Friday, July 26, 2013

Painting and Thinking

Just a quick painting update today with some 40k related thoughts and reflections at the end.

I've hit the ground running with Eldar since the new codex was released.  The Tau and Eldar releases back to back have really stripped my confidence in the pure assault CSM + Daemon project I was working on.  Last year, I built a Dark Eldar + Eldar army for DaBoyz GT so I've begun updating it for this year's GT but will be using Eldar as the primary detachment this time.  Here are some of the painting projects on my table.

Wraithguard in various stages with some of last year's Dark Eldar for painting reference.  Wraithguard on the left are just airbrushed, the one on the right has been varnished with an oil wash applied and some details and highlighting begun.

Farseer overshadowed by a wraithknight.  Both fully airbrushed with some minor detail work started.  I want to get colors on everything for practice games and our monthly tournaments, but I won't go back and finish up the models until everything is assembled with some color on it.

Obligatory wave serpent airbrushed, varnished, with some oil washes applied.  The final GT list will probably have 2 for their flexibility, but there's so many other gems in the codex and Dark Eldar units I want to use as well.

While painting I have plenty of time to surf the net and read over the various forums and blogs.  One statement that I hear regularly is "40k doesn't actually involve strategy or tactics".  This could be due to the rock/paper/scissors nature of some matchups, or the common playstyles of lining everything up and smashing two armies into each other.

I've said it before and I'll say it again, I think we're entering the "golden age" of 40k.  The first time I said this, it was referring to the veritable flood of new codexes and models.  The more I think of it, the more I also believe that we're entering a period where strategy and tactics mean more than ever.  The Daemon, Tau, and Eldar releases in particular have introduced whole new levels of mobility and resilience between speed, "JSJ", and the increasingly popular 2++ or 2+ cover.

Where this is leading us is to a place where terrain placement, deployment, and the movement phases are becoming increasingly influential on the outcome of games.  No longer can we just spam the best units for an "auto-win".  The ability to dodge in and out of cover, redeploy the army quickly, and play the objectives is becoming more important than sheer killing power.  The beginning of 6th edition changed the meta with 5+ cover, 5+ FnP, increased rapid fire application and many games were seeing one player tabled or with very few models left.  With the arrival of the Tau and Eldar books, we're starting to see armies that can hide from conflict or outrun it and choose the time and place to commit rather than lining up and seeing which army outlasts the other.

I believe the next logical step will see the veteran players facing off and finishing games with large portions of their armies remaining.  People will start forgoing some damage output to JSJ, battle focus, flat out, and turbo boost their armies into denial positions, stepping out to strike once they've optimized their position to exploit a weakness in the enemy formation.  Planning our your moves several turns ahead will become more important than ever.

In short, the return of tactics and strategy to our favorite wargame.  All of this combined with the flexibility of the ally matrix will make for some of the most challenging and tactically satisfying games we've ever experienced.  I say this of course from the competitive player bias as most of my games these days are at monthly tournaments or in preparation for said events.  The necessity to create an army list that can compete with 3 different opponents over a day helps to balance out some of the rock/paper/scissors scenarios where a "rock" army may be able to defeat someone in a one-off game, but the same army will have a small chance of surviving 3 random pairings in the same day.  As a result, the more balanced armies will be making it to the top tables and given enough time to influence the meta, perhaps 6th edition will end up being the most balanced edition we've ever had in the competitive scene.

I've seen this all myself at our events where gimmick armies like flyer spam, av14 spam, etc are starting to finish in the middle of the pack where balanced, non-spam armies are the ones going undefeated.  Only time will tell, but I'm really excited to see what the field looks like at DaBoyz GT 2013.  I'm more confident behind my Eldar army than any other army I've ever built for this GT as it has the tools and flexibility to mesh perfectly with my playstyle.  Last year I placed 14th out of 88 overall and this year my goal is top 10 or better.  I look forward to sharing my journey with you dedicated readers and I'll do my best not to disappoint!


  1. I think the Colours scheme matches very well with the wave serpent! Nice job :)

  2. Eldar are looking snazzy!

    Interesting point about the state of the game. I think I agree with your sentiments and it will be very neat to see the game continue to evolve as more and more new codexes are released.

  3. I'm beginning to think that our one hated matt ward may be evolving the game. When he first laid this egg we all thought it was a big piece of shit. now im starting to watch it hatch and im lovin it!

  4. Looking good mate! Though I must say that the local competitive scene is still meh to me when it comes to balance. I mean no offense intended but you are very much following the codex creep, which makes it easy to state that the game is evolving.
    Your last tourney had a dread knight and a wraith knight! I mean, that's really hard to justify in a comp tourney IMO. But I'll also recognize that where I am from your army needs some back story or fluff design to it to justify taking such choices.
    For example your last list would need some solid fan fiction submitted with it in my parts to justify why GK are allying with Xenos and not just to take the best units. Otherwise you take a HUGE comp hit for list design.

    I mean it's very hard for CSM and DA to compete with the massive 2++ and JSJ wave of books that followed them. The DA release knee caps C:SM from gaining much variation as well. So really we are entering the golden age of Xenos books, since having ONE book means they can over haul the whole core of the race without leaving holes elsewhere.

    On a hobby note, what brand of varnish do you use between oil washing?

    Red Corsair

    1. Ouch man! I'll admit I do follow some of the codex creep because the new models and rules are really fun to play with. However, I didn't buy into DA or Tau and my eldar collection was a part of my 2012 GT army so it's hardly a FoTM army for that sake. If I was going for the best units in this tournament, why guardians and rangers instead of... anything else inside wave serpents, or jetbikes?

      The perception of comp is what causes so much drama. My understanding of comp leads me to avoid special characters, duplicate, and triplicate units. Comp over the past few years here has been judged on those aspects. Others like you take comp to mean "fluff" or theme which is fine in its own right. I've been a 40k fan since 1996 and though I have not read as much of the black library "fluff" as some of my peers, I have read every piece of fluff from every codex I've purchased since then and my takeaway is this: In a fantastic galaxy of a billion worlds, countless alien races battling each other, and reality itself tearing in half and spewing out daemons from another dimension, anything is possible! They're literally changing the fluff with every new codex with the necrons and GK getting massive fluff overhauls especially. The necron/BA bro-fist for example, or Draigo running a crusade of 1 through the warp where billions of lives have been claimed by warp tavel alone. My gut reaction to anyone looking at an army and saying "but that would never happen" is "I'm sorry you lack any imagination". The company provides unpainted minis and suggestions for creating your own chapters, regiments, craftworlds, hive fleets, etc because they want you to take their framework and run with it. Yes, half of the hobbyists may be in it for accurate historical reenactments, there are just as many of us who like to create our own stories and forge our own narratives.

      Besides, the GK and Eldar both rate "the great enemy" as their top priority foe, so coming up with a story to ally the two would be exceedingly easy.

      The gloss varnish I use is from Liquitex. I paint it on by hand for a thick coat so none of the oil paint+turpentine mixture seeps through. Once the model is finished and dulcote is applied, it takes the obnoxious shine off and makes for a really nice look.

    2. @ cosair: That's the issue with comp in a nutshell. Each area or group will try to define its "own" version of comp, which will differ from how the next city or group defines comp and so on. For example, look at our local GT, the Da Boyz. In each year I have been attending they have changed up comp and what it means. One year you are penalized harshly for taking a named character but in the following year you can take 1 named character with a minor penalty. Then last year where there were no comp restrictions in place. I'm still not sure what the comp standard will be for this year as it is still getting hammered out.

      So players like Hyv3 or myself are left with trying to figure out what comp means and apply it to our lists to fit into a local format, which may vary wildly from how your group plays or the group on the other side of the world plays. But that is also the beauty of the game under 6th edition. How boring would it be if 40k were played like Warmachine where everyone played the same killer-combo lists? How much fun would it be to see the same lists game after game after game. We saw a glimpse of that towards the end of 5th edition when Space Wolves and Blood Angels were fielded enmass across all tournament venues. At least with the introduction of the allied matrix chart we are seeing a larger variety of lists, and yes some combinations are broken, but at least we are seeing a revitalization of how the game is played and what you can bring to the table and still have fun. For example, I have been running a Word Bearers list for the past 5 years or so and under 5th edition I very rarely won or placed in a tournament because I liked to field my lists in a fluff format, which meant taking squads of lesser daemons, greater daemons, possessed, etc... which were usually over-priced and under-performing in most games. Now with 6th edition, not only can I ally with the Daemons codex but I can also run "traitor guard" allies to help represent the Word Bearer fluff and still remain competitive. Ok, I still don't win that many tournament games but I blame my dice for that ;)

  5. I think that once again 40k players would do well to pick up a few fantasy tournaments if not for ideas. Most large tournaments have scores for comp and theme. 2 very different things for fantasy players. comp is usually set by the T.O. and sometimes a bracket system is set up to keep list power levels together until late rounds. But my point is that there should be points for more than battle. I think crossroads gt is only 65% battle points. the rest is painting sports and theme with comp determined by corey for each army.

  6. @hyve-Hey sorry to be late to respond, been hectic here. Wasn't trying to come off as pissy or being harsh to you but surely one as current as yourself can see how utterly amazing fast durable MC are in 6th. Again it's fine to want to field such units I just think one has to or should at least admit that taking a DK and a WK is a very SMART bypass to the comp format but still a bypass none the less. Also the fact that you dropped the DE component entirely even using DE warriors as counts as guardians lends further speculation I mean that DK is nothing new. Again though I am not accusing you of anything terrible it was just surprising to me that you passed so much judgement on a few other list, namely your Nurgle opponent in the comp department when his list was MUCH softer then yours. One could argue that given the two massive monstrous creatures and the scenario he almost had no real way to win. To me comp should be very tightly knit with sportmanship and the trouble with the ally matrix and your idea of comp in this tournaey at least is that you can get great comp despite basically spamming a unit type. After all a whirlwind and a griffon are not that much different, neither are a vinicator and a LR demolisher. For me defining comp as no repeats is completely pointless as the ally matrix allows you to sidestep this with almost no effort.

    And thank you for the modeling help, again please understand I almost always come off as a dick on th net and its genuinely not my purpose here!

    @grubnards- I understand that and appreciate your take. I agree completely with most of your reasoning, but it still makes me raise one eye brow when I see eldar and GK's, surely we can all agree there is a HUGE difference between CSM using deamons or guard which fits established canon and doesn't take some wild backstory to explain. I can fully understand allies of convenience in a pick up game but it's hard to explain why the two factions would play 3 or more games together is my main issue I guess.

    @craig, I agree this is partly the issue a lot of the community has on my end with the game state.