Friday, October 31, 2014

TRICK or TREAT: Want Scary? Civilization Dodged a Death Bullet in 2012.


The Scary Fact That Earth Was Almost Hit By a
Catastrophic Solar Storm in 2012 and Hardly 
Anybody Knows the Truth! 

The Mayans were almost correct about the world ending in 2012, or at least the world as we knew it. On July 23, 2012 a massive solar storm barreled from the sun, a solar storm stronger than any witnessed since the 1850's. Luckily for us the Earth was on the other side of the sun when the eruption occurred. Had we been on the receiving side of that solar storm we would, two years later now, most likely be living in small tribes, growing our own food and defending what's ours from raiders. We would have no electronics, no government, no grocery stores, no outside help, and half of the human population might very well be wiped out from starvation, disease and violence. Sound too unbelievable to be true? It is true. It's real science and we almost entered our own Age of Strife 25,000 years before Earth did in the 40K Universe. And the truly scary part of all of this - hardly anyone knows how close civilization came to the edge of the abyss.

I am not trying to be an alarmist and trying to scare anybody; my intent is to educate. The reality is that Earth has a far greater chance of being hit by a catastrophic solar storm than a world altering asteroid. The good news is that, if we wanted to, we could make our power grid hardened against such destructive solar events. The problem, however, is that politicians would rather spend money on projects that show more immediate results that translates into more immediate votes.

OK, so still don't believe such a solar event could occur to us today? Here are the facts, in 1859 an astronomer by the name of Carrington witnessed a huge solar eruption from our sun. The Corona Mass Ejection tore past Earth some 17 hours later and was so powerful that it disrupted our magnetic fields (which acts like a shield) enough to shower the Earth with an electromagnetic radiation, thus electrifying the atmosphere and ground based electronics (of which almost none existed in Victorian times).

As far south as Cuba the aurora could be seen, something that normally only occurs far, far closer to the polar regions. The aurora was so bright that it is said Colorado miners woke up in the middle of night and started to cook breakfast because they thought it was dawn.

The 1859 solar storm brought the aurora as far south as the tropics, that includes all of the United States.
Throughout the world telegraph machines sparked or outright caught on fire. Amazingly reports of telegraphs working without being connected to a power source were wide spread. No messages could be sent because touching such an electrified telegraph would bring shocks to the user.

The whole affair was called the Carrington Event. Now fast forward to present day and imagine what such an event would do to today's massive world-wide power grids? I will admit what what follows is only conjecture but smarter people than myself have made thought experiments into the idea. It is thought that if such an event occurred today the world's power grid would go dark because the grid's massive, vital transformers would blow up, completely destroying themselves and could not be repaired. The world would be thrust into a world spanning blackout.

Doesn't sound quite so bad, does it? We can fix that right? Well, here is the real kicker. Those destroyed transformers are essential for restoring the power grid and they can't be replaced right away. Some estimates say it will take years to build enough transformers to replace all those lost on the global scale. Our society is utterly dependent on electricity and being without it only invites an inevitable decline that will start to spiral quickly out of control as the dark days turn to even darker weeks.

Don't think we will lose control? Think we can keep it together for those months or even years that we have no access to electricity? Only an optimist would say yes. Here is why ----> food. Grocery stores and home pantries would be emptied within a week. Without power on a global scale there is no new food being canned or shipped to replace the depleted food. What happens then? The bad people start raiding their neighbors for food. The good people whom starve long enough will get desperate and either turn to raiding for survival or perish. Those that are still healthy enough will head out of the urban areas to flee the escalating violence because authority figures that did remain at their jobs will be too overwhelmed to adequately protect the population.

Once in the rural areas people will band together for survival, forming tribes. Some tribes will make it, learning how to work together to hunt, scavenge and make their own food. Other tribes will fail and die off to starvation or turn to raiding. Eventually famine, disease and violence will eliminate about half of the world's population. Civilization will be over, there is nobody left in the urban centers to rebuild the power grids. There is no more central governments, only tribal law. The Age of Strife will have begun.

What it might be like after a modern Carrington-like event.
It's sort of like The Walking Dead but with raiders instead of zombies.
Case in point, New Orleans after Hurricane Katrina. For a month the city was in chaos, half flooded and no electricity, it started to spiral out of control from the very beginning. There was an exodus out of the city for the poor, their neighborhoods got swamped and they had no place to go. Many police abandoned their posts to look after family or where simply unable to handle the stress. People in the French Quarter formed tribes and specialized with certain jobs within the new social structure. The authorities had flood refugees living by the tens of thousands in the Superdome and by all accounts it was a lawless hell hole. The only reason the city didn't fall completely into utter chaos was the fact that outside help was available - food and water. Nobody was going to starve and have to to start preying on their neighbors. Imagine what would have happened if there was no food coming into the city? An eventual fall into total anarchy and a near total exodus from the city would ensue.

What a downer. But the global blackout chaos scenario is only conjecture, although, most experts tend to think that civilization is a fragile thing and that it will unravel quickly when facing a global disaster of epic proportions. Governments might be able to keep control for some time with martial law but eventually even they will unravel or perhaps have to retreat into a more secure area, leaving most of the population to fend for themselves.

Still don't believe me? I wouldn't want to believe me either. Here is a video link to drive home the message.

Perhaps those disaster preppers aren't as crazy as we once thought?

Thursday, October 23, 2014

Fanboy Corner: Stirling's New Steampunk Video


Lindsey's new video harks to
the inner Gamer/Geek inside all of us
with Steampunk!

Time to take a brief break from 40K chatter and smell the roses.
Well, if you could smell roses through the ear cavity that is. 

For those of you whom are Lindsey Stirling fans you probably already know about this new video. For the rest of you still living under a rock, give Lindsey a chance and you just might discover an exciting new genre of music that you never before knew existed. So consider this post as sort of a public service message. 

Personally this song is one of my favorites from the new album because it is heavily influenced by Irish jigs (performed by a lively fiddle) which happens to be some of my favorite music. In fact, listening to Irish fiddle on Pandora is how I discovered Lindsey last year (yes, I too was living under a rock). For me, discovering Lindsey's music for the first time was sort of like this cat: 

So check out the new LS video below. Links to follow for related LS music.

Lindsey Stirling: Roundtable Rival

If you liked that video I recommend some of these 
other great songs

Stars Align, Electric Daisy Violin and Master of Tides 

Lindseystomp YouTube.

If you want to hear more LS and explore the music of similar artists then I suggest this awesome Pandora station:
Classical String Fusion

Tuesday, October 14, 2014

40K ARMIES: Thunderwolf Spam and Analysis



A Thought Experiment & Analysis

The purpose of this list.
In my quest to build a competitive Thunderwolf army I have decided to start with the basics: to come up with a list that spams as much Thunderwolf cavalry as possible into a tournament style list. From there I am hoping to get an idea of where the weaknesses and strengths of such an army is and start to put together a stronger, more competitive list afterwards. As a side note I promise not to use any of those annoying images of Spam cans in this article.

Think of this list as a thought experiment and not as a netlist to copy and paste. I am attempting to find a solid place to begin for my competitive Thunderwolf list construction, so why not begin with the the extreme example? I have made one Thunderwolf list before, right after the new codex dropped, and you can see it here. While I like that list and I want to play that list, I'm not quite so sure that it is competitive enough for tournament play. I would love to be proved wrong though.

Let's begin.
All of my lists will be made with the Bay Area Open format in mind. That is the format our club uses, local tournaments use and it seems to be a popular format in this region. So to get the maximum amount of Thunderwolf Cavalry for my chosen format I will need to have both a Combined Arms Detachment and an Allied Detachment. That's not good enough however, I'm using freak'n Thunderwolves, so I am going to replace my Combined Arms Detachment with the Company of the Great Wolf Detachment. I won't need Troops and the +1 WS for my cavalry and Wolf Guard is just too good to pass up.

Filling out the ranks.
Might as well start with the meat and potatoes, I have four Fast Attack slots to fill up in my army. Six Thunderwolf Cavalry go into each of those slots. While naked Thunderwolf cavalry is a force to be reckoned with they need some more tools to excel. I kit out each pack with two Storm Shields and one Thunder Hammer. Ideally I'd like one more Shield for defense and a Wolf's Claw to help mow down power armor chumps but I have to cut back to save points. Besides, this load-out comes in at a cool and easy to work with 300 points. So that's four Cav packs @ 1200 on the button. That leaves 650 left to play with, not too bad.

Time to fill the required slots and make this a legal army. According to the Company of the Great Wolf Detachment I need one HQ and two Elites. For my Allied Detachment I need one more HQ and one Troop. Two Iron Priests on Thunderwolves are a no-brainer choice for this army's Elite choice. As for HQ choices I need to stay thrifty so a couple of Wolf Guard Battle Leaders will fit the bill. As a bonus they also benefit from the detachment's +1 WS boost. I like to load my Lords and Leaders out in a particular way; Thunderwolf, Storm Shield, Runic Armor and Thunderhammer. Boom. Very survivable and with a massive S 10 punch. With any leftover points I might be able to purchase them some re-roll Relics and Fenrisian Wolf buddies. Lastly, we need Troops for the Allied Detachment so I'm going minimal with a 5 man Blood Claw pack.

OK, we have all our required slots filled as well as all our Fast Attack slots like we wanted. After adding everything up I find that I only have 40 points left to spend. I'll throw the Fellclaw's Teeth relic on the Warlord to make him more killy and then buy 3 Fenrisian Wolves for the Leaders to use for Instant Death or last wound soaks.

(For lack of a better title)

 Company of the Great Wolf Detachment
 and Allied Detachment.

Thunderwolf mount, Storm Shield, Thunderhammer, Runic Armor,
Fenrisian Wolf x2, Fellclaw's Teeth
Thunderwolf mount, Storm Shield, Thunderhammer, Runic Armor, Fenrisian Wolf

Blood Claws x5 (Ally)

Iron Priest - Thunderwolf mount
Iron Priest - Thunderwolf mount

Thunderwolf Cavalry x6 - Storm Shield x2, Thunderhammer
Thunderwolf Cavalry x6 - Storm Shield x2, Thunderhammer
Thunderwolf Cavalry x6 - Storm Shield x2, Thunderhammer
Thunderwolf Cavalry x6 (Ally) - Storm Shield x2, Thunderhammer

= 1849

Strengths of the list.
So whats to like besides seeing 28 mother-beautiful Thunderwolf models on the table? How about 28 S 5 Hammer of Wrath hits? Or how about a total of 136 Rending attacks on the charge? Nearly the entire army is T 5 with decent 3++ protection and some 2+ armor for soaking up AP 3+ hits. The list is lighting fast and should only have to weather one turn of shooting before slamming into the enemy chumps for the win. I think the list might have enough target saturation to deliver a potent blow even if charging into a lot of firepower. With a list like this it is crucial to master using the 2+ saves, 3++ and Look Out Sir in an efficient manner.

Alright, let's talk assault strength because that is what this list does to win. The one thing that pops out immediately about this army is it's ability to slam enemy chumps on the charge with a total of 40 WS 5+, S 10, AP 2. Those attacks are Rending as well which could make a difference if you are attacking a superheavy. The Iron Priest attacks are only WS 4 but they hit at a whooping AP 1 making them ideal slayers of anything that rolls on the vehicle penetration damage chart.

Don't be like me and forget about your Hammer of Wrath attacks - with so many you are probably going to get some Wounds put on the enemy before they even have a chance to swing back. Out of your Cav's normal attacks you get a grand total of 96 on the charge @ WS 5, S 5 and Rending. Impressive. In the end I think this list can handle just about any threat, the problem is getting enough models into assault and keeping the pressure on.

Weakness of Thunderspam.
This year I have pretty much switched my play style over to assault oriented armies. In that time I've had the hardest time playing against Tau and Eldar (serpent spam). Even hiding in or behind cover won't help you that much against either of those races shooting. Plus they are both very mobile so it is hard to keep them hemmed in. I'm not quite sure how this list would perform against them, however, I'm guessing it might be able to weather a decent amount of shooting with the 2+ and 3++; every model you lose hurts when you only have a total of 33 models in your entire army.

Unlike a Wolfstar pack you don't have nearly as many Independent Characters to rely on to split off and take objectives and kill important targets. What you do have is four Thunderwolf packs and I suppose you could view them as Characters themselves because they are big, bad and hard to kill. And just like all Thunderwolf armies you have to manage your limited number of models well; don't fall for traps, be sure to target prioritize and don't move any pack to far out of position to make it useless next turn.

Controlling objectives is going to be a problem. My Redstone Rumble list had this same exact problem, especially since the normal mission objectives were mixed with Maelstrom objectives. My list went 3-2 but out of five games I never won the Maelstorm mission but I did tie it twice. From this I gather that most all-out assault armies have the same problem: a weak backfield. The Thunderspam list has only a single Blood Claw pack for such duties. In an objective heavy game a Thunderwolf pack (or two) and maybe some ICs will have to be redirected for objective grabs/guard duty.

Flyers will, of course, be a nuisance. The meta right now seems to be light on flyers so this list has a chance to flourish. About all you can do with this list against flyers is to linger about cover and objectives and wait for the flyers to come down to skimmer mode (if they can), because they can't score while flying. You will just have to concentrate on cleaning up everything on the ground and hope you can get those flyers later in the game if they come down.

Conclusion and looking forward.
Actually, for a thought experiment, I like this list. I don't know if I will ever have enough Cav models to pull it off but I just might play this list one day. I love the speed and power output of the list but I feel it needs more 2+ and 3++ saves. Looking forward to my competitive list I will, sadly, have to drop some numbers from the Cav packs so I can add a Wolf Lord and at least one or two more Independent Characters. I do not want to go the Wolfstar route, I want to instead have multiple big packs with multiple ICs so to spread the love and destruction around.

I'm going to need more objective takers/sitters because once the Thuderwolf tide has washed over the middle of the board I'd like for them to concentrate on keeping the pressure on. I have thoughts about some Wolf Scouts with camo cloaks sitting on a backfield objective. Sprinkle in maybe another Blood Claw pack or something fast like a minimal Wolf Guard Jump or Bike pack. I don't think Drop Pods will work very well with what I have in mind. I'd love to put some distraction/screening units in the list but I know I won't have the points. I will just have to hope that my plan of having multiple strong packs will be target saturation enough to see me through and into assault.

Anybody have any thoughts on the list or how I can change it for the better?

Thursday, October 9, 2014

40K EVENTS: The Redstone Rumble After Action Report & Pictures




The Redstone Rumble 2014, October the 4th and 5th, where much fun was had, much booze was consumed, much gaming was done, many friends were there and some friends gained. For me, my club and those running the Redstone I think we can declare this year yet another huge success.

Warhammer was in force with Fantasy and 40K players fighting it out over five games during two days. The Fantasy side was actually bigger than the 40K side, good to see that Fantasy has a strong following in some places. On the 40K side we had a field of 48 players, many of them were very good players. Speaking of great players, Shawn Williams and his Space Wolves won the event by a single point with Jeff O'Neal and his Orks coming in second. Each of them finished as the only undefeated players and both are from the same club, Sons of Vulcan. Congratulations, guys. I'm always happy to see Wolves coming in first. The Redstone Rumble results are here with all the results and final scores listed.

The Redstone Rumble 2014 - Day 1 - Game 3 - Hinkel of South Mississippi Gamers
How did we do as a club?
As a club I think South Mississippi Gamers had a great showing. Martino finished with 4 wins and most of the rest of us finished with a 3-2 winning record. The club as a whole went 20 - 15 for a .57 percent win record; throughout most of the tournament SMG was rocking the middle and top tables. The competition was tough and the best players in attendance got the best of us, with some exceptions, so there is lots of room for improvement next year.

How did I do?
I met my goal of finishing in the top 50% for my second ever big event. And boy, oh boy, was it a razor-thin finish, just like all of my wins. I finished exactly at 50%, placing 24th out of 48 competitors. It was a messy winning record of 3-2. I could have just as easily have lost my games than won them, every win came down to the very last round and some luck. Well, a win is a win, right? I don't feel super great about it but I'm happy to have met my goal.

My opponents were all terrific, everyone of them. Thanks to all of them because playing against someone with a bad attitude just sucks all the whole fun out of the game. Two of my opponents, Andrew Gardenhire and Ryan Johnson, placed 6th and 7th respectively, and those were the guys I lost too. Congrats, guys, I was happy to be a part of your victory. 

As a side note, my army came in 4th overall for painting. I didn't get a painting award but it felt great knowing that all the money I put into the army was worthwhile. I have to give credit due where it is due, Goatboy painted all the large models in my army. While I painted all the smaller models, and they looked very good IMO, it was clearly Goatboy's larger models that got all the attention.

Oh, yeah, I did take home the Best Chaos Space Marine Army award. Full disclosure, I was the only CSM player. Hah!

What needs improvement on my part?
I improved my sportsmanship score this year over lasts, it was well above average. I guess when you are having fun it is easy to joke around, be pleasant and too compliment your opponent when it is appropriate. So that is already improved, as well as my paint score as mentioned earlier.

What I did notice in the tournament is that only in one game did I get past turn 4. I can only blame myself and not my opponents because not getting past turn 4 consistently happened. This bothers me. I don't want to be that guy that people think is too slow or even slow-playing on purpose. I'm not sure where the problem is but I need to practice on speeding up my turns. I think I am going to start with some dice discipline. I have to roll a lot of dice to attack at times and I think grabbing for, adding up and rolling all those dice is taking a good chunk of time. Perhaps I will start to use a timer, or death clock, to help me gain some time management skills.

Clubs South Mississippi Gamers & Laughing Corpse.
It's the pictures, dummy.
Well, enough about all that, I'm sure you are more interested in the pictures than the report. Before I go, one last kudos to Jeff and the crew whom made the 3rd Annual Redstone Rumble an amazing event! Case in point (among many), this year everyone participating got some great freebies, 10 Redstone Rumble dice and 5 very nice objective tokens. It's the little things like those that make players feel appreciated and help to build upon a positive tournament experience. Well done Redstone Rumble, well done! South Mississippi Gamers and myself can't wait until next year! Ahhhhh-yeah!

Be'lakor leading the charge.
 Note the Redstone objective token in the middle, freebies!

Andrew Gardenhire's awesomely painted Knight.

My Maulerfiends hiding behind cover because there are Tau over there!

Holding the line against the Matthew Gilliland's Green Tide formation.

And still holding that same line, it was literally a wall of orks and Chaos in the center of the table.

The cat stole my Best Chaos Space Marines award.
Emilou stole it in retaliation for having to put up with a cat sitter for 2 days!