Thursday, 29 September 2016

Tactica Biel Tan - AKA Zoom Zoom Pew Pew - Using the Pointy Eared Space Panzies

Zoom Zoom Pew Pew - Using the Pointy Eared Space Panzies 

General strategies - Speed Speed and more speed! Eldar have amazing access to fast units and skimmers meaning that a solid player is going to be able to utilise this to make sure he's doing lots of damage in shooting and engage but minimising the casualties in return. The only time this doesn't work is against lots of long range artillery but Eldar have high strategy rating and excellent artillery options themselves so that's usually not a problem after the first turn! The only real weakness to some Eldar units is lowish armour but if you're not getting shot that's really not a problem. 
      I would also argue that Eldar have some of the best army wide rules available, they break standard game mechanics in a huge way which is an enormous advantage if you can use it well. 

Farsight - The good ol triple retain, how do I hate the. Easily one of the best advantages available to Eldar is their ability to do the triple retain, they have access to a high strat rating, heaps of highly mobile troops and even some bonus 1+ activation options. When I usually see this one happening it's at the beginning of turn 3 when an avatar has just popped up and my opponent will move a unit or possibly 2 into support positions then retain and engage which is usually devastating. The other use for this could be at the beginning of an earlier turn when you want to use things like void spinners or scorpions to knock out enemy artillery formations. In both cases I would suggest you will need at least 12-13 activations (including avatar) to really take advantage of the rule. 

Hit and run - Move/shoot/move when combined with standard Eldar speed and skimmers is another option you need to learn how to use well. The weakness of things like Falcons and even Eldar heavies like scorpions is their comparably light armour but if you can get this rule right the ability to dart forwards, fire and fall back out of sight will cause your opponents no ends of frustration. The same applies to the engage options where a full move afterwards especially with fast troops like shining spears or swooping Hawks opens up a wealth of opportunities where you could move/engage and then move to support a follow up engagement, grab an objective or just escape reprisal. 

Holofields - the weakness of Eldar Titans is certainly not their armour... Holofields are just absolutely amazeballs. There is no downside to consider here like when you are running Knights and have to be a little careful. Combined again with hit and run rules your Titans are going to be all but unkillable. That said your Titans are walkers too so hugging a piece of area terrain for the extra -1 to hit is never a bad option.

Lance - A well balanced list will aim to include either some lance of some macro, whatever works really just give yourself some options for taking on the big armour. 

Webway Portals - Again the value is very dependant on your build and strategy. Holding things in reserve might seem great but that's activations you don't have on board. Then again you do some some amazingly fast and hard hitting units that you could sit one of inside to guard that objective, personal taste really, not essential. 
Avatar - well he's free so there's no real question of whether to include him. What I would suggest is if you want to use him you will need 2-3 gaurdians formations in order to give yourself options on 

Wraith gate - it's only really worth taking if you have a build to take advantage so there's no good answer on whether it should be in there. The thing to remember is you need to balance the advantage of the surprise hit with the loss of the activation on the table. 

Core options 
Gaurdians - personally I think gaurdians are a flexible and effective little core choice. They are cheap enough that they won't eat into your points too badly and you have the option to run free weapon platforms allowing you to put that blast marker down and generally be useful. With a great FF capacity they can hold ground so long as there's some cover and the best bit is they can summon a giant metal God who happens to synergise well with the aforementioned firefight abilities.

Aspect warriors - for the points I don't really rate many of these options. Most of them just don't do enough damage for their points and usually need transports or some sort of transport to be effective. The two I do think are worth looking at are shining spears and swooping Hawks both because they are fast and hit hard in an engagement. You're going to want at least one unit of something so you can take a supreme commander and the double inspiring possibilities shouldn't be underestimated. I think that shining spears are the most flexible of the lot, great armour, speed and the option to do a lance BC engage or just float up in the sky with skimmer you are fighting something you can't take otherwise. Their speed also gives brilliant options for a clipping assault as I've described in a previous article if you're not carrying a blastie but you've prepped the opponent well you can come into the engage up by 4 before you even start, great stuff. 

Craft world support troupes 
Engines of Vaul - Unless you have a particular plan in mind the only one of these worth considering is the scorpion. The cobra bring nothing you can't do better with other options and the storm serpent is great for armies like Iyanden but isn't needed for Biel Tan where the focus is different. The option to upgrade to fire prisms is one of personal choice, if you are running scorpions, night wings or Titans for example you probably don't need any more lance attacks. 

Night spinners - yep these are good, but remember what I said at the beginning about being spoilt for choice, here's a classic example. I wouldn't bother with night spinners because I could take void spinners instead, they've got better range and much better resilience to blast markers and damage in general. 

Rangers - Another compulsory choice, not only are they an amazing scout unit along with a cheap activation but they can deploy in forward positions easily enough for setting up crossfire or grabbing objectives. Not to mention having sniper which just might come in handy one day!

Swords of Vaul - combining speed, skimmer, awesome shooting and the option to take the best ground based AA in the game, what could be bad about these guys! I'd take 2 of these as well, allows you to cover a huge chunk of the board with a solid flak bubble. 

Void Spinners - Two of these, suitably positioned can reach every part of the board and be able to take out enemy artillery formations, Deathstrikes or any of those hard hitting but relatively soft targets. If you are going for an air engage option these can be perfect for zapping enemy AA. Always remember when firing AA that you can pick out characters in enemy units if you are clever, arty snipe if you will.

War Walkers - Yeah... Everything about these guys is terrible. They might make a nice scenic addition to a Titan base or something 

Wind riders - not a bad unit at all but I'd much rather invest the few more points to get shining spears. 

Spacecraft, aircraft and Titans 

Night wings - not cheap but they are a premium unit with solid armour and a solid lance attack. 

Phantom Titan - great weapons and super resilient thanks to the holofields, you will trade off activations for the hitting power but it can be worth it. 

Phoenix bombers - definitely an interesting unit for the points but it feels like void spinners do a better job of barrage and other units and night wings are better aircraft in other areas. 

Revenant Titans - easily the most powerful of the smaller Titans in the game, fast, hard hitting and with holofields too! The only problem again is the points cost which will limit your activation potential if you use them aggressively though that won't be a problem. 

Spacecraft - I'm never sure why you would bother upgrading to the bigger ship option because for 150 points the wraith ship will give you a double pie plate of macro death which can ruin entire armies if you plot it well and take advantage of the high strat rating or you could always just switch to a TK zap if you need to kill that pesky enemy war engine 

Vampire - solid little air engage option just like the thunderhawk. Doesn't have the same shooting abilities as the marines but if you want to load him up with aspect warriors it could be a nasty tactical option. Personally I wouldn't put one into Biel Tan, because if I wanted big engagements I'd be using Iyanden.

Warlock - Another solid Titan option, sacrificing a slight amount of shooting compared to the phantom to gain an obscene amount of FF support for engagements. If you can combo this bad boy with shining spears, an avatar or even just guardians you can get great value as he runs up for some shooting death followed by a retain/engage with his FF support. 

Assembling the Biel Tan
Biel tan are very different to many other armies in that you really are spoilt for choice meaning there is no single build that works as can be the case with more one dimensional lists, anyone who tries doing a ground pounding marine force knows what I mean. With that in mind I would suggest that all competitive Biel Tan Eldar lists are built around the following core. The priority is to find a balance where you have heaps of speed and firepower backed by at least 2-3 solid engage units that can finish off formations and take ground. This will be more balanced than say Iyanden Eldar which would include many of the same options but would be focusing more on smashing the enemy with engagements rather than the finesse of Biel Tan. The following are what I consider the essentials, take them or leave them then add what you like. 

Compulsory inclusions
  • 2x bare gaurdians - with 1 heavy weapon platform to give you blast marker placement and 2 potential options for the avatar to pop out of. 
  • 2 units of Falcons with 2 firestorms each - you can basically cover the table with an AA bubble with these 2 units.
  • Shining spears with Autarch - speed, armour, lance/macro engagement or FF clipping assaults with double inspiring, what's not to love! 
  • 2 single void spinners - for dealing with enemy arty and small units 
  • 2 single scorpions - long range reliable macro skimmers. Gold 
  • 2 rangers - cheap effective scouts 

That comes in at 2425 points but you will notice that both the strong Eldar builds from this year's Cancon were running essentially this core. That's already 10 (11 with avatar) activations with plenty of shooting and engage options. You could spend the rest in a variety of ways you can fit another support Troupe without needing more core, or maybe you would prefer to load up a vampire raider with some solid engage troops. Night wing interceptors would be interesting and the wraith ship is a bargain with the flexibility to do a double macro pie plate or pin point attack. Repentant Titans could be fit too but you would need to drop something and if you look at the builds below its hard to justify their inclusion when you look at how much activation advantage and flexibility you lose. Experiment, don't let yourself get caught in the open and don't stress, you're race won't be dying out anytime soon. 

Starting strategy - 
The reality is there is no one good strategy, recognise you are using one of the most powerful lists out there and take advantage of that flexibility. You have the speed to get to any objectives going and the hitting power to take out a BTS, without Titan support of your own you might struggle to take down an enemy Titan but disrupt artillery will go along way to breaking it. 
      In the early game I'd suggest focusing on sniping off enemy activations, you've got heaps of great long range shooting options which are perfect for breaking enemy formations and doing extra damage when they are broken. Turn 3 is an ideal time to summon the avatar and if your prep work has gone well you should be able to finish off formations and drive the enemy off key objectives. No army has more capacity to do a big late turn reposition and then do a big hit at the beginning of the next turn. You will have a big strat roll advantage against most armies, enough that you should be able to rely on that too. 
One ting to remember is that you don't have e resilience of say a Gaurd army, your super heavies do have good armour but it's not great so use speed and skimmer to do damage and then fall back, same goes for whatever variety of falcon you will run with. If you are trying out a Titan recognise that most armies can't kill them, the amount of shots you need to get past holofields is obscene unless someone gets ridiculously unlucky but at only 6DC breaking them isn't a bad idea so don't treat them like they are invulnerable. Move, kill, move, most armies would love the flexibility Eldar get across the board and its your ability to use it that will determine your success. Always remember that if you can't win games with Eldar, it really is just you that sucks, the army is no excuse. :) 

Sample Builds

Sample Build 1 
This one manages to get to an impressive 12 activations whilst including a phantom titan. Double artillery, Double shining spears, double scouts, Double AA bubble and a Phantom titan as well! 

8 Shining Spear, Autarch, Exarch

8 Shining Spear, Exarch

Farseer, 6 Guardians, Heavy Weapon Platform

4 Ranger

4 Ranger

3 Falcon, 2 Fire Storm

3 Falcon, 2 Fire Storm

3 Night Spinners


Void Spinner

11. AVATAR [0]

12. PHANTOM TITAN [750] 

Sample Build 2
This time around the priority is activation count and spreading the shooting around rather than having it condensed in a single target. The night spinners have been upgraded to double void spinners backed by double scorpions and 3 lots of falcons. There is potential for a 14 activation turn if you want to use the spaceship and Avatar at the same time but more likely you can use the ship in the first turn to put some serious pain onto enemy formations, finishing them off with artillery and save the Avatar until turn 3 when your guardians are in better positions to offer FF support to engagements led by the War God and the double inspiring Shining Spear unit. It would be easy enough to switch the spaceship out for another activation on ground but I'm a fan of the psychological impact that you can achieve and frankly double macro templates are going to hit something... 


7 Dire Avenger, Exarch, Autarch, Shining Spear

Farseer, 6 Guardians, Heavy Weapon Platform

Farseer, 6 Guardians, Heavy Weapon Platform

Farseer, 6 Guardians, Heavy Weapon Platform



4 Ranger

4 Ranger

3 Falcon, 2 Fire Storm

3 Falcon, 2 Fire Storm

3 Falcon, 2 Fire Storm

Void Spinner

Void Spinner


Saturday, 17 September 2016

How to smash stuff real good with Feral Orkz

Taktica Tactik How to smash stuff real good with Feral Orks

Ever heard that phrase don’t bring a knife to a gun fight… well when you run ferals it’s kind of like this:

Gaurdsman – “Stupid ork, I see you’ve brought a sharp stick to this gun fight
Feral Ork – Datz right Humie but luckily I also brought a herd of dese giant dinosaurs. How’s dat lasgun feeling now?

General build philosophy – Something to remember with feral orks is that flexibility is not in their vocabulary, it’s a paper/scissor/rock sort of army except all you have is various sizes of rock. Sure you can experiment with different options but with no real shooting or speed options, no planes, spaceships or flying anything it will ultimately fail. Now the thing to remember is that this isn’t a problem in my mind, rock is fun, you can get real good at playing rock and if you’re careful can become the Chuck Norris of rock.

Army Special Rules - Ferals are no different to standard orks in that you can’t possibly make an effective build without due respect for the army rules.

Power of the Waagh – This rule can be a real hindrance for normal orks who might otherwise be attempting a range of tactical manoeuvres. For ferals your choices are much more binary because it’s all about engagement and your shooting isn’t worth a damn.  Double and shoot is a pretty solid option usually because all you’ll do with your shooting is lay a blast marker most of the time but don’t be afraid to triple move at times. Do the math on where you need those dinosaurs to be next turn and if need be take the risk. I tended to save my sup com especially for these sorts of risky rolls and of course a solid build will definitely out activate most opponents giving you the luxury of seeing where the enemy will be and planning accordingly. Also don’t underestimate your strat rating of 3, especially against all those armies that are only 2 it’s another factor that’s worth a gamble with a late turn aggressive advance followed by a beginning of turn major engage. It’s the closest ferals have to a teleport assault.

Mob Rule – Another binary component in ferals is the size of the units. Pretty much everything falls into the category of small and hard to rally (e.g. boar boyz) or so damn solid they rally really easily (like Orkeosaurus units). Play to that because your opponent will. Be conscious of things like your AA bubble because a clever opponent will absolutely snipe your small units to reduce your activation count if they can. 

Core units

Boarboyz – Absolutely essential to the army in every way. Not only are they cheap spammable deployments and activations but they are also a solid engage unit that allows you to get more value out of the bigger formations. I ran 4 units of 5 in my build at Castle Assault this year

These awesome boarboyz are available from Microworld games

Junka Brigade – Personally I don’t see the use of this unit, not fast enough to solve one issue the army has, doesn’t hit any harder than boar boyz and costs much more. Not to mention being light vehicles which is always a  problem.

Madboyz  - Again not too sure what the point of the unit is. Sure they are fearless and can have multiple wierdboyz but lots of units can have wierdboyz and frankly their shooting and AA capabilities aren’t that good. I prefer to spread the wierdboyz around the army rather than putting their AA bubble into a single quite fragile unit.

Steam Gargant – An utterly essential unit, these guys represent the only hint of flexibility and decent shooting you can have in the list and a full 3 man 500pt version is a solid BTS option too. I maxed out the guns on mine for a 12BP macro barrage and never once regretted it.

Trappas – I ran a unit of these in my Castle Assault force because I was concerned about teleporters possibly hitting my steam gargant unit. Their scout option is handy to prevent this and the unit is cheap enough that even it isn’t needed for this it can be a handy objective grabber/blitz guard etc.

Warband Vs Wildboyz – Building this army I spent a bit of time deciding between these two options. The conclusion in my mind is decisively wildboyz, for a range of reasons, the most obvious being the 75pts difference in the basic unit. Consider what you are getting for 75 points. It’s the same number of boyz each time with identical stats except that the “proper” boyz get the world’s crappiest gun which will make precisely zero difference in 99/100 games. They both get the same nobz so that can’t be it. Ultimately then for 75 points the only valuable difference is the two grots. Now grots are great, their ability to soak up free hits in CC can be amazing for orks but the difference is in how they are used in Ferals vs normal. When you have a boyz mob jumping out of a landa directly into engagement they have great value, but ferals don’t work like that. Ferals have giant hit sucking dinosaurs to back their engagement potential so grots really don’t have much of any value in this equation. Sure they could suck up a macro or TK hit sometime but that is so situational. Ergo it’s the cheap spear chucking option for me every time.
                So what about upgrades, there’s a pretty reasonable selection here. Personally the only 3 I think are worth considering are Squig catapults, Orkeosaurus and Wyrdboyz, each for their own reasons. At CA I ran 5 units of wildboyz with an Orkeosaurus and found them consistently amazing. Their BC engagement potential is phenomenal and much like the synergies that DKOK Gorgons are famous for the Orkeosaurus is fantastic for tanking the first 6 hits of the engagement leaving your ork boyz to chop away without much risk of their crap armour coming into play. You do have to be super careful about positioning though, watch out for FF support etc which can eat through your boyz fast. I found that more often than not my boyz never even got off the dino, they tended to just sit there and watch while the dino and nobz did all the work anyway, in combat not dying can be just as important as the kills you actually achieve. In FF the dinos aren’t bad either, likely contributing 2 hits and unlikely to take much back they can do big things to a unit that has been suitably prepped with blast markers and/or is supported by something else like a second Dino. Or even just to support an engage started by boar boyz which are fantastic for both BC and clipping FF engages if suitably supported. Never underestimate the resilience of a boyz mob with Orkeosaurus for blast marker resilience and with 2 leaders their ability to shed the ones they take is also amazing.
                Wyrdboyz are something else essential to the list. It’s the only AA you have and in my mind you need at least 3 to cover your army suitably. There are heaps of good opitons for them to go, on an Orkeosaurus works great but you could also chuck them into a unit of boyz on the ground if that works for you.
                Squig Catapults are the last upgrade that I reckon are worth considering. I ran 3 of them in boyz units as forward garrisons in my build at CA and they went ok. The BP3 disrupt option can be fantastic and having blast templates is always a good thing. Those units were a bit hit/miss for me though and next time I’ll consider just replacing them with wyrdboyz who give the unit just as much reach in terms of putting down a blast marker/prepping for a boarboyz engage and would improve my AA coverage substantially.

These feral ork proxies are also available from Microworld Games and do the job perfectly. I've used sword/spear armed guys as wildboyz and bowmen for trappaz

Just because they are feral doesn’t mean they are simple, in fact feral orks are going to be a bit of a learning curve, engagement is everything so the real trick is maximising your engagement potential. The big advantages you should have is resilience and activation advantage, hold back the dinos until the end of the turn and remember to always use them in pairs/small groups so that you get lots of support fire. Base contact engage can be tricky to pull off at times but one thing to remember is that you can move the Orkeosaurus forward then offload the orks within 5cm giving you a fair bit of range if you need it. Balancing that though is the fact that you will want that dino to be in BC in order to allocate the hits to his awesome armour where possible. Like I said before, you basically have 1 strategy but it’s a matter of refining it. Orkeosaurus go from amazingly resilient to amazingly soft if you let them get broken by a poorly timed engagement. Also remember that the guns on these beasts are basically only good for one thing and that is prepping an engagement so focus on that.
                As for objectives, for this army its all about aggressive movement, grind your way up the board every turn and focus on the objectives in the middle of the board. In my tournament games the most common result was 3-0, I didn’t lose my blitz but I only took it off the enemy once, never lost my BTS but only killed theirs once. Blitz and BTS were definitely the most challenging because the army lacks the shooting to capitalise when you need to and lacks the speed to reliably grab the Blitz. That said it was reasonably easy to spread myself out enough to keep the enemy out of my half of the board  and super easy to have models in the enemy half.

Though these Orkeosaurus models aren't available commerically this awesome proxy can be obtained at a great price by emailing

Sample Build

Castle Assault 2016 Tournament Build
If you haven’t yet discovered by tournament report from the Castle Assault tournament you should go have a read of it to see how I got them to move.  Feral Orks at CA2016

Incompertus, 3000 POINTS
Snagga-Snagga's Feral Orks (NetEA Army Compendium v20120208)

2 Nobz, 3 Two Wildboyz Units, Orkeosaurus, Warlord, Wyrdboy

2 Nobz, 3 Two Wildboyz Units, Orkeosaurus

2 Nobz, 3 Two Wildboyz Units, Orkeosaurus

2 Nobz, 3 Two Wildboyz Units, Orkeosaurus

2 Nobz, 3 Two Wildboyz Units, Orkeosaurus

2 Nobz, 3 Two Wildboyz Units, 3 Squig Katapult

2 Nobz, 3 Two Wildboyz Units, 3 Squig Katapult

5 Boarboyz

5 Boarboyz

5 Boarboyz

5 Boarboyz

6 Wildboyz

3 Steam Gargant

Monday, 12 September 2016

Fight Night - Space Marines Vs Necrons

Fight Night - Space Marines Vs Necrons

Ever had one of those games where the dice were genuinely stupidly in favour of one player… Well I just played 2 of them… Tonight saw me blowing the dust of my Necrons for a change and my long standing rival Mick Fair arriving with a codex Astartes force based almost entirely around big air attacks engagements. The builds looked like this:

Codex Astartes Codex Astartes TP2016 / Codex Astartes TP2016 3000
Tactical Detachment 375 6xTactical Supreme Commander
Terminator Detachment 500 4xTerminator Chaplain 2xTactical Dreadnought
Terminator Detachment 400 4xTerminator Chaplain
Land Speeder Detachment 200 5xLand Speeder
Land Raider Detachment 325 4xLand Raider
Thunderhawk 200 Thunderhawk Gunship
Thunderhawk 200 Thunderhawk Gunship
Landing Craft 350 Landing Craft
Warhound Titan 275 Warhound Titan

Thunderbolt Squadron 175 2xThunderbolt Fighter-Bomber

And the necrons

Incompertus, 3000 POINTS 
Necrons (NetEA Tournament Pack 2013) 

Necron Lord, 6 Warriors, Immortals, Pariahs, 2 Tomb Spyders

Necron Lord, 6 Warriors

Necron Lord, 6 Warriors

2 Obelisk, 2 Monolith

2 Obelisk, 2 Monolith

2 Obelisk, 2 Monolith

Supreme Commander

6 Flayed Ones, Necron Lord, Tomb Spyders

6 Flayed Ones, Necron Lord, Tomb Spyders

PYLON [200] 

PYLON [200] 

The Table

Objective Deployment
Good objective deployment is absolutely vital in Epic, many games are won or lost entirely in this phase. I for one can remember my first game against Knights where I grouped all my objectives together and this played massively into my opponents hands. Good objective deployment starts with strategy rating, having higher strat rating means you can force your opponent into corner deployment if that works, especially good for Eldar/Space marines builds that include double pie plate barrages from space but having lower strategy isn’t the worst thing ever.
In this case I knew I had lower strat so the advantage is that I get to see where the marines deploy their objectives and respond accordingly. This wasn’t so important with the Blitz but I was going up against a huge air engagement force and using fixed ground based AA. When I saw the marines place their first objective near my blitz I placed my 2 beweeen the marine objective and marine blitz. Essentially I made sure we were only fighting over half of the board giving me maximum AA coverage. The second marine objective went way down the other end of the table because Mick reckognised that for take and hold he only needs to focus on 2 of the 3 objectives in my half of the board in this case he was going for Blitz plus 1, by spreading them out he made it hard for me to take all 3 on my side without moving well beyond my AA coverage.

Turn 1
Marines have deployed the warhound and the land speeders in a protective scout screen on overwatch. The rest of the marines are loaded into thunderhawks and landers. Before turn 1 the Necrons deploy all of their monoliths, pylons and a warbarque.
Necrons win the strat roll!  Not quite sure what to do with this unprecedented result they awkwardly move up and put a blast marker on the land speeders followed by the obelisk clearing it's blast makers. Thus essentially ended the game…

Marines start to angle in a thunderhawk with the goal to break and pick off one of the pylons, they have rightly decided that bringing landers into range of double pylons is just too risky. The first Marine drives into battle cannon range but is blown out of the sky by a single crit from the pylon bye bye tactical marines and supreme commander with it…
The necrons continue to stall after gaining a lucky advantage….
 The second marine thunderhawk flies in along the same path as the first and with the same goal… guess what… yep… same result…

Necrons alternate between stalling and ridiculing the weakling technologies of the emperor…

Marines decide to go all  in and bring in a lander… 2 shots… 1 hit… 1 crit… yeah…. Seriously…

Game called without a single marine's boots ever making the table… well, not in a controlled way anyway.

Game 1 Highlight! Clipping assault example:
One interesting thing we did get to see in this incredibly short game was a solid example of the clipping assault tactic I’ve been recently discussing. Check out the pick and you will see the land speeders carefully positioned to provide FF support whilst also causing the monoliths to move towards them an away from being able to respond effectively to the warhound that would trigger the engagement. In this case I managed to turn the tactic slightly to my advantage as the obelisks move 30cm so have a 10cm counter charge, one of them would use this to make BC with the land speeders bringing them into the engagement and actually putting the warhound out of FF range. Tragically this didn’t achieve much anyway, the contacting obelisk’s reinforced armour was no match for a difficult terrain test and the units 7 attacks failed to do more than scratch the paint on the land speeders whilst their melta attacks would take down a monolith… Net result was a win to the marines but the fearless ron’s just shrugged with a robotic nyah. Still a good example of how to set it up and what an (potentially!) go wrong.

Game 2
Since game 1 was over in a record breaking 47 minutes we decided to keep the terrain and objectives and try again…

The deployment looks a little bit different this time with the warhound and speeders deploying a bit further away from the necron objectives in an attempt to force the rons away from their AA bubble. Necron turn 1 teleporting looks very similar to last time though with a little less distance between the pylons to make it harder for them to be separated and picked off by the thunderhawks.
Turn 1
Marines win initiative
Along comes the thunderbolts to break the pylon that took a blastie on teleport but both get shot out of the sky by the pylons that are still going nuts… oh dear.

The rest of the turn was pretty much a non event. The thunderhawk with supreme commander failed to activate on a retain. The land speeders zoomed onto the Necron board edge before being hunted down by warriors leaving one alive. All other marine forces stood down. The speeder rallies and a few Necron formations clear blasties.

Turn 2
Marines win initiative

Lander comes on the board but takes 2 TK shots from the pylons, a crit makes it fall out of the sky. It takes the terminators and the land raiders with it.

Mick shakes my hand and we call two games in 130mins


Airborne marines just can't do much against Necrons that are well positioned. The marines entire plans focused on breaking the pylons which had taken blast markers as part of teleport actions. Had that worked it would have made a huge difference to their assault potential. In this case I was stupidly lucky with crits but you don’t need to be too lucky with Pylons to shoot down a thunderhawk... and if they get on overwatch its even more nuts. Forcing the marines to fight for territory around those pylons gave me a huge advantage because they had no choice but to come into the AA bubble. In hindsight I could have done it even better by deploying my blitz objective directly opposite the marine one and putting my objectives in the space in-between. By contrast the marines could have forced me into corner deployment allowing for a greater space between the possible objectives and forcing that AA bubble wider. The other thing to consider is that this necron list was only running 2 pylons, I could have easily fit a third into the 1000pt allowance and if I were playing in a meta with more air assault than Aus currently has that would be a  solid option.

So overall not a great test of either generals skill or builds, dice just made this one a real write off. Still if you’ve ever had the pleasure of watching me play necrons you’d know why I won’t feel sorry for anyone’s dice… The 3rd time that my C’tan died to a crit on the first wound in the first 4 games was the last time I included that guy… That included such notable deaths as being flamed to death by Skorchas in engagement… and beaten to death by a warhound titan in BC…

Saturday, 10 September 2016

Tactica Clipping Assault

Tactica clipping assault

I can still remember the first time I was introduced to the wonders/horrors of clipping assaults. It actually came right at the same time as my introduction to another word I would learn to loathe, intermingled. For anyone who has ever played Blood Bowl you will know why these words are the "illegal procedure" of the Epic universe. But of course you guys can't think back with the same fondness to that moment so here's a picture... Yes the whole the whole sorry debacle was turned into a battle report... Check it out here if you want a laugh... 

So here's the story behind the photo. It was my second game of Epic ever, my first being against another mate determined to teach me in the iconic sink or swim fashion. This time would my opponent would be against easily one of the best players in the country (and I would argue anywhere) who was testing out just how powerful the Warlock Titan would be when it can summon an Avatar... It would be a game of many firsts for me. In the photo you can see my Steel Legion HQ nicely intermingled with the Warhound Titan and about to be introduced to the rough end of a pineapple colonoscopy. 

You see how clipping assault works is this. 
In this case what had happened was this. At the end of the turn using their activation advantage my Eldar opponent had run up the warlock Titan to within FF support range of the gaurdsmen, the shining spears had then flown in from somewhere (max move of 105cm after all!) around the warlock. At the beginning of the following turn the avatar had been summoned and the Eldar used their 2 point strat advantage to get the first shot in. Eldar are particularly adept at this sort of manoeuvre if designed with enough activations because of their high speed and triple retain combined with comparatively high strat rating. 
Now look at the position I'm in. The gaurdsmen would have +2 in the combat for numbers but a single blast marker on them (and none on the spears) balances that. The commissar gives them inspiring but the shining spears can easily get inspiring too and can get double inspiring easily enough. So that means that with minimal effort the Eldar player has negated all of my soft score benefits so now it just comes down to straight kills. 
            Now look at the positioning of the units. The spears are deliberately stretched back around the warlock, this is because the Epic engage rules stipulate that you must move towards the nearest enemy model, not the closest engaging model... So basically my troops can move towards the warlock or the avatar in this case. They can't attack either so ultimately all this achieves is that more move into the 15cm kill box. In return of course the warlock and the avatar both get to put their shots into the combat racking up some serious damage. 
            There is no twist to this story, it went exactly as it does for everyone's first experience with clipping assault, the attacker has completely outmanoeuvred me and I got slaughtered, combined with the Warhound being intermingled I had 2 formations broken in the first activation and the game was done by the end of the turn. I no doubt walked away feeling that everything was op and the engagement rules were stupid. No fact I know exactly what that looked like because I've visited the same pain on numerous opponents and you can almost see the same process every time it happens. Honestly I do think the countercharge rule is nonsensical but the reality is we need to live with it. Now here's the ray of sunshine... Looking back it actually wasn't as bad as I first thought. There was actually a reasonable odds chance of getting out of it... If only get out of it. If only I'd thought more carefully... 
            You see the attack does have some weaknesses, especially if the attacker doesn't pull it off perfectly. Look again at that photo and now bear in mind a few limitations that aren't immediately apparent. For example, despite the Warhound being intermingled it wasn't within 15cm of the attacking enemy (shining spears) and was therefore immune to being hit, worst case scenario then is he will end up broken. Similarly there were only 2 shining spears actually in engagement range whilst there were at least 6 gaurdsmen and with a bit of wiggling I could have gotten that a little higher (though not much because of how well positioned the war engines were). With only a little bit of luck I could have killed those shining spears meaning that there is no support fire and the real strength of the attack is wasted. Now in this case what would have happened next would have been a retain with the avatar which would would have done just as good a job but perhaps you can see how close these things can be if you just step back and think carefully. 

        In a similar example I was on the receiving end of at Cancon this year I managed to flip it around with some tricky movement that is worth storing away in the storage bank. In this case it was Eldar again with phantom Titans advancing for the FF support role in front of a unit of Squat berserkers with rhinos followed by shining spears on the flank for the clipping engage. In this case what my opponent had forgotten is that the rhinos have a counter move of 10cm rather than the infantry units 5cm so in the counter attack phase the rhinos drove forward making contact with the Phantoms and actually moving mode of the unit out of attack range of the spears in the process. The result was that now the entire squat formation could have a crack at something and though they still lost it became an extremely close thing rather than a total slaughter. This tactic can be used even more effectively if you keep a couple of your infantry inside transports while the rest just sit touching them to avoid dying with the transports. This gives you an even larger counter attack range with the 10cm move of the transport and then the dismount move. 
Clipping assault will feel harsh when you first experience it but don't get angry about it. For some armies it's as essential a tactic as air drop is for marines or long range shooting is for Gaurd. For Necrons it's all about FF engagements because the list doesn't have much else, for EpicUK Tyranids with expendable gaunts it's their go to manoeuvre whilst Eldar will love it because they combine awesome FF support units like gaurdians with free summonable avatars that appear with a guaranteed no blast markers and bonus inspiring, and that's even before you factor in triple retain and the rest. 

Game Highlight! Clipping assault example: (Space Marines Vs Necrons) 

One interesting thing we did get to see in this incredibly short game was a solid example of the clipping assault tactic I’ve been recently discussing. Check out the pick and you will see the land speeders carefully positioned to provide FF support whilst also causing the monoliths to move towards them an away from being able to respond effectively to the warhound that would trigger the engagement. In this case I managed to turn the tactic slightly to my advantage as the obelisks move 30cm so have a 10cm counter charge, one of them would use this to make BC with the land speeders bringing them into the engagement and actually putting the warhound out of FF range. Tragically this didn’t achieve much anyway, the contacting obelisk’s reinforced armour was no match for a difficult terrain test and the units 7 attacks failed to do more than scratch the paint on the land speeders whilst their melta attacks would take down a monolith… Net result was a win to the marines but the fearless ron’s just shrugged with a robotic nyah. Still a good example of how to set it up and what an (potentially!) go wrong.

Counter strategies 
If your opponent was using teleporting terminators you would use scouts to screen important units, if they were using thunderhawk assaults it would be countered with overwatch and CAP, the same applies to clipping assaults. There are always counter strategies for you to consider. 

1) Don't intermingle... Especially for new players being conscious of the 5cm gap between units is so important. So many games are won or lost on a solid engage move and so many of those losses come from intermingled units where the losses can be compounded. Personally I used to intermingle so much that I started writing a sticky note and putting it on the table to remind myself! I would suggest grabbing some sort of tool to make it easy to measure the gap. In my area we use this custom tool printed by one of the locals. It's not currently available beyond attendees at Castle Assault there has been discussion of making these more widely available if there is enough interest. 

2) Watch the activation count - if your opponent has 2-3 more activations than you you are at solid risk of clipping engagements at the end of the turn. You can definitely spot this by looking out for the units that would make excellent choices to do it with, if they aren't moving it's probably not by accident. 

3) Be careful with aggressive early moves - it follows on from the one above really, if your army has less activations odds are you'll be looking for opportunities to balance that by knocking out some enemy activations early in the turn. They can be easy to do with long range artillery/shooting but if you push too far out that gives your opponent more options to set up a suitable response. If you want to move forward that's fine but make sure you have units that mutually support each other. If you look at my orkeosaurus strategy for Castle Assault for example the main goal was to have it so that each dino was supported by 2-3 other dinos as much as possible with the only weak points at the end of the line, those I could cover with other units. 

4) Be conscious of your strategy rating - if you are playing a low strat rating like Gaurd recognise that is because your army has certain advantages like lots of long range shooting that most armies don't have. By contrast higher strat armies like marines and Eldar are supposed to use that advantage too. Marines can use this through air assaults, teleporting etc whilst Eldar armies like the example I started with will try to use the triple retain to do a big hit using clipping assault. Each army is playing to its advantages which is good play, if you have a low strat rating army you just need to expect this to happen if you leave yourself open to it. By contrast just running a high strat rating army like marines will give you a solid defence against it. 

5) Screening troops - one thing available to just about every army is cheap screening troops which can be thrown forwards to protect your valuable whatever at a critical time. Throw them too early and they will be cleared by enemy support units and squandered, too late and the hit is already made but if you can identify a weak point in your line and throw them forward at the right time it could just save you. Scouts are easily one of the most important units in any army in epic, ignore them at your peril. 

I guess the moral to the story is that clipping assaults are no worse ultimately than air assault of deep strikes you just need to be prepared. Lots of people will complain about the countercharge move rules and yes they are stupid, but no more stupid than fearless commissars making shadowswords bulletproof after they are broken or air engagements that can fly laterally to completely ignore your carefully crafted scout screens whilst drop ships from space have to move outside them... I take the position that the rules are what they are and what players should do is focus on how to use them to their best advantage. 

Good luck, play well and if worse comes to worse don't get sad, get even! 

Thursday, 1 September 2016

For the Emperor? Using Emperors Children in Epic 40k

If you've read my previous battle report involving the Emperors Children you would already be aware that I'm a big fan of chaos marines and really appreciate what this new list brings to the table. Probably the biggest advantage to running the EC over the more generic black legion is that this list has far more flexibility. Bear this in mind as you read because in my mind EC is unique to the other cult marine lists (e.g World Eaters or Death Gaurd) because you can run a very themey noise marines style list or you can run it as just a more flexible version of a more generic Black Legion style list with some differences apparent in areas like daemons and war engines. 

A big thanks to my mate Kenny for providing pics of his awesome EC army

Emperor's Children Core choices
Absolutely my favourite part of this new list is in the standard core marine option. My big gripe with Black Legion has always been here. In Black Legion you would spend 825 points buying 3 core options, these are central to unlocking access to support formations and the only real way to boost activation count to reasonable levels. For standard Astartes this isn't a problem because their list is way more flexible in this respect. The problem for Black Legion then is that you spend your 825 points but all you get are 3 units of essentially tactical marines with no transport that really can't do much. All marines are solid in engagement but only if they have the transport option to get them there, chaos ones can use daemons but that adds to the cost, drop pods are an option but that's a cost etc... The limited number of tactical formations you see in Loyalist formations really reinforces this significant weakness to the Black Legion. 
      Now for Emperors Children this isn't so big a problem because the core formation is both smaller and cheaper by 50pts. So in that example above you buy those 3 formations and already you are 150pts ahead, which could easily be another activation or points you can spend to get yourself some flexibility. Maybe you will use those 50 points to buy transport options to give the unit more flexibility. Alternatively you might invest in a couple of noise marines so that you can park your supreme commander on a base of fearless troops, or invest in some havoks to make a garrison with extra bang for your buck etc. I also love the option to throw in a DP and then load that unit into a thunderhawk. You will see most of these options in the build I'll put below and in the battle report I did earlier. Overall the point being that e flexibility here is magic so experiment. 

Elite formations
Chosen - an absolutely fantastic unit, great for activation padding and fantastic for babysitting objectives whilst the more important units run forward and do more important killing activities. That's even before you factor in just how far you can spread 4 scouts across the table to grab multiple things or use them for blocking terminators and other shenanigans. In my mind these are a 1+ unit and combined with terminators you should be filling very available slot that you generate with core marine formations. 

Chaos terminators - These guys are an essential unit for loyal Astartes and my feeling is they bring a lot to chaos marines too. The big problem for Black Legion has always been a lack of reliable delivery system. Emperors Children are lucky because they get thunderhawks again which means their value goes up massively in my mind and is another reason why I rate Emperors Children far higher than Black Legion. The only risk you have to be conscious of is that while on the ground the chaos thunderhawk is far more vulnerable because of the lack of BM resilience that loyalists get. 

Noise Marines - whether you include these or not will ultimately be decided by how fluff oriented you want to be. If you don't care too much then the termies and chosen are both much better options tactically. Especially when it's so easy to drop noise marines into the core marine choices too. 

Support choices 

Armoured Company - Personally I'm not a huge fan of predators and land raider formations in Chaos Marine armies. The small unit size, especially for land raiders makes them extremely vulnerable to being broken and then picked off despite their armour. I do like small units of predators which can be good because they are fast and can throw around a few blast markers or bring pain to light vehicles etc.

Raptors - kind of nyah to me. On balance base contact engagement is far riskier than FF engagement because the extra distance to make BC is tricky and proximity to the enemy will inevitably lead to higher casualties as you expose yourself to more return fire. I'll stick with standard marines and FF engagements or termies for BC hits, these guys add nothing to the list in my mind. 

Bikes - similar to raptors in my mind, not a bad unit but not one that adds anything to the mix that you can't achieve easily with other choices. The option to include daemon summoning is about the only reason I would experiment with bikes. 

To Daemon or not to Daemon? 
This one is always tricky too. Daemons can be amazing, they add hitting power and if you are clever can extend your engagement range or add amazing abilities like inspiring exactly where you need it. Of course you could also roll crap and spend a chunk of points on something you don't get value out of... I tend to no worry so much with daemons because anything that takes away from activations in the army are a bad idea to me. But I've seen great use of daemons in conjunction with drop pod attacks and so forth so if you are interested they are worth exploring. 

War engines and spacecraft 
This is definitely the hardest one to decide on because their are so many amazing choices here: 

Questor Titans - a fantastic shooting support unit with great FF value. These guys are brilliant for clearing out light vehicles or infantry blobs and their speed is fantastic for objective grabbing. I usually try to fit one in. 

Subjugator Titan - My original encounters with these units were always in Lost And The Damned lists and even then I thought they were great. When you consider though that in EC the army strat rating goes up to 4 they are even better. Hold them back till the end, run them up the field and prepare for a big hit on something critical and they can be amazing. If there's nothing great to attack just use the battle cannons and the speed. You do need to be careful though because you need to be in base contact to use the snip snips but that of course is inside your own shields... A very tactical unit. 

Thunderhawk - As I mentioned earlier I think these are one of the best differences between Black Legion and Emperors Children. An absolutely compulsory unit in my mind, only real question is if you want to run 1 or 2. 

Spacecraft - Now it starts to get tricky because those first 3 are all amazing options. The basic devastation class cruiser is a solid choice for its macro pie plate and D3TK shot which can be awesome. That said I generally won't invest in one unless I'm focussing on a drop pod build so it's an optional choice to me. The bigger ship I've never considered seriously. 

Hell Talon bombers - Chaos bombers are really awesome choices but I always struggle to fit them in because the Titans and thunderhawk are so good too. That said its worth considering because as a fighter bomber it does allow you some extra AA which otherwise the army is consistently lacking. Couple that with the ignore cover bombing runs and you can do brilliant things with this highly flexible unit. 

Hell blades - just a poor option in every respect compared to the flexibility of the bombers in my opinion. Their biggest issue is their very short range that means you will almost always be copping some return. 

Harbinger - for much the same reasons already outlined this guy will never see a run in my list. Too many points in a unit that can go down with a single crit and just too many good options. 

Knight packs - I've seen lots of players include these and I can see that they are a great unit in many respects. I don't run them because by now you will have worked out there is so many awesome options. If you can get your hands on some of these they are definitely worth exploring. My builds tends to focus on activation count as priority 1 so I usually don't include Knight packs because I want 4 choices from my 1000 points. 

Overall expect your Emperors Children to play out much like every other marines army, engagement is your friend, trying to outshoot most armies will not end well. All marines are a scalpel to an imperial Gaurd sledge hammer and should be played in that style. Your air engagement will often be the moment that makes or breaks the game so don't squander it. Often it's worth holding them back until the last activation of the turn and see what your enemy does, if there's no good opportunity in turn 1 then hold off till turn 2 or even 3. Alternatively that battle cannon on the thunderhawk can be great for sniping off a vulnerable formation, especially small units like Gaurd hydra batteries or Deathstrikes. 
      Also recognise the significance of your strat rating, it might not be as good as standard marines but it's much better than most armies and will give you awesome options to hold back an activation, run up at the end of a turn and pounce with first activation in the next turn. 
      The rest is really up to you and your individual flavour and style. Be aggressive and push for objectives, make your BTS a core infantry unit with fearless guys so it's damn hard to kill and never leave home without a sup com. 

Sample build 1 - is from the bat rep posted up a while back and focuses a lot on ground troops and war engines with some teleporters and a thunderhawk full of daemon prince to be the main hit.

6 Chaos Marine units, Stalker, Replace 2 chaos marine units with 2 Noise Marine units, Chaos Warlord (Supreme Commander)

6 Chaos Marine units, Chaos Marine, Daemon Prince

6 Chaos Marine units, 2 Chaos Marine, Sorcerer Lord

6 Chaos Marine units, Sorcerer Lord, 3 Rhino

CHOSEN [145]
4 Chaos Space Marine Chosen, 2 Rhino

CHOSEN [125]
4 Chaos Space Marine Chosen

Chaos Lord, 4 Terminator

Chaos Lord, 4 Terminator





Sample build 2  - Is from a mate of mine who has a proven history as an outstanding build designer and player. He shares some of his thoughts here: 

This list was designed around manoeuvrability with little hitting power deployed initially.
The Tactics revolved around a turn 2 drop. Space Ship was nearly always deployed for turn 2 carrying 2 units of Chaos Marines ready to assault/support their brothers in a big hit on where I expected their bts/big thing to be positioned in turn 2. This worked surprisingly well as I could predict my target based on how they deployed objectives and how I manoeuvred my models in turn 1, could steer my opponent. Once landed I'd set the havoc unit within 15 of the enemy before retaining with the second unit spawning ablative daemons and killing the target.
      The Termies were thrown at a vulnerable big hitter - artillery or titan, but these were my least successful unit. Without their Codex Astartes brothers rules or higher Strategy rating, they were invariably destroyed by being broken and chewed - a thunderhawk pickup, dropping the wasted daemonic pact, and better target selection - I could have made them work. Ideally this unit would have done better if I placed them near my drop podding units or near the path of some supporting units.
      My retinues, depending on my chances of getting the Strat roll would happily race straight at the enemy at the end of turn 1 or 2 - swamping my opponent with targets, hoping to win strat and roll over my enemy before having my drop pods come in to protect their flank.
      The predator squad was to give a mobile gun platform to threaten enemy armour - good speed combined with 6 twin lascannon shots would see them race into the right place each time. One of my better units.
      The Scourges are a fantastic unit with great killing potential - which equals a big target on their head. Considering the lion share of my activations are 1+ initiative, the 2+ and invariable blast marker gave me the dreads when looking to activate them. Best use of this unit is of course their firefight and speed. With 2DC and FF 3+, I caught a number of opponents out by running an engage with them and then positioning them close enough to support my next engagement.
      Finally, my air support. The Hellblades are puss compared to the much more tactically flexible Helltalons. Considering I had no AA deployed, they did a great job, but had to play conservatively against opponents with superior fliers or AA.
      The best tactic with this list, is to run units in mutually supporting pairs. Always keep in mind to have 2 units in supporting range of each other. Unit one preps the enemy and moves within supporting fire fight range and unit 2 rolls in for the engage. Keep this rolling and you'll beat your enemy in no time.

Emperor's Children (4.0) 

6 Lesser Daemon 

RETINUE [390] 
6 Chaos Marine units, 4 Rhino, Daemonic Pact, 2 Chaos Marine, Chaos Warlord (Supreme Commander)

RETINUE [255] 
6 Chaos Marine units, Chaos Lord, 3 Rhino

RETINUE [305] 
6 Chaos Marine units, 6 Dreadclaws, Replace 4 chaos marine units with 4 Havok units, Sorcerer Lord

RETINUE [330] 
6 Chaos Marine units, Replace 4 chaos marine units with 4 Noise Marine units, 6 Dreadclaws, Sorcerer Lord, Daemonic Pact

CHOSEN [145] 
4 Chaos Space Marine Chosen, 2 Rhino

Chaos Lord, 5 Terminator, Daemonic Pact

2 Emperors Children Predator, 2 Emperors Children Land Raider

4 Hell-Scourge

3 Hellblade Interceptors

2 Helltalon Fighter Bombers