The reason for the lengthy delay between BRs was that a tournament I was supposed to attend during the first days of March was canceled. It's highly unfortunate. Players from Slovenia and Romania were supposed to be attending, which would've resulted in a massive clash of metagames, plus I was really looking forward to meeting some actual vampires and their gypsy servants (FACT: Romania is a country populated exclusively by these two personality types), but alas, it was not to be. At least I finally took the time to finish painting my vindicators.
The tournament format was the usual. 1850 pts armies, 3 battles, a mix of rulebook and ETC missions, standard bonus rules + Nemesis rule (whichever unit scores First Blood becomes worth 1 victory point to the opponent). My list:
STEEL SLAYERS STRIKEFORCE:
Captain Dolf Hummerdgern (Lysander counts-as)
Tactical Squad RED – flamer, combiflamer, plasma cannon, rhino
Tactical Squad YELLOW – flamer, combiflamer, plasma cannon, rhino
Tactical Squad GREEN – flamer, combiflamer, missile launcher, rhino
Land Speeder – multimelta & heavy flamer
Land Speeder – multimelta & heavy flamer
Attack Bike – multimelta
Vindicator – siege shield
Vindicator – siege shield
Aegis Defense Line - quad-gun
I didn't even have a list when I arrived at the tournament and had to write one up right at the spot. The reason for this lack of vision was that I was too busy getting high on StarCraft 2: Heart of the Swarm to spend time thinking about 40k lists. I just included whatever models I had with me and called it a day. Not much to say about the tactics here. Rush at MEQ/gunlines and murder them. Auto-lose against fliers and hordes.
FIRST BATTLE – RIDJI'S TYRANIDS
12” deployment. Five objectives, each worth 3 points. One in the middle, one in each quarter. Useless warlord traits. Opponent had a horde army. Three tervigons, a bunch of gaunts, two venomthropes, two units of three hive guard, and a unit of three carnifexes with devourers. We deployed across each other. I combat squaded everything. My plan was to crush his right flank and take the objective in his right quarter, while somehow holding his left flank on his half of the table. I got 2nd turn and failed to seize initiative.
(I forgot to mark the central objective, but you can see it on the photo)
Night fighting. Tyranids advance. Tervigons buff the fexes with run-and-shoot and feel no pain. A rhino is shot and blown up by the hive guard, scoring first blood. One marine perishes in the explosion.
I move my LR, a rhino with a combat squad, and the attack bike forward. The right-side hive guard unit is illuminated by the rhino's searchlight and one hive guard is killed by quad-gun fire. Overall, my shooting is inefficient.
Tyranids keep coming. Tervigons spit out a crapton of gaunts, blocking the path of my LR. A vindicator eats up a ton of fire, but eventually succumbs to devourer spam.
Things already look as hopeless as I expected they would be. I manage to wipe out the right-side hive guard unit, gaining nemesis. Some wounds are inflicted here and there, yet it's not enough.
More gaunts are born, creating a huge screen in front of my LR. The attack bike gets eaten by a swarm of devourer beetles. The remaining vindicator's demolisher cannon is blasted off by the hive guard. The combat squad manning the quad-gun is shot up and only sergeant Jurgen is left standing. He promptly fails his morale check and almost runs off the board.
The LR plows directly through the gaunts, getting into range of the objective. The gun-less vindicator moves forward to serve as mobile wall in face of the nid advance. Jurgen regroups and – being really pissed off at the tyranids for critically injuring his best buddy, gunner Albrecht – rushes back to the quad-gun and mows down two out of three of the hive guard. The combat squad on the far right side disembarks and roasts some 20+ gaunts with flamer fire, avenging the attack bike.
The tervigons crap out more new gaunts than I've managed to kill in the previous turn. Fuck my life. The said gaunts shoot up and then assault the combat squad on the far right side. The tervigon assaults my LR, but only manages to plink off two hull points. The rest of the swarm moves in on the poor tacticals in my deployment zone.
I barbecue some gaunts, just for the laughs. Then I murder the tervigon with Lysander & the hammernators. Needless to say, the battle is effectively over for me, so I surrender.
My list wasn't able to deal with a horde army. Even if I could've forced my way through all those gaunts, I still had no hope of taking down the bucketful of T6 wounds on his MCs and hive guard. Vindicators are great vs MEQ and vehicles, but they're sadly lacking vs multiple wound models they can't insta-kill. The positioning of the objectives exacerbated the problem, while the fact he got first turn was the final screw in the sarcophagus for me.
SECOND BATTLE – IGOR'S TAU
Table quarters deployment. Big guns never tire. Useless warlord traits. Three objectives, two of which ended up in my deployment zone. I only ever faced Tau once before, and that was back in 5th, so I knew nothing about them except that their shooting can give you testicular carcinoma. The opponent's army consisted of two units of 12 fire warriors, an aegis defense line with a quad-gun, one piranha with a meltagun, two large skimmers (one with a railgun, another with a plasma that doesn't frickin' get hot, as well as constant 3+ cover saves, screw you xeno scum), a unit of deep striking tau commandos, a big unit of kroot, a trio of heavy mecha with railguns and shield drones, a mecha commander, and a squad of mini-mecha with plasmaguns and a small army of shield drones. I deployed my stuff with the intention of reaching his objective as early as turn 2, to which he responded by ignoring his objective and deploying everything on the other side of the table. I got to go first, and he failed to seize the initiative.
Night fighting. I advance with my LR, vindicators, and attack bike, while the rhino with a combat squad moves in to take the opponent's objective. Shooting is negligible.
Opponent re-positions a little and uses marker lights to lower my cover saves, but no relevant damage is inflicted.
Both speeders show up. One scatters into terrain and gets immobilized. The other scatters 12” and ends up right next to the fire warriors. LR, attack bike, and a vindicator rush forward. The center vindicator abandons cover and drops its pieplate on the squad of mini-mecha, scoring a direct hit... Which kills a few shield drones. A bunch of xeno troops are roasted alive and their quad-gun is left unmanned.
The commandos and the kroot arrive. The commandos deep strike close to tau objective and wreck the combat squad's rhino. The kroot outflank at my table edge and plink a hull point off a rhino there. Railguns blow up my LR and the center vindicator, while the piranha wrecks the immobilized speeder. The other speeder takes a bazillion hits from the fire warriors and the big skimmers, yet somehow remains unscathed.
Payback time. The kroot are mowed down by combined plasma, flamer, and bolter fire, reducing their unit to a single model. The commandos are likewise reduced to two models, as well as pinned. The remaining speeder hops forward and shoots the big railgun skimmer into the ass with its multimelta, destroying its missile launcher and incinerating a few fire warriors in the process. Lysander & the hammernators charge the enemy quad-gun and break it, earning themselves quite a bit of extra movement.
Piranha turbo-boosts close to my table edge, while the mini-mecha advance and try to vaporize the rhino behind my aegis defense line, but it makes its cover saves. The hurt big skimmer levitates away. Terminators are shot up and three of them fall. The last speeder is wrecked.
I finish off the commandos and the kroot, securing two objectives. Lysander & the remaining two hammernators advance. More shield drones are taken out. The right-side combat squad in the rhino rushes to the aid of their buddies at my middle objective.
Piranha goes in, shoots its melta at the rhino, and the rhino passes its smoke cover save. The mini-mecha eschew shooting for the sake of rushing forward as fast as possible, intent on denying my objective.
Lysander finally gets into combat, decimating the depleted fire warrior squad. I shoot everything I have at the mecha and the piranha, resulting in more dead shield drones, but little other benefit.
The last two hammernators die to tau guns, leaving only Lysander with 2 wounds. The mini-mecha jump forward to contest the objective. The piranha blows up the incoming rhino, killing one marine in the process and pinning the remaining four.
I tank-shock the mini-mecha unit with my last rhino, pushing them away from the objective, then charge them with a combat squad. The tac squad looses the fight, but is stubborn and doesn't flee, which is exactly what I was hoping for. Lysander charges the big plasma skimmer. The outcome of this assault adhered to statistical expectations, ie. a disintegrated skimmer.
Lysander takes more shots to the face and gets reduced to a single wound. The piranha tries to take out the vindicator, to no avail. The mini-mecha remain locked in assault with the last remaining member of that combat squad. Game ends. I win with 3 objectives.
I had a lot going for me in this match. Not only were two out of three objectives in my deployment zone, the placement of opponent's objective ensured I could safely take it without him being able to do much about it. Getting night fighting and first turn helped immensely. I made the mistake of assuming my opponent would deploy around his objective, whereas I would've been better off putting my LR and vindicators into the middle. The battle itself was quite satisfying. For once, I didn't feel like a runt trying to survive in a world of big hungry dogs, my army played like an actual marine force rather than some weird power armored gunline. Even my tactical marines were pretty reliable, fending off threats and doing their job without needing specialist units to babysit them. Feels good man.
THIRD BATTLE – LUKA'S DAEMONS
Kill points. 12” deployment. He had two units of plaguebearers, a bunch of khorne dogs, four flying MCs, and a great unclean one. It was basically the same list as what Nenad, the daemon player who steamrolled me twice before, tended to field, only weaker and more boring to play against. Seriously, not only did deployment take forever, we also had to spend about 10 minutes rolling for a bazillion different lesser, greater, exalted etc. gifts for his MCs, and then every turn each one of his MCs had to cast 2-3 buff spells and then I had to roll separately for all of my units to see if it would suffer a syphilis outbreak or something. Opponent also managed to seize the initiative and zoom into my no-skyfire face on turn 1. It was so pointless I conceded on turn 3. The entire battle can be summed up with this picture:
This was kinda depressing. 6th edition is imbalanced to the point where I literally have no idea how to beat certain armies without resorting to stuff like mass fliers or spam-laden gunlines or other such obnoxiousness. Whatever balanced all-comers army I come up with, even with allies, ends up being hard-countered by certain other common list types. I find I enjoy the game a lot when I play against Imperium/CSM armies, yet the entire ruleset turns into rock-paper-scissor-rapetrain as soon as I find myself facing xeno/daemon dexes, with both me and my opponent playing on autopilot towards a predetermined outcome. Combine this with the cost of new models, the fact I already have a ton of unpainted stuff, and StarCraft being a lot of fun at a much lower expense, and I can't see myself expanding my 40k army much in the foreseeable future.
Don't take me wrong, I'll still keep playing 40k, reading Black Library novels, attending local tournaments, and writing battle reports. It's just that sometimes the flaws become so glaring they take a heavy toll on the fun factor, and even the most devout space marine commander finds himself beset by doubt.
THOUGHTS ON THE NEW DAEMONS CODEX:
Short version: Flamers and Screamers got nerfed. Best day of my life.
Long version: Looks like a stillborn to me. Nothing in the book strikes me as anything other than mediocre, subpar, gimmicky, and/or boring. It kinda reminds me of 4th ed Tyranids; a bunch of expensive MCs supported by a mass of fast expendable infantry... Except now the MCs can fly and you can't customize anything. Maybe they're gonna be putting out some strong balanced lists, but I doubt it (except of course the mass flying MCs lists, which are going to be the bane of all-comers armies in much the same way cronair and other such stuff already is). The new chariots share the same basic design as Land Speeder Vengeance, which is to say they're glass cannons that will at best get a single shot off before they're wrecked. Unlike the Vengeance, however, they look awesome and are quite affordable points-wise so we might actually see them on the tabletop.
As for the randomness... I shit you not I puked a little in my mouth when I saw the warp storm chart and all the random weapons/powers people are supposed to keep track of. 6th edition already has craptons of dumb rolls that rarely have any effect aside from slowing down the game (Remember that time when you actually used the mysterious objective bonus that allows the unit holding it to reroll to hit rolls of 1? Yeah, me neither.) and now you get to throw a die for every unit on the table, pretty much every single turn, and then, if one or more of those is a 6, you get to roll some more to scatter/wound/save. In other words, not only does it make the shooting phase a drag, this totally random, totally unavoidable, totally godawful table is as likely to cause your daemon opponent's units to self-terminate as it is to completely ruin your day, and there's not a thing you can do about it.
Nevertheless, this book is a good thing. Daemons are no longer playing a different, easy-mode version of 40k. In other words, they now have to worry about fundamental game mechanics such as deployment, cover, instant death, and getting their expensive close combat dudes neutered by an empty rhino with a big “HAHA I JUST DELAYED YOUR CHARGE BY ANOTHER TURN, BITCH” sign on it. This means they'll require a lot more skill and forethought in order to be successful, especially if their units are as underwhelming as they seem at first glance. Keep in mind that, if I'm correct and they turn out to be a weak dex, it's still better for the game to contain a few garbage books that have a hard time winning, than it is to sport a couple super-duper-broken armies that everyone has to play/ally with in order to stand a chance in a tournament.
THOUGHTS ON STARCRAFT 2: HEART OF THE SWARM
The long awaited first expansion for SC2 has finally arrived and it's a truly fine piece of software. Aside from all the usual content (terrains, units, maps, achievements, campaign, cinematics, improved graphics, etc.), it also provides unranked matchmaking system as well as a vs computer matchmaking. These are designed to instantly put you up against opponents of a skill level roughly equal to your own, but without actually affecting your league placement. This makes it an excellent option when it comes to getting back into the game or testing new strategies before applying them on the ladder. There's also a leveling system, meaning you gain experience points from killing and building units, which is a fun mechanic similar to achievements. Oh and, we can once again see our win-loss record in ranked matches.
The single-player campaign has awesome gameplay. Each mission has its own gimmicks and unique elements, while the between-missions evolutions and dialogues on board the leviathan are entertaining, useful, and overall far better executed than that Hyperion crap from Wings of Liberty. Multiple choice missions have been done away with, praise the Omnissiah, characters follow the quality over quantity philosophy, and the annoying newscasts have gone the way of the squats.
The story itself is an unbelievably god awful mess. Even if you're the sort of
video gaming enthusiast who isn't bothered by inconsistent
characterization, plot holes so numerous and massive a fleet of
battlecruisers could fly through them, or the kind of frustrating
retcons that make a mockery of established fluff for the sake of
throwaway missions, you still can't help but be annoyed by the sheer
amount of Hollywoodesque cliches, deus ex machinas, and terrible
writing on display. If there's one positive thing that can be said
about HotS story, it's that it at least has a character arc and a
meaningful progression, unlike the schizophrenic filler-laden
clusterfuck that was WoL narrative. Seriously though, that's like
saying Revenge of the Shit is better than The Phaggot
Menace, or that AIDS is preferable to cancer. It's probably true,
but you still wouldn't want it on your worst enemy.
In case you're foolish enough not to take everything I say as gospel, here's a fantastic article on WoL story, as well as a great (if a little soft around the edges) post about the shortcomings of HotS narrative. And another one. The internet is also full of people pointing out inconsistencies and plot holes, so do some googling if you feel like making yourself sad.