Thursday, December 10, 2009

7 November 2009 Woodbridge NJ Tournament (Game 2)

Opponent: John (Mechanized Chaos Marines). John and I had been the only two players to be in the “defensive” role in the first scenario, and win the game by tabling the attacker. As a reward for such outside-the-box thinking, we ended up facing each other in the next round. With a very nasty 5e Chaos army that didn’t include very much extra fat or fluff at all, John’s force was going to be a real challenge to face.

Army: (1850 pts)
  • 1x Nurgle Demon Prince with Wings and Warptime
  • 1x Greater Daemon
  • 1x Chaos Lord with Daemon Weapon, + 9 Chaos Marines (including Fist and Melta), in Daemonically Possessed Land Raider
  • 1x 10 Plague Marines, including Fist, Melta, and Plasma, in Rhino with Extra Armor
  • 1x 10 Khorne Berzerkers, including Fist, in Rhino with Extra Armor and Dozer Blade
  • 1x 3 Obliterators
  • 1x Daemonically Possessed Vindicator

Mission: “The Fortress” Tournament Scenario: “Dawn of War” setup, with defender setting up first with up to 1 HQ, 2 troops, and all Heavies. The Attacker must start with all units on the table, and the defender has the first turn. The side that controls the objective (= “the Fortress”) at the end of the game wins. The “fortress” (a reinforced gate, with towers on each side, and a crenellated 6” wall on each side beyond that) is a terrain piece that is all within 9” of the defender’s board edge. As a secondary objective, if you slaughtered any one of your opponent’s HQ choices (including full retinue if it had one), you received bonus mission points.

Terrain: Apart from the monstrous Fortress on my table edge, there were a few small copses of trees on the far edge, and two low hills that really didn’t block much LOS at all in the middle of the table.

What happened?
John won the roll-off, and chose to be the Attacker, setting up under the cover of night. Being the idiot that I am (see “Turning the Tables, below), I set up my HQ and Heavies (all of them suits) in the Fortress, then used two units of Troops to “push back” John’s deployment as far as possible. The Troops essentially set up as sacrificial units midway across the table, giving John only 6” to deploy on his table edge. He “hid” his two units on foot (Demon Prince, Obliterators) behind vehicles to start the game, but had everything ready to drive full-speed across the table from the get-go.

That said, I immediately flubbed one of the biggest Dawn of War mission rules – although, in my defense, this mission was so badly written that nearly everyone in the tournament messed it up one way or another. I left the rest of my army in Reserves, instead of immediately bringing them onto the table on Turn 1. That could have made a big, big difference, but instead, I faced John’s entire (very assaulty) army with far less than half of mine.

I couldn’t see anything in the first turn, while John’s searchlights lit up one unit of Hornsuits (Broadsides) and lascannon fire from Obliterators killed some shield drones. At daybreak on Turn 2, I killed a Rhino (the Plaguemarines’ ride), and he ran down my two units of sacrificial Troops, who died ignominiously. My Reserves didn’t start to arrive until Turn 3, and only in drips and drabs – outflanking Scouts (Pathfinders) managed to immobilize the Chaos Vindicator, but it wasn’t going to shoot anyway, and risk killing his units busy chopping away at mine.

By the bottom of Turn 3, it was clear that I was playing for a draw, at best. All of John’s assault units were on or near the Fortress, all my firepower was dead, and what I had left were the units still in reserve, as well as a unit of Scouts (Pathfinders) well out of position that he’d been ignoring thus far. By careful use of reserves, and a few lucky breaks, I managed to slaughter one of his three Troops choices (the Berserkers), send one of them fleeing toward his table edge (the Chaos Marines and Lord), carefully herded by some drones, and tie up the Plaguemarines much too far away from the Fortress for them to claim it by the end of the game.

But no matter, because the game ended up going six turns, not five, and in that last turn, John rather decisively slaughtered the last of my units; he couldn’t claim any objectives, but he’d tabled me and gotten the automatic victory. At game’s end, I had killed one unit (the Berserkers), three vehicles (the Vindicator, and both Rhinos), munched through most of the Plaguemarines…and not much else.

Turning the Tables
There were two glaring mistakes I made in this game, which ended up being far closer than it really ought to have been given how foolishly I had screwed up. My first big mistake was choosing to deploy my starting Heavies and HQ on the objective – the one place on the board that was *guaranteed* to attract John’s units. I’d have been far better off deploying my forces into one or two firebases to either flank, well away from the Fortress, but with clear LOS to nearly everything within. That at least would have forced John to make some decisions about what he was and was not going to do with his vehicle rush.

Second, I completely flubbed the Reserve rules for the scenario. Instead of having ALL my firepower set-up and available in Turn 2 (moving in on Turn 1 as per standard Dawn of War rules), with John’s army out in the open after his first turn movement and ready to be slaughtered well outside assault range, I misunderstood the scenario rules and kept units in traditional Reserve. As it was, only the fact that I rolled so badly on my Reserve rolls gave me any shot at a draw at all – it meant that I was able to keep moving units onto the table and frustrating John’s attempts to secure an objective right next to my entry-point.

Perhaps if I had a more aggressive, assaulty army, a traditional Reserve would have been in my favor. But with a shooting-dependent list like the Tau, I desperately needed to have as much firepower as possible from the earliest possible moment, and my inability to do basic eighth-grade level reading comprehension led to some Epic Fail on my part.

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