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The Future of Games Days & Games Workshop


It’s a fact that the internet is full of cats. Just occasionally though you stumble upon something which is not at all feline related, but is simply brilliant (in a non-cat way; cats as we all know are naturally brilliant), please dear googlespiders go check out the following series of articles. Note that this series was started back in August 2013.

http://masterminis.blogspot.co.uk/2013/08/the-future-of-games-days-games-workshop.html

Now that you’ve gone away and read the many, many delightful walls of text that this series has to offer I would hope that you would agree with me when I say all other blogs in comparison in this niche hobby, including ours, make the Ewoks look like Shaft.

    So can Games Workshop really turn this juggernaut around and actually avoid the possibility of crashing and burning?

Does anyone really care anymore? Is this a tragedy that everyone but GW management could see coming a mile off?

So GW need business. Once, I was a fanboy and my regular bucket of cash I threw at this hobby ended up in their coffers. Not any more. But, hey, if anyone from GW bothered to ask me, the humble fan, what would make me spend cash with them again here’s what I would say:

1) Quit it with the Ridiculous Prices! Now, bear with me, I don’t mean in the regular internet whinging type of way. Anyone who has ever eaten at a fast food restaurant will understand that quality doesn’t come cheap. GW makes the best toy soldiers in the world so feel free to charge high prices for the best goods. BUT even if you are richer than Scrooge McDuck you aren’t going to buy something if it represents poor value for money which leads me nicely into…

2) Make Some Games I Want To Play! Seriously, I’m done with Warhammer 40k and Warhammer Fantasy Battle in their current incarnations!

I quit WHFB many years ago because I was so hacked off with the stupidly obvious imbalances and evident lack of rulestesting! Poor ZombiePirate has seen me rage on the subject of gamebreaking magical items many times, but that for me was just a fly on a massive turd.

I quit Warhammer 40k after the introduction of 6th Edition. To me it just seemed like change for changes sake and a cynical ploy to adjust army balances just enough to make me buy a whole host of new models to stay in the game as well as a massively overpriced rulebook. Then comes the regular new codices which again upset the army balance a bit further forcing you to buy another overpriced book and new models in order to keep your army competitive. Now again, it’s not the direct cost I’m talking about here. If WH40k was the best thing ever I’d stump up the cash. But the imbalances remain, codex creep happens and I simply haven’t got the time to paint an extra 40 models because some bozo changed a subtle rule making a bunch of my units hopeless.

What I would buy into is if GW took WHFB and WH40k, and the years of experience they have with these systems and just made one really awesome set of rules and codices which were set in stone and did not change every few years. These rules would have been rigorously playtested to allow some degree of balance meaning games would actually be fun and down to luck and skill rather than the whims of whose army is flavor of the month or who had done the most math hammer. Let’s face it, that’s not going to happen, so…

***WARNING OLD FART GAMER ALERT***

How about releasing some of those boxed games you used to do so well? Space Hulk is still a floating citadel favorite. Blood Bowl was great and I have fond memories of Space Fleet, ManOWar and Dark Future. What GW maybe doesn’t realise is that a lot of older fans, yes the ones with jobs who don’t have to pester their parents to buy overpriced tat don’t actually have the time to commit to core games. Most of us have families and none of us has the time to paint 2000 points of Skaven to play a 4 hour grindfest. So instead we play RPGs and board games. Games like those that GW used to do so well. If GW don’t want to quit their current model line-up then we’d even play something like a Mordheim or Necromunda revamp. Youngsters might need to look a few of those games up!

***REMINISCENCE IS NOW OVER YOU CAN STOP ROLLING YOUR EYES***

3) Use Your IP Effectively! Stop it with the cease and desist crap it makes you look stoopid! How many times have I wanted a Space Marine hoodie or an awesome poster, an Imperial Guard forage hat or even a ‘Tea for the Tea God’ mug and been disappointed? Rhetorical question, it’s every time! Wow, if I was in charge this would be one of the first things I would be churning out. How a company with quite possibly the super coolest IP on the planet has failed in merchandising anything except for lots of little plastic doods and a handful of computer games is beyond me.

4) Make Me Want To Come to Games Day! I am not paying a fistful of cash to go to a painting competition and sales event. Either make it a proper day of games and demos like every other Games Day not run by GW or make it the must attend event for all gamers. I paid serious cash to go to EVE Online Fanfest but for that I took part in the biggest celebration of online spaceships the world has ever known. Tournaments, games, freebies, powerpoint presentations, dinner with the developers, live demos, feedback sessions a massive party and even a show by the Icelandic Symphony Orchestra. If Games Workshop did something like that people would be selling their firstborn to attend.

5) Oh, and stop making White Dwarf a massive advert for your new stuff. It wasn’t that great back in the day but at least it did things other than sell to you.

But is any of this going to happen? As I said earlier does any body care any more? I am sure the world will keep spinning if GW goes to the wall. I expect someone would snap up all that juicy IP and hopefully do something useful with it. There is even a chance that the situation in miniatures gaming improves with the extra room. Or, and this is my worry and I feel already beginning to happen, a million and one different manufacturers develop a million and one ‘new’ and ‘revolutionary’ games systems to fill the void and we end up as a community investing in too many games and so end up playing nothing.

– servitob

A Glimpse of Things to Come


Yeah, yeah, I know. I posted twice in one week and then you’ve had nothing from me. To be fair though, the other authors have done a great job of pulling their fingers out and putting stuff up on the blog so I’ve kind of left them to it and thought I’d leave my own content for another time rather than have large amounts of time when there is nothing appearing on the site at all.

Does that mean I’m going to finally post up that review of how Deadzone plays? Of course not! I’m going to leave you hanging on for that one.

BUT! Before you all leave I just wanted to let you know of something special that’s going to be happening. We’ll be meeting for some gaming this weekend and the plan is to do a proper battle report of our game of 40k. This will see the new, much-maligned, Tyranid Codex go up against one of my own armies of grey or primered plastic army men. It’s something that we’ve wanted to do for a while but I think that this weekend is going to be ideal to give it a try. Expect something appearing from Gribblin and myself over the next week, complete with pictures and commentary. If folks like it then we may do it more regularly and for other games.

Who knows it might also motivate me to actually get stuff painted… don’t hold your breath though.

EVE Online: Retirement


quafeEVE Online is very boring but pretty interactive screensaver from Iceland. Wait, no, let me quantify that. 90% of EVE Online is a very boring but pretty interactive screensaver from Iceland.

Unfortunately the vast majority of people never see past this 90% mark and simply get stuck in some of the most woefully awful and repetitive PvE ever encountered in an MMO. Some of the lucky or possibly unlucky people in this group at least get to join a terrible player run hisec corporation and get to sample the paint drying levels of excitement of shooting red crosses and rocks as part of a team. Add in an extremely steep learning curve and a noob experience that basically chucks you in at the deep end and it is easy to see why subscriptions to this game have never been stellar.

The other 10% of EVE Online is some of the greatest and superlative experiences in current sandbox MMOs. The Real EVE that most people never find is a wild west of diplomacy, shifting allegiances, teamwork and meta-gaming unlike anything else. Throw in some epic, and I mean epic, spaceship wars with palpable universal effects and it is also easy to see why subscription levels have remained consistent despite the game being well into it’s eleventh year.

It is this 10% that I have found myself in for the last two years. In a motley crew of wormhole mercenaries, flying and making a living in the most hostile regions of space the game has to offer. The fights were brutal and you were always in danger, but the rewards were huge. Personally I made enough in game currency not only to assemble a veritable armada of battleships and combat vessels, and buy a dreadnought, but I did all this whilst funding two accounts with in game currency. Fight hard, risk it all, play for free.

All good things come to an end, and after participating in some very punishing grudge wars I decided to leave the wormhole life behind me and retire. Retire in a way that only seasoned billionaire capsuleer should, and join the entity known as Red Versus Blue.

Red Versus Blue is one of the biggest organisations in game. Essentially it is two groups, Red Federation and Blue Republic at constant war with one another over some piece of fluff in the alliance info I have never bothered to read. You get in your ship, you fly out of the station and get straight into a fight. You eventually explode only to repeat the cycle all over again until you decide to go watch TV. Except when fleet status is condition purple*, no-one in their right mind would watch TV then!

If you are a capsuleer of means then this can be a good, non-committal way to play the game. I think every capsuleer should do a stint in this organisation just to learn that bigger spaceships aren’t always better and actually the ten seconds before your spaceship explodes provides some of the best fun the game has to offer. No matter what you do in EVE Online, eventually some git (normally in a Tornado) is going to blow you up and the earlier you get used to this fact and start dealing with it the quicker you will abandon the dull drudgery of PvE and actually go out there to start making things explode for yourself.

* think of what colors make purple if you aren’t nerdy enough to get the reference, you may need to ask a friend if you are unfortunate enough to be colorblind.

Tyranid Tactica Part 3 – Underpowered?


TyranidWell I’m coming to the end of my rant, though I may end up breaking this part into 2.  “No more please! I can’t take anymore Tyranids!”  Well tough, the moaning on forums got me on my soap box and I’ve got to get it all out of my system.

“The Tyranids are under powered and will suffer in tournaments”  Their performance in tournaments is something that will be seen in due coarse, and will be dependent upon more factors than just the army list; what units you have taken, how you deploy and play and ultimately how you roll your dice.  Lets face it, you can pick the perfect army and use your best tactics but if you keep rolling 1s you’re screwed.  That’s all I’m going to say about their future tournament performance.

As for the under powered that’ll take a lot longer to look in to, so prepare yourself for another yarn of biblical proportions.

Let me start with this.  If you want an army in which you can choose a handful of high-powered units, wait until the time is right and then lay down a hammer blow in an almighty alpha strike…then the Tyranids ARE NOT FOR YOU.  If this is how you want to play then I suggest you go for a Marine, Eldar or Tau army.  I can understand why this style of game play has come to dominate not just the tournament scene but ‘friendly’ games too.  There are plenty of lists on the net so you don’t have to put a lot of thought into it, somebody else has already done that part for you.  You could argue that this is just being a little lazy, but from another perspective if that list works then it works, why change it?  Another factor will be cost and effort.  GW’s stuff is expensive so if you can get a winning army for less then you’ve saved some cash, and a smaller army is quicker to paint and thus easier to get ready.  The problem is that the Tyranids don’t fall into this style of play, and I think this might be why some people see them as under powered.  They are at heart a horde army, not an elite alpha-strike army, they lack the instant death, hard-hitting units that’ll kill everything in a turn.

“What about the Nidzilla list?!”   I hear you cry.  Well I don’t see this as much more than a novelty list.  It has serious limitations.  First of all there wont be many units in the army, and thus not many models, and more importantly not many wounds.  Monsters are tough but not indestructible, there are plenty of krak missiles and dark lances out there and some enemy units will nigh drop a monster in a single round of shooting.  Plus there’s the factor of target numbers (I’ll speak more of that later).  In melee they wont do as well as you’d think.  Each monster only has 3-6 attacks, so how are you going to cut through an Ork horde? And then more dangerously are the Assault Terminators that your enemy will have taken.  With 3+ Invulnerable saves, you’ll be lucky if your monster kills 2 Terminators, then they have 3 left to retaliate back, more than enough to kill your creature.  My final advice against Nidzilla is that many games (again I’m sticking to the basic scenarios in the rulebook) will be won by controlling objectives…well in most cases they can’t do that.

So you can’t really do a good elite strike force.  What other weaknesses does the Tyranid Codex bring?  Well Instinctive Behaviour isn’t that big an issue (see part 1) and the psychic powers aren’t weak like people are saying (see part 2).  For real weaknesses they do have a limited amount of long ranged weapons.  You only have 2 weapons with a range beyond 36″.  Your ‘heavy’ weapons tend to have a range of 36″ with most of your Infantry weapons being 12-18″.  I have found this to only really be an issue with Dark Eldar and their rather annoying Nightshields…reducing weapon ranges by 6″ is a pain.  They don’t have a lot of AP2/3 weapons.  This has been improved in this codex with 2 new AP 2 weapons, one of which is a Str 7 Large Blast.  That’s a dead unit of Marines.  They don’t have 3+ saves beyond the Monsters & characters, but they’re not Marines so why should they?

I can understand that the Tyranids not having Fortifications or Allies can be seen as a restriction, especially if you rely on the extra HQ, Elite etc slots in your army to make an alpha strike.  But they didn’t have that before the new codex, so it’s not a new restriction and fits perfectly with the Tyranid background.  You must adapt your play style to what you’ve have got.  If players are bring in allies so they can have a 4th elite, fast attack & heavy support, then they are not spending the points on Troops, which means you can control more objectives.  Remember that in most cases you will only need to control one more than them to win.

Strengths of the Tyranids

Hopefully the past 2 posts and the above have helped to show that the new Tyranid codex isn’t as weak as people are making out.  Most of what is being said seems to be by people who have either not read the codex properly or want to play Tyranids as if they were Space Marines.  They are not Marines, accept it!  So what are their strengths?

Bodies over bullets.  This is a common theme for Tyranids and now that most of the units have had a points drop this principle is even more important.  Don’t just think about how many models you can have in an army, but more importantly how many units you can field.  The more units you can field, the more targets your enemy has to deal with.  Target saturation is the key.  They can’t shoot everything so your opponent will have to think really hard about target priority.  You can make this even harder for them by having multiple redundancies built in.  So even if they kill one of that unit, you still have another.  The extreme example would be that you can get 6 units of 30 Termagants for 720pts.  That’s 180 models, and in a 2000 point army you still have 1280pts for other stuff.  Even if you don’t have that many Termagants it is so easy to get 6 Troops units, and a Tervigon will only enhance this.  Think about long term goals, that’s 6 objectives you can control, plus more with a Tervigon, and you still have plenty of points to spare.

A side note to this is cover saves.  This is how you get over the lack of 2+ saves or Invulnerables.  Gaunts provide a 5+ save to Warriors, Warriors do so for Monsters etc.  Throw in a Venomthrope and you’ve got a 3+ cover save.  As for the gaunts at the front…they’re 4 points each and you have 100+ of them, who cares if they die?  Also with a synapse creature around they’ll all be Fearless…who else has 4pts Fearless units with a Str 4 gun?

My advice then would be to try your best to max out your unit slots.

Shooting.  Tyranids might have short ranged shooting but it’s devastating.  They’ve gained 3 haywire weapons, one of with is a flamer template and can be used by a Tyrant (winged perhaps).  Their firepower is generally short-medium ranged, but there are a lot of shots.  Don’t believe me?  Look at the guns they have.  If it’s in the hands of anything larger than a Termagant then it’s either multiple shots, blast, large blast or template.  There has been an increase in the number of AP2 weapons.  You might not always want to assault with Tyranids, their medium-short ranged firepower is nasty.  One gun even has 20 shots.  Your close combat Trygon Prime comes with 12 Str 5 shots.  None of this has gone down since the previous codex, and if anyone hasn’t noticed the venom cannons no longer suffer a negative penalty against vehicles…the first time ever.  Still think their weak?  The only real weakness to this firepower is the Dark Eldar Nightshields as this can reduce many of your weapons to 12-18″.  Oh and did I mention they’re all Assault weapons, even the artillery, so no worries about moving & shooting.

No Vehicles.  How is that a benefit?  It’ll take 4 Railgun shots to down a Carnifex, yet a Land Raider can be taken out with just one.  This is counterbalanced by their susceptibility to small arms fire, but most of that will only wound your monsters on  a 6 and you’ll get your 3+ save, and besides you’ll have a mass of Gaunts between your monster and those Bolters.  A more important bonus of monster over machine is that they all count as denial units, every single one of them.  This includes those that are flying.  There is nothing I’ve found in the rules or FAQs to address this, meaning your Winged Tyrant in swoop mode will still be able to count as a denial unit (feel free to correct me if you’ve found it).  This will probably be addressed in time, but if so you can still drop it into glide mode.  Remember in most games you’ll only have to control 1 more objective than your opponent to win.

Multi-wound Creatures.  When 6th Edition first came out I did an article on how units of multi-wound creatures can ‘play the system’ of wounds allocation.  As wounds from shooting have to be allocated to the nearest model to the shooter, when your models have taken wounds you can reposition them in your next movement phase as you move your unit, placing them deeper in the unit leaving the unwounded ones in the front.  It’s not like Fantasy where you have to apply all wounds to a single model until it is dead.  If it is not the nearest model, then it wont take wounds until the nearest model is dead.  This way you can take wounds across the whole unit without loosing a single model.  When it comes to melee with units that can instant death them, make sure your models with 1 wound left are near the front.  They’ll have to take the wounds first (as they’re the nearest), but the Instant Death wont mean much as they’ll only have 1 wound left anyway.

Well the past 3 articles are my thoughts on the why I think the Tyranids are not as underpowered as people have been saying.  It all depends upon how you play them and what style of play you favour.  Remember they are a horde army, so the tactics you and your gaming buddies like to use when playing Marines or Tau wont work with them, so be creative and do something new.  Enjoy playing with the new Tyranids.

Tyranid Tactica Part 2


downloadSo here comes part 2 of my don’t moan about the new Tyranid Codex rant.  I haven’t been this active on the blog for a long time.  I’ll try not to be to harsh on the complainers and to justify my comments.  So lets go for the next complaint.

“We don’t have Biomancy anymore and the Powers of the Hive Mind are crap”  OK I’ll give people that one.  The Biomancy list worked really well for the Tyranids and its loss will be felt by many.  I will however say that if your army or battleplan is based upon the randomness of psychic powers then you might want to reconsider how you play, even more so as the Biomancy has gone.  Psychic powers are very useful, but fickle (not as much as magic in Fantasy) but the only armies that can really build a power base around it are Eldar, Grey Knights and Tzeentch.  The Tyranids can have a lot of psychic punch with Hive Tyrants and Zoanthropes being Mastery 2 and the Tervigons and Broodlords being Mastery Level 1.  Let’s have a closer look at the Hive Mind Powers and how they can best be used.  Bear in mind that all of your Psykers are LD 10 and shouldn’t have too many problems passing tests.

Dominion (Primaris Power): My last post was a rather long rant about Instinctive Behaviour as so many people seem to think that it has ruined their army.  So guess what the first Tyranid Power does…increases your Synapse range by 6″.  So for those of you still thinking that your army wont work consider this.  Take one Hive Tyrant, give it wings and the Norn Crown; your synapse range is now 18″ standard.  Choose Dominion as one of your powers that increases it to 24″ for the sake of a Psychic Test.  Now if you’re lucky you might get Synaptic Lynchpin as your Warlord Trait.  This gives you a 60″ diameter synapse bubble with your Tyrant in the middle.  Still worried about Instinctive Behaviour?  With that kind of range you shouldn’t have any problems and the fact that he’s flying will make him hard to take down.

Catalyst: I know it’s different to Biomancy’s Endurance, but you can’t seriously complain about your Hive Tyrant and his Tyrant Guard buddies getting Feel No Pain can you?  Especially when you consider that you’ll have put him behind a screen of Termagants and a Venomthrope will be near by for that 3+ cover save.  In addition to him getting it, so does another Tyranid unit within 12″…a little short ranged…well maybe, but remember your Tyrant is going to in the middle of it, so it probably wont matter.  Another thought would be that you can use it give a Winged Tyrant and a nearby Crone Feel No Pain.

The Horror: Causes an enemy unit to take a pinning test at -2 LD.  Not very useful at first glance, but here’s a tactic to consider.  Broodlords get it automatically…and they have Infiltrate.  Move him close (well 24″ close) and get him to suppress an enemy shootie unit.  Most will be taking the test on LD6 at best, reducing the enemy’s firepower significantly and also giving the Genestealers a ranged threat.  As it is not a psychic shooting attack you can still charge a different unit.  Two in one.

Onslaught: Perhaps the least useful of the powers.  Though it will allow an assault unit (say a Trygon, Carnifex or Raveners) to ‘do the Eldar thing’ and Run & Shoot.  My inclination would be to choose this one as the switch for Dominion.

Paroxysm: Better than in the previous codex as its range has been increased to 24″.  Instead of dropping the WS and BS to 1 it decreases by D3.  This means that if you roll high a unit with average WS & BS (say Imperial Guard) will see it dropped to 1, poor shooting.  Even if you do roll not so well having WS 2 Terminators just as you’re about to assault them can only be a good thing.

Psychic Scream: Range is now a permanent 6″ instead of the random 2D6″ from the last edition.  Not such a biggie, you could have rolled you could have rolled 2 so a set range is good.  It will hit all enemy units in range (same as before) but here’s the difference.  Instead of taking a LD test you roll 2D6+2 and subtract their LD.  No armour or cover saves allowed.  This is basically the banshee howl from fantasy, only better.  Think of the possibilities…a winged Tyrant right in the middle of the enemy…oh and combine this with the -3 LD from Shadow in the Warp and you can pretty much kiss any Psykers in range goodbye.  So long Seer Council, nice knowing you Grey Knights.  Yes I do realise you get a Deny the Witch roll, but it’s still good.

Warp Blast: Same as before really.  Warp charge 2 though, so your Tyrant & Zoanthropes are the only ones that can use it, and they wont be doing any other powers.  Nice AP 3 blast to kill Marines or a Str 10 lance for tank hunting.  Zoanthropes still fulfill their old role.  As for the Tyrant nice to have another shot…and here’s another option; Winged Tyrant plus Str 10 Warp Lance equals one hell of an air hunter.

Conclusions: Consider combinations of these powers.  Take two Broodlords, that’s two suppressed units, plus a potential Paroxysm for a third.  Three enemy units that wont be hitting much in their next shooting phase.  Enjoy that Tau gunline.  So next point.

“The Warlord Traits are useless”  I can understand this comment.  The Tyranid Traits are up against some stiff competition, especially from the Personal Traits, most of which would work really well with a Tyrant & Guard.

Nature’s Bane: A bit of a mixed blessing I think.  First of all it will depend upon how much forest terrain is on the table.  Usually there is at least one or two.  Turning it into a Carnivorous Jungle will force your opponent to have to vacate an area (and thus any objectives they were holding) or start taking hits.  OK so Marines won’t worry to much, but for armies that rely on terrain it could be a pain…unfortunately this also includes you as the Tyranid player…use carefully.

Heightened Senses: So Night Vision for your Warlord and all friendly units in 12″.  Not much good for most of the game, but think about the first turn.  Deploy your shooting units next your Warlord and have at it in first turn whilst your enemy can’t retaliate.  Unless you’re fighting Tau or Dark Eldar think of this as a turn you can shoot at him and he can’t shoot back as well.  Night is your friend as a Tyranid player.

Synaptic Lynchpin: I think I’ve already covered this and its potential combination with Dominion and the Norn Crown.

Mind Eater: So you gain 2 extra VP for every Independent Character you kill in a challenge.  Nice way to gain VP, but how can you pick your targets?  My first thoughts would be a Winged Tyrant flying around picking off characters at will.  Kitted out right it should take on most comers.

Digestive Denial: Knocking down a terrain’s cover save by 1, mildly inconvenient, but not exactly a big deal.  So many armies come with 3+ saves.  Other stuff will suffer, especially considering how many blasts the Tyranid army can throw out, but it’s only one piece.

Adaptive Biology: So when your Warlord suffers his first wound you gain Feel No Pain…on a Tyrant.  Thing I mentioned the advantage of that earlier, but it only kicks in after your first wound.

Conclusions:  On the whole I think the detractors are right.  The Tyranid Traits are a little weak, especially when the Personal traits give you so much more.  The Heightened Senses, Synaptic Lynchpin and Mind Eater are probably the best, with the others being not that much use (remember that you still have to suffer a wound for Adaptive Biology to work).

Well that’s my take on the Psychic Powers and Warlord Traits.

Tyranid Tactica (6th Edition) Part 1


m3700225a_60030106005_2014TyranidCodexENG01_873x627Since the Tyranid codex was released week ago I’ve read a number of forum posts on the new army and there have been a few things that I have noticed.

  1. The general conclusion is that the codex is awful and has left the Tyranids woefully underpowered
  2. The are no all powerful units (yes I know this is similar to point 1)
  3. It will do really badly in tournaments
  4. People really are moaning about it

Most of my comments will be based upon the standard 40K rulebook and the Tyranid codex as it currently stands, no extra add ons.  What I am about to write in this post will likely have some people up in arms, but what’s a blog site without a little controversy.  My first comment is that people should read the codex properly and see how it connects to the main rules (I understand the irony if I get something wrong from this point on lol).  To give you an example I’ve read someone moaning that the shootie Hive Guard unit has Instinctive Behaviour (Feed) meaning it would be useless if it fails the test, well wrong they have Hunt so they will still shoot.  This leads me into my first rebuttal.

“Instinctive Behaviour will ruin my army as everything will eat each other.  It will mean I need lots of Synapse Creatures.”  Welcome to the Tyranid army.  Synapse Creatures have been a strength and weakness of Tyranids since the 2nd edition.  Their presence makes your units fearless, but that also means that they are target number 1 on your enemy’s hit list because they know that your units will be less effective.  That is what they have always been like, live with it.  Instinctive Behaviour isn’t as bad as people make out.  First you have to fail a leadership test for anything bad to happen.  OK your Gaunts and Raveners are LD6 but the rest is 7, 8 even 10.  Average to really good LD values.  If you pass they will act normally, it’s only if you fail that there is a 50/50 chance of something bad happening.

So what are the Instinctive Behaviour results?  Lurk; 1-3 the unit falls back, 4-5 unit moves/runs as normal but can’t shoot unless it is area terrain, 6 same as 4-5 but you gain Stealth.  Hunt; 1-3 unit goes to ground, 4-5 unit can’t run but shoots at the nearest viable enemy unit, 6 same as 4-5 but you gain Preferred enemy.  Feed – 1-3 unit takes 1 hit for each model in the unit at the majority strength with AP – , 4-5 moves normally, but can’t run or shoot and must assault the nearest viable enemy unit, 6 same as 4-5 but gains Rage.  So Lurk, OK so the fall back move is inconvenient but hardly a game breaker and as for the rest well unless you’re playing on empty battlefield that isn’t really an issue.  Who has Lurk? Termagants, Lictors and Venomthropes.  Lictors are LD 10 and not likely to fail the test, Venomthropes you take to sit in the middle of your army giving everything a cover save and can’t shoot anyway and Termagants are designed to be expendable and come in large numbers, so who cares if they sit in cover on an objective waiting for the enemy to come to them?  Who has Hunt? well generally your shooting units; Hive Guard, Gargoyles, Harpy, Biovores, Exocrines & Tyrannofexes.  The snap shots only part of Going to Ground will be a bit of a pain I admit, but most of those units will still be able to shoot, and you weren’t planning on assaulting with them anyway were you?  As for the other results, except for the Biovores and Tyrannofexes were you really planning on shooting anything other than the nearest enemy unit?  The Harpy is LD 10 so you should pass that and Hive Guard, Exocrine & Tyrannofex are LD 7 or 8 good chances.  Gargoyles are fast and will likely be next to be within range of the unit they want to shoot at anyway, so it’s only really the Biovores that will suffer, and so they have to shoot at the nearest enemy? big deal.  All that is left is Feed.  So who has Feed?  Tyrant Guard, Hormagaunts, Rippers (Sky-slashers), Haruspex, Pyrovores, Raveners, Hive Crone, Carnifex, Trygon & Mawloc, in other words, your close-combat stuff.  Unless it gets killed in a challenge the Tyrant Guard will die before the Tyrant so Feed is no problem for them.  The Haruspex, Hive Crones, Trygons and Mawlocs all come as 1 model units so to 1-3 result is ignored and changed to the 4-5.  So you’re not going to suffer extra wounds.  Most of these you want to get into combat ASAP so who cares if it runs amok and attack a different? The Mawloc is going to be spending most of the time underground so ignore it for that.  The Trygon has a LD of 8 and the Crone LD 10 so good chance of passing the test.  With the other good options in Elites I can’t see anybody taking Pyrovores so we’ll ignore them.  Carnifexes have a LD 7 and a 3+ save so even if you do fail and take some hits you’re not likely to suffer any wounds.  Rippers have so many wounds that taking a couple really doesn’t matter and it’s better than their Mindless special rule that they had in the last edition.  This leaves you with Raveners and Hormagaunts.  Raveners I admit could suffer badly from the self-inflicted hits and with a LD 6 they are likely to fail the test.  Solve the problem; 1) add the Red Terror who ups the unit’s LD to 8, 2) take advantage of the fact that they can move/assault up to 24″ in a single turn and get them into combat so they don’t take the test, they can be merrily hacking & slashing in turn 2.  Assaulting is what they are there for so Charge!!  As for the Hormagaunts, same thing, get them in combat as that is what they do then you wont take the test.  Failing that they’re 5 points per model, why should you care if you fail and 40-50 pts for Gaunt dies?  You still have loads more.

Conclusions for Instinctive Behaviour.  It will be inconvenient if you fail a test, but it is no a foregone conclusion that the unit is useless and it’s hardly the end of the world even if they do fail.  Most of the units will do what you were planning on doing with them anyway, so what’s the problem?

As for needing to take lots of synapse units…you mean you don’t already?  What’s wrong with you?  Take a look at the units; Hive Tyrant, Tervigon, Tyranid Prime, Tyranid Warriors & Shrikes, Zoanthropes and Trygon Primes.  In short good units.  The Tyrant is one of the most powerful Monstrous Creatures in the game with a really good basic stat line BEFORE you add all the extras.  Kitted out I take it as either a synaptic linchpin with a H. Venom Cannon or as a flying air hunter.  Both are good options.  So they can’t have a 2+ save anymore, big deal.  In the last edition you couldn’t give it a 2+ save if it had wings so your flying Tyrant hasn’t lost out, and your ground Tyrant I found was much more effective surrounded by 2 or 3 Tyrant Guard.  That combination is incredibly tough and is a threat at both range and melee.  It takes an entire army’s worth of shooting to take it out, and if they’re all shooting at the Tyrant & Guard, they’re ignoring everything else.  I appreciate that the Tervigon has had a big points increase, but what do you expect from a unit that creates other units.  You have to factor in the points of the model itself PLUS the extra gaunts it will create.  So long as this is alive you can still control objectives as it spawns more Troops choices for you.  You can even hold it back controlling the objectives towards the rear and allowing your other units to advance.  Primes have also had a points hike but they’re still very similar in points and stats to many other HQ choices in other armies.  They have the speed of Eldar, the toughness Orks, the save of Marines, what did you expect?  Though it is an obvious use to put them in a Warrior unit, try putting them in a Termagant one to increase your synapse bubble.  Zoanthropes are excellent (short ranged) tank hunters and believe me Marine players hate that AP 3 blast.  With a 3+ Invulnerable save they can take a lot of hits before dropping, and they’ve gone down in points cost.  Trygon Primes are also really good monsters.  They’ve had a points drop and can’t re-roll their close combat hits anymore (I know that one is a pain), but it is still a big-ass monster with 6 wounds a 3+ and enough firepower & punch to take on anything but a unit of Assault Terminators.  Their Deep Striking means you can keep them off the board and away from harm until turn 2 or 3, bringing them onto the table near the enemy (where most of your army will be by turn 3) to plug the gap in your synapse net where you need it.

At last we get to the Warriors & Shrikes.  The Warriors are one of my favourite units, always have been.  I know what you’re saying “strength 8 = instant death” and it is a weakness…there only real weakness.  With 3 wounds, a 4+ save and the fact that wounds have to be allocated to the model nearest the enemy firers (think fancy footwork and moving your wounded models around in the unit each movement phase so they are in the middle) these models are very resistant to small arms fire.  Giving them Eternal Warrior as some have suggested in my opinion would have overpowered the unit.  Think about it, 3 wounds, 4+ save, Eternal Warrior 30-35pts/model Troops unit that you can reposition your wounded models inside of to protect them.  You would never kill that unit without a Titan gun.  Add to this an immense amount of firepower (if it’s not a blast weapon it has 3 shots) and the unit would kill all it came across.  Shrikes with their flying and Hammer of Wrath attacks are even more effective in melee, especially as they can have flesh hooks again, add the above and you have a no-brainer unit choice.  Thankfully they didn’t go down the Eternal Warrior path again.  If you are worried about the Warriors think Gaunt unit in front, Venomthrope behind and all of a sudden they have a 3+ cover save, what more do you want?  (yes I know this wont save them from barrage weapon, but it’s good enough). These guys are excellent infantry killers at range and melee, use them.

Conclusions for Synapse Creatures.  Most of them are your most powerful units already, synapse is just a bonus they provide.  Protect them with Venomthropes, Tyrant Guard and expendable Gaunts or special rules such as Deep Striking or Flying and you shouldn’t have a problem.  Rarely, if ever have I lost all of my Synapse Creatures in a game, and I’ve been playing Tyranids since early 2nd Edition.

Well that’s part 1 of my rant over.  Feel free to comment and poke holes.  I know my experience as a Tyranid player will be different to other peoples so come forth and tell your own stories of woe.  I’ll be back another day with more thoughts, rants, tactics and rebuttals regarding the new codex.

Zombie Killing Night In


nomoreroomLast night a group of us got together for our usual Wednesday night gaming session.  This time to mix things up I had asked to provide a zombie game.  Liking zombies almost as much as I like Tyranids (what would Freud have made of me?) I was more than happy to create a zombie encounter for the night.  I used the No More Room in Hell rules (with a few extras to fit the scenario) to play the game.  The situation was simple; the 4 of us were in the middle of town and had to gather enough food and supplies and then barricade ourselves inside one of the buildings to win.  All this time more and more zombies are spawning with the intent of having a brain salad.  The game started with us in the middle of town, Servitob broke into the gun shop hoping to find some good weapons and only finding creates of ammo.  The rest of us fanned out to search the other buildings before the zombies moved in.  Some found food, others medical supplies and then going into the petrol (gas) station I rolled on a random encounter and struck the motherload; a big-ass snow plow with a dozer-blade on the front! Lots of squished zombies later we managed to fill our supplies and hold up in the junkyard.  A fun game and a good way to spend an evening with friends.

The Hive Mind has Landed; a look at the new Tyranid Codex


Codex: Tyranids

Well it’s finally here, the latest codex to come from GW and it is one I have been waiting for.  I know I’ve been quiet on the blog site for a number of months, and this I plan to change in 2014.  So to start off with I thought I’d go through the new Tyranid Codex, give you the updates and my thoughts on it.  So here we go!

First Impressions: It follows the format of the other recent additions to both 40K and Fnatasy in that it is full colour and hardback, with lots of nice artwork, some of it new (before you ask I bought the regular edition not the limited one that costs twice the price – I may like ‘nids but I like my bank balance to be health too).

The Army: The army’s special rules are what you’d expect; Synapse Creature is its usual 12″ Fearless bubble (contrary to some rumors it does not give the creature Eternal Warrior – even I think that would be a bad idea), Shadow in the Warp screws over enemy psykers by give them a -3 to LD and Instinctive Behaviour the same…oh wait hold on a second.  BIG CHANGE!  Units outside of synapse range still have to take a LD test for Instinctive Behaviour, but now there are three types; Lurk, Feed and Hunt.  If you fail the test then you roll on the relevant table to get a random result for what your unit will do.  This differs depending on type but generally it is 1-3 bad for you, 4-5 inconvenient as the unit loses some cohesion or 6 actually pretty good! E.g. for Feed the creatures will either; 1-3 attack each other, 4-5 move/charge towards the nearest enemy unit, 6 charge but with the Rage rule.

The Warlord traits are interesting.  There isn’t actually one I don’t like.  You can; turn terrain into ravenous plant life, gain night vision, increase your synapse range, gain extra VP for killing characters, reduce a terrain piece’s cover save or gain Feel No Pain….hmmmm a Hive Tyrant with Feel No Pain….sorry I was just imagining my opponent’s frustration.

The Army List is laid out in the same fashion as the other codices, including a Wargear List and some unique Bio-artifacts.  Most of you will probably be aware of the new units; Haruspex, Exocrine and Hive Crone.  What you might not know is that the Red Terror is back as a character upgrade for a Ravener brood.  What you may also not know is that there is stuff missing.  The Mycetic Spores are gone (so no more drop pods for ‘Nids), which is something that disappoints me.  Although I didn’t use them that much, they were part of Tyranid Lore for a long time and it seems a shame to get rid of them.  The more cynical side of me would think that this is because drop pods are a ‘Space Marine thing’….but oh well.  What’s also missing are the Ymgarl Genestealers, the Parasite of Mortrex and to the delight of people who’ve fought tournaments against ‘Nid players the Doom of Malan’tai.  That’s right, Doom is no longer in the Tyranid army.  Personally I’m not that bothered, I only used a couple of once (once for a laugh, and again to teach a young-blood a lesson about gaming), but I know that others use him as their game winner – drop Doom into the middle of the enemy and watch him devour their souls.  Leads for a rather repetitive game, and one in which your opponent can do little to counter.  Maybe they should have re-written him, but no sense in crying over spilt ichor.

HQs: In an interesting move Old One Eye and Deathleaper have moved to HQ section.  This means you can have a general without it being a Synapse Creature.  They’ve also dropped in points.  You’ll also find the Hive Tyrant, Tervigon, Tyranid Prime and Swarmlord still present with a few subtle changes but nothing too extravagant (the Tyrant is now BS 4 for example).  Both the Tervigon and the Tyranid Prime have had a large points increase (+35 and +45 respectively) but their rules & stats are virtually the same.  Despite the cost of the box set it’s good to see GW finally making a model for the Prime.  In a similar vein it’s also good to see a plastic box for the Tyrant Guard/Hive Guard, and considering these models were metal/finecast the cost for 3 is about the same.  Plus you finally have all of the weapons options for move them and the Warriors.  Your generic ‘characters’ have access to the a wide range of bioweapons and biomorphs, plus the bio-artifacts.

Troops: No real changes here.  Termagants & Hormagaunts have dropped 1pt, rippers are up 3pts.  Warriors & Geenstealers are the same, though the Warriors now have access to Flesh Hooks, which work similar to assault grenades in combat again.  The Termagants still have the weapon options for spike rifles, spinefists & devourers, and for some point the strangleweb.  Having played Tyranids since 2nd Edition I was happy to see the return of the old weapons…but I don’t see why anyone would take the strangleweb.  Sure it’s a template weapon, but it’s Strength 2 which means at best 5’s to wound…you can only have 1 for ever 10 Termagants and it costs 5 points, that’s more than the gaunt carrying it.  Like I said, don’t see the point in a Strength 2 template.

Elites: Here’s where it starts to get interesting.  The Hive Guard now have the option for upgrading to the Shockcannon, and 18″ range haywire weapon, just to increase their vehicle killing potential.  I’m a little disappointed that they didn’t get an anti-aircraft weapon as an option, given the dominance of aircraft in current 40K, they would have seemed the logical unit to give it too.  As it happens there is no ground based AA gun for the ‘Nids.

Lictors seem to be useful again.  They can’t assault from Deep Strike, but they no longer have to deploy in that way.  They can deployed like a regular unit and come with the Infiltrate special rule, so they get to start the game on the table and act as a teleport homer for your other units.  This also means you don’t have the “Surprise I was that tree! Now I can’t do anything for a turn so feel free to shoot me”.  If you do decide to Deep Strike them, they don’t scatter.  They’re also slightly better in combat than they used to be.

Zoanthropes are now a Brotherhood of Psykers, but with a Mastery Level of 2 and can have 2 psychic powers (one of which is Warp Blast).  Venomthropes; just some clarification of the Spore Cloud (Shrouded) and Toxic Miasma is now a ‘one use only’ toxic fart.  Pyrovores are worth taking as a close support creature now that they have 3 Wounds and 2 Attacks as well as the heavy flamer on their back.

The Haruspex is the new kid; 5 Wounds, 3+ save monster with acid blood and the ability to consume an entire chain of fast-food restaurants.  His only ranged weapon (grasping tongue) is a 12″ range, S6 AP2 attack that gets a Precision shot on a 6.  When it kills stuff it regains lost wounds and in close combat it just rampages along with any wounds it causes granting it extra attacks.

Fast Attack: Shrikes, Raveners, Sky-slashers, Gargoyles and Spore Mines as expected.  Though now Spore Mine Clusters just Deep Strike as normal into the game.  This does give you an interesting option to use the Lictor’s homing ability to stop the mines from scattering.  Also they don’t explode as multiple blasts anymore.  When a Spore Mine Cluster (including those from Biovores) goes off you get one large blast at Strength 4 with the Strength increasing +1 for each additional Spore in that cluster.  S9 AP4 large blast guided by a Lictor anyone?

As mentioned the Red Terror is back as a character upgrade to a unit of Raveners.  It’s basically a slightly larger, tougher Ravener with the ability to swallow anything smaller than a dreadnought.  Seriously, if it hits with 4 or more of its Attacks (it’s WS6 and will have 6A on a charge) then it can choose to swallow an Infantry, Jump or Jet Pack Infantry that isn’t very or extremely bulky.  The model gets an Invulnerable save (if it has one), if not, dead regardless of wounds or toughness.

The Harpy has had a bit of an overhaul.  Its points cost has gone down and it has gained a Wound and an Attack.  Both it and the Hive Crone are both S5 T5 with a 4+ save, making them the weakest of the monsters, but as they’re flying you should really only have to worry about AA guns.  The Harpy is still an all-gun beast designed for ground attack (infantry or vehicles depending on your weapon choices) that can poop spore mines.  It can now poop spores every turn though.  It’s also good to see that they’ve finally done the model for it.  The Hive Crone is the Tyranid’s only real AA weapon.  And it should do a decent job of it too.  When vector striking it counts as S8, and although its drool cannon (yes they really called it that) is a ground attack weapon, the 4 tentaclid missile-like creatures are 36″ ranged haywire shots that can re-roll your misses against aircraft and flying monsters.  Add to that the fact that flying monsters have a 360* fire arc and you’ve got something that can shoot down an enemy fighter even if it is behind it.

Heavy Support: YAY!!!!!! The Carnifex is worth taking again!!!!!!!!!  My main gripe at the last codex was that it castrated the Carnifex.  The fex itself wasn’t that bad, but for the points you were paying the other monsters would do a better job.  Well now it’s 120pts instead of 160.  It has a wider range of upgrades (including tail weapons), an increased Initiative, can come in units of up to 3 and causes D3 Hammer of Wrath hits instead of 1.  Nice to see you back old friend.

Biovores & Exocrines form the artillery.  Spore mines I’ve already mentioned (though for some reason Biovores now have 3 wounds and 2 attacks), but the Exocrine has a very nasty weapon.  It’s the same size as the Haruspex and its gun i relatively short ranged for a big gun (24″).  It is however S7 Ap2 and has a large blast so terminators watchout!  The Tyrannofex (the other gun beast) has had a massive points drop; from 250 to 175!  I wasn’t expecting that, especially a drop of so much.  It is the same beast though, right down to its wonderful S10 gun that can blow up a land raider but for some reason can’t kill the marine next to it (its AP4 – seriously a long ranged S10 anti-tank gun that is AP4…go figure).

The Trygon and Trygon Prime are praically the same, just a 10pts drop but the Mawloc’s gone down 30 points.  Its Burrow is similar (though it can’t do it on the first turn anymore) and its Terror from the Deep rule is similar (S6, AP2, large blast).  But this time if there is enough stuff left on the spot where the Mawloc comes up, it gets to do it a second time!  There is a risk though, that if after the second time there still isn’t enough room to place the model then you must roll of the Deep Strike Mishap table.  And thats it for your units.

Other Stuff: Most of the weapons & biomorphs have only had subtle changes to bring them into line with the current edition.  Boneswords for example are AP3, lash whips no longer knock your opponents Initiative down to 1, but instead give you +3I, that sort of thing.  Crushing claws gives you armourbane and unwieldy.  Venom Cannons no longer suffer a negative penalty against vehicles, the first time ever!  There are 3 ranged haywire weapons which I think is interesting.  Most of the Tyranid Shooting though is still characteristic; short ranged but devastating.  As for the other biomorphs you have a choice of 4 tail weapons to go on your monsters, which is nice.  They all grant you an extra attack of some sort.  For me the biggest change is the absence of the 2+ save.  That’s right no 2+ for anything (except the Tyrannofex).  It’s just not an option.  What is also interesting is Regeneration.  I was expecting it to grant the creature the It Will Not Die rule (at the end of your turn you regain a wound on a 5+) instead you get it on a 4+.  So at the end of your turn there’s a 50/50 chance that your model will regain a wound.  Nice, but not sure if it compensates for the lack of 2+ saves…we’ll have to see.

The Bio-artifacts are unique items, but nothing overly special or unbalanced.  Slightly more powerful bonesword, extended synapse range, that sort of thing.  One of the big changes is that your psykers can only use the Hive Mind powers, none of the ones in the 40K rulebook.  It does mean that there is the chance that your Hive Tyrant will gain warp blast.  All your favourites are there; Dominion, Catalyst, The Horror, Onslaught, Parosysm, Psychic Scream and Warp Blast, doing much the same that always have.

Well that’s my 2000 word look at the new Tyranids.  Do I like them? Daft question really, they’re still my favourite army.

Changes I’m glad to see; Lictors, Pyrovores & Carnifexes are worth taking, the return of the Red Terror, plus some new monsters to play with.

Changes I’m not sure about; the loss of the Mycetic Spore.

Stuff I would have liked to have seen; a ground based AA gun option for the Hive Guard and a Strangleweb with a higher strength.

Overall a lot to look forward to with the new Tyranids.  I’ll let you know how they play at a later date.  Now which world should I devour first..?

Travelogue Tuesday


Yes, two posts in as many days, universe ending event of extreme apocalyptic scale I know.

In all seriousness though I am thinking about what I’m doing with the blog. Whether I should continue in a journal/diary like format and post stuff as and when it happens, or, as the post title suggests, I schedule the kinds of things I am writing about to certain days of the week so that I can structure what it is that I am writing about and putting up on the blog.

In my renewed efforts to try to be a more responsible adult I’m making at attempt to unplug, as I mentioned yesterday. This means I’m not actually planning on being at the PC or anything else, instead, I’m trying to prioritise the things that need doing around the house and things I can do to help out my hard-working wife. I may work a full-time job but I’m not treating when I get home as downtime anymore, I want to make sure I’m contributing more fully to the household and therefore really choosing carefully what I spend my free time doing when I actually don’t have anything else that can be done of an evening.

After completing last nights set of chores and preparing for today (I’m really trying to be a big boy now!) I did manage to sit down at my computer desk at around 2230hrs. I’d managed to collect my daughter from nursery, do the weekly shopping, take a shower, cook and eat dinner, empty and refill the dishwasher, empty and refill the washing machine and prepare today’s lunch. Having not planned on PC time I started assembling some of the rather large amount of plastic that I have dotted around the place. Seeing as Gribblin and I had enjoyed the game of Deadzone we’d played I set about opening and assembling the Marauders starter, the last of the models I have to assemble. I do like how these guys go together. Sometimes there are more bits to them than you’d like, but when they work they work very well with everything lining up neatly and going together easily. A few commandos and the Goblin Snipers are accompanied by a Pyro. I glued the Ripper suit bodies to their bases but have not yet looked into gluing the vast array of bits from these two models into something that can be used on the table. I found this to be rather therapeutic and a nice break from running around trying to get everything else done.

I am hoping that this change in focus is going to lead me to being more selective about how I spend my free time and I want to dedicate far more of it to tabletop endeavours, we’ll see how long I can keep it up for. What I will need to do as well I think is to document more stuff for upload so that I can share what I am working on. That should in turn help to motivate me to complete projects as well as showing to others that gaming isn’t just a non-stop collection of stuff that will never get painted.

2014 – A New Year of Promise


If I’m perfectly honest 2013 was virtually a complete bust in terms of gaming. The blog suffered for a lack of taking time to engage in the hobby that I love. We’ve dropped from an average of around 500 views per day to more like 150. While that is still far more than I ever thought possible when I started this thing we’ve soared to massive heights and then started to drift back down to the ground.

So, if anything, I’d like to get back to doing more on the blog and talking more about the hobby that I love and also spend more time playing.

The good news is that towards the end of last year this started to happen, not the blogging bit, but the gaming bit. There has definitely been a resurgence in gaming among the denizens of the floating citadel. This isn’t the normal 2-4 hour throw down with miniatures, we’ve been doing more with boards and cards, I don’t mind that at all. What it is going to lead into though, is us getting more of those games in too. Over Christmas I got to play with Gribblin and nBreaker some. We even got to try out Deadzone (which is ace). Gribblin will be returning to his first love (nasty extra-galactic aliens in the form of the new Tyranids) with the new GW releases this weekend so we’ll be seeing some more 40k. Then I know he’s eager to face off for a continuation of our long standing Warhammer Fantasy rivalry. I’ve only got a few more boxes of stuff left before all my Dark Elves are done, I got a lot more stuck together over Christmas.

I’m trying to temper myself right now, spend less time plugged into the computer, more time spent taking care of my family and more time for gaming of the model variety. While the computer is an easy out, after spending so little time on it over Christmas I’m trying to carry that forward to make better use of my time. When I’ve say down at my desk and built some models the day seems to last longer, it doesn’t disappear as quickly as it can when you’re plugged into the PC. This makes me feel good and we’ll see if I can carry this on. I’ve tried to do it before but lacked the stamina to see it through. For some reason though, I feel differently about it all this year.

It’s almost as if I’m growing up……