Tuesday, May 29, 2012

6th edition is Doom! DOOM! DOooOOooOOM!

I'm in full 6th edition panic mode.  I don't want to quit 40K.  Yeah, my xenos armies suck. Yeah, the prices are outrageous.  But 40K will always be the miniatures game for me.  

The problem is: I can't trust Games Workshop to release a good rules product.  You can trust GW to release a  cool model kit, but you can't trust them to release fun balanced rules.  Sure occasionally they accidentally back into something resembling good (5th edition and a lot of the specialist games), but I don't think they know how to do it on purpose.

I haven't heard anything about 6th to get me exited.  Then again, all I really want out of 6th is 5th with fixed wound allocation and with the standard cover save reset to 5+.   Some slight revisions to make light vehicles less survivable.and heavy vehicles more so would not be unwelcome either.   The core of 40K isn't broke.  It's always been the extraneous details that have been the problem.  Codexes have never quite interacted with the rules in a consistent manner across all the rule books.  Mucking with the core rules in a big way while leaving the codexes in disarray as they are will not fix 40K.  That's why I say doom.

If I trusted GW, I would be more apologetic.  I'd have more relaxed wait and see disposition.  As it is now, I feel like I should be hedging my bets.  I should be getting ready to shelve my 40K stuff for the edition cycle.

It's irrational behavior because I haven't seen the new rules yet.  But I can't be an observer in this.  I've got time and money invested in this game.  I want to continue to get a return on that investment by playing fun games.  6th edition feels like a sword dangling over my head.   When it comes down, I might end up with a couple of worthless miniature armies.  The local community could die out because no one else likes the new edition.  Even if the new edition is good, I might still have to buy hundreds of dollars worth of models to get my armies playable and competitive in the new rules.

I really wish GW would mitigate this stuff.  They should be previewing the new rules.  Building hype. Managing expectations.  Making me excited about the change.  Letting me know I'm getting what I want, or at least make me think what I want is what I'm getting  That's what marketing departments are for.  Battlefront let people officially know 3rd edition for Flames was coming months in advance.  They let people know what was changing before the book was out.  They put the rules in the hands of their veteran players first!  I don't expect a free copy of the new rules, but an official heads up would be better than incessant rumor-mongering in the blogsphere.  Better on a galactic scale.

But maybe this is GW being smarter than we give them credit for.  They know most of us will buy the new rulebook no matter what.  They don't have to do anything, because they already got the core audience by the nose due to our already mentioned commitment of time and money.

That strategy seems to be working for them so far, and companies are loathe to change a working strategy(non-working ones a lot of the time too).  You have to wonder how many times they can raise prices without raising value, how many times they can ignore the competition, and how many times they can patronize their customers before it's one time too many.

Monday, May 28, 2012

The winner is me

I took second/best general at G2D4's 1850 point tournament with my tau.  Spag beat me out for top spot by .4 points, but we both went undefeated.  There where only 16 people at the tournament this time.

The tournament was OK.  The store owner talked the TO into using the Flames of War tournament software for bettor or worse.  So, I don't know by what rubric pairings and scorings where determined by.  The missions where all right except for the last one.  It was king of the hill where winner was the person with the most victory points on the hill in the center of the table.  Did I mention I was playing Tau?  It didn't help that my opponent was playing Demons.  I got lucky in that game.  My opponent stayed on the hill, and I got the full 7 turns to shoot him off.  I just barely tabled him with only one unit left to shoot.

I wish we would get back to doing the W/L style tournaments  Hivefleet Indy was doing last year.  The club's been a bit disorganized since a lot of time was being devoted by a few of the club's members to run the Indy Open.  Hopefully we can get everything together and get our quarterly 36 man tournaments going again.   GW could help by making sure 6th edition doesn't suck.

I used all my tournament store credit to by some Dust Warfare models.  I got the Axis heavy walker, some recon grenadiers, and a Allies light walker.  Now I can run 200 pt demo games more comfortably.

Thursday, May 24, 2012

I'm keeping an eye on Dropzone Commander

The sculpts for Dropzone Commander are catching my eye.  Haven't heard much about the rules except that everything starts off the table and must enter play by means of a dropship.  Sounds a little quirky.

It would be nice to play a game at that scale that didn't include Spartan's stupid exploding dice mechanic.

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

No, I Will Not Pay 75 Dollars for a Land Raider

You know what you can get for $75?  You can get 11 orders of Chili Cheese Etoufe with Craw-fish from Yats for that.  Hell, for two land raiders I could get Yats to cater a party of 30 people.  Drunken Chicken for everybody!

Can't they keep the price increases to once every other year maybe?  Are they not allowed to release a annual financial statement without marking off the, "Alienate your client base" option on the checklist?

I've apologized for GW profusely on this blog, and I can forgive a lot of the stuff they do as just being a big dumb corporation.  I think Privateer's pricing is getting(has been) pretty stupid too.

I'm not going to say I feel entitled to lower prices from GW.  I'm not saying that I'm going to quit the game in childish protest.  What I am saying is that GW hit that magic number that's priced me out of buying anything from them at MSRP.  No new armies for me.  Maybe, just maybe, when the Eldar Codex lands I might buy a few things(online at 20% discount, sorry Jerry, blame GW).

I'm a young professional with a good job and no kids.  I have some discretionary income.  There's a problem when someone like me looks at the prices and goes gearghhhagagaga.

I'm just saying.

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

How about some painted Dust Warfare models?

Just got finished with a few test models for my allies.  What do you think?

Dust Warfare: Pulling the Trigger(or is it injecting the wunderserum)

Totengrabber and I played a second game of Dust Warfare last Saturday.  We switched sides and I took the Axis.  Laser Grenadiers with Sigrid are pretty decent damage dealers, and Damage Resilient Solider 3's can be a PITA to dig out of hard cover.   I'm really digging the suppression mechanic.  Even a really nasty unit like Rhino joined to a section of Hammers can be dealt with thanks to the judicious use of suppression.  It's going to be interesting when Totengrabber eventually gets some unsuppressible units like Gorillas or Zombies.

We also tried out the scenario builder.  With it, each player gets 2 points to bid on deployment, mission, and battlefield conditions.  Each one starts with a 0 default setting and each point spent on a category changes it.  Categories have 4 options and you can only bid them up.  For example, the default 0 objective is: get to your opponents deployment zone.  Bid it up one, and it becomes kill points.  If it gets bid up to 2, it becomes objectives.   It's kind of neat.  It's good enough for friendly games, but I'm not sure of its intended use as the core of a tournament system.  I need to give it some more tries to really form an opinion.  I think its application would be more interesting if we better knew the capabilities of the armies.  Otherwise we might as well just randomly determine the scenario conditions.

My impression of the game remains high.  I'm finding the infantry combat to be more interesting than the walker combat.  Walkers tend to do two things: suppress infantry at long range(important, but not very sexy), and trade long range fire with other walkers.  Walker on walker shooting tends to be a roll off; especially if you can get your walker into some hard cover.  This could be because we're using too many large ruins and other pieces that grant hard cover in our games.  As a result, I'm not too impressed with anti-walker walkers.  The good walkers are the ones that can reliably suppress infantry at 24 to 36 inch ranges.  I'll have to try some games without long range AT to see if I actually miss it.

There are still a bunch of unit types and abilities we haven't tried out.  Totegrabber doesn't have any of the utility command squads, snipers, observers, or artillery pieces.  And, of course, no heavy walkers. I'm really interested in seeing how these units effect the game-play.

As a result of my giddiness over Dust, I've decided not to build a Flames of War army.  I'm going all in with Dust Warfare.  I bought the starter and a few random allied infantry that Jerry had in stock at G2D4.  I also ordered enough stuff to build a 250-280 point Allies army.  What's nice is I've got this all for only about $200, and that includes about an extra 150 points of Axis from the starter.

For my initial list I think I'll be running something like this:

Platoon 1: Ranger Platoon
Ranger Command Squad
Ranger Combat Squad
Ranger Combat Squad
Ranger Recon Squad
Observer Squad
Steal Rain

Platoon 2: Heavy Ranger Platoon
Tank Hunters

I'll probably build an SSU army when the expansion book for them comes out sometime this summer.

I will have to convert some more potential players.  A few of the G2D4 40K regulars seemed interested.  I'll have to prepare a few more injections of wunderserum.

If anyone is interested, I can run quick demos using the starter box contents.

Monday, May 7, 2012

Dust Warfare Review: 1 game in

Totengraber put together a few Dust Tactics starters in order to give the Dust Warfare rules a try this last weekend.  I volunteered to play against him because I was eager to see how the rules played out on the table top.

I think we played a 250 point game.  It included about 5 infantry units, 2 heroes, and 3 walkers per side.  I took the Allies because the goofy looking Sherman walkers have grown on me.

The Good

The game is simple but has good tactical depth.  This is a sweet spot to hit in a miniature rules system.  If you can add depth to a game without adding lots of complexity, you have a game with potential.  This complexity comes from the interaction of three rules in the game: Commands, Reactions, and Suppression. 

At the start of you turn you roll for initiative.  You roll a number of combat dice equal to the number of units in your army.  The way combat dice work is they have 2 hits and 4 blanks on each die, so the odds of a hit work out to be equivalent to rolling a 5+.  The number of hits you get is the number of commands you can give in the command phase.  Commands are equivalent to minor actions; you can fire you weapons or move away.  It's half of what a unit can normally do during a full activation on it's turn.  Commands are nice because they cannot be reacted to, and you can give them to units that are normally too suppressed to do anything.   Commands are kind of tricky to use and Totengraber and I found out that you need to set them up on your previous turn to be really effective.

Dust Warfare is not the first game to include reactions, even 40k used to have them in the form of overwatch, but they've managed to add them in without bogging the game down.  Whenever a unit attacks or moves with 12" of an opponents unit, that unit has the option of reacting.  This is another situation where you get a minor action.  You can move or attack, and it will restrict the units activation later in the turn.  Units that have already reacted or have been suppressed cannot react.  This means that units have to work together to get to close range.  If most units just try to run into a unit of Rangers, they will get shot to death. If you have a walker fire into those Rangers and suppress them first, then it's a whole different story.

Suppression is essentially the morale system in Dust Warfare.  Whenever a unit is hit by a weapon it gains a suppression token.  Normally when a unit activates it gets two actions.  It can move and attack, or perform double actions of each.  If a unit is suppressed it looses one of it's actions and it cannot react. If you gain more suppression than models in the unit, then they flee.  You'll find yourself taking pot shots at units you can't really hurt, so that you can move in your flamers or melee units to do the real damage.  Vehicles are immune to suppression, so they become key to your attack strategy.

Using suppression and reactions seem to be key to game of Dust Warfare. It adds a level of complexity over 40K's move-shoot-assault model.  It also doesn't fall into Warmachine's depth through complexity trap.  

The game's price point is very nice as well.  You'll be playing 40K scale games at a half to a third the cost. 

Stuff I'm on the fence about

I have some balance concerns.  Units with Jump seem very powerful, as their movement cannot be reacted to.  In my game against Totengraber I took out nearly a third of his army with a unit of Heavy Assault Rangers with an attached character.   They have a 12 inch move(24 on a double move) with the Jump ability.  Their Double Rocket Punch attack can tear up nearly everything in the game.  I'm not convinced that they are not counter-able, and they do cost 50 points with attached hero(most games are 200-300 points).  They are definitely a n00b slayer unit.  On the other side, some of the Axis special rules seam a little lack luster.  Laser seem to be very ineffective.  They just don't get enough shots.   Axis tend to also be more damage reliant, but that just means the Allies will suppress you all day long until you get a nice dose of rocket punches or napalm to the face

Hero units are a little all over the place.  Some are absolutely required.   I would never take a unit of Axis Gorillas without attaching the gorilla hero(he gives the unit movement that cannot be reacted to).  Others are pretty much ablative wounds for a squad.  They tend to cost as much as a full unit of soldiers, so it's a choice of quantity or quality.  

Stuff I don't like   

Certain models are buried in  Dust Tactics Boxed sets.  Most of the hero's are only available in Dust Tactics campaign expansions that cost 40 bucks.  There's a lot of value in those boxes if you play Dust Tactics, but if all you want is the one hero for your Allies army it's kind of annoying.  There are two hero's that only came in the OOP first starter box.  There's also a light walker for each side only available in the current Tactics starter.  But that box has enough Dust Warfare value that if an Axis and Allies player trade starter box units, it's a decent deal.  Otherwise, Fantasy Flight needs to release a set containing the back log of heroes for the Warfare players.

There are a few rules issues that need to be addressed.  For instance all weapon ranges are measured in the horizontal plane only.  This means that a unit can technically punch a unit 10 stories directly above them.  I'm not sure of how quickly Fantasy Flight will be able to turn around a faq on these issues.  These kind of issues are pretty rare though, and a common sense approach should prevail in the meantime. 

I'm not a big fan of the fluff.  The Weird War 2 genre has been done to death.  Maybe if they had gotten in before the Captain America movie it would be a little different.  A serviceable movie, but after I saw it I just became very tired of Nazis with ray guns and Amerika Bombers.  I'm no longer intrigued by questions of, "How would WWII have gone if all the SS where vampire iguanas and Churchill was a robot Velociraptor?"


The game takes a little getting used to if your background is mostly 40K and Warmachine.  You have to worry about a few concepts that will be alien to those game systems.  You'll need to worry about keeping your units within command range of your platoon leader, so that you can issue them orders in the command phase.  You also can't just run your army straight at your enemy.  Even a basic unit or Rangers can gun down most anything if you come at them without suppressing them first.  Learning set-up then take-down tactics will be essential for games of Dust Warfare

My resistance to buying an army is wearing down.  I like the rules.  The game is a good fall back if 6th edition 40K is the doom that all the BS rumors are claiming.  The models are decent, and even the Russian chibi-hind gyro-copters are growing on me.  I may buy Allies now, and Russians when they come out with Dust Warfare rules in a few months.

Tuesday, May 1, 2012