Friday, 17 June 2016

Iron Fists list revisions - refining the bikes

Morning all,
last week I played an 1850pt game with my Iron Fists, against Ryan (and lost, grrr) and his Judicator Space Marines. It probably didn't help that of the 5 cards I drew on turn 1, only 1 was even remotely achievable for me, but that's another story. What the game highlighted however was some issues with the Iron Fists (White Scars) bike list I was using (I love games against Ryan for this reason, we always have a good natter afterwards and pick out the problems with our armies).

This was my list then:
Hunting force
Captain on bike, White Scars relic halberd and Hunter's Eye.
Chaplain on bike
Command squad on bikes, banner of the eagle, 2 power swords, 2 power axes, apothecary.
Attack bike squad, 2 with multi meltas
Melta bike squad, 2 melta guns, combi melta and multi melta attack bike
Plasma bike squad, 2 plasma guns, combi plasma and two normal bikers
Scout bike squad, 7 bikers including 2 grenade launchers
 Speartip Strike formation
Landspeeder with multi melta and typhoon missile launcher
Grav bike squad with 2 grav guns, combi grav and 2 normal bikers
Bolter bike squad with 3 normal bikers and heavy bolter attack bike.
 Stormbringer Squadron formation
Landspeeder with 2 heavy flamers
5 Scouts with sniper rifles and camo cloaks
Landspeeder storm with cerberus launcher and heavy flamer
 Raptor Wing formation
Landspeeder with multi melta and typhoon missile launcher
2 Storm Talons with twin linked assault cannons and typhoon missile launchers.
 So what issues did we identify?

1. The speartip strike has some interesting rules attached to it, but in order to benefit from them best, all three units need to fire at the same target. This means they need to be deployed together ideally, and doesn't really play into their strengths. What I've found is that I tend not to use the formation's special rules.
2. The bolter bike squad is too small to achieve anything of significance.
3. The huge benefit of the hunting force is being able to get double hammer of wrath hits when you charge, at S5 and with re-rolls to wound. The borderline size of the squads above however were preventing me from making the most of this, and by the time I charged, my squads were too small to get the benefit.
4. The command squad needs more protection, as the power axe guys are too vulnerable to being sniped early on.

So changes were required. Last night I'd arranged to play Tom, another attendee at Hero for a Day this summer and his daemon army, and we agreed that super heavies would be allowed. Now thankfully, my knight costs exactly the same as an amended Raptor Wing, so I decided to drop that element of my force and bring the knight instead (what a decision that was, absolutely man of the match, but I'll come to that later).

So my objective for revising the list (and this links back to my previous article on leveraging detachment benefits) was to increase the size of the bike squads to maximise Hammer of Wrath, with the added benefit that this would give me a greater proportion of my force in the core detachment, which also gains benefits against up to three enemy targets throughout the game.

On that basis, I focussed on just two bike squads in the hunting force, each maxed out (in terms of normal bikes) at 8 models. I kept the scout bikes at 7 models (it's all I own) and kept the command squad and two characters for another 7-strong unit. One of the bike squads I kitted out with grav (not massively useful against daemons, but hey, it's an all-comers list) and the other with plasma, whilst the scouts kept the grenade launchers. The command squad needed tweaking, so I gave storm shields to the two power sword wielding members to 'tank' any nasty combat stuff, and due to the new faq ruling incoming about only one relic per person, I gave the captain a powerfist, and moved the hunter's eye over to the chaplain (not necessary, but it would force my opponents to target one or the other, and not be able to get both targets with one kill).

The attack bikes that I'd stripped out of the bike squads I bunched together, forming two squads of two, all with multi meltas. If these guys could target the hunting force's prey target then they'd become extremely nasty, re-rolling to hit and to wound!

The stormbringer squadron stayed exactly the same, and as mentioned above, I brought in a knight warden with thunderfist and icarus autocannons to give me a little anti air and a lot of punch.

So, how did it perform? Well first up I need to say that Tom is rapidly becoming a significant force at club, he's not long taken the game up again, but he's picking up the rules quickly and is playing some tough lists (he's also due to start his own blog soon, which I will feature when it's up and running).

We played the maelstrom mission where you can steal each other's secure objective cards, and I set up first (probably his biggest mistake, but as he'd got to club late and needed to set up all his psychic powers i can understand why he let me get on - he wouldn't do this in a serious game).

I spread my forces around, not knowing where he was going to focus, both bike squads going on my left with the knight and command squad in the middle, I left my right flank to the scout bikes and landspeeders, knowing that both the knight and command squad could get over there if they needed to.

The game started well for me, the knight (mainly) and quite a bit of other fire took fateweaver down to a single wound, and I took 4 screamers out of the screamer star, before they charged my scout bikes (who actually held them in combat for a round!). In the centre-middle however things didn't go so well, my plasma bike squad was cut down to just the special weapons guys and the sergeant, so the chaplain swapped back into the command squad. Thankfully the plague drones failed their charge at the first attempt, and the command squad piled in. This combat ran on for a while, including the chaos knight piling in and basically failing to achieve anything (Tom generally failed to hit with his attacks, and never rolled more than 1 stomp, only getting the S6 result, which my 2+ armoured captain shrugged off). Eventually however the herald killed the captain in a challenge and the chaplain and last veteran hit and ran to open up the knight to fire.

The warp storm table didn't do a huge amount, except for taking down both my landspeeders in a single turn! At that point I felt quite demoralised, I seemed incapable of passing a jink or armour save, and had failed many feel no pain saves with the apothecary (I didn't make a single one all game), whilst Tom's plague drones passed 6 out of 8 5+ rolls in one phase of combat.

Those dice turn once more though, as the knight's autocannons brought down fateweaver and the grimoire failed the herald, allowing the knight to plough through the remaining screamers with little resistance (I managed three stomps, including 2 'six' results to finish them off).

The grav bike squad opened up on the pink horrors, wiping half the unit but then failing a 5" charge, though they cleaned them up in the next turn. Then came the big event, as the knights squared off against each other. Thankfully I'd got the drop on the chaos knight and would have the charge (about 3" I think), but given I'd got the thunderfist so would be striking last I figured I needed to do some damage to it first. I ganged up on it, with 3 multi melta bikes taking a couple of hull points, and my own knight managing to strip a further three with combined fire from the autocannons and gatling cannon, before it charged in. In a result neither of us was expecting in any way whatsoever, the hammer of wrath hit from the charging knight toppled his foe before the reaper chainsword could strike, sending it crashing to the ground with the resulting explosion failing to actually damage anything, despite being pretty big.

After the next daemon turn, having evaluated the next round of cards and taking into account the time, we called it, with the Iron Fists having pulled off a solid victory. It had looked uncertain at times, particularly when I lost a lot of guys on turn two, but the dice rallied and stayed on my side long enough to pull off the win, including two stolen objective cards, and a couple of 3 pointers.

Conclusions:

Well the revised list certainly works better, whilst I'm aware that daemons aren't the shootiest of opponents, I managed to get two charges off with big squads, with the Hammer of Wrath proving significant on both occasions (wiping a unit of horrors and killing a plague drone) despite some pretty good fnp rolling.

The knight was an absolute beast in this game, taking out fateweaver, the herald and half the screamers, and taking down (literally, I like to think he knocked it over with a shoulder barge) its opposite number, which proved to be the decisive point of the game).

I won't always include it, because the firepower the storm talons put out is probably equivalent, though they are certainly not as resilient, and I like to keep variety in my games, but it's certainly nice to know it's a viable option.

What do you guys reckon? Any further tweaks you think I should make? (you know, excepting the dice that don't want to make 3+ rolls)