This phase sees a Tau double header playing the purge the alien mission for D3 units to be allowed to take ATSKNF in the final game, guard vs rebel guard in The Emperors Will for stubborn when holding objectives, Marines vs Chaos Marines in the Unwavering Shield mission from the space marine altar of war for the chance to force an enemy unit to deploy in reserve, and guard vs dark eldar for the chance to use D3 orbital bombardments in the final game.
Pre-game thoughts and tactics
We're using the same lists as the first game, so I'm taking the Iron Fists bikes against dual Heldrakes (eek).
That being said, the mission I'm playing awards victory points each turn for the units holding them, plus slay the warlord and first blood. Line breaker isn't used due to the fluff behind the mission (basically the space marines are covering a retreat so they're expected to let the enemy into their deployment zone at some point). The enemy gets to recycle wiped out units, and I get the stubborn and counter attack special rules.
I'm up against an interesting list, led by Kharn the betrayer in a land raider, with two Heldrakes and a decimator, but just two cultist units as troops choices.
My tactics therefore are going to revolve around stopping those cultist units from reaching the objectives in time (the VPs they're worth change as the game goes on).
Wiping the units out won't actually help me here as they'll simply come on again in the next turn, so the captain will aim to charge a cultist unit by himself (he has a 2+ save, so should be ok, and the cultists are made fearless so they're not going to run either) to hold them in place, and I'll do the same with a bike unit. The bike troops will hold the objectives as long as they can, as will the tactical squad, hopefully they'll manage two-three turns before they have to fall back or are wiped out.
Apart from that, I'll have to threaten the chaos forces, to distract the heldrakes, and keep something alive until the final turn, my best hopes here are probably the centurions, stalker and possibly the storm talon so they'll be keeping well back at my end of the table.
I'm hoping that this way I can get enough VPs to stop the cultists from being able to hold the objectives long enough to win the game.
Post game report.
Well it was close, but the Iron Fists remain undefeated! The final score was 10-2 in my favour, but that doesn't tell the whole story as I finished with only 5 models on the table.
Turn 1. My opponent siezed the initiative. Oh great, there goes my deployment, which put all my hardest hitting units up close and personal. On my left flank, the melta bike squad, who had put themselves in a position to take out the decimator instead got shot by it, and charged by the beserkers, who wiped them out for the loss of a single model to melta overwatch fire. Kharn the Betrayer charged my captain, taking him down to a single wound, though Sakai hit back to wound the chaos warlord. The teeth of terra he carries then forced Kharn to halve his initiative in the next combat phase, meaning I was striking first, and strike he did, killing the legendary warrior (at least, he looked dead...) the command squad charged into a central unit of cultists led by a dark apostle (making them fearless) - this combat would run and run. This turn therefore I gained three victory points, two for holding objectives and one for killing Kharn.
Turn 2. One Heldrake arrives, killing four bikes holding the forward objective on my left, but leaving a solitary bike alive. The stalker spoke in response, sending it crashing to the ground wreathed in flames. The centurions blew a lascannon off the land raider, and Sakai charged the beserkers, killing their champion in a challenge after massed bolter fire had cut them down to just four in the unit. Again I picked up 2 VPs for holding the forward objectives.
Turn 3. The second Heldrake didn't arrive again, though the decimator charged into the combat with my captain. Sakai killed the remaining beserkers and survived the decimator's attacks. The storm talon and centurions fired on the cultists on my right flank, causing them to flee from the objective on that side of the table. The dark apostle killed a veteran, but the combat raged on. The decimator finally killed Sakai, though I picked up 4 VPs this turn, one each for the rear objectives and two for the forward one I was still holding.
Turn 4. The decimator and Heldrake took aim at my bikes on the left flank, wiping out both units. The land raider held position to fire everything at the centurions, and though it scored enough hits, three '1's to wound meant they were safe for another turn. The veterans finally wiped out the dark apostle's unit and consolidated away from the newly arrived beserkers and towards the cultists who had also just returned to the table. In the assault phase the veterans charged the fresh cultist unit, wiping it out with a sweeping advance. The storm talon fired on the beserkers, killing two. This turn I picked up a solitary VP for holding a rear objective with my tactical squad, who until this point had been trying to keep their heads down!
Turn 5. Between them the two heldrakes killed the stalker, and the tactical squad, despite it being spread over three levels of a building. The veterans kept ploughing through the cultist unit and the centurions split their fire, failing to hurt the land raider but stunning its crew, preventing it from dropping the second cultist unit off on the forward objective on my right flank.
Turn 6. One Heldrake, the only one that could, vector struck the centurions and then flamed them, but only caused a single unsaved wound, the land raider missed the storm talon and the decimator failed to hurt the centurions. The dark apostle killed the apothecary, but the remaining veteran held. In my final turn the centurions sent the Heldrake spinning out if the sky, proving that even heldrakes don't like a lascannon up their backside.
I'd won, though I certainly didn't like the look of the table at the end of the game. Still, the retreating army had been protected and was now safely manning the city defences behind me.
I certainly benefitted from a misfiring land raider in this game, and although the victory conditions seem to favour the defender, there were definitely ways my opponent could have caused me more trouble. Having seen the initiative seized, I was expecting to have my objective holding units charged, preventing me from picking up those points early on, but Kharn went for my captain instead and his beserkers had to go for my road block unit.
In some ways I was surprised the forces of disorder put the chaos marines against me in this match, as I think the dark eldar force in raiders and with poisoned weapons could have really tied up those units on the objectives preventing me from scoring VP's from turn one.
Still, it's a win or the forces of order, to go with the two others on the night, with one game of phase 2 still to play.