Sunday, 7 January 2018

2017 - 2018






It's that time of year when the Roman God Janus encourages us to look back at the year we've just had and to look forward to the year ahead. Following this tradition, I shall be discussing what I have achieved over the past 12 months, and what I intend on doing over the next 12.

2017

I've had a quite a productive 12 months.

I committed to making one post a week on the blog, and while I didn't always manage that target date-wise I did reach the average of 52 posts. This was important to me, as there is little point in having a blog that you don't add content to. Personally, I prefer written content when I'm researching gaming views and advice, while the vogue at the moment is the production of YouTube videos. This blog is an attempt to produce the sort of content I enjoy. I've had a successful year with it, with people saying to me that they've enjoyed what they have read.

I started running more events, across more games systems. I also set up my own business page to centralise the events and make organising them easier. I wanted to get multiple regular events going, and so spent the summer experimenting with tournaments for several games, to see which had a player base available. Some were successes and some weren't but it's given me a good idea what to do heading forward. It's a shame to see some games lack a player-base, especially ones I enjoy. But it's good to get a friendly spirit of competition at an event.

I started a secondary job of working for Esdevium (now Asmodee UK). This has had me travelling to demo games and even had me Marshalling (Head Judging) the Star Wars LCG UK Nationals. It's giving me experience in both running larger tournaments, with higher rules enforcement, and also n demoing games. Learning to re-evaluate games through the eyes of someone who has never played before is an important skill set in gaming. It also allowed me to see what larger scale events are like behind the scenes.

I went to a Magic the Gathering Grand Prix. While I didn't play much there, it was nice to go to a big MTG event again. In smaller news, I did manage to win back-to-back Game Days for Amonkhet and Hour of Devastation. While I don't play Magic as much as I used to, it's good to see that I can still play to a reasonable standard. My current crop of decks aren't particularly up to scratch and could see some improvement.

While I've entered few actual tournaments myself, I feel like I haven't been taking the time to play games enough myself. This has improved a little towards the end of the year, but there are games I'd love to play that I still haven't had the chance to. Also, I have been playing the competitive games less so I could concentrate on the running of their events. This has lead to a feeling of not being on as the top of things as I could be. 40K has proved an exception to this, as 8th Edition caused a lot of buzz for the game.


2018

My plan for 2018 is more of the same; continuing to do the things I achieved, but improving upon them.


I want to continue posting here. I want to keep up the pace of posts so that my total at the end of the year is at least 52 posts again. More than that though, I want to improve the quality of what I'm posting. So I intend of experiment with different formats and ideas for content, while also trying to get better with the editing side of things. I have plenty of room to improve on here and hopefully will get plenty of feedback to help.

I'm going to get better with the local events I run. I've cut out the ones that weren't attracting players so I can focus my time and energy on the others. As the year goes on, I'll be attempting to grow the attendance while hopefully not losing the focus. The events need to cater to a range of players, and my worry is always inexperienced ones being put off. Finding the balance will be key to this goal.

I'm hoping to work more with Asmodee. It's a great opportunity to meet new people, try new games, travel and learn how to teach games. This year's Nationals is confirmed, and there are plenty of other dates coming up. The first ones are in February.

I'm going to play in my own events more. Previously, I would avoid playing or be the Bye. This has lead to me losing my edge. I got into a habit of playing less competitively because my results didn't matter. I can and should be playing better. Obviously, there are some events I can't play in as they require more attention on a judging.organising level like Store Championships. The only way I'll get better at those games though is to play them.

I'm also going to try and play in more events run by other people. This will give me experience in how others do things while playing more games myself. There are some games, like Yu-Gi-Oh that I haven't played in a long time that I want to play more. This will help with both playing more and improving my own events.



That's my look back/look forward. 2017 was a good year for me gaming-wise and 2018 has the potential to be even better.

Wednesday, 22 November 2017

The Great Asuryani Review



Twelve blog entries and 15,220 words later and my Codex Craftworlds review is done. Here are links to the individual parts:-


 Part One; Esoterica

Part Two; Warlord Traits and Relics

Part Three; Psychic Powers, Tactical Objectives and Stratagems

Part Four: HQs

Part Five; Troops

Part Six; Elites

Part Seven; Fast Attack

Part Eight; Heavy Support

Part Nine; Dedicated Transports

Part Ten; Fliers

Part Eleven; Lords of War

Part Twelve;  Summary and Thoughts Going Forward

Like what you read? Disagree with something I've said? Feel free to comment, I'd love to get feedback and dialogue going on the Blog.

Asuryani Review - Part Twelve; Summary and Thoughts Going Forward


It's been a long journey, but I've finally reviewed every unit in the Codex. Now it's time to wrap things up with the Summary and Final Thoughts.


My previous entries may make it obvious, but I really like the codex. The Index was fine but felt somehow a little lacklustre. This tome returns the Asuryani to the glory that attracted me to them in the first place. I can see a use for most of the units in the book, which is fitting. The Path of the Eldar means that most units are tuned towards a specific purpose. If you can't work out the purpose, the unit can't find a place in your list, let alone on the battlefield.

Other sites have done the math, and apparently, units have dropped by an average of 20% in points from the Index. It seems to be a trend that the Indexes were over-pointed, possibly as an attempt to play it safe upon 8th Editions release. So the armies that already have Codexes have seen reductions and I assume the rest of the Codexes will do the same thing. The Aeldari need it, as classically they are an Elite heavy army and lack the cheaper fodder units of Imperial Guard or Tyranids.

Also gone are the days of 7th Edition, where Windrider spam supported by Wraithknights was the order of the day. Both units are reduced in effectiveness. The Windriders get some of theirs back in the Codex, especially if you play Saim-Hann. The Wraithknight on the other hand still seems points inefficient compared to similar options in other forces like the Imperial Knight. I'll have to get some games in with one to know for sure.




Highlights

Path of Command incentivises Autarchs in a way the Index didn't. Command Points are hard to come by for the Asuryani, compared to many other armies. The cheapest Brigade comes in at 996 points (For reference, Guard and Marines come in at 624 and 1008 points respectively). So any source of extra Command Points is good. Combined with the re-rolls to hits, and the Autarch as Warlord feels like a must-have.

The Avatar of Khaine feels worth the 250 points now. He makes a fantastic centrepiece for an Aspect Warrior assault and will tear Monsters, Vehicles and similar Characters apart on his own. He can't measure up to a Primarch, but they are at least double his points. I'm currently painting up my Forge World Avatar to put my words to the test.

Swooping Hawks have gone from Rapid Fire 2 to Assault 4. This gives them much more room to deploy from Reserve as a shooting unit, and not get close enough to be assaulted in return. I see people make this mistake with units like Inceptors. Just because you can deploy 10" away, doesn't mean that every unit should.

Shining Spears feel capable of their Monster hunting rule now. They may be just the ticket for dealing with the renewed Tyranid menace.

Wraith-units getting a Toughness increase. Toughness 5 Wraithguard wasn't too bad, but the Wraithlord being a 7 was terrible. Now they are back to the stats they should have.

The Craftworld Attributes give flavour to the Craftworlds and hint at guidelines for building the armies in ways that make sense. I was surprised to see that they were all good.

Finally, the Runes of Battle and Fate are fantastic. They make Warlocks and Farseers seem like auto-includes, much like the Autarch. The Supreme Command Detachment is your friend.

Lowlights

So many great HQ options. Your slots may be taxed making sure you get what you want in the army, let alone your points. It would have been nice to see Warlocks and maybe Spiritseers moved to Elites.

Warlock Conclaves are good for Ulthwe Seer Councils, but not much else. You have to take a lot of Warlocks in the unit to gain any benefits over a lone Warlock while losing the hard to targetability of a Character.

Autarchs lost options, but fear not. The FAQ allows you to take options from the Index. While I'm sure this will also be printed in Chapter Approved, it's a shame it took 2 weeks for this to be communicated to players. There will also be people with older models who may not be aware of this rule.

The Falcon is still outshined by the Wave Serpent. I'm not sure what can be done to fix this without either making the Dedicated Transport too expensive or the Falcon far too cheap. One measure I would have considered would be making the Cloudstrike Stratagem only apply to the Falcon, much like it's squadron benefit in 7th. This would allow players to use it like a better Drop Pod.

The Wraithknight may be too expensive to use now. This may be an error on my part, analysing it in a vacuum. It could be that with the in-Codex synergies that it just requires the correct support army. Time will tell.

Stratagems. This isn't an issue with the Codex, but the Edition itself. People used to complain in 7th that units in Formations that were then in Detachments had to learn many special rules for each unit, and know when it applied. Stratagems replace this. With 27 new ones to learn, and remember, especially for ones that trigger due to certain events or can only be used at certain times. Obviously, players who can learn them well will gain an advantage. Knowing what tricks an opponent could pull with them could prove to be impossible, especially if you are at a Tournament and face a wide variety of armies.






Strategy Tips

So, you wanna play the Asuryani? 

Firstly, choose a Craftworld. This can be based on anything you like. Maybe you like the Attribute or one of the named Characters? Maybe you like the background or the colour scheme? Whatever attracts you to the Craftworld is what makes it right for you. It may even be that you wish to come up with your own Craftworld so you can use your own colours and fluff.

Then look at the Attribute for the Craftworld, or if it's your own choose one you like. Between this and the fluff, that should give you an idea of which units to prioritize putting into your army. Add the "essential" command elements of Autarch, Farseer and Warlock. Then with the remaining points for your build, take the units you like. It's pointing then at the correct targets on the battlefield that comes through play experience.

Alaitoc

The Attribute is good for any unit, whether it's protecting melee units as they close the gap or shooting units that keep the opponent at a distance. Rangers get an additional -1 to hit and are a key part of the Alaitoc background, so take them in the Troop slots. This gives you deployment options and a built-in way of dealing with opposing Characters. You want to look at units that can, therefore, deal with Vehicles and units of troops. Mobility to stay at 12"+ Range may be key.

Biel-Tan

The Attribute gives Aspect Warriors a Leadership buff, while also giving a re-roll to Shuriken weapons. This makes Dire Avengers better at shooting than Swooping Hawks. Don't forget that Howling Banshees and Striking Scorpions have Shuriken Pistols! Add the Avatar to the "command essentials", and take your favourite Aspects. Consider adding the Phoenix Lord of your choice.

Saim-Hann

The Attribute wants you to be charging into melee while shooting from Bikers. So look at the close combat units for the core of your force, and use Windriders and Vypers for you fire support. Obviously, make the "command essentials" Windriders too so they can keep pace.

Ulthwe

A one in six chance to ignore lost wounds is universally strong. Much like Alaitoc, this Craftworld asks you to look to the background for unit choices. Add more Farseers and Warlocks, potentially making a Warlock Conclave. Take large units of Guardians because of the Black Guardians Stratagem. Take Eldrad, because it's Eldrad.

Iyanden

The Attribute stops Morale killing off units too often, so don't worry about it. Their fluff says "the dead outnumber the living". While this may seem like an invitation to take an all-Wraith army, those units are expensive. At the least though, I would take a unit of Wraithguard/Wraithblades and a Wraithlord, equipped to suit whatever role you want. My current army mixes Wraithcannon-wielding Wraithguard for killing the harder targets, while the Wraithlord runs around with two Shuriken Cannons.

That's the starting points I would look at for the 5 major Craftworlds.


Example Synergy

Here are some Synergy ideas that will help you in your games. Some will be more competitive than others.

Swooping Hawks using Children of Baharroth can come into play, use their Grenade Packs and deal Mortal Wounds to an opposing unit. Have a Warlock cast Quicken on them to move again and cause more. Finally, after they shoot, use Fire and Fade to move them 7" and drop the grenades a third time that turn.

Mind War deals Mortal Wounds to a Character via a Leadership roll-off. Move a Wraithfighter near to the target first to have it's Mindshock Pod reduce the Leadership by 2. Then have a Warlock cast Horrify for an additional -1 to increase the damage.

Vaul's Might is great when targeting D-Cannon Support Weapons, as they will be wounding many targets on 1s anyway, so the re-roll is great.

Has your opponent charged your Dark Reapers to stop them shooting for a turn? Use Feigned Retreat to have your survivors leave combat and still be able to shoot normally.

Against armies with artillery or a gunline, take 2 units of Howling Banshees and use Webway Strike to charge them from Reserve. The Banshee Masks mean the opposing units won't be able to Overwatch, and even if you don't do any/enough damage your opponent won't be able to fire as they Fall Back. If you are feeling really spicy, replace one of the units of Banshees with Jain Zar.


Final Thoughts

In case the massive review wasn't enough of a clue, I'm excited to play the Asuryani. I've already had one game versus Death Guard, with a rematch due this Friday. Plus promise of the third Qa'tan campaign early next year, so I'm looking at getting more painting done. They have even announced an errata to the Ynnari, making them less obviously more powerful. It's a great time for Iyanden of either flavour.


Wednesday, 15 November 2017

One Post a Week

When I started posting this year, I was aiming on creating one post a week. Once this started slipping due to other commitments, I adjusted the goal to be an average, rather than tying it fully to the calender.

This is my 52nd post this year. Given how sparsely I've posted in previous years, this is quite the achievement. Hopefully I can keep up the rate of at least 52 posts a year going forward :)

Monday, 13 November 2017

Asuryani Review - Part Eleven; Lords of War


There is now only one option left in this Battlefield Role, as the Avatar has returned to HQ where it belongs. The scourge of 7th Edition, the Wraithknight.


Wraithknight

First things first. This unit is now expensive. While the Codex has brought some points reductions, it will still set you back 452 points at cheapest. And at that level, it's not very effective. While that gives it an Invulnerable Save, and a close combat attack that does a flat 6 Damage at Strength 16, it only kits it out for melee. This makes it capable of taking out other Titanic units, but means it likely has to wade through the opposing army to do so.

It's better in one of it's two ballistic modes. The first and most expensive of these is the Suncannon and Scattershield. This keeps the Save and, if you also give it a pair of Starcannons, it has 4+2d6 S6 AP-3 shots. Great for annihilating the heaviest of infantry or light vehicles and monsters. That makes it 570 points though. Probably too expensive for the job.

The middle ground is the default. 502 points gives you no Invulnerable Save, but 4 shots at S16, AP-4 and Dd6 each. This will wreck opposing Vehicles, Monsters and Titanics at 36" Range. And with 24 Wounds itself, be really hard to put down. This still leaves room for shoulder mounted heavy weapons. Did I mention that an Iyanden one has to have 6 Wounds remaining to have a drop in it's stats, and 3 remaining to reach it's bottom level.

A peculiarity with it's close combat ability is comparing it's Titanic Wraithbone Fists to it's Titanic Feet. The Fists are 4 attacks at S8, AP-3, Dd6 but the Feet are 12 attacks at S8, AP-2, Dd3. It's usually better to stomp than punch. Same is true of the Imperial Knight. Combine this with the Psytronome of Iyanden for 24 Feet attacks!

The final chapter is next, Part Twelve; Summary and Thoughts Going Forward.

Asuryani Review - Part Ten; Fliers


Stormraven spam may have caused a change in the rules of 8th Edition, but the Aeldari truly rule the skies.


Crimson Hunter

The anti-flyer Aspect. It has the usual Airborne and Hard to Hit rules to give it protection. To help it hunt other Flyers, it re-rolls failed wounds against models with the Fly keyword. In 8th Edition, that also includes units like Jetbikes, Assault Marines and Bloat Drones. It's armed with 2 Bright Lances and a Pulse Laser, to bring opposing vehicles down.

Wings of Khaine is a great rule. Allowing the Hunter to turn 90° both before and after moving. This means it can strafe up and down your back line, while the long range on it's weapons punishes opposing Fliers and Vehicles. For 160 points, it's a great package. In an Iyanden army, it has to lose 8 Wounds before it loses any effectiveness too.

This unit appears to have replaced the Nightwing in the interceptor role.


Crimson Hunter Exarch

For an extra 15 points, you gain re-rolls of a 1 for shooting, and the option to replace it's Bright Lances with Starcannons. I wouldn't recommend the weapon swap, but the re-roll is probably worth it.

Now that you no longer take these as squadrons, the Exarch feels strangely out of place. The point difference almost makes it feel like an auto upgrade to the regular Hunter.


Hemlock Wraithfighter

Proving to be quite fearsome on the table top for a bargain 200 points, the psychic aircraft is back. It shares the Wings of Khaine, Hard to Hit and Airborne rules with the Crimson Hunter. It also has built in Spirit Stones to give it the ability to ignore wounds on a 6.

It's role is different. The short range of it's weapons means that it wants to strafe their lines, not yours. 16", Assault d3, S12, AP-4, D2. It has two of them and they auto-hit. Good at hurting anything, units that are too numerous to worry about the guns are usually not a threat to it. While it's that close, it's Mindshock Pods give enemy units -2 Leadership. The cherry, on top of this icing, on top of this delicious cake: It's a Psyker.

It can deny one power, and cast one. It know Smite and any one power from the Runes of Battle. It can only cast the debuff half of the power, but those are potent enough options. It's also a Wraith Construct for the purpose of the Stratagem that heals them.

The final unit review is in Part Eleven, Lords of War.

Asuryani Review - Part Nine; Dedicated Transports






The Aeldari only have one Dedicated Transport and it's come a long way in design since the Epic model.


Wave Serpent


The Wave Serpent has long held the title of best transport in the game. It's fast, with a 16" Move. It carries 12 models, allowing it to potentially carry two squads of Aspect Warriors. It's got a lot of firepower, with a twin heavy weapon turret and an under slung either Twin Shuriken Catapult or single Shuriken Cannon. It's got the ability to survive a lot of punishment too. 13 Wounds, 3+ Save and the Serpent Shield plus the option of taking Spirit Stones.

It only asks what guns you are giving it. 3 Shuriken Cannons is pretty good, allowing it to move and shoot with no reduction in effectiveness. It's a good fit for all the Vehicle Upgrades as well, allowing for more speed, more survivability and more firepower, if you have the points. It's a shame that all this means you are less likely to field a Fire Prism, especially as you can theoretically take 1 Wave Serpent for each other unit in the army.

I won a vehicle conversion competition with my first Wave Serpent by adding parts from the plastic High Elf Dragon model. I'd post a picture, but I currently cannot find the turret,

Part Ten will be almost as short, as we look at the Fliers.