Tuesday, December 20, 2016

Deathwing Tactics Part 3: Elites and Transports

Deathwing Tactics Part 3: Elites and Transports

The final part of my Deathwing tactics, where we look at Deathwing Terminators themselves. Thanks again for /u/Merendino for requesting this.

Before I analyze individual units, let me briefly talk about why terminators are so weak right now. The game as a whole has become much more deadly, and there is an abundance of low AP weapons, meaning that often the only defensive difference between a terminator and a scout is the terminator’s weak invulnerable save. Melee has also become unreliable, making the terminator’s weak ranged weapons and powerful melee weapons less of a benefit. Deep Striking is not very reliable, and terminators are slow, so they need to be placed well. Finally, in the age of formations most terminator formations aren’t very good, while their elite slot in a CAD is crowded. The Deathwing detachment alleviates a number of these problems and gives slightly better shooting, making Deathwing the only choice I’d go for if I wanted to use terminators in a tournament.

Deathwing Terminators
Thanks to the flexibility that the Deathwing Strike Force provides, regular Deathwing Terminators are probably the worst choice among the terminator-armored Dark Angels. The ability to mix and-matched loadouts is nice, but the Command Squad does the same and has the same weapon options, while the Deathwing Knights are better in melee against anything without a 2+ armor save. Unless you’re really loading up on terminators, leave these guys at home.

Deathwing Command Squad
The most flexible option, a Deathwing Command Squad should be part of any Deathwing army unless you’re just grabbing a squad or two of knights. The Command Squad has all of the same strengths and weaknesses of regular terminators, with the added bonuses of being able to take a very cheap apothecary and champion. It can be tempting to load them out to take on any threat, but mixed-weapons squads aren’t usually particularly useful, especially when they’re this expensive. I personally like to give them the champion and apothecary upgrades, grab an assault or plasma cannon, then grab 2-3 thunder hammer/storm shields and maybe a chain fist, for a squad that’s able to go toe-to-toe with most monstrous creatures.The banner is usually skippable, but it’s not a bad option, especially if you throw a character in there.

Deathwing Knights

I have definitely saved the best for last. These guys are the closest thing to good terminator units in the current competitive meta. They’re tough, crank up the toughness of characters who join them, and with just the addition of a chaplain have a good chance of bringing down a wraithknight in one turn of combat. Their bonus to toughness helps alleviate one of all terminator’s biggest issues, although they are still lacking in speed. Of all the Deathwing, they may benefit the most from footslogging, especially if you add Sammael for both Hit and Run and Rapid Manoeuvre. I’ve toyed with the idea of building a deathstar around these guys and while it remains untested, an Interrogator Chaplain, Sammael, and a Librarius Conclave could definitely bring the pain and be pretty tough as well.

Deep Striking works just fine for a Command Squad most of the time, especially in the Strike Force, while Knights can Deep Strike or walk, depending on the opponent’s army. Regardless of their loadout, treat Deathwing Terminators like melee units, because that’s where they excel, so keep them out of flying transports. Land Raiders are expensive but not an awful option, especially if you can protect them for a turn or two, while most superheavy transports aren’t assault vehicles. The Spartan Assault tank is worth a look for people who don’t mind spending a few extra points for a much tougher delivery vehicle.

Hope you guys enjoyed this tactica, and as always toss me any questions you have. A big thanks to /u/Merendino for requesting this as his reward for the painting competition.

Wednesday, December 14, 2016

Deathwing Tactics Part 2: HQ

Deathwing Tactics Part 2: HQ

Part 2 of my Deathwing tactics, as requested by the painting contest winner /u/Merendino.

The Deathwing have a number of pretty good options for their HQ choices. The most important decision is usually how to equip them and whether to put them with Deathwing Knights or a Command Squad.

If you played Deathwing in 6th edition or earlier you already own this guy, and while he is no longer mandatory to get those sweet troop choice terminators, he received a number of buff in this codex to make up for it. Like a lot of Dark Angels named characters, he got one of our worst warlord traits, but otherwise he has a lot of utility as both a beatstick and support character. Flawless deep striking makes him ideal for any Deathwing squad, as well as cramming into other imperial armies, and re-rolling hits in a challenge makes him relatively scary in combat. He’s a good choice, but his biggest flaw is that he’s always going to be stuck with that useless warlord trait and need to have another character come along to be warlord and hope to get Rapid Manoeuvre to make up for how slow terminators are. If you put him with Deathwing Knights, definitely give him a shield/hammer. It makes him much tougher to kill and combos well with the Knight Master striking at I4 but AP3. In a command squad his sword is fine to take advantage of his high initiative and the champion’s AP2 weapon.

Interrogator Chaplain
Probably the outright best choice for Deathwing, the Interrogator Chaplain has almost the statline of a Company Master, buffs his entire unit in melee, can take all of the good toys, and isn’t stuck with a bad warlord trait. Take the Mace of Redemption and a storm shield and he becomes an expensive but excellent force multiplier for Deathwing Knights. He can work ok with a Command Squad, but his potential is probably wasted there compared to with a unit of knights. There isn’t much else to say about him, just take him unless you have a very specific use for another character.

A lot of the utility a Librarian gains while on a bike is unfortunately lost in terminator armor. The extra speed and point of toughness make a huge difference for the squishiest of the Deathwing, and the Interrogator Chaplain’s melee buffs are far more useful with terminators than with Black Knights. That being said, the Librarian is probably better suited to go with a Command Squad than Belial or an Interrogator Chaplain. Grab the Eye of the Unseen to buff both their melee and whatever ranged weapon you have in the unit, and the Librarian will benefit a lot from the Feel No Pain the apothecary provides. Like Belial, still a good choice for the Deathwing, but lacks the balls-out awesomeness of the Chaplain. Also can roll for his warlord trait which is big.

Not in terminator armor, but Ezekiel is a decent choice to go with Deathwing who are footslogging or in a transport. Like the other named characters, Ezekiel is stuck with a crappy warlord trait, but his buff to attacks, good statline, and level 3 mastery make him worth more the more points you put into a unit. If you’re going to have another character to buff the unit (probably an Interrogator Chaplain) and hopefully get a more useful warlord trait, than Ezekiel is good for buffing the unit with things like rerollable saves or +1 toughness. I just wouldn’t take him unless you’ve already invested a fair amount in the unit.

Azrael and Asmodai
These are two other characters with the Deathwing rule that could potentially be used for a footslogging unit. Unfortunately, both of them end up being a lot of wasted points. Azrael’s 4+ invuln is wasted on Deathwing Knights and only a minor buff to a command squad, and while picking his warlord trait is good, Sammael is both cheaper and gives his unit Hit and Run as well if you need Rapid Manoeuvre. Asmodai is just generally overcosted and loses a lot of the options regular Interrogator Chaplains have, making neither of these guys very good options for Deathwing.

So the Interrogator Chaplain comes out as a clear winner thanks to melee buffs being far more important for the Deathwing, but Librarians, Belial, and Ezekiel all have their uses within a Deathwing army as well.

Next week I’ll wrap this up by going over the actual unit options for the Deathwing.

Saturday, December 10, 2016

Deathwing Tactics Part 1: Rules and Detachments

Deathwing Tactics Part 1: Rules and Detachments

The prizes for the painting contest were that each of the winners got to request an article for the blog. Appropriately, /u/Merendino used his first-place Deathwing to request a Deathwing Tactics article. These next couple articles come courtesy of him.

I’m going to write these articles in the reverse order of how I wrote the Ravenwing tactics, starting with special rules and detachments and then moving to individual units. It’s worth noting that terminators as a whole are in a bad place, being slow, expensive melee units reliant on low toughness and a good armor save. However, a number of the bonuses Deathwing have help push them above other terminators, if not to tournament-playability then at least to useful units.

The titular rule actually provides very little to Deathwing terminators and Dark Angel special characters. Fearless is fairly redundant with their Ld 9/10 and Stubborn, and Hatred(CSM) doesn’t make up for the fact you’re going to want Hatred on their melee units anyways.

Split Fire
Both Deathwing Terminator and Command Squads get this rule, and it is excellent. Terminators have some pretty good ranged weapon choices, and being able to shoot them and then charge a different unit is great. It also combos well with the next rule.

Vengeful Strike
Another extra rule we got to justify the higher price tag on Deathwing terminators, twin linked ranged weapons on the turn you Deep Strike is good. It’s nothing amazing but it helps make that expensive heavy weapon worth it.

Deathwing Redemption Force
Our unique formation, and the only way to get Deathwing into a Lion’s Blade Detachment, this formation is not very good. When compared to the Deathwing Strike Force below, you are taking a mandatory two units of Deathwing terminators and giving up two HQ slots. In return, you get Preferred Enemy(CSM), can run and shoot or shoot and run on the turn you Deep Strike, and pick a turn before the game starts that all models in the Redemption Force will arrive. The second rule is shared by the Strike Force, the first rule is pretty useless (all you’re getting is rerolls to-wound of one and reroll hits of one after the turn you deep strike) and the third rule is patently worse than the Strike Force version. Unless you’re going for a fluffy army there is no reason to take this formation over a Strike Force.

Deathwing Strike Force
This, along with the Ravenwing Strike Force, was GW’s way of letting us play our old pure-terminator and pure-bike armies from the 6th edition codex. While you technically can’t do that with the Deathwing Strike Force thanks to all units starting in reserve, it’s a decent detachment and piles more rules onto the Deathwing to help make them useful. 1-3 HQ and 2-12 Elite choices, all must be terminators or venerable dreadnoughts. Seems appropriate, and puts it head and shoulders above the Redemption Force already by letting us take more of our best terminator units (HQ’s) and doesn’t make us pay a tax of basic terminators. For the rules, we get the run/shoot or shoot/run from the Redemption Force to make sure we don’t eat templates the following turn, re-roll warlord traits, and if our army also includes a Ravenwing Attack Squadron or Ravenwing Strike Force, each terminator unit can choose to pass or fail it’s reserve roll. While that last part may seem like a bit of a restriction, remember it’s impossible to run this detachment alone without tabling yourself, and Ravenwing bikes are all equipped with teleport homers. The synergy is both fluffy and crunchy, and makes this detachment head-and-shoulders above the Redemption Force.

Combined Arms/Allied Detachment
While this is still an option, I would almost always take the Deathwing Strike Force. The only time I would want to take Deathwing terminators in a CAD would be to start them on the board in a land raider or other transport. However, land raiders, like terminators themselves, aren’t in the best place right now and aren’t a great investment for carting around an expensive unit. Barring that situation, keep them in their specialty detachment.

With a pile of special rules, and a detachment that lets you take a bunch of the best units tax-free, Deathwing terminators definitely stand out above other faction’s terminators. While they share most of the weaknesses of other terminators, the extra buffs make them more capable offensively and a bit less vulnerable when Deep Striking. The Deathwing Strike Force is a clear winner in terms of how to get them into your list.

Next week, we’ll go over individual Deathwing units.

Wednesday, December 7, 2016

November Painting Contest Results

November Painting Contest Results

Thanks to everyone who participated in this awesome contest! We unfortunately didn't make our goal for entries, but I still have prizes for the winner and runner-up. But you guys are probably more interested in seeing those:

Runner-Up, /u/Redbaron67's Dark Talon:

This was the first entry to the competition, and set a high standard for everyone else. The extra work on the masonry is what put this above the competition and into second place. You can see the full gallery here.

First Place, /u/Merendino's Terminators and Land Raider:

I got a few beautiful terminator entries, but it was the icon on the land raider that sold this one for me. The extra conversion work on the gunner was also something I really liked. You can see the full gallery here.

I hope everyone who participated had fun working on their entries, and congratulations to our two winners. While we didn't reach our entry goal to get a free copy of Deathwing as the grand prize, I do have some smaller prizes to give out to our winners. I enjoyed doing this and may revisit this idea in a few months, probably with a lower goal for entries for a grand prize. Thanks for reading!

Thursday, December 1, 2016

All Lists Do Not Have to be "All-Comers"

All Lists Do Not Have to be "All-Comers"

There’s a lot of common misconceptions about tournament lists that I’d like to take some time to talk about.

I have a lot of people who ask me for tournament advice get upset when I tell them about their list’s bad matchups. People seem to be holding onto this notion that just about any list can and should be capable of taking on any potential list you will play at a tournament. I’d like to talk about why this is impossible, impractical, and not a bad thing. Before I continue, I’d like to include a disclaimer: There is no unwinnable game. Even the worst matchups can be won if you’re just a flat out better player than the other guy, but a lot of what I say is going to be based around the assumption the players are close to the same skill level, unless otherwise specified.

First, there are “all-comers” lists in the current competitive meta. Lists that still have a decent chance to win in their worst matchups. These are the S-tier lists, Eldar Scatterbikes, Battle Company, and Incursion. There’s some variations on these but the ones you see sweeping a lot of tournaments are all lists that have pretty much entirely good to bad matchups, with no terrible ones.

If that’s true, why ever play another army? Shouldn’t we all just play those lists until something comes in to smash up the meta (hello, 5th edition). No, we shouldn’t. One thing about those S-tier lists is that they are pretty hard to pilot. Plenty of people have seen their local powergamer running one of those “netlists” and crushing some hapless newbie, but a lot of those guys don’t put up good (or consistent) results in tournaments. The reason you see those kinds of lists dominating tournaments is because those are the top players playing the top lists. S-Tier lists have an incredibly high skill ceiling, and when combined with no truly bad matchups, in the hands of a great player they will win.

This isn’t to say less-skilled players can’t do good things with those lists, but they will need practice and will find themselves struggling to max out their wins. So if you don’t want to run an S-Tier list, or are new to the tournament scene and don’t want to try to get your feet wet with an army that’s hard to pilot, you want what I usually call a Spoiler List. While these lists are ideal for newer or less skilled players, there have been great examples of spoiler lists performing well and even winning large events, such as Sean Nayden’s infamous Tyranids list.

Spoiler lists operate on the principle of “win big, or not at all”. Instead of trying to make these lists capable of taking on any enemy army, you make them very good against certain armies, while understanding that your bad matchups are pretty much always going to be a loss (barring amazing dice or a bad opponent). These lists often operate on the concept of taking a lot of a very good unit, or bringing only one type of unit to deny a lot of your opponent’s threats. Two good examples are my NOVA list and the list I played against last tournament with 5 riptides and 2 knights. My ravenwing list was incredibly resilient to shooting attacks that didn’t ignore cover meaning a lot of my opponent’s shooting would be wasted on them. However, the low model count meant I had a weakness to being drowned in bodies, so armies like Incursion or Battle Company gave me a hard time. Meanwhile, that riptide/knight list obviously shrugged off most shooting, and was capable of quickly removing units that threatened the knights and riptides, but was susceptible to being bogged down and swept by many smaller melee units, like my Orks.

Spoiler lists are great if you have a good idea of what kind of armies you will be facing going into a tournament, and also let you get into tournaments with a list that has a solid “comfort zone” of armies they will beat reliably. If you want to try a spoiler list, either pick a certain type of army you’d like to beat (probably one of those S-Tier lists) or pick a type of unit you’d like to take a lot of. Vehicles may not be the best, but an all-tank Imperial Guard army would certainly give some armies a hard time, or building a dark eldar list specifically designed to mess up daemons (usually with some eldar/corsairs allied in). I’ve seen both of these armies used well and put up good tournament results thanks to maxing out their wins.

I hope this gives you guys a little insight on list building and why it’s ok to bring lists that aren’t S-Tier. Painting Competition closes December 6th by the way. Send me those entries on reddit or by email!