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Sunday, June 30, 2013

Hiking in Nagano: Reference Photos

I meant to post this during the week, but I just wasn't able to get to it. Last weekend I went hiking with a friend of mine in the Nagano mountains. I take a lot of pictures anywhere that I find good textures, scenery, wildlife, buildings...even and maybe especially decay, as getting things to look real on the tabletop means making them look like they're breaking down naturally. So here are a number of great shots that I'll be referring to later when I'm working on terrain and bases.

A lot of it is plants which I find endlessly fascinating for modeling. It's just so hard to make them look real. Density and texture is an issue. So is mixing in variety and using materials you can paint easily. Other photos are of things like old wood and broken buildings because I think it matters a lot that you know where things should be broken and how they ought to lay or hang when modeling these things.

I had a great time getting these samples. It might be some time before I get around to using them, but maybe they can help someone else until then. I do really suggest taking your own though, if you don't already. I think it helps train your eye and judgement.

PuppetsWar and Third-Party Model Pricing

One of my friends posted a link to PuppetsWar, the other day. They're a third party miniatures maker with some cool sculpts that are clearly intended to work with 40k. I like a number of their figs and they have some cool stuff coming out (particularly some demonic dogs that'd make perfect Flesh Hounds). Of the stuff that's out now, I think I like the bikes, Ork vehicles and SM aircraft best.

When shopping though, and especially when shopping for third-party stuff, I want to save money over what official GW things cost. Or I want sculpts that offer something GW's don't, either in craftsmanship or in subject matter (or both!; looking at you, Kingdom Death). The Ork vehicles here look good, but do they look good enough to justify the cost the way KD figs do? Ork trukks etc. are among the easiest scratch builds to throw together using cheap kid's models/toys, plasticard and a little ingenuity. PW sells their trukks $16 cheaper than GW, though, and they look good so it might be a good option for a less-ambitious modeler/gamer.

Would I recommend these figs to someone looking for a little variety or to save some cash? Maybe. Essentially, the problem is that depending on the kit, the prices can be really high. It's getting to the point where shopping at Tiffany's for my wife would be cheaper than even browsing the GW online store. And that's the main reason I ever consider third-party figures. But when the third-party makers charge 20 bucks for a single SM biker, what's the point in shopping for unofficial figs? Variety is nice, but I don't know that it's worth this much to me. On the other hand their flyers are a good deal cheaper and that's very convenient. I suppose it matters which unit you want and how many you need, but I'd recommend checking and double-checking the prices against other brands because the prices at PW for non-vehicle kits are just not competitive enough to make an army out of their models.

Seen any third-party stuff that looks great and costs right? Post it up! I'd love to hear what else is out there.

Thursday, June 27, 2013

Reevaluating the Seer Council (Part 4): Telepathy

Because it has already come up and I see such potential in it, I want to cover the discipline of Telepathy even though I'd wanted to save the best for last. Telepathy has some powers that are nothing short of devastating with the new Seer Council. While some may have thought before that it was the weaker of the two BYB disciplines available to Eldar, I think it should be almost immediately apparent that it is one of the reasons to take a Council at all now.


Primaris: Psychic Shriek
I brought this up a few times in the Runes of Fate post and I also wrote about it before the new codex came out because it is one of those few witchfire powers that is better than almost any gun in the game. It cares not for your toughness, armor or cover. Even high Ld doesn't protect against it because on 3d6 the average roll is a 10.5. Basically, anything short of good invul saves or vehicle status stands little chance of protecting the target. The range is short, but it matches up well with the other ranged weapons available to the Council. Also with the Jetbike's speed, it's really not hard to be using this soon and to good effect.

Like many other Telepathy powers, where Psychic Shriek gets absurdly powerful is in combination with Horrify. Even a single cast drops Ld10 units down to Ld7. Now you're likely to hit pretty hard with the Shriek. Cast it twice and the target is Ld4. If they're not a horde-sized unit you have not-too-unlikely chance to wipe the entire unit with a single cast. A whole unit of any elite infantry dead before you even fire the first shuriken! That's incredible! And it works just as well against Riptides who are trying to protect themselves with ablative drone wounds. The dead drones and Ld penalties from Horrify will almost certainly cause the Riptide to run if you don't kill it. At any rate, this is something I intend to take just about every game. Rolling on Telepathy with your Farseer's last roll is not a bad option at all when you're not getting what you want. You might roll something great, and in any case you can always trade for Psychic Shriek, which is great.

This power also works very well with Horrify. The target has to take a Ld test to do anything of any value, so if you can debuff their Ld you can essentially ignore them while you get to killing something else. At only one warp charge, I see this is a fantastic power considering one of the best ways of dealing with a Council is to gang up on it. Powers like this that allow you to crowd-control allow the Council to do its job unimpeded. I do suppose the target could still cast non-shooting psychic powers and maybe turbo-boost if they are Jetbike type units, but I'm not sure on the exact wording. And the psychic test will be unreliable if we've cast Horrify on them.

Mental Fortitude
If you don't already have Fearless through either an attached IC or a Farseer's Shard of Anaris, this might be of some use. You can also cast it on nearby units and that could be useful if you have supporting units who need this. For just the Council however, I'm strongly considering spending the points for the Shard of Anaris. For not that many points you get a great weapon and Fearless for the whole unit. Very nice. If I had that I would probably swap for Psychic Shriek if my support units don't need Fearless.

Puppet Master
This is a focused witchfire power and a very good one at that. The only problem I have with it is that it forces the Council to target the unit with its shooting and therefore its assault. Unless you detach the Farseer, your options become quite limited. How would I make these decisions in a game? Depends on what I target. This power works best on vehicles because they have more guns and failing to get the "focused" part of the power to work becomes a non-issue. If I have multi-assault options from there, I might hold off on throwing my spears so that I don't prematurely destroy the target. On the other hand if I really do want to destroy just the vehicle, throwing the spears gives me another chance to do that because I might fail my assault range roll. Vehicles can also be free points toward winning assaults for Councils, so it may be worth making sure they are still there when the assault phase comes along.

Against infantry this power loses some of its pizazz because of the chances you will not get to shoot with anyone who has a decent enough gun. On the other hand there are always some units that only have awesome guns. Combat squads that have been split up to have four special/heavy weapons in one half come to mind. So do CSM Chosen and Havocs. And mirror match Eldar with Wraithguard or Fire Dragons. There are infantry squads where this could be useful, but there are just so many more where it won't be. Take a long hard look at the enemy army before deciding whether or not to keep this one. Chances are I would use it, personally.

I think this gem has been hidden away in this list just waiting for a power like Horrify to work with it. I know there are some who have been using it to good effect, but Ld penalties make this power one of the deadliest in the entire game, in my opinion. Units with Fearless are written and balanced to rely on it. And players who use those units are probably very used to not worrying about getting swept or running off the board. Savvy Eldar players ought to be able to do amazing things with Terrify.

It forces an immediate morale check, if Horrify is applied first you can significantly boost the chances that the unit runs at the beginning of the movement phase. The real fun begins if they don't run far enough from your units because charging forces them to roll against their leadership again. If they fail, they are removed from the game. It's not a sweeping advance, so it works against ATSKNF, a special rule which I loathe with all my being. If they do pass the test (not likely with enough Ld penalties) you have amazing chances to sweep them if you win combat (and they don't have ATSKNF *shaking fist*). If for some reason you just don't want to be anywhere near the unit you Terrified, that's no problem either. They're going to run and you can scoot back with your Jetbike assault move. Then you're 4d6" away from them; maybe more if they fail their regrouping test on their turn.

For the Council, Terrify is a return to days when they killed with sweeping advances and Fearless status on their enemies meant extra wounds for free. Terrify brings back slaughtering enemies for taking few to no casualties and then barely winning combat. They never used to hit crazy hard because they lacked the volume of attacks and had no way of getting through good armor saves. Now they have Jinx, Remnants of Glory and Terrify so they can still chop their way through enough guys with good armor or not, Fearless or not, and still win combat to sweep them off the board. Horrify, Torment Grenade Launchers and Enhance/Drain may even help us to ensure that the sweeping advance is successful.

Despite the ease with which we can get Shrouding, I think Invisibility remains valuable to a Seer Council. With it they can deny their targets Counter-Attack and force them to swing at WS1. That goes a very, very long way to keeping Warlocks alive through return attacks. Then there is the fact that it provides Stealth in addition to Shrouding, and thus a 2+ cover save from normal movement, not just Turbo-boosting. One more benefit that may not be immediately obvious is that casting this with a Farseer is safer than casting Conceal with a Warlock. Farseers have enough wounds to survive Perils and have Ghost Helms to protect them if they have Warp Charges left over to spend on it. Since this   can cut down on the number of tests you need to make it can protect your Warlock investment. And lastly, Farseers have better leadership so casting Invisbility will work more reliably than Conceal.

There are good and bad sides to the last Telepathy power. Of the bunch it is the most random and that is surely the biggest drawback. The 1-2 result does nothing against units immune to pinning, so Terrify becomes necessary against Fearless units. But in that case you might as well direct a different plan of attack at them all together because of the other ways to take advantage of Terrify. The 3-4 result is the best against most units because it prevents them from doing anything more meaningful than moving. That could do a lot to relieve pressure against your forces and allow the Council to work at wrecking enemy units. The 5-6 result causes the enemy to hit themselves once each with their best melee weapon. I got this off once against a big unit of Wyches and it seemed cool until they promptly failed to wound much and then saved most of the wounds they cause. There are units where this could be good but many units with decent armor will whiff against themselves because their S is the same as their T. A unit of Terminators would be pretty funny punching themselves in the face, but even Psychic Shriek has a good chance to do just as many wounds and only needs one warp charge.

Due to the three very strong powers that require the enemy to roll against their leadership, Telepathy is an incredibly powerful discipline to combine with Ld penalties. There are two places to get these, Horrify and Torment Grenade Launchers. The Council is not guaranteed to have Horrify, but with eight or so Warlocks, the chances are quite good. Torment Grenade Launchers come on flimsy vehicles and work at very short range, but they are cheap and if you are already taking Dark Eldar vehicles for Grisly Trophies, they may be of value.

Tuesday, June 25, 2013

BattleScribe Data Files: Eldar

Here is the link to the Eldar data files I'm using for BattleScribe. Thought I'd post them here in case there's anyone who hasn't already found and installed them.

Monday, June 24, 2013

Reevaluating the Seer Council (Part 3): Runes of Fate

You may not need Farseers to unlock the Seer Council any more, but they bring some psychic powers to the unit that combine incredibly well with the Warlock's powers and traits. For the boosts they offer to defense, offense, versatility I think they're just too good not to take if you want a proper deathstar. The thing to look at when thinking about Farseers is the powers you are aiming to get and which of the three charts to spend your rolls on. Your aims may be influenced by your list, Warlock powers and Remnants of Glory. The first set of powers I'm going to go over is:

Runes of Fate

The usefulness of Guide in a Seer Council will depend on a number of factors. For the Council itself, it will matter how many Singing Spears you brought and whether or not you even have any need to throw them. And it could affect any witchfire powers you're going to throw out, but the ShuCats are already twin-linked and it will be wasted on them. Otherwise it will matter what the rest of your list looks like and what shooting units are going to be within 24" of the Council. Obviously this excludes any Wave Serpents already twin-linking through TL Scatter Lasers, but it could be a nice boost for Dark Eldar allies who are keeping close by to assist the Council with Grisly Trophies. If I planned to have someone useful nearby, I wouldn't mind trading for Guide if I get something I don't at all want. Maybe even one on each Farseer if I have a lot of supporting fast firepower and am just not getting the rolls I want.

I'm not at all a big fan of witchfire powers. The few that are better than guns still need a Ld test, can still be blocked by Deny the Witch, risk Perils of the Warp, cost valuable Warp Charges, use up an even more valuable roll on the chart AND need to roll to hit. If you could trade the roll for a good gun, I gladly would. That said, Farseers don't come stock with good guns. You could buy the relic long rifle, but it's expensive and unnecessary to the goals of the Council. If I already have Guide and can't swap, Executioner could be of value. At the very least, it is better than a TL Shuriken Catapult. You could use Executioner if you absolutely have to and since I want us to be able to do something with each roll we make I have to look at this power's potential to kill off someone you'd like dead in a squad. And its ability to wound high toughness targets. But you can only cast a single Witchfire power per turn and while I'll go over this in great detail later, I'd much rather have Psychic Shriek.

This power is better than it's ever been due to its new utility against vehicular targets. The Council already wounds everything on 2s and has Armorbane against vehicles. Doom helps the Council most when firing ShuCats and when swinging witchblades against AV13-14 targets. Still, it could be a huge boost for Dark Eldar allies with poisoned shots and it's great for bolstering the effectiveness of S6 dakka vs vehicles, so I'd be thrilled to get it. If you roll Doom and Fortune, your spell casting is pretty much decided each turn, but what if you wanted to stack your odds of being able to use all three powers each turn? The first thing that comes to mind is to take the Spirit Stone of Anath'lan on a Farseer; it lets you trade your invul save to reduce the warp charge cost of a power. With shrouding, it is likely you won't be rolling your invul anyway and you can play it by ear if you run up against AP2/3 shooting with ignores cover. This would mean that at the list-building stage you already know which Farseer you are rolling more than once on the Runes of Fate with. That reduces flexibility a little, but the pay off would be big if you rolled both Doom and Fortune.

Eldritch Storm
Here's another witchfire power that I'm not likely to want. It is both better and worse than it used to be, but regarless it doesn't compare well against many of the blessings and maledictions available to us. I wish it still rotated tanks. At least with fleshbane it might wound tons of stuff if you get a good shot off against some bunched up targets, but who doesn't spread out when they see you roll up large blasts? It also has haywire rules now and can damage tanks, but so can a S9 Singing Spear. And with haywire, ES is likely to just burn off a single hull point from the target. This is another one you might be able to use, but since it competes with Psychic Shriek and costs 2 warp charges it could just get little to no use when you need to be casting more important powers.

Death Mission
I see a lot of potential in a Farseer casting Death Mission and riding with his Warlock posse. The problem is he needs a better weapon to really take advantage of the buff. When using 2 Farseers, you don't know which Farseer might get this so each one needs a good relic weapon. That bumps their cost up 15-30 each, depending on what you buy. With a Jinxlock I think the Firesabre would be great since the AP3 would be just as good as AP2. The Soulshrive from the Iyanden supplement could be nasty too. And with WS10 and I10 a DMSeer would rip people apart in challenges when using the Shard of Anaris (as a bonus it also gives the user, and by extension the unit, Fearless). Fleshbane, Rending and Instant Death in challenges is no joke with a Death Mission stat line. Basically if you manage to get this power on one Farseer and Fortune on the other I think it might be worth using it if you want a beatstick to stand in the stead of an Autarch. You wouldn't be able to cast the other excellent powers with him afterward, but with the right equipment this can make a Farseer an absolute monster.

Obviously this is the money maker. It combos incredibly well with Conceal and Protect, providing durability that the old Council could only have dreamed of. It also picked up rerolls on Deny the Witch, a valuable and unexpected improvement. Once you have this you can relax and roll for stuff you feel like using, in my opinion, as this is almost the whole reason I'll be rolling on the Runes of Fate. While Death Mission would be fun and probably good if I have the builds for it, and while Doom could help support the rest of the force, none of the other powers make or break the Council. Despite Fortune's importance, I think there is less to say about it because everyone knows how amazing it is and how much the Council needs it. I'll just say that rolling on the Runes of Fate multiple times to get Fortune is risky as not all the powers are great when compared to some of the things we want to do with Divination and Telepathy. Just be careful with how many times you're willing to roll because you could get yourself stuck in a situation where you don't roll anything you need and have no more rolls to spend on other charts. That goes against the versatility available to us in rolling for many of the best psychic powers in the game.

Mind War
And finally the last result on the chart, a focused witchfire power. Mind War now works a little differently. You're not guaranteed to kill the guy you want and if you roll poorly you could debuff yourself. Not a problem, really, since Farseers are not the only thing we're relying on to do damage. It does work well with Horrify since debuffing the enemy Ld could help you kill them. And at least these days it ignores cover, but so does Psychic Shriek which can kill way more guys and combos just as well. I don't really want this power, but it certainly has some worthwhile use. The warp charge cost is high, so it could potentially fall to the wayside if you need to cast Fortune, but I'd put some thought into whether or not I'd swap for Guide because depending on what powers other characters have roll this might be of value.

In extreme summary: Fortune.

In a regular summary: take care that you don't get too greedy when rolling to get Fortune. The other powers have their uses, but with many of them costing 2 charges you may not be able to cast enough powers and your Farseers won't be operating at their full potential. Even though we can technically put many of the weaker powers to some use, charts like Telepathy and Divination have much better powers overall and rolling on those charts would be much more beneficial than getting stuck with a lot of Runes of Fate powers and no Fortune. User beware.

Wednesday, June 19, 2013

Revisiting the Seer Council (Part 2): Runes of Battle

The Warlocks' psychic powers are where the new incarnation of the Seer Council starts to get really interesting. Because they are random and you only get one roll each I think a large unit is necessary, whereas they used to be able to function in some capacity with five to six bodies. I personally have eight Warlocks and a Farseer converted with plans to sculpt up another Farseer at least. I think about that many rolls ought to provide decent enough chances to get some of the powers we want, with decent chances again of seeing doubles of the ones we really want.

At Ld8, I'm thinking Warlocks might need Dark Eldar allies with Grisly Trophies to provide psychic test rerolls. That would protect them from perils that would otherwise kill them outright. Something to consider when we get to list-building, at any rate.

Now let's have a look at the powers one by one.

Runes of Battle

Primaris: Conceal/Reveal
The unit needs at least one of these and it might be beneficial to have two. That's all right because you're likely to roll up plenty results you don't need and will need to fall back on this with at least someone. First the obvious benefits: with Shrouded you have a better save against AP3 and AP2 than you do with your invul save. Much better if you turbo-boost. That can be pretty huge in some situations, especially if you fail to roll up Fortune. Having a 2+ cover to help you get into position won't make up for not having rerollable saves, but it will definitely help a lot. Having two Warlocks with Conceal may be necessary in case one of them fails his roll when you really need the power up.

The other half of this power, Reveal, is brutally effective against units that rely on those special rules because the ones that do are likely to be relying on that to protect them from your pseudo-rending shuriken fire. Reveal may also help against vehicles with those rules should you want to smash them with some S9 Singing Spears. In turns where you already got Conceal up, you're free to use Reveal with anyone who has it. Another nice reason to have two.

Destructor is almost as good as it was before. I like having Soul Blaze on it well enough, but I don't think that makes up for the 6th edition providing Deny the Witch saves against it. Still, it's not at all bad to have a Heavy Flamer template on a unit with the speed to put it in the worst of places. It should provide some decent benefit to the unit when shooting.

Renewer on the other hand is obscene the way I'm thinking of it. A unit of 8-10 Warlocks can count on scoring 1-2 of these from the chart. Let's assume we get two Renewers and we have two Farseers leading the unit. We position the Farseers so that one is in the front and the other is the closest model to him, the one who will take Look out Sir wounds. You roll saves on the first guy until he takes a wound. Then you start rolling Look out Sir and pass wounds off to the next Farseer. You'll have to estimate the damage you might take and how much you can pass along, but the goal here is to only take up to two wound that are S<8. On your turn you are free to then heal the two Farseers up and negate all that hard work the enemy did. I used to soak damage all the time with my Farseers and this just makes that tactic so much nastier. Just be careful not to put yourself in a position to take a lot more wounds than you can reasonably save and LoS. And be careful of weapons that will ID your Farseer. Then you'd be relying on cover/invul and as nice as it is that we have those, we're not trying to spoon feed Slaneesh our Seers' souls.

I personally love this power set. The first of the two is handy as all get out for a unit that falls back 3d6 when they get unlucky and fail a morale check. Or that can't afford to whiff in combat and get swept. You could also cast it to apply Fearless after you've already fallen back so you can automatically regroup. A very good power that shouldn't be overlooked.

Now Horrify can just be disgusting in all the best ways. Have a look at the first paragraph on maledictions on p68 of the BYB if you need to refresh yourself. That's right, the effects are always cumulative. So one cast brings the target down from Ld10 to Ld7. Another cast would have them at Ld4. Good f%#king luck passing whatever morale checks I can throw at you this turn. Pinning tests can come from a number of places in our codex, Terrify could come down on the enemy from a Hemlock, basic shooting could have the unit flee and an assault could sweep them. Oh, did you say you're Fearless? Not anymore if Terrify hits you from one of the two Farseers or the Hemlock, which is guaranteed to have it. There are a lot of different ways to use this power and I think it has a definite place in our unit. I'd definitely want at least one, but maybe two. But no more than that. Ld4 will reliably fail and it'd be fine to take Conceal/Reveal over a third one of these.

Edit: Another use I forgot to mention is one that CKO brought up on DakkaDakka. If you can use this to make a unit with ATSKNF fall back, they will run from you 2d6 and you can back off 2d6 too. If you don't want to be in combat with them you can get away nicely. On the other hand, something he didn't mention is that you could cast this on a unit, then turbo-boost to block them in so they can't run and then shoot them with other units in your army or use a Hemlock to make them run. Then they die instantly. Somewhat situational, but it's not so bad since Horrify is cast in the movement phase and you can move 36" in the shooting phase. Hmmm...

This is a good power to have, but a little less necessary than it was before since Warlocks have base I5 now. Still, hitting most stuff on 3s with WS5 would be nice. Against someone else with WS4 you would need three casts to bump them down to WS2 and yourself up to WS5 so that they hit on 5s. As funny as that would be, I just don't think it's practical. That's committing a lot of chart rolls, risking a lot of psychic tests/perils, hoping they fail a lot of Deny rolls just to weaken a unit you will probably steamroll anyway. And if not, you might be better off backing away and shooting them instead. Still, part of the point of analyzing these powers is to think about how they can be used, because we have little control over what we get. Since we don't need many conceal/reveal Warlocks, we've got to consider how to make due with what we end up with. Basically Enhance/Drain is another good one to stack up if you can, but a single cast of it gives a good boost to your combat prowess too.

As a whole I think this is by far the best power. There are good combos and uses for the others and they're necessary for the unit to operate at full potential, but I'd keep up to four or five of these if I happened to roll them. On the defensive side, Protect makes Terminators out of Jetbikes. With Fortune, they would be tremendously hard to remove. But we don't have that many rolls on Runes of Fate and sometimes you just can't seem to roll that one result you want. So if you don't have Fortune, this is your new substitute. Is it enough? Maybe, maybe not. That's going to depend on how much dakka and how much AP2 shooting your enemy can leverage on the unit at once. Not all lists can bring enough firepower down on Terminators to end them quickly. Much less if they're able to get anywhere on the board in a single turn with a 2+ cover to negate the AP2 shots. Getting at least one Protect off does do a lot to keep this unit in the game. Between soaking S1-7 shots with Farseers and positioning to prevent the enemy from weighing too much firepower against you, Protect should be a great boon to the Council.

Jinx is one of the powers that got me thinking about this unit again in the first place. It's pretty awesome that you can make MEQs out of Terminators, right? But remember when I mentioned that maledictions are always cumulative? Yeah. Two casts of this and those MEQs get no armor save from basic shuriken weaponry. Okay so it makes the Seer Council a destructive powerhouse in shooting. They already have pseudo-rending guns anyway, how well does it keep them from getting bogged down in assault? Ork Boyz, one cast means no save. Two for large units of IG. Now you're basically swinging the power weapons people always wanted Witchblades to be when fighting hordes. Against TEQs and MEQs, they might be getting saves, but rolling 4+ and 5+ respectively is not going to go well for units that are written to be balanced based on their armor. This is a power that goes against so much that is essential to 40k's game balance. Obviously it will combo well with Runes of Fate, Telepathy and Divination. I'll be returning to this many times in other posts.

There has to be one near-total dud in the bunch and this is it. Very simply, Jetbikes can't run, so the buff side of this one is worthless. On the other hand, Restrain could be used like crowd-control. You could keep an enemy unit that is 18" away from running. That would make it harder for them to reinforce against your Council or maybe slow them down when they're trying to dash toward an objective. Or behind cover. I could see using one of these. Maybe two, but any more than that and I'd be pretty disappointed not to have rolled better results on the chart.

Empower boosts your strength by one. In most situations this won't help much because the Council's weapons always wound on a 2+. They are however only 3+2d6 against vehicles so it could help boost your damage against vehicles in combat. The Remnants of Glory weapons are not all fleshbane, however, so it could really help a lot with making those low AP hits count.

I think Enervate is amazing. Probably more than most people do. There are two reasons. One: every body matters--a lot. If debuffing the enemy's strength means even one Warlock is spared in combat, it was worth taking. We've only got one unit and they only have one wound each. They need to last and need to do amazing things to help you win, so leverage every chance you have to manipulate the statistics in your favor. The other one is less obvious, but check this out: remove the threat of ID from powerfists, thunderhammers and S8 MCs. With enough casts, Dreads too, but Dreadnaughts should never even get a chance to swing against massed Witchblades. I'm not sure if many people have noticed this at all, but it makes Farseers pretty damn good at challenges, especially where they only need to score one wound before I1 occurs. This gives a lot more control over your Farseers' protection and circumvents powerful wargear that some players rely on.

Whew that's a long post! It was worth it to me though. There is a lot to say about these powers and I think being thorough is the only way to say anything meaningful in 40k. Still, these are first impressions and I think with some experience there is probably more that can be added. This also doesn't account for combos, lists or match-ups. I may write a follow-up once I've used my Council a few times. For now though, I'll be moving ahead with the Farseer's Runes of Fate next.

If you feel I've overlooked anything, got something wrong, or are simply astounded by my radiant brilliance, post about it. I'll be sure to post how great you think I am--er I mean, about your contribution...

TLDR: JetCouncil > WSCouncil

It occurs to me that I didn't even really mention taking a Seer Council without Jetbikes. That's because I wouldn't ever recommend it. There are just too many benefits to taking the Jetbike and too many detriments to taking a Council on foot or in a Serpent. A foot Council seems like a complete and utter waste of time. I just can't recommend that and couldn't have in the last book either unless you were using Yriel and Eldrad. If you can support it with some kind of reasoning I'm all ears, but for now I'm going to limit my comments to Jetbike and transported units.

Pros to Jetbikes:
+1 Toughness which affects ID threshhold for Farseers
3+ save that can be improved through Runes of Battle
5+ Jink that can be improved through Runes of Battle
Twin-linked Shuriken Catapults
Fastest ground-based movement profile in the game
Can cast powers against any target

Cons to Jetbikes:
Vulnerable to anti-infantry weapons
Can be assaulted directly
Can be targetted by powers and abilities that can't affect embarked units

If you don't have a Jetbike you have no armor save to buff with Protect. No guaranteed cover save to buff with Conceal. Half as much shooting potential. Poor ability to apply Destructor templates. You can't even use the maledictions you're spending all those points on until you disembark. Then disembarkation restrictions also mean you are ineffective for a turn after getting out. Jetbikes cut out the downtime from a unit that needs to be taking as many actions as possible. With as much as it costs it has to have a big enough impact on the battle to basically win you the game. There are just so many reasons to want the Jetbike I hardly even thought to mention running Seer Councils without them.

Tuesday, June 18, 2013

Spotlight: The Work of a Brilliant, Unknown Sculptor

All right, so he (or she) is only unknown because I'm ignorant of eastern European languages. I originally saw these on Kaughnor's blog, but while writing my first post on the Seer Council I actually stumbled on the original thread where they surfaced. I think it's Russian that the artist is posting in, but I guess it could be one of the similar languages of the surrounding region. The sculpts are breath-taking and if he were selling them I'd have a whole unit on its way right now.


Re-examining the Seer Council (Part 1): Wargear

I'm not sure that I specifically try to find uses in units that the Internet says are bad. There may be something to that too, but I also like to believe that people write things off before they ever give them a fair chance. I feel like people had an all-too-spontaneous reaction to the new Fire Dragons, Guardians, Wraithknights, Wraithlords and Falcons. But at least those have still been getting enough attention that some people are coming around and giving things a try. What I haven't seen anyone say anything other than "NO!" to is the Seer Council.

Why? Up to 12 psykers with access to excellent wargear and what are in my opinion the best powers in the entire game. And they're not worth even attempting to use because you can't ensure having heavy flamers and rerollable saves? Oh right, and Mind-strike Missiles (let me get to those later). I am reading the opposition to this correctly, aren't I? The Seer Council is on the whole cheaper than it used to be and while it may take some adaptability to use now, I think it is better than ever due to better wargear, more versatile powers and more destructive potential in the form of multi-faceted psychic combos.

First of all, the wargear is fantastic now. The Eldar Jetbike is unbelievable. It gives more movement than it ever has and protects our Farseers from S6/7 weaponry. It gives a jink save that is great additional protection when combined with Conceal. And it also provides us with twin-linked shuriken catapults that are ferociously potent now. The Singing Spear has also been buffed because it is no longer a 2-handed weapon (though it does only hit vehicles at S9 when thrown), therefore you get your bonus attack in close combat with it and that's something Warlocks need badly. Both the Eldar Codex and the Iyanden supplement have access to weapons that can make our Farseers a credible threat in combat, potentially very powerful with the right psychic buffs.

I don't have the Iyanden supplement, but I've seen the rules as they were posted all over. I like those artifact weapons much more than the two we got in the codex. The Spear of Teuthlas is basically a rending singing spear and would be a fun, effective and fluffy choice in a Seer Council. The Soulshrive is very powerful and gaining +1S for each kill wouldn't be hard to start up if you had a Warlock buff you from S3 in the first place. And the Celestial Lance would be a fine choice and would be something like what the Laser Lance Autarch used to add to my Council.

In short, the Council is faster, tougher and stronger than it was. It received a number of buffs that came in the form of new wargear and changes to the old gear. They have more attacks than before and more access to AP2, 3, and rending. All of this does one very exciting thing in my opinion: it frees up the need for an Autarch HQ or another assault unit to bail them out of assaults where they could get tarpitted. With an open second HQ slot, I can take another Farseer to reinforce my chances at getting some of the various powers I think will benefit this unit greatly.

And this is where I want to take this series of posts. I want to talk about the Warlocks' powers next. I'll go over what I'm hoping to get and why. I'll also cover ways I expect you can make the most of the less-than-optimal powers. The Farseers will come after that and may need multiple posts on their own because they have three disciplines available. All of them have powers that can greatly boost the unit, but because they're random and there are more results than the Warlocks' powers, I want to be thorough when talking about what to do when you don't get the best of the powers available.

Returning to GK Storm Ravens for a moment, if you want to run a Seer Council, you just have to accept that Mind-strike Missiles are stupid and will remain stupid for a while. Luckily not all GK players use Storm Ravens and not all 40k players use GKs. Playing against one might mean reserving the Council and slapping the Raven down with a Crimson Hunter. Really though, with about 700 points invested in this unit, you'll have to go into that game knowing you've got a handicap because 200 something points on the other side negates almost half your army. I'm going to be completely ignoring these missiles while I write about the Council. I don't think Deathstars are the most competitive way to play anyway, so it shouldn't be a big deal to negotiate something with your friends so you can play with a list that's meant to be a unique good time. You know, rather than losing games before they start due to a rock, paper, scissors style match-up.