in with 60 attacks that re-roll misses thanks to the Hive Tyrant.  Thanks to the Tervigon giving them Furious Charge they attack at Initiative 5 so in most cases their attacks will go first.  Vrs. Marines that works out to an average of 45 hits from a single brood.  The Tervigon gave them Poisoned attacks so they wound on a 4+.  Another benefit of Furious Charge is the +1 strength which pushes them up Strength 4 so their poisoned attacks can re-roll misses.  Vrs MEQ this means an average of 41 wounds before the Marines get a single attack.  Most squads of Marines can't handle this number of wounds.
    Of course the Marines aren't sitting there waiting to be killed.  They have guns and know how to use them.  If they can rapid fire, flamer and a frag missile the Termigants and force them to charge through cover so they loose the initiative the situation changes significantly.  If caught without cover the Termigants will loose about half their number through shooting and close combat.  In that case the Tyranid Deathstar advance comes to a crashing halt.
    Of course this is why I run 4 broods of 30 Termigants.  One forms a meat shield to provide cover and 3 more broods come in crashing waves.  The Tervigon can also bestows Catalyst on a brood so they can benefit from the Feel No Pain rule.  Tyranid losses drop from 15 to just 4 or 5 and the Termigants are back up to causing 34 wounds on Marines.  I can also send in more than 1 brood of Termigants on a single target.  In a battle vrs Screaming Heretic Joe I killed off his Grey Knight Grand Master buy having 70 Termigants shoot at him in one round.  He had no chance to survive.

    My experience running this type of Deathstar supports the Mathhammer you just read.  Most Marine squads will be wiped out in one assault phase.  Even Terminators should fear a swarm of Termigants.  Most people react in amazement when I say that my main anti-Terminator unit of choice is a swarm of Termigants.  Don't belive me.  Roll 40 dice and tell me how many 1's you roll.
    Another overlooked advantage of this type of Deathstar army build is the mind game.  Most players never start a battle outnumbered 4 to 1.  Facing such huge numbers intimidates people and quite often makes them loose their sense of tactics.
    How would a player going against this type of Deathstar deal with it?  Here are a few tips;

    • Without the Tervigon and Hive Tyrant bestowing the special rules the Termigants wound have dished out an average of just 13 wounds to a MEQ opponent.  
    • If their Synapse units get killed the Termigants can be easily driven off due to their low leadership of 6.
    • This swarm is also fairly clumsy on the battlefield.  It's huge numbers slows it down and clumps it up so large blast templates can yield maximum effect.  
    • It can't effect armor higher than AV10.  Dreadnoughts and Land Raiders have absolutely nothing to fear from this swarm.  
    • Even though vehicles with AV10 sides can be glanced to death the swarm needs multiple 6's to do it.  Keep your transports moving to cut the number of hits the swarm can get and make sure your access point is away from the direction of the expected assault.  Jump out in the following round and flame the tightly packed swarm.  
    • Castle up on the battlefield with cover limiting the number of Termigants who can get in base to base contact with you.  The key to this Deathstar's effectiveness is the massive numbers of dice it rolls on the charge.  If you can survive that first round you stand a fairly good chance to break it in the following rounds when it doesn't have +1 strength and initiative from Furious Charge and a bonus attack from charging.

    The latest codex (slightly) changed the metagame again

    It's a simple fact that every new codex changes the 40K metagame.  A couple years back IG with it's cheap mech and abundant heavy firepower were the king of the battlefield.  For a portion of a year most tournaments boiled down to IG leafblower vrs IG leafblower.  That ship has sailed and the NOVA open tournament results prove it.  The ultimate winner isn't the issue, that is Tony and he could win any tournament with any army using skill alone.  The important stat to look at is which armies were the in the top tier.
    To me this is the stat that's most important to judge the current national metagame.  First these players had to win 4 perfect or nearly games to get this far so this culls the lucky newbs and players of average skill.  Second, only serious players who win local tournaments get this far so this shows you what armies dominate their local metagame.  Third, this shows you how competitive local metagame vrs local metagame are in a national tournament.
    This is how I read it;
    1. 10 of 16 upper tier players use MEQ armies.  Upper tier players usually only use upper tier codex's.  They're not there to simply have fun, they're there to win.  More than 60% of them chose a MEQ army as a winning codex.
    2. 4 out of 16 were Xenos armies and only 1 had success vrs upper tier armies.  Necrons may change this in the future but until then the fact that 3/4 of competitive armies are Imperial suggests a bit of Imperial bias on GW codex designers part.
    3. Space Wolves are still the list to beat.  5th edition is still all about mech and Space Wolf Long Fangs are the ideal in dealing with them.  They have abundant, long range, high strength, low AP firepower that doubles out the majority of the models in the game.  GK firepower is good but it's mid-range and can't double out nearly as much.
    4. IG are competitive but no longer dominant.  The dreaded leaf blower list was overrated except in games over 2000 points.  Short of that it lacked the volume of firepower needed to sweep opponents off the battlefield.  

    Saturday, September 3, 2011

    Space Elves and Space Dwarves and Abhumans

    Occasionally genres may clash in Star wars but I do have to hand it to George Lucas, he never included any Space Elves and Space Dwarves.  That's a big thing with me.  I love Dwarves and I love Elves but let's face it, they're fantasy races.  Sci-fi is a different genre entirely.  Elves and Dwarves as a sci-fi race makes about as much sense as pigs in space.

    So why do I bring this up?  Warpath is about to be released and Space Dwarves are a central part of the game's theme.  Yea the models are cool looking and yes the sculpts appear to be very high quality but the fact remains that Dwarves in space are silly as all hell.

    One of the things I can also compliment GW for is the Tau.  Yes I hate them but only because they shoot my nids to little bits.  In truth I find them the most refreshing sci-fi race in wargaming.  In theme they borrow almost nothing from Fantasy.  Sure they may be a very subtle parody of Asian cultures written by people who know very little about them but at least they are the most original thing in sci-fi wargaming background I've seen in years.
    I also give them credit for killing off their Space Dwarves and not having any real plans to bring them back.  Now if only they can do the same to their Space Elves.  Any race that's been dying for thousands of years but still isn't dead isn't really dying.  They're just being moody.
    GW's Space Ogres and Hobbits are different (but not by much).  They have taken the line that these are actually humans who have evolved into nearly a different race.  I call this 90% silly and absurd but 10% scientific accurate.  According to the GW fluff timeline humans first left Terra and traveled to the stars 30,000 years prior to the current timeline.  It may have been an accident of GW fluff writers but that's almost as much time separating some Northern Europeans from their African ancestors.  
    Evolution is a bit more complicated than that simple generalization but not by much.  If 45,000 years and a geographic change was all it took to turn a black African into a blond blue-eyed Swede then I can see 30,000 years and severe environmental change being enough time and stress to change "Terra" humans into "abhuman" Ogryn and Ratlings.  

    Friday, September 2, 2011

    Yea baby!!!!!

    I don't care if GW stole the nids idea from Alien.  Nids are awesome, the entire Alien series is awesome, and it's about to get a ton more awesome.  My only hope is that it doesn't suck like the Alien vrs Predator movies did.  They looked awesome and the action scenes were cool but I like a good storyline.  Let's hope this one has it.  
    'Prometheus' Trailer(2012)[HD] (Alien Prequel)

    Thursday, September 1, 2011

    George Lucas just destroyed another piece of my childhood

    Stop it George.  Can't you leave a perfectly good movie alone.
    I understand your desire to fix an effect that didn't work back then like making the Ewoks blink but adding in a new line to the movie decades after it was filmed is simply wrong.  Darth Vader is the strong silent type.  Do you know what the strong silent type does?  Kick butt.  Do you know what he doesn't do?  Get emotional and yell, "Noooooooo!".