Friday 1 September 2017

The Times They Are A Changing

The line it is drawn
The curse it is cast
The slow one now
Will later be fast
As the present now
Will later be past
The order is
Rapidly fadin'.
And the first one now
Will later be last
For the times they are a-changin'.

B. Dylan, Ancient Terran.

Greetings Sinners!
The winds of change have blown across the 40k universe, everything we were told is no more, Primaris Marines bring light to the darkness, Chaos is resurgent and Primarchs walk amongst us....and then there's the rule changes!
8th edition has brought enough changes to make Tzeentch himself cackle with glee.
So far, these changes are leaning on the negative side rather the positive side for me. I say so far because I'm not ready to give up on 40k just yet and I'm hopeful that GW's eagerness in rectifying early issues with prompt FAQ's will greatly improve things.

So let me get the negative points of 8th edition out of the way first (hey, it's my blog so I can say what I want!). I only have two issues with 8th edition, but both issues have such a huge impact on the game that it is difficult for me to see past them at times.

The Detachment Rules
Detachments - Just let little Timmy use whatever he wants.

I really don't like the detachment rules, I think they leave the game too open to abuse and promote spam. Most people know I'm not a fan of spam, I still cling to the old romantic notion that a game should be won by outmanoeuvring your opponent and out playing him with skill and/or a little bit of luck rather than spamming the most points efficient units and beating your opponent in the list building phase.
Unfortunately, this issue really came into its own at the start of 6th edition, so as much as I dislike it, I have come to terms with it and I can usually find a tournament that will try to limit this issue such as Highlander events.
However as much as I take issue with Detachments, they pale into significance compared to my next issue....

The Cover Rules
Or more specifically, the lack of cover rules!

It doesn't matter if you're playing on this table.....

....or this table......
.....unless you're Infantry, there isn't a great deal of difference.

 I don't know what GW were thinking when they wrote the cover rules, but in my opinion they are woefully inadequate for 40k. I understand that cover is an abstract ruling, but why on earth would a Predator inside a ruin that is 50% obscured get a cover save but the same Predator behind a ruin that is 99% obscured receive no cover save? It's an abstraction too far, this loss of cover has diminished game-play and reduced almost all interaction with the battlefield. I've heard many people say that the issue is that we need more line of sight blocking terrain, to which I say No, we need more than 43 words describing how cover works! That's it, 43 words that describe how cover works: I actually thought they had forgotten to include the cover rules when I first read the rule book! Okay so the Battlefield Terrain section expands upon this a bit, but not to the extent that it makes any difference to the game.
Personally I preferred 2nd, 3rd, 4th, 5th, 6th or 7th editions cover rules, 8th's are a joke.

So now that I've got that off of my chest, I promise everything will be positive now (honest!).
There are plenty of things that I do like about 8th edition. The Psychic phase being my favourite. I love its simplicity and elegance. Split Fire actually makes certain units viable again. The Assault rules are clean and concise. Lords of War aren't the overly dominating force that they once were and while I was unimpressed with Command Points initially, they've added a new tactical element to the game that is refreshing. So there is a lot going for 8th edition and I'm hopeful that the game will only get better over time.

To add even more changes to the mix, I now have a new Codex to tickle my fancy, which, after an initial scare, has turned out to be a pretty solid effort at breathing new life into the Long War.

So with all this change, where does that leave the Castigators?
Seriously outdated and in desperate need of a change is where.....I swear I can hear Tzeentch taunting me if I listen carefully enough ;-)

I've played 9 games of 8th so far. In 4 of those games I used as many different units as I could to get a feel for the game and to discover how well units worked with the new rules. The other 5 games were part of a doubles tournament that I partnered with my brother in sin Steve. So far, all but one game has finished decisively as a win or a loss. When I say decisively I mean I've either tabled my opponent or they have tabled me (or very close as makes no difference). I've only played one game that was close and that was because Steve and I deployed poorly against a Tyranid army (Tyranids are a lot faster than they used to be!) and we allowed them get into us, otherwise we would have whitewashed them.
With my limited experience I have realised that Alpha Strike is something of a problem (stupid cover rules, grumble grumble). With that in mind, I've been looking at redesigning my army in an attempt to withstand the initial barrage of fire in the first turn. So far, I've won every game that I've gone first in and lost every game I've gone second in (with one exception and that was because of Flyer spam). Now that I've got a few games under my belt I feel confident enough to build a list for an upcoming practice event that the Cold Steel Mercs (my gaming group) are running next week.

Obviously there are winners and losers in a new edition.

The Losers
Unfortunately for me, the two biggest losers are my Chaos Lord Nestor.......

I was really proud of this model, but try as I might, I can't find a use for him anymore and not just because he is armed with a Fist and a Claw. A Chaos Lord on a Bike seems very lack-lustre in 8th. He'll see some action against Rob in our campaign games but competitively he's out in the cold.

Squad Schadenfreude isn't really working either.
On paper, Bikers look okay, but on the battlefield I'm struggling to find a role they can perform well. At the moment I'm toying with using them as a 3 man objective grabber with no upgrades but it doesn't really suit my idea of how Bikers should work. I'm gonna miss these guys, so if anybody has any ideas, I'm all ears!

Building a list for the Cold Steel Mercs National Championships
Fortunately, there are far more winners than losers in the Chaos Codex and whilst I might not have the required models just yet, I certainly have plenty to choose from :D

Chaos is spoilt for choice in the HQ section, with the Daemon Prince head and shoulders above the regular options (regular being unnamed characters). I do wish that the Codex still had the 'They Can Be Only One' rule when it comes to Daemon Princes because no self respecting Daemon Prince of Chaos would fight alongside another in the same detachment ;-) . What immediately won me over about the Daemon Prince was that it combines the attributes of the Chaos Lord with the attributes of the Chaos Sorcerer to make the best all rounder HQ choice in the Codex.
I'm a big fan of the Chaos Sorcerer as well. I really like the way that 8th encourages players to use HQ's as a buff to their army and the Chaos Sorcerer is great at increasing a unit's potency.

The Castigators 2000pts Battalion Detachment (Emperor's Children)
Daemon Prince, Wings, Malefic Talons (180pts)
Chaos Sorcerer, Jump Pack, Force Axe (130pts)
Helbrute, 2 Blastmasters & Missile Launcher (137pts)
Helbrute, 2 Blastmasters & Power Scourge (155pts)
10 Terminators, 5 Combi-Melta, 3 Combi-Plamsa, 2 Reaper Autocannons, 5 Power Axes, 2 Powerfists & 3 Power Mauls (545pts)
5 Noise Marines, 4 Sonic Blasters & 1 Blastmaster (111pts)
5 Noise Marines, 4 Sonic Blasters & 1 Blastmaster (111pts)
10 Cultists (40pts)
10 Cultists (40pts)
Heavy Support
6 Havocs, 4 Missile Launchers (178pts)
Fire Raptor, 2 Quad Heavy Bolters, Hellstrike Missiles, Twin Avenger Bolt Cannons (362pts)
Total: 1999pts

So it's quite a change from what I usually use, but hopefully it will be entertaining to play and will give my opponents a challenge.
One things for certain, I certainly need to pull my finger out to get it ready in a weeks paraphrase Jean-Baptiste Alphonse Karr, the more things change, the more they stay the same....

.....Until next time......may 'Our Lady' grant you her number ;-)


  1. Lord Adiatun Varunn2 September 2017 at 12:30

    Greetings! I am in agreement with you on your reviews about the 8th Edition: there are certainly shameful deficiencies in the rules but, on the other hand, some simplifications have benefited a lot on gameplay ... But maybe being a vile Wordbearer gives me the impression that there is more than the good that not the other way :-)
    and maybe I see it because I play with a small group of friends and not in a competitive way.
    Know that your Nestor ended in the field of losers leaves a bad taste in my mouth, not only because it is a gorgeous miniature, but also for the history that oozes from it...

    1. Oh there is plenty to like about 8th, it's just that the cover rules feel like an afterthought to me.
      I'm sure sure Nestor will return one day.

  2. Another thought provoking piece my friend.

  3. Hiya! I have yet to take my Emperor's Children out for the new edition, as the old boys of the Alpha Legion have been enjoying themselves lately, but I can't fault your analysis: first-turn deepstrikes followed by a charge as well as the absence of cover are really hurting the army that moves second, irrespective of its faction.

    I really can't speak about competitive environments as these are not my cup of tea, but just by having a look at what's going on in neighbouring tables one can see the potential problems for casual players like me: superheavies are now universally accepted, as well as Elite-heavy lists with a lot of firepower or melee prowess.

    I'm glad that the entries in the Troop slot of most armies are good again. These are the meat and bones of any modelling project, and I'm sure quite a few dedicated hobbyists will be appreciating this, not only the ones that cram as many Fliers into their lists! Cheers.

  4. Unfortunately tournaments are about the only game time I'm getting at the moment, so I'm a bit stuck for anything else.
    Hopefully as winter approaches and the sun disappears for another 6 months, I can lure Rob out of the shadows ;-)

  5. So you are making a new Nestor model so?

    The ten terminators is a heavy points investment. How do you plan on using them?
    Still tempting me with a fire raptor...

    1. Unfortunately I'm struggling to find a role for Nestor. I will need to build a new Daemon Prince but it won't be an ascended Nestor. I've always seen the Castigators as a cross between Emperor's Children and Night Lords. They (mistakenly) believe that they are the masters of their own destiny and the gifts that Slaanesh grant them are merely tools that they make use of. They're disdainful of possession, which is why they enforce it upon any Sons of Dorn that fall into their hands. They see all Daemons as inferior entities that are entertaining distractions that have their uses but they despise they're fickle nature and would never take orders from anyone who ascended. Because of this my Sorcerer will always be my Warlord rather than the Daemon Prince (probably not the best idea, but Lucian was always the guiding hand behind the Castigators).

      I haven't used Terminators since 3rd edition which is why my painted Termies are still armed with Sonic Blasters and a Blast Master. I have 20 Termies knocking about and thought I'd give them a go. I have this idea about building an army that is more than happy to go second (I'm of the firm opinion that 8th has a serious problem with alpha strike). Part of me wants to build a list with 6 units of cultists and then deepstrike another 6 units that are loaded up to do serious damage but I think such an extreme army would encourage Tau to load up on Interceptor units (if they still have them??). The Terminators, while points heavy, give me the opportunity to try a more balanced approach to this idea.
      They'll deepstrike in with the Sorcerer and the Daemon Prince to make use of their psychic support (Prescience, Warptime & Delightful Agonies). They should kick out some serious fire power (especially if I use the Slaanesh Stratagem Endless Cacophony) and will have a reasonable chance of making it into combat.
      That's the idea anyway and I'll know how feasible this idea is after the weekend once I have a few games under my belt.

  6. Disagree with your reading of the cover rules. The current 40K rules FAQ (v1.1 p.3) states that vehicles gain the benefits of cover if:
    • All of its models must be either on or within the terrain.
    • The unit must be at least 50% obscured from the point
    of view of the firer (note that it doesn’t matter what is
    obscuring the target, only that it is obscured).

  7. Never mind. Re-read the wording and you're right!

  8. Lol, what you were implying was how I was hoping the rules would work but unfortunately it isn't.
    Personally I think it would be better for all infantry to receive a cover save if they are in area terrain and all models 50% obscured should be at -1 to hit. It would give terrain a reason for being on the table rather than just being pretty ;-)

  9. I think, as I can only speculate, that the change to cover for vehicles was because of how resilient they've become. I realize that 4 lascannons aimed at a vehicle can make short work of it, but generally speaking I find vehicles hold up rather well in 8th, and certainly far better than 7th.

    So, maybe it was for balance...?

    A 2 detachment limit is becoming typical at a lot of competitive events. I get why each army doesn't have its own detachments, but I would have loved to have seen it regardless.

    I'm up in the air on Bikers right now. The 14" movement with a guaranteed 6" advance is great. However, they can't jink, and that was crucial. The extra wound is nice, but in 8th I find that everyone is rocking weapons that are doing D3+ damage, so that it's a moot point.

    Really, I see Bikers as a screen, or a harassment unit who sits back at 24" with plasma guns. They really aren't made for close combat any more.

    As for your list, I like it. Terminators have been a surprising gem for Chaos in 8th.

    1. You could well be right regarding vehicles. It's just I find it counter intuitive that a unit would get a save in area terrain but not if they are 99% obscured behind it.
      I'm leaning towards Bikers as an objective grabbing unit for Maelstrom objectives at the moment. 81pts for three bikers that can cover decent ground to claim objectives might be worthwhile.

      I played at a practice weekend for our Cold Steel Mercs event to trial out the rules and the Terminators proved to be brutal.
      My first game was against Space Wolves (a traditionally difficult match up) and in my first turn I killed 2 Razorbacks, 2 Dreads, a Predator and a unit of Longfangs!
      My second game was against Iain's Red Tide (World Eaters), The Termies dropped in and destroyed his Spartan and 2 units of Berzerkers leaving Kharn on 1 wound.
      I think the only army that they would struggle against is horde types....but that's where the Blastmaster Helbrutes , Noise Marines and Fire Raptor come onto their own ;-)