Eldar vs. Tau: Turn Two Concession

Well, I think I had my biggest disappointment last night trying to play Warhammer 40K. My brother and I set up to play the game: Tau vs. Eldar, Annihilation, 1000 points.

Turn One
We move around a bit and get a few shots off, but the only deaths are a couple of gun drones.

Turn Two
My brother's Tau make their reserves roll and a unit of crisis suits tries to deep strike in behind my falcon. Scatter dice say: 12" toward my falcon, which ends up landing him right on top of the vehicle: a mishap. His roll? One, so the unit dies. Then he explains to me that he only has one unit left on the board that can kill a tank because he has set up his other crisis suits to be anti-infantry.

At that point, he conceded and I'm not really upset that he did. Playing video games with cheat codes never really appealed to me, so playing out a game of 40K that I can't lose is equally unappealing. These were our lists (his list is more than a little vague):

Farseer (Jetbike, Fortune, Singing Spear) 118
Farseer (Eldritch Storm, Spirit Stones, Fortune) 125

10x Dire Avengers (wave serpent, twin-linked shuriken cannons, spirit stones) 120
6x Dire Avengers 72

5x Fire Dragons 80

Heavy Support
Falcon (shuriken cannon, holo-fields) 155
2x Fire Prism 230



6x Fire Warriors
6x Fire Warriors
6x Fire Warriors
6x Fire Warriors

Crisis Suit
2x Crisis Suits
Stealth Team


I really don't know what all of his upgrades are. I know that he has gun drones in just about every unit, though, and that he claimed that his list was anti-infantry. Admittedly, my list is pretty tank-heavy, so I understand why he wanted to quit. He might have had the upper hand if we hadn't been playing annihilation.

Because he's less likely to purchase more stuff anytime soon (or change his wargear), I'm working on a revised list of my own that he won't be completely screwed against but that I can still (hopefully) win with. We'll see how it all works out.

Future Return to 4th Edition D&D

It actually hasn't happened yet, but I'm looking forward to it. My group hasn't played 4E in months, partially because of my D20 Modern campaign (Spectrum Shock) and partially because we've been playing a ton of Warhammer 40K lately.

Even though I was a player in the last campaign as well, I've got a feeling that this one will last longer if we ever get it going for one reason: Matt is planning on using published adventures. What does that mean? It means that he has a lot less work to do on the front end, so burnout and/or busy schedules won't be as much of an issue. It also means that the "What should happen next?" dilemma that I sometimes get myself stuck in probably won't be an issue either.

Most importantly, though, this means that I won't be the DM for awhile. It feels good to pass on the reins. I've been DMing since 6th grade with very few opportunities to experience the other side of the screen. But honestly, if someone hadn't shown some interest in DMing, we would likely have given up RPGs altogether until work slows down some for me. While I might have time to work on campaigns a little here and there, I certainly don't have the time to keep a respectable campaign running right now. As I said about a month ago, RPGs are just harder to set up and organize than card games and war games.

So where does this leave me? With plenty of time before the campaign begins to figure out what type of character I want to play. Normally, I'm the "I'll play whatever role the party needs" guy. I fill that role for quite a few reasons, but chief among them is that I always have a tough time choosing between a bunch of different character types that I want to try out. Perhaps it's because I usually DM and get to play whatever I want whenever I want (albeit always on a temporary basis). In any case, waiting to see what everybody else is playing tends to trim down my list.

I don't want to be that guy this time. I'm going to be a little more selfish this time and choose first. It's not like my brother is going to make a character before the day of the campaign anyway...

So, knowing that Matt has a new campaign is in the works, I downloaded the latest Character Builder update and looked over the new options. Just clicking through the first few sets of options (race and class), I generated this list of ideas:
  • an eladrin swordmage/wizard (an outcast githyanki would be cool, but probably too "out there" for our group)
  • an update of Talon Ebonblade, a half-elf ranger with delusions of grandeur (thinks he's got half-shadow dragon heritage)
  • a dwarf leader of some sort (probably cleric/invoker)
  • a roguish drow follower of Vhaeraun that will likely be some multiclass and/or hybrid combination of cleric, rogue, and avenger
I'm going to try hard not to be a GM Gone Bad Powergamer, but optimization is just part of my personality. I certainly don't intend to pick skills and things without a story-related reason. However, I am guilty of refusing to play a character whose racial bonuses don't compliment his class, and I like to multiclass a lot more than most DMs are comfortable with. Because I encourage the players to optimize when I'm running the game, I doubt Matt will even notice a difference when I optimize a little for his. We shall see...

Jetbike Farseer Update... Sort of Painted...

Well, I have papers to grade and lesson plans to write (the life of a teacher), but I want to share some pics of the painting I did last night before I get started on schoolwork. This is the jetbike farseer that I assembled and primed on Friday. In one of the shots, I've included my regular farseer just for comparison.

I'm almost to the point where my patience for painting has run out. He isn't painted perfectly, but he looks good enough that I wouldn't be embarrassed to put him out on the battlefield so my motivation has dropped considerably. I will definitely go back over the more noticeable places where the base coat is still visible, and I'll do the spirit stones in yellow like the rest of my army, but I'll likely stop after that and move on to another figure. I still have a wave serpent that has barely made it past the base coat.

While I'm thinking about it, I want to welcome any new visitors who arrived here by way of the From the Warp Bloggers Group. I'm honored to be a new member!

My Easy Jetseer (Farseer on Jetbike) Conversion

I mentioned last time that a jetseer was next on my "things to get for the Eldar army" list. The last of the bits arrived in the mail today and I did a quick n' easy conversion using these bits:
  • Dire Avenger exarch helmet & power weapon
  • High Elf Lord on Dragon legs & torso
  • Eldar Jetbike for the bike itself, the left arm, and the bottom part of the base
  • the longer Tau gun drone base stick thing (no clue what these are officially called)
Assembly is really simple, and it only took me about 20 minutes once I got started.
  1. Assemble the jetbike except for the hood and the handlebars.
  2. Cut a little from between the legs so that the feet will rest where they're supposed to.
  3. Assemble the farseer except for the left arm (the one holding the handle).
  4. Add the left arm and handlebars at the same time, making sure everything lines up.
  5. Add the hood.
  6. Viola!
Obviously, I haven't started the real paint job on this guy yet, but I wanted to share some pics of my work in progress post-assembly/priming:

Is it the best jetseer conversion ever? Of course not. Based on what I've seen on the net so far, I'd have to give that honor to this beauty. However, I initially shied away from the whole farseer + warlocks jetbike squad because conversions just don't excite me. This process, though, was almost as easy as just assembling something straight out of the box once I decided which bits I wanted for it. I'm rather impressed with the relative interchangeability of these model kits.

I still say GW should just go ahead and create a model for these, though.

1K Eldar List

Farseer (Eldritch Storm) 75

10x Guardians (Scatter Laser, Warlock w/ Singing Spear) 113
10x Dire Avengers (Wave Serpent w/ Shuriken Cannons) 220
7x Dire Avengers 84

5x Fire Dragons 80

Fast Attack
5x Warp Spiders (Exarch w/ powerblades & twin death spinners) 137

Heavy Support
Falcon (Eldar Missile Launcher) 135
Wraithlord (Eldar Missile Launcher, Brightlance) 155

Eldar Tactics, Lessons Learned

I've been pretty successful with my Eldar since we started playing. I haven't lost a game yet, although I have suffered several tactical draws (man, I hate those). The guys I'm playing against are just as inexperienced as I am, though, so it isn't like I'm some Warhammer 40K prodigy or anything. I'd probably still get rolled by an experienced player. I want to point out some interesting Eldar quirks that I've noticed...

Man, farseers are awesome. I think what I like most about the farseer is that I can fiddle around with almost all of his upgrades without changing anything on the model. That's definitely a plus for me. In almost every battle, I've fielded him with just Eldritch Storm and put him in a squad of dire avengers. This has worked pretty well so far. The large blast template either kills lots of infantry or spins tanks for glancing hits vs. rear armor. These guys aren't exactly the best tank hunters, but I've found that it is often advantageous just to manage a shaken result and not have to eat a rail gun template the next turn.

Fire Dragons
I think I'd like these guys more if I was facing more real vehicles and fewer walkers. They have a tendency to kill one dreadnought but then get assaulted by the next one the following turn and get tied up in close combat way too long.

Man, these guys suck. Most of the time, the only thing this unit does the whole game is shoot its heavy weapon platform and shadow the wraithlord so that the warlock can prevent wraithsight bullcrap. I did get really lucky one game and kill off a squad of terminators with these guys, although technically it was just the warlock because the guardians themselves never inflicted a wound and the warlock was the only one left in the squad by the end of the fight.

Dire Avengers
I love these guys, but figuring out how to use the exarch confuses me. Bladestorm seems worthless unless it is either the last turn of the game (which is only a known factor about a third of the time) or if I'm planning on assaulting in the next phase. However, I've found that I usually want the assault to last until my opponent's assault phase so that my avengers don't get shot at, and bladestorm makes that less likely to happen. Tactics with the defend power are equally confusing. Generally, the opponents I assault fall into one of two categories: those I don't need defend to destroy, and those who will destroy me whether I have defend or not. Thus, both exarch powers seem useless. I've switched to fielding squads of 9 basic avengers because spending the extra points for the exarchs feels like a waste.

Warp Spiders
I like these guys, but for 137 points (4 norms + 1 exarch w/ powerblades & twin death spinners) I think I'd rather upgrade other units or just add more guardians/avengers. Perhaps I'm not using them correctly. I usually deep strike them into cover near a juicy target and let them play assassin. This usually works, but then I find them either surrounded by too many baddies or too far away to make a big difference in the game. I guess it hurts that I haven't managed a decent reserves roll before turn four in a single game. Maybe they're just coming in too late to be effective.

What can I say? He's a beast who scares my opponents silly. With the EML / brightlance heavy weapons combo, he's pretty good at popping vehicles from a distance... and I love the fact that he's monstrous and gets to ignore armor in close combat too. The only thing that irritates me about this guy is that he is so doggone difficult to maneuver. In an army that is supposed to be about speed, this big lug just plods along behind everybody else. Needing to keep him near a psyker doesn't help matters.

Wave Serpent
I love dumping troops off, shooting, and then tank shocking stuff the following turn. It might not be the most effective tactic, but it's quite amusing.

So far, this is my favorite model. It packs some respectable firepower and has a halfway decent transport ability tacked on as well. I can't decide whether or not I like the holo-fields. They do make me feel better, but I generally play so conservatively that the falcon just doesn't get shot at too much... and when he does, he's usually getting a cover save.

What's on my list next? I want a jetseer (a farseer on a jetbike). I've ordered a jetbike and some bits for the conversion, but I'm still waiting for them to arrive. I really wish there was a way to protest Games Workshop putting an option in the codex that they don't sell a model for. That just seems dirty. I really want a whole squad of warlocks on jetbikes too, but I want to see how much of a pain the conversion is before I commit more than $15 to the idea. I'll post pics of it as soon as I start the job.

Profiling Myself

I haven't written too much lately, but I haven't neglected reading other RPG blogs, and I came across a cool post by Alex Schroeder (found here) about his DM profile. Basically, he has taken a list of X vs. X preferences, stated which he prefers, and gives a quick explanation of why. Needless to say, I was inspired to go through the list and see how I fit in, and these are my results. Following Alex's formatting, the terms in bold are those that I prefer:

  • Comprehensive Rules vs. Minimal Rules – Because I'm one of those guys who can pick up an RPG supplement and read it for pleasure even when I know I'll never get a chance to play it, I tend to read these rulebooks a lot and I usually either know the rules by heart or know where to find them quickly... and I'd prefer to point to the rulebook rather than try to explain my reasoning on an ad hoc ruling.
  • High Power Fantasy vs. Low Power Fantasy – I want my games to feature fantastic elements. Magic can override all sorts of mundane obstacles, but magic vs. magic can be very interesting and often rewards thinking outside the box.
  • Narrative Mechanics vs. Simulation Mechanics – While I do like the story, I'm not a big fan of story mechanics. Let the mechanics solve combat and stuff, but leave the narration to us.
  • Strategic Chargen vs. Simple Chargen – As a player, I absolutely love fiddling around with all the different options I can use when I create a character. As a DM, I like the character creation process to be as simple as possible, mainly because if it is at all time-consuming, my brother won't do it until 30 minutes before we start playing and then we're either delayed or he's got a hastily-thrown-together mess.
  • Tactical Encounter vs. Strategic Adventure – I think that with an optimal play schedule, this would be different. However, life as a grown-up has led to gaming much less often than I'd like and sometimes the "adventures" feel a little disjointed because of the amount of time between sessions. Thus, the encounters themselves seem more "whole" and have become my preference.
  • Combat Balance vs. Adventure Balance – If we drank, I'd say that our games hold on to some of that old "beer & pretzels" feel. There is a story, but the fun part is in the bashing of monsters. Combat balance is important.
  • Balanced Encounter vs. Balanced Adventure – The idea that players will only encounter stuff that they can beat just doesn't make sense to me. I've used it, but I don't like it. I'd rather keep my players on their toes.
  • Wargame Combat vs. Abstract Combat – Before D&D Miniatures were released, I never used minis. Now that I have, I don't think I'll ever go back (except for in Rifts... and I'd use minis for that too if I could find decent ones).
  • GM as player vs. GM as referee – Although I can get a little adversarial when I'm using one of my favorite NPCs, for the most part I just want to set up interesting scenarios and see what happens. I have to admit, though, that when the baddies are getting spanked and one crits a PC, I do cheer a little.
  • Fantastic Characters vs. Common Characters – I like seeing super heroes, wizards, strange races, and cyborgs. This is fantasy, right?
  • Established Setting vs. DIY Setting – While I enjoy the Forgotten Realms and Phaseworld (my two favorite settings ever), I prefer to create my own stuff.
  • Resource Optimization vs. Creative Problem Solving – I want both! However, some of the most memorable sessions were those in which the players thought of a way to solve a problem that I hadn't anticipated.

Interestingly enough, I'm exactly the opposite of Alex on many of these. I'd bet that there are trends in DMs, such as "most DMs who prefer comprehensive rules also prefer simulation mechanics and wargame combat." Alex linked High Power Fantasy vs. Low Power Fantasy with Fantastic Characters vs. Common Characters in his explanations. There's probably a trend there too.

Any thoughts?
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