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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White Ghosts

“A fire warrior must learn the two key principles of warfare. The patient hunter and the deathstrike. Kauyon and Mont’ka. There is no Tau who has greater mastery of the Mont’ka than Commander Shadowsun.”

“There are some among our enemies who have achieved great skill in ambush. For example, the mutants known as Gene Stealer Cults, who have spread to some of the Guer’la worlds under our control. But no matter how skillfully the ambush is laid the key is surprise. If your ambush is not a surprise then it will fail.”

“Let me tell you of the time I fought alongside Commander Shadowsun at the Dongjiaotou uprising.”

Last weekend I had a 1250 point game against a Genestealer cult army. My opponent was playing a decurion formation with a lot of cheap infantry units. My own force was a themed CAD. A stealth army, based around commander Shadowsun. Two squads of stealth suits, a squad of sniper drones, with two spotters, a breacher team in a devilfish and a small firewarrior squad with a defence turret and two of forgeworld’s Remora stealth drone fighters. At the core of the army, taking up over half my points, was a super deathball with 5 crisis suits (two with fusion blasters, two with airbursting fragmentation launchers and one buffbunny), along with 10 gun drones, commander shadowsun and a second commander with fusion blasters a drone controller and counterfire defence and two spotter drones.

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We were playing The Scouring game, with 6 objectives of varying value.

My opponent got the initiative and set up first, placing two armoured sentinels, with lascannons, near an objective marker and deploying 1 squad of cultists in the corner, to prevent me infiltration on his flank. I deployed my devilfish and placed the small firewarrior team in a crater, by an objective.

I then started deploying infiltrators, placing my deathball in an area of craters on the middle of the battlefield. My opponent then brought in the first of his infiltrators. My stealth suits and sniper drones were all set up in cover and a vast horde of gene stealers and cultists were mostly set up withing a few inches of my units. Fortunately only two units of them were able to assault this turn. Some of my crisis suits could use interceptor, but our judge decreed that interceptor would not work against cult ambush. Some of the interceptors were able to shoot and due to some lucky rolls they killed two stealth suits in one of my stealth suit teams.

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Turn 1:

The most important single dice roll of the game. I rolled a six and stole initiative. This allowed me to pile a lot of shots into the GSC. My sniper drones and spotters shot past my deathball, at the large gene stealer formations opposite, giving an extra marker light. Then my crisis suits fired their airburst fragmentation launchers, scattering onto the larger gene stealer horde, killing 15 of them, while my drones gunned down the front line, who were the ones able to charge. My fusion blaster suits with target lock and Shadowsun shot at a squad of 5 tougher looking mutants, with 2 wounds each, killing them all. My stealth suits shot 7 out of 10 cultists in a squad, routing them. My devilfish deployed the breachers who gunned down another squad. The drones and the devilfish shot at a separate squad, killing several cultists and routing them. There were over 30 cultists or gene stealers killed, but a lot still on the board.

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The psyker rolled 1 for warp charge and snake eyes to try to use a power. The cultists then returned fire. At the bottom of the board, some unlucky cover saves allowed the cultists and sentinels to take out my stealth suits. The shots at my deathball proved ineffective and the squad shooting at my other stealth suit on my end of the board inflicted no damage. A small squad charged my deathball, but the sniper spotters scored 1 marker hit, allowing my drones and commander to fire overwatch at BS3, killing them all.

Turn 2:

One of my Remora came on, zooming fast across the board. It shot at the same unit as the sniper team, allowing the marker lights to boost its accuracy. Between them they killed all but the sorceror. I decided to detatch my commander, so that his marker drones could light up the gene stealers and my deathball fired at the remains of the large gene stealer formation, wiping it out completely, leaving only the few cultists that had retreated behind it. I was stunned at how quickly I had killed them all.

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I was stunned at how quickly I was eradicating my opponent’s army. On my end of the board the breacher team advanced and wiped out another small squad of cultists.

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The sentinels shot my commander and I allowed him to take the two hits. A squad of 5 gene stealer cultists moved to attack my commander, but I got the deathball to aid him in overwatch, gunning them down. I wanted the guys with target lock to overwatch against a different target, but was told they couldn’t. My snipers fired overwatch at the lone psyker, killing him. The three cultists rallied and charged my deathball. 4 drones died from dangerous terrain tests, moving to counterattack the cultists, but my crisis suits easily crushed the cultists.

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Turn 3:

Let’s be honest. There was no doubt how the game would end. My second Remora came on and raced forward. There were only 2 sentinels, 3 survivors of a previously routed unit that had rallied and 1 squad of 10 cultists in the corner. My deathball advanced on the cultists and 1 of the crisis suits got within range, killing half the squad with his fragmentation launchers. One remora shot a further two cultists.

 

My commander and the other remora advanced on the sentinels.

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The commander fired first, causing one sentinel to explode and scoring two marker light hits. as they were a squad, this allowed the Remora to easily gun down the remaining sentinels, using both its seeker missiles for good measure and blowing it sky high.

My opponent only had 3 cultists left and decided that they would return to shadows, leaving the battlefield free of enemies and giving me the game.

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Result: Overwhelming Tau victory.

In the whole game I only lost 5 stealth suits from shooting and 4 drones from terrain. My list had a lot of firepower with a lot of ways to augment that firepower. Although they were not crucial to the game, i loved the Remora drones. Combined with the marker lights, they worked very well. Obviously the high points deathball was a huge gamble. Getting shrouded and stealth made them extremely hard to kill with shooting attacks, but they would be vulnerable in close combat. Had I not stolen initiative, I think the game would have been a lot closer.

My deathball has a huge weakness; melee. If an armoured sentinel or a deadnought etc got into melee against us, I had nothing at all that could harm it. Just moving to counter a charge caused nearly half of my casualties for the game. However, the effect that it produced when shooting was, to be quite honest, obscene. That sort of unit may be great for tournaments, but it makes the game less fun.

I hear that 8th edition will not have the same sort of deathballs. I think this is great news. I would much prefer a well balanced game, with everything playing a part and a need for tactical gameplay, rather than relying on overpowered units.

Bloodbowl: Skaven vs Chaos Dwarves

“Welcome sports Fans! Well, what a game that was. We had thrills, we had spills and we had a healthy dose of gratuitous brutality. I’m Ken Krippler and in this part of the show we will review the game from the perspective of our winning team, the Reikland River Rats. We are joined by the team coach and Greyseer, Pyrhus Palepaws. Tell me Pyrhus, did you predict that victory?”

“I always predict victory, for the Great Horned Rat has shown me visions of how my team will be invincible this season.”

“Well, that’s great to know for all those Rats fans out there. So what did you think of your teams performance today?”

“I was pleased with the result, but disappointed by those malingerers, taken off in stretchers. None of their wounds were fatal. They should have been able to get back into the game.”

“Yes… perhaps. Your team often suffered serious casualties during their qualifying matches. Does this worry you?”

“Not as all. They have not yet lost a match, even when they were almost all hospitalised by the Utterly Savage Association. They know that winning is everything and that there are things I can do that are far worse than any death that you mere humans can imagine.”

“…er…ok then. Moving on. Let’s join our expert commentator Bob Bibbins and take a look at the match.”

“This was the first match of the new Mantis-Bowl, but it looks like we had both lovely weather and a good turnout, with just a few more River-Rats fans out there. And it looked like coach Pyrhus had his team well psyched up and ready for the play.”

“There were some last minute changes to the River Rats lineout when thrower Sneek Barbjaw was thrown off the team for trying to steal from the petty cash, but despite only fielding 11 players, those Skaven were looking good.”

“Similarly, their opponents, the Chaos Small-stars were also fielding a team with no reserves, which took a toll on both teams.”

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“So, what about that action today?”

“The Reikland River Rats received and there was a lovely opening play, with quarterback and team captain, Ratchitt Sleekit, passing to Amscray Scattersprint, who made a beautiful run, but was brutally brought down by one of the Bull-centaurs.”

Those bull-centaurs are certainly some of the most troublesome players on the Small-stars team, Bob.

“And the most vicious. After hospitalizing Amscray, that Centaur was sent off for a vicious foul on Skratch Mankarver, allowing Shagzwell Skuttlespike a chance to take possession and run a beautiful touchdown.”

“yes. That was certainly a good result for the River Rats. Those gutter runners are great at scoring touchdowns”

“The Skaven fans were going wild, giving lots of encouragement, when the Small-stars were receiving. That offensive line of there were extremely effective, putting another two Skaven players in the hospital. Flyting Hurpeez and Skititch Skavenspine. But then Jhenny Tailwortz managed to cripple on of their hobgoblin players.”

“I hear he had a broken hip, Bob.”

“And then Blitzer, Skritch Swiftkik managed to get possession score a second touchdown for the River Rats.”

It looked like the Small-Stars were more interested in injuries than touchdowns.

“That’s a good observation, Ken. It was close to the end of the second half and the chaos dwarf team decided to focus on taking out as many players as they could after that.”

“Yes. Their Dwarves were determined to kill the River Rats’ rat ogre, Danger Mouse.”

“Very true. I lost track of how many times he was tackled or fouled in that match. He seemed to he stunned for most of the match. He was stretchered off just before half time, but fortunately for the river Rats, he was roaring his way back onto the field at half time.”

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“I don’t know what warpstone concoction they put into his half time juice, but it certainly seemed to do the trick, Bob.”

“In the second half the Chaos Small-star coach seemed to have lost his focus.”

“I heard he was up all night in some bizarre chaos ritual, to invoke the dark powers to further bless his team.”

“I don’t know about dark powers, but the Dwarf blockers had some interesting tactics, ignoring the Rat Ogre and pairing up against the Skaven blitzers. Despite that, things certainly seemed to favor the River Rats in the second half. They had better coaching and the fans were certainly giving them more support too. Then Jhenny Tailwortz surprised the fans when she put one of the dwarf blitzers in the hospital.

“I’m told he had two smashed ribs and will definitely be missing their next match.”

“An then Skritch Swiftkik managed to impale a Hobgoblin.”

“I heard that one had a punctured lung, but is recovering and will be back in training soon, Bob.”

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“The Chaos Small-stars went back to focusing on trying to take Danger Mouse off the field and he was soon passed out, back in the dugout. There was some lovely ball control from the Hobgoblins, with several neat passes, but then a fumble gave the River Rats a chance to blitz through their defences.”

“Yes. With two players in the dungeon and three in the hospital, there were several holes in the defensive line that the nimble Skaven players could exploit.”

“And once again it was Shagzwell who took possession and brought the ball home for a third touchdown.”

“yes, Shagzwell looks like he will certainly be a player to watch out for.”

“That he is, Ken.”

 

“The rest of the game was a lot less eventful.”

“It still made great viewing. Both teams were down on men. The Skaven had more knocked out, but the Dwarves had more players sent off. The Hobgoblins were making some good plays and the remaining Bull-centaur and the Chaos Dwarves made some great tackles.”

“Yes, but the River Rats made some good tackles too, with possession of the ball changing hand a few times, but the Small-stars just weren’t able to get past those sneaky Skaven.”

“Very true.”

“So there you have it. The first match of what looks like it will be a very interesting season of the new Mantis-Bowl tournament and our first winning team, the Reikland river Rats. So, tell me Bob, what do you think about the players and how they performed?”

“Well, for me the obvious man of the match for the Small-stars was their Hobgoblin quarterback. He made some beautiful passes and had possession of the ball far more than any other player.”

“Yes. The fans seemed to be with you on that choice, Bob.”

“And for the River Rats I am torn between Jhenny Tailwortz, who seems to be better at crippling the opposing players than the Rat Ogre, Shagzwell Skuttlespike for his two elegant touchdowns or Skritch Swiftkik for that surprise touchdown.”

“Yes. those all sound like good choices to me, but strangely the fans chose Amscray Scattersprint as man of the match.”

“I think it just reflects the education level of the average Skaven fan. I don’t think they can tell the difference between the number two or the number three.”

“Judging by the state of the toilets I don’t think they can tell the difference between a number one or a number two either, Bob.”

“I don’t want to know.”

“Well, that’s it for us. Be sure to join us next week for all the latest Bloodbowl action from the Mantis Bowl tournament.”

Thieving Necrons

It probably shows that I am not an experienced player, when I say that I had never played against Necrons before last Sunday. the experience was an ignoble one but still a good learning experience.

The game was intended as a practice for an upcoming mini tournament. I am not taking the tournament too seriously and was just using it as motivation to finish building and painting a few models and to try out some models that I had never fielded before (as well my favorite units). It was a 1250 point list. I had a small fire warrior squad, a breacher team in a transport, my commander had a drone controller and was leading a large squad of drones. I had crisis suits with fusion blasters and a buffmander squad leader. I also had stealth suits with a homing beacon, a hammerhead gunship and a bomber, that had all never seen action.

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My opponent had a Necron force with two night scythes full of troops, an Ark with upgraded armour (13 all around), flayed ones, a large squad of tomb blades with an improved jink and the ability to ignore cover along with two squads of destroyers with a lot of anti tank firepower.

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The game we rolled was relic.

Turn 1:

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I only had deployed first and infiltrated first. He had infiltrated his flayed ones close to the relic, forcing my stealth suits to come in further away. His forces shot at my transport, but due to night fighting and other upgrades, I was able to jink away from all the attacks. His command ability allowed him to cause my units to take pinning tests on turn 1 and they all failed. My tank shot at his heavy troops, but missed. The transport fired ineffectively too.

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Turn 2:

The two flyers came on. One zoomed forward and sat over the infiltrators, blocking my access to the relic. The other Ark moved up to also block my access. Both of them blasted my transport with everything they could. It was good tactics by him and showed that he had his eye on the prize. His infiltrators could relatively safely claim the relic. The other scythe hung back and shot at my tank, as did the tomb blades, who had moved into cover. He scored 1 glancing hit on the transport and the tank.

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Now my reserves came on, although unfortunately not the crisis suits.I should probably have concentrated on killing the flayed ones, but at the time I didn’t realise quite how important the race for the relic would be. Instead I brought the drones down near the destroyers. When they opened fire it pretty completely ineffective. I only inflicted 1 wound.

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My devilfish moved forward a bit, my stealth suits moved into the building for better cover and shot at the Arc, destroying 1 of the many weapons, and my fire-warriors fired ineffectively at the flayed ones. The bomber tried to bomb the flayed ones but missed. However the drones detached and shot one of the night scythes, scoring two hits. As the hammerhead had jinked I moved it at cruising speed and fired snap shots at the damaged night scythe, but it jinked out of the way.

Turn 3:

The damaged night scythe raced over to attack my drones and commander. He deployed his troops, who shot a lot of the drones. The destroyers lent their support, killing a few more and badly injuring the commander. The other night scythe took its place. The Arc and the troops inside shot at my devilfish and due to some poor jink rolls, managed to destroy it, scoring first blood.  The flayed ones ran for cover with the relic. I hadn’t realised that it could be moved and had nothing close enough to pursue them. The tomb blades shot ineffectively at the hammerhead, but did manage to force it to jink.

It was pretty clear that I was losing badly, despite the relatively low number of casualties. Fortunately the crisis suits came on, close enough to the stealth suits to use their teleport homer, and easily destroyed the Arc. The commander and his drones tried to finish off the damaged night scythe, but missed. My drones and hammerhead shot at the other night scythe, but it jinked out of the way. My bomber tried to bomb the destroyers, but did no damage. Most of the rest of the shooting was equally ineffective.

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Because we were practicing for a tournament we had given ourselves the same 1.5 hour time limit. We were virtually there and called the game. He had the relic and first blood. I only scored line breaker.

Necron victory: 4 : 1

There were a lot of things to learn from this. The main one was, go for the goal. I should have gone all out for the relic from the start. My commander could have done some damage there with his drones. When kill points don’t matter, I should not worry about conserving my troops. This is especially true in a timed game, where we will be stopped by the clock.

The drones from the bomber did quite well, but the bomber itself was not very effective. My hammerhead was jinking too often to shoot effectively. I need to think more about whether to bother jinking or not. I should also put more firepower against the night scythes as soon as they appear. Wrecking that and inflicting str 10, AP2 hits against all the troops inside would be the easiest way to take them out.

I also need to remember all my abilities. I didn’t remember the seeker missiles on my bomber or the upgrade to the commander, causing a unit’s weapons to get hot. There are too many things that I am forgetting.

It was a pretty strange game. Both armies proved very survivable. Only two transports were destroyed and a few drones smashed. My jinking and his armour combined with regeneration saved the rest.