Monthly Archives: September 2011

Irish Grand Tournament

Conspiracy (aka TOWNCON) hosted the 2011 Irish Grand Tournament for 40k.  Attendance was quite good with nearly 40 players competing.  No forgeworld shenanigans this week, but it did have one particular distinction in its structure – namely the use of ETC style missions.  The ETC missions use a mix of killpoints, objectives, and victory points with different scores available for each.  For example the primary goal could be killpoints, a secondary goal of holding objectives, and victory point difference for the remainder.

It gives the game a bit more depth than the standard missions, and can reward a losing player for clever play to claw back some element of the mix while losing on another.

My list was my usual 1750 Chaos Marines as follows:

HQ1: Daemon Prince Mark of Slaanesh Wings Lash of Submission [155 Pts]
Elite1: 3 terminators 3x Combi-melta [105 Pts] in Transport 1
Elite2: 3 terminators 3x Combi-plasma [105 Pts] in Transport 2
Troop1: 5 chaos marines  [75 Pts]
Troop2: 5 chaos marines  [75 Pts]
Troop3: 5 chaos marines, Icon of Chaos Glory [85 Pts] in Transport 3
Heavy1: 3 Obliterators [225 Pts]
Heavy2: 3 Obliterators [225 Pts]
Heavy3: 3 Obliterators [225 Pts]
Transport1 : Landraider [220 Pts] Carries Elite1
Transport2 : Landraider [220 Pts] Carries Elite2
Transport3 : Rhino [35 Pts] Carries Troop3
[1750pts]

ROUND 1

MISSION Primary KillPoints, Secondary Capture and Control, Spearhead Deployment

My first game was against Dan Aherne and his Tau army.

After winning the roll to go first, and knowing full well that tau are past their prime,  I got overconfident.  I deployed my Landraiders as close as possible, and my Obliterators in the middle of my quarter in cover.  Big mistake.  Dan wisely deployed his many many broadsides as far as possible into the very back corner of the board.  He could outrange my lascannons and outshoot my obliterators.

What his railguns didn’t shred, his plasma armed deepstriking crisis suits finished off.  I did some damage in return, but my early error meant I amost got tabled.  To avoid total disaster, I managed to hold my last couple of marines on my objective, letting me draw the secondary, while losing everything else.

RESULT 3-17 LOSS

ROUND 2

MISSION Primary Capture and Control, Secondary Seize Ground, Dawn of War Deployment

Next up was Simon Fitzpatrick and his Space Marine army.

Simon’s excellently painted army, was a mix of medium mech, drop pods, and marines.  Unfortunately for Simon, this is exactly the kind of list that my army does well against.  I have lots of lascannons, meltas and plasma to deal with pretty much anything he puts up.  I have first turn again, and deploy my icon squad in a rhino, and my lash prince right in the middle of the table so I can get right up in his face early on.  He deploys a tac squad and a razorback.

Turn 1 I simply rush at him, and the prince eats the tac squad.  His turn 1 he brings on everything, focusing entirely on killing the prince (which he does).  But he’s focused so much on killing that one model that he’s left himself out of position.  Turn 2 my big guns start firing, and my deepstrikes are perfect.  By game end, there’s only about 10 men left on his side, and I’m holding all objectives bar one, (which I’m contesting)

RESULT 18-2 WIN

ROUND 3

MISSION Primary Capture and Control, Secondary Annihilation, Pitched Battle Deployment

Final game of day one was Nick Meade and his Blood Angels army.

I’d played Nick on table one at Itzacon earlier in the year.  It was a very tough game against his Space Wolves, but I just managed to beat him, and now he was keen for revenge!  This time he was running Blood Angels with two Land Raiders, two Storm Ravens, Mephiston, a snippy dread, THSS Terminators, and two min sized troops.

I deploy most of my forces, he puts down his entire army.  Thankfully first turn was mine, and I knew that I had to take out at least one raven in turn 1 to avoid getting smashed in the face.  His terminators are lethal and slow, whereas Mephiston is lethal and fast – so I figured the best bet was to focus on the termi raven as Mr Meph was going to get in my face regardless.  Lots of lascannons later the terminators were sitting in the wreckage with a long walk ahead of them.

As predicted, Meph and the snippy dread jump out, the dread chews up some terminators and Meph tries to pop open my Land Raider.  Luckily Meph merely stuns the raider (Nick’s luck against my Raiders was terrible all game, nothing but stuns!) and is left in the open.  Lascannons and plasma guns provide a rapid solution to the Meph problem, and Lash ensures those THSS terminators are going nowhere fast.  I stay ahead on Killpoints and VPs for the remainder, and try to gypsy a full win by getting my lash prince onto his home objective – but don’t quite make it.  I get the secondary and VPs but draw on the primary.

RESULT 13-7 MINOR WIN

ROUND 4

MISSION Primary Seize Ground, Secondary Annihilation, Pitched Battle Deployment

First game of day two was Donal Carroll and his Tyranids army.

Donal’s army comprised just under 40 Genestealers, two Tervigons, a Hive Tyrant, Hive Guard, Tyrant Guard, and some Termagaunts.  Donal wins the roll, deploys his entire force, with the genestealers infiltrating.  Yikes.

Similarly to Round 1, I fail to do some basic math, and set up to use my twin linked flamers on him as he rushes forward.  Unfortunately I forgot the Feel No Pain shenanigans, and so I effectively set up such that a big chunk of surviving genestealers will be getting a turn 2 charge.  Not good my friends, not good.

I do some damage to his stealers over two turns, but not enough, and they basically melt anything they touch.  By game end I’ve only rags left and can’t compete on the Primary, Secondary, or the VPs.  The only sliver of dignity is that I don’t get fully tabled.

RESULT 1-19 LOSS

ROUND 5

MISSION Primary Annihilation, Secondary Seize Ground, Dawn of War Deployment

Final game of the tournament was against my own club-mate Anthony Caragianis and his Deathwing army.

Anthony’s army consists of two squads of melta bikes with teleport homers, two attack bikes with multimeltas and teleport homers, Belial, and 25 THSS terminators with cyclone missile launchers.

I’ve faced this type of army a couple of times before, and the only way to beat it is to keep most of it away and focus fire on one squad until it’s dead.  I win the roll-off, but give him first turn as I don’t want him to be able to use his turn 1 deepstrike special rule to corner me in.  He deploys his bikes, I deploy nothing and have all my nasty things come in turn 1.  His turn 1 he chooses to use his Deathwing teleport rule to get three squads deepstriking in turn 1.  He puts them aggressively towards my table edge spread across the right 75% of the table.  This is exactly what I wanted to happen.

I roll on the left side as a refused flank, very close to his leftmost squad.  I unload pretty much my entire army into the squad, and they (just about) die.  As the game progresses I let one squad close in at a time, while keeping the others at bay.  Every time, whittling down his numbers.  Anthony kept having terrible luck throughout, and there were many points where he should’ve got to hit me a lot harder but simply bounced.

By game end he had three terminators left on the table and nothing else.

RESULT 19-1 WIN

OVERALL RESULT 14th

Not a great performance overall, but at least in the games I lost I could identify the mistakes I made, and what I would do differently if facing those situations again.

First place went to Jannik Rottgen from the German ETC team, who had an incredible looking spartan themed Eldar army (my photos do it no justice)

Second place went to the new captain of the Irish ETC team, Mike Tangney, who was also running an Eldar army…

Third place went to the the outgoing captain of the Irish ETC team, Richard Flood, who amazed us with a ridiculous number of razorbacks in his Grey Knights army.

A full set of photos is up on the WarHamSandwich Facebook page

P.S. “TOWNCON”

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Psychic defenses

This time it’s a request from the gaming club The Warheads and we are going to cover Psychic powers, or more specifically things that stop them.  So let’s set up a few scenarios.

A sinister Slaaneshi Daemon Prince tries to cast Lash of Submission on a squad of Space Wolves near a Rune Priest, if the Prince tried the same on a squad of Grey Knights near a Dreadnought with Reinforced Aegis, would he be more or less likely to succeed?

There are a wide variety of psychic defenses out there, and they use different game mechanics to achieve the same objective i.e. to stop the psychic power.  To successfully use a power the psyker must roll less than or equal to his leadership on 2d6.  Most psykers have a high Ld and this isn’t something you’d generally expect to fail very often.  The mechanics used to stop them fall into two types:

Type 1) effects that make it harder to pass the psychic test e.g. reducing the Ld value of the Psyker (Aegis, Reinforced Aegis) or increasing the number of dice rolled for the test (Runes of Warding, Shadow of the Warp)

Type 2) effects that happen after the psychic test to try to block the power, e.g. the leadership roll-off for a psychic hood, or the 4+ nullify from a Rune priest.

Spacewolves can have a special ‘layered approach’ where they get a 5+ nullify from a Wolf Tail Talisman, and if that fails they can then try the 4+ from the Rune Priest.  If the Rune Priest happens to be Njal Stormcaller then that 4+ becomes a 3+.  But even with all that wolf-cheese, the master of psychic defense has to be Khorne.

The ‘Blessing of the Blood God’ gives a 2+ invulnerable save against any wounds from psychic powers, and his most beloved champion Kharn is flat-out immune to psychic powers.  Though to be fair these abilities are not widespread, and the Chaos Marine codex has pretty much no psychic defense.  (Update: it’s been pointed out by a few people that Lady Malys of the Dark Eldar is also immune to psychic powers, as is any unit she joins – so it’s not just Khorne who can totally nullify psykers!)

The effectiveness of Psychic Hoods varies depending on the relative leadership values of the defender versus the caster.  If the caster has a low Ld compared to the defender then he’ll have a very tough time.

So for all these ‘Type 2’ defenses I’ve simply calculated the odds of blocking the psychic power (assuming that the psychic test is passed).  For the hood I’ve calculated it for all possible differences of leadership value between caster and defender.  I’m sure the range encountered in practice is smaller, but I did it simply for completeness.

The table is ordered from best defense to worst defense as follows:

Psychic defense Chance of Nullify
Psychic Hood with Caster Ld 6+ less than Defender 100%
Psychic Hood with Caster Ld 5 less than Defender 97%
Psychic Hood with Caster Ld 4 less than Defender 92%
Psychic Hood with Caster Ld 3 less than Defender 83%
Blessing of the Blood God 83%
Wolf Tail Talisman AND Njal (5+, 3+) 78%
Psychic Hood with Caster Ld 2 less than Defender 72%
Njal  (Straight 3+) 67%
Wolf Tail Talisman AND Rune Priest (5+, 4+) 67%
Psychic Hood with Caster Ld 1 less than Defender 58%
Rune Priest (Straight 4+) 50%
Psychic Hood with Caster Ld = Defender 42%
Wolf Tail Talisman  (Straight 5+) 33%
Psychic Hood with Caster Ld 1 more than Defender 28%
Psychic Hood with Caster Ld 2 more than Defender 17%
Psychic Hood with Caster Ld 3 more than Defender 8%
Psychic Hood with Caster Ld 4 more than Defender 3%
Psychic Hood with Caster Ld 5+ more than Defender 0%

Ok so that’s Type 2 defenses, what about those Type 1s?

I start by graphing how the odds of passing the psychic test vary with increasing leadership, for a variety of scenarios (including Runes of Witnessing which are not a defense at all, they are there to improve a casters chances of passing).

So we get a set of S curves, where the red curve represents a ‘normal psychic test’ and any curve below it is hampered by a defense.  The lower the curve in the graph, the stronger the defense.  As you can see the Reinforced Aegis is the meanest of the lot.  It is worth noting that the Runes of Warding give a perils result on any result of 12 or above, and increases the odds of a double 1 to push the odds of perils from about 5.6% up to nearly 45%, that is a serious threat in its own right.

While this clearly shows the effect of the defenses, it can be a bit tricky to read the actual impact of the defense.  So with that in mind I’ve also plotted the difference each defense makes for a given Ld value, shown below.

This shows specifically what these defenses are worth against a given Ld.  The Normal Psychic test is a flat red line as it compares exactly to itself (if you get what I mean).  Runes of Witnessing are above the line as they improve the odds of casting, and the defenses are below the line because they reduce the odds of passing.

So what about that original question?  Which target is easier for the Daemon Prince.  Well he’s Ld10 so under normal circumstances he has a 92% chance of passing his psychic test, the Rune priest has a 50% chance of blocking him if he’s successful giving an overall probability of 46% for making the Lash.  With the Reinforced Aegis, the odds of making the psychic test drop to 42% making it slightly more effective than the Rune Priest.

I’m sure there are lots of particular scenarios you could come up with, and hopefully I’ve given you the data to be able to make like for like comparisons, but don’t be afraid to put a request in for a specific situation if you can’t work it out!


NWG 2011

The North Wexford Gamers run an annual 40k (and Fantasy) tournament in Gorey, but with a twist.  It’s a fully ranking tournament, but they move away from the standard Irish tournament format by pushing the points limit up to 2000, and allowing Forgeworld units (but not superheavies, gargantuans, strength D or the other Apocalypse scale stuff).

UPDATE: Photos from the tournament organiser available here

It messes with the usual meta, and you can’t rely on your normal approach.  The armies are bigger, and there’s a bunch of stuff that you’ve never seen before, for example a Kroot Mercenary Army,

Defenders of Vraks,

and a bunch of other cool stuff:

The atmosphere was great, and I think the unorthodox format lends itself to a more lighthearted approach to the games.  Rules arguments were generally settled in mere seconds with both parties jumping to be the bigger man (usually resulting in a 4+ roll to resolve things).

My list didn’t contain any funky forgeworld stuff (I don’t own any!), and was as follows:

ARMY: Chaos Marines
HQ1: Daemon Prince Mark of Slaanesh Wings Lash of Submission [155 Pts]
Elite1: 3 terminators 3x Combi-melta [105 Pts] in Transport 1
Elite2: 3 terminators 3x Combi-plasma [105 Pts] in Transport 2
Troop1: 5 chaos marines, Icon of chaos glory, melta gun [95 Pts]
Troop2: 10 Plague marines, personal icon, 2 flamers, champion, power fist [285 Pts]
Troop3: 5 chaos marines, Icon of Chaos Glory, melta gun [95 Pts] in Transport 3
Heavy1: 3 Obliterators [225 Pts]
Heavy2: 3 Obliterators [225 Pts]
Heavy3: 3 Obliterators [225 Pts]
Transport1 : Landraider, dozer blade [225 Pts] Carries Elite1
Transport2 : Landraider, dozer blade [225 Pts] Carries Elite2
Transport3 : Rhino [35 Pts] Carries Troop3
[2000pts]

ROUND 1

MISSION KillPoints, Spearhead

My first opponent was John O’Connor, who was running a beautiful Raven Guard army.

John was just returning to 40k after a bit of a hiatus, we had a great game, but the super shooty nature of my list was the undoing of his more balanced force.

RESULT 18-2 WIN

ROUND 2

MISSION Capture and Control, Dawn of War

Second opponent was Adam O’Connor, who was running a Death Guard army, with a Forgeworld Blight Drone and Plague Hulk.

After some aggressive deepstriking I thought I had the jump on Adam, but after a rake of 5+ invulnerable saves it was clear that Adam thought otherwise.  I hadn’t scratched him and had left a bunch of juicy targets right in his front garden.  I took some losses, nevertheless I pushed hard for his objective but couldn’t quite make it through his defenses by game end.

RESULT 10-10 DRAW

ROUND 3

MISSION 3 objectives, Pitch Battle

Third opponent was Ger O’Brien, who was running a Space Wolf army, with a Forgeworld Caestus Assault Ram.  Terrifying list – in particular a Caestus full of assault terminators with meltas; and a drop pod with Logan, Arjac, and multimelta longfangs (relentless thanks to Logan).  I tried all reserving to avoid my landraiders  (and other valuables) getting chewed up by the podfangs, but no such luck.

I thought the oblits would be the saving grace as they dropped on his objectives.  But after 6 plasma cannon shots all I did was a gets hot wound on an oblit, and the final plasma blast scattered onto my terminators.  So 450 points of oblits dropped in and did no wounds to my opponent, and did two wounds to my own army… blerg.  I took my kicking for several turns, but just managed to crawl some troops onto objectives to get the draw.

RESULT 8-12 DRAW

ROUND 4

MISSION Capture and Control, Pitched Battle

Fourth up was Eoin O’Mahony, who was running a Necron army.  Eoin had been shocked by how well his Necrons (and also John Stowe’s Necrons) had been doing in the tournament.

Eoin goes first, and one shots a LandRaider with his Monolith then glances all the weapons off the second (and stunned it for good measure).  My oblits try to lascannon the Deceiver to death, but only manage to do one wound – so FOUR left (cheesy broken Necrons!).

(incidentally, if you look closely below, you’ll see the Warhammer Tower that he had to use to proxy a monolith (picture is from a later game))

The shooting continues like this, but I keep throwing stuff at his objectives so he can’t put all his efforts into chasing mine.  My Daemon Prince just about makes it to the Necron lines (1 wound left) and manages to assault and run down a full squad of necrons.  But Eoin still has one left on his objective, and a squad with his lord on my objective.  Nurgle to the rescue, bottom of turn 7 my plague marines assault the necrons on my objective, and they break and get run down!  Clawed back a draw from what looked like imminent defeat.

RESULT 10-10 DRAW

ROUND 5

MISSION Killpoints, Dawn of War

Final Opponent was Colin Murray who had a 9 Oblit Chaos list quite similar to my own.  I won the roll for first turn, and having played several ‘mirror matches’ before, I knew that was a big advantage for me.  The game went extremely quickly, I had all my shooty stuff coming on turn 1, Colin reserved all his tough stuff.  His luck was average to poor, and mine was average to good, and combined with his forces coming in piecemeal meant it was a tough slog for Colin.  I’d been in that exact position before, and I knew it was not fun – but Colin was good humoured about it, and was a pleasure to play against.

RESULT 17-3 WIN

OVERALL RESULT: Two wins and three draws gets 3rd place for me.  Jan Karnowski comes in first with his (216) Orkses,

and second place for Paul Quigley and his Dark Eldar

More pictures are up on the WarHamSandwich Facebook page


When Lance met Melta

It’s always great to get requests from readers, as it makes me consider scenarios that I don’t always encounter in my own games.  This week’s request comes again from the good folks of the Penny-Arcade forums, namely OtakuD00D, and Mr_Rose

“I want to see the odds involved in Darklight Lances, can you include Void Lances too, please? Curious to see what Heat Lances can do too”

Right, so Dark Eldar have been given a pretty amazing facelift of late, and come with a few new twists in terms of weaponry.  They have plenty of lance weapons (which count armour over 12 as just 12) and also have access to melta weapons – in particular a melta lance weapon!

So, as I said, lance weapons count armour over 12 as 12, but another way of looking at this is to say that a penetration result of 12 will glance any armour, and a penetration result of 13+ will pen any armour.  So for our comparison we can treat a 13 result as being the same as a 14 or 15 (or 1,000,000 for that matter).

I’ve plotted this using my usual format, and I’ve included Lances with Str 8 (Dark/Bright lance), S9 (Void Lance), and S10 (Orbital Lance Strike).  As a baseline I’ve put in Krak missiles, and a Lascannon.  Last, but by no means least, I’ve also included the S6 Lance Melta combo (aka Heat Lance).

So lance weapons have a peculiar shape in that once they hit 13 then they basically flatline keeping the same odds ad infinitum.  As I noted above this is because all armour over 12 is just 12 to a lance, so once you hit 13 you’ve got the pen on anything.  In terms of comparison with Krak and Lascannon, you can see that the S8 lance follows the Krak until they hit 13 and then the krak gets progressively worse while the lance keeps the same value (similarly for the S9 lance vs the lascannon).

A more interesting comparison is the S8 lance vs the lascannon; the lance is consistently worse until we’re looking to penetrate AV13.  Reading the chart you can see the lascannon has a 33% chance to pen AV14, the same as the S8 Lance (there’s a bit of a flaw in how I represent the lances in the chart, as once you reach 13 they are always penetrating whereas a 13 from a lascannon would only glance AV13.  Rest assured I’ll find a better way of presenting this type of data in the future).  For AV14 the S8 lance stays at 33%, while the lascannon sinks to 17%.

So to sum it up, lances only get interesting against AV13 and AV14.  The S10 Lance is particularly lethal against AV13/14 witha  67% chance of pen, the S6 Melta (at close range) is also pretty savage with 58% chance of pen, which is about the same as a standard S8 meltagun against AV14.  Next in line is S9 Lance, and then S8 Lance which is as good against AV14 as a regular S10 weapon.

I’m focusing on AV14 here, but don’t be misled – that’s the ‘best case’ scenario for lance weapons.  The higher the AV above 12 the more benefit the lance brings.  So while a S8 lance is as good as S10 against AV14, S10 is better against AV13 and below (significantly so for AV12 and less).  This effect is particularly well illustrated by a comparison of a S8 meltagun, a S6 meltagun, and a S6 lance meltagun.

The benefit of the lance is clearly shown when the green line goes horizontal, but you can see that that it only catches up with the regular meltagun (red line) at AV14, it’s noticeably worse at everything else (and won’t instant death T4 models!).

Ok so, summary.  Lance weapons are only beneficial against AV13 and 14, moreso for AV14.  Any (non lance) weapon that equals their effectiveness at AV14 will be better than them at everything below.  Weapons that are weaker against AV14 could well be superior against lower AVs (e.g. a lascannon is worse than a brightlance at AV14, is equal at AV13, and better at everything below).

Final verdict – it’s very meta sensitive.  In a world of razorback spam, lance weapons do you no particular favours.  But if your usual group is running triple Land Raiders then you’re golden.


Hydra Dominatus

As I mentioned previously, I’m building a renegade Imperial Guard army themed on Alpha Legion Operatives. The infantry I’m using are the awesome forgeworld renegade guard, but there was a question of how to represent the vehicles.  The army list I have in mind uses Hydras, Vendettas, and Chimeras but I wanted a look and feel distinct from regular guard.

For the chimeras I’m happy enough with just using chaos upgrade sprues to get the renegade look, but the hydras and vendettas would be a bit tougher.  After scouring Ebay for a couple of evenings I found a bitz seller who had listed 6 defiler turrets, and there was my answer – with some autocannons, a defiler turret could turn a chimera into a suitably renegade hydra.  The first is now assembled, see below:

For the vendettas I searched around online for inspiration, but spent a week looking without finding anything.  Then I happened upon this:

Again Ebay to the rescue, I found a supplier in the US and picked up 3 of them.

So with the models sorted, the next question was what colour scheme.  Blue, green and silver are the dominant colours of my Alpha Legion marine army, and I wanted the operatives to be different but still blend reasonably well together.  Since the Alpha Legion are stealthy sneaky types, I decided to run with a blue green camouflage scheme for the vehicles.  The test models are below.

Obviously I’ve still along way to go before completing the army, and I’ll post further updates as I make more progress.


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