The glorious return of the goat-fish-people!

Hey everybody!
That’s right, I’m back to playing with my burgeoning Tau force, after what feels like an eternity where I couldn’t decide where to apply my hobby focus. Truth be told, I’d almost left the hobby on the shelf these last few weeks, and have turned instead to sorting out my garden. Well, that’s now almost finished, but I’ve been keeping myself ticking over through one thing and another, then managed to get a couple of games in last Friday, and so I thought I’d ramble for a bit here once again about my Tau thoughts!

Having had my first game with the army almost a month ago, I’ve waxed and waned a little over them, until having an invitation to a game against another guy at my local GW, Kev, whose Deathwatch I’ve come afoul of before with my Necrons! With their new Codex out, though, I really fancied a Codex vs Codex battle, to see how things pan out.

Spoiler alert: pan out, they did not!

My list was mainly infantry this time around, with three units of 10 Fire Warriors, a Fireblade and the Coldstar Commander, along with the Broadside and a Crisis team. We were playing to 1000 points still, and I failed to get the first turn, which basically obliterated most of my army. Kev uses a Corvus Blackstar to stunning effect, and I think my Fire Warriors were just blown off the table before I could blink! He also likes to have a Dreadnought supporting his Watch Master, who affects the entire table for re-rolls in an almost perverse manner. Seriously, it was quite stunning to watch, but really stressful to play!

As the game was over so quickly, we had a smaller, 500-point game, which really played to my strengths as I have so many cheaper units as opposed to the Deathwatch, but while I had reduced his entire army to just the Watch Master, he still managed to kill off everything despite being inches from death. I definitely need to stay away from close combat as Tau!

So what did I learn from my second (and third) games with Tau? 

To begin with, I really need to have that first turn to survive! It’s nothing that can be guaranteed, clearly, but in my third game, I had first turn and obliterated a unit of Veterans between the Fire Warriors and Commander, as well as taking off a decent chunk of Dreadnought. The fire power is definitely there, so it’s something I’d like to really try to capitalize upon, and so I need to either have first turn, or survive to my own turn to retaliate.

Tau Empire Drones

I also need to hang much further back. I play Bork’an Sept, which makes my Fire Warriors with pulse rifles rapid fire from 18 inches, but I still deployed much closer to the centre than I should have! I had two units of Strike Team with a Fireblade between the two, and he never got to help them one bit! (I also learnt that Fireblades grant an extra shot to models within 6″, not units).

Hilariously, Fireblades can buff Gun Drones, which I used to some effect when taking on the Vanguard Veterans. If I’d read the data sheet properly, though, I would have seen that Gun Drones have two pulse carbines, and so I would be rolling six shots each, not three, so it is a little bit sour, that. I think I need more Fireblades in my force…

Gun Drones cost 12 points, whereas Marker Drones cost 10 points. However, Marker Drones only fire a single light, and if you miss with it, those 10 points were wasted. In the absence of a battlesuit equipped with Drone Controller, those Drones are hitting on a 5+, whereas for 8 points a piece, you can get a Pathfinder who will hit on a 4+. No brainer, especially since Pathfinders are the only ones who can take Pulse Accelerator Drones, granting those Fire Warriors a rapid fire range of 21″! Pathfinders are definitely something I should be including more often, especially when they come so cheaply and bring along helpful PAC drones!

I took three Gun Drones and 8 Marker Drones, and I think I need to alter that ration much heavily for the former. I also think Shield Drones are the better option if Pathfinders are in the team. Dashing round to intercept wounds is a much better deal, overall! I think it’s safe to say that I’ve learnt that Marker Drones are doing me no favours, and I need to concentrate on more Shield Drones, with a fair few Gun Drones where I can fit them.

I also need to remember my Stratagems! I can’t remember how many times my Commander has been charged, and for just 1CP I could be using Repulsor Impact Fields to potentially make them think twice about it, if they’re potentially suffering Mortal Wounds. Neuroweb System Jammer is also a good one – especially with the amount of silly buffs Deathwatch get. Putting them back to normal ballistic skill could be very useful! I’ve noticed that, in general, I tend to be quite conservative with my Command Points, and I think I evaluate the 2CP Stratagems much more seriously than the 1CP-cost ones.

Of course, this shouldn’t be an issue, considering I also bring the Puretide Engram Neurochip as my relic, but I continually fail to ever remember it! I think the relics and warlord traits are the two things I always seem to just forget, whereas I really ought to try and put more thought into this stuff…

Speaking of under-valuing things, I frequently get so confused by Grenades that I rarely use them. Certainly, I don’t think I’ve ever tossed a grenade with my Drukhari! Photon Grenades could work amazingly in Overwatch, again potentially dissuading someone from charging if they might have to subtract 1 from their own hits until the end of the phase.

What next?

Photon grenades bring me on to where I want to go next with the force, anyway. I talked a little about a gun-line in my last Tau blog, but I’ve now drawn up a different 1500-point list that I want to work towards. To allow for greater flexibility, I’ve decided to create a Core Army that can then be added to as I like. This core army consists of 1340 points, arranged across two Battalions and an Outrider detachment. In the first Battalion, I have the Coldstar Commander and a Cadre Fireblade, along with two units of 10 Fire Warrior Strike Team (each of which has a support turret with smart missile systems) and a 10-man Breacher Team. The second Battalion has the same three troops choices replicated entirely, along with an Enforcer Commander and another Cadre Fireblade.

The Breachers bring me on to a tangent here, as I was giving them both a turret and a Devilfish transport. It just makes no sense, as I want the Breachers to get a little closer than the Strike Team, given that their pulse blasters work better at closer ranges. However, they are Assault weapons, so there’s no need to give them a transport as I don’t particularly feel like I want them to move too far away from the main line. Instead, I see them as more of a harassment unit, taking objectives where required (more on this later) and also helping to protect the gun-line with For the Greater Good when required.

The Outrider is three full squads of Pathfinders, along with two Ethereals. If I have been undervaluing photon grenades, then I have done the Ethereals a massive disservice! Granting re-rolls of 1s in the shooting phase is massive, especially since I have no plans to move my Strike Teams anywhere!

Looking ahead, I want to get myself a Sun Shark Bomber. While I’m sad they’re currently out of stock everywhere, I would like to finally try some air support for the army, having never tried flyers in a game up to now. While I know it’s not like the Corvus, I would like to see how much damage I can wreak from the skies with this bad boy in the air. It’s also a different type of unit for me to use, and I like that. While I’ve never really gotten into using either a Dark Scythe or Voidraven for my Necrons or Drukhari, I think I’m actually excited to be using flyers here in the Tau!

The Gun Line

I’m currently envisaging a deployment where I have my four squads of ten Fire Warriors, possibly in two ranks of five, with an Ethereal between squads one and two, and another between squads three and four. Ethereals buff units within 6″, so that should work fine. Fireblades buff models within 6″ of him, though, according to the way I read it, though I’ve since been told it is the unit, so I think a similar situation will occur with those. I’m still a bit caught between using the Fireblades as Markerlight hits on 2+ or firing three pulse rifle shots of their own in rapid fire range, so I guess we’ll have to see how I’m feeling when the situation arises!

I’m adding in some Shield Drones to protect the Commanders and Ethereals as well, which I’m thinking to position roughly between the Fire Warriors and the HQs. I’m giving the Fireblades two Gun Drones a piece, so that they can do their thing there.

To bring it up to 1500 points, while the Sun Shark Bomber remains out of stock, I’m planning to include the Broadside and some more tactical drones for the time being, though I think I’ll eventually want a Hammerhead for the heavier support – when playing those games last week, the 6-wound Broadside was quite easily destroyed in a single turn of shooting – great as a distraction, for sure, but I would like a sturdier chassis for the big guns.

Painting Updates!

So that’s my rambling about the gameplay done, what about the painting?

While I do still need to get the Sept markings on him, by and large I’ve finished the Commander! I’m actually really pleased with how he’s turned out – the highlighting on the green hasn’t really come across that well in the photographs, but it looks nice and subtle. It’s taken me far too long to get this guy finished, mainly due to not having a clear idea for the paint scheme, but I think now that I’m more aware of where I’m going with it all, I should be able to get moving with some of the other units I have on the go right now. I did say that I was thinking about doing a sort of Tale of (One) Warlords thing here on the blog, and that I wanted to get the Start Collecting box finished by the end of April, but clearly that hasn’t happened! However, I want to next move on to finishing the first Fire Warrior team, alongside the Ethereal, before then moving on to Pathfinders and a Fireblade. I think if I can do that, having a squad and a character, it should help to keep me occupied by enough variety that I should be able to get through them all quickly enough!

And as regards the future of the army…

 

Warhammer Fest 2018 News!

Holy Buckets, guys!

I’m still trying to digest the amount of news that happened this weekend around Warhammer 40k, Age of Sigmar, and specialist stuff from Forge World. It’s just too much! Well, is there really such a thing as too much good stuff? Anyway, there was so much awesomeness coming out from Coventry that it’s taken me a while to process.

Where to begin? Well, let’s talk about new Stormcast stuff:

These guys were the bomb for me back when Age of Sigmar launched. True, they were new and shiny and all that, but I had an absolute blast painting up my Stormcast army as Lions of Sigmar, and to this day, I think some of my proudest work can be seen in this very Liberator:

And here he is, finished! #Warhammer #AgeOfSigmar

A post shared by Mark (@marrrkusss) on

They’ve had more guys over the last few years, for sure, and I can’t say as I was a big fan of the weird lizard-riding Scout-like guys, but now we’re getting Stormcast wizards in bona-fide wizard garb, and I think I love it! I’ve been dormant with Age of Sigmar for a long time now, but I think I may well be tempted to pick some of these chaps up when they arrive. The temptation is real!

Before that, however, it looks like we’re getting some super awesome looking new Nighthaunt models to go alongside Nagash and his Mortarchs, and these are also proving to be a temptation too far! I’m trying to remind myself how fiddly and difficult it was to put those Spirit Hosts together back in the day, but even so, they look beautiful!

That’s not all though, as next month, just three years after the game first launched, we’re getting a 2nd Edition of Age of Sigmar, which sounds like it’s taking on a lot of the fan feedback from these last few years, and could be pretty much amazing! The new edition is coming with gaming aids and objective markers and terrain that sounds very much like the Dark Imperium launch from last year, and it looks as exciting as all hell! I’m still somehow resisting getting myself back into fantasy gaming, as I feel like I’m too heavily invested in 40k at this point, but I’ll certainly be keeping a very close eye on the proceedings!

Moving away from fantasy and Age of Sigmar, let’s take a look at what’s happening in the grim darkness of the far future…

Well, they did say they were starting! This is a preview of the first Sister of Battle model that will be made available as a kind of vanguard for the main releases, and she does look pretty damn awesome. The detailing is incredible, and I love that scenic base! I’m 100% sure that I’ll be picking these girls up to add to my Imperial force once they’re ready. Cannot wait!

I know I can’t not mention this, as so many people are chomping at the bit, but I’m really just not that interested in Titanicus. It looks like it’ll be a fine game, don’t get me wrong, but I’m not that bothered in Knights in general, so can’t say as I’d want to play a game devoted solely to these big guys.

What I am excited for is the next gang for Necromunda, however! I still need to do a blog on this game, but it continues to excite me with every release, and having just picked up my Van Saar pre-order recently, I’m already excitedly looking forward to the Cawdors coming to join the fray! I love how the game has been expanding, and I can’t wait for more!

We’ve also seen the announcement of the next Horus Heresy book, featuring rules for Blood Angels and White Scars among others, and we’re getting a few Alpha Legion models, including the big man himself, who looks awesome, and I’m still seriously considering picking him up soon!

I wasn’t expecting this, however – and I think I’m still pretty amazed at the fact we’re getting a Necron Titan! The thing looks immense, and I’m not sure I have the house room for it, let alone the budget!

I’m trying very hard to resist a lot of these things due to gaming budget, however something that initially passed me by late last week is going to very much be an instant purchase, and that’s the Rogue Trader skirmish game that’s coming out later this year:

I mean, this thing looks just beautiful. I don’t mean the gameplay, I just mean the models. Its subject matter is just so weird and out of left-field, I saw the blurry leak photo and wondered if it’s not just some weird knock-off thing, but it turns out that it’s very real, and it looks incredible!

Those Nurgle beasties could easily be used for Drukhari Grotesques, but I think this is another game that could very easily be kept as a game, something I think is almost a bit weird with a lot of these GW games that aren’t Blood Bowl or Necromunda. I mean, how many people bought Deathwatch: Overkill because they wanted an actual board game? I’m still wondering if there will be a way to use the Rogue Trader part of this force in regular tabletop 40k, and I’m sure the Nurgle stuff will either get rules in the same way, or you’ll be able to use things like the cleaver-guy as a Beast of Nurgle or Herald of Nurgle, or whatever.

But the fact that it’s Rogue Trader says so much about how far GW has come lately. There’s such an air of nostalgia around the products they’re bringing, along with a determination to do their own past justice with stuff like the Genestealer Cults, Necromunda, and now this. It’s not just the fifth or sixth re-release of the same Space Hulk game, but they’re pouring effort into things because, I can only assume, it’s now clear that people actively want to see this stuff, and will buy it up like nobody’s business, and will clamour for more until the cows come home. The Nurgle stuff looks gross, as it should be – some of the models manage to capture the perfect essence of creepy and cartoon grotesque-ness that Nurgle is all about, for me – while the Rogue Trader contingent looks fancy as all hell, and exactly like Rogue Traders should look. Man, it’s making me want to read that Omnibus now!

I’m finding myself genuinely excited about this, and I’m loving the fact that we seem to be getting a regular stream of board games from GW around Christmastime. It’s awesome to see how many games they’re producing now, and I really hope that it’s a success and sees further support down the line!

Vampire thoughts

Hey everybody!
It’s game day once again here at spalanz.com, and today I have something that I think is fairly interesting to share with you all: I’ve been thinking once more about Magic the Gathering, and have made some tentative steps into getting back into the game!

Remember at the back end of last year, when I tried my hand at a B/W Vampires sealed deck? Well I’ve been trying to do something more with that, making it more interesting while keeping it just within the Ixalan block rather than trying to be a full Standard experience. Well, I’ve been shuffling about with things, and while it might not be the best of decks out there, I thought it was cool enough that I wanted to share it here for game day!

Creatures
Bloodcrazed Paladin (2)
Anointed Deacon
Sanctum Seeker
Vicious Conquistador (2)
Skyblade of the Legion
Duskborne Skymarcher (2)
Legion Lieutenant (2)
Bishop of the Bloodstained (2)
Inspiring Cleric
Paladin of the Bloodstained
Skymarch Bloodletter
Elenda, the Dusk Rose
Vona, Butcher of Magan

Instants & Sorceries
Pride of Conquerors
Rallying Roar
Vampire’s Zeal (2)
Costly Plunder (2)
Call to the Feast (4)
Arterial Flow (2)
Queen’s Commission (2)

Enchantments
Raiders’ Wake
Mark of the Vampire

Artifacts
Pillar of Origins (3)

Lands
Unclaimed Territory
Forsaken Sanctuary (4)
Swamp (9)
Plains (9)

One of the things I really wanted to try with this build is making a ton of Vampire tokens, getting really aggressive with them, and if they die, then they just make Elenda bigger – or the Bloodcrazed Paladin, of course, if I can flash him in for a few +1/+1 counters. Having a lot of pump spells in there also should help to make those tokens more than just meh, and I particularly like things like the Sanctum Seeker and Bishop of the Bloodstained for causing direct life loss rather than having combat as the only way to win with an aggro deck.

I’ve built a lot of Vampire decks along the way, of course, and while I think I’ll always prefer B/R Vampires such as this deck from Shadows of Innistrad, I do like the way that Black and White plays in general, which is why so many of my decks over the years have been in these colours. I should also look into building a Mardu Vampires deck – along with building up this deck to a full 60 cards, I’ve had a number of thoughts on tinkering with the Edgar Markov Commander deck from last summer, too.

I think there is plenty that can still be done to this deck to improve it, and to that end I’ve got a few singles on order to help refine the play somewhat, including a second copy of Elenda. My first build of any deck tends to be a little bit wild as I try to jam in as many copies of interesting cards as I can, before finally trimming things down to more efficient methods. I mean, the aforementioned B/R Vampires deck ran like a dream, and I’d like to see if I could do the same thing with this build in B/W.

Crucially, I’ve had no opportunity to test this deck yet, so I’m hoping that I’ll have some further insights once I’ve managed to get in a few games. My time for Magic-playing has been almost non-existent for the past year, so I think I need to re-evaluate things and see if I can get back into game nights and whatnot!

Anyway, I think the fresh new look of Dominaria has gotten me intrigued enough that I’m once more buying Magic products and seeing what’s occurring in the multiverse, and I’m excited to see what’s coming up next in my deckbuilding adventures!

The Last Jedi… again

Hey everybody!
It’s May 4th, so it’s now compulsory to write about Star Wars!

I recently watched The Last Jedi for the second time (I know, it’s shocking), having picked up the DVD upon release. When I first saw it back in December, I felt like there was a lot going on, and the film does still feel quite busy in that respect. There feels like a lot of chaff included, and the Battle of Crait at the end did feel a little… not a let-down per se, but it certainly didn’t feel like the climax the film had been building to. I guess we have a few mini-climaxes throughout the film, such as Rey vs Kylo Ren.

Star Wars The Last Jedi

When I watched The Force Awakens for the second time, it somehow felt a lot more like a Star Wars movie than when I’d watched it in the cinema. With The Last Jedi, however, I’m still in that middle ground of kinda liking it, but it still feels really weird and different to everything that went before it.

Now, I did like the fact that the film plays a bit with the idea of everyone having to have an iconic story. The fact that Rey comes from nothing is superb, to me, and I really hope they keep that in episode IX, rather than it being one of these “from a certain point of view” lines. It had been a fear going into the film that Rey would turn out to be Luke’s daughter, but thankfully that doesn’t appear to be correct…

Star Wars The Last Jedi

I mentioned earlier that there is a lot of chaff in the film, and I think this primarily surrounds the Resistance storyline, as they’re chased through hyperspace. There is definitely an attempt to build a lot of tension for this whole arc, but it just feels robbed of that when Finn and Rose head off to Canto Bight. And that whole gratuitous cameo of Maz… I really like her character, I just wish she could either come back in a better way, or else be left out altogether. It just made no real sense for Poe to know her, somehow.

I think the whole Canto Bight thing would have been better left out, and Finn and Rose had to just try to sneak aboard and disable the thing themselves…

I’m really not trying to say that I hate the film, like so many others have filled the internet with since last year. I think there are a lot of areas that I find a bit jarring, and I would have preferred to have seen certain aspects handled differently for what (I think) would have been a smoother finish. However, some of these things – Admiral Holdo coming out of nowhere etc – are likely down to the fact that the film is still quite new, and I’m finding its place within the universe, etc. Given another viewing, and maybe given the chance to read some of the material around it, I’d have something different to say…

Star Wars The Last Jedi