Official and Glorious Blog of the Inglorious and Officious Warheads Gaming Club

Month: June 2012

A Priori

Philosophers have a fancy term for when something is so goddamn obvious that you can grasp it without actually experiencing it: a priori.  That the rules for allies contained in 6th edition 40k are incompatible with tournament play is knowledge that can be acquired without actually running tournaments with these rules.  It is a priori knowledge.  Allow me to make a few observations before I proceed. [Editor’s Note: Please note that this article is speculative in nature, and as such might not make as much sense once the new Edition arrives, which will bring with it some more balanced coverage as well. There are some additional editorial comments included in the rest of the article after the jump. Also remember, there should be a number of Errata and FAQ documents coming out that aren’t reflected in this article.]

[Grand High InquisiEditor Newbreed’s Note: I did not write the above editor’s note and do not agree with its views. I believe all 5th edition players should prepare for the imminent apocalyptic cluster-f*ck that awaits us. Those who claim otherwise are ardent GW loyalists whose views must be ignored by all right-thinking folk. Doom, I say, doom.]

1.  Competitive tournament gaming must, by definition, reward skill before luck and list.  This is called “balance.”  The extent to which balance was achieved in 5th edition was questionable–Tyranids were weak and Grey Knights were strong.  GW cares very little about competitive tournament gaming and we should not expect the rules to be written with this type of gaming in mind.  In other words, it is conceivable that GW would produce a rules set that is not conducive to tournament gaming. [Ed: GW have themselves said this before.] [Ed: The swine.]
2.  Fluff supports allies.  Haven’t we all read Warrior Coven by C.S. Goto?  No?  Then we simply aren’t operating on the level of mutual respect I assumed.

The Death Watch ally with the Eldar to defeat the Dark Eldar.  In a particularly touching scene the Eldar pay grudging respect to the psychic abilities of the Death Watch Librarian. There are many other examples of factions allying or, as the Eldar have done with orks, manipulating each other.  However, it’s not fluff that concerns us here, but if it did we would certainly point out that the Ally rules do not allow for the construction of a Genestealer cult Imperial Guard army–a sloppy, inexcusable omission.
3.  This is bald-faced money grab by Games Workshop.  Allies are a lazy, ill-conceived addition.  The expectation is that everyone will run out and buy a mini-army to use as allies.  Eldrad models will fly off the shelves.  It’s important to understand that from the rules writer’s perspective allies were included to sell stuff.  This was the imperative that spawned the rules for allies, not fluff, balance, or “cinematic” feel. [Ed: Do note that this does allow players to expand their collection with allies without the need to buy an entire new army, which is nice for your pocket, and from a customer relations view.] [Ed: He hits me because he loves me.] 
In theory each codex was written with game balance in mind.  [Ed: There is a comment from GW out there stating that each Codex is only meant to be internally balanced. Cookies if you can find it.] [Ed: Internally balanced is a meaningless term. The idea of balance suggests other codexes and an overarching game enviroment in which balance is judged.] This is a basic premise of game design.  Although it is Games Workshop and Mat Ward we’re talking about.  Nevertheless, there was some thought of it, however little and however lacking in play-testing.  The most obvious examples of this are the weaknesses of  specific codices vis-à-vis psychic powers: Tau, Orks, Dark Eldar, and Necrons.  Orks, of course, have no access to melta and limited long range anti-tank assets.  Imperial Guard have limited close-combat options but excel at dealing damage at range.  Yes allies will strengthen weak codices (e.g., Vulkan added to Sisters of Battle), but already strong codices will get stronger still.  Everything scales up but the strong codices scale higher.  The use of allies magnifies imbalances it does not redress them.  Tournament players (haters will call them WAAC) are already thinking up with the most potent combos.  What makes a potent combo?  Simply it is an addition that removes a structural weakness from a codex.  In the words of our very own Floody, he’ll be adding Mephiston to his Grey Knights army “because Meph is the bane of all the crap that hurts GKs.” [Ed: An important question here is: What is he removing from his list to make this room? He can’t simply be adding on the guts of 400 points to his existing list.] [Ed: It’s  literally the very next thing he writes. Just keep reading. He also has to add those just oh-so-awful and not at all buffed jump infantry.]
Let’s consider the objection, “Allied additions aren’t free–you gain something but at the cost of something else.”  This is a weak argument and we don’t need to let it detain us for very long.  When our Grey Knight players adds Mephiston for 250 points what does he gain and what does he lose?  He loses, roughly, a psyfleman and two strike squads.  What does he gain?  A Blood Angels troop unit and Mephiston: a psychic hood on an eternal warrior HQ that flies around the table killing things.  This leaves the psycannons to do what they do best: remain stationary in the center of the table churning out mass amounts of 24″ range shooting. 
Contrary to popular belief the use of allies will not increase the diversity of armies at tournaments.  Armies with limited options for allies will be completely absent unless the fickle finger of fate grants them some type of super-combo.  And Tyranids?  Don’t worry about them, they left the building when they heard cover-saves are now 5+.  The most competitive combos will be mandatory.  I suspect it will shake down to about six to eight combos.  Now it’s early days yet and the GK/Mephiston combo may not be the most broken synergy out there (but I’m inclined to trust young Floody’s intuition).  I’m even willing to grant that the combination of allies and new rules may put an older codex out on top.  This is an important point.  Rest assured, however, that whichever codices benefit most, will do so in a spectacular way. 
Significantly, those who don’t take allies will be punished the most on the tournament table.  Perhaps your ideas of allies is to have an ork army with Blood Axes and the Bad Suns working together in a grand waaagh!  Sure you’ll get an expanded FOC, but you better avail your sorry ass of some obliterators instead or else expect to go 0 and 5 over the weekend.
Allies will see use in a few tournaments this year, but when the ETC bans their use Irish tournament organizers will follow.  Pure 6th edition being played on a tournament table in Ireland will be a rarer sight than a corncrake.  
Now, let’s discuss the new terrain rules.  Mysterious Forest anyone?
[Ed: And that’s a very pessimistic look at the new Edition folks. Stay tuned to get some more balanced coverage this weekend when the product actually launches.]
[Grand High InquisiEditor Newbreed’s Note: All is doomed. Warhammer Fantasy levels of doomed.]

Waaagh Bwalor: Epic Ork Army

I suspect that the average wargamer tends to accumulate many “projects” over time.  Where others see a pile of random Guard and Empire bits, he sees his Feudal World #543 PDF. In my case, I’ve always wanted two Epic armies. I adored reading the old White Dwarf Epic battle reports and was a big fan of Final Liberation, the Epic 40,000 computer game. Over the last year, I’ve acquired many thousands of points of Imperial Guard and Orks, along with enough urban terrain to make a respectable city. Having managed this feat, I patted myself on the head, stuck it all in boxes and hid those boxes away.

Life carried on rather happily until I came across the blasted things and decided that something must be done.
Here’s the unholy mess as it stands. There’s a box filled with an indeterminate number of Ork things, some Imperial and Chaos titans and below all of this another box filled with Imperial Guard. Some are painted, most are untouched and on the sprues. On top of this, I’ve got a smattering of Man’o’War ships, random Space Marine units and what I think is a Giant Gargant. Those were all picked up at the Dominicon charity auction.

I really like the idea of six distinct Ork clans, each with their own ethos, iconography and colour schemes. I’m going to build my entire Ork force with each formation being linked with a specific clan. By creating the army in these blocks, I don’t go mad and I get a force that reflects the old school fluff.

First up, the Deathskulls clan. They’re described in the fluff as scavengers who fight mainly for the prospect of the subsequent looting. They believe the colour blue to be lucky and generally wear a ragged “uniform” of items stolen from the dead or unwary. I’m eyeballing my Marine vehicles for their Gunwagonz (tank equivalent). On a practical note, the slap-dash nature of their equipment means I get to play around with all sorts of colours to see what suits the scale.

Deathskulls Warband
2 Nob Mobz
6 Boyz Mobzs
2 Grot Mobzs
4 Battlewagons

As you can see, my first block is quite traditional. It’s a small horde of greenskins riding around in their wagons. I’m using the Epic UK Ork Codex for list composition. It’s a slightly rejigged version of the Ork Horde list from Epic Armageddon. I’ve always had a soft spot for the fan-driven updates in the specialist games range. Blood Bowl and Battlefleet Gothic would be lesser games without the Living Rulebooks and FAQs. In this case, the fans have provided balanced, playtested lists for the armies/sub-armies that GW have abandoned (Tyranids, the Chaos legions, various Guard regiments and Space Marine chapters) along with updates for the surviving armies. You can find the full collection here.

The warband adds up to 340 points and I’m struck by the fact that it closely resembles a 40k Battlewagon list. Once I’ve worked through similar formations for the Evil Sunz, Bad Moons, Goffs and Blood Axes, that’ll give me the core on which I will build a vast horde. I can also combine warbands to create larger, fluffy formations.

I’ve used the new GW texture paint on the bases. It’s not quite as awesome as I hoped. It appears that you have to apply a lot of coats to get any sort of coverage and I suspect that it would be quicker and easier to use the traditional PVA/Sand/Paint method.

Firstly, I painted up the Battlewagons. I went with an all blue scheme to begin with but it seemed a little too uniform so I halved it with grey. It was still too uniform so I lashed on some crude graffiti. It’s crude because it’s Orky, see. Totally deliberate, stylistic choice. Shut up, Welshman. My painting is awesome.

We’ve got two teams to a transport so just enough for the boyz to get around. “What about those poor Gretchin?” I hear the gentle-hearted reader sob. There’s a funky rule that says a single unit of Gretchin can always fit into an already full transport. The little buggers hang onto the sides, squeeze into crevices or crawl around underfoot.

I’ve got a random mix of older and newer models and thus, older square bases and the newer “strip” bases. I’ve assigned the strip bases to the Gretchin as there’s fewer stands. I also like the idea that they’re being herded in a giant line ahead of the mobs to eat incoming fire, trigger mines and so on. I’ve avoided the use of blue anywhere on the models as the Deathskulls are basically thieving gits who value the colour blue. Any Gretchin carrying something blue is going to get robbed and kicked to death in short order.

The sharp-eyed amongst you will notice a Gretchin facing the wrong way. Let’s say that he’s very excited and waving at someone behind him.

I’ve inherited a load of bases prebuilt along these lines so I’m going to use them as Nobz squads. Two actual Nobz, a Boy to carry their flag and some Gretchin servants lagging behind. Let’s justify it by saying that no Nob can afford to turn his back on another. The main teaching point here is that infantry are a complete bitch to paint. Just get them done and lavish your love on the vehicles.

Onto the Boyz themselves, again, I’m burning through the piles of pre-built bases. I  went with blue armour and then a mix of blues, greys and browns on the clothes. Didn’t work. The models are tiny so I’ve started using brighter and brighter colours to actually make the models stand out. There’s orange, purple, yellow and red all over the place and they still don’t really pop.

And the finished product, one formation down, many to go.

Incoming: 6th Edition 40k.

Look what showed up on GW’s site last night.

We finally get confirmation of 6th Edition
Eveything changes 23rd of June!

Dungeon Bowl: The Game Released

Mr Saturday’s blog put us on to the news that Cyanide Studios have released a Dungeon Bowl game. After releasing the official teams in dribs and drabs, it looks like they’ve realised the potential profit in releasing mods based on their Blood Bowl engine. It’s good news for Blood Bowl fans as the French company continue to milk their license for all its worth.

But in more shameless news, I am hearing rumours that they intend to release new Blood Bowl teams of their own creation. With some official and experimental teams still to be released, that comes across as a cynical bid to fluff out their expansion packs.

(EDIT: Yup, they’re doing it again. This release has three of the ten Colleges of Magic represented. The other seven will probably appear over time. I commend their industry in securing a steady revenue stream.)

Street Bowl at Hobocon

Hobocon ran Ireland’s first Street Bowl tournament last weekend. Street Bowl is the smaller version of the famous Blood Bowl. Rather than representing professional teams from the big leagues, these are the back-alley, half-witted, drunken amateur teams. It’s more fickle than its big brother but still immensely fun. More of this, please.

Street Bowl uses a narrower pitch, about seven hexes wide. This makes it feel a little more congested than regular Blood Bowl but with only seven players per side, it actually works out much the same. The IGA provided four of their homebrew pitches. They do give the feel of a rougher pitch and they’ve added some terrain to show that this is true street ball. In this case, it’s a small town in Albion.

Grabbing my team as an afterthought on the way out the door, I lucked out. It turns out that playing on cobbles makes injury more likely so the well-armoured Orcs proved quite resilient. Team-building is similar to the main game with some limitations, you have a total budget of 600k to buy 7-11 players and your allotment of positional players is halved. To reflect the lack of training, rerolls are twice as expensive in Street Bowl and you really have to scrimp to afford one. I managed to pay for mine by creating a bare minimum team of seven players, which left me with no subs. I also had to sacrifice a positional player for a less capable lineorc. In the end, I chose to go with one black orc blocker, two blitzers, a thrower and three lineorcs. Say hello to the Red Starz.

Before kicking off, I had a quick look at the other teams playing nearby. We had two Dwarf players battling their way to a bloody stalemate. And probably quite relieved to avoid playing bashing teams, a Wood Elf and Pro Elf player duked it out.

My own opponent was another Orc player. Very similar to my own team, he was packing a reroll and two black orcs which gave him a strength advantage but he lacked blitzers. He also had that luxury, a substitute.

The kickoff saw the ball drop just behind my scrimmage line and an almighty scuffle ensued all down my left flank, engulfing the ball. My thrower managed to retrieve it but couldn’t find a safe path out of the melee. Blue’s black orcs gradually smashed through the line and with most of the Red Starz knocked out, my thrower was forced to break for the right wing. He was quickly locked down by the enemy but risked it all to break out and fire a pass to a waiting blitzer. He took off with the ball underarm and the Blues didn’t have any defenders in position or the pace to catch him. 1-0 to the Red Starz in a half which probably should have gone the other way.

The second half saw the ragged survivors step out onto the pitch. The lack of subs was beginning to tell on the Red Starz as several players remained concussed from the “incidents” of the first half. With only five players facing off against seven, it would be difficult to hold out for the win but a draw was looking likely. My only consolation was that my opponent would not be able to press the numbers advantage while also protecting the ball. As expected, he caged up and began feeling for a gap in my line of scrimmage. The Red Starz refused to get drawn into a brawl and focused on delaying the drive.

The third quarter saw his advance stalled around the midway point as the Red Starz line continued to hold. This was more due to luck than skill as the line was dangerously thin at times. But my opponent had used his reroll, which meant the chances of a game-changing turnover were high. I played cautiously and hoped for a lucky break. A screening player stumbled during a tackle, leaving a path to the ball carrier and the Reds pounced. A quick hit on the enemy thrower and the ball was stolen. My thrower fell back deep into my own half with the ball to try and buy time. The Blues moved up in pursuit but the Reds had committed themselves and most of their team were now trapped in a melee. The thrower waited to the last second before throwing a long pass into the opposing end zone. My loose blitzer took off uncontested as the Blues found themselves tied down. He arrived with seconds to spare and… failed to pick up the ball. But wait, a re-roll. Failed again. Game over.

Still, 1-0 and a casualty inflicted. Good start.

The last two games saw Orcs vs Dwarves on both pitches. The kick-off table for both games saw a stray pony running onto the pitch and across the line of scrimmage. Oddly, the slow stunties managed to dodge the worst of it while the quicker greenskins were trampled under his small but deadly hooves. I hope he ends up in a hot-pot.

Apart from my own opponent, the other dwarf player was the main contender for first place. To my relief, I glanced over at half-time to see that he was 1-0 down. Dwarves are not noted for their quick scoring game and that score meant that he was likely to lose and would be lucky to come away with a draw. Good news for my chances.

The idea of fighting a dwarf team proved more fearsome in my head than in actuality. He had a sub to spare and better odds in the melee. Or so theory would have it. After some lucky hits, the game became a whitewash. My black orc tore through the middle of his line and once the numbers went my way, I took the time to really cripple the opposing team. The shot above represents the state of play late in the first half. Two orcs per downed dwarf, waiting for them to stand up and take more punches. On the top right, we see the ball-carrying thrower relaxing by the end zone. By the time the whistle blew, two dwarves were dead and one knocked out.

The second half saw a vengeful, angry but woefully understrength Dwarf team line out. They had sworn mighty oaths of vengeance but it gave them no joy. They were brutally mangled again as the orcs quickly broke through to the ball-carrier. One touch of ultra-violence later, a greenskin pried the ball from the runner’s lifeless grasp and ran in a second touchdown. With that, the game was decided and only the fighting remained. The last quarter descended into blood-soaked madness as both teams just stood on the scrimmage line, exchanging punches and kicks. Even the death of my heroic blitzer didn’t dampen the mood as the solitary orc fan taunted his dwarven counter-part.

2-0 and overall tournament victory.

The prizes were of the “someone trying to empty their closet of random junk” variety so I donated them back to the con. This seemed to unnerve them so I assured them that winning was prize enough for me. But to leave me with something tangible, the con director awarded me the “Winz Hobocon” page thing. I feel so honoured.

Comrade Dandies: May

Welcome, comrades, to the May Edition of Preening Dandies. In honour of the international solidarity of the workers, we’ve replaced our normal aristocratic image with something more fitting.

Our first entry is from Lowry and it’s a Protectorate of Menoth solo. Nicia, the horse-faced Tear of Vengeance. For a relic of an out-moded belief system, it’s looking good. Lowry has done an excellent job of picking out the relief on the various types of armour and remains true to the canon colour scheme. And we all know that white is a horror to paint well.

Newbreed follows the religious theme with the Blessings of Vengeance, a light warjack. Just think, the effort put into the production of this ornate device could have fed twenty families for a year. Being too lazy to paint white, he’s gone with a fiery black theme.

Another entry from a doomed theocratic empire, Welshman brings us the Minotaur Artillery Tank. Their lack of self-belief in the justice of their cause has led these imperialists to create larger and larger warmachines. Nothing you build will soothe the unease in your hearts, comrades. Overthrow your blue-clad tyrants and join us. I continue to be amazed by how quickly he can churn out finished, well-painted vehicles.

Really, comrade? You had to go with the fascists? Crazy Aido goes a little off-message with his German mechanised infantry. Rest assured, he’s already enroute to a people’s re-education centre. Their fear of death from above can be seen from the branches strewn across the vehicles. Modelling realistic camouflage on 15mm models is easily botched so we will have to commend him for getting it right.

Sycopat goes with something really suitable, a true collective. This unit of genestealers are immune to machinations of international capitalism and they spend almost all of their time in industrial facilities. We approve. So two red stars for you, Pat.

Trget paints a hapless primitive, known to her leaf-wearing savage tribefolk as a Wood Elf Spellsinger. This is actually a very nice model that I’d never encountered before. He’s been playing with his green highlights and you can expand the picture to judge his work for yourself. Actually, I should point out that you can expand all of the pictures by clicking on them.

Just as we begin to fear that no-one has truly honoured our socialist brethren, Comrade Bristolscale7 produces his T34, a master-crafted product of the righteous and noble workers. He has used Vallejo’s new pigment range to encrust the tracks with the mud of the motherland. Is she not beautiful?

That’s all, folks and another big thanks to all our contributors this month. We’ll be doing another roundup at the end of June so get your works into prd@onthestep.net before the end of the month.

Rules Refresher
1) Each participant may only send in one entry for a given month. You can send in multiple photos of the entry but only one will be used.
2) The entry can be a single model or single unit. The smaller the unit, the more detail in the photo so aim low.
3) The model can be from any game system. If it’s particularly esoteric, we’d appreciate a covering note explaining what it is.
4) The entry must have been finished within that given month. You can’t submit completed pieces from your back catalogue.
5) If you want us to include a link back to more of your work, we’d be delighted to do that.

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