Tuesday, July 31, 2012

You know it be true

All of a sudden I'm overcome with the urge to build a Dark Eldar Army...again.

Does this mean I've given in to my anger?  Fallen to the DarkSide?

Some More 6th Edition Eldar Angst

I've been pounding my head against a wall trying to come up with a good 6th edition Eldar list.  It's hard.  It was already pretty hard in 5th.  Eldar are overpriced by at least 20%, the good units all fight for the same FOC slots, and 80% of the rules are unchanged from 1999.  While 6th gave a boost to certain aspects of the army, it also hurt some others pretty badly.

You already had to squeeze every ounce of efficiency out of the codex to stay competitive in 5th.  We could argue the validity of footdar versus mechdar, but either way many of the units in the codex where still untouchable.  Barring Firedragons, most everything else in the codex was situationally good at best.  There where a couple of nice gimmicks you could run like Eldrad+Phoenix Lord+Wraithgaurd.  Unfortunately these could be trumped in competitive environments, and they are expensive points sinks.

The changes to how units in transports score(or not score more appropriately) and wound allocation have gutted a lot of the tactics that allowed Eldar to stay somewhat competitive.  Eldar just can't grab and hold objectives like they used to.  You have to get out and try to survive, and if you payed the points for a Wave Serpent, you certainly didn't have the points to spend on putting a survivable unit inside.  I also found at least a dozen rules that make no sense or are redundant/pointless/useless/dumb in 6th(though Tau have it worse in that area).

There are still some gems.  Karandaras and a few of the other Phoenix Lords got a nice boost.  Wave Serpents weathered the addition of hull points better than some other vehicles.  They may even be over-costed by only 15% now.  Twin-linked strength 6 is about as good as you can get for anti-air in a codex without it's own fliers or sky fire.  Now that Warp Spiders can tear up vehicles, Eldar have a fast attack unit worth taking.  Guardian Jetbikes are nice too, but I can't brink myself to buy the old 2nd ED models for 15 bucks a pop when I know that there's a master already done for a new kit(Jes Goodwin redesigned the Eldar jetbike as a precursor to re-designing the Dark Eldar ones).  And with GW's black hole of a marketing strategy, a new kit could be as little as two weeks out and I wouldn't know it.

There's also some changes that look like buffs, but turn out to not be so useful in the long run.  The Psychic power change is one of them.  Eldar need fortune, and the analog to it in the divination table only effects the psyker and not the squad.   So you need a cheepo Farseer to cast Fortune, and another one to roll up the fancy new powers.  Now you're locked out of taking anymore HQ choices; one of the slots in the codex that has an abundance of useful choices.

You may also think that Ranger/Pathfinders got a huge boost with the focus fire and cover changes. They are better, but not better enough to account for their 19/24 point cost.  You can't afford to invest that many points into a unit in an Elder unit unless it's going to be able to wreck face, and these guys will not wreck any face.  You'll also love it when some 6 point guard model with a flamer walks up and  makes your 240 point investment disappear in one shot.

Allies could potentially save Eldar, but allies tend to put an efficiency hit on the army that takes them.  And allies are hard to make work at the lower points levels.  2 FOC might help too, but you usually run out of points before you can get enough spam into the list to make it worth it.  Plus double FOC is dumb.

 Eldar need a new codex in a bad way.  I know they're xenos, and xenos armies are never quite as good as Imperial.  I don't expect GK or SW good.  I just want to at least get within visual range of competitive.  Tau are't great, but I can make them work with good play and an efficient list. Most of the Tau codex entries can be made to work.  They only have a few absolute stinkers(Vespids, Etherial).  Oh, if Eldar only had it so good.

Thursday, July 26, 2012

Hull Point Math Updates

There was a slight error in my calculations for the survivability of the Wave Serpent.  I entered 4/5 instead of 4/6 for getting past the jink save.  I've updated that graph and added two new ones for trying to get kills against Chimera and Vindicator front armor.

Hull Points by the Numbers

Thursday, July 19, 2012

6th Edition Hull Points By the Numbers

EDIT:  I had a slight error in my calculations for the wave serpent.  I updated the graph with the improved calculations.  The Wave Serpent turns out to be slightly more survivable in this edition than the last.  As a bonus I also added graphs for armor 12 and 13 vehicles.

I was thinking the other day about how bad the 6th edition vehicle damage changes hurt my poor Wave Serpents.  Unfortunately the addition of hull points to the probability calculations takes you from Stats 101 to Stats 102.  The application of Excel and a few binomial calculations later, I think I've got some equations to compare 5th and 6th edition vehicle survivability.

I wish I retained more knowledge from my college statistics course, but I'm pretty sure the numbers are close enough for Govt' work.

All the calculations here are based on the chances of getting a vehicle kill with 5 hits.  I had to state the probabilities this way to account for the cumulative effects of hull-point attrition.

First up is the Wave Serpent.  These number account for both the energy fields and jink save.

Probability to Kill a Wave Serpent in 5 Hits

As you can see the wave serpent maintains fairly close survivability between 5th and 6th.   Eldar's situation may be less dire than I assumed.

I then decided to take a look at the Rhino and Land Raider to see how they both fared in 6th.

Probability to Kill a Rhino in 5 Hits

Probability to kill Chimera From the Front in 5 Hits

Probability to kill a Vindicator From the Front in 5 Hits

Probability to Kill a Land Raider in 5 Hits

You'll notice that the rhino lost a significant amount of survivability in this edition while Land Raiders stayed about the same.   

Overall, you may notice that the curve for damage potential for the major strength/ap combos in the game got a lot smother.  Melta doesn't present as significant a jump in combat effectiveness against armor as it used to.  In fact against lighter armor, a Lascannon becomes a good choice.  It looses only a little effectiveness for a major range advantage.  Melta still remains the go-to weapon for dealing with AV14.

You should also consider that glances don't effect your ability to move and shoot anymore.  Outright kills are usually less likely for most weapons, so most kills will be by hull points.  While vehicles may die faster, they will in general be more useful while they are alive.

I worked up one more chart for you guys to look at.
Probability of Kill as Number of Hits Increases(St 7 vs Armor 11) 

We've gained a much steeper curve in terms of measuring the effect of weight of fire.  What this means is that that putting a few extra guns on a target will get you better results more quickly.  To get an 80% chance of a kill you need about half as many guns in 6th to do the job.

Friday, July 13, 2012

CaulynDarr's Unifying Theory of Game Company Evolution

Given x time where x approaches infinity, all game companies will also approach one of two states.  The first state is bankruptcy. The second condition is a state of existence indistinguishable from Games-Workshop.

I get a certain schadenfreude whenever a game company implements a new business practice that at one point or another was used as a reason to like them over GW.  I got it when Privateer started their own magazine and hobby line.  I got it when Privateer started going plastic/resin.  I had it when Apple switched to Intel processors and abandoned RISK architecture(OK, not a miniature company, but same type of situation).  I'm having it now that Battlefront is disallowing non Battlefront miniatures at official events.   

These things don't make either Privateer or Battlefront bad companies(or Apple).  They make business decision that are in their best interest, just like everyone else.  I just like deflating fan boys who think some company has their best interest at heart.  All companies want all your money.  Deal with it.  

Monday, July 9, 2012

6th Edition 3 Games In

I got a few games of six edition over the weekend.  I won two and lost one.  My initial 6th edition Marine list turned out to be light on troops, but I think I can make it better.

I have to say I really like the Storm Talon.  It's a fairly versatile gun platform.  The 360 degree arc on the Assault Cannon gives it more movement and firing options than most of the other fliers that have exclusively hull mounted guns.  Though these are the halcyon days before people adjust their armies to really deal with fliers.  Talons do have trouble cracking the armor of the bigger armor 12 fliers.  But that could just be my epic bad dice leading me to hit with my typhoon missile launchers only one out of every six shots.    All-in-All, it is a pretty balanced unit, and I don't see me running marine lists without one or two.

I had fun with the new psychic powers.  I rolled up Hallucination in my first game and got a Strike Squad to hit itself in the face with it's own force weapons.  Psychic Shriek also turned out to be equally fun, nearly wiping out a unit of Trukk Boyz.  I was trying the powers with an Epistolary, but I don't think the upgrade is really necessarily.  I never seemed to get two powers that would actually work well cast on the same turn.  The effects of the Warp Charge 2 powers also don't seem to really justify the 50 point cost of the upgrade compared to what the Warp Charge 1 powers do.  For Eldar, I'd probably take the upgrade to Mastery Level 2.  It's only 20 points there, and Divination is loaded with enough Warp Charge 1 buffs to make 2 powers a turn useful. 

I played a list with some Tau allies, and while I liked having a pair of Broadsides in my Marine army, I think overall it degrades the efficiency of the list.  Basically I was bringing along 500 points of Tau to get those Broadsides.  With the points I spent on the Firewarriors and Suits, I could of brought along more Tac squads and Devastators.   I could run the mandatory troops and HQ for the detachment at bare minimum, but that would even be less efficient.  They would be dead weight in the army, and I'd still end up paying essentially 250 points for those two Broadsides.

If you're not careful your allies can really negativity affect efficiency of your list.  This goes especially for imperial codexes.  Any allied unit needs to be the prime choices from their codex or covering a weak spot in your own list.

I'm still playing around with what I want to do with my lists.  My Eldar are still in limbo.  I'm sort of intrigued by weapons platforms.  Unfortunately, everything is still just too expensive.  For everything Eldar can do, just about every newer codex can do better for 20% less points(I'll stop complaining about Eldar for now).   I think I can sit on both my Tau and Eldar until we see if August is going to bring another wave of fliers.  For my marines, I'm thinking about seeing what I can do with Vindicators and foot Terminators in this edition.

Thursday, July 5, 2012

CaulynDarr's Axioms of Miniature Gaming

This may end up being an abuse of the definition of axiom, but I felt a few things ought to be said while the blogging community is in the trows of resolving the cognitive dissonance that is 6th edition.  I've learned things about gaming in the time I've been gaming.  This is stuff we all probably know, but tend to conveniently forget when we go on cathartic diatribes.

Axiom 1: There is no such thing as a perfect game.  

Most games have problems.  Play them enough and you'll run into them face first.  Games are complex with hundreds or even thousands of variables, and you just can't account for all of them and meet publishing deadlines and budgets.  This should not be an excuse for bad quality, just an acceptance of the reality of game production.

Axiom 2: The quality of a game is secondary to the number of people you know playing it.

Hypothetically if you did find the perfect game, that wouldn't mean much if no one wanted to play it.  I got shelves of games I've bought because the rules looked very promising.  Games better and more fun than what I tend to play on a daily basis.  But games require x>1 person to play.  So if quality(Q) times players(P) equal fun(F) then Q(100)*P(0) < Q(50)*P(2).  So sometimes we play games that are not the greatest because we can actually find people to play them with.

Axiom 3: There is no such thing as the perfect game company

Game companies are businesses.  Often they have owners and employees with bills to pay and kids to put through school.  This requires them to make decisions based on profit margins over pure gaming culture ideals.  When a game company is something done by a few guys out their garage and it's done for the fun instead of the money, companies can do all kinds of idealistic things.  Unfortunately companies become the victims of their own success.  As they grow and people livelihoods depend on the company, sometimes ideals have to take a back seat to reality.  Even if a company where to hold on to the bulk of it's idealism, you can't make everyone happy all the time.  Sometimes a company that does everything right will eventually piss you off.

Axiom 4: Never ever sell off an army.

I break this one a lot.  I've never sold an army or bulk of models and not regretted it later.  If a new edition comes along and you're stuff sucks, it's cheaper in the long run to store it for later.  In two years the next edition will make it the new hotness, or It'll be the only thing your gaming group wants to play 6 months down the road.  Of course if you're getting out the hobby all together...yeah, like that's going to happen.

Tuesday, July 3, 2012

Finally a 6th edition list that doesn't make me throw up in my mouth

I had to accept that without native AA or even expanded AA in allies, I'm not going to be able to put together a decent list.  I think it really relegates Tau and Eldar to allies only status.  When GW announces flyers for those armies or a list of skyfire upgrade-able units, I'll break them out as primary detachments again.

 As you saw in my last post I picked up a pair of Storm Talons.  By internet standards right now that makes me a sucker.  I played right into GW's hand.  Well you know what? Any of us still playing GW's games with that company's track record are all suckers already.  It's just a matter of degrees.  2 Storm Talons was about the least I could spend to get what I think is a 6th compatible list.  Plus, I hadn't made a purchase for my SMs in a long time, so they where do for some love.

It's probably not the best list yet.  It needs some more efficiency hammered in, but I think it's a good starting point.

Space Marines 1850
  • Librarian - Epistolary w/ Gate and Null Zone
  • Dreadnought w/ 2x Twin-linked Autocannons
  • Dreadnought w/ 2x Twin-linked Autocannons
  • 10 Man Tactical Squad w/ Rhino, Combi-Melta Sarge, Meltagun, and Plasma Cannon
  • 10 Man Tactical Squad w/ Rhino, Combi-Melta Sarge, Meltagun, and Plasma Cannon
  • Storm Talon w/ Typhoon Missile Launcher
  • Storm Talon w/ Typhoon Missile Launcher
  • 2 Attack Bikes w/ Multi-Meltas

Tau Detachment(Brothers in Arms)
  • Shas'el w/ Missile Pod, Plasma Rifle, Multi-Tracker, and Hard Wired Blacksun Filter
  • 2 XV8 Body Guards w/ Missile Pod, Plasma Rifle, and Multi-Tracker
  • 12 Fire Warriors w/ Emp Grenades and Shas'ui with Blacksun Filter, Drone Controller, and 2 Gun Drones
  • 2 Broadsides w/ Blacksun Filter, Drone Controller, and 2 Shield Drones.

The Librarian attaches to the Fire Warrior blob  If facing demons he keeps his basic powers, otherwise he'll be rolling for Telepathy and Telekinesis.  I still may want to swap the combi sarges out for power fist sarges. 

Monday, July 2, 2012


I shall play marines for the time being. My xenos get to be allies.

Further 6th Edition Musings - or why I won't be playing much 6th for a month or two

I've been stewing a bit more on what to do with my armies.

I think that my Eldar are going to have to stay on the shelf.  I can't think of an all-comers list that will work with the models I own.  Anything I do come up with is too gimmicky to work in the long run.  I'm in a position that I've got to spend a few hundred dollars to get the army to maximum efficiency.  And at maximum efficiency, Eldar still aren't that great.

My Tau army is better off.  I can probably make it work with Marine or Ork Allies.  Even then though I've still got to spend some cash.  I need another squad of fire warriors, a dakka jet, some nobz, and an aegis line.  That's over a 100 bucks.

My space marines at least need to get some Storm Talons. Stupid flyers.

I'm stuck until GW expands on units with skyfire.  If and When Tau and Eldar AA and fliers drop, it makes things a lot different. I don't want to spend $100 now for some units that are only going to get a month or two of play.  I really hate GW's 1 week product announcement policy. All it does is keep me from spending money on their stuff.  

The other choice is I can play with sub-par lists for a few months.  It sucks to be a xenos player.  It really sucks to be a Xenos player with codexes 2 editions out of date.

The thing is: I kind of like 6th edition.  Except that the edition is forcing me down the path of having to buy fliers for all my armies.  Why can't I have units with g-d skyfire?

6th Edition Musings

I've mostly finished digesting the rules from a theoretical standpoint.  Most everything is acceptable, but flying stuff scares me.  It's going to be pretty constraining to my lists to get any kind of skyfire into my Eldar and Tau.  I think it really holds that if you had a solid codex going into 6th--you're good.  If you had a bad one, you didn't get many favors.

There are a few things that I want to call out that I haven't seen anyone else really mention.  You can't use psychic powers the turn you deep strike.  And double toughness instant death is calculated off of modified toughness now. I really think Attack Bikes>Land Speeders this edition.

While the 6th rulebook is not so bad, the Eldar FAQ was horrendous.  It had to be written by an intern.  They printed "sentences" instead of "paragraphs" in the update for Veil of Tears.  You can interpret the rule several ways now going from abjectly useless to game breakingly awesome.  You have to infer that spirit stones and Eldrad's staff give +1 mastery level.  Speaking of Eldrad's staff; it's a total mess.  Does it still allow you to use the same power twice?  It's listed as "ignores armor saves", but is not considered a power weapon, and is not in the master appendix with an AP.  So what is it?  My interpretation is RAW and that it ignores ALL armor saves.  Yriel's spear is similarly written and ambiguous.  

And can someone tell me why Tau had to loose their Target Locks?

Anyway, I think my Tau and Eldar where neither helped or hindered too much by the new edition.  Thanks to allies there are ways to counter some of the new stuff.  That said, Tau need some native anti-psyker and both armies need native anti-flyer to really be competitive.  

I tried running through the Eldar codex to see if anything became magically playable.  Eldar jetbikes went from "I need to get some of those" to "I REALLY need to get some of those".  Warp Spiders maybe a little more useful thanks to hull points.  A unit should be ably to glance most vehicles to death.  Rangers, Pathfinders, and Dark Reapers all got a slight boost thanks to cover changes and precision targeting, but still not enough to offset their already over-costed points.  All of them went from "no" to "maybe" in my list building process.  Poor banshees will remain on the DL until Eldar get another codex.  Harlies will remain in limbo until the faq is faq'ed. The new artillery rules would make the weapons platforms cool if their guns weren't so meh.  

Mech Eldar took a bit of a hit in this edition thanks to the changes to objective taking.  I can't fly around contesting like I used to.  I also can't just put min squads of Avengers inside because I'll have to eventually get them out.  I'm not sure what I'm going to do with my Eldar at this point.  I'm thinking all foot, or foot hybrid.  I'll need at least 3 squads of bikes whatever I do.   

Eldar need a new codex in a bad way.  90% of the codex is over-costed, and 60% is outright unusable.  It's a 3rd edition codex patched for 4th edition and we have to use it in 6th edition.  Tau aren't so bad off.  I can ally some orks or space marines; either with a flyer. Throw in an aegis defense line or bastion, and I'm 6th edition compatible.