Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Rules "you" get wrong: Feel No Pain

So while playing the game and visiting forums I frequently see people misinterpret various rules (at least to my knowledge).  the most common of these (online at least) is the rule for Feel No Pain.  The argument I usually see goes something like this:

"If the AP of my weapon ignores your armor save you don't get FNP."

First let me provide an example of why this is completely ridiculous.  Ladies and gentlemen I present, the lowly Plague bearer  

Here is a model with the fell no pain rule...and no armor save.  As silly as GW can be sometimes I don't think that they would be so obtuse as to create a model with a rule it was completely unable to use.  Daemons is hardly even an outdated book, (it came out just prior to 5E so GW must have known how their own rules would work).

So lets look further at the FNP rule.

Feel No Pain

"If a model with this ability suffers and unsaved wound, roll a dice.  On a 1 ,2, or 3 the model takes a wound, on a 4, 5, or 6 the injury is ignored.  This ability cannot be used against wounds from weapons that inflict instant death.  Neither can it be used against wounds from Ap 1 or Ap 2 weapons, power weapons, and any other wound against which no armor save can ever be taken.  (Power fists, Dread close combat weapons, rending, perils of the warp, dangerous terrain.)"

Breaking down the rule we get

If a model with this ability suffers and unsaved wound

The term unsaved wound is important, this could be part of the contention, but it is usually not, brought up. In general any wound that is not saved (including those against which you don't get a save) would be considered unsaved. This appears to be how the INAT FAQ interprets this rule Though there is no specific reference to this in the rules. In fact the only reference at all is in the allocating wounds box at the bottom of the page 25, where it state that the unit has suffered 2 unsaved wounds and one wound with no armor save from a melta gun. I can see an argument being made off of this that unless you take a save of some kind (including invulnerable) you don't get feel no pain. However, I believe that the assault results section of the book (p.39) supports the idea that any wound that ignores armor saves counts as unsaved (otherwise power weapon wounds don't count toward combat resolution as it only mentions unsaved wounds)
This ability cannot be used against wounds from weapons that inflict instant death. 

This section of the rule is fairly clear cut and subject of little argument.  If something causes instant death (either double toughness or special rule), then no Feel No Pain.

Neither can it be used against wounds from Ap 1 or Ap 2 weapons, power weapons, and any other wound against which no armor save can ever be taken.

Now we get to the most debated part of the rule,  especiall the part in bold.  Everyone understands the first part of this statement, no Feel No Pain against AP 1 or 2 or power weapons, pretty straight forward.  The part that many people get wrong is the bolded statement,  "no armor save can ever be taken."  The misreading of this rule is that it means if you don't get to roll an armor save you don't get feel no pain.  In other words if the AP of my weapon defeats your armor save, it also bypasses feel no pain.  This is incorrect reading: no armor save is not the same as your models armor save.  No armor save means that there does not exist an armor save which may be taken against said wound, or that the wound bypasses all armor saves in the game.  Your models armor save is the specific save of the model in question.  A more clear wording of this statement would be a wound against which a 2+ armor save cannot be taken against.

Again consider the plague bearer, if no armor save = your models armor save, then plague bearers (who have no armor save) can never use their feel no pain special rule.

Monday, March 28, 2011

TL AC Dreads

Headed For the NOVA Open.

Over this past weekend I finally figured out the logistics of heading down to VA and participating in the NOVA Open (and purchased my ticket).  This will be my second NOVA style event (I attended the Battle for Salvation GT last October) and by far the largest tourney I have participated in.  All that is left for me to do is determine which of my armies to bring.  I have my Deathwing, who are in the process of being repainted (as my first army the paint job left a little to be desired even for me.), and rearmed post FAQ.  I also have a work in progress Tyranid army, I have been playing around with ideas for.  Finally I have the army that has been my most recent tournament army, which is a Codex Marine biker army.  So on the run up to the NOVA, I’ll try posting up my lists, what my thoughts were behind making them, and what my findings are in play testing.  As we get closer to the tourney, I see what people out there think I should take and probably bring that with me as the list I will run.  So feel free to give any feed back or ask any questions you like about the lists, as I post them.

Know your enemy: Tyranid Hive Guard

One of the units that always gets mentioned when people talk about what is good in the Tyranid codex is the Hive Guard.  This is Mostly because they are a good unit.  They are one of the better shooting units in the codex, and one of the few reliable anti tank unit the Tyranids have.

1.)    Durability:  These guys are high toughness (6) with 2 wounds, and a decent (4+) save.  These guys can also hide, making them more durable to shooting.
2.)    Anti-vehicle Shooting:  They have a high strength weapon (S 8) with a decent rate of fire (2 shots each).  In addition they do not need LOS to shoot at a target.  They are also BS 4 so they are fairly accurate.

1.)    Range of 24” means these guys have to move quite far to be truly effective.
2.)    Anti-infantry shooting:  While they can kill infantry, they have only a So-So AP (4 is not much better than 5), and with only 2 shots each at most a squad of these guys will kill 6 models.
3.)    Close combat: While Tough these guys have no armor save ignoring attacks, poor initiative (2) and few attacks.
4.)    Synapse: This is a weakness for most tyranids, while these guys have a decent LD score, you don’t want to rely on them if they are out of synapse.
5.)    Mobility: They can only move 6” during movement, (+ run if need be).

The biggest issue I find with these guys is the synapse rule.  This means that I cannot always deploy the Hive Guard where I would like to optimally because risking them not doing what I want them to his huge.  This means that if your whole army is pushing forward the hive guard really need to go with them.  While this is not entirely a bad thing, for me it seems to slow the army down if everything else wants to run, the hive guard either need to run (which means they are not shooting.) or chance falling behind.

Monday, March 21, 2011

Final moves 2

So here is the set up

It is the bottom turn 5 Mission is capture and control.

You are playing Tyranids and going second.
You have left:
2 Wounded Trygons (both have 3 wounds left)
2 Units of 3 Hive guard
2 Tervigons  (the one in the lower right has 4 wounds left but can no longer make gaunts, the one on the left his 3 wounds left, both are troops)
23 Gaunts as shown
Deathleaper in the upper right.

Your opponent
playing blood angels has
Mephiston in the center of the board.
3 Auto Las predators
3 Las plas razorbacks (with 5 man assault squads melta guns, fist Sargent)
2x5 man assault squads (with meltaguns, fist sarge) as shown
A Heavy flamer Razorback on the right (with 5 man assault squad melta gun, fist Sargent)
A flamestorm Baal pred all the way on the right.

So the question is what move gives you the best chance to win the game while still setting you up to win if the game goes on?

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Know your enemy 1: Intro and Deathwing

So let’s say you’ve been working on your army for a while.  You know how it works; you know its rules, strengths, and weaknesses. You have a good grasp on the basic rules of the game.  At this point you are already ahead of many players. The next step you need to take is to know what your opponents units are and what they do. I know this may be asking a lot, there are tons of rules in this game, and remembering them all is very difficult (I’m not sure I have met anyone, myself included who knows every rule perfectly).   However, knowing as much as possible is very important when it comes to making decisions in a game.
At the basic level you need to have a rough idea what a particular unit is capable of when you see it on the table top.  The basic starting point of this is asking your opponent if you are not sure what a particular model is, and what it does during the game.  A good opponent should be happy to explain the rules of his units, at least in a brief overview.  In addition know what your opponents units do helps to prevent cheating, because he can't just lie about how something works.
A while ago I was in a tournament, playing against Orks, and my opponent had Stormboyz in his list.  I knew that they were jump infantry and had a couple of other special rules (I knew they rolled a dice and could die if they rolled a 1).  What I did not know was that this roll was added to their movement, which resulted in a turn 1 charge by my opponent and a losing battle for me.  Now, I will never forget this rule and how it can affect a game.  This brings me to the key point.  The best way to learn rules of other armies is to play against them, if things happen to you during a game; you are far more likely to remember the rules than just reading them.  Not to say that reading the rules is bad, I have almost every codex, and read up on various armies so that I know what different armies can do. 

So in order to help with this idea in the Know your enemy section I will present my experience with/against a specific unit.  What are the unit’s key special rules?  What is it good at, and what is it weak against?

So I’ll start with a unit from my first army the Dark Angels.

Deathwing Terminators

Just a brief overview these are the same as any other terminator, they have a marine stat line (4s across the board more or less).  Like other terminators they always are equipped with power weapons of some sort, and come stock with a 2+ armor save and 5+ invulnerable save.

-          Durability, with a 2+ armor save, and the availability of the 3+ invulnerable save using a storm shield these guys are hard to take down.
-          Ability to take heavy weapons on assault terminators.
-          Fearless:  DW terminators never need to take a morale check, which means that they can never get walked off the board.
-          Can be troops:  this makes a very durable scoring unit, that you must kill to a man to take off an objective (thanks to fearless)
-          Point cost:  This may seem strange, but with the new FAQ a DW squad with a cyclone missile launcher and 5 Thunder hammer storm shield termies will run you 235 points.  When you consider terminators in other codices.  5 TH/SS termies in codex space marines are 200 points, but cannot take the missile launcher, their shooty terminators with a Missile launcher would be 230 points.  In the Blood angel codex, 5 TH/SS termies are 225 points, and cannot get the missile launcher.  Space wolves can get this set up, but it would be over 300 points.
-          If the army includes a Belial (a DA special character) one squad can take an apothecary, who gives them feel no pain.
-          High strength power weapon attacks:  The squad can all take strength 8 power weapons, which makes them lethal to independent characters in the assault.

-          Low model count: Squads are capped at 5 models
-          Point cost: Though they are well costed for terminators, they are still pretty expensive, and so an army including them will likely be elite.
-          Durability vs high volumes of attacks:  Even with a 2+ armor save terminators will still fail 1/6 saves on average, so with only 5 models they can go down to focused fire power, or in close combat against units with lots of attacks.
-          Anti-horde: If the DW termies go with Thunder hammers and storm shields they will have little way to deal with large units at range, which amplifies their weakness against volume of attacks (they will not be able to kill lots of say orks, outside of hand to hand combat.)
-          Initiative:  Most DW terminators will be striking at initiative 1.  At best they are initiative 4.
-          Speed:  As infantry terminators can only move 6” each turn, and transport that the DW can take are land raiders (which are get very pricey)

Saturday, March 12, 2011

Final Move: Thinking tactically (answer for diagram #1)

This move gives you the best chance in the given scenario.  Moving with the dread to assault the plague marines, means that you will pull them off the center objective due to their pile in move.  You bike squad then claims the center objective due as they are troops.  The reason to break off the captain to contest the objective in the upper right instead of using the speeder, is because the plague marines do have a chance to kill the dreadnaught, at which point they would be able to consolidate, and possibly contest the center objective while still holding the objective in the upper left.  By moving the speeder to contest that objective as well, you ensure that you will at worst end the game with a tie.  (at best win 2 objectives to 0 should your bike squad in the lower right beat the daemon prince).  Most likely you will end up with a 1-0 win on objectives.

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Target Priority: The most common mistake.

The more and more games I play the more and more mistakes I see myself and others make.  In my opinion the most common error is one of target priority.  For anyone reading this that is fairly new to the game, target priority is exactly what it sounds like determining the most important target in your opponent’s army and dealing with it.  In a recent small tournament I was playing a very shooty Spacewolf list (2 Long Fang Packs with 4 Missiles each, and 2 TL autocannon dreads.).  When I was making my list I had about 80 points or so left over so I threw in a Dakka Predator (autocannon, with Heavy Bolter sponsons), to fill points.  What I found during the tournament this seemed to be target priority #1 for my opponents (2 Mech IG players, and a  mech Space wolf player).  This struck me as strange as it was probably the least threatening part of my list, especially for mechanized armies.  So I figured I would talk about what goes through my head as far as deciding what to target during a game.

For me target priority is broken into 2 phases, early game, and late game.  In the early portion of a game, target priority breaks down as follows.

1.)    What in my opponent’s army, that I can effectively deal with this turn, is the biggest threat to my army? This is priority number one, what unit in my opponent’s army is likely to do the most damage to my list on his turn, and can I deal with it right now.  Maybe it is an Imperial Guard Basilisk that is going to drop huge templates on my marines if I don’t at least shake it this turn, then that is what I will shoot first.  The reason I include the idea of deal with right now in target priority is that sometimes you don’t have an effective way to deal with a threat at any given time.  For example, if my opponent has a Land Raider full of Terminators, that may be his biggest threat, but if my only way to deal with that is using melta guns, I might not have range this turn.
2.)    What can I kill/disable, that will maximize the strengths of my army?  If I have dealt with my opponents biggest threats as best as I am able I then go to trying to make my army more effective.  For example if I am playing a fast army, like mech elder, I might look to kill my opponents transports reducing his mobility and widening the gap between our armies in that area of the game.
3.)    What can I kill/disable, that will minimize the weaknesses of my army?  For me this is similar to #2, but in the opposite manner, if I am playing a foot army I might target transports so that I bring the opponent down to my level of speed, or if I am playing a shooty army and I don’t want to get into close combat, I will target my opponents units that are good in hand to hand, so I don’t get beat in an area where I am weak.
4.)    What can I target that will most easily reduce my opponents effectiveness?  This is usually the last consideration, is there a squad or vehicle that I can target that will remove a threat (however small) from the table.

As the game progresses priorities change, as with the end of the game approaching the mission comes into play.   Late game target priority switches depending on the mission.

For Objective missions
1.)    Target troops/scoring units.  If your opponent has no troops they cannot win the game.  While this is something you might do all along, it is not a great idea to ignore your opponent’s threats early in the game, just to kill troops.
2.)    Target possible contesting units.  Late in an objective game you want to get rid of any units your opponent has that might be able to contest objectives that you are holding.  Priority #1 here is usually fast moving units, but it could be any unit that can move within 3” of your objective.

For Kill-point missions
1.)    Look for easy kills.  Weakened squads, light transports, etc.
2.)    Multiple kill point units.  If you have 2 equally sized squads to shoot at going after the squad with an attached independent character, can net you 2 kill points instead of just one.  (Remember fleeing squads count for kill points at the end of the game.

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Final Move: Thinking tactically

I have always been a big fan of those old chess puzzles where you have a certain amount of moves to get checkmate and need to figure out how to do so.  I have also seen this tried with 40k in some places with moderate success (at best), so I figured I would try my hand at the idea.  The hard part with 40k is that unlike chess you can rarely force your opponent to move in a certain way, or take a certain action.  In addition with dice involved things are rarely ever a given.

So here we go.

The set up: You are the Ultramarines, it is the bottom of turn 7 (you went second) of a 5 objective seize ground mission.  Your opponent is currently winning 3 objectives to 0.  

You have left:

A dual autocannon dreadnought
a  typhoon speeder
 a 4 man squad of bikes with 2 melta guns and an attackbike  with Multimelta.
A captian on bike with Storm shield and relic blade  currently attatched to.
one bike and a multimelta attackbike left from another bike squad

Your opponent has
A Nurgle Daemon prince with wings and warptime
7 Plague marines (2 plasma guns, Champ with fist)
5 Plague marines (2 melta guns, Champ with fist)
A Rhino

Here is the table

So how, if possible can you win this game, on your last turn? (As there are no guarantees choose the best move possible.)

Friday, March 4, 2011

Step One: To understand the rules, one must first know the rules.

In my opinion any discussion on tactics must be firmly grounded in a knowledge of the rule set that you are playing under.  It always amazes me how many people I play against don't really know the rules of the game.  Sometimes even the most basic rules of the game.  I'll be the first to admit that there are some rules I am not super familiar with, mostly because one never seems to run into them in a game (things like rules for bunkers, or how roads effect vehicles.)  I have a rough idea how these rules work, but see them so rarely that I would not stake my life on knowing the rules.  However, knowing things like how far your models move, how to shoot during the shooting phase etc.. are important to know.

First and most important for anyone to learn is how the rules apply to their chosen army.  Say I choose orks, I would feel that it is important to know what I have to roll to hit in shooting.  What my WS is and what I usually have to roll to hit in CC.  How far my models can move.  What furious charge does...and so on.  It seems to me if you really have to put a lot of effort into remembering the rules for a unit, or just the rules in generally it becomes much more difficult to use said unit tactically no matter how good said unit is, especially if you are playing in an environment where time is an issue.

As an example lets look at the Vendetta, a unit that is pretty universally considered an excellent unit.  While one could argue that this would be a great unit no matter who uses it, knowing things like say the range of your weapons (without having to look when shooting comes up), knowing how the fast vehicle and skimmer rules work (so you don't move flat out into terrain and kill yourself).  Much of this may seem to be a no duh kind of situation but, people consistently get rules like these wrong, or at least don't know them well enough to think about how best to use said unit.

For me it comes down to this...if you are dwelling on the how do I do something, you don't have time to think about the why.  If I need to think hard to remember how something works I cannot plan for it tactically.

Mission Statement

So I have been kicking around the idea of starting a 40k blog for a while now, but I was not really sure where I wanted to go with the concept.  There are so many blogs out there, with so many different ideas, and outlooks on 40k and gaming in general.  Some are what I'll call hobby blogs, the focus on painting or modeling, or the artsy side of our hobby.  Some are news oriented, where they drop rumors, tournament results, etc..., others still are tactics blogs where the blogger(s) try to advise the community on the whole on what they believe are the best army lists or tactics.

So, while I was thinking about this I knew I could rule out some of these blog types as an option.  I knew I would not be writing a hobby blog for a couple of reasons.  Fist of which is, I'm not particularly good at it.  I am a decent painter, people have told me my models look nice, or that some of my conversions are cool, but I am not a great hobbyist.  I don't delude myself into thinking I am going to win best painted at the GT level, nor would I know how to describe any of my painting techniques to others (I read some painting rubrics and have no idea what some of the stuff on them even means).  Secondly, painting and modeling is not what gets me excited about playing the hobby, playing the game is what got me into the hobby and what keeps me in the hobby.  I also ruled out doing a news blog, as that type of thing does not really interest me, nor do I have any sources to quote concerning anything GW is developing in the future.  Anything, I know about 40k rumors are already well publicized.

So given that I settled on doing a tactics blog.  But I wanted to try do do it in a different way than what I have seen in the past.  Which brings me to the blog title.  Grokking 40k...for those of you who are not big sci-fi readers, the term Grok was created by Robert Heinlein in his 1961 novel Stranger in a Strange Land, and means  to understand so thoroughly that the observer becomes a part of the observed.  In other words to Grok is to have a very deep understanding of a particular concept/idea etc..  As far as the blog goes this means, that I am going to try to deepen my own understanding of tactics in 40k as well as that of the community.  So many tactics blogs tend to be here is this epic list, play it and you will win, with little to no advice on why the list is good.  The same is true on forums, many people just say don't take x unit, take y it is better, this does not help anyone understand the game better.

What I want to do is create a blog where feed back is useful, where my readers (and myself) better understand the game through dialogue.  Where I actually try to use different ideas in actual games and see how they work(I love math hammer, but it only goes so far.).

All that said the most important thing I want to establish is my attitude on the blog.  "I am not a better player than you."  Heck, I would not even call my self a great player.  I am an above average to good player.  I am one of the best players in my local area.  I win far more than I loose. I have a firm grasp on the rules. But, I am not a GT champ, or an Ard Boyz finalist.  I can learn as much from you as you can from me.  My intent is to put out interesting strategies, lists, and ideas that will make people think.  Maybe get people to move out of their comfort zone, and at the end of the day, make everyone involved a better player.