Friday, August 31, 2012

6e Thru the Lens of a NOVA Judge, Day 2

Well, blogging from the smartphone is about as fun as smashing my thumbs with a hammer, repeatedly so this will be mercifully brief. The bottom line is we are seeing far less drama than at least I expected from the new rules. My gut feeling says the games seem to be playing a little quicker than 5th even with premeasuring and the changes to assault. Maybe a factor of matchups rather than the new rules though. We have a pretty wide range of skill and experience. I was really hoping to see more Tyranids, but there are I think only three, and two are young guys without much experience - one had never had to roll for the game to end or continue on turn 5. What we are seeing is a return of the xenos - with a vengeance. A quarter or more of the armies are Necrons. Roughly 10 Tau players, maybe more. At least that many demon players, and quite a few chaos. Orks and nob bikers are all over. So is Eldrad, but only a handful of Eldar players. Necrons may outnumber GK. Who is doing well? Hard to be sure with only a couple games in, and that wide range of skill and the high number of mirror matches, but the 5 or more flyer Necron/wraithwall lists seem to be a pretty tough matchup for some. Lash can do some rough thigs to the low model count lists, and there are quite a few of those. At any rate, these are just first impressions. Not much useful detail, and probably off by a good margin once we get the actual numbers. In the meantime, this phone blogging business is for the birds. Anyone know a good blogger compatible app for Android?

Wednesday, August 29, 2012

NOVA Plans and the Narrative Campaign Terrain Build

I had an amazing, remember-it-for-a-lifetime experience playing my Nids last year, ending the weekend 4-4, and 64th overall.  Not bad for my first 'big' GT.  I'd looked forward to playing again this year but that ended up not being in the cards for a variety of reasons, but one really big reason sorta stands out.  About 17x24 inches big, give or take.

After last year's NOVA Open the team decided it was going to put together a narrative campaign, and have it be themed in Washington D.C., including terrain based on the monuments and museums of the National Mall.  As you can imagine, this sounded extremely cool at the time.  What followed sometime thereafter was the sort of meeting wherein staff and volunteers were given the opportunity to pick the monument or museum they would build.  Family obligations and all, I missed that meeting.  I'd sent a note to Mike B. saying I'd build one if there was any left.  Silly me...  there was one left.  I think the text of my email went something like, "I said I'd help with terrain but dang, the Jefferson Memorial?  :D  Assuming Mike hasn't confused me with someone else..."  typed with that tense feeling you get driving at night on a narrow, icy road.  It has more pillars than an anime convention has tentacles!  Stairs... a big curvy bit up top - yikes!  You see, I hadn't ever really built serious terrain before.  Making wireframe trees and hanging lichen off them or painting steel wool and crusting it with flock is about as far down the terrain road as I've ever gotten.

What about the NOVA terrain builds, you say?  Surely I could have gotten some help there - those amazing foam cutters, and that so-kickass-words-fail-me Native American museum: those guys are foam-fume sniffing saints in my book.  But work and family priorities won out this year, and to my very great shame I missed the terrain builds - every one.  Family first - gotta keep the priorities straight.  I didn't blog nearly as much as I'd like to: there are a lot of articles floating around in my head that I just wasn't able to get to over the past few months, collating my list of references for the next Tyranid Library articles - but no regrets.  I had an absolute blast building this, and bringing it over to the last staff meeting on Sunday I felt like a proud papa.  This was about the journey more than the destination - but in the end the destination still counts.  It's far from perfect - it's functional, and so far most people can tell what it is supposed to be (/grin).

It's been quite the solo adventure, stretching rusty math skills, learning rudimentary drafting skills I didn't know I had, and just winging it and going by eye when I just couldn't get the measurements to work out.  I've become a regular at Michaels, Jo-Ann Fabrics, and A.C. Moore (by the way, if you're anywhere near the Annapolis/Bowie/Glen Burnie area - A.C. Moore knocks the socks off all the other chain stores), spent hours at the local hobby shop (trains, r/c planes, cars), and have walked every aisle in 6 different Home Depot and Lowe's stores.  I've made some really cool finds for materials and bought plenty of new tools - things I've wanted to get for a long time but just couldn't justify the expense for (hooray - shiny new jigsaw!).

For the tl;dr crowd:  I had a great time building the Jefferson Memorial for the NOVA Open Narrative Campaign.  I'll be a volunteer staffer again, looking forward to a great weekend meeting new people.  Hope to see you there!  Oh, and here are the pics...  direct link is here.


Friday, August 10, 2012

Subterranean Assault Revisited

GW still seems to be scared of Subterranean Assault so I thought I'd take a closer look under 6e.  

I was thinking on making this the next 'Tyranid Library' article, but after iterating through it, decided it more aptly fits (along with Flyrant Kites) under the "stupid Tyranid tricks" category.  Someday I'll get around to tagging my posts..

Bottom Line Up Front: It still isn't anything to base an army around, at best it's a bottom of the tool bag tactic that's more of a low-value insurance policy.  You know, the 15 cents per year on the life insurance policy to cover death by penguin.  It's only available if you use reserves, and in turns 3+, you want the slight advantage of not having your still-hasn't-shown-up non-winged infantry unit walk on from the edge of the board.  Call out the OPP!  That's Over Powered Police, not what you're thinking, SinSynn.

Let's check the math, and take a quick look at what SA offers:  After a Trygon emerges from deep strike, you place a base-sized marker - note this is a Trygon base so it's pretty big.  Totally sounds cool, right?!  Think again.  In subsequent turns, Tyranid infantry units without wings can arrive from reserve from this tunnel.  No shrikes!  Place the entire unit so all models are within 6" of the marker and in unit coherency; unit cannot move or assault, but it can run or shoot normally.  No more than one unit can emerge from each tunnel in the same turn.  The FAQ also has some caveats: units that have been allocated as arriving from reserve using deep strike or outflanking may NOT instead choose to use the SA marker.

Thus beginneth the long chain of 'ifs':
- If in the half of your force you're allowed to reserve, you reserve at least one Trygon, and at least one infantry unit...
- if said non-winged infantry unit isn't allocated to arrive via deep strike or outflank
- if the aforementioned Trygon makes its reserve roll to come on the board a turn before the infantry unit(s) on Turn 2 or 3.
- if you somehow manage to fail reserve rolls for the infantry units on turns 2 and 3, (new in 6e!) they automatically come in on turn 4.

In other words:  best case: on turn 3 at the earliest, you can bring on one infantry unit per turn from the place your Trygon emerged on turn 2.  Then on Turn 4, you can bring out one more unit.  Thanks 6e! 

In a desperate attempt to be realistic, I can see it coming up for people using triple Trygon lists, facing some sort of gunline, DoA or maybe daemons where you really wanted to protect your infantry units till the end.  Whether a small unit of warriors or a big horde unit coming out of reserve onto an objective on Turn 4 could be worth doing, especially with the fearless changes.  The challenge is failing the reserve rolls starting on Turn 2.  Could happen, I have the Ordo Inepticus dice to prove it from last year's NOVA.

So for the Hive Fleet Bandwagon folks who've bought your shiny new FMC flyrant and are wondering whether Subterranean Assault is part of the supr sekrit WAAC netlist of tnrayid turnarid toydirnads bugs taktiks, the answer is no, no it isn't.

For you hobby types, if you want a really nifty marker for that once-in-a-lifetime Subterranean Assault, or a great addition to a base or display board:  I really like this one from Ramshackle Games:

Friday, August 3, 2012

Flyrant Kites: valid strategy or waste of time?

This will be a post about a list concept building on a rather quirky strategy involving a Flyrant being able to join a Tyrant Guard unit while maintaining his swooping status as a flying monstrous creature.  It started with a comment by jifel1 over on Synaps3, which led to this post on his blog, Knighthammer, so kudos where they are due.

The basic hypothesis was that the unit of Tyrant Guard, joined by the swooping FMC tyrant, could only be fired upon using snap-fire rules (i.e. could only be hit on 6s), and using minimum swooping distance and running by the Guard, could be maintained indefinitely.  Pretty slick for a unit with 10 T6 wounds that can use Look Out, Sir shenanigans to provide 6 ablative wounds for your Tyrant.  A closer look a the rules and the snap-fire aspect appears to not quite be the case, but everything else is a completely valid way to try and give your fire magnet flyrant a chance at surviving past the first turn of shooting.

Here's how I think it works and the rule citations:

Flying Tyrant begins the game Gliding, near (2-3") one side of a 3-model Tyrant Guard unit that is at max coherence, straight line flush with the long table edge. Tyrant Guard unit makes its 6" move forward. Tyrant declares it is swooping, and moves 12" at a 45 degree angle across the path the Guard unit took, stops to the front of and on the other side of the Guard unit, still in coherency and joins the unit, still swooping. The Tyrant, still swooping, and Guard can both declare they are running during the shooting phase (Guard as far as they can go, the Tyrant moves zero); during subsequent movement phases the Tyrant makes a 90 degree turn back towards the front of the unit, and moves 12" across it to the other side, still swooping.  With intentionally strict measurements, I can keep it together for at least 2 turns of movement w/o any significant problem, so movement rules-wise - this works.

The first question was how to resolve shooting at this unit, and are all shots at the unit considered Snap Shots (6s to hit)?
- Pg 13, BRB, Snap Shots: "If a model is forced to make Snap Shots rather than shoot normally, then its BS is counted as 1 for these shots"

Sounds plausible, but the Tyrant's Hard to Hit special rule would need to somehow be transferred to the unit.
- Pg 49, Hard to Hit: "shots at such a target can only be resolved as Snap Shots. Template and Blast weapons cannot hit". - Resolved is the key word here.

However, Hard to Hit does not transfer when the tyrant joins the unit of Guard as an Independent Character:
- Tyranid FAQ, pg 2, Amendments; "a tyrant may join a unit of Tyrant Guard as if it had the IC special rule, and is treated as such for the purposes of Look Out Sir!, Challenges, and Precision Shots and Strikes."
- Pg 39, Special Rules and IC's joining a unit; "unless specified in the rule itself, the IC's special rules are not conferred upon the unit." 

That takes us to shooting; for which model placement counts for line of sight, cover, and wound allocation:
- Line of sight is moot: if at least a single model of the unit is visible, the unit can be fired upon.  Since the unit does not have Hard to Hit, it can be fired on normally.
- Cover is moot: the tyrant doesn't provide cover to other models of the unit while part of the unit
- Wound allocation is where it gets tricky: this is where Hard to Hit comes into play. 

- Pg 15, Mixed Wounds: "if the Wound pool contains groups of wounds with different Strengths, AP values, or special rules, then each [group] is resolved separately. You as the shooting player get to choose the order in which these groups are resolved. This allows you to place your shots where they'll do the most damage!" 

- Pg 15, Allocate Wounds: "allocate a Wound from the Wound pool to the enemy model closest to the firing unit". Continue allocating wounds... until the Wound pool is empty, or the whole unit has been removed as casualties."

In order for wounds to be allocated to the the Tyrant as the nearest model, the firing player must choose to take Snap Shots with the firing unit(s) rather than firing normally.  Any hits that wound would then be able to be allocated normally to the nearest model.  Obviously, units with the Skyfire special rule can shoot and allocate wounds normally as well.

Otherwise, choosing to shoot normally at the unit results in wound pools that can only be allocated to the Guard. The wounds continue to be allocated to the unit until the pool is empty, or the unit has been removed as casualties.  For "overflow" wounds, once the guard is wiped out, the wounds then transfer to the Tyrant, who simply ignores them since they weren't generated from Snap Shots, effectively emptying the pool; this includes wounds caused by template, blast, and Precision shots.  Although normal To Hit rolls of '6' are considered a Precision Shot, and the firing player can normally choose which model the hits are allocated to, they can't be allocated to the Tyrant, which can only be hit by Snap Shots.
- Pg 63, Precision Shots: "Note that Snap Shots and shots from weapons that scatter, or do not roll to hit can never be Precision Shots."

An alternative, and much more broken interpretation: the wound pools from normal fire *could* be allocated to the Tyrant as the nearest model from normal shooting: like the overflow wounds, they simply wouldn't be able to affect him.  I prefer the first interpretation.

All Look Out Sir rolls, including for Grounding wounds, could be taken by the Guard.

So if you buy into this strategy actually being functional, what does it buy us?  What kind of a list would you build to take advantage of a resilient, but sometimes unable to fire/assault Flyrant that isn't able to maneuver very well on the battlefield?  Are the tradeoffs of +6W worth it for the price in movement, flexibility, and inability to leave the unit once joined?  Is the dakkarant the right build, or is a BS/LW/Hvy Venom loadout better?  With OA?

How about:
Tyrant, wings, 2x TL Dev, Leech/Parox, OA
3x Tyrant Guard w/lash whips
Tyrant, wings, 2x TL Dev, Leech, Parox, OA
3x Tyrant Guard w/lash whips

2x Hive Guard
2x Hive Guard
3x Zoanthropes

6x rippers
6x rippers
10x Termagant
10x Termagant
Tervigon, tox, ag, dom, cat, crushing claws
Tervigon, tox, ag, dom, cat, crushing claws