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…).