Friday, January 23, 2009

Post-Game Discussion and Thoughts

I played a game last night using a new Ultramarines list against Jim, who was playing his Black Templars.

My list included 2 units of Assault Terminators, one with 8, the other with 5. Both were in Land Raiders, and the 5-man unit had Sicarius attached. There was also a 5-man unit of Sternguard in a Razorback and a couple of Tac squads with melta gun/multi-melta, one unit with a Razorback. Both Tac squads were broken into combat squads. Rounding out the backfield was a Predator Destructor and a Thunderfire cannon.

Jim's list went something like this:
  • Terminators. One assload of Terminators. Specifically, 5 units of 5 men with two assault cannons each. That's right, 10 assault cannons. Oh, with Tank Hunters.
  • 2 other units of marines/initiates.
  • A couple of HQ choices and Emperor's Champion.
We didn't get to finish the game, unfortunately, but I've got a strong feeling if he had I'd have gotten tabled. With both the LRC and the LR dead, and Sicarius and attached Assault Terminator squad wiped out, it wasn't looking good for the Boys in Blue.

Anyway, today, Jim messaged me with his post-game thoughts, and I replied. I thought the conversation was interesting as a collection of thoughts about how Codex Marines play now, so I thought I'd share.

Here's the relevant parts...
The Thunderfire is an interesting choice. It is weird that it doesn't really have any low AP mode for taking on Marines. I think though, against Marines, that it is best to shoot the Surface Detonation so that you can wound on 2s. And while looking at the book we forgot that the difficult terrain guys had to take a Dangerous Terrain test from Tremor. It even works against skimmers!
Yeah, I like the Thunderfire. Well, mostly. What it really needs is an AP1, 2 or 3 firing mode, so it would be effective against marines. Other than that, I think it'll be good for anti-horde -- especially poor armor save horde -- activities. I'll have to chalk up not knowing how to use it best to unfamiliarity, last night being the first time I've ever used it.

In my Badab army I originally had 2 squads of Assault Terminators, but I think those work work well with a shooty-based HQ like Sicarius. Even though he has some special CC attacks, I think his re-roll seize the initiative and ability to give a squad Tank Hunters and other stuff makes him more of a shooty/long range army. If you stick with him I think I'd take another Thunderfire on place of the Predator, drop one Assault Termies and put the Sternguard with Sicarius in the other LR. Might have enough points then to grab another Tac squad.

Sicarius. Yeah. Let's talk about him.

Sicarius is ok. Not good, not terrible, just...ok. He is definitely the epitome of the Ultramarine Second Company (and Ultras in general, I'm afraid) in that he is a jack-of-all-trades, master-of-none. Is he survivable? Sure. 2+/4++, FNP and W3 aren't shabby. WS6/BS5 are good even if they are stock standard for a SM Captain. But the closer you look, the less impressive he becomes: T4, S4, A3. Yawn. Those stats really hurt his CC prowess. Sure the coup de grace thing is cool, but way too risky. They should have just given him a relic blade and been done with it. As for him being a "shooty" HQ choice...well, again, nothing special. Being able to give Tank Hunters to one whole unit doesn't really make my heart beat any faster, especially when you look over on YOUR side of the table where they're apparently handing Tank Hunters out like candy. Cheap candy! The kind you get from a guy in a panel van. Infiltrate/Scouts would probably be more useful, and had I really taken the time to think and plan a little better, I probably could have built a unit that would take more advantage of one of them. Lastly, his seize the initiative ability is OK...kind of a gimmick rather than a real ability. Amusing to attempt I suppose, but you can't build a strategy around it because you can't count on it. Sure, when it happens it MIGHT be good, but I also think if you've set up to take that first turn of shooting from your opponent you're probably not going to be in optimal firing positions (at least some or not all of your army, anyway) so you might even be better off not seizing the initiative (at least sometimes). I guess what I'm trying to say is that I feel obligated to play Sicarius, since I am playing Second Company Ultras...but unless I see some much more robust performance from him I think I'm going to explore my options.


Get rid of Sicarius, keeping the rest of the stuff the same and take Shrike. Then he'll give your Assault Termies Fleet, which is nice and you can still put the Sternguard in the LR because Shrike can Infiltrate with one of the Termie squads. Plus he's I5 twin lightning claw guy, so he would go well with TH/SS Terminators.
Shrike is definitely an option. In fact, either him or Lysander are very appealing, because they actually have special rules that can alter how your army performs where it counts -- in movement and/or assault, or shooting. Lysander running around with a full load of Sternguard would be good, I think, but limited (only helping one unit). Shrike is probably the better choice, IF I decide I want to keep the 2 units of Assault Terminators.

We'll see.


I think if you then take an Assault squad and combat squad it then you can run 5 assault guys to go along with each of your Assault Terminators for a little extra punch. Or on foot and use their Razorback as a stand-alone gunboat.

I've been pondering how things went down last night and I had a few thoughts:

1. My list was basically a one-trick pony consisting of two units of Assault Termies and their delivery systems.
2. I knew -- based on knowing just how ass-kickin' assault cannons are -- that I was going to have problems with your army. Toss in Tank Hunters and you can guarantee a dead tank a turn, maybe even dead tank/turn per Terminator squad. Chances are pretty good that with 8 shots/unit you're going to get at least one rend, and when that happens it's pretty much, "good night, tankie". With my two key units depending on tanks to get them to where they need to be to do what they do...well, I knew I was going to lose both 'Raiders, I just didn't know how soon.
3. Perhaps the best counter to Terminators is...more Terminators. Had I been able to close mine with yours it would have been different, but with the range and sheer volume of fire you can generate, well, you're good.
4. I've flirted with the idea of deep striking the smaller Termie squad. If I do, then I'll need to add some Scout Bikes or give homers to my sergeants (or...something). But the truth is, riding them across the board in a LR is the superior method for getting them where they need to be. Deep strike is undependable (depending on the reserve roll), has inherent mishap risk and perhaps most damning of all, you can't assault after you arrive. It's just not a good option for a unit that doesn't carry a single ranged weapon. In fact, it's terrible option, but I must admit that being able to re-purpose a LR does have it's own appeal...
5. I really do forget what my models are equipped with when they aren't WYSIWYG. Yes, I forgot my Terminators have 2+/3++ saves. I should have just ran them balls-to-the-wall at your Terminators and had faith in my storm shields. It probably would have ended just a badly, but at least they weren't just sitting there taking it in the face.
6. Black Templars are broken. Your version of them is even MORE broken. Oh, it's broken in a succinct, ingenious way...but it's still broken. My hat's off to you for a great, powerful build!
7. My list last night was a HUGE departure from my normal Ultramarine army. I think it really showed in how I played it. Ultras -- no matter how many Assault Terminators you give them -- will never play like (or be as overall good as) CSMs, and I've been playing CSMs so much that I'm still in that CSM "mode". More than once I was wishing for my daemon prince. I really need to remember and focus on what army I'm playing at the moment so I can play them the way they need to be played.
8. Ultramarines -- even with all their shiny new toys -- are still very, very "meh". You have to spend WAY too many points to get the "good stuff" (which, honestly, you really need to be competitive). When you're done getting the good stuff -- which, honestly, you can't get enough of in the first place -- you don't have much left to build a supporting army around. At least, that's my impression after 2 whole games with them under the new codex. I definitely need to get more games in with them so I can re-learn how to play them effectively.
9. My list was lacking synergy and cohesion, and that really hurt how it performed. My inexperience with the new toys didn't help. Also, not having a counter to the sheer number of Termies you had hurt the most.
10. While the Thunderfire was good, and two of them might be better...I'm thinking for just a few more points I could have two Vindicators. My army REALLY needs some unit erasers, and Thunderfires just aren't it against Marines. The two things it has going for it -- range and multiple shots, two with special effects -- don't make up for its relatively poor S/AP and its inherent fragility. Vindicators are good against everything, not just hordes, and are probably harder to kill. The only drawback to Vindicators are their range, which means you have to put them in harm's way to use them -- which you don't really have to do with a Thunderfire. Decisions, decisions...

...and there you have it, a random collection of post-game thoughts and observations.

What do you think? Have any thoughts you like to share about recent games?

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

You May Not Believe This, But...

...I finally got my first game in playing Ultramarines under the new codex.

Oh I can just hear the consternation now! "But Joe, damn it, your blog is entitled 'Ultramarine Blues'. You went nuts trying to track down the new marine codex before it was released! You love can it have taken you MONTHS to play under the new codex?"

Well, two things contributed to this, actually. First thing is real life. Between my job, moving to a new place, and getting everything done for my upcoming wedding (Jan. 31 is the big day!) I've had precious little time to get much playing in, especially with the painting/modeling projects I've been working on. The second thing that happened is the Macharian Crusade. I got a chance to play in a BoLS campaign and you bet your sweet ass I took it, even re-arranging my work and personal schedules to play one a week. It was an absolute blast playing in and I definitely don't regret the time and effort I had to put in arranging things to be able to participate in it. The problem with playing in it, though, is that I was playing Chaos Space Marines (as Ultramarines weren't involved in the Macharian Crusade). That meant pretty much since the release of the new marine codex, I've been focused on playing a different army. army that I've grown to love, actually. So much so that I stripped the models (or am in the process of stripping them) to repaint them with my "Army of The Crowing" scheme. Making this happen has certainly taken up the majority of my available "hobby time" lately.

So, now you know the why. I'll get on with it, then. :)

I was going to post up a battle report but truth be known, the game itself was a little skewed. There was a local player that posted up a request to "learn not to suck" and I thought I'd try and give a little back to the community which has been so very good to me over the last year and a half, and help this person out.

We threw down a 1,500 point game, she playing Tau against my Boys in Blue. The final result was a solid victory for me, because I set up some last-turn objective-grabbing "traps" that would ensure I would be at least contesting 2 objectives and controlling 1 (there were 4 total).

During the game, I did a little light coaching the player on what to do, and why. This led to some things that made it harder on me -- such as losing my Land Raider on turn 2 to Hammerhead railgun fire. Keep in mind, though, that this wasn't supposed to be a "real" game so much as a learning experience, and I think in those terms it worked out well. I covered the concepts of prioritizing your
targets, and why. Movement and "staying focused on the big picture" were the other two concepts I tried to cover (this is why I laid the last-turn objective-grab "traps"...even though I'd lost over half my army, I still won because I planned on controlling/contesting objectives, even though it meant some of my units didn't see any action once I got them into place).

Finally, I did want to mention that the only "new" unit I used were Vanguard. I took a squad of 8 of them with minimal kitting out (no jump packs, only a couple of power weapons), stuck my captain with them and loaded them up in the Land Raider. Y'know, the one that got destroyed in turn 2? Yeah, that one. So, when the smoke cleared, they were between a rock and a hard place...or, more truthfully: between a big unit of Fire Warriors, a 3-model Crisis Suit team, and nowhere productive for them to hide. It was at this point that I made a very hard decision: I needed to get the heat off a pair of tac squads and a unit of terminators that were busily making their way to objectives on the other side of the board. The Vanguard were on their way to assault the Fire Warriors, but I knew they wouldn't survive the remaining 14" or so on foot, not with so many Tau guns pointed at them. So, I sacrificed them. Ran 'em right out into the open and forced my opponent to deal with them or quickly lose her two FW units. It worked -- The unit drew the fire of eveything she had that could shoot at them. Did they die? Oh my yes, to the man. At the end of it, only the captain was still alive...but that was one less turn of shooting inflicted on my tac squads -- one of which, BTW, claimed an objective for me in the end. Sure, not the most noble and heroic of deaths for my Vannies, but ultimately they served the purpose I tasked them with (even though it wasn't what I had orginally planned on doing with them) and in doing so, helped contribute to the overall success of my army/strategy/plan. I call that success in any book.

Afterward, we had a detailed discussion on what was done right, what was done wrong, and how to do things differently. I thought it was important to do as the final part of my "coaching" gig. All in all, I think it went pretty well. I also pointed out some of the better players that happened to be in the store that night and advised her that she'd do well by herself to seek out their tuteledge. :)

Have you every done any coaching for another player to help them better understand the game? What did you do? Do you think you really helped? Would you do it again?

Wednesday, January 7, 2009

Allergic to Green?

A Little Note: This is meant to be funny. It may not be, as some of this was fueled by a bit of frustration. It was certainly not meant to offend anyone, and if it somehow does -- Ork players in particular -- I apologize in advance.

I finally got some "me time" this morning and as usual, I took a bit to check up on the blogosphere. First rattle out of the bag, BoLS is clogged up -- again! -- with more Ork-related news. I say "clogged" because looking over the last few posts, there's lots of Ork-related posts. The new battlewagon. The stompa. Plastic nobz. Other stuff.

I'm going to come out to you all now, ok?

Hi, my name is Joe. I think Orks are ludicrous.

Orks used to be the comic relief of the 40K universe. You know, grown-from-fungus green-skinned punk morons that every now and then -- every third try or so -- managed to fumble their way into doing something dangerous, when they weren't arguing over the supremacy of Mork (or was it Gork?) or shoving squigs in inappropriate and sometimes anatomically incompatible orifices. They were like pets, really. Big, dumb pets that piddled on the galactic carpet at the wrongest of times and then had to have the newspaper applied forcefully across thier snouts while everyone looked on with wry amusement at their cartoonish antics.

But then the new Ork codex came out, and lo and behold it was chock full of cheese, like a barrel of over-ripened limburger. Whoever let the nob bikerz out the door deserves to have their ass kicked. Hard. With a giant, steel boot. Repeatedly. But I digress...

Oh, and that new stompa model? I know it's supposed to be the Ork titan. I know it's supposed to look like an ominous, threatening, mobile monument of destruction. It doesn't. It looks like it was designed and assembled by a group of children -- mainly retarded children (oh, so insensitive to use that word! sorry!) -- that were given a pile of scrap and instructed to make something big and scary. I have one word for it: FAIL. Unless that's what they were going for, and in that case: WIN!

I guess what I'm saying is...Orks aren't my favorite.

Oh, don't misunderstand me. I get the appeal, I do. If Orks happen to be your favorite that's awesome: I don't care what army you play as long as you play, you know? :)

...but that doesn't change the fact that I'll be really happy when this wave or Ork releases (and the hoopla that goes with it) is over. I'm oh-so-very tired of every hobby news story having a big ol' dumb Ork in it somewhere, stinkin' up the place. I mean, come on, isn't there a new IG codex in the works? Can't we focus on that instead? :)

One last note: I was hoping -- briefly -- that maybe Warhammer Fantasy Battles would bring me some relief, until I realzed that the next army book release is Lizardmen. Big ol' walkin', talkin' iguanas. Couldn't they have spent at least another month (or three) on Warriors of Chaos? I'm pretty sure I could bask in that warm WoC glow for at least another month!

Wow, it's late. I think I'm sleep deprived. I hope so, because that's the excuse I'm rollin' with when the Ork-lovin' mob shows up at my door later today. :)