Friday, 19 December 2014

It's Campaign Time!

Having spent 2014 being rightly teased for being uncharacteristically spammy and trying to be competitive in the UK 40k tournament scene, I have decided that the time is right to launch into a short campaign to get back to fluffy ways with my Tyranid Hive Fleet, Nemesis.
Picture from
Fellow 'First Company Veterans' club-mate Duncs and I have decided to play a series of games based around a Tyranid invasion of a Space Wolves outpost moon. I have knocked up seven sequential missions, where the result of each has an impact upon the next. These are fresh off the drawing board - I only started putting pen to paper on Wednesday - so they may need some tweaking, but I'm hoping they are good enough for us (and our wonderful Claws & Fists readers!) to try out immediately. If you do get the chance to playtest any of the missions, please post (constructive) comments below, but please remember these are intended for friendly play and are not designed to be perfectly fair or balanced!
So, without further ado, here is the campaign introduction and the first mission...
The moon of Svellgard, in it’s slow orbit around the ice world of Frostheim, is a vital link in the defences of the star system of Fenris. However, unlike it’s parent-world, Svellgard is a lush, verdant globe brimming with both carnivorous plant and animal life. It is this richness of bio-mass that has made Svellgard the target of a splinter-force of Hive Fleet Nemesis.
As the Bio-Ships divert their course toward Svellgard, the Tyranid hive-mind becomes aware that their presence has not been detected. The splinter-fleet glides silently into orbit, eagerly anticipating the rich pickings that lie in wait…
On the Imperial outpost Omega-K12 on Svellgard, a woefully small garrison of Space Wolves mans the orbital defence laser batteries there, tending the servitors and monitoring the skies for signs of impending attack from the chaotic forces which issue forth from the Eye of Terror. Much later, it was noted with bitter regret that the threat came not from that spacial warp rift, but from the freezing void of deep space.
Suddenly, and with no warning, the vanguard elements of a Tyranid invasion force spewed forth upon the unsuspecting moon. Tyrannocyte spores descend, eerily silent as they deliver their deadly cargo to the surface below. Meanwhile, great beasts swoop down on tattered leathery wings, spitting parasitic death from grotesque biological mutations symbiotically attached to it’s monstrous parent…
To represent the hive-mind choosing their preferred landing site, the Tyranid player places the terrain on the board. Each 2’ x 4’ section should have D3+2 pieces of terrain on them.
The Imperial defender then chooses board edge and deployment type.
The Imperial player must choose a single fortification as Part of their army list.
All Tyranid forces must start the game in reserve. Any units with the Deepstrike rule must enter the game via Deepstrike; all other units enter the game from reserve in the normal way.
The Tyranid player may not take any fortifications.
Primary objective (10pts): The Tyranid player wins by destroying the Imperial fortification.
The Imperial player wins by preventing the fortification from being destroyed.
Secondary Objective (7pts):
‘Modified’ Maelstrom Cards (see Caledonian Uprising 2015 rules pack – thanks, Tim King!)
Tertiary Objectives:
First Strike (1pt)
Slay the Warlord (1pt)
Line Breaker (1pt)
(NOTE: Tabling your opponent automatically gives the winner a 20-0 victory!).
If the Tyranid player succeeds in destroying the Imperial fortification, he gains a single orbital bombardment to use in the next game. The orbital bombardment is fired at BS3. It is strength 7, AP-, Ordnance Barrage D3, Large Blast, one use
If the Imperial player prevents the destruction of the fortification, he may give the Interceptor special rule to one unit, for one game turn, in the next game. 

Thursday, 20 November 2014

Help! Team Member Needed for Tournament 29-30 November

Help! We are a man down for our 40k team which will be entering the 'Allies of Convenience' tournament at Sanctuary Games in Sutton-in-Ashfield (near Mansfield) on the weekend of 29-30 November.

If you play 40k and you are free that weekend, I am desperate to hear from you!

Currently our team is:

Graham (me): Eldar
Darren: Imperial Knights
Chris: Deathwing Dark Angels

If you play a different army to those above, and are free to play for both days, please post below and I will get in touch with you ASAP.


Thursday, 13 November 2014

Blog Wars Report

On Saturday I took a 'tame' Eldar Serpent Spam list to Blog Wars. As Blog Wars is a 'friendly-competitive' tournament, I decided to ask the event organiser Alex Brown (of the excellent From the Fang blog) to check over my list, to make sure it wasn't too OTT! Happily (for me) Alex was happy with my list, and so my army list was as follows:
Dino-Riders for the Win!
HQ - Prince Yriel
EL - 5 x Fire Dragons
APC - Wave Serpent w/Holo-Field, Spirit Stones, TL Scatter Laser & Shuriken Cannon
TR - 5 x Dire Avengers
APC - Wave Serpent w/Holo-Field, Spirit Stones, TL Scatter Laser & Shuriken Cannon
TR - 5 x Dire Avengers
APC - Wave Serpent w/Holo-Field, Spirit Stones, TL Scatter Laser & Shuriken Cannon
TR - 5 x Dire Avengers
APC - Wave Serpent w/Holo-Field, Spirit Stones, TL Bright Lance & Shuriken Cannon
TR - 5 x Dire Avengers
APC - Wave Serpent w/Holo-Field, Spirit Stones, TL Bright Lance & Shuriken Cannon
5 x Windrider Jetbikes w/1 x Shuriken Cannon
5 x Windrider Jetbikes
2 x Warwalkers, each w/Bright Lance & Scatter Laser
So, yes - a very strong list! Though at 1850pts, there are filthier builds - triple Wraithknights, for example - so it could have been worse (yes, I'm still trying to justify it to myself, event after the event!).
My first game was against Blog Wars virgin Luke Capper, who was running an assault-themed Dark Eldar infantry list, supported by two Raiders and a fighter-plane (sorry, the exact type escapes me!). The mission was simply to kill the enemy, with points scored equal to the points-worth of each enemy unit destroyed. Unfortunately for Luke it was simply a poor match-up, with my Serpents able to deal with Luke’s foot-marching infantry quicker than they could cover the ground to get into close combat. There were still a few moments of excitement however, as I charged my Wraithknight into the forward line of Dark Eldar, only for them to take down the monstrous creature with their poisoned attacks. Oh well – you live and learn!
Game 1 result – WIN (1830pts vs 490pts)
My second round game was against Chris Benstead, a fellow veteran of all eight Blog Wars and a really top bloke. In fact, I’ve made around a dozen really good friends through Blog Wars, which is the main reason I keep going back!
Chris was using an Iron Warriors Chaos Space Marine army, comprising a ‘dakka’ Heldrake (the one with the Autocannons) beautifully modelled as a Hell Blade,two three-man Obliterator units, a Dreadnought, a couple of CSM squads with double plasma guns in Rhinos, a Vindicator tank, a couple of units of cultists, and Abaddon leading a squad of three Terminators.
The mission was to claim objectives; ten points for the central objective, fifteen points for your opponent’s objective, and five points for keeping your own.
The game was dominated by one factor – Chris’ terrible dice luck! The amount  of ‘1’s that Chris rolled when rolling to save his Obliterators was frankly shocking – I killed five of the six Obliterators in the first turn, which destroyed most of his high-strength anti-tank capabilities. After that, I managed to immobilise his Vindicator, after which it was really just a case of staying over 24” away from it’s Demolisher Cannon to avoid it’s strength ten template of doom.
On turns four and five I crept forward, holding the middle ten-point objective with my Fire Dragons, and using my Serpents and Dire Avengers to try to winkle Chris’ Cultists and Dreadnought out of the large ruin where they were steadfastly defending his objective. By turn five, though, I had left my advance a bit late, and Chris was holding his home objective still, and he had teleported in Abaddon and the Terminators to steal my home objective from some rather delicate Jetbikes which had previously been minding their own business guarding!  So at the end of turn five, despite only having about six or seven models actually left on the board (and me having only lost a couple of Serpents and a few Jetbikes), Chris had the game sewn up...
So it was with a large amount of trepidation that we asked Matt Greenwood to roll a dice for a possible turn six. Luckily for me we did get another turn, during which I was able to clear Chris’ remaining forces off the board, giving me a 25-0 win on primaries and 3-0 win on secondaries. The game was a great laugh though and I’m glad that Chris hung on to have a chance of the win in turn five, after the disastrous dice rolls he had suffered earlier in the game!
GAME 2 RESULT – WIN (28-0)
By round three my nose was beeding, as I found myself on table two! Two decent wins had propelled me to uncharted territories, and I found myself up against a fluffy (and hard-as-nails!) Plague Marine army played by David Irving, another Blog Wars first-timer. David’s army consisted of four units of seven Plague Marines (each toting two Melta Guns each), Typhus and some Terminators  in a Land Raider, with two Heldrakes in reserve (a flamey one and a shooty one).
The mission was to gradually rack up points at the end of each player turn by claiming the three fixed objectives placed along the centre-line of the board.
I set up first and spread army along my board edge (pitched battle deployment) , with the Serpents a few inches back from my 12” deployment limit. My main concern was the serious amount of Melta that David’s Plague Marines were packing! I was perhaps too conservative with my deployment, but more of that later.
David set up to mirror me, with his Plague Marines right on his 12” line. His plan could only be to march forward onto the objectives, Melta away my Serpents and then try to survive my return fire with his 3+ save and 5+ feel no pain. My plan was to therefore stay out of Melta and charge range (close assault is easily the best way to kill Wave Serpents!) until I had taken out the Plague Marines, and then to push forward and claim the objectives.
The game turned out pretty much as I expected. I got first turn and concentrated the high-strength shooting of my Wraithknight, War Walkers and Bight Lances on the Land Raider, which satisfying blew up. David did suggest that this was a mistake and that I would have been better killing off the Plague Marines first (true) but I didn’t want a situation later in the game whereby I had nothing left to kill the Land Raider with. Anyway, it was gone, and so I started to whittle down the Plague Marines. This took a long while, as I have very little AP3 fire, so a 3+ save followed by a 5+ FNP meant the tough little buggers were very hard to dispatch!
In his turns, David pushed forward and parked his Rhinos and Plague Marines on the central objectives. This gave him opportunity to rack up points early in the game, but did mean that he was horribly exposed to the full weight of fire from my Serpents, Fire Dragons and Dire Avengers. As the game went on, things slowly began to swing my way. By turn five I had wiped David off the two outer objectives, and I began to rack up points. At the end of turn five it was 8-7 to David. At the end of my turn six it was 8-8 and at the end of David’s turn six I picked up the one more point I needed and I ended up winning 9-8 on primaries, and 2-1 on secondaries.
The game was very tight and with hindsight, I could perhaps have been slightly more aggressive in my early turns. This would have left my Serpents more exposed to Melta shots (though a 3+ jink is of course very useful in avoiding most of those!) and close combat assaults from the Plague Marines, but I would have racked up more points in the early turns – and consequently prevented David from getting so many points in his early turns.
GAME 3 RESULT – WIN (11-9)
So, three games and three wins! This is unprecendented for me, though of course largely attributable to the army I took. Was skill involved? Absolutely – you still need to correctly order your firing priority and make sure your scoring units are in the right place at the right time! BUT, the army (especially the Wave Serpents) certainly does make the job a damn sight easier.
In the end I came third. My last game, although a win, was only a small victory, whilst the guys around me managed more comprehensive victories and so they took the overall win. The top three places all belonged to Eldar (how telling!) and the top three looked like this:
# 1 - Daniel Lane
# 2 - Daniel Russell
# 3 - Graham Sanders
Well, what can I say? I’m delighted! After the absolute stuffing I’ve received at most of the tournaments I’ve attended over the last four years, I am happy to finally place in the top three. What I’m most happy about is to have an army which gives me the chance to regularly compete for wins, rather than have an army which can only compete in very specific circumstances.
Of course, I do feel a bit ‘dirty’ for taking such an obviously strong list to Blog Wars. I will be taking a very similar list to Caledonian Uprising in January, where I will have no such qualms – Cally is an absolute dogfight and ‘tough’ lists such as Serpent Spam are the norm!
For the next Blog Wars, I will tone things down a bit. Since the new models were released last week, I am re-enthused about Tyranids and so I shall try and build a competitive list using Tyrannocytes, Maleceptors and the ubiquitous Flying Tyrants. I always enjoyed playing ‘Drop-Pod Nids’ so that is my next challenge!

Joining the Heresy

I have recently started work on my next army, which will be a Heresy era Death Guard army for 30k. I have been a big fan of the Heresy fluff for years now, having first read the stories in the side-bars of the old first- and second-edition rulebooks and compendiums back in the early nineties when I were a lad!
My original plan was to build an uber-assault World Eaters army, but I find white so painstaking to paint that I quickly went off that idea! My second idea was Death Guard. I have always loved the Nurgle fluff, and so they were a perfect match for me. Whilst I still want to build an all-out assault army at some point (I will eventually build an all-Khorne Berzerker army for 40k), I also like the idea of putting one hundred foot-plodding infantry on the table, implacably marching forward to destroy the enemy at mid-range in a hail of plasma and missiles.
As for models, I picked up a massive load of old Space Crusade marines for a very low price on eBay. I love these old marines with their one-piece static pose, which I think suits the steadfastnature of the Death Guard very well indeed. To make the models look a bit more '30k', I swapped the backpacks for CSM backpacks, and I have drilled and glued tiny 1mm ball-bearings * into the left-hand shoulder pad of every single marine, which took a while but certainly makes the models look the part for the Heresy era.
* Actually, the 1mm ball-bearings are really 'nail caviar' which glamourous ladies use to look all posh, apparently. Ask yer missus!
Anyway, here is my first test-piece. The light-grey paintwork on the armour is a bit patchy and needs a second coat, but otherwise I'm very happy with the result. Now, to paint the other ninety-nine....

Saturday, 8 November 2014

Blog Wars 8 - Sneak Preview!

This weekend saw the eighth(!) running of the always-excellent Blog Wars tournament, the friendly-competitive event run by Alex of 'From the Fang'.

I will write a full report later in the weekend, however for now here is a picture of my swag from the day...

Not a Bad Day's Work!

Monday, 20 October 2014

Painful Mistakes and the Absent Blogger.

Seeing Mick getting back on the scene (and pumping out the Blog content) got my typing fingers twitching but I’m just not inspired to write anything about 40K right now, fear not I’ll be attending two large tournaments in the next 3 months so I’ll have something to write about in the near future. This being said I hope you’ll forgive me a digression.

I was a World of Warcraft player for many years. I rolled a Tauren Shaman a few short weeks after release and then signed up with a guild called The Suffering almost as soon as I spawned in Mulgore. I pretty much embedded myself there for the best part of 5 years as I worked my way up to being on the Guild Council as a Raid Leader. With the relentless quest for loot, raiding: from the first tentative steps into 40-man raiding in Molten Core to confidently having Illidan “on farm” and even the occasional Guild meet up (in the real world), this was the most fun I’d ever had simply playing a computer game.

Inevitably however real life began to invade my wonderful little fantasy world and I managed to extract myself from the game some time in 2010. I still pop back in on occasion to dust off my Shaman and a few of my other alts but without the Raiding side of the game, it just doesn’t hold my attention like it used to.

There’s still a lot that I love about World of Warcraft (WoW), the lore, the design, the mechanics and the multiplayer nature of it, and therein lies the crux of it. I’ve always been a fan of playing games with other people, it’s one of the key reasons why I like 40K, whether competitive or co-operative (or both), that’s what really scratches my gaming itch. As is so often the way though, as I get older, the time I can dedicate to these gaming pursuits becomes less and less, so with WoW taking up 4 hours per night 3 times a week I just wasn’t going to be able to keep it up, particularly with a young family. Even 40K with its, perhaps, 3 hours per night 1 night per week demands, can be a bit tricky for me.

Enter Hearthstone.

I heard about this game via some friends who I still keep in touch with from my Guild so I thought I’d check it out. I’d never played a card game, like Magic or Pokemon, before but the theme was something I was all too familiar with so it felt very comfortable and non-threatening. The Hearthstone Heroes all reflected the aspects of their WoW Avatars, so I had somewhat of a head-start on understanding the abilities. The design is fantastic, both graphic and game design, it looks beautiful and plays simply but with a huge amount of depth. The final taste was the fact that it is (at the time almost exclusively) a player vs player gaming model. I was hooked!

As I dug a bit deeper into the game I started to relate deck building in Hearthstone to list building in 40K. As you may already know from the blog, list construction is one of my favourite aspects of 40K, theory-hammering out a list for a tournament and then playing it out to see if your expectations were met is something that really hooks me into the game.

Also the simplicity of the game makes it easier to play the odds in line with an overall strategy, something which is key to the success of many top 40K players. For example, if you know you want to control the board in Hearthstone and you know what cards you have in your deck, you can make intelligent choices with the cards you have in your hand to either flood the board with your cards, to trade advantageously or to simply bide you time knowing that you can clear you opponent’s board in a few short turns.

The game (or more accurately – your opponent) will also punish even small mistakes. One particularly fresh example of this happened to me only this past weekend. I was playing some Arena and I’d drafted a particularly mediocre Shaman deck. Arena is a game mode where you build a deck of cards from scratch by choosing the best card 30 cards from a pool of 90 shown to you 3 at a time of which you may only pick 1. Anyway, I was on 3 wins and was up against a Warrior who came out of the gates flying with a very aggressive deck and who was clearly not interested in trading with me. Every card he had just went straight for my face and before I knew it I was on 1 health and facing an opponent with 30 health and 2 additional armour. Queue the Rocky theme tune …

His aggression and my card trading had actually left me with a relatively strong presence on the board and I had a hand which I could use to protect my single point of health. Also to my advantage was the fact that it seemed that his deck had run out of steam. Over the next few turns I got just the card draws I needed and I took him down to 14 health, during the same period he’d been frantically working to get back some semblance of board presence and I was acutely aware of the fact that my single point of health wasn’t going to last much longer. Then all my defence was gone and I was staring down a board which I could not weaken enough to survive the following turn. However, I knew I had a card in the nine that were left in my deck which would give me the turn I needed to finish him off and I had a way to draw an additional card so I took the 1 in 9 chance …

Needless to say I was unsuccessful, but almost as soon as I spent the action to draw the card I realised that if I’d used that action to hit my opponent I would have had a lethal amount of damage which I could have dealt to him that turn and won! Oh the pain of blundering away a 32 point come-back (the heroes start with 30 points of health) simply because I was so focussed on board control at that point and I simply missed the fact that I had lethal if I’d only noticed it staring me in the face. It felt a lot like stretching a unit out to just barely get a single model into scoring range only to have you opponent charge them from the other side and pull them off just as the game ends.

Anyway, the lesson I learnt was to always calculate the damage available to me and compare it to my opponent’s health before making any actions. Even if you’re playing board control, you still want to win the game right?! I guess the broader lesson here is to not focus so much on a particular strategy that you forget about the overarching goal.

Lastly there's a final lesson here, and that it to never give up. Staring down a 30-1 deficit is pretty intimidating and I could well have thrown in the towel but there was a glimmer of hope in the cards I had in my hand so I played them to the best of my ability, and but for a stupid mistake, I could have won that game. To link this back to 40K, keep your focus in the mission, your opponent may be handing you your ass but there's more to winning the game than tabling someone. If you have the troops left you can still win it so keep your head in the game and stay focussed on you goals.

I hope that was at least somewhat interesting  and if Claws and Fists deems it worthy, perhaps I’ll post a few more Hearthstone stories in the future. Otherwise stay tuned for more 40K content in the coming weeks.

Saturday, 18 October 2014

Finding the character of an army

I know I started an army list review compared to what I was taking to tournaments back in fifth but because its Saturday the missus is out with the girls playing bus stop bingo all day (a game that involves carnage) and Liverpool play tomorrow I've got the day free to paint.

I've spent a lot of the week thinking about what I want this Wolf army to be. My last army was a typical baby blue based on snow with some nice shiny gold, they certainly looked like they'd just come off the parade ground but only a parade ground where the Amourer was missing a few fingers and possibly two eyes.

Just before I stopped playing I had painted a few pre heresy models which included a Contemptor with the new airbrush I had had. I based coated them with the normal chaos black spray and then used Vallejo model air German grey to give them an undercoat with a highlight of Vallejo model air light grey. I was really pleased with the results so I'm going to use that basic recipe but take it a step further.

This week I have been really impressed with a couple of videos I've watched the first I had seen before (link here) showed a style of painting Thirteenth company Space Wolves obviously the more pre heresy feel that I want. I really like the way Lester paints I'm taking a lot from this.

The other video I watched and this is the link the to the first part was about weathering a tank by OrcPainterNerd. I really enjoyed watching this video from start to finish. I want these wolves to look embattled, they've been stuck on a planet surrounded for months and had their resources slowly eroded and this shows in their armour. Of course they are Imperial so their armour is in a better state than the Death Guard but its still looking shabby.

I've decided to use some of the techniques from the video mixed with a scheme close to the one in the thirteenth company video so where does that leave me.

My 10 blood claws are all built and pinned to for ease of painting.

I have started off with a coat of Vallejo Satin Varnish because the weathering video suggested that it allowed paint to adhere better. Next step was a coat of chaos black, I would have preferred to undercoat skull white but I don't think it would have had the required effect.

The next stage is to spray around the models especially areas that would get scratched more with a mixture of Vallejo model air gun and aluminium, as in the weathering video this is going to be quite haphazard but as said I'll be concentrating with feet, hands and lightly everywhere else.

After that I'm going to go to work with the Weathering fluid I have bought, a light coat should give the required results.

I think that's as far as I will get today so look out next time for some pictures (I can't promise high quality)


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