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Thursday, July 28, 2011
Ard Boyz 2011 (You need to table)
After you get done reading them, come back to the thread.
From there, yes go ahead and get all the /facepalm out of the way on the missions. It's Ard Boyz. Nothing is going to change on the missions.
Okay now, Ard Boyz scenario thought?
Scenario #1: (I find it absolutely hilarious that your Space Marine will get a WORSE armor save when he becomes a traitor).
Table Table Table.
That's the only thing you can rely on in this mission. The massacre spread is 10 KILL POINT. YES T - E - N! The reason for that is that they want to give you 5 KP for killing the traitor. This is fail for a lot of reasons...
Reason #1) If you both kill each others Traitor, you still have to win by T - E - N KILL POINTS to get max points.
Reason #2) What if you have to play against Orks and he shoves your Traitor into a 30 man mob and parks them at the back of the board, in cover, going to ground? How about a Guard player who castles up in a corner and places your traitor all the way in the back corner completely out of LoS. GG you lose.
Table. Table. Table.
That's the only way you can reliably win this mission. I'm half-way tempted to say, F scoring units if you don't want them. Go all Death Company.
Scenario #2) But we need our troop choices for this one. Or do we?
5 objectives, worth varying points. Clearly, the objectives in the center and unclaimed quarters are the money. In fact, to win this game, all you need to do is hold the Center + Any other objective. Then contest one.
My best advice is still.....
Table. Table. Table.
Because you need a F - I - V -E point spread to get a massacre. Yes, that's right. FIVE! That means, to get a massacre, you need to either prevent your opponent from claiming anything while you claim a bunch (or center). Maybe his own objective but no others.
By the time you do that...
You've all but tabled him.
Or you are playing some that can squat board center like a boss. Like Horde Orks for example? Maybe even some GKs?
The easiest way to massacre here will be to table. Other than that, you do need to include some minimal scoring units in your tabling list.
See, with the combination of Scenario #1 and #2, you need to table to massacre. If you don't massacre at Ard Boyz, you lose! We already know this.
Straight up VP.
But you need a 1100+ point spread to massacre.
What does that mean?
I could seriously see you pulling this off with no scoring units.
Friday, July 22, 2011
Competitive List Building Theory Part 3: Survivability
The next pattern that I see in the majority, again not all, competitive lists is a theme of survivability. It’s not just how “killy” a list is but how long it can stay on the table that seems to be on the minds of competitive list builders.
Let’s examine some of the ways in which “survivability” gets conveyed onto a competitive list. It might not quite be in the way you think it is.
What is Survivability?
It’s a little more than just how much it takes to kill a unit. I define survivability as the amount of punishment an entire army can take and still remain in effective, fighting AND objective claiming condition. Often, I might look at this as the number of rounds a list can hang in there. Can they withstand 5 turns of the enemy? How about 6? 7? When assessing overall survivability in a list, you need to consider the following key points:
You’ll Be Killing Them Too
You don’t just look at something like “the number of bolter shots I can take before I die” as a good measure. Really, measuring survivability is a lot less scientific than that. You need to factor in a “feel” for a lot of variables because, honestly, it’s a non-deterministic system. (In other words, you’ll never have a 100% answer just because of probability.) One of the big factors to keep in mind is that the list itself will also be dishing out damage as well as receiving it. If the list is dishing out damage, it is thereby also reducing the amount of incoming damage in subsequent turns, thusly increasing survivability.
Quantity or Redundancy
Part of the definition of survivability is your ability to stay in fighting and objective claiming condition over the long haul of a game. If you have two easy to kill troop choices and bum rush forward, causing them to die in a hail of bullets, your survivability is low because you can no longer claim objectives. If you have 1 melta gun and no other Strength 9+ weapons in your army and run into a quad-Land Raider list, your survivability is low.
One of the ways to thereby increase your survivability is to increase the quantity of the units, weapons, or tools needed to survive. It’s easiest to see this concept in lists like Dark Eldar Venom Spam, where the sheer quantity of Poison and Lance shots increases survivability because losing one or two has little effect on the fighting condition of the army.
Many times, this goes hand-in-hand with Part 2 of this discussion which was taking very efficient units. Many times, these efficient units get taken again and again both because they are efficient and because it increases survivability.
Quality or Hardiness
Seemingly opposite, quantity versus quality, is the quality of the units in a list in terms of their overall survivability. Quality and quantity really are not opposites because these two concepts together define the overall survivability of the list. It’s some kind of weird math function which is the sum overall quantity of your units and their overall quality.
The easiest way to observe quality in terms of hardiness is the Thunder Shield Terminator. Here’s a guy who is very hardy with a 2+/3++. By having a decent “quantity” of that kind of “quality”, you increase the overall “survivability” of a list. Since units like those are hard to kill, the army stays in fighting shape, longer.
This isn’t the only type of quality to consider. Another type comes in the form of force multipliers. For example, Saga of the Majesty lets your reroll failed morale checks. Therefore, having Saga of the Majesty in your list increases your survivability because it will keep your units in fighting condition rather than fleeing.
Another example is the Deathwing Terminator. These terminators are fearless. Thereby, they have more overall survivability than a standard Vanilla Terminator even if they both come equipped with Thunder Shields.
Transport vehicles significantly increase the survivability of a list. Vehicle themselves are not all that great at surviving. In fact, many times vehicles are actually less survivable than infantry. However, when you combine a transport with a unit, you get a multiplying effect on the survivability of that unit. Why?
The answer is actually pretty easy. To kill the unit as a whole, you have to first employ special, heavy weapons to kill the transport. That means it takes rounds and dice rolling, especially against the vehicle damage chart to take out the transport. Once you finally make it through the vehicle, you now have to employ a wholly different set of weapons and tactics, namely killing infantry, to take out the passengers.
Let’s examine some commonly considered competitive style lists and talk about where the survivability is in those lists.
Let’s look at the Leaf Blower style IG list. Widely considered competitive, do you see the survivability in it? Transports are check. Quantity is check with vehicle and Chimera spam. Quality might be slightly lacking, (not really with 12 armor everywhere), but the ability of their efficient units to deal damage more than makes up for that. You can see that having that many melta, templates, lascannons, etc. increases their survivability by how they can shut down the enemy?
How about a Rhino Rushing Space Wolf list? Quantity in bodies and melta guns. Quality usually provided by a Saga of the Majesty. Transports.
Here’s a counter example. If we followed the first two articles in this series, first being Overwhelming the opponent, second being taking Unbalanced/Efficient units, I could come up with a list like the following:
Coteaz – 100
10 x Death Cult Assassins – 150
10 x Death Cult Assassins - 150
10 x Death Cult Assassins - 150
10 x Death Cult Assassins - 150
10 x Death Cult Assassins - 150
10 x Death Cult Assassins - 150
1 x Psybolt Dread – 135
1 x Psybolt Dread - 135
1 x Psybolt Dread - 135
This list should be competitive right? It’s taking what are arguably the most efficient, unbalanced units in the Grey Knight dex and is going to attempt Overhwlem with its incredible assault ability. Right?
The problem here is that this list has no survivability. Although gruesome in a fist fight, how long do you think those transport-less Death Cultists are going to stay in fighting condition when the enemy starts shooting at them? With nothing to hide behind or to protect them from the enemy, how long will those Dreads last? Sure, this list can kill the crap out you! However, it can’t survive multiple rounds.
Why Does Survivability Matter?
Why do competitive list builders seem to have a pattern of incorporating survivability into their lists? The answer is actually pretty simple! A game of 40K lasts at least 5 rounds. If your list runs out of gas by Turn 4, you’re going to lose more games than you win.
There’s a little deeper thought there though. I believe that most competitive players also understand that the longer you are in it, the more likely you are to win it. Ever heard of the rope-a-dope? Seen Rocky IV (not, the Mr. T one, the Russian one)? The truth is, the longer you stay in fighting and objective claiming condition, the more likely you are to turn things around if they start to go bad. Ever had a horrid round and thought the game was over right there? You hung in there though and ended up scratching out a win! Well, competitive players know this too. It might not be in the fore-front of their consciousness when building a list, but the core concept is in there somewhere.
So, go out and examine a few known competitive lists. Can you see the survivability in the list? Mr. Ben Mohlie always seems to impress with his Space Marines like he has done twice now at WargamesCon. The thing about Ben that always make me smile is that his lists look almost “battleforce” in nature, i.e. like a seemingly random amalgamation. Not to mention, it’s a Vanilla Marine list, not Blood Angels, Grey Knights, or Guard. Can you spot all three of the concepts discussed so far? Don’t forget about that Librarian because he’s a critical part of this topic!
Space Marine Libby in Power Armor + Null Zone + Gate of Infinity
5 x Thunder Shields
Rifleman Dread (2 x TLAC)
10 x Tactical Marines + Melta + Missile + PFist
10 x Tactical Marines + Missile + Flamer + Pfist
10 x Tactical Marines + Missle + Flamer + PFist
Razorback w/ HB
Land Speeder + Typhoon
Land Speeder + Typhoon
2 x Attack Bikes + Multi Melta
1 x Land Raider + Multi-Melta
Thursday, July 21, 2011
11th Company Shoulder Pads and Shields
Friday, July 15, 2011
Competitive List Building Theory Part 2 (Unbalanced and Efficient)
As a continuation to the first article, I’m going to bring up the next pattern that I see from competitive list to competitive list and that’s usage of the Unbalanced or Efficient Units within a dex to construct a list.
The reason I chose to use the word “unbalanced” as a potential unit descriptor is because I actually do want you to put your mind in the arena of unit to unit and codex to codex comparisons. Why? Because this is exactly what I believe the competitive list builder is doing as well. An unbalanced unit in terms of 40K is defined as a unit which is under-priced or over-powered or both in relation to other units within its own codex or other codices. How do you spot such an animal? Well, it’s not actually all that easy. In order to identify those kinds of units, you really have to compare them in some fundamental way to what else is available within the codex and the other codices towards performing the same “role”.
Or, you could just take the easy way out and do a little internet research and find them very quickly.
Either way, the goal of identifying the unbalanced units in a dex is to identify the roles they are intended to fill. Then, identify how well that unit fill that role in relation to their competition. If the unit is decidedly better at the role, especially for near or less than the same cost, they are better all around.
Often going hand-in-hand with the unbalanced units, the efficient units are those units which can accomplish a task or multiple tasks for a low amount of points in comparison to other units in their own dex or other codices. Often, a unit is an unbalanced unit simply because it is so efficient. However, a unit can simply be efficient and not terribly unbalanced in relation. Efficient units are those units which are simply just cheaper ways of getting a task accomplished, well. They aren’t necessarily unbalanced.
The distinction between these two is very finely drawn. The point, as far as this article is concerned, is that competitive lists are, almost without fail, full of these kinds of units. Indeed, many times, the most competitive lists will have nothing in them except these kinds of units.
Here are some easy examples so that we are on the same page.
Grey Hunters :
Grey Hunters are probably the most efficient troop choice in the game. Some may consider them unbalanced, and in a way, they kind of are in comparison to other codices given their points cost. They certainly are efficient though, bringing an above average assault capability along with assault weapons and a transport to the fight for better/cheaper than any other troop choice in the game can do. Okay, so that really does mean they are unbalanced in comparison. Compare To: Tactical Marines, Assault Marines, Strike Squads.
Entirely unbalanced and efficient. It transports. It moves fast. It blows up tanks. It has more weapons on it than a Land Raider. It even has extra armor. All of this for 130 points. Compare To: Ravager, Land Raider, Storm Raven.
Death Cult Assassins:
Extremely unbalanced assault unit. At 15 points a model, their ability to bring the pain in an assault even outstrips Terminators and Genestealers. They are also, easily, the most efficient combat unit in the game. Compare To: TH/SS Terminators. Genestealers.
A super-efficient transport. 14 armor starting at 90 points. It also carries Orks to the fight, giving them an extremely long charge range for very little points. Compare to: Land Raider, Storm Raven.
Big Mek w/ KFF:
Just a fine example of something being ridiculously points efficient. At 85 points, he can project a 4+ cover save for every vehicle within 6 inches. Compare To: A Librarian.
This vehicle can bring 12 poison shots, a 5+ invuln save, fast speed, and transport capacity for very little points. This unit is extremely efficient at its job. Compare To: Trukk. Rhino. Chimera. Wave Serpent. Razorback.
Pay 15 points and auto-win a combat, every time. Wait? What? This is an extremely unbalanced upgrade. Compare To: ?????
Pay 10 points and turn your Grey Hunters into a killing machine for a turn. Extremely unbalanced and efficient. Compare To: ????
Efficient in comparison. You pay only slightly more, but get the same TH/SS but with Fearless and a Cyclone attached. Compare To: TH/SS Terminators in Codex Marines, Blood Angels, Black Templar, Space Wolves, etc.
Guardsmen points costing but with a BS or 4 so they can actually hit. Combine this with the Chimera, and you have a very points efficient troop choice and tank buster. Compare To: Any other troop choice.
Hopefully, you are starting to see the point.
So, here’s your homework. Grab a list that is considered competitive. Just like last time, these are easy to find given tournament winners and the internet. Examine the list and identify the roles that those units are meant to take. I’ll bet you that the units filling those roles are the most efficient or unbalanced versions available in that codex. This of course doesn’t always hold true, but in general, this is a pattern you will find in the competitive list.
So, many times we see the word “spam” as a descriptor of a “competitive” list. The thing is that although this is somewhat true in some cases, it isn’t always. What will be true is that a competitive player will almost invariably stack the deck in his favor by selecting those units which are unbalanced or efficient. But, why?
The underlying reason is actually quite simple. If you are going to get into a fight and you get to select between the knife or the gun, which do you choose? You could say to yourself, “I’ll take the knife. That will be more fun and more challenging.” Most likely though, you will say, “well everyone else is probably going to pick the gun and if I don’t pick it too, I’m dead”.
So How Do I Identify Roles and Units?
Seeing patterns in lists is one thing but identifying how to build those lists is another. When we start delving into the realm of identification of list roles and efficient ways to fill them, you are moving into the realm of a competitive player. It’s issues like those that separate players, not lists.
Friday, July 8, 2011
Competitive List Building Theory Part 1(Overwhelming Element)
For a lot of semi-competitive gamers out there, I think there is a bit of a struggle to understand what makes one list competitive and another, not so much. Why do some people look at one list and say, “that looks competitive” versus another going “hmm, needs improvement”? What are the hidden elements of “competitiveness” that fit together?
I have recognized several patterns that exist in competitive lists. I thought it would be fun to share a few of those patterns and to get a conversation going about other patterns. Just for a little definition, a pattern is something that exists in the majority of competitive lists across all codices, not necessarily every list for the pedants out there who just can’t help themselves.
An Overwhelming Element
Almost every competitive list I see contains some kind of element in it that is intended to be “overwhelming”. Funnily enough, most competitive gamers don’t even fully recognize or even concede those points. I had a conversation once with a guy who was convinced his competitive list was super flexible and not as spammy as others when I had to remind him that although he might be using a variety, it was still an overwhelming amount of 12 front armor vehicles (speaking of an IG army of course) which is still a spammy concept.
Something in every competitive list I see represents an overwhelming concept. Before I get into my personal theories about why this is so, here’s a bit of banter to try and convince you of the point.
Overwhelming Shooting – Look no further than current GK builds with psycannons, dreads, and razor backs. How about Guard lists? Even Space Wolf lists with Long Fangs and a nice helping of Razorbacks. These lists intend to overwhelm the opponent with a good first or second turn round of shooty, alpha strike goodness. How many of armies can you think of that use this type of overwhelming theme? Black Templars? Loganwing? Even Orks?
Overwhelming Resiliency – These are those lists whose intent is to “survive” the entire game and win on objectives. This is the idea of packing in close to 50 Grey Hunters in a list and challenging your opponent to outlast you. This is the concept of stuffing 120 Orks on the board, spamming vehicles, or playing Deathwing.
Overwhelming Speed and Assault – Battlewagon Spam Orks? Cavalry Demons? A pack of Thunder Wolves and Thunder Lord? When I say the term “overwhelming”, this probably the first thing that comes to people’s minds. How about Storm Raven heavy lists?
Overwhelming Mech – Packing just a ton of vehicles on the board. The list overwhelms the opponent’s ability to kill all the Mech. This usually works best with things like IG and 12 Armor Spam, but it also works for Razor Spam and the like. It works like a champion for Eldar.
There are more, but here’s the point to keep it short and sweet. Almost every competitive list I see contains one or more underlying elements which attempt to “overwhelm” the opponent in some way. Examine some competitive lists and look at what I mean. Overwhelm with Bikes. Overwhelm with Genestealers. Overwhelm with a big alpha strike. On and on.
Why does this pattern seem to be so critical for a competitive list? I have a few arm-chair general theories on this.
The Simple Game Plan
I believe that most competitive players recognize that in order to be competitive, you need a simple game plan. The concept then is to formulate a game plan that you think will work against any army. I believe this for a couple reasons. The first is that we, as humans, aren’t as smart as we think we are. There is lots of psychological research out there which proves that the average dude thinks he is way smarter than he actually is and that everyone else is way dumber than they actually are. Cool, huh? It’s almost like arrogance is built into our species. We need a simple game plan because we’re actually just too darn simple to follow a complex one without making mistakes. That’s the key. Mistakes. Rather, avoiding them. The second reason is that a simple game plan allows us to ball up the complexity of 40K into something our “not really as smart as we think we are” brains can actually cope with. This is another natural phenomenon where human brains like to do the same thing “over and over” because we are so good with patterns and repetition. It’s also why it’s easy to step away from a game of 40K and critique why a player did something, when in reality, that player is putting a lot less thought into it than the outside observer. A lot of times, they are reacting off of habit, a habit formed by their game plan. To complex of a game plan and your brain has no snap to judgment calls. This means, more mistakes. This is also why practice is so darn important if you want to better your game.
An overwhelming element in a list generally translates to a simple game plan. What’s the game plan? Simple! Exercise this overwhelming element and beat the opponent about the head with it!
What’s my game plan? Simple! Spam 12 Chimera across the board, killing whatever, and controlling objectives at the end. Sound about right? Overwhelm with Mech and 12 Armor.
The Good Match-Up
Most lists which utilize an overwhelming element also come pre-packaged with a few very good match-ups that their over-whelming element will do really good against. An easy example would be Dark Eldar Venom Spam which attempts to overwhelm with speed and poison shots and has insanely good match-ups versus Demons, for example. An alpha striking guard list matches up insanely well against an elite, hammer force that attempts to overwhelm with assaults.
This ability to incorporate some “easy button” wins into a competitive list really helps out because at a tournament, if you happen to run into that guy, you’ve got an almost guaranteed win.
It’s another conversation entirely to talk about the merits of overwhelming in a certain way to create good match-ups. Because, as we all know, it also creates some bad match-ups too! That’s for another time.
Most highly competitive list builders also build their lists to win the mission objectives. Thus, they try to create overwhelming elements in a list which perform well. This should be common sense! Here are two examples to get off the ground.
If I am playing a battle points tournament, I want to overwhelm in terms of lethality, be It alpha striking, fast assaults, whatever kills the crap out of my opponent. Here, we see the realm of heavy assault armies like BW Spam Orks or ridiculous alpha/shooty armies like Razorback Spam Space Wolves.
If I am playing a NoVA style tournament, I want to overwhelm with resiliency. Whatever will keep my troops on the board at fighting strength the longest is win, especially if I can stay near board center and not give up many kill points! Here we see the realm of overwhelmingly resilient lists like Rhino Rushing Space Wolves, Chimera Spam, Ork Vehicle Spam, Horde style lists, etc.
Go and examine a truck load of competitive lists. How will you know which ones to look at? Look at what known competitive players bring to tournaments. Look at the lists that win tournaments.
See if you see like I do that almost every list contains one or more elements in it which feel like they are intended to “overwhelm” in some way. It may feel spammy, or intended to deliver a really hard punch through some aspect of it. See if you can spot the underlying overwhelming element because it isn’t always obvious.
And on the flipside, look at non-competitive average joe lists. How many pack in a workable “overwhelming” element. How about the codices we know aren’t very competitive right now like Necrons, Tau, and Tyranids. Do these armies struggle to find an “overwhelming” element that works?
Thursday, July 7, 2011
So, I need to get some models in by this weekend to be ready for the tournament on Sunday. I have to get them in, glue them (which with my hand zip kicker bottle I can now do in record time), paint them (which now that I've accepted I will never be able to paint well I can also do in record time!), and good to go.
So, I need 2 x Razorbacks and a Coteaz model. Coteaz is finecast now, and I'm thinking, cool!
Now, to start the story off, a couple of weeks ago I order up about 4 blisters of Death Cult Assassins and 2 Crusader models. Silly me, I didn't check the website for release dates. For a little flavor, I order Crusader Model #1 and Crusader Model #2. As it turns out, Crusader Model #2 hasn’t quite been released yet. This leads to my first complaint:
WHY IS IT ON YOUR WEBSITE TO ORDER IF IT’S NOT OUT YET?
There should be a GIANT BLINKING sign otherwise that says NOT OUT YET! If your concept is to allow pre-orders on the website, how about move all the pre-order stuff to a special pre-order page? Why bury it right along with stuff that isn’t pre-order?
Now, I’m not going to rage to much about this as I could have prevented the problem. This isn’t what I came here to complain about. It’s the solution that GW AUTOMATICALLY applied to my order that I came to complain about.
See, to fix the problem with the Crusader Model #2, they just took it off my order. They then shipped me the rest of the order after sending out an e-mail telling me what they did. At face value, this is a very good move because it means my entire order doesn’t get held up. +1 to GW for doing this.
However, the problem becomes that I’ve already paid Shipping on the entire lot. By taking it off my order and auto-sending it, stating that I can re-order the other model, I will now have to pay shipping again!
So, a couple of weeks ago I let it go. I had standard shipping anyways so no big deal. It’ll cost me a few dollars. I’m not begging for money or anything, so no biggy.
Then, this week happens.
I place my order on Sunday. I check and the release date on Coteaz is July 1st. As you know, Sunday was July 3rd. Now, I have to have those Razorbacks for this weekend. I can’t just have them here “maybe” on Friday because I have to put them together and paint. I need time. So, I opt for the super, duper express shipping which costs me a bundle, like $25-$30, whatever it was. I’m thinking this will be good as I will get them basically overnight and good to go.
Monday comes and goes. They haven’t even processed my order yet. I’m thinking this isn’t something to get upset about because Monday was July 4th. Maybe they had a holiday. Tuesday comes, and late Tuesday night, I get an e-mail stating that my order is “being processed”. It hasn’t even shipped yet. I also get an e-mail that says that Inquisitor Coteaz was not available, and he’s going to be taken off my order so it will ship.
WHAT!!!!!????? Not available and you are going to ship? I just paid you $25 for shipping and you are taking stuff of my order saying “well, you can order it again later?” The shipping I just paid was more than the model itself! Why should I have to pay it again because he’s on back order? Am I wrong here?
Not to mention, it’s now been 2 days on an order I’m clearly VERY ANXIOUS to get, and it still hasn’t shipped yet. To piss me off even more, the only reason I even ordered from GW was because of Coteaz. I could have gotten the Razorbacks from Warstore or Chaos Mail Order or Wargamers Lounge, and they would have shipped the same day, had it arrive at my door in 2 days, and I would have paid a normal shipping rate.
AND 20% OFF!
So, now I’m pretty mad about this. Another day goes by. Last night, Wednesday July 6th, I get an e-mail at 6 PM EST, which is the same time zone GW is in by the way, stating that my order is being shipped. Click on the Tracking Number to see its progress.
The Tracking Number in the e-mail is not a clickable link. Seriously? And to make it worse, there is no information in the e-mail about which shipping service they used so I can go their website and manually enter the number. Did you use USPS, FedEx, UPS, Pony Express????
But wait, there’s more. So, this morning, Thursday July 7th, I get an e-mail at 6:30 AM EST. It says, your order has shipped, and I should receive a tracking number e-mail. Hello? I got that e-mail yesterday. So, did the order ship yesterday or today? Because if it shipped today, and you didn’t overnight like I paid for, and it doesn’t arrive by today or tomorrow, I’m screwed because they probably don’t run on Saturday.
Now I’m worried that even my Razorbacks won’t get here. If my stuff isn’t here by Saturday, I’m going to be at a whole new level of nerd rage on this one.
And to make matters worse, guess who’s listed on my shipping manifest as of this morning? Inquisitor Coteaz. And I’ve paid for him too. He better damn well be in that box, and it better damn well get here by Friday.