Tag Archives: 40k

Dark Eldar Tactics – Webway Portal

Over the weekend the floating citadel played host to yet another mega-gribble. At the behest of Space Marine Commander supremo Servitob we strong-armed Gribblin into bringing more Tyranids than meets WHO safety guidelines (that’s 5000pts in old money) to fend off the amalgamated forces of the rest of us.

The side of “good” had 1000pts per player and consisted of me and my Dark Eldar, nBreaker and his fancy new Orks, Carabus and his fancy new Grey Knights and Servitob with a decidedly more twin-linked Space Marine force. Rather than play the same kind of scenario game we did the last time this was going to be a much more simple throw down. While last time out the scales tipped ever so slightly in favour of the sex-legged ones by the time the smoke settled on this one the Tyranids had been resoundingly beaten. The heaviest losses were suffered by nBreaker and his Orks, I lost 14 models total and Servitob had Marines on the board at the end of the game, in fact, more of his army survived all the way through, a first for him and well worthy of some kind of trophy, if we could be bothered or had one on hand (we couldn’t and didn’t).

One of our other friends came along with 1000pts of Raven Guard as mathematically minded readers may have totted up that 4 people and 1000pts a piece doesn’t quite equate to the 5000pts of extra-galactic Xenos filth we were up against.

This large scale battle allowed me to experiment with my list a little, here’s what I crammed into my 1000pts;

Archon with Agoniser, Shadowfield, Phantasm Grenade Launcher and Webway Portal

5 Incubi in a Raider

8 Hekatrix Bloodbrides with Syren, Agoniser and 2 Shardnets

10 Kabalite Warriors with Splinter Cannon

8 Wyches with Hekatrix, Agoniser and Shardnet

6 Reavers with two Blasters

Ravager with Nightshields, Flickerfield and Disintegrators

Everything bar the Ravager and the Archon with his Incubi were deployed in reserve. This was a risk, I knew, but as this was a game with more than two players I thought that would balance out OK. I was right!

Turn 1 the Archon’s Raider zipped over the halfway line, hopped off and deployed the portal. Turn 2 and the Bloodbrides arrived followed by everything else on turn 3. My army held and won our right flank pretty much on their own, the amount of wounds my combat troops inflicted was ridiculous with my Archon seeing off a Tervigon, unit of Termagants, unit of Rippers (although he had some help on this one) and finally killing off a Tyrannofex. I had two unit at full pain tokens at the end of the game and my combat drugs roll of 6 helped out all the Wych units.

The portal worked quite well although I did worry about putting the Warriors in it, in the end my concerns were justified as the sole remaining Biovore shot them, didn’t scatter and killed 7 of the 10 after I had failed to move my unit correctly out the portal which left everything bar the Splinter cannon out of range. Amusingly even though they ran off, the Bloodbrides shot it down with their Splinter Pistols before they could assault.

Due to the other armies on the field shooting up the Tyranid lines I think I got away with things. Historically when you played with a webway portal you’d take two of them and put them on Sybarites in your warrior units so you would have one on each flank, of course you could fly vehicles out of them then too. Now you get cheaper portals but there are far fewer models who are capable of taking one. This serves to generally make them a more expensive option to start with.

From using this one as a test I can see that if I were playing a normal game I’d still want two of them. Ideally you want that portal down on turn one as waiting for another turn could rob you of the advantage of using the portal to bring your units on which is the whole reason behind taking the portal in the first place! Sticking with one portal makes your army predictable, after all you can’t bring vehicle units through it so your reach isn’t huge, the piecemeal nature of Reserves can also mess up your plan of course. Two portals would give you a choice of where to concentrate your force and means your enemy cannot just gun for one portal and know where you will be.

You could of course us the portal as a distraction, drop it hoping your opponent will focus around it and then bring on troops in Raiders of Venoms from your own table edge, sure it’ll be another turn before you can disembark and get somewhere (going flat-out) but hopefully you’ll have duped the opposition and then you can capitalise on that. Seems like a suitably Dark Eldar like ploy but you are spending a chunk of points on Wargear you’re not going to use.

My own 1500pts army is based a lot on being mobile and has a lot of vehicles in it, once the webway portal is deployed you are stuck to it, especially with foot infantry. Redeploying or shifting your forces will be much slower than if you can re-embark onto transports. Sure the average Dark Eldar player is expecting to lose most of those transports in turn two but just one that survives can get a unit to the otherwise of the battlefield pretty quickly.

While the webway portal does have its advantages I think it can also be a massive liability. In multi-player games like the one we had those disadvantages are minimised. The problem for Gribblin is that the collection of armies we have means that each individuals weaknesses are covered by the strengths of another army. Especially so now that we are all playing with our own forces, ones we’ve studied and worked out ourselves. I doubt I’ll use the portal in many games myself, mainly due to the limits it places on you. Sitting down the portal unit and your heavy support against an entire army’s worth of deployment on the opposite side of the table isn’t a sure-fire way of getting your guys safely where they need to be and terrain placement could screw with your carefully orchestrated plans.

Putting your assets in transports provides much greater mobility and the chance to react more quickly and while I would never recommend a reactive strategy when playing an opponent sometimes you need to do that to maintain the initiative.

These are just my thoughts from using it in a single game, but these big battles do give us the option to try new things that may cause catastrophic losses should they be tried in a normal 1 v 1. While these big games are fun I think we might rein it in back to the normal format for now so that we each can see our armies in the spotlight a bit and give Gribblin a shot at each of us individually.

We are thinking of running a little friendly league among us. Nothing overly competitive just a fun way of organising who plays against who and seeing who is coming out on top. While we’ve now all beaten the Tyranids collectively it’ll be interesting to see how my Dark Eldar fare against the guys that I have been fighting with. Those Grey Knights seem quite nasty and Servitob’s new pimped out Marines are also more of a worry.

Warhammer 40k – Grey Knight Terminator Justicar and a Space Marine Vindicator

The latest paint works to emerge from the floating citadel are these two pieces to enjoy at your leisure!

This Justicar was painted by Carabus as part of his Grey Knight force. It’s an excellent paint job, those of you googlespiders paying attention will note the fantastic airbrush work on the force weapon. True stalkers will also note that ZombiePirate has some nice new garden furniture.

This Vindicator will bring some nice new pie-plated goodness to the Emperor’s cause, all wrapped up in the familiar snugness of a Rhino chassis. Paint wise it was done using an Army Painter Dark Tone technique.

Keep Painting!

Something for the Weekend?

Far from being an invitation for an illicit triste, today’s post here at 6 Inch Move is a heads up for what the good folks of the floating citadel are planning for their Saturday afternoon!

Rather than throw down in a usual fashion we are going to be playing a large scale 40k battle, this will be showcasing Gribblin’s Tyranids, 4000pts of them to be exact. Against this collection of multi-limbed combat monstrosities will be the motley collection of allied forces from the rest of the 6 Inch Move crew plus a special guest. We’ll be showing off Chaos, Space Marines, Eldar, Tau and my own Dark Eldar to try and halt the planet-nomming menace in a custom scenario designed for the day.

I’m hoping that we can take some photos to show you what goes on and we’ll let you know next week how the game panned out. I wonder how many pain tokens I get for Fluffy the Bio-titan?

Dark Eldar Army Building – Wyches Vs Incubi

As regular bleaders (blog-readers?) may no doubt remember I got to take my Dark Eldar out for their first trip to the carnival a few weeks back and I posted then on how the various parts of my army list performed.

When I originally came up with the list I had spent some time umming and ahhing about whether to take the 5 man squad of Incubi or another squad of Wyches. What it came down to in the end was that I already possessed the Incubi and would need to buy another box of stuff to get that second Wych squad. In the next game I fight that squad of Incubi will be replaced by the Wyches and I thought I’d spend today’s post going through the Theoryhammer behind the move. Due to recent events in my personal life this post is about 2 weeks behind schedule in when I wanted to post it, hopefully it was worth the wait.

Force Organisation

Obviously these two units appear in different places on the FOC, with the Incubi we are looking at Elites, while the Wyches are now in the Troops category. Before we even consider the points cost difference between the two units I think this is a valid area to look at first. The Wyches can take and hold objectives, while I am very much aware that their Wychsuits aren’t going to be doing much to protect them against damage objectives are normally in ruins or woods or something that will provide a cover save. While the Incubi have the armour to survive getting shot at they’re still T3. Incubi are a little too expensive to be sent to camp objectives but in those final few turns being able to hold rather than just contest is a useful ace in the hole.

Cost and Optional Extras

Due to the various locations on the FOC an Incubus is over twice the price of a Wych, even an Hekatrix Bloodbride provides a substantial cost saving over your regular Incubus. For the cost of 5 Incubi with a Raider you can get a squad of 8 Wyches with upgrades in the same transport. While the Incubi have power weapons to start with and a better armour save the Wyches have access to various special weapons and the ever useful Agoniser and that’s before we think about the bonus that can be gotten from Combat Drugs. More bodies means more wounds which can almost be an offset for the poorer armour of our ladies but that save obviously improves dramatically once they get into combat.

Roles and Responsibilities

This was the part that I thought the longest about. On paper you just seem to get a lot more mileage out of the Wyches; Plasma Grenades, special weapons, combat drugs, Invulnerable saves, cheaper, troops etc… However, and while it may seem obvious to others, the one thing that I sort of had an epiphany over was the fact that Incubi are designed to be sent against higher toughness opponents than the Wyches.

Their weapons allow them to strike at Strength 4 something that make a rather big difference compared to the normal Eldar S3, this puts them on a par with Striking Scorpions with the same armour save but the advantage of having power weapons. Take Marines are the benchmark, a Wych will hit on a 4, wound on a 5 and then go up against the 3+ save. This is not taking into account any Combat Drug bonuses, which vary game to game, nor Hekatrix upgrades. On the charge the Wych will gain 3 attacks, so, 1.5 hits equates to 0.5 wounds, which becomes 0.16 chance of a wound from those attacks against a space Marine. Charging the Incubus will have the same number of attacks but has a higher WS than the Marine, so we are looking at 2 hits with 1 wound and no armour save due to the power weapon.

From this mathhammer you’re looking at the Incubi as being a really useful unit and I am not saying that they are not. The problem for me is when you look at the attacks coming back. I’m not going to go into the maths this time but in general you rarely face an opponent that doesn’t have some kind of squad leader with a power weapon or a power fist. You have Space Marine Sergeants, Power Klaw Nobs, Scorpion Claw Exarchs etc… etc… you expect this and because of that need to plan for the eventuality, especially with a close combat oriented army. Crappy Eldar T3 is no protection against these weapons, especially the fists and you are unlikely to wipe the squad in one round of combat, as Dark Eldar you are planning not to in fact. You want to charge in your turn, slap down the resistance, stay in combat so on your opponents turn you beat them allowing you another charge in your following turn to keep you safe from shooting.

With this in mind you are planning to take some retaliatory attacks and whenever I think of this scenario I can’t help but think the Incubi lose out. Their low toughness is a traditional weakness but their armour save is of no use now, even a Pain Token will not help them out against things that ignore their armour. Their expense suddenly becomes a liability as they will get hit back and can be pretty easily wiped out over a few turns of combat. Wyches on the other hand have more wounds in the squad and their invulnerable save will stop those power fists, add in the Hekatrix with an Agoniser to the squad and you are looking at a fight going more favourably in your direction to start with.

Perhaps looking at the targets in this manner means I am throwing Incubi at the wrong targets, but I cannot think of any instance where you wouldn’t be better off using Wyches due to the Agoniser Hekatrix. I think an Archon with that Incubi retinue would be a completely different prospect and I do think that you are better off throwing Incubi at something you want gone in a turn or a combined charge with something else of course. Obviously the Incubi can weather being shot at better than the Wyches, especially when out in the open but for the cost I think you get more mileage out of the Wyches. My 1500pts list includes the Archon with the Incubi but for my smaller games, 1k and below, I don’t think the Incubi really can bring that much considering the other bases I need to consider when filling out a force.

The Dark Eldar have a steep learning curve so it is not surprising that some units need to be figured out more than others and I think Incubi certainly are one of the more interesting units to find a spot for. While I can see their potential it’s all theory at this point until I can try things out more than the one battle where they got wiped by a power fist.

I know that both units can find a spot in an army but for me right now I can see few compelling reasons to take the Incubi over a squad of Wyches for the options and points values.

The Army Painter Wehrmacht Imperial Guard

So you take Warcraft away from somebody for a week and this is what happens… I got my grubby mouse-free hands on a Vallejo ‘Flames Of War German Infantry Paint Set’, mixed it up with some Imperial Guard models and dunked the whole lot in some Army Painter.

I did the bulk of the paint job sat in my car during my lunch break. Unfortuantely the strong tone has pooled a bit excessively. To prevent this in future I think I’ll adopt Carabus’s non-dunk technique of painting the tone on with one brush, then removing it with another to keep the stuff just in the shady areas.

It’s not going to win any slayer swords, but as a gaming model it would do the job nicely. I could probably even list it on eBay as ‘pro-painted’. If I come up with any more crazy ideas I’ll let you all know!

As a side note, do you think there are potential morality issues here?

Grey Knight Space Marines Join The Games Workshop Magic Roundabout

Question: When does the sheriff release a new 40k codex?
Answer: Every time I go into a Games Workshop store!

I work within about 20 minutes walk of a GW store, so occasionally I stroll on over there if I have an extended lunch to check it out and generally soak up the nerd aura. Today was such a day. The guy who runs it is great, always very friendly, welcoming and always very enthusiastic. It seems though that I always time my visits to coincide with a new codex release, and as such I always get to feel the hype of the new force first hand. This time, it is yet more Space Marines in the form of the Grey Knights. This is another codex written by Mat Ward, and I got to take a peek. These guys are like uber daemon killing super space marines by the looks of things.

Am I bothered? No. My home grown chapter of space marines are actually grey/silver anyway so would be decent proxies. But I probably wouldn’t play as Grey Knights. The sheriff is simply going to hype the nuts off these guys, try to make us all feel inadequate so we go and invest in the latest power armour force. It’s a cunning sales strategy, but unless Grey Knights are what you’ve really being longing for since you were ten, stick with your current force.

Remember, as Kylie Minogue sang: “It’s better the devil you know”. Unless of course he’s getting his head pounded in by an Inquisitor.

ZombiePirate takes his Dark Eldar for a spin

It’s been a long time since I last got to play some 40k. After selling my Green Tide in order to finance the Dark Eldar I’ve waited most of my adult life for, actually having the models has not propelled me onto the battlefield to use them. We’ve been enjoying many other games in the halls of the floating citadel instead.

So, the scene is set for Servitob telling the tale of his tutoring a new player in the ways of 40k and a second day of schooling was arranged for yesterday. The normal participants were invited and it was at this point that I am faced with the fact that all I actually have assembled are my HQ models and the tests for the Warriors and Wyches. Not quite the 750pts we were looking for. So it was that I perused the 1500pts list I’d made that was guiding my purchases to see what I could eek out. Queue a couple of nights of frenetic model building during what has been a very busy and challenging week.

However, I did manage to put together an army and waltz into the gaming halls with a typical army of little grey plastic men (and women). I’d had to buy a second Raider, which would be needed in my proper force anyway, but otherwise managed to create my army from stuff I already had. This would be the first outing for the Dark Eldar in my hands, my opponent was an 11yr old newcomer with two games under his belt. I have to say though that he performed very well and was a pleasure to game with. His Chaos Space Marines would be fighting me for possession of 4 objectives scattered across a battlefield devoid of a lot of terrain (Servitob set it up and put like two building at either end of the table and a river…. not quite the 25% I’d be wanting to shield my pathetic armour behind).

In my normal fashion we’ll be assessing my army list and how it did. I certainly did not perform flawlessly and Dark Eldar don’t take making mistakes lightly, when the dust settled at the end of turn six I held two objectives to the Chaos one, some well made cover saves and armour saves having protected the one guy left defending the objective from the Chaos side.

The Chaos team was made up of a Daemon Prince and sorcerer, several squads of Marines with Power Fist Champions and a Defiler.

My list was as  follows;

  • Succubus – Agoniser
  • 5 Incubi w/ Raider
  • 10 Kabalite Warriors w/ Splinter Cannon
  • 8 Wyches w/ Raider, Hekatrix w/ Agoniser
  • 6 Reaver Jetbikes w/ 2 Blasters

Archons are a little pricey when geared and therefore I thought I’d take the much cheaper Succubus. Agonisers get around my puny strength and importantly deny armour saves. The Wyches need the Raider to get into combat quickly and then it can go tank hunting. The Kabalites were to provide covering fire while the Reavers either popped tanks with Blasters or joined in combat. The Incubi were there to assault stuff and support the Wyches.

Let’s look at their performance, as I said I was playing a newcomer and therefore got away with more than I should have with the mistakes I made, I still got punished though, staying to the objectives of the battle was really the only thing that won me the game, just goes to show how important staying on mission can be.

Succubus – OH MY GOODNESS!!!!! I love this model, equipped with nothing but an Agoniser this is a ridiculously cheap HQ choice. Drop her in a unit of Wyches as well and it really multiplies the potential for pain. Six attacks on the charge at a huge initiative means you’re probably going to kill whatever you’re in base contact with. When I rolled my combat drugs I got re-roll failed to wound, probably the best result for this points level to be honest. She almost single-handedly took down the Daemon Prince, what she left over the Wyches finished off. This HQ is in my 1500pts list and I am really glad she is, this also helps me to realise the potential of a Wych Cult force and my proper list does have a heavy Wych focus. For 85pts it doesn’t get any better than this.

Incubi – Got sent against the wrong target, I should have gone in against a larger squad, instead I sent them into the enemy HQ. They were all in contact with the sorcerer and ripped him apart to get their first pain token but over the course of combat the Power Fist ripped them apart. I think these guys definitely need an Archon to back them up as those extra attacks would have made a mess of the unit too. At this level though I’d have been better off taking another unit of Wyches. Same price and higher survivability due to their Dodge.

Wyches – I love this unit so much. This unit is like a guided missile, I took 8 including a Hekatrix with Agoniser, the Raider gives them their mobility and they back up the Succubus wonderfully. They carved through more then their points worth of stuff and finished the game with 2 pain tokens, although they did get shot due to how fast they were carving through the enemy. The Feel No Pain from killing the Daemon Prince first did save a lot of them though. Not bad at all, they were awesome.

Kabalite Warriors – Due to the distinct lack of terrain it took them a few turns to get into one of the buildings for cover. The slowly whittled down the Marine unit occupying the Chaos objective until at the end of the game there was but 1 chap left. They didn’t get to rapid fire but held an objective so did their job for a small points outlay.

Reavers – Again due to lack of terrain these guys were out in the open at deployment, the Defiler saw them flee turn 1 from shooting but they rallied. I’m not sure about these guys, they helped with killing the Defiler due to their blasters but go shot to pieces (would have been better to turbo-boost them turn two I think rather than plink the Defiler). They got shot to pieces overall but one guy left was instrumental in dropping Chaos Marines with his Blaster denying them that tasty 3+ save they enjoy so much. I need more practice to learn how to use them to the best of their abilities.

Raiders – while primarily used to ferry their charges to combat one got decked pretty quickly the other totalled the Defiler and then started picking off Marines.

Overall I was really impressed with my Dark Eldar and they are a lot of fun to play and really appeal to the way I like to play. They are insanely fast as most things have at least a 20″+ threat range for reaching combat, my opponent was amazed at just how quickly I could get very close to his stuff and tie him up in combat turn 1. If we play at this points level again I think the Incubi would be best switched out for more Wyches and I may have to look into the Reavers, they may work better in bigger games but I’d need something else to deal with armour as otherwise I’d only have the Dark Lances of the Raiders.

Games Workshop – Punters Justifying the Spend

Recently on the Warhammer Forum I came across a topic that slightly echoes what I was talking about in my Voting with your Wallet discussion. For those of you with RSI or who are just too lazy to click on links let me do a bit of TL;DR for you. The poster is asking whether people are actually bothered by how much things cost now from our capitalist Sherriff.

What really did things for me was the recent Advance Orders for the Dark Eldar Beastmasters. This is a Fast Attack choice in the army and they were pretty popular under the old Codex and are still decent and destined to be popular with the new book. The problem is that GW has released these as metals, not even a metal boxed set mind you, but individual blisters. There is £8 for the Beastmaster himself and you can take 5 of these per unit. There are three different kinds of beasts that you can then take per Beastmaster, each of these beasts are sold individually at, you guessed it, £8 a pop. Bear in mind that you are going to want multiples of these in a squad the cost rises pretty rapidly. A full unit of these guys costs more than a 1500pts Imperial Guard army!!!

In the back of my mind I think I’ll be completing my already written Dark Eldar list and that’ll probably be from discount online retailers following stuff I sell on eBay so no money is actually spent. However, looking at the thread on the forum it is really interesting to see the different responses that people have. I kind of figured all this out myself already and was going to remark on it then this post came along and gave me an even better excuse to discuss things.

Going back to my childhood (again) Games Workshop was a great place you could go in and pick up a blister pack for a few quid. It was easy enough to start your collection with pocket-money, nowadays when your Hive Tyrant costs over £30 (the price of two metal tactical squads when I started) you can’t quite see things in the same light. Things are even worse in fantasy of course. With GWs ’10 men in a box’ philosophy you’re OK in 40k as 10 is a pretty standard number for a squad, in Warhammer though you are probably looking at 20-30+ models for one regiment and now you are paying £18 for those 10 men a unit of plastics now costs more than metals used to. It’s even worse if you have a unit like Stormvermin or Phoenix Guard, one benefits from large numbers in a unit the other costs more than making them out of solid gold.

So, we have a thread asking about people’s reactions to this and the vast majority of these people are more than happy to keep paying whatever the asking price is raised too. I have to qualify this that I know a lot of people buy stuff online and from discount outlets but a lot of the people in the thread above are talking about stuff from GW stores. Some will only buy from eBay second-hand to save costs, but there are still a good number of people who will walk into a store and spend their money on full price stuff. It is now impossible to start an army on our pocket-money, for many youngsters I can imagine that parents have to pay out the significant start-up fee for their games. I know you can argue that all you need is a character and some troops, but I ask you, dear Internet, have you really ever done that? I know I tend to plan an army and buy it, I may start at 1000pts for 40k but I’ll be working to a goal of the full army and the outlay for even this size of force is not insignificant even with a low model count army like the ubiquitous Space Marines (who little Johnny is probably going to be encouraged to pick up first anyway).

The justification that people use is that other hobbies are more expensive so they feel they are still getting a good deal. Well, my car costs less than a Ferrari too… While this seems to be a prevailing feeling among those that are still happy to part with vast sums of cash to fund their habit I can’t help but think they are missing the point. The point isn’t that this is a cheaper hobby than others we could choose, it is that it is now vastly more expensive than it used to be. I would imagine the only other market in which goods have increased by a similar amount is housing! My house cost almost twice as much as my parents when they bought it in the mid 80s. In the nineties I could get a unit of metal terminators in blister packs for £15, now they are plastic and nearer £30.

It doesn’t take long for a conversation regarding GW to turn to their aggressive price rising strategy and people say that their prices should come down and people would buy more. The problem here is that while there are enough people who are willing to part with their cash in spite of these rises then there is no incentive for the Sherriff to consider doing anything about it. I’m looking at the minimum I need to do to finish off my GW projects  and then focus on other games as needed. I’ll have my armies and play them but I can see my disposable income going to a lot of other places before GW gets a share. If you’re happy to keep paying through the nose for stuff then who am I to argue, but if you are one of the people who do keep spending it then please don’t come around here complaining about the next price increase, while you continue to make a demand GW can but continue to ensure a supply.

I fear that the longevity of this hobby may be hurt by the crippling costs involved with getting into it. New blood is always good for a hobby but with all the cheaper alternatives even the high street presence of GW may not be enough to maintain their age-old dominance. Something needs to change but it needs the customer base to do it and unfortunately a lot of these people seem to have money to burn!

Miniatures Gaming – Voting with your Wallet

If any of you out there in Internet-land are like me, not only is the world doomed, but when you first got into miniatures there was really only one place you could go. I was introduced to the hobby through my Dad, I remember being taken into the stores and looking at all the stuff on display, two Rhinos for £5 and the like. I understand that there were other miniature games around, a million different sets of historical rules for every period following Adam and Eve’s departure from the Garden of Eden for example.

However, it was the high street presence of the Sherriff’s crew that was likely the reason that many of us first engaged with the imaginary worlds crafted b Priestley and co. I spent most of my youth (and money) on things like Necromunda, Warhammer 40,000 and a few bits here and there for fantasy, I bought every issue of White Dwarf that came out and had models for nearly every system going.

Much is made on public forums about the Sherriff’s business model of raising taxes on us poor folks, odd isn’t it how our oft-used metaphor actually fits in quite well with English mythology? I remember a time when you could get a box of plastic troops, entirely the same of course, for a few coins, of course you’d end up with a unit looking exactly the same but for the time this really wasn’t an issue. Metal models were around £3 each and most units came in blister packs rather than the regiment sets we are used to in more modern times. The quality of the models has of course increased dramatically and we get optional extras galore with the newer plastic kits. However, now more than ever people complain about consistent increases in prices.

I was reminiscing with friends over the weekend about how you used to get vouchers in White Dwarf for sales and store re-openings. You’d be able to get 3 for 2 on boxed sets and blister packs, £5 off the boxed games etc… they even had sales to shift old stock. None of this is carried over into the same high street stores that carry the legacy of my childhood spent in the hobby. OK, I have more disposable income now and I understand the principles of inflation, but when you have 10 plastic miniatures for £25 you have to consider how you spend. I know there are a lot of customers who only purchase through eBay or discount stores and I don’t blame them. GW haven’t done themselves any favours, but they do tend to have a loyal fan base that may decry price rises and yet still throw money at the same company.

What we need is a Robin Hood to rescue us from the evil of overpriced toys. The problem is that we still enjoy these games and with GW still having that high street presence, even if it is one guy on minimum wage staffing it full-time, you have an advantage there over the competition.

While looking for that Robin Hood the fact that GW has a long-established legacy in the market also means that it has a dominant position. Now, over the past decade or so that dominant position has begun to erode. I remember early in the noughties when I got into Confrontation it was something of a revelation. I’d had my eyes opened that there were other games out there with models that simply blew away what GW were making at the time (I imagine their dominant market position had led to laziness for pushing the boundaries on what they made). Skirmish was something I was wholly unfamiliar with, the exception being Necromunda which is still probably my favourite GW game ever. Yet Confrontation had a lot going for it,, it is unfortunate that bad management and poor decisions have since led to their demise.

Not all was lost however, Privateer Press came on the scene and stomped into the gaming arena with an amazing system that was a joy to play.  Setting up your force was easy and you got the basic rules in the starter boxes so could play right away with what you picked up in the store. Something very hard to do with any of GWs products without heavy investment in the starter boxes and even then, the armies weren’t really balanced to fight with. PP grew out of their success and capitalised on taking players off GW, this led to games and eventually an updating of the rules. However, Warmachine is now not a cheap game to get into with all the different options and factions available. Plus there are a lot of big, expensive metal models now. I’d still consider it a game worth playing though.

Then there are the other skirmish games. True, no-one quite does large-scale battles like GW does, but then you’re looking at spending a lot more money to play it. In an age of austerity such as we are now entering I wonder about the long-term future of GW and its model. Now really is the time of the smaller games, where you don’t need to drop 100 models to play at the point the rules were designed for. It is quite possible to get a game right now where the investment is less than £50 and you have a fully playable army to the normal level for that game. Many of these are not as full of glaring writing errors and special rules abuses. A lot of games also present the rules for free online as a download rather than in a disgustingly over-priced tome.

You might wonder why I am writing such a GW bashing post, well, I certainly don’t want to be seen as a GW basher. I’ve enjoyed their products over the years and still do. I have a 3000pts Fantasy army and a lot of stuff for War of the Ring and bits now for 40k. With my circumstances about to change forever though I look at the amount of money it would cost me to finish my Dark Eldar, then look at the current feelings and trends of my play group and it looks more and more likely that I would get next to no use out of them. I may have been waiting a long time for the new models but after having spent the better part of £100 and needing to spend around the same again to complete the army it doesn’t look like it will happen.

Following on from my earlier post about skirmish games there are some out there where the layout is like I said earlier. For £50-£60 you can have a pretty large force with options for swapping around or playing larger games now and again. It may then be that through unplanned and organic means I’ll never play 40k again, I still have some stuff to shift on eBay that may result in me finishing the army, at the moment though it is just going to be a painting project on the side.

The landscape of gaming has changed and will continue to do so for sure. I’ll have my War of the Ring and Warhammer for the big game fixes but I can see the fact that being on a tighter budget will drive how much I consume more now than ever and the skirmish market seems by far the best way of getting my fix.

The more people cotton on to this the slimmer the Sherriff’s market will become. While I don’t want to see the company fold, there must be a threshold whereby the constant increases in prices plateaus. While GW customers do tend to have a pretty good disposable income I know that there are a lot of people who have been forced to stop because they can no longer afford what they’d like to buy. Then there is the morality of continuing to fund an organisation that seems blind to its customers.

I’m looking forward to seeing how our playing goes this year. We’ll have to set up a weekend again soon and go at it, 6 Inch Move style. Having a foreknowledge of some of the projects that may spring up this year, certainly should be interesting here on the blog!

Asking the Big Questions; Metal Vs Plastic

Believe it or not, there is a universal topic that can divide gamers. It’s rare to find anyone that straddles both camps, normally feet are planted firmly in one ideology or the other. There are two main options and while others do exist the majority held by the first two camps dismiss any others into obscurity so that they are rarely, if ever, considered a part of the argument. What can this argument be? And how does it relate to the seemingly random image posted at the start of yet another diatribe from your favourite undead buccaneer?

The models that we play our games with generally come in one of two flavours, metal or plastic. Historically our metals were made out of lead but due to namby pamby european sensibilities new alloys are used in many cases. Plastic comes in many forms and formulas, from the hard resin style favoured by Privateer Press to the “normal” plastics we love from our friendly northern Sherriff.

When I first thrust myself into the fantastical worlds of our hobby it was metal models that dominated everything, plastics were virtually unheard of except for vehicles and some larger boxed sets. The boxed editions of Warhammer and Warhammer 40,000 introduced more mainstream plastic lines and (in GW’s case) the propensity towards plastic models has increased. While there are still plenty of metal models around no longer do you have to play a game where you carry a metric ton and a half to each game. Games Workshop have led the way with this and now we see such offers as Kings of War from Mantic being entirely plastic, Privateer have recently released their ‘Jack kits in plastic with troops and starter sets also having ditched the metals.

Plastic sets on the whole tend to cost less than their metal counterparts although the dastardly Sherriff is doing his best to rectify this with the oft maligned, inflation-busting price increases for which the Nottinghamshire-based villain is renowned. Yet, there are die-hard fans of metal models, I know first-hand from the older Confrontation community (before all this pre-painted rubbish) that the fact the models were metal was one of the great selling points for their range. The fact the models were fantastic also helped. Therefore the metal vs plastic debate tends to polarise the gaming community while supporters of one stick vehemently to their medium and vice-versa.

For example, esteemed writer and Space Marine suicide machine Servitob is a lover of all things plastic (quote not to be used out of context!). Show him a metal model and normally he goes a funny shade of green! I myself have tried to remain neutral in this fight, I’ve appreciated some metal models for a long time but the simplicity of plastics is a great boon when you’re putting together hordes of figures. However, I have now chosen a side due to an experience I had recently when assembling my Warhammer army. I don’t want to ruin the surprise of what is included in my Fantasy force I’m hoping to break out this weekend (only one model left to build!) therefore I’m going to leave some of my details deliberately vague.

Sunday afternoon/evening while enjoying watching the NFL coverage on Sky I gave myself the task of assembling all the metal models I needed for my army. These tend to take more time and effort than the plastics due to the difference in their construction medium. Some of the models I have in my collection are renowned as being particularly difficult to assemble due to small contact areas and fiddly parts. With plastic this is not an issue, slap on some liquid poly and the glue melts the two halves together and forms a solid, nigh-unbreakable bond. Superglue by comparison however, seems to buy the two parts a drink and then involve itself in an overly elaborate scheme to get the two parts to hit it off, perhaps over a romantic dinner at an expensive restaurant, walks on the seafront and romantic getaways for far off exotic lands. Eventually getting the happy couple to tie the figurative knot and bind themselves in a blissful union until someone bangs the table and they fall helpless to the floor.

Anyone that has put together a metal model will have their own set of horror stories to share regarding some fiddly part or another, a sadists idea of how a model should be split up for assembly causing almost suicidal thoughts from even the most expert modeller as the horrible maelstrom of metal, green stuff and superglue combines into what you hope is the way in which the model is supposed to look. It’s a bonus if you manage to avoid gluing any body parts in these situations!

By comparison plastic is a joy! No matter how small the part a dab of glue can hold it in position for centuries, even the death-dive floorward will not faze a bonding area smaller than a flea’s testicle. Luckily the majority of my Fantasy army is plastic, the same is true of my impending Dark Eldar. While the odd metal model here and there is almost inevitable (I have a lot of them coming up for War of the Ring) the joy of plastic really does stand in stark comparison to the sometimes brain-addling, super-human efforts required to get metal to stick to metal.

In many ways a plastic model these days is almost indistinguishable from their metal counterparts once painted. See below;

"The spikes tell you I is metal!"
Plastic fantastic! And no loss of detail.

I know some people prefer the weight of a metal model as it is harder for them to topple over but once they do go over you are going to at least bend that spindly part or even worse, see it plunge in slow-motion towards a spirit crushing impact on even the most soft of cushioned carpets. Unless of course you add even more metal than a road traffic accident victim in terms of pinning the living crap out of it.

Plastic provides many more benefits, with current modelling processes they can be as detailed as metal and are a lot easier to clean, trim and assemble. The great strides that have been made in this regard contributes to the increasing frequency of plastic models and I for one am grateful for this. I cannot think of a plastic model that has ever frustrated me as much as some of my metals have. I’m an almost 20 year veteran so would like to think I am pretty experienced in assembling these things by now and after all this time I can firmly place myself in the camp that unashamedly declares;

“Plastic is better!”