Friday, 31 January 2014

Onwards and Upwards (hopefully)

So trying to put Caledonia behind me I've got the build up to Adepticon in Chicago. But before that I've got the Yorkshire Open. This is a tournament organised by the GCN and features a number of qualifiers, semis and a final. Sadly one of the qualifiers I had registered for at Vapnatak was cancelled due to poor registration (the fact that it was terribly advertised, to the point the main 40k club in York couldn't get details on it) probably answers a lot of why that happened. Anyway I'm in one qualifying tournament at the Royal Armouries in Leeds (RAGE) and potentially running the York Garrison round. I'll only really get to play in the later if there's an odd number of sign ups, so I would like to qualify at RAGE. However the GCN in their wisdom haven't restricted the tournament in any way so Forge World, Escalation and Stronghold assault will all be in affect. How much filth that means I don't know, but I'm guessing there will be at least a few people who try to buy there way into in the next round. So what to take.

I've got a few options from my armies, Space Wolves, Marines or Tau are the most likely since I still don't think a Tyranid army will work. Maybe if I qualify at RAGE and have to play in the Garrison heat I may try a Tyranid army for giggles. So my options are ;-

Kor'sarro Khan with Moonfang
Chapter Master Bikezander
Command Squad on Bike with 4 Grav Guns, Apothacary
5 Space Marine Bikes with 2 Grav Guns
5 Space Marine Bikes with 2 Grav Guns
5 Space Marine Bikes with 2 Grav Guns
Thunderfire Cannon
Storm Talon with Skyhammer Missiles
Storm Talon with Skyhammer Missiles

Inquisitor Coteaz

Rune Priest
Rune Priest with bolter
Wolf Priest with Plasma Pistol
8 Grey Hunters, Meltagun, Banner in a drop pod
8 Grey Hunters, Meltagun, Banner in a drop pod
8 Grey Hunters, Meltagun, Banner in a drop pod
8 Grey Hunters, Meltagun, Banner in a drop pod
5 Grey Hunters, Flamer in a drop pod
5 Grey Hunters, Flamer in a drop pod
10 Wolf Guard, 4 combi meltas, 6 combi plasma

Commander Batman (lite)
10 Kroot
10 Kroot
10 Kroot
Riptide, Ion Acclerator, Intercept, Skyfire

Tau Hunter Cadre
Riptide Heavy Burst Cannon, Intercept
3 Missileside, Intercept
3 Missileside, Intercept

I love the visual appeal of the White Scars army, a horde of bikes just looks so cool. It can face off against a number of armies, especially if it gets first turn (Coteaz helps to prevent being seized on once I’ve aggressively deployed and the scouted forward. The main negative for this one currently is the amount of painting which would be required in under a week. I’d need to complete 10 bikes and Coteaz in order to take this one. It’s also fragile, if the bike start taking damage the army’s output drops rapidly. Finally any Helldrake based army (especially triple Helldrake) will pretty much knock me out of the tournament, even with the Storm Talons.

The Space Wolves have the possibility to really wreck some of the meta armies. If Tau don’t have excessive intercept and can’t bubble wrap effectively (and remember they are using their troop choices to bubble wrap), then the Drop Wolves can really lay some smack down on them with Melta and Jaws. The Rune priest can also hamper the psychic deathstars which are increasingly prevalent. Again the major flaw for this army is flyers, it simply has no tools to deal with them, so Helldrakes or Necron air would pose a significant issue for me.

The Tau force is probably the “dirtiest” of them, it a little old fashioned given its gun line tau, but can really put the hurt on most armies, especially when the Broadsides and Riptide get Tank Hunter and Preferred Enemy Space Marines for free. Flyer face off against Skyfiring Skyrays, firstly with their missiles and also with their markerlight making the broadside hit easier. Its a litle light on the troops but the plan is to simply demolish people before they can really get their hands on the troops. Not knowing what the terrian is like is a bit of an unknown, if I face someone on a largely open board there's little they can do to stop me.

So what do people think, which option should I go with? or can you see any improvements on the lists.

Saturday, 25 January 2014

Caledonia Uprising 2014

So last weekend I went to Caledonia Uprising and it was, I believe, my worst performance ever. Now the event itself was well run, Tim puts on a great show and pulls out all the stops. The Friday night there was a smaller 1000pts mini event and I teamed with Dave 'mostlybeenpainting' Williamson. We gave the Nids a final run out using all the models we've lost, so Doom and Parasite were in play. Despite going 1 - 2 and finishing 2nd to last I enjoyed it. I think playing with a partner makes it more fun as Dave and I were taking the piss a lot out of our army throughout, heck we put Gordon the Gaunt in charge in the last game and the little sod survived 2 rounds of combat with Soulgrinder and we won that one!

The main tournament was a big disappointment for me. There were a number of factors. My army list wasn't that strong, I'd opted for the Highlander league within Cale and compare to even other Highlanders it was weak. My random match ups, now I didn't face any of the classic filth but there were some old school cheese which i couldn't cope with. None of my opponents were the issue all five of them were great opponents I just struggled to engage in two of the games and just felt I was there to remove models for them. I'll give a quick run down of the match.

Game 1 vs Neil Gibbons (CSM/CD)
This was probably the best game of the weekend, a real back and forth affair. I messed up pretty early on when I tried to deepstrike my wolves near the board edge to take out his Soulgrinder, scattered off the board and lost them, especially since the positioning and LOS blocking terrain meant that the Soulgrinder didn't play a huge part of the game. Killed his warlord with my chapter master on bike in a dual and his greater daemon of Nurgle with my Rune Priest, but in the end the lack of troops meant the win wasn't big.

Game 2 vs Gordon Wilson (GK/SM)
Draigo wing with Iron Hand bike support. Although my Chapter Master absorbed an obscene amount of firepower in turns one and two the massive Paladin deathstar just walked into combat with my command squad and took them out. My firepower was mostly going through Driago and was therefore doing nothing, but Gordon was also amazing at making 5+ fnp saves to avoid loosing huge numbers of men to my grav gun. In the end I could little but avoid the tabling and it really felt like I'd not even swung for the ball let alone hit the pitch.

Game 3 vs Mathew Pridmore (GK)
You can imagine my mood when, after round 2's game, I faced the ONLY other Draigo wing in the 120 man tournament. I tried to manoeuvre so that my grav gun attacks weren't going through Driago, but still managed almost no damage before my command squad was wiped out. A pretty disappointing game in which the only real success was puppet mastering his Dreadknight and killing half this strike squad, before killing the knight with grav guns.

Game 4 vs Colm Mccarthy (Necrons)
Wraithwing .... I actually managed to cope with the wraiths, through a combination of getting Misfortune on Tig and focusing on a unit at a time, but his 5 flyers were another matter and I didn't manage to drop a single one.

Game 5 vs Andy Peters (Tau/Farsight/Inq)
So the Tau gun line, on one of the bottom tables, I didn't hold much hope for this game as it was Hammer and Anvil and he'd deployed in the first 12" of his deployment zone, however a turn one orbital strike from my Chapter master took out two hammerhead which were deployed way to close to each other and a Riptide, which was also wounded. Tig and the Rune Priest earned their points with the former puppet mastering his Riptide and Grey Knight Dreadnough to shoot his firewarriors and path finders, and the later managing to get past that annoying deny on four dice to drop a riptide with Jaws. Still it wasn't a crushing win since primary was killpoints and in turn five he managed to finish off three of my characters including the Warlord.

So two low score wins and three losses. I wasn't tabled (which was an achievement) but it meant I finished 82nd from 112, so I'm not even sure I can claim mid table obscurity on that result. Its fair to say I'm feeling even less inspired by 40k at the moment.

Next up for me is the Yorkshire Open which present another possible pitfall since they've allowed everything in, escalation, stronghold assualt, forge world, the works. At the moment I'm toying between trying again with a bike army, but making it White Scars this time, or going back to the drop wolves, which although not meta busting can cause some armies real issues.

Thursday, 16 January 2014

Caledonia 2014 pre-post

So this weekend it's Caledonia Uprising 2014 and I'm going into it with mixed emotions. I have, of late, lost a lot of my 40k mojo and enjoyment, there are several factors which have contributed to this however one aspect of is it is the meta. It seems that if you want to win 40k you take Tau / Eldar. So it is with some trepidation that I approach Caledonia. Having seen the army lists for this year its a prettysad state of affairs with about 3-4 builds making up at least 30% of the field if not more. I'm hoping it won't spoil my weekend and my aim to win at least 3 games.

I'm actually taking part in a mini event inside the main tournament too, Highlander. 24 players are taking armies which only feature units once (or at least they can't double up until they got on type of everything with the slot). My army is based on my marines running Ultramarine chapter tactics. One thing I'm terrible at is remember chapter tactics, orbital bombardment and Tig's warlord trait. But basically my army is ;-

PRIMARY DETACHMENT: Space Marines (Ultramarine Chapter Tactics)

HQ1 : Chapter Master (130), Bike (20), The Shield Eternal (50), Thunderhammer (30), Artificer Armour (20) - [250pts]
HQ2 : Chief Librarian Tigurius (165) - [165pts]
HQ2a : Command Squad (100), Bikes (35), 4 x Grav Guns (60), Apothacary (15) - [210pts]
Troop 1 : 6 Tactical Space Marines (84), Plasma Gun (15), TRANSPORT1 - [99pts]
Troop 2 : 5 Space Marine Bikes (105), 2 x Grav Guns (30), Attack Bike (45), Multi-Melta (10) - [190pts]
Troop 3 : 5 Space Marines Scouts (55), Sergeant Telion (50), 4 Sniper Rilfes (4) - [109pts]
FA1: Storm Talon (110), Sky Hammer Missiles (15) – [125pts]
HS1: Stalker (75) – [75pts]
HS2: Thunderfire Cannon (100) – [100pts]
Transport1 : Rhino(35) – [35pts]

HQ1 : Rune Priest (100), Bike(35), Meltabombs (5) – [140pts]
Troop 1 : 10 Grey Hunters (150), Meltagun (5), Meltagun (free), Wolf Standard (10), TRANSPORT2 – [165pts]
Transport2 : Drop Pod (35) – [35pts]

FORTIFICATION: Aegis Defense Wall (50), Iccarus Las Cannon (35) – [85pts]

CODEX INQUISITOR: Ordo Xenos Inquisitor (25), 3 Servo Skulls (9), Lvl1 Psyker (30) – [64pts]

I've had a few games with it and its not fair that well, and seeing some of the other Highlander lists I do worry, there's a lot of Daemon player in the Highlander it seems.  Caledonia pre-draws its first rounds so I know my oppoent and his army list, I'm facing ;-

 Neil Gibbons
DESCRIPTION : Chaos Space Marines Allied with Chaos Daemons
HQ 1 : Chaos Lord, 175 pts = (base cost 65 + Mark of Nurgle 15 + Melta Bombs 5 + Power Sword x1 15 + Sigil
of Corruption 25) + Chaos Bike 20 1 Burning Brand of Skalathrax, 30 pts
Troops 1 : Plague Marines (9#, 251 pts) 8 Plague Marines, 212 pts = 8 * 24 (base cost 24) + Meltagun x2 20,
1 Plague Champion, 39 pts = (base cost 24 + Power Sword x1 15)
Troops 2 : Chaos Cultists (10#, 70 pts) 9 Chaos Cultists, 54 pts = 9 * 6 (base cost 4 + Mark of Nurgle 2) 1
Cultist Champion, 16 pts = (base cost 14 + Mark of Nurgle 2)
Fast Attack 1 : Chaos Spawn (5#, 180 pts) 5 Chaos Spawn, 180 pts = 5 * 36 (base cost 30 + Mark of Nurgle 6)
Fast Attack 2 : Heldrake (1#, 170 pts)
Heavy Support 1 : Obliterator (3#, 228 pts) 3 Obliterator, 228 pts = 3 * 76 (base cost 70 + Mark of Nurgle 6)
Heavy Support 2 : Chaos Vindicator (1#, 145 pts) 1 Chaos Vindicator, 145 pts = (base cost 120 + Extra
Armour 10 + Siege Shield 10 + Combi-Bolter 5)
Aegis Defence Line (100 pts) 1 Aegis Defence Lines, 50 pts 1 Gun Emplacement, 50 pts
HQ 1 : Ku'gath Plaguefather (1#, 260 pts)
Heavy Support 1 : Soul Grinder (1#, 180 pts) (base cost 135) + Phlegm Bombardment 30 + Daemon of
Nurgle 15
Troops 1 : Plaguebearers of Nurgle (10#, 90 pts) 10 Plaguebearers of Nurgle (Troops) [cd], 90 pts = 10 * 9

So the massed forces of Nurgle, plenty of cover save enhanced units and AP3 weapons, so this is gonna be a struggle, plus Neil is an ex ETC player so overall a really tough match.

If i had to guess his battle plan, I'd go with.

Plaguefather in deepstrike reserve. plaguebearers walk on reserve, Soulgrinder on the board to start the firing. Lord on bike with Spawn crossing the board. Vindactor, Oblits hanging out behind the wall for fire support. Cultists are obviosuly in reserve and Plague amarine could be either. 

Provided it survives I've got a number of options to take out the Helldrake, but probably not before its destroyed on of the bike units when it arrives. Drop wolves can take one of the two vehicles, it's actually the spawn that worry me. High toughness and immune to grav given they've no armour I'm not sure how I'm going to beat those down.  

Well I'm sure the next post will be post Caledonia and we'll see if I called it right and if I managed my 3 wins. Fingers crossed.

Saturday, 11 January 2014

Winter War 2014

Before Christmas I attended Winter Warm up, it was a small one day tournament designed to allow people to practise their Caledonia Uprising armies. It was being held at Sanctuary Gaming, a new venue near Mansfield which is hoping to pick up where Eye of the Storm left off. The venue itself has a lot of potential. It’s in an old church building so there is some awesome architecture. Warhammer World may be designed to look like the inside of a castle. This IS the inside of a castle in its architecture! There are a few issues, only a single toilet in the building can be an issue and there’s currently no heating (which really meant Winter War lived up to its name), but these are all on the list of things to be address in 2014. Once these have been sorted it should be a fairly awesome venue to tournaments, and will hopefully see some of the regular tournament return to a more central venue.

The tournament itself was meant to be a friendly affair. Because it was being used to practise armies the painting restrictions had been dropped to allow people to try new thing. That said there were a fair few of the top players in attendance and some fairly filthy armies. I’ve become a little jaded with 40k of late and this was the first real hard tournament I’ve been to since Adepticon.

Timaaa the TO was his usual jolly self, including introducing a unique rule for determine initiative in the first round. Both players pulled a Christmas cracker. The winner of which got first turn choice. If the opponent wanted to seize they had to successfully guess the answer to the joke inside.
The army I was taking was new to me I’d opted for

Chpater Master on Bike with The Shield Eternal, Thunderhammer
Command Squad on Bikes, 4 Grav Guns, Apothecary
10 Tactical Marines, Plasma Gun in Rhino
9 Tactical Marines, Plasma Gun in Rhino
Thunderfire Cannon
Thunderfire Cannon
Storm Talon with SkyHammer Missiles
Storm Talon with SkyHammer Missiles

Rune Priest on Bike
8 Grey Hunters, Wolf Standard, Melta Gun in Rhino

Ordo Xenos Inquisitor, 3 x Servo Skulls, lvl 1 Psyker

It features a fairly big death star with all the models on bike forming a single unit. The Chapter Master is out front to tank the hits. A Rune priest is there to stop Psychic powers and a fairly strong psychic presence with a lot of access to divination.

Round 1
Oh joy, my first game and it was against Wave Serpent Spam. Five Wave Serpents, two units of War Walkers, a Farseer on Jetbike and Crimson Hunter. The entire army was inside vehicles from turn one meaning my Thunderfire Cannons had little to target and my Grav Guns we pretty terrible. For me this was pretty much a none game. No matter what I did I just didn’t kill things. The Wave Serpents destroyed the death star fairly easily as it tried to cross the board. The Thunderfire cannons didn’t have any significant effect on the game, they managed to drop a couple of the War Walkers but nothing substantial. That said I did make some glaring mistakes. I deployed my two tactical squad and reserved my grey hunters. The Hunters ended up rolling onto the board and then camping an objective on my table edge. I should have combat squad’ed my 10 man tactical and used half of them in reserve to camp an objective. This would have allowed the wolves to thrust forward onto the objectives in the centre. That said I don’t think it would have made a significant difference due to the firepower the opposition. In the end I was tabled in turn 6, the main reason I lasted so long was a little luck, like for example one of my Storm Talons taking the full firing of four wave serpents without a scratch. But overall it wasn’t a great start to the tournament both from a result or quality of game (with absolutely no disrespect to my opponent who was fine to play against, it was just a very one sided game).

Round 2
My second game was against a Space Wolf army. It featured three packs of Grey Hunters, a beat stick bear Lord, Rune Priest, Predator, Razorback, Drop Pod and Landraider as well as one of those Hyperios defence turrets. This was a more beer and pretzel type army, the Landraider gave me some concerns and he did have a Rune Priest which would prevent some of mypowers from firing off. 

This was a far more beer and pretzels army and much more in my current league. The Landraider worried me as I didn't have a great deal of anti-tank weaponry, but I did have a plan. The command squad did very well in this game, their grav guns really taking a toll on their power armoured opponents. I also learnt a new trick when Tigurius used puppet master on the Landraider, sadly there wasn't a great target for it, but it was a plan I'll keep in mind for future use. In the end steady firepower and target priority ground down the Wolves. The Chapter Master's Thunderhammer finished off the Landraider and the rest of the army fell to the firepower. I ended up tabling my opponent.

Round 3
Round 3 was against another Space Marine army, this time using a forge world chapter tactics, I believe it was the Minotaurs. It made them immune to pinning, re-roll moral tests from shooting and preferred enemy space marines. The army featured two units of Centurions, Devastator squad, two units of scouts, Landraider and storm talon.

The first big break I got was seizing the initiative. This meant my command squad could drive forward and unleash their grav guns on one of the units of Centurions. Having been prescienced and allowed to ignore cover it was pretty brutal. However things began to fall apart. The Thunderfire cannons were tasked with one simple job, kill the scouts. Over 5 rounds of firing and also being twin-linked in most firing phases they only managed to kill 6 of the 10 scouts. The second unit of Centurions were another matter, with a chapter master with storm shield up front tanking them seemed to ignore all incoming fire.

In the end I game was a loosing draw, mostly because I just couldn't shift his scouts.

Final Thoughts
Overall I was a little disapointed with my performance, I also realised that if I ever wanted to finish in the top 3rd again I would probably have to switch to Tau or Eldar which is a real shame that only two codexes are truely viable for a tournament win. So it looks like mid table obscurity is back to stay.

The army wasn't amazing. There were a few elements which didn't perform as I had hoped.

Tigurius - I still need to find a place for Tigurius in the army. Does he go forward to attack or hang back in support. His access to Divination can make him a powerful support character, but with the likes of Telepathy he can be quite a formidable assault asset.
Chpater Master on Bike -Beat stick, need to be careful to not rely on his formidable saves as he can go down.
Command Squad - Its firepower is pretty good, but every wound it suffers hurts it, it doesn't have any spare models to loose.
Tactical Squads - They don't really have much point, if only for protecting Tigurius they would hang back and wait to score. I'm tempted to drop at least one of the rhinos though.
Thunderfire Cannons - I was a little underwhelmed by these, but really didn't play against their strength. The scouts in the 3rd game should have gone down a lot faster really.
Storm Talons - They performed ok, they took out the other storm talon in game by using Tigurius' ability to to manipulate reserves. 
Rune Priest on Bike - Didn't really have to a lot to do. His divination powers were useful.
Grey Hunters - The Rhino didn't work for them, I think a drop pod would have been better suited.
Ordo Xenos Inquisitor - Pretty much only had one job, and he twin linked the Thunderfire cannon, the fact that they then failed wasn't his fault.