Thursday, 23 February 2017

40k road to competence, games 3, 4, and 5

Ok so this is a bit of an exaggeration, because whilst I've played another three games since the last review, one was unfinished (3 turns in) and another was so ruined tactically by my dice rolling that it hardly constitutes a solid basis for evaluation. There were some points I could glean from it, but not much (don't roll triple one for your attacks when your libby is in a challenge with a powerfist sergeant? Don't roll double 1 on your two hits with your contemptor when facing terminators with chainfists?).

So, game 3 - Alpha Legion

This was the Golovin narrative game I reported on the blog a while back, and considering I'd been looking forward to it for quite a long time, the dice abandoning me was extremely disappointing.

Still, learning points!

I started the game with quite a bit of stuff in reserve, two tactical squads, my warlord and the Stormhawk Interceptor. As the two squads were in pods this shouldn't be too much of a problem I thought, but I'd reckoned without the dice. The Stormhawk gave me +1 to my reserves rolls, but I still managed to leave it and the Warlord's squad off the table on turn two. I then failed the roll for the warlord on turn 3 as well. Given how much was in that squad, it really hurt me in the game, nearly 40% of my army not arriving till turn 4 meant that by the time they did get there, my other units had been mopped up. My initial plan had been to bring the warlord in with the first drop pod, but I had my mind changed when I needed to secure an objective within charge range of the enemy terminators on turn 1. I went with using the smaller squad as a bit of a sacrificial unit instead.

This factor reinforced my gut feel before the game that two pods doesn't work that well. I've since revised the list to include a third pod (empty) so that the two with guys in them can both arrive on turn 1, and I'm only left with 35pts in reserve.

My second learning point from the game was deployment positioning is key - I placed my thunderfire cannon in such a way that the techmarine gunner was holding an objective - annoyingly though that left him out of cover and he got annihilated by plasma fire from the nearby tactical squad. Had I placed the techmarine within the cover, I'd have had a much better chance of keeping him alive and the thunderfire cannon in the game for longer.

The third point is fire discipline. By this, I mean really considering what you are trying to achieve each turn and what needs to fire at which unit to achieve it. In trying to hamstring my opponent's mobility by killing their rhinos (which would have saved the techmarine) I decided to fire the thunderfire at one (not really likely to destroy a rhino) and the landspeeders at another. The landspeeders did their job admirably, wrecking the vehicle even without needing to resort to the heavy bolters, but having already fired the thunderfire cannon, I couldn't then use it to target the angry marines who disembarked, and their return fire caused two landspeeders to die and the last to jink. Better fire discipline would have been to concentrate the shooting on a single target, using the speeders to wreck the rhino and the thunderfire to target the passengers as they disembarked. As it is I basically lost both units to a poor tactical decision, and all I achieved for the trouble was wrecking a single rhino.

The final learning point is a slightly more esoteric one - and that's that some units are naturally better at holding ground than others. I'm not talking about abilities either - I brought a Contemptor dreadnought with Kheres assault cannon to this game. It has performed really well or been heavily targeted early in all my games before, but this time I used it to hold an objective in my deployment zone when we deployed for the game. The problem is, I then drew that objective card in two successive turns, meaning I was not inclined to move the dread at all. Consequently it was out of range to start with, and then got charged by the aforementioned chainfist wielding terminators. It didn't help that I failed two of my 3+ rolls to hit and both 2+ rolls to wound, but I'd have been better served getting it into the game earlier, and using other units to secure the objective.

Game 4 - Orks

Banishing the bad dice from the week before, there was also actually not much to learn from this game, but for other reasons!

It was another 1000pt game, played against Orks. Not the strongest of codices we already know that (possibly one of the weakest) and one of the problems that causes is it highlights the strong units on the book. By which I mean Lootaz. The weakness of the codex was exacerbated in this instance by the army being 'under construction' by its owner, so it was a bit of a mix of units that don't represent the best options anyway, since it was just what he had access to.

As I mentioned above, the list was now tweaked to include a third drop pod, and so the warlord smashed down on turn 1 right in front of the lootaz, whilst my melta squad hit the ground in front of the deff dread. 7 of the 9 lootaz died, and the deff dread exploded, whilst other shooting from the contemptor wrecked the warboss' trukk and the land speeders massacred the squad within, including the warboss himself.

To be honest, at that point it was all over bar the posturing, the killa kans made it a little more respectable, taking out the warlord (though they got lucky even so) and a couple of my other units were whittled down due to their positioning after the alpha strike, but it was a comprehensive win with my opponent conceding on turn 3.

Learning points.

Sacrificial units can be worthwhile, but it all depends on the damage they cause - in this game it was absolutely worth losing the warlord's unit to take down the lootaz - 9 of them, even hitting on 5's, would have made a complete mess of just about any of my units (possibly not the contemptor) and so getting rid of them early was massively important, even if it meant losing the squad afterwards.

Fire discipline. This time I got it right - with the trukk being vulnerable to incoming fire, it was fair to assume the Kheres cannon on the contemptor could take it in one turn - doing so allowed me to save the greater part of my AP4 fire (the warboss and his unit had a 4+ save) for the unit inside, and whilst it took more than one turn, the hail of assault cannon and heavy bolter rounds made sure he wasn't a threat.

Game 5 - Eldar

Ok, the big one - the one army everyone dreads facing. And it would be one of the club's best players wielding them too! 2,500pts on the table (well, not exactly on the table in my case) as well. My opponent is an extremely reasonable man though and whilst he'll happily take filth to tournaments he appreciates that isn't necessarily what people want from a club night game. Only one wraithknight, and one unit each of d-cannon and d-scythe wraithguard, an aspect host (with BS5) of warp spiders, dark reapers and fire dragons, and three units of jetbikes, plus a fire prism etc. Ok, so even a not filthy eldar list is pretty nasty!

I took all four drop pods I own, filled one with grav devastators and the other three with veterans, three minimal tactical squads with longer ranged guns, scouts etc.

I got called away after 3 turns of this game, at which point it was 3-3 with my own half of turn 3 underway (and therefore not having scored any points) so I was pretty pleased. It was brutal though

  • The wraithknight died to the grav devastators, who in turn got smashed by d-cannon wraithguard and fire dragons, who in turn were getting lined up by all sorts. 
  • The tactical squads took the brunt of fire from scatterbikes, which in turn lost members and jinked from the landspeeders. 
  • The fire prism exploded to a melta squad, and the nearby d-scythe wraithguard (who would have been the target had the pod not scattered so far) duly deleted them in return, before taking a sternguard combi-plasma team to the face, losing most of their numbers.
  • The war walkers outflanked and shot the contemptor in the rear, destroying it, and in turn Pedro Kantor dropped into their faces with a sternguard combi-grav squad, stripping 3 hull points from the squadron and preparing to punch the remainder to death.
I think the eldar would probably have won in the end, I was basically swapping drop units for some of his nastier stuff but by the time I left I'd only got vanguard still in reserve and there were a lot of nasty pointy eared things still abroad on the table.

In terms of learning points, that game in particular taught me that sniper scouts in camo cloaks can be extremely hard to shift, even for an army like the Eldar with their awesome shooting. After three turns, with stuff shooting at them every turn I still had three guys left, and they were happily plinking away at wraithguard, killing some.

Equally, the landspeeders are still impressing me with their damage output, even though they are pretty fragile in return - I can't remember exactly how many jetbikes they took out in one turn of shooting, but it certainly crippled that particular unit quite nicely.

Again however I made a rather silly tactical error - on turn one I was so concerned about getting the grav devastators into a good firing position on the wraithknight I forgot to put them in place to claim an objective card I had. I got it the next turn, but that could easily have swayed things at the end of the game - I really need to find a reliable way of making sure I take cards into consideration at all times during my turn!

- - - - -

So there you have it - three more games and things learned from each one! Next game is another narrative game against the Alpha Legion - armies are scaled up a bit this time to 1250pts, and with the Alpha Legion having taken the bait in the last match, Chapter Master Regulo is sending Chaplain Ezequiel to exact a price in blood!

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