Friday, April 23, 2010

Fun New Addiction

Personally, I'm not a huge fan of base building strategies. I bought Dawn of War because, well, I'm a GW addict and it seemed like fun. Besides being able to field Space Marines and Baneblades, it really isn't all that different from Age of Empires. . .the first one. My preferences for strategies tend to go more along the lines of the Total War series, especially Rome: Total War. Seriously, if you like strategies and not having to rush and build faster than your opponents (in other words, taking time and planning crap out), seriously check the line out. I've been a fan since Rome, and while I'm not crazy about Medieval II or Empire (although the naval battles are fan-friggin-tastic!), there's LOTS of good stuff there.

Anyway, that's not what this post is about. Earlier today, I was out and about spending birthday giftcards, and on a stroll through Best Buy, my eyes beheld this:
I was a little low on the funds when Dawn of War II released, so I skipped this one at the time. But with a new, shiny gift card, I thought I'd give the sequel to the series a try, as I had heard it was vastly different from the original. I've only played it for a few hours, and I'm only on the second mission, but I can tell already that I much prefer this game to its predecessor. For starters, no more base building, so it's not a rush against your opponents, computer or otherwise. Through the first mission, I definitely took my time. I would send the scouts out ahead, snipe artillery spotters, and then set up my devastators and tac marines.

Again, not being that far into the game, I can't really speak with a great deal of knowledge on the XP and levelling systems, but what I've glimpsed so far is definitely interesting and seems decently well done. I also hear tell there's a corruption system, which I eagerly await to experience firsthand. It'll be a tough call, though. . .whether to stay true to the Emperor or fall into the blissful agony of Chaos. I tend to think going the evil route will always be fun. But then I start doing really bad things and feel guilty. Not sure what I mean? Well, play Fable or Knights of the Old Republic and you'll see what I mean. You can do some really mean spirited things. I used to think it was hilarious, but without my old college roommate egging me on, I just feel bad now. Then again, I don't think killing servants of the Corpse God would be too guilt-intensive. So more on this game as I play it further, but thus far I'd definitely say it's worth considering. You can buy Dawn of War II and the Chaos Rising expansion for about $30.

Sunday, April 18, 2010

It's Hip to be Square

Apparently I haven't been playing close enough attention. . .when exactly did it become cool to be nerdy? Admittedly, I've been out of highschool for almost ten years now, but I remember RPGs and most video games being the realm of the socially awkward and misunderstood (of which I was one). But it seems like some point along the way, someone in a corporation finally caught on that nerdiness was a multi-billion dollar industry, and BAM! Nerds became cool. Not all nerds, of course. There are still the socially awkward and misunderstood that no amount of corporate marketing will suddenly make cool. But working in a highschool, I overheard lots of conversation, and pretty, popular kids were talking about Pokemon the other day. Pokemon! From non-nerds! I suppose what really drove the sense home was this:
A little hard to see from the picture, but it's a Mana energy potion. Yes. An energy drink that's made to look like a mana potion from Diablo or one of any of the great classic fantasy RPGs. I have to say, though, I'm not a big energy drink person, but this was pretty good. I tried one out today at a local charity event, The Battle for the Shrine. Hopefully, I'll have some pics to post up this week, but it was a good time. The primary focus was an Apocalypse megabattle, where we had a good twenty or so participants broken up over three tables. I helped out running the thing, so I didn't throw down, but those that did seemed to have quite a bit of fun. It was a long day. . .I left around seven this morning and just got back around nine tonight, but it was worth it. Bonus, a single Mana potion and I was good to go all day! Now, I'm not pushing energy drinks. I'm kind of anti-energy drink. But if you were GOING to drink an energy drink, well, this one didn't make me anxious or jittery, and I didn't totally crash when it wore off.

Anyway, in short, I kind of wish I were ten years younger in a way. Apparently, I would have been cool for doing the things I did anyway. Ah well. I sure had me some good times.

Monday, April 12, 2010

Distractions, how I love/hate thee

Instead of finishing the two Dwarf bolt thrower crews I started last Wednesday, I spent all of yesterday assembling a Bangels assault squad.  Okay, not all of yesterday, but between actually clipping, cleaning and assembling, and watching Arrested Development on demand, I got nothing done on my dwarfs.  The tournament is now three weeks away, and I still have to paint:

2 x Bolt thrower crews
1 x Stone Thrower and crew
1 x Organ Gun and crew
1 x Dwarf Lord on Shieldbearers
1 x Dwarf Thane Battle Standard Bearer
1 x Runesmith
1 x Master Engineer

Not an overly daunting list, especially considering I have a week off from the 19th to the 25th, but given my track record. . .I may not have an army done.  On the bright side, I have the bolt throwers themselves done.
Still. . .that assault squad is looking pretty BA. . .for Blood Angels. . .I need to be stopped. . .

Saturday, April 10, 2010

I am Death Incarnate!

Well, not me, but this BAMF right here. . .

Not familiar? That's Lemartes, Guardian of the Lost. He's a new Bangels special character that isn't really a special character. He's a unique unit upgrade for Death Company. For 150 points, you get a Chaplain that can't be singled out in combat (he's not an IC), has regular chappie stats (2 wounds, 2 attacks), makes the Death Company go crazy (they re-roll failed rolls to Hit and to Wound on the charge), and gets all of the Death Company goodness (Feel No Pain, Furious Charge). Oh, and if he suffers an unsaved wound? Yeah, he goes nuts! His Strength and Attacks both get bumped to 5! And did I mention he's Initiative 6? With Furious Charge?

I hummed and hawed over whether Lemartes would be worth his points. This was, of course, until I played two 'Ardboyz practice games with him tonight. Even before he takes a wound and goes crazy, he rolls in with four attacks at WS5, re-rolling failed To Hit and To Wound when he charges, all at a lovely S5 I7. Bottom line -- he's going to kill at least three one wound models before anything else happens. Then his buddies attack. A unit of ten Death Company have forty attacks on the charge. Forty! With WS5, they're hitting lots of things (save for Waaagh! Banner nobs) on 3's with a re-roll, and at S5 with a re-roll, they're doing lots of wounds. Against, say, a unit of Orks, we're talking about 32 wounds, which, with their paltry 6+ Armor Save, would result in at least 25 orky deaths. And that's before you start handing out power weapons.

So if anyone else was considering whether Lemartes is worth his points at a hefty 150 for a sarge, consider this. A Chaplain with a Jump Pack is 125 points. For 25 points, you get:

-- Master-crafted Power Weapon (doesn't matter on the charge, but it's still nice if you somehow don't annihilate your enemy the first round of combat)
-- Feel No Pain
-- Furious Charge
-- He's not an Independent Character, so he can't be singled out in combat
-- When he suffers a wound, he goes CRAZY!!!

The only drawback is the fact that, if you take Lemartes, you either have to pay to equip the entire unit with Jump Packs (at a hefty 15 points per model, on 20 point models), have them foot slog it, or buy them a Stormraven. I'll probably be doing that last one.

Monday, April 5, 2010

They're heeeere. . .

Picked up part of my Blood Angels shipment on Saturday. I probably would have worked up this post yesterday, but it was Easter and all, so I went to my brothers for a delicious ham dinner. And we ate outside. On Easter Sunday. Global warming what?

Anyway, the Bangels. I placed a hefty order -- four boxes of Death Company, a box of Sanguinary Guard, an Ironclad Dreadnought, a Baal Predator, a Land Raider Crusader/Redeemer, and, of course, the codex. It was all nicely waiting for me in a brown, paper grocery bag. Unfortunately, due to budget constraints, I only picked up two boxes of Death Company, the Sanguinary Guard, the Pred and the book this weekend, but I'm sure that will be enough to distract me from painting Dwarfs so I don't have an army fully painted for the tournament. In fact, what little time I've spent in my nerdery has been focused entirely on Bangels. Last week, I assembled a Furioso Librarian Dreadnought out of a plastic Ven Dread kit with an Ironclad Dread right arm and a Forge World Grey Knight Dreadnought Nemesis Force Weapon arm (damn that's a long name!). Sadly, the FW dread parts are "reduced scale", so the shoulder on a plastic GW dread looked small and weird. Fortunately, I had a spare AoBR dread arm, so I cut the CCW off and carve out a little spot for the force weapon arm to go in, all while watching The Musketeer. (By the way, the action scenes are great, but the Disney version with Charlie Sheen is much better.) And here's the end result.

If the front looks kind of weird, it's because I left the sarcophagus cover off of the dread. I chose the one with arched windows in it, which allows you to see part of the marine torso while simultaneously making it impossible to paint. Anyway, I'm not 100% sure how Librarian Dreads are going to work, but they're simply too cool and too much of a psychological factor to not field them in a game. Oh, and if you can't read it, the word "Mortis" is engraved on the force weapon. And if you want to build your own librarian dread, here they are on Forge World's website, for about $10.50 USD. Shipping wasn't too bad, but if you can wait, you can always order it from FW and have them bring it to Games Day for you to pick up. I'm also planning on futher customizing the dread by adding this as a banner. . .

It's one of the banners from the Empire Hero plastic kit. I'll have to scrape off the twin-tailed comet from the shield, and probably replace the hammer with something more Blood Angels-esque, but I think it'll be a unique touch.

My dwarfen distractions did not end there. I also decided to assemble my first Assault Sargeant, made entirely out of Death Company bits.

You may notice he doesn't have a backpack. My plan is to magnetize all of their backs, so I can choose whether to field them as footsloggers in Drop Pods and Rhinos, or slap jump packs on and have them take to the skies. I have to say, though, that the new plastic kits are gorgeous. And the Death Company kit comes with about ten sets of shoulder pads for five models, so you have plenty of spares. I'm planning on each sarge having two DC or Sanguinary Guard pads, and each assault marine having one fancy shoulder and one boring shoulder.

The bits on his base are an empty Cadian helmet with the symbol on the front scratched off, and a skeletal hand holding a laspistol. I've decided to base my entire army with bits from other armies. The regular squaddies will all have ork bits, as orks are the common enemy of the army. However, each sarge and veteran will have bits to match the force they were fighting when they earned their veteran status. In this case, this sarge earned his laurels when fighting againts traitor guard.

Anyway, this was (hopefully) just a brief distraction from painting my Dwarfs. After all, the newest toy is always the coolest. Here's hoping I can get back on track and painting stunties. . .at least until I have 2,250 painted and ready for the tourney. Then I can get myself distracted, as the next Fantasy tourney won't be until November.

Thursday, April 1, 2010

Angels of Death

Yes. . .they are finally here. I know that pretty much every 40k related blogging site has been exploding with Blood Angels rumors, speculations and expectations for months, as well as countless reports of what they've seen in the book. So why am I bothering? I dunno. I suppose I feel I'm interesting enough that people will take the time to read this. Regardless, for whatever reasons, I feel compelled to talk about this.

First and foremost, Blood Angels are my favorite Space Marine chapter, closely followed by Space Wolves. I suppose I have an obsession with space marines that focus entirely on beating face. Anyway, I like the Bangels mostly because of their primarch, and how the Blood Angels still personify him. Sanguinius was, in my opinion, the best of all the primarchs. He was noble, intelligent, tactful, a ferocious warrior and loyal to the end. Blood Angels are noble, tactful, ferocious and loyal warriors. They would be perfect, except for their fundamental flaw, the Black Rage, which makes them so much the more interesting for not being perfect. Whether a gift or a curse, these heroic warriors are continually fighting an internal enemy more threatening than any external foe, one that could damn their souls.

Now, since I love army fluff, and love to make up my own, I'm not fielding a "Blood Angels" army per se. I'm fielding my homemade successor chapter, the Angels of Purity, who believe that the Black Rage is their greatest gift and their greatest curse. They spend years meditating and training to control their anger so that they can tap into the Black Rage to enhance their battle prowess, but prevent themselves from falling completely into it to become a member of the 13th Black Company, the Lost, the Death Company.

Anyhoo, I've spent quite a good amount of time mulling over the new Bangels codex, specifically trying to adapt it to my play style as well as tournaments. Now, there are a LOT of cool things in there: Librarian Furioso Dreads, Deep Striking Land Raiders as Dedicated Transports, Death Company Dreads, Stormravens, the Baal Predator, Fast Rhinos, a slew of beefy HQs and Sanguinary Priests. People are freaking out, crying cheese and, most annoyingly, declaring "Well, I'm just going to play Blood Angels." But sitting down and trying to hammer out a list shows the army's weakness -- everything is expensive! In the above list, the librarian dreads, land raiders, stormravens and beefy HQs are all near or above 200 points. You can fit a bunch into your lists, true, but not as many as you might think. I've been struggling with a list that includes two units of assault marines with rhinos, two sniper scout squads and as many dreads as I can fit. So, ignoring all of the other craziness for dreads, I can still only fit three. Admittedly, they're WS6 Front Armor 13 dreads, but still. . .three dreads, thirty assault marines, ten scouts and an HQ. Nothing really broken or horrifying there.

You could easily min/max the army, perhaps reducing your Troops selection to five man tac, assault or scout squads, but any space marine player can tell you the survival rate of five basic marines. Even then, you're not going to fit in enough stuff to completely eliminate your opponents force to the point where your Troops are safe. And let's consider the "broken" units one by one.

Furioso Dreads -- No doubt, these things are nasty. For starters, they're WS6 and they have the same armor values as an Ironclad. Bonus, they can have two dread CCWs. But so can an Ironclad, so the WS is the only advantage there. You can upgrade the dread to a librarian for +50 points, which is pretty cool, right? Well, actually, yes it is. The best combo I've come up with so far is a librarian furioso with Wings of Sanguinius (moves as Jump Infantry) and Might of the Ancients (+D3 attacks). The other big thing people are scared of are Blood Talons. These are dead CCWs that count as lightning claws, which at S6 is narsty. But it gets worse. If both are still operational, you get an additional attack for each unsaved wound caused. And the extra attacks can generate more attacks. I'll have to see how those work out on the tabletop itself before I pass judgement. An important note, though, is that librarian dreads cannot take Blood Talons. Anyone who says they can should get a swift kick to the junk.

Land Raiders -- LRs as dedicated transports for pretty much any unit is pretty darn cool. But it's not really practical in a standard game. Land Raiders are still 250 points. So even a minimum size unit of assault marines removing their jump packs for the 35 discount will cost 315 points with no special weapons or upgrades of any kind. True, it's very difficult to take a Land Raider out to get at the troops inside, but Land Raiders aren't going to win you a Massacre in an annihilation game. And while the ability to Deep Strike a Land Raider is friggin' sweet, it's not necessarily a game breaker. People will have to be very cautious about where to place them, because losing a 250 point transport with a 200 point unit inside of it because you did a deep strike mishap it pretty harsh.

Stormravens -- This is another thing people have been freaking out about, mainly because it is immune to the melta special rule. The thing that cracks me up about this, though, is that it's armor 12. If you can't remove armor 12 in 5th edition, you've already lost the game.

Now I'm not saying that the codex doesn't have some powerful, beefy things in it, but I think points cost will do plenty to balance things out. However, don't be surprised if half of the people at your local 'Ardboyz tourney are all rocking Blood Angels.