Monday, 13 July 2015

New Leads

About 2 years ago, I retired my Space Wolves. The army had seen my from my first forays into the tournament scene (dipping my toe in at Throne of Skulls) to the 2013 GT Finale in May. I was excited by the prospect of a new army now that I was slightly more familiar with the scene, and I loved the Chaos Marine book.

The plan was, that this would be the army that saw me out of 6th edition, and well, it has done that. Admittedly 7th came slightly earlier than I anticipated, but it has achieved part of its goal none-the-less. The aim was also to be, that this army would see me through University, and allow me to put my mark on the tournament scene.

To be honest, I think it's done all 3 of these things. Obviously, I have been using it a year into 7th edition, and I have finished University while still using the army, however, I have had a number of issues with the book, leading to where I am today.

I do believe that it has allowed me to impact the tournament scene. This is mainly because I am known as 'that one pleb who still plays Chaos Marines', but I've also had fun with it. We've won a lot of things together, and scared a lot of people with late game clutch plays. But I think now is the time to put the book back on the shelf.

The book itself all comes down to one fatal flaw: It has very little in terms of appreciable damage output. It could handle itself pretty well in the beginning, Heldrakes dominated for a while, but then came Tau, and Eldar, and Marines, and every other book out there, then Eldar and Marines again. After the release of Tau and Eldar you could see Chaos Marines respective damage starting to fall off, so this really led to the increase in Chaos Marine lists that functioned in a similar way to my old Land Raider one. Don't die.

This basically relies on you trying your best not to be killed until turn 5, where you fly onto objectives and then try to stay alive until the game ends, which is much harder to do than the previous 4 turns.

However, with the age of D-Weapons, and the release of things like Eldar that are more than capable of just melting a Screamer Star with it's 2++ up, it's getting harder. Sure, there are some things you can do (which is why there is a CSM showing at the ETC this year) but honestly, I can't be doing with investing hundreds of pounds every couple of months into an army just so that it might be able to stay alive. With these kinds of Daemon based CSM lists, the entire game can swing on one dice roll, and sure, that's seat of your pants stuff, but it's only ever going to swing one way, and when it swings, it goes right up your booty and it ain't coming out. You rarely kill anything, and you spend the entire game running away from that one dice roll that will screw you, and even then there's no guarantee of anything. All for the low low price of multiple high investments every quarter.

So, that's why I'm retiring my Chaos list, and putting my book away. It's been fun, but head office doesn't seem to care about Chaos (see, Codex: Khorne Daemonkin, a sloppily written abomination to appease Chaos lovers knowing no-one can be arsed to write a proper book), they'd much rather release 2 hideously broken Eldar books than update the central Chaos ones.

Caledonian Revolution will be my last tournament with them, and I will consider it a success if I can get in the top 3/4s. Not been playing well recently, and the book isn't helping, nor is the fact that I'm very bored with it.

Who knows, if a new book gets released I might hop back on CSM, however it is unlikely. Expect updates on what I will be running around with shortly. My new toys are already on the assembly line.

Wednesday, 1 July 2015

If this happens at the ETC then...

So the ETC lists have been submitted and released, however due to the fact that I stick the the England squad like a rash I don't really want to talk about them too much. This is entirely to preserve competitive integrity as obviously I've been involved in the discussions both of our lists and regarding the lists of other squads since the release date.

But I do want to make a quick prediction, and release one of my thoughts regarding the eventual victor of the tournament.

I know a lot of readers will be upset about this, and if you have a rational argument to counter my thoughts, or you just want to vent, use the comments below. So, here we go:

I've been having a quick run over the general forum reaction to the lists, and I find the fact that so many people are seriously predicting the USA to win actually hilarious. If USA wins the 40k ETC event, I will personally take 12 nudes of myself using my webcam, and upload them to this blog.

All opinions expressed above are my own and not representative of anything or anyone else. In fact, I haven't even bothered to ask anyone about USA.

Have a nice day.

Friday, 26 June 2015

ETC Draft and Overkill

Held off on the latest post a little bit. There wasn't really anything to write about in terms of 40k goings on. So instead, I've spent the day looking for jobs, playing in the League of Legends IP boost weekend, and watching geography documentaries on YouTube (such nerd).

However, I have also been waiting for a couple of big moments, which occurred at midnight. The first of which was the list submission deadline for the Caledonian Revolution, which is mainly a prep tournament for the ETC, and which I needed to submit a list for.

The second was the ETC list deadline itself, after which the lists were released. As the squads have effectively been announced in full capacity, I can formally announce that I will play no part in either the English, nor the Dutch ETC squads this year (as I am eligible as a national for both). Instead, I'm going to spend my money going to watch the League of Legends World Championship in September and October. Fun times.

However, with the deadline now passed, I have been rifling very quickly through the lists. I have not looked at all of them yet, as I do not yet have access to all of them, and I have not had an in depth look either. However, a quick scan over 60% of the field has given me a couple of thoughts.

Firstly, I'm just going to take a very quick example, not naming anyone or anything like that, more to demonstrate a point. If you are a team, with a couple of world renowned, legendary players, with the rest of the team being fleshed out by people that are obviously known in your community, but not considered great players on an international stage (eg, Glenn Johnsons), then you need to think about list allocation, especially if the legendary players are known for changing their list every single year.

So, you have lets say 2 epic players, and 6 1/1 plebs. You then think about your draft. You have a number of 'power picks' so to speak. Lists that are extremely strong and should be harvesting huge points.

For an optimal team, you take the - lets say, there are 2 - power picks, so you have 2 lists that are pretty much guaranteed to get you loads of points, and 2 players that are pretty much guaranteed to garner you decent points as well. So, why on Earth would you put the 2 power picks in the hands of the 2 epic players?

Sure, you are probably going to get a very good haul from those 2 players, but in the end you are leaving the remaining 6 players that managed to perform ok in the isolated environment of their own country and throwing them all into the deep end with 'pocket picks' or '2nd tier lists'.

To be frank about this, if you throw a random with a pocket pick into a squad like the Germans, the Poles, the Swedes, the English, the Welsh, the Spanish, etc, they are probably going to struggle, and when you have 6 players out of your 8 really struggling for points, you are not going to win the round, and if you can't beat at least 2 of the above teams, there is no way you are going to win the ETC.

I talk about this a little bit as an outsider, I am also a 1/1 pleb. So if anyone holds a different view, please be sure to set me straight in the comments below.

Wednesday, 24 June 2015

Thank you 11th Company

When I look back over the last couple of years, and contrast 40k in 2012 to 40k in 2015. There are a huge number of differences. 3 years ago, we were on the verge of 6th edition, with Grey Knights and Necrons the most dominant on the scene.

Fast forward to 2015. The line of domination is blurred, with a wide variety of options available to the elite of the ETC squads. This does not mean that some codecies are not more powerful than others, Eldar for example are back to their usual state from 3rd edition to 7th edition with a vacation during 5th. 

You can talk about the enjoy ability of the game all you like, with the slow and considered releases of 5th edition, with all of the hype and speculation that came with them, to the rampant codex firing machine of 7th. But to be honest, I still love this game. 

One of the biggest of 40k for me cannot be laid directly at the feet of Games Workshop (although to claim that they do not hold ultimate responsibility for this would be naive in the extreme), but the passion from the community is gone. There is no longer a huge amount of hype for each Codex release.

This evening, I came home from a round of magazine delivering for hard cash to discover that the 11th Company had published its final episode, being laid to rest among such other great podcasts as Death or Glory and 40kGlobal (the latter of which I often appeared in). 

The 11th Company, and the 40kUk podcast (as it was known back then, before I met BJ) were the two driving forces that got my through my 500,000 word (with each word being a line of coding) A level Computing coursework, and are definitely the main reasons I got into competitive 40k. They drove my enthusiasm for the game, and challenged my assumptions on what would be strong, what made a good player or a strong list, or in general, how to play the game. But also did so in a way that was incredibly enjoyable. 

Without Dave Symcox, or Neil Gilstrap, or Pat, or Blackmoor, I would have never continued playing 40k, and 40k was the only thing that kept me sane in my first year of University, before I discovered other hobbys to accompany it. And so all I can say to the guys that created these podcasts, is thank you.

These podcasts are gone, many blogs have also folded, leaving us with the barren, money grabbing swamp that is the badly thought out, arrogant wasteland of Bell of Lost Souls. 

Unlike Bell of Lost Souls however, my plan of action is not to release a sniveling, stupid and shameful display of self pity blaming an entire community because I lack the motivation to actually organise things properly.

Yesterday, I graduated from University, and am currently considered unemployed by the British Government. In the meantime, whilst I am applying for jobs, I might as well be doing something constructive. Therefore, over the coming days, weeks, and months, I plan to be releasing more video and written content than ever before. 

Thank you 11th Company.

Wednesday, 13 May 2015

Learning to Improve at 40k

Over the last year I haven't really been able to play much 40k. This has led to some disappointing results: Mid table at Toy Soldier, being knocked out of the GT  (an event at which I had won multiple awards the previous year) in the Heats, and coming 5th at a tournament I really felt I could win or at least should be making the podium.

Practice is key it is true, often people quote 'practice makes perfect'. This to a degree is true, but it is not the be all and end all. For example, about this time last year I was nailing practice, beating down most of my opponents convincingly and getting lots of games in. The results from then were as follows: Top half at Caledonian Uprising, mid table at Death or Glory, mid table and Best Chaos Space Marine at the GT Finale, and top third at War of the Roses.

Lets start with the Caledonian, at the end, I was pleased with the result, it was the first time I had ever legitimately hit top half, but looking upwards, given the size of the event, I felt I could have done a lot better.

Death or Glory next. This one started really well, and I flew to the top tables. I then lost to Dan Sackett and Rob Madeley - two players that I highly respect - to be in a break match for top half with Steve Setterfield, who I had played at the GT Heats, and had one. This time however, we were both really tired, and he had a hangover. Despite this, I whiffed and drew the game.

GT Finale, I can't really argue with this one, although I feel there were games in there that I messed up and could have easily turned a loss into a win.

And War of the Roses. Pretty solid tournament overall, although my only loss was a case of me throwing the game away with a huge mistake.

So, despite all of the practice, I was still making massive mistakes or just straight up getting outplayed at every single event. Therefore I would argue that it is not the amount of practice that counts, but the quality of it. For an extreme example, I would rather go and spend a weekend practicing with any ETC squad than playing at the beginners club at a local GW every day for a year.

But you don't need ETC calibre players in order to learn. It is exceptionally easy for you to evaluate your own performance, and think about where you need to improve. For example, around last year I was horrendous at judging match ups, so I worked on my deployment play, spent ages micro-engineering it for the best possible result. It would take a while, yes, but it would set me in really good stead for the rest of the game.

I played a game on Monday, against what I perceived to be a difficult match up, but my deployment allowed me to capitalise on positional mistakes and punish. At the end of the game however, I was given time to stand back, and evaluate my own performance.

The result was, that I was proud of some elements of my play - such as my deployment and my micro management - but that I was unable to translate it to an overall steamroll. I focussed too heavily on individual pockets of fighting and deciding where I needed to allocate various units at what time, that I lost a sense of the greater picture, not even considering what my opponent might do next turn and how I needed to play around it.

Such playing in the moment can be beneficial, as it opens you up to utterly snowball the game out of control if you win every single pocket of fighting simultaneously and at the right time. But this is exceptionally rare, so during War of the Roses this weekend, my goal is not to hit a certain position, but to rather improve my macro level play and not get so caught up in the moment that I forget about what my opponent could do. I've learnt to do it during deployment, now I need to focus on potential plays as they unfold.

Monday, 2 March 2015

Video Battle Report

Hi everyone, been really busy the last month with University work and what have you. However I have managed to grind out a recording of a game I played with John Booth over Vassal last month, with 5 hours of cut footage. Have at it.

Friday, 6 February 2015

Open Letter to Bell of Lost Souls

Dear Administrators,

I used to read  your website on a regular basis, however due to the number of adverts crashing my terrible computer I gave that up a couple of years back. Now, with my brand new PC, I find myself back at your website reading what I have to say is one of the most misguided pieces of journalism that I have ever read.

Let me first introduce myself, my name is Tom Leighton. I am a regular player on the UK tournament circuit, and a final year student of a BA Honours Degree in Publishing Media at Oxford Brookes University.

In case you cannot recall, I am talking about your article entitled 40k: Breaking the game (Found here: Now, I am all for an analysis of the mindset of a competitive player and why they enjoy the game the way they do, anything 'philosophical' I can generally approve of. This article is not philosophical, this article merely comes across as the author's way of making themselves feel like a legitimately decent 40k player after being smacked about by someone who brought a more powerful list.

Now, for a portion of this article I can agree with the author, playing a game where the lists are completely mismatched is not fun. However, I would like to take a quote from the article here,

'Some people, like myself (there should be a comma here, back to the quote) want a nice, balanced game to stretch our abilities and make it all about your choices on the field rather than list building.' 

This is but one example of the author's complete lack of experience regarding the tournament scene, other examples include 'Checkers is a completely balanced game', it is impossible to completely balance a game. And, 'A competitive list in 40k basically amounts to "how many rule-breaking units can I stack together" I'll ignore the last bit from the initial quote as I'm coming to that anyway, but that isn't the formula for the vast majority of competitive lists.

If you just think of competitive 40k for a second, you probably think of tournaments, an environment where everyone is trying to build a strong list, so every game you are playing against someone, who has also attempted to build the strongest list possible. To paraphrase, if one 'dick list' is facing off against another 'dick list' is this not a relatively fair pairing? Both players have come into the game with the same goals, and the same expectations, and thus we have an enjoyable game where both players know what to expect and essentially, it comes down to which player can understand and play the match up between the armies the best. Aka, who can make the best 'choices on the field'.

If you think about running into a guy at your local club or friendly local gaming store, and it hasn't been the greatest of games due to a mis-match in terms of the end goals of the lists of each player, one of two things has happened.

1: You and your opponent have been involved in some miss-communication, your opponent is a competitive player who may be preparing for a tournament and was coming down to the club in anticipation of a practice game to help improve, while you came down in anticipation of just bringing your collection and rolling some dice.

2: Your opponent is an arsehole who gets an ego boost off turning up at the local club and kicking the crap out of a fluffy army.

If the former, there is nothing malicious here and there is no reason to defame competitive players as 'dicks', there was simply a mis-understanding regarding what to expect from the game.

If the latter, then firstly, you do not have to play the guy in the first place. If this is what they are like then they probably have a reputation and you know what you're getting into, and if not you'll soon discover that they are not someone you would enjoy playing and so you can simply refuse to play them.

In the case of the latter, you can label them as a dick all you want, admittedly you could refuse to play them but that's by-the-by. Call them all of the names under the Sun if you like, but it is completely unacceptable, and quite frankly - defamatory, to say that they are a competitive player. If this individual is turning up week in, week out, to beat lists that are a complete mis-match for them, then that is by definition the exact opposite of a competitive game, because there was no competition. And let's say for the sake of argument that this individual does attend tournaments, I can guarantee that they probably won't do very well at them given the practice that they will have had, and if they act like an arsehole at a tournament and ruin the experience for people, they will simply be barred from the tournament (at least in the UK).

To conclude, I have been on the UK tournament scene for going on 2 years now, and I have only met one individual that I would not call a friend. Competitive players are not douchebags looking for a quick ego boost off a player who enjoys the game in a different manner, they are lovely guys who also happen to enjoy testing the strategy, not just of the game, but also of list building, to its limits against like minded individuals, and I am disappointed that Bell of Lost Souls of all places would publish a piece (given your collection of writers) categorising competitive players as 'Dicks' and passing it off as 'philosophy'.

I hope that this will not happen again in the future,

Tom Leighton

Tuesday, 13 January 2015

The Difference Between Tournament Players and WAAC Douchebags

I was recently reminded of an article I had prepped for the 'Northern Wastes' blog, during the production of the next post, and to be honest the next one is taking rather a long time to process. So in the meantime I thought I would have a little rant here regarding the perception of tournament players.

Now for some context, this was around about Adepticon when Nick Nanavati won it with his Flying Monstrous Creature list. An article detailing this appeared on Bell of Lost Souls and of course this was advertised on Facebook. This post was then commented on by one of my friends and Welsh ETC player Mr Mike Collins so - ever interested in the American meta and their circuit - I decided to take a look.

Now I am well aware of the infamous commentors over there known as the 'BoLS Trolls', but to be honest I feel that no matter whether they are trolling or not, this is an opinion shared by a large chunk of the community, especially online. But to be perfectly honest, this was just in the Facebook comments, not even on the main sight.

The general sentiment given was that Nick is a prick (that exact word was used) and a WAAC douchebag for taking such a bent list and winning a tournament with it, and that a chimp could win a tournament with it. And I have a few problems with this.

Now I'm not here to defend Nick personally, hell I've heard stories that he's a pretty cool guy but I've never met him and I only heard the stories after my initial disappointment with the community so it had no impact whatsoever.

Firstly, it is worth pointing out that the expectations of what you're going to face at a tournament and what you're going to face at your local store or - if you are commenting with such tripe on a public space - in your mum's basement, are completely different. At tournaments, the fun is in going up against the best players with the best lists and giving them a tough game, the fun is in the puzzle of how to win the game and working out the best strategy and tactics for each scenario, not in turning up, sitting around for 40 minutes carelessly removing your beautifully painted models from a table courtesy of the titan in the apocalypse game, before spending another 40 minutes doing the same to your opponent. If you want to get pissed and throw dice around, to each their own, but you have no right to impose how you enjoy to play the game and your expectations of what you should face on others.

Therefore, you can guarantee that the vast majority of the 256 people in the room will also have attempted to bring the strongest list they can. Sure, if you're going to compare one optimally efficient list with your 'little bit of everything' Tyranid list, it's probably going to be an unbalanced game because the tournament list is clearly the more efficient. But then when you compare it with a list built for a similar purpose, suddenly it's a bit closer, and that's the entire point. You are all striving for the same goal of winning the tournament and that's the fun of it.

So when you have a room full of 256 armies all built to be as strong as possible, how can you possibly say that you could take the same list and win the tournament 100% guaranteed without being a crazy good player. In my opinion, I don't think that there is anyone in North America that could  say that, and I even think that in Europe it's a stretch (if you want to compare NA with EU in 40k I have tonnes of ammunition to say that EU players are stronger, I don't think it's even a discussion). The fact that you would even believe such a thing shows how much exposure you have to tournament play, and that is absolutely zero. You don't understand the concept of relative balance and you don't understand the fact that beating up random 12 year olds on vassal with the curtains closed does not make you an ETC calibre player. It just makes you a borderline paedophile with a messiah complex.

This brings me to my point regarding WAAC players and tournaments. Anyone reading this who has ever made a comment relating to tournament players being dicks, I urge you. Go to a tournament. I don't even mean a local one where you might know some of the guys, I mean a big tournament, with loads of strangers, and tell me that you had a bad time. Yeah, occasionally you might get the one insecure guy pretending to be good who is kind of an arsehole but no more than 1 a tournament. I have been going to these things since 2012, and I have only run into one individual who I would truely call a hateful human being.

Sure, tournament players are trying to win their games, but the at all costs bit is extremely steep. There is no point winning unless you can do it fairly, otherwise you are just proving the point that you do not believe you can beat the opposing player without cheating your way to it or sapping all of the fun out of the game. And that's what this hobby is about at the end of the day, fun. We have recently had the Charlie Hebdo terror attacks in France, something that has hit me as it is in an industry that I will work in in 4 months time. The entire point of that is down to freedom of speech, and that by extension means freedom of political, religious (or lack thereof) and philosophical views provided they do not mean the taking of human life.

This is a vast hobby, with multiple avenues to explore, so please, make sure you educate yourself on a topic before you judge it.

Monday, 5 January 2015

CSM in 7th and Obliterators

It's all requests Tuesday, and as I can't be arsed to go to bed due to the 48 hours of pain I have lined up over the next few days here's a blog post.

I've spent the last month or so coming out of my cocoon of 6th edition and out into the big bright world of 7th, and a lot has changed. As such, I've been trying out a variety of Chaos lists from variations on the goofy curveball raider list that did so well for me in 6th, to ripping off a gentleman from Belarus. In the end, I think I've settled on stealing from the Belarussians with a few tweaks, which I cannot go into detail of right now for a number of reasons.

Instead, I'd quite like to talk about Obliterators, and how they fit in the modern game of 40k. If you disagree with any of the points made here, I'm more than happy to discuss them in the comments section, and if you just think that I'm a flat out dipshit with less game knowledge than a 12 year old in a hobby store, I'm more than happy to compare our credentials (/snobbery).

I have always been an advocate of one particular style of play since getting into Chaos Marines, and that is board control. If I am able to dictate where you are on the board throughout the game through my threat ranges then I can essentially dictate which objectives you can get to, and if I can dictate which objectives you can get to I can take necessary steps to prevent you from claiming them and take the ones out of your reach to close out the game. With my old Land Raider list it was essentially possible to win a game without either player losing a single model. Very few want to get near to them, and if you only have 4 Lascannons et al I'm just going to dance around the board's terrain and laugh, pushing you into a corner all the while, because my threat range is as long as my arm. Of course there are match ups which completely shut this down, but that is the case with most things.

In 7th I believe this theory of board control to be even more important, and this is simply due to the fact that it is much harder to contest objectives now. With only Eldar and Necrons able to do it to a consistent 'turn 5 jumping' level. But lets break this down to a very core level. 5/6 missions are based around capturing objectives, so lets use this as a base win conditions. So the 2 ways to win a game of 40k are to 1) hold more objectives than your opponent, or 2) wipe them from the table (a very crude breakdown but lets roll with it for a second).

Of course, you can kick the crap out of your opponent in order to claim more objectives, it's a perfectly viable strategy because you're obtaining board control via removing your opponent from the table, but the point remains that you can essentially substitute 'hold more objectives' with 'have better board control'. This is precisely why objectives need to be 12" apart, these missions are literally designed to test board control. Even if you are jumping the objectives with jetbikes turn 5, and the game ends for you to win after hiding in the corner for 4 turns, the point still stands. Your opponent was not able to bubblewrap the objectives properly, and you were able to capitalise on it, in short, you were able to control the board better because you were able to exploit the parts of it that you needed to.

So lets come back to our win conditions, 1) Control the board better than your opponent 2) Wipe them from the table. Now how do Obliterators fare in terms of helping you fulfill those win conditions?

Obliterators have always been a solid individual unit within the Chaos Codex. They're versatile, they're pretty tanky, and generally produce something that the Codex lacks in terms of a viable shooting unit. If you're looking for a rundown of Obliterators at the start of 6th edition, by a 19 year old that was still getting embarrassed at small events and Throne of Skulls, you can find it here ( I sucked. However, 2 years down the line with a crap load more experience at a top level and a few things in my trophy cabinet, do I still think that there is a place for them in competitive lists with reasonable expectations of winning games? I'm going to jump the gun here and say no, and here's why:

(Wednesday) Lets start from the ground up here. I spent last night drafting out a list centred purely around Obliterators, and making them as efficient as possible. I'm not going to go into full detail with it because I need to be at work in 45 minutes. Essentially you're going to start with 3 units of 3 Obliterators with Mark of Nurgle, taken in a primary detachment of Crimson Slaughter for the Divination psykers and whatnot. So 2 Sorcerers on bikes, then in 2 units of Spawn to provide peel for the Obliterators, you don't really want them getting charged because - although proficient in close combat - they are still not fabulous especially with the lack of Fearless, and every turn you spend in assault is a turn you're not shooting.

Then you probably want to take a brick of Tzeentch Heralds. They can go in a Horror unit they're fine you don't really need them in anything faster so you'll save points on discs and an extra squad there. Then just use the remaining points on a few mandatory scoring pieces, some more peel or more flashy upgrades. Then sit as a brick, daemons in the centre, then Oblits, then Spawn. Cast up Cursed Earth every turn to give the Obliterators a 4++ save and then spend the rest of your dice spawning. Then move up into the centre of the board and take it. You can then spread if you need to but essentially you have a 24" threat range from the edge of your circle, so approximately a threat 60" in diameter.

So lets go back to our win conditions, and to be realistic, Chaos Marines should not be wiping people from the board very often. In terms of damage output we're pretty weak. Obliterators are our only ok shooting unit (they're pretty expensive for their output per turn really when compared to other factions, a perfectly reasonable comparison because that is what you are going to be attempting to outshoot), and once you've fully loaded yourself on those there's nothing else to add. Shooty CSM does not really work. Assault wise, possibly, but if you are smashing someone based on assault they have not taken the tools to protect their big hitters which will help to clear you or kite you around the board, and they should revise their list. At the top tables, you are not going to be able to table someone via assault either.

So then you come back to board control. Taking the example list above, you are having an effect over a large section of the board, but how great is the effect? Spawn are exceptionally good at tying things up and wiping squishier units but it's not a unit that makes you crap yourself in terror. Obliterators are a similar story. Sure if you have all 9 pump their fire into something then you will probably kill it, but damn that's a lot of commitment. As I mentioned earlier, the damage output per Obliterator per turn is not that great.

Now you can head down to your local gaming club, play a guy with a nicely painted Space Marine army, beat him by taking the middle and claim that it works. But that isn't evidence for working in tournament play. So lets compare it against the last 9 lists that I played against in tournament play (the last 2 events) and see how it would do:

1) FMC daemons. Come down, spawn tie up 2 DPs, the rest charge the Obliterators and kill them. They don't care about your threat, you don't have enough protection and your Oblits are unlikely to kill a flying DP in a turn even with Prescience.

2) Centurion Marines. You might do ok here. Really depends on the first turn.

3) Shunt Grey Knights. Again, can just jump forward, they had enough force weapons to deal with the spawn followed by the 3 Dreadknights eating the Obliterators. You might kill 1 before it gets in but if he commits fully you are in trouble.

4) Wraithwing. The real problem here is that he doesn't care about your spawn.

5) (at work on my phone) Dark Eldar. He didn't really spam lances or poisoned so really the list would be fine here.

6) Wave Serpents and Lance. He doesn't really care about your damage or your potential to tie him up so he can dictate the board much better. Until he catches up with and kills you.

7) Wave Serpents and Wraithknights. Slightly bette as you can now try and tie him down. But then he'll probably spend the first couple of turns clearing a few spawn before going for it an doing exactly the same thing.

8) horde nids. You can't tie everything down so he'll lock down your spawn with his bigger stuff, the oblits with gaunts and then have free reign of the board with the rest of his stuff.

9) weird ass summony ork/chaos list. Similar problem except he is more able to kick your teeth in with his DP.

So how's the list performing? Not particularly well. The main problem really here is that you don't have enough clear and your strength of board presence in terms of your threat because of this just isn't enough to deal with most. In short, an obliteration centric CSM list does not work.

So would they work as a support stor file role? I think the question you always have to ask yourself when building a list is 'why?' Why am I taking this unit? What does it bring to my army that nothing else does as well. I've use mutilators at tournaments in the past, not because I wanted to be that guy that used weird ass models, but because they were better suited to a role than anything else. Therefore, it doesn't matter if a unit is considered universally solid, if it doesn't fit the role you're looking for taking it is like pouring points down the drain.

If your list structure is 'I have some choppy units, now I need some snooty units' then to be honest you may struggle. When building your list ask how you are going to win games. Thus, you can generate an overall play style, and if a unit doesn't fit with that, leave it out.

10pm Christmas Eve. Still at work. On the toilet. The problem then is, even if you have a list maxed out on Obliterators. They don't provide any threat over the boar due to their relatively lacklustre point for point damage output, and despite the fact that they're tanky they don't have the speed to really tie anything up unless your opponent is exceptionally careless. Meaning that for their points cost they neither threaten a large enough area of the board efficiently enough for what they do (spawn do it better) and are not really able to clear most units well. 

Tl;dr. Obliterators are an expensive unit that provide very little in terms of achieving the win conditions of 40k.

Sunday, 4 January 2015

Army List Advice on Forums - How good is it?

Seeing as I love to write scathing and sarcastic rants regarding things I hate (University Accommodation Internet Connection. Maybe I'll post it sometime), I decided to nostalgically delve deep into the sarcastic 40k underbelly that are online forums. Recently I've been pretty patronising of forums and users in a few of my posts, and I'd just like to clear the air.

Firstly, just don't post your list for advice on a forum if it's fluffy. Because any advice anyone gives can easily be dismissed 'because it's for background'. If it's for background, nice, just don't come into a setting purely there to give competitive advice when that's not what you're looking for. That said, I wouldn't necessarily recommend it if you are looking for competitive advice either, and here's why:

First of all, you have to think about what forums do, they essentially provide a platform for individuals to communicate and discuss a certain shared interest, right. And one of the appeals of this is that everyone is on a level playing field in terms of how your opinion is viewed and perceived. As a personal example; you could be the best Chaos Space Marine player in the United Kingdom or a guy with 300 points of Chaos Marines who names every model in his army and your opinions will carry the same weighting unless the poster has some knowledge of who you are, which is exceptionally unlikely as if they were looking for a particular opinion they would come straight to that individual rather than posting on a public forum hoping to snipe an individual.

Sure, you can make the argument that they are looking for someone with more experience with the faction, but it comes back to the point again, it's a complete lottery, and frankly, the vast majority of opinions I have seen given in the last week of nostalgically browsing could practically be written by a bot because it all follows the same formula.

1. Check list for units commonly perceived as bad.

2. If units are found, remove from list.

3. If units are removed from list, replace with unit of same slot commonly perceived as good.

4. Check unit gear for perceived sub optimal loadouts.

5. If loadouts found, remove from list.

6. If loadouts are removed, replace with publicly perceived optimal loadout.

7. Once the above steps are complete, attempt to insult or patronise anyone who does not follow this formula.

From someone who has built weird and whacky lists from scratch and done well with them in top level tournaments, this is not how to write a good list. The only list I can think of that was ever any good that effectively used this formula was Wraithwing, and even then it just so happened that they worked well together (D-Lords, Wraiths and Night Scythes with barebones Warriors). Besides, that book is now the oldest in the game, and that list was first created in 5th edition.

As mentioned in the previous post regarding Obliterators. The key to a strong list is one where all its components are working together towards the same win condition, not just blindly picking units that seem good at certain roles. The days of well-rounded 40k lists covering all bases with each unit are over. If you have an 1,850pt army, whose win condition is to smash your opponent so that they cannot physically control enough objectives or flat out tables them, then having 600 points put into Plague Marines is not going to help you achieve that, so you effectively have 1,250 of a tabling army. You have an inefficiency, because quite frankly you don't need a beefy ass unit holding your backline if the enemy has nothing to clear it with, which quite frankly, is EXACTLY what your list is trying to do.

Forget the plague marines, take the dirt cheap option and pour all of those points into something that will actually help you win the game.

EDIT: This is not to say that if you reply to posts on forums you don't know what you're talking about, it's very kind to offer assistance with other peoples lists and you have my respect for it. However I would highly recommend that you try to think a little bit more about the box in terms of helping the playstyle that the original poster is going for.