Thursday 28 September 2023

What's on my palette?

Bless me #WarHamFam for I have sinned, it's been 2 months since my last confession! But I'd been so busy in getting things out of the way ready for #DreadTober I just needed to take stock.

Indeed, all my Blood Bowl bits seem ready for #ArmiesOnParade and I should have been taking a swing at my Terminators but all momentum for these has typically evaporated.

I've tried some building, I've done a bit on my first unit of Fodder for #Turnip28 but unfortunately my second order of materials is being delayed because some Valejo Black Wash is out of stock. Ironically it's also delaying the arrival of my Norn Emissary, which was in the same order. Ironic because the GW model is in stock! Unlike my Lion order where it was the part holding everything back. 

So, I've not been as busy as I'd like to be and I've been binge watching Community with my son so haven't felt as motivated to paint and conversely became worried that a month would not be enough to paint my pledge for #DreadTober, even with the head start I gave myself.

So, when the urge did come upon me to paint the only thing that I was compelled to and logically made sense to do was crack on with my High Rule Dude and Screamer Killers. Don't feel angry with me, just look at it like this - for me #DreadTober will last just under 2 months! 😉 It's not like I'm painting every day, if I could it wouldn't be a problem. It's just rather than try to fit everything over October, risk burnout or missing the deadline I can spread it out over a longer period, reduce the pressure, increase the chances of getting it all done and more importantly enjoy the process. So, although not technically within the rules of DreadTober I definitely think it's within the spirit and no one will hold it against me. I just though full disclosure as no one needs to feel bad about my progress as I've just started early.

Tuesday 26 September 2023

Dark Angels - The Lion BIG BUILD - TO DONE!

Afternoon #WarHamFam and #WarhammerCommunity I've finally got my own Lion'el Johnson. I missed out on him with Bladeguard and when I finally did get my order in it's been delayed and delayed and delayed thanks to GW's fulfilment issues

I have 'built' it in sub-assemblies for ease of painting and I've even magnetised the head so I can play around with them - the 3 others are on the metal ruler. Ultimately though I have no idea how I want to paint this. I think the Watchers will be in bone cloaks, which suggests the Lion should also be in bone. But I don't want to do such a big cloak that way. I think a red cloak might be best as I am most confident in that but I think the last time I did that I thought it looked like Father Christmas! So, decision making is the enemy of progress, which is annoying as the weather is closing in and priming may soon become ill-advised... but this does get me my first Bloody Great Big Bloody BIG BUILD Stamp of Bloody BUILD Approval

Monday 11 September 2023

HOT TAKE - Tenth edition and how to balance competitive and casual play

Afternoon #WarHamFam and #WarhammerCommunity just last Friday I posted my second #New40k battle report. Although not the most amazing game it felt like it was moving in the right direction and I've been enjoying quite a few '40k in 40 minutes' videos on Play on Tabletop which have made the game feel dynamic and exciting.

But this post was written before Friday and on the Thursday GW gifted us with a new 'Balance Data Slate' to help balance all the factions in 40k and bring everyone back into that magic zone of around 45-55% win ratios. This happened throughout 9th edition and spills over into tenth in what would appear to be an admirable approach by GW to make the game fair - but should they? Right now I think they should not.

As of Thursday my Imperial Knights got a second round of 'balancing' to help stem their runaway win:loss ratio. Having already had points increases across almost all the larger knights in the first round of balancing just after 10ths release they now got the change to Towering that should have been made in the first instance. But also, the Bondsman ability only affects Armigers [which seems fair and fits the fluff] but just for fun lets raise the price of the Armigers too!

The problem with this is it has a disproportionate impact on a Knights army list, certainly for lower point games. It tips over and without the upgrade options to help bring units under budget you can end up with a significant underspend or forced to take a type of Knight you don't actually want to run. Of course you could always take an Imperial Agents Exaction squad - 5 space police that can help do missions and are super cheap.

Except, you can't actually appear to get them anywhere as they're sold out and they got 'balanced' too! So now you have to buy a unit of 10 for 100+ points, which is almost worth trying to find the extra 50 for the Armiger. I suppose there's always a unit of Henchmen... but for sure, that means folk don't need to be rushing out for that Kill Team box [that wasn't available anyway]. So, wholly disheartening as a Knights player and I've only played 2 games. But this isn't the only one, what about my beloved Tyranids? A new Codex, surely all their points were safe... Even the Norn Emissary and Assimilator got price increases and they hadn't even been released. But for me, the biggest kick was the Tyrannofex, going from 200pts to 245pts.

For year's I'd seen folk ask Exocrine or Tyrannofex? And more often than not Tyranid players would advise to take the Exocrine as it's firepower was generally more predictable. But I would recommend the Tfex for a few reasons - firstly Exocrines were like hen's teeth. They were mostly unavailable before GW had most things 'unavailable'! You couldn't get them from 3rd party sellers either. Secondly, if you could get them they were about £45 [at the time, £50 now]. Whereas a Tfex was about £30 [and even cheaper on ebay]. Although you can now get Exocrines at FLGs, they're still charging RRP on what is clearly a smaller model. Which brings me to the final point - the Tfex is so much more bang for your buck. It's bigger, better looking and a cooler centre-piece to your army.

Exocrine by Third Eye Nuke, formerly of Tale of Painters

Every time I even considered buying an Exocrine I thought why should I pay 50% more for less? And 9th, Exocrines were only between 5 and 20pts less... but not in 10th. They're only 135pts compared to the 245pts of the Tfex. So when I saw someone recommending taking 2 of them for just a little more points than 1 Tfex I couldn't believe the real world disconnect of £100 versus £33? So what has this got to do with balancing competitive versus casual play?

The regular balancing as mechanism seems like a good idea. It shows GW is listening and reacting, trying to make the game fair - for competitive play. Afterall, no one has to use these updates. But even casual players like myself like to keep abreast of what's going on, as my mates and I liked to go to tournaments. Not so much since COVID but the blog features plenty of road trips that me and my mates took, with no plans of winning. But to compete you have to practice in the way people play and that is not often casual at tournaments. But it's worth reflecting on that period when we did go to tournaments, where there was no balancing going on. You had your army, if it was good, you were lucky. If it sucked you weren't. For year's I would say "if I wanted to win I wouldn't play Tyranids". I accepted their place in the competitive faction hierarchy and got on with it. I had their rules and learned to play them, as best I could. What I can't deal with now is the constant shifting goal posts. Not just with changing points, but rules too and not just faction rules but the core rules. 

How am I supposed to learn the game if it's constantly changing? Of course it always does, but previously it was every 4-5 years, with perhaps a Codex change somewhere inbetween. For the last few editions there have been Index's, Codex's and balance data-slates with FAQ's/erratas built in. It makes a mockery of that 280 page tome that came with Leviathan. Lets face it, this should have just been a rule book without the lore or split like 7th edition. Leviathan didn't even come with dice - because it was not aimed at 'beginners' so it didn't need any of the lore, but I digress.

The bottom line is the constant change to rules and points to help balance the game competitively does no favours for casual players. Does this happen in other competitive play? Does Premiership football change the rules of the game mid-season when it's clear one team is dominating? No, it's up to the other teams to change tactics, buy new players or practice harder with the players they've got. Sometimes you just have to accept that for a time some factions are OP. Funnily enough that happened with Knights when they first came out. I feared them with utter dread and never expected to be anything other than cannon-fodder with my nids. But in 7th Edition I had one of my most memorable games at a tournament against 2 Questoris and 2 Cerastus and secured a draw! I adapted, overcame and that did not need them artificially levelling the playing field to do so.

Perhaps the solution is to stop meddling again. Balance is not what it's cracked up to be. Make your rulebook smaller, stop bundling it with all the lore and stick to it. Then you can focus your resources on delivering the products that are out of stock, rather than creating demand for items that aren't available. It's worth noting that the most fun I've had gaming recently are with rulesets that are simple and stable. I don't need to worry about #MESBG because the rules don't change [much]. I've learnt enough about them to play casually or even at a tournament, if I felt so inclined. I am competent and confident I could play against people I didn't know. Sadly I can't say the same about 40k, despite years of practice in previous editions and many similarities. The subtle edition changes and the constant meddling - means I can hardly trust my core rule book before I've even had a chance to get familiar with it.

It's such a shame as I really hoped 10th would bring me back into the fold. I love the lore [even if I don't need it in my rule book] and the figures too. I've invested so much time and effort into it but so much of it now feels utterly redundant as the game, although less complex now, is something I just don't trust.

Friday 8 September 2023

#BattleReport - 1,000pts Imperial Knights v Astra Militarum

Afternoon #WarHamFam and #WarhammerCommunity I've been playing TENTH! #New40k so my second game and after an awesome game of MESBG the night before Ben and I still wanted a crack at 40k, just 1,000 points to get familiar. I went with my Knights, much less bang for my buck since the first game, but I do get my Lancer, even if it means I have to take just three Armigers [2 Warglaives and 1 Helverin]. Whereas Ben had 3 Leman Russ [1 being his Tank Commander], a Rogal Dorn and 2 Techpriest Engineseers. We drew the Ritual mission - one objective each, one in the middle and the ability to make an objective in no-man's-land if it is within 9" of the centre. It was a diagonal setup from half the board and I won first turn.

With my Bondsman ability I was able to Advance up the board with the Lance and a Warglaive. That left my Helverin on my home objective [not realising that was literally pointless - you only got VPs for objective's in no-man's-land]. Which meant my Warglaive spending his shooting turn creating an objective in no-man's-land something of tactical genius. The Helverin scored some wounds on the Tank Commander.

Ben's turn and the Techpriest managed to heal most of them and confer a 4+ invulnerable save to it, as did the other Techpriest to the left Leman Russ. Shooting happened and the Lancer weathered a lot, not sure how many wounds, I think it was down to 12, but not as much as Ben hoped for. One Warglaive got taken down to 6 damage . Then in my turn I got to charge with the Lancer, but Ben got to Overwatch, doing a little damage, but the Rogal Dorn was going to die with both free Tank Shock and the Lance... 

But it didn't. Tank shock did it's 6 mortal wounds, and the Lance got two penetrating hits causing 16 wounds - which should have killed it. But, a Rogal Dorn has a special rule to shrug one penetrating hit once per game, so 8 damage got removed, 14 damage received. Then we realised my Lancer should have taken a Battle Shock test as it was below half-strength. Naturally I failed that roll, but why is that important to do it retrospectively? Well, you can't use stratagems on Battle Shocked units and Tank Shock is a stratagem. So the Dorn suffered only 8 damage total! Meanwhile my Warglaive got into combat with the Tank Commander

The Tank Commander would eventually fall, giving me 5+ FnP on all my Knights for fulfilling their oaths. My Lancer continued to be shot at in combat, but he passed battle shock so at least he could get re-rolls. He went on to destroy the Rogal Dorn, but my Warglaive got overwatched as it moved to capture Ben's home objective [out of shot behind the alien rockface]

By this stage I'd been racking up VPs holding objectives in the board and securing secondaries. My Lancer fell to the tanks though. Ben had only scored a couple of secondaries and suddenly he's down to 2 tanks and his Techpriest, who swarmed the Warglaive. They were beasts chopping at it with their axes. 

But I assume the Armiger, had an amazing saving throw against those axes - need in 5+, the two that got through then scoring 4 wounds but 5+ FnP saving some of them.

Ben lost another Leman Russ, down to his last one, I think on all its wounds but my Warglaive severely damaged, so it didn't take much to finish it off and as it got to midnight we called it.

A close game in respect to the forces we deployed - limited models, high durability for both of us and those techpriests went some way to making the tanks match the Knights with their invulnerable saves and FnP. But, I managed to keep him in his deployment zone, which meant he didn't score any primary objective points. We didn't even bother to count the score in the end which felt underwhelming for both of us, which is a shame as we both agreed it was a good game. Certainly better than my first 10th game but Thursday night MESBG had been such riotous fun, with everyone familiar with the rules that the constant checking of the massive 40k Core Rule Book and Data cards etc. It just made this game feel like a chore. Add to that it was just the two of us, where you don't have a partner to riff off and share the experience, so the banter gets heightened it was incomparable to the fun we'd had the night before.

We'll continue to persevere, but we've had so many games of other simpler systems and I'm convinced my lack of desire to win with other folk's figures makes the end result irrelevant compared with the experience of hanging with my mates just throwing dice. Put it this way, when we were rolling for the first priority on MESBG we both got the same numbers twice. We could have just done that all night and I bet if doubles had come up every time we'd have had a blast!

Wednesday 6 September 2023

#BloodBowl - Nurgle player and Tree Sprites - TO DONE!

Afternoon #WarHamFam and #WarhammerCommunity I've been #PaintingWarhammer some additional bit for Blood Bowl. This includes a spare Nurgle Rotter and a couple of tree sprites.

I believe there's a rule in the Nurgle team that if you kill an opposing player there's a chance they come back as a Rotter. I don't know if that still exists or not but just in case I had a suitable Poxwalker and spare helmet that I could make a less-armoured reserve player.

Not that I ever play or need one, but it was a quick conversion and been sitting around for a while so I finished it off.

Thankfully he fits in with the rest of the team too, not much difference at all.

So I'm going to give this the first Bloody Great Big Bloody Minor Stamp of Bloody Approval 

The Kurnoth Hunters come with a variety of additional tree sprites, most of which I didn't use, but three come with little bits of tree stump that I though I could do something with, but settled on just these two.

Naturally I painted the tree stump as Silver Birch and positioned these BB balls on top - so they could be use as balls for the team.

Now these balls are in fact original 2nd Edition balls, I've a few floating around that I thought fitted the purpose perfectly.

I painted the sprites themselves in the same way I did them for my Y'lthari's Guardian sprites.

Starting with Iyanden Yellow contrast paint, then some sepia shading and  VGC Sun Yellow highlights.

Eyes were dotted black, white highlight and a spot of gloss varnish - little Pikachu's

Alternatively, I think either of them could be proxied as Akhorne the Squirrel - they look cool on my flock test base. A lot of fun and some extra bits to add for my Armies On Parade board.

And this gets the second Bloody Great Big Bloody Minor Stamp of Bloody Approval or should it be two of them?

Monday 4 September 2023

Not Battle Reports - Middle Earth Strategy Battle Games

Afternoon #WarHamFam and #WarhammerCommunity I've been playing games again, in fact a fair few but I haven't shared them with you because they take too long to write to so I struggle to fit them in rather than do the hobby, blog about the hobby or play the actual games. What I have here are three games of #MESBG, I'm not sure I can relay what happened but if I can convey just some of the joy I got from these games it's all that really matters. 

Otty and Ben are going to a MESBG doubles tournament at Warhammer World so Liam and I have been 'sparring' with them so they can familiarise themselves with the rules more and also help fine tune their army list.

Ben may have been absent for this game, so Otty's son subbed in. The rules have you in control of one half of the army and I had this half with a much feared dweller in the dark.

Otty's Moria Goblins had loads of Warg Marauders for speed and durability.

Liam charged forward with his Orcs, a lot faster than the Goblins I had, which I tried to use the rocks to hide behind. 

We were all trying to get the objective in the centre, behind the picket fence, which gave me an idea.

I put the Dweller in the picket, his bulk meaning no one could get into the area, unless they climbed over the fence - so I had the objective...

Or so I thought, the mission actually stated it was a 6" area and the player with the most in was the winner. I had assumed it was a 3" area and blocked off access to it. All I ended up doing was trapping my own monstrous creature who did nothing for the entire game - much to everyone's amusement. We got royally trounced thanks to this cock-up.

If I'm honest, I have no recollection of this game whatsoever, which is why these aren't battle reports.

I think I vaguely remember Otty being exceptionally lucky with his dice rolls, because I think the next time we played [Turnip28] he continued to roll hot.

But it didn't matter that I lost again, I had been having so much fun just playing and once again realising - not my figures, not my problem if I lose.

Ultimately I'm seeing my role as helping Otty get better, so if I win or lose it doesn't matter - being a good friend and having fun does!

This time we got all four of us to play, but Otty went with me and Liam partnered with Ben running Rohirrim and Gondor. I wasn't sure on the logic of this as Ben needs to get familiar with the Goblins rather than his own Gondorian warband. But they did pretty well by focusing on Otty's side of the battlefield.

It was a mission where the heroes had to rack up kills, Which meant Otty's Goblin Shaman and my Durbûrz were at something of a disadvantage to Liam's mounted Theodred.

He just seemed to slice through the Goblins and there was only one drama where Otty managed to shoot into combat, avoid numerous 'in the ways', hit Theodred's horse a couple of times and almost kill it, if not for some special rule that allowed Theodred to escape being unhorsed.

The game carried on with Otty's half getting decimated an my half out of position, struggling to join the fray, my Dweller once again doing almost nothing, again to everyone's amusement. Throw in the fact that Liam's dice were on fire - almost any time he needed a 6 it would magically appear to ensure he won a duel or kept somebody alive. Otty couldn't believe it, I was hysterically laughing. Genuinely one of the best night's gaming I'd had in ages. Doubles makes it so much better.