Thursday, July 30, 2009

GWpertinent Old School Minis Contest

Over at GWpertient, Tristan has issued a challenge to the community to see their oldest painted (40k) models. I was thinking about entering some old chaos renegades, or even chaos daemons. However, I managed to dig out an interesting pair of Eldar (gasp!) from the Rogue Trader era (1988 to be precise). Yes, I'm an old-school player! The picture below (my entry in the contest) shows these Eldar miniatures from 1988 alongside some of my older chaos renegades and chaos daemons.

From left to right, we have a Khorne Berzerker (Chaos Renegade number 02 in the 1988 citadel catalogue, designed by Michael Perry and Kevin Adams); a Bloodletter of Khorne from Realms of Chaos (number 022525, in the 1989 citadel catalogue but appearing in Slaves to Darkness, 1988); and the pair of Eldar crew (Left: Field Artillery Crew 01, designed by Jes Goodwin, 1988; Right: D-Cannon crew 17, designed by Jes Goodwin, 1988). A bit of a blast from the past!

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Some Assorted Thoughts on Daemonettes of Slaanesh

Daemonettes of Slaanesh have some awesome plastic models and historic metal miniatures to represent them on the Warhammer 40,000 battlefield. Having played a good few games with them in a mixed Codex: Daemons army list, I felt it was time to have a look at what tactics generally worked for me and what didn't.

A Matter of Scale.
In my experience, Codex: Daemons is a matter of scale when playing mixed daemons. What works at a low points value may not be so effective at a large points value (and vice-versa).

In that regard, I've only been tempted to play daemonettes of Slannesh at larger points values in mixed daemons armies. In mono-Slaanesh armies, they will (of course) have to be there since they are the core troops. At lower points values, I find that daemonettes are not so worth while in mixed armies. Why?

The main problem with daemonettes is their general frailness to points value ratio. With toughness 3 and a 5+ save, they will be toasted by most armies. That, and coupled with the fact that they cost 14 points each; compare that points cost to a standard ork or chaos space marine and their overall frailness is obvious.

In larger armies (i.e. bigger points value games), daemonettes can be much more deadly. The principle reason for this is that any opposing general should be targetting other parts of the daemonic army in preference to daemonettes if they know what they're doing. Bloodletters of Khorne, Screamers of Tzeentch and Daemon Princes all seem to get prioritized over daemonettes for various reasons (e.g. hellblades; the ability to melta bomb tanks; simply being big and bad monstrous creatures respectively). Hence in a larger points value game, daemonettes can readily be over-looked. However, by not paying attention to them, the daemonettes can more readily get stuck in to their opposition.

Advantages of Daemonettes.
There are benefits to spending 14 points on a daemonette. Principle amongst them are the sheer number of attacks each (3 base; 4 on the charge), high initiative, rending attacks, fleet special rule and sheer other-worldly mind-altering beauty aura (variously known as Aura of Acquiescence, or assault and defensive grenades).

On top of that, they can take icons (probably not worth it outside of mono-Slaanesh armies); instruments of chaos (again, probably not worth while - see my previous discussion on this matter); and transfixing gaze.

Let's have a brief look at transfixing gaze. Mechanically, it reduces the number of attacks from an opponent in base-to-base contact with the daemon by one. This can be useful with a carefully positioned charge (e.g. against a power fist space marine) or against a monstrous creature / independent character. But otherwise might not be worthwhile. It is cheap though, so if you have the spare points and can't find another valuable place to spend them, then I think its better than spending the points on an instrument for the daemonettes.

An example combat.
A unit of 10 chaos space marines is facing off against 10 daemonettes (with transfixing gaze and an instrument - to make it equal points value).

The daemonettes have the charge (which they should always be aiming to have regardless given their fleet special rule). That means they have an impressive 40 attacks. Statistically, 20 of them will hit their mark.

Of the 20 hits, 3.33 will result in a rending wound and 3.33 ordinary wounds will be scored. That results in 4.44 dead chaos space marines on average (only a third of the chaos marines will fail their power armour 3+ save against the ordinary wounds).

The chaos marines now strike back at lower initiative. Each has two attacks apart from one of them in base-to-base contact with the transfixing gaze daemonette. That yields approximately 10 attacks back in total. That results in 6.67 hits and 4.44 wounds. About 1.5 daemonettes pass their saving throws which result in about 3 daemonettes fleeing back to the Immaterium. The daemonettes have won, but only by 1.44 wounds.

In the next round of combat, things get tougher for the daemonettes. They get a mere shadow of their previous number of attack: 21 from 7 surviving daemonettes. Of these, 10.5 will hit and 1.75 will rend alongside 1.75 ordinary wounds. That means there will be 2.33 more dead chaos space marines.

They're probably going to need some help in the next round to finish off these pesky chaos space marines in their shiny power armour.

Making best use of daemonettes.
Okay, daemonettes do very well in the first round of combat on the charge. No doubt about that. But later on, they will struggle as their numbers get whittled down very fast. So the first rule of thumb that I discovered about using daemonettes is that they need to be supported or they should be the support unit of something else. Bloodletters of Khorne spring to mind - they make a remarkably good tag team together regardless of whether the daemonettes get stuck in first (the most likely scenario) or the bloodletters do.

Heralds of Slaanesh can also help out somewhat, but are expensive (compared to the sheer number of attacks you could have purchased for the same points value of daemonettes).

Depending on the exact points value of the game that is being played, having large squads of daemonettes can be a boon or a draw-back. The boon is that they really optimize the first turn number of attacks they get (especially when charging). The draw back to a large squad size is that they get more noticeable and are more likely to be targeted. In a number of my army lists, I've tried running a single unit of about 10 daemonettes to provide extra support for other units (bloodletters and plaguebearers). They've been deadly when deployed as the bloodletters usually come in for the rapid fire bolters rather than the daemonettes. Opponents are often surprised by 4 rending attacks by charging daemonettes.

Daemonettes also have to make the most of cover saves and terrain to make them more survivable. Deep strike nearby to cover. Use turn 1 to run in to (or behind of line of sight blocking) cover. And then use said cover to get in to combat as quickly as possible on the next turn. Either that, or hide behind a bunch of (cover save providing) bloodletters.

Tank Busting?
I should note that daemonettes can also be used for a little bit of light-tank busting in a pinch. But this should only be attempted if desperate and there are still a good number of daemonettes in a squad since they only have strength=3. Here's an example:

Ten daemonettes charge a rhino (rear armour value=10) that moved in the previous turn. Of their 40 attacks, 20 will hit. Out of these hits, only armour penetration rolls of a 6 will have any effect -- there will be 3.33 of these. Thanks to rending, these 3.33 hits add an extra d3 to their armour penetration value. That means there will be an average of 1.11 glancing hits and 2.22 penetrating hits from the 40 attack! I'll let you figure out if you think that result is worthwhile or not. It might work out well!

A Small Nod to Planetstrike.
With planetstrike, I think I've also rediscovered a new love of daemonettes. With a fortunate deep strike in followed by an assault, these daemons are looking wickedly good, first-choice first-wave troops.

Saturday, July 25, 2009

Shadow Sword: Part I. Tracks

I'm in the process of assembling a Shadow Sword. Its probably going to be one of the least used miniatures in my collection, but I think its very cool and I've wanted to purchase one since they came out. I got it on my birthday (which was a while ago now) and have been working away on it ever since. I'm intending to post a number of articles on the assembly of this one, and today's is the first post.

Aim. Broadly, my aim is to have an Apocalypse-usable Shadow Sword tank that would fit in with my chaos forces. I may not go down the Nurgle route with the painting scheme, but I'm nowhere near that stage yet.

Beginnings. I think I must have read and re-read the instructions several times over. And downloaded the further Baneblade instructions from Games Workshop online. They're reasonably clear, but the sheer number of parts contained in the kit is impressive. Not all the parts that have to be glued together sequentially reside on the same plastic sprue.
The first few steps (2 pages worth) in the instructions is to get the sides and tracks of the tank assembled. I'm building mine methodically: left hand side first and then on to the right hand side. The picture is of the left hand side of the superheavy tank. I've glued into position the wheels (etc.) and am about to get the tracks in to place.

Interesting features at this stage include:
(a) If you look closely at the side of the tank, you can see a vertical line where the two halves of the side plating join up. This actually snakes around the side toward the bottom to provide a decent amount of area to achieve a good adhesion with.
(b) The front and back cogs are supplied as separate bits and have to be glued on individually - getting these positioned right will ensure the tracks of the Shadow Sword remain flush and level.
(c) The sheer scale of the tank is amazing. I'm stunned at just how big this thing is going to end up.

More on this project as I get time..!

Back Once More!

Winter is trying to slowly ease away in to Spring and I'm back once again after visiting 4 (Australian) states in 4 weeks. I've got a number of posts lined up for the second half of the year, including updates on various projects (e.g. Soul Grinder) and a new project: a traitor Shadow Sword. More on the Shadow Sword a little bit later today.

A number of you asked me earlier in the year for some whole army pictures - that's also going to be coming up later this year. I've also got a number of further battle reports, and general stuff and nonsense surrounding the primary themes of Warpstone Flux: Chaos Marines and Daemons. There'll also be further posts on other armies (but at a less frequent rate than the marines and daemons) as well as some scenery projects with assorted, scattered random thoughts and musings!
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