Monday, July 30, 2012

Did the Land Raider Achilles foreshadow the new Hull Points system?

This has been bothering me ever since 6th edition came out. No, actually.. even before that - when the first "concrete" rumors and leaks flooded the blogosphere.

Before I added the side sponsons.. which were a PAIN to build.
So.. was the Land Raider Achilles an early sign for the Hull Points system - perhaps one of the biggest changes brought to us by 6th Edition? I think so.
But let me clarify the actual fact of the matter here:

Here are the early "Experimental Rules" of the Land Raider Achilles, as posted on the Forge World website as soon as the Land Raider Achilles was announced. Notice, for example, the original point cost of 300 points (compared to the actual, current point cost of 325 points.)

"... reduces the effects of all rolls on the damage chart made against it, by -1"
Before: Back then everyone was super excited, because it meant that a regular, non AP1 Glancing Hit couldn't even immobilize a Land Raider Achilles without actually destroying all of its weapons first, since a roll on the damage chart would have been at -3. Penetrating hits were only at -1, which meant that an actual, natural roll of a 6+ was needed to Wreck it. Add to that the immunity to the Lance and Melta special rules and the Land Raider Achilles became pretty resilient. This rustled the jimmies of a bunch of people who immediately yelled "OP! OP!", especially when it was announced that the Land Raider Achilles had the "Warhammer 40,000" stamp on it.

"reduces the effects of all rolls on the Damage chart caused by Penetrating hits by -1."
After: Shortly after the Experimental Rules were posted, there was an update (I think). I mean, I got the book pretty soon, so I also noticed it there. At first, the most obvious difference was the slightly gouged price of 325 points, but after a careful examination on my part I saw the changed wording of the Ferromantic Invulnerability special rule. It struck me as odd. Why would this amazing, super-special hull armor only work when it has been actually penetrated. Why didn't it affect Glancing hits or just ALL rolls on the Damage chart? Back then I saw it as a weird way to nerf the Land Raider Achilles by at least giving some armies the chance to deal with it somehow by Glancing it a bunch of times.

Using 6th Edition, though, it all makes sense. Glancing Hits no longer roll on the damage chart, they simply destroy one Hull Point from the vehicle. It is only Penetrating Hits that get to roll on the chart.
So it is possible that those responsible for the editing/rules of Imperial Armour Apocalype: Second Edition got a whiff of the new vehicle rules... pretty much a year before the actual release? We are constantly being told that Games Workshop and its sister company, Forge World, are pretty independent and separate and that the guys from FW have no idea about what's going on over at GW. It may be true.. but I still think it's weird and quite hard to believe, so I wouldn't be surprised if the book was written, or at least edited with 6th Edition in mind. Even if it was a year ago, I bet that coming up with a new Vehicle damage chart and the Hull Point system was one of the first things that was added to the book. It is just such an important, fundamental part of the game - there's no way that it was not a priority.

But then again knowing GW I wouldn't be surprised...

So whaddaya guys think? A possibility... or a coincidence?

Alpha Legion and 6th Edition

Probably just a month before the release of the new Codex: Chaos Space Marines, I've decided to sit down, reflect on some of the rumors and jot down a few ideas in order to inspire myself (and perhaps even you!) with the exciting, yet challenging adventure that is starting an army from the ground! 
We all know that Codex: Chaos Space Marines is already finished and it's just a matter of time until it is released. The rumor mill is already spinnin' with delicious tidbits and so far things are lookin' pretty promising for the arch-enemies of the Loyalists.

And while I can all but speculate about the things in the Chaos Space Marine codex I can at least jot down some of the more promising and thematic units from Codex: Imperial Guard, which will be playing the role of Special Operatives and various agents, indoctrinated and placed by the Alpha Legion..

The Alpha Legion epitomizes trickery, infiltration, outmaneuvering and outsmarting. While they are just as good (if not better) at prolonged, direct combat, the Alpha Legion prefers to destroy from within, to ambush and slowly chip away at the enemy and to manipulate using subterfuge and propaganda. Information is crucial and the spy networks organized by them are deep and complex. Basically, if each Legion was represented by a god from the Norse Mythology, the Alpha Legion would be Loki himself.

CODEX: Chaos Space Marines

What's going to be in the new (rumored to be hard-cover) codex, what's going to stay the same and what new toys we'll be getting? Your guess is as good as mine, although there are already a bunch of juicy rumors dripping like melted cheese on a medium-rare steak. Cultists, new marks, new Land Raiders, the Dragon, Daemon Engines, new tables, new rules... oh my! 

Staying Undivided
I think this is the most important part of the list-building process. The Alpha Legion is a legion undivided. They do worship Chaos, but they are not dedicated to a single god and I would even say that they don't bother with summoning daemons and other vile creatures of the Warp, because they are unpredictable and unreliable when it comes to precision strikes and years of perfectly-executed tactics. As such I will be doing my best to stick to the following limitations: 
- Only Undivided models
- Very limited Daemonic presence

There are obviously a few things to think about when it comes to the composition of this list. It needs to be a very well-rounded list, because it is how the Alpha Legion works. This means plenty of shooting, enough assault, infiltration and of course - the presence of psykers and psychic protection. The strength of such a list would come from its multiple layers of hybridization. The opponent will have to pick from going after vehicles or infantry, and then this decision will be split between going after the Chaos Space Marine core of the list or the more vulnerable (but potent!) I.G stuff. 
I will do my best to have as much 3+ bodies on the table as I have Guardsmen. I can actually see the Alpha Legion using Razorbacks if they have access to it and even some Rhino Rushing. We shall see.
- Keep it balanced!

And now.. for the I.G part:


Company Command squad: The Company Command Squad is definitely a solid choice. It is well-rounded and offers a LOT of support to the main Alpha Legion. How you equip the squad and what juicy upgrades you grant them is actually not that important. Keep 'em cheap, for all you need are..
+Astropath's Telepathic Relay You add +1 to your Reserve rolls and the ability to re-roll outflank sides is also amazing, because you'll be doing a lot of that. A 2+ rather than 3+ for your units to arrive on Turn 2 is nice, although not as important, but it means that all of your stuff will arrive automatically on Turn 3.
+Officer of the Fleet's Intercept Reserves, makes it harder for your opponent's units to come from reserve, needing a 4+ on Turn 2, and a 3+ on Turn 3, just like the good old days of 5th Edition. Unfortunately things arrive automatically on turn 4, despite any negative modifiers. I think....? The ability to re-roll outflank sides is also amazing, because you'll be doing a lot of that.

The Astropath and OotF are important, especially with how good flyers are in 6th Ed. Remember that all Flyers HAVE to come from reserve, so any chance of delaying them is worth its points. There are also other ways to screw with your opponent's reinforcements by purchasing a:
- Land Raider Proteus (experimental rules here), whose Explorator Augury Web adds another -1 to the opponent's reserve rolls (so Turn 2 = 5+/Turn 3 = 4+) AND you can choose to re-roll your Reserve rolls, even if they are successful, AND it has Scout AND it's an Elites choice for Codex: Chaos Space Marines. Sure, it doesn't pack the punch of some other Land Raiders, it is not an assault vehicle and can carry only 8 dudes.. but it can get Ceramite Armour (immune to Melta special rule)

There's also a rumor that in the new Codex, Undivided Chaos Lords get Inspiring Presence (Inspiring Presence - friendly units within 12" can use the warlords LD) command trait, and improved Reserve manipulation (from Faeit 212). What "improved Reserve maniupation" means is a mystery, but it could easily be another +1/-1 to your/opponent's reserve rolls and possibly the ability to re-roll your own Reserves. Depending on what THAT is, one of the Regimental Advisers might be obsolete, freeing you 30 points. Such a warlord would be a MUST for an Alpha Legion-themed army.

Keep in mind, though, that I'm not 100% sure that the +1/-1 modifiers stack. The only precedent is taken from the I.G FAQ:
Q. If you take two Astropaths or two Oflicers of the Fleet, do their +1/-1 to reserve rolls stack? (p31). A. No.

I still think that with the current way I have it, the modifiers would stack, since they come from different abilities with different names, from different units. Not stacking would be lamesauce. 

+Ursarkar Creed's Tactical Genius is also pretty obvious, though including him in your army will tip the scales towards the I.G detachment and you need 2,000 pt., if you want him and the Regimental Advisers from the Company Command squad. He's a great leader, but you also would need a bunch of I.G squads to benefit from his order shenanigans. Keep in mind that Tactical Genius allows you to give the Scout USR to an infantry or vehicle unit in your army. So you can even give Scouts to a big-ass unit of Chaos Space Marines.. or whatever tickles your fancy. Heh.
Do not bother with Krell. He's not worth it in this list. 

+Last but not least is the Primaris Psyker. The Primaris Psyker is awesome, because his ability to grab Telepathy and swap both of his meh powers, since Lightning Arc sucks and Nightshroud is situational and too random. Using the Primaris Psyker pretty much assumes that he's attached to a Psyker Battle Squad. You take the Primaris Power (Psychic Shreak - 12'' witchfire. Roll 3d6, subtract target's Ld and you deal that many wounds, no armor or cover allowed) and roll for a random power.. because they are ALL good and WILL benefit you greatly. You really want Terrify, though.. which combos greatly with the Psyker Battle Squad's Weaken Resolve. No unit is safe from your psychic shenanigans then. 

While this unit might be incredibly cheesy (now even more than ever..) it actually makes sense in the Alpha Legion army. The Alpha Legion is famous for using psykers for intelligence, spying and all sorts of vile things.


+Guardsman Marbo: A MUST-HAVE!!!!! Seriously. Marbo epitomizes the whole infiltration, sleeper cell agent-doctrine. He's the sneakiest, the trickiest of them all and has all the powers cherished by the Alpha Legion. He's Fearless, Stealth, Move Through Cover, Hit and Run, has Fleet and basically can Deep Strike wherever he wants to, without scattering. What makes him even better, though is his friggin Demolition Charge, which.. by the way have gotten waaay better! Assault 1, One Shot, 6'' range S8, AP2, LARGE BLAST, on a model with BS5. That's pretty amazing. Use Marbo as a one-trick pony. Get him in cover and within an inch of a delicious target (Preferably Paladins - ignores their armor, FnP and causes Instant Death) and drop the template. Hope for the best. On average, 2/3's of the time it will scatter 2''. So hopefully plan for that.  IF Marbo survives the next turn.. well.. consider yourself lucky and just do what Alpha Legion does best.. wreak havoc. 

+Psyker Battle Squad: Basically what I wrote for the Primaris Psyker. They work well-enough alone, but you really want that Marbo, so I would recommend using them in 2,000 pt. games, accompanied by the PP dude.  

+Storm Trooper Squad: They are seriously fluffy and thematic... but I'll probably never end up using them, simply because Marbo and the Psyker Battle Squad are better.. 


This is where things become hard. I am not sure how many Troops I want, what weapons to give them, etc. etc. Though I imagine a Platoon Command Squad lead by.. 
+Al'Rahem: First things, first: Al'Rahem allows you to have a bunch of squads belonging to his Platoon to outflank. They MUST Outflank, which means that they don't count towards your Reserve limitations. That's nice. You can easily get carried away and invest a lot of points in Al'Rahem's platoon, but with 6th Ed and all of your Reserves shenanigans you'll be able to have a much more reliable outflanking unit, potentially arriving automatically on Turn 2 and re-rolling Outflanking sides! Al'Rahem's Like the Wind! order is pretty cool, actually - lets you shoot and then run. Nice for Rapid Firing some lasguns at a unit and then retreating, making assaults less possible. Also..  his weapon is nasty. Power weapon that causes Instant Death? Delicious. Yeah, he's a wimp in Close Combat, which is why you make sure to stick a Commissar with Al'Rahem to accept challenges. Then try to Precision Strike important models and take them out of commission. Forever. 

As I said, I have no idea how I want to run my Platoon Command Squad. Do I want smaller, elite units or a bigger blob? It all depends on what the Cultists bring to the table, I guess. Though I'm really tempted to get a Specialist Squad and give them Demolition Charges.. because.. bombs are cool. 

I dunno. Maybe some Flamers? 

What about Weapon Platforms... ?

+Veteran Squads - The weapon specialist.. Both the Forward Sentries (with Snipers and either Heavy Bolter/Autocannon platform) and Demoltions doctrines are cool.. and so is..
+Gunnery Sergeant Harker

While this list pretty much concludes the units that I want to include as my Allies detachment, there's also one more unit that I really, really want to have: 


+A Squadron of 3 Hydras! : Come on. Why the hell not? Not only is the Hydra the emblem of the Alpha Legion, but Hydras are simply amazing, you guys! With glances no longer messing up with the shooting capability of the vehicle, Hydras are crazy sweet. AND they have Skyfire and ignore Jink cover saves. So that's 12 twin-linked S7, AP4 Hydra autocannon shots and then 9 S5 AP4 heavy bolter shots. Great againt flyers which they always hit on a 4+, ignoring Jink saves; great against light vehicles and other squadrons which they will glance to death; enough shots to make infantry cry.
Some of my friends actually complained when I shared this idea with them, becoming all hurrr-durr-like by saying "This doesn't make sense, the Alpha Legion is all about sneaking and stuff and how would you have gotten Hydras? They are super advanced and stuff!!!?
Nonsense, I say. They are just jealous because it's fluffy, funny and actually makes sense. The Alpha Legion infiltrates other Adeptus Astartes, trifles with Daemons.. I'm sure they can get their hands on a few Hydras. Some people have no imagination these days..

Sunday, July 29, 2012

Breaking the Silence: 6th Edition, Hobby Mojo and.. Alpha Legion?

Hey there, my fellow bloggers and blog lurkers! Long time no see, I suppose. It has been.. errr.. more than a month since I last posted here. A series of unfortunate events (sucky primer, a third of my paints drying or exploding, etc. etc) managed to throw a wrench in the clockworks of my hobby mojo at the very beginning, proving once again that Skarvald the Troll-faced is unable to hobby by himself.

No, seriously. Bad things happen whenever I finally sack up and start painting, folks. Add a few weeks worth of 100+ degrees and insane humidity in the Chicagoland and I think you get the picture. No hobby for Skarvald.
But not all is lost. My Khador WILL be painted one way or another. Probably not this month, because I'll be saving money for a NEW super secret hobby (Spoilers: I'll be making mead) and of course for the inevitable 6th Edition Starter Set and my next 40k Army...

But first..
6th Edition: I still don't have the book. I haven't had the chance to go over the rules too much, except for randomly browsing the freebooted .pdf. Sue me. The book is $75. I'm waiting for the chibi booklet with all the important rules innit. 
I still haven't played a game using the 6th edition rules, but I feel like I have a firm grasp of the rules. Some things I like, some things I love. Some things I dislike.. and some things I hate. But I'll get used to it, I suppose. Do I have an option? Overall I like the general feel of this new edition... We'll see if this still hold when I start playing it! :D

New 6th Edition Army:
I already have two armies: Orkz and Space Wolves.. so why a third army?
1) Orkz: Every time I look at my pile of Ork Boyz I just lose all desire to play them. They were my first army and I think I have 4 different Ork Squads painted TOTALLY different. Seriously - different greens, different shades, washes, different levels of effort. I kind of want to strip 80% of them and to start over.. but then I remember how painful it is paint Orkz. I still love painting Ork vehicles, though.
Orkz got a decent buff with how much easier it is to kill vehicles in close combat, although no consolidation still sucks. Random Assault distances are a pain. Still no Psyker support, except by allying a Farseer which is lame. Don't get to benefit from the new Psychic Powers.. at all. In general, shooty Orkz hiding in terrain and eventually counter-charging seems to be the best option and while this is a playstyle that I enjoy with my Orkz I'd rather wait for their new Codex in a coupe of years.
It's a shame. I have an unpainted Stompa, a Battlewagon, like 20 Burna boyz, Nobz, Deff Koptas.. etc. etc. etc. And HOTPanda is sending me a box of Killa Kans as well. Grrr...

-Thanks, HOTPanda..

2) Space Wolves - I have a Land Speeder, a Land Raider Crusader and a Land Raider Achilles that have yet to be painted. The new Citadel paint range killed me, man. I just don't have the will to start over, because it's impossible to mimic my current paintjob. I also want to repaint my Thunderwolves so badly. I dunno. I still want to play them, but I don't have a reason to expand the army anymore. We'll see..

And now for the new army that I really want to start..

Chaos Space Marines! Wooot! Even more power armor, baby!
And more importantly.. it will be Alpha Legion!
Now, I know that there will be no Legion-love in the new CSM codex, so I'll have to be extra creative with which units I pick. One is for sure, though - the list will be heavy with Allies.
Imperial Guard, to be exact.
We all know that Codex: Chaos Space Marines is already finished and it's just a matter of time until it is released. The rumor mill is already spinnin' with delicious tidbits and so far things are lookin' pretty promising for the arch-enemies of the Loyalists.

And while I can all but speculate about the things in the Chaos Space Marine codex I can at least jot down some of the more promising and thematic units from Codex: Imperial Guard, which will be playing the role of Special Operatives and various agents, indoctrinated and placed by the Alpha Legion..

The Alpha Legion epitomizes trickery, infiltration, outmaneuvering and outsmarting. While they are just as good (if not better) at prolonged, direct combat, the Alpha Legion prefers to destroy from within, to ambush and slowly chip away at the enemy and to manipulate using subterfuge and propaganda. Information is crucial and the spy networks organized by them are deep and complex. Basically, if each Legion was represented by a god from the Norse Mythology, the Alpha Legion would be Loki himself.

Next post I'll share with you some of my ideas.. Until then.. uuuh... imagine the awesomeness of the first Forge World Horus Heresy book coming out this August?

Friday, July 6, 2012

Getting to know 40K 6th edition: Assault Distance In-Depth

So most of use have gotten around to looking through the new rulebook, and after having some time to mull it over just about everyone has their opinion on the 6th edition of 40k. My personal opinion is that the assault phase might just not be worth it anymore. Now there are some things here and there that have been tweaked that you might not have noticed, or haven't run the math on quite yet, so that's what this post is going to be all about. This isn't going to just be all about doom and gloom, or how I "think" something has been "nerfed," I am going to be delving straight into the facts.

C-c-c-combo Charge!
First off, we should all know by now, even if you haven't picked up the book, that "assaulting" has been renamed "charging," and is now subject to a random 2d6 dice roll instead of a straight 6". This change is something I greatly dislike, in fact I have only played less that a dozen games of 8th edition Warhammer Fantasy since they adopted the rule and in that game system it made more sense with the back and forth charge range shuffle that plagued previous editions. Each time you add in more random elements it diminishes the effect of player skill, because there are less things a player has control over. A 6" charge out of cover is more reliable than a 2d6 inch charge, so a player doesn't have to rely on luck and they can solely focus on choosing to attack the correct unit. It also has the same effect on the person being charged if their opponent happens to roll incredibly long charges, and subsequently wipes them off the table. In Fantasy this is diminished slightly by getting the charge only giving you 1 combat res (equal to 1 kill), while in 40k it can potentially double a unit's number of attacks. There is no amount of skill that can made up for if you roll a 2 when you needed a 4, or if your opponent somehow always gets crazy 11 or 12 inch charges. Someone might say, "But this is a dice game, you have to be used to being lucky or unlucky that is just the way it works!" To that person I would say, take a minute and look at how the dice are handled in other phases of 40k. Every time you attack someone you can potentially roll 10 or more dice, heck Orks can get up to 120 in just a single unit. When you are rolling large numbers of dice, like the 20 or so from a unit rapid firing, with 4 or more units per turn, we are looking at potentially hundreds of dice being rolled over the course of a game. With that many dice being rolled luck can really start to even out. Not so when 2 dice are used to settle the outcome. We have all had those games where one assault is the difference between victory and defeat, in fact some armies rely on their one assault unit to come in and reliably get the job done. Some people rely on great positioning to make sure that their fragile shooting army is never in range to be assaulted. What are we going to say to these two people? "Oh you should have rolled better," or "You should have known your opponent was going to get that charge when he started way over there," isn't that a bit ludicrous? I just KNOW that the whole time in the back of someone's mind they are thinking to them self, "But the average of 2d6 is 7, that is better than the 6 from before." (I know it's not you, it is that other guy). That statement isn't false, but it is misleading. Let me drawn an analogy: suppose you only have $100, and I tell you that you can give me that $100 and I will give you $1000....or you can take a 1/1000 chance to get $1,000,000 but if you fail I get to keep all of your money and you get nothing. Which one would you take? They are the exact same average, but I am guessing you all take the automatic $1000. See how averages can be misleading?

The new charge system isn't so much about average distance as it is about % chance of success.

Green: old fleet; Red: new fleet; Blue: normal
Assault phase issues continue with people who have fleet of foot. No longer does fleet let you run and assault in the same turn. Instead it lets you reroll one or more of the dice when you run or charge. Fleet charge distance went from 7-12" to 2-12". Now at first I thought that this was horrendous, and it is bad don't get me wrong, but after I did a bunch of math it isn't as bad as I initially thought. It all comes down to the specifics of how the reroll lets you chose to reroll a single dice if you want. So if you get 6-1, you can keep the 6 and reroll the 1. The fact that it isn't an all or nothing is huge and greatly changes how the curve looks (I haven't seen a correct one yet on any other site). In fact it almost makes the % chance become a straight line. It ends up that on numbers 8-12 is about 10% less likely to happen than a 6+d6, a 7 is 15% less likely a 6 is a 92% chance of success, and all the others are pretty much 100%. The real kicker is fleet in comparison to a "normal" charge, where having fleet greatly increases you chance of success at those low "I should make this but getting unlucky looses me the game" numbers. In the end with fleet you get around 2 more inches at the same % chance of success as a unit without fleet (note this probably isn't 2 more inches on average, averages are bad remember!). I haven't done the math yet (as there are over 45,000 combinations), but after looking at this I expect that fleet will be even MORE of an advantage when assaulting through cover.

You have to be kidding....
So which dice do we reroll and which die do we leave? The answer is pretty simple, actually, if you use some math. Any time the dice is a 1-3 you pick it up and reroll it, no questions asked. If you have a 4 and a lower dice and you need a 10 (wow you play risky) it is the same to pick up both or just reroll the low dice and hope for a 6. If you have only 4+ just reroll your lowest dice, but if you rolled that high and you still failed maybe you need to rethink your strategy.

Red: old; Blue: new
Assaulting through cover has changed a lot compared to 5th edition too. Instead of 2d6 pick the one highest it is now 3d6, pick the two lowest. Those fleet rerolls are going to be huge here. Players can feel pretty safe about having their units 6" behind terrain as rolls of 6 or 7 are going to be considered very lucky. With the change to rapid fire weapons you can expect to see people back up when they are in terrain both whittling down their opponent and knowing they are almost immune to being charged in return. In the end charging though cover is going to be a little more forgiving distance wise than it was in 5th edition, but I know I won't be relying on those 6 or 7 inch charges unless my units have fleet.

Like it or not the game has been changed, and we all have to deal with it. While I personally think changing assault distances to a random 2d6 roll is a mistake, because it can potentially leave the entire game up to a single roll of the dice, I just really want to know why they wanted to "fix" what has been working. Especially since they made the shooting phase a lot more "safe." It's going to ruin a few games on both sides of the board, I just hope it doesn't put as sour a taste in my mouth as it did for Fantasy.