Wednesday, 18 July 2012

Rainbow Marines in VI

The new sixth edition rules allow all armies to take Allies.  The five Space Marine Armies are almost all Battle Brothers with each other (as per the fluff Dark Angels and Wolves are not).  Since this means they treat each other as friendly units there is little reason to not take allies (points permitting).  There is a slight cost since you have to take a HQ and one more troop unit from the second codex in order to unlock an extra Heavy, Elite, Troops and Fast Attack slot.

The only restriction is you can not use each others Transport vehicles; thinking back about all my 5th edition games though I can hardly ever remember a game where a unit got back into a transport, let alone one that was not theirs originally.

Black Templers
Still having an old 4th Edtion Codex Templers have some good options with 6 man laz-plas units and Terminators with Tank Hunter.  On the flip side they still have 50 point Rhino's so they are the only army that would kind of like to borrow someone’s transport they also will not ally themselves with any army containers Psykers except for Grey Knights.

You can take a Castellan in Terminator Armour for just under 100 points, although the upgrade to Marshall for an extra wound and Leadership 10 to all your Templer units is a good buy at 15 points as it spending a few more points on better weapons.

Both the Terminator Command Squad and Elite Terminator's get to take 2 heavy weapons with 5 man squads and can take a Land Raider Crusader as a dedicated Transport as well as have access do the Tank Hunter Skill.  With only one entry there is not many options in Troops, you can add cheap scouts (10 points each) to the troops units to have some extra bodies to soak up wounds.

Black Templers did have cheap Typhoon Speeders since the 5th Edition FAQ upgraded them inline with other Marines to be Heavy 2; unfortunatly the 6th Edition FAQ has removed that secion so they are back to being Heavy 1 Frag Blast.  Hopefully this was a mistake  as a squadron of 70 point Typhoons would be a good addition.  

Triple Lascannon Predators are actually cheaper than their counterparts (145 vs 165) and AutoLas Predators are only 5 points more expensive, Vindicators 10 points.  All of which can have Power of the Machine Spirit added.  While expensive a Vindicator moving 12” and still shooting could be quite a surprise to your opponents...

98 – Castellan with Tank Hunter TDA and Storm Bolter
128 – Marshall with Tank Hunter, TDA, Power Sword and Storm Bolter 
217 – 4 Command Squad Terminator with Tank Hunter, 2x Assault Cannons, 1 Chain Fist.
270– 5 Elite Terminator's with Tank Hunter, 2x Cyclone Missile Laungers, 1 Chain Fist

151 – 5 Initiates (Marines) 3x Bolters, 1 Lascannon and 1 Plasma gun in a Rhino.
155 – Vindicator with Power of the Machine Spirit.

Blood Angels
With the changes to characters and the addition of Warlord traits as well as getting Victory Points for killing the enemy leader having HQ that are both killey and survivable has become useful.  Outside of Librarians the generic leadership options are all a bit weak, that does still leave us Mephison, Dante and Astrorath.  

Mephison is still a beast giving you a level 3 Psyker with access to the new powers.  While the powers are random the chance of having a Toughness 8 Eternal Warrior or an Invisible Mephiston let alone the ability to re-roll all his misses in combat may make it worth taking the chance...

Dante is still good bringing hit and run and no scatter to his unit but being saddled with an Axe so he is only striking at Initiative one is a real bind.  Furious Charge does put him at Str 6 AP 2, with 6 Attacks on the Charge.  Sanguine Guard as Troops is another benefit although I am not sure how much use they are without the army being focused on Jumpers; they cost as much as Terminators with out the survivability of an invulnerable save.

Astrorath got better now most melee weapons do not ignore his 2+ armour save.  Given that his Axe is a unique weapon he also gets to keep his Initiative 5 and is also Strength 6 AP 3 in combat.  While probably a mistake he is also the only character in the Codex that did not have is rules restricted to only work on Blood Angels; so for the time being he will give any Marines he is with Fearless and re-rolls to hit on the charge.  While not a massive boost it could be useful in the last few turns of a game.

Of course the main reason to allied with the Vampires is to have Assault Marines (ASM) as troops so they score.  I loved my Chaplain and Ultramarine ASM in 4th Edition but not being able to hold an objective in 5th resulted in them staying in the box gathering dust, now they can finally come out to play again.  ASM's in a Razorback are also a good option; as are scouts if you want a minimum priced unit to fill in required slots who can also go to ground in a ruin for a 2+ cover save making them hard to remove..

165 – ASM x5 With Meltagun in Plasmaback
225 – ASM x10 with 2xMeltagun, Sgt with  Bolt Pistol & Plasma Pistol
090 - Scouts x5 with Sniper Rifles and Camo Cloaks.

Dark Angels
Dark Angels are the other Marines with a 4th Edition Codex, although rumoured to be the next one to be replaced.  Many of there units are just weaker than the Ultramarine options so the best they have to offer is Scoring Terminator by taking Belial as your Allied HQ.  The nice thing about Deathwing Terminator's is you can mix Hammer/Shiled and shooty terminator together and even put the missile Launcher on a model with a Storm Shield and/or the Sergeant so you can use precise shot and Look out Sir!

130 – Belial with Storm Shiled and Hammer.
260 – Deathwing Terminator Squad with Apothecary and Cyclone Missile Launcher
230 – Deathwing Terminator Squad with Cyclone Missile Launcher
075 – Typhoon Land Speeder.

Space Wolves
Wolves are going to be the most common ally taken simply because there psykers still have the power to counter other psi powers including blessings.  In fact they are about the only unit in the game that can still do so!  Grey Hunters are cheap can have melta or flamer in small squads and you can attach the Wolf Guard to be a Sergeant if you want.  The other use for the Elite slot is the Lone Wolf; A battle mad Terminator with two ablative wounds (wolves).  The heavy slot offers you an extra Predator if you want to spam AV13 or the excellent Long Fang for missile launchers.

100 – Rune Priest
155 – Grey Hunters x5 with Meltagun and Plasmaback
140 – Long Fangs x6 with 5x Missiles

So what do the mighty Ultramarine's bring to the party?  They have cheap Storm Shields; Librarians with Null Zone and Gate; Tactical squads with heavy weapons; Sternguard; A better Ravenwing than Dark Angels, and if you really want you can just take a cheap unit of scouts to fill the troops slot.  They also have Combat Tactics which got a big boost in 6th  since the presence of nearby enemy does not stop units from rallying any longer; therefore so long as your fall back move kept you on the table you will automatically rally in your movement phase.

140 – Librarian with TDA and Storm Shield
400 – Assault Terminators x10 with Hammer and Shield
210 – Tactical Marines x10 with Meltagun & Missiles (or Multi-melta) in Rhino
200 – Captain on a Bike with Relic Blade, Storm Shield, Artifact Armour, Melta Bombs
210 – Bikes x 5 with Meltagun x2 and  MM Attack Bike

Sunday, 29 January 2012

WHFB – Vampires!

A little late to the party but I finally got to read the new Vampire Counts army book. I thought it was about time I got back to writing something so I thought I would start with my thoughts on the book.

Overall it has some nice additional optionals including a Master Necromancer who can lead your army so you no longer need to try and balance points for a warrior-wizard Lord. Vampires got a small boost with the ability to occasionally, 1 in 6, heal if they kill something in melee. Skeletons & Zombies got cheaper, wolfs now count as core although Ghouls got more expensive. Unlike Tomb Kings Undead still get to march (if within 12” of the general). Which given there lack of shooting is something they really needed.

I find it quite amusing that the new lore attribute for Vampire magic is the same as the lore of Life; you get to heal a wound for each spell cast. Vampires already have seven spells so they did not gain any more. Although this does mean that Vampires that take a different lore no longer get an extra spell. Their lore lost the Summon Horde spell although its two effects have been merged into Raise Dead and Invocation. Spells have powered up versions you can use but you can also no longer cast the same spell multiple times a turn with the same caster meaning you are more likely to want several wizards in your army instead.

Invocation: Now heals d6+Wizard Level to all units in 6/12/18” with a casting value the same as its range.
Danse Macabre: Still re-rolls to hits and 8” move but no more charging. Level two effects all units in a 12” bubble.
Hellish Vigour: The new spell; allows a unit to re-roll to wound which is nice and level two effects all units within range.
Gaze: Still a Str 4 Magic Missile but now with a 48” range level two.
Raise Dead: Now 2d6+3 Zombies or . at level two, Skeletons.
Curse of Years: Slightly harder to cast but still inflicts wounds on the whole unit with no armour save.
Winds of (un)death: No more summoning a spirit host and it is now a magic vortex rather than hitting every enemy unit on the battlefield.

In line with all the new books the magic item list has been cut down from about forty to nine. A few of the missing items have been appropriated by special characters and the rest seem to have just vaporised. The screaming banner has been reduced in cost so a unit of skeletons can take it and I would expect almost every army using them will do so. Making fear tests on 3d6 means people will occasionally fail them! The cursed book has been re-written so you spend d3 power dice to cast a random spell. They are mainly cast on 10+ sells from the shadow and death lists which gives a nice mix. My favourite item the Black Periapt survived the transfer to 8th edition but sadly it is so expensive now that only Lords can take it.

Special Characters
Heinrich Kemmler is the new Necromancer character and you can play him in a 1500 point game. He is a lvl 4 Wizard with loremaster (Vampire) and +5 to dispel due to his staff of sorcery. He can be either ethereal or flying each turn. If he just has a ward save, even 5+, he would be my favourite character. He has stolen the Tomb Blade from the old item list and it now acts as a Sword of Strife as well as regenerating Skeletons and now Grave Guard. He gets +WS, +S, +I, +Ld* over a standard Necromancer Lord. Since he also forces opponents to reveal there magical items ethereal should keep him reasonable safe in combat. The downside is that you have something like a 50 point magic sword that is only going to kill about one foot solider a turn where as for only a few points more you could take a Vampire Lord with armour and a ward save and a much better stat line.

*His profile in the rules and unit section differ so he may not get the leadership boost.

I liked the old Vlad; you got 240 points of equipment/wargear as opposed to 200 that a normal lord could take. The downside was you could not change any of it and he had no armour. He was a decent combat general with a 4+ Ward. So for 35 points more than DIY Lord with a 4+ Ward you got an extra attack and a change to resurrect after he died. The new Vlad has at least put some armour on. He pays the extra points for it but you can still field him as your general in a 2k army. Blooddrinker though is now barley better than a Sword of Might. A normal Lord can buy ASF, but Vlad's is conditional on Isabella being in the same unit and, while improved, she is not worth the cost to play. So you now spend 69 points more on Vlad that crafting your own leader and all you get is his resurrection ability and a slightly improved chance of healing 1 wound each round in melee (you no longer even get the extra attack). As nice as his “Get out of Death Free” card is those points could be much better spent on powers/wargear to either keep your Lord alive in the first place or increase his damage output in melee.

Isabella is now a standard Vampire Hero with heavy armour (and costs almost twice as much as last edition). You pay 50 points for the blood chalice. Given that the lore attribute is healing seems a waste of a magic items points and she does not get any of the cool vampire powers. Count Mannfred is still the same with his double loremaster, but is now too expensive to use in a 2k game. I think the Acolyte Mannfred is better just for his loremaster (Vampire) although he does cost the same as a Lvl 4 Necromancer. Which means you are trading a wound and two caster levels for more spells, heavy armour and better combat stats.

Building a Lord at 1500 Point Army
I usually play smaller games with friends so my first concern is what sort of leader can I make for my army with 375 limit on my Lord.

Kemmler or a fully equipped Necromancer Lord gives an easy Lvl 4 Wizard. If we want a Vampire Lord though we have to make a compromise between magic and melee. Since magic levels are more expensive there is not a lot of choice if we want a 4+ ward save as well. We might as well just slap on armour of destiny and call it done.

The best two powers for combat are Red Fury and Quick Blood. This puts our Lord as a 300 point level 1 Wizard with WS 7, I 7 and ASF and leaves 75 points for a magic weapon and armour. Taking Sword of Might gives us gives us a 4+/4++ save; 5 strength 6 attacks. Whereas Sword of Striking + Enchanted Shield gives us a 3+/4++ save; 5 strength 5 attacks, which should be hitting on 2's. Each of them performs better against some armies than the other.

Lord Options
300 Master Necromancer; Level 4 Master of the Dead with Talisman of Preservation & Cursed Book.
350 Heinrich Kemmler
375 Vampire Lord; Level 4 Wizard with armour of Destiny.
374 Vampire Lord with Red Fury, Quick Blood and Talisman of Preservation, Sword of Might, heavy armour & shield.
371 Vampire Lord with Red Fury, Quick Blood and Talisman of Preservation, Sword of Striking, heavy armour & Enchanted shield.

The last two are really very similar so it gives me four different leaders to try out and see which I actually like in play. Troops is going to be skeletons and zombies and then some Grave Guard and maybe Black Knights. There are several new units, like the Mortis Engine, that I need to look at and see what will work well.