Wednesday, August 4, 2010

8-9 July 2010 Historicon Warhammer Ancients Tournaments (Intro)

This review of my games at Historicon 2010 will be somewhat different than normal.  Instead of writing individual battle reports for all my games, I’ll do a more general overview of my results, and what I learned while playing.  I’m doing this for two reasons:

(a) I was playing a completely new army list, and completely new army, using unit types I’ve never fielded before in Ancients games.  As a result, I don’t know that a detailed analysis provided by me would be terribly useful.

(b) I have enormous difficulty writing up battle reports for games that I didn’t much enjoy.  This is not to say that I had no fun at all, but let’s just say that one person cheated, one person was a bully, one person was both, and one other surprisingly lacking in social graces.  This meant that the games with the several other gamers I played with were somewhat overshadowed as a result, although I did have good fun with several quality opponents.

8-9 July 2010 Historicon Warhammer Ancients Tournaments (Analysis)

All my list construction theory was tested during actual fielding of the army, at which point I noticed a number of things:

(1) Elephants are quite punchy, but they are also very slow, and against large blocks of infantry really do need to be supported by another unit (ideally a second elephant).  Given how slow they are, they really can't be held in reserve, and putting them on a far flank is a bit of a risk -- there's a danger that they'll never actually get into battle at all.  Elephants need to be set up with a plan to throw them into the thick of the enemy, as soon as possible.

They are also an all-or-nothing investment, as I discovered that in half of my games, my elephants panicked fairly quickly, rampaging around the field uncontrollably after being either shot to pieces, or (more commonly) losing combat after doing poorly in melee against a large block of resilient infantry.

In my match-up with Heraclian Byzantines, all three of my elephants managed not just to stampede
but to stampede directly into each other at one point.  Pratfalls and other hilarity ensued.
In fact, in this picture, you can see the Greek skutatoi (spearmen) pointing and laughing.

8-9 July 2010 Historicon Warhammer Ancients Tournaments (Doubles Results)

Warhammer Ancients Doubles Tournament
Despite not teamed up in advance with anyone in the doubles event, I was confident that other singletons would be in attendance, with whom I could form an ad hoc alliance.  Indeed, I was matched upon my arrival to the event with Adam Hughes, fielding a Han Chinese army made up of four units of crossbows, four of spearmen, and seven heavy chariots -- plus general and battle standard on horse.  Despite some lackluster contributions on my part, the Nubian/Chinese tag-team still placed a respectable 6th out of 16 total teams.

Adam's Han Chinese force.  Hard to make out clearly in this picture is his fourth unit of crossbows,
which are in ranks in the center of his line, just back of the other crossbows.

8-9 July 2010 Historicon Warhammer Ancients Tournaments (Classical Results)

Ancients Tournament, Classical Division

In a change of pace for me – I have played in the Chivalry division (1200-1500 AD) division for many years – I entered the Classical (400 AD and before) division with my Nubians.  In what was possibly one of the more…interesting…aspects of the tournament (and something that managed to very neatly suck out what enjoyment I’d had during the course of the three games I played), I realized later that the tournament organizer had not been joking when he told me I had intentionally been matched up against three armies with drilled infantry – the bane of an Elephant army list.  Out of 12 players (and 11 possible opponents), only four fielded drilled infantry.  I faced three of those four, twice being re-matched in later rounds to ensure I faced drilled infantry.  The tournament standings (and round-by-round results) that support this grim conclusion are all available online.  Ah, organizer shenanigans.  How exciting.

Despite this, I somehow managed to pull a draw in all three of my games, and finish a moderately respectable 5th out of 12 total players.  And by the end of the third game, I felt I had a fairly solid grasp of what I should be doing with my Nubians on the tabletop.

Friday, June 11, 2010

22 May 2010 “Planet Urr-Ass” Warmonger 40K Tournament (Intro)

Having been looking forward to a ‘local’ tournament (Big Apple) at my ‘home’ club (the Warmongers) for a number of months now, I tweaked my existing Sisters of Battle lists, and put together an 1850-point force for the patently silly “Defense of Planet Urr-Ass” tournament.  This variant keeps the ‘core’ of nine Immolators, filled with meltas, flamers, and an Inquisitor Lord (with more meltas!), adds a few extra flamers, and includes a little long-range supporting fire in the form of nine IG Autocannon teams (in various units).  It’s a pretty nasty ‘all-comers’ list, or at least intended to be, and gives me a ton of Objective-holding units, as well as some long-range vehicle-busting firepower to support my primary focus of heavy close-range firepower.

What did I bring?
  • Demonhunter Inquisitor Lord with Tarot, Psychic Hood, and BP+CCW, with retinue of 2 Mystics and 3 Meltagun Veterans
  • Canoness with Book, Eviscerator, and Bolt Pistol, with one unit of Celestians (see next)
  • 4x 5 Celestians (including 2 Meltaguns, and Krinophora with BP+CCW)
  • 2x 5 Dominions (including 4 Flamers, and Krinophora with Brazier & BP)
  • 2x 5 Adeptus (Stormtroopers with Shotguns, including 2 Meltaguns)
  • 9x Immolators with Smoke Launchers (6 are dedicated transports)
  • 1x 5 Inducted Infantry Platoon Command (2 Snipers, Autocannon team)
  • 2x 10 Inducted Infantry Squad (Autocannon team)
  • 2x 3 Heavy Weapons Team (3x Autocannon teams)

22 May 2010 “Planet Urr-Ass” Warmonger 40K Tournament (Game 1)

Opponent: Jeff (Tyranids).  A boisterous fellow convinced utterly of the fundamental weakness of his choice of codex, Jeff insisted that my masses of flamers and meltas would make short work of his forces.  I was a bit less certain either of his convictions was actually the case, but isn’t that what you play the game for – to find out?

Army: (1850 pts)
  • Swarmlord and one accompanying Tyrant Guard
  • 2x 3 Hiveguard
  • 2x 8 Genestealers
  • 2x Tervigons
  • 2x 10 Termagants
  • 3x Trygons
Mission: Dawn of War/Annihilation.  The mission had a modified KP rule, with HQs worth 3 VP, Troops and Transports worth 1 VP, ‘newly created’ units worth 0 VP, and all other units worth 2 VPs.

Terrain: Cityfight.  A moderate quantity of ruined buildings were scattered across the field, with two of the bulkiest buildings right in the center of the table.  In all, there was more than enough terrain to force my transports to split up and have to pick one of several avenues of advance, and plenty of cover everywhere, but very little actual LOS-blocking, apart from my vehicles neatly blocking my own LOS at ground level….oops.

22 May 2010 “Planet Urr-Ass” Warmonger 40K Tournament (Game 2)

Opponent: Vinny (Sisters of Battle).  A very odd duck, Vinny was fielding a very mixed bag of forces, heavy on Exorcists (converted from Marine Whirlwinds, not the “Church Organ” variety currently sold by GW), and backed by Chimeras and inducted Guardsmen.  If nothing else, it was quite beautifully painted, but I wasn’t sure how it would match up against a rather sleeker, punchier (at close range) force like my own.

Army: (1850 pts)
  • Jumppack Canoness (with Cloak, Inferno Pistol, Blessed Weapon, and Book)
  • Jumppack Canoness (with Cloak, Mantle, Master-Crafted Eviscerator, and Book)
  • Junior Inquisitor with Tarot, 2 Mystics, and 3 Heavy Bolter Servitors
  • 2x 10 Sisters (Heavy Flamer, Meltagun, Veteran with Book) in Rhino with Extra Armor, Smoke, and Searchlight
  • 1x 7 Grey Knights (with two Psycannons)
  • 1x 5 Inducted IG Platoon Command (with 4 Flamers, in Chimera with Multi/HFlamer)
  • 2x 10 Inducted IG Squad (with Grenade, Autocannon, in Chimera with Multi/HFlamer)
  • 3x Exorcist
Mission: Pitched Battle/Seize Ground (12” deployment and 2 objectives)

Terrain: Cityfight. An enormous low ruin dominated the center of the table, with two-story ruins on three of the four corners, and a huge (five-story) ruined building offset a ways from the fourth corner of that large center ruin.  The huge building happened to be in Vinny’s corner in this game.  The two objectives were placed on two adjacent corners of the enormous ruined area in the center of the table, one in Vinny’s deployment zone and one in my deployment zone.

22 May 2010 “Planet Urr-Ass” Warmonger 40K Tournament (Game 3)

Opponent: George (Thousand Sons).  A cheerful fellow with a brightly painted army list, George told me that he had fond memories of having gotten beaten by me, many years previously.  I responded that it was more than a little likely that he would be returning the favor, and then we got to the grim/serious task of getting stomped like a rented red-headed bug into the ground by our Fearsome Foe.  To mix an idiom or three.

Army: (1850 pts)
  • Sorceror Lord with Lash, Force Weapon, Meltabombs, Mark of Slaanesh
  • 1x 9 Thousand Sons (including Sorcerer with Bolt of Change and Force Weapon)
  • 2x 10 Thousand Sons (including Sorceror with Wind of Chaos and Force Weapon)
  • 2x Rhinos with Extra Armor, Smoke, Searchlight
  • 1x 8 Thousand Son Terminators (all with different equipment)
  • 2x 2 Obliterators
  • Vindicator with Daemonic Possession
Mission: Spearhead/Capture & Control (corners deployment, and a pre-specified 4 objectives in this game)

Terrain: Cityfight – the same board I had faced Vinny in the previous game. An enormous low ruin dominated the center of the table, with two-story ruins on three of the four corners, and a huge (five-story) ruined building offset a ways from the fourth corner of that large center ruin.  The huge building happened to be in George’s corner in this game – he placed one objective on the top story, and one objective well off to the far side of the table.  I placed one objective on the bottom story, and the last one twelve inches away, in the middle of an open area between the huge building, the huge ruin, and some nearby ruins.

22 May 2010 “Planet Urr-Ass” Warmonger 40K Tournament (Postscript)

Given that it took place the weekend after the first round of the ‘Ard Boyz Tournament, turn-out was (kindly put) relatively low: a grand total of six players showed up for the Warmonger tournament on 22 May.  That said, I think it was an overall positive: the club space, in the basement of the Compleat Strategist, was never over-crowded, and the players were relaxed and having a pretty good time.  And despite the silly name, the missions and scoring were balanced and well thought-out, and the tournament was well-organized and well-run under the auspices of longtime Warmonger Lou (aka “Gunslinger”).

What I didn’t realize until after the tournament was over was that, apart from my two minor losses (and attendant minor victories for Jeff and George), EVERY OTHER game in the tournament (seven in total) ended in a Massacre result.  Lee ended up the overall champion with three Massacre victories, with George, Jeff and myself all clustered together: the former two with a minor and Massacre victory, and me with a Massacre (against Vinny) and two minor losses.  Had Jeff or I actually fully painted our forces, we would have been in an effective three-way tie with George for second place.

Friday, May 7, 2010

24 April 2010 FrAG (Frederick Area Gamers) Tournament (Intro)

The fine gentlemen of the Frederick Area Gamers were putting together another small-scale tournament in Glen Burnie, Maryland, and having had a long series of very positive tournament experiences with the Maryland crews, I was looking forward to another geat series of games.  Based on feedback from their tournament the previous month (in March), the FrAG guys chose to lower the points value for this tournament slightly, to 1850 points, to keep games moving a little faster.  Although I had done remarkably little work on my Slann (Tau Empire proxy) army in the months since I had used it last, I decided this was a fine time to debut the Slightly Modified And Updated (with Kroot!) army list.

The most significant changes this list sees at 1850 points are as follows: I have traded out 44 Fire Warriors (and several upgrades), for a Hammerhead, for Missile-Pod/Plasma-Rifle combinations on the Crisis Suits, and for two mid-sized units of Kroot with Hounds.  In other words, this means a moderate downgrade in S5 firepower (albeit from very static units), in exchange for more high-strength firepower and more effective screen/sacrificial units.  It also meant that I would be using the converted Chronopia Lizardmen models that got me interested in creating a 40K Slann army in the first place – but I just hadn’t found a good use for Kroot in 4th edition, and hadn’t gotten around to trying them in a 5th edition game yet.  Now was the chance to see what they could do!

What did I bring?
  • Third Servant (Shas’el) with Missile Pod, Plasma, Multi, Target-Lock, Blacksun Filter, and Target Array.
  • 2x 3-suit Rangers (Crisis Suits) with Missile Pod, Plasma, and Multi-tracker.
  • 2x 8-model Braves (Fire Warriors), with Ld8 upgrade
  • 2x 10-model Slann Warrior-Philosophers (Kroot), plus 4 Hounds each unit
  • 2x 8-model Scouts (Pathfinders), with Ld8 upgrade, in Transports with D-Pod, Flechette, and Multi
  • 2x 2-model Hornsuits (Broadsides) with Target Array, plus one model with Blacksun and 2 Shield Drones
  • Quasar-class Stonecruiser (Hammerhead) with Railgun, Smart Missiles, D-Pod, Target Lock, and Multi

24 April 2010 FrAG (Frederick Area Gamers) Tournament (Game 1)

Opponent: Dave (Blood Angels).  Earnest, soft-spoken, and pretty talented with the strategery, Dave was one of the younger gamers in attendance, and a good friend of Tien, my Tyranid opponent from the previous tournament.  He was fielding a dual Land Raider assault army, which had the additional intriguing (terrifying!) twist of being Blood Angel flavored – meaning who knows what, as I still didn’t have a copy of the codex.  But I was sure there would be any number of nasty surprises for me in the game, and I also knew that should either Land Raider get to my lines, the game was going to be over for my guys.  I sure hoped my Railguns wouldn’t let me down!

Army: (1850 pts)
  • Furioso Librarian with Assault and Jumping powers
  • 2x Vindicators
  • 5 Terminators & Librarian inside Standard Land Raider
  • 5 Death Company inside Redeemer Land Raider
  • 1x10 Tactical Marines with Lascannon & Flamer
  • 1x7 Tactical Marines with Plasma Cannon
Mission: “Storm of Annihilation” special mission.  Pitched Battle set-up (12” deployment), with night-fight rules in the first turn.  Primary objective is kill points.  Secondary objective is to capture (any unit may capture) the sole objective (the ‘vortex’), which moves 1d6” in a random direction at the start of each player’s turn.  Tertiary objective is to get a scoring unit into your opponent’s deployment zone at any point in the game.

Terrain: Some high hills scattered around the table blocked LOS to smaller (standard infantry-sized) units, but between those hills and some blocks of trees, there was plenty of cover but very little place to actually hide out of LOS if you were larger than an infantry marine or Fire Warrior model.

24 April 2010 FrAG (Frederick Area Gamers) Tournament (Game 2)

Opponent: Vaden “Hobbybreaker” (Space Marines).  Winner of the last tournament, the intense and deliciously sarcastic Vaden had earned his “Hobbybreaker” nickname due to some unusual circumstances that led to one of his (very unbalanced) opponents from that last tournament stomping out of the store mid-game in a huff, and subsequently place his (fully painted and converted!) army up for bid on e-bay, along with the rant about how he would never be playing Warhammer again.  “Hobbybreaker” indeed!  I had never played against Vaden previously, but he came with quality recommendations for being a good sport, and also a very good gamer.  He was fielding a fast and highly mobile Ravenwing-proxy army, using the Marine codex, led by none other than Khan (or at least, a proxy on a bike), a very different kind of list from his usual mechanized Imperial Guard.

Army: (1850 pts)
  • Khan Special Character, on bike
  • 5-man Command Squad with Storm Shields, Apothecary, and misc close combat gear
  • 3x 5-man Troop Bikers with twin meltaguns, and attached (6th-man) multimelta Attack bikes
  • 3x Rifleman (two twin-linked Autocannon) dreadnoughts
  • 3x Typhoon Landspeeders with Heavy Bolters
Mission: “Rogue Trader” special mission.  Pitched Battle set-up (12” deployment), with five objectives placed before deployment.  Primary mission is to capture the most objectives.  Secondary objective is most victory points, and tertiary mission is to kill your opponent’s most expensive HQ choice.

Terrain: One sewage treatment pool (and attached building) created both cover and some LOS-blocking in Vaden’s far-right (my far left) corner.  Otherwise, a moderate amount of trees and craters, and one low hill, provided plenty of cover, but no real way to hide out of LOS, throughout the table.  My side of the table had a crater, the sole hill, and some trees; Vaden’s side had the sewage treatment plant, some craters, and some trees, with some more trees and craters in the middle.  The objectives were mostly on ‘my’ half of the table, with only one on Vaden’s half of the board.

24 April 2010 FrAG (Frederick Area Gamers) Tournament (Game 3)

Opponent: Bobby (Orks).  One of the FrAG club’s long-time core members, I’d known Bobby for a number of years but don’t believe I’ve ever had the pleasure of playing him.  A cheerful and avid gamer, he was fielding a classic Ork horde list, and I felt particularly lucky to have the chance to face off against such a fluffy and characterful Warhammer army. 

Army: (1850 pts)
  • 2x Big Meks with Kustom Force Fields
  • 3x 30-ork Slugga/Choppa mobs, including 2 Rokkits, and Bosspole Nob with Powerklaw
  • 1x 30-ork Shoota mob, including 3 Big Shootas, and Bosspole Nob with Big Choppa
  • 1x Deff Dread with 2 Skorchas
  • 2x 2-ork Deffkopta squads, with twin Rokkits each
  • 3x 3-kan Killa Kan mobs, two mobs with Grotzookas, one mob with Rokkits
Mission: “Domination” special mission.  Spearhead deployment (corners, with 12” radius from the center-point a no-deploy zone), with night-fight rules in effect for turns 6 and 7 (if the game lasted that long).  Primary objective was to control the most board corners at the game’s end.  Secondary was to kill all of your opponent’s Troops choices, and tertiary was to kill your opponent’s most expensive non-Troop choice, not including dedicated transports.

Terrain: Four very tall hills blocked LOS, but only one was positioned between two catercorners; the other three were well off to the sides, providing great vantage points to shoot from, but basically not going to play much of a role otherwise.  Several large clusters of trees provided additional cover to units, but there was plenty of open “killing ground” between all the terrain.

24 April 2010 FrAG (Frederick Area Gamers) Tournament (Postscript)

After another highly enjoyable and entertaining day of gaming with the FrAG (and Inner Circle) gaming crowd in Glen Burnie, I realized several surprising things:

First, the mix of armies and codices in attendance at this tournament was (unusually) majority non-Marine!  In all, among 14 attendees, there were seven Xenos players (2x Orks, 2x Tau, 2x Eldar, 1x Demons), two Imperial non-Marine players (both Sisters), and only five Marine lists (2x Blood Angels, 2x Marines, and 1x Dark Angels).  Ironically, given the mix of armies in attendance, I played two of my three games against Marines.  But still, an excellent time had by yours truly, and I particularly enjoyed the opportunity I had to face off against the classic Ork horde list fielded by Bobby in my last match.

Second, I received very high sportsmanship scores from all my opponents, and would have received the Best Sportsman award were it not for some tiebreakers.  While I’ll admit to occasionally being a fun opponent, I’ve never thought of myself as an extremely sporting and friendly fellow.  What’s more, in my experience I tend to do worse on sportsmanship when fielding very shooty armies (like, for example, the Slann army I was using in this tournament).  Indeed, at one point in my gaming career, my sportsmanship scores were exceptional for being especially LOW.  I guess I’ve grown up a little – that, or all three of my opponents were smoking something of remarkably good quality.

Saturday, April 3, 2010

1 April 2010, at the Warmonger Club in NYC

Opponent: Lee (Tyranids).  One of the competitive New York City Warmonger club’s young turks, Lee had just returned from Adepticon where he had placed third overall*.  He was testing out a new twist to his Tyranid list, a beautifully painted army that is still in the process of being fully updated to the new Codex.  The last time we had faced each other, my Slann (Tau Empire proxy list) had virtually wiped out his tyranid horde, only to lose the game due to Lee having cannily destroyed my Troops choices… albeit only my Troops choices… and ending the game with more objectives than I.

(*in Fantasy, Lee pointed out)

My List: (1850 pts)
  • Palatine with Book & Executioner, with x5 Celestians (2 Meltas) in Immolator with Smoke
  • 3x5 Celestians (2 Meltas) in Immolator with Smoke
  • 3x5 Adeptus Arbites (2 Meltas) with Shotguns, in Immolator with Smoke
  • 3x5 Dominions (2 Flamers) in Immolator with Smoke
  • Inducted Guard Platoon Command with 4 Flamers
  • 3x Inducted Guard Squads with Autocannon
Lee’s Army: (1850 pts)
  • Tyranid Prime
  • 3x3 Hive Guard
  • 2x Tyrannofexes, kitted out
  • 2x Tervigons, kitted out
  • 2x10 Termagants
  • 1x30 Hormagaunts
Mission: Spearhead (corner deployment) and Capture and Control (2 objectives, one in each deployment zone)

Terrain: Cityfight.  A large ruined building very nicely provided cover (and blocked some LOS) in the center of the table, and smaller ruins clustered in each of our corners also provided more (if sparse) cover for units in each deployment zone.  We each placed our objective far back in our corners, behind the furthest-most ruined building.

27 March 2010 FrAG (Frederick Area Gamers) Tournament (Intro)

The 3167th is a “Revenant” regiment, nominally part of a Necromundan founding (and indeed, the largest single portion of the regiment is the several platoons of Underhive gangers that still makes up its infantry core), but consisting of orphaned squads and platoons from dozens of different, nearly annihilated Imperial Guard units.  As a result, the regiment is a constantly changing hodge-podge of traditions, uniforms, equipment, and units, but nevertheless an effective fighting unit due to the experience of the battle-hardened survivors that make up its highly diverse ranks.

3167th Necromunda “Revenants” (2000 pts)
  • Company Commander with Fleet Officer, Standard, 2 Bodyguards
  • 2x Platoon Command with 2 Meltas, each in Chimera with turret Heavy Flamer
  • 6x IG Infantry squads (3 per platoon) – 3xMissile, 2xLascannon, 1xAutocannon
  • 4x Autocannon Heavy Weapon Squads
  • x3 Scout Sentinels with Autocannon (in squadron)
  • Hellhound
  • Exterminator with three Heavy Bolters and Pask
  • 2x Executioner with Plasma sponsons and hull Lascannon

What did I bring?
After having fielded a basically unpainted Sisters of Battle army in two successive tournaments, I decided to change things up for this FrAG tournament.  It’s much nicer for opponents to face a fully painted army, after all.  My initial thought was to field a re-worked Slann (proxy Tau Empire) army list, with fewer Fire Warriors and with some converted Kroot and Piranhas making up the extra points, but I ran into a problem: I just didn’t have the desire to finish the painting in time.  Oh well.

Fortunately, I have several fully painted armies, including over 6,000 points of fully painted Imperial Guardsmen – I’ve been playing Warhammer 40K for a  looooong time, and Imperial Guard has been my army of choice for many years.  So I dug around my collection and threw together a list that (a) had all the autocannons I owned, shoe-horned into it, (b) was infantry heavy, and yet still (c) easy enough to transport and set-up without worrying too much about finding enough cover for every model.

27 March 2010 FrAG (Frederick Area Gamers) Tournament (Game 1)

Opponent: Tien (Tyranids).  A cheerful younger gamer with an eclectic but quite punchy collection of Tyranid models, Tien was fielding a number of very nice conversions in his list, including Giger-esque Ymgarl Stealers, multi-legged kitbashes standing in for Tervigons, and an imposing Broodlord straight out of the Space Hulk game.  This was my first game against the new Tyranids, and I wasn’t sure how well my infantry-heavy Guard army would do, but there’s no better way to learn than to face the chittering horde.

Army: (2000 pts)
  • Hive Tyrant with lots of Psychic Powers
  • Carnifex with all Talons, and Bioplasma
  • Trygon Prime
  • Mawloc
  • Zoanthrope

  • x3 Hive Guard
  • x10 Ymgarl Genestealers
  • x10 Gargoyles
  • 2x Tervigons
  • 2x10 Termagants
  • x15 Hormagaunts
  • x10 Genestealers with Broodlord upgrade
Mission: “Cleanse” – table-quarters deployment, and the first two turns are played with Nightfight rules.  Primary objective: capture quarters (as objectives).  Secondary/Tertiary bonuses: gain the most VPs, and kill the enemy’s most expensive HQ choice.

Terrain: Cityfight.  The table had a lot of low ruins (about eight) scattered about, with two pieces of area ruined terrain as well.  There was one large intact three-story building in my corner, and a large multi-story factory building in Tien’s corner.  (We treated both as area terrain, to make things simpler).  Line-of-sight at ground level was decent, but with plenty of obstructing terrain no matter which direction you looked.

27 March 2010 FrAG (Frederick Area Gamers) Tournament (Game 2)

Opponent: Tim (Tau Empire), a.k.a. “Old Shatter Hands” from the Tau of War gaming blog.  A soft-spoken, thoughtful fellow with a beautifully painted Tau army, I discovered after the battle that Tim had intentionally reworked his army list in order to do something a bit less predictable with the Tau.  Fully aware of what the Tau were capable of, I was a bit nervous about facing them with the Imperial Guard, but at least I knew that neither of us would be making much use of the Assault Phase of the game.

Army: (2000 pts)
  • Commander (BS5) and two Bodyguards (BS4) with Plas/Missile, plus two Gun Drones and gear
  • Shas’el (solo, BS5) with Fusion/Missile
  • 1x3 Crisis Suits (BS3) with twin-Missile and Flamer
  • 1x3 Broadsides (BS4) with Smart Missiles and two Shield Drones
  • 2x8 Fire Warriors, in Devilfish with D-Pod and Multi-tracker
  • 1x5 Pathfinders, in Devilfish with D-Pod and Multi-tracker
  • 1x10 Kroot, plus 5 Kroot Hounds
  • x3 Piranha (BS4) with Fusion and D-Pods
  • x1 Hammerhead (BS4) with Railgun, Smart Missiles, D-Pod, Multitracker, Target Lock
  • x1 Skyray (BS4) with Smart Missiles, D-Pod, Multitracker, Target Lock
Mission: “Total Annihilation” – 12 inch deployment from long table edge.  Primary objective: kill points.  Secondary/Tertiary bonuses: get at least one Troops choice into the enemy deployment zone at any point in the game, and kill the most expensive enemy unit.

Terrain: Cityfight.  The table had several large pieces of area terrain ruins spread through the center of the table, three two-story ruins scattered about the table, a very solid bunker (on Tim’s side of the table), and a four-story ruin on the left side of my deployment zone.

27 March 2010 FrAG (Frederick Area Gamers) Tournament (Game 3)

Opponent: Marc (Space Wolves).  The entirely deserving winner of the Best Sportsmanship award, Marc is a boisterous, gregarious, hilarious, and also deceptively canny and skilled wargamer.  With Marc fielding a Space Wolf army capable of getting almost anywhere on the table it needs to, complete with some beautiful (albeit non-GW) Thunderwolf models, I knew that the game would come down to the first one or two turns of the game – could I stop the Thunderwolves and tie up the Drop-podders long enough to gain the advantage?  Or would the Space Wolves instead tear through my massed infantry?

Army: (2000 pts)
  • Wolf Lord on Thunderwolf, plus another character on Thunderwolf, in a unit of 4 Thunderwolf cavalry, plus two “ablative” wolves
  • Runepriest in Terminator Armor with Force Lightning ability
  • 1x15 Wolves
  • 1x5 Scouts with meltagun, plus Wolfguard with combi-melta
  • 3x10 Grey Hunters with two Meltaguns in Drop-pods
  • 2x5 Longfangs (6 Missile Launchers, 2 Lascannons total), each with Wolfguard champ
Mission: “King of the Hill” – 12 inch deployment from long table edge, and each player gets to place one objective marker.  Primary objective: have the most units (of any type) within 6 inches of the center of the table.  Secondary/Tertiary bonuses: wipe out all enemy Troops choices, and capture at least one objective marker.
Terrain: My third Cityfight in a row!  Both Marc and I had already fought on this table, so we randomly re-arranged the terrain with the use of 3d6 and scatter dice, resulting in a circle of area terrain and ruined buildings surrounding a totally open kill zone in the very center of the table, easily 20 inches across, and almost 48 inches wide.  We each placed our objective on the leading edge of a large piece of area terrain, overlooking the Kill Zone in the center of the table.

27 March 2010 FrAG (Frederick Area Gamers) Tournament (Postscript)

Although I always enjoy participating in the FrAG and Inner Circle tournaments in Glen Burnie, I had a particularly good time in this tournament.  I faced three knowledgeable and extremely sporting opponents, all with distinctive and flavorful armies, and got a chance to field an old standby of mine (Imperial Guard) using the latest codex.  Guard are still quite shooty, and infantry guard are still very static and somewhat brittle – but much more effective in the current edition and codex than I feared they might be.  They're almost certainly going back into semi-retirement for the time being, but my Imperial Guard can now be certain that they can field a competitive list that I can credibly play at need; a good thing to know, particularly if I ever manage to begin regular club play again.

My Guard finished +1=1-1 at the tournament, and placed 8th out of 18 total, about right for how I did overall.  About the only gripe I could have about this tournament was my painting score – I earned 8 points out of 15, for an army that was fully painted AND heavily converted.  I earned fewer points than some partially unpainted and WIP armies (!), so I’m not sure exactly how this particular bit was scored.  That said, it’s not really a big deal, as I didn’t expect to win the event, and certainly had a great time against some class opponents, an experience I wouldn’t trade for just a few more points in the tournament.  I mean, honestly, what’s the difference between 6th or 7th place, and 8th (where I placed)?

About half the armies at this tournament (10 of 18) were Marine or Marine variants (including three Space Wolves, one Blood Angels, and two very vicious Chaos Marine armies), and there were a good mix of Xenos armies in attendance as well – three Nids, two Tau, and an Eldar player.  No Inquisition armies in this tournament, and the overall winner was a heavily mechanized Guard list.  Go, guard!

As for the future, in the next few months, I plan to keep working on revising my Slann (proxy Tau Empire) army list, and to begin putting paint to my Sisters of Battle immolator list.  I’ll probably take my time on the second project, however, as I understand that the Inquisition codex is due out later this calendar year, or possibly early in 2011.  I’ll keep tweaking and practicing with what I have now, but try not to get too locked into a single army design just months before a new codex comes out.

Thanks again to my three excellent opponents – Tien, Tim, and Marc – and to my earnest and hard-working hosts (and tourney organizers) at the Frederick Area Gamers.  I’ll be sure to keep coming down to Maryland and participating in tournaments, so long as you guys continue to put together such amiable and friendly competitive events.

Friday, March 5, 2010

20 February 2010 Inner Circle High Stakes Jamboree and Pancake Breakfast (Intro)

What did I bring?
The Inner Circle Gaming Club was putting together something they called a “Pancake Breakfast Tournament” at Games & Stuff in Glen Burnie, MD.  With a name like that I knew I was going to have to go and check out what was happening, and with 2000 points to put together a 40K army, it was going to be a few nights of modeling just to put together the units I thought I would like to field.

Taking a page from YTTH, the following is a variation of the Sisters of Battle “Immolator Spam” list I had used at the previous Inner Circle tournament.  At the time, I had noticed several things about the army I had been using that made me want to upgrade its capabilities:

20 February 2010 Inner Circle High Stakes Jamboree and Pancake Breakfast (Game 1)

Opponent: Steve S (Imperial Guard).  A cheerful fellow with a mechanized Guard army slightly more painted than my own force, Steve was brutally honest about what a mish-mash his own force was.  Between the Hellhounds and Immolators, however, it was going to be one flamer-crazy ride, and we both knew that any model wearing less than full power armor was going to vanish off the tabletop in a gout of blazing promethium if there were any enemy vehicles nearby.

Army: (2000 pts)
  • 5x Chimeras (2x Vet with 3 Plasma, 2x Vet with 3 Melta, HQ with Astropath)
  • 4x Hellhounds in 2 squadrons
  • 2x Sentinels with Lascannon, in squadron
  • 2x Leman Russ Executioner with HPG sponsons and LC hull
  • 1x Basilisk
Mission: Annihilation, Pitched Battle.  The only variation to the usual rules was that the victor would be determined by 4th-edition Victory Points, rather than Kill Points.

20 February 2010 Inner Circle High Stakes Jamboree and Pancake Breakfast (Game 2)

Opponent: M (Sisters of Battle).  I shall call him simply “M”, because there’s no point in calling out someone by their real name on the Internet if you’ve got nothing nice to say.  Indeed, this was a thoroughly unpleasant game against a thoroughly unpleasant individual, and easily one of the least enjoyable games I have played in years.  And I had gone into the game with such high hopes for an interesting Sisters-vs-Sisters matchup.

Army: (2000 pts)
  • Canoness with Mantle, Book, Cloak, Blessed Weapon, 6x Celestian Retinue, Veteran with Eviscerator, and Priest with Eviscerator
  • Junior Inquisitor with 2 Mystics and a Land Raider transport
  • 2x 10 Battle Sisters with 2 Meltas and Veteran Sister, in Rhino (no upgrades)
  • 2x 9 Dominion Sisters with 4 Meltas and Veteran Sister, in Rhino (no upgrades)
  • 2x5 Imperial Storm Troops, with 2 Plasmas
  • 3x Exorcists
Mission: Dawn of War, Seize Ground.  4th-edition style Victory Points were also to be recorded, to help determine the overall tournament victor.

20 February 2010 Inner Circle High Stakes Jamboree and Pancake Breakfast (Game 3)

Opponent: Brett A (Eldar).  An extremely pleasant and earnest fellow with a bit of wry wit about him, Brett was fielding a beautifully painted Eldar army, which he apologized for as it was not (quite) fully painted.  See, as a long-time Eldar player and fanatic, Brett was still in the process of repainting one of his Dire Avenger squads, and thus the color scheme didn’t match the rest of his forces.  Unlike my army, of course, which was a more-or-less uniform shade of grey spray primer…

Army: (2000 pts)
  • 2 Farseers (Fortune only) and 10 Warlocks, all with Witchblades, in a Shuricannon Waveserpent with Spiritstones
  • 2x10 Dire Avengers including Exarch with Bladestorm in Brightlance Waveserpent with Spiritstones
  • 3x6 Fire Dragons in Scatterlaser Waveserpent with Spiritstones
  • 2x5 units of Rangers
Mission: Spearhead, Secure and Control (3 objectives).  4th-edition style Victory Points were also to be recorded, to help determine the overall tournament victor.

20 February 2010 Inner Circle High Stakes Jamboree and Pancake Breakfast (Postscript)

Well, one good game to start, one great game to end, and one godawful nightmare of a game that I at least took control of, in the middle.  The tournament format also awarded prizes to players who won games (at all) during the format, so despite the fact that I only placed, and didn’t win anything of consequence, I still ended up with some gift certificates.  I immediately put them to good use, purchasing the new Tyranid codex (know thy enemy) and some Gale Force 9 vehicle condition markers (extremely useful for an army list like this, as I have discovered!)

The tournament was very well attended, with 30 gamers, and no less than four (!) Sisters of Battle players.  I placed 7th overall, which I’m fairly happy with – although I do kick myself a little for letting my second opponent M get away with points that should have been mine, it’s not like it would have mattered that much in the final rankings.  A good mix of lists participated, with a decent amount of mechanization – a good thing in 5th edition, of course.  I actually faced three non-Marine armies, but this wasn’t that unusual, as the make-up of the army lists was quite variable:

Sunday, February 14, 2010

Retrospective: 17 July 2009 Historicon WAB Medievals (Intro)

Events had conspired to make it impossible for me to attend the annual historical miniature gamer geekfest known as Historicon for several years, and I had been itching to get back into Warhammer Ancient Battles for a while. I had also been putting the ‘finishing touches’ on an army of Medieval Burgundy for over half-a-dozen years, and this looked like the perfect opportunity to finally finish painting the last few units of my force.

Medieval Burgundy was, at the height of its power in the 1400’s AD, basically the northeastern part of what is now France (Bourgogne and Alsace-Lorraine), plus most of Belgium, Luxemburg, and the Netherlands (and a sliver of what is now the western part of Germany). It was in effect a powerful independent nation that came into regular conflict with France (to whom it was technically a vassal), and even allied with England against France during the Hundred Years’ War.

Retrospective: 17 July 2009 Historicon WAB Medievals (Game 1)

Opponent: Justin Tebo (Low Countries). A soft-spoken and very intense opponent, Justin was fielding a pikeman-heavy force with a credible left and right hook (knights and halberdiers). An actual historically plausible conflict, this set up my Burgundians against a mercenary force of guilders and middle-class townsfolk from what is now the Benelux nations. Bloody rebels, anarchists, and republicans, is what they were, and no well-bred Burgundian nobleman was going to stand for it, I can tell you!

Army: (1500 pts)
  • 1x10 Knights (including General)
  • 2x24 Pikemen
  • 1x16 Heavy Infantry with Halberds
  • 2x10 Skirmishing Handgunners
  • 1x20 Longbowmen
  • 1x Light Cannon (and crew)
Mission: “Running Fight” – both armies start off the table, and bring a unit at a time onto the table. Deployment begins very slowly, with only one unit coming onto the table every two turns, but speeds up after Turn 6. Each player secretly determines in advance the order in which their units enter, and must stick to that sequence. Table quarters do not count for victory points, but the “village” on the table counts for a bonus 400 points.

Retrospective: 17 July 2009 Historicon WAB Medievals (Game 2)

Opponent: Tom Eiche (Teutonic Knights). A very cheerful and energetic young gamer with a brightly painted army – the white tunics were nearly blinding! – Tom had a very straight-forward ‘beat face’ strategy that perfectly fit the style of his army list. Playing a crusader order transplanted to the Balkans, and which eventually forms the foundation of the Kingdom of Prussia (and thus, modern Germany), the Teutonic Knights and Burgundians meet on the field of battle in a wonderfully unlikely conflict. Maybe we’re fighting over Denmark or Saxony?

Army: (2000 pts)
  • 1x10 Teutonic Knights (plus General, ASB, and Character)
  • 1x10 Light Cavalry (Lithuanians)
  • 1x13 Medium Cavalry (Turcopoles with Heavy Armor and Spears)
  • 1x18 Heavy Infantry with Halberds
  • 1x10 Skirmishing Handgunners
  • 1x18 Crossbows
Mission: “Collision!” – before the game, each player divides their list into three sections, each worth between 500 and 1000 points. They deploy their armies alternating with the other player, and deploy each section all at once. The 2nd-largest section in terms of point value (“vanguard”) deploys first, then the largest section (“mainguard”), and finally the smallest section (“rearguard”). Deployment takes place in opposite corners, with a 24-inch-wide no-man’s-land running diagonally between the two (this is a common Warhammer Fantasy setup). Table quarters do not count for VP purposes.

Retrospective: 17 July 2009 Historicon WAB Medievals (Game 3)

Opponent: John Eiche (Imperial Ottomans). Sardonic and delightfully sly, John had seen some of what had happened to his son Tom’s army in the previous game, had heard even more details about the wrath of the Burgundian gunline, and was confident that nothing similar would happen to his elite janissary corps, consisting of the crème de la crème of the Ottoman Turkish military. That said, it’s difficult to see what the Burgundians and Ottomans would be doing facing each other on the field of battle. It’s a bit anachronistic given the fact that the Burgundian military reforms that my army is based on, all happened after the major European Crusades against the Turks, and shortly afterward Burgundy ceased to exist anyway – but anachronism is the name of the game in WAB, so full steam ahead!

Army: (2250 pts)
  • 1x10 Drilled Medium Cavalry (plus General, ASB, and Meterhane)
  • 1x10 Allied Knights (with Lances, Full Plate, and First Charge)
  • 1x8 Drilled Medium Cavalry
  • 1x8 Medium Cavalry
  • 1x8 Light Cavalry (Nomadic Bowmen)
  • 1x10 Janissary Infantry Halberds
  • 1x24 Janissary Bowmen
  • 1x10 Janissary Handgunners
  • 2x Light Artillery and crew
Mission: “Pitched Battle” – standard 12” deployment zones, with two variations. First, both sides deploy in secret, setting up all forces with a screen dividing the table. Second, both sides may deploy all the way to either short table edge, given the larger point values being fielded. Table quarters do not count for VP purposes.

Retrospective: 17 July 2009 Historicon WAB Medievals (Postscript)

After several years’ hiatus, I was happy to return to Historicon and historical miniatures gaming, and enjoyed myself quite thoroughly at the event. I have gotten quite a bit more immersed in history since the last event (in part because of a career change), and that plus a better sleep schedule in my daily life, and fewer stresses in my work life, meant that I had far more fun in ’09 than I have had previously. I’m sure I was also a good deal more fun to face and play against, as well.

Although initially Historicon 2010 was to be located in Baltimore, MD (a decision I thought was particularly awful), widespread dissatisfaction from club members and conference regulars forced a change to Valley Forge, PA – actually even easier to get to than previously, from New York City. As a result, I expect I will be attending the 2010 Historicon and participating in the WAB tournament this coming July 8-11.

Warmonger Charity WAB Tournament: 30 January 2010 (Intro)

Organized by local Warhammer Ancients fanatic and condottiero John Bianchi, and run by Warmonger Club President-for-Life Jim Keleher himself, the Warmonger Charity tournament on 30 January 2010 was the second annual tournament, and put together to benefit the American Cancer Society. It was also an excuse for historical WAB gamers to travel to New York City and gather for a day at the Compleat Strategist basement – on what turned out to be one of the coldest days of the winter. With a beautiful array of armies from almost every period in the WAB game, this was going to be an entertaining series of ahistorical battles.

Although I’ve many grandiose plans, I’ve currently only two WAB armies, and by far prefer my Burgundians to my Dacians – thus it was my Burgundians that showed up that day. It’s an army list that I’ve had a good deal of practice with, and was I was feeling fairly confident about how they would do that day.

Warmonger Charity WAB Tournament: 30 January 2010 (Game 1)

Opponent: Bob Rioux (Teutonic Knights). A marvelously wry and subdued gamer with a killer army list, Bob was fielding a Teutonic army with a several metric tons of Knights (not even including horses!), backed by two big blocks of infantry warbands, and supported by a smattering of some missile fire. In all, it was a collection of units that would absorb almost any opponent’s assault, then annihilate it with warbands and First Charges in the following turn, and I was very happy at the fact that I was fielding a medieval gun-line when I saw what Bob had.

Army: (2000 pts)
  • General, ASB, and Hero operating solo on horseback
  • 1x12 Knights & Turcopoles (Sergeants in back ranks)
  • 1x10 Knights & Turcopoles (Sergeants in back ranks)
  • 1x9 Allied Latin Knights
  • 2x30 Warbands with mixed weapons
  • 1x15 Crossbows with Pavise
  • 1x14 Skirmishing Handgunners
Mission: “Collision!” – before the game, each player divides their list into three sections, each worth between 500 and 1000 points. They deploy their armies alternating with the other player, and deploy each section all at once. The 2nd-largest section in terms of point value (“vanguard”) deploys first, then the largest section (“mainguard”), and finally the smallest section (“rearguard”). Deployment takes place in opposite corners, with a 24-inch-wide no-man’s-land running diagonally between the two (this is a common Warhammer Fantasy setup). Table quarters do not count for VP purposes.

Warmonger Charity WAB Tournament: 30 January 2010 (Game 2)

Opponent: Paul Georgian (Thematic Byzantines). A cheerfully pessimistic fellow from Boston, Paul and Bob (from my previous game) were long-time friends who were both quite enthusiastic about the possibility that their friend might get pummeled by Burgundians. I had been unable to decisively put down the Teutonic Knights, but Paul was gloomily convinced that the anachronistic match-up would heavily favor my artillery over his medium cavalry, and predicted a horrifically lopsided Burgundian victory.

Army: (1500 pts)
  • General and ASB on horse, operating solo
  • 2x9 Medium Cavalry with w/Kontos and Bows
  • 1x10 Nomadic Cavalry
  • 1x30 Medium Infantry with Spears and back ranks of Bows
  • 2x10 Skirmishing Infantry (one unit of bows, one of slings)
Mission: “Delayed Reserves” – before the game, each player places two non-light formed units (infantry and/or cavalry) into Reserve. The remainder are deployed as per Pitched Battle, with the proviso that all skirmishers and war machines set up FIRST. Reserves enter the table on a 4+ on turn one, or automatically on turn two regardless. Games last strictly 6 turns, maximum, and neither table quarters nor standards count for VP purposes.

Warmonger Charity WAB Tournament: 30 January 2010 (Game 3)

Opponent: Don Effinger (Saxons). An all-around great guy, and a pillar and leader of the wargaming community in the Northeast for many years, Don was fielding an early medieval army list – a large mass of infantry warbands, but sadly without any of the traditional benefits of a classic warband army. The Saxons would not autobreak, they did not have throwing spears, and they only moved a base of 4 inches, not 5. Don was fairly certain that only doom awaited him should he face the Burgundian gunline, but being far to good a sport to take a rain check, he instead gave this astoundingly anachronistic match-up the old college try.

Army: (2000 pts)
  • 1x48 Medium Infantry with spears (with Stubborn Huscarls with Double-handed Weapons and Toughness 4 in the front ranks), including the General, ASB, and an Abbot (granting Hatred)
  • 3x35 Medium Infantry with spears, with Thanes in the front rank; one unit had a hero leading it as well
  • 2x11 Skirmishing slingers
  • 1x14 allied Vikings (Medium Infantry with Toughness 4)
Mission: “Pitched Battle” – standard 12” deployment zones, with one variation -- both sides deploy in secret, setting up all forces with a screen dividing the table. Table quarters do not count for VP purposes.

Warmonger Charity WAB Tournament: 30 January 2010 (Postscript)

The tournament was a blast, and I had a good deal of fun facing off against some good opponents that I’d never faced before. I also got to see some old friends and renew some acquaintances, and placing second overall in the tournament wasn’t exactly a bad thing, either. In hindsight, I’m a little exasperated with my deployment in my third and final game, but honestly – both my opponent and I were pretty tired by that point, and not exactly playing mistake free. That said, I enjoyed myself thoroughly, and many kudos to the two fine gentlemen running the event (John and Jim), and to my three great opponents as well.

Friday, January 1, 2010

Retrospective: 1 August 2009 Counteroffensive VI (Intro)

After having missed the previous two of the Millenium Gate forum’s Counteroffensive events at Dream Wizards in Maryland, I was really looking forward to making it to the 2009 event. Unlike previous years, I brought only one army list, but in an astounding change-of-pace, that army was (mostly!) painted – my “Slann” themed Tau Empire list.

In this retrospective, I look at some of the opponents I faced, and some of the lessons I learned, playing with the Tau Empire rules in 5th edition.

What did I bring?
I played several 1500 point games, and one 2000-point game. My 2000-point army list can be found here, but for 1500 points I simply removed one Hammerhead, one unit of Fire Warriors, and one unit of Broadsides. I also made room for Flechette Dischargers on the Devilfish for my first game against Kenton, by removing several Leadership upgrades to my Troops choices.

  • HQ: “Fourth Servant” Shas’el with Missile, Airburst, Flamer, Target Lock, Multi
  • Elite: 3x “Ranger” Crisis Suits with Twin-Missile and Flamer
  • Elite: same

  • Troop: 12x “Brave” Fire Warriors with Shas’ui (Ld8) upgrade
  • Troop: same
  • Troop: same
  • Troop: same

  • Fast: 8x “Scout” Pathfinders with Shas’ui (Ld8) and Bonding upgrades, in Devilfish transport with D-Pods
  • Fast: same

  • Heavy: 2x “Hornsuit” Broadsides with Target Arrays, 1x T-lock, and 2 Shield Drones

Retrospective: 1 Aug ’09 Counteroffensive VI (Game 1)

Opponent: Kenton “Tigger” Kilgore with his Dvergar Steeljacks “Space Dwarf” army (an Ork codex proxy). Kenton is of course the author and proprietor of the Jungle , one of the longest-running 40K fansites on the internet, and a friend of many years. He had been putting together his “Space Dwarf” army for a while now, and was testing out the list that weekend.

Army: 1500 points
  • 1x 30 Sluggas
  • 1x 30 Shootas
  • 1x 24 Grots, plus Herders
  • 1x 9 Nobs, led by Painboy
  • 1x 15 Burnas
  • 1x 5 Meganobs, led by Warlord
  • 1x Battlewagon
Mission: “Seize Ground” (objectives) and Pitched Battle (12” deployment)

Terrain: A circle of low hills around three edges of the board, with one long trenchline along my long board edge. Several smaller hills and rocky features offering scant cover in the middle of the table, which was otherwise a wide-open killing field. The four objectives were: on either end of the trenchline in my set-up area, on a hill on Kenton’s far right flank (my far left), and on a small hillock in the center-left area of the tabletop.

What happened?
Also read Kenton’s take on the game at the Jungle.

I set up first, placing my single unit of Hornsuits (B-Sides) on a rocky hill on my far left flank, supported by Scouts (Pathfinders), Ranger (Crisis) Suits, and one unit of the Brave (Fire Warriors). I had a similar setup, only without Hornsuits (B-sides), on the far right flank, and two units of the Brave (FW) and the HQ suit in the trenches in the center – thus starting the game with 2 objectives. Kenton responded by setting up most everything BEHIND the hill on his far right (my far left) with one objective marker, with Sluggas screened by Grots in the open, ready to rush across the open field.

I retained initiative, and with very little visible to my firepower, shot up a few Grots and Sluggas, and moved the Scout transports (Devilfish), now filled with Brave (Fire Warriors) up each flank. Kenton rammed his Battlewagon across the table, and I failed to kill it on the top of the second turn – but his MegaNobs fell short on their assault on my Hornsuits (B-sides) because they shot up their target unit…and I removed the models within their assault range.

I rewarded Kenton by blowing up his Battlewagon at point-blank range with the Hornsuits (accepting the inevitable beat-down from Meganobs that was sure to follow), and then spent the rest of Turn 3 doing a driveby of his other units, wiping out his Shootas and Sluggas. The fact that his Shootas had lost 1/3 of their number by assaulting a Flechette-enabled transport in the previous turn helped a lot. The following turn saw the Nobz and Painboy eat a mouthful of pulse-rifles rapid-firing from close range, while my Ranger (Crisis) suits chased after Grots with flamers.

The Meganobs screamed in frustration, but by Turn 5 were whittled down to just a badly wounded Warboss, who assaulted into the trenchline in my center, only to be beat down by my Mighty Slann-Fu. Fear me, for my Slann-Fu is mighty! The game ended there, with the surviving Painboyz, and the completely untouched (and totally out of position the whole game) Burnaboyz slinking off to lick their wounds. I had lost a grand total of one unit of Hornsuits (B-Sides), and one unit of the Brave (Fire Warriors).

Turning the Tables.
This was a pretty clear example of why everyone in 5e has mechanized their army lists. Foot-slogging armies, particularly assault foot-sloggers, get shredded and/or outmaneuvered. Kenton would have done a good deal better with more Battlewagons, and/or more shootas. At least then, he would have been able to throw a mass of firepower downfield as he advanced…and with a second Battlewagon, either the Painboy’s Nobs, or the Burnaz, would have been able to make it into my lines. Once he gets to me, of course, my units evaporate – but until then, I was able to isolate individual units and wipe them out one at a time.

Retrospective: 1 Aug ’09 Counteroffensive VI (Game 2)

Opponent: Mike “St. Omerville” (Wraith-heavy “Iyanden” Eldar) My long-time whipping boy, Mike had managed to convince himself over many years that I was unbeatable. Just because he’d never yet managed to beat me was no reason to think such a silly thing, but you know how some people are. I figure at least part of the reason is that Mike has a fondness for using wildly wacky lists, and so far as I can remember, will test the latest iteration against me to see how effective they are. So far the answer has been: not so much. At any rate, he had been trying for a while to make his foot-slogging, Wraith-heavy Iyanden list work, and so we gave it a go at Counteroffensive.

Army: (1500 points)
  • 1x Farseer with Fortune and some other fiddly bits
  • 1x Yriel (special character)
  • 1x 10 Wraithguard, led by Warlock with Conceal
  • 2x Wraithlords with Missile Launcher and Scatter Laser (each)
  • 2x 10 Dire Avengers in Wave Serpents

Mission: “Seize Ground” (objectives) and Pitched Battle (12” deployment). Two objectives were on Mike’s side of the table, near the center, and two objectives were on my side of the table, one on either flank.

Terrain: Loads of low-level jungle terrain everywhere on the table. Essentially, there’s no terrain that completely blocks LOS anywhere, but pretty much everything getting shot at, or assaulting, will be faced with doing so through cover.

What happened?
I set up first, and split my army into two halves: 2 units of the Brave (Fire Warriors), one of Scouts (Pathfinders) and unit of suits on each flank, and my third unit of suits (in this case, Ranger/Crisis Suits, with the HQ) in the center. Mike set up his Wraithguard as far forward as possible, in the middle of his deployment zone, with Farseer and Yriel joined to the unit, and two Wraithlords standing behind. Both units of Dire Avengers began off the table, in reserve.

My firepower was decent in the first turn, and with the markerlights taking away cover saves, I was able to kill 3 Wraithguard and wound a Wraithlord. Mike did no damage, and simply moved up. In turn two, I killed the wounded Wraithlord, but with Fortune now up, only took out one Wraithguard. Mike promptly tanked his Fortune psychic test, leaving his Wraithguard unit without Fortune in turn 3, and reserved in one Dire Avenger unit.

I unloaded both transports of the Brave (FW) at rapid-fire range, and between them and the support fire from further back, wiped out all the Wraithguard, and left both HQs badly wounded – doing the Happy Dance all the while. Mike gritted his teeth, brought his second unit of Dire Avengers in, and promptly wiped out three of my four units of the Brave (Dire Avengers) – Yriel and the Seer shredded one, one unit of Dire Avengers blew away a second, and the last Wraithlord waded in with flamers and close combat and shattered the third. I was down to one scoring unit!

I spent the fourth turn trying to drop Yriel and the Seer with firepower, but Yriel managed to survive the torrent of remaining firepower, wiping my last scoring unit in close combat, then diving into cover to avoid being shot by my suits. In the last two turns (5 and 6) I managed to kill both Wave Serpents, and kill 16 of 20 Dire Avengers with my suits, even as the surviving Wraithlord hung back and took pot-shots at my Scouts (Pathfinders), but I simply could not wipe out the gone-to-ground Dire Avengers – I simply didn’t have the firepower, and as they were gone-to-ground near an objective, they didn’t need to move, and wouldn’t flee. Mike was left with Yriel, four Dire Avengers, and a Wraithlord – but also the victory.

Turning the Tables.
I thoroughly underestimated the combat prowess of Yriel, and what I should have been doing from the start was very simple: concentrating fire on Wraithguard until they dropped. My army is designed to suck up return fire and essentially ignore it, and ignoring the Wraithlords is something I should have been doing from the start. In all, the one surviving Wraithlord killed a grand total of 12 models over 6 turns, an average of 2 per turn. Yriel was wiping out 12 models per assault phase, and needed to be put down – and I didn’t realize until much too late that the Wraithguard were simply a Yriel-delivery-system.

Too, I completely ignored the mission objectives, to my detriment, and sacrificed too many of my scoring units in order to get rid of enemy units. I should have been using the transports to block counter-assaults, keeping other scoring units further back (keeping in mind that Eldar can fleet-of-foot!), etc.

Third, I thoroughly flubbed the order in which I was firing weapons at the ablative-wounds-Wraithguard unit. I should have been whittling them away with Pulse Rifle fire FIRST, and then following up with insta-kill weapons that would have to be allocated to HQ models LATER. The fact that I was doing things in reverse simply meant that Mike was taking all the nasty shots on expendable Wraithguard, and taking armor saves on the less destructive S5 hits.

In the end, with a Tau army list, it’s all about Target Priority. Kudos to Mike for reminding me of that.

Retrospective: 1 Aug ’09 Counteroffensive VI (Game 3)

Opponent: Bryan “Justiciar”, a.k.a. “Lawman” (Infantry Imperial Guard). Another long-time Millenium Gate resident, Bryan was testing out his new Imperial Guard army, and it was substantially large. Although fielding three Heavy Support choices as support vehicles, the majority was dudes with guns, and a ton of heavy weapon support, too. As a long-time Guard player myself (dating back to 2nd edition), I knew what kind of hurt such a list could put out, and wasn’t sure my Slann could handle it. But heck, it’s just a game – why not give it the old one-two and see how it turns out?

Army: (1500 points)
  • 1x HQ Command with Meltas, including Kell and a Fleet Officer (-1 to reserve rolls)
  • 2x Lt Junior Command squads with Grenade Launchers and Power weapons
  • 3x IG squads with meltas
  • 1x IG squad with plasma
  • 1x Specialist squad with demo charges
  • 2x IG squads with Autocannon & Plasma
  • 2x IG squads with Missile & Grenade Launcher
  • 2x Heavy weapons squads with 3 Lascannons
  • 2x Leman Russ tanks
  • 1x Griffon
Mission: “Annihilation” (Kill points) and Dawn of War (18” apart and Nightfight rules in the first turn)

Terrain: High wall with ramparts near a large hill on the far left side, an intact building on the far right flank, scattered ruins in an arc around the other edges of the table, with two small copses of trees in the very center of the table.

What happened?
For some odd reason, I chose to go second – I think my thinking was that I wanted to respond to Bryan’s deployment. I also chose to split up my 6 Ranger (Crisis) suits into three teams of two, instead of the two teams of three models I usually use. Bryan chose to set-up nearly all of his infantry-heavy army on the wall with ramparts, and on the hill nearby, in a castle set-up, as follows:
  • Rear: Command Squad (out of LOS behind the big wall)

  • Center Left (hill on left): IG+Plasma & Lt Squad in rear, IG+AC, IG+ML in front
  • Center Right (wall/rampart): 2x3 Lascannon, IG+AC

  • Front of both: 3xIG+Melta, IG+ML, Demo Charges, Lt Squad
I deployed two units of the Brave (Fire Warriors) in heavy cover on my right flank, with the HQ suit out of LOS behind them. I used their Scout move to put both units of Scouts (Pathfinders) into the empty building on Bryan’s left flank (my right), instantly giving them a great LOS and amazing protection in the process! (note that I’ve since realized that the “scouts” rule does not allow units to set-up, irregardless, in a Dawn of War mission)

Bryan’s opening round was non-existent due to the Nightfight rules, and in response I markerlit and wiped out a Lascannon heavy weapons team, and shredded his AC squad on the wall, who went to ground so as not to risk fleeing.

None of Bryan’s tanks came onto the table from Reserve, but my Hornsuits (B-sides) clambered in to help. His firepower continued to be ineffectual (much of it was aimed at the building my Scouts (Pathfinders) were hiding in, to no effect), but I wiped out his second Lascannon heavy weapons team, and hurt the Missile/Grenade squad at the front of his castle set-up.

Bryan had been moving several of his foot-infantry units (the five in the front of his castle setup) forward toward my deployment zone this whole time, and in turn three, all three of my two-man Ranger (Crisis) suit teams dropped in, bracketing three clusters of his infantry units and flaming them to kingdom come. Two units of the Brave (Fire Warriors) also walked on from reserve, within rapid-fire range of two other IG squads, and backed up by other units already in position, Bryan lost seven units in a single turn. They had been delayed by the Fleet Officer, but arrived at just the perfect time! At the top of the fourth turn, Bryan had just four infantry units remaining, two of them badly hurt.

At just this time, all three of his Heavy Supports rumbled onto the table, and between them blew away three Ranger (Crisis) Suits. I responded by blowing up two vehicles (the Griffon and one Leman Russ), and turning the other into an immobilized, weaponless hulk. I also wiped out or forced to fall back every last infantry model on the table, save the (mostly hidden) Command Squad. One fleeing plasma-gunner killed a fourth Ranger (Crisis) suits as he fled, but with only a Colonel (and squad) and a Leman Russ hulk, Bryan conceded in Turn 5. In all, I had racked up 17 kill points, and Bryan had racked up 2 – the two pairs of Ranger (Crisis) suits.

Turning the Tables.
As a pointed out to Bryan, one of the first things he could have done in a Kill Point mission was to merge his 8 infantry squads into two big squads of 40 models. That would have increased the resilience of the squads as a whole, while reducing the kill points they gave up (to 2 total).

There was also the inexplicable decision to leave a perfectly good building in his own deployment zone…unoccupied! All this did was to allow my shooty units to occupy it and close the doors – turning the building into an immobile transport with far too many fire points for his comfort.

Finally, there was the very strange decision to keep all his infantry units bunched up when he KNEW that I had flamers on all my deep-strike capable suits. It’s not like this is an army list that Bryan is unfamiliar with, because he has a Tau army.

Then again, this was one of the very first games (if not the very first) that Bryan was playing with Imperial Guard. I’m given to understand that he did much better in the next few games he played.

Retrospective: 1-2 Aug ’09 Counteroffensive VI (Special Scenario)

Set-up: Pat “Sho-T Bighed” Eibel and Mike “Ryjak” (Tyranid Bug Swarm). Bringing back an oldie-but-goodie, Pat had organized a “Bug Hunt” scenario for a number of Millenium Gaters. We were invited to his fancy digs, and after much munching and schmoozing and telling of tall tales, we moved down to his spacious Gaming Room where a massive city-fight table had been laid out, chock-full of terrain…and slimy bug entry points. Each of the four allies-by-circumstance fielded 900 points of models (troops and HQ only, max 2 HQ choices and 6 Troops), and tried to kill as many bugs as possible before being overwhelmed.

What happened?
For Pat’s writeup, and the scenario rules, check out his write-up at the Jungle:

I ended up fielding:
  • 1x Shas’el with Flamer and Airburst, Multi and Target-lock
  • 2x Bodyguard with Flamer, Missile, and Multi
  • 5x 12 Fire Warriors
I took great pleasure in not placing dead last – basically, I found spots near (and behind) Kenton’s Space Dwarf models, held my finger down on the trigger, and sprayed until the Bugs ate me. I ended up with just over 100 “points”, but Kenton’s Ork-proxy army was the clear winner: he simply set up his models in cover and tore apart the Bugs as they assaulted (because as he was in cover, he got to throw loads of dice FIRST).

By the time we knocked off at some ungodly hour in the morning, Mel “Cambyses” and his DIY marine chapter “Emperor’s Wolfhounds” had gotten swarmed and munched, and the Plaguemarines fielded by Bryan “Justiciar” were being slowly ground down. My clever plan of keeping near to the Orks meant that I had one last unit of Fire Warriors still alive, but the Space Dwarves were still going strong, having still about 1/3 of their original number, and racking up more points than the rest of us combined.

With a ton of models still on the table, however, an Apocalypse-scale model still to come on, and the hour getting late, it was decided that the Space Dwarves had given one heck of an accounting before being turned into recyclable biomass.

Retrospective: 2 Aug ’09 Counteroffensive VI (Game 4)

Opponent: Eric (Necrons). A Dream Wizards store local, Eric and his buddy were there to pick up a few weekend games during the Counteroffensive event. Eric was a brand-new 40K player, and had with him a very sizable Necron army that he was still working on. He was interested in fielding almost everything he had, so we threw down 2000 points of models, with me adding a few extra units to my 1500 point list to bump it up to points. A very upbeat and sporting fellow, we played a happily slow-paced Sunday morning game so that we could talk out his options, and I could introduce him to the Tau rules and special equipment.

Army: (2000 points)
  • 1x Lord with Resurrection Orb, and 19 Necron Warriors
  • 1x Destroyer Lord with Resurrection Orb, and 4 Destroyers
  • 2x 14 Necron Warriors
  • 2x 5 Scarabs
  • 1x 4 Heavy Destroyers
  • 1x Monolith

Mission: “Seize Ground” (objectives) and Pitched Battle (12” deployment)

Terrain: Two large terrain pieces on each of our deployment flanks, providing both elevation and blocking LOS – I had a stone tower (on my left flank) and a two-building multi-story complex (on my right flank), whereas Eric had a tall hills on his right flank (my left), and a chunky bunker on his left flank (my right). My side of the table was otherwise empty, save for a (very) small, (very) low wall in my middle. Eric had a mess of craters and small groves of trees providing cover all along his table edge.

With five objectives rolled for, we placed the four objectives on each of the large LOS-blocking terrain pieces in the table corners, and one right in the middle.

What happened?
Eric deployed one of the x14 Necron Warrior units behind the hill on his right, placed the x19 Necron Warrior (with Lord) unit in/around the terrain in his middle, and put both his units of Destroyers on his right flank, hidden behind the chunky bunker (it was quite substantial and very LOS-blocking). His other unit of Warriors were in reserve with the Monolith, and his two Scarab units were also held in reserve.

I spread my forces across the entire open middle of my deployment zone, with Scouts (Pathfinders) hunkering down in the terrain pieces on either flank, the Stoneship (Hammerhead) deployed on the roof (!!) of the building complex on my right with one of the Scouts units, and mixing Suit unit, Brave (FW), Suit unit, Brave (FW), etc in between.

To start the game, Eric stole the initiative, moved up his units, and I responded by doing basically nothing. Things got more interesting in Turn 2, when his Monolith and one unit of Scarabs deep-struck into the game; his Monolith landed right in front of the middle of my lines, shredded one unit of the Brave (FW), and took down a transport (Devilfish). A unit of Scarabs also dropped behind my lines, and looked menacing.

I responded by dropping all 14 Warriors (who promptly vanished, as no other Warrior units were nearby), and blew away the Monolith with massed Railgun fire. However, I had only enough firepower remaining to kill three of the five Scarabs, who promptly assaulted one of my units of Hornsuits (B-sides), taking them out of the game for a few turns.

In turn 3, I wiped out the Heavy Destroyers and pinned the large 20-man Necron Warrior (plus Lord) unit. Yes, every so often Ld10 critters DO fail a pin check. Freed of having to worry about that large unit, I then moved up the following turn and rapid-fired that large unit into oblivion, Tank-shocking his Destroyers out of the way with my last transport (Devilfish) in order to get a unit of the Brave (Fire Warriors) into position. To my great surprise, the Destroyers failed their Leadership test and promptly fled right off the table. To add insult to injury, my Hornsuits finally beat down the last of the Scarabs that had assaulted them, and were now ready and available to continue shooting.

By this point, Eric had only one x14 Necron unit, and a unit of Scarabs still in Reserve. The Warriors were in hiding (and he was one Necron model away from phase-out, anyway), and because I was going second, the Scarabs weren’t likely to contest anything. After talking this out, he conceded the game. I had lost a grand total of: one transport (Devilfish), and had scoring units on 4 objectives. Eric had one.

Turning the Tables.
Although Necrons are a hard list to play in the 5th edition, anyway, there were a few things that could have improved Eric’s odds a little. First, his decision to deep-strike his Monolith in the MIDDLE of my lines simply meant that all my army could see and shoot back the following turn. He might have wanted instead to deepstrike on a flank, using the bulk of the Monolith to block off LOS, and isolate one or two of my units in the process. Also, he chose to deepstrike with just a x14 unit, instead of the x19+Lord unit, which would have been more resilient.

Further, given that I had setup first, Eric would have been better off concentrating on moving everything up one side of the table, and flanking me, instead of trying to move up the middle (as he did with his walking unit of x19+Lord), and getting shot, once again, by my whole army.

Second, fielding two small units of DIFFERENT unit types simply meant that, once the unit had all dropped, they weren’t making We’ll Be Back rolls. Eric would have been better off using all Destroyers (or conversely, all Heavy Destroyers) instead of fielding a small unit of each, and just keeping the models all near each other (which he did).

Finally, splitting his units of Necrons Warriors and placing them in three very different places on the board simply meant that it was easy for me to isolate and destroy each unit piecemeal. His strategy of keeping his phase-out number of models “safe” just meant that I wasn’t worrying about them for the whole game; and the strategy would have worked better if he had a Tomb Spider back there with them, so that isolated and fully wiped-out Necron units could STILL get WBB rolls due to the Tomb Spider’s rules.

The pinning and tank-shock leadership failure were just bad luck, but that happens sometimes.

12 December 2009 Inner Circle Holiday Beatdown (Intro)

What did I bring?
I’ve had a large number of Sisters of Battle models (and vehicles) for some years now; back during the 4th edition days, I used them as a primarily foot-slogging force chock-full of Faith Points (see that old-school list at The Jungle). With the advent of 5e, the foot-slogging armies are no longer as viable, and after spending most of a year focusing primarily on my Slann-themed Tau army, I was ready for a change of pace. And boy, is this list below ever a change of pace!
  • HQ: Inquisitor Lord with Psychic Hood, Hammer of Witches, Liber Heresius, BP/CCW; retinue of Veteran + Melta (x2) and Chirurgeon
  • HQ: Palatine with Book of St. Lucius, BP/CCW; retinue of 5 Celestians with 2 Meltas; Immolator with Smoke

  • Elite: 5 Celestians with 2 Meltas in an Immolator with Smoke
  • Elite: same
  • Elite: same

  • Troop: 10 Battles with Veteran with Book of St. Lucius, Heavy Flamer, Melta, in Rhino with Smoke
  • Troop: same

  • Fast: 5 Dominions with 2 Flamers in an Immolator with Smoke
  • Fast: same
  • Fast: same

  • Heavy: Immolator with Smoke
  • Heavy: same
  • Heavy: same
This 1850 point list concept comes courtesy of YTTH, and is based primarily around the concept of spamming as many Immolators as possible: 10 in this list, with two Rhinos as well. It has literally no long-range firepower (the longest-range weapon in the army is a bolter), and requires that you get really up-close and personal in order to function, as I discovered over the course of the tournament. However, what it does have, it has in spades – a ton of really cheap units and transports that are effectively interchangeable (and to some extent, disposable), a ton of S5 flamer templates, a lot of speed, and now with 5e, units that can “hop-scotch” from vehicle to vehicle as needed.

And, because I really got to despise psychic powers whilst playing with Tau army lists, this list is about as anti-psychic-power as you can make: a Psychic Hood on a Ld10 Inquisitor that can cover the whole table (as opposed to the new 24” Marine version), plus Hammer of the Witches psychic power, plus the inherent 5+ Sororitas save against psychic powers. That and the heavy mechanization pretty much shuts down most psychic silliness before it can even start.

But this was all theory-hammer, because I’d never played with this list, or this configuration, before. With enough models and miniatures to pull it off, however, I put together conversions in my spare time, primed the vehicles (and some of the models that needed it) the night before, and me and my grey-primer-colored army was ready to roll.

12 December 2009 Inner Circle Holiday Beatdown (Game 1)

Opponent: Thomas Jackson (Mechanized Space Marines). Tom and I had played a game years ago, back during my Rebel Grot-themed IG army days (that’s back in the days of 3e, to give people an idea of how long it’s been). An enthusiastic fellow with a distinctive DIY Chapter (the Void Marines), Tom called me out on a challenge to start the tournament, and so I ended up facing a Space Marine army list that had been designed by very Stelek-like principles (YTTH) – lots of small units, lots of spam and firepower, and lots of mechanization.

Army: (1850 pts)
  • 1x Tigerius Special Character
  • 5x 5-man Tactical Squads (no upgrades)
  • 5x Razorbacks for Tac Squads (2x Las-Plas, 2x Twin-Las, 1x Twin-AssCan)

  • 3x Dreadnoughts with Twin-Lascannon and Missile Launcher
  • 3x Vindicators

Mission: 5-objective mission with 12” deployment zones. Based off the YTTH tourney concept (the tournament organizer, and many of the Inner Circle club members, are avid readers of the blog), the 5 objectives are placed in an “X” pattern in the center of each of the four corners, and in the very middle of the table. As ‘secondary’ points, each person could designate any five units in the opponent’s army that counted as “Kill Points” if destroyed at the end of the game. Finally, each player received a random selection of five (usually quite silly, and sometimes unattainable) ‘tertiary’ missions that each also earned a point. Thus, a player could receive up to 15 points per game (5 objectives, 5 “Kill Points”, and 5 tertiary objectives), although this was very unlikely.

Terrain: Nearly empty table, with some high LOS-blocking hills in three corners, some sparse woods and ruins providing cover along the perimeter, and a flat, open table in-between. A total killing zone.

What happened?
With no point in my using the Liber Heresius wargear item, we just went for a roll-off, which I won. I set up my units in two lines, right in the center of my deployment zone, while Tom responded by spreading his units across his entire frontage – Dreads holding the center (in cover, in the woods), with Vindicators to their left (his right), two Razorbacks hull-down behind a hill to the far left (his far right), and the other three in cover around the ruins to the right (his left). Tigerius jumped into the twin-AC Razorback, which was one of the three on the right (Tom’s left).

With not many other options, I moved up all 12 vehicles, popping smoke on the front six, and taking cover behind them with the other six. Per Tom’s suggestion, I also made sure to spread out the vehicles, to prevent his Vindicators from trying to target two at once under the “hole” of the large template. Tom adjusted the LOS of several of his vehicles on the flanks, and immobilized or killed four of my vehicles, forcing me to detour around them.

I chose to detour to the right, toward the bulk of his Troops (as opposed to trying to go after Vindicators). Several units scrambled between transports, with as many Melta-units as possible getting into mobile transports, and my remaining eight transports again moved up, blowing smoke and creating more cover. Tom’s second round of fire killed or immobilized four more, leaving me with just one Rhino and three Immolators still active!

At this point, I was deep in despair, but hey – it was a tournament, so I kept playing. Four units of Sisters made it to his lines (with several others dashing about between immobilized “bunker” hulks, and giant craters in the ground), and I suddenly saw just how nasty this army design of mine could be: I popped two of his Razorbacks, and the walls of the transports prevented Tom from easily reaching the units that had disembarked to blow up his vehicles. His third turn was wildly ineffective.

My fourth turn was a game-changer: flamers and meltas and a wildly lucky Hammer of Witches wiped out a unit of Tac Marines (and the Special Character Tigerius that accompanied them!), two Dreadnoughts were badly damaged, the third Razorback on the right flank was destroyed, and the remaining two units of Tactical Marines on that side were pinned, and forced to flee, respectively. Tom’s follow-up from Vindicators scattered wildly – he immobilized one of his own Dreadnoughts and blew up a number of his own marines, and the two remaining Dreadnoughts lacked the ability to chew up my 3+ armor save units in close combat. He had tied up two units of Celestians, but with the Palatine and her Book of St Lucius nearby, they weren’t likely to go anywhere – and they didn’t.

With my other units free to act, I spent the rest of the game maneuvering to protect my sudden change in fortunes. The Emperor continued to smile on the Sisters, as I was able to immobilize (and then destroy the weapons off of) two Vindicators with nothing more than flamers and bolters. The third was reduced to a smoking hulk, and that left Tom trying desperately to pick off just…one…more… Battle Sister at long range with his two remaining active units (the two Razorbacks on the far left flank), to prevent me from capturing three objectives to his two. We went a full seven turns, but with just two long-range weapons left, and unwilling to move his Razorbacks off the objectives he had captured, Tom simply wasn’t able to put enough firepower through the mangled wreckage of vehicles in the middle of the table to pick off enough of my models.

The game ended with a 3 objective to 2 victory for me – and had it ended on turn six, would have been a 3 to 1 objective victory (I had sent a few units to contest his objectives, which further diluted his firepower as he was forced to deal with them). I also had collected three “Kill Points” for several of those Voidmarine units and transports I had massacred on the right (his left) flank.

Turning the Tables.
Tom did have some abominably bad luck in this game, but one thing he did do that hurt him was cluster three of his Troops choices near the center of his deployment zone. Spreading out as he did really made it impossible for me to go after any large chunk of his army at once, but by clustering three Troops choices (and their Razorbacks) together as he did, he essentially presented me with just such a target. I think he would have been far better off spreading out his Vindicators AND his Dreadnoughts, and interspersing them with his softer, “crunchier” scoring units. Instead, Tom clustered his forces into four small batteries, and given that one (the two Razorbacks on the extreme left flank) was too far for me to get to, and that two more (the Vindicators, and the Dreadnoughts) really weren’t worth much, that meant….well, you see what I mean.

Second, Tom chose to stand his ground when it became clear in turn 2 which battery of units I was going after. Had his Razorbacks chosen to scoot back and away, while the rest of his guns continued to pound me, things probably would have gotten very messy for the Sisters. Instead, Tom chose to stay still and open fire with three more heavy weapons, which in the end managed to knock down only one more vehicle. The trade-off probably wasn’t worth it.

Finally, Tom also panicked rather badly in the fourth turn, and starting firing his Vindicators much too close to his own models, and paid the price when his Ordnance scattered onto his own units. He would have been far better off trusting to his other weapons to do the shooting at close quarters, and aim the Vindicators at safer targets not near his own. Much of what caused the swing of fortune in Turn 4 can be attributed to the damage that S10 friendly-fire Ordnance blasts did to the Voidmarines that were trying to slow the tide of Sisters.

12 December 2009 Inner Circle Holiday Beatdown (Game 2)

Opponent: Jason S. (“Gatling” Nidzilla) At first when I saw the mass of gaunts and big critters facing me, I was extremely pleased, and Jason conversely was very despondent when looking at the mass of Immolators facing him. I was even more pleased when I learned that his firepower maxed out at Strength 6 (off the Carnifexes), or S5 (off the Tyrants), and was really looking forward to a good old-fashioned bug burning.

Army: (1850 pts)
  • 2x Hive Tyrants with +1 BS and two twin-Devourers each, and 3 Tyrant Guard each
  • 5x Carnifexes with +1 BS and two twin-Devourers each
  • 3x Zoanthropes with Synapse and Warp Blast
  • 3x 30-count Spinegaunts
  • 1x 25-count Spinegaunts

Mission: 5-objective mission with 12” deployment zones. Based off the YTTH tourney concept (the tournament organizer, and many of the Inner Circle club members, are avid readers of the blog), the 5 objectives are placed in an “X” pattern in the center of each of the four corners, and in the very middle of the table. As ‘secondary’ points, each person could designate any five units in the opponent’s army that counted as “Kill Points” if destroyed at the end of the game. Finally, each player received a random selection of five (usually quite silly, and sometimes unattainable) ‘tertiary’ missions that each also earned a point. Thus, a player could receive up to 15 points per game (5 objectives, 5 “Kill Points”, and 5 tertiary objectives), although this was very unlikely.

Terrain: A line of high hills and wooded glades lined Jason’s side of the table, with something similar, but sparser, on my side of the table. The center was completely bare save for a good-sized pond toward the left-center of the table (from my perspective).

What happened?
Winning the roll-off, I chose the side with less terrain, the easier to set up my forces, and not expecting Jason to win (or want to win) the Initiative, simply lined up my vehicles side-by-side in the center of my deployment zone, ready to rush him. Jason spread his bugs out fairly evenly, interspersing Carnifexes throughout, and making sure to have overlapping fields of Synapse from the Zoanthropes and Tyrants.

As expected, Jason declined to try stealing Initiative, and I was off to the races, shifting left with my entire force, trying to roll his flank. Jason responded by… backing up all his units on the left (his right flank), and advanced with everything else. Then he opened fire, and although the Zoanthropes all fizzled (Psychic Hood + Sororitas Save will do that), the SIXTY-FOUR twin-linked Devourer shots were truly terrifying. Through sheer dumb luck, only one transport was immobilized, and I continued on, pell-mell, a second turn. Synapse fields began to collapse as the Sisters got within range, and a Zoanthrope took a Perils of the Warp wound from Hammer of Witches, but then the Tyranids again retreated, and the devourers burped again…

This time I lost three transports. I unloaded in a massive Rhino wall and promptly failed every single Faith test I attempted; as a result, instead of annihiliating two Monstrous Critters, all I did was hill a double handful of Gaunts, some Tyrant Guard, and wounded a Carnifex – all far less damage than I had hoped. The continual retreat of the Tyranid flank meant that I simply wasn’t able to hit that many with all those Immolator templates, and although the Meltaguns took a toll, there were just too many wounds walking around for me to handle without a little Faith Point help.

And then the Tyranids responded, and now – they were firing with massed Devourers AND assaulting vehicles.

The Sororitas were still largely intact, but now increasingly bereft of mobility, and with fewer and fewer targets nearby – the Gaunts continued to retreat out of range, while the Monstrous Creatures continued to target vehicles that were isolated at the ends of my “Rhino Wall”, and relatively distant from the mass of my infantry units. After two turns of this (five game turns total), it was pretty clear that the Tyranids had won the day; I had killed a Hive Tyrant and its entire Guard, as well as a Carnifex and a Zoanthrope, and badly hurt three others (one Zoan, two Carnie), but the Spinegaunt units, even with Synapse fields collapsing left and right, just retreated to the one remaining Synapse field still active on the far side of the table, and despite my having killed well over half of the little buggers, three of the units were still technically active.

True, my infantry forces were also largely intact, but I had lost nearly all my transports (save two), and could only contest one objective – the surviving Gaunts claimed the other three. In all, a crushing defeat for the Sisters of Battle.

Turning the Tables.
Jason’s basic strategy of destroying my mobility and denying me objectives was perfectly executed, and his army list is designed pretty much specifically to beat Rhino-chassis and Chimera-chassis-heavy army lists. Try as I might, I can’t think of any real changes I could have made to stand a better chance against his list – at least, not in this kind of mission. True, some bad fortune (with Faith points) on my part, and some good fortune (with consistently above-average vehicle-damage rolls) on his part, also played a role, but on the other hand, a re-read of the current Tyranid rules makes it pretty clear that I shouldn’t have been able to “shut down” his Synapse creatures with my Sisters, as had been the case in the previous iteration of the Tyranid rules.

On the other hand, it’s not like my shutting down four of his five Synapse bubbles really had any effect at all on what happened in the game.

I absolutely went after the weaker of his two flanks (only two Carnifexes and one Zoanthrope), and the terrain in his deployment zone thoroughly hampered his retreats and ability to draw clear LOS even at mid-range with Devourers, so I think I did all right there. I threw down a textbook Rhino Wall, and controlled or contested three objectives for much of the game. I used all my Faith Points, and used them in the right situations (even if I ended up failing the roll for nearly all of them). But I was never at close enough range to try “herding” his gaunts into clusters and torching the heck out of them, as Jason simply kept retreating them all, and rushing into assault range with the Monstrous Creatures. Ignoring them and driving pell-mell after the little bugs would only have exposed me to Devourer fire and a counter-assault by a swarm of gaunts.

In the end, I think Jason’s rock simply beat my scissors, and without a rather dramatic retool of my list, or alternatively relying on him to make bad decisions, I’m not sure exactly how I could reliably stand a chance against his Tyranid list.

Of course, the "good" news is that the new Tyranid codex means that I probably won't face this particular list again. However, it's likely that I'll face something very similar. As a result, suggestions and opinions from readers are very much welcome.

12 December 2009 Inner Circle Holiday Beatdown (Game 3)

Opponent: Leigh B (Mechanized Chaos Marines) One of the FrAG (Frederick Area Gamers) club members, Leigh had been itching to play against me for a while, and this game gave us the opportunity to throw down. He was fielding a double-Lash Chaos army with serious Berzerker punch, and some very nice color schemes besides.

Army: (1850 pts)
  • 1x Slaneeshi Demon Prince with Wings and Lash
  • 1x Greater Daemon

  • 1x Chaos Sorceror with Lash, + 8 Berzerkers (including P-Fist), in a Land Raider
  • 2x 8 Khorne Berzerkers, including P-Fist, in Rhino
  • 1x 8 Raptors with 2 Meltas, including Slaneeshi Champion with P-Fist

  • 1x Defiler with additional Close-Combat Weapon (in place of flamer)
  • 1x Daemonically Possessed Vindicator

Mission: 5-objective mission with 12” deployment zones. Based off the YTTH tourney concept (the tournament organizer, and many of the Inner Circle club members, are avid readers of the blog), the 5 objectives are placed in an “X” pattern in the center of each of the four corners, and in the very middle of the table. As ‘secondary’ points, each person could designate any five units in the opponent’s army that counted as “Kill Points” if destroyed at the end of the game. Finally, each player received a random selection of five (usually quite silly, and sometimes unattainable) ‘tertiary’ missions that each also earned a point. Thus, a player could receive up to 15 points per game (5 objectives, 5 “Kill Points”, and 5 tertiary objectives), although this was very unlikely.

Terrain: There was a large multi-story LOS-blocking building on the left-most corner of my table edge, and a tall hill in the catacorner (Leigh’s far left corner) that wasn’t quite as high, but still enough to block LOS to Rhinos and Demon Princes. Otherwise, there were only a few sparse trees and low hills around the edges of the table that did nothing to block LOS.

What happened?
Leigh won the roll-off and chose to set up first, deploying all of his forces in and around the hill in his deployment zone, right up against the corner of the table. Although I was very tempted by the possibility of setting up out of LOS in the far left-hand corner of the table, and playing a ‘maneuver’ game in the middle, trying to grab objectives, I realized pretty quickly that Leigh had made a big mistake trapping himself in one corner of the table.

So instead, I deployed my entire force behind some trees on my right corner, directly opposite Leigh’s forces, and although I had to squeeze to fit all 12 Rhino chassis into the limited cover, I ended up stealing the Initiative anyway, so didn’t have to worry about being stuck behind wrecks or other such silliness.

Leigh had one turn to respond to my headlong charge before I was on him, and he fared poorly, choosing to move TOWARD me with all his forces, and managing to stop exactly one Immolator. On turn two, I was within melta and flamer range, and after neatly blocking up two hatches of the Land Raider, popped it and flamed the unit inside to below half-strength. I also killed the Defiler, trapped the two Chaos Rhinos full of Berzerkers between my own vehicles, and created a Rhino wall that (a) prevented any of his units from assaulting my soft, crunchy infantry, as well as (b) prevented any of my infantry from moving into assault range of his units if they happened to be hit with a psychic Lash.

I shouldn’t have worried. Leigh managed to do exactly nothing in the next turn, not with his Lash attacks (psychic hood + Sororitas save shut him down), not with his Vindicator (which scattered wildly), and not even after assaulting my Rhino wall with powerfists and Monstrous Creatures – because I had been moving at Cruising speed the previous turn, he simply couldn’t get in a good shot. I maneuvered more Sororitas units into range, and at the start of his third turn, he had only half a unit of Berzerkers, half a unit of Raptors, and his two Daemonic creatures left.

Now that the Rhino wall had slowed down, I began to lose a few vehicles, but the weight of numbers was entirely against Leigh’s favor. It took me two more turns, and there were some entertaining moments throughout (such as Leigh’s decision to forgo an invulnerable save on his Greater Demon, so that it would lose its last wound when a nearby vehicle exploded, thus allowing him to earn a tertiary objective point for having one of his own units get wiped out by exploding vehicles), but I eventually tabled his forces. In return, I had lost (or had immobilized) six of my transports, and lost just two infantry squads – both of them relatively expendable (against Marine Equivalent lists) Dominion squads.

Turning the Tables.
Leigh made two big mistakes in this game that really sealed his fate. His first was in choosing to ‘castle up’ in one corner of the table – it meant that he simply didn’t have a whole lot of room to maneuver, and with my initial charge, I was able to pin him quite neatly into his corner. Even had he gone first, as he had expected, it’s difficult to see what he could have done to change that set-up – he simply didn’t have very many units that could slow down my transports, and I had significantly more vehicles than he did.

Secondly, Leigh compounded his mistake by moving TOWARD me during his turn, instead of moving AWAY. By moving toward me, he not only made it easier for my transports to pick-and-choose where I wished to trap and destroy him, but he also closed the range against an army designed to kill things entirely at close range. Once he had done these two things, it was basically game over but for the fiddly details, and indeed, there was never any point during the rest of the game when Leigh’s forces really threatened to turn the tide of events. Even had he had a monstrously lucky turn (or two), it was too steep an uphill climb that he faced, tactically speaking.