Thursday, 22 March 2018

Sisters of Battle, some whispers and prattle.

So, unless you've been living under a rock and also not reading Faeit, the latter of which is statistically impossible since it's pretty much my only traffic source, you'll know that among the many exciting reveals from Adepticon was the news of plastic Sisters of Battle in 2019. I thought I'd talk a little about that, and also slip in a review of Black Library's recent Sisters short, Mercy

Girl Power (Armour)
Of course the first thing that all existing SoB players want to know is whether what we're getting here is a new Sororitas range that looks similar to the existing models in design, or whether the Studio is going to take the opportunity to redesign the Sabbat-pattern power armour. The first thing we can say with some certainty is that the new models will be bigger. At the very least, their posture and proportions will be updated, so that those of us (like me) with large existing armies will at the very least have units that look like they're suffering from some sort of spinal condition. That's par for the course, and anyone who expects that the new models will slot right into their current force without standing out at all is likely to be disappointed.

The case for the status quo
So, should the overall look of the Sisters stay the same? There are quite a few arguments to support this. People with existing SoB collections, who have been patiently waiting for in some cases two decades for new models, will be understandably miffed if the new releases so radically redesign the faction that their old models become utterly useless overnight. Some of the current models, notably the Sororitas Rhino and Immolator, are great kits that really don't need to change, and if the basic Battle Sisters changed too much they'd look odd. Likewise, changing the look of the Sisters (particularly the Seraphim) to any great extent would make the Celestine model obsolete which would be met with more than a little irritation.*

The case for change
On the other hand, some people (and this is weasel words but I don't have any real data to go on) really don't like the look of the Sisters. The old 'boobie armour' argument pops up again here, but I've also heard some people refer to Sabbat-pattern armour as a 'bondage outfit', in part due to the leather corset that covers the chest, though in practice whether or not it's any such thing is often down to the painter's interpretation. GW have said that they're going to be keeping us updated on the progress of the new Sisters, and I wouldn't be at all surprised if they do some sort of survey to gauge whether there's any mass support for such a view- as we all know, the Internet can be a very shouty place at times and people who want things changed usually do it louder than people who don't.

The Third Way
There may be at least some potential for a compromise here. Marine power armour, after all, has long had the various 'Marks' which allow for some fairly radical variations of design. One approach GW could take is to create a new Mark or Pattern of armour for the SoB, with a more 'practical' (i.e. less boobie) chest-plate as an optional part for the new Sisters kits, much like many models at the moment which have back and front pieces for the torso. That would allow those players who really can't stand the sight of the accursed Lady Lumps to exorcise them without alienating the old-school purists. Of course some people on both sides would still probably complain that the other lot even got an option, but I tend to think everyone should be able to do their own thing as much as possible.

New Toys**
So, what extra things might we Sisters players be able to look forward to? I think the combination Heavy Bolter/ Heavy Flamer weapons used by the Deathwatch are the sort of thing that Retributors would kill to get their hands on, if they can lift the things. Certainly, the Aggressors with their mix of bolt and flame weapons and liking for mid-range combat would fit right in if Cawl can come up with a way to get a Battle Sister into the suits. (One possibility might be a 'lighter' version with either two Storm Bolters or two Flamers.)

More realistically, a few more weapon options for Seraphim Superiors would be nice to see (since the existing rules and models only allow for a power sword for melee) and I doubt I'm alone in wanting to see the Jump Pack option for a Canoness return, especially given that Celestine's retinue are Canonesses and have them. The Palatine, a lower-ranking Sisters commander, may well also make a comeback and serve a similar role to a Lieutenant. Some sort of air support, either in the form of a plastic Avenger or some other new flyer, would be good to see, though a stop-gap might be an anti-air variant or fire mode for the Exorcist. Still, speculation at this stage is a little pointless.

(Short) Short Story review: Mercy by Danie Ware

As a die-hard Sisters fan, I snapped up this new short from Black Library on the grounds that it's just this sort of thing that shows people are still interested in the faction. I'm also working on my own short story pitch for Black Library again so it was interesting to see what sort of thing they were putting out. In this case, however, the answer was.... a little worrying. Now, it's important to note a few things here- apparently Danie Ware is the author of some other books called the Ecko series and has a RPG background so I don't know how much she knows about 40k. It's evident that she's done at least some research because everything has the right name and is described as looking as it should, etc. I also had no problem with the writing style, which was fine and didn't waste too much time, always an issue with a short story.


The big problem I had was that it read like the writer had never played 40k in their life and didn't understand how things work. (Again, this is only from reading the story, for all I know Danie plays 40k all the time.) EDIT: Apparently this isn't true, according to this Warhammer Community interview.
 'Plot armour' is a notorious issue in 40k fiction, but in this story not only do a five-strong squad of Sisters defeat Orks led by a Warboss in melee with no casualties, but the one loss they do take is to a direct hit from a Stikkbomb, which is odd considering the Orks have a Rokkit launcher that they use precisely once. For some people, none of this would be an issue and the 'punchline' of the story works fine, but for me it was a bit of a deal-breaker and an unnecessary one given that the squad was in a strong defensive position and had both a Heavy Bolter and a Flamer (which I don't remember actually firing) and so could well have held the Orks. The entire squad struggling to take down a wounded, angry and flaming Warboss would have made for a much better final scene, IMHO, as opposed to the Sisters actually picking Orks up and throwing them around or punching them to death. (These feats could have been explained by an Act of Faith, but nothing of the sort is described as happening).

In summary, 'Mercy' is competently written and has a solid sting in the tale, but feels a bit 'off'. The benchmark for Sororitas 40k fiction is still very much James Swallow's work, as collected in the Omnibus

*i.e. utter, Internet-scouring fury.

** not those sort of toys, get your head out of the gutter. Honestly, I know I talk about Slaanesh a lot, but some people...

Friday, 9 March 2018

Quick update

So, here's a quick, and somewhat overdue, update on what's going on over here. To get the really bad bit out of the way first, I recently lost my father in an accident. Obviously this has hit me pretty hard, and due to the way our family business was organised has lead to all manner of related headaches. If you're wondering why I went with this image, that news is represented by the black bit.

On the happier side, I've just about completed my second full-length novel, "The Third Mirror". I'm just waiting on Sean Harrington to complete my cover art and I've also received a beautiful new world map from Tiffany Munro.  The map can bee seen on the Thelenic Curriculum Landing Page on this blog- be sure to scroll right to the bottom, the map you want to see is the nice colour one, not my ugly monochrome effort. (This news, if you hadn't figured it out yet, is the white bit)

As for the blog going forward, I will return to the whole 40k and related scene soon, once my life settles into its new routine a little more. I have plans for the Dark Eldar when they release, and hopefully it won't be long before I feel like putting the beginnings of them into practice.

Monday, 5 February 2018

Dark Eldar- things I'd like to see

So, the Drukhari codex is bearing down on us, and this is one I'm particularly looking forward to. Let's take a look at a few things I think they need.

NOTE: This is all personal opinion, not any sort of leak or rumour. I wish I had those sorts of connections, but I don't.

Lancing the Boil
To begin at the beginning, the Dark Eldar currently have a bit of an issue with anti-vehicle firepower, and for a long-time player of the faction the fact that that sentence is even a thing is a worry. With 8th Edition, Lance weapons currently, well, aren't. The old Lance rule, of always doing damage on a 4+, is long gone. This isn't the massive nerf it immediately appears to be, since due to being S8 Lances still damage all but the toughest Lord Of War on 4+ at worst, but it does leave the Dark Eldar short on options against such targets. Only the Void Lance on the Voidraven can realistically threaten something like a Fellblade. I'd like to see the Lance rule make a comeback. Now of course Craftworlders don't have it on Brightlances, but they have other, high strength options, as well as melta. The Dark Eldar have other options too, but...

Blasted Haywire
On a similar note, both Blasters and Haywire Blasters need sorting out. Blasters, despite being sawn-off Dark Lances, inexplicably only do D3 damage, meaning even a suicide Scourge squad with four can't expect to kill anything much in a single volley. Haywire blasters, on the other hand, are possibly even more pathetic, only inflicting a single Mortal Wound on a 4+ against vehicles. Yes, they do D3 on a 6, but still the fact remains that for a glass cannon faction, there's very little bang for your buck. Let's also not forget the Heat Lance, the closest thing that DE have to an actual melta weapon with a pathetic Strength of 6. In general, the Drukhari anti-vehicle weapons need a bit more lethality, especially the Haywire which is just sad at the moment.

There's no I in TEAM, but there is in DRUKHARI
The current DE are very lacking in synergies. The worst example of this is the Court of the Archon- rather than improving their master, the various retainers just improve themselves for being around him. The Lhamean does basically nothing (she doesn't even get a bonus attack despite the model having two blades), the Medusa has a ranged attack specifically designed to be useless out of a Webway portal with its 9" range, and the Sslyth and Ur-Ghul both have a 'feel no pain' type ability that gives them an Invulnerable save rather than a wound ignore, which is especially irritating with the Sslyth since it has a Bodyguard rule. I feel that the Lhamean should either become a lot more lethal, or should boost all poison weapons within a radius, the Medusae should gain a little range, and the other two should at least get a 5+ FNP. The Archon should also get bonuses for having his retainers around.

Which Wych is the worst Wych?
Wyches really need sorting out. For one thing, their complete lack of durability outside of combat makes them extremely annoying to use. I think at the very least their 6+ Wychsuit save should become an Invulnerable to reflect them at least trying to dodge incoming fire, which coupled with the 6+ wound ignore from Power From Pain might at least allow some of them to survive. They also really need some way to affect vehicles. With EMP grenades apparently no longer existing, Drukhari currently can barely damage vehicles in combat. One possibility might be some sort of shock gauntlet weapon for the Wyches, or maybe bringing back the grenades as a stratagem. Wych weapons also need sorting out- at the moment, only the Hydra Gauntlets, with their re-roll to Wound, are worth bothering with. The hit re-roll from Razorflails is pretty worthless since Wyches hit on 3+ most of the time and through drugs or PfP frequently hit 2+, and the Impaler... well. The Impaler is actually ok, with its -1 AP and 2 damage, but the Wych doesn't get a bonus attack and the Shardnet it's paired with does literally nothing. Razorflails could perhaps switch to being a re-roll of 1s to hit and wound, which I think would be an improvement. As for the Shardnets, assuming GW are determined not to bring back their old Attacks-reducing ability, there would seem to be a couple of possibilities- either give the Wych two additional basic Attacks like Lelith's hair does, or represent an entangling effect by adding +1 per net to the Wyches' No Escape roll. I have to say I really like the latter idea, since No Escape is one of the best things Wyches have going for them.

Top That
I really hope that Open Topped keeps being a thing, because it really is central to how Dark Eldar play. I'd like to see it improved a bit, at least for Wyches, to allow them to either jump out after the transport moves, or use a Pile In move to disembark into a combat that their vehicle has charged into that turn. Both of these might be considered powerful enough to be a Stratagem, which would still be an improvement. Also bring back Splinter Racks, pretty please.

Sneaky spiky pixie tricks
So let's talk Stratagems and Warlords. Chapter Approved was a good start, though I think DE should also get their own version of Cloud Strike to go with Webway Portal to allow Raider drops. The Crucible of Malediction should probably also be a Stratagem, so Psykers would have good reason to fear Dark Eldar armies. I'd really like to see some abilities where the Archon can punish his minions to inspire the rest- for example, inflicting Mortal Wounds on a nearby unit that fails to wipe out the enemy with a shooting attack in order to buff other nearby units with re-rolls, and of course it should be called "You have failed me for the last time.."

It'd be nice as well to bring back Duke Sliscus, Baron Sathonyx, and the other missing DE special characters, though Lady Malys might be tricky since despite still existing in the background she seems to have been basically replaced by Yvraine. (Same weapons- a fan and a blade, met a mysterious entity in the Webway, has unusual powers etc).

Anyway, this is all a bit wish-listy I know and I've barely scratched the surface, but I'll wind this up here. Tune in soon for the inevitable DE codex review in which I'll do my best not to whinge. Much.

Sunday, 14 January 2018

Daemons- Secrets, oddities, and the guy no-one wants at parties

So, I finally got my grubby paws on the new Daemons book this weekend, and got a game in with my Slaaneshi Daemons. Over the course of looking at the book, though, a few things came up which seem to have slipped under the radar a bit.

No-one likes Be'lakor any more
Way back in the mist-shrouded past (i.e. 7th edition) Be'lakor was Mr Popular, appearing in many Daemon lists. With his potent defences and ability to get Invisibility whenever he wanted to, any Daemon player having trouble would inevitably be told that the problem with their list was that Be'lakor wasn't in it.

Come 8th Edition, though, and Index Belly was a very different and much less appealing beast. He has access to the Dark Hereticus discipline which seems great (yay, Prescience and Warptime) until you realise that neither he, nor anything else in the Daemon army list has the HERETIC ASTARTES keyword, meaning those powers are completely useless without allies to cast them on.

Now the good news is that the Codex 'fixes' this problem. The bad news is that it does it in pretty much the worst possible way. Belly (I know, but it's easier to type) still has access to Dark Hereticus, but now according to the Daemons Codex that discipline only contains Infernal Gaze, Death Hex, and Gift of Chaos, a list of powers Traitor Legion players will recognise as 'none of the good ones'. In what's going to be a recurring theme here, the Codex calls this the Dark Hereticus discipline without acknowledging that a Discipline with the same name exists in the Chaos Marines book, leaving it more than a little unclear whether Belly can take the other powers if, for example, you're allying him with Traitors. You might think (and I would be inclined to agree) that it's clear he doesn't ever get access to the other powers since the page reference is pretty explicit, but this begs the question of whether he can cast, say Death Hex in a turn that an allied Chaos Sorcerer also casts 'his version' of Death Hex, since these two versions of the Dark Hereticus discipline are apparently different and therefore they aren't the same power. (Or are they?)

Now fortunately(?) this is unlikely to come up since there's another reason Belly is suddenly about as popular as a High School Quarterback who forgot which end-zone he was meant to run to in the vital seconds of the Big Game*, and that's his Allegiance, or lack of same. As the only (apparently) Undivided Daemon Prince in existence according to this book, putting Belly in a Detachment immediately kills off the DAEMONIC LOCI rule, so unless you're running a particularly odd Daemon Soup Belly's likely to find he's not only not on the team, there's no longer even a seat for him on the bus.**

The case of the disappearing Heralds, and the people who didn't notice
Shortly before the Codex was officially released (i.e. a few days after All Those Guys already had it) a leaked image revealed the points values for the Codex. This was very handy for me, my grousing aside, because it meant when I turned up at my FLGS on Saturday with my groaning Kaiser-4 bag stuffed with Daemonettes*** I already had a list written up, albeit one the exact capabilities of which I was rather guessing at. However, I noticed while doing this that the points for a  mounted Herald of Slaanesh, either on Steed or a Chariot, didn't appear to be there. When I voiced this concern I was reassured "oh yeah, don't worry, All Those Guys have been through the Codex and all the mounted Heralds are still there, just under different names."

Picture unrelated
Yeah, only not. None of the mount options for Heralds of Slaanesh made it across, not Steeds, not Seeker Chariots and not Exalted Seeker Chariots. Now on the one level this isn't a huge problem, because the Index entries are still valid and DAEMONIC LOCI works on 'all CHARACTERS' meaning that the Index heralds still get it, though the Herald on Steed does lose out on the charge re-roll for Unholy Speed since her version of the rule is simply being able to advance and charge (which the Locus does anyway).

On the other hand, this is a huge deal for several reasons:

Apparently no-one noticed: None of the previews or commentators I read noticed this omission, in fact some even directly claimed it hadn't happened. This seems to suggest a pretty high level of DILLIGAF on the part of those people.

Moving quickly is key to Slaanesh Daemons: Since Heralds give out a buff bubble that lets them Advance and Charge, they need to be very close to the other Daemons in the Charge phase. In most circumstances, the units charging will be big units of Daemonettes or Seekers, which can make it tricky to then keep a charge clear for the Herald, so the Herald needs to get very far forward to give out the benefit of their +1 Strength aura, which can be critical.

It fragments the rules: To play Slaanesh Daemons you still really need the Index. This is bad news for new players and makes any later errata or FAQ entries more complicated, as well as potentially causing problems in tournaments.

The Slaanesh Issue
This brings us to the other big worry with this book. Once again, GW seem to have got a bit of an issue with Slaanesh. The most obvious sign of this is the now-hilarious size and model quality disparity between the Keeper of Secrets and the other Greater Daemons. Of course, since  the Keeper is also the easiest to kill that's not such a bad thing from the player's point of view since it can at least try to hide, but it's still pretty glaring.

It's not just that, though. The Seeker Chariots, which are basically lawnmowers, are still less effective at running people over than a Blood Throne or even a Skull Cannon. (the Khorne chariots do Mortal Wounds on a 5+, the Seeker Chariots need 6+)  Delightful Agonies, a power lifted straight from the Chaos Marine book, causes the target unit to ignore wounds on a 6+, whereas the CSM version works on 5+ , whereas Miasma of Pestilence, the Nurgle power, is just as effective as its CSM counterpart. (At least the Daemon version of Delightful Agonies is slightly easier to cast, at WC5 instead of 6)

Rules Lawyer Interlude: I have no idea whether Delightful Agonies and Miasma of Pestilence, which have the exact same name as their CSM counterparts, count as the same power for the purposes of the Rule of One.

GW, Y U No Like Slaanesh?
It's (hopefully) an overreaction to assume that GW is trying to in some way phase out, or write out, Slaanesh. For one thing, since 40k allows you to play games set pretty much anywhere in a 10,000 year period, even if Ynnead kills the Dark Prince tomorrow the army would still have a reason to exist. (See also: Captain Tycho). But the company really does seem to be treating Slaanesh with marked (sorry) indifference of late. There are two competing theories for why this might be.

Theory 1:Mums Don't Like it
This one is pretty compelling as far as it goes. The old Juan Diaz Daemonettes, which I snapped up plenty of when they recently came up on Made To Order, were for me the only models so far to truly capture the 'disturbing beauty' aspect of Slaanesh.

They also disappeared from shelves pretty fast, and more than one fan suspects that a GW exec came in one day, saw that they were now selling practically-naked six-breasted women to 12 year-olds, and panicked. (Insert tired-but true 'death of billions is fine but a nipple-slip is an international outrage' comment here.) They were soon replaced by the 'after' picture of every beer-goggles joke ever that has persisted to this day. The only real counterpoint to this theory is that modern GW did, indeed, re-release those models for a limited time. I have no idea how well they sold, but every Slaanesh player I know of either bought them, or wanted to, which leads us into Theory 2:

Theory 2:Players Don't Buy It
This one is much more complicated to unpick. Apparently, Slaanesh, and Slaanesh Daemons in particular, is one of the least popular 40k factions. Now in part we have to play the Sororitas Gambit here and point out that if you keep giving a faction only minor model and rule support, you can't expect players to flock to it. But I think there might be another reason as well that ties somewhat into our other point. Here's one of my Keepers:

'Spider Daemon' by Creature Caster
And here's the other:
'Euralyia, Queen of Ker-Ys', by Mierce Miniatures
I could go through my Heralds (mostly Mierce), my Daemonettes (Mostly Raging Heroes) and so on, but the point is made. Since GW have been so unwilling in recent times to embrace the aesthetic that many Slaanesh players imagine, other companies have stepped in to fill the gap. This has two effects- firstly, it means Slaanesh doesn't appear on the GW sales sheet, and secondly it means it doesn't appear in most GW stores or events that require 'official' models. So not only do GW not see Slaanesh being sold, they don't see it being played.

The dawn light may be pink
It's rumoured that we might at some time in the future see Fulgrim, along with a Slaanesh 'wave' to rival those previously seen for Tzeentch, Khorne and Nurgle. It wouldn't take more than a new Daemonette kit, a new Keeper and some polished-up rules to get the Dark Prince back on its.. feet again, but we'll have to see if it pans out. Certainly I would hope GW wouldn't just bin the entire faction, and in all fairness their artists, at least, seem perfectly happy to embrace the Slaanesh aesthetic, as the artwork in the new Codex shows.

The make-up bit
Just as a final little point, I do think the new Daemon book is pretty decent, even for Slaanesh, despite my grousing. As BoLS put it, your army really is so fast that people think you're cheating, and it's fun to play if a bit tedious to move units of 30 Daemonettes. My reservations shouldn't discourage anyone from giving Slaanesh a try (in game, let me emphasise!) and in fact in light of that last bit I rather hope they don't!

*Attempted American sporting reference from a Brit who knows sod-all about the art of Gridiron.
** Misguided attempt to extend the previous metaphor.
*** I originally mis-typed that as 'Damonette' which is presumably a Daemon that makes inflammatory comments about sexual harassment at a deeply-ill-advised moment.

Thursday, 21 December 2017

The Ludicrosity Threshold

I saw The Last Jedi the other day, and overall I enjoyed it. Saying so obviously puts one in one trench or the other of a rather pointless argument at the moment, but as far as I'm concerned you can't tell someone else whether or not they liked something.

Anyway, that and a few other things I've read and watched recently got me thinking about suspension of disbelief and how people seem to have radically different thresholds for it, a phenomena I'm now christening the Ludicrosity Threshold. Now, The Last Jedi- and I'm treading carefully here to avoid the dreaded spoilers- takes some serious liberties with the laws of physics. Most notable is the implication that a spaceship needs to apply constant thrust to keep moving, which is a direct violation of Newton's First law, as Mass Effect memorably reminded us.

It annoyed me at the time a little, and I know I'm not the only one. Those fans who like to maintain wikis and make lore videos always find it especially irritating when things like this happen. The thing is, though, that it's not like Star Wars and physics have ever really got on all that well. From faster-than-light travel to slower-than light lasers (and swords made of lasers) to sounds in space and levitating space wizards, Star Wars has always been very much 'soft' sci-fi as opposed to the 'hard' sci-fi of something like The Expanse. The ships have always flown (and even that word is loaded) as if they were atmospheric or even naval craft rather than spaceships, and usually it doesn't bother us, but in this case, for me, it did. For some reason, my personal Ludicrosity Threshold was exceeded.

It might be that I just don't like Rian Johnson, at least with regard to the Threshold. I wrote a post some time ago about stupid time travel rules, and his movie "Looper" which like TLJ he wrote and directed comes in for heavy fire for its blatantly illogical approach to the subject. Meanwhile I'm a huge Dr Who fan and yet that show is constantly having to make all sorts of excuses for bizarre rules to stop everyone's favourite last son of Gallifrey (at least until Christmas) from just nipping back into the TARDIS for another go when things take upon themselves the aspect of the avocado.*

If this makes me some sort of realism hypocrite, then at least I'm in good company. I've lost count of the number of critics who line up to decry a sci-fi movie like "Johnny Mnemonic" or "Equilibrium" as 'hokum' and yet praise something like Woody Allen's "Midnight in Paris" the IMDB synopsis of which is:

"While on a trip to Paris with his fiancée's family, a nostalgic screenwriter finds himself mysteriously going back to the 1920s everyday at midnight."

Now I'm sorry, but if The Keanu can't have a data-vault in his head because it's 'hokum', then Owen Wilson doesn't get to meet F. Scott Fitzgerald and Salvador Dali. I still can't play the Dinner Party Game because I refuse to just say "I'd invite Albert Einstein" without specifying at what point in his personal timeline I'd pluck him from or how I'd stop him running off before the main course to attempt to memorise every physics article on the Internet. Do I have to neuralyse him afterwards?

The Ludicrosity Threshold becomes particularly interesting when applied as an argument for or against an element even being in a game or story. I talked some time ago about armour for fantasy adventurers and how people object to 'boobie armour' on grounds of realism and practicality but seem fine with oversized shoulder-pads that would crush the head of the wearer if he shrugged, and there's several other examples of that disconnect in that piece as well.

Any excuse to get Sonya into a post

Some people can't stand third-person perspectives because they let a player see things behind and to the side of them that they couldn't actually see. Others find the fact that in first-person you can't see things that should be clearly noticeable by peripheral vision every bit as jarring. For one person, any story in which magic plays a part is automatically devoid of merit and can have nothing interesting to say about anything. For another, setting fictional spy stories in the real world might seem stupid because they couldn't possibly happen in 'our' world for all sorts of complicated political and technical reasons. Hell, some people won't even read fiction at all for this very reason.

So what's the takeaway from all of this? For me, it's simply that the Ludicrosity Threshold- the suspension of disbelief, if you prefer, shouldn't be considered some sort of slam-dunk argument. It's a deeply subjective measure which can be great fun to debate- I'm sure more than one student got a great physics paper out of the swimming pool scene in "Passengers"- but just because one person gets 'taken out' of something doesn't mean everyone will. Much more important is to keep track of which rules you follow, and which you break, and at least stay consistent to that. A Babylon 5 Starfury might well fly according to proper physics, but if it turns up in Star Wars it needs to leave Newton at the door because that's just how they rolled a long time ago in a galaxy far, far away.

I like that ending, so the ending it shall be. A Merry Christmas to any who've read all this way down, and if you're still hungry for more and your Ludicrosity Threshold hasn't been exceeded, there's still a festive Orky Short you might enjoy..

*Overly complicated way of saying 'go pear-shaped'.

Monday, 18 December 2017

Fails of the Nephilim

For some reason, the Nephilim Jetfighter is a model Games Workshop don't seem to like writing rules for. In every edition of 40k since it's been available, the rules for the Nephilim have been of the sort where you read them and go "wait... what?" (See also: The Missile Lock Debacle) 8th Edition, however, seems to be a new height of sheer oddness for the poor things.

When you first look at the Nephilim, it seems to be a fairly decent Flyer. It packs either a twin Lascannon or the Avenger mega-bolter, twin Heavy Bolters and two Blacksword Missile Launchers, giving it plenty of firepower, and has access  to the usual Ravenwing rules and defensive rules for a fast flyer. So far, so good. However, since it's weapons are Heavy and it can't not move since it can't Hover, it relies on the Strafing Run rule to keep its effective BS at 3+.

Strafing Run.

Now let's look at that again in case this isn't jumping out at you- i.e. in case you either wrote the Codex, or play-tested it. The Nephilim is a Jet Fighter, which as we all know from Death From The Skies is an air superiority flyer. The GW Webstore says:

"The Nephilim Jetfighter is as an interceptor that establishes air superiority of over the battlefield, allowing troops to concentrate on ground targets with little concern for aerial assaut."

Because this whole thing annoys me, I'm going to be all Internet Debater for a moment and point out that they misspelled 'assault' up there. (Edit: Ye Gods, the more I read that quote the worse it gets. Who proof-read that?) Yeah, I know, cheap shot. Anyway, as we can see, and the Codex backs this up to by calling them "Sleek air-to-air interceptors" (P.47), the Nephilim is supposed to be for engaging flyers. Even its weapons are geared to this, with the Blackswords giving up a point of Strength to most other Flyer missiles and gaining AP instead, making them a little better against light Flyers.

And it has Strafing Run.

In case you aren't seeing the implications still (why hello Mr or Ms Codex Author, glad you could make it) this means with its Heavy weapons, the Nephilim can never hit an enemy Flyer on better than a 4+. If the Flyer is Airborne and therefore has the Hard To Hit rule, that drops to 5+. So we have an air superiority Flyer that can't hit other flyers with even the accuracy of the average Imperial Navy stick-jockey. Worse, the Dark Talon, which is already a better choice for most ground attack roles due to its Hurricane Bolters being Rapid Fire and therefore hitting on 2+ as well as having a more powerful big gun in its Rift Cannon, is actually better at hitting Flyers with those Bolters than the Nephilim. I'm not a spreadsheet guy, but I'd be willing to bet that the Hurricanes on the Dark Talon will match or even better the Nephilims entire arsenal against a Flyer through weight of shots and superior accuracy. And the Dark Talon, boys and girls, is cheaper and can Hover.

So, how do we fix the Nephilim, and does it need 'fixing'? You can probably guess from every word that has preceded this that I think the answer to the latter question is a resounding yes. You could make the case that the Nephilim as it is is a decent ground attack Flyer, and it sort-of-is, but the Dark Talon simply does that job better and cheaper. Fixing it is pretty simple:

The Nephilim should have Interceptor (+1 To Hit vs models with FLY) rather than Strafing Run.

Now there is a definite downside to this fix, in that the Nephilim would then become a less effective, or if you prefer even less effective, ground-attack Flyer. However, since ground units generally don't have a similar rule to Hard To Hit the Nephilim would at least still usually hit them on 4+, which isn't terrible for a unit engaging something that isn't its preferred target.

I've reached out to GW via Facebook and email over this, because it's patently obvious to me that something is wrong here. I'll post an update if I get a reply!

Friday, 15 December 2017

An early Christmas present

(Image Source)
It may be almost a week early, but I decided to revisit some characters for a festive 40k short. So, if you please, find The Ork Mass Miracle in the bar on the right or right at the link there. Merry Christmas!

Not that this is definitely the last post before Christmas, but still.