FtW Bloggers Group

Tuesday, 27 March 2012

Mission Objectives, Win/loss vs battlepoints etc.


I think that recently there has been a swing towards rulebook missions at tournaments, whilst organisers have tended to come up with their own missions in the past. It's not to say that there still aren't tournaments that come up with their own missions, but often there are more combinign of rulebook missions to get variety but keep to the spirit of the game. Are these a good thing?

Out of the three rulebook missions, I personally think that Capture and Control is the most boring. People who only play for the draw can achieve it relatively easily. When playing Capture and Control, a secondary objective (such as objectives on the centre line or even kill points) should be included. Other then that, Seize Ground and Kill Points balance out each other in a nice way. Sieze Ground calls for mobile msu, whilst KPs favour lists with less msu. It is maybe easier to play Sieze Ground with an army compromised of large units (since you can string out units only slightly limited by the rules for units) but playing killpoints is more difficult with msu. In principle, an msu list should be able to suppress more of the opposing firepower and minimize return fire (saturating), but this relies on the assertion that you're playing against mech. That's why infantry is still good as firesupport in this game, they can't be suppressed. You have to destroy them completely. Sure, armies can often deal with 15 long fangs, but it's certainly more difficult and draws away more firepower. Overall, I think the book missions are nice, but they require combining different objectives to keep it interesting.

Some organizers take onboard other mission objectives, table quarters being the most common sight. There are a couple of ways to go about this. Calculating VPs for control provides more balance (although MSU tends to be pretty good with VPs since they give away less per unit) but control points (such as in the etc) tend to favour MSU again. Sometimes you might see a format where table quarters are objectives that only scoring units can control/contest. It is similar to the rulebook missions (maintaining the importance of scoring units). Out of these three, I personally favour victory points. It leaves more strategy towards the end of the game, as you juggle units around to gain a majority in enough quarters (and trying to minimize extra points in quarters).

However, victory points aren't really part of 5th edition. They were included in the rulebook, but I think game designers moved away from victory points on purpose. Should we follow the path set by the game designers? I like victory points, I think they still add to the game. They favour armies that deal damage and don't just aim for t5 contesting, but they only slightly favour msu over kp denial. I personally enjoy tournaments which limit objectives to the book missions, quarters and VPs. A streamlined version that plays purely the rulebook missions is nice and simple, but extra objectives add variety and require you to think more. I don't like it when tournaments take it further (e.g. escorting "objectives" or capture the flag). It can easily cause an imbalanced game. I also think that combining multiple mission objectives per a scenario is a must. It adds more avenues to victory and I personally enjoys those games more.

However, is it better to play straight W/D/L or battlepoints? I see both sides of the argument. In a basic tournament setting, W/D/L allows any army to snatch a victory from a bad matchup. It also doesn't ask for total annihilation (which newer cheaper codices tend to do better). It doesn't allow come backs after a close defeat. That can be disappointing, but not necessarily a bad thing. It gets players to play for the win in every match. In a W/D/L format, I think KPs need to be with a certain margin. The margin doesn't have to be big, but going first there really is no way of knowing what the outcome of KPs will be on t5 if there isn't a proper margin.

However, the etc format makes good use of battlepoints. When playing 8 battles simultaneously, trying to gather as many points for the team as possible adds spice to the mix. I personally think it's very interesting. It does favour catious play, but it also calls for good generalship to know your army's limits. I wouldn't trade battlepoints in that format for anything. This same theory can be applied to any team tournament. I think it's more interesting playing at a team tournament with a properly scaled battlepoint system (where even single points count). At a regular tournament, it's less relevant.

So I just spilled a load of text on paper about my personal attitude towards missions and formats. Although only slightly echoed in this text, I suggest that you all think about your own army's strengths and weaknesses in different missions and formats. Certain armies excell in a certain format (battlepoints vs W/D/L) and certain builds do better in different mission objectives (such as DE and the dreaded KPs). On the one hand, you can look to balance your army to try and minimze those weaknesses, but sometimes you just have to go with the imbalance, accept it and learn how to deal with it. I've won loads of KP missions versus space wolves with my DE. It can be done, but you have to be conscious of that weakness and play smart.

If you're not that much into tournament play, it's still good to remain conscious of these imbalances. When you play e.g. battlemissions, it's a good idea to think before hand about the list you're bringing. If it's going to show a distinct advantage in a certain mission, and you're playing for fun, I suggest you think again about your list. I know I've made a game just dull by accidently bringing along a list that turned out to be too good at a certain mission.

Saturday, 24 March 2012

Preparing for Adepticon: Converting DE Corsairs


I've been really busy with real life, but I'm pushing to finish my DE army. They need some freehands and conversions to really make them unique. Sry, the picture is not great, but I tried to alter it to the best of my abilities. Here are some basic warriors (corsairs). I sculpted pouches and bags from green stuff for some of them. Combined with the slung rifles on other guys, I think they are a lot more interesting models then the original 2nd ed warriors. Anyway, nothing big in this update. I'm planning on building my display board for the army tomorrow.

Monday, 12 March 2012

Paradigm Shift; Anti-Tank and CC: Scarab Swarms


Not so long ago the world firmly believed that antitank in CC was weak, unreliable and shouldn't be attempted. With the new necron codex, many players have pointed to scarabs and the awesome antitank that they are. The question is, what has really changed? Is there some fundamental reason why scarabs are that much more effective, or have people just simply learned to see the game in a different light as a result of the new necron codex?

One of the main reasons why people opposed antitank and CC was that in order to destroy a tank, you had to be in base contact with it. Thus, you are committing yourself in order to achieve the simple goal of destroying a rhino. With scarabs, that's no different. Scarabs do come in big units (especially with the help of 9 tomb spyders) allowing multiple combats, allowing you to attempt to destroy more then one vehicle once you commit. Is this really because scarab swarms are so much better, or because opponents don't what formation to adopt when fighting scarab swarms. By layering your vehicles (preferably with flamer-weaponry or otherwise threatening squads/tanks in front) you should be able to get the scarab player to either a) commit his scarabs to take out the first layer and be susceptible to the inevitable counterattack, or b) take those units to the face and try to get in range of the second/third layer of the tanks before commiting.

Scarabs are more cost effective then other units, that's a given. On the other hand, scarabs also require numbers to deal damage, due to the mechanic of entropic strike. In addition, when compared to a higher strength, entropic strike needs to roll a couple more dice to get the same results. This pretty much evens out, as scarabs throw down more dice to hit, penetrate etc., but require an extra phase to do damage. I still don't believe that scarabs are lightyears away from other armies with regards antitank in CC.

You can get perfectly good results in CC with units that are otherwise more diverse then scarabswarms. Scarabs just introduced a new mechanic that seems different. In the end, it's just a slight difference in probability. Same elements from a strategic point of view (you still suffer from an effective range of 0") and the same playstyle as any army that pops tanks in CC.

Thursday, 8 March 2012

DE reserving when going second


When going up against a shooty army that wins the roll-off, it is often better for the DE player to reserve rather then deploy. Sometimes, you might be able to find enough los block or migitate the opponents firepower enough to deal with going second on the board, but even this has drawbacks. These drawbacks are most apparent with a venomspam list, which utilises mostly blasters for antitank. 18" range blasters means that you've just committed your models on the battlefield, but will have to zoom forward from that corner you're hiding in in order to get in range. Sometimes, this really isn't worth it.

When reserving you're always gonna be fighting with about 50% of your army against the entire opposing army when you come in on t2. However, DE have so many units placed in reserve, that you can expect pretty average results. It's easier to score that 50% average with over 10 units in reserve, compared to armies with less unit choices. The main advantage in reserving vs deploying in a corner is that you are not committing any of your forces in deployment, but you'll be able to strike anywhere across the entire board edge on t2. You're keeping the initiative in the game and aren't stuck in a certain place with your weapons. You wouldn't believe how many people come withing 32" of your board edge (range of disembarking blasters), meaning that you'll be getting all your shots off, just as if you were alphastriking a poorly deployed opponent. It's a difficult situation for your opponent. If he stays outside of blaster range, that's 2 turns of movement away from him.

It's good to remember that you don't have to fully reserve your army. If you have losblock in your deployment zone, you can stack the amount of venoms/lances that you'll be getting for your t2 betastrike(?). I would deploy units that have a longer range, like ravagers. Thus, you're still able to strike pretty much anywhere on the board and aren't limiting your options on t2. Deploying troops is a little risky. By deploying them, you are commiting them to a certain point on the battlefield. In objective missions, you might want to rather have them in reserve and see where you want to have them once they come on.

So, when reserving you want to maximize the gains from it. Steal 2 shooting phases from your opponent and maintain the ability to strike anywhere along your long board edge. When you come on, it's generally better to pick off a weaker side of your opponent's battleline and try to annihilate it first.

Although DE is one of the few armies that frequently goes into reserves when going second, the same applies to any army that is looking to go full reserves.
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