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Posts Tagged ‘Grey Knights’

So, it’s been a little while since I chanced my luck in the wargames arena, but finally the mood was upon me again and I trundled into town for a pick-up game. Just from seeing the array of armies that people brought along for the afternoon/early evening games session, it seems like all those new 6th Ed innovations I was instantly dubious of, mainly because they seemed to have been included solely to encourage the sales of big and expensive flyer and/or scenery models, have caught on: I saw three armies each with multiple planes in them, and two which had brought their own scenic features.

Having said that, I also thought the ally rules were potentially iffy, and I was using those myself: just for a change of pace I’d spent the previous few days painting 500 points of Grey Knights, as they seemed to play to my strengths as a collector and painter, and the background was sort of appealing. Ending up playing another pure Grey Knight army was not really an ideal outcome, but that was what happened.

bloodangels

It was very clear my opponent hailed from a very different gaming tradition: I’d call myself a narrative gamer (hence my obsession with getting things like themes and squad markings right) but the guy across the table clearly learned his stuff in a far more competitive atmosphere. Rolling up a mission which basically revolved around storming the enemy table corner, he plonked down a defence line which effectively fenced it off, which was garrisoned by Inquisitor Coteaz and a tooled up retinue, not to mention two rifleman Dreadnoughts. Two Grey Knight Strike Squads, a lone Paladin, and a Grand Master were all set to Deep Strike.

As regular readers will know, I am deeply suspicious of Deep Strike, but I knew my chances of footslogging my own Grey Knights across the table were fairly slim. So my Knight-Librarian and his escort of Terminators went into reserve, while everything else (Captain Zed, a Priest, an Assault Squad, a Mechanised Tactical Squad, an Attack Bike, a Land Speeder and Honoured Brother Akakos) hid behind the terrain near my objective.

I had very low expectations as the game started, fully expecting to get mown down and assaulted off the board by turn 3. However, my cagey deployment worked out and all the Grey Knights could see was the Land Speeder (which they promptly shot down). On my turn everything charged forward, using cover to screen an advance on the enemy lines. Only Akakos hung back, ready to engage in an autocannon duel with his opposite numbers  (I was not optimistic), while my Grey Knight Strike Squad stayed concealed near my objective (I had a cunning plan).

The shooting from the enemy firebase started to whittle down my advancing force on turn 2, but thankfully Feel No Pain limited my losses. The enemy Paladin and a squad with their Grand Master teleported in in my table quarter, intent on grabbing the objective there, which was clearly cause for concern. Looking on the bright side, my own Terminators teleported in virtually on top of the enemy lines.

However, things took a decided turn for the worse when the Librarian’s attempt to cast Doom Vortex backfired on him, frying half the unit including the Librarian himself: 250 points gone in one fell swoop. Hmmm.

The last enemy Grey Knights teleported into my zone on turn 3 and my opponent was looking good: if he could take and hold my objective he would rake in the points at the end of the game. Normally I take maintenance of aim pretty seriously, but I clearly had to at least have a go at defending my own zone properly, because Akakos alone would probably not be up to it. That said, the Paladin charged Akakos, zapped his own synapses miscasting Hammerhand to make his hammer a Dreadnought-busting S10, and while staggering about clutching his temples was donked neatly on the head by one of Akakos’ autocannon, taking him out of the game.

On my turn I pulled the Assault Squad and Captain Zed back to support my Strike Squad in assaulting the enemy Grey Knights (my plan to have the Librarian Summon the Strike Squad to assist on the other side of the table had obviously been scotched). The Terminators and Attack Bike commenced their attack on the enemy defence line (the last Tactical Marines had been obliterated on the previous turn). And both actions went pretty well: one enemy Dreadnought was smashed by the Terminators, while one enemy Strike Squad was wiped out by a combined attack from Captain Zed, the Assault Marines, and my own Strike Squad. Akakos’ hopeful assault on the Grand Master’s squad was less telling, but at least it kept them tied up on their own turn.

Both forces were now fully committed and it was just a question of seeing how the dice fell. Over in the enemy zone, the last three Terminators were wiped out, but not before they broke Coteaz and his retinue and came within an inch of running him off the table. The Attack Bike was still on the spot to contest the objective, though.

In my own zone, Akakos was wrecked by enemy krak grenades, but the same combination of Assault Marines, Captain and Strike Squad engaged the Grand Master and his unit. This turned into a bloodbath, and at the end only Captain Zed and his Priest were left standing.

So, come the game end, the Grey Knights had a Dreadnought and the remains of Coteaz’s unit left, while I had the Bike and two characters on the table. Neither of us could claim an objective, the Grey Knights had First Blood, but I had Linebreaker: barely credibly, I had managed to draw the game.

Well, as I said to my opponent afterwards, I pretty much know the Blood Angels army backwards by now, and they performed about as well as I’d expect: lethal in an assault, even against Grey Knights, but less effective in a shooting match. Hard to say much about the Grey Knights I took myself, not least because half the points never really got a chance to show what they could do. It’s hard to judge the Strike Squad’s performance as they were operating in close support of a large Blood Angels unit, and while the Terminators soaked up enormous firepower and still did the business, that’s pretty much what you take them to do. I think it is just a case of increasing the size of the Grey Knight contingent and seeing what happens. I have yet another game against my regular Blood Raven opponent organised for next week, at 2K no less, which will give them another opportunity to show what they can do.

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Is a mid-life crisis upon me? Has the balance of my mind become somehow disturbed? Or, to put it more succinctly, why have I become so insanely and pointlessly competitive? Readers of long standing may recall the shameless episode wherein I became inexcusably surly and quit a game the moment it became technically impossible for me to win. A very poor show indeed, and while what happened in the last game wasn’t as bad… well, here’s the story.

An old opponent and I had been trying to schedule a game for ages and finally managed it: 1250 points, albeit on a 4×4 table. He had a new Grey Knight army in need of a field test and I was happy to oblige. Having finally painted something new for the army I gave my list a bit of a rejig – same leader (a Captain) and troop choices (full tactical squad, assault combat squad, and ten relatively tooled up Death Company), some Sanguinary Guard, an attack bike with multi-melta (finally got some more anti-tank in the list) and a Whirlwind. Looking back I haven’t really got a clue why the Whirlwind was in there against an elite power-armoured army. 90 points short I suppose.

We basically ended up playing a Kill Point game, and the Grey Knights deployed (left to right from my perspective) a venerable Dreadnought, a 5-man Strike Squad, a Land Raider Crusader filled with an Inquisitor and her retinue, a Terminator Squad, and (in deep cover) a Vindicare Assassin.

Facing the other way were the Attack Bike, the Guard, the Tactical Squad, the Death Company, and then the Assault Squad with the Captain. I got the first turn and advanced relatively cautiously (as cautiously as one can manage with Death Company on the table anyway). In the shooting phase the Whirlwind unleashed a salvo of devastating ordnance and killed nothing and the Attack Bike fired at the Dreadnought from within what we call nasty-range but only managed to glance it. Ending up with a weapon destroyed result I had a tough choice – combat weapon or assault cannon? I opted to take the power fist out, a decision which may well have been crucial.

Oh well. The Grey Knights stormed forward, except for the Vindicare. This put them nicely into assault range of all my jump packs and fleet infantry. On the downside, the Vindicare wounded the Captain and knocked out his iron halo and the dreadnought blew up the Attack Bike with the assault cannon I had pointedly not just destroyed. New model syndrome I suppose.

The next turn the Blood Angel charges slammed home with the Guard assaulting the Strike Squad, and the Death Company attacking the Land Raider. The Strike Squad were wiped out with ease (quite the best performance from the Guard in their history, not that this is saying much) and the Death Company stunned the Land Raider.

However, these were Grey Knights and the Land Raider magically recovered, backed up and spat out the Inquisitor and her chums, intent on assaulting the Death Company. I thought this a little optimistic. In the shooting phase the Dreadnought mowed down two Guard with its not-actually-destroyed assault cannon, which at least put it out of assault range on them.

The Inquisitorial mob charged the Death Company, but this was a unit set up for firefights rather than close combat and casualties were light. The Inquisitor chopped down two Death Company with her vampire-daemon-sword, which boosted her up to 5 wounds. This was fine by me as it meant I won the combat by that much more when she was knocked into the ground like a tent-peg by the Death Company thunder hammer-bearer. ‘The lack of an invun is a bit of an achilles heel for her,’ my opponent admitted. I suggested that, following the hammer incident, her achilles heel was now located adjacent to her collarbone, and he agreed with that as well.

Anyway the Inquisition lost by a large margin, broke and were run down. I was 2-1 up on points now and feeling in a good position. On my next turn I moved everything to assault the Terminators who were hiding in a wood. I had a tough call to make as to whether to shoot the Guards’ inferno pistol at the Crusader or the Terminators, as doing the former would stop them charging into combat with the Terminators. I shot at the Terminators in the end; this may have been a mistake. Two Terminators fell from the shooting and two more from the massed Blood Angel charge – one was left standing, which was actually good news for me as it meant virtually my entire army was locked in combat or dug into cover and thus a lot less vulnerable to being shot at.

The Terminator was chopped down in the following turn but not before the last of the Assault Marines had died. I was still 3-2 up and while most of my units had been thinned out I had killed all the Grey Knight infantry, so this looked like an exercise in mopping up, with only two vehicles and the Vindicare to deal with…

And then it all went horribly, horribly wrong. The Captain attempted to rocket out of the woods to engage the Vindicare, brained himself on a low branch and passed away. 3-3. The Death Company’s Rage rule meant they could only assault the Crusader, which they couldn’t hurt. The Guard shot the Crusader this turn but only rolled a 3 for their penetration – dismal stuff, boys. The following turn the Crusader mowed down the last of the Guard (4-3 to the Grey Knights) and the Vindicare took out the Death Company thunder hammer, prior to the Dreadnought charging them.

I desperately needed to kill the Dreadnought to get the game back to parity and so moved up the tactical squad to support the Death Company in combat, as the sergeant was packing melta-bombs. Unfortunately this took them out of cover and en route to the combat they were hosed down by the Crusader and the sergeant was picked off by the Vindicare. Only one guy arrived and was promptly squished by the Dreadnought (5-3 to the Grey Knights).

The game finished at this point and I was left with the very faint consolation that it could have gone worse: the Crusader, bereft of other targets, was trundling towards the Whirlwind, Strength 7 assault cannon and multi-melta at the ready. At least I had something left at the end.

Once my opponent had finished calming me down we considered the game, agreeing that the Vindicare had probably swung it for the Grey Knights: an exceptionally nasty unit and seemingly harder to wound than God. We also discussed the issue of whether I’d made a mistake in not taking off the assault cannon on the Dreadnought. If I had, then either the Attack Bike would have survived the following turn, giving me at least one more chance to blow up the walker or the tank, or the Dreadnought would have been dragged well away from the centre of the combat in order to assault the bike. In retrospect, and seeing how the game went, if I had the game over again I would have killed the assault cannon.

Clearly one solitary multi-melta and a missile launcher are not enough as medium-to-long range AT. As the game went on I was forced to rely on the likes of plasma guns and inferno pistols to take enemy vehicles out at short range. These were effectively one-shot deals each time: if I missed, I wouldn’t get a second chance.

I admit my opinion may be influenced by my singular rotten penetration rolls throughout the game. I don’t think I managed to penetrate either vehicle more than once all game and due to the special rules of the venerable Dreadnought and the Grey Knights neither of these really stuck. Nevertheless it was lack of reliable AT (and, basically, 90 points wasted on a Whirlwind which did nothing) which lost me the game. What it was that lost me my usual genial composure remains, at the time of writing, uncertain.

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The usual table shortage at GW Oxford resulted in suggestions of a team game, which mutated (oh, all right, it was my idea) into a four-way exercise in Carnage: four armies striking out for the table centre, each one out for itself. I had my Consecrators, while also flying the flag for variant Space Marine Chapters were a Blood Swords force and some Grey Knights. What would otherwise have been an Imperium-only barney was disrupted by the arrival of a Kan-heavy Ork warband.
 

 

 

The game got off to a cheerful start as the Orks shot down and destroyed the Blood Swords’ Stormraven before it got the chance to do anything, while pressing forward along the table edges towards the vampire marines and the Grey Knights. The Grey Knights started to redeploy towards my own territory, though cautiously (which was understandable given they were heading for 26 models in Terminator armour and a Dreadnought). Caution did not work as the Consecrator Dreadnought blew up their Land Raider, which disgorged seven of their own Terminators and their Grand Master.

On their first turn the Blood Swords mostly advanced on the Orks, except for their version of Mephiston who zipped into combat with a Consecrator unit. The Consecrators looked hard pressed as the Grey Knights were also assaulting from the opposite direction, but the Lord of Death was squished for the loss of only five men, while extremely jammy dice (and the GK player not playing the right statline) meant that the Knight Terminators assault was held up long enough for a supporting squad to counter-attack and destroy the unit.

This left me in good shape and with a clear path to the objective in the centre. The Grey Knights were taking a beating from the Ork Kans, however, and rapidly running out of men. Meanwhile a Blood Sword Dreadnought launched a savage assault on the Orks, while a Land Raider was air-dropped close to the centre of the action. The Dreadnought killed nineteen models on the charge, until we realised the Blood Sword player was using the wrong rules, which halved the damage. Nevertheless Ork powerklaws ripped it and the Land Raider to pieces quite rapidly.

Mopping-up fire from my Terminators and Dreadnought had wiped out the last Grey Knights by this point and I moved on the objective in force. My confidence took a knock when the Blood Sword Death Company attacked and slaughtered practically a full squad of Terminators for no loss. I had to pull back and shoot them a lot, whittling them down and finishing them off with an assault from the Grand Master and his squad.

The Blood Swords were running out of troops fast, and I hadn’t had many to begin with, while the Orks were still present in force. Both Space Marine armies were contesting the objective while the Orks slowly rumbled into assault range. The Blood Sword player opted to vacate the building temporarily on the (entirely spurious) understanding that the Orks would wipe out the Consecrators and then the two of them would fight it out for the prize.

Needless to say the Ork bikes and kopters pounced on the last Blood Sword survivors as they vacated the objective. ‘You git,’ said the Blood Sword Commander as his army was wiped out, vowing (rather melodramatically I thought) that he would never forgive the pair of us for this. My amusement was shortlived as the Grand Master of the Consecrator 1st Company put rather too much faith in his two-up save and was gunned down by the Ork kopters (and snake eyes on the dice). Hmph.

So it was down to a clash between six surviving Consecrator Terminators and their Dreadnought, and an alarming number of Orks with a pair of Kans. The Consecrator Dreadnought smashed into the two Ork machines and flattened them both, while combat around the objective resulted in a tie. With time running out (this game lasted about three hours), we called it a draw – but favouring the Orks, given the sheer number of them swarming over the objective.

Well, a lesson there for the Imperium of Man not to muck about with internecine squabbles when there are xenos on the prowl, I suppose. As usual Carnage created a great game which no-one took too seriously even if the turns were rather long. The early and spectacular demises that every piece of heavy equipment on the table met were particularly amusing (especially to me as commander of a virtually all-infantry army). It certainly made me reconsider my thoughts of focussing on WFB for a while, and I met a couple of guys I’m looking forward to playing in a rather more conventional context. We all appeared to have a good time, even the two guys who got wiped out early, so I’d call the evening a success, even if I didn’t (quite) win.

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