Battle Report: New Eldar vs Space Wolves and Imperial Guard

1650pts, The Relic
This was to a game against one of my regular gaming buddies from Walberton Wargamers to test out the new Eldar codex using footdar and practice with my Brighton Singles list. I've been writing this up round by round over on the Total Immersion Wargaming Facebook page, but have saved the detailed pre- and post-game analysis for the blog. This has proved to be much easier for me, so I expect I try this again for the next report. Anyway, on to the game!

My 1650pts Brighton Singles List (WIP)

Game - Blood Bowl The Relic
Deployment - Vanguard

Space Wolves + Imperial Guard List
SW+IG list in detail. This is my fourth or so game with the list and I have to say I'm loving it so far.

Eldar list
Avatar, fast shot

3x 7 Fire Dragons, Exarch with fast shot, fire pike

3x 10 Dire Avengers
2x 3 Windrider Jet bikes

2 Vypers, cannon

Fire Prism

Looking at the Eldar (mostly) foordar list and having had a good read of the new codex myself, I thought that the list suffered from range issues, even with battle trance, and no decent ant-air firepower. The close range firepower was reasonable, especially considering the triple large squads of fire dragons and fast shooting exarchs, and this could be a threat if I got too close too early. With double MCs (the Avatar and wraithlord), the Eldar also had the upper hand in combat, so I really wanted to use my range to my advantage and move in for the relic later in the game. I was also really pleased not to face the old Runes of Warding, as the chance of killing my own warlord through that is just too high to risk casting powers (I've tried this before!).

There was one problem, however, in that the jetbikes windriders could potentially pick up the relic first turn, them move rapidly away in the shooting and assault phases if they stuck to 6" per phase. Assuming that the rest of the army then formed a cage around the relic (I need to play Blood Bowl again soon), I would have to work through a lot of infantry and the MCs before I could get to the relic. Thankfully, I thought I had enough ranged firepower to take out the jetbikes in my first turn, even if they did manage to get back in their deployment zone, meaning that they shouldn't be taking it too far. Also, if the cage was too tight my quad guns would have a field day with 8 barrage blast templates, especially as there were no Eldar transports to hide in.

Calm before the storm

Game plan
Target troops to deny Eldar claiming the relic, go for secondaries, use my superior range and mobility to focus on key targets. Pick up the relic late game if possible.

Target priority
Avatar, troops close to relic, immediate threats, troops.

Eldar deployment - note lots of tightly packed infantry

Eldar deployment
(Black undercoated units are Dire Avengers)

I am a little surprised at the deployment, which concentrated around cover overlooking the relic - begging to be barraged. MCs are also placed centrally looking to munch anything that gets too close. Fire prism should have been in cover. I'd also put the vypers on a flank to get some side shots in on the chimera, rear shots on any forward razorbacks and harass any backfield units. Most importantly, as I suspected, the jetbikes were deployed aggressively within 12" of relic for a first turn grab.

SW+IG deployment - out of mid-range and in cover
SW+IG deployment
The heavy quad launchers ('quads' for the rest of the report) and rune priest (prescience and scrier's gaze) tuck in cover in the far corner area terrain to rain down barrages on the target rich centre, also keeping the warlord safe.

Hyperios (WIP models) spread out with good views to the centre. Command squad sit in the Chimera to dish out FRSRF to the mini-blob and bring it down to themselves for the MCs. They also have the option to try Fire On My Target on the quads, but this is not reliable at only Ld7.

Plasma hunters deploy in their razors in cover looking to deny easy first blood, and will move up to engage mid-field targets.

The vendetta with PCS and the two melts hunter squads reserve, planning a fairly reliable turn two arrival thanks to scrier's gaze. Melta hunters will probably push up the far flank to threaten the fire prism and go for linebreaker.

SW+IG turn 1 - Goodbye Avatar. Quad launchers rule too
And I seize for the first time ever!!
SW+IG Turn 1
Excellent, a decent chance for first blood, and oh look, the Avatar (the warlord) hasn't got any cover! Time to line up as much plasma and missile launcher action as possible...

So I push forward a little to get in range, including immobilizing the Chimera on the rocks (was worth the risk), and unload. I rinse through the Avatar's 5 T6 3+/5++ wounds quickly with only the demon save for protection. First blood and warlord in one. Result!

I still had the quads, razors and blob to shoot, so moved onto priority two - troops close to the objective. The quads go first to make the most of the beautifully clumped up squads, and with prescience up wipe out 9/10 of a dire avengers squad and two jet bikes. The remaining shots take out the last jet bike in the squad and the entire second jet bike squad.

That was a good round of shooting! Not rolling particularly above average, but making the most of the opportunities presented, namely an exposed warlord and bunched up troops. Having re-rolls on most things also really helps even out the dice and make shooting a lot more reliable.

Strong start for the Wolves.
Eldar turn 1 - Push into range and close on the relic
Eldar Turn 1
Everything pushes forward to engage, but is mostly (deliberately on my part) out of range. Dire avenger shots with quasi rending and the large blast from the fire prism prompt two plasma hunter packs to go to ground, as do the blob (wasn't intending to move onto the relic yet). Fire dragons on the flank take a wound off a hyperios with a fast shooting exarch (unlucky not to get two and remove a model).

With the fire dragons generally out of range and the wraithlord still out of charge range, there was little damage done this turn. Personally, I would have used battle trance to move back into cover, but already things are looking bad for the pointy eared space ninjas.

SW+IG turn 2 - Working through the enemy troops
SW+IG Turn 2
Continuing down my target priority list, I will use this turn to try and gun down as many of the remaining dire avengers as possible. If I can obliterate all of the enemy troops, even with warlord and line breaker secondaries, there is no way for the Eldar to win. With my reserves are very likely to come in this turn if I can cast scrier's gaze, all of which can potentially push for line breaker. I'm now confident that I've got the game in the bag, even without the relic. I will also target units with long range anti-tank so I can keep the razors available for moving troops around if required.

So the priest manages to get the power off, and the two melta hunter squads deploy into cover to rapid fire the fire dragons on the flank. I can re-mobilise over the next couple of turns to push for line breaker. The razors also line up shots on the now out of cover dire avengers on the opposite flank.

The vendetta comes in flying, targeting either the wraithlord or fire prism. The two embarked plasma hunter squads stay inside and push a little more toward the centre with the company command squad.

Shooting from the melta hunters thins the fire dragons down significantly, and the hyperios, plasma and a razorback take out the two vypers. I decide to shoot the vendetta at the wraithlord (perhaps should have shot the fire prism, but I didn't want the MCs to make combat) with no effect.

The rest of the army whittles the dire avengers down, killing one squad with the quads (without re-rolls) and halving another squad.

Looking good so far.
Eldar turn 2 - Threatening with the wraithlord
Eldar Turn 2
The remaining Eldar infantry decide to take cover with good views to the relic, and the wounded wraithlord lines up an optimistic charge on a depleted pinned squad of plasma hunters (presumably not wanting to risk being tied up with the mini-blob in combat). The prism really should hang back, but at this stage I think the Eldar were playing for kicks rather than with any real intent of winning!

Shooting takes a few casualties of different squads, but without the range to focus fire to eliminate squads, the best the Eldar could do was hope to force leadership tests.

In the assault phase the wraithlord tries the long charge into cover and unsurprisingly fails, whereas the flanking fire dragons (two left including the exarch) manage to make it in against a squad of melta hunters (4 remaining after shooting). I had expected them to multi-charge the razorback to nuke it with a melta bomb, but they didn't. Handbags proceed to swing for the rest of the game in this combat, with my hunters failing their counter attack and consistently failing to cause any casualties until the last round of the game for no loss in return. Thankfully this didn't matter to me, as at least the dragons were no longer a threat to either linebreaker or the relic.

With two full squads of fire dragons overlooking the relic but otherwise having yet to contribute to the game, I didn't really suffer any significant damage again thanks to range and cover saves.
SW+IG turn 3 - Taking midfield behind a razorwall
SW+IG Turn 3
This turn the last dire avengers have to go, as did the wraithlord. I also need to re-mobilise the melta hunters who weren't in combat to set up linebreaker next turn in case I don't want to drop off my platoon command squad. This was also the turn to move up and secure the ground around the relic so I could pick it up with any one of the 5 troop squads I had poised ready to pounce...

So I move up with all this in mind, blocking off the relic with a trio of razorbacks and disembarking the last two plasma hunters. I surround the wraithlord and prepare to rapid fire, whist the flanking melta hunters pile in their razorback and zoom across the board.

Heavy bolters wipe out the squad of 5 dire avengers in cover, except the flanking razorback which went flat out into the Eldar deployment zone. Mass rapid fire bought down the wraithlord with some FRSRF, and the left over fire halve one of the fire dragon squads as a bonus! Missiles and a now hovering vendetta fail to damage the fire prism.

The fire dragon vs melta hunter combat goes on...

Another good (but still average dice overall) round of shooting and some decisive movement. There is very little the Eldar can do at this point with so many opposing troop units ready to pick up the relic next turn.

(Tactical note) I've been trying to get better at setting up multiple targets for each unit. I'm generally quite pessimistic about what is needed to wipe a squad out, so well generally set up more than average fire power to try to ensure the job gets done. However, this can lead to wasted shots, so I try to do what I think is known in chess as ' forking' - setting up two or more targets.

Eldar turn 3 - Fire dragons finally get to blow stuff up!

Eldar Turn 3
With little left on the board, the Eldar prepare to sell their lives as dearly as possible. The half strength squad in the centre move around the razorback to get clear shots on the plasma hunters by the relic, whilst the full strength squad get into melta range of the middle razorback (I would have set up a multi charge on the two razorbacks, personally). The fire prism moves away from the melta hunters approaching its rear armour, but for some reason goes forward rather than sideways.

Doing the most damage the entire Eldar army had all game, the full strength fire dragons annihilates the central razorback (oh no, I've lost a 40pt tank, ahhh... /sarcasm), exploding it and luckily killing two hunters next to it (I forgot to remove it and mark it with a crater - oops!). The half strength squad slag three more and for a giggle the fire prism shoots a S9 lance at the hovering vendetta, penning and shaking it! I really don't know why it didn't shoot a large blast at the hunters or infantry squad, but hey, I didn't mind!

Everything passes it's leadership test, and the next turn would seal the game for me.

SW+IG turn 4 - Taking the relic any tying up loose ends

SW+IG Turn 4
Time to finish the Eldar off and grab the relic!

The flanking melta hunters bail out of their razorback into the Eldar deployment zone and line up shots on the full squad of fire dragons, staying in cover from the fire prism as much as possible.

The hunter squads close to the relic line up for short charges on the depleted fire dragons that ran around to the back of the razorback last turn, except for the furthest who decide to try a mid-ranged assault on the fire prism who's stayed too close. I decide that the mini-blob have the most resilience to hold on to the relic, if there's anybody left to shoot them!

Shooting obliterates the large squad of fire dragons and the last dire avenger (we'd both forgotten he was there since the first turn), whittles the small fire dragons down to just the exarch, but doesn't touch the prism (again!).

All the charges go in, but the fast shooting exarch gets a lucky two sixes on overwatch and kills two hunters on the way in! The hunters fighting the prism manage to take two hull points off and shake it, ensuring a further round off combat in the Eldar turn. In a stunning display of martial prowess, the exarch kills a grey hunter and then avoids I think 21 attacks back! I have visions of the Matrix. Terrified by the apparently invulnerable exarch, the larger of the two grey hunter squads decide to leg it!

At the end of the turn I couldn't believe that the exarch was still standing. Thankfully he was still contained and unlikely to be able to contest the relic...

Eldar turn 4 - Fire dragon vs melta hunter pillow fight finally ends!

Eldar Turn 4
With no movement or shooting, it was straight to combat. The prism was wreaked by krak grenades, the melta hunters finally ended the pillow fight with the flanking fire dragons, and the invincible exarch drew combat in the centre, leaving him as the only Eldar model left on the board!

We called it there, giving the Space Wolves & Imperial Guard the win with the relic, first blood, slay the warlord and linebreaker, and with only a single unit destroyed! 6-0 victory!
Mini-blob hold The Relic (Yes, I've since finished making the models!)
Well that went rather well, didn't it? I'm going to break down my comments into sections, ending with a look at my list.

It just goes to show how important it is to deploy considering the risk that you may be seized. If you have some way of controlling the roll, say with Coteaz, then it's possible to be more aggressive, but here I don't think that there really was any need to take the risk. Had the Avatar been set up behind the hill and/or out of plasma range, it would have been much harder to take the warlord secondary so early. That I could also take first blood with the same unit made it a massive uphill struggle for the Eldar even before they got to move. 

In The Relic and Emperor's Will missions, secondary objectives are so important that I really have to question whether I'd ever want to take an aggressive warlord, as the points vs benefit generally seem too high for me. As I try to design my lists to take-on-all-comers at 6 game tournaments, I would expect 1/3 of the games to be significantly effected by whether my warlord died. I personally prefer to avoid a combat warlord, as they have to get stuck in to contribute to the game and that's generally where it's easiest for most armies to pick them off. I've tried running a thunderwolf lord with a unit of thunderwolves, and although great fun, I just felt that it was a lot of points for a unit that had a limited impact on the game for their points. The Avatar seems even more restricted, as although he has some metla shots at close range, his limited mobility means that it may be better to run him forward rather than shoot most of the time, and even then he's not that fast and can be avoided with deployment and mobile units.

With first blood and warlord in the bag first turn, the rest of the game was really an exercise for me in not messing up. I'm happy with my overall threat assessment, game plan and target prioritisation, but I do think that even with a bad first turn the Eldar could have done more to try to pull it back.

Firstly, I'm not sure that Battle Trance was used to it's fullest effect in this game, and there were some obviously just-for-fun decisions being made. A big one for me here was the use of the fire prism, which I think is potentially a really good unit and could have caused me some serious problems. For example, even with most of the Eldar units destroyed, the area in the centre had no cover so if the fire dragons had exploded my razorwall (not unreasonable with that many melta guns), the AP3 large blast really could have done some damage and potentially kept me off the relic.

I would have sent the vypers around to harass my backfield, rather than just scooting up towards the centre. This would have threatened my warlord, and possibly forced me to divert fire power away from the centre. Also, although the windriders could potentially take the relic first turn, there was a good chance that I could still shoot them down in my turn. Looking back at the game now, I think that they could have been a lot more effective if they'd been kept safe for end game linebreaker or even just sent with the vypers to hit my back lines. 

Eldar List
My friend acknowledged at the start of the game that this wasn't what he'd consider to be a hardcore list. I stand by my initial assessment that the list had limited range, mobility and anti-air, and for me these are three of the most fundamental requirements for a good list. However, even some of the worst lists can carry some significant threats against your army, and what the Eldar lacked in range they made up for in close range fire power. In a relic game, this might have been used to greater advantage, knowing where most of the fighting was likely to be but not bunching up so much to get hammered by the quads.
I don't know if fire dragons are the auto-include they used to be. The units were too large and could have really benefited from a transport for each unit to get them into the game earlier, as I managed to avoid nearly all their shooting until I was ready to close in on the relic. Generally though I'm afraid it's back to the drawing board for my buddy in search of a more competitive list (he's threatening me with wraithwing Necrons next! Or maybe it will be double helldrakes again...).

SW+IG list
I'm finding that my list is working well and has a good range of tools. The heavy quad launchers continue to impress me, and showed in this game how they can pummel tightly packed formations, even when the targets get a 4+ armour save (dire avengers) or better (windriders). This game they wouldn't have benefitted from orders, and the company command squad pushed forward to plasma the Avatar early, so would have been out of range anyway. Against targets relying on cover saves, Fire On My Target! (re-roll successful cover saves) is going to be a nice little bonus.

I always like having a number of mobile troop units to react to whatever they need to, and so far the weapon load outs are working well, even if I do take the occasional casualty from plasma! Bring It Down! helps a little with this though. I still think that for 40pts, heavy bolter razorbacks are highly underrated given the mobility they offer to MSU troops. Also, in combination with the anti-infantry fire power of the quads, my opponents have the choice of clumping up in cover to get a save against the heavy bolters, or spread out to avoid massed casualties from the barrage blasts. 

Even with no enemy fliers to target, the hyperios missile launchers were still incredibly useful in providing missile support at range where and when it was needed. At similar points cost on a unit-for-unit basis, I can't see any reason why I would take Long Fangs when I can take these with skyfire, interceptor and T6. Otherwise, I would also still like the list to be better at dealing with AV13-14, so maybe in time I will swap these out for lascannon sabre platforms (which would go in the 1850pts version of the list anyway).

Well for those who made it this far, thanks for reading! I hope that this report has given you an idea of my (rather involved) thought process throughout the game and how these considerations inform my list building. I'd be really interested to hear if you would have done anything different, or have any tactics to share!

Blogs: From the Fang

From the Fang
From the Fang is best known as the home of the popular Blog Wars, a UK based 40k tournament with a twist. Initially started for (surprisingly) bloggers and their friends, it has developed beyond it's origins to offer all-comers a one day, special character oriented event. Given that a large number of attendees are still bloggers, the per-tournament internet banter can be entertaining!

The blog also offers a wealth of battle reports, hobby and tactical advice, and is increasingly a handy source of news and release rumours. On a personal note, From the Fang was also the first follower of this blog!

Whilst traffic is certainly picking up for me, but when compared to From the Fang's 2012 review, shown below, I've a long way to go yet...

From the Fang's stats

Food For Thought: Simultaneous Tournament Theory on Whiskey & 40k

Whiskey & 40k
I've never run a tournament, but if I did, I'd look to NOVA as a template. In this post MVB gives us a peek into the level of thinking that goes into pairings at NOVA, with a clear explanation of the benefits of win-loss, win-path bracketed standings, why it is competitive and how it is also good for players.

CONCEPTS: Feeding Yourself 40k (or Your Game of Choice)


I like to consume as much 40k (you can replace this with your game of choice) as I can in my free time. Such sustenance comes in various forms, but I find that I run out of good quality food for thought fairly quickly, as I seem to get though it so fast!

This CONCEPTS: post looks at a few of my hunting grounds and suggests a few places to forage for the good stuff.

The one thing I do get to do a lot of is read blogs. Having a smart phone means that whenever I have a few minutes, I'm usually reading about 40k. There are a few regular sites that I'm often on, and I will regularly check through my blog list to see if anything new has been added. Once I find a good blog, I will generally take a long look through their past posts, as this can be a great mine of interesting stuff that is still relevant.

If you sign up with Blogger, you can also follow your favourite blogs (hint!). When you log in, you get a dashboard of the latest posts from each of the sites you follow. This saves you the effort of going to visit each site to look for new stuff, as it is done for you. I didn't create an account for a couple of years as my method of accessing the net (my first smartphone) didn't quite have the facility or speed to do this. However, with my new one and another (sometimes unreliable) source of internet on my netbook, I created a profile and signed up to all those blogs I had read for years but not followed with a profile. Very convenient!

I'd guess that this is painfully obvious to anyone reading this, but for completeness I also recommend taking a look at different site's blog rolls. These are usually sidebars that update automatically with recent posts from other sites the authors follow. I found nearly all the sites I like via the blog roll of ones I already visit, and I tend to take a look at a site that I see coming up frequently on multiple sites I know.

Finally for blogs, there is stalking, erm, I mean looking at what blogs other people follow. If you click on someone's profile on Blogger, a helpful little list comes up with all the other blogs that person follows. If you happen to recognise that the person is a internet celebrity or high ranking tournament player, it may be worthwhile taking a look at what else they are reading. It might be drivel, but then again, it might be a valuable source of information! This is not stalking. Honestly...

Thankfully I don't need to buy every codex to take a good look at it, thanks to the library at the club. There is usually a copy of a codex that I haven't had a good look through, or one I feel like going over again, sitting around waiting to be borrowed. I'm trying to get into the habit of writing lists for different armies, even if I don't intend to play them, to get an idea of what I could create and use this to try and find the strengths and weaknesses of the codex.

This also helps widen my knowledge base for tournaments, as players at the club generally don't play every single army. Even if they did, it is unlikely that they would all be playing the latest power-builds, so trying to get an idea of what popular units can do is really handy. Since memorising every codex is going to take a little time (if I manage it at all!), rather than stick with one army until I know it I decided to break down the task into parts and not beat myself up if I didn't find the time or the willpower to digest the whole book.

My first stage is trying to familiarise myself with army wide abilities and generic stat lines to classify the troops as GEQ, MEQ or TEQ (some codexes may have more than one). This helps me assess the relative strength of the units I expect to see in the bulk of the army, e.g. guardsmen are squishy but cheap, marines are tougher but typically less numerous, etc.

Next is getting to know the units I'm most likely to see at a tournament. You can easily find these out by reading the most popular army lists, or even better - records of tournament army lists from the organisers (akin to gold dust). If I see a lot of armies using wraiths, it's in my best interests if I make the effort to find out what they can actually do as I can more accurately assess their relative threat level *to my army at that time*, rather than think 'the internet says they're amazing - I'd better avoid those'.

This is generally as far as I get before I give the codex back, but the next thing I look for is the weapon profiles. When I was (and still am) learning what different units can do, the first question I ask my opponent when reading their list is 'what weapons have AP3 or better', shortly followed by 'how about mid-high strength weapons'. As a marine player, I'm not too concerned by big scary weapons that can't ignore my armour. As a mech player, I am concerned about the number of shots that can reliably damage my metal boxes. The next question for most would probably be 'what anti-flier is there' or 'what ignores cover' now I'm using guard allies. You could go on for some time, but since you don't have that at a tournament, these quick questions help me form a very quick basic threat evaluation before I plan my strategy (unfortunately it also gives an astute opponent an insight into what I find most threatening, but at this stage you gain more than you loose!). As you can see, reading up on expected threats before the stress of a tournament environment takes a lot of pressure off!

Finally there is getting to know each unit, weapon and rule in detail. I find this much easier for armies I find interesting, or for armies I face more often, as I will read the codex for longer and more frequently. To reference a famous ancient tactician, know your enemy, as you can plan more effectively how to beat them. It is also quite handy to make sure that you know if your opponent has 'forgotten' or misunderstood the rules in their favour!

This is used as a four letter word in certain circles, but there are some very popular forums out there that some absolutely swear by. The risk is that you will find many conflicting voices or an overpowering wrong one that can sway you from the path of true knowledge (or something less pretentious). One of the early pieces of advice I read on YTTH was to avoid forums like the plague, and stick to a few good quality sources for your opinion forming input. I have stuck to this largely, and try to avoid muddying the waters with masses of opinions. Instead I have tried to seek out sources that I have found to be consistent and of high quality. That said, reading some of the bar-room brawls on the Space Wolves section of Bolter & Chainsword have been just brilliant fun. I think what I'm getting to on this one is be aware what you feed yourself with and why you're having it, and know you're junk food from your award winning pie.

Social Media
There are some very active Facebook (and I assume Twitter) pages and groups out there. From my experience these are great for quick interactions, sharing photos and arranging games. As with blogs, just search for your army and I would be surprised if you couldn't find somebody somewhere who is talking about it. As with forums, be aware of who you're letting influence you!

I used to collect a magazine named after a white bearded dwarf when I was younger, I loved every single page. A combination of growing up and a change in the function of said magazine into a catalogue/advert has changed my opinion of said publication, but if you're looking for somewhere to see the latest shiny toys, this is one of the first (legitimate) places you'll find the goodies.

I will also include the Games Workshop and other online retailers in this section, as these provide a quick way of seeing what's available. I've used this to take a look at the models for units I keep seeing mentioned on the next but have know idea what they look like in the flesh. This won't help against 'count's as' armies, but being able to tell a Vulture from a Valkyrie or identify the types of weapons a unit has just by glancing at them in game saves a whole lot of time and mental energy.

Not everyone has friends who play, so clubs can be a great way of getting more games in. If you have the luxury of choice, I would recommend finding a group of like-minded gamers. Some clubs have a different flavour to others, ranging from campaigns to tournament play, and others allow some expansions (e.g. Forge World) as standard whilst others do not. Finding a club that suits your tastes will make gaming there much more fulfilling.

Basic Rulebooks (and FAQs)
I've left this one to near the end because it's easier to remember - read the basic rules! So many people have been playing for ages and still don't know the rules properly (I count myself in this too!). There is a load of stuff to remember, sure, but in my experience most people stop reading the rules after a few games and think they know enough. But my motivation is simple and selfish. I have lost games because I though I knew a rule, but was argued out of it or defaulted to a more experienced player's opinion. That's no good! I don't mind losing a game because my opponent was better than me, the dice actually failed me the whole game (unlikely) or I made a mistake(s) that cost me the game (as I can learn from these and play better next time), but to loose because I didn't know where to look for a rule that I know is right really irritates me (until I remember it's a game of war dollies and there are much more important things in life). So from time to time I pick up the rule book and take a look through. Highly recommended.

Create Your Own
When you can't get enough from anywhere else, you can always do it yourself! This is much easier as it seems thanks to a wide variety of free operators such as Blogger, WordPress, Facebook and Twitter. I find writing articles and posts really helpful in encouraging me to articulate and consider my own thought process and ideas. I also use mine as a custom gaming resource, where I can effectively bookmark all my favourite sites, shops and articles. It's also fun to put up my own gaming photos and hobby progress too. Really the level of effort and commitment is entirely up to you and you get to set your own pace, which is really nice. I'd say it's one of those things that you get out of it what you put in, except maybe for proper battle reports because those things take an age to do properly!

There are loads of different ways to immerse yourself in the game, whether it be to get information, to see great hobby projects or to be part of the community. I hope that this article has offered a few different ways of feeding yourself 40k/your favourite game and has offered a few options that you may not have considered. Bon appetit!

Food For Thought: Target Priority on The Back 40k

sxc - bjearwicke

It is rare for me to come across a blog post that goes beyond the daily army list writing and unit discussion and steps back to take a look at the overarching fundamental strategies and tactics in the game. I try to do this with my CONCEPTS: articles, and it's so good to find others doing too.

This article by Spaguatyrine on The Back 40k on target priority not only ticks my boxes for a great thought provoking post, but goes above and beyond this with a open tactics challenge that the author responds to personally. I'd never seen anybody do this before like this, and it's just fantastic to read.

Target priority can be a remarkably tricky subject, as it is so dependent on what is a threat to your particular army winning the game at that particular point. What helps me hugely is knowing how my armies operate and what they are vulnerable to. I'm also trying to improve my knowledge of other armies to help me assess and identify threats, and my next CONCEPTS: article covers how I do this in more depth.

List-Fu: New Eldar Mechdar list

CMON - hors

Having managed to get hold of the club's copy of the new Eldar codex, I thought I might have a go at writing a list or two based around the new book to try to understand it better. I'm coming at this from an opponents eye view, and will give my first impressions and attempt to write a balanced pure Eldar list to try to understand the codex's strengths and weaknesses. First up is mechdar. Before giving you each list, I'm going to go through the thinking behind the unit selection.

Wave Serpents
As with most of the internet, I agree that initially wave serpents look great. The shield gun is very nice, if a little unpredictable, and with a scatter laser upgrade to give it twin-linking provides a decent mid-strength, cover ignoring weapon. Pinning is a bonus, but not something I would rely on. I'm thinking that I would use these as a main battle tank accessed from the troops FOC, with the added ability to transport troops in a fairly resilient box. For now we'll take 4 with minimum squads of dire avengers as the cheapest way of unlocking the wave serpents, and come back later to consider the rest of the troop choices.

Heavy Support - Fire Prisms
Since we're going mech, I look to the heavy support slot and start looking for hulls or something equal in resilience to try and increase target saturation. For me, the stand-out unit for this role is the fire prism. Comparable in cost to a rifledread, the fire prism's main gun brings superb versatility, with the ability to choose (yes choose - no rolling a dice to decide folks!) either an anti-MEQ large blast, anti-TEQ blast or a S9 AP1 lance shot. That is a lot of tools covered from one unit, and for this starter list I'll take 3.

Although the wraithknight appears to be a tough beast with T8 and W6, it only has a 3+ so it is vulnerable to missile and lascannon equivalents. Really, the wraithknight is equivalent to AV12 with 6 hull points that you need to glance to death. And for something that cost as much (or even a lot more) than a land raider, a decent shooty enemy army should be able to concentrate and whittle it down fairly quickly if required. But even then, is it's damage output strong enough to be a priority target? I'm not so sure for the points. I may be proved wrong, but I would prefer to take the fire prisms in a mech list.

Fast Attack
Moving to fast attack and noticing that so far the biggest hole in the list is anti-air, I start considering whether to take a couple of crimson hunters. Compared to the big 3 fliers (night scythe, helldrake, vendetta), in my opinion it follows the general 6th edition trend of being a decent but not jaw dropping unit.

It's offensive potential is fantastic against other fliers, but two things in my opinion hold it back. First is AV10 all round - it so fragile and such a high threat to your opponents fliers that it is likely to be targeted and bought down asap. Interceptor guns go giddy with excitement at the chance to shoot at this thing, and if you're facing forge world or Tau this is a huge problem. Even an aegis line with a quad gun has a good chance to bring the crimson hunter down. Add to this that if you're coming on before you're opponent's fliers, there is a strong possibility that your paper plane isn't going to get a change to fulfil it's primary role. Secondly is it's points cost - I'd prefer to have a vendetta that is 30pts less, as AV12 front and sides and can also carry troops.

However, we need anti-flier, so rather than write off the crimson hunter too hastily, let's consider what could be done to protect it.

First priority is getting it to arrive at the right time (i.e. after the enemy fliers). What can we get for free or little cost that helps reserve manipulation? Well, firstly there's the strategic warlord traits. This is the most useful (read - has the least number of useless rolls, and some handy rolls) table, and gives a 1/6 chance to get the re-roll reserves trait. Not something that is ever going to be reliable in getting, but it's free so there's a good reason to give it a go. Next is psychic powers, and if you're taking a farseer you can have three rolls on the Divination table. That's three opportunities to get scrier's gaze, which can be brilliant on turn two to pretty reliably bring in or hold off your reserves. Otherwise there is an autarch for the +1/-1 to the reserves roll, mount him up on a jet bike and equip him as a harassment unit. Not sure on this in a mech list though, so I would probably lean towards the farseer who I expect to be more useful by casting other powers from the safety of backfield.

So there is some hit-and-miss potential for reserves manipulation. Next is protecting the crimson hunters on the battlefield. Against a 48" interceptor gun, it is possible to try and stay out of range (or ideally out of line of site entirely). Against multiple interceptor guns that is a lot harder to achieve, especially if your opponent has wisely spread them out to cover as many angles and as much of the board as possible. So that forces us to try and create a safe zone to fly into when we come on. The range of the wave serpents and fire prisms do offer a possibility of targeting the interceptor guns/units early on one side to try to create this safe zone. It really depends on terrain, your opponent's army and deployment at this point, so it's by no means a reliable tactic, but it is something to consider if the situation arises.

Is this enough to warrant taking the crimson hunter? I'm not sure yet. Fire dragons on a quad gun have some potential, but this would be a foot element in an otherwise mech list so far. Lets stick with two crimson hunters for now and see where we get to with points.

Aiming for reserve manipulation and added utility powers, let's go with a bare-bones farseer. Quick note here is that they lost the board-wide runes of warding, so Wolves now have the best psychic defence in the game (good for my Space Wolves!). This makes other army builds like psychic-choir 'nids more reliable.  

A quick total of the points takes us to 1535pts. The list is currently very light on troops for my liking, so to take it to 1650pts I would take out one fire prism and add another 5 dire avengers with a wave serpent and throw in a small backfield unit of rangers to sit in cover. That makes 1655pts, so take off a scatter laser to hit the correct points.

1650pts Eldar Mechdar list - First Impressions


4x 5 Dire Avengers, Wave Serpent with scatter laser
5 Dire Avengers, Wave Serpent
5 Rangers

2x Crimson Hunter

2x Fire Prism


That's 7 mobile AV12 hulls, 2 AV10 fliers, 6 minimum sized troops and a utility HQ. This list packs some respectable mid-strength firepower, decent anti-MEQ/TEQ, anti-vehicle (light to heavy), and excellent anti-flier (if it gets to shoot!). The fire prisms can also provide a number of large blasts, but otherwise the anti-horde is just ok rather than amazing as the dire avengers should be sitting in their boxes to keep them safe in objective games and only getting out at a critical moment if required.

Playing against this list, I would notice the low number of squishy troops and paper-thin fliers, and possibly vulnerable HQ. However that is a fair few AV12 hulls to work though at this points level, also assuming a jink save all the time. I would expect the Eldar to try use their mobility to keep away and shoot as much as possible, before a late game objective grab with the dire avengers. This means that I would probably push mid-field, try to pop the paper airplanes and look to take out the scoring troops a unit at a time.

To bring the list to higher points levels I would probably look to introduce some allies to shore up the low number of troops, taking out the rangers to free up some more points. Less fragile anti-air would also be on the shopping list! I would maybe consider Tau for this, kroot could provide some temporary bubble wrap to keep the Eldar hulls away from alpha striking drop pods and on-coming mid-fielders, plus a commander and battlesuits on a quad gun would assist with anti-air. Other options are available though, so this is not necessarily the best choice!

Well that's a starting point at least, and it has been interesting to put a list together to highlight some of the potential strengths and weaknesses of the codex. Please feel free to add your thoughts! Now to take a look at an infantry based list with jetbikes and war walkers...

Further reading
CONCEPTS: Mech in Early 6th

Blogs: 40k Global

40k Global

Re-branded from 40kUK thanks to their expanding audience, the 40kG team was formed by of some of the top players in the UK, and their great podcast includes in-depth analysis and discussion on army lists and tournaments. Segments also include interviews with various tournament players from around the world, including from their sister station 11th Company, and the odd random feature such as duels between special characters just for kicks. Typically an episode can run for around 3 hours, and listening feels like you're sitting in on a laid back chat at a friends' house - although I would take out the occasional chomping and slurping!

If you're looking for a podcast to put on whilst you're modelling or painting and enjoy some good insights with added banter, the 40kG podcast is for you!

Blog Updates

New Logo

So I'm back again and have been busy making a bunch of updates to the site. I've produced a blog logo, the side bars have been re-jigged (now with added sections for popular posts), a rolling blog list and a quick link to the GW and Forge World FAQs. I've added a bunch of blogs under the links section, updated the online shops section and finally got LinkWithin working (it might take some time to rank the blog posts, so deep apologies for the random links, especially the ones of the Megan Fox wallpapers...).

I've also singed up with Imperius Dominatus' UK Blogger's Network and to House of Paincakes (thanks to both), so hi to anyone visiting the site for the first time. Please feel free to leave comments and/or follow the site!

Future posts will include the next CONCEPTS: article, which will cover Tools - i.e. what I believe a take on all commers (TAC) list should look to include, Food For Thought posts from a range of top sites and more blog reviews.

Added to all this I've also set up a Facebook page as an easy way of posting up photos from games and hobby progress. This should be fairly quick to do, and I can produce dedicated battle reports and hobby articles with more depth for the blog when I have the time. Please check it out if you're interested and like the page if you, well, like it!

Thanks everyone for reading and I hope you enjoy what's to come.

CONCEPTS: List Writing


This CONCEPTS: post looks at the process of physically writing an army list, rather than exploring strategies on building and developing an army (covered in various other CONCEPTS: articles). I will
highlight some of the advantages and dangers of the most common techniques, and I'm also going to discuss some alternatives including some unorthodox methods for different types of thinkers (visual/kinesthetic).

Why write your own when you can copy someone else's? Well, there are lots of reasons actually, and I will cover this topic in more detail in it's own CONCEPTS: thread at some point, but you could do worse than starting with a proven list to learn the ropes. The major disadvantage is the risk of not understanding how the army works, so picking up the latest 1st place GT winning list is not an 'I win' button! However, finding a list does consistently well and learning how to use it can be a great training tool, and is also unlikely to leave you with a bunch of useless models barring a bad FAQ or change in the game system (note - these are entirely possible!).

Typed Lists
I.e. what you see if you're on the internet. Whether generated from a programme such as Army Builder, or typed out manually, this method is very common. This can be quick and efficient, and is also easy to read for your opponent or tournament organiser (TO). 

Hand Written Lists
I do this a lot when developing an idea (although I will type up the list if I'm giving it to someone else). I have a sketch pad full of scribbles and ideas. I find that using different media helps access different parts of my brain when I'm designing, and list writing is no different. Forcing an idea through a pen rather than typing or copying on a computer/phone makes me look at a list in a different way, and this can trigger different ideas I may not have thought of otherwise. This leads to my secret weapon...

Short Hand vs Long Hand
As you become more familiar with your army, you will pick up the abbreviations for units. It's common to save time by writing lists in short hand, and I do this all the time too. However, one quick note is the danger of presuming that you know all the entries well enough, especially in regards to unit options and equipment. It wasn't until I looked more closely at some other people's long hand lists that I realised that I had a choice to make when swapping out weapons for a combi-weapon for my wolf guard, or that I could do this for both weapons if I wanted to. Details like this can easily be missed when writing everything in short hand.

From Memory
Another warning is the pitfall of writing a list from memory and not checking afterwards. I have read horror stories of when this was done the night before a tournament, even by vetran players, then the points didn't add up and the subsequent penalty significantly affected the player's overall standing. So if you want to avoid the pain of dropping X amounts of tournament points per game or avoid the chance of playing with an under-pointed force, check and double check that list! In casual games, it also helps to have a legal list if you want to keep on good terms with your opponent, especially if you're playing a pick up game. 

Sketching (with Hand Written Lists)
We play a visual strategy game, with models we spend a huge amount of time creating and painting (oh, for a world without mold lines...). The chances are that there are a good number of us that are visual thinkers (see Further Reading links if you are interested in finding out more about the different types of thinking/learning). When I started writing lists, I didn't have a feel for what any of my choices really looked like, or the consequences of their preferred deployments/roles (e.g. how much space in my deployment zone 6 or more razorbacks really took up, especially when you take into account terrain and the locations of mobile and static fire support).

So I started drawing out the units next to my hand written lists. A unit of 5 Grey Hunters and a lasplas razor would get 5 circles, i.e. 'ooooo', and a box with a turret. The attached wolf guard would be shown as a '+ o'. This was really easy to do, especially with a MEQ army. I imagine that I might have done this less frequently with an infantry horde army, but then again, this would remind me that I'd have to be moving and rolling for that many models in game and how slow that could be!

The next step was to sketch out these units in their relative preferred battlefield positions next to a list. So I would have the bottom row with backfield units, such as fire support or objective babysitters. The next row would hold the midfielders (grey hunters), the next the forward units (TWC), and finally the units that would be aiming at the enemy backfield (speeders, wolf scouts).

Developing on from this I started to add arrows to certain units, for example to flanking fire support units (rifledreads). Occasionally I would try my hand at typical deployments, drawing relatively to scale where possible. 

When you don't get the chance to play a lot of games or whilst your learning the game, this sort of thing can be really helpful in visualising your army, and can quickly highlight the balance of your army across the different battlefield positions. When looking at the weight of the rows, there is a very obvious difference between a gunline army compared to a pure in your face force. This should give you the opportunity for a quick check against the strengths of your army, so a Tau army with the backfield crammed isn't to be unexpected, but alarm bells should be ringing if this happens with an assault army! Continuing with a gunline example, this technique should help flag up that you've got nothing to deny/take far objectives, or that you've vulnerable to assault and that you need some bubble wrap or tar pit units in midfield. 

I could give further examples, but suffice to say that sketching out the units, typical positions and deployments should match your expectations and the abilities of your army. I found this method really useful when starting out, and although I don't do it so much now, this is because I've had more experience and familiarity with my primary force, but I would certainly do it again when getting to grips with a new force.  

Models on the Table
One for people with large model collections or who find physically placing/seeing the models in front of them useful (kinesthetic thinkers). Although I haven't personally used this one as a list writing technique, I do this when I'm modelling/painting a tournament list to see how much I still have to do to complete the army (e.g. I've got all the wolves to three colours with details and highlights, but my 30+ guard infantry only have legs and torsos and I've only got X weeks to go!). 

There are many ways of writing a list, and I wouldn't suggest that the techniques discussed above are exhaustive or compulsory. However, I hope this article has offered an opportunity to reflect on some of the benefits and pit-falls of the different methods, and give you the chance to consider trying something different! I'd be really interested in hearing if anyone else uses unorthodox methods, and how this has helped them improve their game.

Further Reading
Wikipedia definition of Neuro-lingustic Programming (NLP) - There is an extensive body of work classifying and discussing visual/audio/kinesthetic thinkers and learners. Highly recommended.