Saturday, November 28, 2009

The Power Gamer in me

First, the requisite preface. Played 3 games; 2 were Warriors of Chaos, 3500 versus Vampire Counts 3500 point lists. The one i am about to discuss was the middle game, the second WoC vs. VC 3500. If you wish to skip the preface and get straight to the game, skipping my meandering personal reflection, look for the line of asterisks ***********************

Going into the first game, I had a plan in mind that would ensure fun game all around and hopefully end up in a close outcome. Instead, an opportunity arose to deal with a huge problem for my army that, when I conceived of the solution, did not seem like a big deal. However, after I enacted it, not only did it keep my army from facing one huge completely destroyed the VC army because I ended up killing the army general...

So I was already miffed at myself. Mostly over that.

And that a little incident for whatever reason set me off and in the second game, like an idiot, I went power-gaming. For the first time ever, I took the Black Tongue. I went cheesy with my core, 4 basic Marauder units that I deliberately placed where they would never get involved in the game. I loaded up on Kholek Suneater, a flying Prince with Tendrils, 4 2nd level sorcerers, the cannon, a warshrine, and two units of Knights; 5 and 15.

Then, when I won the roll to choose table sides, I did something I also should not have done; either side would have worked for what i\I was trying to do, but one would put the VC in a very disadvantageous position...and I made him take that side.

Anyone who has not read this blog for a while might not see the problem. I played smart and hard, put together a list that was well set up to win a game, then took advantage of a field set-up that exacerbated the situation.

here is the problem; it speaks to one of my personal flaws that I have worked very hard on but that sometimes comes back and rears its ugly head. In the past, I was hyper-competitive. I would push every advantage, every edge.

And I regret that. I have worked hard on just enjoying the process, ignoring the results. The hobby should be about hanging with friends, having a good game, enjoying time. I want everyone to have a good time.

What I do not want to do is smash people into a hopeless ball, to crush their armies (or, in other games, completely dominate them in whatever the competition is) and win at the cost of them having a good time.

So when I let irrelevant things bother me and I move from enjoying a game to trying to win by massacre, the flaw and problem belongs to one person; me.

That is a problem with me, one that has been a problem for years that I keep thinking I have gotten rid of but keeps rearing its ugly head. Grr.

And even though I regret it as I do it, it doesn't stop me.

That is strike two on my career in Warhammer. If I cannot avoid doing things like that, I will have to think long and hard about whether I should play. I do not want to be a power-gamer, a winning matters more than making sure everyone enjoys the game person. Right now I feel lower than a night crawlers belly. I suck.


So anyway, here is the power-gaming result.

Warriors of Chaos Turn 1
The Cannon passed its leadership test. Cool. No charges. I advanced Kholek, the Prince and the unit of Knights onto a hill on my right flank. Most of the VC were crowded into their corner on my right flank with a forest in front of them and village on their right (in the center of the table) so I could take on one unit at a time and keep them bottled up coming out of there.

Meanwhile, my wizards took the hill in the center of my deployment zone. This meant all but one of my wizards (who had Pandemonium and Baleful transmogrification, so needed no line of sight) had line of sight to almost the entire VC army, as did the cannon. I advanced my unit of 15 Knights a bit, far enough that if he moved his Blood Knights (alone on his left flank with 2 Vampires) very far, I would get the charge. If he didn't, then the forces I had concentrated on my right flank would take out his other units one at a time.

As you can see, the power-gaming was in full effect. Just like a good chess player controls the center of the field to limit the options their opponent has, I had it dominated.

Time for the magic phase. I first loaded up Infernal Gateway at his Black Knights...and got Irresistible Force. rolled up 7 attacks but only 1 Knight died. Then got off Pandemonium.

Now, in a normal game, I would warn my opponent of how dangerous it is, particularly for an army packing about 20 power dice. This time I instead emphasized how many other power dice I had.

So he let it go. A few Flickering Fires and the bound spell in my Banner of Wrath got thrown and time for shooting.

I deliberately guessed about 2" short, not realizing the scatter dice hits 1/3rd of the time. I thought it was 1/6th. Well, if it had scattered even 2" in any direction except back towards me it would have been lethal. Instead it...stuck.

My Warshrine got an "Eye is Closed: result, but Kholek ripped into his Blood Knights but could only put one down.

Vampire Counts Turn 1
He moved the vamps on my left flank over behind a fence. (If I were playing normal, I would have pointed out my Prince could fly over it. being a jerk on this night, I did not.) He advanced some Grave Guard up to draw the charge of my Frenzied Chaos Knights and put his Black Knights in the forest to my right where, after I charged the Grave Guard, he would hit my flank.

Magic then wrecked the phase. He tried Wind of Undeath and I used a scroll. He tried a couple other things to no effect, and then he mis-cast something with his second vamp...and failed the roll. So I used Black Tongue and Infernal Puppet to wound his Vampire who had cast it, make him lose a level and that spell.

I then let him Ven Hels Danse Macabre forward his Black Knights. Now, instead of being ready to flank, they were trying to draw the charge of my Knights who, if they over-ran, would get stuck in the forest.

Warriors of Chaos Turn 2
I had a real debate. If I were playing normally, I would play weakly: I would charge my Prince into his general in a one-on one duel, charge his Grave Guard with Kholek, charge his Black Knights with my Chaos Knights and have some epic and fun combats. But, being in idiot mode, I did none of these things. No charges declared.

Then I foiled his plan. Using the FAQ contradiction (it allows a wheel the rulebook does not) I avoided his Black Knights and charged the Knights into his Grave Guard. This put them out of line of sight of his Black Knights, made sure none of his other units could get past our combat, and basically pinned him in place. I then got Kholek and the Prince in position to shoot his pinned units.

Magic saw my second consecutive Irresistible Force on the Infernal Gateway and this time I did 11 S8 hits on his Blood Knights, killing all 9. Kolek then had no target for his shooting. The Warshrine then gave my engaged knights Stupidity. Bwoohahaha. I deserved that.

The Cannon I fired at one of his Corpse Carts and landed it dead center. It "hit" yet again....and did no damage. Whatever.

In close combat, I struggled. Despite having 16 S5 attacks hitting on 3+ and 8 S4 hitting on 4+, I could only do about 6 casualties. By the time the dust cleared, I only won the combat by about 2.

Vampire Count Turn 2
He tried to charge my 15 Knight unit but failed, leaving him about 7-1/2" away. There was no other movement he had the option of doing because of the cramped corner conditions.

Magic got painful as Pandemonium turned Mannfred's Irresistible Wind of Undeath into a mis-cast, and Infernal Puppet turned that into a 2 which means he was killed. He then had 2 or 3 more mis-casts when he rolled doubles, which allowed me to stop both of his Corpse Cart Vigor Miasmas easily. Also, one of them let me cast my own spell, which naturally was Infernal at his Blood Knights, whacking about 3 of them. Yeah, game was pretty much over at this point.

Warriors of Chaos Turn 3
Chaos Knights charge his Blood Knights (by now down to about 3 from all the Kholek shooting, Infernal Gateways, and so forth). Kholek and Prince hang out on the hill for no apparent reason.

Again the Cannon hits dead center on a Corpse Cart...except this time it mis-fires. And I roll the one where I roll 3d6", and every unit in that range takes d6 S5 hits. I deserved that. It hit every unit I had except Kholek and the 5 Knights. I lost 2 or 3 Marauders from all 4 Marauder units, lost a wound from one level 2 sorcerer and the prince, but got away without losing a Knight.

I then forgot to roll for the Warshrine.

In close combat I destroyed the rest of the Grave Guard except his standard Bearer who somehow, even after combat resolution, survived.

His Blood Knights did not.

About this point we called it. I missed a turn somewhere, because it was after 4 turns that we called it (and after the Warshrine FINALLY gave me something useful....a +1 Attack on the 5 Knights). He could not get out of the corner, it would be turn 6 before I got over there to attack them, and a game like this, is it really fun anyway?

He had no Vampires or magic-users left. The only thing I had lost that mattered was the Cannon, and that I had done to myself. he never did a single casualty to me in the entire game.

So, yeah...power-gaming is a bad, bad idea. It is not fun for me and I seriously, seriously doubt it is fun for the opponent. When I do it, I feel like a jerk while doing it and after. It is a game i look back on in disappointment in myself, not in joy.

It does not bother me if other people power-game because everyone should enjoy the game in their own way. But it does bother me when I do it and I am going to work hard to ensure it does not happen again.

This is the first time I have set out from the building of an army list to do so and it will be the last.

My apology to my opponent and I hope you forgive me. My bad, it will not happen again.

Saturday, November 21, 2009

Showing the Game

Space Monkey and I wanted to show the game to K-girl. We wanted to show movement, the shooting phase, the close combat phase, and keep it simple. I put together the following two armies, trying to be as balanced as possible.

Warriors of Chaos
Exalted hero with shield
He would show the power of a hero and how Armor Saves work.

16 marauders
No upgrades; they would show the power of ranks and numbers and how S3, T3 troops can perform while also showing how fragile unarmored troops are.

(12) Chaos Warriors w/Shield
They would show what 2 attack, S4, T4 troops with good armor save can do.

(5) Chaos Knights
They would show the power of fast, hard-hitting troops (HA!)

Dwarf List
Gave him a shield; would show how slightly different power levels of heroes can have major impact.

20 Warriors
See Marauders above

10 Thunderers
They would demonstrate the shooting phase, the power of S4 Armor-piercing, and the downside of Move or Fire

(10) Miners
They would demonstrate the power of S5 Weapons when you will strike last anyway

This would demonstrate the power of allowing no armor save and the unpredictable nature of stuff that can mis-fire or just plain deviate from where you planned it to go.

The first game would be K-girl and I as Chaos. I handed her the Exalted Hero and the Warriors, not wanting to overload her. I showed her how to put them in ranks of 5 (to maximize the rank bonus as long as possible against the hail of Dwarven lead) and how to "hide" the hero in the unit. They went on the left flank.

I took the Marauders and Knights, putting them on the right flank.

Space Monkey put his Cannon and Thunderers in a line across the center of the field, his Miners opposite the Warriors and his Warriors opposite the Marauders/Knights.

We won the roll to go first.

Warriors of Chaos Turn 1
The value of this game was not, and when teaching someone the game, should not, be in winning or losing but rather showing the basics. So I explained to her the option of Walking forward or Marching forward. She wisely advanced the Warriors 8".

I did the same with the Marauders, then decided to show her how to wheel, so I wheeled the Knights twice, also effectively hiding them from the Thunderers. With marches and wheels demonstrated, we passed the turn.

Dwarf Turn 1
Having learned from his shaky past (:-)), Space Monkey had no movement but went straight to shooting. We showed her the rule that guess-range weapons go first. He then aimed at the Marauders, hoping to bounce-through against the Knights. His shot flew to just short of the Marauders, then only hit 2 ranks of them. This was good, though, as it allowed us to demonstrate the rule on always removing casualties from the back row, even though the Cannon Ball hit in the front.

He then fired on the Marauders with the Thunderers which allowed us to show how to figure to-hit rolls. About 3 more fell, which allowed us to show her the Panic test and Will of Chaos rules. So far, so good.

Warriors of Chaos Turn 2
She already knew she needed to march. I then marched the Marauders forward, and then showed her how to use them as a "screening" unit, advancing my Knights so if he chose to fire at them with the Thunderers, he would have but 3 guys shooting.

Dwarf Turn 3
He knew the Warriors were now in charge range of his Miners, so we showed her the :turn" maneuver, and explained his strategy in a 1-1/2" retrograde movement. This moved him slightly out of charge range with his Miners, but would allow them to flank charge the Warriors if the Cannon crew held for even a single turn.

His cannon shot then flew well over the head of the Warriors, doing no damage. The thunderers continued to chip away at the Marauders.

Warriors of Chaos Turn 4
Here we had a slight delay as we explained her options; she could declare a charge on the cannon, which was almost certainly in range. She asked a good question about the wisdom of just walking forward so she could go after the Miners. We pointed out that would allow him to charge her instead AND allow him another full turn of shooting...which is good for the Dwarfs and Bad for the Warriors of Chaos.

I would be charging the Warriors with both my Marauders and Knights.

She finally elected to charge and of course made it by about a half inch, which showed she would have failed had she charge the Miners.

We showed her the "charge in order you declare charges" rule...and it turned out the Warriors were about 8-1/16" inch away. Maybe less than could have slid a piece of paper between the end of 8" and the tape. If I had straightened my lines at the end of the previous turn, i would have made it. However, this allowed us to show her the effects of a failed charge. Besides, with the Knights charging in, did it matter?

Since the Knights cause Fear we were able to show her a Fear test which the Warriors naturally passed. The Knights charged in.

We worked out that combat first to show her how it worked. The Knights had 10 attacks needing 3s to hit. They only hit 3 times. Uh-oh...and then only 2 of those wounded. Then the horses hit just once and wounded none at all.

With him having three ranks, we had already lost, not to mention being outnumbered.

We showed her how now only 3 Dwarfs got to attack back since the other two had been slain. They could not touch the Knights, but still we lost...and failed the Break test.

And ran about 15".

So we were able to show failed test, breaking, flee and pursuit AND pursuit into fresh enemy as he clipped the Marauders.

On the other flank, her Exalted Hero hit 3 times and slew 2 Cannon Crew and her Warriors finished off the last one. This allowed us to show her the "friendly unit destroyed" break test, but both the Thunderers and Miners passed.

We then over-ran and hit the Thunderers.

Dwarf Turn 4
The only un-engaged unit he had was the Miners, who moved to get an angle on the Chaos Warriors. Close combat saw the Thunderers take a few casualties, break...and flee 2". The Warriors pursued right off the board which allowed us to show her that rule.

The Dwarf Warriors and Marauders had a pointless combat that saw little damage done, and the Marauders passed their break test which allowed us to show her multiple-turn combat.

Warriors of Chaos Turn 5
Since he had turned his Miners, we would be getting the Warriors charged next turn, so she just reformed to face them. The Knights...failed their rally test, rolled another massive 15" run, and fled the board after having done two casualties and taken none. Yeah, they ruled the field....

Meanwhile, the Marauders got to strike first but could not wound, the Warriors did wound, broke the Marauders, and over-ran them.

Dwarf Turn 6
He charged in. This brought the Thane into combat with the Exalted Hero, which allowed us to demonstrate the Challenge rule.

His Thane wounded twice, but she saved both with Armor, showing her the power of a good save. She then managed to get a wound through on the Thane. Her Warriors took a casualty and did one back. We showed her combat resolution which, thanks to outnumbering, favored the Warriors of Chaos. The Dwarfs held, though.

Warriors of Chaos Turn 6
In the challenge, the Exalted hero slew the Thane. The Warriors slew 3 Miners, leaving just one to attack back who failed to hit. The Miners broke, the Warriors ran them down.

Dwarf Turn 6
The Dwarf Warriors were almost to the WoC deployment zone after their pursuits of the Knights and then Marauders, so that was game.

The Knights were 200 points, the Marauders 64, giving him 264 points of a possible 571ish.
the Dwarfs, meanwhile, with same starting total, had 160 points left on the field so about 410-264, a difference of 143 points (we did not count the bonus for killing his general) and spit-balled the result, calling it somewhere around a minor or major victory. We wanted to emphasize the point was to have fun, not win or win by a lot so deliberately downplayed the victory.

It also allowed us to show her how quickly and easily a game can swing. When the Dwarfs had suffered but 2 casualties by the time the Warriors of Chaos had seen their elite Knights and very much not-elite Marauders flee, it looked like the Dwarfs would win via massacre, but a couple turns later, the fortunes were completely reversed.

This was about as good an outcome as you could have for an introductory game. It allowed us to show a lot of rules, get her used to movement and close combat.

Now, if only I had remembered to have her roll on the Eye Table when she slew the Thane....

Game Two: Flipping sides
Since she had experienced moving, this time I gave her the Thunderers and Cannon while I took the Warriors, Thane and Miners.

I showed her how a cannon set up in the corner could still control the whole field, as could Thunderers. This time, we went by rules for set-up. We rolled higher, so had to set up first. She put her Thunderers against the left side of the field. Next to that went the Cannon, then I put the Warriors on our right flank and the Miners between the Cannon and Warriors so they could either refuse the flank if the shooters were heavily attacked or the right flank if the Chaos Warriors rambled through the Dwarf Warriors.

Space Monkey put his Knights opposite the shooting flank and everyone else on our right flank, leaving the middle of the field open. He won the roll to go first.

Warriors of Chaos Turn One
He showed her how fast cavalry can move if not hampered by using infantry as a screen, moving them forward a full 14". He then marched on the other flank (he also had the Exalted Hero with the Chaos Warriors, just as we had).

Dwarf Turn 1
She wanted to move the Thunderers, which gave us a good opportunity to show her the Move or Fire rule. She wisely elected not to move. The Dwarfs hung out getting a sun-tan and getting ready to shoot.

From having watched Space Monkey, she knew she had to fire the cannon first. We explained the options; shoot it towards the Marauders, hoping to penetrate ranks and get some Warriors too, or go after the Knights. She (wisely, in my opinion) went after the Knights. And with a good guess, got the cannonball to hit one, slaying him.

She then fired with the Thunderers. 3 wounds on the Knights, three rolls needing 3s to save. They could have needed 2s and still died as Space Monkey managed to roll triple 1s. OUCH! 4 Knights dead on turn 1!

On the bright side (?), the last one passed his break would have thought with Insane Courage at the rate at which Space Monkey was dialing up the ones. But no.

Warriors of Chaos turn 2
The obligatory charge declared, but the Thunderers passed their Fear test and fired...and this time only 3 wounds. Which was 2 more than they needed, as he failed 2 of them, again rolling ones.

Wow, two games in a row the Knights are eliminated without doing a single casualty! How awesome are those Knights? I know I fear them... :-)

Anyway, he moves his remaining 2 units faster than walk but slower than march. A hasty calculation on my part puts them about 7" away.

Dwarf Turn 2
I move my Miners back an inch and a half to make sure the cannon has a clear shot. Another good guess slays 2 Marauders and 2 Warriors. The Thunderers shoot, but can only take out 1 or 2 marauders.

Warriors of Chaos Turn 3
He sets his Warriors to demonstrate the power of the flank charge, then charges his Marauders into the Dwarf Warriors. Their furious charge slays one or two, the Warriors cannot wound in return, but pass their break test.

Dwarf Turn 3
The Miners get the flank charge on the Marauders.

The Thunderers, with no target, get to move. She is going to wheel, but I show her how a reform will be more effective. She does so, reducing the front rank to 6, but they now have an angle to shoot next turn.

The Cannon shoots at the Warriors...but mis-fires. Those ones must be contagious, because she rolls another one, blowing up the cannon.

The Thane does a number on the Marauders, and between he and the other Miners, 3 Marauders fall. The Marauders whiff completely, and the Warriors do several more casualties. Needing Insane Courage, the Marauders roll a 3 and break.

This allows us to show her the "restrain" rule which the Warriors pass...and the Miners fail.

They pursue a whopping 3"...neither catching the Marauders nor avoiding what we feared. This gives the Chaos Warriors a flank charge next turn.

Warriors of Chaos Turn 4
They have the Miner flank which takes the Thane out of combat. He kills a couple Miners, they break, he pursues and catches them. He also gets past the view of the dwarf Warriors.

And the Marauders rally.

Dwarf Turn 5
I suspect he will advance the Marauders next turn so do not advance the Warriors. The Thunderers shoot but miss spectacularly despite the Chaos Warriors being two inches in front of them.

Warriors of Chaos Turn 6
He declines to advance the Marauders, thus effectively ensuring the Dwarf Warriors and Chaos Marauders will remain untouched. He does, however, charge the Thunderers. Here we see the power of the Warriors of Chaos. Between the Exalted Hero and the Warriors, they kill 8 Thunderers who naturally break. And his pursuit roll falls short.

Dwarf Turn 6
Forgetting the less than 25% rule, we allow the Thunderers to rally. Either way, game over.

200 points for the Knights...a given this day...and 32 points for half unit of Marauders, 232 points total for the Dwarfs. Had the Marauders been caught, would have been exactly what they got in the first game...

Chaos scored all but the Warriors again (though at the time we also thought they did not get 75 for Thunderers since we rallied them) so about 410. Again we did not count the "slain general" bonus, so a difference of 178 points, again coming down per our guess between marginal and solid victory.

Looking back
Overall, I think it proved an excellent introduction. Were the armies balanced? The results were similar in both games, with Chaos pulling out fairly easy wins. Yet both times, the dwarfs had the early advantage as they easily dispatched the unit I almost did not include for fear it would be game-breaking, the Knights.

It was actually the Chaos Warriors who proved an unstoppable Juggernaut.

She got to see how moving, shooting, combat, and LD-based tests worked. She had lots of fun and wants to paint up some of her own guys. And that, to me, means regardless of whether the armies were properly balanced or not, the fun factor was, and that means it was a success.

Friday, November 13, 2009

A concept I struggled to put into words

Since we Starving Crazed Weasels love to discuss the merits and detriments of our various armies, we often have different ideas over what constitutes good or bad troops, over or under costed troops, and so forth.

A fine example would be the debate between Fixed Dice and myself over the relative value of Chaos Marauders and Dark Elf Repeater Crossbows. Our agreement-though-it-sometimes-looks-like-disagreement over the effectiveness of Cold one riders. (Hint: they are very good and I fear them)

My own internal debates over Shaggoths versus Hydras. Skinks versus Peasant bowmen.

The list goes on.

Well, I found an expression that tells what I was trying to say and not expressing very well in discussing the accuracy in differing point values for similar (or even superior stat lines having cheaper costs).

People are quick to compare raw stats and conclude units are useless/overpowered. Personally, I think the Storm Vermin are one of the weaker units in the Skaven book because they aren't good enough at their primary function, eg they don't gain enough resilience or killing potential to justify double the cost of a clanrat (because you will be giving them shields), and as the closest thing to elite infantry Skaven get they don't cut it against Saurus, let alone Black Guard/Swordmasters/Ironbreakers/Templeguard etc

Let me say up front that I am completely unfamiliar with the new Skaven book. I assume that they are a rare or special choice based on the above.

And that is one of the problems I have had with...say...the Saurus.

As I state just about every time I discuss the Lizardmen, I am very, very disappointed with the new book. I think it substantially weakened them the way we play.

Note that this is different from say...the way a tournament list or the way a truly hard list would be played. Those might include multiple Stegadons, Engines of the gods, and so forth. I am sure in those cases it makes a truly dine book, as evidenced by people arguing they have broken into the top 3 or 4 of tournament lists. But the way we play...the list got weaker.

In my opinion, that has a lot to do with neutering the Kroxigor and the Saurus not being worth the points.

Because they cannot do the jobs they need to do for their cost.

For the Krox, to not have to carry casualties around, they have to carry around "free combat resolution for the opponent" as I like to call any T2 model with no save and low weapon skill. Alternatively, they can take up a special or rare choice...which hardly seems worth it. Add to that they have a hard time doing enough damage in a combat to win it and you have a recipe for a unit that most of us will struggle to have success with.

The Saurus are admittedly a nice core unit, maybe even above average.

But they do not have enough power surrounding them to deal with truly hard enemies. I think in the last game where his elite Saurus faced my Shaggoth and Knights, his base Saurus faced my Marauders and Shaggoth and did very little, certainly not enough to win combats, told the tale quite tellingly.

I can tool up my Marauders to have almost as good a stat line as the Saurus for about 4 points less i think; mark of khorne to give them 2 attacks, in a sizable unit that works out to a shade over a point apiece, light armor and shield and great weapon; if they get the charge, drop the shield and hit with 2 S5 attacks on WS4. If they are charged, 2 attacks, 4+ save and S3. I like my odds against the Saurus.

Which somewhat counter-acts my argument that the Saurus are not good at their primary job...except their primary job, in my opinion, might not be head to head confrontations with the opponents' core infantry.

The Lizardmen are built around niggling shooting, mobility, hard-to-break units, and magic.

I have yet to find the Saurus hard to break.

But perhaps I just do not understand their use.

The Marauders I think are wrongly costed because their primary functions they just cannot perform; they are not good as a screening unit due to low mobility and slow speed. They might actually be most effective in doing the jobs I would normally use my Knights for since people will concentrate their anger on the Knights (and rightfully so) and allow me to sneak my seemingly harmless 2 attack S5 unit of killers into combat with them :-)

The overall point, however, should not be lost in these side trips.

Points cost should bear more relation to a units' ability within its overall army to fulfill the desired function.

Example; I find it ridiculous that Tomb King skeletons, which cannot be over-raised like Vampire Count skeletons can, cost the same for the same stat line. They fulfill the same role in both armies; suck your best units into a quagmire they win every turn, only to see the same number of enemies as started the round, and be held there until flank charged or else just kept out of the REAL fight while the VC or TK good units polish off the opposing army.

So if they have the same essential role, one is far better at it than the other, why the same points?

Chaos Warriors would be another fine example. Let me say this up front; they are AWESOME. Get into a combat with them at your own risk (this of course ignores the fact that they got run handily by Grail Knights and Cold One Knights, both of which hit them head on when I had rank bonuses, standard bearers, and outnumbering...I STILL like my chances in the confrontations).

At the same time, I think they are over-priced for their role.

They are too slow to catch any mobile opponent who does not want to be caught. Their huge points cost makes them a tempting target that ugly stuff like cannonballs, repeater bolt throwers, and magic make surprisingly soft. They struggle to bring the opponent to grips...and their primary role is winning combats. Which means they are over priced for their primary role, which is tough for them to achieve.

Another fine example from my past would be my formerly beloved, now despised Wardancers.

Theoretically great troop. Their price makes them a bad, bad, bad option. They are horrible at their primary role. They cannot win a combat by them self; yes, they have a great WS and 2-3 attacks...and even get S4 IF THEY CHARGE...but with no standards, ranks, etc., they are going to lose combat more often than not and that means they are going to run. Make them Stubborn or Unbreakable and I think they are worth the cost.

As is...they are just free points for the opponent. And at 18 points...EQUAL TO MY TOOLED UP CHAOS WARRIORS...they are about triple the cost they are worth.

At the other end of the spectrum might be a unit like the Waywatchers. Deadly, great at their job...well, okay, so at 24 points, maybe not over priced. But at least they can do their job for the cost. March block, control a table quarter, threaten tough troops thanks to great BS and Lethal Shot.

Of course, you could then take entire armies and argue they are priced wrong for their job. Ogre Kingdoms, anyone? Too expensive. Yes, T4 is nice...but hey, most of my army is T3. 3 attacks is nice...I can get that with Chaos Warriors and Chaos Knights by marking them with khorne. 3 wounds is nice...but at the price, I can rank up and win via SCR.

Ogres are good at their job; they keep hitting back long after other armies would not. But they just can't get enough troops to withstand the inevitable SCR losses because they cost too much (and are surprisingly easy to slay).

So the long and short of it...I think the pricing for models should deal more with how it interacts with its own army, what its role is, and how other armies with units in the same roles are priced. S3 is not always equal to S3, 8 points does not always equal 8 points.

Hope that all made sense.

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Rules Coment

Oops. Hopefully I am not the only one who has been doing this wrong.

Quick query:

Chaos Armor (4+ save) on Barded Steed with shield: what is close combat save?

1+? (4 for armor, 2+ due to mounted and barded, 1+ due to shield)


0+? (4+ for armor, 2+ for mounted/barded, 1+ for shield, 0+ for c.c. bonus)

Hint: p. 56, words in parentheses

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

1500 Lizardmen Versus Bretonnians

I had long wanted to play the Lizardmen and Liam wanted another game so we agreed on 1500. I went with a Saurus Scar-Veteran as my general, planted him in a block of 25 Saurus Warriors, added a Skink Priest atop an Engine, put in 2 10 man skirmishing Skinks and a dozen Suarus Cold Ones.

My part of the battlefield had a stream crossing my left flank deployment zone, a hill on the right with a row of fence in front of the hill. He had a castle in his deployment zone on my left flank with rough ground in between the castle and stream and forest on my right flank so he would have to deploy in the middle.

I put some skinks in the stream on my left flank, the others on the hill on my right. the Engine came just inside of the hill, the Saurus with Scar-vet in the middle, and I put the Cold Ones with their flank on the river, angled to counter-charge anyone who charged the Saurus.

He put 25 or 30 bowmen in and around the castle, Knights of the Realm (KoR) facing the cold ones, a grail Reliquae opposite the Saurus, and his Grail Knights (GK) on my right, angled so anybody who charged the Reliquae would get stuck on it and therefore flank-charged by the Grail Knights.

I knew from the set-up I was in trouble. My CoK would not be able to hit his Grail Knights and I have little (read "no") faith in the talents of the Saurus. I find them over costed and under powered. With the current rules, I am always shocked when they do a casualty to any but the weakest of enemies.

Well, he prays to get the blessing, but I need him to move first since my Skinks range is...well...short. 12" and in is where I can shoot which means if I can shoot, he can charge.

Bretonnian Turn 1
He moves his Reliquae straight forward with the KoR and GK pacing it. His archers advance and unleash a mighty hail of arrows at the CoK. Of the 20 shots he takes, just 4 hit. Cool, no problem...what, 3 wounds? No problem, I need 2s to save. Too bad I rolled two "1s" in there and am already down to 10 CoK. Aaaagggghhh! For someone who regularly needs to roll just a 2 or better to save, I lose an awful lot of troops to some soft shooting.

Lizardman Turn 1
I move my Engine over behind the fence, hoping to avoid geting charged by the GK so I can use Burning Radiance or whatever that awesome ability is called. Everyone else makes a slight advance, hoping to avoid getting charged.
Magic: Forked Lightning at the Grail Knights, wound a couple, they fail the Save...justice...but then pass the Ward save. No damage. Grr. Out of range of Burning. I do manage to get Portent of Far off on my skinks so they might hurt the GK.
Shooting; Only 2 skinks have range, neither hits. Round 1 clearly advantage Brets.

Bretonnian Turn 2
The Reliquae advances another 8". The KoR lag about 2" behind so they cannot be charged. Then...Liam makes what I think is perhaps the second biggest mistake he has ever made.

After checking to see what the fence does....he then moves the GK behind the Reliquae, somehow missing that there is no way the Engine could (or perhaps more importantly, would even consider) charging his GK. If I did charge, I would not make it and even if I made it, he starts out outnumbering, with Banner, overall Banner, War Banner and some virtue so he starts out +5 at worst and is going to win the combat.

But part of it might be not knowing that the Skink atop the Engine cannot afford to die, so must be kept out of combat as much as possible. So it was a good learning experience and really would only mean one extra turn before he could flank charge me when I got in contact with the Reliquae.

This turn his Bowmen unleash at the skinks and slay 5 of them. Half my unit wiped out instantaneously...ouch.

Lizardman Turn 2
The Saurus charge the Reliquae. And here Liam makes what I believe is the biggest mistake he has made. That is actually meant as a compliment. For someone new to the game, he usually plays very well, maximizing the use of his best troops. He will start winning a lot when he figures out how to build an army that matches his style. It is unusual for him to make obvious, glaring errors.

But this was one. The whole strategy for the Reliquae is to tie up my units against a Stubborn unit. With LD8 and a BSB-granted re-roll, there is a 93% chance I have to slay every pilgrim to get past the unit and frankly, that ain't happening before he crashes into me with his hammer Knight units.

So to flee with it, as he did, was quite shocking and bizarre and game-breaking.
The CoK therefore are in range of the KoR and charge in. Let me re-phrase that; they are out of range, but based on a conversation we had held (my brothers and I) about the value of a 1-use standard, I had given him the Huanch standard, added d6 to my roll, and only needed 1" for the charge to hit home. So the standard allowed me to get the charge...uh...yeah?

Now time for the best magic phase of the game. I am able to get the Engine on the flank of the GK, safe from being charged and well within range for Burning alignment, which kills two GK. No armor saves is great when using it, and really blows chunks when facing it with guys whose main advantage is having a good armor save.

Well, Forked Lightning passes and he uses all his Dispel Dice trying to block it. It wounds 5 GK, he saves 4 outright, then Ward Saves the other. Ah, the power of a great armor Save! But then I use my one-use item which unleashes Uranons Thunderbolt which slays 3 (this time he can only save and ward save 2). I killed 5 GK in the magic phase!

Then my blowpipes open up, wounding him 4 times (poison RULES!).He promptly (and unsurprisingly) saves 3 and Ward Saves the 4th.

Close Combat; I have been hearing great things from the normal Lizardman player and from the Dark Elf player about how great the Cold One cavalry is. I am looking forward to it. I have 2 ranks, a standard bearer with Huanch, and the charge. Time to do some work!

If by work you mean of my 10 attacks, only 2 hit, one wounded, he saved it, and the Cold Ones all miss...
Coming back at me, he hits once, wounds once, I need a 2+ to save...and fail it. On the bright side, after ALL his horses hit, only 1 wounded and that I saved.

So, uh, yeah. I lost the combat. Took a key wound which meant I no longer had a rank bonus (stupid 2 wounds to his archers!). I was not impressed.

At least I passed my break test and hey...I did a number on the GK this turn.

Bretonnian Turn 3
Since my Saurus were hanging out looking for the long-gone Reliquae, his remaining GK charged them. I was not too bothered, since I had reduced them to not very scary, had 3 rank bonus, a Standard, outnumber, and my General Scar-Veteran in the group.

His cruel archers decided to shoot down the last 5 skinks. What was he thinking? I like my skinks and their poison! *sigh*

Well, his charge seemed a little superior to mine. The GK kill 7 Saurus, their horses kill another, in a challenge he killed my unit champ, and I am in trouble. My Scar Veteran did wound him 3 times, but he saved 2 of them and one more GK died. I failed the break test, he failed to catch me, and I was less than 1" from the edge of the table.

Meanwhile, his KoR hit 3 times, no wounds, his horses wound once but I save it. Ihit him 4 times, wound twice, he saves both. The cold ones then do what mounts do...outperform their riders despite having lower numbers on WS, S, and A. They kill 2...he breaks...I run him down and am ready to hit the Reliqua fleers.

Lizardman Turn 4
I charge his bowmen, too close for stand and shoot. My Saurus rally. My Engine gets right behind the GK.
This time I am ineffective with magic. And shooting.

The bowmen die in droves, flee, I pursue. For some reason, I stopped taking notes, but I more or less know it was going my way at this point.

Bretonnian Turn 5
His GK charge my Saurus again, though by this time they have but one GK, the General, and the BSB. His Reliquae fails to rally, flee the field.

He does a number on the Saurus, kills my General, I break and flee, he does not pursue.

Lizardman Turn 5
The Engine charges his GK unit from behind. The Burning Alignement kills the GK, the impact hits kill his BSB, the General breaks and runs.

When he first set up, I was worried. I knew his GK could do lots of damage to my Saurus. My one hope was to somehow get a flank charge on his GK, hoping magic and poison would have whittled them down enough to give me a chance in the battle.

Instead, he took himself out of a vastly superior tactical position and allowed me to bring more force to bear on each of his units than he could handle. Make a person roll enough dice and they will fail a save here and there (or, if you are me and need a 2+, you might even fail something like 3 out of 5 tries...) and thus become manageable.

I was highly impressed with the Engine. That Burning Radiance was simply awesome. It is fun because it requires some skill to play as you have to maneuver it to be close enough to the target...or preferably multiple do damage while still being safe from being charged as losing the Skink Priest is devastating.

The saurus would be much better if either A) they could be made stubborn or B) they actually ever got a chance to attack back. I absolutely think the current rules set has made a huge shift to over-valuing the charge by ruling that you cannot attack back even though you can be killed. If I have a block of 25 infantry and do not get to attack back even one time...what is the point to taking infantry at all? Why not just cheese it up with a couple units of skink skirmishers to fulfill the core requirement and go all CoK, Engines, Stegadons, Slann, and so forth? Infantry becomes French for "free points for your opponent".

I think this game would have ended in a solid victory for him had he not made the two huge maneuvering errors, first by taking his GK away from threatening to flank my entire battle line and second by fleeing with the Reliquae.

At the same time, we talked about it later, and he definitely learned from both things so that is a very good thing.

Overall, it was a fun game and I liked playing the Lizardmen. Definitely a change in thinking from either the Warriors of Chaos or the Wood Elf army and I would not be averse to rolling them out a few more times when Fullur isn't looking.