Monday, August 30, 2010

The Warp Widow

Well, D'Ork came over with his burgeoning Eldar army and we played a 1500 point game as I mentioned in my previous entry. The outcome was definitely something I was anxious to see, but more importantly i was just happy to be playing again after months of inactivity. My squeezed down 1850-into-1500 points list had some good firepower, but it also had some flaws that I was hoping didn't get exploited.

I think D'Ork is planning on doing up a full on BATREP, so I will just do a tactical review on some of the more important maneuvers. Scatterlasers shook my tanks repeatedly. This was something I was unused to playing against Orks so often. Spirit Stones until this game had been a strategic move so I didn't get too used to playing against range-handicapped enemies. I will pretty much say they are a necessity in an Eldar army.

My attempt to use Spiders, Dragons, AND a Warlock with a Singing Spear to open up his right-flanking DA Serpent really failed horribly as all I did was lay it out on the table for the impending outflank. When it happened, it happened bad. Both Scorpions and the Scatterwalkers came in on my right flank while my dragons and storm guardians were just sitting ducks. The Scorpions owned my Guardians. Walkers downed some spiders and were sorta killed shortly after.

My inability to do anything to Pathfinders in mid-field without committing a unit that would be dropped instantly by one of the Bladestorm units in left or right flanks is what really killed my strategy. I was really timid while he was bold and had fire control of the field. He shook my tanks repeatedly. Bright lances are pretty useless on a single 2+ invul save ranger so I started really, really wishing I had some scatters. My Shuricannon serpent tried in vain to stop them.

These rangers... They killed Warp Spiders, they dropped one of my tanks, they controlled the board and kept me away. This allowed the Fire Dragons, which admittedly he mistakenly put forth WAY too early to pretty much run unabated killing things before I finally ran in with my Farseer to stop them (that stupid combat against 2 dragons lasted the rest of the game... )

However... one truly scary thing happened. My Warp Spider Exarch became the Black Widow of Death. He just jumped around alone after his squad suffered death after death. He wounded a hiding Farseer, dropped Warwalkers, troops, tanks, everything. He even tried to be a hero and help the Farseer against the dragons... Someone wished they'd spent 10 points on powerblades after that! Anyway, he kept my losing battle going for a while. I lost the game, but for him I would have had more than just a 100 point difference lost.

I think I'm going to call him Warp Widow now. He's a super hero of the future. He will hate Pathfinders and their ilk for all eternity or until he dies, whichever comes first.

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Eldar on Eldar Crime

Today's entry is a two-part foray into the miniature wargaming hobby: First - (Left) is a shot of the front of my new Fire Prism as professionally done by the Man in the Mask at The Phantom Project. I'll get to that shortly. Second: I have a game scheduled for Saturday after what seems like months since my last one... oh, wait - It has been months. Needless to say, I'm excited.. but I'm saying it anyway!

Normally I would blog about these things separately, however today they are related. First, Man in the Mask finished my tanks within a week and a half (2 Prisms, 2 Vypers) and they will complete my 1850 list. They look amazing and even after the insane heat cracked the dullcoat, he sanded it down and repainted the affected parts immediately. His dedication and quality are outstanding. I have never been able to use a non-proxy prism and it really makes me happy to finally have it on the table. You complete me, Prism. Really. Also, my list only included Prisms at 1850, but since my game is scheduled for a little Eldar on Eldar action at 1500 points: I'm going to scrap my old 1500 list and completely remodel it based on my current 1850 list.

So, there you have it. They are related! So, it occurred to me that D'Ork of Wasted Knights blog fame has shared his list of ever expanding Eldar miniatures with me, and I know I'm going to be facing all of them plus a proxy or two. To level the playing field, I'm going to pony the list I intend to use this weekend here.

The only requisite unit will be one or both Prisms. So let's get cracking. I've got a Cult to mobilize: YNNEAD RISES!

Here it is:

Ynnead Cult Strike Force - 1500 pt list

103 - Farseer Nilendrel, Guide, Runes of Witnessing and Warding, Singing Spear

96 - 6x Fire Dragons
120 - Wave Serpent, TL Shuriken Cannons, Shuriken Cannon, Spirit Stones

152 - 10x Dire Avengers w/Exarch, Dual Avenger Catapults, Bladestorm
145 - Wave Serpent, TL Bright Lances, Shuriken Cannon, Spirit Stones

130 - 10x Storm Guardians w/2x Flamers + Warlock Faeress w/Singing Spear, Destructor
145 - Wave Serpent, TL Bright Lances, Shuriken Cannon, Spirit Stones

Fast Attack
165 - 6x Warp Spiders w/Exarch, Dual Deathspinners, Withdraw

Heavy Support
190 - Falcon, Bright Lance, Holo-fields, Spirit Stones
125 - Fire Prism, Spirit Stones
125 - Fire Prism, Spirit Stones

1495 pts

This list centers around mobility, keeping the opponent at arm's length, and doing my best to fire a shotgun point blank if they get too close for comfort. I've never used Warp Spiders or Fire Prisms at 1500. I took stock of my 1850 list, and reduced the potency of some units and took out others completely to make this list. Nilendrel got demoted from 'counts as Eldrad Ulthuan, to a middling Guide-seer, the Vypers are gone, the Warp Spiders are down 2 Spiders, and I dropped the Farseer's Dire Avenger guards. I pointedly kept it to a scaled down version of my 1850 list because D'ork's working with what he's got. I wasn't going to try to build a tailored list.

I hated to drop the Vypers, but I really love Warp Spiders and they are a unit that if you get out of practice with, will burn a deep hole in your list that you will regret. I've never had a unit that I treated with deference and respect, but believe me when I say this: Warp Spiders have a relationship with the Dice Gods. If you fail to show them the proper respect, you will regret it.

Can't wait to crack open a beer, set up the modular table and terrain, and see just how much my Eldar are devoted to the cause. My guess is, no matter who wins, many Eldar souls will head to the infinity matrix. I guess that means Ynnead wins no matter what!


Sunday, August 15, 2010

Community of Error

On the road to competitive gaming, it's easy to get jumbled in a chorus of often conflicting advice and data. What I want to open up with a scalpel is what happens when people repeat ideas given by others over and over until there is no real conversation on a given unit or tactic's use.

Even good ideas, when they're practically dogmatic can become bad ideas in certain circumstances. There are blogs on the internet such as this one dedicated to gaming, but there are also forums and websites where things are discussed ad nauseum. Posters who get sort of persona dramatis status usually do so because they have a record of success or are viewed as the elite amongst a flood of amateurs.

These personas need only drop a condescending helpful hint that x unit, y wargear, or z tactic is the correct one, implying contradicting posters are obviously wrong, to scare off new posters from using contradicting methods. However, worse is when new posters don't read the historical discourse and ask the question.. garnering responses from peripheral posters espousing the original thought that they are immediately wrong. Then it becomes the telephone game. People start repeating advice without knowing the context of why and how it was given. It's not ALWAYS a bad idea to take hunter-killer missiles on all your tanks if your intent is to form an alpha strike style list. 100 points to have 10 more S8 shots on T1 may be totally acceptable to you.

Eldar are definitely an army that new people are basically given a list of good and bad based on community affirmed knowledge and not any thought on the tactics, models actually owned, or anything else the original poster had behind his/her list.

Not to say these opinions don't change. I believe that they do. For a while, it was considered forum etiquette for at least one person to suggest a new Eldar player load up on a Seer Council (wargear up for debate somewhat) and that they were the icepick to the enemy's skull. However, in recent months I've noticed a switch. People previously touting mechanized or jetbike councils have been somewhat mute. When people post that they are making a list with a council, there are usually voices to suggest they neuter the squad for point vs. efficacy reasons--or drop them altogether in favor of the newest spam units like Dire Avengers and suicide Fire Dragons.

Use these communities to see what other people view as 'the norm,' competitively, but do not take it as the gospel. For a while people thought the only viable build for Eldar was mechanized until players like Blackmoor started winning - not just friendly games mind you - but tournament games regularly with a ground pounding list using some pretty unorthodox units. I found it easier to just rip these forums for knowledge about how people play the armies that I don't get to face often. I read army codices for ideas on how I would play them and make army lists to fit that theme.

If I read the Imperial Guard codex and I am suddenly filled with awe at the idea of a mass troop blob assault guard list -- you know, something ridiculous like 150 guardsmen backed up by Straken, a couple of eviscerator missionaries, several armed commissars, and a good bit of artillery backup -- then I want to know how to make my vision work, not be told something like 'Drop the missionaries, they suck' when they are, besides Straken, the heart of the strategy. It may be a simple strategy. It may be weak in the end, but when people don't give you rationale besides knowledge they gained as mere hearsay, they aren't giving you sound advice. I'd probably get told to take 6 Vendettas, 5 Vet squads, and a Company Command Squad and call it good right?

My point exactly. People want advice, or at least tried and true reflections of why their intended strategy could/will fail. They don't want you to tell them they are incapable of playing unless they use the newest flavor of the month list. Take care to form strategies in your lists to counter the newest lists, but don't drink the kool-aid before you test the waters yourself. Proxy that Vyper before you write them off because someone told you they suck or they don't fit in your list. They may be repeating conventional knowledge that turns out to be not so conventional.

Sometimes, my friends, moar dakka isn't so great.

Saturday, August 14, 2010

To Sail a Road of Blood and Slaughter

I've played 40k on and off for over 10 years. I'm looking to get competitive again. Originally I played Grand Tournies in the UK where 1500 points is standard. I have had to get used to the fact that in America everything is bigger. I mean everything. Even in a hobby where one vehicle can cost up to 60 dollars, people seem to be obsessed with bigger and bigger games. I find them unwieldy, but at least the tournament standard in the US seems to be only slightly larger in scale: 1850 points.

This blog is intended to chronicle my thoughts on the hobby, strategy, units, and tournament action as I get going again.

I wanted a finesse army. I wanted an army less forgiving than Space Marine 3+ armor saves. I wanted a challenge getting back into it. I chose Eldar.

I also wanted to have a specific theme in mind according to fluff that made sense with the army list I am using. I am not role-playing on the table here, but I want cohesiveness and a cool factor that isn't apparent in playing the same old army. Then I saw this awesome text box in the newest Eldar Codex. Eldar obsessed with the destruction of Slaanesh and the birth of the Eldar God of Death.

There's just one catch: that's only going to happen after all the Eldar are dead and in the infinity circuit. I was hooked. How do you make this work though? Couldn't they just commit suicide? Yea, but they couldn't get the rest of the Eldar to do it could they?

That thought led me to the conclusion that just as Ulthwe uses their unparalleled psychic foresight to help the rise of the Eldar race out of the ashes of the fall 10,000 years before, these Eldar would use their resources to cause conflict between the young races and the rest of the Eldar content to lick their woulds on craftworlds. They would actually want to stay alive as long as possible to make sure the rest of their kind sees honorable death in combat.

Noble death. A race given in its entirety to right a wrong. This is the vision of the Cult of Ynnead. They see opportunity where other Eldar see strife and conflict. They strike much the same as Ulthwe does. Lightning mechanized strikes out of the Webway to spur conflict -- or end it.

Thus, Ynnead Rises.

Life is never convenient. Getting back into Warhammer 40k has been more difficult than originally intended. I'm a slow painter and I have a real dislike of playing with unpainted/primed miniatures. I've realized that my time is worth money. However, the Man Behind the Mask at Phantom Project miniatures has made it easier on me.

So far I've commissioned the Phantom Project to paint 4 tanks for my 1850pt 40k army, the last two Fire Prisms and two Vypers are currently being painted. I couldn't be happier. Every step of the way he's worked with my budget to make sure I'm getting exactly what I want and produced a stellar product. My fear of commission work was that you either pay too much or you don't get what you want in the blur of mass production. This has been nothing like that.

Please follow this blog for the completion of the army, battle reports, my thoughts on the current metagame and other armies beyond Eldar, and of course -- My tournament experiences.