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 And the STD I see must surely be out-of-date now the Sixth Edition is established.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.
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.