Wednesday, February 27, 2008

Lupus Maximus

I was impatiently tinkering with the wolves list again today, and I thought I'd try ditching the terminators for an assault cannon/heavy flamer venerable dreadnought in a drop pod. He can help me get first turn choice, which means all the other units have a better chance at closing with the enemy or grabbing last minute objectives, depending on the situation. Plus it lets me buy two more blood claws, upgrade one of the wolf scouts to a wolf guard with a power fist, and fit the attack bikes back in. It does mean I have to run the 2 landspeeders as a single squadron, which sucks, but I think the extra firepower could be worth it. Still, 9 scoring units, 36 infantry... yeesh. Fairly low margin of error - any shooty army worth its salt could just go to town if I fucked up in the slightest.


Alder Hurd (Venerable Dreadnought) - assault cannon, heavy flamer, extra armor
Drop Pod

Dmitri Lutwig (Rune Priest) - frost blade, wolf pelt, runic staff, chooser of the slain, frag grenades

Hakr Varghoss (WGBL) - frost blade, wolf pelt, bolt pistol, frag grenades

5 Wolf Scouts - 2 plasma pistols, 1 meltagun, 2 power weapons, frag grenades
Wolf Guard Leader - power fist, bolt pistol

9 Grey Hunters - 2 power fists, 1 plasma pistol/ccw, 7 bolters, 1 meltagun
Rhino - smoke launchers, extra armor

9 Grey Hunters - 2 power fists, 1 plasma pistol/ccw, 7 bolters, 1 meltagun
Rhino - smoke launchers, extra armor

9 Blood Claws - 2 power fists, flamer, jump packs
Wolf Guard Leader - power fist, bolt pistol, wolf pelt, jump pack, frag grenades

2 Landspeeders - multimeltas, heavy flamers

2 Attack Bikes - heavy bolters

Predator Annihilator - heavy bolter sponsons, extra armor, smoke launchers

Predator Annihilator - heavy bolter sponsons, extra armor, smoke launchers

Tuesday, February 26, 2008

Sea Wolf Decals

By request, here's some pictures of the new decals on my Space Wolves. Most of them came out intact, but there were a few with little dings and whatnot that I might try to touch up with black later.

This Blood Claw's Grey Hunter's decal came out fairly well.

and let me add...

Thinking about improving upon the Wolves: among a few other changes, against my better judgement I think I will try out jump packs on the blood claws, and take the squad down to 8 total including a wolf guard leader with lightning claws. The foot HQs will now run with the grey hunters in Rhinos (just need to find an old model rhino to match the one I have). I think this list will test a lot of my previously held notions about some of the Space Wolf units, and it'll be just about as competitive as I can make it for a while. Here's the Sea Wolves of the Near Future:

Hakr Varghoss (WGBL) - terminator armor, pair lightning claws, wolf pelt
4 Wolf Guard Bodyguards - terminator armor, 2 assault cannons, 2 bolter-plasmas, 3 power weapons, 1 power fist
Drop Pod

Dmitri Lutwig (Rune Priest) - frost blade, wolf pelt, runic staff, chooser of the slain, frag grenades

Lors Varghoss (WGBL) - frost blade, wolf pelt, bolt pistol, frag grenades

6 Wolf Scouts - 2 plasma pistols, 1 meltagun, 2 power weapons, frag grenades

8 Grey Hunters - 2 power fists, 1 plasma pistol/ccw, 6 bolters, 1 meltagun
Wolf Guard Leader - power fist, bolter, wolf pelt
Rhino - smoke launchers, extra armor

8 Grey Hunters - 2 power fists, 1 plasma pistol/ccw, 6 bolters, 1 meltagun
Wolf Guard Leader - power fist, bolter, wolf pelt
Rhino - smoke launchers, extra armor

7 Blood Claws - 2 power fists, flamer, jump packs
Wolf Guard Leader - lightning claws, wolf pelt, jump pack, frag grenades

Landspeeder - multimelta, heavy flamer

Landspeeder - multimelta, heavy flamer

Predator Annihilator - heavy bolter sponsons, extra armor, smoke launchers

Predator Annihilator - heavy bolter sponsons, extra armor, smoke launchers

Sunday, February 24, 2008

Tournament: Dragon's Lair 2-23-08

In the two or three days preceding Saturday's standard 2k tourney at Dragon's Lair, I made and applied my own decals to my Space Wolves using one of the Great Company emblems listed on the annulus in the codex, specifically that of Engir Krakendoom - the Sea Wolf. So I'm ditching my old fluff and reincarnating the army as Hakr Varghoss's Crushing Wave.

Wolf Guard Battle Leader Hakr Varghoss is next in line to assume the mantle of Wolf Lord in Engir Krakendoom's Great Company. "Sea Wolf" recruits originate from a single, barely habitable island called Ublyn. Perpetually besieged by the devastating waves and terrible monsters of the Fenrisian ocean, the natives of Ublyn pride themselves on the hard-won bounty of their unusual fishery: juvenile kraken. Their immaturity notwithstanding, these savage beasts can smash a hunting ship to pieces in the blink of an eye, and must be taken from several angles at once. Krakendoom's kin often use a brazen frontal assault to entangle their foes before pinning them in with drop pod assaults on the flanks and rear lines.

Wolf Priest - frag grenades, wolf pelt, healing balms, plasma pistol

Rune Priest - frag grenades, wolf pelt, chooser of the slain, runic staff, frost blade

WGBL - terminator armor, pair lightning claws, wolf pelt
4 WGBG - terminator armor, 2 bolter-plasma guns, 2 assault cannons, 3 power weapons, 1 power fist
Drop Pod

6 Wolf Scouts - 2 power weapons, 2 plasma pistols, 1 meltagun, frag grenades

9 Grey Hunters - 2 power fists, 7 bolters, 1 plasma pistol/ccw, 1 plasma gun
Wolf Guard Leader - power fist, bolter, wolf pelt
Drop Pod

9 Grey Hunters - 2 power fists, 7 bolters, 1 plasma pistol/ccw, 1 plasma gun
Wolf Guard Leader - power fist, bolter, wolf pelt
Drop Pod

8 Blood Claws - 2 power fists, 1 flamer

Land Speeder - multimelta, heavy flamer

Land Speeder - multimelta, heavy flamer

2 Attack Bikes - heavy bolters

Land Raider - extra armor, smoke launchers

Besides the new emblems, I switched out the wolf guard battle leader riding with the blood claws for a wolf priest with balms and a plasma pistol, and ditched the master-crafted upgrades on the wolf guard assault cannons and the rune priest's belt of russ. Generally as tournaments go, I know what to expect at Ninja Pirates, and I know what to expect at Battleforge, but Dragon's Lair is always a mixed bag and I never can predict what kind of a competition it will be. Of the 8 people that showed up, it was about half veterans, half new or returning from an extended 40k hiatus, and the factions represented consisted of 4 Eldar, 1 Chaos, 2 vanilla/Ultramarines, 1 Dark Angels, and 1 Space Wolves. I got to play against three very friendly players, and once again the Space Wolves did well against power-armored foes but horrible against Eldar. I went 2-1 but didn't place.

Game 1 - Space Marines

Mike's marines detachment, called for the time being the Emperor's Lost Children, consisted of a flying chaplain with a small command squad, a commander with a large command squad on foot, both command squads including company champions and apothecaries, a lascannon venerable dreadnought, two 6-man tac squads with bolters in heavy bolter razorbacks, a 6-man scout squad with sniper rifles and a missile launcher, a 10-man tactical squad with bolters, a 6-man assault squad, and a devastator squad with 4 rocket launchers. I think all his marines had counter-attack and true grit. The mission was Recon. I set up my full land raider on my far left side and my bikes and land speeders on my far right. He deployed his forces in a straight line with the devastators and dreadnought covering the middle, the commander and small tac squads advancing on his left, and the chaplain and assault squads doing the same on his right. Taking first turn, he moved his jump pack units forward, and I was able to pull off a first turn charge with the land raider's passengers. It might have been nice if they had actually made an impact on their victims; the chaplain and his command unit suffered maybe one casualty, and my wolf priest and another one or two blood claws were were killed in return. It would take another two turns for the wolves' power fists to finally finish off their opponents, but only after the Rune Priest had also fallen. The blood claws jumped in the still mobile land raider and peeled off to get into his deployment zone. The first grey hunters drop pod came in near the middle and they immediately starting shooting up the large tactical squad nearby, with the return fire bringing both squads below scoring. The terminator pod came in nearby as well and after crippling the dreadnought with assault cannon shots to his posterior, helped the grey hunters finish off the large tactical squad as well as the devastator squad. The wolf scouts jumped from his left side table edge into the rear of the large command squad. I was just trying to tie them up a bit and prevent them from reaching my lines, but they dealt less casualties than expected and were quickly wiped out by the counter-attack. In the end I had the land raider, blood claws, a grey hunter squad, and the terminators in my deployment zone, compared to his command squad and small tactical squad. Space Wolves win, victorious slaughter.

Game 2 - Eldar

Nick was playing his Eldar army on Saturday rather than his usual Black Templars, and as both of us got the only slaughters in the first round, we were paired up in the second round with Seek and Destroy as our mission. His army was (approximately) Eldrad Ulthran, an Avatar, 5 or 6 fire dragons, 6 harlequins, 5 wraithguard with a warlock in a wave serpent, 10 dire avengers, 30 guardians with 3 bright lances, a viper with 2 shuriken cannons, 2 falcons, and 5 dark reapers with an exarch. Definitely not the most overpowered Eldar force possible, but still strong enough to quickly make utter mincemeat out of the Space Wolves. It didn’t help that Nick is a very able commander or that my horrible dice luck really got rolling, as it were, in the second round. I couldn’t roll over a 3 to save my life and suffered at least 2 overheat casualties, maybe 3. The land raider was destroyed first turn without having moved an inch, and though I had started the blood claws and priests on foot behind a nearby bunker, they were quickly dealt with by falcon, dire avenger, and fire dragon shooting. I veered around his right side with my land speeders to try and inflict some nominal casualties with their heavy flamers, but guardians and wraithguard jumped out and brought them down just by looking at them. When my terminators’ drop pod came in, one of them promptly killed himself with a plasma overheat, and even with 8 assault cannon shots the squad only killed a single dark reaper. The wolf scouts emerged from Nick’s table edge to finish them off, but the Avatar rebuked them for their folly. The 4 surviving terminators were wiped out by huge volleys of fire from the assorted guardian squads and grav tanks standing nearby, and that was that for the Wolves’ rear guard attack. The grey hunters both came in at the same time in the middle on my right, one squad wiping out the fire dragons with plasma and bolter fire, while the other tried to shoot up back of a nearby falcon but only succeeded in shaking it. Both squads were destroyed in the next Eldar turn and the Space Wolves essentially phased out (lolz). Later I heard Nick say my tactics had been sound, but I’m not so sure about this. I think tactically I might have been better off getting a lower margin of victory in the first round so I wouldn’t have been paired up against him at all! He’s a nice guy and I think he felt a little bad for having our game play out so one-sidedly, but it was no big deal. Once I saw the composition of his army, I pretty much knew what was coming (we both did), and the only thing that irritated me during the game was the two or three spectators (not tournament participants) that walked up on several occasions to ask really superb and tactful questions such as “wow, where’s all the space wolves?” Once again, I feel the need to put spectators on notice: if you walk up to a random game (especially between people who are strangers to you) and see that one side is losing tremendously, you can safely assume both players are quite aware of how the game is going and they don’t need any on-the-scene cub reporting, so pretty please just hush.

Game 3 – Chaos

* photo censored by the Inquisition *

Brandon had a big unmarked Chaos force, with some great dreadnought and terminator conversions. Our mission was Take and Hold, with the terrain being mostly mixed woods and ruins, with an especially large rectangular ruin piece in the center (if you've played at Dragon's Lair, you probably know the one to which I'm referring - the overgrown courtyard with the fallen statues). He had a terminator lord with a chainfist, a small terminator retinue with a heavy flamer and a couple more chainfists, a small squad of chaos raptors with a meltagun and a flamer, a dread with a plasma cannon and missile launcher, another dread with a twin-linked lascannon, two squads of 10 chaos marines with a meltagun each in rhinos, one of them led by a powerfist champion, a squad of 10 chaos marines with a missile launcher and plasma gun, a 8-man havoc squad with heavy bolters, a defiler, and 2 obliterators. We both set up the core of our forces hiding behind the big ruin piece, ready to jump out and start wading through the difficult terrain into what promised to be a big fight for the center. Still, he had a much larger line than me, so his heavy bolter havocs, the tac squad on foot, one of the dreadnoughts, and the defiler all spread out wide on either side of the ruin. The first turn consisted of both of us moving up slightly with few casualties on either side. I managed to wound both obliterators with the land raider’s lascannons but he made their invulnerable saves. Luckily his return fire wasn’t able to penetrate the big tank’s armor and I had another turn to shoot, this time bringing both of the hulking monstrosities down. One of my landspeeders went long to try and bring down the defiler, but missed with its multimelta, and the defiler responded by destroying the skimmer with its reaper autocannons. Later he popped around a corner and threw a battle cannon shell into a mass of my troopers, luckily only killing two grey hunters with the blast. The Land Raider responded by zapping it dead with a twin-linked lascannon shot. I tried to shoot up his tac squad on my far left with my attack bikes, but they were reduced by half by the return fire and I pulled the survivor back to chill out for a while. My scouts charged in from his deployment edge and attacked the havoc squad, killing 6 of them before the raptors counter-attacked and wiped them out. I dropped the terminators into the center ruins, their opening assault cannon volley shredding his lascannon dreadnought, and then moved the blood claws up nearby to back them up if necessary. One grey hunter drop pod landed right behind the center ruins, and the other landed late on my far left side, but as it was they were both too far away from the enemy forces to make much of an impact. Both of his rhinos full of chaos marines were approaching along one of the big ruin’s sides, so I sent my surviving landspeeder over to try and knock one out. I managed to destroy one of them with a multimelta shot, and the riders were entangled. Casting storm caller on my blood claws and priests, I charged them in and routed the pinned marines in assault. Back in the center, both of our terminator squads stood for a turn and tried to stare each other down. I moved mine forward and opened fire with the assault cannons and combi-plasma shots but couldn’t manage to inflict too much damage. In the following turn he shot down three of my five terminators with a ton of low AP shots before assaulting them with his own terminators squad. Bad move - since my squad went first, the last 3 traitor termies were cut to pieces by the battle leader’s counter-attacking lightning claws, and his own IC whiffed with all five chainfist attacks. He broke from combat, never to be heard from again. We had started the game a little late, so we only got to the end of the fourth turn before time ran out. I had my blood claws and one grey hunter squad occupying the center, and he had his raptors and one of the chaos marine squads contesting it. I ended up winning by around 205 victory points, just barely avoiding a draw. Space Wolves win, solid victory. Brandon was a nice guy and I hope he starts playing regularly around town. I think there were a few rule nuances he wasn't quite aware of and I hated to "spring" them on him, having been in that position many times myself.

For the next few Wolves games I'm probably going to switch back to the battle leader instead of the wolf priest (he never made that much of a difference to warrant the extra points), switch out the plasma guns on the grey hunters for meltaguns and add a second plasma pistol to each, and experiment using a predator annihilator with heavy bolter sponsons instead of the attack bikes. Not that I need another reason to have one besides the pure pleasure of painting a tank, I hear higher armored vehicles might be getting a power bump soon, and I thought I might try to get used to the movement and shooting tactics involved with a second one in the army. I was thinking in time I might even get a second annihilator and sub it in for the land raider in the 2k list, giving the blood claws a rhino instead. It would add another scoring unit and separate my main anti-tank from my assault troop transportation, even if it was at the expense of some durability and general badassitude.

Space Wolves Redux

In response to Jon's question to this post, I thought I'd ruminate about what I'd like to see in an updated Wolves codex. At first I figured they could repair the most grievous errors in the current ruleset, make everything a little cheaper, and we might be in business. But when I went over each of the Wolves units and compared unit costs with the vanilla list, I honestly couldn't find anything that overpriced. For instance, the Grey Hunters are just as expensive than an equivalently upgraded vanilla marine, but the Hunters (and all Space Wolves) also get acute senses and no matter the odds thrown in for free. A Wolves venerable dreadnought is more expensive, can be used as an HQ, has BS/WS 5, and grants the ability to re-roll for first turn (a pretty great ability); the vanilla ven dred is cheaper and can be given tank hunter or furious charge, but he's stuck with BS/WS 4and 2 base attacks. There's really just not that much to bitch about as far as pricing goes. Wolves essentially trade in higher leadership for extra attacks and greater resolve when in assault.

After further review, I figure there's still a few issues with the book, but I'm not so sure that fixing them will make the list much more competitive, at least until 5th edition and C:SM are redone too. It may be that the Wolves redux arrives after both of those releases anyway. Anyway, here's what I'd tinker with, in order of urgency:

Wolf Priests - No brainer: give him honor of the chapter and litanies of hate and be done with it.

Wulfen/13th Company - They should dock 13th Company rules into C:SW by allowing squads of Wulfen. Come on now. It's 2008, about time we got some goddamn actual (power-armored) werewolves in C:SW. Those models are too cool not to let those who play any of the other 12 Great Companies use them. And give them fleet. And big ass wolf packs wouldn't be too remiss either for a fast attack choice.

Rune Priests - I don't mind having a weaker (but cheaper) psychic hood, so if they stayed at Ld 9 so be it. However, I think the Storm Caller ability should be made to be always-on, granting the psyker and any unit he joins a permanent 5+ invunerable save (against shooting and assault) as well as an assault buff similar in effect to the banshee mask. Chooser of the Slain is probably too cool a piece of wargear for GW to let the Wolves keep, so I'll be sad to see that go.

Blood Claws - WS/BS 3 should stay, double attacks on the charge should stay, but the headstrong rule is unnecessary clutter; they got rid of it for berzerkers already, so it's clearly loseable. The ability to include two power fists needs to stay. I stand by this allowance as essentially wolfy and effectively priced. Bikers are fine as they are, but Claws should be able to take jetpacks for only four or five points each, and as such the whole "feet on the ground as Russ intended" insta-fluff nonsense can please leave and never return. Anyone seen Russ around lately? Hmm? Ok, strap these fuckers in already.

Long Fangs - Hard to make more competitive without ditching the flavor and accompanying cost inflation. Still, they're supposed to be small units of grizzled veterans, maybe they should give them tank hunters or BS 5 besides the Pack Leader's split fire.

Wolf Guard - Leaders or bodyguards, they're basically fine as they are, though they may want to simplify the squad leader rules to just make them upgrades. If they absolutely have to take away the multiple heavy weapons in terminator units, then so be it, but with the coming rending nerf, I just don't think its necessary.

Grey Hunters - Not much to say here. They should stick with the basic 6-man or larger "pack" flavor. They should also keep the ability to include two powerfists.

Monday, February 18, 2008

Space Wolves: the Bully Way

Compared to most modern codices, the Space Wolves book is fairly weak and outdated. Specifically, no litanies of hate, no rites of battle, and no Ld 10 psykers puts them at a distinct disadvantage against their vanilla counterparts as well as almost every other race. Nonetheless, the sons of Russ still have access to a great set of special rules: no matter the odds, counter-attack, wolf pelts, frost blades, Storm Caller, and the ability to put up to two power fists in each squad, not counting any attached Wolf Guard. Together, they mean that almost every Space Wolf model will have the advantage in close combat against anything but specialized assault troops. Even then, however, the packs will fight to the last man, and that last man has probably been waving his power fist around for at least two or three phases, hopefully long enough to bring their opponents below scoring as well. The main liabilities of the army list (high point cost and low model count) must be countered by tactical deployments that concentrate their own strength while diluting the enemy’s, as well as wise micromanagement to maximize objective-taking and minimize casualties. To this end, my general strategy with Space Wolves is to make a coordinated assault on just enough objectives to put me ahead and use the units in the best combination to hold on for dear life. Sometimes it works, sometimes it doesn't, but it's always entertaining if I can just remember all the special rules. I wrote up a few thoughts on the application of the various units I currently use or have used in the past.

Grey Hunters

I choose to put my Grey Hunters in drop pods for a couple of reasons. Without access to jump packs, using them in a pure assault role is less attractive and it would waste true grit besides. Instead, I prefer to give them a lot of bolters and plasma for an initial burst of shooting, and count on their special rules and multiple power fists to defend their location from counter-assaults. Pods are great for Hunters because they aren’t destroyed by scattering into enemy formations, and you can usually place them in fairly cramped quarters, ensuring at least one round of double-tap shooting from which the enemy cannot hide. If possible, I try to deploy the Hunters in cover and screen out the worst angles of enemy fire with the pod itself. Still, they don’t last very long isolated by themselves, so I usually try to place them near another friendly unit and reinforce the position as soon as I’m able. As far as target priority goes, I usually try to inflict the most casualties on the nearest, most dangerous assault unit.

Battle Leader, Rune Priest, and Blood Claws in a Land Raider

With a potential 20-inch charge and 12 frost blade, 24 normal, and 8 power fist attacks all striking first, this pack has the potential to make quite an impact. It’s taken me loads of games to figure out the best ways to use it without losing their scoring capacity in the process. Transport is the first issue. The time delay and potential exposure associated with drop pods makes them a poor choice for transporting a pure assault unit, and Rhinos are not that much better for basically the same reasons. Biker Claws are just too expensive and giving them jump packs instead just makes you pay for the +1 T and 24-inch turbo boost without actually getting it, not to mention you can’t send the characters along with them. For these reasons, I’ve become resigned to deploying my Claws in a Land Raider. Raiders are a big point sink, and their fat ass usually hangs out of both sides of any terrain they might be hiding behind, but they look impressive on the battlefield, are better anti-tank than a Long Fangs squad of equal cost, and the assault ramp makes for a very long charge range.

Ever since the last book came out, I’ve always dreamed about that ideal 20-inch Storm Caller-enhanced Blood Claws charge from the assault ramp of a fast moving Land Raider. Honestly, though, I don’t even remember the last time I was able to get their charge bonus. It’s hard to find someone who will sit still long enough for the Blood Claws to charge them, even with an assault ramp transport, so they’re usually charged themselves and only fight with two attacks. Their WS3 at I4 means several of them are probably going to die before their 4 power fist attacks strike back, and half of those usually miss anyway.

Recently, I replaced the Wolf Guard Leader from my Blood Claws squad with an HQ Wolf Guard Battle Leader. Even if the unit is charged themselves, the two HQ models will counter-attack and strike with 12 WS5 S5 power weapon attacks at I5, and since they’re in base-to-base (BTB) contact, at least one or two enemy models will usually be forced to attack the independent characters, meaning less attacks go into the Blood Claws, hopefully keeping the squad at scoring size for a bit longer. Maneuvering to actually get that counter-attack is a little tricky and can depend on your understanding of the following rules:

  • Assault (p. 38): Once a model is in base-to-base contact, or within two inches of a model from its own unit in BTB contact, with an enemy model, it is said to be engaged. The unit that the models belong to is then said to be locked.

  • Characters in assault (p. 51): Characters are treated as a separate unit when resolving close combats, following the normal rules for multiple combats on page 45. If the unit they have joined is locked in combat with the enemy, the character is locked with them.

  • Counter-attack (p. 74): Unengaged models from a unit that has been charged by the enemy must move up to 6” to get into BTB contact with the enemy, taking terrain into account as normal.

So let’s say you have a unit of 8 Blood Claws and two HQ units with wolf pelts (Rune Priest, Wolf Priest, Wolf Lord, whatever) that just jumped out of a Land Raider. They’re too far away to charge anything but most likely are in range to get charged themselves. So long as you’re not pinned, this is not as bad a situation as it could be. The main objective is to minimize the chances of an enemy model being able to actually get into BTB contact with your HQ units, because when the unit is charged, the HQs will be locked but never engaged unless they actually come into BTB, since they count as a separate unit in close combat. As long as they’re not touching, they’re not engaged, and as such can make a counter-attack as described, not to mention getting that lovely 6th attack from their wolf pelt. Most of the time I’ll form up a single or double line with the Blood Claws spaced less than one inch apart, curving back away from the approaching enemy at the ends, with the HQs tucked away in the middle behind the line.

This leads to a subtle advantage that ICs have over a Wolf Guard “sergeant” in leading Blood Claws. Since the 30-point Wolf Guard leaders count as part of the same unit in assault, and can therefore be engaged if models within two inches of them are touched by an enemy model, it’s quite easy to deny them their counter-attack move and wolf pelt bonus unless they’re way in the back and the enemy barely made their charge distance. However, if you can pull it off, i.e., keep the Wolf Guard more than 2" away from any of his squadmates that have been touched in BTB by an enemy assault, he can earn the counterattack move and wolf pelt bonus, and thereby get 4 attacks - getting that wolf pelt bonus is the only way 4 attacks is possible for a bolter Wolf Guard "sergeant" because of true grit!

With such a big block of points tied up in such a fat (albeit strongly armored) vehicle, I will usually drive them toward an objective first rather than go balls-out toward the enemy line, and deploy either the squad or smoke launchers, if I’ve bought them. In my mind, it’s better to deploy riders too early and head them on foot toward cover than risk getting pinned, exposed to enemy fire, and out of their element (assault) even longer. I’ve never made points back from stranded Blood Claws – they are almost always shot up and destroyed having made no impact on the game whatsoever.

About the Rune Priest specifically... I'm surprised that I haven't run into any players who object to the idea that a squad with Storm Caller will strike at I 10 just like normal units in cover who are charged themselves, but then again like I said I rarely get to charge with the squad anyway. And not that the rule isn't very clear, which, to me it very much is, especially when taken with the statements in the codex FAQ, but it's still a pretty interesting effect that I expect will be translated into something new in the next codex, like Eldar Banshee mask rules or something. The Ld 9 is pretty weak, and besides Storm Caller farting every once in a while, his psychic hood (is also less effective. Still, he's just as good a fighter as the battle leader (himself a two-wound version of the overpriced Lord), and his Chooser of the Slain has helped the pack on many occasions.

Wolf Guard Terminators

Another very points-heavy unit that can inflict a good amount of damage, but cannot be left alone for long. In fact, since they have better range than the Grey Hunters I’m more likely to deploy their drop pod farther away from the enemy to avoid the Terminators being charged. If possible, I’ll put them into 4+ cover and try to get as many turns of shooting with the assault cannons as I can. Since my Land Speeders carry multimeltas, I switched my attack bikes to heavy bolters and used the points to make the AC’s master-crafted. A little dickish, maybe, but a) I’m paying out the ass for them and b) I wanted to milk the 4th edition rending rules a little bit more before they disappear this summer. I usually keep the Terminators in the same formation as the Blood Claws: a line curved away from the nearest enemy, the Battle Leader tucked behind with enough space for him to get out and around with counter-attack.

Wolf Scouts

The recent BFG hobby tournament inspired me to get off my ass and sharpen my wolf scouts squad. I had made a trade for some plastic space marine scouts so I assembled and painted up two of them, gave them plasma pistols and assorted space wolf icons, and added them to the four I'd been using. I've already seen an improvement in this squad's game effect in the 6 games I've had with them so far. Haven't lost one yet to a plasma overheat, so I guess I'm due for that, but those extra wounds in the squad let the power weapons stick around for longer and make more of an impact. Also they're not such a one hit wonder against vehicles - the plasma pistols took out a rhino full of noise marines last week, killing several and pinning the rest, after the meltagun trooper had missed. I give them frags since the static rear guard units that they're so good at attacking are usually hiding in cover.


I’m going to take a break from my cousin Vinnie for a while. Half of my games it’s been destroyed in the first couple of turns, and when it does survive longer, it rarely inflicts enough casualties to warrant the points. I might bring it back into a 2500 point army, but for my 2000 I’m going to replace it with a couple of melta/flamer Land Speeders instead. I think they’ll do as much or more damage than the single tank and be much better at objective management.

Long Fangs

Abandon all victory points ye who enter here. Just too freakin expensive. Split fire is just not that special in a numbers game and that stupid pack leader costs way too much. Maybe I'd bring them back in to a 2500 point list for more "wolfy" flavor if I was especially concerned with fluff, but otherwise forget em.

Leman Russ Exterminator

Could this be my next experiment? I could convert one up from a standard Russ using guard autocannons easily enough. Talking to Jay at the tournament on Sunday, I realized that I had almost all of their little tricks represented except for the quintessential Wolves tank. If I switched this in for my Land Raider and gave the Blood Claws a Rhino instead, I'd be taking away those bad ass lascannons, but then I could switch multimeltas back in on the Attack Bikes to try and make up for it. Then again, I do really like my Land Raider model... Maybe I should wait for the codex update to make sure it's even going to be available. Anyone have any rumors in that regard?

Sunday, February 17, 2008

Tournament: Ninja Pirates 2-17-08

Having hastily finished my two landspeeders over a few evenings last week, I was eager to see if my new Space Wolves list was any kind of improvement over the last. For the points of the vindicator and swapping out the attack bikes' multimeltas for heavy bolters, I added the two skimmers and made the Wolf Guard terminator assault cannons master-crafted. I knew it would be tough going in, being on the bad side of the numbers game, but I've heard that sometimes you have to tame the beast before you let it out of its cage. That in mind, I boxed up the Brothers of the Blood Sea: Extreme Puppy Rescue edition, and with a couple of wolves as my objective markers, headed up to Ninja Pirates... and got a fucking speeding ticket on the way there! Blast the joyless Arbites and their accursed speed traps. That wouldn't have happened if I had been in a cult limo.

Game 1 - Tyranids

This was the first of three games against opponents I'd seen at Ninja Pirates tourneys for months but never actually played before. Cricket had over 100 models in his bug army, with an amped up flying CC hive tyrant (scything talons, toxic miasma, implant attack, toxin sacs, warp field, god knows what else), three squads of three warriors with twin-linked deathspitters, two squads of 12 genestealers with flesh hooks and maybe talons, a big squad of fleshborer gaunts, a big squad of spine fist gaunts, two 10-man squads of hormagaunts, a sniperfex and two dakkafexes with five wounds each. We both rolled Rescue for our mission. Unfortunately (idiotically), I had placed one of my objectives fairly close to his deployment zone and he was able to claim it with gaunts in the second turn. The land raider pulled forward and unloaded the blood claws and HQ into the center temple, hoping to make a stand with them and maybe rescue his objective marker located on the other side. Gaunts and warriors lit them up and over half of the blood claws died in one turn, leaving the survivors to fight off the subsequent gaunt and hormagaunt assault on their own. The Land Raider itself was immobilized early by a venom cannon shot, and then destroyed in the subsequent turn. The land speeders split up after one of them was shaken by a Hive Tyrant assault, the functioning one heading across the board to burn up some genestealers, only succeeding in killing three or four. The scouts arrived and charged into the remaining stealers, taking them down to three, then two, then one, before finally finishing off the last just by dogpiling him. Even in their great numbers, the gaunts were a breeze once I could get them out of synapse, but they proved a frustrating tarpit capable of slowing and diluting one of my baddest units for a fucklong time. I also underestimated the power of those goddamned deathspitters; he had what semeed like a continuous supply of the twin-linked S6 blast templates, and they were all over me as soon as the drop pod doors opened. Try as I might I only killed one of the three squads of those bitches. Along with some seriously poor armor save rolls they brought my numbers down the most, followed by the dakkafexes and the hive tyrant. I made two major mistakes: I basically gave away one of my grey hunter squads by isolating them in the middle when I should have consolidated my attack on the right, and later I forgot to move my attack bikes around the third or fourth turn and the hive tyrant's implant attack wiped them out before they could even blink. The big bug spent the entire game flying back and forth between his deployment and my own, swatting at land speeders and assaulting foot units with thorough impunity. The land speeders were eventually destroyed, but they lasted quite a while and overall I was very impressed with their debut performance. The Rune Priest had a good game as well, whittling down around 10 or 15 gaunts by himself over three turns after all his fellows had been killed. I finally managed to rescue one of his objectives with the Terminators after they blew away the heavy fex guarding it, but couldn't hold one of my own to accomplish my second mission. Tyranids win, 2-1.

Game 2 - Tau

Jason's got a unique-looking Tau army, with a lot of cool conversions, like the adapted predator turrets on the hammerheads, and the skull defiler heads on certain battlesuit units. He had three hammerheads, along with two squads of 6 fire warriors, a fusion gun piranha, two squads of battlesuits with rocket pods and plasma, two HQ battlesuits with a bodyguard each, also with rocket pods and plasma, 6 stealth suits with a fusion gun on the leader, and one devilfish transport. We rolled the big triangle deployment zones, and bridgehead for both our missions (capture one friendly and one enemy objective). I rolled to go first, and the bikes inflicted a couple of early casualties on the stealth suits before being utterly erased by plasma and rocket fire. I tried to flank heavy on my left with most of my units, except for one grey hunter pod which I sent to my right to attack his fire warriors and possibly capture one of his objectives in a big ruined building in his corner. Probably the low point of the game was losing the other grey hunter drop pod off of the board edge while trying to solidify my hold on the other ruined building where his second objective was located. Instead, the blood claws and terminators were left to hold it themselves, with the land speeders and scouts launching attacks in the immediate vicinity. The terminators managed to bring down a squad or two with their shooting, and the scouts toppled one battlesuit squad as well but got tied up for several turns in combat with the more senior tau HQ. Heavy fire from all the skimmers and battlesuits took a toll and eventually the land raider, one landspeeder, the blood claws and terminators were all destroyed. After wiping out two fire warrior squads in assault, the half-strength grey hunters hiding deep in his deployment zone couldn't get close enough to the objective they were trying to eventually capture. This was basically the same story as the first game with a slightly different flavor: shooty death for the Space Wolves, Tau wins, 2-0.

Game 3 - Chaos

Thor had a near pure Nurgle army, with a demon prince, Typhus, a greater demon, a squad of five or six nurgle terminators, two squads of 10 lesser demons, two big squads of plague marines, and two defilers. I rolled to get the rescue mission again, and he got firebase (probably the easiest mission - control any two objectives). He split his two plague marine squads, with one on each side hiding in cover, with the defilers in position on his left near his rear-most objective. He went first but luckily his ordnance ricocheted harmlessly off of my exposed land raider. I exploded one defiler and immobilized the other in the first turn with my land speeders, while the raider drove far forward and discharged the blood claws to "rescue" one of his objective markers. The scouts and both grey hunter packs emerged from reserve and attacked the plaguebearers hiding in the forest on his left side. The scouts were easily repelled, but T5 and feel no pain couldn't stand up to the combined power fist attacks of the grey hunters. The greater demon arrived and tried to fight off the hunters but was slayed by the rune priest and wolf guard battle leader. Eventually he made it across the table with the demon prince, Typhus, and a pack of demons to loiter on one of my objectives, but my land speeders, attack bikes, terminators, and land raider counterattacked and took care of them, securing me a win in objectives (2-0) as well as victory points.

The limitations of the Space Wolves list were quite evident in my first two games. I think it can hold up against other more compact MEQ armies, but it's much more difficult to use against mob or mechanized skimmer forces. I did make a few mistakes that hopefully I'll learn from in the future. I definitely preferred the 2 land speeders to the vindicator, and I think I'll stick with the melta/flamer armament rather than make them tornados. My main concern has to do with the land raider. It's so freakin expensive and fairly vulnerable considering all the high strength guns out there. I've considered a few other options, such as swapping in a predator annihilator or bringing the venerable dreadnought back in, but as the land raider grants both tough transport as well as decent anti-tank, I'm going to play a few more games with it and just try to improve my tactics.

Slow News Days

Sorry for the low post count lately, we're buying a house and moving and having garage sales and all that kind of shit. Nevertheless, I have been working on 40k stuff in the midst of all the chaos, I just haven't had much news worth blogging about. I finished painting up a couple Space Wolves landspeeders this weekend, and also wrote a long piece about my unit choices for that army that will appear here shortly. Today there's another 2k Rules of Engagement tournament at Ninja Pirates that I will be attending and shall describe in detail as always.

I get about 75 or so hits a day (tailing off after my recent slow supply of entries) and I know the Austin community is big, but not THAT big. So I think there's more than a few outlanders coming by here, probably BOLS referrals. I was interested in what they *you* might want to hear about. Obviously my approach to 40k blogging is different from BOLS, in that they provide tons of rumors, their own reference material, strategy, etc, while I simply and selfishly focus on my own games and armies. I thought in 2008 I might expand a little to give more coverage to the Austin 40k scene in general: the major players, some special events, and obviously continuing tournament coverage. What else would you turds like to hear more about? Leave me a comment if you have the time. Also, if you too have a 40k blog that you update fairly regularly and it's not listed in my sidebar section there, let me know.

Monday, February 11, 2008

Tournament: Battleforge Games 2-09-08

I played in the first Battleforge 40k Hobby Tournament last weekend and did pretty well without actually placing. I think I might have come in around 4th of 17 total players with two wins and a loss. It was a good mix, with plenty of marines (several pre-heresy armies), imperial guard, eldar, chaos, and even one ork army. There were only seven or so fully painted armies, not as many as I’d hoped to see, but maybe word will get around and more will show up next time. I brought the latest incarnation of my Space Wolves army, including two new scout models I had painted up over the last couple of evenings. As usual Brandon ran a great tournament, and I had three interesting games, probably rolling a little too well in each. Overall, the wolves performed a lot better than I had expected. The characters all did well in assault, except maybe in the third round due to user error, and the reserve elements usually managed to pour out some good shooting upon landing and survive long enough to earn their expensive asses back. The Land Raider shot and transported well, and the bikes knocked out some important targets on cue. The Vindicator got a few kills but wasn’t ever resilient enough for my taste. I’ll be dropping it for a couple of melta/flamer land speeders at the next tournament. Here’s the list I used:

Rune Priest – frost blade, runic staff, chooser of the slain, wolf pelt, frag grenades, belt of russ

Wolf Guard Battle Leader – frost blade, bolt pistol, wolf pelt, frag grenades

Wolf Guard Battle Leader – lightning claws, terminator armor, wolf pelt
Wolf Guard Bodyguard – 2 combiplasmas, 2 assault cannons, 3 power weapons, 1 power fist
Drop Pod

6 Wolf Scouts – meltagun, 2 plasma pistols, 2 power weapons, frag grenades

9 Grey Hunters – 7 bolters/ccw, 1 plasma pistol/ccw, 1 plasma gun
Wolf Guard Leader – power fist, bolter, wolf pelt
Drop Pod

9 Grey Hunters – 7 bolters/ccw, 1 plasma pistol/ccw, 1 plasma gun
Wolf Guard Leader – power fist, bolter, wolf pelt
Drop Pod

8 Blood Claws

2 Attack Bikes – multimeltas

Land Raider

Vindicator – power of the machine spirit, extra armor, smoke launchers

Game 1 – Pre-Heresy Emperor’s Children

For the first round I drew the bye and faced off against Brandon’s mean pink Chillens. I think this was the first game I’ve ever played against him when he wasn’t fielding his uber ass-can army. Saturday his force consisted of a jump-pack Epistolary with FotA and FoD, a jump-pack Master, a terminator squad in a drop pod, three 8-man las/plas tac squads with rhinos, a landspeeder with a multimelta, two dev squads with four lascannons and four heavy bolters, and a whirlwind. The primary objective was table quarters, and the secondary and tertiary were basically recon and assassinate. No victory points. He more or less played from a static gunline, laying in wait for my deep strikers and taking shots at my Land Raider as it tried to cross the battlefield. My scouts came in from his back right edge, pounced on one of his tac squads and proceeded to maul them unmercifully, making hella 4+ saves. Afterwards they segued into a second tac squad but were finally beat down. At the same time, my terminators dropped in behind the Master on his left side and opened up with assault cannons, killing him outright in the first blast. Secondary objective accomplished. Seeking revenge, his librarian came over to assist, handily breaking my terminator squad with fear of darkness, and escorted them away for a couple of turns. Run, little weenie wolves! When his own terminators dropped in nearby to finish them off, they got shot up themselves with combiplasmas for their trouble. Meanwhile, the blood claws and accompanying HQ badasses got pinned down for a couple of turns on my far left after he penetrated the Land Raider with his land speeder’s multimelta. Fortunately, the hit only destroyed one of the tank’s lascannons, and after the blood claws tackled the land speeder to the ground, they jumped back in the tank and continued their approach toward his right flank, avenging my dead scouts and taking care of the recon objective. On my own right side, the Vindicator was destroyed early on by his lascannon dev squad, but the attack bikes survived for quite a while and eventually reduced the librarian to a man-sized heap of melted slag. Since it was the bye, I automatically earned the primary objective (though I still accomplished it), and with the second and third objectives I went into the second round with full points. Space Wolves win.

Game 2 – Pre-Heresy Alpha Legion

My second game was on the ice board playing against Aventine's purple people eaters. The primary objective was to capture the hill terrain pieces, the secondary was field of battle with victory points dictating the winner, and the third was to destroy the enemy’s most expensive unit. To the best of my recollection, Chris had a command squad with two tank-hunting lascannons, a demonhunters inquisitor with the Emperor’s tarot and a psycannon, a vindicare assassin, a techmarine with a signum, a big cc-oriented veteran squad on foot, a small sniper/rocket scout squad, three melta/missile tactical squads, two melta/flamer landspeeders, and two predator destructors. The Rune Priest's chooser of the slain kept most of his infiltrators at bay, which was nice. He set up a big gun line with the veterans in the rear for the necessary counter-assault. I kept the Land Raider hanging out behind the hill on my right side, taking potshots across the field, and eventually knocked down a land speeder and a predator. The blood claws and rune priest occupied the hill there, staying deep enough in cover to be out of sight from his shooting. I was going to move up the raider and take the center at the end, but one of his tank hunters finally immobilized it in the fifth turn. Having had poor luck splitting the main army body before, I decided to concentrate on the left-side hill in his deployment zone and threw the rest of my army at it, wiping out the scouts, inquisitor, land speeder, one and a half tac squads, and most of a veteran squad, with about 50% casualties of my own in the process. However, at some point later I made the mistake of moving the surviving terminators to the edge of cover and they were finished off, costing me a ton of VPs for fairly little in return. He won the primary objective by holding his single hill and contesting both of mine by sidling up to them in the 6th turn with his land speeder and predator, perhaps a little cheesy, but I would have done the same thing in his place (and soon will with my own little jets!). I had killed or broken quite a bit of his army, but he had still earned more VPs from inflicting lighter casualties on my pricier units (something like 800 to my 600) and took the secondary objective as well. Killing off one of his tac squads did earn me the tertiary objective, so the final score was 17 to 3. One or both of us may have gotten some bonus points, too, but I don't remember. Alpha Legion wins.

Game 3 - Chaos

* File Accidentally Deleted by Servodolt *

In holding with a now time-honored 40kology tradition, I forgot to get a photo of the third game against Joe's Slaanesh-themed chaos force. He had a demon prince with lash, a greater demon, a lord with lightning claws, a big squad of possessed, two squads of noise marines, another squad of chaos marines, a big squad of lesser demons, a big squad of raptors, and a multi-melta dreadnought. This game was a little weird, we hadn't played before and I don't know if our styles were exactly matched, but the mood was tense at times. I may have ticked him off earlier in the day when I interjected a question/comment on a rule usage in his second game after mis-eavesdropping. I don't appreciate it either when people butt into my tournament games, but it's hard sometimes when you think you hear something flagrant. With strangers, it's probably best to just keep your mouth shut if it's not your own game. Anyway, the primary objective was victory points, with extra points for table quarters, the possession of which also determining the winner of the tertiary objective. The secondary objective was "suicide squad," where we both nominated one suicide unit and could earn the objective if they were destroyed in the battle. I missed seeing his roll for the possessed squad's ability; he said later that it had come up power weapons, but it was of little consequence in the end. He set up the noise and standard marines on his right side, with the raptors and more noisemarines in the middle, and the possessed and dreadnought on his left. Going second, I rolled up his right side with my Raider, Vindicator, and bikes, deploying the HQs and blood claws halfway up the table. Unfortunately for me, I goofed and forgot to cast Stormcaller - it would have come in damn handy in the subsequent assault. He counter-attacked with the dreadnought, thankfully missing the Land Raider at close range with the multimelta, as well as the daemonettes, who charged into the blood claws and characters. In return, the attack bikes moved up and destroyed the dreadnought with melta fire. Just as my blood claws started to fight the lesser demons back, his possessed jumped into the fray and finished them all off, including both HQs. The Vindicator and Land Raider managed to survive long enough to kill the demon prince with some clutch shooting, but were eventually destroyed. Most of my reserves came in early. The scouts emerged from his deployment edge, shooting up some noise marines to good effect, and I brought the terminators and grey hunters in on the left side of the table to attack his two marine squads advancing over there. In the fourth turn, the greater demon emerged and destroyed my terminators before following up into my second squad of grey hunters, who had themselves just broken his big raptor squad off the table. After several rounds of intense combat, where chainsword and powerfist dueled artfully with whipped tail and spikey boob, the Keeper of Secrets and grey hunters wiped each other out. The first unit of grey hunters dealt heavy casualties on their targets, reducing two marine squads to a man and breaking one of them off of the board. Some especially poor rolling on his part in the last two turns shifted the game strongly in my favor, and I took the primary and tertiary objective by capturing two quarters to his one, as well as a couple of extra bonus points for my suicide squad surviving and (I think) getting a unit into his deployment zone. Neither of our suicide squads were destroyed, so noone got the secondary objective. Space Wolves win.