Monday, October 20, 2014

Extra Close Combat Weapons for Grey Hunters

Is it worth paying the points to give your Grey Hunters extra close combat weapons?

Any true Space Wolf player will enthusiastically insist that all of your Grey Hunters should take extra close combat weapons.

Firstly because that used to be their standard equipment in previous editions.

Secondly "because they're Space Wolves" and have a reputation for being fierce in close combat.

But let's stop a moment to do some Mathammer and see whether or not the upgrade is really worth it.

Or if, in a controversial move, you ditch Bolters altogether for Bolt Pistol and Close Combat Weapon!

Bolters Only

For easy maths, let's do this with 10 Grey Hunters. 2 of them have Melta Guns and 1 of them has been upgraded to a Wolf Guard, armed with a Combi-Melta.

That's 180pts.

They're going to shoot an enemy 12" away. That's 14 Bolter Shots, inflicting 10 Hits and 3 Melta Shots, inflicting 2 Hits.

In close combat the Space Wolves charge (or Counter-Attack!). That's 21 Attacks.

Shooting Orks = 7 Kills
Close Combat with Orks = 5 Kills

Shooting Imperial Guard = 9 Kills
Close Combat with Imperial Guard = 9 Kills

Shooting Chaos Marines = 4 Kills
Close Combat with Chaos Marines = 2 Kills

Bolters, Bolt Pistols and Close Combat Weapons

Let's do that again, but with an extra close combat attack.

They're going to shoot an enemy 12" away. That's 14 Bolter Shots, inflicting 10 Hits and 3 Melta Shots, inflicting 2 Hits.

In close combat the Space Wolves charge (or Counter-Attack!) and have extra close combat weapons. That's 31 Attacks.

Shooting Orks = 7 Kills
Close Combat with Orks = 8 Kills

Shooting Imperial Guard = 9 Kills
Close Combat with Imperial Guard = 13 Kills

Shooting Chaos Marines = 4 Kills
Close Combat with Chaos Marines = 3 Kills

Is it Worth it?

For an extra 20pts you can kill 3 Orks, 4 Imperial Guard or 1 Chaos Marine in a single round of combat. And that's not a bad return on your points.

So when you consider how much a pack of Grey Hunters can kill without the extra close combat weapons for 180pts, they certainly can't kill 180pts in a single turn of shooting and assault.

The only concern is if those Grey Hunters you've paid extra to give close combat weapons to get killed. Then you will have wasted even more points.

It's a tough one.

Alternatively you could always...

Pimp My Wolf Guard

When you consider that it's Strength, Wounds and AP that cause the most kills (just compare firing Melta Guns over Bolters), perhaps giving the Wolf Guard a pair of Wolf Claws is a better investment in points?

So for +20pts (we'll drop the Combi-Melta) we can give the Wolf Guard +1 Attack with a Strength 5, AP3 close combat weapon with Shred.

Let's run the maths for the squad!

Shooting Orks = 6 Kills
Close Combat with Orks = 7 Kills

Shooting Imperial Guard = 8 Kills
Close Combat with Imperial Guard = 12 Kills

Shooting Chaos Marines = 3 Kills
Close Combat with Chaos Marines = 4 Kills

Overall the numbers are lower for shooting and close combat, except for close combat with Chaos Marines.

But the thing is, you need to try to keep 1 model safe in the squad in order to keep your close combat attacks up.

This means that you can afford to take some casualties, so long as you don't lose the Wolf Guard. But can you really keep up with that kind of micro management in the middle of a game with your Grey Hunters getting shot at from all angles?

Possibly not.

Versatility is Key to Success

The one thing I must emphasise with Grey Hunters is that you NEED to get them into Rapid Fire range with their Bolters to make them an effective unit.

Then you NEED them to get stuck in to close combat to kill even more of the enemy and hide from the enemy's guns.

A 5 man squad sitting at the back of the board with a Plasma Gun is just a fat waste of 80pts. You're not going to be able to out-shoot 80pts of Imperial Guard, Firewarriors or even Orks with that.

So Grey Hunters need to get stuck in and be as versatile as possible.

CONCLUSION

14pts for a Grey Hunter with a Bolter or 16pts for a Grey Hunter with a Bolter and + 1 Attack?

I can see tournament players who go for the minimalist approach not paying for the upgrade and just rapid firing those Bolters and Special Weapons while doing their best to stay out of close combat.

Personally, I know I'm not going to be able to stay out of close combat.

I WANT to get into close combat when the moment is right, because it stops armies with greater firepower than the Space Wolves from blowing my Grey Hunters away. It also helps my army to push its way up the board and chase down enemy units.

Also, Space Wolves have Counter-Attack as their Chapter wide special rule. And by giving our Grey Hunters extra Close Combat Weapons we can make the most of what defines a Space Wolves army.

I've always found that being versatile is the greatest strength of the Grey Hunters who have forever been the core Troop choice of the Space Wolves army.

Dark Angels Vs Tau Empire: Wrath of the Lion

In tribute to our late friend James, our group of gamers were kindly given permission to take his entire 6,000pts Dark Angels army for a last epic battle against 3 combined Tau Empire armies in a special scenario to recover a secret Fortress thought lost on the Eastern Fringe.

We had an incredible game!

The battle was tense, the casualties high and the explosions massive as the Dark Angels took a pounding from towering Riptides and deepstriking Battlesuits. But then the Deathwing teleported into the thick of the fighting, quickly accompanied by the roaring engines of the outflankking Ravening forces. Soon both forces were converging on the ruined Fortress of Redemption through a hail of bolter rounds, screaming missiles and energy blasts...

Special Scenario: Wrath of the Lion
A millenia long warp storm has cleared on the Eastern Fringe, revealing a long lost planet on the edge of Tau space. Naturally, the Tau Empire wish to colonise this new world as part of their 4th sphere expansion. However, the Dark Angels have received an automated distress beacon coming from an ancient fortress on the planet and go to investigate.

The game is played on a 12ft X 4ft board with the ruined Fortress in the centre and 6 objectives evenly placed across the board.

While the Tau and Dark Angels forces battle on the ground, their fleets wage war above the atmosphere, lending orbital bombardments and lance strikes from above.

Each objective is a comms relay which helps to jam enemy communications and disrupt the orbital bombardments. For every 2 objectives an army controls, they deny their opponents 1 Orbital Bombardment per turn. Each army receives 3 Orbital Bombardments per turn.

An Orbital Bombardment is a Large Blast, D Weapon!

Objectives would also generate Victory Points every turn throughout the game. Meanwhile the Fortress would generate D3 Victory Points per turn.

Dark Angels 3rd Company

We didn't have an exact army list for James' Dark Angels. We just took everything that was painted - and that's a lot of painted models!

1 Captain led Command Squad in Dedicated Transport
2 Dreadnoughts
1 Techmarine with 2 Servitors
6 Tactical Squads with Dedicated Transports
1 Sniper Scout Squad
2 Assault Squads led by Chaplains
2 Devastator Squads
1 Thunderfire Cannon
1 Vindicator
1 Whirlwind
2 Imperial Knights

Dark Angels 2nd Company

Sammael, Grand Master of the Ravening in Landspeeder

4 Ravenwing Squads: 6 bikers, 1 Attack Bike and a Land Speeder

1 Nephilim Jet Fighter

Dark Angels 1st Company

Belial, Grand Master of the Deathwing, Chaplain, Librarian and Deathwing Command Squad

13 Deathwing Squads

Tau Empire

Commander Farsight with 8 Bodyguard
Commander Shadowsun
Commander with 6 Markerlight Drones
6 Riptides
2 Battlesuit Teams
2 Steath Teams
4 Firewarrior Teams
2 Firewarrior Teams with Devilfish Transports
2 Aegis Defence Lines
4 Pathfinders with Devilfish Transport
6 Piranhas
2 Sunsharks
4 Broadside Teams
3 Skyrays
2 Hammerheads
1 Hammerhead piloted by Longstrike
1 Tigershark

Deployment

The Tau went first, deploying in two formations, either side of the Fortress. Meanwhile Farsight and the Battlesuits would arrive from Deepstrike on Turn 2, theTigershark would also arrive on Turn 2, while the Fast Attack Wave of Piranhas, Devilfish and Hammerhead piloted by Longstrike would arrive by Outflanking on Turn 3.

One Tau Stealth Team Infiltrated behind the Fortress, while the other Infiltrated close to the Dark Angels objective on the left flank.

The Dark Angels Scout Squad Infiltraded behind the other side of the Fortress.


The left flank


The centre


The right flank

The Dark Angels deployed second, spreading evenly across the board, with the Imperial Knights and Assault Squads deployed on the right flank, ready to advance quickly and close with the Tau. The Deathwing would arrive from Deepstrike on Turn 2, while the Ravenwing would arrive by Outflanking on Turn 3.

Turn 1

The Dark Angels 3rd Company took a pounding from the combined fire of Riptides, Skyrays, Broadsides and Hammerheads. Despite the destruction of some Razorbacks and a Whirlwind, the Dark Angels emerged from the salvo unscathed.

But then came the full brunt of the Tau Empire's orbital bombardment, which annihilated one of the Imperial Knights in a beam of blinding light and crippled the other.

The Scouts and Stealth Team exchanged fire around the Fortress, until the Scouts were wiped out and a handful of Stealth Suits feel back into the ruins before being gunned down by the advancing Dark Angels.

The Dark Angels advanced en masse, returning fire and wiping out the Stealth Teams on the left flank and obliterating a Broadside team with an accurate blast from the Vindicator's Demolisher Cannon. Meanwhile Krak Missiles from the Devastators slammed into the Tau Skyrays

Now it was the Dark Angels' turn to unleash their Orbital Bombardment, but because the Tau had secured 2 Objectives, the Dark Angels could only place 2 Orbital Bombardments.

But that didn't stop the Orbital Bombardments landing with deadly accuracy, as both landed bang on target, vaporising a Riptide, Hammerhead and the Quad Gun on the left flank in a crackling flash of energy.


Turn 2

Farsight, accompanied by his bodyguard and Shadows, as well as 4 Battlesuit Teams all Deepstriked (without scattering) on to the left flank and wiped out the Dark Angels in a torrent of streaming missiles and white hot plasma and fusion blasts.

Meanwhile the bombardment from the Riptides and Broadsides took a heavy toll on the Dark Angels in the centre as the Tigershark arrived from reserve and blew the last Imperial Knight apart with its Heavy Rail Cannons.

With the casualties mounting and the 3rd Company lacking in mobility and firepower, things looked grim for the Dark Angels. But thankfully the next two Tau Orbital Bombardments scattered wildly, missing their targets.

But then, the Deathwing arrived!

Only to come under fire from the Riptides and Broadsides which the Tau had equipped with Interceptor technology!

Belial and the Terminator Chaplain were both vaporised by overcharged Ion Cannon blasts, while the Deathwing lost 2 squads to missile fire and more overcharged Ion Cannons.

In retaliation 60 Terminators opened fire on the nearby Riptides, punching through the thick Tau armour with round after round of Storm Bolter fire and rending Assault Cannons.

On the left flank the Dark Angels of the 3rd Company made a valiant last stand against the advancing Battlesuits, led by Commanders Farsight and Shadowsun.

Meanwhile, more Dark Angels from the 3rd Company secured the Fortress, following the destruction of the nearby Riptide at the guns of the Deathwing.

On the right flank the Dark Angels Assault Squads continued to advance behind the cover of the landing pad, under the massive shadow of the Tigershark.

With no anti-aircraft capabilities other than the poorly armed Nephilim Jet Fighter, the Dark Angels would have a tough time taking down this Super Heavy Flyer.

But with 2,000pts of Deathwing Terminators dominating the middle of the battlefield, there would only be so much a Tigershark could do.

Once again the Dark Angels' Orbital Bombardments were incredibly accurate, disintegrating another Riptide in a flash of crackling light, leaving nothing but a steaming crater.

We broke for lunch at this point and over a feast of deliciously unhealthy hotdogs we surveyed the state of the game so far.

Despite taking horrendous casualties, the arrival of the Deathwing had changed everything for the Dark Angels and with a massive force of Ravenwing due to arrive next Turn, it looked as though the tide of the battle was certain to change.

But the battle could take a totally different direction depending on whether the Ravenwing arrived from the left or the right flank.

Turn 3
Before the Ravenwing could arrive to reinforce the Deathwing, the Tau mobile detachment arrived, firing Fusion Blasters from Piranha Scout Speeders and bombing runs from the Sun Sharks in the wake of a bombing run from the massive Tigershark super heavy flyer.

The Dark Angels 3rd Company continued to sustain casualties as the Tau attempted to blast them off the Objectives with everything they had in the hope of shutting down the Comms Relays and getting access to an additional Orbital Bombardment. But, true to their character, the Dark Angels simply refused to flee or die.

Meanwhile the Deathwing stood defiant and undaunted thanks to their heavy Terminator armour and invulnerable saves.

But then the Tau Orbital Bombardments rained down on the Dark Angels holding the Fortress, annihilating the Company Command Squad and its Captain with a thunderous cacophony....

...a thunderous sound that continue to rumble and roar as the Ravenwing arrived on the right flank, directly behind the Tau mobile detachment.

The Dark Angels reinforcements quickly came under fire from the Riptides and Broadsides which the Tau had equipped with Interceptor technology and lost a whole squad to the incoming missiles and ion cannon blasts.

Racing on to the battlefied, the Ravenwing begain blasting skimmers apart with their Melta guns and Multi-Meltas, before taking one of the Tau Riptides apart with chattering Heavy Bolters, Assault Cannons and screaming Krak Missiles.

Meanwhile the Nephilim Jet Fighter closed on the massive Tigershark, like a Sparrow chasing an Eagle! But its many guns were able to score a couple of penetrating hits. But the super heavy flyer was merely damaged, but undaunted by the smaller craft.

The Deathwing spread out, annihilating resistance in a hail of Storm Bolters, Assault Cannons and Krak Missiles.

On the left flank the Dark Angels 3rd Company stubbornly refused to give way to the advancing horde of Tau Battlesuits and towering Riptide.

With that the game ended on Turn 3, because we were asked to vacate Wayland's gaming hall. With so much happening every single turn, the time had just flown by.

And so the game ended with Commanders Farsight and Shadowsun leading a strike team of Crisis Battlesuits with a Riptide in close support, while the Deathwing were advancing on the Fortress with the Ravenwing racing to support them.

The Tau were ahead by just 2 Victory Points! But it was clear to see that were the game to continue they wouldn't be able to fend off so many Deathwing Terminators and Ravenwing Bikers.

CONCLUSION
Wow, what a game!

Right from the start the Dark Angels were on the back foot and to be honest, it didn't look good for them at all. But they stubbornly held their ground and gave everything they'd got before the Deathwing and Ravenwing could arrive to save the day.

Deepstriking 70 Terminators into the middle of the board was spectacular - almost as spectacular as the sheer carnage they caused!

This was a bit of a bizarre game to play because nothing was ever balanced. At the start the Dark Angels were seriously outnumbered, outgunned and outmaneuvered by a significantly more versatile Tau force. They then had to grin and bear it through 3 Orbital Bombardments.

But with 2,000pts of Terminators and 2,000pts of Ravenwing in reserve, we knew the tide could be turned if the Tau could hold out and inflict enough casualties.

I know that some readers like to add up the points of both armies. But I can tell you now that the Tau were a good 1,000pts lighter than the Dark Angels army. But we compensated for this by giving them the first turn, lots of Riptides and Interceptor upgrades.

Either way, playing a game of this scale with so many players is exhausting! I'm glad we only do it once in a blue moon.

Zombie Evacuation Run
Next Saturday we pay our second tribute to our friend James.

Because we're doing a Zombie Evacuation Run where we try to run 5K across the Cambridgeshire countryside, crossing obstacles, dodging the undead and making it to safety without getting infected.

The only problem is that we're all wargamers... with wargamer physiques. Which means we're terribly unfit!

Please donate to our
ZOMBIE RUN JUST GIVING PAGE

We'd truly appreciate it - and we're sure James would too, because he'd laugh his arse off at a bunch of unfit geeks trying to outrun the undead.

Did I mention that due to moving house I've done absolutely no training whatsoever... and that I dropped a heavy wardrobe on my foot?

It's going to be a real survival horror experience for me.

In the meantime, if you'd like to learn a little more about James, check out this post and be sure to read this awesome Dark Angels VS Space Wolves Apocalypse Battle Report where his Dark Angels take on 3 Space Wolves armies.

James was an awesome guy and my best friend. So it's an honour to be able to do this kind of crazy stuff in tribute to him.

Wednesday, October 1, 2014

We Are Moving

Everything has been packed into cardboard boxes, which have been packed into cars and vans and then, following numerous trips around the M25, have been packed into a tiny steel room in Big Yellow Storage.

I'm all packed up and I'm moving West to start a new life in Aylesbury!

I've managed to secure a job and a house so I can settle down to have a future with my girlfriend in a much nicer part of the country.

The salaries and the house prices where we live right now just don't add up. Let alone the cost of eating out, entertainment and beer.

I'm going somewhere greener, nicer and more comfortably priced. There are loads of really nice breweries too. There is only McMullen where I currently am. Seriously, McMullen makes THE WORST beers I've ever tasted. And I've drunk Tesco Value Lager!

So why am I telling you guys all this?

Firstly to explain why I haven't updated the blog or built any Space Wolves in a while. But also to let you know that because I'm making a fresh start in a new area, I have no one to play Warhammer 40K with.

So, if you're near to Aylesbury, Amersham or Rickmansworth and think you're up to the challenge, or you just fancy a fun game against someone new, please contact me.

Anyway, I look forward to meeting and playing some new people.
In the meantime, I really should get this army finished so I can attend some tournaments...

-Adam

Wednesday, September 17, 2014

Stormfang Gunship Tactics

Designed to dominate the skies like the dread Ice Wyrms of Fenris, the Stormfang Gunship is a new Heavy Support choice for the Space Wolves army, combining a small transport capacity with heavy weaponry and the unique prow mounted Helfrost Destructor, which fires an icy beam that freezes all it touches.

Not to be confused with the Stormwolf dedicated transport, which is made from the same plastic kit, the Stormfang is basically a gunship with a minimal transport capacity. So it's biggest selling point is the Helfrost Destructor.

Helfrost Destructor
How good is the Helfrost Destructor?

It can be fired in two modes
Dispersed: Range 24", Strength 6, Ap 2, Large Blast, Helfrost
Focused: Range 24", Strength 8, Ap 1, Heavy 1, Lance, Helfrost

The problem here is the Helfrost rule. A wounded model must roll under their Strength or be removed from play.

Unfortunately, there aren't that many units in the game with multiple wounds that can be dealt with by massed fire.

Ideally we'd want to "Freeze" Monstrous Creatures. But unfortunately their Strength tends to be very high, so the likelihood of removing them from play does not justify the cost of the Helfrost weaponry.

This makes the Helfrost Destructor on the very expensive Stormfang an exotic weapon which doesn't really serve a purpose that more conventional weapons do not already excel at.

The Stormfang also comes with 2 twin-linked Heavy Bolters and 2 Stormstrike Missiles.

Ceramite Plating
Melta weapons do not roll an extra dice to penetrate the Stormfang's armour at half range or less.

OPTIONS
Skyhammer Missile Launcher: Basically a long ranged Autocannon. I think I'll pass!
Two Twin-Linked Multi-Meltas: Replace the default twin-linked Heavy Bolters with these, but they seem an expensive upgrade.
Twin-Linked Lascannon: A good choice to replace the 2 Stormstrike Missiles, but seems an expensive upgrade.

CONCLUSION
Simply put, don't take it!

The Stormfang costs almost as much as a Land Raider, it's transport capacity is rubbish and infantry can only disembark from the rear.
You'll need to spend at least +20pts in upgrading its weapons and you could buy a Land Raider Redeemer for that much.

The Destructor Cannon alone does not make this a good choice. And when there's so much competition for those Heavy Support slots in your Force Organisation chart, there are much better choices.

Thankfully, the Stormwolf is a superior flyer if you're looking for some air support for your Space Wolves.



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