Thursday, April 25, 2013

Thousand Sons Helldrake Painted

So after the better part of two months of squeezing in painting when I can I'm ready to call the first Helldrake done.  It came out pretty well and certainly looks nice, though I can't help but feel it is a bit under the level of the rest of the army.   This is probably due to the sheer scale and complexity of the model.  It is hard to maintain such a high level of painting on every detail and quite honestly I just wanted to get the blasted thing done by the end.

Here you can see the rear end (tee hee) and some of the choices I made with the color pallete.  I decided I would make the 'flesh' prominent and stand out from the model and used a similar technique that I used on the pink horrors.  It came out well but is slightly different than the horrors, which is only a little alarming because I need to go back and paint more at some time and I'm afraid they are going to look quite a bit different now!

I also decided to make the tail actual bone color, thus showing the blend between a living daemonic creature and the mechanized drake.

A bit out of  focus but you can see I wanted to get the yellow from the rest of the army in as well and this has been done with the cabling.  I also continued the green glow from the army to the vents, though I was not brave enough to attempt a bit more glowy on the hull.   The wing undersides are not as well blended because they aren't going to be seen and, as mentioned, I really wanted to finish this turkey.

The resin base company that I got my clock work bases didn't have a flying base size yet for this clockwork theme I've been using.  Instead I got the wood plank one and a couple of flat inserts in the clock work and made my own base.  This is another bit that I'm merely content with but feel that it is not very good.  My green stuff sculpting around the  clockwork is bad because I just don't know what the hell I'm doing.  However it is painted black so it hides it pretty well, and of course the other details draw the eye away from my poor craftsmanship.  Overall I think the effect of the base is nice, but someday I could see replacing this with a resin base should the desire and availability arise.

So I'm satisfied with the model and I think in person it looks nice alongside the rest of the army.  Certainly there are bits I wish I could have done better but this is kind of a common theme with my feelings about my painting ability these days.

I have no idea when/if I'll get back to the second model which at this point is only base coated.  I do not think I'll try to get it done for a 1ksons 1500 point list, which means I have no immediate need to hurry to finish.  On the other hand it would be nice to wrap it up just so the two look the same and I don't end up in a situation like the pink horrors where the second batch might look quite a bit different from the first.

However I do have some bits I need to get done in order to even field a 1500 1ksons force so that is probably the priority.  Then I'll probably knock some Tau bits out to field a 1500 force as well.  When that is done then maybe, and only maybe, will I be motivated to complete the second Helldrake.

Wednesday, April 17, 2013

Tau first games and new list

So after a long week of traveling I returned, grabbed the Tau book, and immediately got two games in at the store.

I wanted to get some games in and see how the 'old Tau' worked more than seeing new units.  I think I have a good idea on what I like and don't of the new units, but wanted to see how much of the old 5th ed list with a few tweaks held up with the new book.

Commander, Airburst, Irridium, Stim, Target Lock, Drone Controller, 2 Marker Drones
3 Crisis Suits, Twin Missile Pods
6 Stealth Suits
10 Firewarriors
10 Firewarriors
10 Firewarriors
20 Kroot Snipers
8 Pathfinders
5 Marker Drones
2 Pirahna
2 Broadsides, 4 Shield Drones
Railhead, Sub shots, SMS, Disruption Pod, BSF, PDTR
Skyray,  SMS, Disruption Pod, BSF, PDTR
Aegis w/ Icarus

This was roughly 1750 and was tossed together a bit frantically as Jim was ready to get some games and I had the dex about 15 minutes.  Of course I had a pretty good idea of what I had wanted to try out thanks to the leaks.

You can see the first game here:

For those that don't want to watch that it was against Jim's Daemons and I lost pretty handily.  Jim is not only a great general but he usually cooks up a nasty list and this was no exception.

Then I played Frankie's Thunder Wolf Lord list (4 Lords smashing forward with a bunch of wolves for wounds) and won mostly because I went first and got to shoot him to bits for two rounds.

At the end of the day I can't say I was too surprised by anything.  The Stealth Suits are better than they were, but seeing as those points are almost exactly the Farseer/Jetbike squad which is FAR more useful than more STR 5 shots that is an easy swap (while we can).

The Pirahnas were pretty much disapointing as well which wasn't really surprising either.  They are cheaper but they are still easy to kill and unless you want to commit to 4-5 skimmers you probably just are giving up points and not getting anything back in return.

The commander joining the marker drone squad is pretty much full of win.  The hammerhead and the skyray were both helpful but obviously are 'just tanks' and suffer from the ability to just die to a single shot as always.

The ethereal is super.  Talk about zero to hero.  Every Tau list that has guys walking around should add this guy for 50 points.  I also made him warlord to eliminate 3 of the warlord traits, so both games I got the skyfire for one turn.  So he sat with the Broadsides.

I've realized Shield Drones are pretty much remarkably stupid.  They used to get the armor of the guy they were attached to plus the 4++, but they don't now.  So seeing as you are hoping the unit is getting cover anyway you are far better either saving the points or adding more marker drones in the list (especially if you can have a drone controller).

The overwatch rule is pretty nasty too if you can brick up like I was doing.  It makes assaulty units cringe, but again you really need as many turns as possible to thin the ranks before they can reach your line.  Once they do you are pretty much going to be losing units every turn.

The Point Defense Targeting Relay on the tanks is neat as it give them the Supporting Fire rule and they can use the SMS.  Which by the way SMS is greatly improved now as twin linked and ignores cover.

Overall I think trying to stay cheap on units like Broadsides and Crisis are still the way to go.  You can spend a lot of points on these guys that manage to not be useful some games, where as more bodies and shots are almost always good.

So this is what I'd change now for 1750.

Commander, Airburst, Irridium, Stim, Target Lock, Drone Controller, 2 Marker Drones
3 Crisis Suits, Twin Missile Pods
3 Crisis Suits, Twin Plasma, Fusion
9 Firewarriors
9 Firewarriors
9 Firewarriors
10 Kroot Snipers
10 Kroot Snipers
5 Pathfinders
5 Pathfinders
4 Marker Drones
2 Broadsides
Railhead, Sub shots, SMS, Disruption Pod, BSF, PDTR
Skyray,  SMS, Disruption Pod, BSF, PDTR
Aegis w/ Icarus
Farseer, Doom, Jetbike
3 Gaurdian Jetbikes

I think I've got 5-8 points left to throw around but I think this list is much better.  Yes the kill points are high but I think mutiple units are going to be better for all the normal reasons (more units to shoot at/with) but also because of supporting fire.  Plus really you kinda want your units to get wiped in combat if they are charged so that you can obliterate the enemy the following turn.

By the same token you don't want to small units because you want to get some return on those marker lights.  Having a squad or two of 9-10 Firewariors at BS 5 is awfully nice.

There are still some things I'd like to try a bit more to see the value.  The Airburst on the Commander is neat but I'm not sure how useful it will be.  I really want him on the Icarus more than anything else, but if mobs of guys are walking toward me I want to thin that ranks out as much as possible.  I've added twin Plasma/Fusion suits as I think these could be a really great setup now (even though you can only fire one gun on overwatch).  I am curious if two small Pathfinder squads are better than one larger, as there are some advantages both ways I think.

Of course my more pressing need is for 1500 points for Kublacon.  I'd probably dump the commander and marker drones and wiggle around some of those points.

To go up I think I'd like to add a Riptide with the Ion Accelerator and Interceptor.  I'm not sure just how good he is but he adds flexibility to the list with his gun and probably takes some heat off of the tanks since he's a big target.

The good news is to get any of these levels ready there isn't a lot to paint.  An ethereal, the skyray top, convert some marker drones out of gun drones, one more crisis I think.  We're talking a few weeks with my slow pace and busy schedule.  The bigger problem is of course that the army overall is painted to a pretty low standard for where I am now.  So I'd really like to spend time cleaning it up and kicking it up a notch.

Of course I still haven't updated my Chaos yet, and am slogging away through the Helldrakes.  One is 'near' completion, but the second probably has two more weeks of work.  Ugh.

So I'll wrap up the one Helldrake I'm working on and hopefully I'll get a few games in before April is over.  That would give me a few weeks to prep something for Kublacon though it is looking like that would be a beautiful 1ksons army that is horrible (not just bad), a Tau army that could be pretty good but looks not so great, or of course one of my other armies that fall in the 'ok' level for competitiveness and painting.

Wednesday, April 3, 2013

More Painting, First Tau Thoughts

So I've still been plugging away at painting both Helldrakes.  I'm trying to paint them both at the same time by paint color, so that makes a tough job even slower.  Here is the one I've just finished the gold base coat that will be now ready for washes after I get the gold done on the second turkey.

Of course as I discovered after my last blog post Kublacon is now a 1500 point event.  This isn't my favorite point level for a few reasons.  For one I like to play with as many toys as possible!  I just like getting as much use out of the collection whenever I can.   The second, and more practical reason, is that in 6th edition it is tough to field a balanced all comer list at 1500.   At 1750 and higher you have a bit more room to build a balanced list.  This was a bit more possible in 5th edition, but with the introduction of fliers in 6th edition I find 1500 is rough to build a list that is able to deal with mass infantry, death stars, MSU, heavy tanks, and of course fliers.

So I feel in the end 1500, especially in a 3 game tournament, usually tends to build a 'rock' list that is bound to beat the crap out of other balanced lists, but will just crumble to that one other 'paper' list out there.

This is one reason I think my bike list was actually more successful at 1500 last year.  Granted there were no Helldrakes so that probably helped, but even against necron fliers I fared ok.  The list has lots of troops and can deal with a wide range of units, fliers (AV 12 in particular) is the biggest rough spot.

My 1ksons on the other hand just don't scale down lower than 1750 very well.  A 'normal' CSM list actually is not bad as you can still take helldrakes and oblits and still have a CSM/Cultist combo for some flexible scoring.  The 1ksons are just such a point sink (and admittedly not the greatest choice) plus they have the double sorc tax (aspiring sorc plus HQ to make them troops) that it just isn't going to work.

So what does that leave me?  Of course I have lots of options.  I could easily just take a full bike list.  We know it does well against most lists, but the hellturkey spam will be challenging.

I've also thought about bringing my Imperial Fists without termies, or even converting it over to Dark Angels which can save a lot of points.  With a few tweaks I think it can also be pretty good, but it crumbles once an assault force can reach the mech parking lot.

Of course Tau are released this weekend and that could possibly be an option.  I have plenty of Tau painted, though they really can use a good going over to improve the quality.  I had painted them quickly and I never dullcoated them.  So they are banged up and not very good, but they look ok on the table top.  A bit of cleanup and some highlights (and some friggin dullcoate) and I think they can look a lot better.

Now the Tau rules are all over the internet and can be found everywhere, though there are still all kinds of little niggling questions about wargear and specific rules for units.  Opinions are pretty much all over the place, from people claiming this is a great update to other who say this is the death of Tau.

I'm less convinced either way, as it is hard to draw a conclusion with a book to really understand all the rules.  But that doesn't stop me from having an opinion of course!

First off I think the fliers are crap.  We know enough now to know that front armor 11 fliers are sucky and side armor 10 is a joke.  So yes they are cheaper but they are killed easily by quad guns unless there is some secret wargear that is keeping them alive.  They could have awesome guns/bombs but they still wouldn't be worth it.  People think the drones are going to make them worth it if they get interceptor but I'm still not sold as Str 7 guns against fliers isn't that exciting (and the str 8 overcharge is a blast so no shooting at fliers).  So I'm sad that these things look like they are trash, but at the same time hooray I don't see myself bying those horrible models.

The Riptide I'm also not so sure about really.  He's a nice jetpack MC that jumps around and shoots things and he looks pretty tough to shoot down being 2+/5++ T6 and 5 W.  The problem I have is his guns just don't impress me that much, and failing 1/3 of your overcharges is not exciting either.  A great game and he is super, a bad game and he is taking off critical wounds.   Did I mention that his point cost and being and elite is a downer also?

The new HQs look like they might be cheap enough to try out a little.  The etheral is much improved in what he adds to the army and is still cheap, though giving up 1 extra VP is pretty big in tight games.  Of course if he's died then you've probably been mowed down in combat and you've probably lost anyway.  Fireblades look like cheap HQs that add functionality.  We'll see if any of the named guys bring anything worth it to the table but it is looking like for the point costs the answer is going to be no.  No FoC changes is a little sad panda also.

So I think the new and shiny bits are a bit of a let down and a trap actually.  However I think the rest of the army is looking pretty good.  Cheaper troops, cheaper crisis suits, cheaper vehicles (for the most part) and some nice army wide rules.  Sure there are some nerfs in there (Broadsides Str8 AP1 gun, Kroot Str decrease) but I think these are helped balanced by some of the other changes (Braodsides get Skyfire option we think, Fusion guns 18", etc).

So oddly my Tau lists might look very similar to what I've already tried in 6th edition.  Let's take a look at the last 1850 list I updated which is based more on volume of fire that tricky Crisis suit configs.

Commander Shas'o, Fusion Blaster, Plasma Rifle, Hard-wired Blacksun Filter, Hard-wired Multi-tracker, Hard-wired Target Lock, + Iridium Armour, Stimulant Injector, Shield Generator, 2 Shield Drones
2 Crisis Battlesuit, Twin Linked Missile Pod, Targeting Array
2 Crisis Battlesuit, Twin Linked Missile Pod, Targeting Array
5 Stealthsuits
9 Fire Warrior, 1 Shas'ui
9 Fire Warrior, 1 Shas'ui
9 Fire Warrior, 1 Shas'ui
20 Kroot Carnivore, 7 Kroot Hounds
Piranha Light Skimmer, Fusion Blaster, Targeting Array
Piranha Light Skimmer, Fusion Blaster, Targeting Array
Broadside Battlesuit, HW Blacksun Filter, Targeting Array, Team Leader 2 Shield Drones
Broadside Battlesuit, HW Blacksun Filter, Targeting Array, Team Leader 2 Shield Drones
Broadside Battlesuit, HW Blacksun Filter, Targeting Array, Team Leader 2 Shield Drones
Aegis, Icarus Lascannon
Farseer, Runes of Warding, Jetbike, Doom
3 Guardian Jetbike Squadron

The HQ was expensive but a tough nut to shoot down.  2+/4++ with FNP and shield drones is a lot to get through.  He was there to shoot the icarus early on and equiped to deal with TEQ as they closed in a bit.

The Crisis suits were for MC and light armor purely.

The Stealths usually infiltrated to harass the flanks and be annoying with stealth and shrouded.

The troop bricked up behind the wall and provided a pretty good anti infantry firebase.

The Piranha were used to pop tough armor and also as blockers (mobile terrain).

The Broadside I found worked great when split up and were ok at anti air but also great anti vehicle.

The farseer usually joined the Kroot to give a big LD buff and to toss out doom to help kill incoming targets.

The jetbikes I kept in reseve and tried to keep alive for last minute objective grabs.

I think on paper the list had a lot covered.  It's biggest problem was really kill points.  The army is also painted (to that not great standard as mentioned) with the exception of the Kroot hounds.

So how does this look to change with the rules we're hearing with the new book?

It looks like Crisis HQ might end up being a touch more expensive if not close to the same cost.  Irridium armor is more expensive but has no downside and is +1 T.  Very nice!

The Crisis suits look to get BSF and Multitrackers for free and be a touch cheaper though it looks like they lose target arrays which does stink if true.  Some weapon costs go up (Missile pods a bit) while other down (Plasma) so we'll see what makes sense on these guys.

Stealth suits cost the same but will get an extra shot per model (and hopefully still have both stealth and shrouded).

All the troops get cheaper, Firwarrios gain defensive grenades, and the army special rule helps the overwatch when charged.  Kroot get worse in combat but really they were never very good either.  The option to make them snipers or add cheaper Krootox is interesting.

Pirahna get cheaper and have better range (and in theory now are 1 KP with drones vs 2).  Drones, or rather carbines, are Assault 2 vs rapid fire.

The Broadsides I say are still good.  They are less great against normal vehicles but better against fliers a little bit.  You are now only penning AV12 roughly 30% of the time, and outright killing 15%.  Against a flier before you were hitting less but penning more, meaning killing AV12 fliers about 12%.  That isn't really a huge upgrade, and of course we're now killing tanks worse than before so that's not great.

The wall and the Eldar have much the same function.

So I'd have a bit of points to play with but I'm not sure what other changes I would make.  The cheap HQs might be an easy add with some of those point that free up from the cost reductions.   Maybe a Hammerhead would step in for a Broadside to get that Str 10 shot in there, but that is always the shot I end up missing!  Pathfinders are always tempting, but always (and still look like) they die to a stiff breeze.

So we'll see what the dex actually ends up providing.   I think the army based around volume of fire is still good, but maybe there will be new builds that will be viable as well.  This is of course a lot of theory and also 1850.  There would have to be considerable cuts to get down to 1500.  Maybe a cheap HQ and the points reduction will be enough and could still function in a similar manner.

A few more days and we'll have some facts, and then of course we'll need to get some games to put the theories to the test!