Dear Transports: Learn your place.

Hey there folks, Xaereth from Delusions of Grandeur here once again, after a slight absence.  Today I want to talk about something related to, but not limited to, Blood Angels:  Transports and their role in assaults.  Or more precisely, the guys in transports, and the manner in which their transports allow them to interact with the assault phase.  Heh, wow, that sounded kind of technical.  Logic and critical thinking classes have apparently paid off :-p

So, I suppose we should start by making a distinction.  There are two types of assaulters in this game:

  • Transport-aided- troops that depend on transports to move them around the field, protect them, etc.  Example:  Grey Hunters in a Rhino
  • Self-propelled- dudes that can move quickly on their own, and create their own opportunities to assault, unrestricted by any other single unit but themselves.  Example:  Hellions (Dark Eldar)
This is somewhat obvious.  I generally start articles off with the obvious, since sometimes it's not something people have thought of.  Giving step-by-step logical progressions help to give credibility to the later stages in thought.  Or at least, that's what I tell myself ;-)

So, there are two different kinds of assaulters.  Big deal, right?  They both assault.  There isn't really a correlation between transport-aided troops and how potent they are in close combat vs. self-propelled assaulters.  There are plenty of examples of ultra-potent and mediocre assault troops to be found across the game.  So, at first glance, it doesn't seem to be a big deal- both options seem to have equal potential.  This isn't necessarily true, however.

If there is a single thing that is important in playing competitively, most competitive players will tell you that it is this:  dependability/consistency in your units.  This could take multiple forms, including but not limited to:
  • getting rerolls
  • rolling enough dice that it 'forces' the odds to even out
  • forcing opponents to deal with multiple high-toughness/high AV/good save units
Consistency wins games more often than good rolling does- far more often.  A skilled player will be able to understand what exactly is needed at the exact time and place it is needed, and know just how many resources are needed to achieve a goal.  This is less and less possible with inconsistent units.  There is a distinction many people miss:  consistency vs. potential.

  • Consistency tells a good player that they can do something 10 times, and know exactly what will happen 9 of those times.  An example of this is Lightning Claw Terminators in a Templar army- rerolls to both hit and to wound, followed by no saves by the opponent makes their results extremely predictable.
  • Potential means that something could really do well, if everything goes in it's favor.  An example of this would be a Power Sword on a Space Marine sergeant.  Whereas if he rolls well, he will do quite a bit of damage, he is also required to roll well in order for the sword to be worth it.  Poor or even average rolling will ensure that nothing good happens. 
Ask yourself this:  will my unit do what I want it to almost every time?  If the answer is yes, then it is consistent.  If the answer is no, then it is potential.  Don't get me wrong, potential threat is better than no threat, and can force people to react in a way they would not normally.  The two are certainly worth making a distinction of, however.

So, see how that works?  One more example before we move on:  A power fist on a Wolf Guard in a squad of Grey Hunters w/ the Wolf Standard would be considered consistent rather than potential, because of the ability to reroll 1's for a turn, and get the extra charging attack even when being charged (hoo-ray for counter-charge!).  Being able to hit more times than not, and then wound on 2's, rerolling 1's again, is something you can count on, and is thus consistent.

I'm sure that this also seems obvious to many people.  Still, I see people playing inconsistent units extremely often, and complaining when they don't meet their potential.  How many times have you seen someone defend a terrible unit like so:  Well this one time, my 30-man squad of Death Company multi-charged my opponent's entire army, and killed everything, and then I tabled them, and therefore Death Company are awesome.  Too many times to count, if I were to guess.  I figure it's worth the time to talk about.

Alright, so maybe this makes sense so far, but what does this have to do with transports and assaulting?  I suppose I can say it now:  Transports have less consistency than self-propelled squads.  For example:  Let's say that our army is a rhino-based assaulting army.  We get 2nd turn, and hide our rhinos, but find no way to block line of sight to our transports.  We fail to seize the initiative, and our opponent promptly destroys or immobilizes most of our rhinos.  Will we win the game?  Unlikely. 

Was there a way to play the game so that you could win almost every time, given those sets of conditions?  Not really- the list design itself was fundamentally flawed.

In the same scenario, but replacing the rhino-based squads with self-propelled squads (let's say... assault squads with jump packs), the opponent would certainly have done some damage, but in the next turn, we would have still been able to move the bulk of our army forward, since mobility isn't something that can be shot off of a self-propelled squad (unlike transport-aided squads)

Since in an assaulting army mobility is a must, consistency is favored over potential.  Of course, transports do a few things very well, the main attraction being that they allow good squads that would be normally useless because of how slow they are, to be able to contribute to the battle at all. Those squads are certainly useful, and have great potential.  If their transport doesn't die, they can really do a lot of damage.

So, what conclusion can we make from all of this?  Let's walk through the steps quick:
  • There are two types of assaulting units:  Transport-aided and Self-propelled
  • Both of these can be potent in assault
  • Consistency is needed to win in a competitive setting
  • Consistency is different from potential
  • Self-propelled squads are more consistent than Transport-aided squads
  • Transport-aided squads have good potential, and can still positively contribute to the game
My conclusion is this, then:

In an assault-based army, the 'main attraction' of the army needs to be self-propelled.  Other squads in transports can (and many times should be) used to support the force, but an assault army should not be predicated on only using transports, unless they can be made consistent somehow.

I've seen transport-heavy armies all too often fall to shooty (or even just balanced) armies because their assault capabilities were diminished to nothing by a single round of shooting.  Heh, I should know, I tried for a very long time to make my rhino-borne Berzerker army work, before I finally gave up.  Berzerkers will kill the shite out of anything they charge- if they can get the charge off.

My wolfstar is a good example of how this concept works well.  The wolfstar is my big, main assault unit that doesn't depend on transports, while the grey hunters support the Wolfstar- they aren't the 'main attraction'.

Hopefully this makes sense- let me know what you think.  I need some sleep, I leave for Adepticon in 4 hours.  Look out for big battle reports on my own blog.  Have a good one folks!

The pictures are all things I found when I googled 'consistency', in case anyone is curious, lol.  This last one makes me sad though:

Oscar Wilde obviously never played 40k.  Or maybe he did, and just thinks I'm a moron.

Great post as always Xaereth. Grats on winning The Feast of Blades! JB

Black Templars High Marshal Helbrecht Banner!

Transmission to Black Templars main fleet:

Menial Artisan: "Inform the High Marshal, his banner is ready..."
Helbrecht Aide: "Please transmit vidpic of finished image for approval you dolt."
....sssskkkttttt..... roger.... ssssskkkktttt...

Helbrecht Aide: "What in the name of the Emperor is this afrontery?"  
Menial Artisan: Gulp... er... What ever do you mean?

Hehe, I lack Fritz's dramatic touch. Any way, I messed up painting Helbrecht on the banner. This just goes to show that I am not an art machine!  The truth is that Stout Smurf was in my room working on his dreadnought and distracting me by arguing about how to paint blue after asking for my help.  That is what leads to Mr. Helrecht getting the wrong banner.  

What is worse? After I repainted the scroll and prepped it for the letters again, I misspelled it again! This time I left out the L.  Haha. I have some video going up soon showing this blunder. Too funny!  The best is that as I was painting the HEL I was thinking to myself, man there is much more room here than I thought I would have for these letters.  You see, the first letter I paint is the middle letter right in the middle of the scroll. Then I work out to the right and left one letter at a time.  SO I painted the R, then the E on the right, then on the left I should have put a B, but skipped it and went with an L.  Didnt notice until I was shooting pictures.  :)  Any way, here is the nearly completed banner along with the Space Wolves in the back ground which is awaiting the final payment to clear.  

Coming up next? I have a custom banner for a gaming club called Hogs of War, Stout Smurfs 2nd company Ultramarines banner, The Ultramarines Chapter Banner and another commission, either a Wood Elf banner or the Grey Knights.

More to come!

Product Review: The Ranger army transport by Outrider Hobbies

Hey folks,

Here I am with another product review. This time I am reviewing a new army transport, the Outrider Hobbies Ranger!  First of all, this is not a dish on other products. I do compare it to other bags, but it is for the purpose of illustrating what I feel are this bags strengths.

Now, I am uploading a whole series of videos about this bag where I talk for over half an hour showing you the ins and outs.  So I won't say too much here. Watch the vids!  But I will summarize.  First of all, the overwhelming pro feature that this has is storage space.  If you look closely at the picture, you will see two huge pockets on the front, and even bigger pockets on the sides.  There is room to store two hard cover 40k rule books, 4 codexes, two mini rule books, and all the dice, measuring tapes, rulers and pens you can fit.  Outstanding!

Now, that was enough to sell the bag for me.  When I go to GTs, I am carrying dozens of pages of army lists, rules PDFs, books etc. It is nice to have plenty of space to store them. Plus I always leave with even more stuff than I arrived with.  Cant beat it.

Now for the insides.

Inside this bag I have about 2k points worth of Blood Angels including a Storm Raven, four rhinos, a furioso, 30 odd infantry, 5 terminators, land raider, 5 40mm base objectives, banners, and various odds and ends.  This is a LOT of stuff for a small transport.  One feature that makes this work is the zipper flap. This is not a new feature to army transports, but it is the first bag I have owned where as you unzip the bag, the top opens up and out.  This opens the bag in such a way that you do not have to slide the trans down or over each other like an oven. No more snagged models!  You can see in the pics that my stackable trays come easily out and fit snugly.

Finally, as you can see in the bottom tray, it was cut perfectly to fit my storm raven, two dread slots and two pod slots which also hold 4 rhinos instead.  I used a Sabol plucky tray to hold my land raider and flyer stand. And every thing else fits great.

There are some cons, but for that you will have to watch my videos. I am currently uploading part one of the jawa review. The first part is about 13 minutes in length.  I will be embedding the video in this post for you as I upload them this week.  So watch the reviews and enjoy! Oh, and they are made in the USA!


Here is part one:

Space Wolves Banner Finished

Here it is! The sons of Russ would be proud! For scale I had a shot taken of me standing next to it. And look what is coming next!  I was a busy beaver. :)


Ultramaine Dreadnought Giveaway

In celebration of the launch of his new blog, Jim the Stout Smurf from is launching his first give away drawing!  He is giving away the Ultramarines Dreadnought pictured above. This is the first dread he painted and you have my word, it is fantastic.  It is a Black Reach dread with storm bolter and multi melta.  Coming with the base will be a new resin Jawabase that you can paint to match your own army.  What do you have to do to get a chance at winning this bad boy?  Simply become a follower of his blog of course!  Go to his blog, and click on the "follow" button on the right. While you are at it, add him to your blog roll and drop a comment so that he can add you. Let's get him launched in style!  This drawing will be held in two weeks on Thursday, April 7.  We can't do Friday because we will be driving to Princeton, NJ for The Colonial.   It's that simple!  

On the day of the drawing we will assign numbers to every one of his followers, and randomly pick a winner. I will video this process and post it on youtube.  So there you go! Go read his blog, and become a follower! It will be fun to see him progress from 40k noob to competitive GT stomper.  

Yes this contest is available world wide and shipping is free. Just register as a follower and come back to see more!

EDIT: I am adding a set of bases to the prize pool. Two names will be drawn. The first gets choice of a set of my new jawabases, 25mm x10, 40mm x5, biker x5, 60mm x3, or flyer (pick one set), or the Dread with jawa base.  


Quicky Space Wolves Banner Update

Not much to say here. Just wanted to give you a quicky update on the Space Wolves Banner. It will be done tomorrow!  I need to do the runes across the band at the top, the scrolling words and the images on the bottom. A skull in the diamond, the symbol and X in the middle and some runes as well. What is great about doing these banners is that each time I do one I get better. I think the Space Wolves scroll is my best yet. This one actually required a lot of math and measuring too. Getting all those hazard lines to be perfectly parrallel over those angled bottom cuts was not easy. Getting the diamond behind the wolf to come out was near impossible!

I ask you Space Wolves fans. Do the runes say any thing? THe ones across the top? There appears to be little stop bullets. And why is he wearing a green scarf?  I need to go in and give it some highlights. It seems a little metro for a viking dog.  Like his owner got cute and wrapped some rag around his name. Like his name should be Dakota or some other over used husky name. :)  Just kiddin folks!  I will wrap this one up tomorrow, and hopefully start laying in the color for the Helbrecht one as well.  More to come!


Banner WIP update.

Here are some WIP pics of my two current banner projects. The Space Wolves banner has taken a big lead. The first pic is it's current state. I started laying in the shades of grey on the wolf, painted in the first shade of Yellow Ochre for the hazard stripes and layed in some dark brown for the scrolling.  Looking down at the pics you can see each step taking place.

The last pic shows my sketching of Helbrechts banner. For this one instead of painting directly on the duck fabric, I got a rectangular piece of pre gessoed artist canvas and cut it to the shape I needed.  After a couple layers of black acrylic I drew in the image with pencil.  This is the most time consuming part as it takes quite a while to get it all set up. Once I start laying down paint though, it should be fast. I'm glad I got the opportunity to create these banners.  Up next?

I have two in mind. First I am doing one for my friend Jim, The Stout Smurf. Do take a moment to check out his new blog and follow him!  He is doing the Ultramarines 2nd company so I am going to do that banner for him. I think in the process of deciding that, I came across my banner for this years Gamesday.  The Ultramarines Chapter banner as depicted on this page!  The banner is truly beautiful and a pure challenge of my skills.  I will need to figure out how to make it fade from light to dark before even starting with the images. But I think it will be worth it!

More to come.


New Blog! The Stout Smurf. My noobzor buddy Jim started a blog to chronicle his journey.

Inspired by the success of my blog, my friend Jim, who uses the moniker The Stout Gnome in his other gaming circles has decided to start up a blog of his own, The Stout Smurf.  I got him into the game last fall and he sorta farted around a bit but this winter came on strong.

First of all, Jim is a 40k noobie in every sense of the word. Before taking him to Templecon, which you can read about in more detail HERE he had never played a full game of 40k and in fact had only played in a couple of partial teaching games with me.  He had a minimal grasp of the rules and I gave him some advice on dealing with other armies right before the tournament started.

Now, his 40k noobiness is not to say that he is a gaming noob because he is not. He is the creator of the game Gnome Wars which has a nice following of it's own.  When I met him he already had fairly good painting skills and a good strategic mind. In other words he was the perfect pupil.  He was a quick study. I showed him some of my painting videos, gave him some tips and an Army Builder list and away he went!  Within about 6 weeks he had his first 1850 army painted and ready. 3 games at Templecon had him hooked for good.

So I invite you all to become a follower of his new blog.  Add it to your blog rolls and let him know so he can add you back.  Follow along as a 40k noobie learns the ropes from me and Fritz. Watch him go from baby seal to 40k contender!  Our next appearance will be at The Colonial GT, and then Nova!  We are hoping for him to do well at the Nova. So check him out and wish him luck!


The Dark Eldar Deployment: From Portals to Raiders How to Properly Play Dark Eldar

Hey all, Kevinmcd28 here again to talk about my new love and joy, Dark Eldar. If you listen to the 11th Company podcast or have been to any major tournament recently there are always only a handful of Dark Eldar players. For the most recent codex (regardless of it being out 6 months) it sure lacks in numbers compared to the older 5th edition codices. Dark Eldar have been given a wrap of too weak/easy to kill for play or are atleast too difficult to play. Now I agree, the codex is hard to play since it is full of Armor 10/11 open topped vehicles full of models with 5+/6+ saves that are only T3 and even a simple Auto cannon can ignore even your FNP save. One small miss step can leave a mob of wyches out in the open just to get cut down by a meagre combat squad of marines with bolters......and it does make it hard to keep the army together yet all people need to do is use the game to your advantage and formulate a deployment of your forces and the army can be an effective/competitive codex.

Now when I state deployment I am going beyond deploying your army before a game and am going back to the meta game involving how you plan on deploying your force. When boiled down the codex gives you two common options for how you plan on playing your smaller dudesmens and chicks with knives.....the Portal and Raider deployments.

Alright Ill be straight with people, everyone knows to surround the portal as well as everyone with a rock to throw can take down a Raider. The reason these deployments out right can be so easily countered is a major reason why most people have left the army after initial hype or decide not to give it a go. Now played in the right way and using speed to your advantage as well as the ability to move and shoot a practiced player can figure out Raider deployment so I am gonna focus on the Portal deployment and explain why people play it in the wrong way.

So for all those readers who do not have experience/know the army I'll explain your average Joe Gamer's portal deployment and army type. First of all you have an Archon (or haemonculi) in a Raider with the webway portal probably backed up by a few ravagers and the occaisonal support unit. He holds in reserve the units that cannot be deployed in a Raider (which is the bulk of his army) such as mobs of Wyches bigger than 10, beastmasters, Talos/Cronos, etc. Turn one he moves his Raider 12" and the portal sacraficial thrower thros out the portal so that turn two all the fun things come out of it about 28" max (if used correctly) across the table but generally just around midfield. The reason this does not work is that half of your army is set up to duke it out with your opponents full force for the first couple of turns. You also have 100-200 points dedicated into a sacraficial portal throwing unit. Though all these reasons are not the main reason this deployment is inneffecitve. The main reason is that after you've thrown the portal it is your opponents turn and all he has to do is move his forces up and surround the portal and then all of the DE players portal units (which are generally heavy numbered Wyche units or other units such as Talos/Cronos) are stuck coming on the DE players table edge far out of combat. These units are generally slow and are forced into an open spot but, what is even worse, is that it breaks up your army into piece meals that are generally easy to take care of.

Now I myself have played a portal deployment army in the first 3 games I played with this army, at the TempleCon doubles army. I learned a lot from the preperation for this tournament on the proper ways to use this style of Dark Eldar. Our plan, me and my buddy marcus (who I wrote an article about his Nid army on here recently), was to have an army based on a null deployment style and to use this as a feint. Let me ellaborate, he had a couple units of stealers as dedicated outflankers as well as a trygon and a hive tyrant as dedicated deepstrikers. The portal allows you to deploy ANY unit in your army out of it regardless if they were designated as outflankers, reservists, deepstrikers, etc. We decided to use this as an advantage by feinting outflanking to get our opponent to crowd together in the middle and then have units come out of the Portal. We found a bit of success using this style and later on, after reading and seeing how people were using the portal deployment, I realized that they were doing it all wrong.

Now let me say now that you shouldn't use an all portal deployment army. the core of your army should be mobile (aka Raiders stuffed with as many bodies as they can fit). The only things that you should ever throw out of the portal are units that can deep strike/outflank/can move VERY quickly. These are Hellions, Reavers, Scourges and they should all have a back up plan if they cannot get out of the portal practically (or safely). Anything that cannot make it out of the portal and is not effective coming on your table edge should never be portal deployed (such as wyches). The portal should be used as a feint or as a way to effectively make your opponent focus on two fronts. These fronts are, for example, a portal dropped near an objective on one side, and a rediculous ammount of Raiders full of knife weilding Wyches. An effective balance with effective back up plans is the only way I would use a portal. Now a portal is not part of my Tournament lists anymore but with these tactics and in this style it can be used effectivley still....

Instead I run a full Raider deployment. Now what you do see a lot today is warriors spammed in Raiders or Wyches spammed in Raiders (also there is a Wrack version of this type of army as well). I am an advocate for a 50/50 mix. The assault element of the Dark Eldar is way too effective to ignore yet the abilities of poisened rapif fire and anti-tank infantry support is also too much effective to ignore. By having your typical Ravager support as well as infantry fire support/ objective holders you can have your flavor of assault element which is in my case Hekatrix bloodbrides (I prefer them since my wyches aren;t ment to sit on any objective, I run the Baron so I have 3 troops with hellions and warriors, and bloodbrides get more attacks/higher leadership). assault holds off the front and shooting sits back and holds the line. I also run the Baron or his bonuses as well as using hellions as an assault element that breaks off when weak and pulls off to hide and take objectives far out. It is my version and flavor of Dark Eldar that can effectively use a mech deployment without relying on it too much. I get where I need to go and I pull the Raiders away to support/block/ hide and contest. I also use haemonculi to boost my assault element before the game even starts (by deploying them with bloodbrides ion the raider) to get them combat effective ASAP.

Another effective use for Raiders after they drop thier payload you use a mix of shock prows and aethersails, get out of gun range and then ram high prioty targets. If used effectivley you can get a S10 attack off without any cover saves (and even survive if you have a flickerfield save). It is an effective tactic against Land Raiders as well as storm Ravens if you are having trouble with them.

All in all you need to find a good synergy and mesh in the army. Synergy with your units is key and this can only be found in using the deployment methods properlly while abusing thier tricks and bonuses to the maximum without relying on them. With proper use of all elements and cover anyone can survive long enough to be a pain....more on this later....

So lets recap:

1. Use portals only with units that are quick or have another effective deployment method.

2. Raiders should stay out of trouble until they get you where you need to be then get out of there and use them in any effective manner. If you get blown up with a transport full of no-pain troops you will lose a good portion of them and strand them in the open.

3. Find a good synergy and mix of units

4. Dont rely on one style of deployment

So anyone considering using DE again? These are the main reasons I use DE as my tournament army and will be bringing them to the Colonial, check back in a month for a fulll review on the GT that I, as well as Jawaballs, will be playing in.

Valentines Day Massacre footage

Hey folks,

I never got around to doing a writeup for the Valentines Day Massacre. Mostly because I had so little footage, it was already done in a couple other laces, and I got my ass kicked. Well, not horribly, but still.

Here is some youtube video for your viewing pleasure!

Hope the link works!

Overall I did ok. I went 3-2 on the weekend finishing 8th or so I think. The results were posted some where. I got 3rd best painted, coming behind two other very much deserving armies. But I am closing the gap on them!  Next time I should be at the point where I am right with them.

The event was well run and I saw no problems with the personalities. There were a LOT of hard core players. IG Vendetta/Chimera spam won of course. They are still the strongest codex and the Mike Brandt version of the list is most particularly potent. To put it simply, that list in the hands of an average player is a GT contender. Give it to a seasoned vet and it is a GT favorite. Give him a little luck and it is almost a sure thing victory. I expect to run into quite a few of them at the Nova Invitational.  Unless of course Grey Knights dethrone them!

Here are some army pictures from the event.

Wish I had more!  I really need to be more on top of things with the camera.  I need to bring a photographer to the Colonial. Any one want to come take pictures and shoot video of my games? :)

More to come.