Sunday, 21 August 2016

Waaaagh Feral Orks storming Castle Assault 2016

Who needs technology anyway, steam power and dinosaurs!

So Castle Assault 2016 has been run and won, it was a fantastic event and I applaud the organising team for it's smoothness and general awesome. Being a wet event means everyone has  great time regardless of how you actually go on the table and talking to the players you could just see there was buckets of (family escaping) fun going on. As I mentioned earlier my first game ever with savage orks would be at this comp so I had a hell of a learning curve ahead of me and some awesome opponents. Next is a brief (?) run down of my games and where I remembered in my highly caffeinated state some photos to back it! There will no doubt be a photo gallery going up somewhere soon and I'll post the link (here) as soon as possible, some very cool looking armies in attendance this year. 

Game 1 - AMTL
First round saw me draw one of the AMTL armies which would be an interesting baptism of fire. All of the lists can be found in the previous thread for reference but given there was 3 AMTL this was essentially 2 Reavers (Quake cannon combo and gatling lasers), 2 Warhound packs with plasma and Bolters and some robots/thunderbolts in support) 

Sadly for the Titans they really brought the wrong guns for this match up. Lots of shots but very limited capacity to smash through the reinforced 4+. Warhounds have the worst range with their plasma in this case too, 45cm means that he's within BC engage engage range. The pics really say it all the Titans shot what they could but ended up getting swarmed by hordes of greenies and going down one at a time. At the end of the game both Reavers were still standing thanks to their solid armour, my only real counter was the Tkd3 gore but it was pretty average. Sadly spears just won't crack a Titan too often. The Warhounds were much squishier as were the robots. Probably the funniest kill was the thunderbolts who went down to my extremely limited AA shots. 

Here you can see the ork army unsubtle crushing its way across the board with two reavers hiding close to their own edge. 


The BTS reaver proves too tough to crack even with TK tusk attacks. 

The warhound Titans are not as hard to crack... 

From the ork perspective we lost some chaff, some boar boys went splat and a squig catapult garrison broke and never came back. The Warbosses dino had 1 dc left at the end but he was the closest I came to losing one. 
The final pick speaks for itself. Orks swarming across the entire board with Reavers getting ready to walk backwards off their own side. 4-0 to the Orks, BTS proving too hard to crack. 

Round 2 - Tau
This was definitely an army I was keen to come across and you might remember I put it on my predictions as a wildcard because it's a solid build bit I wasn't sure who was driving it.
This game was super cool straight from the beginning, first turn took forever because we had almost 30 activations between us but I learnt immediately how great well played coordinated fire can be. One of my garrison forces was annihilated almost immediately in this way and I was off to a rough start without moving a model. There were some interesting dice moments as I watched a boar boy unit bounce off a BC engagement with a tiny unit of fire warriors only to watch another unit plough straight through the supreme commanders crisis suit unit. 

Initial deployment with everyone contesting everything, no ground would be left dry this game. 

Ultimately the game was a mega grind fest from beginning to end. The tau would advance up and do a mass of shooting boosted with marker bonuses but in return they would end up in close proximity to orkeosaurus so inevitably a few would go down. Attrition was a game Orks could win and over the first couple of turns it was clear that the Tau just couldn't keep hold of board control. The photos show it all, Orks slowly ground their way up the board pushing tau back each turn until the end of the 3rd turn when Orks had a hold on most of the objectives. 3-0 to the Orks with no real chance to have taken the blitz or the BTS and thanking Gork and Mork that I didn't lose my own BTS that had taken a serious mauling to dedicated lance fire. 

The last view from my steam gargants before the Hammerheads opened up....

Overall a really tight game and a great opponent. It was great to see Tau being used competitively and frankly I need to reevaluate my perspective on tau in general. Considering he's using the approved list I might have just found some motivation to blow the dust off my little space commies.

Game 3 - Waaagh Kendall - Ork on Ork action
So far so good, two wins banked away and a rather inevitable pairing with the list I'd predicted as a solid podium chance, if not comp winner. Going into this I knew it would be a rough matchup for my ferals. Kendall's Orks are super fast and include no less than 7 TKD3 zap guns attached to blitz mobs, big gunz and a gargant. Given that my army is slow as hell, relies on solid BC engagement and uses its armour and DC I can't honestly say I had much of a plan. Kenny sadly did have a plan and that plan was snipe. Notice that our blitz and objectives were almost opposite ends of the table and the faster zappy Orks across the table essentially swamped one corner and made it clear they didn't care in the slightest for the objectives I'd placed or my Blitz. 

Just a few cagey activations into the first turn and I look at the relative positions of our forces and realise I'm in the shit. I detect shenanigans... 

The first turn rolled through and I quickly realised that every time I vaguely probed the opposing lines the scouts would get sniped with zap guns, big gunz, fighters and hell even a lander which was just circling and spraying bullets. I worked out quick that I was just bleeding activations and getting nowhere. Considering the amount of beer Kenny had packed away (as last years tournament runner up his drinks were free all day) I was getting flogged and had no good excuse! 

Pretty much the entire enemy ork force is in this corner with their objectives on either side of the crystals and their blitz and BTS at the back corner. 

I saw one opportunity at the outset of the second turn to maybe regain some momentum and took it with the BTS Gargants doubling forward and managing to lay templates onto two blitz mobs with zap guns, mostly due to the extra blast markers I broke 1 and the second was broken by a squig catapult retain. Not a big win by any margin but it was something. The rest of the turn went much the same as the first with lots of zapping and me trying to work out what the hell I could do to prevent to inevitable. And then it happened....
With about 4-5 activations each left of the second turn I spotted a potential opening. A clump of 4 Ork units on my left with 3 zzaap guns included and at least one set of intermingling. Time for a big gamble. I moved 3 orkeosaurus up into engage range of these clumps knowing it would never be a BC engage but counting on FF and numbers to win the engages... It also came down to the strategy roll, if I lost that those same zzaap guns were going to decimate me. 

There are 7TK d3 zzzap guns within range of those 2 orkeosaurus so the strat roll is huge. 

Top of turn 3 came around then and Gork and Mork favoured me with a win on strategy, in went first one engage with an orkeosaurus on the intermingled zzaap guns and then a boarboy retain on the remaining blitz mob. The boars didn't survive the support fire from the scorchas who were left untouched but 3 more zzaap guns were off the board. From here we really picked up momentum putting huge pressure on the enemy objectives and breaking multiple formations in tight engagements. 

And here's that same shot at the end of the turn... 1 key strat roll was literally the only thing that saved me in this game. Small ork units don't have resilience or rallying capacity. 

End of turn 3 saw the ferals walk away with a tight as 2-0 win. The gargant BTS was unscathed, and the enemy blitz many miles distant (behind a gargant too...) but the ferals had solid board control and were winning the war of attrition now that the TK shots were mostly gone. An unbelievably close game which really came down to a single big gamble. I saw an opportunity, however narrow and it came off but I won't pretend that was a good strategy at all, if anything it exposed some of the glaring weaknesses of the build. Kendall's Orks are definitely far more rounded than mine are despite suffering some of the same inherit weaknesses of Orks builds everywhere. 

Game 4 - Knights

What a run, so far I've drawn 3/4 matches from the the opponents I picked as the podium finishers, it's been a bloody hard slog so far but the ferals are still looking damn strong. 
Interesting stat for you at this point, despite taking dozens of wounds no orkeosaurus has yet died and none of them have suffered a crit. 

I knew this game would be totally the opposite to the Orks I'd just played against. Knights are all about massive close range engagements and would smash my dinosaurs with macro and TK engagement if I let them get close enough. The best advantage I had was activation count and strat rating so the plan was to play to that and see how we go. I was also looking to use the boar boyz for setting up a crossfire with the macro gargants throwing out a bucket of blast markers if they could get a few units underneath the template. Crossfire and support fire also being the best/only ways to get around knight shields....

This pic shows that the knights were prepared to play my favourite game of spread from one end of the of the board to the other with their objectives centred around the hill they were pincering and mine being on the extreme left and right hand sides to spread them thin if possible. This photo sums up turn 1 pretty well with the knights advancing for some solid engagements in turn 2 and me trying my hardest to set up solid support overlaps and not lose the activation advantage. With the knights speed it really wasn't a question of if he would get the first punch... 

Turn 1 standoff to the left of the hill... 

Orks won the strat roll for turn 2 and we continued our dance, my squig catapult unit failed again to do anything to the rough riders on my left (10 dice now....) whilst the orkeosaurus on the right didn't mess around and crushed the other roughies good. We ducked and weaved a bit in the middle and then the inevitable Knight punch came.... 

The 3 man unit is engaging with the Baron's unit of 4 offering support fire. Yes that is 12 macro FF attacks and the rest....

Gork and Mork smiled on us and the gargants took one wound... won the combat and the knights went away... The baron's unit went shortly afterwards thanks to a boar boyz clipping assault which did very little but the 12 support shots (no shields remember...) from the gargants helped a fair bit...The Baron (BTS)  would survive the game because he's fearless

After this critical moment the game was largely decided, stalemate broken pretty decisively. From here the knights in the standoff to my left of the hill would perform a similar scenario on the Warboss Orkeosaurus with similar results to what you just saw and both units would be surrounded, crossfired and engaged into oblivion thanks to huge amounts of supporting fire including the gargants who legged it across just to help. 

Net result was a 3-0 to the Ferals with the Blitz again too far away and the fearless BTS just too damn hard to kill for an army with very limited shooting. 

Game 5 - Necrons 
Another awesome game to finish up the comp. What made it different though was that the plan I started with ended up very different to what occurred at the end. Apologies in advance I got a bit slack with the photos... 

Necrons did their usual thing there was an Aeonic Orb sitting on the blitz in the centre of the Ron deployment side and every thing else was in the ether waiting to teleport on. Ferals basically spread themselves from one end of the board to the other again with my blitz sitting on my rightish edge with both of mine placed 30cm apart as close to my blitz as possible. The plan at this point was simple, hide from the TK death engines and play for a 3-0. I had no real intention of going near the Aeonic orb and he was holding the blitz so forget that too. 

First turn saw triple monolith teleporting in on my RHS threatening the blitz, they were up against 2 orkeosaurus, boyz with catapults and 2 boar boyz units. Orks won the strat roll and it was on. First move saw an orkeosaurus engage all 3 of the monolith formations (12 models all up) and though I killed basically nothing I won the combat and they were all broken. The next few activations saw Necron Warriors pour out of the broken monoliths only to get fed into the orkeosaurus meat grinder. Without the support fire from the broken monoliths they just couldn't do much damage. By the end of the turn rons were bleeding hard. At this point the Aeonic orb decided to advance up to blast the steam Gargants that were sitting in their deployment zone, he half killed a gargant but suddenly I saw an interesting opportunity. Everything surged forward as fast as possible towards the orb. It ended up getting blasted by the Gargants, 2 orkeosaurus tripled forwards to get into engage range and the Orks with catapults charged up as well to offer morale support. 
Turn 2 saw Orks win initiative again and pull off a huge engage with orkeosaurus (and a friend supporting) to break the Aeonic before it could move, doing a wound or 2 in the process. With most of the monoliths dead and the Warriors largely proven Gork and Mork were smiling. Orks continued to surge forward on mass blasting everything they had onto the orb and bearing down on the blitz. The pylon was blowing chunks out of orkeosaurus but without its friend to back it up none were going down. 

If it's living metal... we can kill it.... 

The noble sacrifice of the Boarz will not be forgotten... The ignominious death of the monolith in the same explosion probably will be. 

Turn 3 saw the Necron blitz surrounded, not in any way what I thought was going to happen initially the orb had rallied again but I set up the engage you can see in the photo with double orkeosaurus offering support and the boar boyz actually launching the engage because they were about it for range. Boarz threw a spear up its exhaust pipe and both supporting dinosaurs took another wound, the orb was down... It took the boarz with it thanks to a crit but totally worth it. 

End of turn 3 Orks win 5-0 after a super aggressive battle.

Final thoughts
Interestingly fact for you: 5 games down and not a single dinosaur has fallen despite accruing dozens of wounds over the tournament, one of them did take a crit in the final game though but Gork and Mork clearly love their dinosaurs and approved of my charge forward and ravage them play style. 

Overall I've come to a very simple conclusion, feral Orks have one trick and they are really good at it. They can't outshoot a marine army, can't fly, deep strike, drop pod, tunnel or move particularly well but they can take a bunch of hits and dish out some damage in BC engage. I think for anyone who comes up against them in the future you're priority will need to be to concentrate shots and control the movement phase. 

The other super interesting thing was the final podium (someone remind me to post the final results and photo here if I forget but Orks took out 1st and 2nd with Marines in third place. This is literally unheard of in Aus tournaments where marines and Orks are both considered very low tier armies. Coupled with the complete lack of Eldar it was certainly an atypical event. 

There will be a minigeddon event coming up in Sydney soon for any Aussies keen to give epic a crack and talk of a slow grow in the next few months so keep your eyes out for that one, I'll probably look at finally painting up my Tau army or even my chaos cultists if I can summon the willpower for hordes of infantry. 

Thanks for reading, stay Epic! 

Final results for the day, a really interesing mix at the top and I wonder how much of that was influenced by this being an 'approved armies' only comp?


Monday, 15 August 2016

Castle Assault 2016 - lists and predictions time!

Castle Assault 2016 - lists and predictions time!

One of the best parts of the tournament experience here in Aus is that the lists get published a bit ahead of the event and we can all have a good look over them. As a new player at CA last year this was a great opportunity to acquaint myself with the wide array of stuff I'd never encountered before and get at least a vague idea of what it could do. For example CA2015 was the first time I fought Eldar Titans, Necrons and my second game against Tyranids. This year just for a bit of fun I thought I'd throw together a few thoughts and predictions. 

First let's start with a few thoughts on the current meta. As I mentioned big difference with CA to many comps is that it offers a margin of victory system rather than a straight win/loss/draw on objectives so it supports armies that can play aggressively and take ground. 

With that in mind my first impression is where are all the Eldar armies! The current breakdown of forces looks like this 
3 marines
2 steel legion
1 minervans
3 Titans 
1 Knights
2 Chaos
3 Ork
1 tau
1 necron
1 Dark eldar

Compared to the break down at Cancon this year this is an interesting pattern. It's generally accepted in Aus circles that Eldar are an extremely powerful list for comp play whilst Orks/Tau/Steel legion are at the bottom of the power ladder, in fact both Orks and Tau were absent completely from Cancon this year and there was a high prevalence of more traditionally hard builds. Perhaps it's a reflection of the nature of players at the comp or just a feeling that Castle Assault is more of a beers with mates weekend, I guess we will see! 

Following is a quick run down of my thoughts on the lists coming along, take it for a grain of salt as always, I'm never going to claim to be an expert on every list but I do get around a bit so if you're coming along and gain a few insights you mightn't have otherwise it's totally worth it. For the record my list is the feral Orks below so I'm definitely approaching this from their perspective. 

The full copy of lists can be found here so I won't cut and paste because it goes on for a while...

Castle Assault Lists 2016

Player 1 - Codex Marines
Nice build with a few fairly predictable and effective elements included. You could expect a thunderhawk full of termies in the face and the second thunderhawk with nothing that obviously fits inside would suggest a drop off pick up recycle plan might be in play. Personally I'm not a huge fan of the whirlwinds and I reckon that the Warhound pack is a pretty vulnerable BTS so I do think this list will struggle against some of the stronger builds. 

Player 2 - Codex Marines 
Clearly this one missed the memo that says that marines are only effective with air assaults, these guys must have a fear of flying. With 9 activations and a lot of table to cover before it can be effective I'm not so sure this one is going to do well. Interestingly again the Warhound pack is the BTS as well, someone is clearly selling these thugs cheaply. 

Player 3 - Codex Marines 
Have to admit this is the only marine list I'd rate as a chance of coming good this weekend. This one has clearly done their homework and assembled some of the stronger tactical options. Note the now iconic tactical Blitz gaurding formation with what I can only assume is a spare 25pt razorback, two thunderhawks that will no doubt be full of Devastators and terminators. Single Warhounds meaning the BTS is the far more resilient tactical formation and a few bonus options like a double pie plate worth of macro death from space and some super fast and flexible speeder units. This list is way more flexible than the others and the speed and hitting power will no doubt show up in the final rankings. I've seen orbital barrage basically end games in turn 1 because of poor deployments so I'll imagine there might be be some good stories coming from this too.

Player 4 - Steel legion 
This guy clearly hasn't got the memo that DKOK are the superior form of Gaurd but this certainly has enough shadowswords to make my feral Orks cry. If the list has an issue its that its extremely one dimensional, all the reinforced 4+ armies are going to cry as are vehicles in general but the old problem with volcano cannons is that they kill 1 base whether it's a big scary thing or a base of grots. If he gets the right match ups this list could do really well, if it's dense tables and lots of infantry it could struggle. Note that last year when I wrote something similar I predicted which army would be my worst possible match up and through a random bullshit miracle ended up drawing in the first round... This year I say nothing....

Player 5  - Steel Legion
Another player who missed the memo, in fact this one missed a few of them. Like the one that said that artillery companies are terrible in every respect, especially as your BTS. That said it has some interesting advantages over the other Steel Legion list, one being that it's more flexible because of having far more barrage templates so that could be good. Also it has lots of speed and in this comp that could be a huge factor overall. Still a nice amount of solid armour choices and some of the mandatory shadowswords to blow chunks out of my army. The core infantry companies are bloated with upgrades that would have been better spent on more activations in my mind but we will see if this new formulae proves effective. 

Player 6 - Minervans 
Wow this guys is clearly a Matt Shadowlord fanboy because I know he's not in attendance but this list is 90% identical to what Matt won Cancon with a few years back. I'm loving the inclusion of Stormswords, one of those rarely seen units that really are a hidden gem. 9BP worth of disrupt and ignore cover is going to put some peoples forces to grief and he's got all the other bases covered with some anti Titan capacity and scouts to keep the tanks safe from teleporters etc. I suspect that if he draws some of the Titans or the mega shadowsword horde he might struggle somewhat but otherwise it's got the speed and the hitting power to do really well. 

Player 7 - Legio Gryphonicus 
I've nicknamed this list "noisy cricket" after MIB, it's going to hit like a Mak truck but will it have the longevity? Low activations is always a big risk and he's counting a lot on his enemy advancing within range so that he can mess you up. Anyone whose read my article on taking down Titans won't fall for those shenanigans though so we will see how it goes. I'd love to see this go up against the the steel legion of the magical fires found draw fairy is paying attention...

Player 8 - Legio Gryphonicus 
Looks like there was a big sale on Reavers and Warhounds this year, this one seems to have gone for the quantity over quality style of shooting and will need a bucket of dice in every shooting phase. I'm wondering if there aren't secretly Orks driving these guys. Lots of variety here with some speed and plenty of hitting power. I've always enjoyed the long range/no line of sight shenanigans of the quake cannon carapace landing combo, those templates are going to cause some grief no doubt. Still only 7 activations though and I'm always thinking that will be a problem. 

Player 9 - Legio Gryphonicus 
Rounding out the trifecta is the Titan list that I reckon is the most balanced of the 3. This one has a good combination of volcano TK shots and plasma macro death to put some serious pain flown across the table. It lacks the blast templates that would be nice but you can't take everything when you run the giant death engines. Lots of speed for objective grabbing with those Warhounds and some crusaders to babysit the home objectives as required. With 9 activations this one will be good. 

Player 10 - Knight World 
In theory knights should be one of the best armies available for this particular comp. They've got speed, love engagements and are generally great at it. The flip side of course is that they don't really like giant piles of TkD3 and this comp seems to be drowning in it... Considering the makeup of the list is almost exclusively errants and castellans this person has done their homework and min/maxed the best options available so good work on that point. No doubt he will also catch out some players who are ignorant of what Knights can do. I remember my first game going horribly for that very reason. Just remember people's Knights like to fight in only one chunk of the board, spread them out and you can engage them as individual units, much more effective. Also read up on the shield rules, they do have weaknesses, just not many! 

Player 11 - Emperors children
This army will look surprisingly similar to the one from my recent bat rep article and with good reason. The player running the list might be a little green in the Epic world but the army is solid. We will have to see if war gaming skills are transferable between systems because this is a great list overall. Paying homage to the strike hard and break the spine mentality of codex marines you can expect some awesome engagements from this list. Flying down from the sky death with be supplemented with choppy in your face death from the subjugators who can really capitalise on the 12 activations and strategy 4 rating against those slow and disorganised Titan and Gaurd armies. Come of think of it this has all the tools to plough my feral Orks... Should have thought of that when I wrote the damn list...

Player 12 - Black Legion 
Cleary this player is all about the fluff, Black legion are so 2015 thanks to Emperors Children but I love the theme here. Everything is super fast. It's going to rain fire, then rain marines in perfect synchronicity with a face full of bikes, rhinos and daemons. Armies like this play that super fun psych out game where it's that giant question mark of where are the drop pods going. Win or lose I have no doubt every game with be dramatic and heaps of fun. Watch out for those daemons, those buggers have teeth. 

Player 13 - Feral Orks 
I've heard this guy is only playing for fun after taking out this years Cancon and you can tell from his hodge podge collection of troops. I mean this one is literally bringing s knife to a gun fight, along with some catapults and dinosaurs FFS. All those activations means he's going to drag out the inevitable death every game but I for one wouldn't even bother reading up on the rules or stats for this army. You'd have to be a co,plate muppet to lose to a bunch of spears and bows. #absoutetruth #nobias

Player 14 - Ghazghull's Orks 
I remember this army from last year and though my Minervans did take it down I can tell you it's an impressive sight on the table. It's basically a wall of ork metal from one side of the board to the other with massive engagement potential. Everything that isn't great for engagement is carrying a zap gun to top it off. My bows and spears might have trouble finding a gap here. The trick to beating it is simple, don't be overwhelmed by the sheer awesome scale. Pick your targets, concentrate fire and you'll quickly work out that gun wagons aren't leman russ. Also worth remembering for both the ork lists that barrage weapons hit each model separately, great for sniping out oddboys from the huge mobs. 

Player 15 - Ghazghull's Orks
I'm going to preface this by saying this army is my pick for tounnament champion straight up. A solid general with a tried and tested build, the only thing that could go wrong is that he's entitled to a bottomless beer mug for being the runner up at last years comp so the rest of us may have a chance. At many comps I just wouldn't rate Orks as a chance but you can see from the lists coming that many of the more traditionally competitive builds just aren't coming. Any well played Eldar force for example will just decimate Orks and they really struggle against many Gaurd builds too. In this case there are no Eldar and most of the Gaurd are heavy on armour which could work in the Orks favour, they have higher strat and a serious array of TK death so it will absolutely come down to dice but I'm confident this player will make his own luck by getting the right stuff in the right spots. Having a pile of activations is going to help immensely with that plan too. The gargant may not enjoy is weekend depending on matchup and I could see him spending much time hiding behind something larger than him. Always have to watch out for that landa too, I imagine it will be circling the table until the last activation ready for some surprise death to land. The real question is what's going to fit inside it...

Player 16 - Necrons 
You know a quick glance over the list shows you all the usual suspects as far as Necrons are concerned. Nice chunky units of warriors with the Immortal in there so that the lord can join the unit and hit a bit easier in FF whilst still resurrecting, tomb spiders to add a fearless model to the unit and help the resurrecting, multiple units of monoliths with obelisks for blast marker resilience etc. I love the inclusion of the tomb complex which is so under-utilised and the lack of Ctan which in my mind is overrated. The only odd option here is the harvester engine but given the amount of armour and Titans this might just prove to be the best decision he's ever made. Definately a solid army with a solid general, one to watch. 

Player 17 - Tau 
Well it's got speed, skimmer, activation count and shots covered well enough. It's probably getting my award for the most original army coming along too. I have no idea who plays Tau so the player is a wildcard to me and nobody I've ever heard of runs Tau competitively... So my feedback is just a big ? really. Will this prove to be some amazing new concept build with a range of unprecedented strategies or just someone who really loves tetras and hammerheads. My feeling is that it's too refined for a pure fluff lover, My Orks have a bad feeling about this list. I for one will be really excited to see it go off.

Player 18 - Dark Eldar 
Another relative unknown on my radar but damn there is some cool stuff in this list. You really do need to read the list closely to spot in but it felt like every time I looked up a unit there was hidden macro or TK shots or some other sneaky trick. This list will also be really cool and no doubt catch out many unprepared opponents with all of its sneakiness. I absolutely applaud the person who wrote this list for being one of those rare individuals to find something that nobody has seen around here before. Let's see if they can make it work as well as my imagination has it going! Also going to be keen to see what models they have used for some of the harder to get stuff.

So onto some quick predictions

On paper alone my feeling is that the most finely tuned competitive lists (not including myself of course!) are these: 

Player 3 - Codex Marines
Player 6 - Minervans
Player 10 - Knight World 
Player 11 - Emperors children
Player 15 - Ghazghull's Orks

Now I know that both the Minervans and the Emperor's children are borrowed armies from guys who don't have much experience with the builds... so my top 3 trifecta would finish up looking like this:

Player 15 - Ghazghull's Orks
Player 10 - Knight World 
Player 3 - Codex Marines

But as I said a few times matchup is everthing, usually over 5 games it will shake itself out but we will see. I'm also allocating a wildcard option to these 3: 

Player 16 - Necrons 
Player 17 - Tau 
Player 18 - Dark Eldar 

All are solid builds and could absolutely make the podium in my mind but I just have no idea about the players behind them and I'm of the opinion that it's the player who makes the biggest difference. I almost added the Volcano loving Steel legion to this but my feeling is that despite having more firepower than the Death Star they won't be able to capitalise on this comp pack because of low movement, basically the same reason I'm not including the AMTL lists. If this was the Cancon pack this list would be totally different and that's the beauty of mixing it up for comps! 

Thoughts and feedback always welcome, if you reckon my predictions are garbage let's hear it! 

Unleash the horde! Feral Orks for Castle Assault 2016

Unleash the horde

Going Feral at this year's Castle Assault Tournament

Just a quick update to show what I've been working on lately. I've always been a huge fan of Orks since second ed 40k, Ghazghull was actually the first model I ever painted and that's a loooong time ago now. 
I wrote in the pervious article about Castle Assault that this years pack and victory points systems really encourages aggressive play and grabbing objectives. So that means picking an army that can move and engage effectively to take as much dirt as possible. 

Plan A was originally to run Necrons, a large spanner was thrown into the works when field testing revealed that I am the worst Necron player the world has ever seen. The very idea of holding back and hitting the enemy in turn 2 or 3 just doesn't work for me at all. So I went looking for another super choppy army. Feral Orks appeal the horde lover in me. With just on 100 bases on the board there will be some super violent games over the weekend. 

Without giving away all of my secret strategies my basic plan will be the same as with squats. I'll sit back and rely on the amazing amount of shots that the feral Orks have to blast my enemies off the board. The army will be getting its first game at the tournament so I haven't had a chance to test the theory properly but what could possibly go wrong. 

Tuesday, 2 August 2016

Assembling the green horde! - Ghazghull's Waaagh

Assembling the green horde!

In the lead up to Castle Assault this year and my well documented intentions to turn up with Green Skins I thought it would be a good time to share a few thoughts on my processes for building the Waagh. As always take it for a grain of salt but if you've got a fantastic strategy feedback is always great! 

Like the Imperial Gaurd Orks should be the iconic army on the Epic Armageddon Battlefield. Sadly though this isn't often the case, anyone who runs Orks for any length of time will need to be prepared for the frustrations that comes with a list which just isn't on par with many of the other lists. That said I don't think all hope is lost, you will need to be tricksy and clever when you play and just live with it sometimes but orkies are definitely a fun force worth your time and energy. 

Army special rules
Power of the Waagh - the rule that defines the entire army, such a pain in the arse. Ultimately anything you want to include in your army you must factor in how much of a pain this will be. Dropping a landa, no problems! Want to barrage with your gargant, better count on the -1 from moving double first. The rule really robs the flexibility from the list overall and basically drives all of my opinions below. One thing to consider though is that you don't have to be totally obsessed with it. Something to remember is that sometimes failing the test is ok, if you desperately need to sustain for example failing the test for sustain and shooting with no modifier is still better than the double move for the sake of it. The trick is just that often you really need to move. 

Mob rule - another rule that potentially looks good but in reality doesn't help much. Fantastic for things like your gargants but when you start boosting core mob sizes to gain the bonuses you'll often end up sacrificing activations which is so critical to Orks. I generally don't field anything less than 12-13 activations in 3000pts because of how quickly some of your activations will die.

Core choices 
Blitz brigade - never leave home without them! The most common build around my area for these guys is the standard unit with a zzaap gun mekboy leading them, at 200pts they are a cheap unit that moves fast and can potentially do a notable bit of damage before being inevitably blown to hell. Gun wagons of course are complete pus because of the need to double and shoot but they might absorb a bullet or 2, flak wagons are possibly the worst AA in the game (except for stalkers of course!) but there's no harm in taking a few, might as well spread the little bubbles of death around where possible. I've seen some other interesting attempts such as a double size mob with double mekboys to get a BP4 macro shot but my feeling is that you can get that easily enough in other places anyway. I usually run 3-4 of the basic zap gun variants and never regret their inclusion. 

Kill Kruzer - never used it, never missed it, seen some people try but it never lasts. There are better ways to spend your points 

Kult of speed - these units are also an auto include to me. Personally I'm a fan of scorchas for their awesome FF capacity more than any shooting abilities, I'd encourage anyone to experiment with the standard 8 and the big mob option too. It's about the only place I ever look hard at expanding the unit size. Bikes are also a solid option if you prefer them and you could do great things combining them together. No real upgrades needed 

Mekboy gunzmob - I think this is one of those units often overlooked but I'm a big fan. I like both the basic unit and the double sized mob. I like them with a zzaap gun on overwatch/garrison and I like them just as basic units to throw blast markers and hold objectives. If you have guns give them a go. 

Mekboy stompamob - personally this unit annoys me. Stompas are garbage in my experience but I really like the supa stompas for the macro fire support. I really wish I could just buy the supa but sometimes I just take the hit and run the unit. Damn expensive though. 

Stormboyz - take them, take 2 if you can. Cheap activations, scout, speed, awesome movement, great points, not hurt by stupid ork rules. Basically just pure win. 

Boyz Warband - another unit that I'm not a huge fan of which I know goes against convention. Many of my opponents have traditionally run a normal or double mob with a mekboy in a forward garrison position. Personally I've found that their weakness to FF engage limits the effectiveness of this idea and it's just points flushed many times, each to their own. The other use of course is to load them into the landa and they are great there without doubt. A bit of of a one shot weapon but one that can make a huge difference. An interesting alternate load out for a landa is bikes and scorchas though so experiment with these options. 

Aircraft and Gargants 
Unlike most other armies for me the 1000pts available to spend in this section are spent every single game, it's just a question of how. 

Gargants - I pretty much always run a gargant of some sort, they are an awesome concept for Orks and luckily do ok on the table too. My usual combo is either gargant/landa/fightas or just great gargant/fightas with the army built to support it. The guns on them are great and don't suffer too badly from the -1 and the FF support can be even more amazing if you are using things like your kults of speed well. 

Landa - I've got a couple of lists with 3 landas in but usually it's just the one. Best bet is to save it until one of the final activations unless a seriously juicy target appears. In the following turns I don't bother with the recycle tactics associated with thunderhawks but being able to spray a few bullets at a broken formation or equivalent can be great as can the ability to land/contest an objective in an emergency. 

Fighta Bombas - versatile, cheap and powerful CAP isn't much of an option but intercept and ground attack are both good and the ability to shoot everywhere is awesome too. I think the magic rule is to not be too scared of losing them, if you need to fly through a flak bubble to potentially take out the Deathstrikes, do it... Every time. 

Objectives and general strategy. 
Movement is key - The absolute secret to winning with Orks is no to play them like the fluff....  If you just charge in a big wave yelling Waagh you will all get horribly slaughtered. See the trick is that in the fluff Orks probably have about 10x the points of the enemy force so they can absorb those casualties and still win. Sadly in this game you will need to be more clever. Speed your greatest asset along with activation count. You can easily contest any objective, defend your blitz etc so do it, all of it. Preserve those small fragile activations as best as possible, hug cover with the infantry, save your planes for something really useful etc. Being able to out activate your opponent before throwing in that massive air attack at the end of the turn can be amazing. Look out for the awesome synergies that exist, throwing the gargant up can be great not just for the shots but for the sneaky clipping engage you follow up with from some scorchas or stormboyz. If you don't have anything good to do, just doing donuts in the corner isn't the worst idea in the world. Don't be afraid to sustain fire if you know that moving isn't something you need to do, failing and just shooting without a penalty is still better than the double move/shoot a lot of the time. Learn how to use grots in an engagement, those free hits can be amazing. Save those blitz mob zap guns for something really important, like I've said before they are essentially a 1 shot weapon a lot of the time but do have some impressive range. One last thing to consider is that Orks have a strat rating of 3, yeah it's not great but it's better than a lot of armies and can be exploited with a last activation zip up the board followed by a first activation punch of some kind... 
None of these things are absolute rules, all of them are just ideas and the reality is that some opponents and army builds are just going to be too tough, if you come up against someone as good as you running Eldar for example just go grab the tissues, they can out move you, out shoot you, have amazing FF engage and artillery options... Live with it, that's the nature of the army. 

There really are no great rules here, you need to experiment. Against slow opponents spread out the objectives to utilise the advantage of speed. Against faster opponents it's not so important and perhaps you will be better to group your two together so that the gargant can contest both of them. Try and find the best possible terrain to put some garrisoning gunz/boyz in which can be a great way to protect the blitz. An overwatching zap gun is a hell of a deterrent for a thunderhawk drop which won't even get a chance to unload if you're lucky. 
Your BTS should be fairly safe if it's a gargant and there's might just be kill able with a well timed engage from the lander so see how that one goes. I can't imagine you having trouble getting into the enemy half of the board and In fact the awesome board control Orks can get makes it difficult for more conservative opponents to get into yours sometimes. 

Overall Orks are a great and fun list, I've posted some sample builds below to give you an idea of what I like to run but so much is personal flavour. I've also seen hordes of vehicles with no real infantry or war engines and that was pretty intimidating if that's the style that works for you, play them in the right spirit (ideally whilst drinking) and don't take yourself too seriously. If you're looking for a super competitive build go dig out some Gaurd or Eldar, the rest is up to Gork and Mork!

Sample Build 

2 Nobz, 6 Boyz, 2 Grotz

6 Stormboyz

6 Stormboyz

8 Skorcha

8 Skorcha

2 Flakwagon, 2 Gunwagon, Oddboy

2 Flakwagon, 2 Gunwagon, Oddboy

2 Flakwagon, 2 Gunwagon, Oddboy

3 Stompa, Supa Stompa

3 Fighta Bomba

LANDA [200]