Wednesday, 30 November 2011

Corrections and Clarifications

So following on from my post yesterday, after checking the rules it turns out that the Beastmen monsters don't have the ambush rule.

So yeah....

They are a bit rubbish really.

Though looking on the brightside, I am hopeful that the release of the kits will lead to Beastmen players buying them to paint, and then experimenting with them, and finding them useful.

Or failing that fielding them as cannon fodder for my Ironblasters.


Tuesday, 29 November 2011

Beastmen Monsters? Best in the Game...

Still no sign of the Ogre FAQ.

I have sent my letter to Father Christmas, a couple of Ironblasters and a couple of boxes of Mournfang cavalry, so I should be in a position to start playing again in the new year when the models are painted - and to experiment with the list.

I managed to reign in a slight case of grey plastic fever provoked by the release of the new Beastmen monsters. Indeed the infection led me to crack open an excel workbook and fiddle around with a few lists. The fever subsided when I calculated the cost of the chariots I was proposing. Which led me to put off further exploration, until such time as a reasonably priced plastic kit came out - or I won the lottery.

Which is another way of saying I didn't think the monsters were that bad.

Or the beastmen in general, I was particularly impressed with the magic options. True there is a distinct lack of shooting in the army, and the leadership is pretty weak. But I found myself thinking that actually the monsters were pretty good, with the proviso that you can hide them early in the game.

Which led me to thinking that perhaps using the monsters as ambushers might be a good idea. For instance a Jabberslythe coming on late in a game near to units outside the BSB bubble would be very handy, making them take leadership tests and possibly run.

Now obviously the the counter to this is that to do such a thing is to potentially waste a large number of points, and leave the rest of the army out numbered - (and it may well be that monsters can't ambush (I didn't check)) but it strikes me that monsters come into their own in the second half the battle when the blocks have been ground down. The problem in the early game is finding somewhere to hide them from cannons and shooting.

The Beastmen appear to have an army specific rule that does this perfectly.

Right back to peering through the letterbox and pressing refresh on the computer.


Monday, 28 November 2011

Ghast and Avast

Wading through the rumours concerning the Vampire Counts has given me both optimism and dread.

The optimism stems from my appraisal that the new book, in common with recent books, will force Vampire players to make some hard choices in the Special and Rare sections. Something that will hopefully be compounded by the reappearance of the bloodline rules.

The dread comes from the potentially large number of units that will have the Ethereal rule (and not because of the number of American podcasts that will mangle the word). My Ogres have limited options for dealing with Ethereal units.....

Still, all will be revealed in January. And hoepfully the release wil be accompanied by declarations of rage quitting... and it would also be nice if GW winged Mantic's fox (obviously the model range procludes an outright killing but it would be nice if the tweeks wounded it a bit)

I realise that this blog often rails against the sewers of human filfth... aka internet forums... but I find the developing meme relating to when and how GW announce releases rather baffling.

What confuses me is this.

If you can only buy something when it is realeased - by which I include the advanced orders - then what does it matter if GW tell you of the release date one day or one year in advance?

Perhaps a legitimate complaint is that the new arrangements work against those who have to save up, or set money aside, for whatever it is. But this is fairly weak. For if you have internut access which allows you to propogate the meme, then you also have internut access that allows you to go to sewers and search the rumour threads, and make the necessary financial arrangements based on the information contained therein.

Now it is true that much of what is contained in these threads is false, certainly if the release is some months away. But it is equally clear that some of the stuff is leaked by GW - oh! they may deny it but let's be honest, it is in their interest to do so, and they would be mad not to. How else do you explain the sudden re-appearance of rumur threads (closed down to waffle and wishlisting) about armies that are known to be imminent which contain accurate information? It is surely not coincidence that one day threads will be a 'I spoke to a red shirt and they said...' followed by a scrawl of internut cynicism, and the next there are the *touch nose* 'I met a bloke in the pub and he told me...' followed by a pretty accurate break down of what the new army book/codex contains.

My point being that if you are particularly interested in an army, and you do need to save up for the shiney new toys, you don't need GW telling you to do so.... oh wait.... I see the error in my logic....

Another element of the meme that amuses me, is the notion that this change somehow breaks the rules of marketing.

It is not hard to find sewer dwellers who are experts on marketing - just as it is equally not hard to find sewer dwellers who claim to know more about GW's business model, accounts, design process, costs, etc than the people running the company. According to the marketing experts 'geeks' require advance notice in order to build their excitement for new products. Which I am guessing comes from GCSE business studies, or some equally low level certificated eductional ego massaging procedure. Homer Simpson's Nuts and Jello is another example that springs to mind.

The fact is, I don't want my email box filling up with emails form GW advising me that I can in six months time buy a product that I don't want because I have no interest in the army or the particular game system.

I'm perfectly happy that they send me three or four emails a week informing me that in a week, or so, I can buy a product that I don't want because I have no interest in the army or the particular game system.

I would not be happy if those emails increased exponentially to fill out the (supposedly required) ad campaign - say three months, one month, two weeks, one week, release date (I already have a number of companies that think this is a good idea, I see their emails whenever I am cleaning out the spam). And frankly by the time it arrived that I could buy, far from being mildly interested in a product (that I have no intention of buying for the reasons previously mentioned) - which is the case now (I might go and look at it on the website, I may even daydream about buying and using it as the basis of an army before I remember that is an army I am not interested in or a game system I don't play (which is perhaps a sign that the marketing has worked)) - I would be thoroughly pissed off - and in future uninformed about GW products because their emails would be going straight to spam.

It's a lesson Privateer Press, and their moronic Gangbangers (who I suspect are behind much of the GW bashing in the sewers) would do well to learn.


Friday, 25 November 2011

Suck On This

The Vampire army book has been removed from the GW website.

Which appears to confirm the rumours that the new book is coming in January.

In some senses this is the biggest test yet of the moves to rebalance the game that appear implicit in the 8th edition army books. Obviously there will be some movement in points, and maybe some tweeking of the stats, but the big question, and the one that the GW designers have to address if they are to get this right, is what magic items will be cut and which remain.

My guess would be Dreadlance, Blood Drinker, Flayed Hauberk, Helm of Commandment, Talisman of Lycni, Rod of Flaming Death, Carstein Ring, Wristbands of Black Gold, Skull Staff, Book of Arkhan and Black Periapt, with the banners being Drakenhof, Dead legion and Barrows.

The wishlisting on the internut is along the lines of wanting skeletons and zombies improved in their fighting abilities. Which may or may not be needed. But hopefully GW will acknowledge that in fact the core of the VC is undercosted, due to the ability to raise more troops, and either leave things alone, or increase the points.

Still we shall see when the new book arrives.

Hopefully there will be a massive uproar that the army has been nerfed.

As it will be a sign that a) the army hasn't and b) GW really are serious about balancing 8th edition, and the baleful days in which the designers competed with each other to make the cheesiest army book are over.


Thursday, 24 November 2011

Three Cheers


It was Christopher's birthday on Garagehammer, and the listeners had a whip round and bought him several hundred quid worth of stuff from Forgeworld.

Which was nice.

I for one have had hours of entertainments from podcasts, and haven't paid a penny for it. So in a hobby in which so many people in the sewers of human filfth... a.k.a. internut forums.... waste the equivilent of the electrical supply of a small town bitching about not being able to get something for nothing, it is nice to see that one of the hobby's good guys got a present from his grateful listeners.


Wednesday, 23 November 2011

Character Flaws

Now don't get me wrong, I really like the new Ogre book, and the changes, and the new units, but there is one thing that disappoints me.... that they didn't do more with the Gnoblars.

Ok there is a gamey/beardy/cheesy reason for this, namely that the characters are just so damned expensive, and it would be great to have some 50 point Gnoblar magic casters.

And true I am looking to cram two or three wizards into a 2000 point list with blocks, and chaff, and artillery, and cavalry, and.... you get the picture.

But it still doesn't get around the issue of the characters being expensive.

I am not whining that they are over priced, because for what you get you are getting a good deal. It's just that they take up a large chunk of your points allowance.

Oh for some cheap Gnoblar characters.


Tuesday, 22 November 2011

Lubed Up and Enough Already

Gav Thorpe entered the Overlords Room 40001 and highlighted an issue that bugs me.

"My uber unit, piled into his cannon fodder and raped them."

Really? Raped them?

Add this to references to butt sex, lube, etc and it soon becomes clear that America has a very dubious relationship with sex and violence - violence good, sex bad - and their neurotic standards are spreading via the sewers of human filfth... a.k.a internet forums.

I'm not talking about the jokey home-erotic banter in some of my favourite podcasts - Life After the Cover Save or Pointhammered - but the whole macho bullshit that appears to not understand how socially inappropriate it is to use the word rape in the context of a game of toy soldiers.

(These terms have clearly become jargon within the hobby, and I have to say that was highly amused at the posh chap from the Imps who, William Hague stylee wore his baseball cap backwards, got down with the kids and raped and sodomised his way through the ToS)(btw, it is a sign of how the linguistic tick began in America that people with posh English accents sound ludicrous using such terms - other examples being cool, groovy, whatever...)

Still the Gav Thorpe interview was interesting, and a breath of fresh air.

Speaking of a breath of fresh air, I happened across the rumour about contingents.

Like every gamer I am occasionally subject to grey plastic disease... and it's related syndrome current army/project boredom.

The idea that instead of having to spend the time and effort starting a completely new army, you can start a smaller side project, is very appealing. As is the hope that the contingents will follow the path of similar projects in the past of growing into full blown armies.

The chance of GW releasing a Cathay army in one go, is pretty slim. However - and I realise that Cathay is not one of the armies mentioned - there is a better chance that if the insectoids take off, that they might grow into an army of the Maw, which will then attract Chinese dragons, Four Horse Chariots, Rocketeers, etc.

On a similar subject, I noticed this on the Chance of Gaming podcast.

Someone - namely the Army Collector - has compared the points cost of the same army from 1998 and today, and discovered that a 1991 point Space Marine list is now only worth 1265 points. And further that a Dwarf list that used to be worth 1928 points is now worth 1606 points.

As expected this led the discussion on TMP in the direction of GW the evil empire, price gouging etc.

Yet actually there is a very practicle reason for this - as Gav Thorpe pointed out of the Overlords - the number one request GW recieved was for bigger battles with more troops.

The company can either keep the points the same and encourage people to play larger point games. Or fiddle with the points to allow existing players to cram that bit extra into their list, whilst keeping the points level at an attainable level for people either starting a new army or new to the game.

I realise that perhaps smaller point games is the answer, but let's face it, if you have got the figures, you want to get them on the table.

Still sense and reason is not going to change the paranoid delusional mind of those who see GW as a conspiracy - speaking of paranoid delusions...... viola.


Monday, 21 November 2011

Dice Psychology

Now I realise that there are many mathmaticians who have studied statistics - the missus is one of them - who will tell you that you have no psychological influence over the outcome of a dice roll.

According to the missus each individual die roll is a unique event of probability. Which is undeniably true, but it doesn't explain why I roll more 1's if I say "anything but a 1" before rolling instead of "I need 2+".

Nor indeed does it explain why somethimes you can play a game, and know from the moment it starts that you are either going to win or lose.

I'm not talking about the list, army match up, or anything tangible; but rather those games in which you just know you can't win.

The example that springs to mind is a game I played with my Woodies vs High Elves. It was a rematch - I had won the previous encounter - and I got the feeling that the outcome meant way more to my opponent than it should have. Plus they were the kind of competative player than has borderline personality issues with regard to the hobby.

The crux to a combat in the centre between an Alter Noble and an Archmage who was hiding behind 5 shades to protect him from the challenge. The combat went five turns of combat, and eventually pulled in a unit of High Elf archers.

The combat occured because I wanted to shut down the magic phase, in order that I could position my encircling troops to take out his support troops before making an attack on the Pheonic Guard bunker. Now clearly I was rolling well and he was rolling badly in order than the combat went as long as it did. However because his mage was refusing the challenge I was determined to win the fight and bring him to battle. And it wasn't until my focus dropped because I had decided that I had won, that the dice Gods went against me, my attacks whiffed, my defence failed and I was run down and killed.

Obviously if you don't believe in the psychology of dice, you would rationalise this as the averages balancing themselves out. The problem is that this ignores what is going on in the mind off the player when the dice were thrown, the narrative of the dice up to that point, etc.

Yes, the dice are inanimate objects, and the result is a matter of chance... and yet... and yet.... why is that whenever there is a dice throw that I don't want to make, that I know will go against me, or conversely that I can't wait to make and I know will go in my favour, it always goes the way I want it to go/against me?

There was a Standard Bearer article on the subject a while ago, based on Jervis' conversations with a psychologist in Bugman's Bar. According to the psychologist the reason people percieve this effect is because just as it is human nature to find patterns in randomness, it is natural to find significance in extreme results.

Which is fine except it ignores that there are two psychologies - on either side of the table - involved in the dice throw.

At which point I will stop before I get all Jonathon Cainer and start waffling on about the energies which flow back and forth across the table during a game.


Sunday, 20 November 2011

Gnoblar Love

I didn't manage to get up.... so I didn't go to the club....

However when I did wake up, I did so with the thought "18 Bulls is @500 points... that's not bad."

Sad I know.

And yes I know it is more like 600, than 500... but rather than go through the whole phalanx debate again....

I have been pondering instead the question of gnoblars.

And more specifically trappers.

My inital thought on the matter was to have 4 units of 10 gnoblars, two of which had trappers, and to use them to psych out the enemy whilst playing a refused flank. The problem is that in the units with trappers the gnoblars effectively become 5 points a model. Add to this that they are more than likely going to fail any panic tests they have to take, and the whole 'trick' relies upon the enemy charging and losing one or two models to a dangerous terrain test.

Which made me think about using them in ranked units.

48 gnoblars, with a muso, standard and trapper, is 165 points - which sounds a lot, indeed it is 5 Bulls with ironfists. But it is still 8 ranks, which will take some chewing through, it still has sharpstuff, it still has the potential dangerous terrain test, and it has the added bonus that no one cares if it runs away. Give it +1S, +1T, and regen from magic and suddenly it has even more potential as a speed bump.

The CR res alone is going to see off chariots, small cav units, etc.

Which led me to come up with this list...

Slaughter Master - lvl 4, Crown of command, thiefstone.
Bruiser BSB
12 Bulls, with muso, standard, iron fist.
10 gnoblars, trapper
10 gnoblars, trapper
10 gnoblars, trapper
10 gnoblars
48 gnoblars, trapper, muso, standard
3 Leadbelchers
2 Mournfangs
2 Mournfangs
1 Sabretusk
1 Sabretusk
1 Ironblaster
1 Ironblaster

2000 points

That's 13 deployments - 6 of which are totally throwaway.

Plus by careful placement of the chaff, two thirds of the table can be effectively march blocked, allowing the striking force of fighting troops to fall on the flank. And as the chaff costs about 250 points, if the enemy decides to chase it off they are never going to get their points back, and will never make it to the main battle.

Obviously ignore that this list cannot kill anything ethereal.

And obviously ignore that it will change as I decide that 18 bulls at @600 points is to good a thing to pass up... or the Mournfangs should go for the +2 save and not be used as pseudo chariots.... or that I need more Leadbelchers (which is something I very much doubt)....


Saturday, 19 November 2011

Spread Out and Run

I am still in the process of theorising my Ogre army.

A useful shift in thinking was offered by ohiohammer, who pointed out that Mournfangs, without any upgrades, are effectively chariots. And at 120 points for a pair, that is a relatively points efficient chariot unit.

Which is handy, as I had found my thinking drifting down the common stream of thought in regarding Mournfangs as uber-Chaos knights.

I have tried to find as many viewpoints as possible with regard to the army, in order to establish some kind of philosophical basis to the army design. And handily, the Mournfangs appear to be building themselves a fearsome reputation. Which makes the idea of running them as small, un-upgraded, pseudo chariots all the more appealling, as this will no doubt make them fire magnets, and if I am paying the minimum for them makes them even more effective in my terms.

Perhaps I should point out that my strategic thinking is based on something Ben Johnson said ages ago on the Bad Dice podcast, when asked how he fought against Ogres he summed it up, "I shot them a bit, I magicked them a bit, and that was the end of that."

Couple this with the common criticism that the points cost inevitably leads to a small army, and I find myself wondering why the human sewer - that constitutes internet forums - appear to favour the massive horde of Bulls, fighting in an al-la-Grecque style. True this goes against my cautious nature, but I still don't quite understand how - against anyone who knows anything about basic deployment and manouvre - will not end in a massive points sink chasing shadows and exposing itself to possibly three or four rounds of punishing magic.

Obviously there needs to be an element of the phalanx in any list - and indeed the list I have drawn up to try tomorrow, (if I can get out of bed, work out the complications of the Sunday bus service, and find the new club room, and find a (suitable) opponent), has a block of 10 Ironguts supported by 2 blocks of 6 Bulls (the worse excesses of the magic phase hopefully mitigated by use of the RuneMaw banner on the BSB that will sit with the ironguts). And indeed I have considered that for the price of 10 IronGuts, I can get 15 Bulls - and as the IronGuts have the Dragonhide banner, the price of that units is near as dammit the same as 18 Bulls.

However I come back to the notion of "shoot em a bit, magick them a bit," and the army being small. If the army starts small and gets chipped away, it very quickly runs out of potential.

True if that uber-phalanx can achieve it's aim of smashing through the enemy line, and carrying away the enemies most important units, great. But to me this is the tactical nhilism of the Western Front in WWI. Which eventually gave way to the dispersed formations made famous by Brusilev and used so effectively in the Russian offensives of 1916. The basic principle being that instead of offering one large target that will in theory be able to fight through to it's objective no matter what - and if the attack fails the solution is to put more men into the attacking formations and to continue doing this until such time as one third of the attacking force is dead, wounded, demoralised or disorganised (this one third figure is pretty much a constant for defeat in military history) - my idea has been to look for ways to overwhelm the enemy with targets, and to use chaff to further confuse matters, in order that I can fight the two or three battles that I want to fight, and to do so on my terms.

The list I have drawn up to begin the experimentation process doesn't really follow these principles it is true - indeed it is pretty fluffy, I have a Tyrant and a suicide bomber butcher, whose only role is to run forward and pull the pin on the Hellheart (and then to cast a few spells if he survives) - but as yet I don't have the figures with which to test the principles. And I have as yet to really establish the fighting qualities of the army. And at this stage I am not that bothered about magic.

And since I am theorising, I might as well add another observation.

It strikes me that the new Ogre book is the fantasy version of the PanzerKampefGruppe. You have the Ironblaster as the tankhunters/self propeller guns, the gnoblars with trappers are combat engineers, Leadbelchers are machine guns, the Ogres are the armoured infantry and sabretusks and Mournfangs are the armoured recon units. Taken together it is fast moving, hits hard, doesn't have great staying power, and is pretty fragile. Which leads me to think that it is a bit of cul-de-sac to think in terms of the massed phalanx. Armour works best when it attacks between the cracks in formations, not when attempting to take a position head on.

But then as I have said I am a pretty cautious commander.


Friday, 18 November 2011


I enjoyed these videos...

In a sense the tactics being employed by the Ogre general exemplified the tactical puzzle with which I have been wrestling, as he was giving away the charge, ignoring the movement potential, and falling into the trap of not treating the Ogres as a finese army.

Perhaps I am thinking about things to much, I gott up at three in the morning to scuttle to my army book because I suddenly came up with a brilliant tactic in the middle of the night. It turned out that the suicide Maneater tactic I had come up was unviable as the minimum unit size is 3, and not the 2 I imagined, so my plan of charging them forward with stubborn and swiftstride to challenge out characters and hold up units - and maybe stop a magic phase or two - isn't worth it: at 110 points maybe, at 160 points, I want the unit to do.

But the more I have gone looking for chaff, the more pleased I am with the book.

I have pretty much decided that a block of Ironguts and 2 Ironblasters are going to be the basis of most armies that I built, but in order to use these effectively you need a lot of chaff in order to make the most effective use of the deployment phase.

Units of 10 gnoblars are ideal for this, especially if some of them are given the trapper special rule. Add in the single sabre tusks, and you can get 10 deployments for about 250 points. Which in most games is more than enough to allow for the optimal deployment of you main fighting units. And true these units are not going to do much in terms of winning a game, but they do make good redirectors, mage hunters, distractors etc.

A unit that has caught my attention today are the Yhettees.

In part it was due to reading the fluff about the Battle of the Blizzard. And I realise the unit has recieved almost universal mocking because of it being immune to ice magic in the old edition - like who uses ice magic? - but one of the tactical problems I have been wrestling with is the the need to have a unit that can take out small units, engage the enemy battle line early, and not cost a lot. Obviously this is why I was wondering about the suicide Maneaters.

Ok they have the flammable rule - surely someone at GW should look at the prinicple of thermo-dynamics when considering this rules - but even that is in some senses an advantage. If a wizard is shooting a fireball at them, they are wasting power dice that could be batter employed against the rest of the army. It also suggests that they are considering them on a par with Treekin - which in a sense they are.


The Dead Rises

It's been a while, but in truth I have done absolutely nothing to do with wargaming... for which I entirely blame Football Manager.

Having started the game unemployed I was hired by Panianios, did well with them (two Greek Cups and the League Championship) and was offered the Tottenham job, the thing that swung it was that Tottenham were offering me ten times the wages I was getting in Greece - the princely sum of £27k a week. I took Spurs to three Premier league titles in 3 years and then a new board took over who made it clear they didn't want me as the manager, and after coming back from 2-0 down against Manchester United to win 3-2 I decided I really didn't care about Spurs more (we should never have been 2-0 down) and resigned. After a three week holiday, I was offered the Lazio job, and I took them from a relegation battle to the brink of the Serie A title - and may well have won (Lazio needed to win and hope that AC Milan lost or drew) but for my goalkeeper getting food poisoning and the reserve goalkeeper having a mare, we might have done it (oh and AC Milan won). The next season things went well with Lazio going well at Christmas with only Genoa offering a challenge, when Real Madrid came calling out of the blue. They were offering me £400million in the bank for transfers (I eventually spent close to £600million) and £275k a week. And so it was that I took over, leading them to 2 league titles, the Champions League and various other trophies... when I was tempted to buy the latest version, and ended up managing Bristol City, which was fine.... except I really don't give a monkey's about Bristol City and found myself eyeing my firebelly with a view to breaking open the paint.

And so for the past few nights I have spurned the delights of football management, and my mind has once more returned to wargaming.

The Firebelly has received a make do and mend paint job, and I have found myself fiddling about with lists in excel.

It turns out that I have about 3000 points of Ogres painted, but as is the way of things I have found myself thinking about what I need/want to buy. Which is a bit daft as I should really make the effort and get down the club and play a few games before I make a decision as to what to buy. Especially as I have found myself daydreaming about starting a completely new army.

What makes this daydreaming all the more odd is that I have been seriously looking at both High Elves and Skaven - my two least favourite Warhammer armies - in part because I want the small rulebook that comes with the Island of Blood, and can't find a decent deal for it on ebay.

Dumb I know.

For the sake of spending £5 more than I think something is worth, I am thinking of spending several hundred pounds, and committing myself to a massive painting task.

However a few things pulled me back to reality.

The first being that no matter how many times I looked through the armies on the GW website, I couldn't find any models that really floated my boat like the Ogres.

But it was when I was running the numbers on Chaos Knights that it suddenly struck me that if I was so keen on a 2+ armour save, then surely it was better to get three wound Mournfang cavalry. And if I wanted cannon, then why not get a cannon that was also a chariot. And perhaps more importantly, I choose Ogres because they are crap, so why the heck am I looking around at other armies to build that may or may not be good.

On reflection I guess my epiphany came via Garagehammer.

I was catching up on their episodes and they happened to have the chaps from Heelenhammer on. And they happened to be bad mouthing Ogres. And I happened to be reminded of why I haven't listened to Heelenhammer for over a year, and why I won't listen to them in the future. Which in turn led me to think of a couple of things to add to my Ogres, that will give me options.

The main one being two Ironblasters - hardly a revoltionary idea - but if you cannon snipe the shadow magic out of the game then the Runemaw banner becomes less important.

And having run a few mathhammer experiments - using dice - with Mournfang cavalry, they don't seem that bad either. Then a few sabretusks for chaff and deployment masks - and instead of spending several hundred quid to get a rulebook, I'm spending @£80, on stuff than can be painted up quickly, and what's more I will have that mythical beast - the fully painted army.

Of of which relies of course on my not falling under the spell of Football Manager again.