Sunday, September 19, 2010

WFB Tactics: Rise of the Skaven, Themed 2500 pts.

We've been leading up to it, and today, from Eshin to Pestilen, we're taking a look at Skaven at the 2500 pt. level!

Alright, so Island of Blood has been out a week or so and people now have a growing horde of Skaven to amass upon the battlefield! But where to start? What are some of the fundamentals? And just how many rats am I going to have to paint to reach 2500? Well that's what we're here today to talk about, so let's dive right in:

Skaven Overview
Skaven are a horde army, if you didn't know this coming in then I weep for you. On average you'll be fielding 200-300 models and should outnumber most any other army you will ever come across- it is in this basic fact where the strength of the army lies. You will always have another unit to throw at something, and as long as you're killing the enemies forces then things are going well- after all, they have a finite number of threats to you while you, on the other hand, being the grand Skaven force have wave after wave of cheap, disposable infantry to throw into the grinder! No threat should be too large were fifty or so rats all charging forth should fail at killing it. Combine this factor with expert war-machines and weapon crews that can reek untold devastation upon the battlefield and you can see clear as day that if you have a properly built Skaven army then no other force should be able to come close to beating you in any way, shape, or form. Ever.

... ... The above would most certainly be true if our army wasn't composed of ramshackle leftovers that barely work at their best and are pressurized crock-pots full of the Old-World equivalent of Moonshine at worst, as well as our individual troops being prone to panic, fear, sudden fainting, and sudden cases of spontaneous, explosive death.

One thing you must grasp when playing Skaven- things will go wrong, and it will probably do so at the most inopportune time, and yes, this may end up costing you games- even if you planned everything perfectly. It's just the nature of Skaven, and if you can't handle that fact then perhaps the High Elves with their perfect poofy-hats are more to your liking. But, if you can handle this fact, even endear yourself to it, hell, maybe even plan for it then you'll find Skaven a flavorful and fun army to field. Just don't go getting your hopes up, it's then especially that you'll be reminded most of your engineer's incompetence. 

Ok, so let's get on to some army lists shall we?

Clan Skryre

For Clan Skryre you have to embody the element of crazy-as-hell war-machines and weapons crews, so we're going to jam as many in the list as we can. Another nice thing I'm going to take advantage of here is Skavenslaves- after all, we need test subjects for our new weapons, and what better thing to do then send a horde of slaves to tie up enemy units in combat and then fire wave after wave of projectiles at it?

Grey Seer on Screaming Bell (Power Scroll, Skalm)- 505 pts.

Warlock Engineer (Lv. 2 Wizard, Warp-Energy Condenser, Doomrocket)- 150 pts.
Chieftain (BSB- Standard of Discipline)- 85 pts.

Clanrats (x30, Shields, Rattling-Gun Weapon Team)- 190 pts
Clanrats (x25, Shields, Musician, Standard, Rattling-Gun Weapon Team)- 180 pts.
Clanrats (x25, Shields, Musician, Standard, Warpfire Thrower Weapon Team)- 195 pts. 
Clanrats (x25, Shields, Musician, Standard, Warpfire Thrower Weapon Team)- 195 pts. 
Skavenslaves (x50, Musician, Spears)- 127 pts.
Skavenslaves (x50, Musician, Spears)- 127 pts.
Skavenslaves (x25, Musician, Spears)- 65 pts.
Skavenslaves (x25, Spears)- 63 pts.

Warplock Jezzails x5- 100 pts.
Poisoned Wind Globadiers (x7, Bombadier, Death Globe) 100 pts.
Poisoned Wind Globadiers (x6, Poison Wind Mortar Weapon Team) 125 pts.

Doomwheel- 150 pts.
Warp-Lightning Cannon- 90 pts. 
Warp-Lightning Cannon- 90 pts. 


The above list mixes a heavy assortment of shooting with almost all the spells from the Skaven Lore of Ruin. The Warlock Engineer will of course get Warp Lightning while the Grey Seer handles the rest, including The Dreaded Thirteenth Spell, common combo of Power Scroll to assist in getting it off and Skalm to treat any issues from the resulting Miscast or lucky shots at him. Initially I also wanted to give him the Shadow Magnet Trinket to give those shooting at his unit (the large Clanrat unit, bell, and Chiefain to give the Seer Ld: 8) a -2, but it had to be cut for points.

Aside from the above we have a large wall of Skavenslaves moving a head of the central army. Basically place the two larger units in front of the main forces and the smaller ones to the flanks. One thing to also make vivid use of are the Musicians, allowing you to reform the massive fifty-man units into 5x10 or 10x5, as the situation warrants.  Usually I would start them 5x10 as not to block any needed movement from the rest of the army and then, when near combat (or even after round one) switch to the 10x5 formation. Either way it gives you a certain tactical viability in it... Even if you're just going to be using the units to tie the enemy up as long as possible as you fire wave after wave of Skryre war-machines into the amassed combat. 

Clan Pestilen 

Lord Skrolk- 470 pts.

Plague Priest on Plague Furnace (Extra Hand Weapon)- 252 pts. 
Plague Priest on Plague Furnace (Extra Hand Weapon)- 252 pts. 
Chieftain (BSB, Sword of Might, Warpstone Armor)- 120 pts.

Plague Monks (x30, No Upgrades)- 210 pts.
Plague Monks (x30, No Upgrades)- 210 pts.
Plague Monks (x25, Musician, Standard)- 190 pts. 
Plague Monks (x24, Full Command, Storm Banner)- 243 pts. 
Skavenslaves (x25, Spears)- 65 pts.
Skavenslaves (x25, Spears)- 65 pts.

Plague Censer Bearer (x7)- 112 pts.
Plague Censer Bearer (x7)- 112 pts.

Plague Catapult- 100 pts. 
Plague Catapult- 100 pts. 


So we're now gone the opposite approach from the Clan Skryre list, now we have a melee heavy army with very little in the way of shooting! In addition, we also know all the Skaven Spells of Plague between Lord Skrolt and the two Plague Priests, as well as having two large and unbreakable units with some severe melee power. Overall the above plan is pretty simple, stick Skrold in the 24 man unit, the BSB someplace safe and begin the march forward, throwing down the Storm Banner around your opponent's second shooting phase to minimize casualties as you march forth. Hopefully you've ravaged their line with your spells by now (hitting the trouble units especially with spells such as Wither, my personal favorite Plague spell) and your Monks should be able to trample through by sheer volume of attacks.

-On a side note, even if you, for whatever reason, do not care for the above list, I must say- I love Plague Priests. The state-line, the options, they are truly a fantastic buy for their points and even if you don't wish to go Pestilen heavy or don't adhere to a clan at all they are a fantastic choice to look at! I can't recommend them enough, and that's coming from a Skryre devotee.

Clan Moulder

This one was a bit tricky, as Moulder has very few actual units in the book, despite being one of the wealthiest clans. Despite that, I've still coupled together this list which swarms your opponents in Rat Ogres and uses Skavenslaves to bulk out it's numbers... And it uses two Hellpit Abominations. Yes, yes, I know some people will cry  "Cheese!" on this one (heh heh...) but really I have two things to say about that: one, it fits the theme of a list that, honestly I think can be scary, but is limiting itself severely to keep a theme going, and two... Man up and just play the game.  

Warlord (War-Litter Warlock-Augmented Weapon Enchanted Shield Talisman of Protection) 225 pts. 
Throt the Unclean

Rat Ogres (x6)- 248 pts.  
Rat Ogres (x6)- 248 pts.  
Skavenslaves (Musician, Spears)- 65 pts.
Skavenslaves (Musician, Spears)- 65 pts.
Skavenslaves (Spears)- 63 pts.
Skavenslaves (Spears)- 63 pts.
Rat Swarm (x3)- 75 pts
Rat Swarm (x2)- 50 pts.

Rat Ogres (x6)- 248 pts
Rat Ogres (x6)- 248 pts.
Rat Ogres (x6)- 248 pts.  

Hellpit Abomination- 235 pts. 
Hellpit Abomination- 235 pts. 


This is another one of those lists that may do well or do horribly. To be honest the closest to something like this I've ran would be a Troll themed Warriors of Chaos army, and at least they had Regeneration. Simple concept, stick the Warlord in the five man Rat Ogre unit and run across the table, using the Skavenslaves and Rat Swarms to tie the enemy while more Rat Ogres arrive to smash things up. From a tactical standpoint the army has a lot going against it, on the other hand it's a huge mob of Rat Ogres charging across the table, and that sounds like fun from any standpoint... Well, unless you're on the receiving end I suppose... But really, we're playing Skaven, how much should we care about the Man-Things and the Elf-Things?

*I will note that I do feel some small, three man unit of Rat Ogres would have been beneficial, but we had to work within the restrictions to Special Choices and, despite that Throt allowed two units to be Core Selections, in the end I simply ran out of room and decided that more Rat Ogres would be better in the end. The Skavenslaves are there to make up for the lack of bulk in the army due to the predominance of the smaller six-man units but should serve their purpose accordingly.

~And there you have it readers, several theme lists for Skaven at the 2500 point level representing all major clans! Hope you enjoyed this week's- What? Eshin? What about them...? Aw hell... 


...Ahem. As some of you may have noticed, Clan Eshin has not made an appearance with a themed list of their own. The reasoning behind this is simple- while they have dedicated characters in the Assassins (hell, even a special character of their own), a core unit in the Night Runners, and a special in the extremely good Gutter Runners... That's really it, and while you can make a list composed of nothing but the above it won't be very good and you'll find it even more limiting than the Moulder themed list. Now, Eshin can be very powerful, and you can build some lists that adhere to their theme and units, but not in the manor of the above lists, so I can't in right mind include such a list in this article as I'd feel it's to much of a general list and that's not what we're about this week.

Basically, I'll handle Eshin the same way they handle themselves a lot in the fluff and stories, that is they seldom appear in full fighting force on their own. They are sell-swords, they ally themselves with the highest bidder and when the job is done they depart, and perhaps that's how they best used, not as an actual army, but as a highlight to an existing force.

~In the end your army is yours, whether you wish to maintain a Clan theme or make one up yourself the Skaven Army Book allows for all sorts of devious and fun tactics to bring to the table, so get out there and spread some woe in the name of the Horned Rat!

Friday, September 17, 2010

EDITORIAL: When the Fun Stops

Mr. Black here to speak about an issue that will eventually grapple every gamer, no matter what the system: When it just stops being fun.

It happens to the best of us, the veteran players, the newbies, the hardcore, the casual. It's an issue that every gamer will have to deal with at least once (though probably more) in the span of their gaming careers: their game of choice just stops being fun.

It happens, the honeymoon ends, the fresh excitement we experienced ripping plastic off our new Tactical Marine box, the joy of splitting open the new Pirate Queen Skarre blister, or even the strict and proper, almost militaristic opening of a Panzergrenadier Platton, just all seems to fade away into repetition.

Games are no longer the joy they once were, and now it seems you only make the trek to the local hobby/game store out of repetition. The games all run together and frustration after frustration build as nothing is new, it's all become the same monotonous act week after week after week.

So what is one to do in this case? Have one last Hurrah! before shipping your formally fun-giving plastic men off to ebay? Give one last salute to the fully painted Fallschirmjager Company as they depart to the gaming closet for the foreseeable future?

It doesn't have to be like this dear players, there is hope. It would have been unfair to assume the new-plastic smell wouldn't eventually fade, and as I said above, even the veteran players experience slumps time to time. So what can we do during these times to ease the pains? Well there are a new options...

~Try Other Systems

This solution is what works best for me personally. I usually alternate between 40k and Warhammer Fantasy, with some Malifaux thrown in the side for good measure. This method works well as you always have something to do should you find one system is getting into a slump, and I find it especially well when alternating Warhammer Fantasy and 40K, as usually by the time I begin to hit a slump with one system something new and exciting is coming out in the other. If merely switching Warhammer for Warhammer isn't your thing (due to style or, more importantly, cost) then there are a plethora or other options out there available. Most of these will vary store-to-store but the popular ones around are: Malifaux, Warmachine, Uncharted Seas, Firestorm Armada, and of course good ol' boardgames. Most of these options will run you $30 or so for a starter (Warmachine the exception but worth the extra) and will provide you with more than enough bang for the buck. I'd suggest checking some of these systems out if you want a fun side-project or break from the typical system.

~Mix Things Up

Maybe it's just the same old dull routine that has you down and not actually the system itself. If this is the case then perhaps trying different wild and crazy things out can help. Example being in 40K you have access to Planetstrike, Spearhead, Apocalypse, and the Battle Mission books, each providing a new type of gameplay which may be just what you need to get out of the slump. Should you be in a system were said options are not available, then maybe you and a friend can switch armies for a few games. Not only is this a nice change of pace but it also gives you great insight onto the other armies style and tactics, always useful for when you return to the hardcore gauntlet to crush them mercilessly.

~Enjoy Hobby Aspects

Most systems we play encourage painting and modeling and when you're in a gaming slump you have a great opportunity to explore those areas. Pick up those Warjacks and Space Marines you have no desire to play with and try painting them up. Not only is this a great outlet but it can also serve the purpose of re-invigorating you to the system. You just spent a good bit of time converting/painting that unit up, it's only natural to now want to see them on the table! This method may not work for everyone, but then again that can be said of any of the given methods, but with this one you are still accomplishing something in your given system, even if it may not really feel like that. Remember that most games we play are Hobby Games, not merely Tabletop Games, we're supposed to enjoy all aspects of our hobby, secluding off to just one can take away some of the enrichment we get.

~Take a Break

Sometimes you just need to get out there and smell the flowers. It's a big world out there and we can't expect our hobbies to entertain us 100% of the time. Sometimes they just get stagnant for no real good reason, and nothing we do can fix that. In such occasions it may be the best idea to shelf your army for a bit, go enjoy other hobbies and pastimes, and in a bit come back and hopefully the old spark will have returned. For me personally, I love 40K, it's back story, the figures, everything of it- so when I'm down on the tabletop I stop for a bit and go enjoy Dawn of War, that usually gives me the entertainment I desire and, after enough time, encourages me to get back to the tabletop and return to my favorite forces. In this category specifically the individual will determine what's interesting, and what actions are best to get them out of a slump, but the advice still stands, if you're burned out and tried everything, just walk away for a bit.
~Slumps are something we all experience, and perhaps the best help may be to share some stories of your own and how you overcame it. Let's hear your burnout stories and just what became of your gaming life during and after, who knows, you may even help someone else experiencing the same. 

Sunday, September 12, 2010

WFB: Island of Blood and Rallying the High Elves

Island of Blood will soon arrive, and with it a host of new High Elf models to build your army!

Mr. Black here, and while I may have started Skaven recently I simply can't ignore the other half of this great starter, even if it does have a few issues...

For starters let's take a look at what you'll be getting in your non-plague ridden half of the Island of Blood starter set:

-High Elf Prince on Griffen
-High Elf Mage
-10 Lothern Sea Guard
-10 High Elf Swordmasters of Hoeth
-5 Ellyrian Raiders

Now, like with my Skaven article we're going to work this up to 1000 pts, unlike the Skaven half though, which bolsters a large amount of plastic sets to choose from, the High Elf army is still majorly metal, this can be a huge pain for players and collectors, but rumor has it that several new plastic kits (including the above models) are on the release-line for later this year.

I'm not here to speculate, so we'll work with what we have... and right away we're introduced to two major issues...

1. The High Elf half does not come with enough core to run at 1000 pts- Even if you max out the Sea Guard unit with an expensive Magic Banner and all possible upgrades you will still fall short of the 250 needed to have a valid army.

2. The Prince on Griffon exceeds your allotment of points for a Lord at any value below 1400, meaning that unless you wish to play the Griffon as a Giant Eagle the model isn't even usable for low level play!

Now the actual starter set addresses these issues (kinda-sorta) but when taken out of that context to one of actual game-play the High Elf half of Island of Blood just won't cut it. But fear not, that's what we're here to discuss and work with today, remember- you're still getting a selection of kick-ass models and with a few small changes/modifications we can make this work!

That being said, let's go through what we currently have:

Prince on Griffon Mount- As I said above, can't even play him in games lower than 1400 pts, so we have two options available to us right now. Either we can shelf him for larger games and let a great model go to waste, or we can play him as a Prince/Noble on Giant Eagle. Frankly the Griffon easily looks like a Eagle already and only the most asinine of opponent's will argue with you.

So, working with our Prince on Giant Eagle, and with most other High Elves in general, one thing becomes apparent- It's hard not simply taking Great Weapons all around. Given the ASF nature of the army and the relatively cheap cost of the Great Weapon itself it almost universally makes for a good pick. More so, at the 1000 pt. level once we purchase the actual Prince and Giant Eagle we don't have a large amount of points to spend on upgrades, so we'll work with what we have- luckily what we have works very well! In this particular case I've chosen to give him a mundane Great Weapon and the Armour of Caledor for some fantastic protection.

High Elf Prince (Giant Eagle, Great Weapon, Armor of Caledor): 237 pts.

High Elf Mage- I'm a fan of the High Elf Archmage, and I will usually recommend him over the standard mage, but in 1000 pt. and lower games he's simply too many points. The High Elf Mage is a fairly typical Wizard and I treat him as such: Upgrade him to Lv. 2 and give him an Arcane Item, in this case I'll be using the Annulian Crystal, allowing him to garner better Dispel and Magic Defense. As with all Mages there are near limitless ways to kit him out, but in the levels we're talking about the opponent is less likely to have multiple wizards, let alone a high level one, thus stealing even one Magic Die will hinder them significantly.

High Elf Mage (Annulian Crystal, Lv. 2 Wizard Upgrade): 175 pts.

Lothern Sea Guard- Here we run into the second issue with the High Elves' half of Island of Blood- there simply isn't enough Core Troops to run at anything other than "starter box" level. We'll address this issue in a moment but first let's look at the Sea Guard. Basically the Lothern Sea Guard are jacks of all trades; they come standard with bows, thus allowing long range fire (and Volly Fire) as well as Spears, which due to being Elves allows them to fight in four ranks, for this point level I would also recommend giving them a Banner of Eternal Flame, as having some Flaming Attacks is always handy and with this unit it's relatively cheap. Just remember the Sea Guard can handle most any scenario, be it ranged or melee, and are one of those units that has no real drawback to larger numbers, specifically a nice block of 20 or so... Unfortunately, we're given only ten in the starter... My recommendations for this is to (hopefully) find another Island of Blood box you can split with someone, thus allowing you to get a full twenty man unit of not only the Sea Guard but also Swordmasters.

Lothern Sea Guard (Full Command, Shields, Banner of Eternal Flame): 295 pts.

Sword Masters of Hoeth- Ok, now I won't lie, even as a Skaven/Dark Elf player, Sword Masters are dead-sexy. High WS, ASF re-rolls, Great Swords... Damn... I really, really love this unit; a shame you only get ten in the Island of Blood box. Yep, just like the Lothern Sea Guard, you're getting only a slim number of these guys, but at least here it's something we can work with. The Sword Masters will dish out the hurt, badly, two attacks each, usually hitting on threes with re-rolls and wounding the average unit on twos with -2 to armor save... Ten will do the job just fine. I'd recommend a larger unit, but with our 1000 pt. limit quickly coming into view for now that amount will do: as I said, they are killing machines and should even half of them reach combat they stand a good chance of winning that combat by a large margin. Get more as soon as you can because as I said they are truly a powerhouse unit.

Sword Masters of Hoeth (Full Command): 180 pts.

Ellyrian Reavers- These are some nice models, now how do they stack up game-play wise? Well they have standard Fast Cavalry stats, which aren't the most impressive in the world, but then one must understand these guys aren't meant to get into combat, at least at the five-man unit we'll be running. Basically I'll opt to run these guys with Bows and have them ride up alongside the enemy, staying out of view and throwing down arrows to whittle down the units before your larger threats can finish them off, if you're feeling ballsy or just see a particuarly good opening then feel free to charge them into an actual combat, the S:4 spears will do some decent damage before the unit is wiped to the man (which has a large chance to happen given their armor save and numbers).

In general though, treat them like you would any Fast Cavalry: Get them up hunting Warmachines and other nasties and use them to whittle away at your opponent's edges. Should they get charged don't feel bad running away, remember, Fast Cavalry still retain their old Fleeing Feint ability and can still move as normal when they rally.

In larger games feel free to double their number to a unit of ten, thus allowing the minor annoyance to become an actual threat with a decent amount of ranged attacks and likewise give a good amount of S:4 attacks on the charge, as well as now actually being able to deny the opponent rank bonuses (until you lose a man, that is).

Ellyrian Reavers (Musician, Bow, Spear)- 112 pts.

With that last addition our army now looks something like this:

High Elf Prince (Giant Eagle, Great Weapon, Armor of Caledor): 237 pts.
High Elf Mage (Annulian Crystal, Lv. 2 Wizard Upgrade): 175 pts.
Lothern Sea Guard (Full Command, Shields, Banner of Eternal Flame): 295 pts.
Sword Masters of Hoeth (Full Command): 180 pts..
Ellyrian Reavers (Musician, Bow, Spear)- 112 pts.


Small army? Technically, but each of your units is a powerhouse and the army overall carries a huge amount of Ranged and Magic potential. Remember that your playing an army of elite warriors- You'll probably never outnumber anyone but each of your units is an expert at what they do (in the case of Sea Guard, just good at everything in general). Clever tactics and knowing when to strike are your greatest assets in the lower level games, and building up a core knowledge of your units strengths and weaknesses, as well as timing and positioning tricks, will be a great boon to you come the higher point games.

~And there we have a 1000 pt. rundown of the Island of Blood armies. I know the High Elf one wasn't as diverse as the Skaven Horde but that's what you get when you have an army full of elite elves! Next week we'll be taking a look at bringing the Skaven army up to a full 2500 level, followed after wards by the High Elves! Stay tuned- Mr. Black

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

Ebay Time!

This week we have a Mephiston model and a Forgeworld Chaplain/Death Company Dreadnought

Mephiston: Lord of Death

Death Company Dreadnought

Auctions end Friday night!