04 April 2009

Thoughts on: Imperial Guard

Like any other 40k player with a pulse, I'm getting excited about the upcoming I.G. release. Though there's things I'm very excited about, there are a few things that I'm slightly concerned about. Not that I'm afraid of facing Guard, but rather I'm wondering what the implications will be for the 40k universe as a whole.

Excited about:
1. Valkyrie plastics. These kits are some of the most interesting and well detailed models that I've seen Games Workshop produce. I especially love the interior heavy bolter gunners.

2. Cheaper guardsmen, point-wise. Now there might be a horde army that even Orks will fear. 50 guardsmen in a squad is just friggin' nuts!

3. Some of the new independent characters, especially Sly Marbo. That guy is ridiculously powerful!

Not excited about:
1. New Cadian Battleforce set. The old ones were perfectly fine and gave you a Leman Russ. Sure, giving us a command squad in the new box is great, but no tank? Lame.

2. The psyker squads. Though they may not be terribly tough in terms of survivability, they seem to be breaking the fluff by having so many of them grouped in the same place at the same time. 10 mutant psykers acting together in the same place at the same time? I wonder if the Inquisition is aware of such tactics. And finally, have you seen their powers? They may put Librarians to shame, in some respects. They're also dirt cheap, which is great for those who are going to field them. However, this kind of power seems to be given out very, very liberally for such a cheap unit.

3. It seems like with the new Imperial Guard Codex, the Space Marines are becoming less and less the awesome clenched fist of the Emperor and more and more canned meatloaf. Heavy 20 weapons? AP 3 Hellguns? Why then would any guardsmen hold the Space Marines in any kind of respect if they could kill them reasonably easily? Don't get me wrong, I'm glad they're getting stronger in respect to 5th edition, but it seems to be at the cost of some of the fluff.

4. The loss of Gaunt from the independent characters. What's up, GW? What'd he do to fall from grace?

5. Dropping the Cadian troopers box from 20 troopers down to 10. Makes sense from a marketing perspective, but it makes all of us broke gamers cry when we realize how much extra money we would have to spend in order to get a Guard force going. (No, I'm not going to be starting guard until I get the Dawn Crusaders where I want them to be. But I can dream, can't I?)

As with anything, time and experience will tell how effective these changes are, and my perspectives will likely change. But I am noticing the trend that each new Codex is more about being the biggest and the baddest because it's the newest, as opposed to trying to keep a closer line with what the established fluff is. That's fine, and depending on how the I.G. perform, I may be entirely wrong about the fluff issue. But I hope that GW doesn't sacrifice a faction's character on the altar of sales figures.

Please feel free to leave me your thoughts on the Imperial Guard.

Of 40k Playlists and Other Matters

Music is one of those things that speaks to people on a very elemental level, and can enrich any experience, including miniature war gaming. I've become keen recently on adding music to my board gaming experiences, and I was wondering if anyone else had done this? I know that the d6 Generation has started doing this, as they have a segment of their show called "The Score" that gives some excellent music suggestions for gaming, but I'm trying to gauge how popular this is with the general gaming public. My current 40k list is as follows:

"Dawn of War" Soundtrack
"Star Wars: Republic Commando" Soundtrack
"Gladiator" Soundtrack
"Orion" by Metallica
"The Dark Side of Phobos" Soundtrack (pieces of it, anyway.)

I've noticed that the best tracks are usually all instrumental, because lyrics tend to distract you from clear thinking or otherwise take you out of the experience.

So, on to other things. These will be a bit random, but still relate to 40k as a whole. They are also my thoughts as a relative noob, and will be old hat to veterans in all likelihood.

I think that it's very important to have a printed army list with every point accounted for, and to have it ready to go when you get to the table. It shows a general respect for your opponent's time, because even in a friendly game, you've showed up to punch in and play, not wait on a guy while he's getting his stuff together. It doesn't even necessarily have to be printed, it just has to be done beforehand and be reasonably legible. (Note: this is not a complaint directed at anyone in particular, it's just me ruminating over what might be called "gamer courtesy.")It greatly smooths things along, and will earn you gamer cred.

Another reasonably important courtesy note is to not behave badly when playing someone you don't know. (I'm thinking trash-talking here.) Sure, some good natured ribbing is ok, but basically saying to someone you've never met that you're going to essentially violate their army and make them never want to play the game again is just bad form. This may not be a big deal for some people, but considering how small my gaming group actually is (4 people, myself included) we really can't have a "that guy." And mercifully, as far as I can tell, nobody in our group is. But just consider that next time you play someone completely new. If you bust their chops too much you're setting yourself up to not only look bad, but potentially drive away another competitor to sharpen your skills with. Another thing you want to avoid is making a personal attack on a player just because they're doing better than you during a game. You can have the best list in the world, but if the dice aren't with you that day, it probably won't matter too much. That's not a bad segue for my next topic.

When it comes to dice, some are definitely cursed, others strangely blessed. Then again, there are also players like that, to where no matter what dice they pick up, they will get an inordinate number of necessary results. For those cursed by the dice gods, however, consider asking your opponent to let you use a dice tower if it's a friendly game. Sure, they may not be tournament legal everywhere, but unless you're practicing for a tournament, there shouldn't be a huge problem with it.

A rambling post, admittedly, but sometimes you just need to get a few things off your chest. Next post, I'll be covering some of my thoughts about the upcoming Imperial Guard. (As if my pocketbook weren't flogged enough...)