The return of the 501st

There had been a time when the name of the 501st was legend. Their reputation caused even the bravest enemy to tremble. The invincible 501st had once been viewed as death incarnate, but that was many years ago. Campaigning far from Cadia, they had been unable to help when their homeworld fell. Then they had been sent to help turn the world of Gwyr into a new fortress world, as a bastion against the forces of chaos spewing from the vast rift in space. But the forces of chaos seem to have had no interest in Gwyr, leaving the 501st to drill, train and prepare for a war that never came. For four generations they waited. Their officers were drawn from the children of the original Cadian troops, but the rank and file were drawn from the local Gwerin. Yet they still remained as proud and dedicated as ever.  But that was about to change.

The immortal saint, Celestine was gathering forces for the campaign to determine the fate of Kondor. Both Gwyr and Hurst had large garrisons and she planned to take one of those forces with her, leaving the others to guard both worlds. The proud Lord Castellans of both worlds begged for the opportunity to take up arms alongside her. Not wanting to insult the brave soldiers of either world, she decided upon a contest. Both armies would field a single batallion against the other in battle. The Winning side would get to join her in the battle for Kondor.

Finally, after 4 years away, I have returned to my old Imperial Guard army (I’m too old-school to call them Astra Militarum). I had not played them since 6th edition, and even then had played only 1 or 2 games. Today was the first chance I had to play them in a very long time. I had arranged a game against a marine player, who had to cancel. another guard player had arranged a game shortly afterwards against an opponent who had to cancel. So we arranged to play a 1500 point game against each other, even though we were both guard players and had both been expecting to play against very different lists.

My force was as follows:

Knight commander Pask in an executioner, with plasma sponsons.

Leman Russ Punishers with 2 heavy bolters, lascannon and heavy stubber.

Leman Russ with battle cannon and 3 heavy bolters.

Manticore with heavy bolter.

Hellhound with heavy bolter.

Scout sentinel with heavy flamer.

chimera

Company commander

command squad with heavy flamer, company standard and vox caster

Lord commisar with power fist

Infantry squad with grenade launcher and vox caster

infantry squad with flamer, sergeant with bolt pistol

Infantry squad with flamer, sergeant with bolter

special weapon squad with 3 flamers

heavy weapon squad with 3 missile launchers

heavy weapon squad with 3 mortars (I had overspent here, as i thought it was 4 points per person, rather than per base)

10 ratling snipers.

I had 7 command points.

My opponent has a batallion, and a high command led by Creed, with a lot more infantry than me, 5 primaris psykers, lots of officers and a staggering 15 command points.

When rolling for objective, we got one which gave us kill points for each unit destroyed, which would not usually favour a guard player.

Turn 1: I finished first and despite rerolling, my opponent failed to steal the initiative.

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My first turn showed me just how little I knew about 8th ed. I tried to get my scout sentinel and hellhoud to advance, thinking that heavy flamer weapons were all still assault weapons, rather than heavy. The result was two vehicles parked next to the enemy, unable to do anything useful. I thought that Pask and tank commanders could order themselves. Aparently a FAQ said they can’t, but as my plasma tank required the ability to reroll 1st to be worth using, my opponent allowed me to get Pask to order himself, as long as his Pask could do the same.

In the first round of shooting Pask’s tank damaged and my Manticore destroyed one enemy Leman russ, my mortars and missile launchers blew up quite a few troops and my other tanks moved forward and shot a bit at the infantry, killing some more of them. The ratlings brought a company commander down to 1 wound.

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My opponent concentrated a lot of firepower and psychic attacks on the Hellhound and sentinel. He managed to destroy the sentinel and his mortars killed 3 ratlings. His conscripts advanced, aided by a commissar. His scout sentinel tried to assault the Hellhound, to lock it in melee, but the hellhound destroyed the sentinel in overwatch. Saint Celestine and her follower assaulted my punisher tank, damaging it a little.

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Turn 2:

My command squad, commander, lord commissar and special weapon team disembarked from the Chimera and moved towards the conscripts. My Hellhound advanced and killed a primaris psyker, as well as finishing off the injured commander, while my ratlings took out a second psyker. Pask’s tank and the manticore blasted at the enemy tank commander, bringing him to 4 wounds. The flamers rolled very badly on their attack, only killing 2 conscripts. My mortars, missiles and tank finished off the two infantry squads that I had attacked the round before. I decided to leave my Punisher tank in melee with Celestine, to tie her up. She inflicted another small wound to it.

 

My opponent’s reserves now came in. A squad of Militarum Tempestus and some rough riders. The militarum tempestus squad attacked Pask’s tank, doing a little damage. His autocannons took out my flamer squad. The rough riders assaulted my rocket launcher squad, wiping them out. Celestine withdrew from combat and tried to flamer my Manticore, doing nothing. The conscripts were ordered to rapid fire and gunned down an infantry squad, then assaulted my command squad, but inflicted no casualties. The psykers concentrated on the Hellhound, destroying it, but causing it to explode, injuring 3 officers, a sentinel, an infantry unit and the mortar team. The rest of his troops shot various units, killing a few infantry and 3 more ratlings.

Turn 3:

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my command squad, but not the officers, returned to the chimera, which moved to attack and kill another primaris psyker. The Manticore shot Celestine, killing her follower (temporarily). The tanks on the right flank gunned down more infantry, while the snipers finished an injured primaris. My Pask finished off the enemy Pask. In melee I killed some more conscripts, with the aid of the remnants of an infantry squad.

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Celestine’s minion respawned and they assaulted my commanders, killing the lord commissar. All the officers and the last psyker near the chimera assaulted it, destroying it. The remaining units shot fairly ineffectively, picking off a few men here or there.

Turn 4:

On the right flank I gunned down most of the remaining infantry, leaving only 2 men, who my infantry squad assaulted and routed. Pask gunned down the militarum tempestus squad with ease, my command squad killed an officer and then assaulted the last psyker, but failed to wound him. In the big melee my commander was being lucky on his invulnerable saves, but his troops were nearly all wiped out. The Manticore used it’s last missile to target a heavy weapon team, reducing them to 1 man on 1 wound.

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Creed came up from behind cover, the last man on the right flank. He gunned down two guardsmen, assaulted and killed the other two. celestine, the commissar and an officer killed my commander between them. The psyker took out the command squad.

Turn 5:

There was very little left to kill. Pask destroyed the last sentinel and shot Celestine ineffectively.

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My Punisher wiped out the last infantry squad, while the other leman russ shot the last autocannon operator and one of the officers near Celestine. Between the ratlings and the manticore I also took out another platoon commander. My mortar crew blasted Creed into oblivion.

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Celestine moved to kill the last ratlings with her flamer and attacked Pask, reducing him to 3 wounds. The commissar and injured primaris did little except run for cover.

We decided to end there, rather than rolling to continue.

Final Result: victory points

Cadian 501st :18 (at least, I may have forgotten to count some officers etc)

Other Cadians: 13

Victory!

Review: I definitely messed up at the start, not knowing that heavy flamers were mow heavy, rather than assault, but the rest of the battle went well, with no major tactical mistakes.

By the end the only threat on the battlefield was Celestine, in one corner, while my tanks completely dominated the rest of the battlefield. My opponent still had 2 of his mortar team, a badly injured psyker and a commissar, but nothing else that was likely to harm my tanks. 1 more round would have killed everything except Celestine, who is extremely hard to kill.

My opponent had a lot more individual characters than me, which meant that I had a big advantage when it came to kill points, but he really didn’t have enough heavy weaponry to take out all the armour that I had on the battlefield. I like this army list. I need to move Pask to a different tank, so that he can give orders to my plasma tank, but I like the staying power of the tanks. I found the ratlings to be very effective for a 50 point unit as too were the mortar team. both units were cheap, but very effective. The manticore’s destructive ability is pretty random, but it is potentially my most destructive unit. Each missile does about as much damage as the plasma Leman Russ, without the danger of 3 plasma weapons that might overheat and for far fewer points.

I like the primaris psykers. their ability to inflict D3 mortal wounds was very effective when there were so many of them. I may try fielding some myself.

All in all, a very satisfying game. However, with so many models, it took us about 4 hours to set up and play.

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8th Ed debut game

As the Manta drew close to the drop zone Shas’O Kho’Lyn prepared himself for battle. The Guer’la colonies were being torn apart by civil war, since the emergence of the cultists. This meant both an opportunity and a new threat for the forces of the T’au. It left the planetary defences disorganized, allowing an easier attack, but it also meant that the planet was at risk of being overrun by tyrranids; something which the T’au could not risk.

An alarm klaxon sounded, signalling the drop and Kho’Lyn plunged into the abyss below, followed by his strike team. Relayed information from the fire warriors below showed that the Guer’la had a tank batallion moving through the drop area. A stealth team was located nearby. 

“Shas’O Kholin to Shas’Vre Aum’ka, I need a beacon close to that armour. We are inbound.”

“Roger that.” replied the Shas’vre. 

As the battlefield drew closer, Kho’Lyn’s suit registered a marker beacon and he fired his guidance thrusters, to manouver towards it. They were coming in fast, but kicked in the landing thrusters, just in time, to bring them to a stop within a few dozen meters of the tank column. Immediately, he and the supporting crisis squad opened fire with their fusion blasters, turning the first tank into molten slag before the guer’la knew what had hit them. The tanks tried to retaliate, but the gun drones supporting the squad jetted forward, to screen the suits from weapon fire. Several of them were incinerated by bolter and plasma fire, but neither Kho’Lyn or his Crisis squad took any damage.

Hitting their thrusters, they jetted forward, closing with the other tanks and causing the closest to explode in a gout of plasma and flame.

This battle would not take long.  

I have been very excited by everything I had read about 8th Edition and so, although I was bust preparing to move country, I desperately wanted to have a game of 8th Ed before I left. My opponent was the same GSC player who I had overwhelmingly defeated a few weeks earlier. We were playing a quick power levels game, with 50 points each.

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My force was led by a commander and a Cadre Fireblade. The fireblade started in a Devilfish, with a breacher team. I had a stealth suit squad infiltrating and a pathfinder team with rail guns. My commander had four fusion blasters. Each crisis suit had two fusion blasters. One had adrone controller and the other had a flamer each. I had a squad of 12 gun drones and both the commander and the crisis suits had marker drones. The commander, the crisis suits and the drones were held for a manta strike.

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My opponent had 3 Leman Russ tanks armed with lots of plasma. One of them had a tank commander. He also had a very large conscript force led by an officer, a commissar and a lord commissar. His force was rounded off by a squad of armoured sentinels armed with plasma. Although themed as part of his GSC force, they were using the regular Astra Militarum rules.

Turn 1: This was a learning game for both of us. I think it was Leon’s third game and my first. I’m really not sure if we did the set up properly, but I managed to finish deployment first. I think that we should have set up each squad, one at a time, rather than allowing my Devilfish and passengers to be set up as 1 unit. All Leon’s force was placed on the board and my army had 3 units in reserve and just over half on the board. We did have a scenario with objectives, but we both quickly forgot all about them, being more interested in seeing how the armies can fight under the new rules.

I got to go first and moved my stealth suits forwards, staying in a building, to set up their beacon. My devilfish also raced forward. Then my crisis suits and commander dropped down, close to the stealth suits, but within 9″ of the closest tank. My drones also came down close to the tanks, and the sentinels.

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My marker drones got 1 hit on a tank and then my crisis suits opened fire. They scored 3 hits on the tank and rolling twice for damage, destroyed it outright. The commander fired at another tank, damaging it, but not badly. The drones targeted the sentinels, but only inflicted 1 wound, despite a huge number of shots. The rail rifle pathfinders killed 1 of the conscripts.

My opponent retaliated, overcharging his plasma weapons and blasting my crisis suits. He rolled badly and only scored a few hits, but 2 drones got in the way, taking the damage. His sentinels advanced on my drones, firing their plasma weapons and then assaulted, destroying 3 drones and routing 2 more. His conscripts advanced an fired at the Devilfish, but only inflicted 1 wound.

Turn 2:

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My drones fell back from melee and my crisis suits and stealth suits advanced. The remaining marker light drones got 1 hit on the closest tank and the crisis suits blasted it, causing it to explode. The Cadre Fireblade, from the right flank, was able to score a marker light hit on the sentinels. The remaining drones fired at the sentinels, destroying One. My commander blasted another sentinel, causing it to explode, damaging another and killing a drone. The stealth suits shot the last sentinel, but didn’t quite destroy it..

Across the battlefield the breacher team and fireblade deployed in front of the conscripts and moved forward. The pathfinders scored 1 hit on the conscripts. I only then realised that the cadre fireblade could not give extra shots to the breacher time. His ability only worked for pulse rifles and carbines, such as the drones had. Despite this, they opened fire, killing many of the 30 conscripts. The rail rifles killed a few more and the devilfish, with it’s drones boosted by the fireblade, killed many more. The Lord Commisar shot a single man, preventing the last few conscripts from running.

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My opponent shot at my breacher team, killing 2 of them. The sentinel killed 1 more drone and the tank commander’s shots were soaked by another 2 drones.

Turn 3:

By this point it was hardly worth continuing. My forces advanced again. The breacher team finished off the last few conscripts. The fireblade lit up the sentinel, allowing the commander to easily kill it. Before the rest of my units had fired at the remaining officers and tank my opponent surrendered.

Result: Overwhelming T’au victory

Analysis: There are probably some things that we were doing wrong. For example, I definitely forgot to add the +1 to hit to my marker drones a few times and forgot about Montka etc. My opponent decided to give his tanks more infantry support in later games and found them far more effective that way. Despite any mistakes, the battle was clearly one sided. If we were playing a points game, I probably had about 40% more than my opponent, which shows that the power levels are not an accurate way to balance games for units with lots of upgrade options.

The army I used was very similar to the sort of force I would generally use and it worked extremely well. Previously my commander would usually have acted as a shield for the drones and boosted them a lot. Now it was the drones serving as a shield. Fusion blasters are still the best weapon for tank hunters and having such effective drone bodyguards keeps the crisis suits alive a lot more. I love the way drones work in the new rules. 4 shots each. 6 is close to a fireblade.

Despite them doing badly, there was a lot I liked about my opponent’s army. The armoured sentinels were very hard to kill. I think they would have done really well if they were armed with flamers instead of plasma. The lord commissar’s ability to stop a route by only killing 1 person was very cool and worked very well with his cheap troop option. 

I had heard a lot of speculation that T’au would be nerfed in the new edition. The crazy overpowered deathballs are gone, crisis suits are more expensive and more tactical play is needed, but it seems that T’au work very well fighting exactly the way T’au should. Shooting, falling back and shooting some more.