Thursday, March 24, 2011

A tale of two transports - the ubiquitous rhino vs. the dark eldar raider

So I'm loving the Dark Eldar of late and want to compare the Dark Eldar Raider versus the old reliable Space Marine Rhino today.

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Ms Lelith Hesperax, the sublime queen of close combat (dark eldar tactica)

Okay I first want to say that I am by no means a dark eldar guru by any stretch of the imagination and I have very limited game play with them. That said I'd like to start posting one to two tactical articles each week as I gain more experience with my army. I decided to run with Lelith over a Haemonculus for my second HQ choice after reading the recent White Dwarf batrep that featured Phil Kelly's dark eldar versus Matt Hutson's Blood Angels which incidentally coincided with the second wave for Blood Angels. Phil is a very competitive gamer and knows his stuff - he always writes strong codices and his dark eldar is no exception in my opinion. I always read his tactical articles and batreps as there is always something there to learn.

Friday, March 11, 2011

The Overlooked Ork - Part 2

The Overlooked Fast – The Skortcha Trakk

Most of the Fast Attach choices of the ork army fall into midgrade category. None are particularly great, but none are particularly bad. But there is one unit in the Fast Attack category that stands above the rest when it comes to its ability to achieve its goals at a minimal expense. The Skortcha Trakk. I am convinced that the skortcha trakk is not more commonly used because the model for it is out of production and the unit has to be scratch built. This, for many, is a strong detriment for use. However, for those who wish to take advantage of a little plasticard and a discount toy bin can have a gorgeous and funcional skortcha trakk.

The first benefit of the Skortcha Trakk is its cost. For 40 points you have an armor 10 fast vehicle with the ability to reroll difficult terrain tests and which can lay down a heavy flamer template. Add red paint to the mixture for 5 points and that heavy flamer template just, defacto, got a little longer. The skortcha buggy is a darn near perfect ork attack vehicle for so many reasons. Their inexpensive price makes them somewhat disposable, their speed makes them extremely hard to hit in close combat, they also have enough movement to often be able to maneuver efficiently behind or into enemy lines to either cause problems or constest enemy objectives. And finally, being able to move 13” (red paint) and fire the skortcha (Str 5, AP 4, template) makes the orks poor bailistic skill somewhat irrevelent.

As a practice lesson opposing players will often ignore the skortch buggy for more threatening targets. And who could blame them? However, most of these players learn that if the skortcha buggy reaches their line they become a tremendous burr in their sides. Nids, orks, imperial guardsmen, eldar, etc die en masse to the skortcha trakk that has reached them. But even tanks are not completely safe. The skortcha trakks superior speed often will allow them to quickly maneuver and hit rear armor of the unwarry enemy. And while the odds of penetrating armor 10 and glancing armor 11 are not great, it is a threat that the opponenet realizes quickly has to be addressed.

The Overlooked Heavy – The Looted Wagon

There are three units in the heavy support section of the ork codex which often get overlooked. Flashgits, artillery and the Looted Wagon. Flashgits can do a significant amount of damage to Marine units (and their kin) but rarely does their cost equal their benefit. So while Flashgits may be an overlooked unit they probably should be overlooked. The next overlooked unit is ork artilery. However while these units are not commonly seen in ork armies it is generally accepted that they are a value unit and shold be taken seriously. For those who have not examined Ork Kannons and Lobba’s in detail I suggest you do so. They are some of the greatest value in the entire orkiverse. However, what I would like to address is a unit which, much like the rest of this article, needs to be tried a few times to see its true worth. Namely the Looted Wagon.

The looted wagon is a unit which is subtly misleading. In examining the looted wagon we will look at its two most common, and ancient, configurations.

1. Gobsmasha / Spleenrippa / Looted Basilisk / looted Leman Russ – This is the basic variant of the looted wagon whose primary attribute is the Boomgun (a shorter ranged battle cannon) and which will usually include an ard case so that the vehicle is no longer open topped. This brings the models cost up to 115 points. And with the additon of two big shoota sponsons the vehicle is still only 125 points. When one considers the base cost of a Leman Russ is 150 points (170 with Heavy Bolter Sponsons), the cost of a Gobsmasha configuration does not seem too far out of line. Finally, it should also be noted that while the looted wagons big shootas are being fired by orks at balistic skill 2 they are actually more effective “on a point per point basis” than the same sponsons armed by guardsmen on the Leman Russ.

This configuraion is often immediately disregarded by ork players at first glance beceause the looted wagon has an armor value of 11. And I do think there is some truth to this concern as no one wants a leman russ that can be neutralized by heavy bolter fire. However, careful placement of the unit in cover so that it is obscured at the beginning of the game can, as we all know, go a long way to making the Gobsmasha more survivable.

The biggest problem with the Gobsmasha configuration in my opinion is the “ooops don’t touch that” roll. At the beginning of each round the player controlling a looted wagon must roll a dice and on a roll of a 1 the wagon lurches forward its maximum distance. Should this happen the boomgun is no longer able to fire and the Gobsmasha is probably no longer in cover leaving it a fairly ripe target for the enemy. But even with that having been said the Gobsmasha is a vehcile which, at a very reasonable price, will surprise many opponents.

2. Da Transport – This is where the looted wagon really shines in my opinion. The looted wagon is rarely used for a couple reasons. Players usually do not think of it as a transport because it is not as fast as a truck and not as durable as a battle wagon. So some think it has the worst of both worlds. However, they are incorrect. Comparing the looted wagon to a truck or a battle wagon is an apples and oranges comparison. I am by no means advocating the casting away of trucks and battlewagons in lieu of the looted wagon but I do assert that looted wagon has a place and is a viable unit.

First the cost of the looted wagon is extremely cheap at 35 points and like the truck has transport capacity for 12 models. While the battle wagon has a significantly larger cargo capacity at 20 models, greater armor and superior offensive capacity it is also on average two and a half times the cost of a looted wagon after both vehicles have applied upgrades.

The most successful use of the looted wagon has come from using it as an alternative to the truck. In fact, when used for the purpose of tansporting a squad of boys in to mele combat it is a wonderful choice. My standard configuration for the looted wagon transport vehicle is red paint, 1 big shoota or skortcha, and reinforced ram which makes the vehicle 50 points or 60 points with the skortcha. While we ork players know that our truck get blown away on a regular basis by lazcannons and missle launchers trucks also regularly get “nailed” by simple bolter fire. This one point of extra armor at basically the same price of a truck allows your squad of slugga boys to have a greater degree of protection as it crosses the field. And while the slower speed of the Looted Wagon seems to be a disadvantage to the truck it is, in reality, not significant.

The truck (with red paint) moves 19” and the looted wagon (with red paint) moves 13”. Normally, on the first round of movement the boys in a truck are not going to be able to assautl anyway because the truck has moved “flat out.” It is on both vehicles second movement that assaulting out of the vehicle becomes a greater option. And in games where you are going second there is virtually no disadvantage at all as you are commonly assaulting some unit which has moved forward. With the Looted wagon being open topped and having 13” movement your assault range for orks is still huge when you consider disembarking and potential assault range. In such cases any advantage that the extra 6” movement granted by the truck in the first round has clearly been negated. And if, for some reason, the truck did not move “flat out” on its first turn then there is no advantage to the truck at all.

The looted wagon transport is not, and should not, replace the truck. However, it is a unit which should be tried several times by ork players and given a fair shot. In my opinion, it is a good option for a squad of boys and is nearly perfect as a transport option for a unit of Ardboys (who can survive an open topped exploding vehicle with ease). After trying the looted wagon as a transport for 12 ard boys I have come to be extremely fond of its use.

I hope this article has helped to open your eyes to some of the lesser used options in the ork codex. The orks are an army which thrive on being different. They thrive on not being “standard.“ The above units are those that, in my experience, play significantly better than many would expect by looking at them on paper. I hope that those who play the orks will give these units a try and those that do not will continue to underestimate them.


Wednesday, March 9, 2011

The Overlooked Orks Part 1

Since the time of the release of our current ork codex there have been numerous tactica written about our beloved Orks. But unfortunately most Ork Tactica articles are variations on a theme advocating the same units and models. However, I would like to take a slightly different spin on the use of the orks. The purpose of this article is to take a look at some units in the Ork Codex that are often overlooked and perhaps encourage the Ork players to try something a little out of the proverbial box. While none of these suggestions are intended to “replace” the units we have all come to know and love they should be given a second look for those who may have disregarded them in the past.
The Overlooked HQ – Old Zogwort

The orks have some of the best bang for the buck in the 40k universe regarding HQ unitswhen you look at what the unit contributes compared to its cost. Everyone who has faced orks regularly are aware of the more commonly used HQ choices. These include such standards as “Warboss with power klaw, eavy armor, cybork body and bosspole” and “Big Mek with kustom forcefield.” Also, there are special characters such as Gazaghkull and Grotsnik whose use, and value, is readily accepted. However, there is at least one character who is rarely seen on the table but who consistently proves to be an asset when used. The Grand Warphead of the Snakebites … Old Zogwort.
Old Zogwort is a character that every ork player should try in four games. Part of the reason why Old Zogwort has received generally negative reviews is because he gets tried once, does nothing or is easily neutralized, and the player concludes that Old Zogwort is a waste of points. This is usually because of the failure of Zog Worts Curse to successfully work. To understand Old Zogwort you must understand Zogworts curse. This power is the incarnation of arbitrary in the orkiverse. Even the Shokk Attack gun is a more reliable weapon. For Zogworts Curse to work you must have (1) an independent character within 18”, (2) line of sight (3) make a successful psychic test (4) not have the power neutralized by a psychic hood or the like, and (5) and roll higher than your opponent on the roll of a D6.
Zogworts Curse is one of those special things in the 40K universe that players read and drool over. They get dreams of turning Dante or Marneaus Calgar into an ‘angry s quig’ and to shortly follow up the following quip to their opponent, “But the good news is that you get to control the squig.” And when all that happens it is in fact a glorious moment. Unfortunately, to get all the pieces of the puzzle to fit together for the Zogworts Curse experience to happen is akin to lining up the moon and the stars. It just does not happen too often.
However, Old Zogwort does have huge perks.
The pre-eminate Snakebite Warphead is in fact a close combat monster. He is arguably the second best close combat fighter in the ork codex. Zogworts Curse and the Wyrdboy powers will be an eternal source of frustration if a player is counting on these abilities, however, Zogwort in close combat will have outstanding results. Zogworts staff, Nest of Vipers, is a 2+ poison weapon. And this can be combined with his normal wyrdboy abilities (as long as they don’t get neutralized by something) which transform his close combat attacks to power weapon attacks. Finally, Zogwort has d6+2 attacks in close combat. So with an average of 5.5 power weapon attacks that wound on 2+ the real benefit of Zogwort becomes clear quickly.
While I am not a huge advocate of nob squads, if one does take such a squad, Zogwort is almost a mandatory incusion. Nob squads invariably will include a Waaagh Banner (+1 Weapon Skill) and Pain Boy (Feel No Pain) and these items are able to confer their abilities onto independent characters attached to the squad. So Zogwort now will typically hit on 3+ and have a much better save. But he also becomes harder to kill as many players are placed into a conumdrum of trying to kill off the unit or the Snakebite Sorcerer.
Occasionally, one will be successful (and lucky) with Zogworts Curse or get the perfect Wyrdboy power at the rigth moment. But those times are rare. Zogwort will shine when he gets to act like the Snakebite he is … spinning his glowing staff like a whirling dervish of death into a squad of marines. With a little practice and a few games even old school warbosses will start to realize the benefit of this underused character.

The Overlooked Elite - Multiple Kommando Squads

Ork Elite choices are widely know and will appear in almost every ork army. It is rare indeed to see an army that does not include at least one elite choice as these units are, with the exception of the Tankbuster, all extremely viable. Lootas, Burnas, Nobs and Meganobs are as common place in an ork army as are Ork Boys. While the kommando is clearly an effective unit a slight variation on how it is played can make the boys in camo a crushing blow for an opponent.
When kommandos are used the common configuration is one squad with Snikrott attached. And this is without a doubt a very effective unit. However, there is another option for Kommandos that should always be considered. The kommando squad without Snikrott. A kommando mob has the ability to equip its Nob with a burna and, as one might guess, this flaming instrument of death in the hands of a Nob it is a valuable tool indeed. A nob may be equipped with a burna in much the same way as the Nob may be equipped with a Shoota. After you do a weapon swap for the boy you then choose which boy to upgrade. And in the case of the kommando’s you upgrade the kommando boy who is weilding the burna. (See also Ork 2010 FAQ pg 1 regarding whether a shootaboy nob may have a powerfist.)
I still typically equip my kommando nobs with powerklaws but do place two burnas in the squad. This is because the extra “punch” of the power klaw is often needed in so many circumstances and I have found that laying down two flamer templates (and a boy is just as good as a nob for this purpose) when coming out of Outflank (or Ambush) is more useful than using the power weapon with the Nob. But for those who enjoy the use of Kommandos it is certaintly nice to know this option exists and it is a cheap way to have an extremely combat worthy Kommando Nob.
The kommando squad is special in that you can have up to two boys who have burnas. While these burnas, on the surface, seem cost prohibitive at 15 points each, in reality, they function exceptionally well in the hands of kommandos. This is because of the likelyhood that kommandos (with or without snikrott) will be able to hit some sort of target on the turn the unit comes in. And as previously stated, washing a unit that are relying on cover saves with two flamer templates right before charging in is always a wonderful perk.
However, one of the great strengths of the Kommandos is not simply the use of Snikrott or the ability to use burnas but when multiple units of kommandos are used. One kommando squad is a threat that the enemy needs to address. However, the use of two full kommando squads becomes a thing to be feared that has the potintial to crush an enemy flank. This tactic can be as powerful as a full mob of cybork nobs or armored meganobs at roughly the same cost and it has a far greater tactical surprise to it as well. My prefered configuration for multiple kommando squads is to have one kommando squad with a power first weilding nob and the other kommando squad to be led by Snikrott.
Tactically when beginning outflank / ambush rolls I will always roll the normal kommando squad first. This is an attempt to know where they are coming in before you make the same roll for Snikrott. If the normal kommando squad does in fact come in, then hopefully Snikrott will comein via “ambush” as well. If this occurs you will want sneaky Snikrott he comes on to the board in the same general area as the normal kommando squad. Thus, coordinateing their attacks into an enemy line. In the event one of the units does not comein on the next turn I will try to reinforce that side of the table with whatever outflanking unit has not yet come in. With multiple kommando units the player must keep in mind to focus his forces if at all possible. It has been my experience that 30 kommandos are significantly more than twice the threat of one kommando mob of 15.

The Overlooked Troop - Grots

At a west coast Grand Tournament recently a friend of mine, another experienced ork player, lined up across the table with a gentleman using nearly all Nob Biker list which was tricked out in all its cheesy glory. The Nob Biker player then tried to make an argument that he his army was gouda-free because he had graciously included some “useless” units in his army as well. Namely he was refering to his mob of grots. My friend was slightly soured on the other player because of his 20 nob bikers and two biker warbosses but developed an instant dislike for this person by his attempt to bamboozle him into thinking that grots are “useless.” Grots are, without a doubt, one of the most useful units in the ork codex and have won as many, if not more, games for ork players than probably any other unit.
When the Ork Codex first came out there was a great question about what use would grots be in an ork army. With a minimum sized ork boy squad costing 60 points and a minium sized grot mob costing 40 points many a warboss wondered why anyone would ever take a squad of grots when for approximately 20 points more you could take a squad of Ork boys which would acutally be able to function offensively. However, time has proven that the Grot has a place in an ork army. And in fact, the grot mob has become a unit which I rarely leave home without.
The strength of the grot mob is not in its offensive ability but in its ability to be an inexpensive, hard to kill, hard to break unit and which can hold an objective. The minimum sized grot mob (10 grots and slaver) can do more for 40 points to alter the composition and offensive power of an army than any other unit in the codex. By using this mob as a dedicated objective holder it allows the remainder of your army to do what the orks want to do … go on the offensive.
In games where objectives are used the ork player with the grot mob should try to place an objective in cover as close to his table edge as possible and in cover. Then during set up he will always place the grot mob into reserves. The remainder of his force strikes forward doing what orks do best. The grots, on the other hand, stay in reserves for as long as possible. When the grot mob eventually does come out move and run directly towards the objective in cover. When the grots get there they will then want to go to ground (and pray to Gork, or was it Mork, for their survival) probably for the rest of the game. By doing this you have a unit which has 11 wounds, a reroll to its leadership and a 3+ cover save that is successfully fuly holding an objective. No where else in the ork codex can we hold an objective so effectively for such a small cost.
The sheer volume of fire power it will take to “dig out” the grots, the fact that this unit now has to be addressed, and the fact that you do not have to hold back any of your boys to control this objective more than makes up for the cost of the grot mob.


Alternative Models and After-Market Add-on's

For years I avoided alternative models like the plague.  I wanted to play in GW Grand Tournaments - didn't have the time to paint a lot - and wanted taht time to go towards miniatures I could use in tourneys.  Over the years though - GW has ended their tourney hosting and the independents circuit has filled that void.  Their restrictions on models are much more lenient and they are open to alternative choices.

So I just managed to get a  few of the Scibor and Hi-Tech mini's off ebay.   Really impressed with them - a few to show below:

Overall - pretty impressed with them - they are on the level of Forgeworld quality - and similar resin design.

What are your thoughts on using alternative models for 40K?  Any problems with it?

Monday, March 7, 2011

Battle For Stones River 2011

Last weekend I had the fun of playing in the third - or maybe fourth - annual Battle for Stones River Tournament held in Murfreesboro, TN.  The tourney is based around the Civil War battle of the same name - uses 1863 Points (the year of the tourney), each table has a river with bridges and forges.  There is no such thing as a bad day of 40K - but from a won/loss standpoint - this was a rough tournament.  Played my Space Wolves.

Here's the run down:

Game One - Agaist Gary Morris (think that's right), really nice guy from M'Boro - running Imperial Guard. We played slap and Tickle all game - both denying the other objectives. At the end, I failed to score a final kill point for that objective. A true sissy fight for us with the final score being like 3-0 for Gary.  Think we gave up a total of 4 kill points together. Like kissing your sister.

Game Two - against some Dickhead running a blue Tau army. What an @sshole - always dicking me over on the rules, arguing every point, telling me that Kroot had strength 6 instant death power weapons that disallowed invulnerable saves and gave the kroot initiative 9 - that killed even characters with Eternal Warrior - thus causing Logan to die to Kroot. I was amazed to see all the blantant dickery and cheating that I found out once I got home and really checked the codex. Crisis suits do NOT have invulnerable saves and move like Jetbikes. Tau Tanks are not fast vehicles with the Tau equivalent of Machine Spirit. Drones to not have feel no pain. Fire Warriors do NOT have c'tan death weapons. All Tau do not have Preferred Enemy-Space Wolves. Unbelievable the level of cheating that this rat bastard pulled in our game! So really I didn't lose to Tau after all - it was all a communist inspired plot against me.

14-0 against me. (just funning Shannon (my fellow BnB'er) - nice game - you smoked me good - I have new respect for the Tau - especially Buffalo style).  I've always had this running banter with him that Tau Suck and taste like chicken - guess payback IS hell.

So after two games - I have zero battle points. To make this a totally perfect day - I figure my next game will be against Dung and he'll table me - then I'll Play Johnny (Marine) and lose to him too (brand new player having his first tourney).
Fortunately - things began to improve. Drew Nate (our new friend of the BNB). We had a hard fought - go either way battle against his Chaos list. Manage to avoid the death engine that is Kharn and actually scored a few points. Win for me - close game. Think I got 16 pts.

Game Four - down to sh*ts and giggles time. Drew a guy named Steve Dzybey who has a outstanding Nurgle army that GMM did for him. Was kinda funny that my Wolves (painted by Next Level who learned from GMM) were playing against and army painted by Brandon. Was a sweet looking table for sure. We had a good close game - I got the advantage on kill points and highest point cost - lost the quarters - 12-8 win for me.

So congrats to Teeny-Weenie for overall (Kevin Drury), Lord Monki (Tau-rrific Shannon who I played in round 2) on sports, and STD (Keith "The Hoff" Hoffman) for best painted. The BNB really dominated this year (no thanks to me - but my job is ride the coat tails of others).


Here's a link to "The Hammercast" an outstanding podcast that covered the event.   The "OFFICIAL" podcast of the Blade and Bolter Boyz.

Hat's off to Bossman and Chris at Grand Adventures in Murfreesboro for running another great event.  Here are the INCREDIBLE trophies that they gave out: