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Net epic playtesting...

Ian and myself got one and a bit games in testing out his latest Deathguard as well as the most recent developmental Dark angels list for NetEA. We only got to the end of turn 2 of the second game but I would say that Ian had a clear upper hand for control of the table even though he had nothing that could do anything about my aircraft.

 

The first game I was testing out a new rule for DA called co-ordinated teleport, it allows teleport units to come down in the same activation as planetfall troops from a spaceship so long as they come down within 15cms of a teleport homer. (Dark angels have quite a few of those...) This proved a powerful combination as they come down with greatly reduced chances of blast markers due to the teleport homers, nearby friendly who can support them and after the opponent has been barraged from space and drop pods. The result was pretty effective, I was lucky with the barrage, breaking Ian's lone AA unit and his artillery, the drop pods put blasts onto 3 formations and I retained to have terminators and Ravenwing engage and nearly wipe out a formation of chosen with beasts of nurgle. It didn't all go the Dark angels way as the dreadnoughts got pummelled by vindicators and then a plague hound before breaking and failing to rally twice and that plague hound also neatly killed half the deathwing with chaplain that ended up never activating. A lot did go my way as in spite of concerted efforts by zombies and blightlord terminators the other deathwing refused to lose combat and ended up breaking these formations against all the odds. The Dark angels aircraft were good, the nephilim are more dedicated anti-air now but the dark talons are very potent and took a toll on Ian's retinues. The game to a surprise early finish at the end of turn 3 as I had secured the blitz objective as well as take and hold versus no objectives for Ian. There were still rather a lot of Death guard on the table but only about half of it unbroken.

 

Second game Ian was testing out zombie spam and it's horribly effective for table domination. Both of us were using very different lists with my trying out cyclone terminators and a relic formation (a special predator executioner and laser destroyer formation of tanks) My list was not well equipped to counter Ian's massed teleporters but it was a game of positioning and threat projection where Ian had a significant advantage in activations, even if most of those were spent getting in the way of the Dark angels...

 

Unique unit reviews:

 

Land speeder vengeance: Although I didn't mention these in the summaries I used a formation of them in both lists and they are amazingly effective and efficient... too efficient. There is no way I won't upgrade tornados to these and although I don't want to slow them down or change the plasma storm battery profile they are too much of a bargain with assault cannon on top. A unit of 5 puts down 15 shots to 30cm that can take on tanks and infantry equally well, plus they can garrison (because of scout) and therefore deploy in Overwatch. They were amazing in both games, even though in the second they spent both turns diving into firefights to break and scatter zombie formations.

My suggestion here is to just change the assault cannon to heavy bolters. It's a minor drop in firepower against tanks but I think it's a significant enough change to put the tornado back as a reasonable cheaper option. (10pts for 1 extra AP/AT 5+ shot as opposed to 2 extra AP/AT 5+ instead of an AP 5+.)

 

Deimos Relic formation: A nice big tank formation that brings long range macro and tank busting weaponry to the table. Expensive and no access to upgrades is a shame but they can definitely bring the hurt and put it where you want it. No real complaints or issues with this unit but I would like another game or two. (One where they are not hounded by zombies and blightlord terminators all game...)

 

Cyclone terminators: I don't like them. They cost more but lose out on FF and CC (dropping from 3+ to 4+) and although they potentially will pump out an impressive sounding 3 missile shots each those are AP5+/AT6 so whilst you get more shots with greater range they are less effective against armour and the unit is significantly worse in engagements. They also lack character upgrade options. I didn't have much chance with them as Ian won Initiative the turn they teleported down and promptly swatted them but they don't look or feel as useful as regular terminators.

 

Co-ordinated telport: This new unique rule was pretty significant in the first game and I can see it being very well exploited, it makes teleporting troops much easier to support and also much more reactive to the action. Coming down immediately after a space craft bombardment and planetfall units definitely improves the odds of them finding a vulnerable foe to abuse and pummel into submission.

 

Ravenwing attack formation: the change to this formation was to drop a speeder and add a stand of black knights (who gain scout and a macro weapon CC attack over regular bikes as well as the commander ability). So the same total number of stands but more bikes rather than equal numbers of bikes and speeders. I like the formation, they still make a great, if no ideal, place for a character and in particular a grandmaster. (For that ever so clutch re-roll.) A stand with 2 macro CC 3+ attacks is not to be sniffed at. The formation went up in cost compared to the EpicUK list and I'm not entirely convinced that the changes justify it but the formation is still a very good unit.

 

Devastators: Plasma going to AP/AT 5+ but without slow-firing is a bit of a wash for me, it's rare I ever get to shoot more than once with them anyway but this is still quite a nice formation because of the upgrade options. Mortis dreadnought and stalkers are fine additions and I'll give them their own piece. Devastators still have a place in DA lists, ought to give them a chance in drop pods... although I don't know how their upgrade units work for that?

 

Mortis dreadnought: Cheap, reasonable rate of fire with unreliable but relevant AA presence. A nice option to those units that can take them. Very helpful for improving the survivability of the other AV units in formations.

Stalkers: Similar to the dreadnoughts, decent firepower that works across plenty of targets and not too expensive.

 

Nephilim: Their new dedicated AA role (all their guns have AA to varying degrees of reliability and range) giving them up to 3 shots each in dogfights... Ian didn't bring any aircraft so their somewhat disparate collection of ground attack shots mean they aren't great for that. Although it's rather fitting I sort of miss an earlier version with the avenger mega bolter.

 

Dark talon: These are a bit like the land speeder vengeance, possibly a bit too good. Although all its guns are only 15cm range with FxF arcs they bring disrupt barrage, macro weapon (on a 3+ no less) and an off-chance AP/AA shot as well. These were a real thorn to Ian in both games even when my dice weren't being kind. The macro weapon needs to be a little less reliable perhaps (4+ say) because as the formation is currently... I'm always going to take them. With co-ordinated teleport and planetfall there are many ways to disrupt and mess with enemy AA and the nephilim are perfect to run cover for them.

That's it for now, I will add more when I think of it.

 

Comments about the Nurgle armies used and their units.

Nurgle's rot:

The new version of Nurgle's rot seems pretty good. Daemons always appear quite tricky to use and remembering to bring them in is very easy to forget. The new rule doesn't help with any of those issues but being able to top up the daemon pool requires less investment for more opportunities to exploit it. It makes it easier to have a substantial daemon pool mid-to late game so you are less cautious about wasting them early on in perhaps unimportant gambles.

 

Zombies: These formations annoy me... a lot. In the second game Ian had I think 4 formations of them and they flooded the table, taking up a lot of board space and boxing me in very effectively. I do not want to see this happen more often. 1-2 formations (plus the one you get from the spacecraft bombardment) is just about fine.

 

Blightlord terminators: These seem so difficult to balance, they scare the crap out of me because Ian can make saves in a way I rarely can and their potential ought to be good but in neither game did they get to do anything major. The first game Ian was cautious and very unlucky losing a combat he ought to have won and I kept them broken as perpetually as I could thereafter. Nurgling stands to provide extra bases against blast breaking them is an excellent counter to that weakness and I just hope we can think of a better solution for them to do more work.

 

Blight drones: I still hate these things, in the second game Ian fielded two units and they were as always very potent and a pig to deal with. When I look at the AAC formation of vindicators I notice that, although the drones have 1 less stand and are Initiative 2+ they are just as tough, much faster and have better firepower. They are also fearless. I'm not sure what do do about them yet but I'd ideally like to see them be slightly less all-round good. Either slight less effective directly or a little less resilient. (Change to LV insteand of AV perhaps?) I am quite biased though and forget that they are easily spammed.

 

Nurgle's Rot - I do see your point, but as I already mentioned that was an investment of 40pt on ththe Blightlord's upgrade, losing MW on the 50pt Daemon Prince upgrade's FF and a MW FF on the 50pt Supreme Commander upgrade, in addition to also having invested about 200pt in Daemon-summoning. That's a lot of investment for what got me back (on above-average rolls) 60-75pt of Lesser Daemons.

Zombies - just remember that they can't hold objectives, and take up one of the two support slots for each Retinue - displacing Contagions, Chosen, Plague Towers etc.

Blightlords - the game where three hits killed two of them probably isn't the best time to complain about my saves with them. 😉

Blight Drones - without commenting on the power level itself, the Vindicator formation isn't a good yardstick because they're noticeably overpriced - Loyalist ones with ATSKNF are only 50pt more expensive! The Vindicator formation should probably be around 200-225pt, but I'm currently still keeping them at 250pt to match one of the other lists, and to stop them being spammed as cheap non-Support formations.

I do remember you saying what you'd done to rejig the points and abilities around nurgles rot. I think there's probably space to be a bit more generous for the units like the daemon prince and supreme commander. However the costs end up though, I like how this version of Nurgle's rot works.

 

Fair points about the zombies. You rolled very poorly for numbers in the second game which gave me a fighting chance against them but that didn't really stop them dominating the space around my units.

 

I can accept that the vindicator formation is a bit overpriced for what it offers. I think we both accept that Epic has some very peculiar cost conventions for some things. Since it's nurgle, why isn't the formation 7 stands? (I think you could get away with that for 250pts.)

In part because you've always fielded Havocs previously but the lack of any regular guns on the basic plague marines is very limiting. I remember how plague marines in 40K have always had access to 2 or more special weapons so do you think giving them a 15cm plasma gun or blight type weapon would be a fitting and appropriate thing for the regular plague marines? (No cost change and no better than AP 5+, AT 5+ as well if it's plasmaguns.) The black knights get a 15cms range AP/AT 5+ attack for their plasma talons which is what made me think about this.

 

7 Vindicators is an excellent idea, and I can justify it compared to the Iron Warriors with 6 for 250, as it doesn't open up Support Formations, and it's a formation where losing 5cm speed has a big impact.

For Plague Marines, the same profile is shared across something like six lists by now, so it's pretty much static. Also, earlier experiments with 15cm guns as upgrades didn't work out too well. 🙁

In response to earlier conversations here's a little feedback on the new land raider formations.

 

Land raiders: This is a nice cheap core formation that I really like. Ok, 250pts isn't that cheap but it is fairly cheap for marines and land raiders are mobile, moderately tough vehicles with excellent AT firepower and some anti-infantry shots. They proved useful in both my games and I was very grateful for their contribution. As a cheapish activation to start an engagement that drags in lots of supporting fire shots they are excellent (being numerically small for clipping engagements) quite mobile (compared to infantry) and with solid FF. I was lucky with them but they proved a lot more useful than I initially expected and their firepower is strong enough to noticeably contribute.

 

I would like to see an option for a Deathwing formation of landraiders, possibly as an upgrade. It's in the fluff and would help expand what is a very characterful rule that is currently applied in a very limited manner.

There's been a few updates to the Dark angel list and I'd like to share my thoughts here (without a play-test admittedly). Most of the changes from the last list I actually put on the table seem fine, the latest takes away the battle barge from the list and adds in a hunter class escort (with the strike cruiser becoming the upgrade). It's 125pt for a single BP and the option to transport a formation of terminators plus a thunderhawk transporter with cargo. My issues are that it's quite a small transport capacity, my reading of it means you can include just a single 4 stand formation (which is all that can fit inside a thunderhawk transporter) so it's almost only there for delivering terminators with co-ordinated teleport. I can't see myself paying for this option, particularly compared to a strike cruiser.

Today Ian and myself had another play-test game of epic. He using the latest updated Death guard and I the 1.96 version of the NetEA Dark angels.

The game was ultimately a win for the Death guard after Ian worked out he had scored enough points at the end of turn 3. I just didn't push hard enough to get into his half of the table but the death guard were having a very rough time of it.

 

For my list I was trialling the Siege breakers formation and the Relic Glaives (Dark angel version of baneblades from the heresy era.) The siege breaker formation is 3 land raider ares and they can take a captain or librarian as well as 3 vindicators. Ares forego transport capacity for a demolisher cannon, twin assault cannon plus 2x heavy flamers. With the vindicators they sport quite a lot of firepower. Glaives are similar in the respect that they bring a lot of firepower, each has 4x IC, Disrupt AP3/AT4 shots from the turret weapon, Quad lascannons on each side and a twin heavy bolter. They can chuck out a tremendous amount of anti-tank firepower but are quite slow. They are also DC 4 and FF 3+ so are pretty mean in an assault or supporting fire.

Anyway, the list...

 

Tactical marines with Grand master (supreme commander), transport and 2 stalkers

Siege breakers with 3x vindicators

Deathwing terminators with interrogator chaplain

Ravenwing support formation of 5x land speeder vengeance

Deathwing Dreadnoughts with transport

2 Relic Glaives

Ravenwing Nephilim

Ravenwing Dark talons

Strike cruiser

 

This game saw me be quite lucky with initiative as I got to go first every turn that we played. My space ship arriving on turn 1 was also blessed by Ian's decision to deploy his contagion engines and plague tower under the co-ordinates of the orbital bombardment. Planetfall and co-ordinated teleport worked nicely again and along with the barrage broke the artillery and placed blast markers on several formations. I spent rather too much attention on the plague zombies but Ian had deployed them to body block my war engines from contributing effectively. Still failed to wipe them out, even by the end of the game but at least they weren't as annoying once they were reduced to just 2 stands.

The glaives took a while to get into the game, first turn they engaged the zombies (no other way up the table) and the second turn they wiped out a formation of blight drones. Turn 3 the got a chance to shoot the plague tower and did damage as well as breaking it. (Because of the confusion about victory conditions we actually played a full fourth turn before Ian realised he has won at the end of turn 3.) Turn 4 the glaives again broke the plague tower.

 

The land raider ares Siege breaker formation was excellent and very fun to use. They proved quite resilient and provided gratifying firepower in quantity. The land raiders welcome the vindicators for the extra shots and stands and the vindicators greatly appreciate the land raiders greater resilience. They are quite mobile and the ignore cover on most of their guns makes them very good at shifting units hiding in terrain. I really like them.

 

Dark talons are really good, Ian still hasn't taken any aircraft for his Death guard and his AA was woefully insufficient which may be skewing our opinion of them. 15cm range on all weapons means these guys have to get right up close! IC Disrupt barrage and good macro weapon shots really hurt though and they basically were able to strike wherever they felt like it after turn 1. This conversely means that the nephilim haven't really shone but they still contributed and were a nice activation to harass small and/or weakened formations.

Land speeder vengeances I'm still a little unsure about. They are awesome in my opinion, 3 shots per stand with the option to garrison and therefore start in overwatch is fantastic and they are tougher to take out than you might expect. The did okay despite Ian butchering 4 out of 5 of them towards the end of turn 1 and that last survivor hung on until the end of the game spewing plasma and picking of what it could. Not as quick as regular speeders with only a 30cm move but that's still pretty quick.

 

Deathwing dreadnoughts I have yet to use right. I want to like them but to make use of their transport option they really need to jump in a space ship drop pod and planetfall down. This has brought them down right into the thick of it and Ian has rightly punished them for it. I either need to support them better, come up with a different plan for them or just leave them behind. They aren't cheap for 5 stands and without any character upgrades they are kind of depending on some help to make sure they win assaults. I've been a bit too gun-ho with them and lost them because of it.

 

Of the things Ian was testing, chosen with 3 defiler type walkers were pretty scary, battle cannons starting that far up the table in over-watch is mean and they are nasty in combat as well. It does make the formation a lot more expensive though and this game didn't seem them achieve much. (One of Ian's more impressive dice fails.) The change to blight drones (dropping them to 4 stands) is something I really like, admittedly because it makes them a lot easier to break but at 200pts they are a cheapish formation with great speed and very nasty anti-infantry firepower. This was the reason they were perhaps less impactful today was because they ended up pitted against tanks. Quite tough tanks which shrugged off their shots and blatted them back. Nurgle's rot and its effect on the demon pool didn't really get shown, even though Ian did gain a plague bearer from it. Definitely not over-powered. The plague tower was it's usual terrifying self. Never sure how to deal with this but the glaives definitely provided one answer. Massed disrupt weapons really can punish even the hardest nut to crack.

 

I want to try more Land raider and vehicle based lists for Dark angels now as I get the feeling that land raiders, siege breakers and glaives could provide a very nasty mobile firebase that just needs a little protection from melee to really sparkle.

Thanks, and I'll try to get my thoughts in order. My list was:

Rotters 064 NYD, 2990 POINTS

Death Guard (NetEA V0.6.4)

==================================================

 

PLAGUE MARINE RETINUE [475]

7 Plague Marines, Nurgle's Rot, Daemonic Pact (includes 1 Lesser Daemon), Daemon Prince, (Walkers) Desecrator

 

PLAGUE MARINE RETINUE [450]

Plaguecaster Lord, 7 Plague Marines, Daemonic Pact (includes 1 Lesser Daemon), Lord of Contagion (Supreme Commander), (Walkers) Desecrator

 

PLAGUE MARINE RETINUE [415]

Plaguecaster Lord, Daemonic Pact (includes 1 Lesser Daemon), 4 Death Guard Rhino, Nurgle's Rot, 4 Plague Marines, 3 Havocs

 

BLIGHT DRONE SWARM* [200]

4 Blight Drones

 

BLIGHT DRONE SWARM* [200]

4 Blight Drones

 

PLAGUE ZOMBIE INFESTATION* [175]

3+2D6 Plague Zombies

 

CONTAGION TOWERS* [325]

4 Contagion Towers

 

DEATH GUARD CHOSEN [400]

4 Plague Marine Chosen, 3 (Walkers) Defiler

 

PLAGUE TOWERS* [350]

Plague Tower

 

DAEMON POOL [0]