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.

mde

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.

 

 

Mega battle mayhem

Once every month the 40K club at Fatmantis Gaming in Shekou, Shenzhen, try to have a mega battle for the players, to give them the chance to break out the big Lord of War models that they don’t usually get a chance to play with. It usually involves 6-8 players with between 6,000-12,000 points total a side. Each month has a different theme and different scenarios for the game.

http://www.shenzhenparty.com/places/children/fatmantis-gaming

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Sunday 25th was the first time that I had been available to participate. We were playing a 4 by 4 battle, with 1850 points each. The idea was to have older players vs younger players, as the “good” vs “evil” or Empire vs others alliances tended to result in the same teams on either side. However one of the new young guys was unable to get an army together in time, so it was 4 vs 3 with larger forces on the young side and an extra person helping out.

016009006004The alliances really made no sense. The old team has Skitarii, Slanesh chaos marines, Tyranids and my Tau (the white are mine. The other ones I had borrowed from another player). The youngsters had Imperial guard, Raven wing and a Chaos force with a mix of chaos space marines and khorne demons (the demons were actually lizard men, being played as demons, because the player preferred the look of them).

012015011We had two gaming tables set up end to end, with us setting up along the long edges. We had six objectives that we were fighting over, but each player also had three personal objectives to try to claim. Mine, for example were:

Primary: Completely destroy a unit that started your turn within 9″ and is not in its deployment zone.

Secondary: Destroy a unit using a unit that is within your own deployment zone.

Tertiary: Claim objective 1.

As well as having a team objectives, for victory in the battle, we were competing to see who could claim all their personal objectives.

Setting up: Phil, who runs the store, advised us to spread out and not have everything in one area, as we would not know our objectives until after set-up and also so that we didn’t end up each fighting our own separate battles.  I think I was the only one on our side to listen to him. The Skitarii were nearly all on the left, the chaos marines were nearly all on the right and the tyranids were nearly all in the middle. This did prove a very bad decision for the chaos player, as his objective was on the furthest edge of the board and he had no reserves. His warlord spent nearly the whole battle trying to race about 80″ to the objective. I feel that I made a mistake by spreading my Tau across the whole table length. This prevented my force from using any of their formation abilities, which only apply when 3 or more of them are targeting the same unit. It was only when setting up that I discovered that the buffmander that I had intended to put with my riptides could not be put with monstrous creatures, so I put him with my crisis suits, which was a complete waste of points.

Our opponents were spread out a lot more, which worked really well for them, but had held a very large part of their force in reserve, which I think was a good decision.

030Turn 1: We achieved very little with our shooting. My riptides were badly positioned, with cover blocking their line of sight and the str 7 missiles on the broadsides were not good enough to damage to the tanks. I completely forgot about my pathfinder marker lights until after I had fired everything else. The guard army devastated the tyranids, completely wiping out a huge horde of harpies and the creature leading them.

035Turn 2: This started off a bit better, but demonstrated my lack of understanding of the system. We had a lot of scary tyranids come down and threaten the enemy. My breacher team transport got close enough to deploy my breachers within 5″ of the enemy. I could have tried to gun down the robots, but I asked one of the more experienced players if he wanted me to try to assault the tanks or the robots. He didn’t tell me that I could not assault on the turn I disembark. So I wasted my attacks by throwing 1 EMP grenade, disabling the big plasma cannon, leaving my squad completely exposed. If I had known this then 18 str 6, AP3 attacks might have taken out those robots.

051On the other side of the board my crisis suits came down. They easily wiped out a mauler fiend with 12 plasma rifles, twin linked, ignoring cover and having tank hunters. Unfortunately I did mot give them the ability to split fire, having made the mistake of paying for higher accuracy against charges. My other pathfinders took out a manticore, more than making up their points.

The enemy then came on, with two Chimeras tank shocking my unit, splitting the force and taking out half the unit. My commander failed a leadership roll and the squad started to flee, straight into a waiting force of chaos marines. My skink breachers were predictably wiped out by artillery fire. Three marine bikers outflanked and shot up my broadsides, killing 1. Things were also going badly elsewhere. The chaos knight was taken out by Imperial Guard tanks, the skitarii ironstriders were shot to pieces and the land raider was wrecked in melee by a defiler. A bunch of demons and terminators also teleported onto the board

After turn 2 we took a break for lunch and cake, as it was Luke’s birthday earlier in the week.

Turn 3: Our turn 3 was not very effective. I think the Skitarii were doing pretty well, as the player was finally starting to learn the abilities of his new army. He had paid for the force to be built and assembled and it was his first time playing it, so he had been making mistakes about what each think had. He had completely neglected the ability of the dunecrawlers to skyfire until it was too late. However, most of my surviving forces were on other parts of the board. I shot up the demons with my riptides, amazed myself by killing 2 terminators with a devilfish transport and moved my other breachers to try to secure objective 1. I took out a badly injured demon prince with my fire warriors (within 9″) and a hydra with my broadside (still in my deployment zone), claiming 2 of my personal objectives.

A group of flyers came in and shot up our forces, taking out a lot of skitarii and nyds. The tanks tried to shoot mt empty transport that was sitting on an objective, but it jinked out of the way of everything. The squad of 3 bikers took out a squad of the chaos marines. Two squads of terminators attacked my broadsides and pathfinders. A squad of 3 men attacked my broadsides, losing 2 men to opportunity fire, but doing ok in melee. The last survivor of the other squad attacked the pathfinders, but by luck he inflicted no damage.

Turn 4: by now it was clear that we were going to lose, but the skitarii were not going down without a fight. Neither were my pathfinders. The Skitarii knight reached the tank line and attacked, wrecking one tank, exploding a second and hurling a it at a nearby rhino, before stamping a third, destroying a war robot in the explosion.

115My riptides took out a guard transport and my broadside destroyed an enemy rhino, after my ally’s noise marines had completely wasted their shots trying to damage it. (To be honest, the chaos marines had been doing almost nothing for most of the battle.) The  breachers tried to take out the defiler, but only reduced it to 1 wound (making me regret not shooting it with the broadside too). My commander’s squad was being pounded in close combat (I had forgotten about the upgrade which should have given him free hits against all the attackers) and my other units were ineffectively shooting at the bikes. which had the ability to re-roll jink saves. As my transport was at 1 hull point and had lost its weapon in a defiler attack, I decided to try to ram a transport but only shook it and destroyed itself. This was even more foolish, as it allowed the defiler easier access to my breachers. The most interesting shooting was when the skitarii shot down a flyer, causing it to crash into the allied chaos warlord (who made his armour save).

My riptides were sitting on an objective, so virtually every tank and flyer tried to gun them down, but my overcharged shields saved against almost everything. Two squads of terminators attacked my broadsides and pathfinders. One of the terminators routed my broadsides in melee. By luck the pathfinders managed to kill one terminator on our melee turn. On my opponent’s turn his other terminator shot, failing to harm anyone and assaulted, but again failed to harm the pathfinders.

The defiler and marine bikers wanted to assault my breachers and the nearby marines. They intended to have the marines assault me and the defiler attack the marines, but after the marines shot (the player forgot that he had jinked the turn before, so I took too many casualties) I still had survivors in the way and he didn’t think he could charge around them, so he turned his flamers on my squad of breachers. They didn’t stand a chance; especially as template weapons can apparently now shoot people on multiple levels at once. Elsewhere a combination of marines and demons were killing off the skitarii.

Turn 5: Our death throes continued as we struggled on.  We managed to do a bit of damage and once again my riptides with overcharge shields resisted every attempt to destroy them, but an enemy transport got close enough to contest the objective. There was very little that we could do, but there were a few surprises still in store. In the first assault phase my pathfinders once again managed to kill a terminator. Two terminator squads killed by 4 pathfinders, without suffering any casualties!

134In our opponent’s shooting phase the pathfinders took a lot of fire, but went to ground and only suffered 1 casualty.

The chaos marines managed to hold objective 1, but our opponents managed to get 4 objectives and contest another.

Victory to the youngsters

Analysis: It was a very good game and not too overwhelming, but there were clearly quite a few bad tactical decisions. The first of which was not understanding the rules, then deploying with my forces too spread out. It was pointed out that this did help me to get to my objective, but without playing more games I couldn’t say if that benefit was worse the inability to use any formation abilities. Giving missile pod drones to the broadsides does give a few extra shots, but makes the squad easier to hurt and made it almost impossible for my last guy to rally. I think that it would have been a good idea to hold my breacher teams and transports back, until there were more targets for them and it was clearer where they needed to be. The commander was pretty useless. A Shas’vre could provide all the buffs to the crisis suits for far fewer points. Being able to split fire would have helped too. I also need more units with skyfire and ignores cover, or else more marker lights, to bestow similar abilities where they are needed.

The guard tank line was by far the most effective army and the chaos marines were probably the least effective. The skitarii did ok and the knight was amazing in melee. The defiler was the most effective of the opposing chaos units. The flying demon princes were not very effective. Hard to hit while flying, but not that hard to kill on the turn they landed. The riptides were very hard to kill and did ok at earning back their points. The marine bikers being able to reroll 3+ jink saves made them almost impossible to kill.

The personal objectives were pretty easy to achieve. everybody managed everything except securing the designated objectives, which only 2 people managed.

There were a few times when one player (naming no names) forgot that hid vehicles had jinked, or been shaken etc. It seems that proper tokens for such things, along with immobilized, weapon destroyed etc. would be a great idea. Since wrecked vehicles are also left on the board, a wreck marker, so that we can assess threats more easily will help avoid confusion.

With so much going on across the battlefield the judge broke up the battle a bit more, insisting that running was done after all shooting and that jet pack moves were done after all assaults were completed. Towards the start of the game I forgot to jet pack my riptides forward and at the end of the game, the enemy started their move before I was aware that the assaults were over, preventing me from moving my riptides back to better protect the objective and costing us a victory point. (although we would have still lost the game)

Before the match Phil, the judge, looked over my army list and said to me that the second pathfinder team with no special weapons were a waste of points and served no purpose. He said they would probably be killed in turn 1. They survived the match, lit up units as intended (when I remembered them) and took out 2 terminators in melee. In my opinion they were definitely worth 44 points.

Harvesting Orcs

As the dust from the first barrage began to clear Lt Schramm again began the targeting ritual to fire the Manticore’s missiles.  

“Incoming!” bellowed his driver, Stanis.  Through the targeting sights he could see a huge barrage of missiles streaking through the woodland.  Damn those Tau.  He had heard stories from other gunners about how sophisticated the Tau targeting systems were.  The commissars declared that it was a treasonous lie, but every gunner knew that if the Tau had you in their sights, lit up with their targeting designators, they never missed.  That must be why that Tau vessel hadn’t fired before.

Several of the missiles exploded early, striking trees.  Two more went streaking past the ‘Sarah Palin’ but a couple of missiles struck home, rocking her violently.  Although there was a pounding, ringing in his ears Schramm was surprised to find himself still alive.  

“Damage report!” He shouted, not sure if Stanis would hear him, after the deafening strike.

“The left track is broken.  We can’t move her…  There doesn’t seem to be any other damage.”  Stanis replied, sounding stunned at how little damage they had suffered.

“Emperor be praised!”  replied Schramm.  “Who cares about movement?” he muttered to himself as he once again began the targeting ritual, to unleash a barrage of death upon the oncoming green hordes. It seems that the stories of Tau targeting systems really were just lies.

Today’s game was once again a two on two battle.  The struggle to protect the agricultural world of Emporium had taken a dangerous turn when it was discovered that the Tau invaders had allied themselves with Orcs.  It was not unusual for Tua to have other xenos serving them, but the idea of a Tau Orc alliance was worrying enough that the sisters of battle had joined the defence against them, with St Celestine herself leading the fight.

The fight was to overcome the enemy stronghold.  The battlefield was all forested, providing plenty of cover, with a large structure in the centre in which the Orc mech boys were constructing a weapon battery (their stronghold). Our Guard/sisters stronghold was our Aegis defence lines, which had been rapidly erected.

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(The photo was whilst the opponents were still setting up.  The killa-kans moved over to the far left flank, supported by fire warriors.  The Trukk filled with boyz and battle wagon full of nobz were placed in the centre.  On the right flank was a large horde of 30 Boyz and a Tau gunship.  The Tau battlesuits and other forces were near the centre.  They had a squad of kroots in reserve.  On the Imperial right flank were our sisters of battle.  It was only a 48″ square board and thus a very target rich environment.)

Turn 1: Our enemy siezed the initiative.  The orcs ran forward on the right flank and raced their vehicles forward at full speed down the centre.  The tau in the middle, along with the burna boyz moved to the central objective, in order to defend it.  The Tau gunship tried to target out Manticore, but completely failed to get a lock on it.  The Tau battle suits struck St Celestine with missiles, but she didn’t remain dead.

We retaliated.  The command squad had moved inside the defence lines and ordered a concentration of fire on the Tau gunship.  The missile unit missed the tau gunship and the hydra autocannons failed to damage it.  The Griffon and the mortar team rained death down on the horde of Boyz, killing several.  The Manticore hit the Battle Wagon with two warheads, causing it to explode (and winning us first blood), wounding a few of the Nobs on it and also destroying a couple of tau battle suits.  My demolition vets ran out of the defence lines and threw a demo charge at the trukk,  glancing it and then assaulted it, blowing it up with melta bombs, killing a couple of Boys and wounding a few nearby Nobs.  The sisters destroyed a killa-kan with heavy weapons fire and killed a few nobs with bolter fire.

Turn 2: The large boys horde continued forward, but were not close enough to risk a charge.  The Boys from the trukk assaulted the demo vets, killing them.  The surviving nobs assaulter the sisters, failing to kill any and losing all but one of their squad.  The gunship again failed to get targeting lock, but decided that it was worth shooting at the manticore anyway.  It scored 6 hits, but only three would have done damage, however the cover blocked two of them.  The vehicle was immobilised, which was no real concern, as I had no desire to ever move it.  The killa kans blasted the infantry squad on the far flank, killing most of them. The battle suits again blasted St Celestine, killing her briefly, but she returned once more.

We retaliated again.  The Griffon, Manticore (scoring 3 hits) and mortars all blasted the main orc horde, supported by lasgun fire, killing all but 4 of them and badly wounding the warboss.  My flamer squad advanced and attacked the trukk boyz, killing them all.  my command squad and missile troops targeted the elite Tau warriors holding their objective, killing several of them.  One of my scout sentinels appeared, blasting a killa kan in the back and causing it to explode, taking out a few nearby fire warriors.  Celestine attacked the other kan with her flaming sword, killing some more fire warriors in the blast and smashed it in close combat, making it too explode.  The sisters finished off the last nob and blasted at the Tau units, forcing one unit to go to ground and killing all but 1 of the fire warriors on the left flank.

The sisters’ heavy weapons and ratlings didn’t even get a chance to fire, because at this point the Orc player decided to throw his toys out of the pram.  As things had gone so badly for him he decided that he no longer wanted to play, packed up his remaining figures and left the game.  Play was abandoned.  We had lost a total of 17 guard and 5 sisters.  They had lost over 1000 points of troops.  It was obvious that the Tau and Orcs had lost overwhelmingly, but victory was never formally conceded.

DSCF3739

Strop aside, the game showed several things about how Orcs had lost out in the conversion to 6th edition.  Charging is now less reliable.  Fleet armies can no longer guarantee charging 12″ and instead only charge 2D6″ rerolling the lowest dice.  The overwatch rule is great and realistic, but does shift the balance against close combat units.  Flamers were always awesome, but in 6th edition are even more awesome and slaughter charging units.  Fortunately guard can have loads of flamers and I had always loved them.    Blast weapons are far more effective against vehicles, which are really suffering under the new rules. Now any part of the template gives a full strength hit, which is a good change.  Ordinance weapons seem to work well and also allow targeting of special characters within units, as they target from the centre of the blast. The furious charge rule is now far less effective, meaning that several Orcs will die before they can get their hits in, even against units as weak as guard.  The rule changes are all very realistic and are improvements, but now units that rely on charging into close combat are far less effective in 6th edition.  They are no longer worth their points cost.  Orcs can still potentially be effective in 6th ed, but it requires a very different type of army list from 5th ed, and thus forces players to spend loads of money on new, overpriced stuff from GW.  

Against the rails

The crack of the first railgun shot seemed to reverberate through everything, as its shot punched through the Chimera, followed by a throbbing echo. Then a cacaphony of sound followed as more Xenos weapons tore through the air.  A large explosion ripped through the exposed ranks of infantry, hurling bodies into the air, with enough force that blood was mixed in with the grit that rained down on Colonel Casca’s position. From somewhere to his right unseen Xenos were gunning down more of his men.

Casca pointed his forcesword at the Tau hammerhead.  “That will be your first target gentlemen.  Don’t disappoint me.”   The troopers sighted their missile launchers at the vehicle and fired.  Two of the shots struck true, shattering one of the engines and causing the craft to bank heavily before coming crashing into the earth.  Caska smiled and turned to the bloodied troops fleeing in his direction.  “So good of you to join me gentlemen.  If you’ll just head this way, I have a small task for you.” 

This was going to be fun.

 

It is always interesting when I fight a new race, because I have not read most of the codexes and don’t know what to expect, except in the most generic terms.  I knew that tau are a very shooty race, but that’s about the limit of my understanding.  I hadn’t expected so many rail guns and I suffered for my ignorance.

I started off with the initiative and set up first.  We were having a 1000 point spearhead game to sieze 5 objectives.

My veterans were in the chimera, whilst my commander was holding back.  I had 2 infantry squads, a special weapon flamer squad, platoon command squad, mortars, missile launchers, ratlings and vehicles with a scout sentinel in reserve.

My opponent siezed the initiative and shot up my army.  His broadside scumbags wrecked my chimera, but missed the griffon.  His hammerhead blasted a huge swathe in my infantry, killing 7 in one shot and his other battlesuits gunned down a lot more infantry, routing a squad.  His stealth team came out on my flank, shot my mortar troops, killing them all and then retreated into cover.

Most of my squads ran forward, trying to get near cover on the way to the other objectives.  My routing squad were ordered back into the fight.  The missile launchers managed to get a lucky hit on the hammerhead, wrecking it.  My ratlings shot up the infiltrators, killing 1 and routing them.  The rest of my shooting was completely ineffective.  I had definitely not chosen the right army list for this fight.

turn 2.  His broadsides blew up my griffon, with their rail guns, injuring my missile team, and wrecked my leman russ.  The first stealth team failed to rally and fled the board, but a reserve stealth team came on, deep striking near my command squad, inflicting heavy losses.  A few more hits were inflicted on my infantry, but fortunately not enough losses to make much difference.

I shot my missiles at his commander, having no effect at all.  My ratlings killed 1 of his 3 man infiltrator squad, them my half infantry squad and my commander charged them, wiping them out easily.  I hadn’t realised quite how squishy the tau were in melee.

turn 3.  Things were looking bad.  I had killed 6 tau and wrecked 1 vehicle, but by contrast had lost over 20 troops and 3 vehicles.  I had nothing within range of the rail guns and none of my shots at the battle suits had inflicted any damage.  My infantry had to run across the open to reach the other objective and were being gunned down mercilessly. 

You may notice from the picture that I had made a mistake in the allocation of hits on my missile crews.  this was an innocent rookie mistake.  I had also forgotten to give them a cover save from the explosion, so the two mistakes probably balance out.

The tau devilfish deployed its troops and moved towards the corner objective, that my troops were running towards.  Both it and the battlesuit shot them up some more.  Their commander shot up my platoon command squad, inflicting heavy casualties and wiped the last of them out by charging them.  His rail guns shot at my missile launchers, but missed.

Whilst my other troops ran to the objectives in either corner, my ratlings targeted a battle suit, killing the user.  My missiles destroyed another battle suit and my veterans attacked the commander.  Despite lots of hits, the shotguns inflicted no damage, the flamers did nothing and he even made his invulnerable save against the meltagun.  I then charged him, inflicting a mere single hit.  That tau rolled extremely well on his saves.  He inflicted two hits, routing the veterans and wiping them out.

turn 4.  the devilfish moved forward and shot up my infantry some more, whilst his commander moved up and attacked my ratlings, routing them and causing them to flee off the board.  The rail guns again failed to hit the missile troops, who kept making their cover saves.  They then shot the commander, destroying him.  On this turn my sentinel finally arrived and killed the squad of fire warriors that were sitting on his objective.

turn 5.  Suddenly things had changed.  The tau rail gunners were guarding their one objective, but being heavy support could not claim it, whilst my heavily depleted infantry had reached a second objective and were nearing a third.  My missile troops were camped on my first objective.  My opponent only had no units which could claim objectives, but still had a lot more firepower.

One of the battlesuits destroyed my sentinel.  The other missed my missile troops again. The devilfish finished off the last of 1 of my infantry squads, but the remnants of my flamer unit were still holding the objective on the left of the board.  Being ordered to “bring it down” my missile troops shot the devilfish, but it’s cover save protected it.  My other half infantry squad moved to claim the objective on the right of the board.

turn 6.  the rail guns shot at my missile troops again, but their cover saved them.  The devilfish took out 1 of my flamer unit.  The tau drones moved towards my infantry squad, killing 1 of them.

My missiles shook the devilfish, preventing them shooting next turn. my infantry’s attempts to shoot the drones came to nothing.

Turn 7.  The devilfish moved close enough to the objective to contest it, whilst the rail guns again failed to hit the missile troops, who were definitely feeling that they had been protected by the Emperor.  The drones advanced further, shooting my infantry.

I failed to damage the drones and my shots at the devilfish glanced off, doing nothing.

Battle Ends

I had 3 members of a special weapons flamer unit on a contested objective, 4 men from an infantry unit holding an objective, 3 missile troops on another objective and 2 survivors from a company command squad.  That was definitely an extremely bloody battle and the Tau would have eventually worn my forces down to nothing, but it was still a victory for the 501st, thanks to their refusal to give in and due to the extreme good fortune of my missile troops.

note to self.  Broadsides are evil.  Kill them with extreme prejudice.

Quantity over quality

The tank’s crew remained silent as she rumbled forward.  The engine maintained a throaty growl and the tracks clattered and squeeked noisily, but the crew were too tense.  Where were they?  This was definitely the position the Eldar vessels had been sighted at.  The signal from the Xenos beacon was still coming in strong from just ahead, but there were no sign of the Eldar.

“To the right!” Someone, probably Paige, shouted.  Lieutenant Charters turned his scope to the right and saw a blur of colour amidst the dust which had been kicked up.

“Turret 100 degrees right.” he ordered, but it was already too late.  The Xenos had somehow already managed to deploy troops tight on their flank.  How could they be so fast?

Lances of superheated energy from the alien melta weapons burnt through the hull of the Leman Russ tank, one of the beams liquifying the gunners chest as it passed throught the vehicle.  How…?  The Lieutenant’s thought was abruptly cut short as the energy beams caused the fuel to ignite, engulfing the interior of the tank in a huge fireball.

The Eldar had arrived.

Todays game was against an experienced Eldar player with some very unusual tactics.  It was a 1500 point game and I was using the horde army list led by Straken that I had first used against Marc’s orcs, with only a few minor changes.  Instead of two heavily overtooled tanks I had a chimera, a manticore, a Leman russ exterminator and a griffon.

It was a spearhead game to sieze objectives and I had the initiative.  I chose a nice defensive position on top of a large tower to station my ratlings, veterans and missile launchers (the terrain was originally built as part of an oil refinery for a gamesday scenario)  My artillery were holding back and 50 infantry were covering most of my board, with a platoon command squad, my command chimera and a flamer unit behind them.

My opponent set his objective in a small hill and placed no troops on the board.  Everything was in reserve!

I spent 2 turns advancing an infantry squad with my command squad and flamer unit, running towards his objective.  I moved my triple size squad under the base of the tower, to guard it.  There really wasn’t much else to do.

Then on his turn 2 his army appeared.  His commander allowed the reserves to come in on 3+ and they all arrived.  Two waveriders moved on from the long table edge, disgorging troops.  A falcon also came on.  An armoured squad who looked like good close combat fighters came near my tower and deepstriking squad appeared near my chimera.

The squad deployed next to my leman russ all had melta weapons and completely destroyed it.  Boom!  The deep strikers took out my chimera and the vehicles opened up on the command squad, killing everyone but straken.  The other infantry shot at my griffon, but somehow failed to harm it.  His infiltrators shot up and assaulted one of my squads, wiping them out.

It was my turn to return fire.  Since the troops were tightly bunched outside the transports which had disgorged them, I was able to target both the troops and the waveriders with a single large template.  Both the manticore and the griffon proved very accurate killing most of two squads and my griffon even killed his commander, but not the vehicles.  I was able to get the flamers close enough to the deep striking squad to hit them, and also targeted them with ratling snipers, killing a few, but their 3+ armour soaked most of it.  my missiles targeted the vehicles, with no success.  I also shot up his infiltrator squad, but their 3+ saves kept casualties light.  My veterans proved very unlucky when both plasma guns blew up, killing the users.  Straken then assaulted one of the transports, shaking the crew.

Those eldar vehicles were hard to take down.  One of them was reducing my strength 10 ordanance hit to a strength 8, and prevented me using both dice to penetrate.  The others were making me roll damage twice, choosing the lowest.  I knew they would be hard to kill.

In turn 3 he was determined to take out straken.  I think this was probably a mistake.  An infantry unit was disgorged next to him and shot a rapid volley, doing nothing.  He used his falcon to fire everything at straken, in order to take him out.  The other waverider attacked the manticore, but failed to penetrate.  The deep striking troops shot up my flamer squad, killing 3 troops before moving away and his infiltrators assaulted my 30 man squad, killing 11 of them, but the commissar prevented them from routing.

In my turn 4 my scout sentinel came in and moved to his objective.   I finished off most of his infantry.  My flamers pursued the jump troops, and my ratlings lent a hand, reducing them to 1 man.  The ordanance weapons targeted the other troops, killing many and shaking the crew of one vehicle, whilst the melta in my platoon command squad shook up the falcon.  One of my infantry squads ignored the fighting, moving to the objective.  My missile launchers surprised us both by destroying a wave rider. The infantry battle caused further losses for my troops, but was also causing a few losses for him.

Things were going very badly for him, so he got the troops to enter the falcon and rushed them towards his own objective, his jump trooper shot my sentinel, doing nothing. meanwhile the fight between his troops and mine continued to whittle us away, reducing my squad to 4 and his to 3.

Turn 5.  My flamers killed the last jump trooper.  My missile launchers destroyed the falcon, blowing it up, killing 2 of the 4 troops inside.  My ratlings finished off the other two.  The other waverider i shot with a melta gun from my platoon command squad, causing it to blow up, taking out a few of my nearby veterans.

My veterans had descended from the tower and assaulted the last remaining infantry, helping out the other troops and slaughtering the last of the eldar.  The battle was a complete, overwhelming victory.  I held one objective securely and had a sentinel sitting on the other one.  Although I had lost about 45 men, I still had 2 vehicles and 8 out of 10 squads surviving.

I learnt afterwards that my opponent had fought many battles with this army and had never before had all his vehicles destroyed.  He had also never been completely wiped out.  There was definitely a lot of luck involved, but it was an impressive win.

Having afterwards learnt of the power of his commander, and his ability to centre a large blast template on himself, I think that the instant kill scored on him by my griffon, which also took out everyone in the squad except the exarch, has got to make it the most effective unit.  The accuracy of my large templates against the recently deployed troops was devestating.

The eldar strike back

As the sleek alien transport glided forward lieutenant Marcus completed the prayer of targeting and Yulia’s twin assault cannons barked out a volley of fire.  The craft jolted wildly as the shells struck its fuselage, it then seemed to hang momentarily before dropping to the ground.  The hull buckled and tore against the rocks and then exploded into blossoming ball of fire.  Marcus winced.  The xenos craft were so beautiful, that it seemed wrong to destroy the.

He staggered as Yulia shook from the impact of a dark lance.  Marcus cursed and looked at his scope.  Those xenos ships might be pretty but Yulia was his baby and he would be damned if any xenos scum thought they could get away with trying to damage her. 

“Thirty degrees right!” he shouted to the turret crew and once again began the prayer of targeting.

 

This battle, like the last, took place at the university wargaming society.  The idea was to have a team match, with two 500 point armies on each side.  Because it made sense the two guard players were placed against two dark eldar players, one of which was the player I defeated the week before.  This time I got some photos of his beautiful vehicles.  I love the detail on the sail and the glossy, marble effect on the body.

The game was a capture ground mission using dawn of war, but to keep things simple, given the relatively small board, we decided to just have one objective; the central bastion.  No-one was allowed to set up within 12 inches of that objective.

The guard armies deployed first.  I had decided to use a small force and a tank, since my partner only had infantry with him.  my penal legion were held in reserve and the tank was unable to start on the board.

The dark eldar forces all started on the board or in vehicles.  The witches were pumped up with combat drugs and started off feeling no pain.

Turn 1: The guard acted first.  Yulia (my Leman Russ exterminator) came on and immobilised the beautiful green transport.  The other fire was mostly ineffective.  The eldar moved forward, shooting us a bit, with little effect, as multiple dark lances glanced off Yulia.  They began bunching up as their forces advanced on the bastion, using it for cover.

Turn 2: My troops and one of my partners three veteran squads advanced on the central bastion.  Since we had no indirect firing weapons and very few template weapons our attempts to shoot the troops behind bastion were relatively ineffective, although the witches were being gradually whittled down.  The other transport was immobilised by Yulia after being shaken by bolter fire.

The eldar entered the bastion and shot the guards, killing 1 of my veterans and then 6 of my partner’s veterans.  The eldar near the second transport were getting bogged down in rough terrain and moving very slowly.  Noticing that my veterans included 3 flamers, the bane of units in cover, a fairly elite eldar unit tried to rush them but rolled badly on their fleet test and did not get within charging distance. 

Turn 3: Yulia wrecked the second transport whilst the heavily depleted veterans continued shooting up the eldar units nearby.  The other veterans and ratlings tried shooting the troops in the bastion, killing several.  My veterans moved forward and flamered the dark eldar, wiping the unit out.

The eldar moved around the bastion to attack my guardsmen.  A homunculus blasted them with a template weapon killing 1 of them and then assaulted.  The unit of witches with another homunculus behind it was too far away to support.  By luck the homunculus won the battle, routing and destroying the veterans. The other eldar got into a shooting match with our guardsmen, killing several more.

Turn 4: My ratling snipers finished off the homunculus and Yulia blasted the witches, killing most of them and routing the last witch and the humunculus.  My command squads melters failed to breach the bastion.  On the left of the battlefield my penal legion came on in reserve and inflicted serious losses on the nearby eldar unit.  The other veterans inflicted a few more casualties on the troops holding the objective, and the squads in cover.  The battle was gradually turning our way.

The two squads of eldar on our left flank withdrew in order to concentrate their fire on the penal legion, killing 8 of them, but not routing them.  In the middle the surviving eldar shot a few of my command squad, but lacked the numbers to do anything decisive.

Turn 5:  My command squad began by using their meltas to destroy the bastion, reducing it to a pile of rubble.  As the surviving eldar clawed their way out of the rubble it became abundantly clear that the whole battle was now too far gone for them to achieve much. 

Yulia then turned her attention on the crippled transport, causing it to explode in a huge fireball which engulfed the fleeing witch and homunculus, but they came out of the fireball unscathed.  The veterans of my ally mercilessly gunned down and flamered the few surviving troops in the centre.  My penal squad shot a few of the nearby eldar, as did the other veterans on the left and the ratlings, taking out the last of one of the squads.

The only surviving squad of eldar gunned down my penal troopers in a hail of fire, as a final act of defiance in a doomed campaign.

The battle ended on turn 5 with the troops of my ally as the only scoring unit within 2″ of the objective and victory for the imperial guard.

Although the use of meltas at the end was pretty dramatic we could have probably killed the few troops in the bastion easily enough.  The most effective unit was definitely Yulia Tymashenko once again.  What surprised me was the complete lack of any attacks against the ratlings during the entire conflict, or even the one before.