Ork Codex, 3rd edition.
Got in a smashing day of 40k today, thanks to the generosity of the Beloved, who basically kicked me out of the house and told me to go have fun. 3 game tournament at the local GW, 1500 points, using the Maelstrom of War rules. I have to say, aside from having a crazy fun time, what the afternoon brought home for me was how much the game has changed. What I remember from the last time I played 40k (8-10 years ago) is that while I had fun playing with friends, the rules tended to prompt nagging frustration due to their inconsistencies. While I'm sure there's still a bit of that about, and while they're not as crisp as some rules I've played, they have improved by orders of magnitude from what I remember. Vehicles work, psychic powers work, the game has far more variety, more things to do and potential interactions, but my overall sense is that this adds to the game, rather than rendering it overly complex or confused.
|And this is just the Blood Bowl team.|
The Maelstrom of War rules add a whole other level to the game. These introduce a more complex range of in-game objectives, and make them fluid and varying throughout the game. This in turn adds a level of engagement to the game that hasn't existed before, in my experience. Tactics goes beyond unit match-ups, and becomes about anticipating likely scoring opportunities; movement and combat become means to ends, rather than ends in themselves.
I ran the following list:
HQ 1: Warboss, h. armour, skorcha, PK, bosspole, Finkin Cap, cybork body
Troop 1: 20 Shoota boys, 2 big shootas, nob, boss pole, big choppa
Troop 2: 20 Shoota boys, 2 big shootas, nob, boss pole, Pclaw
Troop 3: Runtherd and 10 grots
E1: 15 Tankbustas, 2 Tankhammers, 2 Bomb Squigs, Nob w. bosspole
FA1: Deffkopta, rokkits
FA2: Deffkopta, rokkits
FA3: Deffkopta, rokkits
HQ: Big Mek, KFF, ‘eavy armour
Troop 1: Runtherd and 10 grots
Troop 2: 20 Slugga boys, nob, boss pole, Pclaw
HS: Battlewagon, Killkannon, Kannon, ‘ard top, 3 Big Shootas, reinforced ram, grot riggers, wrecking ball
FA1: Deffkopta, rokkits
FA2: Rokkit Buggy
FA3: Deffkopta, rokkits
HS: Lobba, ammo runt
I'm sure there's some points sunk in there, especially in the Battlewagon, but overall, it performed pretty well. There are enough bodies in there to give the list some durability, it's got excellent anti-infantry capability, and enough mobility to both take advantage of it's shooting and seize objectives. If there was a unit that seemed to under-perform, it was the lobba, which didn't do much in any game. I might try them in larger numbers, and see if that works better. As much as I like the look of the double turret B-Wagon, the regular cannon didn't see much play. Basically it functioned like a longer range rokkit most of the time. I'll run it a few more times to see if the added range gives it some more flexibility. I do think the list is a little weak against heavy armour and fliers. Not sure what I'd drop to squeeze that in, though.
Over the course of the day, I got in three games.
Game 1: Tyranids
|Big thing in the middle, I think, is a "Tervigon". Think Brood Mother from Aliens.|
This was a nice, balanced list, with several shooty warrior units, some genestealers, some sporemines, a Tervigon (big beasty that poops little beasties), and a rather cool flying formation consisting of a bunch of gargoyles with a Hive Tyrant all in one combined unit.
|Such a cool unit. Reminds me of the old Skink / Kroxigor mix.|
The game involved us both pushing forward to seize objectives, picking up a few opportunity VPs along the way.
|Behold the majesty of Ork deployment!|
I worked my Deffcoptas around the flanks, sniping off targets when I could. His stealers pushed forward through the rough terrain in the middle of the board, while on my right, tankbustas and shoota boys took up a solid position in a hill with ruins.
|Climbing Mount Orklympus.|
|Shootas move up to claim an objective.|
|The Fortress of Orkytude. Close to 40 orks on that hill.|
The 'stealers went down, mostly to shooting on the left, while in the centre, my Fortress of Orkitude came under assault from the combined force of the Tyranid air wing, the Tervigon, and her (somewhat limited, thanks to a bad early role by my opponent) brood.
|The sluggas on the left never really got into this game.|
|Here they come.|
|Let the best ork win.|
Overwatch took out a chunk of the fliers, but a fair number made it in, and carnage swept across the hill. The Hive Tyrant challenged my Warboss, who accepted, and held his own through the first round of combat.
|Tankbustas mostly wiped out, but so are most of the fliers.|
We called the game at 2 and a half turns, with my opponent holding more victory points. While it didn't affect my enjoyment of the game at all, I do think that playing uneven rounds is a bit of a problem in a tournament setting; giving one player more opportunities to achieve objectives introduces a basic imbalance to the game. One the other hand, I don't know how you could arrange things in a time-limited format to ensure everyone gets the same number of turns. On the plus side, the imbalance worked to my benefit in game 2 ;)
Game 2: Chaos
My opponent ran a pretty fun list, some Nurgled up Chaos Marines and Cultists, along with a Bloodthirster, the big spider-thing with a cannon (Defiler?), a Hellbrute, and a Helldrake (along with some summoned bloodletters).
|Cover. Sweet, glorious cover.|
|The soon-to-be killing ground.|
I had a nice selection of ruins across most of my front, and da boyz made the most of them, rushing up to control objectives and set up some decent fire lanes. Deffcoptas and buggies manouvred to get shots on the big gribblies, and the sluggas looked for something to slug.
|Bloodletters have popped in on the top left. Slugga boys are looking for a fight with their big brother.|
My opponent moved the bulk of his forces forward, into the centre, looking for the cover of some trees.
|Helldrake has popped in. Bloodthirster is about to learn its lesson.|
A key moment in the game came when he tried to charge his Bloodthirster into some woods to nail my sluggas, and came up just short. This left it exposed, and caught between multiple, biggish, ork units, which proceeded to shoot the bejesus out of it, and then assault.
|Hey, where'd the big red guy go?|
Despite the presence of the Helldrake in my backfield, things went my way pretty consistently from that point on. I wiped out both units of cultists, most of the Chaos Marines, and the hellbrute, and managed to get in some good shots on the Defiler as well.
|Another turn, and the Tankbustas would be assaulting the Defiler.|
The game ended, again with the first turn player picking up an extra turn, and in the lead (this time, me). 1-1 for the orks.
Game 3: Necrons
My opponent in the third game turned out to be the same guy I played my third game against in the WFB tournament a while back, and I had as much fun playing him this time as last. He ran Necrons, with some warriors, some of the big, chunky warriors (Immortals?), some more of those in a flyer with nasty guns, a flyer with what seemed be an honest to god death ray, some hitty, wraith-type things, and a couple of floaty-walker things with some more nasty guns (one of which made anything else shooting at it's target twin-linked). Necrons have gotten some new toys since I last played them, along with some background, and it makes them a fair bit more interesting.
|Cover is still good, but on this table, it broke up the horde a little.|
Cover had served me well so far, and I figured I'd take advantage of it again, as I looked to set up the shootas in fire-bases with cover, and do my best to get the sluggas and tankbustas where they could do the most good, and in one piece. Battlewagon and lobba set up centrally to maximise shooting options, while the grots camped an objective.
|Those grots on the left will have a bad time before the game's over.|
|Necrons have durability, mobility, and firepower. Nice combination!|
Tankbustas and sluggas moved up on the hill in the middle of the table, which was prize real-estate, having two objectives. This also put hem in the middle of a pile of overlapping fire zones. You win some, you lose some.
|Once again, the Fortress of Orkytude takes shape.|
|As the Cub has said, "What's with all the skulls?!?"|
I seemed to be holding my own, but then his fliers started to hit the field. One had a seriously nasty weapon with pretty flexible firing arcs. I figured my battlewagon would be safe hunkered down behind a building.
|B-Wagon and grots are about to be visited by the Necron Air Wing|
|This thing managed to fly in, and get a martian death ray attack on the rear of the B-Wagon. It's buddy dropped a squad of Immortals in front of the grots. Sometimes, bad things happen to good orks.|
Turns out, when stuff can fly in behind you and scorch your rear armour with a suped-up lazcannon, not much is safe ;)
I clinched the win in the second turn with a sacrifice move by my Deffcoptas, three of which turbo-boosted deep behind the Necron lines. I had an objective that let me score d3 victory points if I had 3 or more units within 12" of the opposing table edge. While I figured they'd die the next turn (they did), the risk was worth it, and as it turned out, I got a 3 on the roll, putting me over the top. Had the game gone on, I think the Necron's resilience would have pulled it out, but I was happy to walk away with the win.
The Maelstrom rules reward thoughtful play. Careful management of objectives can let you realize more than one at once, and sets interesting priorities in the game. Sacrifice plays, like with my Deffcoptas, become viable, and control of space becomes importance, not because all objectives have value all the time (you need the appropriate card to claim victory points for the objective you control), but to maximize the future potential opportunities, and to deny them to your opponent.
I'll be continuing to paint up these guys, as both the painting and playing is turning out to be more rewarding than I expected. Once I get past the 15th or so, I should get a little more time for painting, and should be able to get some done on both da Boyz and those Mass. militia who've been dogging me.
BIG thanks to all three of my opponents, and the staff at DG, who as always have been super-friendly and helpful. Da boyz will be back.