Monday, 14 October 2013

Four games in three days - total war

Hi all, this is going to have to serve as a replacement for modelling Monday I'm afraid, partly because I haven't got a huge amount done this week. The reason for that is that whilst my wife took my young daughter to Sheffield for the day on Saturday, five guys from my club and a sixth friend spent the day gaming in Nottingham. Granted those 8 hours would have seen plenty of progress made on the iron fists, but the games were great fun played with great people in a competitive but friendly spirit.

First though, I have last Thursdays game to report on.

Battle's Red Edge.
I arranged to play the Battle’s Red Edge scenario from the latest space marine altars of war mission book (on ipad) against a guard army at my club. The scenario splits into two games, with the first essentially being a breakthrough mission, the space marine player uses all the non deep strike units from his army, and the opponent uses 50% of the units in their list. Victory points are awarded for destroying units, but only space marine units that end the game within 3” of the enemy table edge can be carried over to use in the second game.

I decided to split my force into a firepower base and a mobile element, accepting that to get across 48” of table in four turns was going to be difficult if not impossible for the whole force whilst retaining a significant presence in the shooting phase. Consequently, 4 minimum sized tactical squads in razorbacks and a storm talon formed the mobile element, with a thunderfire cannon, and 2 devastator squads (1 heavy bolters, 1 mixed) forming the firebase. Now I know what you’re all going to think, that’s a lot of firepower to be leaving behind and not using in the second game, and you’d be right, but given that I was facing guard and points were available for wiping units out, I didn’t want to be facing two or three leman russ variants without something capable of taking them down, particularly since my main strategy (due to a lack of drop pod models available) was to rush my tactical squads at maximum speed across the table in their razorbacks.

As it turns out, what I ended up facing was two veteran squads, a company command squad and a squad of Ratling Snipers. Ok so that lascannon and plasma cannon would probably be wasted.

At this point, I’m ashamed to say, I completely stuffed up my deployment (I say deployment, it’s effectively the movement in my first turn since all my stuff comes on from reserve at the start of turn 1). Focussed on making sure my transports had the best avenues to the other side of the table possible (48” in 4 turns was going to be a challenge – technically as I was using Raven Guard Chapter Tactics I could probably have outflanked those transports to immediately bring them onto the table in range of leaving again, but that kind of went against the picture I had in my mind of those transports racing towards and through enemy lines) I brought on my devastators and thunderfire in positions that gave them very limited arcs of fire in later turns, minimising the damage they could do.

The ratlings evaporated under fire from the thunderfire and devastators, and over the four turns I rid myself of one of the veteran squads and all but two of the second squad. I’d lost one razorback by this point, but in what I thought was a tactically masterful move, I’d dropped off one squad who were within 1” of leaving the table by the last running phase, and gone back to pick up the stranded squad. What it meant was that I’d need to go full speed ahead in the final turn to get my fourth tactical squad off the table. The only way to get there, was through the company command squad, so I went with the tank shock option, hoping to get them to flee from the table as well, netting me a point for the warlord kill. What actually happened however was that the commander passed his morale test, stood his ground and used a melta bomb to death or glory the razorback. It blew up, of course. Never fear, I had one last chance, the tactical squad shot with their pistols, then charged in, hoping to break the command squad and consolidate up to the table edge (yup, it was that close) but alas the commander once again passed the test with flying colours and held the line. I’d got three tactical squads across the table, joined by two razorbacks and the storm talon. I’d left more points behind on the table than my opponent, so I’m outnumbered in the second game, but there are a lot of points tied up in his fortress of redemption, and I’ve ridded myself of his BS4 units. Now I’ve just got to figure out how to get rid of the two leman russ’ I’ll be facing, since both my lascannon razorbacks are no more.

Game Two – The Emperor’s Will
This took place on Saturday and saw three pairs of gamers all playing this scenario on three different levels of the same house. I was taking on Toby, who I’d just met that morning, and his daemons. Great, tournament hardened warlord and an army I’ve not faced before. I’d brought two lists to the day, so randomly determined which I’d be using. I had two tactical squads, a full unit of sniper scouts, a min units of bolter scouts with a heavy bolter, 5 terminators and a terminator captain, a venerable dreadnought, two razorbacks, a vindicator and the storm talon. We were playing the long table deployment, and my lack of knowledge against daemons probably cost me the game. I concentrated early fire on bloodcrushers rather than using the snipers to target the bloodthirster and flesh hounds. The scouts got charged by the bloodcrushers early and were wiped out. The terminators came in and got tied up in combat with the daemon prince, and though they were avenged by the venerable dreadnought, it in turn was wiped out by a soulgrinder. The Storm Talon performed excellently throughout the game, really taking it to the enemy infantry units. I finally killed the bloodthirster (after several 5+ invulnerable saves) but by that stage, it had managed to call in bloodletter reinforcements, who cleared my home objective of troops units. The picture on the enemy objective looked better, until the flesh hounds, fresh from massacring the scouts, made an about turn and minced their way through the two remaining tactical squads. The final board looked pretty rough then, but I took a lot from the game in terms of learning about the daemon army and what is most dangerous. In hindsight I would happily have traded my scouts for the bloodthirster, and should probably have concentrated their fire on it early until it was destroyed (stopping the bloodletters crossing the table would almost certainly have secured my home objective at the least, and the bloodthirster  meant that they were able to bring a lot of combat into my deployment zone in the second half of the game). Also I should have paid much more attention to the flesh hounds, who were still at full strength in the last turn. What I can also take from the game though is that the Storm Talon caused all kinds of damage to everything it aimed its guns at, and the venerable dreadnought was a real thorn in my opponent’s side. It could quite easily have been a bigger threat if I’d rolled batter for my armour penetration in the combat against the soul grinder – charging the daemon prince gave me an extra attack that made a huge difference, and its extra point of BS is pure gold since the assault cannon can’t be twin-linked.

Game Three – Capture the Relic
This game was against Ryan’s Marines (Salamander tactics), using diagonal deployment. Bear in mind I’ve never beaten Ryan, and his armies are well know at our club for being extremely hard to beat (I don’t actually recall ever seeing him lose). I used my second list for this game, which included a land raider redeemer and 5 assault terminators, the chapter master with termie armour and burning blade, two tactical squads and 10 scout snipers as in the first game, a bastion with lascannon and a whirlwind. Things didn’t start brilliantly, as I lost the first turn and saw my land raider explode when a melta tactical squad in a drop pod landed right next to it. My captain would avenge them though, the burning blade slicing its way through the squad with consummate ease. My scouts also performed admirably again, this time holding up a 3-man attack bike squadron, and two five man tactical squads for three turns acting as a perfect roadblock. I should point out they were only charged by the bikes to begin with, but after two combat turns where my scouts probably killed more points than the attack bikes did, the tactical squads got fed in to support them. Even after the first tactical squad joined the fray I managed to win a combat round, forcing one of the squads facing me to flee. The Orbital bombardment and the whirlwind performed excellently, the former killing a lot of marines and the latter proving to be a thorn in my opponent’s side, but in the second half of the game things went badly, I failed 5 2+ terminators saves (from 8 wounds) in one turn to see my second most expensive unit disappear, and watched the Chapter Master fall to instant death (think the shield eternal is going to be a must on this guy in the future). My remaining models were whittled down gradually, until on turn 7 the only man I had left was a tactical marine manning the icarus lascannon on the bastion.

Game four – The Scouring
My opponent for this game was Martin, who brought his Blood Angels to the table. His set up was, erm, brief, with only an aegis line and quad gun, 5 assault marines and 5 scouts on the table in the first turn. I was using the second of my lists again and using the scout rules conferred by the raven guard tactics, I was able to get my two razorbacks and the landraider far up the table by the end of my turn 1 (so far in fact the terminators would be able to charge the aegis line in turn 2). The scouts and whirlwind combined to take down 2 assault marines, and the assault cannon on the land raider killed one of the scouts. Martin’s turn 1 and I was hit by two drop pods containing frag cannon dreadnoughts (with heavy flamer attachments too!) The scatter didn’t favour my opponent, but he still managed to blast 7 of my scouts from their cover, and took down four marines from another squad, causing the survivor to flee to with a couple of inches of the table edge. These two were followed by a third frag cannon dread in the next turn and another 5-man assault squad but Dante and the 10 Death company failed to show for two turns despite his rule allowing reserve rolls to be re-rolled (In fact he rolled four ‘ones’ in a row). In return however, things didn’t go well for my opponent. The Icarus lascannon took down one dread, the twin lascannon razorback dealt the killing blow to a second after it had lost a hull point to the plasma cannon squad, and the multi melta in the final combat squad killed the third. The second squad of assault marines were roasted by the land raider after failing to hit with their inferno pistol and the scouts were wiped out by the chapter master and terminators. The first assault squad were gradually whittled down by fire from my scouts and the whirlwind, leaving just Dante and the Death Company to arrive on turn 4. Sadly by this time, there was little they could do save claim linebreaker and kill a few things. Dante’s Inferno pistol blew a flamestorm cannon off the land raider, but the remaining flamestorm and assault cannons, combined with fire from the captured quad gun, the icarus lascannon, two razorbacks and a combat squad with melta weaponry meant that only dante and three death company survived the turn. Dante tried again to kill the land raider, but only succeeded in glancing it, and the death company charged the three scouts in the centre of the table. In a frightening display of dice rolling (and mine are pretty bad usually) those three death company brought 15 attacks, causing five wounds on the scouts, who promptly passed four of their armour saves and their morale test.

At the end of the day, I’d won just the one game, but the two I’d lost were to the two more experienced campaigners there. They also didn’t lose a game all day. Consequently I’m hoping to be able to play the remaining two warlords soon so that we can really judge who stands where when the dust settles. If I can wrangle two wins from those games I’ll be really pleased with my efforts and improvement since my early games in 6thedition.