Monday, 29 February 2016

A quick look at Waaagh! Ghazghkull

As a long-time Ork player, I picked up the new version of Waaagh! Ghazghkull this week, and whilst there's been a bit of talk about the Big G himself I thought it might be an idea to take a more general look at it. Firstly, and this has been mentioned elsewhere but bears repeating, you can now take both the Gifts of Gork and Mork, and Orkimedes Kustom Gubbins in the same Detachment, so no more will Ghaz's ladz pine for the Lucky Stikk or Warboss Ghazbag's Blitzbike. This is pretty big.

Next, the special rules haven't changed, which is a shame. I don't consider 'Biggest an' da Best', which forces the Ork Warlord to accept Challenges and gives him re-rolls to Wound if he wins one, to be too much of a bother, but I really don't like the Mob Rule changes from 'Da Boss is Watchin'. It's supposed to represent 'better discipline' but it does it with a flat +2 modifier to Mob Rule, which means 'Born to Fight' is impossible and on anything but a natural 1 you get 'Squabble', which means the Boyz will leg it if there's less than 10 of them, not to mention that the self-inflicted damage goes up to D3+3 hits instead of D6. If 'Breaking Heads' and 'Squabble' were swapped, making it more likely that the Nob would keep the Boyz in line with a sound kicking, I'd sort of understand the rule, but forcing basically a worse version of the old 'check size'? No Sir, I don't like it, not one bit.

To be honest, the Warlord Traits table is a bit naff too, though not totally terrible, but like the Kustom Gubbinz you can now choose to use the one from the basic Ork book instead, and the Great Waaagh!-Band Detachment (which is not a zoggin' 'Decurion', ya gitz) gives a re-roll on any Warlord Traits table, so it's not a great problem.

Now, the GW!BD as I'm now going to call it because there's only so much abuse punctuation can take, is the meat of the book. You'll have seen elsewhere that you can make Big G Waaaagh! every turn including the first with it, and this makes everyone Fearless and him almost invincible. That's going to be strong, but it requires the Council of Waaagh! which is horribly expensive in points and really cuts down your options, since none of the other Formations let you take him.

This brings me to my biggest single impression of this book, unchanged since the previous one- it's really meant for big, big games and big collections. I don't have a major problem with that- the idea of multiple Chapter Masters, legendary heroes and demi-gods turning up to a 1000 point skirmish has nibbled the brain of more than one commentator- but it bears remembering.

So, assuming you don't want to run Big G, what's in this for you? Well quite a bit, but you have to dig a little. An early standout is the combination of either the GW!BD or the smaller Waaagh! Band, and either the Dakkajet Skwadron or the Air Armada. Both of these give you three Dakkajets, with Tank Hunter against Flyers in the former case and a free re-arm and repair for all planes, including a couple of Bommas, in the latter. The thing is, using the Waaagh! Plane rule, you'll be able to give each Dakkajet an extra shot for all three guns every turn. Dakkajets are one of the more reliable Ork shooting units as it is, with Twin Linked everything and Strafing Run as well as BS3 against flying targets if you splash out on a Flyboss, so this is a nice bonus on an already handy unit.

What else do we have? Well, Kaptin Badrukk returns, as frustratingly odd as ever, but he can now blob up with 20 Gitz, all with Master Crafted snazzguns. This is sooooo close to being great. Getting Badrukk without eating up an HQ slot is handy, and re-rolls for a unit as shooty as Flash Gitz are very nice. Problem #1 is the rules- Master Crafted lets each Git re-roll one miss per turn. Of course, if you roll all 60(!) dice at once, you can't know which Git missed and which Git hits (and they'll all say they hit, anyway) Strictly speaking, you would need to roll each Git's three dice separately, or find 20 different types of D6 in threes. It seems the community is resolving this by just giving the unit one re-roll per Git, which seems fair enough, but beware the rules lawyers on this one. Problem #2 is the size of the unit. Flash Gits like to sit in Battlewagons and Trukks and shoot out, especially now they've stopped spending precious Teef on armour. A Battlewagon, the biggest Orky transport available outside of Forge World, holds 20 models, which is the minimum number of Gitz you can take to make the Formation work... plus Badrukk. (Insert humorous ani-Gif of Stewie Griffin shaking his fist at the sky, or something. I'm not good at image-hunting.) So, either you don't blob and ride in two Battlewagons, or you blob, walk, and get shot all the way to hell and back. Still, the Gitz continue to move in the right direction, I think.

In general, if you want to use Oddboyz, you have to have a bit of a think about how the whole thing will fit together. Several formations come with one built-in, but other than that you can have only one per Core choice, and the Core choices are not at all small. It's still going to be tricky to lever in a Weirdboy, for example, which is a shame- no Convocation style formation for the greenskins feels like a missed opportunity.

A few other observations- the Blitz Brigade, already a nice formation since it straight-up gives you five Battlewagons with Scout, now also makes those Battlewagons inflict S10 hits when they Ram, which coupled with a Reinforced Ram making them AV16 when they do it makes Ramming something to actually consider. Units like Tankbustas, Burnas and Flash Gitz crammed into Scouting battlewagons can potentially get into first-turn firing positions to make Eldar if not actually jealous, then at least a bit grumpy. The Goff Killmob gives all the infantry in it a full re-roll of charge distances, which can be used optionally instead of 'ere we go, effectively giving the Orks Fleet, but comes with a 'tax' of a Gorkanaut, two Deff Dreads and a unit of Kans, which as we all know are either pretty good or explode the first time someone looks at them funny. The three Boyz units all have to be 20 strong, so it's a good thing they're fast runners, but obviously if you fit this thing into a GW!BD for the repeated Waaagh!, you have Fleet Orks who can run and charge every turn, which will possibly necessitate a change of underwear for some opponents. Mystifyingly, the Formation lets you replace the stock Warboss in it with Grukk Face-Rippa, the rules for whom are nowhere to be found in the book. Copypasta strikes again!

I'm running a little short of time so I'll leave this here today. I'll come back to the topic later, and see what we can do about making an army out of this thing. I'm not going to lie, the big units you have to take make it tricky, to say the least!

Sunday, 14 February 2016

Curse of the Wulfen- initial thoughts

So, I picked up the new "Curse of the Wulfen" campaign books the other day, and I thought I'd write up a few words on it. The TL/DR version is that if you're a Daemon or Space Wolves player, this is something you very much want to get your hands on, though if you're not interested in the other half of the book or the story, you'll be paying a pretty steep price for it.

The Story
The bigger of the two books is the 120 page background book, which is everything you've probably come to expect of this sort of thing by now- full colour, lots of very nice painted artwork in a consistent style, with maps, star-charts and miniature photography, topped off by the still-controversial colour scheme guides with much more basic art. Those of us, like me, who suck at banners will like the fact that there are several here just waiting to be colour photocopied and cut out for use on models.

I'm not going to go into spoiler territory here, but suffice it to say that we follow the Space Wolves as they respond to the emergence of the Wulfen, who appear pursued by daemons. The events lead up to interventions by the Grey Knights and Dark Angels, the latter of whom are rather being led about by the nose in a way that may well spell disaster for one or both Chapters. All the usual suspects get a bit of time in the spotlight- Logan, Stern, Azrael etc with the notable exception of Belial. (Oh, and given the nature of the story I thought it a little odd that Lukas the Trickster doesn't really do anything) There's even a tiny mention of the Sisters of Battle, who get to die heroically as usual.

I'm sure by now you've probably read the way this all shakes out, and it's certainly going to have repercussions though I suspect the Wolves will get through it.

The Rules- Missions
In the other book, we start with six Echoes of War missions, which cover some of the more notable parts of the story. Unsurprisingly, they all feature the Space Wolves heavily, as well as the Grey Knights and Dark Angels, whereas the opposition is mostly Daemons with the odd Chaos Marine. There are some interesting missions, with multiple small battlefields or two battles going on at once, as well as some head-scratchers that will need some work to get a proper game out of, like the mission where you race to see who can get a model off the board first which doesn't use points and doesn't really explain why you wouldn't just use a bunch of fliers.

The Rules- Space Wolves
Space Wolves are one of the few armies I don't play, so I can't go into much depth here. Firstly, the Wolves get most of the benefits they missed out on from the most recent Marine book, such as squadrons of tanks with the associated special bonuses for taking three (eg. Predators with Killshot). They also get a whole welter of new formations for different sorts of Pack, none of which quite reach the level of freebies that a Battle Company or Lion's Blade get, but which do have plenty of handy bonuses- the Spear of Russ that lets Land Raiders dish out POTMS to other Space Marine tanks stood out to me, as do the Iron Wolves who get free upgrades for their transports, can jump out even if the transports move 12", and can flat-out an extra 6". Again, there's the odd baffling omission or apparent mistake, like the revised Iron Priest who gets +1 to his repair rolls for every Servitor he has with him and, er, can't have Servitors. He does get Cyberwolves, but it seems cybernetically-enhanced canines aren't much good at passing a no. 6 wrench. Space Wolf Dreadnoughts still miss out on the extra attacks given to their more vanilla brethren in the most recent Marine Codex, which is odd.

As for the Wulfen themselves, you've read about all this by now I'm sure. They give assault based Space Wolves a nice boost in both speed and killing power with their Curse and hit pretty hard themselves, though I'm not sure that T4, a 4+ save, two Wounds and Feel No Pain are all that good in terms of survivability- top-table staples like scatter-laser Jetbikes and flying Hive Tyrants with twin-linked Devourers don't seem to have too much reason to fear. Expect plenty of arguments as to whether models who join the unit can borrow its ability to run and charge in the same turn- the wording is 'This unit can run and charge in the same turn..' which is a can of worms I'm not opening here.

Overall, though, this book is all give and no take for the Wolves, so if you play them, you probably want it. The same goes for our last entry for the most part...

The Rules- Chaos Daemons
This one is going to run and run. Daemon players seem pretty divided over this book and whether it's the best thing to happen to Daemons since Be'lakor or the worst thing to happen to them since Grey Knights. To start with the uncontroversial, each Daemonic psychic discipline gets three new powers, with Change doing particularly well, getting a strength D Witchfire and a flexible summoning spell. Compounding that are the new Hellforged artifacts, including a book giving the bearer all the powers from the Change discipline, so psychically inclined players can take Be'lakor and a LoC with this book and have two entire disciplines to choose from. There's plenty of other new toys too, mostly weapons for Khorne as well as armour that reduces the Strength of attacks by 1, gives a 3+ save and Adamantium will, and costs barely any more points than Warpforged Armour. Really, the power here will be in the combos. Another Khorne artifact gives out +1 Attack over an 8" radius, which stacks with the +1 from the core Khorne formation, for example.

For Datasheets, the various Bloodthirtsters appear, and with access to Rewards and Hellforged Artifacts are potentially more powerful than ever. Be'lakor and the Exalted Flamer also get proper Datasheets, though the Flamer is still only Infantry and is a single model with only Heavy weapons, so its usefulness is limited to put it kindly. Skarbrand also appears, and will combo monstrously with the rest of the book in the event he can be kept alive. Certainly an Invisible Skarbrand in the middle of a Murderhorde will be quite nasty even as Khorne purists weep tears of blood at the idea.

The Formations are where people will tend to part company with the book, but some have a lot of potential. The four 'core' formations, the Murderhorde, Tallyband, Warpflame Host and Flayertroupe all require what is at first blush a pretty huge number of models, but the benefits are quite strong. Notably, giving out +1 Attack to Bloodletters deals with one of their major weaknesses, and by the use of a Blood Throne it's possible for the entire formation to be affected by two Loci at once, particularly nice if you want to use Skulltaker without wasting his Locus. (For example, you could take this formation with Skulltaker, giving the whole thing Adamantium Will, and add a Blood Throne to dish out Hatred or Rage)

A common problem is that whilst these formations need a number of units equal to the sacred number of their god (a manageable 6 for Slaanesh, up to a painful 9 for Tzeentch) they only come with one Herald, making for a more bottom-heavy force than many Daemon players would like.

The other formations run the gamut. The Rotswarm seems fairly dumb, since it contains Beasts and Plague Drones but needs a foot-slogging Herald within 12" to use one of its rules. The Gorethunder Battery lets three Skull Cannons fire a single Apocalyptic Blast that becomes AP3, immediately moving them way up the threat list for MEQ, and also comes with a Blood Throne that doesn't do much for it and can safely be loaned out to buff up a Murderhorde with a second Locus.  Meanwhile the Grand Cavalcade makes Seekers, Seeker Chariots and Hellflayers run or flat-out an extra 6" which on top of the usual Daemon of Slaanesh and Fast Vehicle bonuses means the things practically teleport, though they're still quite easy to kill and have damage output that makes doing so a very good idea. Soul Grinders can be taken in a formation of three, the Forgehost, and get a handy buff, gaining re-rolls to hit and to wound in any phase in which another member of the Formation inflicts a casualty. This obviously helps them deal with their low WS and BS to an extent, and may come in handy for shooting down fliers if the first one drops a pie-plate or template on something for an easy kill. We should probably also touch on the fact that the Flayertroupe, the core Slaanesh formation, reduces the WS and I of opponents locked with it by 1, potentially helping the Grinders still further.

Leaving the best/worst till last, we come to the Infernal Tetrad. Oh my stars and garters. This bad boy is a formation of four Daemon Princes, each with a different Dedication. They gain buffs for how many of them are still alive, most notably getting +1T for all four. On top of that, they all gain the Warlord trait of any Prince in the formation who is the Warlord.. even if that trait is from one of the four Power-specific new tables in the book. What jumps out immediately is the one giving a Daemon of Tzeentch +1 mastery level, or level 1 if they aren't a Psyker, meaning your Khorne daemon prince could.. could... no, I can't type that, my keyboard is bleeding and brass horns are sounding in the distance.

Anyway, quite apart from all that, this means that, especially with the extra flexibility that the new Hellforged Artifacts give, it's quite possible with this Formation to make an army of nothing but flying Daemon Princes, most of which can also be psykers. The best/worst thing about this, of course, is the potential for making lots of fun unique models for each Prince, making it another army for which you want to strangle the player whilst at the same time loving the models. I certainly can't rule out giving it a go.

Anyway, apologies for the length of this. I really haven't scratched the surface of the options this book adds for Daemon players, so despite the odd derp I have to recommend it. Split the difference with a Space Wolf player for maximum mileage.

Friday, 12 February 2016

The Greenwater Bargain

I've uploaded another 40k short, 'The Greenwater Bargain', which you can find at that link or in the side-bar. Find out what happens when the Tau Water Caste resorts to hiring the Blood Axe Clan to help them out with a Chaos problem. What could possibly go wrong?

I've revisited/ borrowed an old Ork gag from the days of the "Ere we go" book, so props to anyone who spots it. Also, whilst I never tell people how to read something, it helps if you keep the British airmen from "'Allo 'allo" in mind whilst reading this one. You'll see what I mean.