Wednesday, 29 April 2009

Magnets and Modelling

I recently aquired some miniature magnets (about 2mm by 1mm circular magnets) for use with my modelling projects. The first thing to apply it to was the new sentinal I ordered with my codex (the original target with all those tasty weapon options on the sprue) Putting the sentinal together I discovered the magnets would be perfectly sized for the new sentinal weapon options. They also appear small enough for me to make the top cap removable so I can choose the armoured or scout varient sentinal from game to game. I am trying to use these magnets to add flexibility to my models in future (as the recent trend from loving side sponsons, to hating side sponsons, to loving them again but oh god why did I put a lascannon in the hull has taught me, GW like to keep you on your toes.) Oh, in case you were wondering, the reason I can change the roof is that I never really liked the wire frame roof of the open topped sentinal, and have always favoured my topless Catachan conversion. Future scout sentinals will be following this lead (including some old ones I'm gonna fit up with multilasers, I have plenty of heavy flamer variants already.)

The new kit is fantastic and I look forward to getting the model undercoated and the magnets applied. I will then see how they look before carefully painting the models.

It was upon completing this (at least as far as undercoating stage - personally I keep the pilot out and the legs, and in this case weapons, seperate for painting) I thought about other applications of these wonderful magnets. Another model I wanted to have lots of versatility with (especially considering the price) was the Ork battle wagon. Chiefly, the roof fixtures, so I could have them open topped, close topped, and armed with a variety of weapons. So I started to assemble my first battle wagon.

Something you don't realise going in, is how intricate these models are. Orks are very ramshackle. Which gives the painter a major disadvantage against Imperials. Imperial vehicles are very boxy. Very square. You tend to see just the outside, and on the odd occassions you have interior detail, it isn't too hard to get to by simple part assembly and later completion. The Ork Battlewagon on the other hand, is ramshackle. From one side you can see to the other. There are wheels, tracks, engine bits and gubbins everywhere, plus the hull being festooned with a frankly mahoosive (yes, that is now a real word) ram that all get in the way of painting. Thus you have to do a fair amount of assembly, then paint, then assemble some more. I stuck most of it together last night, and it looks like I am going to have 20 seperate parts to undercoat when I start that model. That doesn't include the individual segments of track guard. That's phenomenal. I can reassure myself to a certain degree that a base colour of black and some metallic detail will suffice for the parts that will inevitably be hidden, but it still feels like a hell of a task. Especially compared to my Baneblades, which are typically Demo Cannon (Black and it's done) Turret, and three smaller turrets, and the tank itself. 6 pieces.

Annoyingly, as I got to the end of the model I couldn't see an easy place to put my magnets to secure the roof in game. I may end up relying on luck and balance like another Ork player after all. But I had spent a lot of time glueing, so maybe taking a fresh look with a clear head will see me find a way forward.

Next up for the magnets, can I make Imperial heavy weapons interchangeable on the limited bases they give you. And get me more sentinals, they at least look like they're gonna work. Plus I always loved that model.

Monday, 27 April 2009

Straken beats down the Ruinous Powers

OK, played my first game under the new codex. Went with a solid base of 3 infantry squads with melta guns with 2 squads mortars and 2 squads missiles in support. Command with Straken. A demolitions experts vet squad, a penal legion squad, an ogryn squad (joined by Yarrick) and a couple of battle tanks. Facing off against me Rich was using 2 units of Death Guard, a unit of chosen, 20 lesser daemons, a defiler, 2 dreads, and a daemon prince of slaanesh (with lash) fighting alongside a daemon prince of nurgle with nurgles rot. (How nice to see these arch enemies of chaos put their differences aside just to fight little old me...)

Rolled and got an objective game (YEEEESSSSSSS!!!!! At Last! At Long Last!) Capture and Control. Rich had first turn and put his high in a building. I went for a building on the opposite corner. Had Slaanesh daemon Prince and defiler on his left, dread in middle, 2 rhinos of death guard on his right. Kept nurgle daemon prince, lesser daemons in reserve, along with outflanking chosen and one of his dreads.

My roll for the penal legion gave them assault 2 lasguns. I deployed them on the objective (stubborn troops, good objective holder in my book, plus they now had 2 shots out to 24" so the opportunity to pepper some marines on the way in... if I got them out of their rhinos.) I had another squad and then platoon command behind them. The mortars at the back of the field. I had Straken and his command in a chimera next to my troops, with a missile team either side of the mass of troops, and an infantry squad supporting each missile squad. I put both battle tanks on my left, had the vets ready to jump into a chimera in the middle, and the ogryns embarked, also in the centre. My right flank was pretty deserted.

Managed to sieze the initiative. Good day or what! Using orders to twin link my missile team, pegged one of the rhinos. Then the battle tanks managed to account for the other one. Rich fell his troops out of the wrecks, forwards. Fair enough... that puts them in range of 30 lasgun shots from the penal legion using the first rank fire second rank fire... will have to double check this but I'm pretty sure it was lasguns, will have to make sure it doesn't specify rapid firing lasguns... Some sustained mortar fire and chimera fire in support took down a couple of death guard, but not many. These guys are good at soaking up fire. Straken having proved the merit of the orders system, I resisted the temptaion to push ahead. With str 7 i 4 power weapon on the charge, it was tempting to send him hunting for the death guard. But the value of the orders, while not game breaking, proved very useful against certain targets. The platoon commmand orders didn't prove too useful in this game (didn't have the need to weather heavy fire, and I was already sat on my objective.) The extra shots proved useful though. The Command Platoon though, with it's twin linking against large targets, proved far more useful. Plus they can use any of the other orders too.

The ogryns proved far more durable with their new toughness. The dreaded marine with power fist caused two wounds... not even enough to kill one ogryn. Under the old rules he'd have killed two outright. Plus when they were fighting the lesser daemons they soaked up a lot of attacks... the difference between wounding on 4 and wounding on 5 accounted for a lot of the attacks Rich rolled. Yarrick leading them gave them extra vigour, and yarricks new re-rolling of successful wounds proved quite fun. He was dragged down in the last turn... we didn't have another turn to see if he'd get up again or not (though by a humouring Rich roll, he didn't, not this time. I'm sure we'll see himagain though.) The ogryns, with Yarrick, managed to polish off half a death guard squad, beat down the Slaanesh daemon Prince, and kill about half the lesser daemons before being overwhelmed. More importantly, they proved quite a speed bump stopping those lesser daemons from reaching my objective.

My veterans, after a mauling from nurgles rot, got back in the chimera and went on their way proving a distraction for Richs defiler and dread. I realised they wouldn't make tRichs objective (by the time I got over there past his guardians and climbed two floors... he'd have battle cannoned me anyway) but it kept him occupied and away from my bastion of fire. His only hope by the end was contesting my objective. His nurgle daemon prince was there trying to do just that, but by then I'd decided Straken had a bigger job than giving orders, and after several rounds of combat he dragged that sucker down. The platoon command had taken up position near the objective but out of the fight ready to cliam the objective when the daemon prince died. Rich last hope on his turn 5 was to send his rhino in and hope to contest. I braced Straken in the way, ready for Death or Glory, (he is str 6, plus he has 2D6 armour penetration, though I don't think Rich realised that.) It was irrelevent. Rich immobilised his Rhino on the difficult ground ahead of him. With the dice roll saying htere'd be no turn 6 the guard had won the day!

Finally, some rumours persist of a single man wiping out 8 death guard with a well placed demo charge. Admittedly, one survived the blast and moved on to immobilise a Leman Russ. But then the mysterious trooper tracked him down and gutted him like a fish. He was last seen charging a daemon prince of nurgle in support of his colonol... 6 attacks 4+ to hit, 2+ to wound. Sadly Ginge was in command, so he managed to miss the collossol hunk of festering meat with every swing. The daemon prince, perhaps out of sheer amusement, turned away from the command squad to squash the annoying man. This gave Straken the opening he was looking for to rip out the daemons spine. The daemon didn't seem to notice this so the colonol proceeded to beat him round the head with it, and eventually killed the beast.

Sly Marbo. 65 points. Well worth it. A special weapon sqaud with demo charge costs 55 points (though you have to have 2 other weapons, so you're looking at 65 minimum, though you'll then have a couple of flamers too. They are then 6 men who your opponent can see carrying a large bomb who have to make their precarious way to where they are needed most. Sly just... apppears. He can lob his demo charge (wiping out 7 nurgle marines) and while he doesn't have a power weapon, ignore him at your peril. 2+ to wound is quite nasty when most of the nurgle army are laughing at you as you try in vain to get those 6s to wound. He will be a definite feature of my army, and it's good to have my old favourites back.

What I'm not looking forward to is seeing people with Savlar Chem Dogs, lead by Lord Castellan er... Sneed, advised by Colonol Snaken, and look there's Sly Manbo, Captain Chickov and however many other special characters they can squeeze in. I want to do a themed army which is fun. Commissars can go in basic squads now. I may use that with a cadian force, but there's no way I'd use it in a Catachan army. (I still love the old codex rule of commissars in those armies meeting with unfortunate "accidents" on the way to the battle on a roll of a 6... so there's no way I'd put them in an army now even though there'd be nothing like that stopping me. There are some people out there who will abuse this codex. I don't think it's as open to abuse as others, but power gamers always find a way. I just hope they don't give me a bad name, to the extent I turn up with Marbo and Straken and get acussed of cheating. Hey, at least these guys are from the same PLANET!!!

Anyway, update over. Very impressed with the way it plays, more new things to try next week.

Friday, 24 April 2009

Thoughts on the new codex

I'm going to run through some of the changes I've noticed. I'm not going to dwell too much on the new stuff, as it seems all the attention on bols and other places has been focused on the new shiny stuff and not paying much attention to what will, for many people, form the core of their armies. In essence, the stuff they've already got! The new tanks, many don't have models yet. The massed valkyries will take a while to accumulate at £35 a pop. The dreaded pyskers? It'll take time for people to convert up some of those. But guardsmen? People already have plenty of those, and they've changed. They've become cheaper!

At first I was disappointed by the reduction in points for a basic squad from 60 to 50. But the basic loadout has improved. For starters, the sergeant is the equivalent of the old veteran sergeant. That extra point of LD is essential now that you can no longer use vox to make a LD 9 army. They also have frags. It's been a while since I used frags with guard (when it was strike simultaneously, it was worth it. I had a better chance assaulting into cover than in the open. When it became strike in initiative order, well apart from Tau and Ork having them or not was irrelevent.) But it's nice to have them, plus it means my average squad can potentially damage a tank in assault. Add in the frags and sergeant, and the squad value under the old system was 76. Now it is 50. That's a hell of a saving. 3 squads for 2 under those figures. Plasmaguns have jumped by 5 points, but most squad heavy weapons have dropped by 5 each too.

In addition they can now have heavy and special weapon squads the same as the old command squad had. This has the advantage of making these units scoring, as well as meaning you can have far more of them. Again, the points are reduced, allowing more of them. Mortars are the standard equipment. The basic squad costs 60 points as opposed to 80. Again, a good saving. Infantry in all it's basic forms has come down in price.

Finally, the Chimera has dropped in price. The basic loadout used to cost me 88 points. Now it's 55. The basic scoring units and the infantry is much cheaper, so you'll see more of them. This is entirely in keeping with the whole ethos of the guard. I like it.

The problem with these under the old rules. Too easy to take down. At T4 and a 5+ save a rapid firing boltgun squad could decimate them. And worst of all were the dreaded space marines with power fists in close combat. I can recall a fight where I lost one ogryn and killed 6 marines. I'm heading for a win. But then up pops the space marine with power fist. 2 attacks. 2 wounds. 2 dead ogryns. Now the marines only caused 5 wounds to my 6, but thanks to the instant kill power fist I lost 9 to their 5. A win becomes a heavy defeat.

In the new codex they've alleviated this problem with the simple step of making them T5. Anyone who's fought plague marines will know how much of a pain that makes them. They've also lost 1 point of initaitive, 2 points of Ld, and lost the old "beat them with the ripper gun" strength bonus. On the upside, they now have furious charge, stubborn (certainly offsets the Ld reduction) and their ripper guns have an extra shot and is now str5. They also have an extra attack basic. A squad of 5 ogryns will have 15 str 5 shots, then will charge with 21 str 6 I3 attacks. Now whether this is worth the extra 15 points per model... a few games will tell that one.

Rough Riders
These are the slightly cheaper once you include the cost of the hunting lances under the old rules (and who'd take rough riders without them?) and now they have frags, something they were criminally lacking before. They also have krak grenades, giving them a basic anti tank ability you'd have had to pay 2 points per model for before. The only downside I can see is that you can't give the squad melta bombs any more, a common tactic I used to do. Kill one high value squad then go tank hunting. They can still do that, but now they'll have to suffice with the less devastating krak grenades. Once they've charged most people will hopefully ignore them anyway, as the lance is one use only. Hopefully using this "oh they've done their damage now" attitude you can pick off a couple of annoying enemy vehicles.

I'm gonna stick to the basic Battle tank for now. The basic cost has gone from 140 to 150, but that does include a Hull Heavy Bolter, searchlight, smokes, and an extra point of side armour. So about the same. Where the cost has gone up though is in the extra weapons. To do the basic loadout of weapons you got in the box and has been the standard pattern for many years used to cost 169. Now it's 185. Side sponsons with Heavy bolters used to cost 10 points, now they cost 20. I guess this is justifiable. Given they can now fire extra weapons as well as ordnance sponsons have gone from being "oh well something to do after the first weapon destroyed result reemoves my battle cannon" to actually laying down some supporting fire against whatever it is that your battle cannon is probably shooting at (given the increase in scatter and cover saves, the help is probably required) Now whether it'll be as devastating as people make out I don't know. Many people have pointed to the Executioner with plasma cannon side sponsons as being 5 small templates. Devastating yes, but they all scatter. Plus by my reckoning you'll only ever have to deal with 4. From LOS rules you'd be bloody lucky to get both side sponsons to see the same target. Same principle with the heavy bolters. I don't know when you'll be able to use more than 1. Anyway, to shave some points down I may have to go back through my vehicle collection and try to remove some hull lascannons, swap them for the paid for as standard heavy bolter. Thie will bring them back down to the sort of price I'm used to.

Finally, the new orders system looks interesting, but not broken. It can help a squad do better firing for a turn, or possibly rally a broken squad that you really needed to hold. The ability to make a unit twin linked is only against big targets, in which case you're looking at single shot high strength weapons, and three at the most in that one. They need all the help they can get in my experience. A few games will have to be played to see how this one turns out.

That'll do for now. More will follow once I've got a couple of games in.

Thursday, 23 April 2009

New Codex and the 1/9 Aircav

Today I recieved my new Guard Codex. Having been a guard player since 2000 it was nice to see the return of some old favourites of mine (I started with Catachans) in the form of Sly Marbo and Colonol Iron Hand Straken. Tonight I shall be poring over it and coming up with armies I can use in my Monday night club games. I do however have an idea I'd been toying with for years that I'd love to do now.

Years ago I saw in White Dwarf someones conversion of a land speeder. They'd stretched it and used it as a counts as Chimera for their Catachan guard army. I loved the idea, and considered doing something similar. But then my Catachan codex got phased out, and I turned into a bit of a tread head.

Now with the new codex, Valkyries have opened up all sorts of possibilities. I plan to get more tanks and take full advantage of everything the codex has to offer in good time, but for the moment I'm focussed on the valkyries.

I've only just got the book, so don't have the list yet. But expect to see Straken, Marbo, no tanks and lots of infantry with plenty of Valkyrie and Vendetta support. I also plan to customise the valkryies, giving them Catachan passengers (including a Killgore lookalike for those who know their movie trivia, his Valkyrie will also be carrying a surfboard) and in one I'm looking at wiring up a small circuit if I can hide it with a couple of mini speakers and an old MP3 player, loaded with various tunes (Ride of the Valkryies obviously) and some selected tunes from the soundtracks of Platoon, Full Metal Jacket, Forrest Gump... :oP

The 1st Battalian Catachan 9th Air Cavalry Regiment will be a work in progress, with updates as and when I accomplish milestones.

For now, I think that's a good start to my blog, now I want to read my shiny new codex :oD