Monday, September 29, 2014

DE: Things are not looking too good

Stare into the void.

The rumors have been floating around the internet these days about DE are being confirmed by several sources around the world.  Let's just say that it's not looking too good so far for the Dark Kin. That's a damn shame really.

I'm still holding off until I have the book in my hand, but nothing I read so far has been great.  In short, if there's not drastic point decreases in all areas, I don't think DE will have anything going or them.

Check out the rumors here and here.  Let me sum it up for you:
  • Combat drugs offering stat boosts can be useless to decent.  I would say they're worse than the current ones.
  • Nothing looks great from the Warlord Traits.
  • No ways to take troops outside of Warriors and Wyches.
  • Raiders/Ravagers lose the ability to take Flickerfields.  This is gigantic because this means they have no protection vs. Ignore Cover now.  Even with a 5 points cost decrease, the 15 point Night Shields make them the same price they are now.
  • This also means that Ravagers lose their ability to maintain fire and reap some kind of protection from Flicker Fields.  They must hug cover at all times or continuously Jink.
  • The Glaive thing that the Succubus gets is the only form of AP2 melee outside of Incubi.  It's as if they never want us to kill SM characters.
  • All the artefacts look subpar and generally not worth it.  Most of the psychology-based stuff is wasted on ATSKNF.

A little disappointed so far, but I'll wait for the final book to do a full review.

Thursday, September 25, 2014

VC: Playing as Undead Legion

I googled Blood Knights and I got boobs.  Was not disappointed.

Before you dig any deeper, please see the article I wrote about VC/TK interactions here.  I'll start off with my VC list because I have the most experience with them (I got into them when they got their new 7th Ed. book).  My playstyle has always been a killy armored Vampire Lord because that's how I envision myself if I was to personally take command of the army.  It just sings well with me.

For now, I'll skip the Special Characters and all the Nagash Vol. 2 units.  I want to concentrate on the original army books.

Vampire Counts Unit Bucket:
Vampire Lord, Master Necromancer, Necromancer, Vampire, Wight King, Tomb Banshee, Zombies, Skeleton Warriors, Crypt Ghouls, Dire Wolves, Grave Guard, Black Knights, Crypt Horrors, Vargheists, Fell Bats, Spirit Host, Bat Swarms, Hexwraiths, Terrorgheist, Mortis Engine

Tomb Kings Unit Bucket:
Tomb King, Liche High Priest, Tomb Prince, Liche Priest, Necrotect, Skeleton Archers, Skeleton Horsemen, Skeleton Horse Archers, Skeleton Chariots, Necropolis Knights, Ushabti, Khemrian Warsphinx, Sepulchral Stalkers, Hierotitan, Necrosphinx, Screaming Skull Catapult, Casket of Souls

Tuesday, September 23, 2014

WHFB: Army tiers and hypothesis

The lost art of dominating with an outdated book.

Now, I will talk about uncomped and very slight comp based off the WHFB 8th system (2400 and 2500 games).  I will rate the armies based on tiers from what I've experienced. Here is what I think of the tiers in respects to the armies under them.

Tiers Explained
  • Tier 1 - This tier represents the pinnacle of army power in the current metagame.  There are a lot of viable, competitive choices and they're all strong vs. netlists and cookie-cutters from other armies.  This level also indicates that regardless of build, the army is able to minimize on the number of bad matchups it will most likely encounter in a tournament setting.  Most of these armies have flexible magic, multiple viable builds, and strong options all over the book with some major power units that just soars above the rest.
  • Tier 2 - This tier demonstrates a solid book with many competitive choices. Whether it is due to good internal balance or a few stand-out units, the army preforms fluidly on the table.  While certain builds are strong vs. netlists and can compete on equal footing with other armies out there, there are not as many as Tier 1 armies.  There will be more bad matchups that exist in this army tier, but not much since the majority of the book has the answers it needs.
  • Tier 3 - This tier demonstrates workable unit choices with few competitive options. While some of these options are strong, the rest of the book suffers from not enough viable choices for a tournament setting. Whether it is due to subpar internal balance, or just that the units are not powerful enough compared to the other armies, there are noticeable weaknesses.  As a result, the number of bad matchups increases.

Monday, September 22, 2014

40K: Dark Eldar comes out soon

This book better not suck.

One part of me is excited that Dark Eldar will get a new book, the other part is apprehensive because they're a tricky army to get right.  They exemplify what it means to be a glass-cannon army, and that can be really difficult to design in an atmosphere like Warhammer 40K.  I really hope that the design team gets it right this time around.

As for things I would like to see, it has to be either damage increased across the army, or the army gets cheaper.  It's really that simple:  More points buys you more units, which in turn buys you more guns.  Or better quality guns buys you more hurt.  I would be fine with any of these.  I'm not going to talk any more on this matter because I don't want to set myself up for disappointment.  The latest string of 40K codexes have been pretty stale as the books seem to be streamlined at its core.  A lot of what was the previous Space Wolves and Grey Knights have been gutted for something much more simple.

I can only fear the worst for Dark Eldar, so I'm not going to make another comment until I get the book in my hands.  For better or for worse, I will be playing a few games with my favorite army of all time.  I pray that the Voidraven will be dropping large template bombs, because a small blast template as the "triumph of Dark Eldar weapons tehcnology" is a god damn joke.

Thursday, September 18, 2014

WHFB: A few places adopting ETC

There is something hilariously appropriate with this picture and this article.

Word on the street is that next year, Crossroads GT in NE USA will be using the latest ETC restrictions.  For those of you who don't know what ETC is, it's the European Team Championships, a format that players over in Europe have been using for some time to help steer the game into more balanced lineups.  However, they normally play in a team setting.

Let's be honest for a second here.  I dislike the idea of comp because at the end of the day, it's just dude's houserules.  I will say that some forms of comp help mitigate the enormous amount of crazy shit that can happen in a game, and that's always a good thing.  A lot of the time, it's a good thing that some light comp is imposed, but only when it's fairly light and doesn't change the game too much.  Unfortunately, when you have some kinds of light comp that affects certain armies and not other armies, you end up with the meta for that tournament just shifting what kinds of filth will be present at the event.  The latest Crossroads GT restrictions can be found here, and despite WoC being comped pretty hard, you saw light council Allerielle White Lion deathstars with full on shooting.  I think the winner was some dude running VC scream with congoline zombies.  Not to take away from the hard won victory, but this is literally just picking your poison when it comes what's being played under a comped tournament setting.

ETC borderlines what I feel comfortable with because I think there's a good amount of fundamental game changes.  While this version is a lot better than the previous editions of ETC (they got rid of the ridiculous channeling shit), there's still some things I have a bit of an issue with.  Magic changed from max of 6 dice to 5, that's a big change to how probabilities work for some armies.  For Death, 4 dice is the cap and for Mindrazor in particular, this is also restricted to 4 dice.  This makes the spell fail on just below average and this changes how the Shadow lore should be used entirely.

Then comes the army-specific restrictions.  I personally think my VC army at 2400 points ETC is very solid.  All I really do is drop the Necro, fix my core, drop a Spirit Host for some Fell Bats and I'm good to go.  The rest of the army is still intact and retains much of its existing power.  My High Elves on the other hand, is completely restricted under this comp.  My regular list right now runs with a Shadow Book of Hoeth Archmage, 2x Phoenixes and a BotWD on the White Lions unit.  Not only can I not take Shadow with the Book, but Phoenixes/BotWD/BoH are considered max 2, which means if I want to take my Phoenixes, I have to drop both the BoH and BotWD.  As for my Demons, I can't help but laugh to think I can take my standard competitive DoC list with very little changes.  Sure, I need above average dice to mass Caco Choir, but much of the potency remains the same (double Soul Grinders for example).

What do you guys think?  Do you guys like ETC?

Wednesday, September 10, 2014

VC: Adding the Casket of Souls

Releasing all dem souls!

In a previous article, I wrote about how to play with both VC and TK in the same army.  I mentioned in there that the Casket of Souls was practically a must take in all lists.  Why is that?  Well, here are some of my reasons:
  • It gives you +D3 PD to use per phase, and it doesn't have to be for the casket. No matter how you dice it, there's just not many things in the game that gives you this kind of advantage.  You want it to boost your normal casting? Go ahead. You want to use the Casket? Sure. You want to feed your Peripat? That's fine too.
  • It gives you a pseudo-shooting option that you will always have.
  • It allows you to remove a key pieces off the map if it goes off. I'm talking about serious key pieces here: The Skullcannon is Ld.7 with 4 wounds, Empire Cannons away from their general are also under threat, Ogre Ironblasters are Ld.7, although 5W will be harder to manage. Most of the other danger pieces only have 3 wounds. Elf RBTs only have 2W are are Ld.8; thus auto-dying on average rolls. Mournfangs in a flanking position are now suddenly threatened big time, so are most low Ld. chaff: Furies, Dogs, Sabertusks, the list goes on. And it has the potential to bounce.
  • Once your opponent have figured out that this is a dangerous piece on the battlefield, he will throw dice to dispel it. The fact that he has to throw DD at a FREE spell potentially (D3 averages 2 dice free), you will now be ahead in the magic phase. This increases the chances you will have VDM, Desert Wind, or anything else you want to conjur up with your opponents are on a 2-dice deficit. If he fails to dispel and loses concentration, while the probability is low, it's just a shutout.
  • This limits your opponent's movement, deployment and chaff potential. Will he risk bounces and lose large amounts of low. Ld chaff? He will need to deploy tight, or not be very careful of his movements or risk getting blasted off the board.  Forget about low Ld flankers, forget about warmachines trying to get flank shots, anything that can possibly threaten flanks is also threatened by the Casket if their leadership is low enough.
  • With Peripat and Casket, you're literally +2 PD/DD on your opponent from the beginning of the game. You get 2 from the casket, you decide to bank it, and thus you're up 2 while you negotiate your existing magic phase. This is free advantage on both offense and defense.
  • It works with a number of things that messes with your opponent's leadership.  Doom and Darkness makes it more effective, Golden Death Mask of Kharnut, Aura of Dark Majesty, anything that reduces or prevents superior leadership from being used.  While I'm not saying that this is the best use of points in the army, the synergy is there and cannot be overlooked.
  • It's relatively cheap, small and you can keep it out of LoS because it doesn't need it to do its stuff. The effect is Direct Damage. It's also T10, I've had people shoot it with a cannon and call it a waste on a 1,2,3.  Most people don't even bother with it, and if you tuck it away in a corner without LoS, no one really bothers.

Aside from the magic that Liche Priests can offer, I don't think there's too much from the book that VC can use to their advantage.  If only Tomb Kings can take their steeds, maybe I would be able to utilize that Golden Deathmask in more of my army lists.  Sadly, that is not to be.

What would I change in my existing VC army to incorporate the Casket and Liche Priest?  Cut the Vargheists and Necromancer for a Lv.1 Liche Priest, Lore of Nehekhara with a dispel scroll.  Unless you get something you really want, you'll almost always default of Invocation of the Desert Wind.  Otherwise, just place the Vargheists for the Casket and you're good to go.

Tuesday, September 9, 2014

VC: Analyzing my current 2500 list

Long reads require a beautiful vampire chick.

Before anything else, I'll throw up the army list so we can go over everything piece by piece.  My current rendition of VC is pretty much the same of what I ran in the past.  I still have an all-powerful Vampire Lord, but I've changed a couple of components around the rest of the army to fit a more aggressive playstyle.  Probably the biggest change here is the fact that I dropped a Terrorgheist for a greater selection of units and magic support.

13 drops

Lv.4 Vampire Lord = 548
Lore of Vampires
Quickblood, Red Fury, Beguile
Dark Knight, Dragonhelm, Ogre Blade, 4+ Ward

Lv.1 Vampire BSB = 245
Lore of Vampires
Aura of Dark Majesty, Beguile
Dark Knight, Nightshroud, Gem

Lv.1 Necromancer = 100
Lore of Vampires
Cursed Book

33x Skeleton Warriors, FC = 195
30x Ghouls, Ghast = 310
5x Dire Wolves = 40
5x Dire Wolves = 40
5x Dire Wolves = 40

11x Black Knights, FC, BoSwiftness = 331
5x Hexwraiths = 150
3x Vargeists = 138
Spirit Host = 45
Spirit Host = 45
Spirit Host = 45

Terrorgheist = 225

First, let's take a look at my Vampire Lord.  He runs Lore of Vampires obviously, and comes with the standard kit of Quickblood and Red Fury.  I always run my Vampire Lords with Beguile because the chance to make someone re-roll successful hits against you is just too good to pass up on.  This combined with your 1+ save, 2++ vs. fire and 4+ ward, you're extremely tanky while still capable of putting out ludicrous amounts of damage yourself,  With 13 deploys, you should be able to drop your characters last, placing your VL and supporting Vampire away from enemy characters so you're not forced to fight them.  If you do, I have strong faith in my lord's ability to take them down because of..

The Vampire.  I chose the Vampire over the Wight King BSB that I regularly take for 3 main reasons:  You can take another Invocation of Nehek that can be used close to your general, you are S5/S7 on the charge, and you can take vampiric powers.  The extra IoN gives me sustainability on my unit once I enter combat and allows me to heal up any characters that take damage.  S7 on the charge is just huge for me these days because there's a lot of T5 out there that I want to force damage through.  While the Wight King's main advantages over the Vampire is the extra wound and T5, he lacks the raw killing potential that the Vampire delivers.  Over a sustained fight, you need to be able to pile on those additional wounds, especially if the WK can't KB stuff like monstrous infantry.  In terms of durability, I'm already sporting the Nightshroud and 1+ AS, but the -1 Ld aura plus Beguile tests at -4 for both Lord and Vampire is remarkably good.  The Nightshroud's ability just can't be underestimated:  It is seriously one of the best defensive items in the game, rendering most magical weapons and GWs ineffective vs. your vampires in combat.  Not only that, but it strips away ASF and allows Quickblood to do its thing.

When you deploy these guys in a bus, you want to put them on the edges, away from any characters that you might face.  The first rank of 5 should look something like this:  VL V CH BK BK.  The VL on the edge means that hopefully, the least amount of attacks will be going towards your lord on a unit of similar size.  Since the last model swinging will also be in BtB with your Nightshroud, the Lord will reap all the advantages and additional protection that the NS will provide.  In addition, you will have 2 instances to apply your -4 Beguile, and hopefully that will be enough to push the damage through the unit instead of into characters.  Should you absolutely need to fight enemy characters (such as a challenge), the character fighting your VL will also be in BtB with the Nightshroud, and lose ASF in his fight as well.  Let's just say I got money on our guy.

Lastly, we have the humble Necromancer.  Sure, he gives me yet another IoN to cast around if he so desires, but he carries the awesome Cursed Book.  I don't know about you guys, but I think this is one of the best magic items in the game.  For an average of 2 dice, he can cast a lot of spells that a Lv.1 Necro would normally struggle with.  He has a 33% chance to cast a great spell on one dice, and I think that's a great price to pay for some of the best combat-swingy spells in the game.  All of them are hexes that can be cast in combat, and some of them are Remains in Play.  To make it even better, a lot of them have greater range than your other spells, allowing you to stay back a little further and still be a threat on the battlefield.  I absolutely love this item and I think it's a great way to improve your magic flexibility while keeping your LoV spam strong.  Good players can often play fine without a scroll in their army, so give this handy little thing a go for a couple of games and see where it gets you.  I promise you'll be pleasantly surprised.

Alright, now we enter the bulk of the army and you'll see some set staples here.  I always take some kind of chaff and that's why we'll see 3x Dire Wolves and 3x Spirit Hosts.  Personally, I think VC have some of the best drops in the game for cheap and effective chaff.  Spirit Hosts might be one of the most annoying things ever since they can kill other cheap chaff, work as redirectors, and offer static combat res if your opponent is already tied up.  They can tie naked knights up all day, and being Ethereal means they can get places other units cannot.  In short, they're probably one of the best units in the entire book and everyone should have 3x for chaffing purposes.  Later in the game once your forces hit combat, make sure to run them behind enemy units and rear charge them for a static +2 combat res.  If they can't reform and all their characters with magical weapons are already fighting in the front, then it sucks to be them.  The same would apply to your Hexwraiths.

Speaking of Hexwraiths, I always like running one unit whenever I play VC.  Their applications are truly outrageous and they can do so many things its unreal.  I only like taking one unit of them because if you take too many, you risk drawing a bad matchup in the form of heavy magic missiles, magic shooting, or something else that can just wipe them off the board.  They're relatively expensive, and you can only heal a single one per IoN, so you gotta be smart about how you use them.  For me, they're excellent chaff killers since they can pass through enemy (and friendly!) units and deal good damage.  They can kill chaff, hunt warmachines, threaten any unit that won't beat them in combat res naturally, provide Terror tests, strip Regen, and offer static combat res in later parts of the game.  You just need to make sure you keep these guys away from magic attacks and within range of your general.  Since I'm running a relatively fast army, I don't really have an issue with that.

My Skeleton Warriors are there to be a bunker of my Necromancer, and the Ghouls in 6x5 allow me to fight on a semi-decent level.  The 2 poison attacks each really help once I push these guys up and tie up something nasty.  I always like some Ghouls in my army because they threaten a lot of the big beasties out there with high T.  Apply enough wounds either through luck, or with Vanhels and Ghouls become really threatening to some armies.  My Black Knights form my VL's armored bunker and BoSwiftness helps me get to where I want to be.  The Vargheists are just there to keep pace with my army and hunt down anything that threatens to block me or can threaten my flanks.  Since they're not the toughest things in the world and they have Frenzy, then tend to fly out to kill chaff and enemy warmachines.  Their plentiful attacks at S5 can really make short work out of most light units, and the fact that they're vampires allow me to reach out to other areas of the map I wouldn't otherwise be able to.

Finally, we have the lone Terrorgheist.  I've ran two TGs for the longest time, but as new armies come out and high S, D6 wound shooting becomes more and more accessible, things can get really bad, really fast.  Multiple Terrorgheists, Ethereal units and scream-lists are purely a meta thing I feel because there are some armies that just don't care they're on the board.  When you're playing something like Wood Elves, or Daemons of Chaos, investing in multiple units of Hexwraiths is just a bad idea.  You're essentially giving them points because you WILL lose them.  If you don't lose them, you know you've probably played them too conservatively, and thus they're not making back their points.  The same philosophy holds true for Terrorgheists because while they're god damn amazing, cannons just erase them from the board.  Unlike the Hexwraith unit that costs 150 in your list, these things are 225 per pop and each one lost is a huge chunk of your points.  Hexwraiths are also easier to hide and keep out of range.  Terrors need to be within 8" of something to scream, and if they're not screaming, they're not making their points back.  For this reason, I've reduced the number down to 1 and used the points to buff up other areas of my army.  Losing one is bad enough in a poor matchup, but losing two before you can get any use out of them is disastrous.

That's it from me, good night folks.

Monday, September 8, 2014

WHFB: What 9th Ed. will hopefully bring

Bring on 9th Ed., but not yet.

There's a lot of talk on the streets right now about what will happen after this whole The End Times thing comes to an end.  Several rumor sources hint at 9th Ed. being less than a year away and that makes total sense to me.  I don't think GW will spring 9th Ed. WHFB on us mid-way through their end of the world campaign, but it will make perfect sense to whip it out right after.  That way, the players have time to digest what has happened and be ready to embrace a new edition.  With that said, I have high hopes for 9th.  What would make 9th great for me would only be a couple of minor changes, since I think 8th is pretty good except for some major issues.

Here is what I want to see in 9th:
  • Allies is definitely the most probable from what I see right now.  I'm not sure how the rules are going to be for WHFB, but you will definitely be able to take different components from other army books.  Whether or not this will resemble Undead Legions or not, I don't know.  All I know is that it's the most reliable change.
  • Simpler rules for movement, as seen in Kings of War.  You will still have the core fantasy mechanics, but more streamlined movement rules will reduce the amount of clutter you have for funky movement issues while preserving battlefield tactics and maneuver war.
  • Magic needs to be looked at to be not as killy.  There's just too many kill spells in the current edition of the game and it's not fun for anyone, in fact, it's quite frustrating.  I think spells like Dwellers, Mindrazor, Final Transmutation, and other spells of that sort will be reduced in power.
  • They might limit the amount of PD wizards can cast again; so instead of 6-dicing spells in hopes of getting IF, they might bring back the older system where wizards can only cast with max dice equal to their power level +1.
  • Perhaps a change to Steadfast, making it so more things are able to disrupt ranks from the flank or rear.  The current playstyle of Steadfast just makes the game turn into a grind fest instead of letting of letting you outplay your opponents via maneuver.
  • Cannons and Stonethrowers will also need to be reduced in effectiveness if larger, more expensive models are to be played.  I'm anticipating maybe a scatter or damage reduction for the cannons, but I can't be so sure.  All I know is that if these things don't change, all those centerpiece models GW is selling right now will be collecting dust real soon.

Overall, 8th Ed. is a pretty solid edition.  It just needs a few fixes here and there, much like what 7th Ed. is compared to 6th.  I'm pretty stoked.

Sunday, September 7, 2014

WHFB: Some Fantasy rumors and what it can mean

Shit is about to get epic.

Just recently, Harry decided to spill the beans on what he think is down the line for WHFB.  You can see most of the rumors here, but I want to personally tell you what I think will happen.

What this whole End Times ordeal is right now is GW's way to forward the storyline and put us into a more sinister and grimdark era.  Among all the lore changes and alliances, there's real money to be made and I think GW's actually onto something here.  From a business perspective, this is the direction WHFB should be going in.

Let me explain:

  • Nagash and the rest of the upcoming The End Times books gets players excited.  I mean, really excited.  Not just new players, but most importantly, older players.  I'll use myself as an example in this clause:  I was not interested in WHFB at all because the meta in my area was as good as dead.  Most people left the game to play other game systems because there's just enough players.  Why are there not enough players?  Because the older players just sit there, wait until they get a new book, buy a new unit or two maybe and then give the game a couple of tries.  After a couple of games, the hype dies down and that's the end of it.
  • WHFB is often avoided because the barrier of entry is so high.  Nagash, the Mortarchs and 50% Lords completely destroy this philosophy because you can now take a big, bad character on a monster and play games with it.  Will it be effective?  Most definitely not.  Does it eliminate the barrier of entry and have newer players join in big games faster?  Absolutely.
  • This barrier also affects older players as well.  I already have my big, expensive High Elf army, and I don't have the finances to start another army.  Here is where allies come in, and why GW is using the same tried and true business model for 40K and is now applying it to WHFB.  By letting players take allies as a common thing e.g. Undead Legion's VC and TK, you are giving older players purpose to buy new models.  Newer players don't really care about this particular point, but this is GW's way to sneak a gateway drug into your daily coffee.  The idea behind it is:  Allies give the player more player options, this in turn gives players the incentive to buy different army components from different books, and this will mean you will eventually buy multiple armies.  When you look at the army rosters from the latest 40K tournaments, you will see allies all over the place.  The only thing I see aside from ludicrous combos and questionable abuses is all the cash that GW's making.  It boggles my mind to think about how many Tau players bought Eldar detachments in the last edition and vice versa.  More importantly, how many of those players are playing both armies now?
  • Advancing the storyline into something more grimdark and gritty is exactly what GW needed to do to generate hype.  I mean serious hype.  I've been playing the game for 14 years, and even though I've seen Storm of Chaos come and go, this is something that I've been waiting for.  It's something huge, something epic and something everyone can get their hands on.  When you look at it from a business standpoint, it's a win-win:  Newer players just joining the hobby has a lower buy-in cost.  Older players are now looking to expand their existing armies.  New and old players are coming back, buying models and increasing the concurrency of the game.  This means more events, more blog posts (such as this), and thus, more free advertisement.  If you guys have ever seen the marketing campaigns that other successful media companies have done, you will see a common thread here.  Generating hype, releasing badass models that no one else in the miniatures industry can rival, and releasing rules to go with it is absolute genius.  I seriously never thought I would say genius and GW in the same sentence a little over a month ago.
  • Now enter preparations for 9th Ed. WHFB.  Once this whole The End Times thing blows over, GW will be ready to release 9th Ed. upon the already expanded playerbase.  All those players will pick up the new book, and rave to newer players how they've spent the last 6 months or so fighting the most epic battles ever with brand new Mortarchs, Greater Demons (rumored) and Dragons (also rumored).  Boom, congratulations, you have just potentially increased your playerbase by 2x-3x from what it was months ago.  The new 9th Ed. will have even simpler rules (such as movement mechanics from Kings of War), better magic (not as crazy as it is now), 50% Lords allowing newer players to field their favorite big model their parents bought them when they first started the game 6 months ago (by now, they've probably noticed 50% Lords equates to cannon-fodder), and allies as a staple thing.  Undead Legions was the first, but expect to see Chaos Warriors and Demons holding hands across the table real soon.
  • I keep talking about this, but 50% Lords is really just a impulse buy for newer players.  They see a big model that they really like, the GW employees blows it up and says: Yeah! Now you can play 2500 with 1 model!  And once the new kid buys 5 boxes of shit plus Nagash, he will be ready to enter his first game.  Then you give him a little experience, play a few Ogres, Empire and Demon players, and he'll decide he needs more units instead of big fancy favorite Mortarch.  Out he goes to buy more models and before you know it, poor Neferata is sitting on the shelf with a counter that reads 79, indicating how many times she's taken cannonballs to the face.
No matter what the outcome, this direction can only be positive for the WHFB scene.  More hype, more players, older and newer players joining the game, all of this makes for a better community and shocks new life into a declining game system.

For all those that wanted to see GW fail, sorry, not this time.

Friday, September 5, 2014

WHFB: How well does VC and TK play together?

Let my legions pour forth and consume this world!

Hey guys, just a quick article here about how I'm going to incorporate some of the new Undead Legions rules to my existing Vampire Counts army.

Here are some of the big things to take note of:
  • There is no more Nehekharan Undead or specific Vampire Counts Undead, there is now only one Undead.  This means that all the magic, magic items and special rules that target a specific undead entity now affects all Undead models in your army.  The same applies for the Lore of Nehekhara and Lore of Vampires.  This is absolutely huge, and something I will expand on in a bit.
  • You now have access to all of the units in both army books so you and mix and match like you please, following the normal army restrictions of course.  By normal, I mean now you can play with 50% of your army as Lords.  You want to take a beefy Tomb King along side your pumped up Vampire Lord in 2500 points?  Sure thing.
  • Tomb Kings' units can now march within 12" of the army general, just like Vampire Counts.  This is gigantic because the army was never able to march before, and made up their movement with magic spells.  Let this sink in for a bit, because it's going to get wild in a little bit.
  • Finally, your general dying no longer makes your entire army crumble.  If you lose your big bad Vampire Lord, nothing bad happens because Nagash's power is able to sustain your army during these dark times.  This can be a huge boon for late game attrition when your general rolls horribly to save.

If you guys haven't figured it out already, this unlocks a huge new can of worms that the Old World is not ready for.  Just when you think it's bad enough that some of their greatest heroes have fallen, the world is in ruins and they're being bombarded by Undead and Chaos at all sides, what more can go wrong?!

Here is where it goes wrong:
Tomb Kings can now march with your Vampire Lord right?  Both Lore of Nehekhara and Lore of Vampires can be used on all Undead units right?  Bring on the movement shenanigans!  If anything WHFB has taught me over the years is that these slow-moving, corpse-ridden undead guys sure can move when you want them to.  Between Incantation of Desert Winds and Vanhel's Danse Macabre, you can move your entire army into your opponent's backfield soon after you deploy.  Why?  Because there is no more restriction which Undead units are affected by these spells.  Incantation of Desert Winds is a signature spell that was built into the TK lore to make up for the fact that TK could never march before.  Now that every Liche Priest and their mother can take it, you have a grave decision to make when your opponent wants to cast this spell.  On a 8+ augment Undead (was Nehekaran Undead) units within 12" can immediately make a normal move as if it were the Remaining Moves sub-phase.  You can extend this to a bubble 24" on a 16+, but that might be out of the realm of possibilities for a Lv.1-2 supporting Liche Priest.

Now think about this for a second:  Your entire army just marched, and now it can move again?  What happens when you get off VDM (Vanhel's Danse Macabre) on a bubble 12+?  If that goes off, every Undead unit within 12" can now make another 8" move followed by re-rolls to hit until the next round of magic.  If you think Wood Elves are fast, or Slaaneshi Daemons, think again:  Undead are the new masters of movement and they do so with basic spells, one of which is a signature spell that every Liche Priest can take, and VDM with Book of Arkhan (BS PL3) from a Necromancer.

Sure, sure, but we can dispel that right?  Of course you can, but that's the beauty of it all.  For a spell like Incantation of Desert Winds, it just became questionable to a must dispel lest you want Terrorgheists screaming behind your units.  This level of magical commitment forces your hand and there's a possibility that it won't be enough to stop it all.  The fact that this is available on every wizard in the TK army means that you will always have it in your arsenal.

What happens when you combine an army with re-roll hits via VDM with Incantation of Righteous Smiting?  You have a dramatic increase in damage potential as your army is now capable of re-rolling hits with +1 attack.  Both of those can be stacked and both of those can be cast in a bubble if you so desired.  With Tomb Guard and Grave Guard benefiting huge amounts from these magical effects, it's no wonder that they stayed in different books.  If you think that's rough, think about what happens when you cast Hellish Vigor on a unit in combination with Incantation of Cursed Blades?  Your Skeletons now gain re-roll wounds and the ability to Killing Blow!  Throw this onto your Grave Guard and you now re-roll wounds and KB on a 5+.  If that's not crazy, I don't know what is.

When you throw magical items into the fray, things get even more ridiculous.  Incantation of Vengeance is a hex that not only reduces the movement's by D3, but it treats all terrain as Dangerous Terrain so everyone has to test if they move.  Combine this with Rod of Flaming Death (BS PL3) and the unit will take an immediate S4 hit on every model if it moves.  More interactions can be Death magic's lovely Soul Blight with Incantation of Desiccation that's essentially the same thing, but a possibility of a stronger, more expensive to cast -D3 S/T version.  As we already know, Incantation of Smiting is a great spell because of the +1 attack it gives, but when you combine this with Staff of Damnation (BS PL4) and its ability to give Extra Attack to every Undead unit within 6", things get really ridiculous if these spells start flying out.

Alright, enough about spells, I get it.  What more do the armies have that can help each other?  Well, think about it like this for a sec:  A lot of these items never interacted with each other before and certainly not on a competitive level.  I frown upon the decision to put something like Golden Death Mask of Kharnut (TK magic item) together with a unit with Screaming Banner (VC magic banner).  Your model now causes Terror, all enemy units within 6" of the wearer cannot use their general's Inspiring Presence or their BSB's Hold Your Ground rule.  Screaming Banner requires that enemy units in combat with the thing roll an extra dice for a fear test and discard the lowest result.  Add in the already existing fear-bomb that VC have such as Fear Incarnate (successful fear tests must be re-rolled) and Aura of Dark Majesty (-1 Ld aura), and you have something much greater.  Although seen as a gimmick by some, other armies are not as fortunate because they don't have plentiful ITP units.

Another popular unit being talked about is the Necrotect.  For a very affordable price in your hero slot, you are able to grant any unit Hatred.  Slap this in a unit of Great Guard with Banner of Barrows and you'll be hitting things with re-rolls with +1 to hit.  If that's not enough for you, add in a Tomb Prince or Tomb King special rule My Will Be Done! and give your WS to the entire unit.  WS5 or 6 Grave Guard will hit most things in the game on 2s, wound with 2s.  Slap on some of the magic spells we talked about earlier and things get out of control.  One of the other rules that that Necrotect lends the army is his ability to give Undead Constructs within 12" range of him a lovely 6+ Regen.  This doesn't seem like a lot at first, but then you apply the Mortis Engine's ability to improve Regen saves and your perspective changes a lot.  For your opponent, this changes in a very bad way as most armies already struggle with T8 Necrosphinx, and now they have freakin' 5+ Regen and take 2 less wounds from losing combat if you have a BSB nearby.

Lastly, expect to see a Casket of Souls in every list.  Not only does it work wonderfully with the whole scream-machine that VC tends to throw out every now and then, but it supplies a lovely +D3 PD to the army.  Combined with something like Black Peripat and maybe the Mortis Engine's +2 to cast for Lore of Vampires, you might just dominate the magic phase.

Just how powerful is all this?  Aside from the movement shennigans, I'm pretty sure it's going to be very powerful, but not unbeatable.  I'm not going to get into all the crazy Mortarchs just yet, but this should be enough to get the gears in your head moving.

Thursday, September 4, 2014

VC: The book is not so bad

I remember when this card dominated..

Coming back to WHFB after a long hiatus, I took the last couple of days to learn about the new armies.  I stopped playing a few months after Dark Elves got their new book and during that time, Dwarfs and Wood Elves also got their proper updates.  Good for them.  It's been a long time coming since these armies got their updates and I hope everyone gets updated relatively soon.

So what prompted this post exactly?  Well, I've been hearing quite a bit from the online community that VC lost a lot of their appeal.  Wood Elves bring a lot of magical arrows into the fray and Dwarfs just have enough shooting to make your Terrorgheists miserable.  While these are both true, I don't think it's all doom and gloom for VC.  Out of all the books that have been released so far, I think VC has the best magic item selection and very powerful playstyles overall.

There are three main playstyles that is VC for the most part:

  • The offensive style plays with a Blenderlord, loves to apply pressure with a knight bus and fast movers that jam up and annihilate the enemy.  He sustains himself via magic, chews through units through his lord and plays a more isolate and destroy game.  The lord likes to focus on one unit, annihilates it utterly and then moves onto the other while the rest of the army supports this action.  When you look at the army itself, it runs with fast movers like Hexwraiths, Terrorgheists, multiple drops of Dire Wolves, Vargheists, Bat Swarms, basically anything that can keep pace with the Blenderlord's bus of Black Knights.
  • The defensive playstyle is on the completely opposite ends of the spectrum.  You like to footslog, keep your army as compressed as possible and win the game through attrition.  In order for VC to do this, they must have a strong magic phase in the way of magical items, namely the Black Peripat.  You might see one or two Master Necromancers in this list, forming your basic casting engines to be combined with the Mortis Engine's +2 to cast for Lore of Vampires.  The rest of the army is made out of anything with good staying power:  Big units of Ghouls, a big unit of Crypt Horrors, Mortis Engine for additional Regen, and anything else that can take a beating and stick in combat.  These lists tend to be slower than the offensive style of playing.
  • The last style that you'll see is a mix of both.  You might have a Blenderlord bus, a fat stack of Crypt Horrors with Mortis Engine, and/or anything else that combines the ideology of both.  These lists might have more options when fighting against specific archetypes in the metagame, but they're definitely not as focused as the other two playstyles.  Personally, I think players that focuses on either pure offense or pure defense have better lists overall.  The reason for this is because the VC army likes to either move and move fast, or move slow together.  Breaking that 12" march bubble with your General causes some serious problems most of the time, especially when most of the spells you cast are best in an AoE.

I will say one thing that is the major flaw in the VC book:  Some of the units are gimmicky and very swingy in terms of effectiveness.  For example:  Hexwraiths can be great against something like Ogres, but they'll be hiding for their lives vs. Wood Elves.  Terrorgheists basically have nowhere to hide against multiple cannons, but against an army with little shooting, they can dominate.

At the end of the day, you gotta take what playstyle you playing with most and utilize units that can face anyone in a tournament setting.  That means knowing your meta and which archetypes out there give you the most trouble.  If you're expecting to see a lot of magic flying around, you probably don't want to load your list with Hexwraiths.  If you're expecting to see Ogres, Dwarfs and Empire a lot, multiple Terrorgheists might be a point sink more than anything else.  You just gotta know what you're fighting against and build a balanced list based on your own playstyle.

Lastly, for christ sakes people, revisit your magic items selection once in a while, you'll be surprised with what you'll find.  Black Peripat allows you to absolutely dominate magic phases and it might be one of the best Arcane items in the game, rivaling that of Book of Hoeth.  Nightshroud has been absolutely absurd for me, shutting down opposing ASF and removing the threat of magic weapon/GW-totting models entirely.  Shit, even that cheap little Cursed Book that you have there for 35 points might be one of the best items in the game right now.  A little Lv.1 Necromancer can potentially cast a Soul Blight with 1 dice that'll normally take him 3 dice to cast.  Not just that, but your opponent will throw at least 2 dice on his Lv.4 to dispel it.  If that's not magic power, I don't know what is.

Know your meta, know the archetypes, and know your opponents.  Above all else:  Know your own army.  It will drastically increase your win % as far as preparation is concerned.

Wednesday, September 3, 2014

VC: Undead elves are real

She can lead my army anytime.

Now that GW has officially confirmed the fact they exist, I'm going to add on some undead elements to my current High Elf army to make it into Vampire Counts.  I already have an asston of High Elves, all I need to do is get myself some undead elements and make it real.

  • I'm thinking about using my Spearmen as Skeleton Warriors.
  • Dragon Princes as Black Knights, although Blood Knights would be better.
  • Ghouls I will need to buy, probably Mantic Ghouls because they look great.
  • Dire Wolves I will need to buy as well.
  • Pick up some Hexwraiths because I love the models and they look very different than the rest.
  • I will need to pick up a Terrorgheist because there's not really a model like it.
  • New Spirit Host models are coming out, so I'm going to pick myself 3 of them.
  • Vargheists right now are a toss up, I might use them, I might not.  I gotta playtest more.

On another note, so what about those Undead Legions?  Being able to combine VC and TK will lead to a lot of crazy stuff.  Seeing how TK couldn't march before and now they can, do you think they will be more competitive?  What about the fact that Incantation of Desert Winds can now affect both TK and VC units? Would you like the ability to march twice?  Then put on a big bubble VDM?  Add in 2x Necrosphinx and a Casket of Souls and you have one potent list.

13 drops

Lv.4 Vampire Lord = 548
Lore of Vampires
Dark Knight, Quickblood, Red Fury, Beguile
Dragonhelm, Ogre Blade, 4+ Ward

Lv.1 Vampire BSB = 250
Lore of Vampires
Dark Knight, Aura of Dark Majesty, Beguile
Nightshroud, Luckstone, PoFools

33x Skeleton Warriors, FC = 195
30x Ghouls, Ghast = 310
5x Dire Wolves = 40
5x Dire Wolves = 40
5x Dire Wolves = 40

12x Black Knights, FC, BoSwiftness = 357
Spirit Host = 45
Spirit Host = 45
Spirit Host = 45

Casket of Souls = 135
Necrosphinx = 225
Necrosphinx = 225