Tag Archives: Wargaming

We Won!


I suppose I should explain the title of this post.  A few of you may remember a post I wrote about a year ago showing off some models that I had painted in my first excursion into historical wargaming.  I had always wanted to get into this genre, but had never got around to it until recently.

My local independent retailer & associated gaming club started to organise and run a campaign based around the Civil War (that would be the English Civil War in case you were wondering); it looked good and I decided to get involve.  As you probably have guessed by now the campaign has reached a conclusion – we won!  I was playing the part of one of the Scot’s Covenanter; namely Archibald Campbell.  The campaign was based upon the First Civil War starting with the initial outbreak of war between the Royalists and the Parliamentarians.  At this stage of the Civil Wars the Scottish government (dominated by the Covenanters) sided with the English Parliament, and so in the campaign the three Covenanter players fought against the King.  For the campaign victory conditions were set (including the capture of certain territories and certain special characters), and then the games begun.  A few days ago the Royalist surrendered unconditionally.  To be honest their situation was’t good.  With about 9 players on each side we had managed to capture the King and the Royalist war time leader Prince Rupert.  We had captured the main port of Bristol, along with much of the Royalist territory.  They still had most of Wales and Cornwall, but they had lost all but two of their cities; namely Shrewsbury and Worcester and they were both under siege (yours truly was pounding the walls of Shrewsbury).  If they had lost these, and there was no way of relieving them in time, then all of their armies would have been out of supply and it would have been pretty much game over.  So as it happens they chose to surrender.  So WOOHOO!

For me the whole thing has been great fun, despite my many defeats as I learnt how the system works (most notably to Montrose).  For the campaign we started off using Warlord Games’ Black Powder rules.  This is a rules set based on the musket era.  Once Warlord heard of what we were doing they started working on a Pike & Shotte era rules set that we then play tested.  We went through a couple of revisions and helped to provide valuable feedback to Warlord.  Our club and independent store even got a mention in the recently released Pike & Shotte rulebook, which was cool.  That was another first for me; play testing.  I’ve been meaning to write a few comments about these rules, and I will get around to that soon.  For now here’s a few pictures of the army I used.

I will be the first to admit that they aren’t my finest painted models, but when you think that I painted most of the army in just 3 weeks, they’re not that bad.  The army consists of;

  • General Archibald Campbell plus battalion commanders for the 8 battalions my army is divided into
  • 5 Pike Blocks with 2 Musket Wings each
  • 4 units of Scot’s Lancers
  • 2 Cavalry units
  • 2 Highlander units (note the one showing off his buttocks)
  • 1 Skirmisher unit
  • 9 Frame Guns
  • 6 Sakers
  • 1 Mortar
That works out as a total of 372 models (if you count the cannons & crews separately).

I do have a couple of units that I never finished painting in time (though as I have them I’ll still paint them up and put them in the army).  Future plans for the army?  The club is looking at doing the Second Civil War, plus friendly games.  Overall it has been a great experience for me.  Glory to Scotland!

Something to get your teeth in to


Warhammer: Vampire CountsIt’s been a little quiet here at 6 inch move recently.  Servitob has had an addition to his brood of future gamers, there is the usual chaos that accompanies the Christmas/New Year season and as for myself I’ve had to move an entire swimming pool/sports & leisure centre (and I’m telling you those things are heavy).  As a result our small band of gamers has had little time to get together and roll the dice.  This will be changing soon as life begins to settle down again.

This month saw the release of Warhammer Fantasy’s latest army book, the Vampire Counts.  Having bought an army of the undead when I was still a teenager this edition caught my attention.  I’ve always liked the dark, gothic imagery that has accompanied vampires in general and GW’s vampire counts in particular.  To me they are what a classic vampire should be; dark, sinister and above all blood thirsty.  No glittering skin here.  I’m almost impressed at the speed that GW has been turning out the army books for this edition of Fantasy.  Its been out about 2 years and they’ve produced 4 army books for it so far, along with the Storm of Magic supplement and several 40k codices.  Not to bad going.  It was good to see them do the Ogres, Tomb Kings and Orcs early on as all of these army books needed serious updates.  I just wish they’d hurry up and do the Wood Elves (they’re my favourite Fantasy army, I have about 6000 points, but their current army book is two editions out of date and a bit naff).  Still can’t complain, I have new vampires to play with.

So whats new to this edition of the dark lords of undeath? Well the book itself follows GW’s latest trend of full colour, hard back with a £25 price tag.  The book is nicely edited and of good quality, and if you’ve looked around a bookshop recently, it’s not too over priced for a colour hard back.  Saying that though, gone are the days when I’d buy every army book as it came out.  Now I’m restricting myself to getting the armies that I actually own, or are seriously considering purchasing.

The army has seen the return of a few old favourites.  The option of a Lord level Necromancer is back, as are the special characters Lichemaster Heinrich Kemmler and Krell.  Necromancers can again be made better wizards than in the last edition and once again Wraiths can be taken as Hero choices.  There have been some new additions to the ranks of the dead.  The Strigoi Ghoul King is a Lord choice that is basically a hate filled Strigoi vampire, who has weaker magical abilities than regular Vampire Lords, but more than makes up for it in close combat kick-ass potential.  The vampire characters all have a new special rule called The Hunger.  Basically whenever they kill one or more models in close combat you roll 1D6, and on a 6 the vampire regains a lost wound.  Nice.

The other new units include the Crypt Horrors (basically ogre sizes ghouls), the nice looking Vargheists (psychotic, bestial vampires in bat form), the Terrorgheist (a dragon-sized, undead bat with one hell of a scream), the Coven Thrown, the Mortis Engine and the Hexwraiths.

The Coven Thrown and the Mortis Engine are both made form the same kit.  I’ve been really impressed by the large, plastic models that GW has been producing for Fantasy.  For me the kind of symbolize a fantasy genre; you have epic heroes, magic throwing wizards and large, scary monsters

Vampire Counts Coven Throne / Mortis Engineand although GW can sometimes go OTT on the heroes and magic, the latest round of monster kits are fantastic.  In game terms both the Thrown and the Engine count as chariots being pulled by a spirit host that grants both units ethereal movement.  The Coven Thrown is a mount for Vampire characters, and comes with a pair of vampiric handmaidens to attend to their lord.  It has a 4+ ward save and nice little special rule called Battle of Wills that could result in an enemy unit turning on itself.  The Mortis Engine is a rare choice and has Regeneration, a Banshee swarm and a Reliquary that hurts the enemy and heals the undead and becomes more powerful the longer it stays on the table.  Both builds look good, but personally I prefer the look of the Mortis Engine.  It has the look of a gothic pipe organ and I love the swirling banshees.

Vampire Counts Black Knights / HexwraithsAnd finally we get to the Hexwraiths.  The rules for them are cool.  They’re ethereal, fast cavalry that can move through units, hurting the enemy as they go.  Their attacks are flaming and ignore armour saves, and their background as agents of death itself, sent to hunt down those who have cheated death is cool.  The models are OK.  They’re made from the same kit as the new black knights.  They’re not bad looking models, my only problem with them is that I don’t think that they do the concept art from army book justice.  Have a look below and you’ll know what I mean.

Now is it just me, or is that piece of artwork cool.  It really captures the terror and ethereal aspect of these creatures.  They are the stuff of nightmares and this picture shows that.  Like said, nice models but I’m not sure if they really bring out that same fear factor.

And now for the other stuff.  The magic Lore of Vampires has changed slightly.  All of your old favourites are there; Curse of Years, Vanhel’s Dance etc. but there are a few subtle changes.  The signature spell is Invocation of Nehek, but this time instead of targeting a single friendly unit, it targets ALL friendly undead units within 6″ (or 12″ or 18″ if you want to increase the casting value).  All friendly units regain D6+caster’s magic level worth of wounds, unless the unit is Vampiric, Ethereal or a Large Target, which only regain 1 wound per casting.  Characters and their mounts do NOT regain wounds from the casting of this spell.  The only way they can get wounds back is from the Lore Attribute; each time a spell is successfully cast from the Lore of Vampires the wizard, or a friendly model within 12″ regains a wound.  Unless the unit is zombies (or you have bought the appropriate upgrade) you cannot increase a unit beyond its starting size.  The Raise Dead spell can be used to create new units of skeletons once more, but you do have to increase the casting value.  Oh and in case you ever get tired of raising the dead you now have access to the Lores of Death and Shadow.

One of the cool things about the Vampires is that you can customize your lords of undeath.  You can still do this, though the list is a little smaller than in the previous edition.  This I feel is no great loss as several of the Vampiric Powers are now included as standard upgrades (such as armour and weapon upgrades).  The one I am going to miss is no more ethereal vampires.  Oh well, can’t have everything.  The list of magic items has been reduced to 9 as is the standard for the newer army books.  Frostblade has gone, but watch out for Skabscrath is all I’m saying.  As for the death of the general?  Well its still not a good thing.  Your general has to be a wizard with the Lore of Vampires, and if he/she is killed then all of your non-vampiric units have to take a leadership test at the end of the phase.  The difference this time is that if you have another wizard with the Lore of Vampires in your army then he/she takes over and the army doesn’t take anymore leadership test.  This is repeated if that character is killed and so on.

All in all I’m impressed with the new release.  They’ve added a few, nice looking units and made some minor rules changes to existing ones.  They’ve re-done the Black Knights, which is about time, as they seriously needed it.  What would I like to have seen?  I know it’s called the Vampire COUNTS, and therefore focuses upon the von Carsteins, but what happened to the other special characters such as Neferata and Walach. Harkon.  The zombies could also do with re-modelling, and I really wish they’d done a new Black Coach, rather than just making it a Finecast model.  It is however nice to see an army that has all of its units available rather than GW’s usual trick of not releasing half of the army list.  It looks like I may be dusting off the coffins that contain my undead models and giving them a new lease of . . . life.

Tired of Wargaming?


This is something that has been playing on my mind now for a few months, and I worry that I might actually be completely burned out with wargaming.

I have been part of this hobby for ages now, and it has always been good fun. Primarily I’ve been in it for the social aspect, the opportunity to meet with and have common interests with nerds from all over the galaxy has been great. The artistic modelling, painting, stories and narratives have all been a bonus, not to mention the incessant smack talk and DPZ.

I don’t think for a moment that I have a problem with the people in the hobby. I have made some awesome gaming buddies over the years. My current gaming group is amongst the best.

Without trying to sound too much like a prima donna though, I just think that gaming has got too commercial. It just seems to me that wargaming at present is just an endless cycle of imbalances, releases, further imbalances and further releases. Add in a heavy emphasis of win-at-all-costs style gaming and you’ve got a right royal banana skin. This is something that the sheriff has been keen to implement over the last few years to boost sales. I’m sure you regularly reading googlespiders are aware, but in practice it goes a little something like this:

1) Release game system
2) Release codex
3) Release slightly better codex
4) Release slightly even better codex
5) Rerelease game system to add more imbalances

But that’s not the whole story. In the background of all these cycles win-at-all-costs-gaming styles soon take precedence, whether intentionally or not. No-one likes to get trounced all of the time, so people with earlier codices or inferior army lists look to the internet and other sources to tweak their forces just to make them a bit more competitive. People then nudge their forces closer and closer to tournament standards as the cycle perpetuates. All of this obviously involves the purchase and painting of new miniatures or even new armies, so the games companies are happy to keep things cycling. Go to any games club to see the effects – hordes of new unpainted miniatures battling it out with hordes of other new unpainted miniatures in a vain effort to have a reasonably balanced game. Gaming ceases to be about fun and more about micromanaging your selections and purchases.

But what about the companies who do not adopt this approach? Much kudos to them. Remember, companies are out there to make money. Don’t forget that most games companies would like to sell as much stuff and with such incredulous mark-up as the market leaders. A case in point is Spartan Games, a niche games manufacturer. A few years ago they released ‘Uncharted Seas’, a decent but by no means perfect fantasy sea battle game. It was fun. Within what seemed like a few weeks they then went on to release and hype ‘Firestorm Armada’. Essentially the same game in space, with many improvements. Uncharted Seas almost became obsolete. Again, what seemed like a few weeks later they released ‘Dystopian Wars’ to further large amounts of hype, again a very similar style of game making their previous efforts almost like last year’s fashions. What they managed to do though was sell the Uncharted Seas fan 3 separate rule sets and probably 3 sets of models. Now there’s nothing wrong with this, and in fact I think their games are pretty good. Personally though this just makes me sigh, as none of these great games truly got the run they deserved. I know that no-one will be playing Firestorm Armada in five years time, as it is surpassed, overlooked and replaced by something newer and shinier. The great models sit there unpainted on eBay. The sad fact is that the new systems people will be playing will probably be no more fun than those they replaced. A few tweaks to suit a few tastes, but essentially games are games and not simulations. The gamers have not benefitted, only the companies that produce the stuff. See what I mean about gaming becoming too commercial? It’s unfair to single out a company like Spartan, as I reckon this could be applied to pretty much any company that needs to make a profit in the wargames market.

So what’s the future? For me, things have been quite fortunate of late. Recently at our gaming sessions we have been sticking to ‘boxed’ games. Games where force selection is severely limited or non-existent. There’s no need to buy and paint more models to counter your opponent’s latest models only to discard them in three months when something new comes along that renders your models obsolete. The games come ‘as is’, and are not going to be subject to errata or FAQs because they are so unbelievably complex or imbalanced. Games where there are no doubts over movements as tape measures are not required. Games such as Dust, Formula D, Blood Bowl and the co-operative experience of No More Room In Hell. Over the last few months I have found these types of games to be the most fun of all.

For sale: 5000 points of awesomely painted Space Marines soon to be hopelessly outclassed by the new Necron codex!

Why Gaming?


Something of a whimsical thought is the inspiration for today’s blog post. My apologies for not spewing something forth any earlier, I had a week off from work last week and didn’t really spend a whole lot of it in front of the computer.

I’d like to explore with people why tabletop wargaming is their hobby of choice. Now, I know that many of us do not restrict ourselves to a single pastime, however, how did gaming make its mark upon your life and why are you still sticking with it years later.

For myself there is a WOW factor when dealing with models. To be honest this is probably the reason why I have so little painted. I look at the models and am blown away by some awesome sculpts and I just want to OWN that model. I remember my Dad taking me into the local Grift Workshop store and looking at all the models. Eventually I got my own first model and that was it, I was in and play with them to this day. It was an extension of playing Space Crusade with my family.

What I enjoy about it is the different armies, their strengths and weaknesses and putting together an army to play with. I love assembling the models and getting them onto the field of battle. At some point there is a danger I could end up with a painted army…. we’ll see if that happens. It’s the models that draw me in primarily and then, if there is a good rules system behind it, I am inclined to play that game. Having other people to play against isn’t always a priority as I am a sucker for nice models.

So then Internet, how did you get into it and why have you stuck with it?

Gribblin Goes Historical


Well the urge has been happening for a while now, and I’ve finally taken the plunge into historical wargaming.  It took place a few weeks ago and I’ve finished my first unit the other day.  As so many of my friends are having new born babies and my girlfriend will be in America working at a summer camp I foresee an uneventful summer, so I’ve decided to get involved in a campaign that a local gaming club is running over the summer.  It’s based upon Warlord Games’ Black Powder rulebook and is set in the Civil War (that’s English/British Civil War, or War of the Three Kingdoms if you want to get pedantic).  I’ve taken the role of one of the Scot’s Covenanter Armies as I have an affinity for Scotland and the uniforms are grey making painting quick and easy.  My first unit is complete (Scots Lancers) so I’d thought I’d share a couple of pics.

Spontaneous Gaming Is Spontaneous


Not everyone we hang around with is a stereotypical neckbearded dungeons and dragons player. Occasionally our friends go out of the house and have exciting adventures in what they call ‘The Real World ™’. Generally we just sit around, rolling dice awaiting their return, hoping they bring us more DPZ. Well anyway, one of our friends stayed out long enough to get married, so we descended from the floating citadel to attend the wedding. Congratulations to the happy couple! I could go on to write about the dress, the decorations, the vows, the ceremony, the cake, but seeing as there were no Space Marines, Skaven or Warcasters in attendance it is unlikely to be of interest to our regular reading googlebots. But wouldn’t it be awesome if there were?

‘Brother Dante, do you take Brother Mephiston to be your lawfully wedded civil partner?’
‘Only if he doesn’t make me take off my gimp mask.’
‘Where is the best man, Brother Calgar?’
‘He said he found some tyranids that needed power fisting.’
‘Nevermind, we’re so gorgeous, we should form a boyband.’
‘TakeBloodThatBoyAngelZone.’
‘Dreamy!’
‘Excuse me Sirs, there’s a rat in the kitchen who says he wants some head.’
‘Aha, that’ll be chief bridesmaid Warlord Queek Headtaker, do send him in.’

At the real wedding we were hanging around in 6InchMove stylee, when we had the great idea to do some gaming. Obviously not at the wedding, because that would be just plain rude. Things were arranged and two hours later wives were suitably distracted and everyone was ready. In our haste however, we hadn’t decided what to play. People had a few figures here and there, except ZombiePirate, built to party he had brought everything. It took ages to decide what to play, eventually we settled on nBreaker and myself playing Firestorm Armada while ZombiePirate and Carabus went to the fish and chip shop in memory of the Aquans.

In summary, if you are going to do spontaneous gaming, be firm and decide what you are going to play beforehand. The outcome by the way – The Terrans beat the Sorylians, we refired our desire to get serious about War Of The Ring and I sat in my dinner. Awesome.

Concepts In Gaming – The Myth of Balance


Time to sink our collective teeth into another of the meaty topics related to gaming. Whether you lean more towards the tabletop world or the virtual world there is an often quoted and talked about concept that has the potential to construct a perfect storm of CAPS LOCK fury and ‘Rage of the Nerd’ (TM). Any game that has more than one player in it strives for this singular achievement of gaming, as the title of this post has already not very subtly alluded to, that principle is balance.

This really is the holy grail of gaming, to have a game perfectly poised so that anything can defeat anything else and it just comes down to the player at the end of the day. What I am going to say is that right up front this is a crock! That’s right, I’m flinging poo at the punters again, not only did I decry Comp the other day but here I am now saying that balance in both tabletop games and online virtual environments is nigh unachievable. We here at 6 Inch Move don’t shy away from the big topics for you to enjoy at home or on the road. Obviously this is a viewpoint that I am going to have to back up. Luckily I have a good number of words left to try to achieve that, so, please stick with me and we’ll see where we end up.

Without the rose-tinted glasses of hindsight I doubt that we can ever come up with a game that was perfectly balanced (other than the original Starcraft, but I am not counting that as we are dealing with tabletop games and MMOs primarily). Both of these spheres have things in common, both tend to go with players on two sides, and each side will have access to various classes/races/armies or whatever. With tabletop gaming you have an army list to pick your units from, this leads to a whole host of different combinations that can be taken, especially when you throw in options for different magic items and upgrades that can alter how your army performs. In MMOs there are race/class combinations as well as differences in gear levels. Now, for MMOs balance is an argument that is almost universally attributed to the PvP environment, the reason I bring tabletop gaming up as well is that, in essence, this is also a PvP arena, one person or a team against another person or team. If one person finds it hard to beat another there can often times be a whine associated with it. Now, I’m not going to tar everyone with the same brush, it is normally the vocal minority that you hear about, they are the ones that are complaining after all and in our hyper-connected Internet world we hear about these things through the communities we associate with.

For wargaming there is an expectation that each army be balanced against all others, that there is no significant advantage gained by taking one army over another. However, if you consider the amount of variety available balancing each and every possible combination is next to impossible. Personally I don’t think any combo is unbeatable, you may have to come with up some inventive tactics or strategies and shy away from that one favourite unit you have in order to overcome something you struggle against. Sure I can understand the argument that if you bring an all-comers list you should have a good chance of beating your opponent but there will always be bad match ups. This happens in real life as well, some forces are better equipped than others yet they have stood up and made an accounting greater than they should have. The same can be true of our war games.

In an MMO environment I am even more dead set that balance is something that should not really even be considered. If I run around as a Holy Priest for instance, why should I be entitled to think that I can beat any pure DPS class or tank? I CHOSE to heal my team mates, it is their job to protect me so I can protect them. In one way the balance comes from the team and any team that has damage dealing and healing should steam roll any other team that is missing one or the other. I took a lowbie character into a Warsong Gulch match a few months back and we were faced with a team of 8 or 9 Hunters. In the 11-19 bracket that meant we just go walked all over because we couldn’t match their damage output and we had next to no healers (I myself was a Hunter on the side getting pwned). With WoW as a specific case I don’t think the classes are balanced around PvP anyway, more that they are looked at in PvE and PvP is just an addition. There was a lot of this in SWG too, PvP was a pretty big part of the game with the Galactic Civil War period, yet anyone that played a class that could attack the Mind pool of player was pretty much guaranteed to win.

If the only thing to happen was a one vs one then the game could strive to achieve a certain balance, but each person would have to have the same abilities and the same core design to allow only player skill to show through. In order to make an engaging game you lose this aspect, especially when other players are brought into the mix. Sure it can be frustrating to get absolutely spanked in a situation where you have no chance of doing anything else but everytime some people band together and start using teamwork things get a lot better. There is much more to a game than one thing being able to beat another or even the Starcraft like Rock, Paper, Scissors (Lizard, Spock). Balance is an unachievable Holy Grail in an environment that almost discounts balance at its heart. Sometimes you will win, sometimes you lose, this is a life principle and rather than just whining about we lost and such and such an army or class is broken we should suck it up, look at what we did and what happened and try to learn from that. Afterall, retreating from a fight is not always a sign of cowardice, feigned flight can be a strategy in and of itself and while you are alive you have a chance to fight back.

What Makes Games Fun?


There is no mistaking that the tabletop gaming arena is getting crowded with competitors. While there have always been a number of companies who have made models it seems increasingly that these companies are now striking out into the gaming market by producing rule sets, Freebooter and Wyrd are just a few that spring to mind.

While this may mean that as gamers we have plenty of choice it also means that we have a lot of games clamouring for our attention. We don’t all have the limitless wealth that the our friendly Sherrif may think we do, so buying into every single game that comes our way isn’t feasible, although for some of us, we do try. Long-suffering wives see their beloved homes turned into galleries of metal and plastic in various stages of construction and painting, while us menfolk surreptitiously try to hide our latest purchase in among the forest of toy soldiers that is almost impossible to catalogue without an expert’s eye.

Some of the decision-making for what we play is based around aesthetics but nowadays we are also seeing innovation in the mechanics of the games, moving away from dice to cards or using cards to represent models and their stats rather than lots of chod crammed into a bulging rulebook. While choosing games to play is a deeply personal choice surely there are going to be some offerings and one game has the potential to not be as good as another. Some rules are clunky and difficult, some leave room for ambiguity due to poor language, others are the efforts of extensive writing and play testing and are a joy to behold. How do we know which games are which when we are making our decisions and how do we know what we will enjoy and be able to coerce invite our friends to play with us.

If we were to do a comparison between the offerings out there today we’d end up with a rather large post, there are certainly a large number of games I can think of available to joe public. A direct comparison between them isn’t always going to be possible either, while you could probably get away with comparing War of the Ring, 40k and Warhammer Fantasy as they are all games based upon army scale conflicts. Adding in Warmachine, Malifaux, Hell Dorado etc… would be unfair as they are skirmish games and therefore play differently. However, whether skirmish or army the one thing that I think unites games is that they should be fun. If you spend the majority of your gaming time poring over the rules then you probably aren’t having much fun, but if the core mechanics are easy to learn then you can get on with playing and things are much more enjoyable. Again this is a deeply personal view on things, I love games like Malifaux and Warmachine where you have a few models to play with and unit cards on the table in front of you give you everything you need to play and provide a quick reference to speed things up. Malifaux’s rules are wonderfully short, once you have the turn sequence and the concept of duels sorted then you can play, the trick to the game is combining the models in your crew, all the abilities and special rules are on the model’s cards and you spend more time with those than having your nose stuck in the rulebook.

Warhammer relies on you remembering a lot more, the rules are longer and more prescriptive, you can make yourself little notes so that you remember all the magic items bulging the pockets of your heroes and the numerous special rules that your army has. War of the Ring handily condenses a lot of the rules that we see in Warhammer and looks completely different. Warmachine has a whole host of options for you to use within the rules and you need to remember those, but the core mechanics are simple but rely on you unlocking the combinations in your army to maximum effect, I suppose it is a little like Magic: The Gathering in tabletop form.

But what makes a game fun? As this is a hobby we aren’t doing this for the work and effort required to assemble and paint an army, we are doing it to relax, to get away for a while in another world that allows us to (temporarily) forget our jobs and other responsibilities. While it is possible to take each element of our lives to extremes I’d like to think that some alone time is something we all do while not neglecting our family, employment or other areas of our lives. Anyway, enough of the heavy stuff.

What makes a game fun is surely an opinion rather than anything we can probably define. While I find both Uncharted Seas and Firestorm Armada to be fun, I prefer the spaceships, they are more “fun” as a game. I know others prefer US or even the 6 Inch Move blog nemesis Full Thrust, which is why this is interesting to me as gamers have vastly different tastes.

I think that on the whole Warmachine is more fun that Warhammer, however I enjoy both games sufficiently that I invest in both (although I haven’t played Warmachine in a while). I like Warhammer because of the sweeping battles and it plumbs different areas of my brain to the skirmish games I play. I love Malifaux because the mechanics are so different from a dice game and things can be far more brutal if Fate is with you, it’s a very different play experience to any of the other skirmish games I like as well as being totally different from army sized games. Warmachine is fun because you can use magic robots to headbutt each other into the ground and chuck stuff across the table. Each of the games that I choose to play are fun for different reasons and that is why gaming is such an interesting hobby. To my wife they are just toy soldiers or whatever, but to me, they provide different experiences that I can enjoy with my friends and I think this final point is the key.

Gaming is at its heart a social hobby, while you can play with yourself (pun intended) the hobby takes on a whole new and more satisfying dimension when these experiences are shared with friends. While sometimes we will whine about the dice deserting us, or a sub-par unit choice, or that cheesy magic item combo etc… each time I spend time with my good buddies thrashing out some fantasy conflict between zombie hookers and metaphorical personifications of axioms or whatever I have memories of fun times spent quaffing liberal quantities of Dr Pepper and sharing the highs and lows with a bunch of people who add something to my mortal experiences.

So, what makes games fun for me? I’d have to say it’s the people I play with, for me there couldn’t be a better bunch of nerds to share my time with!

Tyranid Tactica 1.01


After my rather uncomfortable game last Saturday, I have thought long and hard about how the new Tyranids work in battle.  I have also managed to get another game in in the week (2000 pts), and I’m starting to get a picture of how they work.  So with this I have decided to talk about some of the new tactics that can be used with the Tyranids.  I’ve heard that there is some fuss over the Swarmlord and the Doom of Malan’tai, and for now I will not be adding my voice to these debates.  As my gaming friends can tell you I have a slight aversion to using special characters.  I can see the negative comments coming in right now, but I find that most of the time they are over priced for what they do, and almost never make their points up.  This might be because I tend to play games no larger than 2000 pts; in which case a 250pt character is a bit too much, or that they have been used badly by my opponents.  Also throughout most of the Tyranid’s history there have never been special characters to use.  But this is off topic; back to Tyranid Tactica.

I know I have only managed 2 games with the new codex, but I have spent the past 16yrs using this particularly nasty alien race and feel like I’m in a good position to comment on their latest evolution.  From the two games I’ve played with the new edition I’ve walked away with 1 draw and 1 win (just) and I can tell you now that they fight in a very different way.

The first is the Synapse Creatures.  This has always been one of the defining features about the Tyranid army, that the will of the Hive Mind overcomes that of the lesser creatures.  There are now more synapse creatures than ever before (Hive Tyrants, Tervigons, Tyranid Primes, Zoanthropes, Tyranid Warriors, Tyranid Shrikes and Trygon Primes), giving you at least one synapse unit for each of your unit options.  The new Tyranids however are less dependent upon the synapse creatures than before.  In previous editions any creatures beyond synapse range would have to take a leadership test (LD 5 for most); if they passed then all was well, if they failed then they fell back automatically.  This ment that synapse was both a strength and weakness to the Tyranids, as the loss of synapse creatures caused your army to run away.  In the new edition this is less of a problem.  If the lesser creatures fail their leadership test then they will either lurk (sit there and shoot at the nearest enemy target) or feed (move and assault the nearest enemy).  I’ve found this works really well, as the stuff you want to get into combat will still run forwards and hit stuff.  You do however have less control over your swarm, and your units are no longer fearless.  Loss of synapse is still a pain in the butt, but it no longer means the end of your army.

Secondly is the way Tyranids fight in combat now.  Most of your units are not equipped with assault grenades (in fact only 3 have them – Lictors, Harpies and Carnifexs).  This means that assaulting into cover is often a very blood affair.  I’ve found that you can no longer just throw units in there (that and the Know No Fear rule for Space Marines is a pain) and expect to win.  You have to think more about your options.  There are ways to overcome this; 1. send in a LARGE unit of something expendable (Termagants cost 5 pts each, use them!) to soak up the attacks, and then follow up with a smaller unit of better fighters (Warriors or Genestealers).  The downside to this is that it leaves one of your more elite units open to enemy fire. 2. send in one of the units that does have assault grenades. 3. send in something that has a high toughness and armour save that’ll survive getting hit first.  In combat just make sure that you don’t do what I have done the past 2 games; forget that scything talons give you a re-roll (yes I did forget it again).

Thirdly (and perhaps most controversially) there is the very real option of a shooting orientated Tyranid army.  The Hive Tyrant, Zoanthrope and Carnifex have been the main source of high powered ranged weaponry for the past 2 editions.  Add to that the new Hive Guard, Pyrovore, Harpy and Tyrannofex.  Plus Warriors are BS 4 if you add a Tyranid Prime.  The Hive are fantastic models, with 2 Str 8 shots they pose a threat to infantry and tanks; their T6 means that they don’t get instant deathed and they don’t need to see their targets to hit them.  The only down side I’ve found is that with a 24″ range you wont be able to hit the vehicles you really want to kill (i.e. barrage artillery).  But this is where the Tyrannofex comes in (I’ve yet to try this model) with its 48″ S10 Assault 2 cannon.  The only problem with this tactic is that you are lacking in AP3 weapons, so you’ll still have to get up close and rend those marines.  The other problem is that some of your more powerful ranged weapons (Warp Blast & Lance, Paroxysm, Leece Essence) are psychic powers and are thus vulnerable to psychic hoods etc.

One of the things that is lacking in the Tyranid army is Invulnerable Saves.  Only the Zoanthropes, Swarmlord and Doom of Malan’tai have one.  This can be a bit of a problem as lascannons wound your monsters and Warriors get instant deathed by krak missiles.  But this is where tactics take over.  In second edition one of the ways to overcome this was the way you deployed your army.  Use your units to provide a 4+ cover save to each other.  Make sure that the units at the front are large and expendable (30 Termagants is only 150pts), place the medium sized creatures behind those (4+ cover save against krak missiles!) and the monstrous creatures behind them – remember that real line of sight applies for the cover saves for monstrous creatures.  Add to this a unit of Venomthropes (I would recommend a full sized unit of these) and a Tervigon with Catalyst to give Feel No Pain to either the unit at the front or to a monstrous creature thats out on its own, and there you have it, your entire army has a 4+ invulnerable save.

For my closing comments, a thought on monstrous creatures.  I’ve heard some people moan about the increased points cost for these beasts.  I will admit I was taken back with it myself.  In previous editions I would never have had a Hive Tyrant that was over 200 pts, now I have little choice.  I personally feel that the Hive Tyrant is worth the points; it’s a powerful commanding model and is capable of taking on tanks and infantry; especially if you have Hive Guard with it.  Paroxysm is a fantastic psychic power for use against Ork mobs and Assault Terminators.  The Carnifex is a lot of points for what it does, and for the first time I’m coming up with army lists that don’t include one.  I used to always use them as there was little else that could take out a tank, but now there are so many other choices.  I wont stop using them totally, and I’m looking forward to using a brood of them, but I’m just going to try other options too.  I’ve found that the Mawloc is great for initial impact as the best part of a unit is swallowed up into the whole it’s just dug, but with only 3 attacks it can get quickly overwhelmed if not supported; especially if the enemy is armed with a powerfist.  After using it in both battles I’d recommend sending it off to take out small squads by themselves, tanks or artillery – especially if these vehicles have been left un-supported.

Well those are some of my thoughts for the first of my Tyranid Tactica articles.  I’ll write more as I come up with ideas and try out new combinations.