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October 31, 2009

SPOOKY Pic of the Day 10-31-09

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pic submitted by: Matthew Fillebrown


Salamanders Jack-O-Lantern! BOO!

~Your daily dose of tabletop fun! Enjoy. If you have an awesome shot you think would make a great BoLS pic of the day, email us. If its one of the rarer xenos races, even better!

40K CONSPIRACY THEORY: Marine Statue Kit?

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So for a long time now (as far back as Apocalypse), we've seen these crazy display tables that GW keeps putting together.

We didn't know it at the time, but almost every urban plastic component we see in the Apocalypse books, down through Planetstrike is now available. From the Cities of Death kits, to the bastions, to the defense lines, to the recent Shrine of the Aquila and the mighty Fortress of Retribution. All except one... Those pesky giant Marine statues that keep popping up all over the place.

Recently Games Workshop put up a big article on how they created one of these stunning display tables (this one has Space Wolves vs. Tyranids). And low and behold, look at that top detail of one of the in production shots.

Now the article says this is just a special one time 3-up of a Space Wolf mini, but I don't know if I can buy it. It sure doesn't look like a 3-up of anything we've ever seen before, and I sure think I can see snip marks at certain locations from where sprue was trimmed off. Hmmmm...

~What's your take?

2nd Annual Halloween Spooky Tales!

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HAPPY HALLOWEEN!


Its that time of year again, and that can only mean its time for the 2nd Annual BoLS Halloween Spooky Tales! Here the deal:

The story setting can be 40k, or Fantasy, and we want to see what you can whip up to scare, chill, and impress us all. Throw your best stuff in the comments, and check back all day to vote up your favorites.


~We had a blast last year, so here is the default BoLS ghost story to get your creative juices flowing. Tell your friends, hammer out those stories, and let's have a happy BoLS Halloween!


"It was the darkest night I'd ever seen. We was 15 light years outside the Piraeus system back in 974.M41 and the Spiders were scared. We'd been raised from the meanest, dirtiest scum Necromunda could offer but this night was different. We was hunkered down in the icy dark in a blasted out derelict ship we homed in on. We calmed our nerves with drink and cards, dancing shadows from our lum-strips casting crazed shadows that cavorted through the wreckage. One by one we were dying.

We didn't know what it was, but every 49 minutes it feed... a short gurgle, a muffled scream, then nothing. We were down to my command squad and Commissar Gyart, thumbing his pistol and rubbing an Aquilla necklace incessantly. No one felt better seeing a Commissar nervous.

Then it came for ME. Out of the corner of my eye, I saw the shadows grow. They moved with a pattern of their own and formed into a blurred memory from my childhood nightmares. I peered back at my boys, but theys were motionless. Not even the shadows from our lum-strips moved and I knew I was dead already. As I turned to face the I saw the glint of malice in its impossible rings of razor teeth.

As I offered myself to the Emperor I felt a BANG deep in my very soul. Through terrified squinting eyes I saw an Astartes, bathed in green balefire before me. He glared at my attacker, his eyes crimson coals. Bolter ablaze he struck the horror back to the nothingness whence it came.

I awoke in the morning with Commissar Gyart looming over me. He said I had slept through the night and no men had been lost. An Arvus was coming to pick us up and we would be off this icy rock in an hour. As dawn broke over the horizon I gathered my gear to head to our extraction zone. A glimmer caught my eye and I spied a single bolter shell at my feet, nestled in the icy sludge. A word was barely visible, etched into its ancient, corroded side. It said
Firehawks."

October 30, 2009

Hobby: Vallejo Course Pumice

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One of my favorite mediums for applying to the base of a figure is Vallejo Course Pumice. This stuff is pumice sand in a suspension of acrylic resin, which looks like a sandy paste. When it is dry it has a rough sandy texture to it. This stuff has some utility beyond basing, which is why I love using it so much.


I utilize this stuff just as one would use sand and PVA/white glue. The main difference is that when the pumice is dry it is much harder and I do not have the flaking problem that one may get with sand. I also have found that I can add bits pushed down into the pumice. When I do this the pumice effectively glues the bit down to the base. The reason I have moved to using this is that any gap in the slotta base is easily and quickly covered over by the pumice.

When I use the Vallejo Pumice I start by guessing at a portion I will need, and I will take out that portion from the tub and place on an old bottle cap or jar lid. I transfer what I need out of the tub so I do not prematurely dry out what is left in the tub, which is also a useful tip when working with premixed spackle.

Once I have my working stock, I begin applying the pumice to the base with an old #11 X-Acto blade. (Important safety tip: when using old hobby blades for non-cutting projects be careful because they are dull the cuts they can make to you are worse.) I start working from the inside of the base outwards, and I work with a wet blade. A wet blade is a blade that has been dipped in water, and is useful because it will smooth the surface of the pumice.

Once the pumice is applied to the entire base there are a few directions to go. The most obvious is to let the pumice dry and treat it like sand on a base. This works just fine and is most useful when painting armies. However, I like getting outside of the box and found that this pumice will hold bits on to the base like glue. What I have done is applied bits from my bits box, talus, or ballast to bases to add some visual interest.

At the beginning of this article, I wrote about the utility of this product. One of my favorite aspects about the Vallejo pumice is that it adds some actual weight to a base. It doesn’t add enough weight to counter balance off center metal models, but it works perfect for plastic figures. My other use for this product is on vehicles. I have found it works great for modeling mud build up on tracks, track guards, and tires.

There are some who will argue that sand works just as well, or that the $12(US) price tag is a bit much. However, I have based close to 4 dozen figures and still have more than half a tub left. Also when you are spending $15-$60(US) for single models the price consideration becomes negligible. Overall I like this stuff and recommend that everyone give it a try.




Before I close out this article I thought I would share a picture of my finished witch figure from my last article. Enjoy!






For those of you who have used the Vallejo Course Pumice tell us about your experience with it. Also feel free to post up your ideas with how you would use this stuff.

40K ASKEW: Making Lemonade out of Lemons

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Today or tomorrow you will be putting on a costume that I hope does not involve bell bottoms or a big afro. Going to the Halloween super stores over the week I noticed just how everything looked bizarrely the same. It was like being trapped in the same Halloween party that has been going on for the last 20 years. I looked down the aisles and thought just how generic and bland most of these costumes were. When did all the originality evaporate? I really hope you don't think you are special when you put on that Bernard Madoff mask.

What Halloween got me thinking about is, how did the designers at Games Workshop balance obvious fantasy and sci-fi cliches to make a such a great fiction? First take a look at the biggest unoriginal offenders by GW. Many fantasy folks have accused the designers of being lazy and taking fantasy archetypes and handing them guns to create "instant sci-fi". The most egregious transgressor has been the Eldar our "original" Space Elves. Then, the Orks which really did not change much from their Warhammer fantasy, except for Goblins becoming Grots and Grechin being sufficiently neutered in the face of their bigger siblings.

Need undead Egyptians...?. Boom! Tomb Kings which begat Necrons. Of course it was only a matter of time before Dark Elves would pop out the Dark Eldar. Not enough Lovecraftian in our life, we get Chaos. Then, in an obvious marketing plan GW opens in Japan with Tau with their flagrant Gundamy and Asian aesthetic. Which also makes you wonder, were the Witchunters simply an attempt to get the French buying 40k thinking if we make naughty nuns and put a fleur de les everywhere they will enticed. Many of us can remember back when the IG were taken over the historical deep end. Suddenly every possible Gilded age army was created. Sadly taking the sci out of the IG make everything seem like a battle out of Lawrence of Arabia.

If only I could have been a fly on the wall for when the Space Wolves and the Blood Angels were designed. I wonder if it was some intern that stood up and said: What do you guys think about Vikings in space? Then, someone says,"Can they be werewolves too"? Poor Blood Angels are the most emo marine chapter in the entire galaxy. Nothing says emo like cool hair cuts and vampires! We should be grateful the writers created great fluff to go with the Space Wolves and Blood Angels even though they will always be based in cliche land.

That is the thing however. GW wisely built their empire on a solid foundation of literary titans like Tolken, Herbert, and Lovecraft. From this foundation GW has done a pretty good job fusing so many disparate elements to create dynamic fictional universes. It is amazing that Blood Angels fluff in some crazy way makes sense. Not to mention the creative ways Warhammer Fantasy has linked such armies as the Vampire Counts to Tomb Kings. So when you are about to put on that one MJ glove for Halloween think: "is there any way I can avoid not being another cliched clone" because you do not want your Halloween night to end up as awkward as this...



Let's hear how you are keeping the hobby original, be it your own Space Marine chapter or "counts as" army. What is your favorite fluff and how would rate the 40K and Fantasy armies on the originality scale? Who's your favorites, and who need another edition to pull them out of b-movie of the week land? Happy Halloweeen everybody!

Of course you can find me in my bat cave at www.bloodofkittens.com

40K BATTLE REPORT: Space Wolves(Goats) vs CSMs (Video)

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Hi everybody.

The BoLS video battlereports continue. This time we have Goatboy's prized Space Goats heading onto the tabletop. Darkwynn has taken the reins of bigred's Death Guard and is looking to put them in their place. The chilling howl of the Thunderwolves is heard in the distance and battle is joined!




BoLS YouTube Channel (check us out)


~Comments are welcome guys! You can expect many more battle reports and videos featuring all aspects of the hobby from your favorite writers, and more. Get on in there and let us know what you liked, wanted to see me improve, and of course Monday-morning quarterbacking is always great fun after a battle report.

October 29, 2009

40k Pic of the Day 10-29-09

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pic submitted by: D-Company


Colonel Davy Crockett prepares his position.

~Your daily dose of tabletop fun! Enjoy. If you have an awesome shot you think would make a great BoLS pic of the day, email us. If its one of the rarer xenos races, even better!

40K DEEP THOUGHT: Do Chaos Daemons Break the Game?

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Hi everybody,

Today's open discussion isn't about Chaos Deamons in particular. They are just he most current example of something thats been on my mind of late.

That is, what do you consider "the game" to be? By that I mean, when I want to play a game of Warhammer 40k, I make several assumptions:

-I will be playing a game with another player.
-I will be using one of my armies
-I will get to spend a few hours in a game of maneuver and tactics
-I will be pitting my player skill (and luck) versus my opponent
-I will be trying to have a fun time with my hobby time

Chaos Daemons are currently the most untraditional army available, and on occasion I feel that they break the game. Now I don't mean they are unbeatable or overpowered (they aren't).

The issue is it feels at times like I'm not playing 40k at all, but some other game set in the same universe with an alternative ruleset; kind of like the old killteam rules were. Chaos Daemon games are so unpredictable for both players, and the entire deployment options and special rules are so alien to any other army, that I really have to be in "the mood" to play them. One of the key concepts of 40k is control. That is, I'm the player and I make the decisions, commanding my troops on the tabletop for good or bad. Chaos Daemons often give me an "along for the ride-electric football" vibe, that can result in some very odd games (The old World Eaters list used to have a little of this as well).

My question is do any of you guys feel similarly, and where do you draw the invisible lines of what you consider "the game" to be? Would you like to see Games Workshop crank out other Codices aling the lines of Chaos Daemons with really alternative play styles, or do you feel a certain amount of regularity is needed for the game to still be the game, and the crazy stuff saved for supplements like Planetstrike, etc...?

~Have at it.

40K TACTICS: Nine Principles of War - Pt. 4

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Applying the Nine Principles of War to Fifth Edition Warhammer 40,000.


A series by: Rogue428

So far we’ve covered the first three of the Nine Principles of War; Mass, Objective, and Simplicity. This week we hit one of the big ones, because depending on how you interpret it, it can cover almost anything.

Security: Never permit the enemy to acquire unexpected advantage.
“If you can’t see the enemy, he still may be able to see you.”
-Murphy’s Laws of Combat

Regarding Warhammer 40,000, this Principle is not talking about cheating. This is addressing unexpected advantages, not unauthorized ones. It is also not talking about luck. There’s nothing you can do about an opponent getting lucky and making fifteen invulnerable saves in a row. This is talking about unexpected advantages that you can control.

One central thought we should keep in mind when discussing this Principle is the old maxim, “Control the Controllable.” There’s enough to worry about in this game without worrying about the aspects of the game you cannot control. Concentrate on what you can control. First thing you can control; know the rules. Don’t think you know them. Know them. Highlight your rulebook so you can point out potentially contentious rules to your opponent in an amicable manner. Yes, some of the rules are nebulous and open to interpretation, and the rules do not cover all of the situations all of the time. Most of the rules in fifth edition are very straightforward and cut and dry. Often the problem is that people don’t seem to know them. The rulebook is an impartial third-party. Make it your ally.

In our hobby, it is common for us to play with open lists. So you might think that it would be fairly hard for opponents to gain an unexpected advantage as far as their lists go. Yet in my experience, I can’t even count how many times I’ve handed a list to an opponent at a tournament, only to have him give it a cursory glance and then hand it right back. What did he have time to glean in the short time he looked at the list? Certainly, not much more than maybe the flavor of army I was playing that day. Tournaments often require that each participant bring enough copies of his list to give to each opponent. When offered your opponent’s list, really read it. You don’t need to memorize it, but really look it over. What pieces of wargear jump out at you? What special weapons could pose a problem to your army? What unit is the obvious threat? What unit is not the obvious threat? Ask to keep the list if you can. That way when you’re crying over your miniatures at the end of the day wondering how in the world you lost to Necrons, you can try to find out why.

On the subject of warfare, this Principle is heavily concerned with espionage, counter-espionage, and the gathering of intelligence. While we don’t have to worry about spies in 40K, we do have access to intelligence, and lots of it. Your primary sources of intelligence are the army codices. Read the other army codices. Know what other armies can do. There is nothing worse than having your large and expensive squad of Grey Knights standing safely out of a Defiler’s range, only to find out that the battle cannon can shoot a lot further than you thought it could.



If you’re going to a tournament, check the internet forums and see what the flavor-of-the-month lists are for different armies. Are the double-lash prince or nob-biker builds still in vogue or has the meta-game or a new codex release trumped them? If you’re playing in a local league, and you’re more likely to know your opponents ahead of time, what armies do the players own and therefore are most likely to bring? When building your lists, what can you do to counter their advantages? Consider one of Sun Tzu’s most popular quotes, “It is said that if you know your enemies and know yourself, you will not be imperiled in a hundred battles; if you do not know your enemies but do know yourself, you will win one and lose one; if you do not know your enemies nor yourself, you will be imperiled in every single battle.”

Switching gears slightly, clarify any questions you have before the game starts, especially when talking about conversions. Nothing hurts more than assaulting a nicely converted Daemon Prince only to discover that it was really a strange conversion for a Lord of Change.



If you’re not familiar with the army, ask what force organization slot a selection might be. Of course, if you’ve held on to your opponent’s list, you might not have to ask, but it doesn’t hurt. Are those Wraithguard troops or elites? Do the infantry in that transport near the objective count as troops or something else? A unit of Sternguard in an army lead by Vulkan He’stan and Sternguard in an army lead by Pedro Kantor are strategically very different!

Discuss terrain with your opponent before every game no matter how obvious something may seem. Just because the piece of felt with two trees on it means a Woods, difficult terrain, and a 4+ cover save to you, doesn’t mean that it represents the same thing to him. What are you treating as true line-of-sight? What is area terrain? Be sure!

Do not allow yourself to be rushed into making a mistake. You must keep self-discipline (though not to the point that you’re not having fun, after all that’s why it’s a game). Make up a mental checklist to run through at the end of every phase. After a game or two, it will only take a few seconds to run through it. Did everyone move? Did everyone shoot? Have you committed to all assaults before beginning to resolve the first one? Though it happens to the best of us, resist the urge to focus in on one part of the tabletop, no matter how exciting or critical it may be. Constantly reproach yourself and take in the entire field. Keep the big picture in mind.

Do everything you can to gain any unexpected advantages yourself. Several units allow you to redeploy elements of your army or of your opponent’s army. Use them if they fit in your play style. Other units show up where needed on the battlefield. Their fortuitous appearance at a decisive point could be game changing! Stand and focus your attention away from units that are important to your plans. To quote Napoleon, “Never interrupt your enemy when he is making a mistake.” Unless you’re going to be sporting of course, the ultimate goal is for both players to have fun after all.

When you can, don’t allow your opponent to take saves. Use low AP weapons where possible and weapons that deny cover saves. Why does the Imperial Guard Collosus Mortar make Space Marines cry? You’ve taken away their vaunted save and now they die like Termagants, that’s why.

Finally, use markers. There is a lot to remember in this game. Sometimes it can be a little tough remembering what happened to a particular vehicle last turn. Was it shaken? Was it immobile? Several companies make nice markers or dice to help you keep track of who is pinned and what is stunned. Alternatively, you can make your own. Use them. Bring enough for your army and your opponent’s. Then it makes things very apparent that those bikers turbo-boosted last turn or that the Leman Russ can’t shoot. It also cuts down on arguments and helps you sort out victory points at the end of the game.

Bottom line: control the controllable and deny your opponent the opportunity to interfere.

A lot of what falls under the Principle of Security seems very obvious when reading from the armchair. The real trick is remembering and applying all of it in the heat of the game.

Next time, we’ll cover the Principle of Maneuver, which is sometimes hard to pull off on a four-foot by six-foot surface.

Rogue428 has been playing 40K since the start of 4th edition. He fields Dark Eldar, Tyranids, Daemonhunters, Necron, and of course, Space Marines. As of last week, he and Lady Luck are no longer on speaking terms (and she may have filed a restraining order).

October 28, 2009

40K Pic of the Day 10-28-09

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Pic submitted by Mike Curtis


That is the yellowest Land Raider I have ever seen!

~Your daily dose of tabletop fun! Enjoy. If you have an awesome shot you think would make a great BoLS pic of the day, email us. If its one of the rarer xenos races, even better!

40K NEWS: Forgeworld Goodies

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Hi guys,

Two new goodies fresh from Forgeworld today:

Khorne Blood Slaughterer Impaler
Nurgle Plague Hulk

These two are up on pre-order, shipping out the week of November 2nd.

~The Blood Slaughterer's Impaler is pretty cool, as it drags its targets towards itself and into close combat.

40K TACTICS: Steel Rain (Drop Pods)

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Darkwynn here. Lets talk about drop pods!

Drop pods in 4th edition were one of the top lists back in the day but currently in 5th edition they have moved quite a few seats back amongst the ranks of the top dogs. One of the most obvious choices of playing a drop pod army is if you are going first you will "in theory" be able to perform a surgical strike at key targets crippling your opponent’s army.

Unfortunately, the lower cost of a Rhino and their always having mobility makes the venerable Imperial APC a better overall choice than the sexier drop pod in some situations. Drop pods can still be effective in 5th edition IF combined with certain units, and a balanced ground support force.

Problems with Drop Pods
Mobility and deployment can be one of the biggest problem with drop pods right now. When you are sitting off the table and only one or two units deployed and your opponent has his whole army on the board you might have some serious challenges. It will always depend on the mission you are playing but one of the biggest things is once you land on the table, you are committed. You’re not getting back in your drop pod and going somewhere else. You are not going to run after the foe to assault him. You are there and you are forced to foot slog if you really need to get to a distant objective with that unit.

This brings me to my next point that most smart players will do against drop pod armies. They will reserve their army off the board and force you to come down with a portion of your army not able to destroy anything. Now you are in a situation where your units are out of position and will be hard pressed to do anything useful. So how do you handle or try to hedge some of these problems that you may encounter?

Castle and Hold
What I do to handle most of these situations depends on the missions. If you are playing an objective based game I decide immidiately which objectives I am able to secure, defend and keep my opponent's army away from. I usually do this picking the farthest objectives in some cases or the densest area that I can protect. If I can keep more than one or two objectives I usually win the game. What you are doing is creating a Castle on those objectives and drop poding around that area. You can’t divide your army up because you will just lose units piecemeal and you will not be able to effectively support them. You have to create a castle and commit to it.

If you are playing Killpoints your best bet is to deploy your long range hitting units farther away and wait till your other units come down and create a pincher move with your army. Ideally you want to set up combos like the following: You have a half castle deployed on the table and your opponent is ready to hit your lines the next turn with say a Land Raider Crusader. If you are able to deep strike such units as Dreadnoughts and they are able to destroy the Land Raider, you probably already have the counter assault units in the first drop pod wave ready and you can negate the next turn assault and throw your opponents game off keel.

Drop Pod Tactics that Work
The biggest thing when playing a drop pod army is being able to organize what you are going to put in drop pods and making sure on the amount of drop pods you have in your army for deep striking. Before going further I have found that a mix of drop pods with mechanized support as a hybrid list does a lot better than all drop pod army. That being said, if you are going to do a drop pod army I would suggest anywhere from 6-8 pods at a minimum to get the most effective deployment of your army and using other units that will give them synergies.

Units that are Effective in Drop pods:
-Tactical Marine Squad with Combi Melta, Melta gun, Multi-Melta or Missile launcher: Perfect all around unit.
-Ironclad Dreadnoughts or Regular Dreadnoughts with some type of Multa-melta load out + heavy flamer: Perfect for hitting tanks or flaming squads
- Small Stern guard squad with 3 or 4 Combi Melta: Also does very well to take out key tank or hit certain small squads
-Assault Marine Squad: Drop Poding them into certain areas might be beneficial to either hold objectives or to tar pit certain units.

Dirty Tricks
- One of my favorite units is Scout Bikers. A lot of people write them off because of 4+ save and BS:3 and just really go into how bad the unit is but they are one of the best delivery systems for Drop pods. Put a locator beacon in the unit. They will Infiltrate on the board and they will have a scout move which you can turbo boost across the board for a 3+ save. When your first turn comes up you are able to deploy drop pods 6 inches away from them without a chance of scatter and you have your unit’s right in your opponents face. The key goal of the biker move is to allow the pod's 6 inch radius from the beacon plus 2 inches from disembarking from the pod should get your melta weapons easily within 6 inches of target vehicles for double penetration rolls.

- Drop pods with Locator Beacons being deployed in second or third round. Use these to aid a Librarian with Gate and certain spells such as Avenger or Vortex and such. You would be able to teleport to the Drop pod in safety and get into position to either flame or shoot that key target unit.

Drop Pod Synergies
Units that add great synergies to Drop pod armies that I love are things such as Vulkan which makes sure your melta and flamer weapons are going to be more effective on your surgical strikes which gives you the added benefit of having to take less special weapons and adding that cost into other areas of your army. Tigurius is another great unit to take with a drop pod army as it allows you to have better control of when your army comes in. If your opponent is reserving his whole army off the board and you have deployed your tactical squads at a good distance you can just wait till they come on. By using Tigurius you can at least control when you need your key units to deep strike.

~These are just some quick pod tips that popped out and from my personal experience. Generals the floor is yours. Tell me how well Drop Pod armies have worked for you in 5th edition! As usual, tips and tricks are welcome.

October 27, 2009

40K Pic of the Day 10-27-09

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Pic submitted by Dean Hahn


An objective this unique deserves a haiku contest. GO!

~Your daily dose of tabletop fun! Enjoy. If you have an awesome shot you think would make a great BoLS pic of the day, email us. If its one of the rarer xenos races, even better!

40K EDITORIAL: Dreaming of Baal

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Hey all, Jawaballs here!

Bigred made the announcement about the return of the Blood Angels, and tickled all our little toes. Now it is time for the speculation! What will the new Blood Angels codex have in store for us? Here is a list of what I feel are the current BA short fallings, and what I would like to see in the new Dex.

Current Edition Updates
These are some things that need to be brought in line with the current codex without question. This is a no brainer and should have been done with a quick edit of the PDF. Shame on GW for not doing so.

-5 man max terminator squads? Why can Blood Angels only take 15 terms in an army?

-No Teleport Homers? WTF?

-Storm Shields cost as much as generic ones, but way less effective. Why?
Transport capacity of models? I admit, OCE are nice and it can be reasoned that they take up capacity, but what about the Land Raider?

-Power of the Machine Spirit?

-Can BA Landspeeders deep strike? I have not actually looked into this yet, but I certainly deep strike mine when I use them.

Basicly, fix any discrepencies that may exist between the Blood Angel and Space Marine codex in terms of wargear and weapons; OR print some sort of different fluff, reason or whatever and give them advantages that off set the obvious disadvantages instead of being just plain lazy and saying "Some chapters may use different versions of some wargear." Bull Hockey. Why would an assault army use inferior Storm Shields? Having taken care of those problems:

Wish List - Reasonable Changes First
-Do not change how Over Charged Engines work. I like the random die roll. I like the stalling as it is. No need to mess with it. No need to make them immobilized. If it aint broke, dont fix it. Leave OCE alone.

-Add OCE to all BA vehicles, including Land Raiders.

-Give the Blood Angels their own variant of the Land Raider.

-Give more options for squads. Allow us to buy individual models in addition to our base number. As of now, we can have 5 or 10 tactical marines. Why can't I take 6?

-Give our Sergeants and vets wargear options.

-Give Death Company Power Weapons. Or at least give them an option. Banshees have Power Weapons! Rending was nerfed into a mere tickle. Give people a reason to take Death Company again. The coolest unit of the Blood Angels has been relegated to a minimal distraction by most players. I field the bare minimum in my army.

-Improve the Heavy Flamer option on the Baal Predator. There is no reason to take them. You will almost never land both flamers on a squad, and even if you get to land one, you will probably not get to cover too many models with it. It is a useless option. Maybe allow it to be taken like a pintle mounted version, or allow it to fire its gout of flame like a Devil Dog.

New Psychic Powers
Currently, the BA have what... 3 powers? Most of them are useless. One allows a jump pack move! Not sure but can't generic librarians take jump packs?

-Give Mephiston an Iron Halo. Lowly Imperial Guard officers can take them, why not one of the most powerful and reverred psychers in all of the Imperium? (with his 3 powers...) Give him and Dante Eternal Warrior.


Wish List - Robust Changes
-Give Blood Angels Fleet.

-Give their Rhinos Assault Ramps. Make them the Assault Machines they should be.

-Reduce cost of Death Company, allow them to be optional and reduce the cost of all models entirely.

-Throw in some unique wargear.

-Give Corbulo a power weapon for gods sake.

-Don't touch Dante at all.

CRAZED Wishlisting
-Allow the Blood Angels to take an Apocalypse flyer model of their own like IG. How bout the Thunderhawk? Its too big? Make sure it is allowed to hover over any models on the table. Allow it to transport multiple squads, terminators and dreadnoughts, And only make it cost 140 points. (kidding)

-Give Drop Pods Assault Ramps. All jokes aside, that might just be reasonable. Kinda going along with the killer assault aspect of the Blood Angels.

~Any thoughts? Input? What do you think the new BA codex should improve on? Omit? Be sure to check out the progress of my army on my blog. The next 6 months are going to bring a lot of change for me with the new dex coming and my efforts to upgrade my list to be competitive again. At this time, I am playing with a few configurations. Jump packs, drop pods, or foot slogging tactical squads? What should I do? Feel free to pop in and give some input!

Jawaballs Out

BoLS CHALLENGE: Lounge Inkwell Edition

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Hi guys,

Its time for another BoLS Lounge Challenge!

Just under 3 months ago, we opened the BoLS Lounge , and it is growing strong! With thousands of users, millions of pageviews, and all the freshest news, rumors, and conversations, the Lounge has something for everybody. We have been adding Lounge improvements from user blogs, to the largest attachment limits around (for you hobbyists out there), and even more cool stuff is in the works. Remember you can always keep an eye on the latest Lounge topics via the widget on the right hand column.

We would like to say THANK YOU to our loyal readers and posters, as well as any of you other folks who haven't joined quite yet, but want a shot at the following loot:

-A brand new Imperial Guard Cadian Shock Troops Box
-A copy of Dan Abnett's: Brothers of the Snake
-A copy of David Ferring's: The Konrad Saga

This week the challenge is fiendishly simple. Two weeks from today, I will draw the single registered BoLS Lounge poster who has achieved the rank of Scout or higher (thats 5 whole posts) who started the most popular new thread (by number of comments) on the forum. They win the 3 prizes. So if you think you have a great topic the community can't live without, a delicious news morsel, tactica, or a treatise to dazzle the masses, lets see your best stuff. Pencils out... no trolling!

~The clock is ticking, and some lucky person is winning the loot. Take a look around the Lounge, meet some new friends, drop into our threads, and make some of your own. As one of our previous happy Challenge winners (seen below) would say, "what have you got to lose?"



40K TACTICS: Know When to Reserve It

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One of the big differences in Fifth Edition is every mission allows Reserves. I use Reserves almost every game for various reasons. The most obvious use is preserving Troop choices to enter later in the game and grab objectives after the heavy hitting has died down and their chances of success improve; if you aren’t going to use Reserves extensively, at least try holding a scoring unit or two back for objectives; this single maneuver is enough to improve your game. Here are some of the best times to use Reserves:

1) Drop Pod Army – It sucks to have Drop Pods with Meltaguns land in your lines and destroy your tanks and transports, or Sternguard blasting units to shreds. Half of the opposing Drop Pods have to come in on turn 1; if you have nothing on the board, your opponent is forced to either drop far enough from your edge to be safe (but useless), or drop close and take a beating as you enter the board.

2) Outranged, Outgunned, and Going Second – I play a really assault-oriented CSM list for fun games, and face a lot of heavily gunned enemy forces. If I deploy everything and hope to steal the initiative, I’m likely to have a lot of sad Berserkers walking across the board. If I hold everything back, I at least get to pop smoke, and maybe I’ll drop some Oblits or Terminators in to disrupt things and allow the troops to advance.

3) Shooty Daemons – Better letting them land and killing them when you come in from Reserve.

4) Charging Enemy + Assault Army – If you’re facing an enemy that is likely to charge towards your positions (maybe you stacked 3 of 5 objectives in one deployment zone and ended up there, other reasons may happen as well) and you have an Assault Army, holding a lot of Reserves can get you charges from the board edge. Remember to hold units in Rhinos separate from their transports, so you can come in and assault.

5) Outranged Against Gunline and Spearhead Deployment – This is especially true when you have good Outflankers and Deepstriking elements; being able to hit from multiple directions makes breaking the enemy easier.

Please note that none of these are auto-win or without peril. Anytime you use Reserves heavily you risk defeat in detail, but when and how to use Reserves is something worth mastering.

~If you have some favorite times to use Reserves, feel free to share them with the class.

October 26, 2009

40K Pic of the Day 10-26-09

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GW's John Shaffer Impresses as BoLScon

~Your daily dose of tabletop fun! Enjoy. If you have an awesome shot you think would make a great BoLS pic of the day, email us. If its one of the rarer xenos races, even better!

40K TACTICS: Vindicare Assassin

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The Vindicare Assassin is the second most popular Imperial Assassin and the Assassin of choice for newer players. He's the deadliest sniper in the Imperium and makes an easy addition to most Imperial armies. This article talks about how to use him in 5th Edition.


Newer players are often inspired to add him to their army by the portrayal of the Imperial Assassin in Vindicare, a short story by C. S. Goto (in Tales from the Dark Millennium), and by the "Assassin" unit in Relic's 40k-based computer game, Dawn of War.

The Vindicare is a bit rarer in a veteran player's army because an Eversor or a Callidus is a bit better for the price. But we "old-timers" remember the memorable story of Agent Morias Skult (Vindicare Temple, 2nd Class) who took out an Ork Gargant with a single shot to the fuel line. The resulting explosion killed 800-900 Orks. Sadly, the mission was only 86.3% successful. The High Lords have very high standards for their Assassins.

If the Eversor is the Officio Assassinorum's Sword, then the Vindicare is the Scalpel. This article discusses the Vindicare, highlights his strengths and gives you some suggestions for fitting him into an army.

VINDICARE 101
Although he rarely leaves his perch, the Vindicare is no slouch in close combat. He shares all of the combat statistics of an Imperial Assassin, but lacks the much needed Power Weapon. However, what he lacks in close combat prowess he makes up as a marksman. The Temple Vindicare Assassin is armed with the Exitus Rifle (and three special rounds of ammunition), the Exitus Pistol, a nifty Spy Mask and a Stealth Suit. Combined with the Marksman special ability, the Vindicare is designed to be game's deadliest sniper.

The Marksman ability is what makes the Vindicare one of the most feared models around. This ability allows him to ignore ALL targeting restrictions and target ANY model in range and line of sight. That means models hidden inside units aren't hidden from him.

The Exitus Rifle is a specially designed Sniper Rifle with an AP value of 2. In addition, the Vindicare has access to three special rounds: the Shield-Breaker (ignores Invulnerable saves), the Turbo-Penetrator (inflicts 2 wounds, Armor Penetration of 3D6) and the Hellfire (wounds on a 2+). My favorite is by far the Hellfire round and I almost always use it on my first shot (usually targeting a hidden Power Fist or Icon Bearer). Nothing makes your opponent rethink his strategy than popping an important model with your first shot.

Note: The Exitus Rifle gained the "Sniper" ability. This means that it's a Rending, Pinning weapon (that counts as S3 against vehicles).

The Exitus Pistol is a darn-fine pistol. Although it doesn't have the Sniper ability of the Exitus Rifle, it is S5. So there are going to be many times where shooting the pistol is better than shooting your rifle, especially against T3/T4 targets (hits on a 2+, wounds 2+/3+ and is AP2). You can also move and shoot the Exitus Pistol (and assault if you really need to), so don't forget to pull out this gem of a pistol when you need it.

Note: You can also use the Marksman ability with the Exitus Pistol.

The Vindicare's Spy Mask reduces his target's cover save by one and allows him to roll 2D6x5 for determining how far he can see when Night Fighting, giving him an average of 35". His Stealth Suit forces the Night Fighting rules to be used when targeting him (and halves the distance if the Night Fighting rules are already in effect).

WHEN TO USE A VINDICARE
I regularly use the Vindicare in my Daemonhunters and Imperial Guard armies, but prefer other Assassins in my Witch Hunters lists. But I make a point to dust him off from time-to-time to remind people that he's around.

Vindicare's are especially effective against armies that rely on single wound models to benefit their unit (e.g., Regimental Advisors, Icon Bearers, Book-bearing Veteran Sister Superiors, Eldar Exarchs, Apothecaries, Dark Eldar Sybarites, etc.). He will also make players with valuable two-wound models think twice before disembarking them (e.g., Commissars and Rune Priests are going to dread a Vindicare).

Note: A Vindicare is pretty essential for the few Daemonhunters players that still play with Daemonhosts. Since Daemonhosts are T4, they are very vulnerable to S8 weapons. So I often use a Vindicare to kill a unit's Power Fist before my Daemonhost assaults, allowing him to do his job.

HOW TO USE A VINDICARE
The Vindicare is easy for a new player to use, but improves in effectiveness with the skill of the player. He is user-friendly; I often refer to him as the "Point-and-Click Assassin". The secret to a Vindicare effectively is choosing a good deployment location and choosing the right target.

You want to deploy the Vindicare in a safe location with a clear view of the battlefield. I generally place him just out of my opponent's path (i.e., the direction I expect him to advance), but in a location where he has a line of sight to that path. I place him in the best cover I can find.

Where you place your Vindicare determines how many targets he has and how vulnerable he is to assault and enemy shooting. Take great care in placing him (I usually have a location picked out when we're building the board and always before I put down my first model).

The next thing you need to know before you start the game is who your targets are going to be. Don't wait until the beginning of your turn to decide. Re-read what I just said. If you have a hard time thinking a turn or two in advance, then the Vindicare isn't for you; go with the Eversor or Callidus.

Every army has a soft spot; you just have to find it. Here are some things to look for: Rune Priests, Commissars, Regimental Advisors, Tau Ethereals, Icon Bearers, Exarchs, Spiritseers, Shadowseers, Necron Lords, Leadership-bubbles, Synapse Creatures, Death Company Chaplains, Apothecaries/Medics, Dark Eldar Sybarites, etc.

Dirty Trick #1: Didn't get a chance to kill that hidden Power Fist before he got into close combat with your army? No problem. As long as the Vindicare has line of sight and range, he can target a model in close combat.

As befits a scalpel, the Vindicare can be used to shave Kill Points in later turns. Look for stragglers that you can pick off. Look for locations where you can cause Morale tests and Pinning checks. Unlike most shooting units, the Vindicare is often more valuable in the last two turns than he was in the first two turns.

Almost as important as whom to target is who not to target. Don't go after a model you can't kill with one shot. Always avoid W3 models (and W2 late in the game). Don't go after models with an Invulnerable save. Don't go after models in hard cover. And finally, don't go after a model that won't have an impact on the game.

Due to the amount of cover afforded models in 5th Edition, it's definitely worth shooting the Turbo-Penetrator round at tanks. The Rending rule really gives this shell a nice boost, allowing you to roll 3D6+3 for penetration (averaging 13.5). And if you roll a 6 on any of those dice, you add a further +D3 to the total.

Math Hammer Fun: If you get one six on the result, your average penetration will jump to 18. If you get two sixes, the average penetration jumps to 22.5; and if you get three sixes, the average goes to 27. Your chance of getting at least one six on 3D6 is just over 42%. Not bad.

Note: Keep in mind that the Spy Mask reduces a vehicle's cover save by one. So smoke launchers only afford a 5+ save against the Turbo-Penetrator.

Dirty Trick #2: Ever have a pesky model that manages to survive a close combat in your opponent's turn and denies your ability to wipe out the enemy unit in your next shooting phase? No problem. As long as the Vindicare has line of sight and range, he can target ANY model. That includes models in your own army.

USING AN ALLIED VINDICARE
If you have an Imperial army, then you should have an Inquisitor and a few Imperial Operatives to toss in for variety. They are relatively inexpensive and can really make an army feel different. Here are some ideas for unsing the Vindicare in Imperial armies:

Imperial Guard: Although he can no longer benefit from orders (that was a fun few months), the Vindicare fits right into an IG army. I love combining my Vindicare with Ratling snipers and the Exitus Rifle is great at keeping Guardsman Marbo out of trouble. The sweetest plum is that the Vindicare will almost always survive because of the target rich environment; few opponents will risk the Night Fight check to try to kill a T4 W2 model with a 4+ Invulnerable when they have so many other things to shoot at.

Dirty Trick #3: The Vindicare just loves Psyker Battle Squads. Weaken Resolve really makes pinning weapons much nastier.

Space Wolves: I've been tinkering around with a Vindicare in my Space Wolves army, but still feel that the Callidus is a better match for my style of play (AWiYE is fantastic when used with Jaws of the World Wolf). But Space Wolves can always benefit from more long range shooting (especially the turbo-penetrator round). The most common use of the Vindicare will be picking choice enemy models out of close combat -- pesky Power Weapons and Power Fists, as well as putting wounds on tougher models to even the playing field.

Dirty Trick #4: I'd love to pop my own Lukas the Trickster with the Vindicare, lol. Being able to control when he dies makes him a lot more dangerous. And the Pelt of the Doppegangrel isn't much of a deterrent because the Vindicare's BS5.

Dirty Trick #5: If you are playing Annihilation and you are tight on Kill Points, use the Vindicare to take out your own Lone Wolves. In a close game, it can make all the difference.

Space Marines: The Vindicare works well with many Space Marine list variants. He plays well with Sniper Scouts and Sternguard Veterans; and he simply loves Null Zone.

Dirty Trick #6: A Vindicare is a pretty tough target in standard cover, gaining the better of the cover save or his 4+ Invulnerable (as well as being hard to see thanks to his snazzy Stealth Suit). But if you put him in Bostered Terrain, he takes a tremendous amount of shooting before he is removed as a casualty. Most players won't bother knowing that they are going to have to deal with Night Fight and a 2+/3+ cover save.


Dirty Trick #7: One of the problems with the Vindicare is the fact that he has only one shot and requires a 4+ to wound. But if you team up a Vindicare and Torias Telion, you have the ability to allocate up to THREE wounds per shooting phase. Between the two of them, you can quickly and reliably take out problem models.

Black Templars: The Vindicare adds much needed long range shooting to a Black Templars army, as well as the chance to cause pinning. If I was going to add any Assassin to a Black Templars army, it would be the Vindicare.

Dirty Trick #8: The Vindicare is great for generating Righteous Zeal tests on your own turn! Just target a model from one of your own units and pop him.

Note: Yes, you can have an Inquisitor in a Black Templars army; as long as you don't buy any psychic powers. They probably won't like him though.

The Vindicare is a ton of fun and every Imperial player should have one in his bag of tricks. He adds lots of variety and some much needed tactical thinking to the average game. If you already have one, then I hope this article gave you some great ideas on using your Vindicare in your 5th Edition armies. If so, I'd love to hear about it, and as always, your mileage may vary.

~Bigred here. Way back in 2006, Mkerr was one of the founding members of BoLS. He has recently returned from a long haitus and has carved out his new "40 acres and a mule" on the internet over at www.chainfist.com (quite the cool domain)! He has begun to rework his classis deamonhunter tacticas for 5th edition, as well as offering all types of armybuilding and tactics advice. So head on over and give a warm welcome the newest member of the 40k blogosphere. Tell him BoLS sent you! Comments are welcome.

Goatboy's 40k Thoughts: Thunder - Thunder - Thunder Wolves - HOOOO!!!!

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Goatboy here again - chatting about Space Wolves and some of the fun things I have been messing with lately. As you all know, my Space Goats chapter is nearing completion. I can't help painting those jerky skull white goats. In my play testing I have really come to like Thunder Wolves. Now until we get a real FAQ with the whole, "are they strength/toughness base 5 or not", we can't completely cry "OH MY GAWDS THIS IS UBER BROKEN!!! GW SUXXOR AND IS THE FAIL!!!". But we can discuss some of the uses of this unit and what it can bring to your Space Wolves army.

First of all, lets look at what we get out of the whole wolf mount thing. We get a stat bump of +1 Strength, Toughness and Attack. That is pretty cool, especially when dealing with the combat monsters that a Wolflord can become when attached to one of these smelly beasts. You also get classified as calvary as well as rending. Rending is a kinda funky bonus, as most of the time your Lord has some kind of special weapon that makes rending feel like parsley on a dinner plate. Yes if you want a super cheap lord, getting rending is pretty cool, but it is still something you will rarely want to roll when hitting a squad of marines.

The calvary bonus is pretty interesting as it gives you a really neat ability to almost ignore rapid fire. What I mean by this, is that most of the time, when you will be crashing into your enemy, you will most likely be 20 inches or so away (Fleet + 12" charge). So if your opponent did move to get into range, he will still be outside the magical 12", double tap range you might see most of the time. This is really an interesting move on GW to give a super assault unit a really intense feeling of crashing into your opponent that is reminiscent of Fantasy and the crashing of knights into rank up infantry.

Alright so now you have the basic bonus of the wild and wooly wolf rider what uses are they in the grand picture of 40k? Of course we understand they make an HQ unit powerful, but the actual unit itself has a few uses that are beyond the basic "kill them before they kill you".

Wolflord Pizza Delivery!!

The first use I have found is as a super assault lord delivery unit. I am sure we all have heard the crazy things a Saga of the Warrior borne guy can do when left to hit unit after unit. I have gotten 12 attacks so far with one of these monsters, and was only limited by hitting a Daemon Prince after eating another unit of guys. Getting one of these guys into a line is a very scary thing, especially when you start to look at 30+ ork boyz running around and the amount of bonus attacks you will have after 2 rounds of green skin killing. The amount of "extra" wounds the Wolflord will have will usually ensure a nice and warm pizza delivered into whatever enemy home you want. Plus, the extra attacks then can add into an ensuing combat can help you spread the love and blow up as many units as you can.

Oh Look at Me! Pay attention to ME!!!

The second use I have found for the unit is as a superb bluff unit. The models end up being so large and so fast moving that they excel in the whole, making the opponent pay attention to them as your troops move out to get ahold of objectives. I have had multiple armies pour fire and units in trying to stop the Thunder Wolf Cav. Yes they end up killing it, but in turn they have left themselves wide open to counter assaults as well as having to waste 2 to 3 turns to get rid of the crazy wolf guys. Most of the time, one unit of Thunder Wolves comes to 280 points and usually takes about 500 - 700 points of an opponent to try and resolve. So most of the time they usually get their points back as you get your Grey Hunters/Wolflords/or Rune Priests into position to do dirty psychic tricks to them.

My Big Fat Screening.

Another use for this unit is as a big screening unit for your vehicles. The models are huge and they can easily cover your vehicles behind them. This gives you another screening unit that can also put out some hurt if need be. I doubt you will see them used as this, but it is another options as the overall cost of the unit at its base level is not too bad. Plus you have a nice assault unit that can give a nice counter charge if need be.

I have been messing with some lists based on what I have painted. Currently another Goat Hunters squad as well as some Goat Scouts are currently on the painting bench. Besides that look for more Thunder Wolves as well as some new converted Wolf Lords and Iron Priests. We will see what I will end up with for Adepticon :).

Thunder Wolf Bluff/Pizza Delivery System

HQ: Wolflord, Saga of the Warrior Borne, Thunder Wolf, Storm Shield, Runic Armor, Frost Axe - 255pts
HQ: Njal - 245pts
Elites: Lone Wolf, Terminator Armor, Chainfist, Storm Shield, Fenris Wolves X 2 - 105pts
Elites: Lone Wolf, Terminator Armor, Chainfist, Storm Shield, Fenris Wolves X 2 - 105pts
Troops: Grey Hunters (10), Meltagun (2), MoW - 170pts
Troops: Grey Hunters (10), Meltagun (2), MoW - 170pts
FA: Thunder Wolf Cav (5), Powerfist - 280pts
FA: Fenris Wolves (10) - 80pts
Heavy: LRC, MM - 260pts
Heavy: LRR, MM - 250pts

This leaves me 80 points I could mess around with. I could drop Njal, get a regular Rune Priest and look at adding another Wolflord if I wanted to. I also know the LR's are not really worth it, but I have them painted right now and this would give me a fully finished army to play if needed. Personally, Space Wolves could go fully foot and be alright, as they have enough rush into your face, to be a threat quickly. Plus they can easily surround a vehicle and pop it, leaving the guys inside very little room to even get out if they could. I also know the Lone Wolves are a bit expensive too - but I find them very fun in the whole scheme of things.

~As usual if you have any questions please feel free to email me at GoatboyBols@gmail.com. Have fun with you Space Wolves guys!

Here are some commissioned work I am currently painting. I have a Space Hulk I am working, with Aventine working on the Marines and myself working on the Nids. As usual there are some Space Goats thrown in too.




October 25, 2009

40K Pic of the Day 10-25-09

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Against the Thundergoats!

~Your daily dose of tabletop fun! Enjoy. If you have an awesome shot you think would make a great BoLS pic of the day, email us. If its one of the rarer xenos races, even better!

EVENTS: Mechanicon 2009: IGT Tourney

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Hi everybody,

Today I'd like to get the word out about a new 40K IGT event going on in West Chester, PA on November 6-8 of this year. Tony and the guys have some very nice looking terrain, lots of experience with 40K, and good prize support lined up. I think Mechanicon is a great idea in an area that needs more 40K events, so head out and support the new 40K IGT on the scene.

Since the BoLS crew unfortunately can’t make it this time (local entanglements), it's up to you guys to go and beat up on Fritz and Jawaballs, who will be there. I’m really looking forward to reports on the action.


Mechanicon 2009 Website




BoLS Polls: Plastic vs Metal Edition

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Lets have some fun on this Sunday afternoon.

We all have different ideas on what makes the best army list, whether melta or plasma is king, but today to go after the miniatures themselves.

What is your preference wargamers:
Metal, Plastic, or Resin?

~Why? If you have particular example to illustrate your likes or dis-likes with each material, lets hear about them. Poll, Right hand column, Attack!

Games Workshop RUMORS: Gamesday US 2010

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Hi guys,

Word is buzzing around the tubes, various boards, and amongst the Warhammer community at large that there will be only one US Games Day event in 2010. No exact date or location has been announced yet, but rumor has it that this consolidation of resources back into a single US Games Day convention will allow GW to put on the kind of show Games Day attendees were used to in years past. That is to say, Games Day 2010 should be something a lot more spectacular than the somewhat disappointing Games Day 2009 shows.

US Games Day events of the past were at times awesome events, especially when there was only one US Games Day event each year. Some of them were massive and spectacular affairs festooned with numerous banners and ranks of Space Marine statues leading attendees into a hall filled with Warhammer wonders. Let's hope 2010 sees the return of such spectacle. We will report more details as they filter in.

The corollary to this would mean that the player run IGT Circuit would effectively replace the GW GT-Circuit, so I have a feeling next year wil be pretty interesting.

~What's your take on these whispers? Good for the hobby, or bad? In the end, who is the better keeper of the tourney scene: Games-Workshop, or the fans themselves?

October 24, 2009

WFB Pic of the Day 10-24-09

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Caption contest - GO!

~Your daily dose of tabletop fun! Enjoy. If you have an awesome shot you think would make a great BoLS pic of the day, email us. If its one of the rarer xenos races, even better!

WARMACHINE NEWS: Plastic Warjacks Inbound

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BIG NEWS this week from Privateer Press.

After much anticipation and speculation, Privateer has announced new modular multipart plastic warjack kits for:

Cygnar
Khador
Menoth
Cryx

Each of these includes options to assemble each kit as one of between 3-4 different warjack variants, and includes all the Stat Cards for the possible buildouts. Release dates and prices unknown.

~The initial painted example photos look pretty sharp, and it would seem that plastic is the way of the future, with now most major miniatures companies working plastic into their ranges. Perhaps we are standing at the beginning of the end of the old-school metal era. Time will tell.

40K EDITORIAL: Countering the "ThunderCharge"

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Hi everybody.

We've been throwing ourselves into a lot of test games over the last month and really putting the Space wolves Codex though its paces. While it is not the be-all-end-all force out there, its got some nasty sharp elbows it can throw around (there will be a video battle report coming to illustrate this).

In particular I want to throw out a tacical challenge to the community. Consider this grouping of units:

Wolf Lord:Thunderwolf Mount
Thunderhammer
Stormshield
Runic Armor
Saga of the Warrior Born

Thunderwolf Cavalry:(x5)
Powerfist(x1)
Mark of the Wulfen (x1)

Fenrisian Wolves (x15)

Points: @700

Basic Combat Doctine: Lord joins the Thunderwolf Cav, and hurtles headlong into the foe, screened by a cordon of Fenrisian Wolves (giving the Cav a 4+ cover save).

This unit should reach the enemy by turn 2, and start chewing away. The surviving Fenrissian Wolves will break off and hit a nearby secondary target while the Cav hits the main target and butchers it.

Lets take alook at the cav unit: T:5 and 2 wounds each. Will usually have a 4+ cover save in addition to their 3+ armor save on their inbound turn. Five S:5 rending attacks apiece on the charge.

The Lord however is the real trouble: T:5, A:6 his first turn, then usually 9-11+ on subsequent turns (the Saga), hitting at WS:6, S:10, and protected by a 2+/3+i save.

In our test games, this combination is a horrible shock force. It's pricy, but is not easily turned aside in time by most foes, and once it reaches your lines, can easily kill twice its points (mainly the Wolf Lord). It is a large enough force to absolutely require a response, but will often gum up an enemy so badly that they are easy prey for the remaining 1000+ points of support elements of the Space Wolf army that will be moving to support the charge with either psykers, fire elements, or further mechanized assault forces.

~I would like to hear the community offer responses to this threat from a variety of 40k armies. The threat is before you my fellow generals, counter it. The floor is yours.

REVIEW: Rogue Trader RPG

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Every once in a while, something cool arrives in the mail. I don't mean my e-mail inbox; I mean in the real, honest-to-goodness mailbox. I remember getting an unexpected postcard from a friend in Canada (a cute polar bear wearing a "tuque") and once in a while I get to flip through the unsolicited Victoria's Secret catalog before it's snatched away (complete with ensuing glare), but those happy surprises can't compare to my most recent arrival. This week's package set my heart a-twitter because inside was the gorgeous new Rogue Trader RPG from Fantasy Flight Games!

Okay, I can admit it. I've been a Rogue Trader fan since 1988 when I finally managed to track down (that's pre-Amazon, pre-internet "track down") the very cool hardback book written by Rick Priestly. That classic book has been well-loved and has a place of honor on my bookshelves. And even though I've played Warhammer 40k for a long time, I can honestly say I've been waiting twenty years to play Rogue Trader.

For two decades I've been building a mental image of what a Rogue Trader is, so Fantasy Flight had their work cut out for them. When I opened the book, I had this weird dejà vu moment back to sitting in a dark theater waiting for Peter Jackson's Fellowship of the Rings to start. I have to admit that when I closed the Rogue Trader book, I had the same sense of "he read my mind" that I had when I left the theater. The guys at Fantasy Flight Games really hit the nail on the head.

THE BOOK
The weight of the book was the first thing I noticed. It's a hefty book. It's a nicely-bound 400-page, full-color book, filled tons of gorgeous images. They did an awesome job putting this puppy together and you'd be proud to have it on your coffee table (assuming your friends and family know you are a big gaming geek, that is). The second thing I noticed was the FOUR PAGE INDEX in the back. Nice job!

Here's a shot of the new Rogue Trader next to the old one. The new cover art is gorgeous!

CHARACTER CREATION
I had a ton of fun with Rogue Trader's character creation! Using an innovative tool, called the Origin Path, you trace your character's path from origin word to career path. The Origin path really made the character creation step interactive and fun for everyone. It was quick, easy and intuitive and led to lots of laughing and fun "background incidents" floating around the table. When the characters' origin paths began to intersect, the players worked hard to figure out how their characters knew each other. I've been playing role-playing games for decades and I've NEVER seen anything like it. Best. Character. Creation. Ever.
Note to Game Designers: Every role-playing system should steal the Origin Path. Full stop.

The end result of the Origin Path is the player's Career Path (read: Class). But each of the characters had the feel of a very complete, unique and interesting character. Just add water (equipment either/or's then spend your experience) and, presto, you're ready to build your ship.
BUILDING YOUR STARSHIP
We were expecting spaceship rules. It's Rogue Trader, so of course there's going to be a ship. But did you expect it to be 4.5km long and house almost 100,000 people? Well, I didn't and it was jaw-dropping.

Starship building is almost as much fun as character creation. By the time the players are done with this organic process, they end up with a spaceship that's every bit as alive as their characters. It really felt we needed a seat at the table for the ship.

Complaint #1: Okay, so I got 209 pages into the book before I had a real complaint. While the designers spend around 40 pages of the book on starships, it's not just enough. The starship is a living, breathing character in your game. It's home to the players and launching pad for every endeavor. There really needs to be more ship building options -- and a better description of "ship life". Also, there are only a handful of NPC vessels to use in the game -- and only a single Xenos ship (the Onslaught Ork Raider). It's enough to get you started, but I'm already running into problems building NPC ships. I sincerely hope there's a ton of focus on this in the upcoming Rogue Trader Game Master's Kit.

THE RULES
I have to be honest and admit I never got around to playing Dark Heresy. Although I bought (and enjoyed) the books, I just never got into the concept of being lackey's for an off-screen Inquisitor. The game was a great read, but it just wasn't big enough to fit my idea of high-adventure. So, although I had read the Dark Heresy rules, I wasn't too familiar with them when I sat down to run my first Rogue Trader game. I will say that glad I bought them because I'm tearing them apart for Rogue Trader game hooks and NPCs!

All-in-all, the system is a good one. I struggled a bit with "low" being good sometimes and "high" being good other times. But the rules are well organized (and the index is awesome), so we managed to blaze through character creation, ship building, a tactical combat AND a ship combat in a single evening. Pretty amazing for five players and a single rulebook. (By the way, our second session had three rulebooks and things moved a lot faster.)

House Rule: Almost immediately, we had a problem with auto-fire. With world-spanning resources, powerful weapons are readily available to a Rogue Trader and his crew. Players quickly determined that auto-fire was _the_ optimal way to deal with a baddie. Left unchecked, auto-fire can quickly take over the tactical combat section of the game - making melee combat, psychic combat and other cool parts of the game pointless.

So I'm using a little game theory to fix the problem in my campaign. Every time a player uses an auto-fire weapon, I tally the number of missed shots. At the end of the endeavor, I total the number of auto-fire misses and make a check against that number. For each success, I reduce the Profit Factor Reward by one. This represents damage done to their ships and cargo, reimbursements made to planetary governments for damage, etc.

In our last game, even mentioning that you were going to use auto-fire created a clamor (and lots of social pressure to not damage the ship). I've already noticed that auto-fire is becoming an "emergency only" option.

One thing that became very clear very quickly is that the game is deadly. Firefights are quick and bloody. You can instantly go from full health to having your head "burst like an overripe fruit and spray blood, bone and brains in all directions). Go first, use cover and don't skimp on the Fate Points.

Ship combat is equally dangerous. I don't have room to go into details in this review, but the ship combat rules are a TON of fun. We're finding ship combat to be as much fun (if not more fun) than the rest of the game. Players frantically trying to give orders and use their skills to make the ship go where they want (while fighting off murder servitors that have teleported onto the bridge of their ship). That part of the game has been particularly exciting.

PROFIT FACTOR AND ENDEAVORS
Rogue Trader isn't your average role-playing game. You sit at the head of an ancient world-spanning and extremely powerful dynasty, so concepts like "searching the bodies for spare change" don't work in the context of the game. To deal with that dramatic shift in resources, the designers came up with another innovation -- Profit Factor.

Basically, if you want something (e.g., a cargohold full of square watermelons, a fancy new gun, a platoon of highly-trained Imperial Guardsmen or a new Dauntless-class light cruiser, etc.), you make a check against your Profit Factor. If you succeed, then you get it. If you fail, then you don't. On the surface, it sounds a bit unbalance but it works surprisingly well in the game.

To increase your Profit Factor, you take on Endeavors. Each endeavor is something of a business venture - an investment of time, resources and political/military power with the end goal of turning a profit. As a GM, I design the Endeavor and the various Objectives needed to accomplish it. Once they collect enough Achievement Points, the Endeavor is complete and they gain the benefit from it.

ONLINE SUPPORT
Fantasy Flight Games has done a good job of supporting the game on their website.

You can find a well-written introductory adventure (with quickstart rules) called Forsaken Bounty. It comes with three characters, but they were smart enough to give you some bonus characters as a separate download. And there's a sequel to Forsaken Bounty called Dark Frontier that is also a free download.

You can also get blank Character Sheets, Ship Record Sheets and the Origin Path. Very handy!

There's also some cool previews of the Rulebook and a forum. I've already spent a decent amount of time reading other player's campaign ideas and adventure hooks. The other players seem very responsive to questions.

CONCLUSION
Rogue Trader is an outstanding product. I'm hooked. I've read the book from cover-to-cover (and have started on my second pass). I've mailed the free adventures to my Kindle and listened to them using the Text-to-Speech function while I drive. I've ran two games so far and my players are posting blog comments, texting me, IMing me and emailing me - almost daily - about the game. I can't think of the last game or product that we've been so excited about.

So if you like Warhammer 40,000 and role-playing games, then Rogue Trader is definitely the game for you.

5 Stars (out of 5)
~ Disclosure: I love games, especially role-playing games. I read game systems like other people read paperbacks. I play them as often as I can, but family and a business make it impossible to try out every game that finds its way into my greedy hands. But I'm playing Rogue Trader! And loving it!

October 23, 2009

40K ASKEW: Can You Relate?

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A column by Blood of Kitten's: TastyTaste

Besides my 40k addiction seminars, I have been working on a case study detailing 40k player behavior. I want to share excerpts from the interviews I have been conducting for the study.

-Lewis Skolnick: I have been playing 40k for almost nine years now. I started with Magic and grew out it and needed something more challenging. My first army was Chaos Space Marines with all those sick combos made for the best games. I cannot think of the army I picked up after that, maybe Tau. It is hard to keep track I pretty much run the latest codex and Ebay the old ones. When I moved here, I figured I see what was up with the local 40k scene. Half of the guys sit around and paint, everyone else is either Noobs or play fluffy armies. Take this new guy John or is it Derek, anyway it really doesn't matter. He keeps on asking questions and wanting to play me. His army is barely assembled and he doesn't even know a Nob Biker from a Thunder Hammer Terminator. I told him what forums and blogs to read, you would think that was enough. It is fine, he should learn the game, but he could just watch my games and not constantly bug me. Did I mention that I got my Space Wolves back from Malaysia already, I guess those small hands work quickly. What about Derek, I mean Harold? I guess it is cool, all his enthusiasm and the fact he does not care about losing all the time.

-Harold Wormser: I am still really new to 40k. I played Dawn of War and other games, it was the 40k fluff that got me to take the plunge. Everyone told me I should start with Space Marines. So I got some Battleforces and went straight to assembling. My favorite unit so far is Vanguard Vets assaulting in the same turn I deep strike is awesome, even if it does not always work. As for the players at the store, well they all seem to be in the hobby for different reasons. You got the painters which just sit and well, paint. Then, you got the competitive players that play the same army list over and over. I have been told there are other players that only come out for tournaments and big Apoc games.

I am not sure where I fall yet, still been taking everything in. Been talking to Lewis, he is the top dog of the competitive players everyone calls him Mr. Casino Dice for some reason, he is so helpful, pointing out things and telling me basically how to play. His army is IG at the moment, it just showed up one week after he creamed me with his Vulcan list. I have never seen him paint, but his armies always look good. That is my major problem: painting it is really intimidating. I rather be getting games in. There is this one guy at the store that never plays, but he is always painting I just do not get it. He looks always a little upset, I wonder if being hunched over and using bright lights to interrogate his models is the problem.

-Arnold Poindexter: If that new guy hits the table one more time we are going to have some words. He obviously does not know how hard it is to keep good brush control. I have been working on Autarch Lamar for a while now. As you can see the model is very not GW, we all know how bad their molds are. Not to mention all the flash. It is two hour process just to get the model clean! Anyway I cobbled together a Warmachine figure and some green stuff to make him. I am going with this layered green scheme for my Eldar, not Biel-tan mind you, it is a Craftworld I created. I can tell you about it if you want?

You want to know how much I play? I play a fair amount. We have these Apoc games at least four times a year. They are great, I get to bring out my Forge World stuff nothing like seeing an army cover a table all by itself. I really do not know many of the guys personally. I typically think there is 40k half-life for new guys, often they show up for a few months then are never seen again. I think I would play more if folks had their armies painted. Almost everyone plays with unassembled models or unpainted models. It just looks bad, my army on one side and unfinished stuff on the other side. So the Craftworld survived the fall by...

This is of course fake, I just wanted to demonstrate not only the ridiculous stereotypes we have for different players, but also some of the bad behavior that many of us have from time to time. Everyone is entitled to play wargames how they want, but I still think to enjoy the hobby fully, you have to participant in all aspects of it and by doing that you better understanding all the types of players that make up our small community. So next time you pick up a codex, read the first paragraphs of the unit entry instead of its stats. If you are afraid of painting ask the local painting guy for tips I am sure he will give them to you. In the end you might just find there is more to these games then you first thought.

-What bad habits do you have and what habits just drive you up the wall from other players? What do you think about only participating in only one aspect of wargaming? How do you go about helping new players?

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