Theorycraft

Earlier, LynchPin spoke about his Tau Force and I wanted to quickly discuss my plans for Dark Angels.

In most regards, the DA are standard Space Marines, but they have a fun back story and hidden agenda:

Back in the day, when Horus pulled an Anakin Skywalker and flipped to the Dark Side, most of the DA were away from their homeworld, Caliban, fighting for the Emperor out in the fringes of known space.  They got wind of the betrayal, but arrived at the party too late to stop Horus and his chaotic crazies.  They then got word of shenanigans at their homeworld, and when they got there, the guys in charge of safekeeping the planet had turned evil on the inhabitants and slaughtered everyone.

That pissed off the non-crazy Dark Angels, who then landed at the HQ and the head honcho (Lion El’Johnson) slugged it out with his boy-hood friend and second in command, Luther.  They accidentally opened a wormhole inside the planet, Star Trek style, and the only thing that saved them was the force field around their HQ castle.

DA_&_The_Rock

This “castle-monastery” is now called “The Rock” and floats around as their mobile HQ.  To everyone else, they say that Caliban was destroyed while anonymous bad guys assaulted them.  In secret, they know that their own guys lost it and went bad.  What makes this all worse is that the crazies that got sucked into the wormhole when the planet got destroyed started popping up randomly all over known space – they just kind of re-shuffled into existence.  So, now, the DA are on a secret crusade trying to find these “Fallen” before they cause too much damage, because the DA feel responsible for their existence, and are trying to keep their messed-up history a secret lest they be thrown out of the Imperial clubhouse.

That’s a really long winded way of saying that these guys are super-paranoid battle monks with an overactive Internal Affairs department.  What’s not to love?

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Some locals and I are getting our feet wet into 40k as a beer and pretzels game, and a way to tell some fun stories about our characters.  I’m likely to run Dark Angels (despite the earlier Tau Paint Scheme which is completely unrelated).  Buddy Ron is going to play Dark Eldar, and we may have a few others as well.  This is LynchPin’s thoughts on his Tau force.

Originally, I got my nerdly feet wet with a Warhammer Fantasy Dark Elf army back in high school. I played a few games here and there, but didn’t have much guidance or understanding on how to build a strategic army or fill army slots. But man was I sold on the models. My so called “army” consisted of the bare essentials of two regiments of Dark Elf spearmen followed by every big toy you can imagine; I had Malekith riding a dragon, Assassins, Ballista Warmachines, etc, etc. I didn’t really dive fully into the wargaming pool until I became enamored with Warhammer 40k 3.5 edition after I spent a couple of years in college. I poured over unit options, built solid armies, and strove to learn the Black Tome forwards and backwards. After experiencing the competitive scene for 40k though, I slowly abandoned the game in favor of a decade happily spent playing Warmachine. Though over the years, every so often, I find myself surfing over to the Games Workshop website on lazy Sunday afternoons to drool over new plastic kits and ever impressive sculpts from newly updated armies.

Malekith on Dragon, painted by Minus of DakkaDakka

Malekith on Dragon, painted by Minus of DakkaDakka

I’ve thoroughly allowed Warmachine to become the game I play as competitively as I can, but I do yearn for an opportunity to fiddle with 40k modeling and build a force based very little on tactics and competitive edge and more on a pleasing aesthetic that keeps a focus on what I enjoy modeling and telling a narrative about. I’ve been treading water, hoping one day to find a good group of like-minded people who were interested in doing a 40k project with the same aspirations in mind and who have decided to leave their razor sharp competitive edge dulled and rusted by sentiments such as: “oh that twin-linked flamer Crisis Suit looks awesome. I’m doing that.” And so I have. Continue Reading

My gaming buddies have been formalizing into a proper club over the past month, and one of the driving forces behind this has been running a charity event. This event, recently dubbed “Feat of Service” will benefit the Wounded Warrior Project. Awesome, right?

Feat of Service

The Event

The event format is right up my alley, combining the new Spell Draft format with the tried and true Who’s the Boss to make a fun “Create-a-‘Caster” type play day. Here’s how it works:

  1. Take the warcasters that come free in Warroom (Prime & Primal, Rahn & Kaelyssa, Barnabus & Carver, Magnus1 & MacBain)
  2. Remove their spells and all the fluffy bits
  3. Pick one of these “chassis”
  4. Pick your faction (your chassis uses your faction’s FOCUS/FURY mechanic)
  5. Build a 25pt list (using WJ/WB pts) for your faction, using what you know about the chassis (weapons, abilities, feat)
  6. Do a spell draft, using just the spells from the above warcasters
  7. Tack on the last 10 points to your list (buy back up to 5 pts from your original list via extra donations to WWP)
  8. Order bits, build, and paint your new warcaster along with a 500-word backstory and PP style Supervague™ description.
  9. Use your new custom warcaster to play in a Summer Rampage-esque, scavenger hunt-esque play all day style event.

There’s more details in some of the steps above, but that’s the jist of it.  There will be an award for the person who scores the most points (scavenger hunt), and one prize for the best converted & painted warcaster.  Lastly, there’s something for the club / group that donates the most to the WWP.

A Dry Run

So, this week, a few of us got together to do a practice draft ahead of time, so we had time to double check the event’s rules and test out a few caster concepts we had.  I decided to take Vlad1’s chassis (stat line, weapon stats & abilities, feat) and run it in Legion of Everblight.  My thought was that I could utilize a Harrier’s animus to guarantee Blood Boon, effectively paying 1 FURY for a 3 FURY spell.  In addition, doubling my warbeast’s SPD on my feat turn would be disgusting with Legion’s already fast beasts.  Since Vlad1’s chassis comes with two non-reach weapons, I figured I could do something based off the Bayal model, or the Swordsman Champion, and make a Hex Hunter caster.

73049_HexHunters_WEB

My starting 25(+5) pt force was:

  • Angelius (9)
  • Harrier (2)
  • Full Hex Hunters & Bayal (11)
  • Blackfrost Shard (5)
  • Shepherd (1)
  • Spell Martyr x2 (2)

I wanted to use the Hex Hunters because I love the models, and they would keep with the theme of the Warcaster.  Since they handle Infantry fairly well, I took an Angeliusto crack armor, with the help of the BFS.  The BFS are there to be a good toolbox, to help make up for any obvious deficiencies in my spell list (which could be anything).  The Spell Martyrs are there as filler,, but they also fit into the caster-y feel of the theme.

With 10 points to fill at the end, I know I want a second heavy, but I don’t know what it’ll be.  Maybe a Ravagore if I happen to snag Snipe or Deadeye.  Maybe a Carnivean if I snag Arcane Shield or Boundless Charge, just to push his armor or Assault range to ridiculous.

The Draft

Round 1: Eye of Menoth, Arcane Shield, Stone Skin, Snipe, Fail Safe, Boundless Charge, Parasite and Incite

I pick Eye of Menoth.  It’s a forcemultiplier on my Hex Hunters, since it’ll help them hit and then kill, which will trigger Battle Wizard, and they get the +1/+1 on their Hex Bolt too.  In addition, it’s on a 7 FURY chassis, it’s a decent area that will be affected.

Round 2: Wind Rush, Surefoot, Parasite, Snipe, Abuse, Malice, Skyborne

I pick Wind Rush.  The smarter choice is likely Parasite, but I’m so used to playing Butcher1, and I have “Vlad1” on my mind, so I’m in a super solo frame of mind.  Still, it’s a fantastic tool to get the warcaster where it needs to be, and it’ll help counter the fact that my chassis is only SPD 6 and DEF 15.

Round 3: Psychic Vampire, Banishing Ward, Razor Wind, Deadeye, Ghost Walk, Flesh Eater

I pick Psychic Vampire.  If I’d taken Striders, the two Snipes and this Deadeye would have been no brainers, but my Hex Hunters cast spells, they don’t shoot bows, and the only other thing in the army thus far with a ranged weapon is the Angel, so Deadeye’s not really worth it for me.  Ghost Walk is useless when I have pathfinder or flight on my beasts, and Banishing Ward just isn’t my style.  Psychic Vampire, however, is very much in theme for my concept, and is a great denial piece for the board.

Round 4: Energizer, Obliteration, Tornado, Mobility, Backlash

I pick Energizer.  For one, it’s a powerful battlegroup spell, and the guy these cards are headed to next is running Deneghra1 in Retribution, and I know he has a Phoenix in his list, so I’m not giving him Energizer.  Secondly, Backlash is too situational for me (relies on my opponent’s faction choice and list comp), and for the same reason I didn’t want Ghost Walk, Energizer is a better spell for Legion than Mobility.  Also, Obliteration and Tornado are too expensive to be Blood Booned, so they’re not worth it.

It was here that I realized I hadn’t yet picked up a zot spell for Blood Boon, and I was really missing that Razor Wind from the previous round.

Round 5: Snipe, Boundless Charge, Stone Skin, Failsafe

I pick Snipe.  My first round cards are back to me again (there are only 4 people in each draft “pod”), and the choice is obvious.  I have more than enough speed boosts, and Failsafe is useless for me.  Between Stone Skin and Snipe, it’s no contest.  Warmachine is a game of amplifying your best trait, not sacrificing what you’re best at in favor of reducing weaknesses.

Round 6: Malice, Abuse, Surefoot

I pick Malice.  Surefoot is cool, but not in theme or terribly necessary, and only affects one model.  Abuse is handy, but I really need a Blood Boonable zot, so I have to chose Malice, because I don’t remember there being any other useful zots in the next two rounds.

Round 7: Razor Wind, Flesh Eater

I pick Razor Wind.  I should have picked Abuse last round, but them’s the cards.

Round 8: Tornado

So, now I have my 8 spells: Eye of Menoth, Wind Rush, Psychic Vampire, Energizer, Snipe, Malice, Razor Wind, Tornado

The next step is picking FOCUS/FURY – 1 spells to keep.  Since I’m on a 7-FURY chassis, I need to pick 6 spells.

Malice is a more situational, weaker Razor Wind.  It goes.  Tornado can’t be Blood Booned, despite being a nice control piece, and potentially in-theme.  It goes.

I’m left with:

  • Eye of Menoth
  • Wind Rush
  • Psychic Vampire
  • Energizer
  • Snipe
  • Razor Wind

The Final List

Now that I know what my caster does, I need to figure out my last 10 (15?) points.

Eye of Menoth amps everything, so it won’t affect my list much.  Psychic Vampire is defensive, so not a worry for list building.  Wind Rush and Razor Wind are selfish, so don’t affect list building, and Energizer helps everything.  Notably, it’s awesome for a Ravagore, since it gets to move 3″ and still aim.  Considering Snipe targets, I could bring in Striders and really be nasty, but that leaves me with only two beasts, generating only 6 FURY a turn if they’re full.  I definitely need a second Heavy.  I think a Ravagore will use Snipe nicely, especially when combo’d with Energizer, and cycled onto the Angelius until the enemy closes.

So I have a pair of Spell Martyrs that really won’t do me any good.  If I’d had something like Eruption of Spines, Parasite, Calamity, or Ashes to Ashes, they’d be more useful, but with my exiting setup, not so much.  They can go.

I decide on this for my final list:

  • Hyraal, Will of Everblight
    • Angelius
    • Ravagore
    • Harrier
  • Full Hex Hunters & Bayal
  • Blackfrost Shard
  • Full Spawning Vessel
  • Shepherd

The Model

Gameplay is just one aspect to the event, hobby is as well.  One of the reasons for doing the draft nearly a month ahead of time is so that you can order bits, build, convert and paint your warcaster.

I would probably pick up Bayal’s Left and Right sword arms, and use the Swordsmen Champion’s body for at least the legs.  I could spice up one sword by using Kallus’ blade.  I might be able to use Anyssa Ryvaal’s torso, and use Captain Farilor’s cape.  Lastly, I’d probably use Anyssa Ryvaal’s head, or Bayal’s.

This is a fairly crappy mock-up, most of the bits store images had to be scaled down to the Chapion’s body, which is the smallest of the images.  It still gives you an idea of what’s possible.

Hyraal

 

Other Thoughts

I could have used a few other chassis for this same idea.  Rahn would have worked very well with the Hex Hunters and BFS, and might have warranted a Sorceress on Hellion or even a Throne of Everblight.  I could have used Kallus’ blade, since it’s nice and big and could be thought of to have reach.  I could have also used Magnus1.  His free upkeeps would be in a super-magic-user-esque theme, and something that knocks down could be portrayed by a magical gauntlet or orgoth artifact.  I could have also gone a completely different direction, used Butcher1’s chassis and tried my hand at a Nephilim Warcaster.  Any of the Troll warlocks would have also been a solid choice, adding Tough on top of their stat line and feats.  Lastly, I could combine both my theme and the idea for a Nephilim Warcaster via Asphyxious1.

All in all, this is a great format that will be used to benefit a fantastic charity.  The definition of win-win!

Check out more at: http://www.novanomads.com/featofservice

We have a Journeyman League starting up in a few weeks, and the first tier is a 15pt Highlander army.  For those unfamiliar with the format, it requires an army to have one unit, one solo, a warcaster and then you can fill with Warjacks/ Warbeasts, but they’re all FA:1, so no duplicates (like twin Hunters or Berserkers).

It’s a great way to start off a Journeyman league, since it forces participants to have a unit and solo painted, and with the 15 pt restriction, it also usually comes down to a Heavy and a Light Warjack.  Overall, it’s a nice, rounded format.

As I bet you can tell, I’m focused on Cygnar at the moment, so I’m looking at what I want to do.  Painted models must be used, but they can be painted at any time.  Only models painted since Jan 1, 2013 count for painting points, though, so right now, only the Black 13th and Reinholdt count for me.

B13th_front_small

As tempting as it is to use them, I don’t have a great way to protect them in such a small army.  They really want a cloud to stay in, so Swamp Gobbers are a great 1 pt attachment for them, being able to drop a 5″ cloud to hide inside (and provide Stealth, since they all have Prowl).  Unfortunately, being a unit, I can’t use them and the Black 13th.  Gorman would work, though, but putting him and the Black 13th out there would just be far too juicy of a target.

So, I’m entertaining the idea of running a different unit, despite the fact I’ll have to paint it.  Before I get into that, though, let me discuss the warcaster I’ll be taking.  I’m 100% set on using Commander Coleman Stryker (stryker1).  He’s my favorite Cygnar warcaster, and brings a lot to the table.  Snipe, Blur and Arcane Shield are all great, his Earthquake provides an answer to many tough situations, and his feat lets me ignore the enemy’s attacks for one round, letting me be brash and bold with tactics.

Also, I have the alternate sculpt, which just looks fabulous.  It needs to be painted up, though.

Ok, back to unit choices.  UAs and WAs are allowed, so Stormblades come to mind, but at 15pts, 8 would be required to plop down the unit + UA, since they really, really need the Assault to function properly.  Plus, I’d like to give them Arcane Shield, some Stormgunners, and perhaps Tough from Rhupert, but…  Well, they just need too much support for this format.

Sword Knights, though, would be great.  I will undoubtedly have a jack or two, so their Flank [Faction Warjack] will get some use, and they’re cheap – 4 pts for six dudes.  They love reach ‘jacks because of Flank, and Stryker likes a Lancer for arcing Earthquake and shuffling buffs, so that’s a nice match.

Long Gunners would also work well.  I wouldn’t have considered them, but I recently watched a Battle Report that had them in a 25 pt army, and they filled a nice role.  They’re considerably more expensive, at a point a piece, but with Snipe, they could easily out-range anything on the board.  They can take out the enemy tar pit, or CRA into harder targets.  Coupling a few ranged focused ‘jacks and solo with them could be a very nice start to a gunline.

Overall, I think the 15pt size of the army requires it to be specialized.  I have to pour everything into melee or ranged – I can’t afford to try and be balanced.   So, I need an all melee or all ranged army.  Luckily, Stryker can play both those games.

Melee List 1

Commander Coleman Stryker (*6pts)
* Lancer (6pts)
* Centurion (9pts)
Sword Knights (Leader and 5 Grunts)(4pts)
Captain Arlan Strangeways (2pts)

This list has two ‘jacks with reach, and loads of armor.  The Centurion is ARM 21 with it’s shield, and a whopping 29 under Arcane Shield and Stryker’s feat.  The six Sword Knights shouldn’t have trouble finding targets that let them utilize their Flank ability.  Strangeways’ Power Booster won’t really be necessary, but his spray attack, Evasive ability and Repair skill will all be very useful in keeping the ‘jacks alive long enough to close the distance.

Melee List 2

Commander Coleman Stryker (*6pts)
* Firefly (5pts)
* Centurion (9pts)
Sword Knights (Leader and 9 Grunts) (6pts)
Stormsmith Stormcaller (1pts)

Still two ‘jacks for reach, but four more Sword Knights this time.  The Firefly helps the Stormsmith solo drop lines, and offers some added anti-infantry with Electro-Leap on the gun.  While more interesting, I feel this list is really only string against Warmachine, since the Disruption effects are lost on Hordes models.

005_New_Barrel

Ranged List 1

Commander Coleman Stryker (*6pts)
* Sentinel (4pts)
* Defender (9pts)
* Squire (2pts)
Long Gunner Infantry (Leader and 5 Grunts) (6pts)

This list forms a decent start to a gunline.  The Sentinel protects Stryker from enemy shots, and can cut loose up to 6 shots of its own.  The Long Gunners can aide in taking out infantry with solo or 2-man CRAs, or assist the Defender in taking out harder targets.  The Squire helps Stryker manage his upkeeps and feed focus to the ‘jacks, lets him spread out more with 2″ added to his Control Area, and lets him re-roll missed spell attacks when he lets lose with that occassional Earthquake.  The only problem is that there’s nothing to help defend the Long Gunners, so they’ll be dependent on terrain for cover / concealment, since they can’t benefit from Snipe and Blur / Arcane Shield.

Ranged List 2

Commander Coleman Stryker (*6pts)
* Charger (4pts)
* Hunter (6pts)
* Sentinel (4pts)
Long Gunner Infantry (Leader and 5 Grunts) (6pts)
Reinholdt, Gobber Speculator (1pts)

This list doesn’t stand a chance against a heavily tanked force, but it has enough vectors that if I can land an Earthquake, it would be game over.

Something else entirely…

I could also do something completely different:

Baldur the Stonecleaver (*6pts)
* Woldwatcher (5pts)
* Woldwarden (9pts)
Stoneward and 5 Woldstalkers (5pts)
Druid Wilder (2pts)

or maybe…

Thagrosh, Prophet of Everblight (*5pts)
* Harrier (2pts)
* Shredder (2pts)
* Carnivean (11pts)
Blighted Nyss Legionnaires (Leader and 5 Grunts) (4pts)

or…  or…

Working up a new paint scheme for an army is nearly as hard as picking a character for your D&D campaign. It’s something you’ll be stuck with for a long time, and it’ll be the most iconic and easily recognizable thing about you. For instance, when I think of some of the local guys, I think of Ron’s snow white Khador, or Mason’s purple Legion, and Chris’ bright green Retribution.

I don’t want to try to cover color theory today, that’s fairly easy to find information about. Primary colors, secondary colors, complementary or neighboring colors, tertiary and ismoetric, yadda yadda.

Science!

Instead, I want to cover what makes a good scheme, and how to then apply that scheme to a model.

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