Friday, June 23, 2017

Note to Self: Mission Design

There exist a wide variety of ways in which to design missions for Warhammer 40,000, Warhammer 30,000, Age of Sigmar, and all manner of other games. One of the defining features of the Games Workshop approach to mission design is that there is no "automatic win" button. In some war-games, the killing of the general might represent an automatic win condition and the game would stop at that very instant. This generally does not happen in 40k.


Indeed, the closest thing to an automatic win is usually (but not always) a complete massacre of the opposing force.


When this condition is met, the winner usually is considered to have won the "primary" mission. Arguably, they have also secured all of the secondaries and perhaps tertiaries (if they are being used) as well.

But herein is the point that I want to make. If the winner in a massacre is presumed to have achieved maximum points, what about the loser? 

In our recent tournament, we designed it so that both the winner and the loser had things to still play for even late on in the game.

For those people aiming for a massacre style victory, we awarded one additional point for achieving this goal. Hence we had some players attempting to avoid being completely massacred just for the sake of not giving away that final tournament point to their opponent if at all possible. This is a good thing and reflects not wanting to give up. Added to this, we implemented secondaries and tertiary missions that could be achieved even if a massacre victory was scored against them.

The most obvious one is "Slay the Warlord". This can be achieved even if one is massacred (and obviously happens by default if one is victorious in a massacre victory!). 

Another is "First Strike" -- this is the same as first blood, but either player can achieve it. All they have to do is kill an entire unit in the first turn of the game. This not only alleviates the bias from achieving first blood from who goes first (which is undeniably a huge contributing factor), but gives both players something to aim for.

Other examples include moving a particular unit to a particular destination during the course of a game. This can still happen for anyone who subsequently gets massacred.

Hence, when designing missions, we like to frequently include at least one or two (secondaries or tertiaries) that can be scored by someone who eventually gets massacred regardless. It still gives people something to play for. Of course, there are still aspects of the game, such as having a unit in the oppositions deployment zone at the end of the game, that cannot be achieved if one is massacred. Instead, perhaps award a secondary or tertiary for moving all of ones own units out of their deployment zone (and thus score secondaries that way) rather than depend on the state of the game on the final turn. In this way, both players have things to aim for that they can achieve tournament points for during the game, and not just at the end. Meanwhile, having that extra point for a total wipe out victory will drive the win-at-all-costs player onward, and probably to distraction (as we experienced the other week!). 


Thursday, June 22, 2017

8th Edition Rulebook First Impressions

It feels like a very long time since I pre-ordered my copy of the 8th Edition rulebook. (Note to self: it isn't that long ago really!). It also feels like a long time since Games Workshop send me their notification email that it had been dispatched. (Note to self: it wasn't -- it was totally consistent with the expectation date of dispatch!). It feels like it has been in the postal system for quite some time. (Note to self: you are absolutely correct in that assumption, even if you're wrong about the other two!). 

But finally. FINALLY! It is here!


The shrink wrapping in the picture certainly didn't last too long, rest assured!

There are a number of facets of this new rulebook that I would like to comment on. I don't think I will do it all in one post though. So today, I'm going to focus on global impressions.

Organisation.
Firstly is the organisation of the book itself. Most of the background material is presented to the front end of the book, with a strong focus on the Imperium of Man itself. This is to be expected at some level. Yet, it does represent a deviation from some of the other core presentations where the rules came nearer to the front and the background materials to the back of the book. And of course, it differs from the 7th edition rule book that had three different volumes combine in one sturdy cardboard sleeve. 

I rather like the idea of having a lot more focus on the background and on the fluff side of things right up front. Being an old-timer (Rogue Trader) person, this certainly appeals to me. I just find it a pity that they could not small-font all the unit entries in to the back of the book as well instead of having several different pseudo-codexes produced alongside this (and codexes that are going to be outdated rather quickly if I'm reading between the lines correctly). That would have been much better, and probably would have harkened back to the Rogue Trader era a bit more for us very old timers!

Gaming Photography.
The second and final thing that I'm going to note for today is some of the photography. If I flick through the older rulebooks and search for people playing the game, they are generally (but maybe not exclusively) white males. Many appearing somewhat middle-aged. In this rule book, what is striking to me is how this has changed (for the better) to have more women visibly playing the game. Now, of course, these are probably staged photographs. But with daughters of my own who are getting in to the hobby, I welcome this change of focus away from men and encouraging women and girls in to the hobby. About (redacted) time frankly. Gaming should not be seen as a white, male, young person (possibly testosterone poisoned judging by some of the comments on various forums out there) hobby. It is for everyone who is interested. 

Good on Games Workshop for updated their marketing, sincerely from me. 

Wednesday, June 21, 2017

Battle Report: Ynnari vs Alpha Legion (1500 pts)

The final in the series of battle reports today from the "End of 7th" tournament we had. This time, I am using my 30k Alpha Legion forces against Eldar Ynnari, in the third match of three (following on from the Tau in Game Two). 

I also have a confession to make. This was the first time ever that I'd faced a true Ynnari Eldar force. I really had not much of a clue what to expect beyond knowing the mechanics of the "burst" a little bit.

My forces remained unchanged from the previous matchup: 

Alpha Legion List: 
HQs: Autilon Skorr (Pride of the Legion Rite of War), Master of Signals 
Elites: Contemptor Mortis Dreadnought (Kheres) 
Troops: Assault Squad (plasma pitols, serg with thunder hammer); Terminator Squad (Axes, plasma blaster, thunder hammer); Veteran Squad (two melta guns) 
Fast Attack: Storm Eagle (las cannons) 
Heavy Support: Heavy support squad (missile launchers)

The Ynnari were running the following.

Ynnari Eldar List:
Reborn Host
HQs: Eldard, Farseer with singing spear and Anath'lan stone
Elites: 5 Wraithguard, Death Jester with lost shroud, haywire grenades, shrieker cannon, Shadowseer with mask of secrets, haywire grenades, mastery lvl 2, neuro disruptor
Troops: 5 Rangers, 3 wind riders with scatter lasers

Aspect Host Formation: 4xDire Avengers with exarch; 6xDire Avengers with exarch and wave serpent (target matrix, holo fields, shuriken cannon, spirit stones, bright lance), 5xWarp Spiders with exarch.

Ulthew Strikeforce:
Elites: 10x Black Guardians with eldar missile launcher platform 

To be honest, I was dreading facing this list. Plenty of firepower in there and nothing I can do against the psychic strength of the list either. 

The one thing -- and it was a very critical thing -- that I had going for me was that I managed to gain the initiative to go first. Deploying across the board, I decided that I wanted to take out the Eldar piecemeal style and target their key assets. The game objective was the simplest one possible: annihilation of the enemy. The winner would be decided by the points value of the opposition we managed to take down. Really as simple as that.

Early Turns (and the flank).

In the early turns, I advanced my foot-slogging veterans up the table to try to out gun the dire avengers that they had in front of them. They took several out.


But they were rapidly reinforced by the jet bikes who retaliated well against my marines.

A game of cat and mouse followed on this particular side of the board featuring me trying to keep pace with the Eldar and gunning them down whenever I could. The chance to charge the Eldar never really materialised, so I relied on the bolters and the melta guns I had to do the dirty work here. But it was not without significant casualties. 

Middle Turns (and the rest of the board).
In the middle of the game, several key things happened, broadly in swift succession.

The first one was that I made the mistake of killing the warp spiders with the Master of Signals. This prompted the Death Jester to spike in his burst. Its a very nasty combination that I hadn't really thought about too hard. The Death Jester shot at my assault squad, forcing them to take a morale test. Which they dutifully failed and started fleeing backwards off the table.

Rallying them the next turn, I charged them toward the Jester. Shooting on overwatch, the Jester killed again. By the time I'd taken out the wave serpent with my contemptor dreadnought, he was bursting again. I really didn't think that vehicles could cause a burst, but they do. Drat. I'll remember that for next time.

Hence, by the time I actually managed to get in to combat with the Jester, the situation looked grim for my assault squad.


However, the thunder hammer marine was able to prevail here and finish the job finally. But it was a close run thing.

The turning point in the game really only came about when I managed to get my storm eagle on to the board though. With its extra fire power, it soon started to eliminate wraith guard and shadow seer. Eldrad lasted a little while longer, but eventually Skorr claimed his head for the Legion. Not bad for the King head hunter!


Late Turns.
By the end of the fourth turn, there were few Eldar left on the table due to the fire power (and fluke die rolls that I was managing to pull off). The sheer firepower that the storm eagle was pumping out eliminated any threat to it from the board.

The last few threats were the highly mobile units that were still around.


My decimated veteran squad finally did the trick though, seeing off the final jet bikes and their dreaded scatter lasers to ensure that the Alpha Legion scored a decisive Massacre victory by the 5th turn. No eldar left on this world whatsoever.

I hindsight, I was very lucky. Although I played my set up correctly, the fact that I went first really sealed the match up. I think if I went second, it would have been a completely different story altogether. 

Combined with the master of signals doing a lot of the (lucky) dirty work with the orbital blast and the storm eagle coming on to team up its firepower with the contemptor, the game was sealed by the fourth turn. 

However, the lessons learnt here were painful. The Ynnari burst moves thanks to the death of nearby units is immensely powerful and one that I won't forget in a hurry!

Monday, June 19, 2017

8th

There seems to have been an issue with the postal service. The issue is not quite on the scale as a certain Icelandic eruption, just to be clear.

Hence, it looks like I'll be pottering around at least one more day before the new rules and everything else arrives!

Gah! I want my new toys already!

Friday, June 16, 2017

Battle Report: Alpha Legion vs. Tau (1500pts)

Going in to this match from my victory over the Salamanders in a 30k match-up, I wasn't so sure that I could do well here. The Tau have a (rightly) fearsome reputation for firepower. That said, I was confident that I could at least pull off one charge by turn 2 with my assault marines and hopefully put them on the back foot for a turn or two. That was at least the plan. The battle would be fought over the beach table with two objectives to secure.

My forces remained unchanged from the previous matchup:

Alpha Legion List: 
HQs: Autilon Skorr (Pride of the Legion Rite of War), Master of Signals
Elites: Contemptor Mortis Dreadnought (Kheres)
Troops: Assault Squad (plasma pitols, serg with thunder hammer); Terminator Squad (Axes, plasma blaster, thunder hammer); Veteran Squad (two melta guns)
Fast Attack: Storm Eagle (las cannons)
Heavy Support: Heavy support squad (missile launchers)

Meanwhile, the Tau had plenty of firepower to call upon:

Tau Army List:
HQs: XV86 Coldstar with shield generator and stimulant injector 
Elites: XV104 Riptides (early warnings, earth caste pilot array, ion accelerator, plasma rifle, velocity tracker)
Troops: Strike Team (missile pod support, marker light, Devilfish transport); XV8 battle suits (2xShas'ui, 1xShas'vre); XV8 battle suits (2xShas'ui)
Fast Attack: 2 Pathfinder teams (marker lights) 
Heavy Support: XV88 Broadside (drone controller, seeker missile, high yield missiles, smart missiles).

Early Turns.
The set up is pictured below. And as a general health warning -- I took too many pictures for this one!


Off screen to the right are a bunch of suits that I'm aiming to charge at early in the game with my assault squad. My heavy support are holed up in the Eldar ruins on the left and I have my contemptor with my veterans near the top left who are foot-slogging along. 

Luckily, I manage to get the first turn. 


Not much happens, but the drones and the marker lights start lighting up everything that causes me to start to worry a whole lot. I distract myself by taking some cool pictures :)


Things start to get much more interesting in turn 2 as my assault squad enters close combat. Sadly, I completely forgot about the insane over watch that the Tau are capable of pulling off. All the surrounding squads take pot shots at my poor charging marines and whittle them right down before they can get truly stuck in to the enemy. 

Much pain ensues.

Middle Turns.
The combat with the battle suits pictured above will go on for another few rounds as I fail to kill them on my charging turn.


Meanwhile, the footsloggers are making good progress and are being supported by an incredibly lucky shooting contemptor who is really whittling the wounds off the enemy. (And I think this shot looks awesome as well, so I had to include it in this report). 


Despite lots of casualties on both sides by this point, the fun really starts when my storm eagle arrives and disgorges the terminators plus Skorr in to the melee. It is only at this stage that I recall the mission is to control the objectives (one in each deployment zone), so I make sure that the terminators can not only charge, but get back again to reach the objective nearby. In this game, they are classed as troops for scoring purposes due to the rite of war I'm running.



Late Turns.
The terminators try to finish off the enemy HQ, but do not succeed, and take casualties in exchange. For their troubles, the Tau HQ flies away in a hit and run effort to survive and shoot again next turn.

All of my assault squad are dead now following the melee. They took plenty with them though. 


The above picture shows the game position at turn 4. Much carnage has occurred, and more blood and fuel are yet to be spilt across this beach landing paradise board. This comes in the form of the remaining Tau shooting my Storm Eagle out of the skies. It narrowly avoids anything on the way down, but otherwise is wrecked.


Critically, the terminators are able to slog it to the objective marker nearby, whilst finishing off the remaining Tau troops. The veterans have meanwhile perished due to incoming fire. The contemptor has only one Kheres left. The Tau make a run for it to try to claim the opposite objective. But I manage to kill most of them along the way. Sadly not enough.

The game ends in a tie on the major objective: 1 objective secured each.
The game ends up being decided by secondaries. I have just one more than my opponent (in terms of line breaker), hence I win. But only just.

This was a very tough slog to say the least. I was very happy with the photos that the game produced, but tactically, it could have gone either way. I thought I was going to lose when the storm eagle got taken out and the Tau jetted away for the opposite objective. The terminators and the heavy support squad held on though and a draw ensued. 

Wednesday, June 14, 2017

Wargames Gallery: Beach Landing

++ Deploy, brothers!++

++Resistance encountered. Some kind of Xenos advanced weaponry. Caution advised.++

++Deal with them quickly. They bleed well enough. Power axes drawn and good hunting.++


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