Current 750 Eldar List, and Dream 750 Eldar List

I'm slowly working my way up to a 1500 point Eldar list, and although I'm technically about halfway there, some of the figures I'm currently using probably won't make the cut in the end. Because of this, I actually have about 1000 points worth of figures left to purchase. It will likely be a slow process. Here's the list as it stands right now:

Farseer (Eldritch Storm) 75

9x Dire Avengers (Exarch w/ additional shuriken catapult) 125
11x Guardians (Scatter Laser) and Warlock (Destructor, Singing Spear) 138

6x Fire Dragons (Exarch, Firepike) 116

Heavy Support
Falcon (Holo-Fields, Spirit Stones, Eldar Missile Launcher) 180
Wraithlord (Eldar Missile Launcher) 115

Total: 749

First of all, the fire dragons start out in the falcon and the farseer starts out with the dire avengers. The farseer + dire avengers unit works its way up the center of the board. The falcon is runs up one side of the board while the guardians and warlock follow the wraithlord up the other side. The heavy support units focus on anything that my smaller units can't kill. Everything else just plays opportunist the whole game, shooting or assaulting whatever is most convenient at the time.

*Yes, I know that "Tactica" seems to be the most commonly accepted term among Warhammer players, but it just sounds dumb to me. On my site, we'll go with "tactics."

If I hadn't purchased a large lot of Eldar models from eBay, I would likely still be playing 500 points rather than 750. However, I happened to get a great deal (even if I didn't want all of the models I received), so here I am. If I had 750 points worth of whatever units I wanted, I'd be running something more like this:

Farseer (Eldritch Storm) 75

9x Dire Avengers 108
10x Dire Avengers 120

5x Fire Dragons 80
5x Striking Scorpions (Exarch w/ chainsabres, Shadowstrike) 117

Heavy Support
Falcon (Eldar Missile Launcher) 135
Fire Prism 115

Total: 750

Ideally, I'd like to infiltrate the scorpions close to a juicy target. Otherwise, the tactics would be similar to my current list, except that the fire prism doesn't need to stay close to any of the infantry in the same way that the wraithlord needs to. The falcon still transports the fire dragons. The farseer still joins a squad of dire avengers.

Of course, I doubt I'll ever get to actually play this. I'll likely keep playing all of my models until I hit 1500 points. At that point, my new purchases will be to replace the units I'm not happy with.

Character Clones and Replayability

I had something interesting happen over the last few weeks. On two occasions, I had a character death (technically, one was a cohort) and the player, rather than roll up a new character, wanted to just change the name on the character sheet instead. I couldn't believe it.

As a player, I'm always itching to try out new ideas and give new mechanics a spin. I guess that's why I'm so stuck on multiclassing... it lets me "cheat" in a sense and play multiple character types simultaneously by merging them together. Playing the same guy twice in a row gets boring to me. I guess that's why I DM so often... I never get "bogged down" with a single character for long.

In the end, I made them reroll stats and start over with new equipment, but there isn't anything that prevents them from choosing the same class, same feats, same alignment, etc. throughout the rest of the character creation process, so I let the rest go.

I guess I just don't understand. To me, a great deal of the creativity that accompanies an RPG is linked to character creation, and if you forfeit that, it seems like you might as well be playing a board game. On the other hand, a campaign is only fun when the players are having fun, so if that makes the game more fun for them, then it's okay with me. It just strikes me as... odd...

Anybody else see this in their campaigns? Is it more common than I thought?

Elite Ork Soldier

The elite ork soldiers serve as leaders for small squads of grunts or as shock troops. These orks are less likely to shoot wildly while advancing as their less experienced counterparts do, and are much more efficient in a fight. They are best known for the love of their favorite task... mopping up weakened foes after a few waves of grunts have softened the resistance.

Ork Elite Soldier (Strong Ordinary 1/Tough Ordinary 1): CR 1; Medium Humanoid (human, mutant); HD 1d8+2 plus 1d10+2; hp 14; Init +1Spd 6; Defense 16, touch 13, flat-footed 15Grap +3Atk longsword +4 melee (1d8+2 / 19-20) or pistol +2 ranged (2d6); SQ ; AL LE; Fort +4, Ref +1, Will +0Str 14Dex 12, Con 15Int 11Wis 8, Cha 6.
Skills: Drive +5, Intimidate +2, Knowledge (streetwise) +2, Profession +3, Repair +1, Speak/Read/Write English, Speak/Read/Write Orcish, Swim +3
Feats: Archaic Weapons Proficiency, Personal Firearms Proficiency, Weapon Focus (longsword)
Mutations: Ability Decay (Intelligence), Ability Decay (Wisdom), Ability Decay (Charisma), Unnatural Skin (Green), Enlarged Form, Thick Hide, Radiation Resistance
Possessions: Leather Armor, Ork Pistol*, 50 rounds of .45 ammunition, longsword

*The ork pistol is statistically equivalent to the Colt M1911

Click here for more on the super mutant orks or here for more on the Spectrum Shock campaign setting.

Ork Grunt Stats

The typical ork grunt is consumed with blood lust. They charge into battle with guns blazing, wasting ammo firing shots that are wildly inaccurate due to range before smashing into their foes with devastating melee attacks. The charge of an ork war party is a terrifying sight to behold.

Ork Grunt (Strong Ordinary 1): CR 1/2; Medium Humanoid (human, mutant); HD 1d8+2; hp 6; Init +1Spd 6; Defense 16, touch 13, flat-footed 15Grap +3Atk longsword +3 melee (1d8+2 / 19-20) or pistol +2 ranged (2d6); AL LE; Fort +3, Ref +1, Will +0Str 14Dex 12, Con 15Int 11Wis 8, Cha 6.
Skills: Drive +4, Intimidate +2, Knowledge (streetwise) +2, Profession +3, Repair +1, Speak/Read/Write English, Speak/Read/Write Orcish, Swim +3
Feats: Archaic Weapons Proficiency, Personal Firearms Proficiency
Mutations: Ability Decay (Intelligence), Ability Decay (Wisdom), Ability Decay (Charisma), Unnatural Skin (Green), Enlarged Form, Thick Hide, Radiation Resistance
Possessions: Leather Armor, Ork Pistol*, 50 rounds of .45 ammunition, longsword

*The ork pistol is statistically equivalent to the Colt M1911

Click here for more on the super mutant orks or here for more on the Spectrum Shock campaign setting.

Leading My Carolina Blue Eldar Into Battle

Wow... Warhammer 40K is insanely fun... so insanely fun that as soon as my brother got his hands on an army, the game has consumed all of the time that I would normally be spending on roleplaying games. And we've only played two battles!

The first battle was over a week ago, and my brother hadn't gotten his Tau army started yet, so he was playing orks. We played a free-for-all with one unit each. Matt had a unit of Space Marine tactical squad, I had a unit of Eldar guardians, and Eric had a unit of Ork boyz. Unsurprisingly, Matt won pretty easily.

For our second battle, we jumped in with pretty much everything. I had to cut a few of my Eldar, but Eric and Matt played all that they had. It was another free-for-all battle with Tau, Eldar, and Space Marines. We each had a 585 point limit and played on a 3x3 table. We also decided to play "last man standing wins", which I don't think is standard compared to the missions I read about in the back of the rulebook... but we wanted the battle to last longer so we'd have more time to get used to the rules. I ended up fielding this army:

Farseer (Eldritch Storm) 75

17 Guardians (EML) + Warlock (Embolden, Singing Spear) 189
9 Dire Avengers (Exarch w/ 2 Shuriken Catapults) 125

5 Fire Dragons (no upgrades) 80

Heavy Support
Wraithlord (EML) 115

Total: 584

Obviously, we wasted a ton of time double checking rulebooks and codices during the battle... and we still got some things wrong, such as:
  • Forgetting to subtract BS from blast template scatter rolls made them almost useless
  • Spinning tanks with Eldritch Storm even on misses... should have used scatter dice
  • Constantly forgetting to differentiate between the attacks of complex units (mainly with that space marine tactical squad, but I was guilty a time or two as well with my exarchs)
  • Deploying our armies simultaneously... apparently, you're supposed to take turns.
The table was too crowded for the Tau. They ended up in too many assaults and got wiped out pretty quickly. The remaining Eldar and Space Marines nearly fought to a draw. In the end, it was his captain (1 wound) vs. my wraithlord (2 wounds) locked in an assault that was previously a complicated mess of wraithlord + farseer + some dire avengers vs. 2 terminators + captain. Then we realized that he couldn't wound the wraithlord, so we called the game on the spot.

Overall, it was a ton of fun. I did feel bad for my bro and his Tau though. They didn't really stand a chance. I think he's ordering some crisis suits to try and even things up a bit, though, and next time we should be able to play on a larger table.
This pic is of all my Eldar except for one guardian... I accidentally left him in the box before snapping the picture and it didn't seem practical to redo the setup for one measly guardian. If you look closely, you can see that all of these have paint on them, but only about half of them are anywhere close to finished. I've been a little paint-lazy of late.

I hope I'll get around to working on the Spectrum Shock campaign in the next few days. I intended to update the old location entries and add some NPC Spotlights last weekend, but the Spectrum Shock project got eclipsed by Warhammer 40K. Perhaps RPGs will sneak back into my gaming schedule this week...

Spectrum Shock: An Ork Map Found by the PCs at the End of the Last Session

This is a rudimentary map of the ork forces around Oswego. Note that the area marked "slaves" is New Syracuse, and denotes potential targets for slavery rather than those currently in slavery. In the last session, the PCs eradicated the ork defenders at Outpost #2 and found this map:

Why is Wizards of the Coast Scared?

There have been a slew of blog and forum posts over the last week about the new Wizards of the Coast fansite kit, and I can't claim to have read them all, so if I'm repeating someone, I apologize ahead of time and I promise not to waste too much of my readers' time by making this fairly short and to the point.

When I read through a fansite policy that is as restrictive as the one in question, it just screams fear and lack of confidence to me, and the only thing I can attribute this to is the threat of competition hurting the sales of their products. Are they really scared of the competition that fansites will generate? Seriously, there really are only three types of bloggers out there who write about D&D:

  1. People like me who write because they enjoy the mental exercise, but for the most part only write for small audiences (sometimes just ourselves!). Most, if not all, of what we produce is not high enough quality to compete with a full staff of employees hand-crafted to create quality products. WotC, you have nothing to fear from guys like me.
  2. People who write quality stuff for niche genres. These people are passionate about their little corners of the hobby and sometimes produce stellar products, but let's face it. Their ideas just aren't appealing enough to the masses for them to steal any real business. You wouldn't produce the products these guys write because they wouldn't sell well enough, so why bother with them?
  3. People who write and produce quality work that appeals to a large group of potential customers. This is a very small minority on the internet, but they might end up being competition. The tough part is recognizing when there is an asset to your company out there that you would be stupid not to recruit. If there is someone on a fansite who is producing better material than what you are paying your employees to produce, wouldn't it be stupid not to recruit them? If WotC loses money because they have hired people who can't produce a better quality product than a fansite can produce, they can blame no one but themselves.
With those three categories of competition (if you can call it that), I really don't understand the restrictive nature of the fansite policy. To be such a powerhouse in the industry, one would think that they would encourage gamers to publish their adventures, NPCs, and encounters from their own personal campaigns. This move just feels more like a selfish child with his favorite toy more than a company that is confident in their ability to produce better quality work than their own fans.

Personally, I've pretty much stopped playing 4E for the moment in favor of D20 Modern and D&D 3.5 (put together, no less). Does that mean I won't ever pick it back up? No, but if I ever actually got one of those C&D letters for posting one of my NPC Spotlights, it would be all over for me. That's my line in the sand, Wizards. Your current product isn't so much better than Pathfinder (or just plain old 3.5, for that matter) that I'd feel the need to cling to it.

Note: For the best article I've read about this so far, check out The Seven-Sided Die's response. Also, while internet petitions have always seemed useless to me in the past, here's a link to one protesting this new policy:

More 40K Miniatures for Spectrum Shock (Stats Coming Soon)

I have become a huge fan of using Warhammer 40K miniatures for my Spectrum Shock campaign, so much so that I would like to find a use for every single one that my group purchases. To be honest, though, it's not just that they are awesome miniatures. They are also insanely expensive, especially if you add in the amount of cash I've blown on painting supplies... and I don't even want to think about the whole "time is money" theory and all the time I've spent assembling and painting. Getting a two-for-one makes me feel a little better about spending the money, though. After all, if I get to use each miniature for our D20 Modern campaign and I get to march it across the battlefield in a real game of Warhammer 40K, it actually begins to feel like money well spent.

What's even cooler than assembling and painting these guys? Coming up with D20 Future stats to use with them! Right now, I've used (or plan to use within the next session or two) the following Warhammer 40K models in the campaign:
  • Imperial Guard Catachan Jungle Fighters (PCs)
  • Space Marine Tactical Squad (Washington DC troops)
  • Eldar Guardians (Boston troops)
  • Ork Boyz (ork grunts)
  • Ork Nobz (ork lieutenant)
  • Ork Warboss (ork leader)
Over the next week or so, I intend to repost my previous work on Washington DC, Boston, and the supermutant orks with stats for a few common NPCs and pics of at least semi-painted figures for each faction. I also have a few more NPC spotlights in the works, so I might dub next week "NPC Week" here at Outsyder Gaming. We'll see how much work I get accomplished over the weekend.

As far as which armies we'll be fielding, I've decided to stick with the Eldar, Matt is going to go with Space Marines, and Eric keeps changing his mind between Tau and Necrons. If he goes with the Necrons, I know what I'll want to work on next... a skeleton-themed faction for Spectrum Shock. I wonder if anyone has ever thought of painting Necron models as Rifts skelebots? Now that would be a cool-looking army! Hmmmm...

CCGs > RPGs?

I've written very little lately, mainly because my attention has been on painting miniatures and card games rather than RPGs. After a shaky one-for-four stretch of our weekly game nights, I've started drifting back toward games that I don't need the same core group of friends around to play. If I had my choice, I'd play RPGs all the time... but after several weeks of minimal playing, I start itching for something to sink brainpower into.

Why do I prefer roleplaying games?

  • The gathering of friends & family. I like hanging out with my people. 
  • The team aspect (even when I'm the DM).
  • Being limited only by my imagination (and occasionally the rules).
  • I can buy a few rulebooks and never spend another dime.

What makes trading card games more appealing at the moment?

  • Being able to go to the FLGS on Friday and play regardless of whether or not I know anyone. Because there is an accepted structure, you can pretty much play a game with anyone and have fun. It's a perk that RPGs don't have, as house rules, combat to roleplaying ratios, and GM styles very wildly. Best of all, if different people show up every week, it doesn't matter at all as long as there are enough to play. Continuity doesn't matter.
  • No prep time in between games if I don't feel like it. Once I've built my deck, if I want to tweak it for the next tournament, I can. If I want to get some testing in against a deck archetype that is unfamiliar to me, I can. If I don't want to, it might affect how well I play, but it won't affect whether or not I get to play. Similar things can be said for the players of RPGs, but GMing is a different story and a good improv. session is hard to come by. I'd rank my ability to improvise as mediocre at best.
  • Winning stuff. There are very few instances in gaming that are more satisfying than walking into the tournament with nothing but your entry fee and walking out with a ton of new cards. In what RPG do you actually win stuff? I can't think of one.

As I've started collecting Warhammer 40K miniatures to use in my Spectrum Shock campaign, I noticed some of the same trends. Once you have an army built, there is very little you need to do in between games. There is a fairly well-accepted structure to games so any random opponent is good to go. There are tournaments set up with prizes. I've even started collecting an Eldar army so I can actually get into the hobby.

The downside, of course, is that games like Magic: The Gathering and Warhammer are prohibitively expensive. Magic is less so, but those budget decks usually don't last long in a tournament with decent competition... and my competitive nature always draws me to the tournament scene eventually.

I guess the conclusion I keep dancing around is this: While roleplaying games are more fun, card games (and perhaps war games) are just so much easier to organize and play regularly. Maybe I need to stop trying to run campaigns and do a series of one-shot adventures...

Pathfinder Stats by Level

For most folks this is probably old news, but I just recently found it and I'm excited, so here goes...

One aspect of pre-4E d20 games that has started irritating me lately is the amount of time it takes to create NPCs and monsters. They follow all of the rules that characters do, so it takes a while. It never bothered me before the new edition, but after DMing a 4E campaign and now returning to D20 Modern/D&D 3.5 rules, it has become frustrating.

Enter the Pathfinder Beta

I've had this pdf sitting in my hard drive since before Christmas, but I never spent much time reading over it because so much of it feels like it has just been copied & pasted from 3.5, a system that I'm familiar with. That said, in a moment of boredom, I opened the file again and flipped to a random page... and struck gold. I absolutely love pages 292-298. Basically, it's the Pathfinder version of the "designing your own monster" section from the 4th Edition Dungeon Masters Guide, complete with stats by challenge rating.

Now, it isn't perfect. The damage columns only give a number (average damage) rather than a dice range, but that shortcoming can be overlooked. I can still throw together a quick NPC in a quarter of the time it used to take. I still intend to go through the whole process for important NPCs, or at least the ones that intrigue me. But this is an excellent tool for the ill-prepared dungeon master.

Now I need to figure out if there's a similar (or better) version of these tables in the final version of the Pathfinder core book. If there is, I might blow the cash for the book just for this section... it's that useful.
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