Friday, August 26, 2011

Draigowing Xs & Os • Shooting 101 • Psyflemen

As a brief note I'd first like to mention I no longer am fielding Draigo for army - I'm using a generic Grand Master in his place. The swap allows me to take grenades, not wasting the points for the overcosted Techmarine, plus I arm mine with a psycannon as well. So I'm not sure what exactly to call the army - technically it's not a true Draigowing list for the obvious reason given above.

I'll now move on to the subject matter which will be a short tactical piece about using psyflemen. I find that most Grey Knight players who use psyflemen field two to three. Currently I'm using two in my 2k list. Psyflemen are one of the few units in the codex that appear to be undercosted in terms of what you get for their points. Long range AT was a major problem for the old codex - there weren't any really good cheap choices for the points. A few players had success using landraiders but this was an expensive approach and shoehorned the armies into a one dimensional style... Sit back and shoot the entire game. Dreadnaughts were ineffective since they were easy to pop plus they didn't benefit from The Shrouding and did not have Fortitude. With the release of the new codex it didn't take long for the 40k community to figure just how good are the new psyflemen. To me a psyfleman dreadnaught is better than a squad of Long Fangs with five missiles... On average you will get just as many hits plus the psyfleman can move and shoot which is a major advantage over Long Fangs. Take Fortitude into consideration and you've simply got a better heavy support unit. Of course I haven't really said anything so far most people don't already know but this is the introduction. ; )

Let's first consider deployment for Pitched Battle and Dawn of War. Let's also start off by assuming the Grey Knight army has two psyflemen just to keep it simple. I had a friend recently tell me the best deployment is to put one dreadnaught in each corner of your deployment zone (DZ) - the reason being this will help to ensure more side shots on enemy transports. At first I didn't take him serious and thought maybe he was trying to trick me into deploying in that manner. If you deploy both psyflemen on the centerline of your DZ they can shoot up to 80 percent of the distance to the far corners which leaves a small pocket of 12" radius in your opponent's two table corners. A smart IG player might deploy their Manticores in their corners but other than that I don't see any major advantages for the opponent. Deploying both dreads on the centerline also means they can both benefit from your Librarian casting The Shrouding. On the other hand if you deploy them in the far corners it will be hard to support them, they can be targeted by outflanking units and their fields of fire have very little overlap - just doesn't make much sense to me just for a chance to shoot at side armor. Also note that a smart opponent can deploy and move their transports in such a manner to drastically limit shots on their side armor to the bulk of their transports and it's actually fairly easy to do. Finally versus an army such as dark eldar they can easily pop one dread then flank around to hit you on an exposed side, cutting your long range AT in half on the first turn.

Now let's consider the case of an army with three psyflemen. The addition of an extra dreadnaught opens up another dimension in terms of using deployment to your best advantage. Against IG I would most likely setup one on the centerline and one 12" away on either side. Your fields of fire now all overlap and overall cover the entire table. It might be worth investing the extra points to upgrade one or two to Venerable class since they won't all be protected by The Shrouding.

The third deployment (Spearhead) is an interesting choice as deploying in a table quarter can drastically limit your field of fire - no wonder IG players hate this one so much. The important thing to remember is your opponent is in the same boat. I would generally place my dreads (whether it's two or three) back along the diagonal line using cover when available and if appropriate. You'll quickly be able to reach midfield with the bulk of your army which is where Draigowing style armies can really shine. It is pretty simple when you think about it for just a moment. : )

At first glance this might seem rather obvious but versus certain armies such as razorspam or IG it's not quite that simple. Razorspam is going to sit still for the most part during the beginning of the game and hope for the opportunity to alphastrike. IG on the other hand will be moving the vets forward to blast your Paladins and GKT with massed melta and plasma. What you need to keep in mind is that you should use your mix of psycannons (Paladins and GKT) with your dreadnaughts to most effectively deal with high multiple threats - that is shoot the transports with your psycannons and use the autocannons to pick off longer ranged threats such as Vendettas and Manticores. You might be best served to combine the two weapons platforms to take out a big chunk of transports the first turn in an alphastrike if the opportunity presents itself. Versus razorspam I'd probably focus on destroying the razorbacks first then deal with Predators and Vindicators.

I've focused this article primarily upon the best use of psyflemen giving specific examples how to deploy and target select your firing solutions. Remember as I said above sometimes it's best to combine your weight of fire using both the psycannon and autocannon to alphastrike and decimate a particular component of your opponent's army.

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

New techniques for relaxation - how to improve your game

The circular symbol above is often used to represent Zen. It is sometimes likened to the cosmic serpent devouring it's own tail. This has a direct connection to the end of the world - the beginning and the end. I think it's pretty cool.

I believe that when you are relaxed AND focused you play your best. As a caveat never underestimate any opponent or any army - the dice gods can hurt you and to me it's just like Mother Nature.

So I want to talk about some simple techniques you can use to help improve your game. I have to say I cannot always play at this level all the time due to my nature. I sure wish I could though and when I do it's always a lot more fun - seriously.

1) Divorce yourself from winning at all costs. It's not worth it. Remember it's just a game. 40k is not like MtG or Warmachine due to the nature of the rules. If you read the rulebook and refer to the most important rule you'll see a philosophy imposed upon the game by the designers. The company does not frequently update their rules - we have to take what we get from them. I do believe they are striving to create more balance with each edition and each codex. They don't always get it right but I see an improvement. Don't let rules lawyers get under your skin - you can beat them by superior tactics and a better understanding of how you designed your army versus theirs.

I think that everyone who plays 40k likes to win - it's just natural. If you can not have to win every time then you can be more relaxed and focus better. This type of attitude does not mean you have to be a slacker or not want to win. It simply means that winning is not the most important thing when you play.

2) Maintain a positive attitude at all times. It can be really hard to do versus certain opponents for whatever reason but as I said in the first note by not wanting to win at all costs you will have more fun when you play. If a game is going really bad (e.g., bad dice, bad matchup, bad day or whatever) it's okay to just say "Okay you win." Go do something else with your time. This year I was playing in the fourth round of a major event and my dice were killing me. I knew I wouldn't make it to the top bracket the second day so I conceded the game after the fourth turn and then took a friend to dinner. Whether I won or lost that game it didn't really matter. In another major event I was playing on one of the top two tables in the last round and towards the end of the game I could see it would be impossible to play another turn which I would have needed to secure a win and come away with a top award. I excepted the restraint on time and settled for a draw instead of trying to force another turn. I'm still okay with that decision and accept the outcome.

3) The game is still part of a hobby. Put some energy into building a beautiful army and learn about the background of 40k. I can't keep count of how many times I've heard people say that the 40k background keeps them interested in the hobby. You might have one army you love to play the most but don't be afraid to pickup a new army. I started playing dark eldar this year (my first real non SM army) and it's been a lot of fun... I'm really glad I did. A friend suggested I play them as something different from the usual. You will learn more about the game the more armies you play. If you like to play challenging armies it's okay to play a stronger army. If you like to play the top armies it's okay to play a weaker army. Either way it can improve your overall game. Like I said 40k is more balanced now.

So that's it. If you don't always want to win every game then it's possible you can actually win more often. It's simple in theory but can be hard to do in actual practice. You have to make it a priority and remain focused at all times.


Sunday, August 21, 2011

'Aard Boyz Battle Report

Ok - so I have never played in 'ard Boyz before.   Never.    For some reason, either schedule, number of gaming weekends I can talk the wife into, etc - I've never been able to go.   This year - one of the local gaming stores - Wargames LLC - had a spot open up and the owner (Baxter - all round great guy) asked me if I'd like it.   We'd just had a long trip over to Sabote land on a visit/family trip this summer - so I had a lot of good will built up with the wife, and decided to give it a go.

I was originally going to run a 6 Land Raider Blood Angel list - think that a heck of a lot of Land Raiders for someone to deal with in one game.  But towards the last minute - decided to go with a modified Draigo Wing'sh Grey Knight army.

Army was something like this:

2 X 5 man Paladins (apothecary and 2 Psycannons)
1 x 10 man Interceptor squad with 2 Psy's
1x10 man Purgation Squad with 4 Psy's
2 x Venerable Psy-flman Dreads

A lot of firepower - resilient in HTH - overall a pretty balanced all comers list.

My rundown:

Game 1 - vs Jason's bugs.   Was a little concerned with the matchup - I wasn't sure I could keep the bugs off me.   Worked out well though - managed to divide and conquer them pretty well.   Low point was Dreadknight dying to Hormagaunt swarm.  High point was Pally squad nuke Hive Tryrant along with Draigo single handedly taking out full squad of winged warriors and then hunting down a remaining Zoanthrope for a KP.   Got the Massacre here plus a couple bonus points for 22.

Game 2 - vs Chip's Ultramarines.   Was an interesting matchup against a well balanced Marine army.   Chip had a lot of firepower and a good HTH hammer with assault termies - led by a Libby.   First half of the game I felt like I was pulling things my way - but in late game - I needed to push forward for middle objective which was a kill zone for Chips remaining firepower + his well positioned assault marines.    I had to go forward, but in hindsight should have pushed further away to avoid the assault marines(maybe).   Chip hammered me in late game for a Major win.   Low Point - poor tactics with Interceptors - basically threw them away.   High Point - Incinerator from Dreadknight dropping two speeders with one shot.  Chip out played me and got a well deserved win - managed 3 points.

Game three vs Colin and his Guard.   I was worried some here - lots of big tanks and firepower with vendettas and Creed for a commander.  It was dawn of war and the center of the board had a nice big ruin in the middle - I got first and put both Pally's there with the Libby.   Turned out to be the key - they held the board and decided the game from there.  The rest of the game turned out to be Knights shooting down guard and making a crap ton of saves.   Pulled a major here.   High point was initial deployment a big deciding factor.  Low point was the luckiest guardsman in the world - who got to live after my demonhammer wielding Justicar wiffed in HTH.

So - was in shock when I gave Baxter my scores and he says I'm in second.  Wow!   Then my friend Dung'er comes up and gives his score - and he's massacred his guy.   We are tied on total points!   VP wise he had the edge and got second and I got third.  Chip won it all and it was well deserved.

So - at Wargames - I had great opponents, fun games, and really had a ball.   An enjoyable day that I really needed after a high level of work stress the past few weeks.  Now to see if I can swing making the second round.....

Saturday, August 6, 2011

Men playing a boys game…

Today I want to discuss an issue we all see in our game. It is one of these things that really sets me off and if you call yourself an adult it does it to you to. Just recently we had a local tournament in Cleveland TN called the Maul at the Mall. It was hosted by Dicehead Games based out of the same city. If you play tourney’s in Tennessee then you have heard about Dicehead and you know they are top notch. Forums throughout the internet hailed this as a good event with no drama. Then from out of the blue some dork posts on Blood of Kittens that there was some hometown cooking so a local could win the tourney. Now whatever it is you think about Blood of Kittens (I am not going there) this guy takes a good mauling at the hands of the people who attended the tournament and never responds again.

So last night I am at Ricks Comic City Too in Madison. Checking the store out, seeing who hangs there, doing some info gathering on Tourney they are hosting and I meet some super nice people up there. Talked to the owner of the store, very nice guy and some of the local 40k gamers there. During our conversation the guy I am talking to makes a comment about there being “no cliques in our store, we will play anyone.” This hit me from out of the blue because I know the game group I play with was being referenced. We have had issues with the mysterious clique and who the cool kids are at our local hang out and it seems word is being spread. I quickly spoke up and told the guy that we do not have cliques either and we will play anyone as well.

Now above we have two completely different incidents where problems exist or are alleged to exist. What is being done about it? Here is the part where I pull out my soap box and begin the sermon on how to be a man. I know my game group, we do have people that come to the store and play that some of our members refuse to play. Why? Is this a clique? Are there players at our local hangout that I won’t play…yep. Is it because I think I am better than they are or that they do not deserve to play me. Absolutely not.

You see here is my thing… I am an adult. I have a career, three great kids, a wonderful wife who has a career, a house , dogs, cats, debt, hobbies all of the big stuff we work hard for after we realize that college is over. I am not a judgmental person; I am person who likes the fact that people are different. Different is cool with me….to a point. Whether you know this or not when you are in a game room or at a tourney or some place where people frequent to play the game we love you are auditioning, for lack of a better word, to everyone else there. So if you act like a social retard that has no sense or hygiene or manners then chances are you are going to demonstrate to people that you may not be the most fun to play with. When you do play a game with someone for the first time do you think that maybe they are gonna talk to their friends about the game and how you acted….yes. So if you are a dork or a cheater do you not think word is gonna get around and your options suddenly become limited. Now I do not care about your past. I do not care about your issues. I do not care about your excuses. You are an adult…you are expected to act like it…even when you play a game like 40k. If you cannot do that then you will not be having a lot of fun and neither will the people that you are hanging with.

Now this is the part that pisses me off. If you are one of these guys that feels like your left out or not getting played with enough (I know that sounds bad) or people do not like you or you don’t fit in with a bunch of guys who play with little guys painted in a variety of colors…what are you gonna do about it? What typically happens is they talk to everyone else but the person they have an issue with. Or even better, they hide behind their computer screen and rage against the evil they have been dealt to a bunch of strangers on the internet. They throw little comments out to stir crap up and then never post again because that would be standing by your accusation or comment (like what I mentioned above).

Here is what needs to happen…MAN THE HELL UP. If you want to know why people don’t want to play you, man up and ask. If you think you are being treated unfairly ,man up and do something about it. How about stand face to face with the person you have an issue with and talk it out. You may not work the issue out but you know… you will have earned some respect and that is far more important than an opponent for a 40k game. If you think you need to post an issue on the internet have your crap together and defend your statement. If you think someone is cheating or playing wrong or breaking the rules or being a douche bag…man up right there and say something. Don’t wait and whine to a judge after the game is over. Call it like it is. Is this confrontational… Hell yes. Is this uncomfortable for some…sure.

Just because we love and play a kids game does not mean we forget about being adults. Talking to me goes a long way. Being man enough to bring an issue to the table goes along way. If you can’t act right and play right why am I gonna waste my time playing you. It will not be fun for either of us. Before people start talking about a clique then maybe they should start looking at themselves and then looking to fix the problem….like an adult. With our group we have the most diverse group of gamers I have ever seen. And we are very comfortable playing each other. We are not exclusive, we are here to play.