Thursday, December 10, 2009

7 November 2009 Woodbridge NJ Tournament (Game 1)

Opponent: Jim B. (Mechanized Witch-hunters). Fielding a mounted Sisters of Battle force with a solid core of troops choices, and a number of specialized support units, Jim’s army was fairly mobile, and also came with a fairly nasty (if somewhat fragile) punch in the form of the Penitent Engines. As a side-note, Jim had converted his Inquisitor’s ride into a beautiful Sisters-of-Battle Land Raider, complete with custom side-turrets in place of sponsons, etc. Combined with his fantastic paint-job, and it was the centerpiece to an amazing-looking 40K army.

Army: (1850 pts)
  • 1x Canoness with Sword, Cloak, Book, and Mantle, with 5 Celestians in a Rhino
  • 1x Priest (tagging along)
  • 1x Canoness with Book
  • 1x Junior Inquisitor with Tarot, 2 Mystics and a Multimelta Gun-servitor, in a Land Raider
  • 3x Sisters squads with Veteran + Book, H-Flamer, Melta, and Rhino
  • 2x Exorcists
  • 3x Penitent Engines (in squadron)

Mission: “The Citadel” Tournament Scenario: defender sets up first in middle of table (in 5 pieces of AV-12 cover), attacker chooses two adjacent board edges (long + short) of their choice to deploy 6” in on. Defender goes first and must defend their 5 pieces of cover. Attacker must destroy as many of those objectives as possible – the “secondary objective” was basically just the fifth of the five objectives.

Terrain: Five pieces of AV-12 cover in the center of the table, and some (very very sparse) bits of trees and low walls around the table edge.

What happened?
Jim won the roll-off to determine attacker, and chose to attack – the sensible choice, given the mission objectives, and his load of melta and other firepowery goodness. I castled-up nearly all my units in/around the largest piece of cover, on one corner of the “Citadel”, in layers. Jim chose to set up on the long table-edge nearest to my set-up (no dummy, he!), with Penitent Engines in the center, two Rhinos on each side, the Land Raider behind some cover in one corner, and Exorcists and Inquisitor (and spare Canoness) behind some cover in the other.

I moved up all five units of the Brave (Fire Warriors), blocking up all easy access to my heavier guns, and opened fire – destroying all three Penitent Engines, killing three Rhinos, stunning the fourth (no extra armor on these Rhinos!), and killing a handful of Sisters as well. Jim was aghast at the damage I had done, but moved up with his units of (now foot-slogging) Sisters, killing 2 of my five units of Troops (and my ‘sacrificial’ HQ suit) between his Heavy Flamers and assaults, and destroying two objectives with long-range fire.

In turn two, my guns burped again, and I wiped out three of the four units of Sisters (including the uber-Canoness), leaving just one unit of Sisters on the table, and killed one of the two Exorcists (stunning the second). Jim’s shooting from his Land Raider was ineffectual, and I followed up in the next turn by wiping out the last of the Sisters (as well as the Inquisitor and his retinue in the far corner). But with an Exorcist and Land Raider still operational, Jim managed to kill a third objective, meaning that my only chance of winning the game was to table him.

I figured I would need the fourth and fifth turn to manage that, but I had lost only three units (two Troops choices and my HQ suit), and after one-shot-killing his Land Raider with my first Railgun shot in Turn 4, that left plenty of firepower for the Exorcist and last Rhino. I had a four-turn table, and still head nearly all my forces on the table.

Turning the Tables
This particular scenario was very favorable to the attacker, and only two defenders managed to win it in this tournament – myself, and an assault-happy Chaos player (John, who I played in game #2). In both cases, we did so by tabling our opponents, and not worrying about trying to protect the very fragile objectives.

In Jim’s case, however, there were several things he could have done to make his forces a bit more durable, and rack up a few more points for his own tournament score. First, he chose to start with all of his Rhinos, and all of his Penitent Engines, out in the open. He could have instead chosen to start with his entire army in Reserve, thus denying me the opportunity to get ANY shots off before jumping on me from anywhere along the two table-edges he chose.

Even if he wanted to start with his models on the table (bad idea as it was), he could still have arranged them a bit differently. For example, even though there wasn’t a whole lot of cover on the table, 6 inches deployment is still enough to create a Rhino screen for, say, a squadron of Penitent Engines. Or for another Rhino.

Second, Jim spent an entire turn (basically, his ONLY turn) shredding two of my infantry units with four of his. Though probably quite satisfying, this was (shall we say) an inefficient use of resources. With three meltas in his units, and four powerful long-range support units, he should have been doing everything possible to go after mission objectives. Even after the first turn, it was pretty clear that he simply didn’t have the firepower to match what I could put out – that in a straight up fight between 27 Sisters and 90 Slann/Tau, with his mobility gone, odds were against him. Going for mission objectives was the far better bet – there was a good chance that, had he done so, he could have racked up all five objectives and the maximum mission points by the end of the second turn, regardless of what I did to him then or later.

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