Fighting like Hell, but It’s Getting Old

I hate to complain. I really do. It’s something I avoid here because I like to keep the blog positive. However, I’ve also felt compelled lately to try to be more real in my articles; to inject more of me into them. Sometimes that means a bit of complaining.

The frequenters of the blog will have noticed a distinct lack of battle reports. As a general rule, battle reports are a weekly regular from me. I play 40K once a week, and try my best to get a battle report for each game. That has dropped off a lot lately, and the reason for that is my frustration.

For the past year I have struggled to win any games at all. I will avoid placing blame anywhere but on myself. It’s damn easy to blame a 6th edition Chaos codex, but at the end of the day it’s the person wielding said codex. I have gone through a lot of slumps in 40K gaming, we all do, but this one is so long that’s it’s hard to call it a slump any longer, and more appropriate to call it the new normal.

I love the hobby side of 40K. I’ve tried to look to that to help alleviate my frustrations, but the problem is that the gaming slump normalcy impacts my motivation there. I get to game far more than I get to hobby these days. So, if the thing I get to do the most isn’t going well, then that has an adverse affect on what I do the least. The thing with 40K being such an all-encompassing game is that it’s a circle that leads from one element to another.

How do I fix the problem? That’s rhetorical, but feel free to comment. Something I’m likely to do is work more on my army. By that I mean fleshing out my army more in terms of fluff. That’s the thing I love about creating my own warband/chapter/whatever, is establishing army fluff. I have done some of that over the years, but it took a backseat a while ago to trying to physically build my army and expand it. I made some failed attempts at being a bit more competitive with the army, nothing serious mind you, and now I think it’s time to step back and bring my army to life on paper first.

The most fun I have with games is when I play it fluffy. That could be having Soulgore charge into a combat I know he’ll lose because it’s something Soulgore would do, or fielding my Warpsmith list because I love daemonic engines and Grimtech enjoys unleashing his pets. Getting more of that type of stuff written down and solidified will let me play the army fluffy, and that’s just fun. The fact is that if I’m going to lose my games, I may as well have fun with it, and have a story to tell.

I will say though, I can’t wait for a new Chaos codex. Pissing and moaning about the current codex aside, I just want something for Chaos to be excited about. I want some new units to drool over, and to determine their best use in game. I want new wargear and artefacts to create my fluffy characters in Disciples of Twilight. I want to see formations and new benefits to try to determine what would suit my play style, and just be fun to use. Simply put, I need something new to breathe some life back into Chaos Space Marines because I feel they have been neglected and overlooked by Games Workshop for far too long.

  • I feel ya man. When gaming is such a significant part of the hobby it can bring a certain amount of frustration, as at its core 40k is not very balanced. I went through this stage and came out the other side. It was at that point that I branched out into other games, and my hobby (and gaming) mojo flourished as a result. Not having 40k as the focus and being able to branch out and experience other gaming systems and hobby projects means that actually my enjoyment of 40k has increased dramatically as a result. When I am getting jaded or peed off at some broken rule or formation I just go and play some infinty or dropzone comander, or if I get fed up of hobbying Ican go do some x wing with pre painted minis and not have to worry about it :). I know it can be difficult to get into other games as you need others to come along and play with you, but maybe getting a starter set and being an evangelist for that game usually brings others into the game on tha back of your excitement :)

    • Other games is tough for me on account of time. We have a dedicated 40K night at my FLGS, and that’s my night to go play. I can’t add a 2nd night to the weekly schedule, and the monthly tournament.

      That being said, I’m really looking forward to GW relaunching Blood Bowl. I absolutely love that game, and there’s some interest with some other 40K guys. So, I could probably sub out a 40K night here and there to throw down some BB.

      Of course, GW should also be redoing Battlefleet Gothic as well. That’s a game that died as I was getting into 40K, and one I would be very interested in trying out. Being 40K related, shouldn’t be too hard to get in some games with the 40K natives.

  • Yeah, this really gets frustrating. Chaos is one of the really iconic things that GW has going, and they keep dropping the ball there. I get around it by having multiple Armies, so at least one of the ones I have is generally doing reasonably well at any given time, but the amount of dust on my Nids and (non-KDK) Chaos stuff is pretty depressing.

    • There was a time when I really liked the idea of starting a new army, or armies I should say. I do have four armies at this point, but my favorite army after CSM is Orks, and that Ork codex makes me cringe. My other two armies, Space Marines and Necrons, I just have no interest in at all. I’ve basically thrown all my eggs into the CSM basket at this point because I enjoy the army so much, codex aside.

      It’s just hard to find it in me to work out another army just to deal with the lows. Only army I’ve considered for that is Grey Knights, but doing them all Chaos. Convert them, pervert them and give them spikey bits. I wouldn’t call them Grey Knights, but something else I devise from top to bottom, and just use Grey Knight rules. At least that way I’d have an elite army, easier and cheaper to collect (ideally). However, I’m not sure where Grey Knights stand at this point to see how viable that is.

      • This is a place where being a hobby butterfly (eventually) becomes a positive. I do understand and respect that kind of dedication to a single Faction, tho.

        As far as GK go, it’s entirely possible that they’ll get some coolness in the next volume of War Zone: Fenris, since they’re neck-deep in all this themselves.

        • Hmm. I am very curious how that’s all going to play out in general. They could even toss CSM something to be nice…

          • Yeah, it’s entirely possible CSM will get something, too. Likely either Alpha Legion or 1K Sons specific, tho.

            • That would be more than fine by me.

  • It does suck to always lose. I don’t play 40k very often, but when I do, I normally lose.

    This is something you can’t really change all by yourself (or maybe you can?) but I find 40k is a community game. Are the people you play against all narrative-focused players? There are a few local scenes here in Canberra and the one I play with is the narrative gaming group. The other players in it are all fiercely narrative before competition, to the point where new people joining the group face pressure to conform to that culture. Not only do I think that’s fine, I think it’s necessary with 40k. You just won’t have much fun with a story-based playstyle if you’re beating your head against armies built to win first and foremost. It’s like and RPG: contemporary 40k is a social game and everyone has to be on the same page. If even one person is not, it throws the whole group dynamic out of whack and the guy with the most narrative army always loses.

    I mean maybe you just suck, but I know you’ve been playing for years so I’m guessing there’s some issue with army balance against your scene going on :D

    • Very good point on the community structure. We have a mix of more narrative style players, competitive gamers, and everything in-between. It may not be the perfect situation for a more casual fluff player to flourish, but it’s a good group none-the-less. The group has pretty well been the same since I’ve been gaming there, so I expect some games to be harder than others – that’s not new, but I’ve been backsliding while they have not. Then again, that’s where the difference in views comes in.

      Army balance is a factor. I’m not a great 40K player, but I don’t suck ;)

  • Ouch man that is rough and it is totally fair to let off some steam here.

    I imagine when I get to actually get a game in I will be destroyed and understand your pain.

    • Losing is one thing. Doing nothing but lose is a whole other bag of fun.

      • Apart from going with what the Castigator said you could possible take a break and try something else? No a great solution or anything though

        • I wrote up a fun list, and it’s a big departure from my norm…mostly. I’m hoping it will help at least bring some more fun into the games regardless. Post going up tomorrow about it actually.

          • Fingers crossed for you

  • Castigator

    I empathise with you Thor, I really do.
    It doesn’t matter how much you’re into the fluff and the modelling, nobody enjoys getting their face pushed in every time they play.
    We all know 7th hasn’t been kind to our Codex, as a Chaos player I want nothing more than to throw my favourite character into melee and savour the sweet taste of victory. Alas, as much as it galls me to say it, Chaos couldn’t beat an egg in combat these days…..I often look at the Space Wolves with envy, I think they’re everything that Chaos should be….but Chaos claimed my soul long ago and I refuse to give up on them.
    Like you I decided to focus on my army’s background more and the modelling opportunities that it brings (it’s the reason I started my blog), but as much as I enjoy that, I still enjoy playing the game and I want to feel like I have some chance of winning a few games.
    In order to achieve this lofty goal, I looked at what my army’s background allowed me to do rather than what restrictions it imposed upon it. For me it was all about Slàanesh and undivided, but, and correct me if I’m wrong, your Disciples of Twilight are much more open to embracing all that Chaos has to offer.
    The old ways don’t work for us any more, the Rhino rush is dead, we’re a close combat army that has one hand tied behind our back and our resilience is not what it used to be. We’re on the back foot, a bit like the Crimson Fists are from their Rynn’s World massacre. Chaos Space Marines are severely limited in what they can achieve, so we must look to our support to do the heavy lifting while we bide our time. But all is not lost, we can endure and while we might not be able to thrive, we can certainly give as good as we get.
    We must use the tools at our disposal, Daemons, Imperial Armour 13 and the Chaos Knight all give us a chance to hold our own.
    Soulgore is a firm favourite of yours, so why not give Soulgore the exact abilities that Be’lakor has (counts as). Chaos Marines will struggle in the current environment, but the odd small unit still has a role to play in today’s game, just be frugal with them. Maulerfiends, Spawn and Bikers are great support units for a Chaos Knight. We have some of the most potent flyers in the game. Heldrakes still terrify Eldar jetbikes, Fire Raptors wreak havoc against most things and Dreadclaws are one of the most underrated flyers out there IMHO. Daemons can plug a gap in our assault shortfall, so what if they die, they’re there to serve us until we regain our strength. The tools are there for us, they might be limited and it’s certainly an uphill struggle, but nobody said following the one true path would be easy.
    Keep the faith brother, our time will come again.

    P.S. and get back to writing your battle reports because I enjoy reading them! ;-)

    • Great response, and you’re right. I think that’s why I want to dive into fluff more, to get a better grasp of what the Disciples of Twilight are. Once I can nail that vision down more, I can then work on bringing that to the tabletop. I know it seems backwards to most, but to us fluffy folks, it’s a defining template for all things.

      When I can walk away from a game and not feel like I either screwed it up, or that I simply had no chance, I will again write a battle report :)

  • Brenden Hill

    I feel you. I have struggled with trying to play thematically vs purely competitively most of my gaming career. I enjoy the flavor of the games that I play over just winning. However if I am playing in a group of competitive players then I will just lose over and over. I like to say that “winning isn’t everything”, but it gets old if I feel that I just can’t win.

    I have played miniatures games of some variety or another for over 25 years. The games that I remember most are the games that tell a cool story, not the games that I smashed my opponent to pieces or got smashed. For that reason, I am always looking to recreate a cool narrative in the games that I play, but this can be hard to do. I feel that it is worth the effort.

    Unfortunately I have to be aware of the other players in the group that I am playing in. Sometimes groups are very in line with narrative gaming and other times the group just wants to run the “twinkiest” links possible.
    I know that some of the players on Wednesday nights are looking for purely competitive games that probably won’t mix with your style of play. I would recommend steering clear of them while they are practicing, or actively looking for players in the group that want to play more of your style of narrative miniature gaming (the Fratris is a nod toward this style).

    My solution has been to play to my group. I play competitive thematic lists. I am not sure that this works in 40K (I play Warmachine), but it has allowed me to win some games and still feel like I am telling a story with my army.

    I would certainly be up for talking about ways that we could encourage this type of play at the shop.

    • The days of 20+ 40K guys on a Wednesday have, unfortunately, passed. Now I think about it, that was when getting my head kicked in wasn’t a weekly occurrence. With the larger pool of players, choosing to play someone like-minded was easier. Now, with such a small group, picking a choosing opponents based on mindset is just not viable.

      That being said, we really don’t have any overly competitive players, at least not on a Wednesday night anyway. If GW would push Chaos Marines forward into 7th edition, that would really help a ton. You can certainly play fluffy and competitively with 40K, it’s one of the things I love about it, but it’s entirely reliant on the codex supporting that play style, which the CSM codex, sadly, does not do. The books released in 7th have done a great job blending thematic with competitive.

      Lastly, glad you stopped by to comment. This might be your…second comment ever here? ;)

  • Brennan Barni

    I couldn’t agree more. I have a bunch of friends who love Chaos, but they’re always feeling that they’re fighting an uphill battle against even the armies of middling power level. I, too, long for the next Chaos codex and hope that they are given the tools they so desperately need to be successful on the tabletop.

    • I just don’t understand why GW doesn’t give them the love they deserve. Chaos is the big antagonist, and the reason the reason the poster-boy Marines are what they are. Their codex should be deep, and full of unique and interesting ways to play. It hasn’t been that for a very, very long time.

      • Brennan Barni

        Here’s hoping that they rectify that with their next codex.

  • Warren Falconer

    Great article. I kinda feel the same way with the alpha legion. I’ve almost got all my models for it painted and I keep thinking o I’ll go play it as Raven guard but it just feels icky. So for fratricidal they will just be straight up csm and while I expect to have fun I don’t expect to win much.

    Anyway I’ve resolved to start a new army for the standoff something competitive but not I don’t know soulless like eldar.

    Would you be interested in a new army off? We both paint a new force to I don’t know 1500 and try to crush each other’s dreams in November? I’d even try to blog about it but no promises.

    • Thanks.

      Fratris is one place CSM stand a chance. In fluffy settings, CSM aren’t terrible. You don’t want to take them to Adepticon though.

      It’s a cool idea, army-off, but I can’t commit to anything. Dealing with the estate of my in-laws has become a full time job. We’re still settling things with it, and then we have to get that house cleaned out still, and then sold. At the rate everything is going, it’s probably going to occupy most of the summer.

  • Knight_of_Infinite_Resignation

    Yeah CSM really suck at the moment. I guess there are a few ways to respond to the situation- give up and do something else- either another game or another army. I have enjoyed putting an Iron Hands Space Marine army together (almost entirely from Ebay so it hasn’t cost much. I’ve also been looking into Bolt Action. Or you can see it as an impetus to restructure your CSM army, add a few things etc or build onto it.

    My CSM are based around IA13 these days. A blob of 50 mutants made fearless by the Psychic Demagogue (take summoning and try to summon flesh-hounds) and with FNP (Nurgle Covenant) is cool and the Nurgle Covenant also ulocks a second huge cheap blob of zombies. This costs about 350 points altogether and gives 100 fearless bodies to jam up the table and provide board control and tarpits. There are all sorts of fantasy models you can use for mutants, I used goblins from goblin town and gave them pistols from a bits supplier. Mantic Zombies are cheap.

    Back this up with field artillery (earthshakers which I bought from Ramshackle Games, Kromlech do a reasonable heavy mortar, or you could buy some Wyverns) which you can bubblewrap with the zombies if your opponent has deep strikers or drop pods, season with a dirt cheap unit of rapiers in cover (I proxy with Space Crusade Tarantulas) which are also great for CSM) and you have a very strong core to add CSM to. The flyers in IA13 are really good too. Dreadclaw’s are useable although overpriced, they can make units like Zerkers with Kharn potentially playable again.

    Take maulerfiends, oblits (Nurgle), spawn, juggerlords, nurgle bikers, sorcerers with familiars and minimum cultists in reserve and from the Daemon dex Soul Grinders, Daemon Princes, summoning spam, magic spam, with minimum nurglings.

    The Chaos Knight can be good too depending how you lay it out.

    I’ve tried some really extreme army builds- but I’ve settled on hordes and artillery from IA13 with deep striking and hyper mobile spam from CSM (Oblits, Termie Lord, bikers, spawn, juggerlord with ABF or with the 2+ armour from the DK book).

    Now there is a caveat- none of these things will hold up against really tuned tournament armies, but they’ll give you a chance against bog standard players and armies. A problem with having an army low on the power curve is that you have to really min-max to be in with a chance, but it is possible to win if you do.

    • I really need to sit down with IA13 and go over it. I’ve been saying that for a long time now, but I think it’s finally time. It saddens me that CSM has to look to IA to hold up on the table, but if that’s what it takes.

      • Knight_of_Infinite_Resignation

        think of it as an opportunity to represent Soulgore’s minions on the table :-)

      • Knight_of_Infinite_Resignation

        BTW DiceAbide have done a great write up of IA13 and the Vraks book. The new Vraks book has some hilarious builds itself such as the never ending respawning infantry formation (assuming you have infinite time to play the game and 300 or so Cultists/Imperial Guard models) or the Artillery Tyrant which allows you to lock people in combat and then shell the melee!

        You can also find the same articles at Frontline Gaming in their tactics section.

        • I’ll have to check it out. I’ve heard nothing but praise for IA13 for Chaos. Not really sure my delay in checking it out more. Well, probably my lack of money to buy FW models, or stand-ins, for anything cool I like.

  • BenitoSenence

    I think what you should do is plan a narrative campaign with your chaos & Marines. You have done a lot of writing behind both armies, why not see it on the table. Grab another player and set predetermine list that look balanced and play out the story of your fall/rise of your chapter. I believe your fans here would love that and maybe it will get you reinterested in space Marines again when you feel competitive.
    Ex; A head librarian is teetering with thoughts of Chaos, Soulgore remembers him and realizes he knows the location of a knight titan. He needs to be corrupted and he sets a plan to lure him out and have him fall to chaos

    • That’s a really cool idea. I’ll have to get some things figured out, but that would be really fun to do.

  • Chaz Sexington

    I always find it’s worse for my opponent. It’s no fun for my pals (semi-competitive meta) who crush me without any proper challenge almost every time. Obviously experience counts for a lot, but I went on a 16 game losing streak in 2015. My wins are against newbies, or potentially some of the weaker codices – SWs, IG, Orks, and Nids. I mentioned it on twitter, but try playing against them instead :)

    • Didn’t you do an article on it?

      Oh, I’ll play anyone. I don’t mind playing the stronger players at all, and I don’t want to play weaker players just to get wins.

      • Chaz Sexington

        Just realised you’d replied! It’s not the wins really – it’s more about even matchups :)

        • Agreed. You know how my game went last night, seeing as you replied on Twitter. That was against SM. His list wasn’t overly powerful, nowhere near cheesy, but I just felt outclassed by the codex. It might be time to look at KDK again.

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