Monday, July 10, 2017

Mathhammer - CHAINAXE vs. CHAINSWORD

I've had the opportunity to get in a few games of 8th edition now (love it so far) and I've found myself wondering if chainswords were better than the chainaxes I paid for. So I thought I would do a bit of mathhammering and figure out what was what.

I've set out my math below (the probabilities are for "to hit", "to wound", then failed armour save) and then drawn conclusions below that. If you don't like math, you can jump ahead to the conclusions heading.

Berzerker w/ chainsword (WS3+, S5, 0 Rend):

vs T4, 2+ save = 2/3 * 2/3 * 1/6 = 2/27 wounds per attack
vs T5, 2+ save = 2/3 * 1/2 * 1/6 = 1/18 wounds per attack
vs T6, 2+ save = 2/3 * 1/3 * 1/6 = 1/27 wounds per attack
vs T7, 2+ save = 2/3 * 1/3 * 1/6 = 1/27 wounds per attack

vs T4, 3+ save = 2/3 * 2/3 * 1/3 = 4/27 wounds per attack
vs T5, 3+ save = 2/3 * 1/2 * 1/3 = 2/18 wounds per attack
vs T6, 3+ save = 2/3 * 1/3 * 1/3 = 2/27 wounds per attack
vs T7, 3+ save = 2/3 * 1/3 * 1/3 = 2/27 wounds per attack

vs T4, 4+ save = 2/3 * 2/3 * 1/2 = 2/9 wounds per attack
vs T5, 4+ save = 2/3 * 1/2 * 1/2 = 1/6 wounds per attack
vs T6, 4+ save = 2/3 * 1/3 * 1/2 = 1/9 wounds per attack
vs T7, 4+ save = 2/3 * 1/3 * 1/2 = 1/9 wounds per attack

vs T4, 5+ save = 2/3 * 2/3 * 2/3 = 8/27 wounds per attack
vs T5, 5+ save = 2/3 * 1/2 * 2/3 = 2/9 wounds per attack
vs T6, 5+ save = 2/3 * 1/3 * 2/3 = 4/27 wounds per attack
vs T7, 5+ save = 2/3 * 1/3 * 2/3 = 4/27 wounds per attack

vs T4, 6+ save = 2/3 * 2/3 * 5/6 = 10/27 wounds per attack
vs T5, 6+ save = 2/3 * 1/2 * 5/6 = 5/18 wounds per attack
vs T6, 6+ save = 2/3 * 1/3 * 5/6 = 5/27 wounds per attack
vs T7, 6+ save = 2/3 * 1/3 * 5/6 = 5/27 wounds per attack

Berzerker w/ chainaxe (WS3+, S6, -1 Rend):

vs T4, 2+ save = 2/3 * 2/3 * 1/3 = 4/27 wounds per attack
vs T5, 2+ save = 2/3 * 2/3 * 1/3 = 4/27 wounds per attack
vs T6, 2+ save = 2/3 * 1/2 * 1/3 = 2/18 wounds per attack
vs T7, 2+ save = 2/3 * 1/3 * 1/3 = 2/27 wounds per attack

vs T4, 3+ save = 2/3 * 2/3 * 1/2 = 4/18 wounds per attack
vs T5, 3+ save = 2/3 * 2/3 * 1/2 = 4/18 wounds per attack
vs T6, 3+ save = 2/3 * 1/2 * 1/2 = 1/6 wounds per attack
vs T7, 3+ save = 2/3 * 1/3 * 1/2 = 1/9 wounds per attack

vs T4, 4+ save = 2/3 * 2/3 * 2/3 = 8/27 wounds per attack
vs T5, 4+ save = 2/3 * 2/3 * 2/3 = 8/27 wounds per attack
vs T6, 4+ save = 2/3 * 1/2 * 2/3 = 2/9 wounds per attack
vs T7, 4+ save = 2/3 * 1/3 * 2/3 = 4/27 wounds per attack

vs T4, 5+ save = 2/3 * 2/3 * 5/6 = 10/27 wounds per attack
vs T5, 5+ save = 2/3 * 2/3 * 5/6 = 10/27 wounds per attack
vs T6, 5+ save = 2/3 * 1/2 * 5/6 = 5/18 wounds per attack
vs T7, 5+ save = 2/3 * 1/3 * 5/6 = 5/27 wounds per attack

vs T4, 6+ save = 2/3 * 2/3 = 4/9 wounds per attack
vs T5, 6+ save = 2/3 * 2/3 = 4/9 wounds per attack
vs T6, 6+ save = 2/3 * 1/2 = 1/3 wounds per attack
vs T7, 6+ save = 2/3 * 1/3 = 2/9 wounds per attack

Now for the comparison in each fight activation, a berzerker will have 3 attacks with a chainsword and 2 with a chainaxe, so each model will do the following number of wounds:

vs T4, 2+ save = 6/27 (0.22) w/ CS and 8/27 (0.30) w/ CA - CHAINAXE WINS
vs T5, 2+ save = 3/18 (0.17) w/ CS and 8/27 (0.30) w/ CA - CHAINAXE WINS
vs T6, 2+ save = 3/27 (0.11) w/ CS and 4/18 (0.22) w/ CA - CHAINAXE WINS
vs T7, 2+ save = 3/27 (0.11) w/ CS and 4/27 (0.15) w/ CA - CHAINAXE WINS

vs T4, 3+ save = 12/27 (0.44) w/ CS and 8/18 (0.44) w/ CA - EVEN
vs T5, 3+ save = 6/18 (0.33) w/ CS and 8/18 (0.44) w/ CA - CHAINAXE WINS
vs T6, 3+ save = 6/27 (0.22) w/ CS and 2/6 (0.33) w/ CA - CHAINAXE WINS
vs T7, 3+ save = 6/27 (0.22) w/ CS and 2/9 (0.22) w/ CA - EVEN

vs T4, 4+ save = 6/9 (0.67) w/ CS and 16/27 (0.59) w/ CA - CHAINSWORD WINS
vs T5, 4+ save = 3/6 (0.5) w/ CS and 16/27 (0.59) w/ CA - CHAINAXE WINS
vs T6, 4+ save = 3/9 (0.33) w/ CS and 4/9 (0.44) w/ CA - CHAINAXE WINS
vs T7, 4+ save = 3/9 (0.33) w/ CS and 8/27 (0.30) w/ CA - CHAINSWORD WINS

vs T4, 5+ save = 24/27 (0.89) w/ CS and 20/27 (0.74) w/ CA - CHAINSWORD WINS
vs T5, 5+ save = 6/9 (0.67) w/ CS and 20/27 (0.74) w/ CA - CHAINAXE WINS
vs T6, 5+ save = 12/27 (0.44) w/ CS and 10/18 (0.56) w/ CA - CHAINAXE WINS
vs T7, 5+ save = 12/27 (0.44) w/ CS and 10/27 (0.37) w/ CA - CHAINSWORD WINS

vs T4, 6+ save = 30/27 (1.11) w/ CS and 8/9 (0.89) w/ CA - CHAINSWORD WINS
vs T5, 6+ save = 15/18 (0.83) w/ CS and 8/9 (0.89) w/ CA - CHAINAXE WINS
vs T6, 6+ save = 15/27 (0.56) w/ CS and 2/3 (0.67) w/ CA - CHAINAXE WINS
vs T7, 6+ save = 15/27 (0.56) w/ CS and 4/9 (0.44) w/ CA - CHAINSWORD WINS

CONCLUSIONS

Some interesting results to analyze.  The first (and the most obvious IMO) is that the chainaxe is better against against 2+ armour.  That is because each attack is now TWICE as likely to make it through the armour. The margin of betterness becomes even higher against T5/T6 because of the chainaxes other benefit (the +1S).

When looking at all of the other results, the chainsword tends to do better in the extremes where the chainsword's extra attack outweigh's the aggregate benefits from the chainaxe (being the extra point of strength (which is useless against T4 and T7) and the -1 rend (which is less useful when the enemy's armour is shitter)). After reviewing the math, it made sense to me that the chainaxe upgrade only costs 1 point - of the 16 scenarios where the opponent has 3+ armour or worse, the chainaxe won 8, the chainsword won 6, and they tied on two.

Interestingly enough, once you ignore 2+ armour saves, the decision appears to be more connected to toughness than armour. Look at T4 guys - the chainsword wins twice and they're tied the final time - the axe never wins. Same with T7.  Compare that with T5/T6, where the chainaxe always wins.

Basically, if you think you're going to be facing mostly T5 and T6 (or 2+ armour), it's worth it to use your chainaxe, otherwise keep the chainsword.

Or you could do what I plan on doing for my tournament armies - which is to have a couple of chainaxes (maybe 33% of the unit) and then remove casualties depending on what's on the field opposite me. That way the list can be more balanced and I can adapt to the circumstances.

Wednesday, June 14, 2017

Mission Transition: Dancing with the Xenos Devil

Father,
In a few days it will be the 6th anniversary of your crash.
It’s been almost a year since I’ve written to you. It feels like an eternity. These last two weeks in particular have been more jarring than any since I left the Navy.
I’ve been stuck in bed for a week now. My medtech says I’ll make a full recovery if I rest and give my body time to heal.  That’s time I don’t have.  I need to be better. I need to be training.  I need to be moving.
I can picture your reaction. Althea, one thing at a time.  As your father’s daughter, you will never face a challenge your will cannot overcome.” I try, my father. But my spirit is exhausted.
I find myself caught up in schemes. Risking my life to achieve unknowable ends. I think it will get worse. I’ve killed so much. I’ve killed so much of myself. In the Navy my uniform was a shield against doubt. Now I lack that shield, and I’m full of doubt.
I know you would tell me to leave. I cannot. I do this for you. I was sent a vidtape shortly after I joined the Navy. A very disturbing scene, involving you. I don’t know how they got it. I don’t know how it exists. All you built - your reputation, your business. It would be ruined. As my last gift to you, I hope to prevent that tape from ever making it to the Nobles’ Ledger on Neroter.
I miss you father.
I’ve tried to make you proud. I’ve tried to push and achieve, but I haven’t found a direction. Now someone has given me a task, but how can I know if it’s worth fighting for? Is this task just a chance at redemption for you? If I redeem you, will I myself be damned? I’m tortured by not knowing.
In a few more days I should be able to walk around, and a few days after that I should be able to begin practicing again. I still have your gun. Thank you for using a soldier’s gun instead of a showman’s gun - it’s saved my life more than once.
I know you weren’t perfect. I’ve had six years to think about it, grow older and hopefully wiser. I know you put your business first, but you protected me when you could. From mother and my brothers.
Now all I have of you is your gun, your scribebox and your legacy.
I’m afraid this year’s anniversary prayer will have to be private instead of at a chapel’s altar. I’m a wanted woman in this world. I hope your spirit forgives me.
Love, your faithful daughter, Althea.
Althea signed her name and put quill down. She sighed and rested her head down on the desk.
She got up suddenly, knocking her chair over.  Her mind seethed.
Cut you father! I can’t do this anymore.  You neglected us.  You neglected me.  
She paused, trying to slow her rapid breathing.
You always cared more about your business.  We needed you. Why couldn’t you see that?  Or did you see that and not care?
I still love you.  You abandoned me.

Althea's father's combat shotgun.
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Althea sprinted down the hallway. She strained her ears but couldn’t hear anything other than the pounding of her feet on the tile and the pant of her breath. He had a 5 minute head start. He could be anywhere. But she knew the twists and turns ahead of her as well as anyone. He wouldn’t be just anywhere - he would have picked a spot where she wouldn’t be able to sneak up on him.
A copper light filtered down, showing the rust on the walls.  This hab block hadn’t been properly maintained in centuries.
Five cutting minutes! Frag it. There’ll be surprises. One of the two best ambush spots was straight ahead as the corridor branched out. This was the only entrance into this side of the Nest and they both knew she wouldn’t take the long way around.
She caught a glint of light on a wire at knee height. 
Hah. She started to pick up speed. He knows I’m coming.  I gotta take this fast - be a hard target to hit. 
She launched through the air and over the wire. 
She planted her hands on the ground and pivoted into a backflip.  CRACK. Lasgun. She heard tiling shatter as she spun through the air and made it past the passageway.  She kept racing down the corridor.
He would be moving his position now. She just needed to keep him moving, not let him settle in again.  She knew the odds were with him if he managed to dig in again.
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
She crept along slowly. She had him. Around this corner…
She heard the slightest scraping sound behind her and whipped her head around.
He was there with a piece of piping, swinging it at her head.
She launched herself backwards. She managed to dodge the pipe, but she wasn’t graceful about it, spiraling out against the wall.  It was all she could do to keep her feet.
He came at her again. Too fast.
She dodged. Barely.
He was getting a full head of steam. It was going to be impossible to stop him soon.
She reached for her laspistol. She had been practicing in her room for a month. It came out in one fluid motion and was in her hand almost before he realized she was grabbing for it. His eyes widened in surprise. Frankly, she had surprised herself.  I hope the power level is still set correctly.
She leveled the gun at him. “It’s over.”
She squeezed the trigger, but he shifted quickly to the left and the bolt of energy went crackling by him.  NO!
He brought the pipe up and connected it solidly with the laspistol, ripping it out of her hand and sending it flying up in the air. Althea’s eyes followed the gun’s trajectory straight up, but he was quicker. He leapt at her with the pipe.
It was all she could do to avoid the blow, leaping out of the way and landing on a heap on the ground.
He caught the gun on its way down and leveled it at her. “You’re right. It’s over.”
“Frag it,” she yelled. “You cutty bastard!”
Lazarus threw back his head and laughed.
“Got you again. Face it, I’m better than you.”
Althea took his offered hand and let him haul her to her feet. “You’re better,” she said. “For now.”
He shrugged. “You might be right. I was impressed with that quick draw. If you had just shot me instead of pausing to gloat, you probably would have had me.”
She smiled ruefully at that. “How can you blame me? That’s the first time it’s ever worked in front of another person.”
Lazarus laughed again. “I’m not blaming you, just pointing out that you’re your own worst enemy.”
“But I dodged that pipe what, three, four times?”
“Don’t forget the lasblast at the beginning. Like I said the last time, you’re getting better.”
She preened under his compliments.  They had been out here for two weeks while he trained her. She knew she had so much to learn about everything, but they had been working on her speed and her ability to dodge – she had to stay alive long enough to learn everything else.
“Who knows,” he continued. “Maybe one of these days you’ll get good enough that I’ll be out here training my skills to keep up.
She punched him, but grinned despite herself.
They walked back to the safehouse in silence. The abandoned hab-block they called the Nest lay past some warrens of dubious safety.
They made it back to the safehouse as twilight was descending.  She wondered, not for the first time, whose safehouse it was and whether the owner knew they were staying there.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

“This is heresy!”
“Look Gus,” Doc Geryk continued, “you need to calm down.”
Althea looked over at Lazarus.  Poor guy.
“Calm down!?!” Gus sputtered, “Only the fool is calm in the face of heresy!
Althea’s cooking skills barely stretched to fixing dehyd soup, so when Lazarus had shown any inclination to fix food she had willingly abdicated all responsibility.  Hoping to buoy flagging spirits, Lazarus had spent the afternoon slaving in their sorry excuse for a kitchen (his words). It had looked good and tasted even better than it looked. She was rather impressed.
Of course, that was overshadowed by the scene in front of her.
Doc Geryk was doing his best to keep their voices down and their conversation private, but there was no controlling Gus.  They could hear him loud and clear from the other side of the room.
“Milk curds with fish! Imperial Creed forbids dairy during the Feast of Vernon!”
Poor Lazarus. It looked as if every comment was a stab wound to the chest. She leaned forward. “Laz, it really is quite good.” He wasn’t listening to her.
“Gus, you don’t have to eat it.” Doc continued.
“You would have me sit by while heresy takes root?! Next you would have me hand the heretic my hammer for his next dark sacrifice!”
It was breaking her heart.  Nobody had cooked for her since ten years ago, when one of the cooks had made custard eggs for Candlemass because they were her favourite. Finally someone had made a delicious meal and it was being ruined.
“Gus, this is hardly a dark sacrifice. He made us dinner.”
“Knowing that to eat it would be a sin in the Emperor’s eyes! He is trying to damn us!”
That’s it. “You cutting bastard, what the frik is wrong with you!?”
Gus turned his piercing gaze on her.  His eyes were tainted with madness.
“You too! You’re in on it!” He took a step forward.
Doc Geryk stood in between them. “Althea,… “ he started.
“What the frik is wrong with you?” She said. “You haven’t been acting normally.”
“How could I act normally with heresy right under my very nose?!
She reached down and grabbed her plate. “Imagine the heresy if you had fish and dairy running down your tunic and soaking in your hair.” He took a step backwards and a look of horror spread over his face.
“You wouldn’t.”
“Emperor guide my aim. Don’t test me.”
Gus abruptly turned and fled towards the bunkroom. His mind is just cut right now. What is wrong with him?
Althea looked around.  Lazarus had left too.
“Althea, why do you antagonize him?”
“Lazo was just trying to help.”
“You know the Emperor’s light blazes brightly enough in him to dim some of his other thoughts.”
“No, Doc.” She shook her head. “I think the Emperor’s light is dimming. He hasn’t been the same since that night at the Red Eyes’ depot.”
Doc Geryk sighed and waved his hand, conceding the point. “I just think there are better ways to defuse Gus’… piety.”
“That’s not piety. That’s one of our crazy teammates undermining one of our dependable ones. You need to figure out what’s wrong with him.”
“The touchstones are beyond all my knowledge and reasoning. I cannot discern their function.”
“Keep trying!” She said, with a little more force than was necessary. It wasn’t Doc’s fault.
Althea sat down and looked at her plate, no longer interested in the food.
She heard Doc Geryk shuffle off towards his study.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Althea had made it halfway through her plate when a bloodcurdling shriek cut through her thoughts.
It had come from Doc’s study.
She grabbed her laspistol, sprinted through the safehouse and burst through the door to Doc’s study. In front of Doc Geryk was a shimmering apparition. It was floating a foot above the floor. It was tall with long, lithe limbs. It had long flowing robes and delicate interlocking armour and it turned to face her,  long hair shimmering about its form but not quite hiding long pointed ears. Its grace was unmistakable. This was an Eldar. She thought it was male, but she wasn’t quite sure. She hadn’t seen one since her Navy days when they had fought off Eldarii pirates. She raised her laspistol at it.

The xenos ghost of christmas future pays our heroes a visit

“Your weapon is useless.” His musical voice sounded like gentle rain.
She ignored him. Her skin crawled with psychic power being harnessed and keeping her gun pointed gave her a measure of comfort.
She heard Lazarus and Gustavius barrel in after her, nearly knocking her over.
“Who are you?” She demanded.
“That is not important.”
“I will decide what’s important. What the cut are you doing here?”
“Trying to decide what type of nuisance you are. You have stolen my property. But you may yet make amends.”
“What property?”
“Why, my poor stones.”
“He is referring to the touchstones we procured.” Doc said.
“Those are yours?”
“Yes. And I will have them back.”
“They are ours now. What are those touchstones doing to the people of Pickman?”
“Heresy…” Gus muttered.
“Why are you doing it?”
“We do this to save you, and everyone.”
“Your stones are poisoning people’s heads and your monsters are killing people.”
“We are doing only what we must. An unspeakable horror is upon us. The Great Devourer approaches, and we act where your people do not. We act to save life, and freedom and thought and beauty.”
“What are you talking about?”
“Your leaders ignore this peril and doom us all.”
“You seek to save the planet by burning it?”
He considered this for a second. “Why do you do nothing while the planet burns around you?”
Althea was taken aback. “We are working to save this planet.”
“Are you?”
The simplicity of the question struck a chord in her.  She didn’t truly know. They had done what the vox (and Olivia) had asked of them. She had no idea what their true aims were.
“Serve me and help me save you.”
“What are you talking about?”
“Olivia and your patron know not what they do. Only we can save the sector.”
He continued, louder now, in a voice that reverberated through her head. “Serve us and help us save the world.”
The Eldar turned and looked at Geryk, talking quickly now, and staring.
“Geryk, we share a great enemy. Rest assured that our ultimate goal is to confound the Great Devourer. You are wise to fear it. You are unwise to avoid it. We can help you become the hunters that will be needed not now, but next year, and the year after that. Your masters up to now have not rewarded your commitment and your tenacity. I have at least the honesty to admit to you: you are disposable, but you can be useful now for all of your kind, and mine.”
Geryk’s face was a mask of emotion. It was clear he was deeply affected by what the xenos was saying.
“Gustavius, I know I am asking you to break oaths that have served you well, and served your people well. I also know that your understanding of humanity is more nuanced than some high-minded and rigid forms demand. Is it your belief that He on Terra demands the obliteration of this sector? Can only humans have solutions to a crisis born outside the very galaxy? A new age is coming, and the Eldar will stand with Humanity here, to protect a bounty that lies hidden. Here among the Ghoul Stars you drift upon a battlefield that has raged since your Dark Age. The Emperor’s light will never fall here if we cannot learn how the Swarm behaves. Here, we have the antibodies that might begin to turn the tide. All that is required is your patience, diligence and grit.
Next, the xenos turned to her and fixed its eyes upon her very soul. “Althea, the retribution you seek is nothing at all. It is meaningless. Your own father trafficked with my most blasted Cousins. His malfeasance should be exposed, or his name be never more than a sham. Your patron has certainly damned you, and only we can save you, make you really human in a way that a name could never achieve. Indeed, you can find a new name should want it, if you have the boldness to take it for yourself. You are lucky: you need not tread so lightly on the skeins as I must, and thus may live a full life, without the terrible burden we suffer.
Althea was stunned. It was talking about her father.
“Lazarus, You understand this all already, I believe. There is nothing to be gained from sentimentality if it bars one from effective action. This is a job worth doing.”
“WHAT THE CUT ARE YOU SAYING ABOUT MY FATHER?!?” Althea raised the laspistol and shot a bolt right into its eye. The bolt passed harmlessly through the apparition and scorched the rear wall of the study.
“You heard me. You already surpass your legacy and you are held back by ties to the past.”
“You’re LYING.” Althea fired again. Twice. Lazarus reached over and took the pistol out of her hand.
“Look instead to your true heart. You believe.”
That was perhaps the scariest part - that a part was only too ready to believe that it told the truth of her father.
“How can we fight the Great Devourer?” Geryk asked.
“We can show you how. There is no place you can run, you must take a stand.”
“Whaddaya want us to do?” Lazarus asked.
“I need a token of good faith. I need you to prove that you will help us, serve us. There is a cell near the Face where a genestealer cult is operating. We need you to go and return with the claw of a genestealer.”
“Why would we believe you?” Althea asked.
“Your friend is sick.”
Althea blinked as the pieces fell into place. Gustavius. She looked at him. Gus was staring blankly, pleadingly at the xenos.
“When was the last time you ate?”
“Cannot remember.”
“How have you slept?”
“Barely.”
“Do you dream of fire and blood? Of creatures from your worst nightmare.”
“Yes.” He whispered.
This explains Gus. Althea thought. But nothing else
“Why is he sick?” Althea asked.
“His blood has been mixed with the blood of our Pack. Those you know as bloodwraiths.”
“What is this sickness?” Doc asked.
“He will eventually turn into one of them. More properly, they will turn into him.”
A silence fell as the group digested this.
Trying to regain control of the situation, Althea asked, “Why don’t you kill this genestealer yourself?”
“We need a gesture of good faith from you.”
“We need a gesture of good faith too. Heal our friend.”
The xenos considered this, and then nodded.  A blue light came out of his outstretched hand and a cloud seem to float out of Gus’ mouth in one long exhale.  Gus slumped momentarily before looking back up.
“How do you feel?” Althea asked.
“Hungry.” Gus got up and turned to leave. “I need food.”
“Wait!” Doc Geryk hurried and grabbed Gus before he could leave. “I must inspect you first.” Doc peered into Gus’ eyes and down his throat and brought out his scanner and passed it over him. “He’s healthy.” Gus practically knocked down the Doc on his way out of the room.
“Now you will do as I request?”
“How exactly did you see this working?”
“There are Sun Guard waiting for you outside. They will take you there in a cutter and you will retrieve the creature for me.”
Althea looked around. Lazarus was nodding and Doc was still looking at his scanner. She sensed that Lazarus had been won over. She had heard Doc’s views on genestealers before and knew what his decision would be.
She wasn’t as deadly as Lazarus, as righteous as Gustavius or as useful with a needle and a stimpack as Geryk, but she felt useful to the group nonetheless. She felt that the others looked to her for guidance when the bullets started flying. She supposed she might be their leader.
And she felt a certain amount of loyalty to these three cutting bastards, and wanted to make the right choice by them. She knew Olivia and the vox had been holding out information on them. Probably lying to them too. Just as she knew that this xenos wasn’t telling them the whole truth. Probably lying to them too.
“I assume it went without saying, but let me be clear.  The Sun Guard will either take you out of here in a cutter to the cult, or they will take you out of here in boxes.”
The threat rang true, but she wasn’t that worried. She knew this xenos underestimated them. Everyone had so far.
Ultimately, it came down to trusting her instinct and the decision became a lot easier once she put aside concerns about Olivia and the vox and what they would think. Her decision boiled down to one simple question - fight the Sun Guard, who might be her enemy, or fight the genestealer cult, who were definitely her enemy.
“Tell them to prep the cutter, we’re going in.”

            They could deal with Olivia and the vox later.

Friday, June 2, 2017

Quick thoughts on transition to 8th

I am very impressed with how GW has handled this transition. This edition had been rumoured for a while, but they kept the details very secret until they were able to spill them on their own terms.

And what a job they have done spilling those details.  Little niblets of information here and there. Beautiful pictures, beautiful models and talking up how deadly everything will be. I've heard lots of positive feedback from my gaming group and even the usual salty corners of the internet seemed closer to freshwater than the dead sea.

I doubt they can balance everything perfectly on the first go, and obviously some armies are going to end up more powerful than other armies, but everyone seems pretty excited about the new edition.  Additionally, they've been excited and optimistic for some weeks now and I think that that has bought GW a lot of goodwill.

Given the goodwill, new gamers will likely now approach the new changes with a more open mind. I'm sure there will be things that they'll miss, but when they start playing games in 1.5 hours instead of the 3+ they used to take, I'm sure a lot of them will be won over.

SUBSTANTIVE CHANGES

Unlike most of my hobby group, I haven't really been looking up all of the rules that have been leaked over the last week.  So while they're already making army lists, I'm sitting here in partial ignorance content to wait for everything to officially drop so I can learn it all at once.

Things that most excite me:

  1. As mentioned above, we should be able to get through a game in less than 2 hours.  I found that the length of games was a real deterrent in throwing down.
  2. The trimming of the rules bloat. I generally have a mind for rules, but I couldn't keep up with the bloat that happened in 7th.  While I still don't expect to keep up with all of the dataslates that get released all of the time, at least they'll be in smaller more manageable chunks.
  3. Armour save modifiers.  Not only is it more realistic, it should allow for more subtle differences between guns/units. Plus I started with 2nd and then moved to WHFB, so I've been using armour save modifiers for most of my gaming career.
  4. These primaris marines might get me to dig out my old marine chapter - the Dawn Heralds...

Two things that most disappoint me:

  1. The rules for the individual armies are not going up free.  The last two times that GW did this was with Fantasy (back at the start of 6th edition I think and then again for AOS).  In both of those cases, the rules for every army were released for free (I still remember poring over "ravening hordes" around the turn of the millenium).  I think they should be doing something similar rather than trying to amortize out the cost of the gamedevs over the initial release - that cost should get amortized out over the life of the product and they should charge less for these initial books - trying only to cover printing/shipping.
  2. The owning player can remove models from wherever he/she wants in the unit.  I charged into a unit of 60 zombies in a game of AOS the other day and only 12/15 zombies were engaged in the combat because the unit was so huge.  I managed to kill ~10 zombies, but instead of reducing the guys engaged in combat, they were removed from the back of the unit.  Then I got hurt real bad.  Anyway, I'll get used to it (much like I did with all or nothing armour saves), but I think I'll always prefer it the other way.

Anyway, those are just my initial thoughts.  I'm really excited for these beautiful new models and what I think will be a nice streamlined (hopefully more balanced) game.

Friday, May 12, 2017

Thoughts on my first game of AoS

So I recently bought the Blades of Khorne battletome and two night's ago I showed up at B. Grimm's house with my battletome, a few dice, and 2,120 points of bloody khornate daemons.

It was a lot of fun.  B Grimm edged me.  His mournghouls were stars of the show - they held up units for long periods of time and slowly ripped everything to shreds.  With their excellent saves and regeneration, there wasn't much I could do to them.  Of course, I also made the mistake of sending my little guys after it instead of my big monsters. When my big monsters finally squared up against them, his rolling was a bit better and they won. I need to give my guys some buffs to hit...

This guy is going to have to do better next time if he expects khorne to continue to smile on him...

I can tell that when we both better understand the rules and our army, that the game is going to flow very fast.  Much faster than 40k used to (which was frankly one of the biggest road blocks in playing more 40k).  I've been poring over my battletome since the game, studying it and getting ready for the rematch.

THINGS I LIKED ABOUT AOS

  • The alternating choice of attacking order (meaning that you still have strategic decisions to make even in the opponent's turn).
  • The nature of the scenario we played where objectives were worth a number of points equal to the value of the turn.  Even though B Grimm won with 2 points (the objectives were either not captured or contested every other turn), it meant that the game was still wide open until the very last second.
  • When two of my bloodthirsters crashed into a unit of 60 zombies and between them killed about 33 zombies which meant another 18 or so were pulled off the table due to battleshock (although I should note that they had wiffed two turns in a row on those same zombies, so it was about time! - Khorne was about to get very upset with them...)

THINGS I DIDN'T LIKE ABOUT AOS

  • Models can be removed from anywhere in the unit, even out of line of sight. It means that you can kill 20 models, but as long as the unit is big enough, everyone near you is still going to be able to attack back.

Sunday, April 23, 2017

Mission Report: Smash and Grab

Althea sat in the back of the van, staring at the others through hooded eyelids.  She was pretending to be disinterested, but the pair in front of her were commanding her full attention. She had seen them around the safe house in the two days since she had shown up, but she still didn't really know either of them.
Gustavus had the air of a preacher, quite the opposite of Doc Geryk’s skittish, muffled presence. Gustavus had an ample belly on a thick frame. His voice always seemed to be addressing a throng, even in ‘quiet conversation’. His constant companion, a laudhailer servo-skull, was clearly a redundancy for a man used to pontification in general, and frothing piety at its likely peak. Even his (rarely) quiet attention was potent enough that Althea felt its weight even when she was looking elsewhere. He was larger than life, truly, and seemed almost to speak a different language of humanity than Althea knew; an alloy of simple belief, directness and bombast.
Althea found herself anxious should there be any need to be discreet – she couldn’t imagine this man ever being able to ‘sneak’, and his flamer indicated perhaps a propensity for destruction.
In her experience, men like this led either from the front, or from the back.  There was rarely a middle ground. She could tolerate the rushing immediacy of a combat leader. Vacillating ‘strategists’ never seemed to last long in the boarding parties in the Navy.  You couldn’t trust a soldier, or a leader, that wouldn’t be where you needed him to be. All Navy crews were trained to repel boarders at the drop of a hat (or hatch), and there was rarely time to ‘wait for reinforcements’ or ‘outflank’ in the confines of a voidship under fire. Less still in a landing sortie or dusting off med-evac from a hot DZ. Althea may have spent more time with toggles under her feet than a lasgun in her hand, but she appreciated decisive, trusting leaders.
Lazarus, the last of them, was harder to read than Doc or Gus. His sniper rifle alone suggested a trained eye. His weapon’s condition, impeccable, stood in contrast to a tendency to general scruffiness. He was otherwise happily non-descript; average height, average build, with the new chameleoline cloak Doc had found draped over his shoulders.  He was a bit gruff and didn’t say much. He’d simply accepted the chamo with a grunt, the other three more or less deciding that he could need it to be the ‘eye in the sky’. Indeed, despite his reticence she found she trusted him immediately – a good thing for the gun at your back.
Althea was starting to get over her fear of having betrayed the Syndicate. Sure, her face had surely gone out on the two-face board, and they might even have put a bounty on her, but she seemed to have more resources here. Even though she still knew very little, the demeanour of her compatriots tended far less to the… piratical… than her more recent acquaintances. They clearly had resources, even if they were black bag. Althea knew she was in harm’s way now more than ever, but she was also closer to… something, anything more than the sleepwalking she had called “life” since her accident. Maybe these Or at least get someone to fix her damn eye!
Lazarus and Gustavius were arguing about the approach. Althea was keenly aware that she was the newcomer to the group, and so she was treading lightly until she could read the situation better. The Doc was up front, driving the groundvan. She knew she was a better driver, but she wanted to keep her face out of view in case there were syndicate plotters around. And besides, he hasn't broken an axle - yet.
Althea sighed.  She didn't know why she was in this groundvan, heading off to Emperor knows where to put herself in danger. I left that behind when I left the Navy... Saints and martyrs, why didn’t I just drop that vox out of an airlock...  Except that she did know why she was in the van. She was going to recover Touchstones from a Syndicate stash.
Olivia.  Bitch. Something about her grated on Althea. She sent them out but stayed behind at the safehouse.  She didn't think that Olivia was the voice behind the vox, but she was closer than anyone else there. Though from what she said, maybe not even… something about finding a dying man near the Face. Olivia played things close to the chest. Althea would cooperate until she could get the voice to destroy the tape. And if it wouldn’t, she would destroy the voice.  Or die trying.
The Touchstones were apparently addictive as all cut. She had never Touched. Apparently it made lho sticks seem like smelling amasec instead of actually drinking it. ‘One touch, out of touch’, so the Red Eye’d have it. The skinners lined up for tickets with coordinates and times for the ‘Showings’ like a Ministorum vidlog sermon or something, just for… quietly touching some stone? This was clearly heresy at best, and damned heresy at worst. This was bad news.
Althea felt her patience run out.  She leaned forward and slapped the seat with the map on it. She addressed Lazarus and Gustavius with the certainty that only the young and the mad could muster. “You really want to plan all the details based on the map written by a captive that you’ve been torturing?  We’ll get there and Lazarus can climb one of these buildings to get a good vantage.  Then we’ll improvise.”  That shut them up.  Finally.  
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
They arrived and it looked as if the map had been accurate. There was a roofless bunker surrounded by fences and a field before ruined buildings started to rise in the distance.  Lazarus scaled one of the ruined buildings while they waited for his report. Their target lay under the bunker.
Her microbead buzzed to life. “I got two. Engage? Over.”  
Althea mulls over the question before responding. While she’s thinking, she hears the preacher’s gruff voice “I’ll introduce them to the light of the emperor – I think I can talk our way in, I’m very persuasive.”
This guy was even worse than the Doc. She had been planning on letting the others lead the way. After all, they surely had more experience in these types of situations, but she couldn't. Her voice just came out.
“Absolutely not. This is Syndicate. Nobody knows about it except for Syndicate. Or the Suns they paid off. And we’re almost at the Face – Elevators are the Face, or close enough.  Nobody wanders out here. Lazo, you watch and update. If one of them sees us, take them out.”
“My name is Lazarus.
“I’ll take that as affirmative.”
She led Doc and the preacher through the shattered habs. They got through four rooms and across an alley before one of Gus’ hammers hit a piece of masonry and made a large clang.  They froze immediately.
Gus hiding behind the ruins waiting for the Red Eye to approach.
“One approaching. Suspicious.”
Cut that.
Gustavius turned to them. “I’ll wait here for the heretic,” he grumbled, knotting his brow. Gus pulled his shotgun and huddled in wait.
She led the doc through the hab now to close on the bunker from the far side from Lazarus. As she braced on a window frame to climb through, the cladding she grabbed sprang out as she put her weight on it. It shifted a mass of detritus off the shattered floor above them, and  rubble went clattering forward.
“They heard you. I’m engaging.”
She heard a bang.  In the distance she thought she saw a spray of red mist through the bunker’s open top. “Fulfilled.  Acquiring target.”
As Althea burst from the building and started to race towards the bunker, she saw Gustavius step out from behind his cover and shoot the first syndicate ganger with his combat shotgun, pulping her body where she lay in cover from the Sniper.
She heard the Doc running behind her.  She was hoping that the gangers would move out on Lazo’s position and she could circle up behind them and shoot them in the back.  With her long legs, she was much quicker than Doc Geryk and soon began to outpace him, so that as she closed in on the bunker she was very much alone.  A Red Eye jumped through the window and shot her at close range as she closed in on the bunker. She dodged the worst of it, but was seared through the leg, which went numb. She heard the Doc’s laspistol returning fire. He even managed to hit the ganger, but didn’t look like he caused much damage.  If only the doc was still using his bolt rounds.
Her regret didn’t last long as she pulled out her shotgun and downed the grunt. That close, nothing would survive three hits from her father’s shotgun.
The grounds were silent. “Lazo, see anything?”
“Negative.”
The bunker with the casualties littered around it.
“Wait,” she heard Gustavius say, “one second, I’m going to try something.” She heard a grunt and a rock went flying into the bunker. They heard a clank and then nothing.  She peered around the doorway and the bunker was empty, just a rock sitting on the floor. She gave Gustavius a quizzical look as he walked up.
“What?” he shrugged. “I thought throwing a grenade might flush them out.”
“That wasn’t a grenade.  It was a rock.”
“Heretics aren’t that smart.”
They found a hatch and gathered around it.  Gus prepped his flamer and Althea leaned over and pulled the hatch back. She heard the explosion of a boltround and the hatch blew apart in her hand. She felt pain lance through her left arm as she was thrown backwards onto her ass. A piece of shrapnel had ripped through her armour and torn up her arm.
“Cut this!”
Nothing else came out of the hatch.  Doc came around to her and put a med-adhesive on her hands.  It burned, but they started to feel better pretty quickly and the blood stopped.
Gus reached down to his belt and unhooked a grenade and dropped it through the hole. There was a bang and a flash of light as the acrid smoke of a stun grenade floated up through the hole.  Althea looked into the hole and saw a ladder going down a wall. She really hated running point, but she knew it had to be her. Anyone else would have to climb down the ladder, exposing their back to the rest of the room.  She had always been light on her feet.  She gripped her shotgun tightly and leapt into the room below, landing lightly on the floor, her shotgun sweeping ahead of her.
She saw two bodies crumpled on the ground, their chests rising and falling.  No one else. “Clear.”
The others climb down the ladder after her.  She motioned for Lazarus to cover one door, the doc to cover the other and the preacher to attend to one of the bodies. She went to the second body, pulling out her climbing line.
No boltgun. Still rats crawling around here…
The man’s stink assaulted her nose. These Syndicate are repulsive - worse than any she had met in the last few months.  As she reached out to the man, she heard a grunt and the man grabbed her wrist and pulled. Cut it! He was playing dead! “Althea!” She hears Doc Geryk yell.
She may not have been ready for the initial pull, but Althea was nothing if not fast and she did manage to bring her knee up.  She fell down, cracking the man in the nose. She squirmed and grabbed the man’s wrist, twisting it up behind him.  He yelled in pain.
“Doc! Get over here!”
Geryk walked over, pulling out his laspistol.  His eyes were wide open.  Wild.
He pointed the pistol at the man, who stopped struggling.  Althea let go and stood up behind him.
“Get up. Slowly.” she said.
He started to rise, slowly, and then shifted his weight and launched himself towards the medic.  There was a quick flash and the smell of cooked meat flooded the room. The man fell, holed through.
Doc’s twitchy as all cut! No prisoners for the medic I guess!
Althea looked over at Gustavius, who had been watching this entire exchange.  He looked down at the guy crumpled on the ground below him and then back at the man Doc had just shot.  He unhitched his hammer from his belt and raised it in the air.
“Death to the heretic,” he screamed before bringing his hammer down. There was a sickening crunch as the man’s skull went concave.
The casualness of it shocked Althea, but she didn’t entirely disagree with the sentiment. They couldn’t afford another of these thugs waking up as they pressed forward. Tie him up? Cut it – make them pay. She had made a mistake that the preacher would clearly not repeat. The Doc looked like he was going to be sick, and even Lazarus looked uncomfortable.
No time to dwell on it. “Doc, Gus, with me.  We’re going through that door. Lazo, cover the other.”
The men followed her lead. Gus unhitched his flamer and as Althea pulled back the door, Gus fired a huge gout of promethium into the adjoining room. Once the flame had dissipated, they threw back the door and stepped inside.
Miraculously, and unfortunately, neither of the room’s two occupants seemed hurt. There was a man with a lasgun, and then her eyes fell on a cutting plasma rifle, the coil glowing even in the brightly lit room. Light of the Emperor! Where the cut did they get one of those!?
She raised her shotgun but one of the Syndicate beat her to it.  She stumbled as a lasround punched through her armour and scorched her thigh. A streak of plasma went wide, melting their entry hatch.
The plasma gun overheating and exploding. Althea was nearly critically injured.
Gus pulled his shotgun and snapped off three quick shots. The first shot spun him left, sending flak armour flying. The second missed, but the third round struck the right leg, blowing off foot below the flak. The plasma gunner pitched forward from his ruined limb.  He spasmed as he fell, the plasma gun going off as the ground rose up, the barrel melting itself and a moment later the plasma coil overheated and exploded, grounding everyone in the room.
Afterwards, and after discussing with Doc, they figured that a tiny piece of shrapnel had pierced her chest under the flak and come out the other side.  In the moment, all she knew was that she felt a piercing pain before it became very hard for her to breathe.  Doc informed her later that she’d had a pocket of air rapidly growing inside her body cavity.
Althea was still a survivor. Through the pain she did what she always did – focus on the most immediate threat to her survival. Her vision was turning black and she was swaying on her feet, but Althea lifted her shotgun and shot the second Red Eye. The recoil threw her backwards right into the Doc, who grabbed her before she could fall. Just before her vision went completely dark, she felt another sharp pain in her chest and looked down. Doc’s hand was there holding a huge needle which was sticking out of her chest.
Her lungs flooded with blessed air.  Air that she used in the most natural way.
“WHAT THE CUT DOC!?”
“NEEDLE DECOMPRESSION! SECOND INTERCOSTAL SPACE!”
“You’re trying to cutting kill me!!!”
“You couldn’t breathe! I released the air so that your lungs could inflate again.”
“Get the cut away from me!”
“It’s not uncommon.  You’ll be better now.  But I need to patch up the wounds.”
“Cut you,” Althea protested, limply.  She damn sure let him approach and apply bandages, sang-seal and detox.
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
Through the haze of pain, Althea watched Gustavius with the wounded gunner. He slapped him to wake up him up and then started asking him questions. The gangster answered, though Althea could hear neither the questions nor the answers, so didn’t know if Gus was satisfied.  In answer to one of the questions, the man pointed towards the room they had left Lazarus covering, but the effort to move his arm caused him to faint.  Gus pulled his Imperial Creed out and started to read the man his last rites, his voice booming in the confined space.
He finished and put the book away before grabbing and raising his hammer.
“No!” Doc Geryk yelled. “Gus, what are you doing?”
Gustavius brought the hammer down in a wide arc.
“Those were his last rites.” He replied.
"What the hell are you saying?"
"I couldn’t risk him waking up - then they wouldn’t have been last rites.” Gus shrugged as if that explained everything.
The Doc was stunned into silence.
Althea levered herself up, wincing. She spoke before the Doc could respond. “It’s done now. Let’s move on. We need to get those Touchstones and get out of here. Neither of these guys had a boltgun, so we need to be alert.”
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
They agreed to split up.  Althea and Lazarus took the doorway in the first room while Gus and Doc took the doorway in the second room.  As they stood outside their door, planning their approach, they heard the boom of a boltgun. Preacher and Doc found the rats!  "We gotta go now!" Althea said, "we can catch them in a crossfire."
Lazarus hurled open the door and was immediately rewarded with a boltgun round exploding beside him, sending him sprawling.
Althea's nerves were too raw to feel fear.  She looked through the door and saw a long hallway intersected by another.  At the end of her hallway, a short man with a grey hat and cloak stood with a smoking bolt pistol. A red dab around one eye, and a flash of red sash at his throat, he snarled.  Althea was on auto-pilot - she fired three quick blasts at the man.  He slumped and his weapons skittered across the floor.
Althea downs the Red Eye as Gus prepares to crack open the other's skull.
She looked back at Lazo and saw him stir. By the grace of the Emperor he lived, although there were just smoking scraps where his chestplate used to be.
I better go take care of this slug. We'll be worse off if he grabs his gun while I'm looking after Lazo. She moved for the grey clad man.
In the quiet after the gunshots, the sounds of yelling and the crash of bodies floated down from the perpendicular hallway.  She heard Gustavius and Doc Geryk yelling and the voice of a third man. There was a loud crash and a holler from that third voice.  
She heard the sound of footsteps and, just before she reached the perpendicular hallway…  a bloody mass flying across her field of vision accompanied by a spray of blood. What could only be a large piece of skull, hair dripping with brain, whacked off the rear wall and landed in an acrid puddle. What the cut have I gotten into?
Focus. She crossed the hallway and kicked the man she had shot.  He winced. His arms and legs were pretty mangled, but he otherwise didn't seem that injured.
"You - where are the touchstones?"
"I dunno cha. We go over there by the hatch," he gestured in the direction of the flying head, "and then they leave them for us." He’s calm.  He must not have seen the head. Or maybe he's high on a touch stone.
"Who's they?"
"I dunno cha."
She pulled out her laspistol. "You don't know?"
"No cha. No idea."
"What do they look like?"
"Never seen em.  Can't go into the room between thirteen chimes and fourteen chimes.  When we go at fourteen, the stones are there."
"Then what?"
"Then we run them to the Showing. Then the cells run ‘em back when they're done."
Fourteen chimes? That's six hours from now, we can't wait. "How do you call for more?"
"You dun' cha. They leave em, we get em. Just like that."
"You must have a way to call for them."
"Nahuh.  You can wait, but they're going to get you first." He sneered through the blood.
"Who's they?"
"They're gonna get you!" He laughed, a clear edge of insanity to his voice.
She pointed her laspistol at his face. He was still on the ground, blood pooling on the floor underneath him. "Who are they? If you don't tell me, I'm going to shoot."
She heard a grunt behind her.  She turned and saw it was just Gustavius and Doc Geryk.
"They're gonna get you! Gonna get you! Gonna get you! He sees you NOW! The Watcher!"
She pulled the trigger. His face melted away.
"Althea! What is wrong with you!?" Doc Geryk yelled from behind her. "I had many more questions prepared! We could have used him as bait! He was more useful to us alive!"
"I don't believe in bluffing," she said. Truth be told, she had never executed a man like that before.  It didn't feel great. "How could we believe anything he said after he called our bluff?" And besides, it seems more humane than Gus' hammer.
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
Her feet crunched down on the plating of the level below. "All clear!" She yelled.  The others slowly followed her down the ladder.
They were in a room with a narrow passageway into another room.  Even with the glowball Gus had tied around his neck and her special left eye, she still couldn't make out any details in the other room.
A sense of dread was creeping over her. She recognized the feeling - it reminded her of her encounter in the lander a few days ago.
A scratching sound was her only warning as a little lizard-like beast scurried out of the darkness and leapt at her. It was only about waist height and it moved like quicksilver and stabbed her before she could react.  She felt pain on her arm through her armour.
She blocked its next swing with her shotgun, and then swung it around and shot the creature through the face.  Its face pulped and its body slumped to the floor.
A scream tore through the darkness and she saw a large creature flow out of the corner of the room behind the door. It whirled, giggled, and screamed, clearly bigger than the one she had seen on the lander. Three more of the little things chittered out of the darkness at her, more resolved in form. Hideous finned lizard faces and tiny legs with whickering bladed arms. One had tentacles, another spines. The third had an arm much more humanoid in character, but bulky like an Ork’s. All of them bled. They reeked of blood. Althea smelled them, and she knew that they smelled her own wounds, and her pain, and her fear.

The next few moments blurred together in terrible fury. She felt Gustavius' presence next to her, their shotguns barking into the creatures. She went deaf to her own screams as the Doc fired boltround after boltround (filched from those dead gangers), his arm extended up to fire over their heads into the mass of sucking horror. A few of the creatures reached her and Gus and managed to strike out at them. Her armour largely held up and their shotguns made short work of the creatures. One of Gus’ arms went limp and bloody, his hammer faltered, and she was thankful once again that her father had insisted that his shotgun have a large clip - reloading would have been fatal.
The group faces down the xenos.
Looking back, it seemed maybe that one of the little creatures had been created by the large one, but it must have been hiding behind it and biding its time before striking.
In the immediate aftermath of the bulletstorm, she saw a hatch pop open at the back of the room and some shape rush out of it.  None of the others had seen it, only her low light sensitivity had allowed her to pick up the movement. She rushed to the portal to see if she could spot whatever had just fled their presence, but on the other side of the portal there was only an abyss, stretching for kilometres down to the mines in the face.
"Search the room!  We need to get these touchstones and get out of here before reinforcements arrive!"