Friday, March 27, 2009

Newest Recruit

The Farmpunk family's increased by one. on 3/21 we welcomed Brenna Rose. Soon we will get her and big sister some plastic and metal dollies to start painting and gaming with. In the Meantime, Farmpunk is pining for a return to games, snuggling babies, and closing on the sale of their old house.

I'll get back to 40K soon. I've got a new Exorcist to build and paint.

Thursday, March 19, 2009

What's in your travel box?

Not everyone has people down to their custom playing table, with laser measuring devices, and every codex ever printed available by voice activated computer system.

I have to travel to play, as most people do. I pack up my gear to head off the the FLGS for joking with the guys, and having a good game (hopefully). While some of us lament that we cannot play in a pub, we are glad to have space to play.

When I gear up, there is a set of Gear it's good to have along. Of course, this all seems elementary to experienced gamers. you'd be suprised how many people don't have gear to play the game (I forget important things sometimes, like flamer templates, or dice) so a quick rundown of things I try to bring...

-Armylists, preferably from Armybuilder, but spreadsheets work fine. I usually try to bring 1500pt and 1000pt versions of the armies I bring. That way, if someone doesn't have 1500pts of a force, or we don't have a lot of time, we can play a 1000pt game on a 4x4 table.

-Rulebook 40K's a game, with rules. I can't possibly remember them all, and need to refer to the Big Red Book during my games.

-Codex I bring the codex for the fores I hope to use that night. For me, I'm usually toting my WH, DH, and IG codexes. Again, reference materials make conflict resolution much easier. It's a hassle to have to ask around if anyone happens to have the codex you're using, so you can borrow it.

-Templates If you use a force that employs templates, it's good to have them. I've used forces without templates, in 4th ed. In 5th ed, I never leave home without them. I typically use the small blast and flamer in each game.

-Dice I like Chessex dice blocks. I've got some nice Brass and black swirled dice I like using. I've also got some small 8mm dice I use, much to the frustration of Chambers. I figured they were small, and unmistakable as being my dice, since most people use 12mm or larger. I have a few 2mm dice, I use for marking wounds on multi-wound models.

-Tape Measure I have a cheap $3 Stanley 10ft leverlock tape measure I use. It's a measuring tool, and it's neon green.

-Laser Level I use a Laser level. More specifically, a fairly inexpensive Black and Decker Model # BDL210S sight-line Multi-funtion laser level. It shoots a low-watt laser line out of it, with a small beam in the center of the line. It's meant to help you hang pictures, but I think it works nicely for determining Line of Sight. Plus, it's kind of a gamer power tool.

-CyanoAcrylate glue or Super Glue. From my job experience as a Tech Service Engineer, I learned to love LocTite Brand glues. They make good stuff. A nice variety of glues and adhasives for a variety of uses. My preference for quick fixes is Loctite UltraGel, but they make a very nice slower cure glue as well.

I also carry spare models, objective markers, and some 1" washers in my kit. I like having some models weighted on bottom, and find 1" washers work nicely on the GW round bases. Pens and pencils are nice to have, and I know some guys who carry calculators with them.
I wish I had a nice tackle box like the one at the top, I actually carry my models around in a plastic tub, with foam. I constantly need to get more foam for my dollies, to preserve their paint jobs. That's a hard call to make though... foam, or more models.

Tackle box photo is from:SueSpray
Army Builder courtesy of:

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

What's a good game?

I thought I'd take some time to address something I've been thinking about. This Hobby that involves A GAME. I think Games should be enjoyable, and hobby-ing should be a bit relaxing.

I started for Fun, and because Chambers suckered me into it. (ok, really we both suckered Mrs. Farmpunk into it.) I enjoy many aspects of wargaming, and 40K as a game.

So What makes games good games? What makes games into GREAT games? Both Sandwyrm and I had great games last week. He against a balanced Ork list, and I played against a balanced Marine list. In a tournament, slightly different decorum might apply, but this is more for the FLGS weekly meetups than tourney play.

Attitude, man:
We all have things that influence how we act, and our attitudes. Try and check any bad attitude at the door of the FLGS. Try to be there to have fun. If you're uptight, it comes across in your interactions with other players, which impacts the social aspect of a FLGS game night.
Yes, getting together with others for the purposes of playing a game is SOCIAL. Once in a while, people like Chambers, Sandwyrm, and myself leave the confines of our basement Marklar caves, to go forth and congregate with other Marklar players at a FLGS, for the purposes of playing Marklar.
Your attitude impacts the enjoyment of others. so relax, leave your troubles in the parking lot, and try to have a good time.
It's possible to be competitive, and still have a good time. It's not always about winning. it's a game. You can remove the models, and do it again some other time. You don't always have to go for the juggular, and you might find people don't like it a lot if you're always bringing the top tourney lists to pound them into the ground, or tailored lists to pound one guy into the ground week after week. Some of the best games I've ever had were where we threw competition out the window, and started talking about each other's tactical choices.
That's part of how you learn, and become a better player.

Be excellent to each other:
There are definite aspects of a gaming community that some people forget about. It's a communal event. More than just you take part in it. It's a chance not just to show off, but to help others out, and SHARE the gaming experience. Maybe it's the Sunday School teacher in me coming out here, but helping others, helps you out. It's about building the community INTO something you want to come back to, week after week. Sure, you can pound noobs bones into dust with a top tourney list, but what did you learn from it? What did THEY learn from it? (other than not to play the Jerkface who pounded them into the ground, then laughed at them for being a noob)
make FLGS games FRIENDLY. talk tactics once in a while. compliment your opponent on what they do nicely, where they outsmarted you, or nicely talk about what MIGHT have been a better plan of attack.
Tearing other players down does not BUILD a community. Helping each other enjoy your shared game/hobby DOES.

so I guess that's it. that's my little sermonizing for now. I'm sure others have input on what makes for a good, and even a GREAT game. please, chime in.

ah. and the back 40K got our first hatemail. yeah, that motivated me to write today, and try to turn the negative crap into something positive.

And a word on this from Buckler:

My thoughts on that matter, by the way, are that good games are made by both people communicating properly. Just like with foreign politics, arguments and wars start over communication breakdowns. If you're unsure of your opponent, then clarify the simple things we look over with our regular opponents. I have a mental checklist if I really don't know how my opponent will react in certain situations. For instance, cocked die is a pretty big issue when it's an important roll in the game, so I try to clear that up before the game starts. Also, terrain is a biggie, everyone should be on the same page as to what terrain does and if it's area or not.
The other part to a good game comes from both players' mentality. Do they see the game as a game, or do they see it as a sport? Those who see it as a game are there to BS and chuck dice, winning is an objective, but it's not essential to the fun of the game. Those who see it as a sport are your super competitive types, they're there to beat your face in and prove their list is rough, winning is THE objective, and losing is out of the question. Now, for those who see it as a sport, I don't mind, I'm like that too. The only difference is I know when to turn it off and just play the game. Like I said before we started, I don't play tournament lists unless I'm in a tournament or practicing for one with someone else who's tournament running.
The social interaction is great, and the game is a bonus. That's the way I see our Sundays, it's a gaming club. So we came together under one purpose, and we found that share many other interests. Now, I am trying to get more people into going to tournaments and GTs, but I don't want to lose the spirit of the game in the process.
In short, good games are born of good people. A jerk will always be a jerk, even in a game most of the time.

Marines a-go-go

I got a game Vs. loyalist marines in, and even with the Sisters.
it's been over a week ago though, so my recollection of the exact details is a bit fuzzy.

Sandwyrm and I went to the South FLGS to get some games in last week, as the North FLGS isn't having games this week due to Isen going on Spring break (where are his priorities?!?!)

SandWyrm got a good game in against a balanced Ork list He reported on this a bit already. It was a fun watch, and the Orks were moded nice. I appreciated the Land raider modified to be a 'looted' Battlewagon, with a GIANT Deathroller in front of it.

I squared off against Buckler's Imp. Fists. I haven't played against loyalist marines much since their new 'dex. Mostly because there aren't too many Loyalist marine players up at the North FLGS.

He had something like:
Land Raider Crusader,
10-man tac squad w/plasmagun, plasma cannon, powerfist Sarge.
Assault cannon razorback
10-man tac squad w/missile launcher, plasmagun, powerweapon Sarge
Lascannon Razorback
10man Assault squad w/jumpacks, 2 flamers
5bikes w/meltagun, and Multi-melta Assault Bike

a nice list to play against with some big armor, and no Termies.

I ran my typical WH list, Which I will make a full post on sometime.
it looks something like:
Cannoness w/Blessed Weapon, Cloak of St. Aspria, Jumpack, Book of St. Lucius, Bolt Pistol
DH Inq. Lord w/psycannon, psychic hood, Plasma cannon Servitor, 2 Hbolter servitors, 2 sages, 2 mystics.
9 SoB Squad w/Hflamer, flamer 1VSS w/Bolter and Book of St. Lucius
Rhino w/extra armor
9 SoB Squad w/Hflamer, flamer 1VSS w/Bolter and Book of St. Lucius
Rhino w/extra armor
9 SoB Squad w/2meltaguns 1VSS w/Bolter and Book of St. Lucius
Rhino w/extra armor
5 Seraphim w/2inferno pistols 1VSS w/eviscerator, Bolt pistol, Book of St. Lucius
Callidus Assassin (Shelia)
2 Exorcists w/extra Armor

We had 4 Loot counters on the board, Dawn of War Deployment. I the roll, and chose to go second.

on my side I had a ruin in the left center, and a copse of trees in the right side, about 6" from the table edge. There were 3story ruins in on the left side about 6" in from edge in the middle of the board, and ruins about 12" in from that, just to the left of true center of the 6"x4" board. in the right middle of the board was a shale outcropping. There were some ruins on Buckler's side in the center, but we really didn't spend ANY time over on that side of the board.

being Dawn of War, Buckler deployed a tac squad and a razorback w/Assault cannon the Plas Cannon and plasmagun squad went into the left central ruins at the 24" division line, and the Powerfist Sarge half of the squad went into the Razorback just behind the tac squad in the ruins. The Chappy went in the back, crouching behind some rocks.
I used the "Word in Your Ear" to move the tac squad out of the building left, towards the tall building.

I deployed a SoB squad in a rhino behind the left side building on my side, and the Inquisitor retinue in the trees on the right side, ready to trade shots with the tac squad.

1st turn:
Rather than try to trade shots, Buckler decided the shooty combat squad needed to get to some cover, and took them towards the building.
The bikers turbo boosted up the board on the right side, right in front of the Inq. Lord. Assault Squad moved in 12" just to my right of center. The tac squad in the LRC moved on and picked up Chappy. The lascannon Razorback moved in behind the assault cannon razorback, and the Demolisher moved in the center.
nothing happened as a result of Buckler's limited shooting.

I spun the rhino on the left around it's building to the right, moving away from the razorbacks and tac squads, wanting to get towards positions to intercept the bikers/assault marines.
the exorcists came in behind the trees, and the other Hflamer/flamer SoB's came in on the extreme right edge, all behind trees for cover. The cannoness jumped onto the board between the Exorcists, ready to countercharge, since she couldn't this turn.
the Seras, and Melta Rhino had been held in reserve, allong with Shelia.
The Inq. Lord and Exorcists open up on the turbo-boosted bikers, and knock them down to 2, and an assault bike.

Turn 2
the Assault squad moves up further, as do the bikers. The Demolisher rolls up further, and tries to get a shot at the center rhino, to miss. the Assault cannon Razorback moves up, and takes off the center rhino's stormbolter, the lascannon razorback shuffles to destroy it. The girls inside are fine, and get out. The Plas cannon tac squad fires into the center SoB squad. They go to ground.
The Inq. Lord squad takes shots like pro's, and won't be eliglible for a LD check. *darn*
The bikers charge the Inq. Lord, and win the combat. I decide it might be a good idea for the Lord to Try and run. Maybe He'll get away. At the least, I'll be able to shoot the exorcists at the bikers, and charge with the cannoness. The Inq. Lord squad is too slow and sweeping advanced. the bikes only get to move 1" though. not a lot of help.
(in retrospect, I probably should have just charged with the cannoness, and shuffled the Exorcists for shots on other things.)

I jump the cannoness over the trees, and set up to charge bikers. The Hflamer/flamer squad on the far right rolls up to take aim at the Assault marines, and mow down all but 3, one exorcist immobilizes the demolisher, the other fires into the Assault marines. The central Hflamer/flamer squad went to ground, and are getting up.
Shelia shows up! and burns the tac squad, then snickety snacks them down to 3 guys, and takes a wound. they push on combat, and she stays put.
The Melta squad and Seras both stay at home, which is fine with me.

turn 3:
Buckler hops his Powerfist squad out of their Razorback, moving them back towards Shelia, to help out the poor plas tactical squad. The Assault Cannon Razorback moves forward around the center ruins. the Lascannon razorback tears up the rear armor of the far right rhino, destroying it.
the assault marines flame the SoB's on the right side, then charge. The LRC moves to the north of the big rock on the right side of the board. The center Flamer SoB's take shots like pros. Shelia jumps out of her combat, and kills off all but one bolter in the plas squad, but gets killed herself.

The Seraphim decide to show up, and run onto the rocks on the left corner of the board, ready to go in pursuit of the marines. The center flamer squad moves up into the center ruins, and the cannoness gets into position to help out the left side SoB squad with their assault marine problem. The exorcists trade fire with the Demolisher and lascannon razorback. The Cannoness assaults and cleans up the Assault marines. The SoB's move around the Cannoness in the consolidate, and the cannoness moves to the rear. This was to protect vs. the Tac squad and chappy charge from out of the LRC I was anticipating.

turn 4:
the Seraphim took shots like pros, and didn't drop a single one. the LRC rolled over the rock in the center, to disembark the tac squad for a charge into the right side sisters. The LRC pops an Exorcist with it's Multimelta and Assault cannon.
The Sisters take the charge, and don't run (thanks to the Book of St. Stubborn)
The left side powerfist squad started moving out of the building, trying to escape the oncoming Seraphim. The lascannon razorback shot at the center Sister squad, and the assault cannon razorback shot at the last Exorcist, to no avail.

The seraphim get to left of the left side building, and get a few shots at the powerfist marines, who fall back, out of charge range. the center flamer squad snuggles up to the objective just outside their ruin. The cannoness charges into the combat on the right, and knocks around a head or two. the last exorcist fires at the remnants of the tac squad over near the lascannon razorback, killing them. The Melta Sisters are still at home, watching reruns of 'Gilmore Girls' for all I know. I could really use their help.

Turn 5:
the assault cannon razorback hides behind the rocks. the lascannon razorback shuffles to get different Line of sight, waiting to pick up the powerfist squad. The LRC shoots into the remaining exorcist, destroying it. The Chappy and tac squad kill off the SoB's and the cannoness, but don't move much in consolidation. The lascannon razorback fires at Seraphim, to drop one.
The Melta Girls show up in their Rhino!!!! One Melta misses, but the other hits, gets double sixes on the penetrate, and then gets a 6 on the damage table! to flatten the LRC. One of the Melta girls dies in the explosion. (not a bad trade, in my opinion) The Seraphim make their charge on the lascannon razorback, and lone bolter toting marine (from the plasma tac squad) killing both.

Turn 6:
We did turn 6, mostly for our own curiosity sake. should the tac squad charge the Melta girls, or try to get to an objective about 10 inches away, only to get shot up by the Melta girls, who could also contest that objective? will the Seraphim take out the assault cannon razorback after it tank shocks into the held objective?

it turns out, Buckler charges the Melta girls, who get killed, but the Marines can't make it onto the objective. The Seraphim fall short of destroying the razorback, which moved 6+" (or maybe they got it, I don't remember.)

It was a great game, Buckler and I both had a good time, and deliberated both of our choices in the last few rounds. I think that's the sign of a good game, when both people are comfortable discussing each other's tactical choices. Buckler and I both were making the same calls on each other's tactical moves. He uses the fall back option with his marines a bit more than I would, but it's worked for him. I play up the stubborn aspects that the Book of St. Lucius gives me.

I hope to make it back down for more great games like Sandwyrm and I had last weekend!

Saturday, March 14, 2009

The Sour Grapes of Frustration

I headed up to the tourney at the Game Preserve in Lafayette today with a new list and some high hopes. In the end though, I had a less than stellar time. I placed 10th out of eleven with a draw and two losses. Which wouldn’t have been so bad had there not been some frustrations involved. One of my 3 games was an absolute joy. But there were issues with 2 of my opponents. And after thinking about it, I really don't think that the tourney itself was at all fair to non-marine players.

Here’s what I took:

HQ Command Platoon:
85 - Command Squad w/JO(Honorifica Imperialis), Meltagun, Mortar

Infantry Platoon 1:
111 - Command Squad w/JO (plasma pistol, carapace), flamer, 3 Meltaguns, Light Infantry, Sharpshooters
95 - Infantry Squad w/Plasma Gun, Missile Launcher, Light Infantry
95 - Infantry Squad w/Plasma Gun, Missile Launcher, Light Infantry

Infantry Platoon 2:
61 - Command Squad w/JO (Bolter & CCW), Meltagun, Mortar
85 - Infantry Squad w/Plasma Gun, Missile Launcher
85 - Infantry Squad w/Plasma Gun, Missile Launcher
38 - 5-Man Remnant Squad w/Grenade Launcher

53 - Sentinel w/Heavy Flamer, Smoke Launcher, Hardened Fighters

53 - Sentinel w/Heavy Flamer, Smoke Launcher, Hardeded Fighters

72 6 Rough Riders w/Veteran Sgt. (Hunting Lance and CCW), Hunting Lances

Heavy Weapons Platoon
91 - Command Squad w/JO (Bolter and CCW), 4 Plasma Guns, Light Infantry
130 - Anti-Tank Squad w/3 Lascannons, Light Infantry, Sharpshooters
120 - Anti-Tank Squad w/3 Lascannons, Sharpshooters

198 - Leman Russ Demolisher w/Hull Lascannon, Sponson Heavy Bolters, Smoke Launchers, Improved Comms

128 - Basilisk w/Indirect Fire, Smoke Launchers

The Arrival:

When I first called to sign up, I was told to be there by 10am. I walked in at 9:45 and everyone was just standing around talking. So I started unpacking my army and placing it on my carry board. I didn't know when we were going to start the first game, but I wanted to be ready.

I had just finished putting everything out when 10am hit and the staff called out the table assignments. They then immediately started the 2 hour game clock. Maybe the organizer felt he had to do it that way to avoid delays. But the effect was that everyone started frantically running about and trying to get their armies out and ready to play. In the end, I wish he had at least waited until everyone had gotten their stuff over to the proper table.

Game One: Chaos (Mr. Slow) - 2nd Place Winner
Mission: Seize Ground

I thought I had done well by getting unpacked early, but my first opponent hadn't gotten anything out at all yet. By the time he got settled and we finished deployment, half an hour had gone by. By the time we got through our first turn, half of our 2-hours was gone. Some of that was due to the organizer starting the clock before everyone was ready. But much of it was due to my opponent taking waaaaaaay too long to complete his turns.

Now Mr. Slow was a really nice guy. And I feel bad complaining about him. But dammit, turns should not take this long during a tourney. He was a good player, but he was just getting back into the game, and it showed. It seemed like every other thing we did required him to look something up or call over the judge to make a call. In addition, his 12 year old son was playing on the next table over and he would regularly go over there to answer a question or give some advice. Had this not been a tournament I wouldn't have had any problem with his pace. It was fine for a 3-hour game. But the clock ran out at the top of turn 4 during my shooting phase, giving us a draw.

Here's where it stopped:

As you can see, we each held one objective with 2 contested. Which gave us a draw. Now look at the objective closest to the camera. He's sitting just in front of the objective with a unit of assault marines inside a Rhino he moved 12" in a mad dash at the end of turn 3. There are FOUR guard infantry units and a unit of Rough Riders surrounding him. The Rhino is actually dead. A lascannon blew it up a minute before the clock ran out. The infantry units are perfectly poised to
charge the survivors and pull them off the objective. With the Rough Riders as backup. Here's how that last minute went:

Me: Hit, Penetrating, (Rolls a 6...) BOOM!
Him: I guess they have to roll wounds. What strength is the hit?
Me: I think 4 if you're inside a vehicle...
Him (turning): Hey! What strength is it if you're inside a vehicle and it explodes?
Someone: Four!
Him: Ok, there are how many in there?... (slowly starts counting dice...)
Me (looking at clock): 2 Seconds left... Crap!
Him: Oh, it's over?

One might be tempted to accuse him of stalling deliberately, but I honestly don't think he was.

Game 2: Black Templars (Mr. Cool) - First Place Winner
Mission: Capture and Control

This mission had an unusual setup, in that you placed your opponent's objective. Which is an ok way to mix it up a bit, but it does tend to mean the the objectives are much closer to the middle. Which may have hurt me a bit vs. Mr. Cool's list, which consisted of 2 land raiders with troops inside and a 30-man marine squad on foot. But other than that it was a perfectly fine battle that I lost by placing my units too close together. Mr. Cool was the master of the multi-unit charge using his huge 30-man squad. To avoid this, I should have kept my units a few more inches apart. Which would have forced him to take them on one at a time.

The other thing that hurt me was poor rolling on my lascannons and melta guns. To my utter disbelief, neither Raider went down despite 40-some lascannon shots being made. In the end he took one objective with the other contested.

Game 3: Cheese Nob Trukk/Loota List (Mr. Lame) - 6th Place Winner
Mission: Annihilation with Dawn of War Setup

Yep. The trukk and Loota version of the cheese Nob biker list that DONKEY been playing lately. Combined with the worst possible mission and the worst possible deployment. Yuk. I probably would have had a better than even chance to beat him at annihilation if we had done a different setup. But Dawn of War was pretty hopeless. I decided to give it my best though and see how much damage I could do.

He rolled first turn so I let him set up and left my entire army in reserve. He ran one trukk to the far middle right and the other to the middle left. With the lootas in the top-middle spread out in a line. So when I came in I took the left-front corner and set up as best a defensive line as I could. I killed the left trukk right away, forcing those nobs to walk. While the right trukk took a demolisher hit to the front but only lost it's weapon. It was farther away though, so it took a bit longer to cross over to me. Which was the payoff for not setting up on the first turn. He hit my lines from the front and eventually the right side, but I was much better with my blocking units this time and he only got one double charge on me.

On my second turn I outflanked 2 squads of troopers, a sentinel, and a lascannon squad onto the left-rear corner to threaten the Lootas and force the Nobs to hoof it back there if/when they killed the front group.

On turn 3 the plasma and melta command squads came in to help the bottom line. A lone sentinel outflanked onto the right side and hoofed it for the lootas.

By turn 4 his surviving trukk on the right had finished dropping off Nobs and then it beat feet for the nearest cover to deny me a kill point. I veered the right hand sentinel down to threaten it. But it didn't come close. And even if it had he would have just moved the trukk.

The Lootas wrecked my Sentinel on the left-top and chewed up part of a troop squad. But in the end I got into double-tap flashlight range and ran them off the board. Down on the bottom line I made him pay for every foot. We ran out of turns before he could kill everyone.

In the end I dropped 5 nobs from the left group. With all the rest wounded once and the Warboss wounded twice. I dropped 6 nobs from the right group with about 4 other wounds spread around the squad. He won the game 15 - 3.

Apart from fielding a cheese list, Mr. Lame was actually fairly pleasant, all things considered. He wasn't as likable as the first two guys I played, but he was always very clear about what he was doing and who he was rolling saves for. With a written list of which nobs were wounded. But I have to call him "Mr. Lame" because he docked me a point for poor/cheesy army composition during final scoring for the game. Which I find pretty laughable considering the list he took. And considering that Mr. Slow actually called my army the least cheesy force he's ever fought.

Other Problems:

The Lafayette Game Preserve is nice and large. They had 3 long felt-covered tables set up. With 2 play areas on each table. But there was no marking of any kind between the play areas to denote where one stopped and the other started. It was left up to the players to measure and mark this. That's just not right.

Second, the play areas were 5x6 instead of 4x6. With 18" deployment zones. Which upsets the balance of the game. Especially when reserves come on 12" instead of 6".

Third, it was stated at the start of the tourney that all area terrain counted as open ground. With the only cover being from blocked line of site. In addition, there was no cover or elevated ground of any kind in the deployment zones.

This lack of area terrain cover or elevated firing positions really crippled the non-Marine armies. The results of the tourney speak volumes. The top five players were all either Marines or Chaos Marines. With only one of the five Marine Players scoring in the bottom six. The Orks scored 5th and 11th. While the 3 guard players scored 7th, 8th, and 10th. In fact, in 9 games, only one victory was scored by the guard.

I won't go into detail on the missions, since that would take much too long. But suffice it to say that they were basically just small variations on the 3 pick-up missions from the 40K rulebook. And in most cases, the small changes didn't really improve things. In some cases they just added to the problems caused by the cover issues.

So... Would I go again? Probably not, unless I could get some assurance that the mission and table issues wouldn't repeat themselves. I don't mind losing games or the occasional lame opponent. That happens. But I just don't feel like non-MEQs had a fair chance to win given the circumstances. I doubt the staff at the Lafayette store deliberately set out to favor MEQs, but I just don't think enough thought went into the missions and table setups. At least compared to the missions at the Champaign tourney. Where the tables and missions were very well thought out.

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Why It's Good to Lose Games

by SandWyrm
I had a great game last night. In fact I would go so far as to say that it was the best game of 40K I’ve ever played. And I did win, despite what the title of this post might first lead you to believe. But it got me thinking about about my progress as a 40K gamer since I came back to the hobby this past summer. And how losing has been a vital part of that.

Farmpunk and I went down to the south store so I could play someone new and so he could get one last night of 40K fun in before his new baby comes and makes him all bleary-eyed for a few months. I’m heading up to a tourney in Lafayette next weekend and I wanted to get in some practice with the new build of my army. That’s it, up above in the picture. I just put the Bassie and the mortars together this last week. But nobody showed up to the north store on Wednesday except FP and DONKEY, so I didn’t get to try them out until last night.

At first the 40K attendance was sparse, and it was looking like I’d have to play DONKEY. Which would have been ok, as I want another shot at his Cheese Bikers. But I really wanted to play something more typical and well balanced to see how my tourney list would do. Or at least something in the MEQ department, since Marines and Chaos were 3 of the 4 games I played at the Champaign tourney. As luck would have it though, another Ork player showed up. Sporting a nice balanced tourney-style list. Perfect!!!

The battle was an awesome one. He was an experienced player, but newish to 5th edition. We rolled a Cap and Control with the Spearhead deployment and went at it. Three and a half hours later I claimed victory with my objective held and his contested at the end of turn seven, but he would have won had the game ended on turn 5.
The dice gods were fickle, giving us both horrible rolls again and again with the occasional gift like the direct hit with my new Bassie that shredded half of the 19-Boy mob threatening my objective without hitting any of my surrounding units. Oh man!

But the best part of the game was that for the first time ever I felt like my army functioned as a cohesive whole, rather than just a collection of different parts. Which got me thinking about how my recent spate of losses and draws has really helped me improve my unit choices and overall tactical thinking. Sure, I won this game and the one before it against DONKEY hastily borrowed Marines. But prior to that my 10-game record was 1/5/4. Which is a far cry from the 6/4/0 I enjoyed for my first 10 games of 5th.

“Geez!” I hear you saying. “That Sucks Dude!” And yeah, it did. But it also provided an opportunity for growth. So here’s 3 ways that I think losing can improve your 40K gaming skills. Assuming you have the right attitude to learn from your mistakes.

Losing focuses your thinking on what’s important.

After a loss, are you thinking about what colors to paint your Hardened Vet Squad or how you’re going to convert a Chimera APC into a customized Hydra AA Tank? Hell no! You’re thinking about how you lost a game because you moved your troops toward the objective one turn too late. You’re thinking for the 39th time that you should have outflanked that Sentinel into his heavy weapons squads instead of putting it in regular reserve during deployment. Or you’re thinking again of how just one or two melta guns in the right place could have kept that Land Raider from contesting your home table quarter at the tournament you tied for 3rd place at.

And since that’s what you’re thinking about, you’re going to start making changes in what you bring and how you play. Which leads me to my next point.

Losing games forces you to make painful changes to your list.

I was really proud of myself back around late September. You see, I had an almost entirely painted 1500 pt. force! Which was great! I’m a VERY good painter. When I go gaming I get lots of attention for how good my models look. Typically I spend 3.5 hours on each of my rank and file and 6-8 hours on my heroes. That’s a huge time commitment. So when I get a unit painted I want to use it!

Problem was, while my army looked great, it wasn’t winning that many games. Especially when I went up against veteran players. Because, like many painters, I had bought things based on how good they looked rather than how well they played. So my army had too many elite and heavy support choices for its size. With just the bare minimum number of troop choices and a couple of Sentinels for fast attack.

So when I started losing more than I won I was forced to consider what was working in my army and what wasn’t. You’ve seen my current army up above. Here’s what I DIDN’T use from my collection. Ouch! It’s a whole army unto itself. Some of it’s new stuff I’ve bought recently, but most of it was bought back in 1998 and 1999 when I was playing a mere 4-6 games a year of 2nd and 3rd edition in a friend’s garage. I wasn’t winning much. But I wasn’t losing enough to learn from my mistakes either. So I just bought stuff that looked cool without really thinking about how it would be played.

It’s painful to see 5 lovingly painted tanks sitting there unused. Three of which were completed since I started playing 5th edition eight months ago. But I had to face the fact that Chimeras are way too overpriced in 5th. For just 10 points per squad I can outflank into the right and left table edges, making them obsolete even as shield walls.

The Russes are out as well. Since the Demolisher is far more effective against Termies and Ork Nobs. Both of which will walk right through a large AP3 Blast. And the new cover rules mean that even Grots and Gaunts can save against it if they’re positioned carefully. And the Exterminator, while a slightly better value than a Russ, is just not as survivable In the anti-horde role as cheaper heavy bolter or autocannon squad is. And the squad can be given the Sharpshooter doctrine, making it more likely for them to hit.

My twenty Stormtroopers with their 7-layer camouflage are a waste of points too. They simply don’t do anything well compared to cheaper troops with the Light Infantry or Drop Troop doctrines. And while I like the Ogryns a lot as fighters, they’re tactically inflexible compared to a squad of six Rough Riders at 2/3rds the points which can threaten anything within 18-24 inches of my table edge. See those Priests and Commissars by the tanks? Same story. Overpriced and under performing.

Point is, I just wouldn’t have the heart to cut any of these units out of my list if I was winning even 50% of my games lately. I fell in love with all of them while painting them. They look cool! But that’s the value of losing. It forces changes.

Like this one:

On the left we have a wonderfully painted model of Prince-Colonel Feisal Abu Tallarn. Feisal has had a hard time in 5th. As I keep taking away all his toys. When I first started playing with him in 3rd edition, he would routinely get the works. Master Crafted Power Weapon, Master Crafted Plasma Pistol, Bionics, Carapace Armor, Refractor Field, Trademark Item, etc. Problem is, NONE OF THAT GEAR HAS EVER WON ME A GAME! Never. Because even if you tool up a guard command squad with 400 pts. of close-combat veterans, a Commissar, and a Priest the best he’ll ever be able to is cut through a unit of Ork Boyz. Not Nobs, just regular Boyz. And once he’s taken out that 200 pt. unit of Boyz the Warboss will come right over and chop off his head. That is, if the Commissar doesn’t do it first for failing to make a leadership role. And so he’s down to just his power sword and plasma pistol these days. Which is just about the minimum I can give him and still use his model. And so today I’m giving him his pink slip.

On the right is Colonel Lawrence. Who was recently airlifted in from Forge World via the eBay sector after a horrific tank battle injury and given new plastic legs. Lawrence has a laspistol, close combat weapon, AND NOTHING ELSE.

Well… maybe an Honorifica so I can save five points. Point is, he's there to lead and nothing else.

Feisal was my last sacred cow. The one mini I had in my army who was not replaceable. But his end came during this last, awesome battle with the Orks. For, at the brink of possible failure, my objective was saved not by Feisal, who once again fell under a green Orky mob without causing a single wound. But by a well placed Basilisk round and 21 nearby lasguns firing 2 shots each. Because the strength of the guard is not in it’s characters, but it’s troops. And the 15 points I’ll save can be better spent on them.

So Feisal is out. Lawrence isn’t painted, but I can live with that for a while.

Finally, we come to the last way losing will help you.

Losing means you’re playing against people you can learn from.

There was a newbie that showed up to the south store with literally just the Black Reach box of Marines and Orks. If I’d wanted, I could have easily tabled him in a turn or three and felt very smug in my middle-tier superiority. But whipping him wouldn’t have taught me anything about the game. The guys I want to play are the ones who can actually beat me. Because losing another game to an experienced player will force me to think and adapt. And if I win against a Vet then it will actually mean I learned something.

So don’t be afraid to lose. It may be the most important thing you do.

Thursday, March 5, 2009

Yellow is a good color...

So after calling out the gopher I had a game, JibJeb was geared and ready to go...
but in the end he decided it was better to stay married than to play me. Not going to fault him on that one. Good news was that Dustin stepped up and took me on one on one. For those who don't know Dustin is the guy that I got into the hobby with, and the reason that I didn't win a game for my first eight months. eventually as everything does, the tables were turned and Dustin couldn't catch a break against me for a very long time.

That was until this game, I have not been beaten so hard or so soundly since I first decided that it might be a good idea to get DE warriors into a fist fight w/ space wolves. My list was 1500 points of terminator love (DA Codex) while Dustin had taken a shooty Space Wolf list. Rather than relive the experience, at the end of turn five Dustin had tabled me while I had manages to kill of a grand total of 11 gray hunters and immobilize one dreadnought.

In fact the game was bad enough that I felt obligated to check Mort for bruises when I got home. If I learned one thing this last weekend, that is I need to paint my new Smurfs Yellow and add a bleeding heart to their shoulders.

oh my gosh! not the face!

infiltration and 1st turn charges. yes timmy, they CAN happen, and what you can do to avoid them.

Last night I played DONKEY. He played my all Light Infantry Guard list. I'm not sure why he didn't go get his Necron, or Chaos, or Orks out of his car, but I'm not sure he wanted to play me that bad. DONKEY refused to play the Sisters, so that left me with GK's, after he took the IG. I'll try to get the IG list put up sometime.

Spearhead Deployment, 4 counters on the board to claim. I got 1st turn. I took a corner with a hedge and wrecked rhino in the bottom left (center of my deployment, and a hill on the left center of the board. There was a power station in the center, (Cygnar Storm Research Station) a hill in the far left center of the board, on DONKEY's side, but not his deployment quarter. There was also a hill on my side in the far right hand side of the board, not in my deployment. Then there were trees back in DONKEY Deployment corner.

I was playing the DH list I've posted before. I had the Inq. Lord shooty retinue behind the hedge, with 2 rhinos up to the 12" from Center, and GK Psycannon squad between them, all of this towards the left center of the board. The IST's stood behind their rhinos, ready to get in. The GM and 10GK squad, were in their LRC, on the right center of the board at the 12" from center line.
So then DONKEY could set up wherever he wanted. DONKEY asked SandWyrm for help, and Sandwyrm explained the tactic of putting the Missile Launcher and Grenade launcher out front, then snaking the squad behind cover, and other squads, to have over 50% behind something to get cover saves.
DONKEY didn't deploy very well. This army ALL has light infantry. He could set up ANYwhere, as long as he was 18" away when in Line of Sight, and 12" away when hidden.
He was right at 18" away from the LRC, with 4 squads on the right side of the board. The Grandmaster and 10 GK's were gonna get to take some names.

I thought about calling the game. getting a 1st turn charge on 1/3 of the army means death. Especially when I know Shelia's going to pop up in turn 2 or 3, fry, and then snickety-snack her way through the 'safe' guys in the back who didn't get shot up by the Inq. Lord or psycannon GK's.

Get in the Van
When there's a big bus 'o nasty on the board, you don't want to take a 1st turn charge when you've got a shooty army. I'm not sure ANYONE wants to take a charge on 1st turn, before they move.
If you can infiltrate, deploy farther than your enemy can reach. For instance, a LRC can move 12", an plop things out 2" from the hatches. the bases give about another 2" if they're termies (which the GM is), and then there's a 6" charge. that's a threat range of 22". If you measure and deploy 23" from your opponent, and they somehow still hit your line, please call them out on miraculously moving FARTHER THAN THEY POSSIBLY CAN. c'mon, it's math. There are rules to the game for moving.

Aw Man, where'd he come from?
now if you happen to be the infiltrator, you can also use this information to your advantage.

One that many Imperials like to use (because I don't know that Chaos 'dex infiltrators very well anymore) is the Eversor asassin, he's got 6" move, and 12" charge, for an 18" threat range. Guy Smiley is one of the few Infiltrating units that Inquisition players get. When He infiltrates, measure the 18" to a juicy squad, and check your 12" hidden options.
If you've got 1st turn, 18" in the open isn't a horrible choice, but coming around a corner to charge from 12+" is better, in case your opponent steals the initiative. If you're 2nd, you definately want him hidden.
since with infiltrate you get to set up after all deployment, take the time to measure, and deploy carefully. Your opponent's going to know what's coming, and that's fine. That can sometimes misdirect attention from other dangerous aspects of your force.

We bring measuring tools for a Reason
finally, it's sound to be aware of distances in 40k. knowing how far your troops are away in deployment is a really good thing. Knowing how far your opponent can move and charge is good as well.
When your opponent gets the chance to measure something (in the proper phase, of course) pay attention. Measuring is telling you something. Use the knowledge, and plan accordingly.

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