Thursday, December 2, 2010

Deathstrike Missiles in Spearhead

Of course... source programmable guidance!

There were some unusual developments yesterday. First off, my copy of White Dwarf issue #371 (US edition) arrived in the mail even before showing up at my LGS. This is strange in that mine typically is delivered two weeks after becoming available for sale in the shop. The second odd thing is that it arrived in good condition instead of being crumpled, bent, battered or torn as is normally the case with my subscription. Apparently my postman is not keen on tabletop gaming. The third and perhaps most disturbing development however is that upon opening the magazine, I almost instantly found genuine content directly applicable to my games of 40k.

Whaaaaaaat? Surely something is amiss here.

In this issue there is an article about the Spearhead variant of 40k which concludes with new rules for a pair of Spearhead Formations, written by none other than my man Jervis Johnson. Aside from further fueling my recent fixation with the other JJ, this actually raises a question for me relevant to playing the game itself. I know... this keeps getting more and more bizarre, doesn't it?

My question pertains to the so-called Destroyer Formation, comprised of 1-3 Heavy Support units specified as being of any type. At the cost of an additional 75 points the vehicles in this Formation receive the special rule, Preparatory Barrage, which says that you get to fire all their weapons once after deployment and any pre-battle moves have been completed. So does this mean that if I'm playing a game of Spearhead using my Blisstonian 9th, I would be allowed to launch all three of my Deathstrike Missiles before even the game's first turn?

Really? While that might sound great to Guard players with a penchant for doomsday weaponry, amongst whom I count myself, it nonetheless strikes me as being somewhat overly powerful. I understand that Spearhead should not be regarded as a finely balanced set of rules, but come on... really?

To answer this question my first course of action was to ring up Nottingham so as to ask the old man himself for an explanation. Unfortunately though it seems Jervis is no longer accepting my calls. I therefore am turning to you 28mm generals, my wonderfully erudite and sagacious WH40k readers, for your opinion on the matter. Am I reading this correctly, that this really would let me fire off all three missiles in a singularly impressive salvo of ultimate doom?

Like I said that just seems a little over the top to me, but what do you think? Part of the appeal for me in using a trio of Deathstrikes was not their in-game effectiveness (or lack thereof) but rather the dramatic tension created as they countdown to launch. I therefore might actually miss that aspect of the models' unique rules were I to make full use of the Preparatory Barrage. I suspect the presence of this type of Formation would also encourage my opponent to either simply Reserve everything if possible, or else at a minimum to adopt a more open deployment than otherwise might be considered. It's fun to think about though.

Regardless, one thing this has taught me is that even when it comes to reading White Dwarf, no matter how jaded you may have become, it is still important to pay attention and keep your eyes peeled...

... you might actually see something interesting!

Okay, that's it for now. I hope all of you have a great day, I'm off to find my copy of Spies Like Us. :) Oh yeah, and if you get a chance please let me know what you think about this business regarding the Destroyer Formation. Take care, friends!

EDIT: While preparing this post, my daughter got a hold of the issue of White Dwarf in question and tore the cover off. Ha! So much for it being in good condition....


  1. I dunno about the Deathstrike stuff. Since it has different rules for firing, maybe not. But since Spearhead is halfway to Apocalypse anyways, maybe so.

    Interesting about getting your WD when you're actually supposed to. The delay (often almost a month behind when the stores got it) was a key cause of my letting my subscription expire. Maybe they've gotten whatever the problem was finally worked out. Let us know if you keep getting them before the stores!

  2. Yeah, that's what has me confused about this. I just don't know what would be an appropriate way to handle this. Excellent point regarding the relation to Apocalypse... it definitely feels that way to me.

    I'l be sure to keep you posted on any future WD developments, too. I'm sure it won't last. ; ) The joys of subscribing!

    Thanks, sonsoftaurus!

  3. Now that's a post! The tearing at the end was a neat denouement, but seems to foreshadow a response in the negative.

    Re that issue, if I were your opponent I'd let you do it anyway - who wants to live forever?

    I'm most disappointed in the Jervis cold-shoulder - success could be going to his head..!

  4. Yeah - I'll echo Porky...

    ...albeit without the use of the word "denouement"...

    - Drax

  5. @ Porky - I agree, Jervis has become quite distant. I worry about him sometimes. :) I'm glad you enjoyed my tale of White Dwarf woe, thanks for the input!

    @ Admiral - Thank you, sir!

  6. Im with Taurus on this - It does seem a bit much to be able to shoot off what is meant to be a one shot weapon twice in the game - I think this might be a bit of an overreach, although like Porky and Drax have said, in a friendly game where your opponent is chill with the idea I don't see why you shouldn't be able to agree to a house rule for it.

    Had to look up 'denouement' - I know hobby lads are meant to be a tad nerdy but surely there is a limit on the use of words with that many letters in it being used in a blog reply (lol).

    And whats all this about your connection to the big man himself (JJ). I trawled back through your posts and couldn't find much to expand upon this link. Are you drawing a connection based on the tenuous link that you both share the short form 'JJ'? (lol - 2 in one reply, ha).

    Keep it up Paps.


  7. I like the idea of just house ruling it as maybe a bonus on the launch roll so long as the vehicles don't move. Something like that I don't think would be too crazy. I imagine most games of Spearhead are played in a friendly context so I'm sure that helps smooth over these sorts of issues.

    Whenever I hear the word denouement, I think of the movie Clerks. It's kind of embarrassing how I reference things in my mind. ; )

    As for Jervis and I, well... tenuous is better than usual for me! A long time ago I realized that Jervis has the dream hobby job that I would want over any other. I imagine he just putters about the studio drinking tea and having a grand time painting and playing with toys. Occasionally he gets wheeled out for a beating in a battle report or to write some puff piece for the magazine, and that's it. So my plan is to apply to become the new Jervis Johnson once the current Jervis retires. I figure the initials are the key to getting my foot in the door... we JJ's stick together. Meanwhile I'm studying what he does so that I can hone my skills and improve my chances of success. As far as I can tell, it's a foolproof plan. ; ) Haha, kidding of course... well, sort of.

    Thanks, Rouge Pom! I appreciate you guys putting up with me.

  8. @ Drax & Pom - Well, I never! That's a bit rich from two gentlemen au fait with such grandiloquent vocabulary as 'albeit' and 'tenuous'..! I shan't stand for it!

    * stamps trotter *

    @ JJ - That's pretty much the image I have of life at studio. Slow, happy days filled with tea and biscuits. It's for the rest of us a kind of wargaming Valhalla.

  9. @ Porky, apologies dear sir, it was a tad pretentious of me to lambast you in one sentence, and then commit the same sin in the next. 'Grandiloquent' - another word I had to look up. This is turning into a real educational experience - cheers mate and no offence was intended with my cheeky remark.

    @ Paps, more than welcome. Your one of the few bloggers I look forward to seeing a post from as you generally have something of interest to show or say that tends to gel well with my attitude to the hobby. I second or third the view that JJ has the best job in the studio. He is one of the few characters left in the company that I feel you can relate to as a hobbyist. You may have a head start on the job with the short form 'JJ', but I'm sure I could give you a run for your money if the position were ever to become vacant.

    Cheers guys,


  10. @ Porky - Haha, excellent work defending the language! I would never have guessed my little blog would become such a linguistic flashpoint for the English-speaking world. Oh my! : ) I think wargaming Valhalla is a great way to describe what working at the GW Studio must be like, I know that's what it has become in my imagination at least. A man can dream.... Thank you, Porky, it's always great to hear from you!

    @ Rogue Pom - You're very kind to me, thank you so much! I'm very glad to know that my hobby ethos has been so well received here. That's wonderful motivation and encouragement, thank you! It is funny how of all the old guard at GW, Jervis seems to be the one who will be there forever. I suppose since he seems to have so few official duties to perform in his job role that may be why the top brass have no real reason to replace him. If that's the case I'll give Jervis tremendous credit for working it out for himself that way... it's genius! I don't mind competition for the job of studio JJ once that position opens up, in fact I'd happily share the office of Jervis with you as it would mean even more free time in which to play!

    Thanks again, I very much appreciate having such wonderful people with whom to discuss the hobby. I'm grateful to be able to share in the fun! Thank you, Rogue Pom!