Tuesday, 28 February 2017

40k Starter Tournament Part 1 - Discussion

Well, due to mild illness and a lot of business, I've fallen behind on posting. Missing two weeks of my attempt at a post a week all year. That said, the last few posts have been long. To make up for the short fall, I will do a long, double post about the 40k starter tournament, and then follow up with a piece on the new Aeldari/Ynnead stuff. Hopefully I can get that all done this week
40K Starter Tournament

Why was this happening?

I've been running tournaments for 10 years as of this year. I've been playing in events for even longer. I've seen a lot of different rule systems, both for games and for running events. I'd say this gives me a lot of experience, and so do those around me.

Warhammer 40,000 isn't a game I enjoy the tournament scene for. I collect/paint/play for the background fluff. However, I pay attention to the competitive front because it often makes interesting articles and videos. This means I've looked into things like the ITC format. So I've seen various FAQs and interpretations of the rules as well as different build structures for forces.

A (probably) negative trait of mine is if I see something being run "badly", because I am aware of "better" ways of running them, I rapidly become annoyed with an event. This is worse if I am able to talk to the person responsible and they try and argue but can't bring evidence.

My worst two experiences in this regard;
A CardFightVanguard event where the TO tried changing the structure because his local team would have been knocked out. He tried arguing that Magic runs events the same way. To the best of my knowledge, Magic doesn't do Double Knockout events, so they wouldn't be run different to any other Double Knockout event. He refused to look at what we were showing him on Google, or show us any documentation that backed him up, despite the four of us being the TO's for Antics across several games and having a combined experience of nearly 20 years between us. That left us all, the other players from our store as well, with a sour taste in our mouths. Lee reported this to Bushiroad and the venue lost events, but it caused me to dedicate essentially zero time to playing the game since.

More recently, while watching a game of 40k. A couple of rules questions came up in a league match. When i raised them with the guy running the league, I was laughed at. I told him his rulings were wrong because he is clearly using an older edition; what he was saying is not in 7th edition. He continued to laugh at me and insisted that the rule was there. When I re-read the pages and told him to show me, he refused because he was "right" and if I couldn't find where it said so, he didn't need to show me.
The player involved, Chris, later checked in the local GW store and discovered I was correct.

I'm not perfect when it comes to rulings. But all it takes in these situations is reading the material, which takes no more time than the argument. Often, if a player is adamant they are correct, I will double check the wording on something. It's easier than issuing an apology to a player if you later find out you are wrong. Sometimes that isn't enough, as you may have missed a ruling that hasn't made it into the documentation yet. But at least your rulings are consistent with the documents you are using on the day.

The second incident, alongside my disdain whenever that person runs a 40k event, lead to either Chris or Ben (I can't remember which as they were both in the car for the conversation) suggesting that I should run events for 40k. They have experience other events I run and believed I would be good at it.

I let the idea rattle around for a while, but wasn't entirely sure where to go with it. Part of my problem with the competitive scene is the players it attracts. A few of them have really bad attitudes and I wouldn't have a legitimate reason for banning them from a public event. If they are willing to pay the entry fee and follow the rules, it's hard to say no. Their behaviour never quite becomes penalty-worthy unsporting conduct, but it puts other people off too. I know their presence is hurting attendance of certain events. Then, late last year, something changed.

A few of the Antics regulars moved into 40k. They had all been playing card games for years, and to be honest I don't know what prompted the move. Some of them used to play and wanted to get back into it. Some had always looked at the game with interest and seized the opportunity to join their friends. This led to a mix of people either bringing their old armies into a new edition or starting new armies. Literally in the case of those looking at Deathwatch and Genestealer Cult. They were semi-organising games in Antics, but only one game was happening at a time, and often only one game in a day.

This struck me as an opportunity. They are all semi-inexperienced with the rules. They are all good sports. They want to win, but want to have fun doing it. What if I ran an event for them? Kept it invite only to stop it being hijacked by those that value winning over fun?

Obviously, I couldn't run it in Antics. The group is too large for the amount of table space and terrain in the store (spoiler alert; they almost proved to be too much for Dark Star). So Dark Star was an obvious venue choice. Because I would have to charge them to cover the table tax, if I increase the cost a little I could put a prize (£10 voucher for Antics) on the line. If I held it on a Sunday, it wouldn't clash with any events for the other games they play. Then came simply a question of format.

If you've been reading my recent posts, you know the format. I looked to the Eternal War missions in the main rulebook, and chose one that was simple in victory conditions but also fun to play. Then it was a case of "Book it and they will come".

As they event came closer, I was being asked rules questions on the mission and advice for building armies. This lead to my tactica series. Some of the players read it and took advice from it. Others came up with their own tactics for the mission. The event was to be 3 rounds, each round playing The Relic mission. And most of the games on the day involved actual attempts to fight over the Relic, not just kill each other.

All in all, the event was a success. We had maximum attendance. Everyone that's spoken to me or anyone else about it has reported having fun. The chatter the week leading into the event was so positive that I booked a repeat event for March. And the chatter bore out. I'm so pleased with how the event went that I'm going to do one every month, and look at a 2 day, larger point event in the summer. Dark Star is looking at adding more tables in the near future, which will facilitate this. Not everyone I invited was able to make it to this one, and I don't want to leave any of the group out if I can help it.

The title of the event was a double entendre. It was a starter event for the players, to help them get to grips with the rules and playing in an event. It was a starter event for me, to help me get to grips with round times and tournament structure.

Thursday, 9 February 2017

40K Starter Tournament Tactica - Part Four(c)

The Army List

Armies of the Imperium Formation

Triumvirate of the Imperium

Belisarius Cawl
200 points

200 points

Inquisitor Greyfax
150 points

Space Marine Detachment

Allied Detachment

Chapter Tactics - Ultramarines


Sergeant Chronus, Predator, Heavy Bolter sponsons
145 points


5 Tactical Marines, Imperial Space Marine, Flamer
75 points


5 Sternguard Veterans, Drop Pod
145 points

Fast Attack

5 Assault Marines, Jump Packs
85 points

 Total 1000 points

40K Starter Tournament Tactica - Part Four(b)

We now have our Triumvirate and Ultramarines force. The question is (as you can guess by now) is how does it stack up against our mission objectives?
The Triumvirate are expensive, so we will have to see what goes best with their support abilities while still having an eye on capturing the Relic.
The army we've put them with is very small. I imagine most opposing armies will outnumber them significantly, even other elite Marines.
Belisarius Cawl will have a re-rollable Feel No Pain, and the ability to give himself and Sgt Chronus; It Will Not Die and an Invulnerable Save for one turn each.
Celestine and her Geminae are a fast moving, hard to permanently kill, assault force that should do well alongside the small squad of Assault Marines.
Inquisitor Greyfax  is a potent Psyker who will give the Tactical Marines both Preferred Enemy and Ballistic Skill 10 when hunting other Psykers.

That's why those units have been chosen to support them. So, onto the goals.

Goal 4 - Have Fun!
The Triumvirate seem powerful on paper, but take up half the points limit. My best bet for a trial list is to pair them with Space Marines, as you get a bit more survivability for the points than you would with other armies. it's probably going to be a low model count, so tabling is a real risk, but then the Big Three are quite survivable.
The fun here comes from in experimentation. Can the Triumvirate operate in such a small points game, or do they need more support to shine? Would we have been better off just taking one of them? Will the Drop Pod Sternguard work, or will they too often be out on a limb?
The only way to truly answer these questions would be to get some games in. I can see the unkillability of Cawl and Celestine being at odds with the probable ease in which opponents can kill off their squads. Sounds like it would actually be quite a fun game.

Goal 3 - Control the Relic

Both Cawl and Celestine are very hard to kill. Cawl is probably the better bet for holding the Relic, as Celestine's Jump Pack is wasted while she can only move 6" a turn. The aim should be to get it to him and hold it there. We probably want some Tactical Marines to form a squad with him for extra survivability. I'd suggest Terminators, but I'm concerned we wouldn't have enough points
 We didn't have enough points for Terminators, so instead we have the plan of dropping the Sternguard on the Relic in our first turn and trying to leapfrog them with the rest of the army. Essentially trying to put other bodies between them and the enemy. Should our opponent get to it first, the Sternguard's special ammo can help clear a squad off of the Relic. We still have the back-up plan of Cawl getting to it and seeing if he is actually unkillable.

Goal 2 - Survive opposing firepower and assault
Two of our three main characters are hard to kill. The third is disruptive. Surrounding all three with Power Armoured bodies should up the resilience even further.
 Our guys are resilient, but few in number. Our best chance of increasing their chances will be striking the enemy hard first. This hopefully stops them bringing their numbers to bear. However, I don't rate our chances of surviving much unless the Triumvirate live up to the hype.

 Goal 1 - Kill opposing models

Careful weapon choices for the Marines should do the job. this list might struggle at the killing part. That said, the Triumvirate aren't slouches in assault.
  Tabling the opponent doesn't feel like a realistic goal with this force. There will be that one squad/model that we just don't have time to reach. However, for the ones we can reach, our Primary Detachment is quite adept at killing both infantry and vehicles. Playing the mission and killing the correct targets is the way to go here I feel.

Of the three armies I've discussed on this Blog, this feels like the most challenging. And not in a good way. It does kinda feel like the games would be an uphill struggle unless played very carefully. However, I could be wrong. I could be completely underestimating the Triumvirate entirely. Maybe in such a small game they are a dominating force and the Marines just push them over the top. The only way to find out would be to play them, which brings us back to Goal 4. If you think that trying out new models this way is worth it, then this is the army for you. Otherwise you may want to try something more akin to how your chosen army normally operates, until you get a feel for the army.

Join us for the final part (Part 5) where I look at the event itself

40K Starter Tournament Tactica Part Four(a)

For part one
For part two
For part three

That should catch you up. Only one more recap-link posting needed during the final part of this...

So, Part Four. The Triumvirate of the Imperium 

Building the Army

The Triumvirate is a Formation that contains Saint Celestine, Belisarius Cawl and Inquisitor Greyfax. They are 3 amazing new models with a bunch of special rules. Anyone getting hold of these models will probably want to use one or more of them as soon as possible. So, we've got a couple of choices. We can either pick one to use and build an army around them, with them as the HQ. Or we can go the route I'm taking and build an army containing their Formation.
The question then becomes what to pair them with? Their parent factions each have their own pros and cons. I'm not familiar with Ad Mech and Inquisition lends itself best to being an addition to a main force rather than being one itself. This would seem to leave Sisters of Battle, but I want to look at them on their own at some point, they work best with their Acts of Faith if you don't have non-Sisters join their units. Meanwhile I have already built 2 sample Astra Militarum armies for this event.
Therefore I'm going to build a Space Marines army. Because we are going to be so short on points, I'm going to use the Allied Detachment.

Triumvirate of the Imperium

This will be our main Detachment, and so our Warlord will come from it. It's special rules give friendly Armies of the Imperium units Stubborn if they are within 12" of two of the three members and Fearless if they are within 12" of all three.
The other special rule is if one of them is the Warlord, then they can all use their Warlord traits. I'm going to choose Cawl for this job, He and Celestine are both pretty difficult to kill, but I expect the Saint to be surging forward looking for trouble. So he should keep this rule active as long as possible.

Allied Detachment

This Detachment has several restrictions that don't actually matter to use and one special rule. It also has 2 mandatory unit choices and 4 optional ones.
It cannot be our Primary Detachment. This is fine as we have the Triumvirate for that.
It cannot contain our Warlord. Again, the Triumvirate not only supplies better candidates for Warlord, but has a rule that benefits containing one.
It gives the Troops units in the Detachment Objective Secured. This isn't useful, but we are taking this to support the Triumvirate, not for it's own sake.

The best way to build this will be to make choices that support each individual character.

Mandatory Choices


Our HQ will also determine our choice of Chapter Tactics. Belisarius Cawl works best alongside a Tank, and there is the perfect commander to accompany him. Sergeant Chronus fulfills our mandatory HQ, and brings his own tank. I'd put him in a Predator and give it sponson-mounted Heavy Bolters. He can get bonuses from Cawl, and sets our Chapter Tactics to Ultramarines. This gives us three turns of choice re-rolls for the army.


The second mandatory choice is a Troops unit. Here I'm picking something to support Inquisitor Greyfax. 5 Tactical Marines give her a suitable bodyguard. To keep the points low, we are taking them at bare bones, but adding a Flamer to help clear out hordes/defend on Overwatch. I will also replace one of them with the Imperial Space Marine to add extra firepower at zero cost. This is a little cheesy, but we need every advantage we can get with an army this small.

Optional Choices

Fast Attack

Our first optional choice is something to join Celestine in hunting units for combat, and add some mobility to the force. 5 Assault Marines with Jump Packs and no other upgrades should make a decent choice. Not only can they keep pace with her, but between the Saint and her Geminae they don't need much more help.


Our final optional choice is kinda special. We are going to take 5 Sternguard Veterans in a Drop Pod. The Drop Pod brings them in via Deep Strike automatically on Turn One. We can either drop them on the Relic or in our opponents back lines to threaten some of their units. This is achieved via their Special Issue Ammunition which allows them to select the right gun for the right target. They will either take out a threat to our army or claim the Relic as the Saint and her squad leapfrog them to fend off the enemy.

That brings us to exactly 1000 points and 20 models. Not the most imposing presence on the Battlefield, but with precision application of the units we have a chance. That said, the Triumvirate might be quite a sledgehammer. In our Part Four(b) we will look at how this could work on the tabletop and how it lines up with our goals.

Sunday, 5 February 2017

40K Starter Tournament Tactica - Part Three(c)

The Army List

Astra Militarum Formation Army
The Emperor's Blade Assault Company

Company Command Squad, Astropath. Vox-caster, Flamer, Plasma Gun, Meltagun, Carapace Armour, Camo Gear
Chimera, Dozer Blade, Camo Netting
236 points

Veterans, Vox-caster, Flamer, Plasma Gun, Meltagun, Grenadiers, Forward Sentries
Chimera, Dozer Blade, Camo Netting
205 points

Veterans, Vox-caster, Flamer, Plasma Gun, Meltagun, Grenadiers, Forward Sentries
Chimera, Dozer Blade, Camo Netting
205 points

Veterans, Vox-caster, Flamer, Plasma Gun, Meltagun, Grenadiers, Forward Sentries
Chimera, Dozer Blade, Camo Netting
205 points

Hellhound, Dozer Blade, Camo Netting

Total 996 points

40K Starter Tournament Tactica - Part Three(b)

So, there we have a build for our Formation army. How does it stack up against our mission objectives?

Formations tend to be a little more specialised, so we will have to go through the options and see which one fits our needs best while also fitting in the points limit.
We found one that seems to fit the mission perfectly. Getting Preferred Enemy against any unit that is controlling the Relic should go a long way to make up for the low Strength of lasguns. We sacrificed some of the resiliency of other Guard builds for mobility in our transports, which should help us play keep-away if we get to the Relic first.

Goal 4 - have Fun! 

The Formation idea is to find something that would be good at the mission. Not all Formations are created equally,and some of them are completely unsuitable. 3 of the Guard ones cost more than the 1000 points we have available, and another 2 don't have a lot of room for upgrades. I'm going to build the Emperor's Blade Assault Company. It has a mix of vehicles, infantry and firepower. And as the infantry are Veterans, they have a decent Ballistic Skill. 
I quite like this Formation, surprisingly. It doesn't have the masses of Infantry I normally favour, but is still fun. Your troops still feel like underdogs versus a lot of the foes you will face. I also may have gone overboard on the upgrades to try and compensate. But that's what makes it fun. A small, elite force of men trying their best.

Goal 3 - Control the Relic
The Emperor's Blade has a core, decent amount of infantry, backed up by transport vehicles. So in a similar vein, speed up to the Relic, jump out of the vehicles to control it, then mount a fighting retreat, using the Chimeras to protect the squads from mass firepower and to channel assault lines.
Something I've not talked about yet with the scenario is Transport Vehicles. While only non-Vehicle models can pick up the Relic, such a model can then get into a transport. The vehicle can't move faster than 6", or it ejects the Relic, but that still gives the squad inside an extra layer of protection. Also, Moving Flat Out is 6", while Running is D6". So, it gives you a better chance of getting further away should the need arise.

Goal 2 - Survive opposing firepower and assault 
This list has a lower body count than I usually prefer. The survivability on this one will come from careful use of the vehicles to screen the infantry, meaning threats to the vehicles need to be taken out quickly. We should also consider upgrading the infantry to have camo cloaks and carapace armour, and maybe camo for the tanks too.
 We were able to afford all the defensive upgrades we wanted. Our troops have a 4+ Armour save, which protects against a lot of basic weapons. Then the whole army gets a 6+ Cover save, or improved if they are actually in cover. These two measures will help versus a lot of shooting. Close combat is a weakness, though the Flamers give us a little bit of improved Overwatch.

Goal 1 - Kill opposing models
The Chimera's have decent guns, and the Hellhound is great at slaying opposing infantry. The squads can have 3 special weapons and 1 heavy, so this list can kick out a fair amount of firepower for a small amount of units.
I've spread the special weapons amongst the units. This will stop my opponent singling out, for instance, my anti-tank weapons and destroying them before we can bring them to bear. It means that each squad has a decent chance against any foe. Chimera's are great battle transports too. They have 2 decent guns themselves, as well as a decent ability while they have troops inside. 2 models from the transported unit can fire from the top, at a separate unit to the tank. Also the unit can man the Lasgun Array, each array able to shoot at a different target from the models shooting out of the top, the tank and each other. We can engage a wide variety of targets while we are mounted. The Inferno Cannon on the Hellhound is really good against infantry and the Preferred Enemy gives us a boost in this department, plus we still have access to orders. This is an Army that needs to play the mission though, I doubt we can switch to tabling the opponent if things go awry. But achieving missions is what the Emperor's Blade is designed for.

While I'd be happy fielding the previous Guard army, this one is closer to what I'd actually try out. It covers all the bases the mission needs while feeling like a challenge to play. It's a Formation I've been experimenting with ever since the Mont'Ka book it's in came out. It's proving to pair well alongside a CAD build similarly to our previous army. The Emperor's Blade moves out to take forward objectives while the CAD holds our back line and offers long range cover fire. It feels like one of the better ways of building Infantry based Astra Militarum forces, as the core Infantry choice in the Cadian Battle Group is expensive at it's base cost and the upgrades add up quickly. Also with more points you can look at possibly adding Heavy Weapons to the squads and adding more Hellhounds, including their variants.

In the next part, we will look at building around the Triumvirate of the Imperium and then the final part of this series will be exploring the event itself.

Thursday, 2 February 2017

40K Starter Tournament Tactica - Part Three(a)

For part one
For part two

Now you should be all caught up, so onto Formation Armies.

Choosing the Formation

I guess the first question is, why build a Formation as opposed to using the CAD? The CAD is a good place to start building armies, as it's straight-forward choosing units from your Codex to fit the mission. However, 7th Edition introduced Formations and Detachments for army building. The CAD is a Detachment (hence the D). These allow you to take thematic groupings of units without worrying about filling in other sections. They provide special rules to the units within them, much like the CAD does. Best of all, so box sets come with a Formation, meaning you can play the force straight out of the box without needing the minimums of the CAD.

So, what are we looking for in our Formation?

The Formation idea is to find something that would be good at the mission. Not all Formations are created equally,and some of them are completely unsuitable. 3 of the Guard ones cost more than the 1000 points we have available, and another 2 don't have a lot of room for upgrades.
We are looking for something that both fits the mission and it's limitations. The limitations is the easy part. We want 1000 points or less, no Lords of War and no Flyers. So it's finding one with a combination of units and special rules that will be good for the mission.

I've looked through the list and chosen the Emperor's Blade Assault Company for the Astra Militarum. Their other ones are either too expensive, or not as good at the job. This Formation comes with two special rules. One terrible and one amazing.

Infantry from this Formation have Objective Secured

This is terrible. Normally, Objective Secured is a useful ability, and is the main rule of the CAD. However, the Relic is picked up by a model, so it doesn't matter if you have this rule and they don't if they get to it first. So why choose a Formation with a dud rule? Because the other rule makes up for it.
Models from this Formation have; Preferred Enemy - Enemy units within 6" of an Objective Marker

Turns out that the Relic is still an Objective Marker! While the mission rules stop it from interacting with our first ability, they don't stop the other. Our units will re-roll 1s for hits and wounds against the enemy unit carrying the Relic if they get to it first. And any other units within 6". Also, should we get the Relic and be assaulted, we get the benefit in close combat too.

Our Formation is already primarily Veterans, who are Guardsmen with BS4. So this should help overcome the weakness that we usually attempt to overcome with numbers. So what is the Formation made of?

1 Company Command Squad, must be mounted in a Chimera or Taurox
3 Veteran Squads, must all be mounted in Chimeras or Tauroxes (in any combination)
1-3 Hellhound Squadrons

An elite force of Guard designed to get in and take objectives. Sounds like the perfect force to capture the Relic for the Emperor :)

Building the Formation

Taking the minimums for the Formation comes to 625 points. This leaves us 375 points for upgrades. The only option we have for extra units is more Hellhound Squadrons, which can be up to 3 tanks each. Given that we want more Infantry than Vehicles, so we can pick up the Relic, it's probably best to not go down that route.

Our Company Command Squad will have Carapace Armour, Camo Gear, a Vox and one each of Plasma Gun, Meltagun and Flamer. This should give them fire options against a wide variety of opponents. They will also be accompanied by an Astropath for psychic defence and access to Psychic Shriek. Their Chimera will stick with Multi-laser and Heavy Bolter, and be give a Dozer Blade and Camo-netting.

Our 3 Veteran Squads will be identical to each other and very similar to their commander, just with more men in the squads. Carapace Armour, Camo Gear, Vox, Plasma Gun, Meltagun and Flamer. Their Chimeras will follow suit with Multi-laser, Heavy Bolter, Dozer Blade and Camo-netting.

Finally, our Hellhound will have upgrades that mark it as similar to the rest of the group. Inferno Cannon, Heavy Bolter, Dozer Blade and Camo-netting.

That comes out to 996 points across 41 models. Definitely more compact than our CAD design, but equally more mobile. Part 3(b) will cross-check this army against our goals, and part 3(c) will simply be the Army List.