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Posts Tagged ‘wins’

I’ve started talking a fair bit about Standard Tactical Dogma when I write about 40K, but I’m increasingly aware that my perception of STD is mainly based on the internet, and specifically the writings of a particular subset of 40K players – mainly ultra-competitive tournament gamers. And the STD I see must surely be out-of-date now the Sixth Edition is established.

Take, for example, the STD insistence that meltaguns are the only sensible special weapon option for Assault Marines. I would disagree vehemently with this – partly because vehicles in general feel a lot more fragile than they have been in the past, but also because the humble flamethrower has also surely made a Sinatra-like comeback under the new ruleset, if not as a genuine assault weapon then certainly as a counter-assault weapon.

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This certainly crossed my mind following my latest game, which was – as is standard these days – at 1500 points, played against – and this has certainly not been standard of late – Orks. My default list these days is the one I put together to handle the sit-back-and-shoot style of the Blood Ravens I’ve played twice recently so going up against another all-out assault force promised to be illuminating. We rolled up a very straightforward scenario, and – with one eye on the burgeoning horde of Greenskins emerging from my opponent’s figure cases – I decided it would be best to a) refuse a flank and b) Outflank with the Baal Predator.

My main squads – Tactical Squad, Assault Squad (Librarian and Priest attached), and Terminators – deployed centre-right, while the Attack Bike and Furioso Dreadnought hugged the right-hand table edge. The rifleman Dreadnought was a little further back, but as the Ork force was all infantry it seemed unlikely he would make a major impact.

Possibly intimidatingly, and certainly impressively, the Orks practically filled their 12″ x 4 foot deployment zone; I almost wished I’d brought my Whirlwind as this was certainly a target-rich environment. Two artillery pieces occupied some central ruins, while on either side I could see waves of troops in formation – on the left, Grots screened Shoota Boys, who in turn screened Lootas, while on the right, Grots screened Slugga Boys, who screened Flash Gits, Tankbusters and the Warboss and his henchmen. This was clearly going to be resolved by boots in faces.

Well, I got the first turn and moved forward cautiously with everything but the Furioso, which I obviously wanted in combat as soon as possible. I could possibly have assaulted the right-wing Grots on the first turn, but this would almost certainly have exposed me to a devastating counter-assault from the Orks behind them so let them be. My only notable shooting was from Brother Akakos, who picked off the Ork Shock Attack Gun in the centre and scored me First Blood (a rarity), though I forgot about this later when it might have made a difference.

The Orks advanced on both wings, except for the Lootas – and thus an interesting gap in the Ork lines on their left wing was created. Their shooting was predictably ineffectual, although the Tankbusters blew one of the Furioso’s arms off (the one with the heavy flamer, annoyingly).

On turn 2, the Baal Predator arrived from reserve, passed the Outflank roll and slotted neatly into the gap on the left Ork flank. The Tactical Squad piled out of their rhino preparatory to shooting up the right-wing Grots – my plan was to do enough damage to make them run, and thus allow the Furioso to assault one of the nastier Ork units they were currently screening.

Well, that didn’t quite work out, and so the Furioso Dreadnought had to assault the Grots anyway, wiping them out. Much more gratifyingly, I finally got to shoot all three weapons on the Baal Predator at the Ork Lootas. Ah, the delights of three flame templates at point-blank range! Twelve dead Lootas later that quarter of the table looked rather different.

The left wing of the Ork army was now somewhat disarrayed, as the boys on that side frantically scrambled to do something about the Baal, which was quite capable of torching a dozen models a turn. On the right they kept coming – the Warboss and his henchmen assaulted the Furioso, but didn’t manage to damage it, while the main Slugga mob attempted to charge the Tactical Marines – but effective overwatch fire, partly due to the squad flamer, stalled the assault. Having thrown all their heavy shooting at the Baal Predator, the Orks on that side of the table were finally forced to assault it to put it out of action – but it had done its job.

I was now able to launch some assaults of my own, the Tactical Marines softening the Sluggas up before the Assault Squad – buffed by the Librarian’s Unleash Rage power – charged in. Hammer of Wrath, Unleash Rage, and Furious Charge combined to give this a devastating impact and the Orks were wiped out for no casualties in return. The Terminators plunged into the fight between the Furioso and the Warboss, turning the tables in the combat and slaying the Ork leader.  The right wing of the Ork army was now effectively broken.

The next Ork turn mainly consisted of them trying to reorganise, which allowed me to press my advantage – the Assault Marines wiped out the Flash Gits, the Furioso Dreadnought destroyed the Tankbusters, and the Tactical Marines swung about to mow down the left-wing Grots, which were attempting to circle round behind them and get to the objectives in my deployment zone.

My instinct now was to consolidate my position as we looked to be heading into the end game – I thought I was probably ahead on points – and so I pulled everything back from the surviving Orks, planning to hunker down and ride it out. However, the surviving Ork Shoota Boys, Lootas, and artillery had quite enough collective muscle to squat on an objective while blasting me off another, as they proved almost at once by shooting enough Tactical Marines to briefly break the squad.

Possibly unwisely, and almost certainly feeling overconfident following my earlier crushing successes, I threw the Assault Marines at the largest surviving Ork mob unsupported – the Ork overwatch was punishing and the Orks absorbed the charge fairly easily. Even with the Librarian and Priest, this combat rapidly turned into a gruelling slugging match which I was lucky to survive, and in the end I had to bring in the Terminators to support the Assault Marines. This finally gave me the edge and the Orks broke – but at the very last minute of the game.

While all this had been going on, the Ork Zap Gun had destroyed the Furioso – who, to be fair, had been pushing his luck all game – and then engaged in a long-range duel with Brother Akakos. Akakos was a much better shot, but digging the Ork artillery out of its emplacement made this a tough nut to crack. In the end, though, after seven hard-fought turns the Orks were left with half a dozen fleeing boys, two cowering Lootas, and a Zap Gun, while I had the wounded Librarian, the Priest, two Terminators, half a Tactical Squad and the rifleman Dreadnought on the table. Another slaughterhouse, but I had scored First Blood, a Slain Warlord, and at least one Linebreaker, along with a solitary objective, while the Orks had nothing.

So, 4-0 to the Blood Angels, as it turned out, and something of an epochal moment in the ongoing saga of the army, as my win/draw/lose ratio now stands at 10/2/9 – back in the black, for the first time in ages. Recently I have felt much more like I know what I’m doing with the Angels, and the current Death Company-free iteration of the list is generally doing the business.

Obviously, 1750 or 2000 points is the next place to take the army, and I have ideas about how to do this – and, for that matter, some wildly different 1500 point lists (a Drop Pod list, a fully mechanised list, an Astorath-led Death Company-centric list and so on). The list of units-in-progress at the moment is quite lengthy.

But I’m contemplating taking a break from painting and modelling Angels and doing something completely different for a bit – there’s a Daemonic incursion brewing up in one of my drawers which I may give some attention to for a while, just for a change of pace. In terms of playing, though, I will be sticking with the Blood Angels for the foreseeable future.

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What’s on my mind with regard to the Blood Angels right now:

  • What should my first choice of Warlord be? To be honest I’ve always got my best results using Captain Zedrenael, contrary to Standard Tactical Dogma. The named Special Characters are really too expensive for a 1500 point game. The Reclusiarch works okay as a force multiplier but he isn’t fantastic in a duel, which is where he’s likely to end up. STD says a Librarian is virtually obligatory but I am not convinced following tonight’s display. Hmmm.
  • Should I think about putting my Furioso Dreadnought in a Drop Pod? One of the things I feel the army is currently lacking in is a serious Alpha Strike capability – short of Brother Akakos’ autocannon all my big guns are short-ranged. I have been contemplating a missile-launcher or lascannon Devastator Squad, but putting the Furioso in the Pod would be another option. Using the option to outflank with a Baal Predator would be another possibility – but with the Baal starting on my battleline I at least know where my enemy will be shooting on the first turn!
  • I am giving away First Blood points in virtually every game, possibly due to my lack of long-range anti-tank power and fondness for going vehicle-heavy. Not sure what to do about this except put my Attack Bike and Land Speeder into squadrons.

Anyway, I picked a fairly generic list for this week’s game, not having an opponent lined up, and – of course – found myself in a rematch with the Blood Ravens following last week’s inconclusive clash. Could this return engagement live up to the promise of the first game? Crikey, could it ever.

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We ended up playing Big Guns Never Tire, which suited me (the Raven army was heavy in heavy support), with the Ravens getting first turn. Their Predator and Vindicator ended up dominating the centre and left side of the table, with a Tactical Squad holding down each flank and the Thunderfire Cannon and Scouts occupying a cluster of ruins on the right side of their deployment zone.

My list was similar to last week’s, except I had dropped the Reclusiarch, Land Speeder, and Death Company units  in exchange for a jump-packed Librarian, Assault Terminators, and Brother Akakos’ autocannon loadout. I opted to push up the right flank as that seemed to offer most cover for my Assault Marines and vehicles – only Brother Akakos occupied the left hand side of the table. The Terminators were footslogging due to my deep distrust of Deep Striking as a tactic. The Baal pushed forward with its Scout move in the hopes of toasting some Ravens on turn 1.

However, it was not to be: the Raven Drop Pod landed in my deployment zone and their Dreadnought emerged, promptly slagging the Baal Predator with its multi-melta – drawing this kind of fire is the Baal’s job, but I was still peeved. Heavy fire from the rest of the Ravens had relatively little effect, however.

On my turn Brother Akakos shifted into cover and got the rear of the Raven Dreadnought in his sights. The Attack Bike and Terminators also moved to give me options for dealing with the Dreadnought; everything else continued its push across the table. Akakos blew the enemy cyborg apart, leaving the Terminators free to assault the Drop Pod: at the time I thought this was perhaps a mistake, as it left them in the open in front of the lascannon-armed Predator, but this was arguably the most decisive move of the game. Needless to say they smashed the Pod to bits.

On Raven turn 2 the Storm Talon did not appear, but their Librarian and his Terminator escort did. With the locator beacon on the Drop Pod destroyed, my opponent carefully measured and popped them down a foot away from my nearest model – only for the dice to scatter them a full twelve inches in precisely that direction, the resulting roll on the mishap table revealing they had not survived the teleport, earning me a Slain Warlord point and wiping out a 350-point unit instantly.

It was not going all my way, however, as the Vindicator blew half the Assault Marines to pieces and the Predator gunned down a Terminator. On my own turn it proved tricky to get any of my own charges to connect: the wily Ravens of their second Tactical Squad chose to fail a morale test for casualties incurred by shooting to dodge a charge by the Furioso, the two survivors falling back to the table edge. I had some results in the centre as the Terminators were able to assault the Vindicator and destroy it, even if the mutli-melta on the Bike missed the Predator at close range.

The Blood Raven shooting continued to take its toll as the Scouts killed the Attack Bike and the Predator destroyed my Furioso Dreadnought. Most significantly, the Storm Talon finally arrived and promptly targeted Brother Akakos, thus proving I was right in thinking he could be considered a threat to the gunship – he was stunned, but this would not affect his AA potential.

On my turn 3 Akakos got on with his sacred destiny and opened up on the gunship, hitting but failing to damage it. The last remnants of the Assault Marines, having just shrugged off the barrage from the Thunderfire Cannon thanks to the Priest’s Feel No Pain blessing, jumped into assault range of the Predator, while the Terminators advanced on the first Raven Tactical Squad. An assault on the Scouts in the ruins failed to connect, but the Terminators broke the Tactical Marines and the Sergeant of the Assault Squad punched through the side of the Predator with his power fist, wrecking it.

Appropriately, given the participation of the Blood Angels and the Blood Ravens, the game was turning into a complete bloodbath, and this continued as the Talon went into hover mode and wiped out the last of the Assault Marines and Librarian, whose performance had been very underwhelming: at least he was only 125 points. The reformed first Raven squad fired at the Terminators with little effect (my tactic of keeping them line abreast at maximum coherency severely limited the effectiveness of the Raven plasma cannon) and, amusingly, the Thunderfire Cannon proved totally incapable of hitting the Tactical Squad at point-blank range.

To his everlasting shame, Honoured Brother Akakos proved completely incapable of shooting down the hovering Talon, only taking a hull point off it instead. The Terminators charged the first Tactical Squad again while my own Tactical Squad assaulted the Blood Raven Scouts. Both enemy units broke, the lone surviving Scout Sergeant fleeing the ruins, the Tactical Squad falling back to the table edge.

Blood Raven turn 5, and both armies were in tatters – the only fully intact unit was the Cannon. I got a nasty shock when the Techmarine detached himself from the gun and assaulted the Tactical Marine squad, after they had been shot up quite badly by the Talon – the Sergeant missed the chance to crush the boffin in a challenge and suddenly this looked like a fight I would be lucky to win.

On my turn, Akakos shot yet again at the Talon and would have destroyed it, but for it opting for evasive action (which at least meant it wouldn’t be doing much shooting on turn 6, if we got that far). The fight between my surviving Tactical Marines and the Tech ground on while – for the third turn in a row – the Terminators engaged the Raven Tacticals, finally managing to wipe them out this time. They consolidated towards the ruins where the fight was in progress, but it looked unlikely they’d get there before the game ended.

Which it did at that point anyway. The surviving Blood Ravens consisted of a lone Scout Sergeant, two Tactical Marines, the Thunderfire Cannon and its operator and the damaged Storm Talon. I had two Terminators, three Tactical Marines, a damaged Rhino transport and the damaged rifleman Dreadnought left on the table. No-one could claim an objective, both Warlords were dead, and the Blood Ravens had claimed First Blood for the Baal Predator – but I had killed two Heavy Support vehicles and had multiple units in the Raven deployment zone, while my opponent hadn’t managed to finish off Akakos and had nothing outside his own table half – which meant the game had finished 5-2 in my favour.

Well, I can’t honestly believe I won this one, given the pounding I took in the early turns. I think what lost it for the Blood Ravens, other than terrible bad luck with the Librarian and his escort (I’ll say it again: unmodified Deep Strike is a massive gamble and too easy to mess up), was the choice to move their vehicles up the centre of the table towards my AT units – killing these scored me relatively easy points. The relatively static nature of the Raven list also sort-of worked in my favour as I was always going to claim more Linebreaker points than them.

Of course, if my worthy opponent ever manages to get his Terminators and Librarian onto the table I suspect he will roll me over quite easily – then again, if I ever get my Baal Predator up close to his Tactical Marines that should have interesting results as well. But another excellent game against a strong army, played in the right spirit – 5-2 really doesn’t indicate what a close game this really was.

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Well, nothing specific lined up for this week’s games night, so I turned up prepared to take on all comers – a busy week at the painting desk meant I was able to field one brand new unit and one at an expanded size (I also finished a melta-flamer Land Speeder, but couldn’t squeeze it into the list).

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I found myself taking on a Daemon army at 1500 points – with the Daemon book being essentially new, this was the first time for my opponent as well as myself. We rolled up a mission where the outcome of the game was solely determined by the number of enemy units wiped out, which played to the Blood Angels’ strengths at least. It was also a refreshingly simple scenario which somehow suited the bleak polar board we were playing over.

The first thing that strikes me about the new Daemon codex is the sheer volume of dice-rolling and book-keeping required at the start of a game, with the huge numbers of random psychic powers and Daemonic rewards that needed generating even at only 1500 points. Daemons are an army I’ve toyed with collecting in the past, mainly because of the painting possibilities, but all this was a bit offputting, properly chaotic though it was: my opponent had a lot to remember every turn.

I deployed first and opted for a straightforward phalanx of Blood Angels: in the centre went Captain Zed, a Priest, and three full-sized squads (two Tactical, one of them mechanised, and an Assault Squad). On my left wing were a rifleman Dreadnought, a Furioso, and a melta-armed attack bike. Screening the right flank were five Terminators with hammers and shields. In front of me were two packs of Daemons, Bloodletters and Daemonettes, while a Slaanesh chariot was lurking out of sight in the far left corner.

I kept the initiative and everything advanced steadily across the board – there wasn’t much capable of shooting but the rifleman and rhino thinned the Bloodletters down a bit. On the first Daemonic turn the chariot rattled into view, heading for the left wing, while the Bloodletters and Daemonetters advanced on the centre. The Daemon shooting was minimal. In their assault phase the Bloodletters initially charged the Furioso until we realised this was illegal – not that I would have objected, obviously. They went for the Rhino instead and chopped it to pieces, III/5 safely piling out.

On my turn the Terminators advanced on the Daemonettes, while III/5 and III/8 formed up around the Bloodletters, III/3 holding their position. The Dreadnoughts and the Attack Bike moved towards the Chariot. The twin autocannon opened up on the Chariot and blew it apart, the Slaaneshi Herald it carried landing in front of the Attack Bike, which promptly fried it with its multi-melta. Rapid-firing boltguns and massed flamers from III/5 and III/8 wiped out the Bloodletters in the shooting phase, but left III/8 without an assault target. They would be exposed to a charge from the Daemonettes unless I could tie the Slaanesh Daemons up with a charge from the Terminators – but their charge roll fell an inch short.

On the Daemon turn, a Daemon Prince materialised in front of the Dreadnoughts and Attack Bike while an enormous Keeper of Secrets shimmered into existence in the rear of my army. The Daemonic shooting and psychic powers were ineffectual – luckily Captain Zed’s warlord trait meant he could extend his Ld 10 to virtually the entire army, as most of the Slaaneshi powers require Ld tests – and the Daemonettes charged the Assault Marines. Again the flamers proved their worth, killing several Daemons before the combat proper began. Zedrenael took on the Herald leading the pack in a challenge, but neither managed to wound the other. The Assault Marines won the combat and another Daemon evaporated.

It was now my third turn and I found I had no reason to move anything but the Terminators, which advanced on the Keeper of Secrets. The Dreadnoughts and Attack Bike opened up on the Daemon Prince, to little effect, which was slightly worrying. Both full Tactical squads opened up at the Keeper with meltas, bolters, and a missile launcher, taking three wounds off it.

In my assault phase Zedrenael and the Herald continued their duel, neither again being able to score a serious hit, but the Assault Marines hacked down the rest of the Daemonettes and a wound from instability carried over to the Herald. In my half of the table there was a moment of genuine hammer horror as the Terminators engaged the Keeper of Secrets hand-to-hand. The arcane lore of the great beast clearly did not extend to an understanding of the rules for storm shields, however (the Daemon General was a bit surprised too), and the monster’s attacks were harmlessly absorbed. Even needing 5s to hit the WS9 Daemon, the massed attacks of the Terminator thunder hammers were enough to batter it to a pulp, which I considered a result.

We called the game at that point, mainly because I’d been offered £50 to be elsewhere ten minutes hence. But it was looking grim for the forces of Chaos, as they were down to a wounded Herald of Slaanesh and two Daemon Princes (one of which had yet to arrive) and my casualties consisted of III/5’s Rhino and four Assault Marines. I was 6-1 up on points and while I’ve no doubt the Daemon Princes could have wreaked considerable havoc, it would have been relatively easy to scatter my forces across the table and make it impossible for the Daemons to kill enough units to get a win.

So, what do I feel I’ve learned? Well, this particular list felt pretty well-balanced, although I’m not wild about fielding a lone Attack Bike. 37 infantry gave it plenty of heft and it performed well in both shooting and assaults. And the utility of the flamers has given me pause for thought: I know that standard tactical dogma is to give Assault Squads two melta-guns, but a flamer-hand flamer combo was very effective here. Hmmm. The Terminators performed as well as I could have hoped; this is a unit I’m very happy with on every level.

The fate of the Chaos force really makes me think that what and where to Deep Strike is the biggest decision you have to make in the course of a game – in both this and last week’s game, a major unit Deep Struck in entirely the wrong place, right next to unit with a good chance of killing it (which duly happened). I don’t feel I suffered at all by not Deep Striking with either the Assault Marines or the Terminators – my tactic in using the Terminators is to march an impossible-to-ignore unit down the enemy’s throat, hopefully drawing fire away from my softer infantry onto this incredibly resilient squad.

Another very positive game, then. My main priority ahead of next week, when the long-planned Blood Angel-vs-Blood Raven game is scheduled, is to get a Baal Predator finished, as I am curious to see its psychological effect on an opponent. Beyond this, I just need to do some detailing on the Death Company (who, I note, didn’t make it into this game either). An army is never finished, it seems.

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bloodangels

Playing in my last few games, I’ve found myself becoming increasingly aware of what I’d call the ‘dead wood’ factor: the fact that quite significant chunks of my army just aren’t pulling their weight. Last time, for instance, virtually all the productive killing (i.e., when not under Eldar psychic control) was done by the Assault Squad (with an honourable mention for the Sanguinor). Thinking further back, I do recall commenting that most of my early victories were largely the result of Mephiston and the Death Company slaughtering large parts of the enemy force virtually unsupported.

This week, however, I found myself in a game where virtually everything pulled its weight. I had arranged to play our local Blood Ravens merchant and had even gone so far as to buy some new kit to counter the build I know he favours, but for silly little reasons the game never happened and now we have a fortnight’s wait before another opportunity arises. (Shocking levels of attempted intimidation and headology are now taking place, with us casually wandering past each other at games nights muttering things like ‘Thunderfire cannon’ and ‘Baal Predator with flamestorm cannon’ just loud enough to be heard.)

So I ended up playing a Chaos Marine army at 1K. I was mildly appalled by how few Blood Angels you get at this point size (and this was before I realised I was actually well over the agreed points – subtraction isn’t my forte and I was cutting down a 1500 point list). I ended up with Captain Zedrenael of the 8th Company, accompanied by a Chaplain and a Sanguinary Priest, leading into battle a demi-Assault Squad and a mechanised Tactical Squad (both 3rd Company, not that it really matters). Backing them up were a Furioso and a regular Dreadnought carrying twin autocannon (a slightly exotic load-out, but… well, that’s an explanation for another time).

The Chaos army was equally compact and consisted of a pack of Noise Marines, a mob of Cultists led by a Dark Apostle, a pack of Chaos Terminators (these had me rather worried) and a Slaughterbrute (ditto, until I realised it was just a Chaos Dreadnought after a rebranding exercise). In command was Lucius the Eternal.

The game boiled down to a tussle over two objectives, both in ruins in the table centre. I kept to one corner and put the Tactical Squad’s rhino on the flank, with the Assault Squad and characters taking cover behind the two Dreadnoughts. Facing me from left to right were the Slaughterbrute, Lucius, the Cultists and Apostle, and the Noise Marines (the Terminators opted to Deep Strike).

I got the first turn and everything trundled forward, the Furioso and rhino both popping smoke. The autocannon dreadnought scored four wounds on the Noise Marines but they passed all their saves: they call the autocannon an anti-vehicle weapon for a reason, I suppose.

The Chaos forces on the left pushed forward towards the ruins, the Slaughterbrute circling round to get sight of the rhino. The Noise Marine shooting brought the first nasty shock of the game as I learned their heavy weapons ignored cover as well as Feel No Pain: two Assault Marines went down hard. The rhino blew up, killing a single Tactical Marine but allowing the multi-melta in the squad to shoot at the Slaughterbrute at full effect next turn.

I continued to push forward on turn 2 with everything but the Tactical Squad, who opened up at the Slaughterbrute with multi- and combi-meltas. Both missed, of course, leaving the squad looking very exposed. The autocannon dreadnought mowed down a few Cultists.

On Chaos turn 2 the Terminators arrived, and – in a probably decisive move – teleported down where they were flanking my Dreadnoughts, rather than close to my infantry. Not that there was very much of that left: blastmasters and doom sirens opened up and wiped out the remaining Assault Marines, leaving just the three officers standing – at least they were now in assault range of the Cultists in the central ruins. In another key decision the Terminators opened fire on the autocannon dreadnought and destroyed it. Equally tellingly, luck was against the Chaos army on the left as both the Slaughterbrute and Lucius attempted to assault the Tactical Squad, but rolled 3s for their charge range and were left dangling,  Lucius having taken a wound to overwatch fire. The only bright spot was that the Chaos machine had killed the multi-melta earlier in the term.

Blood Angel turn 3 and it was happy time, in theory, as I got to assault – but some of these looked much too close for comfort. Captain Z, the Chaplain and the Priest got stuck into the Cultists, which was obviously going to go my way given I was rerolling 3s to hit and needed 2s to kill, while the Furioso steeled itself to engage the Chaos Terminators up close (at times like this I’m glad I gave it Blood Fists and not Talons). Over on the left the Tactical Squad did some serious manning-up as they took on the Slaughterbrute in close-combat.

Well, Captain Z challenged the Dark Apostle and took him apart with the greatest of ease, while the other characters killed six more Cultists for no wounds in return. Luck really was smiling on me as the Chaos general rolled snake-eyes, keeping the fight going into his next turn and shielding my characters from the attentions of the Noise Marines. The Slaughterbrute squished one marine but was immobilised by the Sergeant’s powerfist, bringing the rest of the squad into the fight as their krak grenades now only needed a 4 to glance the thing’s armour. The Furioso zapped one Terminator on the way in and flattened another in the fight, while the Terminator’s powerfists were defeated by its reassuringly high front armour.

On his turn the Chaos general did consider moving his Noise Marines up closer to one of the fights (they had nothing to shoot at), but as this could just leave them more vulnerable to an assault in my next turn he left them where they were. All he did was stick Lucius into the fight between the Slaughterbrute and the Tactical Marines. Lucius carved up the Sergeant easily, but the ‘brute lost another hull point to a krak grenade. This fight was on a knife edge, which was more than one could say for the one between the Cultists and the Blood Angels command staff: the two surviving Cultists fled the combat, freeing up the Captain and his colleagues. In the Furioso-vs-Terminators combat, the hulking cyborg crushed another of the Traitors, who again failed to damage it – but this time they fled and the Furioso ran them down, his consolidation taking him invitingly close to the Noise Marines.

My turn 4 and I was getting that game-in-the-bag feeling, provided I could stop Lucius from killing all my troops. The Captain and his fellows moved to enter the Slaughterbrute and Lucius vs Tactical Marines combat while the Furioso stomped up to the Noise Marines, declining to fire to increase his chances of being in charge range. And he was! Being Fearless, and lacking a single close combat weapon that could affect AV13, the Noise Marines could do nothing but let the Furioso splatter them across the landscape.

The Blood Angels characters entered the fray and Lucius spat his customary challenge. Chaplain Aukon looked around for Captain Zedrenael expectantly but realised the old warrior was hiding round the back of the Slaughterbrute, making a meal of fiddling with a melta-bomb. ‘You can handle this one, Chaplain,’ the Captain shouted cheerily. Muttering under his breath the Chaplain went one-on-one with Lucius the Eternal, as the Slaughterbrute exploded in the background.

Well, thank the Emperor for Rosarius saves, as after two rounds of closely fought combat the Chaplain managed to ding Lucius sufficiently on the head with his crozius for the Chaos warlord to fall over. The Chaos presence on the table now consisted of the last remnants of the Noise Marines, which the Furioso was happily battering his way through, and the Chaos general conceded with good grace, as we agreed that this had been a great game – had even a single combat gone even slightly differently, the whole outcome could have been totally different.

In my last army review I considered the Furioso to be a marginal performer, but he did the business on this outing. Notably, Blood Talons just wouldn’t have worked in this situation – there is a place for Blood Fists in an army list after all. I think putting the Terminators down so close to the one thing in my army that could reliably kill them was the biggest mistake my opponent made.

Apart from that – I’m not sure, to be honest. I’d been inclining more and more to the idea that Tactical Marines are not an optimal choice for a Blood Angels army – or at least, you have to choose between going all-out with specialist Blood Angels assault units, or just sticking with a more traditional Marine-style build and using some Blood Angel stuff to flavour it. Given my fondness for Captain Zedrenael as a warlord, I expect I will work towards the former, but still…

This was also, by the way, my first entirely Death Company-free list in… er… well, possibly ever. Obviously, I can’t say I really missed them much on this occasion, so there may possibly be food for thought there, too. Oh well. On the table at the moment are an Honour Guard squad, another Assault combat squad, and the makings of some Assault Terminators. My game with the Blood Ravens is a fortnight off so I have a little more time to decide what I’m actually going to take for that one, anyway…

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This may come as a shock to anyone who’s started reading recently, and there’s no easy way to put it, but: I play wargames. I haven’t played much recently due to other commitments, but these finally seem to have concluded and I’ve actually been able to get a game in. When I write about films or TV or most other things, it’s ultimately meant for public consumption. Writing about wargaming is much more of an aide memoire and way of organising my thoughts – though there’s always the possibility someone may find it interesting or engaging, which is why it’s here rather than confined to my hard drive. In other words, I quite understand if you find the following unintelligible/utterly boring. Sorry about that.

Anyway, first game in a new club and with the new edition of 40K, and wanting something speedy and straightforward I pitched up with 1500 points of 1st Company Consecrators, which I play using the Deathwing rules. I have not had the best of success with this army in the past, but was curious to see how the new rules would affect them. The army was basically 25 Terminators with the Company Master and a Librarian with Telepathic powers (which seemed fluffy).

I found myself up against an Ork army which at least appeared a bit less of an unstoppable bulldozer than my old opponent Twiggy’s regular build (which I’ve never come close to beating with any army): a big footmob with shooters, a smallish mob of looters, a slugger mob in a truck, the warboss and his bodyguards in another truck, and a battlewagon occupied solely by a big mek. Oh, and a rather wobbly scratch-built Ork jet fighter which I was duly wary of, not having any ack-ack in the army.

So we ended up playing a game over objectives where killing Heavy Support earned bonus VPs (which suited my all-Troops-and-HQ force quite nicely).  I deployed first and had the option of just camping the whole army on three objectives and forcing him to assault, but being so defensive didn’t appeal. In the end I opted to hold two with three Terminator squads and send the other two squads on a push across the table towards another two.

Well, it was an ominous start as one of the squads on my right flank got a proper pummelling from the looters and started falling over, while the mechanised Orks trundled forward towards what was intended to be the firebase units. The Terminators I’d intended to advance ended up hiding behind a hill waiting for the footmob to trot into assault range.

Then the shoddiness of Ork vehicles was exposed as the sluggers’ truck was immobilised by assault cannons and the boys disembarked, failed their charge range roll due to difficult terrain and were left in the open. The following turn a heavy flamer killed two, the Librarian’s Psychic Shriek killed five more, and the remaining three skedaddled and never regrouped.  This left the Librarian and his squad exposed to a charge from the warboss and his bodyguard, which one Terminator actually survived, drawing the combat.

This gave the last more-or-less intact squad on that side of the table the opportunity to assault the battlewagon, which had been cheerfully running over Terminators all evening. Powerfists and chainfists thumped home and the battlewagon went bang, earning me an extra VP to make up for the one I’d lost when my first squad was wiped out. The warboss’s truck had also been wrecked by assault cannon shooting.

The right flank was looking dodgy but the Orks appeared to be running out of Troops to contest objectives with.  The footmob were closing in and so I marched the Master and his squads up onto the hill, shot them a lot, and then assaulted. Both squad sergeants died, but so did twenty Orks in total and the unit broke and fled.

I was worried about the warboss and his unit finishing off the Librarian’s squad and then heading for the objective the Master and his men were holding, as I wasn’t sure I could take out that many power claws and big choppers in a fair fight – but in a possibly decisive move, the Orks headed for another objective instead (at this point I learned the warboss and his bodyguard counted as Troops and could contest).

So we were robbed of the Master taking on the warboss, and the closing turn of the game featured some inconclusive Ork shooting and the massed firepower of the remaining Consecrators mowing down the footmob survivors when they rallied. The game finished with the Terminators just able to contest two objectives to the Orks’ one; the Orks had first blood but I’d killed the battlewagon, making the final VP tally 3-2 to me.

Well, it was a fun game, though this wasn’t the toughest Ork list I’ve ever seen. The warboss and his guard were a horrible unit and I was glad the looters were off in one corner, too. The plane, when it turned up, did not really do very much and I was able to ignore it – though if my army hadn’t had a universal 2+ save this might have been a different story.

The new rules did not feel that different – I suppose vehicles are a bit easier to kill (not sure about that) and psychic powers are stronger (this I did like). It feels a bit odd that movement affects firing model-by-model, but terrain effects on movement are applied to the whole squad – something not quite connecting up there. On the whole, broadly positive about the whole thing.

As far as the Consecrators go – as I’ve said in the past, short of re-buying the whole army I’m a bit limited in terms of adding cyclones etc., and I do want to stay pure Deathwing as far as possible. To be honest, this is just a slightly dull army to play; all infantry, with most squads having virtually the same weapons. I suspect I will be dusting off and adding to the Blood Angels in the not too distant future.

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Well, neither the K game against Nids nor the 1.5K game against Chaos Marines came to pass this week for various reasons. Upon turning up I found myself urged to play a Tyranid army: I’d played this force once before, with the Consecrators. Despite being outnumbered 5 to 1 I managed to grind out an enjoyable draw so I was perfectly happy to play again with the new army (not least because the anti-Tyranid units I’d painted for the cancelled game were still of necessity in the list). The dice did their little dance and by a strange quirk indicated we should play the Blood of Martyrs mission.

 

 

In this mission the Blood Angels start surrounded in the board centre. They score points by getting units to a position where they can leave the board on turn 4 – except for Death Company and Red Thirst-afflicted units, which score points by getting themselves killed. It looked like a fun, quirky mission, and neither of us realised this would really turn out to be just the tale of a hammer and a sword.

The hammer belonged to one of the frothing Death Company, eager to get themselves killed. The sword belonged to Mephiston. This was the first time I’d brought the Lord of Death to the table and I was curious to see how he performed (against my Consecrators he’d taken out a squad before dying in a big bloody splat).

Anyway, I deployed Mephiston, a Whirlwind, a combat squad afflicted with Red Thirst, and the Death Company south of the central ruins, another combat squad and an assault-combat squad with a Captain and a Priest just north of them. In the ruins went a small devastator squad and on top of them went the Sanguinary Guard.

The Tyranids came on from the south and west: hormagaunts and a zoanthrope from the west, a second zoanthrope and more hormagaunts from due south, and a tervigon and some termagants from the south-east corner. The Tyranids had deployed very aggressively which suited me fine as the Blood Angels automatically got first turn.

Things didn’t start very auspiciously. Mephiston floated up onto a rooftop next to the western zoanthrope easily enough, but one of the Guard brained himself launching from the ruins and landing next to the western gaunts. Eager to get themselve slaughtered the Red Thirst squad headed due south while the Death Company yomped towards the Tervigon. The tactical half-squad started running for the board edge while the Captain’s unit stayed put to see where the Tyranid reserves would appear from…

In the shooting phase the Red Thirst squad took a wound off the southern zoanthrope, the devastator plasma cannons killed a hormagaunt, and the Whirlwind scattered disastrously and only killed three Termagants. The Guard killed three Hormagaunts and charged in cheerfully as assaults got underway.

Mephiston charged the western zoanthrope and hacked it to pieces fairly nonchalantly after casting Spear of Sanguinius. He consolidated down to the street to back up the Guard in future turns… but the super-elite of the Blood Angels got themselves dragged down and torn to pieces by the tide of Hormagaunts without even striking a blow. Another poor show from a 265-point unit. The Death Company bounded forward and attacked the Tervigon, and to the astonishment of everyone stuck five wounds on it, for no losses in return. This was bad news if I wanted to get the Death Company killed and start scoring points in this game.

The Hive Mind resented the loss of the zoanthrope and the Lord of Death vanished under a pile of 26 hormagaunts. Elsewhere, another big hormagaunt swarm mobbed the Red Thirst squad. With a loud splattering sound 12 new Termagants appeared from inside the Tervigon and assaulted the Death Company. The remaining zoanthrope shot at the Whirlwind and missed.

The Red Thirst squad was torn to pieces by the massed gaunts: hurrah! I had scored a point. We had both realised by now that the Blood Angels would not win solely by inflicting damage, but by carefully picking the right fights. I was really expecting to score another when the termagants unloaded 36 attacks against the Death Company, but they only killed three. Two surviving power swords and the thunder hammer ripped into the Tervigon and killed it. The death spasms of the creature caused heavy casualties amongst the termagants, which we decided counted towards combat resolution (don’t write in and complain, we couldn’t find a rule about it either way). The termagants fled off the board. Hmm! It was proving harder to get the Death Company killed than expected.

Even more surprising, Mephiston emerged, a little ragged, from under the hormagaunts, having killed four for two wounds in return. Out of synapse range, the gaunts fled but were hacked down by the chief librarian. He was living up to his reputation as a hard man to kill.

It was still only the start of turn two. The Death Company charged towards the southern gaunts as Mephiston advanced thoughtfully on the surviving zoanthrope. The Whirlwind zoomed towards the southern board edge. Everything else headed for the nearest edge except the Captain and his squad, who were still biding their time.

Mephiston added to an already-impressive bodycount by chopping the second zoanthrope to pieces, much like the first. This was particularly bad news for the Hive Mind as there was now no synaptic control left on the table. Nevertheless the Hormagaunts unleashed 51 attacks at the Death Company… and only managed to kill the two guys with power weapons, and not before they’d killed six gaunts. The hammer-wielder turned another two into paste and the gaunts were suddenly running for cover.

After losing the Guard and the Red Thirst squad very quickly I’d been worried but the game seemed to have turned a corner… A Tyranid pod splatted down near the half-squad and disgorged 20 more termagants, while the ground split open between Mephiston and the Death Company hammerer and a Trygon Prime appeared. As a synapse creature, the Trygon arrested the flight of the hormagaunts, who slunk into some ruins. The new termagants opened up on the combat squad and wiped it out, but not before the bioweapons of their own squad had indulged in a little blue-on-blue and killed three of them. The Trygon shot at Mephiston, who treated the barrage of incoming fire with the contempt it deserved.

My turn three, and with the Nid swarm fully committed the Captain’s squad, worth 3 points if I could get it off the table, finally moved, going full pace away from the termagants and towards the board edge. The Whirlwind continued its evasive driving too. The Death Company hammerer still wasn’t dead, which was beginning to annoy me, so I ran him towards the ruin full of gaunts.

Mephiston had done spectacularly well in taking down two zoanthropes and 27 gaunts single-handed. The chance of a truly legendary performance beckoned, however, so I walked him up to the Trygon (keeping his powder dry against the dangers of the Warp-Shadow). (I was so keen to get to the assault phase I forgot to shoot the devastators at the newly-arrived termagants, but never mind.)

Things took a slightly lunatic tinge in the assault phase. Mephiston stuck five wounds on the Trygon, grievously wounding it as he carved a way into its brain stem. With a delicate flick of the force sword from the Lord of Death (and a fairly lucky roll of the dice from me) the life was sucked from the giant creature, which crashed to the ground before it was able to attack.

Things got worse for the Hive Mind as the sole surviving Death Company trooper charged into the ruins and was set upon by 17 hormagaunts… none of whom were able to get through his armour and feel-no-pain save. The hammer crushed two gaunts and the rest of the swarm, again deprived of synapse control, fled off the table.

The Nid army had effectively been decapitated now Mephiston had killed all the brain bugs, but the two surviving termagant broods both passed their behaviour tests. The squad from the pod blew away the devastators while the others retreated into the ruins, not wanting to finish off the Death Company.

Turn four dawned and the Whirlwind, the Captain, the Priest, the assault squad and Mephiston all departed the board cheerily. My army now consisted of the Death Company hammerer who I really wanted to get killed. He beetled off towards the small termagant squad the Tervigon had produced. The game was moving very fast now, especially as the Tyranids were effectively paralysed. On turn five the Death Trooper charged the termagants, received no wounds, and caused none in return. On turn six the termagants again failed to do any damage… but this time the hammer found a target.

Once again the Tyranids fled the table. We decided to skip turn seven as nothing substantial would happen, and it was time to see if I’d won: I’d scored a point for getting the Red Thirst squad killed, and another five for getting Mephiston, the Captain, the Priest, the Assault squad and the Whirlwind off the table alive. I just needed to roll a 5 or less to win the game…

… and I rolled a 5. A quick check of the rules confirmed the Blood Angels had won.

Well, not really: my victory in this game was mainly down to Mephiston and the Death Company both defying ridiculous odds and slaughtering anything they came into contact with. The Guard embarrassed themselves badly. The Red Thirst squad, devastators and Whirlwind got a single round of shooting each; all the rest of the army did was run for the board edge.

This was a fairly unique scenario which favoured fast-moving, hard-hitting assault units, so it hardly suited the heavy support elements of this army. In a game requiring a more conventional battle-line I think they’d do better. But once again the Guard didn’t come close to paying for themselves. They’ll be in the next couple of games, I think, simply because they’re a points sink for what’s still a new army, but unless they shape up they may go on the bench for a while. I am also tempted to retire Mephiston with his glory intact: I can’t imagine him performing quite so astonishingly in every game.

Anyway, we will see: I have arranged to play the Dark Eldar of a very experienced player with as many points as I can scrape together this time next week. Onwards and upwards…

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Given that I’ve spent a moderate amount of time recently thinking about writing a piece on the myriad issues surrounding and general uselessness of Eldar Guardian Defenders, it was probably inevitable that this week a squad of Guardians would win me a game.

 

Turning up early at GW meant that at least I got a proper one-on-one, albeit at only 1500 points (I had to scratch-write a list and I suspect I didn’t make a very good job of it – but as it turned out this wasn’t an issue). My opponent was fielding Salamanders, commanded (as seems virtually obligatory) by Vulkan. I, as I’ve said, had my Eldar: many small squads, of Guardians, Pathfinders, Banshees, Scorpions, Wraithguard, and Reapers, supported by a Wraithlord, a Wave Serpent (attached to the Wraithguard), and two War Walkers fitted with Starcannon.

I set up first and put the majority of my stuff just left of centre: my Farseer, the Guardians (screening the Banshees), with the Reapers on a hill just behind and to their right. On the left side of the table went the vehicles and the Wraithlord.

Facing me, from my left to right, was a squad of Sternguard (in the open), a tactical squad (in cover), a Land Raider (carrying Vulkan and a Terminator assault squad), a second tactical squad and then a thunderfire cannon. Eldar scouts infiltrated onto the extreme left, with a good view of the Sternguard, while Striking Scorpions appeared close to the Space Marine artillery piece. (My opponent basically forewent the advantage of setting up second, in order to save time – he had a bus to catch.)

The Salamanders failed to seize the initiative and were promptly somewhat hammered by the Eldar, the War Walkers and Scouts killing nearly half the exposed Sternguard (I was a bit wary of these guys), while the brightlances on the Wave Serpent and Wraithlord managed to shake the Land Raider. Essentially lacking a target, the Dark Reapers took a chunk out of the right-hand tactical squad. On their go the Salamanders began to advance, the Sternguard going into the cover of some craters, the damaged tactical squad heading for the same cover as the cannon, and the Land Raider grinding forward but not unloading its cargo. The machine-spirit of the tank gunned down three Guardians, while the cannon hammered at the Scorpions, killing two.

On turn two I had only one target: the Land Raider and its occupants! Careful manoeuvering was required in order to get everything in the right place. The Wave Serpent fired first and destroyed the tank, depositing the Terminators in front of my army. Two flamers fired by the Wraithlord consumed two of the squad, while the Wraithcannons of the Wraithguard killed a third. The War Walkers fired but the storm shields of the squad protected them from that as well as the shuriken and missile fire of the Guardians. The Pathfinders shot at the Sternguard and killed another, while the Scorpions continued to threaten the thunderfire cannon.

In the assault phase Vulkan and his two surviving escorts were mobbed by the Banshees, the Wraithlord, and the Wraithguard. Flashing power swords cut down the two troopers but Vulkan took only a single wound before attacking the Wraithguard, doing no damage. The smaller constructs battered another wound out of the Chapter Master but the Wraithlord fluffed its attacks rather badly and Hestan hung in there.

On the following turn the thunderfire cannon killed two more Scorpions, leaving only the Exarch standing. Rather to my surprise the Sternguard opted to shoot at the Pathfinders, whose camo cloaks protected them. The Banshees lost two of their number to Vulkan as they finished him off and everything consolidated towards the Sternguard and the first tactical squad, just breaking cover close by.

Back on my turn, the Farseer cast Doom on the first tactical squad, which went on to have a very bad turn, losing seven members to the twin flamers on the Wraithlord. Feeling the Banshees could comfortably finish them off, the War Walkers, Wraithguard and Pathfinders concentrated their fire and wiped out the Sternguard. The Banshees then assaulted the fleeing first tactical squad and slaughtered them, too. The Scorpion Exarch was finally in assault range of the thunderfire cannon operator, but was chopped down by his power axe before he could use his claw on him. Hey ho. While all this was happening the Guardians scampered forward and claimed an objective.

As time was a factor, and the Salamanders were down to five men and a cannon while my army was mostly intact, we called the game for me at that point. To be fair, even if the Space Marines managed to blast the Guardians off the objective (which the cannon could easily have done) I’m still confident I could still have wiped them out in the time left to us.

So, another clean win, and this time against someone a bit more competent that Valdemar the Vague. That said, and very nice bloke who he was, I was rather surprised by some of my opponent’s choices: the War Walkers and Wraithlord barely got shot at, even after they’d demonstrated major potential to mess up his army. Partly this was bad luck – he simply didn’t have viable targets in range – but the Sternguard could quite easily have messed up the War Walkers quite badly with the right ammo. Instead he shot at the Pathfinders, a much more marginal threat, and arguably lost the unit as a result. The Scorpions died, but in doing so kept the thunderfire cannon from influencing the main battle at all, which was my intention for them from the start.

And – well, the Salamander army build had issues with it – it seemed designed around the principle of Vulkan and his squad barrelling forward in the Crusader (quite probably nearly half his army in one big lump) while everything else jogged up behind. This made it rather easy to mob this strike unit with my entire army and then mop everything else up afterwards.

So, a satisfying win, and it felt nice to be delivering large amounts of damage rather than soaking it up turn after turn, as was always the case with the Consecrators. The only slight niggle was that the modifications I’d made to my standard Eldar list – different Farseer and Warlock powers, mainly – never came into play.

This game did remind me a lot of when I first played this army, against a lot of power-armoured armies commanded by relatively-inexperienced players. It’s definitely more effective against Marines and their equivalent (but a bit weak against Necrons, as I recall), but I’m really searching for a way forward for it – at the moment it’s trying to do a bit of everything (movement, firepower, close assault) and not really excelling at any of it. A big, fairly easy win, though very gratifying, isn’t really instructive when it comes to looking properly at the army build. Yes, there’s no pleasing some people, is there?

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