Friday, 28 December 2012

Review of 2013 - A Personal Reflection

Ok, so it's a little early but it's nearly that time again where we all stop, take stock of the past 12 months and begin to think about the year ahead! 
This year saw the culmination of quite a long-term plan for me, which was to field an army of Squats in 40k. And not only did I achieve this goal, I also won a prize for it! At the Blog Wars IV tournament in December, my army was voted Best Painted, which was a total shock but also very gratefully received. The army has been quite a labour of love for me...
It all started back in December 2009 when I had the idea if writing my own codex for the Squats. I researched other Squats codexes on the tinternet and found that the 'market' was actually quite saturated, but the vast majority of them were revisions and re-imaginings of the old second edition army list. There is of course nothing wrong with that in ess ence, however in my opinion the Squats can be so much more than bikers with Thudd Guns and STC Rhinos & Land Raiders - in fact it smacks of a lack of imagination and vision.
So I began to think about what gives the Squats their unique character, and for me it comes more from Epic than it does '28mm' 40k. In that system, the Squats were far more fully fleshed out as a race, especially in terms of their technologies - Termite, Mole and Hellbore tunnellers, Overlord airships, Iron Eagle gyrocoptors and (my personal favourites) Land Trains. These units could translate immediately in modern 40k with very little tweaking necessary. And so I began work on my own fan-written codex - or Fandex - which, in fact, I am still working on. Presently it stands at some 90+ pages, and WILL see the light of day at some point in 2013 I hope.
In the meantime, I began building models for my Squat army. I started by scratchbuilding a pair of Overlord airships and two Termite transports. I also invested a fair chunk of money in resin models from the excellent Ramshackle Games, but unfortunately all this coincided with the rather draconian blanket ban of all non-GW models at our local gaming club (Warhammer World, no less!). I have no qualms with GW's decision, as it's their flagship venue and if course they want their products showcased, but our Thursday night club - 1st Company Veterans - is a closed-doors gaming night, so no-one except club members would see the non-GW models anyway! I should say now that I never actually took any non-GW stuff to Warhammer World so it wasn't me who caused the rift which had pretty much decimated our once-thriving club! 
So for most of 2010 and 2011 my attentions were diverted away from Squats, and instead I focussed on Tyranids - which, since I mothballed them, have become one of the stronger 6th edition armies - d'oh!
However Christmas 2011 brought seven Chimeras, which allowed me to recommence work on my Squats, this time in the guise of the Imperial Guard - thus allowing me to field a legal army at tournaments. I lost no time in converting five of the hulls into Medusas, Basilisks, Hydras and a Manticore, and I also made up two Ramshackle 'Grendels' into Colossuses.
Over the summer of 2012, interrupted by the birth of my first son(!), I fielded the army in a series of practise games against fellow Claws & Fists bloggers Andy, Gav, Dave P and Daryl. My record was relatively poor - played 12, W.0 / D.2 / L.10. And so with that less-than-impressive record, we arrive at Maunsfeld Games (formerly Maelstrom) on Saturday 1st December for Blog Wars IV. You've most likely already seen mine and Andy's tournament reports (we finished 22nd and 24th respectively) but for me the highlight was having my Squats being voted 'Best Painted Army' that weekend! Although I think folks were really voting for 'Most Interesting Army' (there were definitely better painted armies that day), I was none-the-less delighted that my hard work was appreciated by the others. I am a modeller first and a gamer a distant second, and so it's great for me to know that people like my conversions and scratch builds!
So that's my review of 2012; stay tuned for my plans for 2013 in my next post. Til then, enjoy the festive break!  

Wednesday, 26 December 2012

Massive Mantic Sale!

I've just received an email detailing Mantic's winter sale - or, 'Santa's Spring Clean' in their own words.

The prices are excellent, so for anybody looking for an ultra-cheap fantasy army, or for some great (definitely-not-Squats) Forge Fathers, now is the time to spend that Christmas money that the relatives always give to us geeks...

You'll find the offers here:

Tuesday, 25 December 2012

Season's Greetings To All

Just a quick message to wish a very MERRY CHRISTMAS to all our readers! It's been a good year here on Claws & Fists, but we promise that 2013 will be even better. Amongst other things, we have two new contributors to introduce to you:

 - Dave P is an expert painter and collector of Blood Angels / Space Wolves and, more recently, Tyranids. Dave will be bringing you articles on his painting techniques as well as his progress with Nids.

- Daryl is a veteran gamer (I think that's the polite way of saying it!) and is an avid Chaos Daemons player, especially Slaanesh and Tzeentch. Daryl also harbours a long-running dream to build a pre-Heresy Thousand Sons army, of which you'll doubtless read much about when he starts posting here on C&F in the new year.
A little Christmas gift for our readers!

As well as welcoming the two new contributors, all your old favourites will still be posting too, so until the next time, we all wish you have a great festive break and a happy 2013!

Tuesday, 11 December 2012

Tweaking the Parasite

After a bit of a fail a couple of weeks ago with a list featuring The Parasite of Mortrex (read about it here), I think it would be a bit hasty to just discard him as my failure was more to do with me than him, or any unit in that army. So lets have a think about what it is I can do with an army featuring the Parasite, how can I build something that I could use successfully around him.

Firstly he needs a retinue, you can't expect a T4, 3+ save unit to just wander across the board into whatever combat it likes. The obvious choice is Gargoyles because they're jump infantry too, I've been using Raveners because I have the models. However, there's no question that Gargoyles are far better value for points both in terms of wounds and offensive capability against stock infantry, and it's against stock infantry that the Parasite should be applied. It's worth noting that the Parasite is something of a bully unit, he's really not that good against anything with a half decent save and his S6 lets him wound most infantry on a 2+, with 5 attacks on the charge you can't rely on rending to win you a fight when charging a unit of terminators, or even regular Marines. His high strength does mean that he's good against vehicles and you might think that Raveners make more sense if that's how you're going to use him, but Gargoyles with Adrenal Glands (I would always give them Toxin Sacs) are still better value.

Right, so you've got the Parasite and a chunky unit of Gargoyles to hide him in, but I don't think this dictates a play-style. It would seem an obvious choice to try and build a list that races across the table to engage the enemy as soon as possible, however I'm really not sure that's going to be particularly effective. I think with the right tactics, the Parasite and his Gargoyles can be an effective distraction/harassment unit with limited support or a counter attacker with next to no support. What I'm going to do instead is build a mid-table gun-line style army which is pretty easy to do with 'nids.

Following this strategy, the next unit I'm going to add is two units but I think they are rather brilliant together; a Tyranid Prime with Lash Whip, Bone Sword and a Deathspitter and two Carnifexes with two Twin-Linked Brain-Leech Devourers. This is one highly durable, devastatingly shooty unit that also packs a mean punch in close combat. So far it has been the stand-out unit in all the 6th Ed games I've played so far and I don't think I'd feel particularly comfortable leaving it out. Besides being able to put a serious hurting on pretty much all infantry, heavy, elite or otherwise, it's also effective against light armoured vehicles and Flyers. I've changed the load-out of the Prime to include a Deathspitter to mean he's got something to add at range and the lash-whip means he can confidently charge into cover with the 'fexes should the need arise. With that in mind, adding frag spines to the Carnifexes may not be a terrible idea, as Necrons are so popular and going first against them, even in cover, is going to be a big advantage!

Shoring up the firepower at mid-range are two units of three Hive Guard. There's not a lot to say about these guys that has not been said already. T6 with two wounds gives them the durability factor and a gun with two S8 shots each that ignore cover (most of the time) gives them some undeniable firepower. In my previous list I ran two units of two Zoanthropes, there were to act as unit support to buff key bugs with Endurance or to debuff enemy units with Enfeeble. Lets just say that the whole random power thing did not work out for me and they ended up being 240pts of comparative uselessness! I can only think that 300pts of Hive Guard will significantly outperform my experiences with the Zoanthropes and at least be more consistently useful.

Lets move to the core of the army, Troops. No surprises here, I'm going with two units of ten Termagants and two Tervigons, I'm not totally convinced that it's is enough but it's a staple and I'm not going to make a significant change just yet. In terms if load-out, I'm dropping the Crushing Claws I have used previously to save 50pts. Other than that I'm still taking three powers, Toxin Sacs and Cluster Spines and running the Termagants as they come.

This leaves me with 270pts left to spend. I want a list that's shooty and I have high volume mid-range shooting pretty well covered, all of this shooting is relatively high strength and can handle most vehicles and infantry. Since the meta is typically troop focused at the moment, adding some long range anti infantry shooting would seem a reasonable addition and for 90 points 2 Biovores look to be good value. I like the large blast and the fact that you can try to snipe specific models out of units with it, the range is also significantly longer than anything else in the list so I like what that brings to the army.

180pts left and I'm coming back to the Parasite and what he and his unit bring to the Army. Sometimes you're going to be content to sit at midfield and shoot, waiting for the opportunity to counter attack. Sometimes, however, you want to be able to go on the offensive, even if it's a feint, and a single unit is not going to be a significant threat and will be too easy to focus firs down. So I think I'm looking for another unit to support an offensive or harassment tactic. First thought is to give the existing Gargoyles Adrenal Glands (I already give them Toxin Sacs) and then by a second 20-man unit with the same load-out. However, I think what I want is something different, which I can use differently, also 40 Gargoyles are going to be very hard to manoeuvre effectively because they are pretty damn bulky.

I might come back to the Gargoyles later but for the moment I'm going to try a Mawloc with Toxin Sacs. With his Terror from the Deep ability he can get across the board quickly and be a threat, he's pretty tough and hit and run lets him get away to burrow again if he gets into trouble. On his own he's not a big threat and pretty easy to deal with, but used in conjunction with the Parasite's unit I think it will make for an effective tag-team and may allow both units to pick the specific targets they need to engage in order to be effective.

So this represents the development of my Blog Wars 4 List, the Zoanthropes, Raveners and Trygon are gone and in their stead we have Gargoyles, Hive Guard, Biovores and a Mawloc. I'll let you know how I get on.

Prime – Lash Whip & Bonesword, Deathspitter

Hive Guard x3
Hive Guard x3

Termagant x10
Termagant x10
Tervigon – Cluster Spines, Toxin Sacs, 3 Powers
Tervigon – Cluster Spines, Toxin Sacs, 3 Powers

Gargoyles x20 – Toxin Sacs

Carnifex x2 – 2x TL Devourers w. Brainleech Worms each
Mawloc – Toxin Sacs
Biovore x2

Friday, 7 December 2012

Rolling Less Than 10 on 3D6 and Other Stories

Parasite of Mortrex

Strap yourselves in readers and grab some popcorn, this is a long one and it’s going to get emotional!

This weekend saw Blog Wars 4 take place at the Eye of the Storm venue in Mansfield (part of the Maunsfeld Games store). This is an event the Blog has always tried to support but, thanks to a poorly scheduled holiday, I’d not been able to attend the last one so I was really looking forward to making a come-back at the first one of 6th Edition!

I had promised that, as a penance for missing Blog Wars 3, I would re-double my efforts to get my Tyranids completed in time for this tournament and thanks to some late night painting sessions (concluding at 1:30am on Friday night) I managed to put the following list on the table (complete with 15 ripper bases – which never saw the light of day!)

Parasite of Mortrex
Tyranid Prime w. 2x Boneswords & Scything Talons
2x Zoanthropes
2x Zoanthropes
10x Termagants
10x Termagants
Tervigon w. Crushing Claws, Toxin Sacs, Adrenal Glands, 3 Powers
Tervigon w. Crushing Claws, Toxin Sacs, Adrenal Glands, 3 Powers
6x Raveners w. Rending Claws
2x Carnifexes w 2x Twin-Linked Devourers (w. Brainleech Worms) eachTrygon

A section of the Hive Fleet

Blog Wars requires you to field a unique or special character as it’s only list composition restriction, this is something I quite like and has previously seen my Ghazghull face off against Commissar Yarrick in an epic smack-down for all the marbles (on the bottom table). We were playing 3 games with the objectives and deployments pre-set as part of the rules pack. If you want to read all the details about the tournament you can have a look at the From the Fang blog (who organise the event) here.

So, on to the games and a day that would see 3D6 leadership tests loom large in my fortunes:

Game 1 vs Dark Eldar/Eldar - Greg Pikos
Crusade (5 objectives) / Vanguard Deployment

The Baron
5x Wracks
5x Warriors w. Blaster in Venom w. 2x Splinter Cannons
5x Warriors w. Blaster in Venom w. 2x Splinter Cannons
13x Hellions w. Helliarch
6x Reavers w 2x Heat Lance
s6x Reavers w 2x Heat Lances
Voidraven Bomber

Aegis Defence Line w. Quad-gun

Farseer w. Runes of Warding & 1 Power
5x Rangers
3x War Walkers w 2x Scatter Lasers each

Greg's Circus themed Dark Eldar
OK, multiple objectives, I like that, I know where I am with objective missions; Dark Eldar with a Runes of Warding Farseer ally, not so good, lots of poison shots and table-wide psychic defense which is really going to put a damper on my day. 

I got to pick table edge and deploy 3 of the objectives but I lost first turn, not actually all that bad in an objective game but he would get the first opportunity to unleash all his dakka at me. I deployed fairly conservatively knowing that as we both had speed I could well get off a first turn charge with a bit of luck. 

Speaking of luck, Greg forgot to cast Prescience so his War Walkers were not as devastating as they could have been. His Reavers jockeyed for position and the Baron led his Hellions forward with a couple of cheeky pain tokens and ran for cover in a ruin in the middle of the building. I advanced and took out a Venom with a volley from the Carnifex unit (1st Blood) and typically one of my Tervigons bunged up after spawning only 5 ‘gants. The Hellions looked threatening and would certainly get a charge off in the next turn so I decided to risk attempting a pre-emptive charge against them with the Parasite and his Raveners. A roll of 11 got me in comfortably but I’d be striking last thanks to the lack of grenades. At this point luck was clearly on my side because his entire unit (with the extra attack combat drugs) managed to kill off only 1 Ravener and one of those wounds was caused by overwatch fire, I should also mention that I made five 5+ saves on the Raveners. My return flurry accounted for 4 hellions and the Baron (Warlord) who managed to fail his very first Shadow-field save. I win by 4 But the Hellions hold firm thanks to a nice low leadership roll!

After all that Greg looked somewhat deflated, perhaps he had forgotten about the monumental amount of firepower he still had at his disposal, and this turn those War Walkers would be Twin-Linked! The opening salvo vapourised my Trygon with wounds to spare and he also managed to knock a couple of wounds of the Tervigon on my left flank, those Reavers were also getting worryingly close. We then returned to the epic combat in the centre this time it was much closer but I still managed to win combat by two wounds and that proved to the boo much for the Hellions who ran and were cut down by the Parasite and his 4 remaining Raveners who had a bone to pick with a Farseer.

My turn saw the last Venom over-killed by the Carnifex Unit and a slow advance by the rest of the Horde. I forgot to mention that in turn one I only got two psychic powers off and put wounds on 3 Zoanthropes and a Tervigon thanks to Perils from the Runes of Warding so I had decided not to risk casting anything in Turn 2 as I was very pleased to be well within strike range of the Farseer and his unit of Racks behind their Aegis Defence Line with the Parasite and his rampaging Raveners. The combat was short and sweet the Eldar broke, ran and were cut down, but that left me vulnerable out in the open and at the mercy of Rangers, warriors and the Quad Gun (the War Walkers could also be brought to bear if necessary).

As expected, Greg made short work of the Parasite and his squad and, now that I’d also lost the Trygon as well (who took two squads of gants with him), that really took the punch out of my army. The wounded Tervigon on the left flank fell to Hellion fire and the one in the centre was brought down to its last wound by the War Walkers. I was very much back on the back-foot and trying to figure out how I was going to salvage a draw out of this.

I was able to swamp an objective at the back of the board with my remaining ‘gants but his Reavers were able to assault into the unit to contest (need to work on my placement). Greg was able to take an objective behind his defence line, uncontested, with the Rangers and also held an objective with a small warrior squad on my left flank. My remaining Tervigon was, however, within strike range of this, so I charged in and easily wiped the squad for what I thought was a solid draw. Unfortunately I had forgotten that his Reavers were still in combat with a single termagant very close to the same objective. If I’d have realised, I’d have charged my two remaining Zoanthropes into the combat, but as it was he easily took care of the Termagant and consolidated far enough to contest the objective.

The game ended in a 9-16 loss but it was an extremely enjoyable game which swung back and forth on almost every turn and really could have gone either way. Credit to Greg, he played a blinder and didn't let the early loss of his big Hellion unit get too him. 

Game 2 vs Necrons – Michael Towers
The Relic / Hammer & Anvil Deployment

Imotekh the Stormlord 
Overlord w res orb 
Royal Court: Harbinger of Eternity w. Chronometron; Harbinger of Despair w. Veil; Lord w. Mindshackle Scarabs & Warscythe 
Royal Court: Harbinger of Eternity w. Chronometron; Harbinger of Despair w. Veil; Lord w. Mindschackle Scarabs & Warscythe 
20x Warriors 
20 x Warriors 
5x Warriors w. Night Scythe 
5x Warriors w. Night Scythe 
5x Warriors w. Night Scythe 
5x Warriors w. Night Scythe 

I’ve got to admit that I felt pretty confident about this one. Michael and I had played recently, in game 1 of the last Open War, and I was keen for revenge. I felt this list was less difficult to deal with because the Spyders, Scarabs and Wraiths that he’d brought to Open War were no more, also I managed to get first turn so I knew I had a great chance of getting to the relic with some spawned ‘gants on turn one and putting myself in a strong position early. As it turns out I was not prepared for the trixy-ness and down-right shooty-ness of this list.

Turn 1 - Lookin Good!
As planned I moved up on turn 1, putting my ‘gants in easy strike range of the Relic with the rest of the army in support and the Raveners with the Parasite partially in front to provide a screen. Michael had placed both of his blob squads right at the back of the board, well out of my range. However on his turn he Veiled right behind my lines and decimated the two back-most ‘gant units (First Blood). This, combined with a particularly devastating round of lightning strikes from Imotekh (including 6 hits on the Parasite’s squad – I took my chances saving 4 on the Parasite and passing the other two to Raveners who couldn’t make their 5+) lead to a pretty successful turn for Michael.

Fortunately his veil shenanigans had put both units in range of most of my army so I levelled all available guns at the squad with the least cover and took it down to a manageable size for my Poison/Furious Charge ‘gants and a Tervigon to charge. The combat was a great success and the unit was wiped but the Lord stood back up.

On Michael’s turn two he got 3 of his Croissants (Night Scythes) on to the board and they took no time in focussing down the ‘gant squad on the Relic and taking a couple of wounds off a Tervigon. Imotekh’s lightning storm put another 6 strength 8 hits on the Parasite’s unit wiping it. Bad times but to make matters even worse he also put 4 wounds on my Trygon which was finished off by the left over Night Scythe shooting. This was starting to look bad. The solo Lord charged back into the Tervigon who passed his Mindshackle test and put the Lord back down, only for him to stand back up! Most annoying!

Turn 3 started off with my Tervigon in the centre spawning another 10 ‘gants onto the Relic, and this time I could get it to the one at the back giving me the chance to at least move it towards my swarm next turn. Next I decided that Imotekh had done quite enough damage so I levelled as much firepower as I could at his squad but his 2+ save combined with amazing we’ll be back rolls saw only a handful of warriors dead, on the up-side I did manage to get his Chronometron Cryptek who did not get back up – bonus!

The death of the Trygon meant that I only had a unit of 10 ‘gants in charge range of Imotekh’s squad but I wanted to at least tie them up for the big fellah’s who would be in range next turn. Those brave Termagants made the charge but the combination of withering overwatch fire and Warscythes put a swift end to their efforts and Imotekh was free to reposition next turn. The same could not be said of the solo Lord who was swamped under ‘gants who were less than effective but ensured that he could not charge the Tervigon next turn.

Thankfully Night Fight ended on this turn so no more evil lightning. I’d smugly positioned so that the Night Scythes could not get another volley off ... so instead they dropped off their Warrior units, this combined with the 4th Night Scythe turning up to lend some firepower, and Imotekh’s squad (he’d veiled back to the edge of his deployment zone) saw my Termagant squad with the Relic wiped again!

I was running a bit short of troops now and I’d lost a fair amount of punch from the army. However all of his troop units (bar the one in the newly arrived Night Scythe) were in the open and I gambled to try and wipe all of the 5-man units and put a hurting on Imotekh. My Prime detatched from the Carnifexes and charged the unit on my right flank (wiping them), my Carnifexes overkilled the rear-most unit and I put a unit of ‘gants in tenuous charge range of the nearest (which they failed). The Tervigon in the center fired his Cluster spines at Imotekh’s squad and did enough wounds to knock over the Veil Cryptek who failed to get up – nice! Sadly though a fair number of the warriors did get up which meant that Imotekh still had about 8 warriors with him and the other Lord, quite a daunting prospect. At the back of my deployment zone the solo Lord was still alive and kicking so my Warp Speed buffed (+1) Tervigon piled into him and in an epic simultaneous combat they both fell ... and neither got back up. Probably not worth the sacrifice of a Tervigon given my current position and lack of troops but it did feel good to see that 2 come up on the dice!

The surviving Warriors took to their Night Scythes and fled the board, knowing they would be back next turn. Imotekh advanced and his unit and the remaining Night Scythe continued to pour fire into my remaining ‘gants leaving none alive.

The game was in the balance but with very few troops left I felt right on the back foot, despite having good table position I could not continue to take the firepower those Night Scythes could dish out. I buffed up my remaining Tervigon (with only 2 wounds left) with Endurance and Iron Arm (+3) and went for the Relic, I put everything I had left, the Carnifexes and the Tervigon’s Cluster Spines into Imotekh’s unit. Sadly 2+ saves combined with unerring we’ll be back rolls meant that this achieved exactly nothing and the Necrons just kept coming.

The Night Scythes returned but my T9 Tervigon laughed off their firepower without taking a wound so it was with a glimmer of hope that I accepted the charge of Imotekh’s squad. But this Tervigon was clearly convinced that these were not the Necrons he was looking for as he failed his Mind Shackle test and promptly killed himself.

So, end of turn 5, the Relic is unclaimed, Michael has First Blood so if it ends here, he has it by 1.

Erm, where'd everybody go?
We go to turn 6. One of Blog Wars special rules is that your Special Character is scoring, so as I have no other scoring units left, it’s up to the Tyranid Prime to show his quality. He jumps on the Relic and his trusty Carnifexes flank him boldly, again pouring an utterly ineffective 24 shots into Imotekh’s squad – they clearly have a destiny to fulfill! Michael disembarks everything and puts everything he has left into the fexes killing one and wounding the other, and so Imotekh’s unit charges. The overwatch is ineffective and a challenge is issued. Amazing I think, I decline forcing the Prime out of the combat and amazingly the Carnifex survives.

Again it comes down to another dice roll, I have the Relic so it’s 3-1 to me ... it’s a 5 so we go on! Damn!

This time the challenge is not issued so no hiding for the Prime, I pass my mind-shackle test but the Carnifex buys the farm leaving the Prime on his own for the last round of combat and all the marbles.

Sadly the Hive Mind has realised that Necrons do not make for good eating (not enough biomass to assimilate apparently) so the suddenly dull minded Prime fails his mind shackle test and removes his own last two wounds.

That’s the game, I’ve been tabled. It went from a game with only a few points in it either way to a 5-25 defeat and I’ve gotta be honest, that was pretty crushing and I had a somewhat frowny face on. I hope I wasn’t too outwardly grumpy because it was an epic game and Michael was a fantastic opponent who played a great strategy pretty much to perfection. He really knows his Necrons and is a lot of fun to play against, I hope I get a chance for revenge (again) in the next tournament we’re at! 

Game 3 vs Grey Knights – Nathaniel Gibbs (No Blog) 
Purge The Alien / Dawn of War Deployment 

Inquisitor Coteaz 
Grand Master w. MC Psycannon & Daemon Hammer, Psybolt Ammo 
10x Grey Knights w. 2x Psycannons, Psybolt Ammo, Rhino 
10x Terminators w. 2x Psycannnons, 3x Daemon Hammers, 7x Halberds, Psybolt Ammo
5x Interceptors w. Psycannons 
5x Interceptors w. Psycannons 
Dreadnought w. 2x Autocannon & Psybolt Ammo 
Dreadnought w. 2x Autocannon & Psybolt Ammo 
Nemesis Dreadknight w. Heavy Incinerator & Personal Teleporter 

These Grey Knights look somewhat "Custodeal"
No offence to Nathaniel (I know he’s a reader) but after the last game I was not in the best frame of mind for facing off against a gun-line with a huge, terrain-less kill zone in the middle. I took one look at his super-shooty Grey Knights and the table lay-out, briefly considered playing cagily around the terrain on the edges trying to deny kill points but then just thought f**k it I’ll clog his guns with my bodies and if I can get my Raveners into his Terminators I’ll take my chances.

Things did not start well when he gave me first turn and promptly stole the initiative without the need for Coteaz’s re-roll. A Zoanthrope unit vanished before they could send a distress signal to the mother ship (First Blood)! The rest of the bugs were left largely unscathed and he pushed his Terminators forward positively goading my Raveners to attempt a first turn charge.

And so the ‘nids charged like the Light Brigade into the waiting guns of some lovely gold Grey Knights.

I’ll not go blow-by-blow here because if you’ve made it this far you’re probably losing the will to live, but I will go through a few highlights. The Parasite and his crew made it into contact with the Terminators and managed to kill about 3 of them over two rounds of combat before getting punked by the Daemon Hammers.

The Carnifex unit was as reliable as ever, wiping out an Interceptor squad in a single volley and severely reducing the 10-man Strike Squad over two rounds of shooting before succumbing to combined weight of arms. The Prime was not present at that point however, as he had detached to try and sort out a Dreadknight who was tearing through the back field due to an inability to fail to activate his force weapon despite being in the Shadow of the Warp the whole time and so it was that he took down the Prime without the nid general being able to land a blow on the big fellah.

The rest is not worth the telling, suffice to say that it was all over by turn 4 as even the big bugs could not resist the weight of fire leveled at them. Another 5-25 defeat, this had not been a good day. But again Nathaniel was a great opponent, very likable chap who had the misfortune to catch me in a somewhat dispirited mood and not minded to put up much of a fight, hopefully I can give him a better game should we meet again. 

You’ll have read that Graham was battling away on the bottom table vying for another Wooden Spoon in a nip-and-tuck battle that attracted quite an audience towards the end. What he and everyone else in attendance didn't know was that me and my little rain cloud had quietly put the bottom of the table beyond doubt. So with two emphatic tablings to finish the day I took the dubious honour of the Wooden Spoon, the first certificate I’d laid my hands on at a tournament since picking up a Wooden Spoon for my very first tournament way back in 2009 at Open War 12.

What can I take away from this experience? Firstly it’s not as bad as it looks, my first game was excellent against an army list I really think was a bad match up for me on paper. Sure I got lucky to wipe the Hellions so easily and who knows what could have happened if I’d been a bit less cavalier with my Raveners after that. Also if I’d not missed that lone ’gant tied in with the Reavers I could have got a tie out of the game. Against the Necrons in game 2 the 5-25 scoreline does not do justice to how close the game was and but for a dice roll I’d have had it won (narrowly) at the end of turn 6. The Grey Knight game was a bit of a write-off but if I’d cared about the result I could have done a number of things differently, sorry again to Nathaniel – I’ll give you a better game next time.

I don’t know what you think but to my mind all of these opponents were pretty bad match-ups for me. I thought I had a good chance against the Necrons but they really surprised me with their resilience and sheer weight of fire-power, I need more practice against what is surely one of the more powerful Codices at this point in 6th.

I think the list is OK as it is, I’ll probably tweak it but it’s going to be hard to get rid of the Carnifexes because in 6 tournament games (Open War & Blog Wars) they have been nothing short of amazing. The Trygon was fantastic in Open War but did exactly nothing in any of these games also I think that Crushing Claws on the Tervigons is probably not worth the points. They can be fantastic but I really didn’t get the opportunity to use them enough for me to really think I’ll miss them to save 50pts.

The Zoanthropes were definitely a total bust, I can see the reason why some people like them but I had no luck getting them the powers they need to be force multipliers. In game 2, between the four of them I had Smite, Warp Speed, Iron Arm, Life Leech and a single Enfeeble, likewise in game 3 where one unit had Smite x2, Haemorage and Life Leech. The fact of the matter is that if you pull the less useful powers with the frequency that I seem to get them, you really start questioning why you are spending 240pts on two units of 2! In the future I’m going to drop them and rely on the Monstrous Psykers to buff themselves.

Lastly, the Parasite and the Raveners. I like both of these because you just don’t see them. I can’t deny that Gargoyles are simply better point for point than Raveners but I’m going to stick with them, at least until I’ve painted 20 Gargoyles! The Parasite’s problem is that I could have a Flying Hive Tyrant instead of him and I’m really struggling justifying not doing this to myself. I really like him in theory but I forgot about the toughness tests in the heat of battle so my 15 ripper bases stayed quietly in my case for the entire tournament. Though, to be honest the only game where this would have come significantly into play was game 1.

So, all in all expect a few small changes for the next tournament but by-and-large I am happy with the army and I’m not going to over-react to what was something of a “bad day at the office”! 

Roll on Blog Wars 5!

Tuesday, 4 December 2012

Blog Wars IV - The View From The Bottom Table


On Saturday 1st December, Team Claws & Fists visited Maunsfeld Games in Mansfield for the fourth Blog Wars tournament. Along with Tim King's 500-pt Summer Skirmish, Blog Wars rates as my joint-favourite wargaming event of the year. It's always fun, has a real community spirit and offers the non/semi-competitive player a real chance of actually winning something! Andy (Fudal) was trying out Tyranids for the first time in a tournament, and I was using my Squats (counting as Imperial Guard) for the first time competitively too.  After only five practise games at 1,000pts and four practise games at 1,750/1,850pts with IG, it promised to be a white-knuckle ride of a learning curve, and so it proved!

GAME 1 - Squat Guard vs Eldar/Dark Eldar (Frank Marsh)

In the morning (and nursing my first, breakfast pint of Mansfield Smooth) I was drawn against Frank Marsh and his Eldar / Dark Eldar allied force. Frank is a 'proper' player - very friendly and fun to play against, and he really knows his army too. He has played Eldar for a couple of years at least, and it really shows - he knew exactly what he could expect of each of his units, and what they could all do together. In short, completely the opposite of me! Not only am I still learning how IG work together, I'm still picking up the 6th edition rules too, and on Saturday my rules-rustiness showed.

Game One was 5 objectives with Vanguard (triangular) deployment. I think we got the set-up procedure wrong (we each placed objectives and then rolled for board edge, rather than vice versa) but it was academic, really. I set up my Aegis Defence Line on the middle-left of my deployment zone and then behind it set up my gunline of Ordnance Tanks (two Medusas, two Colosusses and a Manticore) protected by a juicy meat-shield of Conscripts at the front and the two infantry squads at the rear. My two Veteran Squads started in their Chimeras further toward the right, with a plan to race across the board and attack Frank's Dark Eldar infantry nestled behind their own Aegis Line. However, it was not to be. Frank went first, and I weathered a turn of shooting from his Ravager and Aegis-mounted quad-gun with no losses  so far so good! In my first turn, I laid down a reasonable storm of fire, pouring the majority of shots into what I (rightly) perceived to be Frank's biggest threat - his Jetbike Seer Council which had been joined by a Dark Eldar Baron. Despite taking out a couple of 'bikes, this veritable Deathstar unit crashed into my lines on turn two and unleashed it's full potential. It was the Warlocks with Destructor that proved to be my undoing. In two turns they managed to glance all five of my Ordnance Tanks to, well, destruction, and with them most of my infantry too. Despite concentrating most, if not all, my army's remaining fire on them, I was unable to wipe out the Seer Council and they proved to be the difference on our game. By turn four, Frank had tabled me - and all this  before my second Vendetta and Marbo had even arrived from reserve! It was a very fun game in all, and was played in a great spirit (topped off by us munching the chocolate coins that Frank had brought along as objectives markers). It did however highlight to me that my army could do with a decent counterattacking close-combat unit to guard my static gunline against ├╝ber-mobile threats like the Jetbike Seer Council.


GAME 2 - Squat Guard vs Tyranids (Chris Benfield)

After lunch, it was time for game two - The Relic, to be played across short table edges against Chris Benfield and his great-looking Tyranid horde. This time, I had a definite strategy in mind - I would deploy reasonably deep, sit back and create a killzone around the Relic with my big guns that Chris wouldn't want to get anywhere near. Unfortunately for me, Chris had other ideas! Protected by the feel no pain and endurance powers, his Tervigons and Swarmlord (ably protected by two Tyrant Guard) ambled forward, swathed by an ever-increasing swarm of Termagants. Despite the fact that he had little to materially hurt me, he didn't really need to. His Swarmlord took the Relic on turn two (or three) and promptly retreated back to a very fortuitous Iron-Bark Woods in his deployment zone that had been the result of a mysterious terrain role earlier in the game. Once in there the Swarmlord and his two shield-thanes lapped up all the fire I could throw at them with the Woods' 3+ cover save. I managed to kill both Tyrant Guards and had reduced Swarmi to only two wounds, but I was running out of time...

In the end I had no choice but to try and take the Relic by force. It was a long shot, but buoyed by the fact I had killed a Tyrant Guard with  a Lasgun shot (and because there was no other option!) I hovered my Vendetta, disembarked my Lord Commissar ready for a last-ditch charge the next turn. Sadly the Commissar didn't last that long! I can't remember exactly what killed him, but I recall it coming down to a single 4+ invulnerable save, which I failed. With the Relic still firmly in the Swarmlord's clutches and time run out, Chris had beaten me with a great combination of his cunning and durability of the Swarmlord / Tyrant Guard combo.


So by 3pm I was ready to battle it out with Andrew Cox and his Necrons, both of us eager to avoid the Wooden Spoon (though the £5 'prize' for coming last was tempting...).

The final battle was simple - pitched battle set-up and kill-points. I set up first, deploying in a classic refused-flank formation with the core of my army toward the right of my table edge, with only the two Veteran Squads in their Chimeras on my extreme left flank. Andrew fell for the gambit and spread his mostly on-foot Necrons across his board edge, and with one big blob-squad of Necron Warriors directly opposite my decoy Chimeras.

However, my jubilation was short-lived. Andrew won the roll for Seize the Initiative and promptly began his inexorable march across the table toward me! My Aegis Line preserved my tanks fantastically however, and on my first turn I started to move the two Chimeras back toward the bulk of my army, thus isolating a decent chunk of Andrew's Necron Warriors for the time being. Over on the right hand side, I started shooting. I must say that of all the day's games, my ordnance barrages were most effective against the Necrons. And it was just as well, as I seemed to be killing the same half-a-dozen Necron models in each squad every turn! Reanimation Protocols are massively infuriating - there's little worse in a wargame than to see a model you have killed once get back up again!

In the end the game - and, we imagined, the fate of the wooden spoon - rested of who could score more kill points. In the end it was a well-earned draw. Andrew has killed one more unit than me, but I had grabbed First Blood - so important in 6th Edition now. So, drawn on mission points, we totalled up our VP's, submitted our scores to Tournament Organiser and hirsute moustachio'd gent Alex, and held our breath....


What happened next? Well, you'll have to await Andy (Fudal)'s tournament report to find out!


- my thoughts on potential future tournament seeding

- the result of the Best Painted Army competition

-a critique of my own army list and musings of future list modifications

Saturday, 1 December 2012

Nids and Squats go Hand in Hand to Blog Wars!

Having just read the Sons of Sanguinious' post, I felt duty-bound to report that two of the sons of Claws & Fists - myself and Andy (aka Fudal, for reasons still unknown to me!) are also en route to Mansfield for Blog Wars IV.

For those in the know, Blog Wars is a semi-competitive 40k tournament tun by Alex of the 'From the Fang' blog and features bloggers and friends-of-bloggers. This year the ante had been pushed to 1,850pts, with the usual caveat of at least one mandatory special character in attendance in each list.

Andy will be taking his suddenly-fashionable semi-Nidzilla Tyranids (some of you may know I ran Nids when they were, ahem, less than competitive - or possibly that was just my poor playing). Andy list comprises a couple of Tervigons, Raveners, tooled-up Carnifexes and plenty of Termagants.

This year I will be bringing my much-talked about Squat Guard for their first tournament outing. I am a bit nervous as I'm not sure how people will take to my rag-tag collection of converted and scratchbuilt tanks and airships, but here goes!

Mine is a fairly conventional ordnance list featuring Medusas, Colossus' and a Manticore backed up by two Vendettas (the airships), a big blob of infantry, some conscripts and a couple of units of Veterans in Chimeras. Of course, I will be bringing the Guardsmens' special character of choice Marbo to the party too.

So, stay tuned for news of our progress through the day...

Wish us luck!


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