Saturday, May 28, 2011

Pie Plate Woes aka Fire Prisms, What's the Point?

Every so often, I like to go back and reread units to make sure I feel like I'm taking full advantage of everything my Codex has to offer, and sometimes I have a revelation. Most times though, I feel like I made a good call in never using something, like Fire Prisms (and the Night Spinner counterpart). And it's not just Fire Prisms either. I feel the same way about most tank choices that rely on a single gun with a large blast template to own face, and this includes vindicators and defilers for example, but at least they're already Strength 10 with a good AP. Fire Prisms though...just yuck. Sure, some people may tell you "dat's why you link 2 or 3 of 'em up and get a betterer gun to do da shootin' wit..." Congratulations on having a 500 point gun that automatically has a 50% miss built into it. Every time I watch a batrep on YouTube and see an Eldar lose and gt a confused look on their face because their Fire Prism didn't do anything, I just chuckle to myself.

There are so many things wrong with the Fire Prism, and for a proof of concept, compare it to a Falcon. The Falcon is the same point cost, has access to the same upgrades, and you can get 3 Strength 8 shots as opposed to the single Strength 9 shot (Strength 5 if you use the large blast). For a real kick in the teeth, the Fire Prism arbitrarily has BS4, but since it's a scatter weapon, you get the same hit chance as BS3...same as the Falcon! The last important note is that the Falcon is also troop transport. So not only can I blast you at long range with Strength 8 weapons, but I can hold an objective as well. Fantastic.

So what brings on this rant? Just so many "famous players" on YouTube who use this and seem to advocate it, but I've never really seen them do well with it consistently. In my opinion, check out War Walkers. These guys are my bread and butter, and every battle, tournament, league, etc, they've been by MVPs. My lists usually tend to include 2 3-model squads of walkers, each decked out with dual scatter lasers, and a Falcon with holo-fields that I keep a 5 man dire avenger squad in.

In closing, I'm not the only one on DED 'ARD who's gotten fed up with pie plate guns. A few of our marines players won't touch vindicators, and one who did own 3 of them, dumped them because of how little they performed for him. IG players have it a bit easier though since they can run their template producing vehicles in squadrons for better cost. I'd be very interested to hear if you have had similar experiences with your blast template vehicles, or if you even think I'm completely off the mark.


Adventure Games: Kickoff Tournament

While normally we just discuss tactics or the hobby, I've decided to give a plug to a local store here in Northeast Pennsylvania. Adventure Games just opened a brand new location in Dickson City, PA and is having it's first Warhammer 40K Tournament in years.

The new location is over 8000 square feet and is currently set up to run nearly 20 tables for wargaming tournaments including 40K, WHFB, and Warmachine. The tournament is on June 4th at 11am. Armies are 1850 points with a cash prize for the winners. Yours truly will definitely be participating, along with several other DED'ARD members. So, if you think you'll be able to make it, here's the details:

Adventure Games
849-851 Main St
Dickson City, PA 18519

If you'd like to register contact before June 1st with your roster and to pre-register.

Stay tuned for follow up pics of the tournament itself.


Friday, May 27, 2011

Not So Finecast

I've been viewing the recent Games Workshop price increases with my usual disbelief. I'll still pay these prices because I love their miniatures and their games are the best in my opinion, but even I'm starting to get a bit annoyed. Along with the price raise, we also had this whole concept of metal miniatures going away and being replaced with resin. As Tenacious D would say, "You can't kill the metal. The metal will live on." Looks like that isn't the case and these new resin figs will reign supreme. Not sure how I feel about all this.

When the rumors started flying, I was thinking that Games Workshop was going to use all of the same molds from their metal miniatures and just sell these new miniatures like Forge World direct on their website. This would cut out discount shops like TheWarStore and others and increase their bottom line. Since the announcement on Monday, I've been kinda meh about this.

The idea of getting lighter miniatures was cool as I honestly hate working with metal, but there are other issues of working with resin. I know a lot of people love Forge World and can't get enough of their kits, but I hate working with that stuff more than metal and every time I buy something from them it's not only overpriced, but the casts are terrible. The concept of boiling miniatures and sawing through 2 inches of flash is just ridiculous to me.

Over on Dakka Dakka, Legion4500 got one of the new Finecast miniatures and has been posting a review on it. You can read his review here. All of the pictures I have here are taken from Legion4500's post. First off we have new packaging. I'm really digging this. Nice full color pic of the model on the front and the back is clear so you can see what you are getting. The miniatures come on sprues which means Games Workshop made entirely new molds. Also, this will be sold through distribution so you'll still be able to get them at your favorite local game store (FLGS). Mabybe GW isn't so bad afterall...

Then we get a look at one of the miniatures and it looks pretty good. I know they claim the detail is sharper, but I don't see much of a difference from the metal miniature. Resin can capture finer details, but I don't have a habit of looking at my miniatures with a microscope so this doesn't intrigue me too much. 

Then we move on to the material itself. From what Legion said, "The material is wierd feeling, it does not feel or smell like resin - its more on the plastic end. it is EXTREMELY SOFT - cuts with a new hobby knife easier then a hot knife thru butter. There are some heavy sprue gates but due to the softness of the material its easy to remove and clean up. Sanding is semi easy - I recommend fine grit or you will cut right thru the figures details in no time. The metal burs and stuff that plague the metal figures don't exist here. Sanding leaves less mess then a plastic figure. Almost no dust." Sounds intriguing. Maybe I will have to pick one of these up.

Lastly, we come to the casting and it looks like the same Forge World shenanigans. Pieces are bent or entirely missing and there are a lot of air bubbles that are marring the surface. The proof is in the pudding and all my hopes for this line are pretty much gone. Maybe this is just the first batch and the quality will improve over time, but I'm not holding my breath.

What do you guys think? Is Finecast worth it or not? Is this the next big thing in miniatures or is this another crazy scheme by GW to make more money? Leave your comments and let me know what you think. And don't forget to check out Legion's full review with more pics over at Dakka Dakka.

I was recently commissioned to do 4 gaming tables for the game store Adventure Games in Dickson City, PA. I plan on having a tutorial up in the near future. Also, Adventure Games is running a 1,850 point 40K tournament next weekend and I hear Jawaballs is planning on attending. I won't be playing in the tournament, but I plan on being there to see it all go down. Maybe I'll post some pics.

Till next time,
–The Harrower

Monday, May 23, 2011

Building Desert Terrain

I've been doing this blog for over a year and looking back I find it pretty surprising that I haven't done any posts on terrain. I'm sure the other members of DED 'ARD are equally surprised considering how insane I am when it comes to making terrain. I'll admit, I'm somewhat of a terrain snob and nothing makes me lash out more than bad terrain. My devotion to terrain usually comes at the sacrifice of my models as you'll typically see primed red Blood Angels being pushed through lavish terrain when you play at my house. I know that defeats the whole purpose of why we game, but it is something I'm still working on. Anyway, building terrain wasn't the main reason why I got into the hobby, but it was pretty high on the list.

As a kid, I've always been amazed by model building and I used to look through old magazines on how they made models for movies like Star Wars, Indiana Jones, and Dark Crystal for hours on end. Alas, today a lot of the modeling craft has been replaced by 3d modeling, but I still love it and I was glad to see Peter Jackson go old school with The Lord of the Rings Trilogy. Not so glad with how he butchered the story and turned Frodo into an unlikeable ass, but that's a topic for another time. Today, building terrain and converting miniatures are my two favorite things with the hobby and terrain building is still something my wife really enjoys so I usually get her to help me out on my latest projects. Here's a few examples of some terrain we've made in the past.

I'm going to be running a campaign for our Gaming Club starting next month. It's going to be based on Planetary Empires and everyone is going to be fighting over the planet Ghalis IV. The planet has been lost since the Dark Age of Technology and has remained hidden in the Ayntaara Nebula for thousands of years. Ghalis IV has remained untouched by the strife of the 41st millennium as no scanners or Psykers have been able to pierce the nebula's depths. This will be an escalation campaign with games starting at 500 point combat patrol matches as the armies make planetfall and escalate to 1,500 point games as they stake their foothold on the planet.

One of my new 4" by 4" table sections.
As you see in the pics above, my tables are kinda huge and really heavy. I made them years ago with 3/4" plywood and 2x4s. I'm replacing these with newer tables made out of 1/4" MDF and 1x3s. The tables are in two pieces one 4" by 4" for Combat Patrol and another 2" by 4" so I can make a tournament size 6" by 4" table. These tables are a lot lighter and easier to store.

In total, I'll have 3 tables. 1 grass board, 1 city board, and 1 desert board. Each of these will correspond to the tiles on the Planetary Empires sets we'll be using. I have the desert board painted and ready to go, but as of yet no terrain to speak of. Don't worry I'll have pics soon including a tutorial on making your own game table.

With the table completed, I did what I usually do. I scoured the internet looking for examples of cool looking desert terrain to draw inspiration from. Problem is, this time I came back pretty much empty handed. I would have thought with Tomb Kings just being released and Necrons on the near horizon there would be a ton of cool desert boards to get ideas from. Alas, there isn't much out there and the stuff I looked at was your basic rocks and tan colored hills.

So I'm not off to a great start and I sat in my basement for the past week waiting for inspiration to strike. I've got a spark thanks to my wife and I started working on a tar pit while she was doing a rock pile with a stone arch, but at this point that's not much. There's something about doing a desert board that just makes it harder to visualize for me. I can't quite put my finger on it, but I can definitely use some ideas from my readers. I really want the terrain on this board to be more than tan colored hills. I need stuff that is unique to the desert from a visual standpoint, but also allows new challenges on the table top.

So what do you guys think? If you were playing on a desert board what would you like to see that would not only look cool, but bring some unique terrain elements to the game. Please share some links and thoughts in the comments below. Hopefully I can get some ideas and put together a really awesome board. I'll be sure to share and do tutorials along the way.

Till next time,
–The Harrower

P.S. Geek bonus points to the person who can identify where my terrain logo draws inspiration from.

Saturday, May 14, 2011

Warhammer 40K 6th Edition: Part 1

I apologize for my hiatus. School and work have been keeping me incredibly busy and I haven't had a lot of time to do anything hobby related. Work has finally slowed down a bit and the harder classes are behind me for now, so I can get back to 40K and focus on the hobby. I just want to thank Farseer Frank for taking up the reins again the past few weeks and sharing his tactical insight. I hate the Eldar with a passion and that's thanks to my poor record against his Eldar in 1 on 1 matches. The best I've managed is a draw, but that will hopefully be something I improve on in the future.

I've been reading a bit about the rumored 6th Edition of everyone's favorite game coming out next year and I just want to point out some things I would like to see in the new edition. All of my ties to GW HQ in Nottingham have been severed years ago and I don't know anyone that works there anymore. That being said, these are not "rumors" or an "insider's look". These are just my thoughts on what I think needs improvement going into a 6th Edition. I'll start with 3 and add to it over the coming weeks. In no particular order.

1. Wound Allocation Rules. The current rules are bollocks. Nothing annoys me more than doubling up power weapon wounds on the same model to reduce casualties. Here's an example: I have an Assault Squad with 4 marines left. 3 of the marines are just standard with bolt pistol and close combat weapon and the 4th marine has a flamer. I get charged by a unit of Khorne Berzerkers. I take 2 power weapon wounds and 6 regular wounds. I allocate the 2 power weapon wounds to the poor SoB with the flamer and I roll 6 saves on the remaining 3 marines. This greatly tips the odds in my favor and actually makes it beneficial for the attacker to cause less wounds! Come on Alessio you didn't see this in playtesting?

I hope how they fix this is that allocation works the same way, but you don't do it all at once. You start with any attacks that ignore armor saves and then resolve the rest from highest strength down to lowest. So in the same example from above, 2 of my guys are dead outright. No save. I take the 6 wounds on the remaining 2 troops. That makes sense! This will still allow defenders to avoid taking saves on characters and certain models, but won't result in lost wounds because you decide to put 2 of those power weapon hits on the guy carrying the flamer. Not only that, it will speed things up. Nothing is worse than having a squad with a lot of different wargear and trying to figure out who is saving for what and new players have a VERY hard time with this.

2. Kill Points. I'm REALLY not a fan of Kill Points. In a game where you use equal points on both sides, I don't like that one army can give up a lot more than the other. For starters, Victory Points work a lot better. I kill a 400 point unit I get 400 points. Gee, that makes a lot of sense. I've been in games where my opponent has basically nothing left and I still lose by 1 or 2 Kill Points. And it's not like this is good for list building. It's stupid to build a list around how many points you are going to give up as that has nothing to do with the fluff of the game.

Can you see Dante talking to one of his Captains, "I don't know Tycho. Let's leave all of the tanks behind. Let's just use Jump Packs so our army is less vulnerable." Dumb. What I would like to see is something similar to Victory Points, but round the numbers to the nearest hundred. If I have a unit of Death Company that costs 250 points, they're worth 3 Kill Points. If you want some variety in there, make specific Org choices add to it. HQs are worth an additional 3 Kill Points. Elites are worth an additional 2 Kill Points. Troops, Fast Attack, and Heavy Support are worth an additional 1 Kill Point. That makes a lot more sense. I should get more points for taking out my opponents more powerful troops and his leaders.

Also, you should get points for units that are at half strength or immobilized. As is, Kill Points force you to make tactical decisions that don't make a lot of sense.

"Tycho, fire on that immobilized Rhino!"

Tycho responds incredulously, "Um, what!?"

"We have a better chance of destroying that then we do that unit of Plague Marines. That's an order marine!"

There will always be a way to game the system, but Kill Points can be done in a way that makes a lot more sense and isn't as lopsided.

3. More Missions. The current crop of missions is a joke. 3 missions with 3 different types of deployment? That gives us the huge variety of 9 different game types which as everyone who has been playing 40K for a few weeks knows isn't much. I miss the old days when you bought a new Codex and you got a mission to go along with it. Or what about the cool mission cards from 2nd Edition? When you had no clue what your opponent was trying to do and the game was more exciting.

I do think Battle Missions was a step in the right direction and I hope both it and Planet Strike are mined for ideas when they come around to creating missions. I do like the Stratagem System and I hope to see that in 40K proper. I'd like to see more variety. You can add the dynamic of Attacker vs. Defender or change the Force Organization Chart depending on the mission. The good news is that the new version of Warhammer Fantasy Battle has a bunch of missions. Hopefully we'll get that in the next iteration of Warhammer 40K.

So what do you guys not like about the current edition? What would you like to see changed? Post your thoughts below. Next time I'll talk a bit more about what I'd like to see in 6th Edition and I'll let you know what I've been working on.

Till then,
–The Harrower