Thursday, 1 November 2012

Social Games and the Daemonforge

Word Bearer Chaos Space Marines seize and objective

On Monday 5th November, myself and a rather large group of Games Workshop Hobby Centre Managers (in fact, the vast majority of the UK ones, and possibly some of our Northern Europe brothers too) will be participating in a Schools League style Demi-Tournament, both as a way of showing us what the Schools League is like and, perhaps most importantly, to break ice and form bonds (much the same way Astartes Legionaries often fought each other in sparring cages).

Whilst we won't be duelling topless in spinning mechanical deathtraps, we will be having a lot of fun

For those of you who don't know, for 40k a Schools League list weighs in at 600 points, following the usual Force Organisation Chart, allies, fortifications etc. I'll be taking my Chaos Space Marines in a list that I really don't intend to do well with; but I'll come to that shortly.

600 points is actually one of my favourite limits, shortly behind 1000 and 1200 points. It's small enough that games are incredibly fast and furious - I've played some that have taken less than half an hour - and the balance comes not from tournament 'comp' (additional restrictions on a tournament by tournament basis, eg. One tournament may decide not to allow fortifications. Another may limit the number of flyers in a list etc) but from the fact that its decidedly tricky to really 'beard out' a list with so few points. Sure, you can take a Land Raider, but hat leaves only 350 points for 2 Troops and an HQ, a force that will be heavily outnumbered at the best of times.

Minotaurs Chapter Space Marines intercept Hive Fleet Eris...

I'm not a big fan of comp - but then again, I'm also not really a tournament gamer. It's not often I get enough painted for a big game, and I refuse to use unpainted models where at all possible. Beyond that, I tend to play to tell a story, rather than to win, leading to poor unit selection, and even more curious tactics.

"Why did you do that?" "Because it'd have been really cool if it'd worked!" "Dude, the chances of that happening were-" "Yeah, but how awesome would it have been??"

As such, comp interferes with my creativity. Don't get me wrong, I fully accept the uses of comp and understand why some people use it - it's just not my style is all. I play for fun and flavour, and I expect the same for my opponents. The moment someone laughs at me for luring my minotaur unit into a trap that gets them stuck between an impassable ruin and a cliff face for the rest of the game on a rules technicality (not bitter...) is the moment I pack up my models with a smile and walk away calmly.

I'm not saying tournament style playing is wrong, however I do wholeheartedly believe that playing solely to win at he exclusion of all else is, purely because I believe that a game should be entertaining to all involved parties - to quote Warwick Kinrade, a war game is a contract between two players to have fun; but I digress.

...but are slaughtered to the last marine.

At 1000 and 1200, you start to get to get a few bigger and nastier toys showing up. Suddenly a Land Raider isn't such a big percentage of your list. Suddenly, you can take three monstrous creatures in one list (Hive Tyrant, Trygon Prime and Tervigon for those interested in my 1000 point Tyranid list). However, with this, comes a slightly longer game time. Not an issue if you have the time, and certainly, for a pick-up game, these would be my preferred sizes - it's enough to really see your opponents army but not get bogged down in something huge. You can concentrate on banter and beer, getting to know your opponent. I also find it weeds out any of those particularly notorious gamers who download the 'current best' list online and pick horribly at every rule when losing, only to skim across everything when winning. True story.

In a word, I'd call these sizes of games 'social' sizes.

Raven Guard Scouts take aim on some Ork Lootaz

I have a fairly nasty Raven Guard 600 point list that's very flavourful. Infiltrating scouts take out key anti-air/vehicle opponents, then the Storm Talon makes its theatrical entrance, zooming across the table leaving contrails of smoke and fire, blazing down whatever's left of my opponents force in a withering hailstorm of munitions. It's a great fun army, every game with it has been fairly cinematic, and when it works, it's really something else. So why didn't I take this list?

In a sense, I'm not sure, it's a great list and epitomises how I envision the Raven Guard, masters of guerrilla warfare and surgical strikes that weaken the opponent before the big smash. There's a part of me that would really liked to have taken this list, but dammit I'm reading "Angels Exterminatus" by Graham McNeill and there was a new Chaos Space Marine Codex recently, so I really want to try out my new Iron Warriors unit. "But isn't that only one unit?" I hear you cry. Well, yes. One unit of only five models, to be precise. So I've added a tooled up Warpsmith from my Word Bearers, a unit of ten of his finest marines... And a Forgefiend with three Ectoplasma Cannons.

Word Bearer Forgefiend

Now do you see why I couldn't resist?

Essentially, it's my Warpsmith, as discussed in a previous post, bringing along some mates to field test his latest creation. In actuality, that's a strange and uncanny reflection to stare into, as the list was essentially written around the Forgefiend, (and at 33% of the list on its own, it's a huge investment in points) simply because I've yet to try it on a gaming table. Not only is my Warpsmith testing his new toy, I'm testing my new toy! Delicious.

The list, as it stands, though subject to tweaking, is as follows:

HQWarpsmith: Aura of Dark Glory, Mark of Khorne
Troops10 Chaos Space Marines, with boltguns and close combat weapons, a meltagun and heavy bolter.
5 Chaos Space Marines, one with meltagun.
Heavy SupportForgefiend with three ectoplasma cannons.

Ideally, I'd want to make my Warpsmith the combat monster he can be in my main list (Axe of Blind Fury, Mark of Khorne, Combat Familiar and Mechatendrils giving him between 9 and 14 attacks, 7-12 of which are S7 AP2) but, I thought this would be too many eggs in one basket (I'd have considerably fewer models on the table) and perhaps overkill in close combat. That said, if anything nasty survives the ectoplasma barrage and gets into combat, my guys could have a tough time, so it's in debate.

Iron Warrior Chaos Space Marines

So how about you? What do you guys think? What size games do you prefer, and why?

Honestly, I'd love to hear your thoughts and opinions on game size, on the list above, or even just about the hobby in general, either in the comments below, or on Twitter:

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