Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Battle Report: Crimson Fists vs. Skull Bashers

Skull Bashers vs. Crimson Fists

Last weekend, I got the chance to play my Crimson Fists against a friend's DIY chapter, the Skull Bashers. This game had a special significance in that it was for the honor of my Fists! Emukt (his interweb persona) and I had made a bet months ago on who ccould finish painting up 1500 points of marines first, as a way of getting our armies finally done. I won the bet by a slim margin (2-3 models!) and took the prize: A new Redeemer/Crusader Kit. So this battle wasn't just for fun…the Skull Bashers were looking to redeem themselves on the battlefield!

Another friend, Falgrim, offered to host and we played on his amazing desert-world themed terrain set. He preset the terrain and he also handled any disputes that came up in play, looked up rules and trash talked us both. He took lots of pictures and tossed in his own commentary on them. Check out his flickr album! I'm really glad for his pictures as I only took a few since I was playing! Here's my shorter slideshow with some comments.

The game was 1750 points as both uf us were able to add a few more points to our lists between the bet and this battle. We rolled up Capture and Control, with a Dawn of War set up. I don't like Dawn of War all that much, so when I won the roll to go first, I happily let Emukt take it. I figured Night-Fighting + most of my units off the board would mean he'd essentially lose a turn of shooting…while I'd have a target-rich environment as my troops entered the board.

Crimson Fists
Captain w/ Power Sword, Bolter
Captain in Termie Armor
5 Terminators (Sgt w/ Power Sword, rest with SB/PF combos)
2 Dreadnaughts (MM+PF)
10 Tacticals w/ Las, Flamer, Rhino w/ HK
10 Tacticals w/ Las, Flamer, Rhino w/ HK
10 Tacticals w/ Hvy Bolter, Plasma Rifle, Sgt w/ Power Fist
10 Scouts w/ 2 sniper rifles
5 Assault w/ Power Fist, Flamer
5 Devs w/ 2 PlasCans, 2 MLs

Skull Bashers (from memory)
Chaplain in Terminator Armor
Legion of the Damned (8 w/ Multimelta and Melta, Power Wpn)
10 Tacticals w/ Plasma Cannon, Flamer
10 Tacticals w/ Las Cannon, Plasma Pistol, Razorback w/ Hvy Bolter
10 Tacticals w/ ML, Melta, Rhino
10 Tacticals w/ ML, Flamer, Rhino
10 Assault Marines, Storm Shield/TH
Predator w/ Autocan, Hvy Bolter
(all his vehicles had HK missiles as well!)

Set up and First 2 turns:
Dawn of war requires that you only set up 2 troops and your HQ to begin with and then the rest of your army pops in as reserves. Our first turn set up was pretty much all about securing the objective and setting up the attack. Really, it was the second turn when the game started (there were no casualties in 1.5 turns!). In the top half, the Skull Bashers pushed out enmasse, using cover for their approach towards my objective. Despite some heavy fire, the Skull Bashers didn't manage to do much beyond stunning a Rhino on the right flank. The Vindicator had been stunned by a lucky shot on turn 1, so could only lumber forward. The brutal roll of the turn was the Assault squad on the left flank failing their difficult terrain test to assault the CF squad near my objective.

At the bottom of the turn(which this map shows), all my reserve units - Termies w/ Captain, 2 Scout Combat squads - had rolled successfully for reserves. I had 1 combat squad (on the left with red arrow) come in behind the vindicator. The other squad moved in onto the hill to assault the Skull Bashers holding the hill (on the right). My Termies deep-struck behind SB lines to draw some fire so my troops could advance!

Skull Basher prepare to defend their objective

My scouts were ultra-effective, destroying the vindicator and completely eliminating the Tactical squad on the hills (SBs rolled terribly for saves!). I forgot to run my termies to spread them out, but on turn 3, the Skull Bashers failed to do any damage anyway, so I lucked out. We saw our first shooting casualties of the game with a SB Assaulter on the right flank going down to combined fire from the two combat squads and the Dev. I missed a critical shot off my other Dread at the razorback, however! I also managed to charge his assault squad with my own, but we traded marine deaths (2 vs. 2). The mistake we made was that I thought the sgt w/ TH had a combat shield and made Emukt save at 5+…but after the game I discovered it was a storm shield. A terrible injustice on my part! The lesson here is to let the player tell you what the trooper is equipped with rather than assume (even though he said his army was WYSIWYG!).

Turns 3 and 4
The Skull Bashers fired nearly everything on their side of the table at my Terminators, but they survived unscathed (all wounds saved and the plasma cannon scattered 6 inches away!). The SBs stayed on task, however, with the Razorback/Chaplain advance pushing toward the CF objective. The Legion of the Dead also appeared, popping a dreadnaught immediately under a hail of bolter/melta fire. The CF Hvy bolter squad in the woods came under some Razorback fire, but managed to survive. He managed to immobilize my center rhino as well.

Crimson Fist Terminator destroy the Predator

My Crimson Fists advanced on the center and right fronts, my Scouts rushing forward to contest the SB objective. My Termie captain split off from his Termie squad to assault the central Combat squad while his cohort assaulted and destroyed the Predator. My devastors and tacticals on the flank opened fire, slowing the rhino. The troops in the center disembarked and advanced with the other combat squad. Near my objective, the assault after two rounds was still a tie…the Skull Basher Assault squad couldn't do enough damage to win the combat. My scouts rushed south to support them. The CF dreadnaught charged the Legion and mud pit them as long as possible (with no power fist, they could only rely on Krak grenades on the front armor)…I had done this before to Emukt and he remarked "I need to add a power fist to that squad!"

The next turn saw fire fights on all side of the board, with my termies taking heavy casualties (4 fell to bolters and assault!), a pair of assaults on the right flank near the devastors ending in CF victory, the SB Chaplain advancing with the Razorback combat squad to destroy my hvy bolter team and the Assault on the CF objective finally ending in my favor when my scouts joined. At this point, I still held my objective, had mud-pitted the legion (despite losing his power fist) and contested the SB one with only a few remaining SB tacticals defending and both my captains in charge range. The assault vs. assault combat ended with only my Power Fist equipped marine surviving, but Emukt had his melta equipped marine in a rhino kick open the back door (fire point!) and melt him!

Turns 5 and 6

Skull Bashers Legion of the Damned conversions
The Legion managed to destroy the dreadnaught and advanced on the objective. The razorback tore up my scouts in the forest, killing 3, but I had 2 other combats squads near enough to score the objective. The Chaplain and combat squad contested it just in time on turn 6. On the other flank, Emukt played some delaying actions, but couldn't hold his objective and my Scouts scored it. Victory to the Crimson Fists on turn 6!

Skull Bashers contest the objective on turn 6

Things I learned in play:
  1. The flexibility of Space Marines are awesome. Combat Squads, Scouts, Deep Strike Termies (and Legion) lets a player really put pressure on the opponent to react. And once you've got them reacting, it's tough to get ahead.

  2. I was a little down on the scouts once I saw the new stat line, but it didn't really hurt this game! The ability to outflank coupled with CC-equipped scouts gives the ability to surprise and seize objectives before anyone knows what's going on.

  3. Rhinos provide a real advantage in play! The Skull Bashers had a lot of mobility on both flanks and it was only lucky rolls that slowed them down. My own rhinos spent a lot of time stunned/immobilized, but still managed to get their cargo to their destinations.

  4. Power Fists rule! I guess we all know this, but they really shined this game…crushing marines in the assault and destroying a rhino in the late game. The fact that Emukt didn't have one in his Legion slowed him down in the fight against my dread as well.

  5. Marines win games by staying on plan and using units in concert. I don't think there is a "Nob Bike Squad" equivalent in a marine list (maybe 10 TH in a LR?)…you really need squads to work together.

  6. This game really made me see the lack of a heavy tank/armor in my CF list. I'm working on an LRC, but I might add a Predator or a Vindicator to the Armory soon. I can't always depend on my powerfists and combat squad las cannons for vehicle popping.

  7. Even with terrible rolling in the first two turns, the Skull Bashers managed to still contest my objective by the final turn 6. It pays to have a plan and stick to it even if the Dice Gods have turned against you! I fear our next Skull Basher game!

Saturday, March 28, 2009

Objectives: Shrine Complete

(You can click on any of the pics to get slightly larger versions)
A quick update on one of my Crimson Fists objectives I posted earlier this month. The Shrine is complete!

I had a few goals in mind when I painted this objective:
  1. Match the colors of my City Terrain.
  2. Function as a generic objective though I keep calling it a "Crimson Fist Objective"
  3. Limited color-palette, so that it doesn't distract from the minis during play.
All things considered, I think I accomplished my goals! I wanted to practice highlighting black (since I'll be painting up my Ravenwing soon), so this shrine was a good opportunity for me to practice my light-touch. Here's a close up of the detail:
Paint Scheme:
  • Gesso Black Primer, Chaos Black basecoat
  • Rocks/Ground: Adeptus Battle Grey - Fortress Grey - Skull White drybrush (last brush was very sparing!) The large boulders also got multiple Badab Black washes.
  • Shrine - Used same colors as rocks ground, but did not drybrush. I wanted to try and make the shrine look like smooth rock...or obsidian. I think I got halfway there.
  • Seals - Khemri Brown/Mecharite Red, Devlan Mud wash, Bone highlight. Micron Pens for detail.
  • Incense Burner-Dark Angels Green-Goblin Green rope. Basecoat Dwark Flesh, Brass, Devlan Mud, Mithril Silver highlights (very light).
  • Skull - Khermi Brown, multiple builds of Bleached Bone/Mud washes. I wanted to practice doing great looking skulls too. This is similar to my Deathwing colors, but I didn't go all the way to the highest highlight.
Sovietspace requested more pics of my Dark Angels, so here's another teaser below. I've decided to go to my Dark Angels once my Crimson Fists get to 2k. Now I just have to decide if I should field them as Dark Angel Codex marines or Space Marine codex Dark Angels. :)
Thanks for looking!

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

On the Bench: Drop Pods

Special Request Edition: GWPertinent asked to see my DIY Drop Pods. I aim to please!

Months (okay, like 2 years) ago, Santa Cruz Warhammer posted a link to a template for making your own Drop Pod. They then made a Dark Angel one and posted the step by step. The drop pod was so awesome, I thought that not only did I need that drop pod in my life...I needed 3 of them. GW didn't offer a plastic drop pod kit at the time (I think it was released the summer of '08?), so I downloaded the templates, printed enough to make 3 pods and got crackin'. For materials, I used foamcore and cereal box cardboard. I *really* cheaped out on these pods cause I was saving money for more Dark Angels!

I used the pin method to transfer the templates to the foamcore, played connect the dots and then spent a ludicrous amount of time cutting and fitting all the pieces. Unfortunately, I don't have a shot of all the cereal box cardboard, but trust me when I say that I eat a LOT of cereal and used a lot of cardboard. Cereal box cardboard is great for detailing buildings and drop pods. Not as good as plastic card, but much cheaper.

Two nearly-completed pods. They need rivets and engines. If you compare to the Santa Cruz one, you can tell I skimped on some details...I just couldn't bring myself to cut MORE cardboard after having cut enough for 3 pods. Bit off more than I could chew I guess. Ten points to whoever can identify the cereal box I used! I'm in the states, so this may not be fair to those readers across the pond.
Here is the obligatory Rhino comparison shot. It's hella-big and blocks some serious LOS! They aren't anywhere near perfect and some lines are a little off...but for less than 12 bucks for 3, I really can't complain!

After the release of the Space Marine Codex, I thought I'd give these pods to the Crimson Fists. Dark Angels pay 15 more points a pod and don't even benefit from the Drop Pod assault rule. The one issue: The Dark Angels insignia. I considered ripping them off, but decided against it. Maybe the Crimson Fists won them in a bet from the Dark Angels or something.

I've actually added scratchbuilt engines and started painting them in Crimson Fist colors. I'll try and get a post up soon!

Monday, March 23, 2009

My workbench overflow-eth.

It seems like a standard habit when blogging about the hobby is to update folks with "what's on the bench" so we can all share the pain of having too many minis in progress. I know I have far too many minis in various states of progress.

To begin with, I've been working on my Crimson Fist Land Raider Crusader which will bring my final army list up to 2000 points. Eventually, I'll want to add units of Sternguard, Vanguard, Pedro Kantor and a Vindicator, but I'm in no rush to add to the Crimson Fists since I've just started playing with them (and I'm 2-1 so far). I've also got 3 DIY Drop Pods on the bench awaiting highlights.

I've also been slowly working on my objectives. The shrine is finished and I'm painting the ammunition dump and fuel drums at the same time (since they are so simple). Expect an update before March is up on those 3.

My two HQ units, nowhere near done...but prepped for battle anyway.

I can't decide if I want to go back to working on my Tau...lots of units there could be painted: Both my HQ Shas'Os need painting, 20 Kroot, 3 Pirahnas and 2 Sniper Squads are all based and ready for their colors as well.

Dark Angels,WIP
Deathwing Assault Squad, bases done..models ready for bones colors.
Or maybe I want to return to my beloved Dark Angels...lots of units on the workbench there as well: 10 Deathwing Termies in various states, a basecoated tactical squad, 2 rhino chassis (with magnetized options for predator, whirlwind) with options basecoated. And 6 Ravenwing bikes still all WIP!

For 2009, I think I'm making a hobby resolution: Clear the workbench before buying any Imperial Guard. As much as I've always wanted to field the Guard (and I think I can finally paint them), I think I need to really take a chunk out of all the unassembled, unpainted, unloved minis I have collecting dust in my closet. Who knows...maybe I'll ebay some just to get to the Imperial Guard faster!

Thursday, March 19, 2009

Setting up the Battlefield

clancyjr\'s Elite Troops are the hotness.
Imperial Guard Stormtroopers push forward under cover of rubble.

One thing that frustrates me about Warhammer 40k is how little terrain creation and lay out seems to play in the rulebook. The rules are pretty simple for setting up terrain and there are really no "rules" on what makes a fair table. Yet, terrain is such a vital element in any game! There are rules for movement through terrain, rules for interacting with terrain, rules for cover saves, line of sight is impacted by terrain, etc. The 5th edition RB has nearly as many pages on Ruins and Buildings as it does on Close Combat! Battles are fought over and inside pieces of terrain. But there is barely any advice on exactly what pieces should go on the table and in what proportions!

On one hand, the rules are purposely vague because GW cannot dictate or possibly know what kinds of terrain players will feel inspired to construct (though they probably would prefer if we all used the CoD, Craters and Trees kits they offer). Do a search for Warhammer 40k terrain images and you'll be stunned at the variety of types, intentions and playability of pieces! Every battlefield will, by necessity, be very different from any other battlefield…so rules on what types and where would be an exercise in exceptions. GW could never hope to publish rules governing it all!

Battle Report,Crimson Fists,Jan09 Battle,City Terrain
Crimson Fist scout prepare to give their lives defending an Imperial Shrine.

And yet, I still wish there were some sort of definitive ruleset on how best to ensure that there are the right amounts of LOS-blocking terrain, difficult, area and cover terrain types on a board. I know, as a personal preference, I prefer a terrain heavy board, one covered in as much terrain as I can fit. I just like the idea of combat being close and deadly (even when I played my Tau…but in that case, I liked all the cover the terrain provided back in 4th edition.).

Battle Report,City Terrain,Crimson Fists,Dark Angels,Jan09 Battle,Skull Bashers,WIP

Skull Basher Marines hold the line against a Crimson Fist assault.

Surprisingly, I found it difficult to find articles on terrain set up in 5th edition! On the Dakka forums I did find a neat proposal:

  • Divide the board into 6 2'x2' squares and assign a number for each of them.
  • Divide the terrain in 6 roughly equal groups.
  • Roll a D6 for each group. That terrain group then goes into that square. If you roll a number with terrain already in it, move the pieces into an adjacent square.
  • Each player then alternates placing all the terrain in each group making sure not to initially position a piece of terrain within 12" of another
  • Roll a scatter die and 2D6 and move each placed piece that many inches in that direction.
  • Once everything is placed, a scatter die is rolled and any building on the board are turned to face the direction of the arrow.

I like this set up and will try and encourage my friends to try it out. Breaking up the table and randomly assigning terrain to each section appeals to the wargamer in me…now the set up isn't so much about grabbing pieces and trying to neutralize them…it's about creating the battlefield. The addition of 2 different scatter dice mimics bad intelligence reports on the direction of the terrain pieces and placement. My only change might be to ensure that the biggest piece of terrain available (in size or height!) be placed in the center first with appropriate scatter rolls. This creates a vital piece to fight over and prevents the railguns from firing across the table.

Tau Crisis Suit and Drones navigate an alley in front of Tyranid Gargoyles.

The last piece of terrain set up I'm still struggling with: Determining the terrain "Stats." Is it difficult? Is it Area? Does is block LOS? Since I have my table with DIY terrain, I prefer to try and assign the same pieces the same stats…so my rubble pieces are always 5+ cover, area, difficult terrain. My large buildings are 4+, WYSIWYG, only difficult to pass through the walls. And so forth. Occasionally, when playing someone, they'll want some impassable or dangerous terrain and I'll suggest pieces that look like they fit the bill. But again, I'm left feeling sometimes like "is there too much difficult? do we need 6+ cover terrain? Only my rubble pieces are area terrain…is that unbalanced?"

If I can get my friends to use the above set up, maybe I'll also declare that each player gets to decide what each terrain piece their Opponent set up does. And I have to flexible with each piece…maybe that building doesn't have to be difficult terrain...or the rubble could not be 5+ saves and instead only difficult. I just hope it doesn't add 40 minutes to set up! Maybe it needs to be timed as well. :)

How do you decide the terrain "disputes" at the start of your games? What method do you use to decide on how to set up the board?

Monday, March 16, 2009

Crimson Fist Objectives

Being part of the FTW has many awesome benefits. Not the least of which is seeing the work of so many other talented 40k hobbyists and taking inspiration from them on a daily basis! I saw Admiral Drax's fine Imperial Guard objectives and MasterDarksol's Eldar objectives and I decided I should get around to finishing my own objectives for my home table.

First three were ones I made months ago just as a side project but never finished...they'll probably look familiar to anyone who owns the Cities of Death expansion:

"Ammunition Dump":

Simple ammo boxes and bolters. Nothing all that fancy here! This is all battlefield accessories bits with 2 space bolters tossed in.

"Fuel Dump"

Fuel Drums
Again. Nothing out of the ordinary here. The drums are from the battlefield accessories kit. The jerry-cans are either from a vehicle set or my bitz box. The large oil drum is from a 99cent-store construction-themed toy set.


I wanted to have some sort of holy ground to fight over so I thought a shrine would work. I carved the rocks out of packing foam and carved a little slot to stick a skull inside. I then figured it would get seals and banners and all that good stuff.

The next two I made after seeing Drax's post! I felt really inspired (who knew an Imperial Guard commander could act as a muse!?!) so I really went a little crazy making these!

To start, I need the objective bases. To make things simple for my games, the obj bases are ~3 inches across so that you can almost eyeball who's in range to claim it and who isn't (you've got probably 2-inches around it to claim!). I used a large flying stand to create the circles on my foamcore:

Then I cut the circles out an angle with my exacto:

The nice thing about cutting it while it is still in the foamcore is that I get that table-blending slope without having to cut it out later. It also widens the base slightly since I cut out from the circle instead of straight or towards the center of the circle.

Now I've got the two bases ready to go, I'll layout my plan and look at it before gluing/committing:

Imperial Pilot WIP
The first objective is meant to represent an Imperial Agent or Pilot hiding in a ruined building corner. He's placed a beacon to signal for help and now he's waiting for pick-up (or maybe an Ork to bash his head if they get their first!). This can also double as a Observation Post for Cities of Death. Any player worth their salt could probably call out the bits used here: Cities of Death walls, terminator teleport beacon and the pilot from Battle for Maccrage.

Next up, after reading some of the terminator fluff in the SM codex, I thought it would be cool to lay out a badly damaged terminator in rubble…his shoulder Crux representing a prize to whatever army claimed it (and the honor of his chapter when they recover it!). As I was laying this servant of the emperor out, I thought it would be cool to include a half-cross and then added in a half-circle bit to add in a halo. He's a fallen saint now (hopefully it'll come out when I paint it!)
A lot of bits were laid out for this obj: Body and head from terminator set, battlefield accessories, legs from Dark Angel set, some CoD cut-offs and bitz box grabs. I had some old metal (lead!) termie lightning claws that I'll never use, so I added them in here:

Dead Termie WIP
Once I liked the position of everything, I moved to laying out the real foundation and gluing it all to the base:

Imperial Pilot Obj 3q View
You can see I cut down the ruins a bit as I thought the original was too tall. Now that I look at the picture, I may have cut it down too low! I might drill in some holes to add wires with foam/concrete blocks on it to add a little bit more height. I used sculpting clay to buildup the base. One trick is to use some white glue on the base, add the clay to get a great bond. Then jam in pieces with some more white glue. I do this because the clay doesn't really having any bonding properties to hold anything buy itself....but white glue works wonders!

Here's the model's eye view:

Imperial Pilot Obj
I was smart enough not to glue in the teleport homer for painting purposes…but silly me…I glued in the pilot. I might break him off for painting and then repair before I prime it.

Dead Termie Detail
My fallen saint terminator! I'm really happy with the way this came out. The terminator is removable right now so I can paint him separately. I cut and repositioned the leg to look like he fell back into some rubble. I also drilled and carved in some battle damage into the suit. I'm considering adding more. It should take a lot to topple a terminator from the Crimson Fists!

Next, I'll be flocking the rubble/gravel/sand to match the first 3 objectives. Then onward to painting! Knowing my painting habits, I'll probably get the first 3 done long before I finish the last two. But I don't know! Since I started this blog I already feel more productive. I appreciate any feedback! Also, I'd love to see more objectives that others use in their games. Seize and Hold is probably my favorite mission in 40k.

edit 3/17 - Added Master Dark Sol's Eldar Objectives! Very nice work!

Friday, March 13, 2009

Crimson Fist Terminators

No other unit in the game makes me think "40k Universe" like the Terminator does. The SM Terminator is barely recognizable as human…a hulking distorted figure in heavy armor and wielding the most dangerous weapons the Imperium has available. They're the best of the best in the Astrates and when used in combat they excel at a single task: Breaking the Enemy's back.

By this I mean Terminators can decimate a unit of normal troops sitting on an objective if applied right. They can break an offensive line by charging a pivotal unit. They can stall an assault "hammer" by being simply lasting longer than any other unit. In game terms, Terminators kick butt and take names.

Like any marine unit, Terminators are pretty good at doing everything…but not the best at anything (except maybe their save). They have to be supported by Space Marine forces and should never be used to advance alone. Most players will have some AP2 weaponry or their own power weapons to deal with terminators…and you don't want to give them the chance to use them! Providing a support squad of Tacticals or Bikes give you ways to deal with any anti-termie threats or bog-units like swarms. You want to make sure your Termies get where they need to be and not get stuck in the mud!

I make 40k sound like an elaborate game of Rock-Paper-Scissors…but if you look at the army lists…that's what it comes down to: Making sure your rock hits their scissors and their paper isn't around to do anything about it! Or better yet, their paper is dealing with your scissors!

Here is my vanilla Crimson Fists Terminator squad from the Black Reach set:
I made only tiny conversions…removed the Iron Halo from the Sgt and glued some more seals and tabards to the squad to differentiate them from a basic AoBR set. All of the lettering detail was with a micron pen. One of the termies was from the White Dwarf freebie...but the targetter broke off in shipment. Rather than cry about it, I just shaved the bits off and painted it. I'm lazy that way. As I mentioned in a previous comment, I model the text as an arabic/english/chinese hybrid. I don't want any English on my models…it's a silly aesthetic choice I'm going to stick too:

I've since painted the Sgt's power sword in the same pattern as my two HQ units:

I think once I'm done with my Crimson Fist Land Raider Crusader, I'm going to get back to work on my Deathwing. I have probably 25+ termies in various states of assembly/painting - some of which date back to Rogue Trader. They've languished long enough in my closet! It's time to get to work!

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Chess Lessons in 40K

Or how I'm trying not to be a douche while gaming.

Inspired by the BoLS post by goatboy in which he talks about having fun with the game, I started thinking about my own flaws when it comes to tabletop gaming. For the record, I really like goatboy's posts on BoLS and look forward to them. He's got some great things to say about the hobby and seems like he's found a way to balance competitive playing with having fun.

Huh. Seems like I forgot about that hilarious leaping ability.

In my own personal gaming style, I know I've got some ways to go before I'm that guy that people love to play against. I think I'm a good, fun player and a decent host, but I do have some faults and I'm really trying not to indulge in them! One of my faults is that I participate in the metagame-disruption tactics without even meaning to do it. For example, when an opponent makes a move that not only surprises me, but I think is less than optimal, I'll make a sound like "huh." It comes so naturally that until a friend called me on it, I didn't even notice I was doing it! Once he pointed it out, I could see how it was rather obnoxious and metagame-disruptive!

I think the habit comes from my youthful days of playing on the chess team. In competitive chess, you'd keep careful notations of a game with every opponent so that later you can go back and review what you did right and where it all went terribly wrong. In addition to the game tracking, you'd also apply short hand notes next to a move, like "?" or a "!". The "?" represents a move that really threw you off (though it can also mean bad move) and you can't see why your opponent would do it. The "!" was when your opponent pulled a brilliant move that you didn't see coming and ruined your day.

When playing chess with teammates/friends, I'd say "huh" and note the "?" in the tracker. Actually, more often than not, they'd do it to me as I was an average player that made lots of mistakes. It was just a verbal signal to the other player that I might ask about this later so try and remember the why. The critical step is that you didn't interrupt the game to ask why...you're supposed to be playing competively!

The practice was all about learning how to be a better player by learning from your opponent's thinking. I'm by no means the best 40k player ever, but I am competitive (some might say "really" competitive!), so I try to optimize my moves on the board to win the game. If the person across the table does something that throws me for a loop, I can't help wondering why and I have trouble suppressing the urge to be all like "What are you thinking here?". That's when the "huh" sound pops out and I participate in the metagame disruption! My friends understand that signal to mean "bad move, sucker," so they second guess their next move or they feel thrown off (or just write it off as Cawshis being a douche again!).

I just want to say that I don't mean "bad move, sucker!" It's more "what's the plan here? I figured you'd do something else!" Imagine a battlefield and the Space Marine captain is getting signals about enemy troop movements and he sees the latest report and he thinks "What is that damned Farseer up to? What did I miss?" I'm just trying to get into your head to determine your next step. And, also, to be honest, sometimes I'm also thinking "gosh. that's not what I would've done in your shoes…why'd you do it?"

I wonder what's the best way in a friendly game to make it so that you can exchange these "?" or "!" moments in play without sounding like you're being critical or mocking?

Charging these Tau was AWESOME!!! They barely Fight at all!

It's easy to remember the "!" moments. These "!" moments are when both sides of the table are all like "that was awesome!" and you celebrate them right away or talk about them while packing up. They're one of the reasons why we play 40k (along with the strategy and hobby fun!). I don't think any friendly game group has trouble talking about the cool stuff! Amazing rolling. Unlikely victories. Neat tactics. That's the next best part about a day hanging out playing 40K with friends!

What worked for the Tau doesn't work for the Orks.

But how do you bring up the"?" moments in play? Do you ask at the end? Do you ask while playing and give the player the opportunity to take it back? How competitive do you keep a friendly game (by not asking), but still allow for opportunities to learn how to play better (by asking)? Is every friendly game an "open game" where all moves are discussed? Do you set up "learning games" with friends to try out new army configs or units?

I don't have the answer, but I'm sure now that going "huh" in play isn't the way to do it! How do you talk tactics and strategy in a game without infringing on the fun of the competition? Do you separate the two types of game and make it clear? What personal flaws are you working on to ensure gaming with friends stays fun?

Saturday, March 7, 2009

Crimson Fist Tactical Marines

Crimson Fists
As of this post, I have 3 full tactical squads painted (though they are missing the Fist icons on the shoulder pads). I don't really go for the names on each squad as some other folks do...mainly cause I easily forget them and cause I don't like to get attached to my marines.

They're supposed to die for the Emperor, after all. Why bother learning their names? Maybe after a few games with these guys, the stand-out marines who do well for me will earn their stripes...err...names!

Crimson Fists

For the first squad, I used a Sternguard veteran model as the Sgt. I figured if I field sternguard in the future, I can just grab him. He's my favorite model of the entire set...in a set of great models. His neck-armor and shoulder pads are just perfect and I'm now trying out ways to mimic his look on my plastic models. I think I can do the neck brace (you'll see an example later when I post my Devastator Sgt)...the thigh-armors have got me wondering if its finally time to try my hand at green stuff.

Black Reach Marines,Crimson Fists,WIP
Here's squad two. All Black Reach marines except the Sgt. I wanted to mix up the look of the Sgts instead of using both Black Reach ones (I'll probably use the 2nd Black Reach sgt in my Dark Angels army!). I used the head from the Dark Angels set I think. Though it could be a devastator head.
Crimson Fists,WIP,Black Reach Marines

Tactical Squad 3. All Black Reach marines (I shared two sets with friends. They got the orks. I took all the marines) in a standard Missile Launcher, Flamer formation.
WIP,Black Reach Marines,Crimson Fists
This Sgt came out pretty nice for my first Crimson Fist model (I'm showing them in reverse order of painting). I used several washes for the face and even resurrected the old "Bronzed Flesh" color from GW. I can't say enough good things about the washes and foundation paints. They've really saved me time and heartache.

Since I wanted to keep them mobile, I added two rhinos to the armory and I plan to add a third.
Crimson Fists
Crimson Fists
I used to have a lot more citadel transfers on them, but they all seem to fall off minutes after I put them on. I'm exploring ways of keeping the damn transfers on until I seal the models. An astute Marine modeler might notice that the headlights are a little low on the model. Well, I glued them on wrong on my first rhino. Whoops! To keep the army consistent, all my rhino-chassis vehicles are going to have to have low-headlights.

As a former Tau player, I really like Tactical Marines. The versatility of their formations (different weapon load outs, transport options
, Sgt. Customization and the ability to combat squad) really makes them a great Troop choice. They can do anything pretty required pretty well! Just don't ask them to stand up to specialized units like Assaulty-Orks or Shooty Guard. I like to field them as combat squads against horde armies (to divide up those assaults) and as full squads against other marines or necrons to improve their survival.

In play, my tacticals have a mission in my head supported by either some elites or support fire. Usually the mission is "take that objective and hold it." Sometimes it might be "Draw some fire" or "Destroy that gun" if I see something I don't like on the board but isn't relevant to winning the game (like an artillery unit not near an objective). I never send them out alone if I can help it...they're good enough to take a turn or two of punishment, but they need Elite or Fast Attack support to push enemies out of cover or to survive an opposing elite attack. I nearly always have two tacticals in all my lists, if not 3. They're just great bang for the buck! I've taken to always supporting them with Dreadnaught or two...for fluffy reasons (I'd expect the rebuilding of the Crimson Fists to involve a lot of Dreadnaughts leading the newly minted marines into battle) and cause I just love the model. I'll be posting the Dreads up next-ish.

Wednesday, March 4, 2009

Battle: Crimson Fists vs Orks

Recently, I had the pleasure of having
Jimble's Orks over for a 1500 point battle. It was a standard seize ground mission, with 5(!) objectives. It was Jimble's first game with 1500 points of Orks and my first "serious" game against his orks (I had battled him before in a 500 point combat patrol...but that was with my Tau...and he trounced me!). This time, though, I had marines, so I was prepared...with a hastily-tacked together LRC!.

We had the basic setup of long table edges and I let Jimbles have first turn. Usually I prefer to have first turn, but I didn't want to give the Orks the advantage of knowing where I set up...plus I was debating keeping some of my marines in reserve.

Here's our lists (from memory):
Crimson Fists:
Chapter Master w/ Terminator Armor, Combiflamer
5 Terminators, Sgt w/ Power Sword
x2 Dreadnaughts w/ MMelta, Power Fist, Extra Armor, Hvy Flamers
x2 10 Marine Tacticals w/ Rhino, ML, Flamer
10 Marine Tacticals w/ Power Fist, Plasma Rifle, Heavy Bolter
Land Raider Crusader w/ Extra Armor

Warboss w/ 10-12 Nobz w/ Power Claws, 2Hd Axes (choppas?), etc.
Warboss w/ Mecha armow w/ 5 Orks in mechaarmor/powerclaws
Trukk for 2nd Warboss.
Looted Wagon w/ Big Gun and armor.
x2 Ork Boyz w/ ~20 orks+nob+powerclaw+bosspole
Gretchin Squad w/ Herder
Gretchin w/ Barrage gun thing.

Here's a REALLY blurry photo from mid game. It's terribad blurry. It's also missing ~2ft of the table on the bottom and a good amount of my Crimson Fists, but it gives you an idea of where everything went on the first turn. I apologize. I should have taken the shot right after set up and made sure it was nice, but you know how it is. You just want to get playing!

(click the pic for larger version)

Not pictured are the Defcoptas that scout-moved to the middle of the board and then moved some more to blow up a Dreadnaught in the Orks first turn. Red dots are the objectives.

I won't go blow-for-blow as it was a game for fun and learning our armies, but I'll list a couple of things I learned in this game:
  1. Land Raider Crusaders kill Orks. It's almost like that's what they are designed to do...Machine Spirit let's me fire both the melta and the assault cannon up to 6 inches AND the bolters get to fire. It's pretty brutal on those Boyz out in the open.
  2. Defcoptas are more dangerous than they look. The T5, 2W and 4+save makes them tough to bring down. And the TL rokkits make them dangerous! Turboboosting scout moves should give them great targets right from turn one! I'd hate to face squadrons of them!
  3. Terminators with Power Sword kill Orks in Mechasuitz. The ability to strike first meant my Termie Chapter Master killed 3 mechaorks in 1 swipe (1 wounded Ork+5 wounds on 5 attacks= Victory in Assault).
  4. Power Claws kill Dreadnaughts. 3 of them to be exact. Never charge a Nobz squad with power claws.
  5. Orbital Bombardment has failed to impress. I'm 0 for 3 in calling down the pain. I might stop paying those extra 25 points for it and just field captains. Or invest a few more points and get a character.
  6. Extra Armor is kind of meh on Dreadnaughts. I'm finding that the Dreadnaughts either explode when they get hit at OR they simply don't get hit. I've yet to downgrade a stunned. Might be worth paying for Venerables instead.
If you're interested, I put up a simple slideshow of the better shots. Jimble's orks are beautifully painted...so nicely done that I wound up taking a lot of pictures of them! I really love the Ork aesthetic..but with a Tau army, a Dark Angels army and now a Crimson Fists army, I don't think I should be adding another.* I look forward to the next game against Jimb! He's a great guy to game against and a good friend. Check out his blog and encourage him to post more!

*Especially with the Imperial Guard coming out!