Thursday, 1 September 2016

The Dark Eldar Beaststar - we can rebuild you [40k DE]

What was the Beaststar ?
[a Beaststar gets ready to support an Eldar army, link to battle report]

A bit of history, the Beaststar came from the previous Dark Eldar codex.  In that codex you could have up to 5 beastmasters in a unit, and each beastmaster could bring 0-1 Clawed Fiend or 0-2 Razorwing Flocks or 0-5 Krymerae.  What you could do was take 5 beastmasters and 25 Krymerae to make a big fast assault unit.  Then add in the Baron, a cheap (105 points) special character who gave the unit a higher leadership (ld9), Hit and Run & Stealth.  Back then the Krymerae were only toughness 3, but sported a 4+ invulnerable save, so another buff was having a nearby farseer give them a reroll on their save making for an resilient unit with loads of wounds that could not be tied down by a blob and would kill units by the weight of attacks.

All this changed when the new codex arrived :(  The maximum size of the beastpack was changed to 12 models, although you can now freely pick any of the available models to make up the unit.  The Baron who gave the unit so many nice rules also disappeared from the codex.

Can we rebuild the Beaststar

Although we can only have 12 models in a beast pack now, we can have more than 12 wounds by using Clawed Fiends.  Clawed Fiends got a bit better and cheaper in the new codex, being a poor man's Grotesque while not requiring a transport.

Now we could go for 12 Clawed Fiends, but it costs a whopping 360 points, for 36, toughness 5, wounds.  While doable this is a huge unit before you add any characters.  Krymerae are still not bad in the new codex; they went down by 2 points each, while going up to toughness 4 for the cost of their invulnerable save going down to 5+ from 4+.  By adding in some Krymerae we can have the best of both worlds, majority toughness 5 while also have the first shots go against the Krymerae's invulnerable save.

My starter for 10 Beaststar is:
1 Beastmaster
5 Krymerae
6 Clawed Fiends
totalling 240 points, 24 wounds (majority toughness 5) and a total of 2 Str 3, 15 Str 4 & 36 Str 5 attacks on the charge.  However please note this unit is all about the charge as the Clawed Fiends have Rage.  The unit would drop to 1 Str 3, 10 Str 4 & 24 Str 5 attacks if they are charged or it is the 2nd round of a combat.

Why the beastmaster rather than a 6th Krymerae ?  It's not really for the leadership 8, its really that the three options for a decent character to join the unit is toughness 4 (see below), so having one Beastmaster keeps the majority toughness at 5 after the character joins.  Another option would be to add a 7th Clawed Fiend instead of the Beastmaster pushing the unit up to 260 points.

Leadership 8 is Not Enough

As a unit get large in size, and more importantly points value your whole game will depend on whether than unit performs well or not.  It also means it could be game over if a unit fails a critical leadership test.  For the beaststar I propose leadership 8 is not really enough.  In most games an opponent will see it as a threat and it is not that tough so it will be easy to force a morale test (4 casualties required).  In this case you can't have a nearly 1 in 3 chance that the rest of the unit will run off the board.  Leadership 9 is a minimum requirement, leadership 10 is better while being fearless is ideal.  So bare this in mind when choosing which character should be used to supplement the Beaststar.

How do Star's fail ?

When looking at what character we might want to add to the Beaststar, we have to ask what does the Beaststar really need, and what will prevent it doing well in a game.

1) As mentioned above morale is fickle thing, and you can't have so many points invested in a unit which has anything but a very small chance of running off the table due to a morale check, being fearless would be preferable.

2) Being bogged down - some armies can have fearless cheap large units which will tie up the beaststar all game, large guard blobs with 4+ inv save come to mind, or really any large unit which has had invisibility cast on it.  Alternatively they may be too tough for the beaststar to deal with, eg. thunderwolf cav.  In this case the Beaststar needs a way to get out of these bad match-ups and on to better targets.  Previously the Beaststar used the Baron who had Hit and Run, so another character with Hit and Run would be useful.  Its possible to play the Beaststar without Hit and Run, but you have to be careful not to be tied down by a bad match-up.

3) Unlike other deathstars the Beaststar is not that tough (it has lots of wounds, 24, but has very poor armour saves) so anything that can improve it's resilience would be a great help

4) The beaststar can't deal with heavy rear armour or walkers (non-walker vehicles with poor rear armour will be ripped apart by the beaststar), so anything that can help with Walkers or units with high rear armour would be nice

The Contenders

Up first we have the Eldar Autarch.  Stock he gives the Beaststar leadership 10, and helps with reserve rolls.

First upgrade you must give him is something to increase his speed.  Unlike some deathstars such as Necron Wraiths with Characters the Beaststar can not afford to be slowed down by a character with the basic 6" move.  The beaststar (and more importantly the rest of the Dark Eldar army) does not have the resilience to play the waiting game, it must rip the strategic heart of the enemy in the first 3 turns, and can not afford to play the attrition game.  Options for speed are Swooping Hawk wings, a Jetbike or a Warp Jump Generator.  I would advise against the Warp Jump generator because the Autarch would not be able to flicker jump in the Beastpack, and even if he could the unit couldn't.  Swooping Hawk Wings gives him great speed being able to move 18" in the movement phase, great for springing from the back to near the front of the unit in preparation for a charge.  However the Jetbike gives the Autarch toughness 4, the option for a very ling move of 48" if he leaves the beastpack, plus relentless allowing him to fire a heavy weapon on the move (eg. a repear missile launcher).  Ultimately it's down to your personal preference, but I would advise the Jetbike.

The Autarch can also choose more wargear to help the beastpack.  He can have a Banshee mask, meaning the unit charged can not fire overwatch at the beastpack, allowing them to easily charge units they may have worried about, eg. units with lots of shots and/or flamers, D-scythe armed wraithguard or large blobs come to mind.  The Autarch can also include include some anti tank weapons in either a fusion gun or a reaper missile launcher.  The Autarch can include some extra combat punch to unit, taking advantage of his high Weapon skill, Initiative and Attacks.  If on a bike a lance is nice, but even a basic power weapon would help against marines with their 3+ save.

Finally if you want to go the extra mile the Autarch can take the relic than makes him fearless.  However please note that with the cost of a Jetbike or Wings, a ranged weapon, a lance or a relic weapon and the cost of the Autarch can get quite costly, moving the cost of the Autarch and the Beastpack quite expensive.

When it gets to that level of points you have to ask yourself would two slightly smaller beastpacks be better than one with a Character, but that's a question for all 3 contenders.

Next up we have the Eldar Farseer.  This time we have only one option to improve his speed which is to put him on a jetbike.  Rather than some combat punch and a bit of shooting, the Farseer adds loads of support to the unit through his psychic powers.  From the basic rerolls to hit powers the Farseer can really up the surviveability of unit through castings of invisibility or the power to reroll saves which is great on the invulnerable saves of the Krymerae.

The Farseer is also good at supporting the rest of your army with his psychic powers.  Another good use of the Farseer psychic powers is using spells such as Psychic Shriek to deal with opposing units the beastpack might find differcult to kill (the beastpack will struggle against units with good and/or rerollable saves).

The Baron Rebron

The best thing about the old Baron Sathonyx was that he was cheap, and had Hit & Run, meaning it was hard to pin the beastpack down, and the distance they could travel between the end of the opponent's combat phase to the end of their next charge was phenomenal and easy to catch an opponent off guard.  The average distance was 29.5" (3D6" Hit & Run, 12" Move, 2D6 Charge).

So what character can give us Hit & Run ?  It's Baharroth "The Cry of the Wind" the Swooping Hawk Phoenix Lord.  He comes in at a very reasonable 65 points over the cost of the old Baron.  Although he doesn't have the Stealth of the Baron, he does bring toughness 4, a 2+ armour save, Eternal Warrior, a faster 18" move, and even Haywire grenades.  Baharroth also Fearless, meaning once the Beaststar can stand a round of combat without getting too depleted they can Hit & Run away (provided they don't roll a 6) and charge something else.

As I have a converted Baron model (there never was an official model) I plan to add the Autarch Swooping Wings to him, however so far my search of ebay and my usual bitz sites have turned up a blank.  I'm going to keep watching and I'm sure I'll come up with a pair of wings soon.  Below's a picture of my Baron after assembly (I suddenly realised I don't have any pictures of him painted):

Overall the three character options all add something nice to the beastpack, with each giving different benefits.  Being Eldar characters they all require a troops choice to make an Allied Detachment to keep the army bound, buts that's not hard with cheap and effective Eldar Jetbikes.  You can either go with the 3 unupgraded jetbike to do the 5th edition come from reserve to do a last turn objective hop, or for 16 points more than a dual splinter cannon venom you can upgrade the 12 poison shots to 12 str 6 shots.

This is still theory hammer at the moment, but as soon as I find some Autarch wings I'm going to slap them on my Baron, paint them up and give the new Beaststar a whirl.  They aren't as good as most tournament deathstar, eq. Necron Lychstar with associated characters or Thunderstar with friends but they can dish out the pain to most units in this shooting centric 7th edition, and plays well with the glass cannon approach of Dark Eldar.  Lastly as most people have not played against Clawed Fiends I don't some people may underestimate how hard the unit will hit.

So here's my revised Beaststar, ready for playtesting:

Phoenix Lord Baharroth "The Cry of the Wind"
5 Krymerae
7 Clawed Fiends

430 points for a fast but fragile-ish (unit that puts out on the charge 42 Str 5 attacks, 20 str 4 attacks & 5 Str4 power weapon attacks.  I think the rest of the army would need to put a bit more than usual focus on low ap weapons and anti tank to face walkers, Imperial Knights, Wraithknights, Stormsurges etc., but nearly everything else can taken care of by the Beaststar or avoided while the Beaststar takes apart the rest of the enemy army.

Do you think this unit could work ?  Is it viable in a casual or competitive setting ? What do you see as its biggest weaknesses ?  I'd love to hear your thoughts on the unit.


Monday, 25 July 2016

Barracuda vs Barracuda - FIGHT [40k Tau]

This morning the Forgeworld newletter gave some welcome news if you have any Forgeworld flyers or are thinking of getting any.  Not only did they release the initial experimental rules for the Tau Barracuda AX-5-2, but they also released an update for all forgeworld flyers giving them Combat Roles (including 3 new forgeworld specific combat roles), Pursuit and Assault values (link here).  Three flyers even got updated dataslates.

One of the interesting points on the flyer update is that the Barracuda and the Barracuda AX-5-2 are listed separately, which is strange since the original Barracuda is out of production now.

So what are the major changes with the AX-5-2 ?  Its a more hefty flyer being just over a third more expensive at base costs, but most of that increase will be coming from the fact that the AX-5-2 is 3 hull points against the 2 on the original Barracuda.  However would you rather have one of the new Barracuda or one of the old ones AND a Forgeworld Tetra for the same cost is a close call.

Weapon Loadout

Weapon wise the Barracuda AX-5-2 has very versatile weapon options.  The main gun on the original Barracuda was an Ion Cannon, while on the AX-5-2 starts with Heavy Burst Cannon and can swap it for a Barracuda Ion Cannon for free or pay 20 points to upgrade to a Swiftstrike Railgun.  The big thing for me is that the Barracuda Ion Cannon does not have the option to overcharge to get a Str8 AP3 large blast.  The Heavy Burst Cannon has twice the shots of the Ion Cannon, but the Str and AP is one worse and the range is a paltry 24" which is a pain on a flyer which moves so fast, and ideally wants its first shot at long range so it doesn't overshoot some potential targets the following turn.  The Swiftstrike Railgun is a Hammerhead railgun with half the range and no option for a Submunition round; a very nice option to be able to target flyers.  Overall I think the Ion Cannon is the best overall, but with the option to take secondary weapons to match the main weapons it opens up plenty of valid options,
The secondary weapons start as Long Barreled Burst Cannons, a nice upgrade over the original Barracuda's standard burst cannons with 2 extra shots each and twice the range. The burst cannons can be upgraded to standard Cyclic Ion Blasters.  A interesting note is that the Cyclic Ion Blasters are not long barreled like the burst cannons (so are restricted to the short 18" range), plus they are the standard Cyclic Ion Blasters from the Tau codex so can be overcharged (unlike the new Barracuda's Ion Cannon).

When I used to play with my Barracuda it wasn't impossible to get the 18" range burst cannons into range, but there were definitely times when when the Ion Cannon and Missile Pods best targets were outside the 18" range of the burst cannons.  With the new Barracuda's burst cannons having a long range it will nearly always be firing, and 12 extra shots is nothing to sniff about and probably makes up for the Ion Cannon not having a large blast option.  However the cyclic ion blaster does give some more high strength shots giving the option of having the Barracuda with all strength 7 or higher shots, becoming a very good anti tank and/or anti flier solution.  If you didn't want the option of a str 10 shot having an Ion Cannon and 2 cyclic Ion Blasters would give the Barracuda 11 (!!) str 7 shots.  The ultimate anti tank option is the Swiftstrike Railgun and Cyclic Ion Blasters, but that options starts getting expensive at an extra 30 points of ever the base AX-5-2, and pushes the cost of the Barracuda past 200 points.

So what loadout is "Ergonomically Terrific" ?

Overall I think the old Barracuda loadout of Ion Cannon and 2 Burst Cannons is the best general option for the new Barracuda.  You lose the option of the ion cannon large blast but you have more shots from the burst cannon that will be in range nearly all the time.

However the great thing about the new Barracuda is that they are very worthwhile alternative options.  You can go with loads of shots with 20 shots from heavy burst cannon, 2 long barreled burst cannons & missile pod, or you can go very anti tank with Swiftstrike Railgun, 2 Cyclic Ion Blasters, Missile Pod and Seeker Missiles.  Therefore choosing the right load-out will depend on the rest of your army, and what gap needs filling most.
Anything Else ?

The new Barracuda also has a few extra things over it's predecessor.  The new Barracuda has picked up Strafing Run, which means with it's combat role of Strike Fighter and its BS4 it can be hitting a great many land units on 2+.  It also has Dispersion Shield which gives it an invulnerable save against glancing (5+) and penetrating hits (6+), however because it has the Agile rule the Barracuda is likely to Jink if it is the target of any decent firepower for a 3+ cover save.


The new Barracuda is a very nice upgrade over the old one,  The biggest point being the increase in hull points from 2 to 3, but the extra weapon options gives it great versatility and allows you to make the Barracuda a better fit for your army.

Previously when I used the Barracuda it was a mainly ground attack craft, and the main threat was the large blast of the overcharged ion cannon, but what I particularly like is the extra range and shots on the burst cannons, meaning the previous load-out now gives 17 shots all at a range of 36" (or greater), and if you're concerned about heavy armour you can either upgrade the burst cannons to cyclic ion blasters for short range destruction and/or add on seeker missiles for longer ranged str8 firepower.

Overall a very nice addition to the Tau arsenal :)

Friday, 13 May 2016

The Barracuda is Back [40k Tau]

[The new Forgeworld Tau Barracuda]

The Tau Forgeworld Barracuda has been out of stock for sometime.  I've got a barracuda myself, and much preferred it both aesthetically and tactically compared to our codex flyers.  It was part of my tournament army for a while, but has fallen out of favour since the new codex dropped last year.

Then out of the blue it's announced on the Forgeworld blog (link here) that a new Barracuda will be available at Warhammer Fest.  The Barracuda shares the same shape as the original, but takes some of the design elements of its larger cousin, the Tiger Shark, shown here:
The upturned wing edges (winglets) on the new Barracuda are nice, but personally I'm not totally sold on the vertical stabilisers at the back, but I'm sure lots of people will like them and prefer them to the fragile antennae on the Tiger Shark and the original Barracuda.

As if that wasn't enough the new Barracuda also comes with different weapon options:
As well as having the classic Ion Cannon and drone controlled Burst Cannons, the Ion Cannon can be swapped for a Long-Barrelled Burst Cannon or a Railgun, while the Burst Cannons on the wings can be swapped for Cyclic Ion Blasters.  It'll be interesting to see the points costs of these upgrades and whether the Barracuda's base cost will stay the same.

The original Barracuda was definitely best against Infantry, but with the addition of the weapon options it can fulfill more roles.  With a Railgun, Cyclic Ion Blasters and Seeker Missiles it can really fulfill an anti tank and/or anti air role (depending on it's aircraft designation follow the Death from the Skies supplement).  I'm tempted with a flexible role with an Ion Cannon & Cyclic Ion Blasters.  With the addition of the Missile Pod that the previously Barracuda had (and from the picture looks like it still has) that would give it 11 Str 7 shots with the option of exchanging 9 of those shots for a large blast & 2 small blasts at str 8 (although with the Gets Hot rule).

I can't wait to see the rules for the model, as it'll be interesting to see whether it stays as a 2 hull point flyer or whether it is upgraded to 3 hull points as it's bigger (and much bulkier) than the codex flyers.

What do you think of the new Barracuda ?  Will you be retro fitting an existing model or are you tempted to buy one of the new models ?


Friday, 15 April 2016

Adepticon 2016 Meta - A follow up look at the Meta after LVO [40k]

So it's only 2 months since the LVO, and another one of the large US tournaments has come round, this time Adepticon.  Adepticon has different comp to the LVO, in that it basically doesn't have any, so you can unleash unrestricted D, unrestricted Invisibility and as many detachments as you want.  I was interested to see if two things had happened:

  • Would this change the top armies much ?
  • Would there be an improvement in the Performance and a narrowing of the spread of performance for Tau & Necrons (which had rather larger spreads of performance in my analysis of the LVO, here, than I expected.
What intrigued me to do another analysis was two comments that I read/heard in passing about the event.  One was while watching Reece Robbins (of Frontline Gaming who run the LVO) explaining that his list for LVO was not good against Tau because he was not expecting there to be many Tau at the event because of the format.  Now I now Tau don't have psykers so can't have or fight against full Invisibility too well, plus their D weapons are limited on 4 one shot weapons that need markerlights to be D on one model in the Tau range, but they are still a good army.

The second comment game from the Blood of Kittens review of the event. here, where they said:
"If you take a look at the lists you will notice one army dominated over the rest: Eldar. Eldar have seven spots in the Top 18 and a few more Eldar shoehorned into other lists! All the Eldar lists had at least one Wraithknight and Scatbike units. Adepticon has full powered D Weapons, so with Eldar having the easiest access this wasn’t a surprise. Still, this is amazingly dominate army, the only other time I can remember an army performing so well was the Grey Knights  at the end of 5th edition. What is impressive are Eldar don’t have any way to get free upgrades or units, they don’t seem to need it. Unless future army rules find a way to easily kill Warp Spiders and Scatbikes I don’t expect Eldar domination to end anytime soon" - now Eldar were already dominate at LVO, but this sounded like they did even better, so was this an exageration or did Eldar really improve in their performance, I thought that with more time people would get better at fighting Eldar, so while good players would still very well with the army they wouldn't dominate as much as they had.

Also Blood of Kittens hosts, here, all the top 18 lists if you want to look at the actual lists of the top players.

Ok, so on to the number crunching to see what happened (but before we do I refer you to my last article, here, where I included some of the limitations of any number crunching):

First lets start out with the number of players, by primary detachment, and I think they changed the primary detachment to the detachment with the most points rather than where the warlord was:

For this analysis I'm only going to look at armies which had 7 or more entries.  I would normally have cut off at a higher number, but I wanted to include Necrons in the analysis.  Just missing the cut were Dark Eldar and Khorne Daemonkin at 6 players each.

Eldar in this tournament have surpassed Vanilla marines as the top army, however when you add in marines in all their varieties Marines are still the most popular, however for nearly 1 in 4 armies to be Eldar is a huge number for them (and a massice jump from the LVO where they were 1 in 7 of the armies).  It also shows that the numbers per army start to drop off very fast.  After Tau, Space Wolves & Daemons you're down to under 10 entrants.

So how did the armies perform ?  Again I would look at average placings, but then also compare the number of placings in the top 50 and top 30, and compare that to how many players for each army there were:
[Click on the pic to view a bigger, more readable view]
Although they are small samples, Dark Angels and Daemons came top, followed by what I think are the top 4 armies at the moment, Eldar, Marines, Necrons & Tau.  However the average placing for Eldar is significantly lower than the rest, and this born out when we look at comparing the portion of armies in the top 50 or 30 compared to the full list, eg. Eldar made up 23% of their field, but 42% of the top 50 players.  A killer stat is that apart from Dark Angels and Daemons which had a small number of entrants the only army to have an average placing in the top half was Eldar, the nearest to them, Marines, having an average placing 30 places down just below the mid point.

However is this better than Eldar did before ?  Due to the small size of Adepticon, the top 50 at LVO is comparable to the top 30 at Adepticon.  Looking at the top 30 at Adepticon Eldar were 1.57 more represented than they were in the general field, compared to looking at the top 50 at LVO Eldar were 1.55 more represented than the general field.

One thing that has changed is the spread of the armies performance, particularly Eldar:
The performance spread is much closer between the armies.  This stat shows how spread out the results of the army were.

The real oddity is Tau with a more narrow spread of results, particularly when you consider that their average placing is just below the middle (103rd against a middle of 92nd).  I have some theoryhammer ideas as to why, but would love to read your ideas as well.  Are Tau handily beating some opponents, but then coming up with things that they just can't beat ?  Is it Invisibility and Psychic Shriek ?  Is it rerollable cover saves ?  Or just the good old fashioned fast assault threats ?  Is it the mission requiring very mobile armies while Tau players are sticking to maximum firepower and ignoring mobility ?  Or maybe a combination of all of this ?

So overall it looks like Eldar are getting even more popular at tournaments.  The top four strongest armies are still Eldar, Marines, Necrons and Tau, however there are some less popular armies that are still doing very well, such as Dark Angels & Daemons (plus Khorne Daemonkin & Cult Mech).

The increase in the spread of the performance of Eldar, in my opinion, means that while players are learning to beat the poor Eldar players and/or those with less optimised lists, when facing good players with optimised lists it's still really hard (not impossible) to win.

Does this follow your idea of where the meta is, and which are the strongest codexes ?  What's your thoughts on Tau's average performance (10% of the field yet only 7% of the top 30, a drop of a third).  Yes I know a lot of armies do make the top 30 at all, but why is an army that is seem as so strong not doing better ?  It was interesting to note that Frankie (of Frontline Gaming) switched from his tournament winning Tau to a Gladius Strike Force with a Culexus Assassin & Inquisitor with Servo Skulls for this event, is Tau not quite cutting it when it comes to the big competitive tournaments ?.


Friday, 8 April 2016

Tidewall Gunrig Unboxing & Assembly


After a one day small tournament with my Tau I was tweaking my army list, and I wasn't sure what to spend the last 100 points on.  I was tempted with putting a heavy railrifle armed broadside in, but I already had a few broadsides in the list, and wanted something different.

My army list did have a problem with av14 (av13 was normally torrented down with lots of str7 tank hunter), so I thought I'd add a Gunrig.  It costs the same points as a defense line with a lascannon (or slightly below a defense line with a guad autocannon):
The Tidewall Gunrig can't protect as many models as a defense line but it can move 6" a turn if there's no enemy or terrain to block it.  The railgun is better than a lacannon, but lacks skyfire and interceptor.  Initially there was uproar when the Tau terrain pieces were released, but I think things have died down when they never appeared in every tournament list like some people were saying they would.

The big weakness of the Gunrig is that like the Quadgun on the defense line it only counts as 2 wounds at toughness 7 with a 3+ save, and although you can't destroy the drone base the railgun is quite easily to kill.  This I saw in the first battle report I saw the Gunrig in, it was blown off 1st turn before it got to fire.  However in another (this time written) battle report I heard Darkstrider used the railgun to instant kill a Hive Tyrant (Darkstrider has a rule that anything he or his unir fires at is -1 toughness and that this affects instant death).  I think those two examples show what the Gunrig will be like, a bit hit and miss, but overall fair for its cost.

Anyone onto my wonderful purchase, because at the end of the day what tipped me into buying it is that it looks stunning (as terrain pieces go):

Opening the box, along with the sprues:

it was nice to see that the rules for the Gunrig did indeed some in the box, particularly as I did not have the rules for it as I bought just the new codex (rather than the Kauyon suppliment):

The instructions were clear, and the Gunrig came together very quickly and easily.  I was very interested in how many models could fit on the Gunrig.  I was a bit disappointed when I put my Commander that I'm painting on the Gunrig base:

Yep definitely not even fitting my broadside unit with 2 broadsides and 4 missile on the gunrig.  I was even concerned that if my fire warriors were the full 12 in a squad whether they would all fit on the Gunrig.  I was considering putting my Sniper Drones team on the Gunrig, but the Gunrig would not be able to move unless the whole squad could fit on the Gunrig.  Here's two pics of my commander on and next to the Gunrig after it's assembled (apologies for the dark pics):

As you can see the commander takes up most of the space on the Gunrig, meaning the Gunrig is more for the infantry rather than the suits.

Against a smart opponent I think the Gunrig will die very quickly if there's anything in the enemy army that the Railgun would be a threat to, but the Tidewall Drone would still be useful for letting an objective secured kroot unit go to ground for a 2+ cover save while the Drone moves them 6" a turn.  However for that the cheaper Droneport would be a better option:
The Tidewall Gunrig, along with the Droneport and Shieldwall all look really nice, and I can't wait to get mine painted up and have some games with it.  Better pictures will follow once I've painted up my Gunrig (and Commander).

Have you been tempted with any of the new terrain ?  I'm tempted with the Droneport.


Friday, 12 February 2016

LVO Results - A chance to look at the 40k meta (Beware: Mild Number Crunching)

The LVO (Las Vegas Open) Results are out, and as it's one of (if not the) largest tournaments in the world it's always nice to crunch the numbers and see does the meta of that tournament follow our thinking of which armies are the top dog.

First some pretty huge caveats:

  • This is one tournament, and even if it is large it is still a small sample size as any statistician would tell you.
  • With most tournaments having comp that will always change slightly which armies are good, with some armies being able to adjust to the comp better than others.  For the comp in this tournament, please look up the ITC (Independent Tournament Circuit) Rules
  • Results can be skewed by several factors, eg. some people do not complete all their games leading to them having a lower placing than someone who does complete all their games, an army's primary detachment may be a very small portion of the overall army.
So while we should treat all such analysis with a pinch of salt, hopefully the above factors in some cases even themselves out with a large number of competitors.

The full results of the tournament can be found here.

So lets start off my with my predictions (honest I did these before the analysis):

  • All the analysis tables will be dominated by the top 4 Codexs (Eldar, Necrons, Marines for which I include Dark Angels & and finally Tau), ie. the recent codexs with Decurian type detachments (although in the case of Eldar I think their detachment is not their strength, which I think is the base unit cost of their units meaning a CAD with an allied Aspect Host(s) being very powerful for them.  Mainly the top 4 are the most recent codexs
  • They will be some placings for some armies, such as Daemons & Khorne Daemonkin, but the results will show the rest of the codexs are definitely chasing the top 4 in terms of performance, however good generals can get good results.
  • The last stat I like to do, which shows how widespread an armies results are, which to me shows how much a good or bad general can influence the army, I'm not to sure on what this will show.  People like to say that anyone can win with Eldar, but to me they are becoming (like Marines) an army that everyone knows because they are so powerful and becoming so popular.  When I'm playing my Necrons or Tau I feel I know the Eldar better than my opponents know Tau or Necrons and that I have less to fear if I'm playing a worse player.  However in general I still see Eldar smash average generals with average armies whoever they are piloted by.  I think Marines will still have a wide spread of results as they are a popular army and many beginners start with them.
Well onto the stats, and lets take a look at army popularity:
Well no surprises here with my view of the top armies dominated both the field and also the top 50 placings.  A shout out to Dark Angels which got 10% of the top 50 placings while being only 4% of the field.

A stat that starts to shows the power of a codex is to look at how much more they factor in the Top 50 compared to the overall field.  If we ignore the armies with less than 10 armies, we get the following table:
A bit of a surprise (for me anyway) with Dark Angels topping the list, I suppose I need to pay more attention to them.  Apart from that things were as expected apart from Marines, which had nearly the same percentage in the top 50 as they had in the entire field.  Cult Mech and Nids also did well (however the Nids sample is very small, eg. it could have been just 2 armies with loads of Flying Hive Tyrants making the top 50, which would say much for the rest of the codex).

Now lets look at the average placing:
Eldar still dominate along with Marines, Tau & Necrons, but Cult Mech gets a good showing.  I particularly like to look at the stats for the top 50, as this shows what a good general can get out of the army, and also gets rid of the newer players bringing marines.  This brings up a few things, first being the Necrons did very well in the top 50 along with Daemons (although a very small number, 3, made the top 50).  The Chaos Marines, Nids and Daemons armies indicate that is may have been a very specific build that made the top 50 as the overall performance of the three armies was very low.

And now we come to the last stat, which tries to represent the spread of the armies.  To calculate this I looked at each player and how far their position is away from the average for their army, and then divide this by the number of players.  Again just looking at the armies which had 10 or more entrants we get the following table:

At the top of the list we have the armies which had the narrowest spread in the army placings.  In the case of the top three I think it's because it's hard (not impossible) to place in such a competitive field regardless of how good a general you are.  Another view could be that people who take the weaker armies are there more to have fun and socialise, my counter is that even if you are there to have fun and socialise a good general should do better than a worse, and although this is true with these weaker armies it isn't as much as other armies.

Next we have Cult Mech and Eldar.  It may be controversial to some, but it can be hard to pick a weak list for Eldar once you don't pick silly choices, a complaint I've even heard from Eldar players trying to tone down their list when playing against some of the lower tier armies.

Next we have the middle of the road (in terms of spread), here we have Space Marines (being a very popular first army, so can have lots of newer players as well as experienced players), Daemons & Dark Angels.

Lastly we have a big surprise, in the bottom three we have both Tau and Necrons, which had bigger spread of performance than the average, only beaten by Nids.  The new Tau codex might have had an impact with people trying out the new toys and formations, and not having enough practice time with them, but the Necrons is definitely a surprise.  My only idea is that Necrons can be a win big or lose big army, in that they are very resistant to most shooting, but can be susceptible to some types of firepower and can get sweep easily in close combat.  Examples include a Cavalry and Beasts Space Wolf army could go throw a Necron force like a knife through butter, sprinkle in some allied firepower or a Knight and it could be very tough prospect for a Necron force.  Even though these two armies being low on the spread chart is surprising, and I'm sure the Tau will improve as people get used to the new options in the new codex, or maybe even realise that some of the old ones are still good (I'm doing well and i haven't built my Ghstkeel yet or even purchased a Stormsurge)..

So did anything surprise you ?  Why do you think Tau & Necrons had such a huge spread (I may expand on my thoughts in a future post) ?  Personally I'm going to have another look at the Cult Mech codex and the nasty formation that combined Cult Mech with Skitarii and Imperial Knights.

Lastly this was the meta at this one tournament, and is irrelevant for your local meta, and more importantly the group of mates you play with.  The meta in the UK will be different, the meta in the north US, the meta in the next tournament will be different, however I think it does give an indicator of what codexs are the most powerful, and wasn't toooo far out on my initial predictions, but even I will be doing a bit more research to be more familiar with Dark Angels and Cult Mech.


Monday, 8 February 2016

Curse of the Wulfen - New Rules and Codex


We now have an onslaught of information about the new Space Wolves rules in the Curse of the Wulfen supplement, due to a teaser video which allows us to see the rules of the new formtions, plus confirmation on a new codex, which is a digital only.  Also here I'm going to touch on two of the new entries; the Iron Priest's updated rules and the Wolfkin (a new formation for fenrusian wolves).

The teaser video can be seen here, and someone has kindly freeze framed and captured the images on Imgur here, which makes it possible to click on each image and zoom in slightly to read the rules.

Other information that has come out yesterday is a pre-order on Black Library for the Space Wolf Codex: Wulfen Edition (link here).  This codex is a digital only exclusive, and takes the existing Space wolf codex and adds the new Curse of the Wulfen Space Wolf rules, including all the new dataslates and formations.

This would make this the cheapest way to get access to the new Space Wolf rules, with the tablet (android) edition being £22.

All this information gives us a very good idea of what the Space Wolves are getting rules wise:
  • 7 New Formations
  • 4 New Dataslates, for Wulfen, Wolf Lord Krom, plus updated rules for Ulrik and the Iron Priest
  • 6 New Great Company Formations
  • A "Decirion" style detachment called the Wolf Claw's Strike Force

The Great Company formations are a bit big, requiring a large number of units, however they do not require the specific Wolf Lord, and can instead be run by a Wolf Guard Battle Leader.  Some of the benefits are quite good (eg. units get free drop pods and they all come in turn 1, or units can disembark after a vehicle has moved 12"), but I'll have to look at them more closely to see if they are worth the heafty points investment, and can compare them to the straight forward but very nice +1 WS for Wolf Guard and Thunderwolf Cav from the Champions of Fenris' detachment (Company of the Great Wolf).

I now want to look at two of the updates close to my heart, first up the Iron Priest.

Iron Priest Update

The first thing you notice is that he has gone up 20 points, but then you notice that he has moved from Elites to HQ, and that his stats have improved.  As well as his WS increasing to 5 he also has doubled in wounds to 2 and gained a point of leadership.  The extra wound is huge, plus the extra WS will come into effect often, overall very much worth the 20 point increase.  His change also puts the Iron Priest in even more direct competition with the Wolf Guard Battle Leader.  The Iron Priest is 25 points more, but comes with a Thunderhammer and Servo arm for weapons, plus having Runic armour, while having one less Initiative (nearly irrelevant when using a Thunderhammer).

A Wolf Guard Battle Leader with a Powerfist and Runic Armour is 100 points.  Both Strike at Initiative 1 with their weapons, the Wolf Guard Battle Leader, and they have the same attacks in combat because although the Wolf Guard Battle Leader has one extra attack on his profile the Iron Priest's Thunderhammer and Servo Arm are both specialist weapons so can be used together to get +1 attack.

The move from Elites to HQ is an issue for people using the Company of the Great Wolf detachment from the Champions of Fenris supplement which requires 2 Elite units.  Previously the Iron Priest was the go to option.  Luckily the new Wulfen unit is an Elites slot to help here.

The other big changes to the Iron Priest is the cost of Cyberwolves.  Previously they were 15 points each, but now they have significantly increased to 25 points stayed the same.

As pointed out by aracersss in the comments section Cyberwolves have not changed in cost - I looked to quickly at a slightly blurred number :(  So every thing is as usual and I think cyberwolves will still be joining Iron Priests in battle

One of the main uses for an Iron Priest was to mount him on a thunderwolf, give him 4 cyberwolves and join him to a thunderwolf cavalry unit, giving them a 2+ save tanker with some ablative wounds to Look Out Sir any nasty hits to.  Now I've been correctly informed that cycberwolves are still 15 points this tactic will be sure to continue :)

It's quite ironic when my painting table has 4 (high elf) lions for cyberwolves, which will quickly be reassigned as leaders of fenrusian wolf packs or character fenrusian wolves:

Wolfkin Formation

One of the unintended ways that formations are great is that they gets units out of a CAD's (or simular detachment's) limit on particluar slots, eg. in my necron army I use a Havest and Destroyer Cult formations, effectively using 5 Fast Attack slots which would not be possible in a normal CAD (Combined Arms Detachment).

At the moment I use Thunderwolf Cav, Fenrusian Wolves & Skyclaws (I know, but I like them) as my 3 Fast Attack units, this formation would free up a Fast Attack slot to allow me the option of putting in a second Thunderwolf Cav unit (or splitting up the existing one into two units).  So how good is the formation ?

It consists of 2-5 Fenrusian Wolf units, which is quite flexible as they can come in units of anywhere from 5 to 15.  They gain Monster Hunter, which is ok, but their low strength will make them struggle against most monstrous creatures.  They gain Outflank, I've never been too much of a fan, but 5 wolves to gain line breaker might be useful.

The big benefit is that the units can all join together to form an Alpha Pack, and additionally when they do they all get +1 attack if the units if 20 models or more.  Now keeping this unit over 20 models will be hard if the enemy fires at them, as they only have a 6+ save, but it will force the enemy to choose between them and the thunderwolves.

I already use a max size unit of fenrusian wolves with Canis, who boosts the fenrusian wolves in two ways already.  When he's with them they reroll to hit in the first round of combat, plus (because of his warlord trait) he gives them furious charge if he's within 12" at the start of the assault phase).  I was thinking Canis with 5 units of 5 wolves, which would give 100 attacks, rerolling to hit, at Str5.  Now this will rarely happen, what opponent wouldn't put some fire into such a large unit ?  Killing 7 models would reduce all the remaining models attacks by 1 each.  However a swarm of 8 point models can be underestimated in both their hitting power and speed compared with other threats like a drop podded Murderfang, Thunderwolf Cavalry, and even Assault Marines accompanied by a Iron Priest on a Thunderwolf.  I just have to paint up some more fenrusian wolves, and unfotunately I use old Khorne hound models for mine, but I think I have a few more lying around.

[My "Fenrusian Wolves" can be seem on the right of the pic]

So overall there's lots to take in with the new information about the Space Wolves release, and I'm looking forward to having a more in depth look at all the other formations.

What part of the Space Wolf release is most exciting for you ?  Which models are looking forward to getting on the battlefield ?


Post Edited 8th Feb to correct the cost of the cyberwolves for the Iron Priest


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