Oct 29, 2012

Versus Cynicism Part 3: Adapting to Sixth with Defensive Drop Pods

With the new edition and the new FAQ there are a few changes that we need to deal with when building or adjusting Drop Pod lists into the new edition. Yes, the changes do upset what we normally look at when designing Defensive Drop Pod lists. Yes, we do have to deal with some problems. No, it is not difficult.

Probably the most distinct change that we face has been the new Drop Pod Assault rules. No longer can we deny kill points to our opponent for several turns; now we have boots on the ground at the beginning of turn one. However, this is overall a positive change as there are general advantages to lists taking one or more Drop Pods as supplemental units (no fear of waiting until turn five for one), and it is not the most harm the DDP lists will suffer from the changes, not even close.

That honor goes to the BRB and the general reserve changes. Not counting units that have to go in reserve, we can only reserve half of our units. With required HQ choices, that provides a particular problem, as the Emperor’s Champion is one and the Warlord is two, we will have to deploy one of them as normal at least. Having to leave a scant few units on the field to get immediately killed by our opponent?


But there is one final major change to the Reserve rules that should be mentioned. The obvious 3+ reserve rolls on turns 2 and 3, automatic turn 4. This is basically the same as the new Drop Pod Assault rules in that we get our pods down sooner, so we have to come to grips with the fact that we need to be more killy and less denial, and that means almost a total refocus in our design philosophy from last edition.

But never fear for not all of these changes are for the worse. Some of them will actually benefit us while others will simply need to be adapted to (in a new edition? *gasp*) and I am sure that the DDP list will stay a strong list when we get through this time of change.

First off, the new Drop Pod Assault Rules are an awesome change. Not in every way, but in one particular way: you choose which half comes down on turn 1. With our new focus on a killing list instead of a denial list, this is absolutely superb. Can you imagine how much more control you now have? With a Drop Pod list at that! Before, controlling the battlefield was one of the greatest strengths of the list archetype, and now we are so much better at it. That single change may alone counteract the downsides of coming onto the field sooner, vehicles exploding more easily, and being forced to have units on the field at first.

Do you think I’m exaggerating? Take Marshal Learoth’s DDP list from 5th edition. One Crusader Squad and all of his distraction units can come down. Or, if he wants to keep some distraction units for later need, he can keep any or all of them back and just drop down more Crusader Squads. Hell, he could change things up each time and customize which units come down depending on what he’s facing and how they are deployed. 

An assault-based army? Crusader Squads scattered around in the back and maybe a Command Squad or two to snipe the more dangerous vehicles; when his opponent has spread out some to deal with where everything is, drop the Dreadnoughts to kill things piece-meal.

A parking lot? Dreadnoughts and Command Squads right next to them to start the destruction, leaving most of the Scoring units safely in reserve until the most threatening guns are dealt with.

A Mobile Mechanized army? Dreadnoughts and Command Squads to kill the lead vehicles and hem them in with vehicle hulls, killing much of their effectiveness before your Scoring units arrive.

Infantry Horde? Make sure that you get your Dreadnoughts in first to funnel them and then bring in your Command Squads later to target those funnel points.

Deep Striking Land Raiders? Keep the Command Squads in reserve to answer the threat.

And let’s be clear: you could never do this on purpose before! Sure, you would likely get a mostly even split, but you were forced to use what you got; now you can customize. To further emphasize this (because it needs it), you can’t even do this with normal lists. Yes, now Drop Pod lists are better able to respond to whatever enemy you face than any other list. (Take that, supposed codex creep!)

But those are only examples from Marshal Learoth’s DDP list, which needed to focus on having lots of similar units to ensure that you would get what you needed. Since we know that we will get what we need anyway, a number of options open up to us.

Crusader Squads don’t have to be all equipped the same anymore. You could give some anti-vehicle weapons and some anti-infantry weapons. You could decide that you generally want two of them to land in the back and grab objectives; give them Lascannons or Missile Launchers. You may decide that you want to have only one Command Squad with Meltaguns and one with Plasma Guns because you only expect to need to immediately deal with a single heavy vehicle at a time. You may even have a mix of Assault Cannons and Multi-Meltas on your Dreadnoughts for the same reason. Or you may decide to take Terminators instead of Dreadnoughts and just put Teleport Homers on your 
Castellans (so you won’t scatter because Terminators can no longer take Drop Pods).

And we still function much like a Kill-Point denial list. The tactics don’t fundamentally change, as you still need distraction units and they still function the same. These are still Defensive Drop Pod lists, and they still function in much the same way as long as you adapt them to be now better.

However, not all is well the new edition. As I have said before, anti-infantry firepower will be more prevalent due to the nerf to vehicles. I still believe that this is 100% true based on my few 6th edition games and the same reasoning I had before, and we will need to take steps to deal with it, namely having more bodies. I’m not a huge fan of max-bodies, but frankly 5-man Crusader Squads just aren’t what they used to be (lol) and Drop Pods don’t protect as well as they used to. So I think that it will be necessary to have at least close to a full accompaniment of Neophytes, bringing up the cost of each Crusader Squad by 50 points (40 for the one with the Emperor’s Champion in it) and 64 for the Command Squads.

Unfortunately, that means that we would need to drop two-to-three Crusader Squads from typical DDP lists, and that just isn’t a very good idea (and does not conform to my 4+ Crusader Squads requirement for the next few list articles that I have). So let’s compromise what we need with what we can have to keep us at the correct number of points.

Converting my own Drop Pod list shouldn’t be too difficult, that would be my tournament goal list which will be updated once this article is posted, so here is the original for reference:

Emperor’s Champion: Vow (Abhor the Witch…), -110
Marshal: Bolter, Krak Grenades; Command Squad (5): Bolters, 2 Meltaguns, Apothecary; Drop Pod; -228              
Castellan: Bolter, Meltabombs; Command Squad (5): Bolters, 2 Meltaguns, Apothecary; Drop Pod; -216
Dreadnought: Multi-Melta, DCCW, Heavy Flamer, Extra Armor; Drop Pod; -160
Dreadnought: Multi-Melta, DCCW, Heavy Flamer, Extra Armor; Drop Pod; -160
Dreadnought: Multi-Melta, DCCW, Heavy Flamer, Extra Armor; Drop Pod; -160
Crusader Squad (5): Bolters, Multi-Melta, Plasma Gun; Drop Pod; -126
Crusader Squad (5): Bolters, Multi-Melta, Plasma Gun; Drop Pod; -126
Crusader Squad (5): Bolters, Multi-Melta, Plasma Gun; Drop Pod; -126
Crusader Squad (5): Bolters, Multi-Melta, Plasma Gun; Drop Pod; -126
Crusader Squad (5): Bolters, Multi-Melta, Plasma Gun; Drop Pod; -126
Crusader Squad (5): Bolters, Multi-Melta, Plasma Gun; Drop Pod; -126
Land Speeder: Typhoon Missile Launcher, Heavy Bolter, -70
Land Speeder: Typhoon Missile Launcher, Heavy Bolter, -70
Land Speeder: Typhoon Missile Launcher, Heavy Bolter, -70
So what are we going to do? Why, we’re going to make the Dreadnoughts dedicated to anti-infantry and anti-light mech while we trim down the Marshal and Castellan to have no equipment to save points. Then we will see how large the Squads are if we drop one Crusader Squad and if we drop two.
Changing the Dreadnoughts to have Assault Cannons instead of Multi-Meltas gives us 30 points, and we get 24 points shaved off of the Commanders. Dropping one Crusader Squad gives us 180 points to spend on extra bodies. (I like the Multi-Melta/Plasma Gun combination for the Crusader Squads, so we’re keeping that for now.) One extra body for every remaining squad would be two Initiates and five Neophytes, which would cost 82 points. We can do that twice for 164 points and get another Initiate somewhere.
That’s pretty good, but what if we dropped another Crusader Squad? That would instead give us 306 points to spend on extra bodies and +1 for every remaining squad would only cost 72 points. Do that four times and we have 18 points left (Initiate and Krak Grenades on a Castellan). That would put us at nearly full in every squad.
But a question arises. A good rule of thumb is to spend about 40% of your points on Troops, as in the past that has seemed to give us enough without having spent too much on the less deadly units in most circumstances. Granted, that was last edition, but as far as I can tell, 40% will still be a good amount for Troops; so let’s consider that.
With the original list, 38% of the points were spent on Troops. Dropping one Crusader Squad puts it at 37%, and dropping two puts it at only 34%. Obviously, this could be amended by dropping a few of the Initiates out of the Command Squads in favor of putting them in the Crusader Squads and I might be inclined to do that, except that only dropping one Crusader Squad will leave me with 7 man squads which should be sufficient and less vulnerable to AP 4 and Blasts/Templates.
By dropping only one Crusader Squad I also end up with a loose sixteen points which I could use for either an Initiate but I think instead I will give my Warlord a Storm Shield and a Bolter to make him more durable. But there is another change we can make. Switch two of the Crusader Squads to have Missile Launchers instead of Multi-Meltas and we can put them in the back to guard objectives and provide some fire-support (again, either on turn one or sometime later, depending on what I need). It’s tempting to exchange those Missile Launchers and Plasma Guns for Lascannons, but I think we have enough low-AP fire at closer ranges already, so I’ll keep those Frag Missiles available.
And here is what the final list looks like:
Emperor’s Champion: Vow (Abhor the Witch…), -110
Castellan (Warlord): Bolter, Storm Shield; Command Squad (7): Bolters, 2 Meltaguns, Apothecary; Drop Pod; -258           
Castellan; Command Squad (7): Bolters, 2 Meltaguns, Apothecary; Drop Pod; -242
Dreadnought: Assault Cannon, DCCW, Heavy Flamer, Extra Armor; Drop Pod; -150
Dreadnought: Assault Cannon, DCCW, Heavy Flamer, Extra Armor; Drop Pod; -150
Dreadnought: Assault Cannon, DCCW, Heavy Flamer, Extra Armor; Drop Pod; -150
Crusader Squad (5/2): Bolters, Shotguns, Multi-Melta, Plasma Gun; Drop Pod; -146
Crusader Squad (5/2): Bolters, Shotguns, Multi-Melta, Plasma Gun; Drop Pod; -146
Crusader Squad (5/2): Bolters, Shotguns, Multi-Melta, Plasma Gun; Drop Pod; -146
Crusader Squad (5/2): Bolters, Shotguns, Missile Launcher, Plasma Gun; Drop Pod; -146
Crusader Squad (5/2): Bolters, Shotguns, Missile Launcher, Plasma Gun; Drop Pod; -146
Land Speeder: Typhoon Missile Launcher, Heavy Bolter, -70
Land Speeder: Typhoon Missile Launcher, Heavy Bolter, -70
Land Speeder: Typhoon Missile Launcher, Heavy Bolter, -70
The Typhoons will start on the board so that I can have my Emperor’s Champion in a Crusader Squad. I think that the Castellans count as having a Drop Pod (because they are leading their Command Squads), so that will let me reserve one of the Typhoons if there aren’t enough places to hide them on the board.
It’s that easy.

Oct 22, 2012


Just an update, I am in the process of writing that Drop Pod list article that I promised so expect that sometime in the next week. Until then, I have an announcement to make.

On December 1 (EDIT: Due to an MTG tournament scheduled for Dec 1, the date is being moved forward to either Nov 17 or 24, not sure which yet though), my brother and I will be hosting a Warhammer 40k tournament at Who’s Game House in Rapid City, South Dakota. It’ll be 1,000 points and four games, with brackets kind of like NOVA, with prizes for the winners of each bracket as well as a painting prize and a prize to a random other contestant. The tournament will go from 9am to around 6pm with the first hour dedicated to making sure that all the lists are legal.

The reason I bring this up is because if anyone thinks that they will be able to make it, please let me know and I can put you on the list. We only have a limited amount of table space which means that we can only have 12 players so if you want to come be sure to register early. 

Once again, if you are interested in coming just let me know so I can put you on the list (for sure or tentatively) and if you have any questions feel free to ask away. And now I’ll get back to the more important article I’m writing.

Sep 23, 2012

Versus Cynicism Part 2: Warlords

HQs really haven’t changed much in how you will need to equip them. If you’re going to be spending many points on them or putting them into close combat, then it becomes imperative that you have the tools to handle yourself there, but otherwise the traits are often more important.

Since Power Weapons are AP3 you will need to think about whether or not you want to be able to kill Terminators and the like. If yes, then you need a Powerfist, otherwise a Lightning Claw or less will do just fine and let you keep your high Initiative. You may think that you need a 2+ save in order to keep it against Power Weapons, but don’t bother. Powerfists will be more common than before and a 3+ Invulnerable is a better way to go.

If you expect to face challenges then Terminator Honors becomes a good purchase and if you are really decking-out your Warlord (Powerfist, Terminator Armor, Storm Shield) then you should probably also grab an Adamantine Mantle if points allow.

Commander versus Chaplain comes down to the rest of your list. If you have an assault oriented list or a particular close combat unit then the Chaplain will suit you well. Otherwise the Commander provides a very nice army-wide benefit.

In the new edition, I think that spending the 15 points for an extra wound on your Warlord (a Marshal or a Master of Sanctity) becomes much more worth it, especially if you already have an Adamantine Mantle.

As for the Warlord traits, almost all of them are only selectively useful. However, if you are taking a defensive-based Warlord, such as one leading a Terminator Squad with Heavy Weapons or sitting back with some squads, then Personal Traits are the best candidates, potentially making your Warlord scoring, have FNP when near an objective or Counter-Attack when in your deployment zone. For an aggressive Warlord either Command Traits or Personal Traits are good choices, Command being a little more suited to having several assaulting units while Personal Traits work better for a single powerful unit.
However, since the trait you get is random, make sure that you do not rely on any of them when designing your list. That’s all I have for now, but next I will be getting into Drop Pods hopefully.

Versus Cynicism Part 1: No, our troops aren't terrible.

So I was reading through the comments on a recent article on Implausible Nature (http://www.implausiblenature.net/1/post/2012/09/bt-community-question-killing-stuff.html) and what I found in the comments was a general despair at our ability to compete now.

Several people are under the impression that Black Tide was suddenly a good list, Algesan and Bigdunc believe that our troops are basically worthless and that we should either look predominantly to allies for scoring units, go for very few troops and just kill our opponent’s, or just not take Black Templars as our Primary Detachment.

What the hell? Where did this come from? Okay, I can see the reason for focusing on killing the opponent’s troops, but as our only sure option? Was their some new FAQ that I didn’t know about that doubled the price of our initiates or took away their armor save? Did every other army not get affected by the new edition? Did Crusader Blobs suddenly become durable or dangerous?

Sixth edition did not kill the Black Templars, not by a long shot. Are the a few dynamic changes for us? Between the edition and the FAQ, yes, but still nothing that ruins our ability to compete. We are still basically the same army that we were. Our troops are just as good and just as bad as they have always been and a little Righteous Zeal move doesn’t fundamentally change us.

The biggest changes that we have gotten are that we have to move the full distance for Righteous Zeal, we have new Drop Pod Assault Rules, we have to take another HQ and our Typhoons are even less durable in comparison to Rhinos than they were before.

Strategy-wise, this means that we will need to make sure our non-close combat Crusader Squads are in vehicles and we need another HQ. That’s it. There are a few adjustments we have to make to our lists due to the new edition, but those are adjustments that everyone will have to make and are by no means particularly harmful to Black Templars.

Okay, Objective-holding Crusader Squads with guns need Rhinos and we should spend 100 points on a Marshal for Leadership 10 across our army. Got it. Why are we no longer viable as a Primary detachment again? Is it because our lists need some fine tuning to fit better with the new edition?

You know what? I’m going to work on that. I’ll go through what we need to change to get our Drop Pod lists to function right with their new rules, do a thorough examination of some good HQ outfits to go with and what Warlord traits might be good. I’ll analyze which vows are ideal to take now and maybe even get into how we stand between close combat and shooting. Oh, and I will do it all without looking to allies to make our codex function correctly because we don’t need them.

If you want to go with only a few troops and try to out-kill your opponent (Kill Them All), that’s fine. That strategy has been around, fairly unexplored, for a while now and is only recently getting some more attention due to success that at least one player has had with it, but I will be focusing on 4+ troop choices predominantly because we can.

I’m going to get working on those posts I’ve promised now, but if anyone has any questions or comments feel free to bring them forward and I will be more than happy to read and answer them.

Sep 1, 2012

Some initial 6th ideas.

I really should apologize for not posting in…a while, especially since I don’t have school as an excuse anymore (well, until this past week anyway). But this will be the last time I do so.

The last time I apologize, I mean. Warhammer has kind of fallen behind for me, including reading articles from YTTH, Implausible Nature and 3++ (something that I will be trying to start again soon), and with the new school year, I’m just going to not post very often. I’m saying this now so that anyone interested has a heads-up and won’t be expecting regular posts. That said, I will be able to finally get some 6th edition games in soon and I will likely be sharing my thoughts and ideas as they come to me.

Speaking of which I haven’t had a chance to really examine the changes in 6th edition, but I have been able to look at a few and I thought of some things which might affect Black Templar List building. Like the changes to the vehicle damage chart and my thoughts on the little I’ve read about Black Templars now being worth fielding for close combat, but first, Terminators.

Again, I haven’t read much since before 6th came out but I did catch a couple of articles by Marshal Learoth about Terminators being more durable now and Terminator based armies (such as 3-5 units of CML Terminators in a single army). Frankly, I don’t really see that happening for a number of reasons.

First, Mech is generally less durable, especially against Torrent of Fire weapons. So there will likely be more anti-infantry firepower in general now. Second, AP 2 is actually different against vehicles than AP 3, so Plasma will begin to re-emerge to replace some of the Missile Launchers. People will also become more aware that Terminators will need to be cleared out by low-AP firepower instead of protected Power Weapons, and Plasma is again a good choice for that.

So while Terminators will be more durable in close combat, I’m expecting there to be more options taken to handle them. They will still be usable, but not really a huge power-boost.

But I mentioned Torrent of Fire being much more effective against vehicles. That’s true now that we have Hull Points you can be guaranteed that three glancing hits will kill most vehicles. Penetrating is still more effective, but without a low AP you’re relying on a chance to score an instant kill and I see weight of fire becoming more rewarding than before.

Since AP 2 is also more effective, Assault Cannons become a more valid choice over the Cyclone Missile Launchers. Twice as many shots and I think rending hits are AP 2 (they were against Infantry, and I think I saw that they are against vehicles now, too). Range isn’t too much of an issue when you deploy correctly, and with Tank Hunter and harmful glances their lower strength isn’t too much of an issue.

They may not become the new standard, but they are a little bit better choice than they were in 5th.

Related to Terminators and as a side note, Artificer Armor is now “Power Weapon proof” armor. 20 points is still too expensive in my opinion, and Terminator Armor is still better 90% of the time, but it’s worth a brief mention.

Now then, Close Combat. How are we supposed to be better at it again? Rage is a little better than the old Preferred Enemy when we charge, and now we can stack that with Litanies of Hate? Is that it? I guess our Terminators are more durable against Power Weapons, but as I mentioned above they are more likely to be targeted outside of close combat. So what’s our big advantage that makes us a close combat army?

It’s still dead. We will lose our Power Weapons early because we have no Sergeants and after the initial charge we are, at best, marines with an extra attack each. Before we could get by with Accept Any Challenge, because it made us always better in close combat, but now we have one shot and then we wail uselessly against our foes.

I don’t know, maybe I’m just not looking for a close combat advantage because I started out wanting to play more shooty Black Templars, but I just don’t see any real steps in the direction of Close Combat aside from Powerfists being more effective on the first round of combat (but worse afterwards).

Anyway, that’s about all I have for now. Well, there’s a little issue in that we can no longer take Drop Pods in our entire army, but that is a mistake on GW’s part and should be fixed when they get a chance to update the FAQ.

Any comments, thoughts or questions are, as always, welcome. Once I actually get a chance to really read through the 6th edition rules I may have more thoughts and the same will likely happen for the first few games I get in. Until next time.

Jul 5, 2012

FAQ Drop Pod Availibility Change


Sorry for my absence, I just haven’t really had much to post about and well, the internet has kinds of otherwise sucked me in. But now I have something important to share.

I was looking through the FAQ changes for the Black Templars and, right around those small changes to the transport options for Command Squads and Terminators I suddenly noticed that Drop Pods weren’t mentioned. I looked at the codex and had a small panic attack when I saw that Drop Pods were never given as an option on any of the units, nor was such a choice mentioned in the Dedicated Transports section.

Then I remembered that it was in the Drop Pod Assault entry on page 22 and I went back and verified that yes, Dreadnoughts, Terminators and Initiates can take Drop Pods. Except that they can’t anymore. Games Workshop has made a huge bungle and now there is no line in the codex which allows any unit to take Drop Pods, because they replaced the entire Drop Pod Assault entry.

It isn’t that the new Drop Pod Assault rules ruin the competiveness of Drop Pod lists now; they completely negate any legal ability to field them! Fortunately, I’ve still only got two of them.

In other news, once I am able to get a 6th edition rule book, I will likely be doing some posts about my thoughts on the changes and possibly the changes I will be making to the lists I have. I will also eventually try to give some indication of how I did in the local Escalation League that ended last month, so look forward to those.

May 19, 2012

GateKeeper Tournament

This is a little late in coming, but that's because I got started playing Zelda: Ocarina of Time and I got sucked in for about four days, and then had some busy painting to do. However, I now have an important update!

This afternoon I went to a local tournament in Topeka, Kansas (sister's graduation, so I was back down here for about 10 days). Really rather small, only about 8 total players, 2100 points with three matches. Unfortunately, it used Battle Points. Fortunately, they were only tie-breakers for the top places.

I went in a large Terminator Command Squad with leading Marshal (PW, Plasma Pistol) and attached Reclusiarch, two Dreadnoughts (one Ven. w/ Assault Cannon/ML and one with a MM in a Drop Pod), a close combat Crusader Squad in a Drop Pod with the Emperor's Champion and a Techmarine, two MM Bunkers, two 8-9 man Missile Launcher squads, and a wing of Typhoons.

My first game was against Orks, and through some funny rolling, a mistake or two and running into the time-limit, we tied. It was Dawn of War with KP basically counting for one Objective, as well as Capture and Control. We tied on KP and each held an Objective, though if he had been a little more aggressive with his units he could have gotten a victory.

Second game was Spearhead with 4 Objectives and I faced my first more competent Grey Knights list. The worst portion was the 1,000 point Paladin unit with each model equipped differently and I just made too many mistakes. One was picking the wrong corner, one was focusing on the Paladin squad, one was not looking at his list before I deployed, one was charging his Paladin squad with the living half of my Terminator Command Squad, one was positioning my MM Dread badly, and of course I gave no protection to my Land Speeders. So I lost 3-1.

Third game was Pitched Battle Annihilation against Eldar. Some target priority mistakes left my opponent with a lot of badly damaged things which couldn't hurt me, but weren't claimed as Kill Points either until the very last phase when I could finish off three of them. I also got to use a flamer most effectively on a squad of Pathfinders so I pulled a win by two.

Unfortunately I did not place in the higher-ranks, but I did get some more experience and had a chance to see my large Terminator Command Squad on the battle-field (by large I mean 6, but it looks large with the two Independent Characters with it) and I had a good time, net win.

Anyway that's all I have for now, though if there are any questions I will be happy to answer them. I might go to weekly posting since I noticed that I get spikes of traffic about Friday or Saturday night, so I could get single articles up just before then (say, Thursday night or so) and that would give me an easy, strict posting schedule to stick to. I'll think about it.

May 11, 2012

Land Raider Pricing

So I visited Algesan’s blog…several weeks ago and he was asking what Land Raiders would have to cost to be worth taking.

I started writing my comment, explaining what I thought they should be priced at (based on the Metric numbers system I am relying less and less on) when I realized that I could neither easily explain how I got to those numbers nor why they were ideal

So I cleared that comment and began writing another, starting from the assumption that Land Raiders would come as a possible alternative to Predators. I started going through the price adjustments to Predators to account for the benefits the Land Raider has and I realized something interesting, which I hope to enlighten now:

Take your standard Auto/Las Predator: 125 points. It is basically a poor-man’s gunboat Land Raider if you consider an Autocannon comparable to a Twin-Linked Heavy Bolter. So adjust the price by multiplying by 4/3 to account for the increased accuracy of having Twin-Linked Lascannon Sponsons (now 8/9 to hit rather than 6/9, or a ratio of 4 to 3). Add PotMS. Transport capacity is 10 models or 5 Terminators, and the closest thing to that is a Drop Pod, so add the price of a Drop Pod; ignore the Assault Vehicle special rule and just assume that it is included with the Drop Pod price increase. AV 14 is a big step, but having it all-round is much bigger. The increase of one could be accounted for by essentially the Blessed Hull upgrade (different effect, but close enough to use the price), but this is different; instead just increase the cost by 50 points and call it good.

So how are those adjustments? They sound pretty fair, but maybe the AV increase is overpriced, drop it to only 30. Where does that put the price of the Land Raider? Right about 255, but 250 is a fine number to round to. So Land Raiders are actually well priced, compared to Predators. So why aren’t they used, and why is it that when they are they weaken the list?
How about a different approach? Two Twin-Linked Lascannons and a Twin-Linked Heavy Bolter that can move and shoot at multiple targets while carrying models, sounds familiar?…Of course, that is just like three Razorbacks! Actually not perfectly, the Razorbacks can target three different units instead of two and can move independently of each other; they can also carry a unit each rather than being limited to one. But a Land Raider cannot get chain-shaken and prevented from firing while the Razorbacks can, and most weapons cannot hurt Land Raiders (especially ones that stay back) while Razorbacks can get killed by just about any anti-tank weapon. The price of Razorbacks to equal the guns on a Land Raider is 90, 90 and 70 which equals 250: The price of the Land Raider, which means that a Land Raider should be an equivalent trade-off to three such Razorbacks, with the allowance that Heavy Bolter Razorbacks are pretty much a waste of time and thus this trade is not efficient besides the problem of being forced to leave two infantry squads without a transport.

How about combining the two above comparisons? Two Las/Bolter Predators clock in at 260 points. One the one hand you have AV 14, the ability to carry a unit, and being guaranteed the ability to fire a gun; on the other you have the ability to put gun vehicles in two different positions on the board and more anti-infantry firepower, but you can’t direct all anti-tank shots to tanks while anti-infantry shots go to infantry. But the Predators will be taken nearly every time, often as Auto/Las Predators to save points.

Are these comparisons just not valid? Probably, since even though the prices match the Land Raiders are neglected. My first inclination would be to see how much the price should be adjusted on the Land Raider, but how about looking at these comparisons and see what’s tipping the balance?

Single Predator vs. Land Raider are all price adjustments and make the Land Raider look even over-priced, unless you count the Autocannon worth saving 20 points to drop to the Heavy Bolter, and even then the Drop Pod’s price for the transport capacity seems small, so the only real difference is that the Land Raider is more expensive, and perhaps requires some creative use to get full value.

Razorbacks vs. Land Raider come down to having a spread-out value compared to a concentrated value. The Razorbacks benefit from needing at least 3 shots to kill but the Land Raider will likely need many more unless a specialized weapon is targeted at it. But I suppose you do gain more benefit from the Razorbacks by getting the protection to more units and being more flexible.

Two Predators vs. Land Raider once again, more flexibility with the Predators and more benefit from having two Auto/Las ones, for the same cost. Being Predators Melta isn’t especially a problem while the Land Raider should really be taking advantage of its transport capacity by moving a close combat unit forward.

What does all this tell us? In their current incarnation, Land Raiders should not exist. No, really, they are just too much to have any real, genuine value over taking more, weaker choices. Those choices are just as good, if not better, and add more flexibility to your list. Land Raiders are just doing too much.

How to fix them? Well, you could drop them to AV13 all-round. That would be a balancing effort for the game in general (allowing armies without Melta to have a better chance against them) and it would justify dropping its cost to something reasonable that would make it a valid option to compete for attention with Predators and Vindicators.

Or we could just make them a better value for their cost than anything else in the book. Will it tip things in their favor? No, because they still gimp you for costing so much, but at least it’s a trade-off rather than a simple sacrifice. Now I don’t have a whole lot of objective reason for how much I would price them at, but I like round numbers (to 10s or 20s), and it needs to still be one of the most expensive units that Black Templars can field.

A PotMS Vindicator or Tri-Las Predator will come in at around 160-170, maybe even up to 180 or 190 if you want to drop some upgrades on them. So 180-200 is a good number for the Godhammer Land Raider, and the Crusader should go for about 15 points more, just as it is now. That way it is costing you to go from Predators to Land Raiders and the Crusader variants still demand a specialized role to be worth taking as a transport, but the costs involved are worth it if you have the points. However this does mean that Predators are the choice in lower-point games while Land Raiders become the better option when you have more points to spend.

So I stand by my previous assertion: Land Raiders should not exist. No, Wounds or Structure Points would not solve the problem; they are just too much and need to be priced too high to be worth taking.


Yes, I’m most likely back to posting regularly. I am going to wait for at least two more posts before being certain that I can get up multiple posts a week. I have a lot of painting finished and possibly a tournament coming up next weekend, so I’ll try to stay updated on here about those.

Apr 24, 2012

Escalation, After a Thousand

Alright, this will be a quick update on the Escalation League I mentioned a month or two ago, with an update at the end.

Last month I went with an Assault Cannon/Storm Bolter Dreadnought in a Drop Pod, a Castellan with Power Weapon, Bolter and Holy Orb, and two Crusader Squads: One with a Neophyte and Missile Launcher, the other with four Neophytes, a Flamer and a Drop Pod. Those games did not go well, as I lost all three.

However, while deciding on my list for this month I looked back at my previous list and realized that it did not provide me with the tools to face anything I was going to face. An assault cannon, a missile launcher, a flamer and some bolters? So my thousand-point list was much better built.

Now, part of the reason was that I have since picked up quite a few new toys. I now have three Typhoons, two Rhinos, Plasma Guns, Meltaguns, and a fifth Powerfist Terminator so that I can field the squad without an HQ choice to accompany it. So my thousand point list was as follows:

*Emperor's Champion: Vow (Abhor);
*Terminator Squad (5): 2 CML, Tank Hunters;
*Dreadnought: Assault Cannon, Missile Launcher, Smoke Launchers, Searchlight;
*Crusader Squad (5): Missile Launcher, Plasma Gun; Rhino: Smoke Launchers, Searchlight;
*Crusader Squad (5/4): Meltagun; Drop Pod;
*Land Speeder: Typhoon, Heavy Bolter;
*Land Speeder: Typhoon, Heavy Bolter;
*Land Speeder: Typhoon, Heavy Bolter;

Now I have firepower. I was kind of concerned about only two troops, and in the last game I would have liked to have another, but they did fine. Anyway, compare: 12 Missiles to 1, and an additional three Heavy Bolters. Tank Hull to protect my home squad instead of an extra Neophyte and a more effective Dreadnought.

First game was against Eldar. I killed all of 4-5 models, one of which was pure luck and the others in Close Combat by my Emperor's Champion. I had that bad of shooting for the whole game. I missed three times with my Meltagun. I shook one of his two tanks once. And yet, I would have tied the game if I had just killed one of his tanks with the Meltagun.

Second game was against a really terrible Grey Knight list. 4 Models. The 500 point version had 3. Draigo, two single Paladins, and the fourth was a 500 point Librarian with all the fixin's. Thanks to my mass of firepower and my ability to shoot what I wanted (plus some poor rolls on his part) I tabled him 35 minutes after we started setting up. And yet he had a great time, probably because he wasn't expecting much from them (mostly just trying to get the games done when he could, otherwise it would count as a loss for us both when the month ended), and partially because it just went so fast (he did kill my Terminators though).

Third game was against Tyranids. I realized just before this that I had the ability to pretty much kill a Monstrous Creature per turn, plus all of the small blasts meant I wasn't especially concerned. We called the game early  at the end of turn 5 because the store was closing and I was claiming two Objectives, contesting a third, and he had one. He had a single Hive Guard and two smallish units of Termagants (one in combat with my Terminators), while I still had a large portion of my force left.

The scoring is simply 3 points per win, 1 point per draw, and 1 point per month for using a painted army. Now at the half-way point for the league, I have 8 points out of a potential...26. So after the first month where I had three losses (but with a painted army, so yeah), I'm not doing too well, but I am playing against more people and getting better known, so things are going fairly well.

Anyway, on to the update I mentioned before. I have an almost finalized list for the 1,500 point month, but I would appreciate any opinions on what's missing or queries for why something is the way it is. Here's the list:

*Emperor's Champion: Vow (Accept); -140
*Marshal: Bolter, Power Weapon, Holy Orb; -106
*Terminator Squad (5): 2 CML, TH; -265
*Dreadnought: Assault Cannon, Missile Launcher, Venerable, TH, Smoke; -148
*Dreadnought: Multi-Melta, Storm Bolter, DCCW, Extra Armor; Drop Pod; -150
*Crusader Squad (5/3): PF, Meltagun, Frags; Drop Pod; -173
*Crusader Squad (5): Multi-Melta, Plasma Gun; Rhino: Smoke Launchers, Extra Armor; -154
*Crusader Squad (5): Multi-Melta, Plasma Gun; Rhino: Smoke Launchers, Extra Armor; -154
*Land Speeder: Typhoon, Heavy Bolter; -70
*Land Speeder: Typhoon, Heavy Bolter; -70
*Land Speeder: Typhoon, Heavy Bolter; -70

There is also new (for any interested) a Win/Draw/Loss record for all of my games. Right now it's not looking too good, and you have to keep in mind that these are mostly just pick-up games at my local store, but it's getting better.

Apr 6, 2012

Tournament Results, Part 2.

Once again I should apologize to anyone who regularly checks to see if I have made any new posts. School this semester really occupies both my time and my thinking, plus my weekly visits to my FLGS suck a fair amount of my time and I’m still trying to catch up on sleep. So while I apologize once more, I also want to say right now that there probably won’t be anymore posts until school is over (after the first week in May). However I do have an actual post for now.

Those nine games I played have demonstrated to me a few things. Part 1 was getting kind of long, and was more intended to give a brief summary of each game but here I want to look at some of the lessons I’ve learned from finally getting to play test all of my lists.

Game 4 demonstrated an innate weakness in the DDP style of list. It struggles with those big units of Terminators. Whether through a strategy I haven’t discovered or a change to the list, I need to be able to handle those (as they form the back-bone of at least three popular types of lists and are common enough otherwise to demand some attention). This problem may exist in other lists but those enjoy the distance to have more time to pound them, so I need some way that a Drop Pod list can specifically deal with them.

Game 5 demonstrated that the theory behind using nothing but TL-Lascannons as Anti-Tank (not entirely true, as I also had Plasma Guns and the Dreadnoughts were armed with Missile Launchers) isn’t a perfect idea. It lacks the number of results on the damage table to reliably kill vehicles, despite re-rolling to hit and the high-strength. It may have just been the horrendous rolling, but the problem is still there.

Game 2 (I’m out of order, deal with it) suggested something a little more…drastic. The winning list that time essentially just used Drop Pods instead of Rhinos for transports. It still had Predators and Land Speeders and about half of the army started on the board. My thoughts were that this would hinder the list by allowing all of the fire to be directed at a few targets, leaving the reserved portion of the list lacking support when it came down (thus, Rhinos should be a better choice for the list). Surprisingly enough, this didn’t happen. Whether it was because of the terrain or because I didn’t target correctly or move correctly or whatever, it suggests that Drop Pods and Rhinos are essentially little different unless you want to do something that the Drop Pod just can’t do (such as fire out of the hatch). Is the cheaper price of Drop Pods worth the potential disadvantages? I don’t know, but it is something that I need to do some research on once I am done with this Tournament thingy (so a long-term plan).

Game 3 made it clear that S5 is not an Anti-Tank weapon. Not even massed S5. And S6 isn’t really either. Add to that my experiences with S3 in Close Combat from Game 6, and I’ve learned something more. Unless you are rolling with a 50% chance or better on the roll (each individual roll, not combined), you are setting yourself up for failure. You are just not likely enough to succeed to get reliable results unless you have A LOT of dice that you’re rolling (given that somewhere around 18 dice is only enough to get maybe 1-2 successes, I really mean a lot). To demonstrate this, in Game 6 I charged a unit of Terminators with 11 Termagants. 22 Attacks, something like 17-18 hits at S3. 3 wounds. Not average? No, but still a reasonable result. What is the other end of a reasonable number of wounds in this case? 9 wounds. If those Termagants were S4 or had poison, 9 wounds would be average, and with luck like what I actually got, I would have had 6 (based here on the chances, not necessarily the actual rolls). So, double the effectiveness even though only half-again the chance. That is the weakness of S3 against Infantry, or S6 against Vehicles, or basically anything relying on basically a 5+. You need better. I need better. And I will be keeping that in mind when I make lists and decisions during games. By the way, this is also very good reason not to include glancing hits in Nike’s Metric System: their average doesn’t accurately represent how they’ll do.

So over all, I will have to be making some changes to at least some of my lists. A lot of the changes will be to the Tyranid lists, as I am less confident in my ability with them and I have seen some of my failures there, but I might be making some posts about changes to the Black Templar lists; we’ll see.

As for what those changes will be, they are straight from the examples above. I need to be able to put results on the damage table against vehicles. I also need to continue to look at how Drop Pod based lists do. So far, it seems that without a good number of Drop Pods (to be landing several down at once) the squads tend to die (which is easily predicted), so at low-points the list looks like it would fall apart. Lastly, I need to make sure that I’m not using mid-strength weapons as my primary anti-tank options (such as Plasma Guns).

One final note: I don’t remember all of the promises I made about posting up lists and, rather than checking back to remember, I’ve decided to just not post them without a request from someone to do so, and here’s why. Someone on YTTH (I believe TKE) mentioned that he’s stopped reading list-building articles because he doesn’t gain anything from them, and that made me realize: I’ve been doing the same thing. I’ve stopped reading list-building articles unless they’re by someone I talk to (like Marshal Learoth or Algesan) or on YTTH (and only then Black Templar and Tyranid ones). So, not being a fantastic list-builder myself, I’m going to stop doing those kinds of posts unless someone asks me to or I think I’ve stumbled onto an idea that I should share (which won’t happen until our new codex, so…).