Sunday, August 30, 2015

What 11 points buys you

Maybe it is just sour grapes after getting beaten so badly the last two games, but I could not help doing some comparisons after seeing the new Space Marine Codex. Here is a Troops option from each army costing 11 points. Since the point system is used to balance each unit to be roughly equivalent on the tabletop and result in relatively even games, you would think it would be a toss-up as to which unit was better, with playstyle and personal preference being the deciding factor. But when I line them up side by side, it seems pretty obvious that the scout is a better and more versatile option for the same cost.

The scout gives up one attack and the 'Ere We Go special rule for +2BS, +1S, +1In, +1Ld, Infiltrate, Scout, Chapter Tactics and Move Through Cover. I think the shoota is comprable to having a bolt pistol and bolter (because of the bolt weapons better AP). And when it comes to morale, the has mob rule which might let you pass morale for the cost of killing some boyz, but the scout has ATSKNF which means they will always rally and will never be killed in a Sweeping Advance, which is a fairly common occurance for my boyz. Both units have options for Fast, Assault transports (trukk or land speeder storm) and weapon options (close combat weapon and pistol)

When you compare the scout to its closest equivalent in terms of function in the ork army, the kommandos, the comparison is even more one-sided, in my opinion.

A kommando is ten points instead of 11, but has basically no options other than a few special weapons. The scout can have four different weapon loadouts (bolter & bolt pistol, bolt pistol & CCW, sinper rifle, space marine shotgun) as well as camo cloaks and a transport option, as well as special and heavy weapons options just like the orks. The scouts are also better at destroying vehicles due to their krak grenades. So despite the kommandos being "elite", the scout is much more versatile. In the old 3rd edition codex, kommandos could have shootas and tankbusta bombs, but for some reason they took those options away, even though I think they are very much in the character of what kommandos are and reasonable considering they are Elites.

I would rather use the scout rules for my kommandos, but I doubt many marine players would pick the kommando rules for their scouts. I think in general, regular ork boyz and their various specialists are a bit over-priced.

Anyway... enough whining and crying from me. Time to start planning a better strategy for next game. Because the truth is, I did not lose a battle of attrition because my units are a slightly worse value for their points. I got totally slaughtered because I did not manuever properly and didn't allow my units to support each other properly. I will definitely play a little smarter next game. And hopefully we will have a mission that requries mobility, where my biggest advantage is. I don't have good odds in a straight-up slug fest, but in a mission that forces both armies to play aggressively or flexibly, I think I have a good shot because of my wider mix of unit types. We'll see what the next game brings!

Sunday, August 23, 2015

Bat Rep 8: Red Brotherhood vs. Da Blitzdreg Boyz - Combat Patrol 400 pts

Due to Pete getting in late, we only had time to play during the big kids' nap so we had to keep it quick. Hence, Combat Patrol from the Third Edition rule book! For those who don't remember, this was a set of army selection restrictions on powerful units to keep a small game relatively fair. The downside to playing Combat Patrol is that I could not use my Meganobz (no 2+ saves allowed), but I did get to use my other new unit, the Tankbustas. (Technically, the maximum combined front, side, rear armor value is 33 and the dreadnought has 34, but we were OK with that since I was planning to take my Tankbustas.) 

We decided to play a simple mission with a single objective in the center of the table. Whoever held the objective at the end of the game would win. To keep the game quick, we would play four turns with a 4+ chance of a fifth turn.

The background would be that The Red Brotherhood was trying to rescue an important officer of the Planetary Defense Force who had been shot down in the uninhabited deserts of Xhorik (represented by the purple space marine model). He had crashed in one of the old cities that was destroyed in the first Ork invasion of Xhorik which had now been mostly reclaimed by the sweeping sands of the desert. The Red Brotherhood sent a small force of infantry and a dreadnought to quietly pick their way through the ruins and recover the injured officer. Meanwhile, a small band of Orks patrolling the deserts had seen the ship crash and sped toward the ruins to investigate, thinking there  might be some good loot! 


Da Blitzdreg Boyz: Combat Patrol (398 pts)
  • 11 'Ard Boyz with nob, boss pole, power klaw (180 pts)
    • trukk
  • 7 Tankbustas (121 pts)
    • tukk
  • 4 Warbikers (72 pts)
  • Warbuggy with twin-linked rokkits (25 pts)
I went with the theme of a fast-moving patrol where everyone was in a vehicle or on a bike. 

The Red Brotherhood: Combat Patrol (398 pts)
  • Dreadnought with twin-linked lascannon and twin-linked autocannon (130 pts) 
  • 6-man Tactical Squad A with flamer (89 pts)
  • 6-man Tactical Squad B (84 pts)
  • 5-man Devastator Squad with heavy bolter and missile launcher (95 pts)

Orks won the roll to select deployment zone despite Pete getting a re-roll for winning the last game.
Marines won the roll to determine who set up first and forced the Orks to set up first.
The Orks then chose to go first.
We forgot to roll for Night Fighting and we didn't use Warlord traits.


View of deployment from the east.

View of deployment from the south.

Ork Deployment and Da Plan:
Once again, I had to deploy first without knowing where the marines would be. My plan was to use the buildings to block line of sight to my trukks while I advanced. In the last game, I learned that trukks are a death trap for boyz with 6+ armor save if the vehicle explodes. I did not want to race straight ahead, have the trukss blow and the boyz lose half their number in the wreck and the ensuring mob rule checks and then get pinned out in the open. The center would consist of my shooting threats in the warbikes and warbuggy. 

The Ork warbikes race through the ruins looking for any loot from the crash and spot a survivor.

Marine Deployment and Strategy:
Pete kept his force close together and used the small tactical squads to screen his dreadnought, ensuring I could not get to it with my tankbustas. The devastators deployed in some hard cover with a good line of sight to the objective. He kept his whole army well away from my 'ard boyz.

The Red Brotherhood patrol moves carefully through the city, looking for the lost officer when they hear the unmistakable roar of Ork engines closing in. "Take up combat positions and prepare to engage the enemy. We must not falter in our sacred duty."

Orks Turn 1:
I moved both trukks flat-out in order to keep them hidden behind ruins. I was trying to maneuver closer to the marines without leaving my trukks in the open against his missile launcher, twin-lascannon and twin-autocannon.

The bikes and buggies moved forward and opened fire. The warbuggy managed to hit the dreadnought and shake it, also taking off a hull point. The warbikers fired on the devastator squad, but only manged to bring down a single marine.
"'Ere we go! 'Ere we go! 'Ere we go!" The 'ard boyz race through the ruins, staying out of sight of the marines' guns.

The rokkit buggy continues its un-Orky accuracy by scoring another hit, knocking a hull point off the hulking Imperial walker.

End of Ork Turn 1. The Orks have advanced aggressively. 

Space Marine Turn 1:
Tactical Squad A moved into the ruin while Tactical Squad B moved forward to screen the dreadnought. With the Ork trukks out of sight, the marines focused their fire on the available targets: the bikes and buggies. Tactical Squad B managed to take out the rokkit buggy with their bolters while the devastator squad killed three of the Ork bikes (despite their jinking) and forced the last one to flee. 
The marines advance into the alley, supported by their dreadnought. 

A withering hail of expert bolter fire destroys the oncoming Ork vehicle.

Not to be outdone, the devastators kill three of the bikers and force the lone survivor to fall back.

End of marine turn 1. The Ork center is decimated.

Orks Turn 2:
At this point, I realized I was well and truly out-maneuvered. I could not get my tankbustas to their target of the dreadnought and my 'ard boyz were too far away to provide any support in the next turn. Without knowing what else to do, I decided to attack, knowing my odds weren't good.

The tankbustas disembarked, fired at Tactical Squad B and killed two before charging. I lost one to overwatch and one to melee attacks before killing a marine in return.

On the other flank, the 'ard boyz disembarked and ran to get close enough to the devastators to charge next turn. They were able to use the pillar to block the line of sight from the devastators. If I moved the trukk farther, I would not have been able to disembark and I did not want to be sitting in the trukk in the wide open.

The savage tankbustas jump out of their trukk ready to attack their giant prey, but their path is blocked by a squad of marines!

A hail of improvised rokkits and explosive-tipped spears kills two members of the Red Brotherhood patrol.

The tankbustas charge in, losing two of their number and taking down one more marine. 

The tactical marines provide an effective screen and prevent the tankbustas from reaching their target.

The 'ard boyz swerve around a ruined building and disembark with their sights set on the devastators.
With the 'ard boyz closing in and screened by the pillar, the devastators consider evasive action.

End of Ork turn 2. The tankbustas are engaged with Tactical Squad B. 

Space Marine Turn 2:
Tactical Squad A moved to the edge of the ruin and fired at the tankbusta trukk, combining their fire with the dreadnought. Tac squad A then charged the trukk and managed to wreck it in close combat.

The devastators moved out of their ruin and charged into the melee to support Tactical Squad B, simultaneously putting a lot of distance between them and the 'ard boyz. In the melee, the Orks were wiped out in a Sweeping Advance without doing any more damage to the marines.

The devastators charge in to support Tactical Squad B in the melee while Tactical Squad A finish off the trukk in an assault.

The result: Tankbustas and their trukk are wiped out.

End of marine turn 2. The Ork center and left are shattered whereas the marines are at nearly full strength.

Orks Turn 3:
The lone biker finally rallied, but all he could do was consolidate 3".

All I had left were the 'ard boyz, their trukk and the bike. I figured my best shot was to get the 'ard boyz into melee so I moved into the difficult terrain of the ruin that the devastators had occupied and ran forward, hoping that the 4+ cover save would keep enough boyz alive to make a meaningful charge the next turn.

The 'ard boyz advance and take cover in the ruins, waiting for the inevitable storm of marine fire!

Their trukk advances and fires off an ineffective rokkit in the general direction of the enemy.

End of Ork turn 3. The Orks continue toward the marines, but the distance is much too great.

Space Marine Turn 3:
Everything fired on 'ard boyz. The hard cover reduced the damage, but the marines still killed four Orks, more importantly forcing a morale check which the Orks failed. I rolled a one for mob rule and forgot to use the boss pole to re-roll it, so the boyz fell back toward my table edge, right out into the open.
The marines concentrate all their firepower on the Ork 'ard boyz, killing four...

...and sending the rest fleeing for safety (ironically, flushing them from cover and out into the open!)

Orks Turn 4:
The 'ard boyz rallied, but again could only consolidate, which left them sitting in the open facing the entire marine army.

The warbiker raced into the center ruin and momentarily claimed the objective for the Orks! The 'ard boyz trukk moved flat-out to get as close to the objective as possible so it could claim or contest it on the fifth turn, if there was one.

The last warbiker and trukk make a desperate push for the objective. The warbiker points his spear at the cornered Imperial officer. "You'z comin' wit us!"

End of Ork turn 4. Despite their massive losses, the Orks hold the objective for the moment.

Space Marine Turn 4:
Tactical Squad X and the devastator squad blasted the 'ard boyz at point blank, leaving only a single boy to fall back once again.

Tactical Squad Y and the dreadnought moved into the ruin to claim the objective and killed the ork bike despite his 3+ cover save from turbo-boosting.

The marines make short work of the remaining Orks at point blank range.

The Red Brotherhood quickly come to the aid of the Imperial officer before the Orks can make off with him.

The massive dreadnought stomps through the ruin, leading the advance.

We rolled for another turn and got it. 

Orks Turn 5:
The lone 'ard boy rallied and consolidated toward the objective, but he was too far away to matter.

The 'ard boyz trukk moved into the center ruin and contested the objective due to having Objective Secured as a dedicated transport to a unit of Troops.

With the biker dead, the 'ard boy truck crashes into the ruin, trying to grab the officer out from under the marines. 

Could the ramshackle vehicle possibly withstand the firepower of the entire marine army?

Space Marine Turn 5:
The marines fired everything at the trukk and destroyed it, leaving them in uncontested control of the objective and the undisputed winners.

"Objective secured. Casualties minimal. Mission success."

Final Result:

Space Marine Victory!

Victory for The Red Brotherhood!


Phil (Orks):
For the second game in a row, I got my ass severely kicked. My army was wiped out except for a single boy and I had only killed four tactical marines and took a hull point off the dread. The only positive to take away was that somehow I was still in the game on the last turn, contesting the objective to force a draw if Pete rolled terribly to kill my trukk (or if I had actually done a little more damage to his army during the game to weaken his firepower) or if I had remembered to roll the Ramshackle rule on my trukks...

On the plus side, it was an amazing sight to see two fully-painted armies facing off on some great terrain. The look and fee of this game was just so fulfilling.

What should I have done?

  • In hindsight, I would have been better off moving the tankbustas into the center ruin with the objective where they could shoot marines and have a cover save and then used the 'ard boyz to support them or counter-charge, as needed. Of course, in hindsight, I probably would have been better off doing just about anything different as it is pretty unlikely I could have lost any worse than I did!

So what did I learn?

  • I clearly don't know how to use my trukks effectively. In the last game, I raced one straight ahead and paid the price. In this game, maybe I played them too cautiously, hiding behind the ruins and the 'ard boyz never got to a position where they could charge. 
  • Orks are specialists that can do one thing well and need to be able to pick their battles. The tankbustas could be devestating in melee with vehicles, but are worse than regular boyz in melee with infantry. The 'ard boyz need to be in melee and have almost zero shooting ability. Just like last game, Pete was able to force my units to fight the things they were least-suited for and mopped the floor with me.
  • Most importantly, I need to put my units in position to support each other rather than getting picked-off one by one. 
So what do I do differently next time? After two crushing defeats, I need to go back to the drawing board, so to speak. I know I didn't take the optimum army for this game. I wanted to use units that looked good and to try out my new tankbustas to see them on the battlefield. But even so, I should have been able to at least put up a decent fight. I think I just need to better learn how to use my units. I think using an assault-oriented, specialist army is tricky, although my shooting units didn't fare any better!

In games where you have to hold objectives at the end, my orks are 1-4, but in Maelstrom games, they are 3-0 so that at least gives me some hope that I can do well in missions where board control matters and not just last man standing.

Thursday, August 13, 2015

More Campaign Rules: Characters, Actions, Missions, and Army Selection

Special Named Characters and Unique Wargear: 
Army commanders and other special named characters can only be included in one combat zone per campaign turn so the player needs to choose where to deploy them before each round of battles. Relics and unique wargear can only be used by a single character and so you cannot have a copy in both combat zones on the same turn. For example, if Filgakk Skullsplitta uses Da Lukky Stikk, then no other named or generic characters can use that piece of wargear. And if the Ork player chooses to use Filgakk in the ruined city combat zone, he cannot participate in the battle in the hills during the same campaign turn.

The named character that is the overall army commander is allowed to select any character trait from any table they are allowed to roll on and they will have that trait permanently in all battles throughout the campaign. They then roll as normal for a variable trait that is determined for each game. All other characters get a random character trait per game as normal, but they have the ability to select a permanent trait as their "veteran status" upgrade (if a Warlord is selected as the MVP of the game instead of a unit or vehicle). The selected trait to make permanent must be related to the heroic role that character played in the game.

Campaign Turn Actions:
I think it makes sense for the type of action your army is executing to have an impact on the composition of the force used. I'd like to represent this by adjusting the Force Organization Chart based on the action selected, similar to the old 3rd/4th edition rule books that most of these missions come from. This allows us to use special and flavorful army lists that we would not normally get to play, such a very tank-heavy Imperial Force

I also want to give a special bonus (sort of like the old Strategy Cards in 2nd Edition) to an army that takes a very flavorful army for their action. Right now, our army choices are very limited by what we own, but soon I hope we can tailor our lists for the type of mission we are selecting.

Having the Initiatve:
Besides just determining which mission is played, having the initiative from winning the prior game gives two other benefits:
  • You may re-roll the dice for determining which player selects their deployment zone.
  • You may re-roll the dice for determining whether or not there is Night Fighting.
These benefits represent the victorious force having greater ability to dictate the terms (location and timing) of the next battle by deciding whether to pursue the defeated forces or to consolidate to a better position.

Full Assault:
A Full Assault represents a major offensive in the selected combat zone with a push to drive back the enemy and claim ground or to utterly destroy all resistance. Success is achieved through superior numbers and firepower and so this action requires a larger number of infantry and heavy support. However, these frontal assaults are fought over a wide front and are often short on elite units because they are often needed for smaller, more specialized missions. Because of the significance of this type of attack, the army commanders are often found leading these mission personally. Therefor, you are allowed to select an additional HQ slot if that slot is used for the overall campaign army commander and that character is your warlord for the game. The Victory At Any Cost bonus represents the ability of the Commander to continue to press the assault and throw wave after wave of troops at the defender even under conditions that would normally force them to break off the attack, such as exhaustion, casualties or incoming enemy reinforcements.
  • Minimum of three Troops slots required
  • +1 Heavy Support slot
  • +1 Lord of War slot
  • +1 HQ slot if used for Campaign Commander
  • -1 Elite slot
  • No Fortifications
  • Victory At Any Cost: Requires all six Troops slots filled and your Campaign Commander is the Warlord: 
    • Once per game, you can re-roll to see if there is another turn in missions with the Random Game Length rule if the game would have ended on the original roll (you can only re-roll the die if the original result was that the game ends). 
    • If the mission has a fixed number of turns, you can attempt to force another final turn on a roll of 5+ (no re-roll).

Precision Strike / Raid:
This action represents a smaller, more mobile, and typically more elite force with a focused mission, such as the destruction of an enemy strongpoint that could hold up the main assault, an unexpected flank attack, or the capture of a special objective.  These are typically fast-moving bands of experienced soldiers that hit hard and then fall back before the brunt of the enemy forces can be brought to bear for a counter attack. The Strike Without Warning bonus represents a highly mobile army's ability to speed in closer to the enemy or to engage them and back-off, leaving a bigger distance between the forces
  • +1 Elites slot
  • +1 Fast Attack slot
  • -1 Heavy Support slot
  • No Lords of War or Fortifications
  • Strike Without Warning: If all units are capable of high (12"+) speed (mounted, transport, jump pack, flying, etc.)
    • You can re-roll the die to select deployment/turn order OR you can re-roll the attempt to Seize the Initiative OR if the mission doesn't normally allow for seizing, you can attempt to seize (without a re-roll).
    • You can choose to either extend your deployment zone by 3" or shorten the enemy deployment zone by 3". For example, if the mission calls for a deployment zone up to 12" from your board edge, you can select to eitehr deploy up to 15" from your board edge or for your opponent to only deploy up to 9" from the board edge.

Scout / Recon:
A scouting action represents sending out a force of lightly-equipped units that utilize stealth and surprise to achieve their objective. They are often found operating deep behind enemy lines, but can also use their stealth to set ambushes for enemies approaching through no-man's land. Because they are expected to operate independently for long periods of time and often take on very dangerous missions, they are usually put under the command of a single character as most armies cannot afford to spare additional officers. The Trap is Set bonus represents a force consisting of a high proportion of stealthy and/or fast-moving units that specialize in surprise attacks, encirclements and ambushes.

  • Can take any unit with Infiltrate, Scout, Stealth or Outflank as Troops (in addition to regular troops)
  • -1 HQ slot
  • -2 Heavy Support slots
  • No Lords of War or Fortifications
  • The Trap is Set: If at least five units have Infiltrate, Scout, Stealth, Outflank or Flying:
    • You can re-roll any Reserves rolls and re-roll any rolls for determining the board edge for Outflanking units
    • Two units of your choice that do not have the Scout rule can make a Scout move as if they had Scout.

This action represents a force taking defensive measures, typically by fortifying a position and waiting for the enemy to come to them. Many of the missions associated with this action involve the defender utilizing fortifications and extra defenses. Additional fortifications may be purchases as part of the army selection (once we buy or model some anyway!). This type of force typically tries to achieve its objectives through weight of firepower and has access to additional heavy weapons because they do not need to be transported far from the base of operations. The Dug In bonus represents an army sacrificing mobility to take advantage of better defensive positioning and additional fortification of their territory.

  • This is the only FOC that is allowed to take fortifications
  • +2 Heavy Support slots
  • -2 Fast Attack slots
  • Dug In: If no units have dedicated transports, jump packs, bikes or other mobility upgrades:
    • After Deployment Zones are selected and Objectives are placed, but before either player deploys, you may place an additional bunker, ruin or other suitable terrain piece anywhere in your own deployment zone or in no-man's land.

When a battle could be the last battle of the campaign, use the following bonus rule. It could potentially apply to both armies if the campaign is tied and the final battle is winner-take-all.
  • Backs to the Wall (or Nowhere to Run):
    • If losing this battle would cause you to lose the campaign, you may include your Campaign Commander as an additional (third) HQ slot even if he was used in a different combat zone in the same campaigh turn. If you do so, you can re-roll a single failed morale, pinning or fear test once per player turn.

I would like some feedback on the bonuses. I don't want to make them really powerful or something that you have to remember throughout the game. Just something small to reward taking a flavorful list and to make the game a little different. Something that would not be game-breaking, but might encourage the player to use tactics suitable for the mission type that they might not normally employ. And in order to keep them easier to remember to use and hopefully from unbalancing the combat of the game itself, I tried to keep them limited to game set-up or game-ending circumstances.

Monday, August 3, 2015

Possible Campaign Rules and Ideas - Working Version

I am trying to think of some ways to tie our games together that still allows for an open-ended and flexible story to emerge (rather than setting the storyline and then fighting the battles) and that doesn't need a neutral party to determine what happens next, but rather is designed to be self-balancing.


Veteran Status:
I don't want to have to track XP and upgrades for lots of units, but wanted some way to designate veterans by recognizing excellent performance by a unit.

At the end of a game, each player designates one unit that performed particularly well (optional: should we decide to limit it to a unit that was not wiped out?) as a veteran. In the next game only, that unit gets a veteran ability. Should it be random, player choice, or based on what the unit did in the battle? I'm thinking we create a table for each type of heroic action and then either roll on it or pick one. The tables would mostly be that the unit gains a relevant Universal Special Rule for the next game only. Type of heroics
Melee: Furious Charge, Counterattack, etc.
Shooting: Sniper, Tank hunter, Relentless, etc.
Movement/Securing Objective: Scout, Outflank, Relentless, Fleet, etc.
Morale / Survivability: Feel No Pain, Stealth, Fearless, ATSKNF, etc.

By limiting it to one unit per game, it will be easier to keep track of and you won't end up with super units with multiple abilities that could unbalance games.

Preferably, it should be the ability most similar to what they did in the game (Sniper for killing the enemy Warlord with shooting, Tank Hunter for killing vehicles, etc.)

Mission Selection:
We will split the warzone into two sectors: hills/mining camps and the ruins of an old Xhorik city, destroyed in the cataclysm and now mostlty reclaimed by the desert (I would like to have a third combat zone, but will need more terrain!). Before our next games, each player should select a desired action for each of his two armies (one in each combat zone). The player that won the last game is said to have the initiative, which basically just determines who is setting the terms of the battle when there is a mismatch in actions selected. For example, if one army choose to perform recon and the other chose to make a full assault in the same combat zone, the resulting mission is very different depending on which army has the initiative or momentum. If the recon army has the initiative, they trap the incoming attacker in an ambush. If the attacking army has the initiative, they push back the scattered recon forces and force them to fight a rearguard as they are driven back.

Each action would have an associated Force Organization Chart and possibly special rules. The idea would be for each player to select their action for their army in each combat zone without knowing what the other picked and then when the actions are revealed, the missions would be determined. But since you would select the actions for all two (or three) combat zones at once before the round of battles starts, the exact mission played could still change depending on who wins the previous battle to get the initiative.

I'll post the details of the missions and the Force Organization Charts when I get time. But I'm excited for the idea so far. What do you think?

Effects of Objectives:
Some objectives would help during the game if your unit was controlling it at e start if your turn, others can grant you a bonus in the next game if you hold them at the end of the game.

In-game objective ideas:
Ammo Crates: Re-roll 1's to hit with shooting.  (Or re-roll 1's to wound if you already have that ability.)
Fuel Tanks: Vehicles can move an extra 3" as part of their base movement with no penalty to number if guns fired, embarking, etc. Flame Weapons can re-roll 1's to wound.
Optional: Both items could have a downside. Shots against a unit claiming the objective could be randomly allocated with the objective counting as a unit member with AV 9 and if you glance or penetrate, it blows up. Large blast S4.

Next game objective ideas:
Communication tower or beacon objectives: Allow you to pick deployment zone rather than roll; or give a unit Outflank, Infiltrate, Scout, etc. to represent better planning and communications; or allow you to re-roll Reserves roll, etc. Something along those lines.
Container of ore: Could allow an extra heavy support slot or elite if it is Terminators or Meganobz.