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Posts Tagged ‘wins (crushing)’

So, the long road back to marginal Warhammer competence, stage two. A slight change of approach this week – I had a game lined up in advance, against a relatively new player hailing from Copenhagen (I should have entitled this ‘Playing the Dane (Or ‘Warhamlet’)’). We each knew the army the other was bringing, not that I had many options when it came to list-tailoring, and that wasn’t exactly the point of the exercise.

chaos

Having done some research and tapped the brains of better players of my acquaintance, the 1K army I turned up with was rather different from the previous week’s – the cavalry and Daemon Prince were gone, along with one of the heroes. Promoted to the generalship was a Chaos Sorcerer of Death tooled up to channel on a 4+ and with three spells at level 2. Having blown my Hero allowance on this guy I was obliged to move on to the Core section where the same 12 Chaos Warriors and 20 Marauders as last time were now accompanied by four units of five Warhounds. A new addition to the circus was a Gorebeast Chariot, while using up my last 120 points were a couple of Spawn with various Marks.

The Skaven army I was facing had lots of infantry but not much else: 40+ Clanrats with spears, 40+ Slaves, 20 Clanrats with hand weapons, accompanied by a Doomwheel and two gas mortar weapon teams. Leading the ratty horde was a Warlord and a Warlock Engineer.

Part of the thinking behind taking all the Warhounds was to give me some flexibility in deploying, and I was indeed able to react to the Skaven. The two enemy units which gave me pause were the big Clanrat regiment and the Doomwheel, and they went down on the extreme flanks, leaving the Skaven army with an invitingly soft centre. In response, behind the Warhound skirmish line the two Spawn went down opposite the Warlord’s unit, with the Warriors and Marauders in the centre, and the Chariot on the right opposite the Doomwheel.

I got the first turn and advanced across the board, positioning the Warhounds to interfere with the Skaven advance as much as possible. Just how effective the Chaos magic phase was going to be became apparent when I was able to kill the Warlock outright with Caress of Laniph and then use Doom and Darkness to knock down the small Clanrats’ leadership.

Obviously a bit intimidated by the advancing forces, the Skaven stayed put, apart from the Doomwheel which smashed into a Warhound unit, wiping it out before overrunning to a point in front of the Chariot. The Poison Mortars killed a couple of infantry, but not enough to concern me (yet).

On my turn the Chariot counter-charged the Doomwheel and one of the Warhound packs charged an unwisely-positioned Poison Mortar. Everything else ground forward. The Sorcerer hit the Doomwheel with Soul Blight, meaning the Chariot was able to smash it apart for only a single wound in return.

With this done the Skaven right flank was pretty much open and it was relatively straightforward to roll it up, while using the two Chaos Spawn and the surviving Warhounds to keep the Warlord and his Clanrats tied down, using Doom and Darkness to negate the Skaven’s Strength in Numbers rule. Even so, I was a little surprised by how hard some of the Chaos units hit: the Gorebeast Chariot comfortably beat the small Clanrat unit unassisted and drove it off the board, while one of the Spawn was able to beat the Skavenslaves in combat – they popped, doing ten automatic hits on it (but only one wound).

In the end Caress of Laniph saw off the Skaven Warlord and I was able to charge the Clanrats with the Marauders and the Chariot simultaneously (they already had a Spawn of Slaanesh lodged in their flank). Failing their fear test, and debilitated by Soul Blight, the Clanrats were in no state to put up any resistance: the Marauder Chieftain hacked down his opposite number in a challenge and earned himself a 6+ ward save, while between them the Marauders, Chariot, and Spawn killed getting on for half the unit. In the end the Clanrats lost the combat by 12 points, broke, and were run down. The field belonged to Chaos.

Well, my two star performers were obviously the Gorebeast Chariot, which reduced everything it touched to a bloody smear, and the Chaos Sorcerer (let’s not mention the miscast where he blew up a third of his own unit). The Lore of Death was devastating against the Skaven, and losing their only wizard on turn one really put them on the back foot. Beyond this, I am fairly happy that I still have some idea about how to use Warhounds as tactical nuisance units, but I am also aware that this was a game against a relatively new player with a non-optimal list.

In fact, we spent most of the post-game chat talking about how he could strengthen his army. I would suggest he needs more shooting of some description, ideally something which could take out my Warhound units, and also some kind of magical defence – a dispel scroll might have preserved his Warlock Engineer past the first Chaos turn. Though I didn’t say it at the time, splitting the 40+ Skavenslave unit into two units of 20 might be a better use of his resources. He also felt he was lacking in a proper combat unit, and I suggested either Stormvermin or Plague Monks (based, it must be said, solely on their statlines).

I am looking forward to taking this army to a larger size, though I haven’t written a particular list yet. For 1500 I think more Chaos Warriors and a battle standard are going to be essential (not that the Chaos Warriors actually got into combat this game). I must confess that I am currently having a whale of a time painting a Mutalith and am contemplating disregarding most tactical advice and actually taking it to the table. We shall see: there are fewer lessons in victory, but it has other compensations.

 

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It occurs to me that writing in detail about my successes and (mostly) failures on the wargames table is neither especially useful or interesting. I play equally tactically sophisticated and challenging board and card games, not to mention computer games, after all, and don’t inflict a turn-by-turn account every time I play Qin or Battle Line or Total War. But I do think 40K is different – you invest a lot more time and money preparing for a game, after all, to say nothing of the whole interface between the creative, narrative, strategic and tactical elements of the game is not really comparable to anything else.

On the other hand, it’s that same unique interface which has been causing me so much grief with respect to 40K – as far as the current edition is concerned, I just feel as if I’m being very unsubtly pushed towards buying certain big and expensive models simply in order for my armies to remain competitive. Bearing this in mind, I was only mildly hopeful of victory when turning up to play the other day because I was playing a relative newcomer to the game, who would not be packing the giant monsters and attack fliers that everyone seems to be building their armies around currently.

I had my Consecrators army, built under the 4th ed rules and never previously used in 6th. At 1500 I could fit in the Master of the 1st Company, three units of Terminators, a Land Raider Crusader, a firestorm Dreadnought and a unit of Scouts. I expect I could have mustered 1750 but, to be honest, I was half-thinking about pick-up games and didn’t think I’d face too many fliers and whatnot at the smaller game size.

consecrators

Heh and indeed heh. While waiting for my intended opponent I did indeed get mixed up in a pick-up at 1500, with an Eagle Warriors army… containing two Storm Talon attack fliers and a Thunderfire Cannon. Yaroo. Those really grabbed my attention, but also in the list were two mechanised Tactical Squads, an Assault Squad led by an uber-tooled-up combat character, a Stalker, and three Centurions.

Well, the game fell into three stages. I won the initiative and teleported the Master and his squad in, and rather jammily panicked the Eagles’ commander and his squad off the board on turn one. Then I found out, quite painfully, what the grav-cannons on the Centurions could do as my Terminators were slaughtered. More good luck ensued as the Master took refuge in combat by assaulting the closest Tactical marines, supported by Terminators from the Crusader, and miraculously avoided killing them all, thus keeping me safe from the Centurions in the next Eagle Warrior turn.

By this point the Dreadnought had killed the Thunderfire Cannon but was itself destroyed when both Storm Talons arrived and targeted it. The second Terminator squad assaulted the Centurions and crushed them fairly rapidly, though not before they had inflicted heavy damage on my third and final Terminator squad and killed the Master with overwatch.

The climax of the game came as the surviving Terminators beat up the last Eagle Warrior infantry and rhinos – this may have been a mistake as the exploding vehicles took a tally on my very limited forces. The Crusader managed to wreck a Storm Talon that had switched to hover mode, but the other one shot down my last Terminator in the final moments of the game. I had an unscathed Land Raider and a lone Scout left on the table; the Eagle Warriors had their Stalker and the Storm Talon. Neither of us held the main objective, and with both warlords dead, my having killed a unit on the first turn and his having a Storm Talon on my board edge it was a 2-2 draw. Frankly, I was lucky, and in killing the Storm Talon and Thunderfire Cannon I felt I’d exorcised a few demons too.

Following a quick break and a heartfelt plea from the owners of the venue for the assembled gamers to deodorise more thoroughly in future (always a sign of a classy, mainstream spot if you ask me), it was time for my game against the Ultramarines. This game was to be settled solely in terms of units wiped out and this rather dictated my strategy. The Ultramarines were led by Marneus Calgar in a Crusader, and I was pretty sure I would be in for an exceptionally tough fight if I went up against him directly. So I didn’t and just concentrated on wiping out the smaller, weaker units making up most of the Ultramarine army: five-man squads of various types.

This worked rather well, with my Terminators assaulting the Ultramarine flanks under covering fire from the Scouts, Dreadnought and my own Crusader (the Scouts went to ground whenever anyone looked in their direction to get the 2+ save for being in cover). I managed to rack up plenty of early points and it did seem that Calgar didn’t know which way to jump – it wasn’t until turn five that he finally disembarked, by which point the Master had wiped out two squads and was making a tactical retreat to avoid giving up two VPs should Calgar manage to kill him. All my other Terminators got wiped out again, but by this point the army had accounted for two Tactical Squads, a Sternguard Squad, some Terminators, some Devastators, three Centurions, and Chief Librarian Tigurius (who spent the game locked in an interminable ding-dong battle between the Centurions and a mostly-lightning claw armed Terminator unit, and never cast a single power). With first blood taken into account it all added up to an 8-3 win for the Consecrators, but I was fully aware that the inexperience of my opponent was one of my biggest assets.

So a win and a draw, both lucky. I’m still not sold on the viability of a pure Deathwing army under the new rules, but then this wasn’t really a pure Deathwing list (and I’m not seriously considering tinkering with it). Time to work on something new and – hopefully – solidly competitive, while still being aesthetically satisfying.

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It has been over six months since I concluded my last report of wargames-related doings with a vague promise of a game against my semi-regular Blood Ravens opponent which I’d sort-of lined up for the following week. Obviously an explanation of some sort is in order, and the truth is…

Well, blame the new Eldar codex, or my old Eldar army – one of the two, anyway. The new book appeared and I decided to dust off the army and give it a test drive. Suffice to say the Blood Ravens turned up with two Thunderfire Cannons, two fliers, and nearly a dozen Terminators and I was blasted off the table in short order, only managing to take out a handful of Tactical Marines in return. Coupled to my growing misgivings about the emphasis of the sixth edition, it was enough to make me take a sabbatical from the game (another of my semi-regular bouts of under-employment didn’t help matters much).

Oh well. I have been feeling the odd pang of the desire to play and/or paint again recently, and I was in town today anyway for work, and rather than go all the way in and back solely for one lesson, I thought I might as well see how things lay on the wargaming front. Out came the Blood Angels again.

bloodangels

And so I found myself squaring off against a neophyte Ultramarines commander – the signs are fairly easy to distinguish – in an exercise of the Emperor’s Will (one main objective each plus the usual minor ones). Not being familiar with the new Marine Codex I was wary, but at least I had an army I knew backwards.

Both objectives were placed in the centre of the table, which suited me, and deploying first I set up for a major push on both of them. My Terminators and Baal Predator went into reserve, while ready on the right flank for a lightning advance was a Rhino carrying a Tactical Squad, a full Assault Squad accompanied by Captain Zedrenael, Chaplain Aukon and a Priest, an Attack Bike and a Land Speeder. Posted on a hill in the centre was Honoured Brother Akakos, hastily retrofitted to a standard dreadnought configuration (CC/AC).

The Ultramarines put a lot of stuff into reserve – starting with Marneus Calgar and an Honour Guard. There was also a Librarian here, a Sternguard combat squad, and three Devastator Centurions. Actually on the table, a mechanised Tactical combat squad, an Assault combat squad, a foot Tactical combat squad and a Devastator combat squad occupied the centre, while over on the right flank a Land Raider Crusader carrying Assault Terminators set up facing the bulk of my own forces.

(Looking back at this game, I get the impression that the Ultramarine army was illegal – only one Troop choice – and that their commander was wont to get crucial game terms mixed up – not just things like Chapter Master and Warlord, which he thought were interchangeable, but also Reserve and Deep Strike. As will become apparent this did not profit him much.)

Anyway, I retained the initiative and began my assault by landing a Drop Pod as close to the Ultramarine-placed objective as I could manage. This was my first time using a pod and I was curious to see how it performed. A full Tactical Squad spilled out, while behind them the rest of the army moved up. On the first turn the Pod Squad mowed down the majority of the Devastator combat squad and left me well placed for a second-turn assault.

The Ultramarines responded by attempting to land a Dreadnought by Drop Pod on the board edge close to the bulk of my army – however, it scattered off the table and was destroyed. The Land Raider Crusader moved forward along the table edge anyway, disregarding the multi-meltas my army was toting. Apart from the surviving Devastator, who redeployed towards the right flank, the remaining Ultramarine contingent fired on and assaulted the Pod Squad, though without doing much damage.

On my second turn both my reserve units turned up: the flame tank outflanked and toasted the foot Tactical combat squad, while the reassuring presence of the locator beacon in the Drop Pod meant my Terminators were able to come on safely, close to the Devastator. The Attack Bike and Land Speeder fired on and destroyed the Land Raider, the Rhino-based Tactical Squad opened fire on and wiped out the Ultramarine Rhino unit, and the Blood Angels Assault Squad counter-charged the unit that had assaulted me the previous turn and wiped it out.

The Ultramarines centre had been smashed, but their Terminators were intact and they had many potentially powerful units still in reserve. Marneus Calgar teleported onto the table with his retinue, behind the bulk of the Blood Angel force, while not far away three Devastator Centurions appeared. The Sternguard appeared in the far right corner, not far from the Baal Predator and Blood Angel Terminators.

Marneus Calgar called in an orbital bombardment which vapourised Zedrenael and Aukon, while the Sternguard managed to kill two Terminators (a bit jammily, I thought – hey ho). However the Ultramarines were unable to assault and most of the Blood Angels were out of sight of the formidable anti-personnel firepower of the Centurions. Nevertheless the Ultramarine Terminators assaulted the Attack Bike and killed it, while the last Devastator shot down the Land Speeder.

It was time to redeploy, so the Tactical squad piled back into their Rhino, which motored away, while the Assault Squad pulled back away from Calgar as well. The Baal Predator motored up to the Sternguard and flamed three of them, while the Pod Squad occupied the Ultramarine objective. The Terminators squashed the last Devastator, while Brother Akakos waded into the Centurions and killed two of them (they did not prove as resilient as I had feared).

The Ultramarine Librarian finally showed up, but I was confident I had this game in the bag – I had two very mobile Troops units left, meaning I could either grab objectives or go for linebreaker points as the game closed, while the Ultramarines had only their elite units on the table.

Things turned out pretty much as I expected – Akakos killed off the Centurions and then chased down and flattened the enemy Librarian, while a ding-dong battle between the two squads of hammer-wielding Terminators eventually saw only a single Ultramarine survivor (who Akakos promptly shot). Calgar and his squad handily slaughtered the Pod Squad and moved on to assault and destroy the Baal Predator: this did not overly worry me, as it meant they were pulled even further away from the objectives.

The final few turns saw the Ultramarines frenziedly running around the table trying to kill anything they could get their hands on, regardless of the bigger strategic game. Their vastly depleted numbers meant they weren’t that destructive, however. In the end the last Sternguard was killed by the storm bolter on the Drop Pod, while Calgar’s retinue was wiped out when he assaulted the surviving Blood Angel Tactical Squad. It seemed somewhat fitting that the only surviving Ultramarine model on the table as the game ended was their Chapter Master, while I had a few Assault Marines and a Dreadnought left to hold objectives: probably not enough to actually kill Calgar, but I didn’t need to. One objective and First Blood gave me four points, compared to the solitary one the Ultramarines had earned for killing Zedranael.

So – first thoughts on the new Marine Codex. I haven’t looked at it in detail, but Thunderfire Cannons are still absurdly underpriced and I suspect Centurions are very capable of laying waste to anything in their path if used correctly. The Chapter Tactics rules look interesting too; I think my best fortune in this game was meeting a relatively green opponent. Splitting his army the way he did made it very easy for me to rapidly crush his initially-deployed forces and then deal more carefully with his elite second wave.

The army performed up to standard in this game, anyway, although losing the Captain and Chaplain to the same shot stung a bit. The big innovation this game was using the Drop Pod and I am rather impressed by the potential of this piece of kit, both as a way of getting Tactical Marines to the sharp end of the game and as an anchor point for my Terminators. I am aware all I am really doing now is tinkering with the same basic elements when I play Blood Angels, so what the future holds for me collecting-wise I’m not sure. As it is, I had a really nice time just playing a good, challenging game against a friendly and cheerful opponent. And of course I got to inflict a crushing defeat on him, which is always a bonus too.

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Well, to be perfectly honest, while the game against the Deathwing on Monday wasn’t a complete thumping, it did leave me rather pondering where to take the army next. It occurs to me that my usual operating procedure in this kind of situation would be to promise myself I’d go back to the army and fix it at a later date, and promptly switch to working in earnest on Daemons or Chaos Marines or one of the other armies on my to-do list. Lack of space in the garret sort of precludes that, and in any case I think actually going to the trouble of figuring out what’s wrong with the Blood Angels and fixing the list will do me all sorts of good as a gamer and a person.

So, ahead of a proper review and appraisal of the army and its record, I thought I’d get one more game in, with a slightly altered list. The main change was dropping Astorath and using a Captain as my HQ: now he’s basically I1, I think Astorath is a questionable warlord choice. It occurs to me that the change to Crozius Arcani to make them I1 is partly to make Captains a more attractive choice of leader. Mine is enjoying a newly blinged-up paint-job which I rather like; so much so I’m considering adding an Honour Guard squad to accompany him (the gun and run possibilities of a jump pack squad carrying plasma guns are also attractive).

Apart from the Captain, the new list includes two tactical squads, III/3 and III/5 (III/5 is mechanised), ten mechanised Death Company and a DC Dreadnought, plasma-cannon toting devastator demi-squad III/10/a, assault demi-squad III/8/a, an attack bike, a Furioso Dreadnought, a firestorm Dreadnought, and some Sanguinary Guard – I really wasn’t keen on still keeping the Guard in the army, but to get to 2000 points it was them or Mephiston.

Arriving in the shop I was interested to see, following my close encounter with the Contemptor Dreadnought last game, that these damn things have become all the rage – the AA possibilities if nothing else make them very attractive. Also, apparently a ruling has been handed down from on high: 30K units and armies are verboten in GW shops, so no danger of Scimitar jetbikes or Primarchs turning up (apparently a 20-man Space Marine Legion squad is only 80 points so this is just as well).

All of this was a bit academic as I found myself once again playing Bugs and his endless swarm of Tyranids. The match score between Bugs and myself currently stands at one apiece plus a draw (these games have included a spectacular reign of terror from Mephiston and the Nids eating my entire force). Bugs looked at the Furioso, the firestorm Dreadnought, and the Death Company walker and frowned. ‘I’m a bit worried I never have enough anti-Dreadnought weapons,’ he said.

I looked at the five monstrous creatures in his list and thought he probably wouldn’t have to worry too much, but as it turned out he may have been having a psychic flash. Nevertheless, as we unpacked, I looked at the three Tervigons, two Carnifexes, Venomthrope, Zoanthrope, and 140 gaunts in the Tyranid set-up zone and couldn’t help feeling that my 46 infantry, one bike, two APCs and three walkers appeared a bit wanting.

But on we went anyway, playing Big Guns Never Tire down the length of the table, with one objective in each end zone and two in no man’s land. I got the initiative and decided to play more aggressively than I have done recently, setting up III/5 and the Death Company for a mechanised push along the left flank, backed up by the DC Dreadnought. The jump pack units held back as a mobile reserve, along with the heavy firepower. III/3 was positioned to run forward and grab the right flank objective with the Furioso prepared to hold the centre.

And it went according to plan, initially, III/5’s rhino positioning to block line of fire to the Death Company rhino and the DC Dreadnought, and III/3 running forward to grab the other objective. The firestorm Dreadnought and Attack Bike both fired at the closest Tervigon and took three wounds off it. This was a good-ish start but there were still vast numbers of gaunts very close at hand, to say nothing of all the big monsters.

The Tyranids duly commenced their charge, moving forward as a wall of flesh. Their shooting was completely ineffectual, the wounded Tervigon losing another wound to a failed psychic test. In the assault phase thirty gaunts swarmed III/5’s rhino and destroyed it, the squad bailing out safely, while another thirty were out of range of the Death Company Dreadnought (possibly the game’s first really decisive moment).

Turn Two set up the way the game would go, though this wasn’t immediately apparent. The Death Company squad engaged the gaunts on the left who’d just destroyed the rhino, while the Death Company Dreadnought charged one of the other big swarms. On the right things were a bit more tentative, but the Furioso’s frag cannon ripped into yet another gaunt swarm and the firestorm Dreadnought continued to knock wounds off the wounded Tervigon. In the assault phase the Death Company Dreadnought killed 13 gaunts on the charge, and Bugs turned a bit pale.

The Tyranid turn really was decisive in hindsight: a mycetic spore plopped down near the devastators, and unleashed yet another twenty gaunts whose massed firepower wiped out the squad. The Tervigons all squeezed out reinforcements too, two of them exhausting themselves in the process. But the important stuff was elsewhere: the DC Dreadnought was charged by a Carnifex, but the Hive Mind had clearly underestimated how psychotic the walker was and the Tyranid beast was eviscerated before it could strike a blow. Bugs was now practically pallid, and things weren’t helped when Hormagaunts on the far right flank failed their charge on III/3  by a miniscule amount.

The mid-game was characterised by a real meatgrinder developing  on my left between the Death Company and three Termagant broods, the vampire-marines’ better skill, armour, and general unbalancedness allowing them to take on dozens of the little bugs on a fairly even basis. In the centre the Death Company Dreadnought continued to rip through Termagants, while the surviving Carnifex charged the Furioso and destroyed it, being heavily wounded in the process: enough for it to be put down by a rapid-firing III/5 the following turn. III/3 ended up fighting yet more gaunts, and the firestorm Dreadnought finished off the wounded Tervigon, frying the brains of numerous nearby gaunts.

At this point we paused and considered how it was going. To my surprise I was quietly confident about the left flank melee and not very worried by the presence of gaunts and a mycetic spore in my deployment zone, still having plenty of solid units to commit. The right flank was looking a bit iffy, though.

As it turned out, it worked out okay: the Death Company Dreadnought finished off the last gaunt and charged into another Tervigon, killing it on the charge. The Captain and his unit assaulted the Termagants in my zone and broke them on the charge, instant-killing the spore with an infernus pistol the following turn. The Guard charged the Zoanthrope and killed it before hopping over the central terrain to join the last Death Company survivor in the meat grinder combat. III/3 were wiped out by Hormagaunts, but the firestorm Dreadnought was in range to tie them up – and with synapse suddenly thin on the ground they were looking fragile, especially as they couldn’t hurt the walker.

And suddenly it was just a case of mopping up – the last few gaunts were duly polished off, the Death Company Dreadnought killed the Venomthrope on the charge, and the last surviving Tervigon was hosed down with fire by the firestorm Dreadnought and Attack Bike while III/5 trotted across the table to claim the right-side objective. The Tyranids were tabled on Turn Six, with the Blood Angel army still in respectable condition – three squads and a character in decent shape, the bike and two walkers both essentially operational.

Man of the Match surely goes to the Death Company Dreadnought, which directly accounted for thirty Termagants, a Carnifex, a Tervigon and a Venomthrope. That said, the firestorm Dreadnought also made a major contribution, doing the lion’s share of work in killing the two other Tervigons. But on the other hand, everything in the army pulled its weight, for once, with the exception of the Devastators who once again just acted as bait for a Deep Striking unit. I was honestly expecting both tactical squads to get munched after deploying them so far forward, but the aggressive style of play paid off. It also occurs me that every game I’ve won with the Blood Angels has featured a Captain somewhere in the list. Hmmm.

That said, this was a game decided by tiny chances – if the Carnifex had survived to attack the Death Company Dreadnought, if the Hormagants had made their initial charge against III/3 – and I’m aware this was a lucky win. But it’s nice to see how spectacularly well the Blood Angels can perform when the dice and conditions favour them, and it’s good to go into the review of the army with some positives to consider.

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For the first time in a while I managed to carve out some space in my schedule to actually play some 40K, and for the first time ever it was against someone who actually reads this blog. I was a bit worried that this would put me at an automatic disadvantage (surely all those wails of ‘I don’t have enough anti-tank’ and declarations that ‘the army relies too heavily on Mephiston killing everything in sight’ couldn’t have gone unnoticed) but then circumstances dictated my taking an all-infantry force anyway and it was nice to have an excuse before we even started playing.

The prospect of playing mechanised Eldar was not an appealing one but my opponent put that back to our second game and started off by rolling out his Necrons. A fairly standard army, it seemed to me: lots of destroyers and a monolith. The mission turned out to be the Necrons ambushing the Blood Angels. As the prospect of getting into assaults with Necrons was something I was very happy about, I wasn’t too worried, but my opponent clearly was and deployed extremely cautiously, obviously hoping to gun and run me while shielding his warriors.

I got the first turn and not much happened apart from the Devastators obliterating an entire Scarab swarm and nearly everything else swooping towards the enemy. On his first turn my opponent showed he’d been doing his homework by targeting Mephiston with his Heavy Destroyers and sticking three wounds on him. Hmmm! Elsewhere the Tactical Squad took a battering but that was all in terms of shooting, and this was largely due to the Necron Lord and an Immortal squad teleporting across the table to outflank me.

This proved to be a bad move as the Immortals were now in view of the plasma cannons of the Devastator squad, and also in assault range of the Captain and his retinue. Needless to say they did not survive the turn. Elsewhere the Death Company ran up to the monolith, bashed it with their thunder hammer and immobilised it (they were now effectively immobilised themselves due to the Rage rule, unless they could destroy it), while Mephiston engaged the Heavy Destroyers. My plan was to try and avoid killing all of them on the charge (not necessarily easy with the Lord of Death!) which would hopefully keep Mephiston safely locked in combat for the next Necron shooting phase. The good news was that one did indeed survive, but the bad news was that he actually stuck a wound on Mephiston leaving him with only one left.

Not much happened on the second Necron turn beyond the Destroyers shooting fairly ineffectually at the Captain’s squad and Mephiston finishing off the Heavy Destroyers (the Necron Warrior reserves refused to show up). On the third Blood Angel turn the Death Company managed to smash the monolith and Mephiston charged and wiped out the regular Destroyers, and at this point (6-0 down on kill points and with only two Necron Warrior squads and a Tomb Spider left to work with) the Necrons conceded the game. I think more aggressive deployment and play might have given them a better chance, but then again I think getting the first turn makes a big difference in this mission.

Anyway – no more Mr Nice Guy and out came a mechanised Eldar army, with three Wave Serpents, three War Walkers, a Falcon, a Night Spinner, lots of Dire Avengers, Fire Dragons, Scorpions, and Eldrad in it. Oh dear. We ended up playing a objective-based mission with most of our armies starting off the board. Eldrad’s Stones of Warding really promised to peg Mephiston’s psychic powers back and limit his abilities.

And for the first couple of turns the Blood Angels took a real pounding, the Death Company staggering forward towards Eldrad’s Wave Serpent, one of the combat squads being all but obliterated. My counterfire and mobility were both extremely limited. The game was going as I’d feared it might.

Then, we had a remarkable twist of fortunes. My reserves turned up. I decided my only chance was to deep strike the Sanguinary Guard deep into the Eldar deployment zone so they could shoot at the rear of their vehicles – but they scattered off the board, causing a mishap which let my opponent deploy them. Apologising for doing so (which touched me, rather), my opponent popped them down in front of the Fire Dragons, where they were sitting ducks. I deep struck the Captain’s squad down in roughly the same place safely (my opponent declared this was ‘ballsy’ until I reminded him of the Descent of Angels rule).

Anyway, that turn the Captain and his squad managed to wreck one of the Wave Serpents and the Death Company assaulted and destroyed another, really limiting the Eldar mobility on that side of the table. On the next Eldar turn my opponent took solace from his losses (and the non-appearance of his large squad of Striking Scorpions from reserve) by opening up on the Guard with the Fire Dragons’ melta-guns. Five shots, three hits… but no wounds! Somehow it was all starting to go right for the Blood Angels.

On my next turn Mephiston risked Wings of Sanguinius, got away with it and wiped out the Fire Dragons on the charge. The Death Company assaulted the War Walkers and destroyed them all. The Captain and his squad moved up behind the Night Spinner and destroyed that in the shooting phase as well.

The Eldar were taking massive casualties but still in the game, and the arrival of the Striking Scorpions only made that more obvious. Luckily they were fractionally out of assault range of the Captain’s squad. Elsewhere Eldrad assaulted and wiped out the surviving Death Company and the Falcon containing a squad of Dire Avengers positioned itself to claim an objective in my table half.

We were both running out of Troops choices and time. On my next turn the Guard shot at and then assaulted and wiped out Eldrad and his squad, while the Captain’s squad and the Attack Bike did the same to another Dire Avenger unit. Mephiston began a long and infuriating cat-and-mouse pursuit of a damaged Wave Serpent threatening to contest an objective held by my combat squad.

At the end of turn five, despite everything, the Eldar were ahead, holding one objective while contesting another. Luckily the dice went my way and we played on into turn six. On that turn I was able to wipe out the Dire Avengers doing the holding and move an Assault Squad up to contest with the Falcon, making the game a draw (Mephiston proved unable to get rid of the annoying Wave Serpent on the other side of the table). But the dice favoured me again and we were into a final turn…

The Guard assaulted and wiped out the Striking Scorpions (a fitting conclusion to a spectacularly good performance from them, easily their most impressive for me), while the last surviving Assault Squad member finally managed to stick his power fist through the back of the Falcon and bring it down, giving me an objective outright. With only one unit left in his army and two objectives under Blood Angel control, my opponent accepted defeat. But it had been an incredibly close and unpredictable game and I fully appreciate how very lucky I was to win. A lot of fun, as well, of course.

Not for the first time, though, I find no lessons in victory. The first game did see a couple of units doing absolutely nothing to impact on the game, and yet I scored a fairly easy win. In the second game, I think pretty much everything played its part in helping me scrape a very lucky win – changing anything in the army would have changed the course of the game. And I’m quite happy with the result I got!

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I’ve kind of been trying to avoid playing 40K for the last few weeks, mainly because I’m not sure my fragile ego could endure another spanking. Nevertheless with my enforced summer break looming I really have to gather my rosebuds while the sun shines, or something, and so I duly manned up and trotted along to GW Oxford.

Shortly after entering the establishment I was challenged to a game by someone I had better not name. I should have known what to expect when he said he had ‘1000… hang on, 1250… actually I can probably do a full 1500 points.’ Hmmm.

We wound up playing War of Attrition with my Blood Angels in the role of the Imperial Guard. This is a mission which looks a little dodgy to me, balance-wise: the deployment conditions appear to give the Guard a big incentive to deploy with a deep firebase. A more balanced army like the Angels isn’t so limited. Anyway, the Chaos Marines of my opponent were plonked down in the table centre, deep in his own half (he didn’t really consider the value of deploying further forward, or perhaps given I was likely to get first turn he was being cautious) – a squad with a Tzeentch mark, a Daemon Prince, two Obliterators, and a squad of Thousand Sons. On my left I stuck down the Devastators, supported by a combat squad. The Death Company, the Captain and his assault squad, another combat squad and Mephiston all deployed in cover on my right. Victory would be a matter of points destroyed (not kill-points), with infantry Troops recycling as reserves.

I got the first turn and trundled the Death Company up to his army, advancing with the Furioso more slowly. The Devastators started the steady rain of fire on the Chaos forces they would maintain for most of the game, generally being quite accurate (just as well given everything in the Chaos army had some kind of invulnerable save). On the first Chaos turn the Obliterators blew up the Death Company rhino, which was sort of predictable, and a bolt of change destroyed the Furioso, which was a bit unlucky I thought.

Anyway, on the second turn the Death Company negotiated their way around the Rage rule to assault the Obliterators while Mephiston swooped forward and engaged the Thousand Sons single-handed. The Obliterators barely had time to gurgle before they were dead, while Mephiston found himself in a bit of a slugfest: the 4+ invulnerable the Thousand Sons enjoyed kept them in the fight, and I had a nasty shock when I found their champion was packing a force staff: Mephiston was one 6 away from being instantly killed.

There was nothing to be done about that, so I crossed my fingers and concentrated elsewhere. The Tzeentch squad, the Daemon Prince and the Sorcerer all counter-charged the Death Company, but the combat was a close one and the vampire-marines only lost by a single wound. The following turn they were finished off but not before wiping out the last of the Tzeentch squad, while Mephiston polished off the last of the Thousand Sons.

All that was left in the Chaos army by now was the Prince and the Sorcerer and they advanced on my lines waiting for their troops to recycle. Mephiston snuck up on the Sorcerer and showed him the proper use of a force weapon, shortly after which the Thousand Sons reappeared just behind him. Their inferno shots pattered off the Lord of Death’s 2+ save and not wishing to push my luck (and being well ahead on points) I pulled Mephiston back, quite happy to sit out the remaining couple of turns in a defensive posture.

The Daemon Prince had other ideas and pursued Mephiston, taking a wound off him with a Bolt of Change before assaulting. Clearly getting peevish Mephiston demonstrated again how a force sword is properly used and consolidated into cover.

The Tzeentch squad had now recycled alongside the Thousand Sons but as neither had any effective long-range weapons and both were in the fire arc of my plasma cannons as they advanced my opponent conceded even though there was a turn left to play. He was right: the final score was 1095 to the Blood Angels, 490 to the Chaos Marines.

Hmm. Yet another Death-and-Meph outing, with the Company and the Chief Librarian killing the entire enemy army between them (with some supporting fire from the Devastators). Everything else barely moved or shot throughout the entire game. I know those two units are capable of that level of destruction, but at the same time I can’t rely on it. This game was mainly useful as a bit of an insight into some of the odder parts of the Chaos list.

And I feel I must say that my opponent did not seem very confident in his grasp of the rules, consistently forgetting to roll for his daemonic support, not to mention his psychic powers. Maybe I should have been a little more lenient about this and reminded him before the game actually finished, but hey. It’s a tough school. He needs to learn to remember without help, not everyone’s as compassionate as me (and he called me ‘dude’ a couple of times during the game, which I didn’t appreciate).

Oh well, a win’s a win, as they say, and there’s nothing like a crushing one-sided victory to make you remember why you started playing the army in the first place. I’ll settle for that, for now.

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