Wednesday, July 10, 2013

Slow Days and Saturdays

So it's Wednesday, middle of the week, beginning of the slide into the weekend. Yay!

Except for one simple fact: the day simply will not proceed at anything resembling a decent pace. So inconsiderate, right? I mean, Monday and Tuesday at least had the decency to move along at something resembling a rate of 1 second per second, but it seems like today doesn't want to do that.

I wish I had something resembling an idea of why time seems to flow differently like this. I know that it's a human perception thing, of course time isn't actually going slower today just to spite me. But there are certainly factors leading to that perception that I don't know about, much less how to avoid and/or harness them to my satisfaction.

Maybe part of it is the simple act of observation. I mean, how much longer do the days seem as an adult rather than when we were kids? Some days seemed to go by so quick when I was spending time out playing with my friends, and now I'm here in an office, waiting on the next order to come down so I can process it all and the clock just seems to refuse to tick over.

Of course, on a larger scale the reverse seems true, too. It seems like I've only been married a few weeks, but it was nearly a year ago. I wish I could slow down my time with her, rather than speeding headlong into the future.

But, if I could control time, you'd have to call me The Doctor. And I don't have a TARDIS.

Tuesday, July 9, 2013

Tau Empire Experiences

Quick note to start off: got a new From the Factory Floor posted last night with a lot of upcoming July and August releases, so go and take a look!

So before my little hiatus, I had posted this about my experiences with the new Tau Empire codex. I've gotten a few more games in since then, and thought I'd update what I've discovered thus far.

First off, let's follow up with the previous point I made about the Riptide. The Riptide with Ion Cannon has some issues, but they are more than worth the points you pay for it. Almost simply by fielding a weapon that wounds MEQ and pens their armor, you have a high-threat platform, and when you add in the Nova Charge blast setting granting a Str 9 Ordnance blast, you have a strong anti-tank platform. However, this last is unreliable in most instances especially against high armor vehicles, though I've had some success against them with it. Of course, it's also worth noting that the thing is a Monstrous Creature, so it can make a melee strike at Str 10, AP 2, though I haven't had a chance to try it yet. Markerlights are a must (but then again, where aren't they in this codex?), but the Riptide is paying off.

The shift away from the almighty Railgun is telling in this edition. AV12 is now a difficult proposition for most armies, and while Tau have it better than most armies in this regard, it's not easy street by any stretch. While we can get Str 7 in abundance, glancing on 5+ isn't reliable enough to deal with an AV12 wall quickly and effectively, which Eldar can do easily without sacrificing any shooting power at all (in fact, it may even have more firepower that way than in a more balanced list!). Unfortunately, the Heavy Rail Rifle broadside is too specialized to really be useful in other situations, leaving most players trying to send waves of missiles at the enemy and hope to do enough damage.

Speaking of railguns, I enjoy using Longstrike in a Hammerhead, though I have had to cut him recently. A BS5 railgun with preferred enemy against Imperial Guard and Tank Hunter means that the Leman Russ is a goner when it shows up, but it's also incredibly useful against, say, the Vendetta with a touch of markerlight support, though my favorite is to give him Submunition rounds and watch the blobs of infantry disappear. He's fun and relatively cheap for what he brings, but I found myself cutting him due to other constraints of my list.

The Crisis suit is still king. Combining good firepower with a resilient body and mobility is just a winning combination. I've had them prove their worth multiple times, including most recently where one unit soaked up most of my opponent's firepower for a turn and a half before being eliminated and leaving the rest of my army unscathed. Outside of specific situations or list types, I really don't see Stealth teams being useful enough to steal a spot from the Crisis teams, though that still leaves both Crisis and Riptides competing for your elite spots.

To wrap up, I will note that these past few games I played reinforce my belief that an Ethereal is more than worth it these days. He's just got so much utility for a minimal investment that, so long as I'm running Fire Warriors, he'll most likely be in there. And I always run Fire Warriors.

Monday, July 8, 2013


So, it's been a little while. I'm an awful writer, I know, no need in reminding me.

Those of you who are still here may remember my posts about worry, and how it came to an end when I got a new job. It's been fantastic and I'm loving it. However, it's changed my routine up quite a bit, leaving me without the swathes of time to kill I had at my old job. Meaning, of course, that I tend to ignore writing here in favor of other tasks.

However, I now seek to change this once more.

So, should all go according to plan (yes, I know, things never do), I'll be bringing you more blog posts as the weeks develop. Hopefully I can pick up my later this week and continue on with those, and maybe bring some other things into the mix. So, all that to say simply "watch this space" and we'll try and get things back on track.

Monday, April 22, 2013


Let's start with a single statement of the obvious: dreams are weird. I think we can all agree on that one. I mean, half the time you're falling from an infinite height into an eternal abyss, the other half you're standing naked in your high school speech class, am I right?

Of course, that's a gross simplification. Emphasis possibly on gross. I mean, most people don't remember many of their dreams. I know I don't. I can count the dreams I recall from my 26 years of life on one hand. Now, one was when I was a kid and just kinda strange (features Droopy the Dog and the house from Casper the Friendly Ghost - please, don't ask; I was five).

One, and probably the most disappointing, was one of those half-awake dreams, and I recall vividly watching a brand new episode of Firefly, possibly from the second season. Unfortunately, there are no new episodes of Firefly, much less a season 2, and I couldn't remember what the plot was about after I got up. Still gets me a little sad thinking about it...

The other two, however, were more significant. Each one gave me a touch of insight into my relationship with my now wife. I won't go into any details here, but I remember each one as if I lived it, even in their strange details - one took place at UAH, but the building was the church I went to back home - and learned some important things that helped me not long afterwards.

So when, this morning, I woke up suddenly to my alarm, remembering only that I'd had a very vivid dream but not having any of the content, I was a tad frustrated. Because dreams are more than just strange visions of your subconcious (though they can be that at times). They are important ways you can learn more about the world you live in, and how you should relate to it.

Friday, April 19, 2013

Fiction Fridays: Book Review: Prospero Burns

So, yesterday I finished a second readthrough of Dan Abnett's book Prospero Burns, part of the Horus Heresy series of books from Black Library. Set in the background of the Warhammer 40k universe, these books delve into the rich history crafted for the game, expanding upon it and showing us how we got to the grim darkness that we know and love.

Prospero Burns is actually part of a duology, a companion book to Graham McNeill's A Thousand Sons. Both tell a single story from two different sides, that story being the Scouring of Prospero. Prospero is the homeworld of the Thousand Sons Legion, an Astartes force which is able, to a man, to manifest psychic powers to such an extent that people believe it to be sorcery. In A Thousand Sons, and in fact from the known facts of the Warhammer world, we know that they have indeed delved into true sorcery, especially their Primarch Magnus the Red. As such, they are censured by the Emperor, who forbids them from practicing their magics again, and when they break that pledge the Wolves of Fenris are unleashed upon them.

This half of the story is what is told in Prospero Burns. We learn about the Space Wolves Legion and how they operate as a force. The Heresy-era Wolves are incredibly different from their more modern counterparts. Where modern Space Wolves are seen as boisterous and amicable by the normal humans of the Imperium, the older force is an object of fear and terror to much of the fledgling Imperium, and even see themselves as the Emperor's Executioners. The fact that we get to see all of this through the human eyes of Kasper Hawser allows us to see the fear, but also we're allowed to get close to them and see the Rout, as they call themselves, at rest.

Abnett has always been most at home writing the 40k world through merely human eyes. Not to say that he can't write Astartes, but he has had quite a bit of experience writing the human perspective with his Gaunt's Ghosts series. This book is yet another example of how well he can write, as the main character goes through monumental changes through the book. As he becomes more and more a part of the Rout, we can see his mindset changing bit by bit, going from the aloof researcher he wanted to be at the start, to becoming the skald of Tra, a historian and storyteller to one of the Great Companies of the Rout and truly a member of them, even to the extent that the last portion of the book, which actually details the attack on Prospero itself, is told in first person as if he is telling the story to the company.

One of my favorite portions, and I will mention that there are going to be minor spoilers at this point, is how he used a single portion of text, repeated over and over, to great effect. Kasper's memories have been messed with, which is part of why he came to Fenris to study the Rout in the first place. Over much of the book, we see portions of his memory and life before he came to Fenris, but there is one memory that Kasper sees in his dreams. We see this memory multiple times, each time he wakes before it finishes, before he can turn around and see who is behind him. But each time is subtly different, until finally it features prominently in the last battle, though I won't add anymore for fear of great spoilers. Oh, and spoilers done.

All in all, Prospero Burns is a fantastic novel, and is a must for any fan of the Warhammer 40k setting. Like all good stories, it surprises us, not only with the plot points (some designed to mislead, especially those leading to the ending), but also with the exploration of who some of these organizations are. The Astartes are all shrouded in enigma for various reasons, and like much of the Horus Heresy series, this one is devoted to shedding some light upon these warriors we love to play with on the tabletop.

Thursday, April 18, 2013

Thankful Thursday: Books

I like to read.

Just so we're clear, that last sentence is an understatement on the same scale as "Space is kinda big." Just ask my wife, who has banned me from getting another bookcase for a while.

Now, we're living in the age of eReaders and tablets, letting us get our books in digital form, but personally, I'm not a big fan of them. Sure, they're great for portability, there are some pretty amazing things being done with reference material in eBooks because you can include cross-references and updates to books that you just can't get with a hard copy. But I want the hard copy. There is simply something about holding the book in your hand, the feel of the page, the words on paper rather than yet another screen. I spend a lot of time staring at computer screens, I'd rather not do so to read a book, too.

When I'm reading a good book in a quiet room, I'm rarely if ever thinking about the room I'm in. Instead, I'm far away and loving it. I have been a voracious reader for most of my life, from early elementary school on through today. I mean, I ran out of books to read for class in middle school and had to work with the librarian to make up tests for other books simply so I could complete my assignments.

Whether classic authors like Orwell or more modern authors like Butcher or Abnett, I've enjoyed all sorts of books, though I'll be the first to admit I lean heavily towards fantasy and science fiction. There have been days when a good book is all that got me through the day, and you'll hardly ever find me without something to read.

Books are amazing things, and I couldn't imagine what life would be like without them.

Wednesday, April 17, 2013

Thoughts and Impressions from the Tau Empire

First off: I posted a new video on YouTube! Called the Strategy Guide, it should be the first in a monthly series of videos trying to give tips to intermediate level tabletop players, learning to apply higher-order skills than just the basic rules. Go check it out, I did the voice over for it this month and even show up in a shot! Check it out if you've got five minutes.

Anyway, I finally got in a game with my new Tau, and have to say I was duly impressed with them when I finally got a few things down with them. Not everything worked as intended, though, and so we'll give the rundown here, in no particular order, of the things I have learned thus far.

  1. The Riptide has to be shepherded closely. Using the Ion Accelerator, I managed to kill precisely nothing with this model across the four turns of the game. Twice he burned himself with his own weapon, despite having to roll two 1's in a row to do that. The other two shots scattered so wildly that it was more than a little rediculous; fortunately, he didn't hit my own troops with those either. He obviously either needs to just fire the normal mode or switch to the burst cannon option, but more testing is required to see if the model is truly cursed.
  2. Markerlights are AMAZING when used in close concert with your men. I managed to destroy a Razorback, a combat squad and Ulrik the Slayer with only a few units because of markerlights boosting ballistic skill and the high rate of fire offered by burst cannons and Ethereal backed Fire Warriors (more on that in a minute). It's a touch tricky getting the order down right on how to fire all your markers, though, so I still need to work on my shooting order and target priority.
  3. Related to the markerlight note, the two flyers in this codex simply aren't worth it. They are nice little planes and have good abilities, but they compete for spots in the army with Pathfinders, which are the primary way to get markerlights in the army. Were there a way to make Pathfinders troops, we would likely see the flyers hit the table, but as it stands the opportunity cost is simply too high on them.
  4. Ethereals are fantastic for what they cost. 50 points nets you a 12" Ld 10 bubble to anchor your firing line with and confers Stubborn to the unit he's attached to, which are both nice abilities in and of themselves. However, he also has his Invocation of the Elements ability, which is simply amazing. I used it to good effect in this Relic game, allowing a Fire Warrior squad to move forward towards the objective, and then run and still snap fire (which my markerlights made back into normal or better shooting), getting to the objective first. Then as the eneemy closed in I could increase the output of my Fire Warriors by 50%, mopping up squads with relative ease. Definitely worth it.
I'm going to try and get a few more games in over the next couple of weeks, and we'll see if that backs up my assertions.