Sunday, August 19, 2007

REVIEW: Siege of Vraks

I'm back with a review post, but don't get too excited - my posting will still be erratic over the next few weeks.

Siege of Vraks is a slimmer than usual Imperial Armour book because it is split across two volumes. This first instalment concerns the initial 9 years of the siege; it's inception, the gruelling fight between the Death Korps of Krieg and the Renegade Militia under Cardinal Xaphan, and the intervention of the Dark Angels Space Marines. It ends unresolved, with dark hints that Chaos forces are to reinforce the Renegades more openly.

The book has four main sections. The background to the conflict is the largest section. It suffers from the same problems as previous books, namely spelling mistakes and clumsy writing, but the ideas are good. In tone and spirit it is pure 40k, especially the reasoning behind the decision to lay siege rather than pursue other options (such as planetary bombardment). The relationship between the Imperial Guard and the Space Marines is interesting because it illustrates that although the two forces are on the same side, they do not necessarily communicate well about the war and their objectives. This friction explains much about the Imperium as a whole.

The narrative serves as a jumping-off point for the scenarios, which are a much smaller portion of the book. There are 7 in total. I think they provide interesting games as they are largely devoid of Space Marines. 40k is a completely different game without their dominance.

The Death Korps of Krieg army list represents an Imperial Guard army at siege and is composed mostly of infantry and artillery. I have heard some murmurs of complaint from some players because it is relatively prescriptive in it's list choices. I think this is necessary as surely part of Forgeworld's remit is to provide alternatives and variations on Games Workshop's core army lists. If you want a regular Imperial Guard army then use the GW codex (with Death Korps of Krieg doctrines if required). The Forgeworld list represents a siege variant.

The second army list is for the Renegade Militia. It allows you to play an IG regiment that has just 'turned' to Chaos, so it only has a handful of changes from the standard IG list. Morale is random, which makes for a characterful choice; it's great for narrative or scenario driven play but competitive players will hate the randomness. Ogryns have been tweaked as have the psykers.

Of course, the best thing about both armies is the fantastic range of new models Forgeworld have produced for them. I need another army like I need a hole in the head but I'm tempted by both of these forces.

The artwork is, if anything, even better than that of previous Imperial Armour books. Some people complain about the repeated vehicle technical drawings with slightly different paint schemes, but they are well done. The treated photographs of the models are really superb but I think the best artwork is reserved for the full colour plates of the major combatants. These represent a Death Korps infantryman, a grenadier, a Renegade Militiaman and an Orgyn Berserker. A special mention must be made of the poster which comes with the book. This has a map of the battlefield on Vraks on one side which is just crying out to be used for a campaign, and a diagram of the Death Korps infantry squad and company organisation on the other.

Excellent stuff.

All in all, then, I think this is a very good publication and deserves an 8 out of 10.


All of my reviews end in a score out of ten for the product. The table below explains what that score means.

  • 10/10 Perfect, absolutely nothing better
  • 9/10 Excellent, highly recommended
  • 8/10 Very good, recommended
  • 7/10 Good
  • 6/10 Above average, some problems
  • 5/10 Average, some good points some bad points
  • 4/10 Below average, some redeeming features
  • 3/10 Poor, major flaws
  • 2/10 Very poor, avoid if possible
  • 1/10 Absolutely appalling

Thursday, August 16, 2007

UPDATE: behind the scenes issues

As I predicted in my last post, I'm not going to be able to stick to my previous posting schedule. I've just got too much going on with sorting through my old website, setting up the accounts for the new ones and switching ISP's.

Please bear with me - it will be worth it in the end.


Sunday, August 12, 2007

The more observant of you will have noticed the changes to lone pilgrim over the past few days. In fact, if you are reading this you will have already have discovered that the way I host this blog has changed.

I really like using Blogger as my 'website.' I have struggled with other web publishing software over the years; hand coding everything in HTML, Microsoft's Frontpage and most recently Netobjects Fusion 8.

NEWS: lone pilgrim web changes

The more observant of you will have noticed the changes to lone pilgrim over the past few days. In fact, if you are reading this you will have already have discovered that the way I host this blog has changed.

I really like using Blogger as my 'website.' I have struggled with other web publishing software over the years; hand coding everything in HTML, Microsoft's Frontpage and most recently Netobjects Fusion 8. With all of them, I have found that I spent more time struggling with the software than actually writing and posting gaming stuff.

Blogger is different because it is so simple. Now I can concentrate on the content not the presentation. Content is king as they say.

The only slight problem was that I was hosting Blogger on my own webspace and that meant I didn't have access to all the new 'bells and whistles' that were available to blogs hosted on Blogger's webspace. My solution was to use a custom domain so that I could use the full Blogger while not having to include the Blogger URL in my website address. Now I have accomplished this with my main site I am trying to get a dedicated Battle Reports blog created. Others will follow in the future.

Hang on tight, this is going to be quite a ride.

Saturday, August 11, 2007

OPINION: Optimizing army lists, part two

In my last post I explained the design philosophy behind optimizing units and army lists, using the six man las/plas squad as an example. I stated that it's strengths were:
  • Small squad size maximises the number of special and heavy weapons across the army
  • Even squad size helps with victory points and scoring status
  • Lascannon has good range, high strength, low armour penetration
  • Plasma gun matches lascannon well
  • Good redundancy if similar squads are also selected
It did however have some weaknesses:
  • Poor in combat
  • Fragile
  • Slow
  • Cannot adapt to other battlefield roles
  • Encourages a rock/paper/scissors mentality in 40k
My plan was to utilise a different design philosophy to put together my Blood Angels army. Instead of optimizing each unit to perform one narrow range of tasks, I would expect each unit to contribute something to a wide range of tasks. Here are the tasks I identified as being required of each unit:
  • Good mobility (at least 12" per turn)
  • Tough target busting firepower (vehicles, characters, monstrous creatures)
  • Infantry killing firepower
  • Ability to threaten hordes in close combat
  • Ability to threaten tough targets in close combat (vehicles, characters, monstrous creatures)
  • Decent scoring potential
With just this one change a wide range of units swap places in the pecking order for army list choices. Take the Land Raider for example. This would be rarely taken in an optimized list because it has a confused battlefield role. It can carry 10 models but if it does so it would be expected to move it's full 12" every turn. That means it cannot shoot it's twin-linked lascannons. In an optimized list you would take a Predator annihilator (with three lascannons) if you wanted to shoot, or a Rhino, Drop Pod or Land Raider Crusader if you wanted to assault. In my all-rounder list the Land Raider would be a good choice. It can shoot if required, it can assault if needed, it has good mobility and it is a scoring unit.

So if a six man las/plas squad is the pinnacle of optimized unit design for a Tactical squad then what would it look like when chosen from an all rounder viewpoint? To begin with it would need to have more members, to help it be able to capture objectives and preserve it's scoring status. I would recommend the full ten marines so that you have the in game flexibility of using combat squads (splitting the squad into two five men squads). Ten marines also make more use of the carrying capacity of the Rhino you will want to buy for the squad. The transport is needed to provide mobility to the unit. This will help it to advance upon enemy units and capture objectives. A Razorback is another useful transport option. It can only be used if the unit stays at six models but it does carry a twin-linked heavy weapon. A Drop Pod would give the unit an alternative type of mobility.

So, we have now two of our tasks accounted for. The squad comes with built in infantry killing firepower with it's bolt guns. They can use these dismounted and at range, up to 24" or when leaping out of their Rhino at up to 12." This could be augmented with a special weapon such as a flamer or plasma gun. A plasma gun could also help out with shooting at tough targets. Melta guns would also work. I would also take a missile launcher for the squad. This weapon is usually overlooked in favour of the lascannon, but it is perfect for an all rounder list. It's krak missiles can threaten tough targets while the frag missiles can help with hordes.

The large squad size helps in close combat against hordes, but the squad's main killing power will come from it's sergeant. The obvious choice of weapon for him is a powerfist. This works well against hordes but is perfect for pulling down tough targets.

This philosophy has an added benefit in that it keeps redundancy in the army list without having to duplicate unit choices (often referred to as cookie-cutter lists). Because each unit can perform a wide range of tasks it is very difficult for the enemy to cripple your army in a certain area. In an optimized list, for example, you may have four las/plas squads to act as your vehicle killing power. A canny opponent with a mechanised Tau list may identify those squads as his priority targets and go all-out to destroy them. That would leave the rest of the optimized player's list to take out the opponent's vehicles; units that are optimized for close combat, mobility or other tasks.

To recap, then, we have a ten man squad with a veteran sergeant with a powerfist, a plasma gun and a missile launcher. The squad is mounted in a rhino. This is a squad that can fulfill a very wide range of battlefield roles.

An alternative would be a six man Tactical squad in a Razorback. You lose the heavy weapon in the squad but you get a twin-linked one on the vehicle instead. The squad is a bit smaller, but it is a bit cheaper. It can still achieve a lot of in-game tasks.

All-rounder lists help to stop the list from being extremely boring, which many optimized lists are. Instead of this:
  • Six man las/plas
  • Six man las/plas
  • Six man las/plas
You get this:
  • 10 man squad, vet sergeant with Powerfist, flamer, missile launcher, mounted in Rhino
  • 8 man squad, vet sergeant with Powerfist, plasma gun, missile launcher, mounted in Drop Pod
  • 6 man squad, vet sergeant with power weapon, melta gun, Razorback with twin-linked heavy bolters
I know which one I would prefer to play with and against.

The key to playing an all rounder army list is in assessing your opponents army before the game and coming up with a plan to defeat it. This can be a challenge, but surely this has to be better than coming to the table with an army that can only be played in one way as optimized lists often do? Once you have decided how your enemy will approach his game, your list has the flexibility to exploit his weaknesses.

Say your opponent has an Imperial Guard gunline army. You can mount up all your units and use your mobility to engage them in close combat and short range firefights. Against a Tyranid assault force you can split your squads into combat squads to utilise their firepower and stand off with the vehicles, using them to shoot, corral and stall enemy attacks. In every game you play, you will have options. Your games should be more enjoyable, both for you and your opponent.

Friday, August 10, 2007

OPINION: Optimizing army lists

I've been posting a lot about army lists lately. I've just settled upon a 1500 point Chaos Renegade list that can also be used as a Chaos Renegade Militia army. Now I am poring over the new Blood Angels codex. They will be my main army in the current tournament season. I want to try something different with my Blood Angels army. The best way to illustrate why this army will be different is to discuss the traditional way that armies are built; for optimization. In fact the principle of optimization can be shown with just one unit; the las/plas squad.

The las/plas squad
This squad is a staple of Marine armies. I have used them in my Chaos Undivided list and have encountered many of them in competitive games. The set-up is always the same, consisting of six Marines; four have boltguns, one has a lascannon and another has a plasma gun. Why is this squad so prevalent?

Why six marines?
It is because the majority of competitive players try to optimize their units so that they fulfill their role as efficiently as possible. The las/plas squad is designed for shooting. It is six men strong because shooting squads benefit from having fewer numbers. A disproportionate amount of damage in 40k comes from a small number of models. In shooting squads this damage is largely generated by heavy and special weapons. By picking smaller squads a player can have more of them and therefore cram in more of those crucial special and heavy weapons. Of course, five men is the smallest possible unit size, but that sixth man actually helps to preserve victory points. Even numbered units are always preferable to odd numbered units because it takes an extra casualty to drop the unit below half strength and claim half victory points. It also helps to retain their scoring status and to protect the special and heavy weapons. Six is the optimal number of marines in a shooting squad.

Why lascannon and plasma gun?
The lascannon is the primary gun here. It has obvious strengths; long range, high strength and low armour penetration. It may be expensive but it can crack the toughest armoured vehicles and take on tooled up daemon-princes, carnifexes and hive tyrants and terminators. It can also instantly kill most multiple wound characters and punch through power armour effortlessly. Most army lists also discount lascannon in troops choices because GW believe that troops choices fufill multiple battlefield roles. If you have to move then you can't use the heavy weapon, and the squad could be used in a close combat capacity. However, because the las/plas squad is being optimized for shooting the cheaper weapon price is a real bonus for canny players.

The plasma gun is chosen for synergy. None of the other special weapons match the lascannon as well. The plasma gun has high strength, low armour penetration and a decent range. It can threaten pretty much all of the same targets as the lascannon can. In addition, it is especially good against marines. Approximately 60% of all armies are MEQ's (Marine EQuivalents) so it makes sense to pick weapons that can attack them well.

When you look at all of this together, the six marine las/plas squad makes for a formidable shooting unit.

The las/plas squad does have some weaknesses, though. Because it is so optimized for one task, it cannot do any others very well. It is vulnerable in combat. Although the raw stats for marines are good, they will be defeated by any half-decent close combat squad. They are also somewhat fragile. Again, marine stats are good, but just four casualties make the unit non-scoring and bags their opponent half of their victory points. Just two more kills wipes out the squad. This makes them somewhat suspect when it comes to claiming objectives with them. Objectives are problematic for movement reasons, too. The las/plas squad only moves 6" per turn and loses lots of firepower if it does so. If the objective is even a moderate distance away the las/plas squad will have to make tough choices about whether to move or fire.

There is a wider weakness, too. If a player employs the optimization method of army design across their whole army, they will have a range of units each built for their specific role. But what happens if a savvy opponent targets all units which fulfill that one role? The optimizing player could then simply not be able to compete in some parts of the game. Optimizing means that there will always be an element of having all your eggs in one basket, as you mono-task each unit in your army. What happens when a marine player is playing a take and hold scenario and he loses his two assault units in the first turn. Will his four las/plas squads be able to storm into the assault and dislodge the enemy from the objective? Unlikely. It's not what they are designed for.

I wouldn't do that, you might say. I would just do what each unit is good at and try to damage the enemy army so that it can't contest the objective. But what happens when the enemy army is simply better at doing what you are trying to do? A static gunline marine list might be powerful but it would probably lose against a static imperial guard list. This is sometimes called the rock/paper/scissors dilemma of army building in 40k. If all players optimize their lists in the ways outlined above, it is relatively easy to compare the two lists before the game and predict the winner. A Tyranid genestealer horde will have the advantage against a close combat marine army but will really struggle against a mechanized Eldar list. Barring freaky dice rolls or excellent/terrible players, the outcome will be a formality. This is not a good thing.

Phew! This has grown into a massive post, much longer than I first envisioned. I'll post part two tomorrow when I outline the alternative to list optimization, using my Blood Angels.

Thursday, August 9, 2007

ARMY LIST: Chaos Renegade Militia wrap up

After a few days wait to see if any further advice would be forthcoming it is time to take another look at my Chaos Renegade Militia army list threads.

I finally got some responses on the Warhammer Forum. It was bad advice. They advised me to drop the lascannons, use carapace armour and load up my vehicles with Hunter Killer missiles. No thanks.

Nobody had added anything to the discussion on Dakka Dakka. Funnily enough a lot of other IG threads have sprung up there. It's nice to be in fashion.

There was nothing more to come from Warseer, either.

So I reckon my second version of the list is the one I will go with. As well as being a fairly solid list in itself, it will be easy to build upon with Forgeworld units.

Now I just have to put my Blood Angel list together.

Wednesday, August 8, 2007

NEWS AND RUMOURS: Necrons in 2008

Mezmaron on Dakka Dakka has reported some rumours from Games Day Germany concerning the Necrons.

They say its going to be a release similar to Tau Empires - fewer (sic) new model and streamlining rules. I have heard:
  • WBB replaced with FNP.
  • Necron Warriors and Immortals get SAP, T increase by 1, and point increase.
  • Phase Out gone!
  • Three different options of Necron Lords.
  • Veil is nerfed (sends unit to reserve, but can deep-strike next turn).
  • One new HS unit choice.
The discussion is taking place here.

Games Day Germany also saw the unveiling of more Forgeworld Death Korps of Krieg models. This time around it is the Quartermaster and servitors. I've shown the main guy here, but check out the thread on Warseer for more pics of the servitors.

The new plastic Vindicator shows up on Warseer too. I heard rumours of this at the 40k Grand Tournament heat 2 last November and the only surprise for me is how long it has taken to surface. My insider told me that the Vindicator was the first model to be produced using the new plastics moulding technology GW have been testing and that it was just waiting for the appropriate release window. I guess Apocalpse is that window.

The best new stuff, though, is contained in this thread. Scroll down to the last few posts and take a gander at the Space Marine Chapter Council models. Wow.

Monday, August 6, 2007

ARMY LIST: Chaos Renegade Militia mirror list, part two

I posted the first draft of my list on three forums to try and get feedback. The advice from Dakka Dakka was blunt. Flagg07 wrote:

1) Plasma with your LC squads
2) Mixing specials in the same squad is not good for IG. Specialise the PHQ to do a job.
3) Optimize the vets to 5 men and 3 Plasmas with a bolter if you like.
4) Heavy stubbers for your Hell Hounds
5) Drop a Sentinel to get points to make fixes
6) Add some indirect to get those baddies that fire on you from behind cover
7) Doctrines are your friend.

Then epidemicHEART suggested:

Also, I would save points by dropping your heavy weapons platoon, and putting those 2 fire support squads as detachments for your command squad.

Over on the Warhammer Forum I got 64 views but no replies. I guess that means the list is so good that it can't be improved! Or maybe it's just so bad that it can't be rescued.

I got most replies on Warseer. Steel Legion got back to me first with this:

I am never a fan of leaving a squad without a special weapon personally, even something like a melta (keeping the AT theme of the squad) in case a tank gets within 18" where the melta is as effective as the lascannon pretty much, or 12" where its ace
(assuming you move towards them of course with the melta). For one anti tank I would consider missiles or lascannons, as S7 doesn't always cut it all the time, just a suggestion though, also you seem to be low on Ld, perhaps a standard bearer to keep the men in check?

Of course I had included a veteran with a standard but I forgot to type it up onto the army list. Monsterzonk countered part of the last post with this:

Meltaguns only have a range of 12", getting really mean at 6"...

Personally I'm not a fan of lascannons in Infantry Squads. I mean, if you shoot a tank, you'll waste 9 lasgun shots. I know, lasguns are not good, but in masses they do hurt. A 10 man squad with a lascannon costs 75 points (not too sure, don't have the Codex at hand). So you pay 75 points for one (!) S9 AP2 shot that hits on a 4+??? Use autocannons or missile launchers instead, as those do have anti-infantry potential, which compliments the 9 lasguns. IMO heavy bolters are best for Infantry Squads, even better if coupled with a flamer or plasmagun.
If you really want lascannons, get them in an Anti-Tank Squad or give one to your Veterans, as they have BS4 and therefore good chances to hit.
In short:

Change the Infantry Squads' lascannons into heavy bolters.
Change the Heavy Weapons Platoon's autocannons into lascannons.
Maybe try and get some special weapons for the Infantry Squads.

My response was:

In my experience the IG tanks kill infantry and the infantry kill tanks.

I'm not too worried about losing the lasguns while I have 2 ordnance, 2 inferno cannon, 8 heavy bolters and all the autocannon then the 4 command squads if needed. The problem with putting all the lascannons in the anti tank squads is that I lose all the ablative wounds. At the moment you have to kill 10 guardsmen to knock out one lascannon. In the anti tank squads you can knock out three lascannons with just six kills.

It's 85 pts for the lascannon infantry squads...

Finally Outlaw289 replied:

Ah, the age old "to support squad or not to support squad" question. I'll say, in my experience, having an Anti-tank lascannon support squad works. It will usually do it's job at first (and cheaper!), and even if it does get knocked out (which sometimes takes a while due to being in cover, far away, etc), there are plenty of battle cannons (less useful against vehicles but good against big things like Land Raiders ) and rocket launchers where those lascannons came from (that you can buy because of you bought three lascannons for less points than you would otherwise).

Take lascannon support squads and then rocket launchers/Autocannnons in Infantry Squads for medium/light (respectively) anti-tank work.

I've taken on board some of the advice and revised my list accordingly. Here is the second draft.

Junior Officer w/ bolt pistol, 2 melta, vet w/ standard
Sentinel w/ lascannon
Fire Support w/ 3 autocannon
Fire Support w/ 3 autocannon

5 Veterans Srg w/ boltgun, 3 plasma guns

Infantry platoon 1
Junior Officer 2 flamer
Infantry squad lascannon, plasma gun
Infantry squad lascannon, plasma gun

Infantry platoon 2
Junior Officer 2 flamer
Infantry squad lascannon, plasma gun
Infantry squad lascannon, plasma gun

Fast Attack
Hellhound extra armour, heavy stubber
Hellhound extra armour
Sentinel w/ autocannon

Heavy Support
Leman Russ, heavy bolters all round, extra armour, searchlight
Leman Russ, heavy bolters all round, extra armour

So that's 7 autocannon, 8 heavy bolters, 5 lascannon, 2 battle cannon, 2 inferno cannon, 1 heavy stubber, 2 meltaguns, 4 flamers, 7 plasma guns


Sunday, August 5, 2007

NEWS AND RUMOURS: Blood Angels codex online

The latest Blood Angels codex, which had previously been published over two issues of White Dwarf, is available to download from the Games Workshop website. It completely replaces the mini-codex which was one of the oldest army lists in the game, having been written just after the introduction of 3rd edition. There were a number of rules clashes with 4th edition and the Blood Angels had a bad reputation as a power gamers list. As a long term Blood Angels player I am glad the list has been toned down, and I can now play my army without fear of accusations of 'cheese.'

In a first for Games Workshop, a FAQ has been included with the codex. It clarifies how over-charged engines work (as per the intention of the rules rather than the RAW - moving AND shooting as a fast vehicle). That's good, but the drop pod rulings aren't totally successful. They now prevent Marines assaulting on the turn they arrive but they don't force them to disembark as Marines have to do in other codexes. Mephiston's transfixing gaze is also problematic. It rules that each transfixed model becomes its own one man unit and Mephiston can only harm that one model. It drastically reduces the usefulness of the power in a way that GW probably didn't intend. Still, his other abilities more than make up for this so I think he'll see a lot of use.

Now that the codex is released in a more user friendly format I'll print myself a copy and start drawing up my first 1500 point list.

Saturday, August 4, 2007

ARMY LIST: Chaos Renegade Militia 1500 point mirror list

Here's my first draft of a 1500 point Chaos Renegade list which could also be used as a regular Imperial Guard army. I've called this a mirror list because I have two units of pretty much everything. There are a bunch of restrictions on what I can and can't change, but rather than list them all here again I'll just direct you to this post on my blog.

Onto the list:

  • Junior Officer w/ bolt pistol, 1 flamer 1 melta, vet w/ standard
  • Sentinel w/ autocannon

  • 6 Veterans Sergeant w/ boltgun, 2 plasma guns

  • Infantry platoon 1
    • Junior Officer 1 flamer 1 melta
    • Infantry squad lascannon
    • Infantry squad lascannon
  • Infantry platoon 2
    • Junior Officer 1 flamer 1 melta
    • Infantry squad lascannon
    • Infantry squad lascannon

Fast Attack
  • Hellhound extra armour
  • Hellhound extra armour
  • Sentinel w/ autocannon

Heavy Support
  • Leman Russ, heavy bolters all round, extra armour
  • Leman Russ, heavy bolters all round, extra armour
  • Heavy weapon platoon
    • Junior Officer 1 flamer 1 melta
      • Fire Support w/ 3 autocannon
      • Fire Support w/ 3 autocannon

So that's 8 autocannon, 8 heavy bolters, 4 lascannon, 2 battle cannon, 2 inferno cannon, 4 meltaguns, 4 flamers, 2 plasma guns and 17 scoring units.

I've posted the list on three forums, Warseer, Dakka Dakka and the Warhammer forum. I'll address any comments in later posts.

How would you improve this list?

Friday, August 3, 2007

NEW MODEL FUND: The big push

It is over four weeks since I updated my New Model Fund. This is largely because I haven't done much in the way of buying and selling models. That is all about to change in the near future. I have already listed some Warhammer figures on e-bay. These were bought for some long-ago forgotten modelling project which never materialised. If you are interested in Dogs of War I recommend you check out the auctions here.

The major action, though, will take place over the next two or three weeks. I plan to sell my entire Praetorian Imperial Guard army. This is a rough and ready list of the models I have.
  • 5 Lascannon
  • Autocannon
  • 70 Infantry (lasguns and some special weapons)
  • 4 Command
  • Mortar
These models are really difficult to track down outside of Games Workshop mail order and they sell for £2.50+ per model there. Someone could pick up a real bargain with my guys. This will be a first for me as I will be selling the entire army in one auction. I was never sure whether it was better to split armies up into individual squads or keep them together. Now I'll find out.

Once I have found out how that sale goes I'll decide on how to go about an even bigger sale. All this income is aimed at putting as much money in my pocket as possible before Games Day. I really want to buy pretty much my entire Chaos Renegade Militia army on the day.

In the meantime, the only change to my New Model Fund is the payment of some e-bay fees.
  • Total income from sales (and my penny jar) £342.36
  • Less selling fees £31.02
  • Less models bought £135.16
  • New model fund £176.18

Thursday, August 2, 2007

NEMESIS CAMPAIGN: Final thoughts

Like Ronnie Corbett, this campaign was short and not so sweet.

The actual mechanics worked perfectly well. That's because there were hardly any mechanics. When we began the campaign I was worried that it would stalemate with each side winning every other other game but three massacres later we had the shortest possible end to the campaign. I guess this is why playtesting is necessary; you never know what is going to happen.

So if the rules went right, what went wrong?

The problem was that neither of us really got into the campaign. I think this was because it was so short, that tabletop issues affected our enjoyment of the games and that the campaign rules didn't impact upon the tabletop games enough. In order for a campaign to feel special it has to make the tabletop battles different from one-off games. This difference could come in various ways, whether it be rules for troops gaining experience, altered missions and scenarios or unique models and characters. Each game in the campaign should feel different from the last so that the players seem to be actually getting somewhere. We had none of that.

Still this campaign did have one advantage over the the majority of campaigns I have played in the past; I finished it.

I'll take all these thoughts on board when I come up with my next set of campaign rules.

Wednesday, August 1, 2007

OPINION: Chaos Renegade Militia army development

So, that Chaos Renegade Militia army list then. Before I leap right in and start buying models for any army I like to have a concept in mind for the army, how it will fight on the battlefield, which models I need to buy and how I will paint them. I thought I'd let you in on this process with the Chaos Renegade Militia as it is more complex than usual and will hopefully give you an insight into just how much (over) analysis I put into this gaming thang.

General concepts
  • This is an army I want to be able to play with for a long time. As far as I possibly can I want to make it edition and codex proof. Forgeworld models are expensive and I plan to spend a long time modelling and painting the army. I don't want all that hard work to go to waste because I overemphasise unusual units or formations. I want to choose a wide range of units which are not dependent on special rules, unusual wargear or wacky deployment.
  • In order to get most use out of the army I want to be able to play it at tournaments as well as in casual play. Forgeworld army lists aren't allowed in most tournaments so I would like to be able to use the army as a 'straight' Imperial Guard list. I'll basically build the first 1500 points of the army with no 'Forgeworld only' units and then include the Forgeworld goodies as extras later.
  • Forgeworld have sculpted some gorgeous Chaos Militia models and I want to include as many of these in my army as possible. That means choosing models not just on their battlefield prowess but including them just because they look good. This will obviously compromise the competitiveness of the army but it is a hit I am willing to take.
  • I have painted an Imperial Guard army before and painting unit after unit of infantry gets very boring, very quickly. Therefore, I want to include lots and lots of vehicles in the army.
  • I want to include as many 'signature' units of the Militia list as I can, to ensure that my army is representative. This should also help to define it's character and make it distinctive from other Imperial Guard armies. In practical terms this means choosing Priests, Psykers and heavy weapon platoons. Ogryns will be included but because they differ between the IG codex and the Militia list I'll do them as extras.
List building
With all of the above in mind I now have to sit down and write the list. As a guideline I'll use my notes on the elements of a competitive army. To paraphrase, I need to:
  • Optimise for escalation (start all models on the board or off the board).
  • Emphasise firepower over assault (mobile shooting is best).
  • Include mobile objective grabbers.
  • Be durable (having redundancy).
  • Assume I will be fighting MEQ's and arm myself accordingly.
  • Include a pushback unit.
  • Include an infiltrating unit.
  • Maximise my scoring units.
  • Try to fill out the full force organisation chart.
Of course, these are all just goals and it is unlikely I will be able to stick to all of them, especially considering the wider army concepts I outlined earlier. These elements are also generic and not keyed to a specific army. I also have some Imperial Guard specific ideas I'd like to adhere to.
  • Command squads are there to provide leadership - not to be in the firing line or to be crammed full of wargear.
  • Individually, most IG units are fragile. Their strength comes in numbers so always try to take at least two of each unit.
  • Vehicles kill infantry and infantry kill vehicles. Give the infantry tank killing equipment.
  • Don't be shy in maxing out on heavy support. IG have little in the way of assault ability so big guns are a necessity.
  • Include at least one infantry squad for every 300 points spent.
This is all the stuff that is going round my head before I have even made my first list! I'll have a bit of a think, scratch out a list and maybe post it on a couple of forums to see if it could be improved and then I'll bring it back to lone pilgrim for the official unveiling.

If you have an hints, tips or comments, please get in touch.