Friday, March 5, 2010

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.

Terrain: Neither Steve nor I wanted to place terrain, so we took it as it had been set up.  A massive factory building (averaging three stories high) blocked LOS and movement in the center of the table.  Some sparse woods were in either deployment zone, as well as some low hills scattered throughout.  A reinforced trenchline had been dug on the far left of my deployment zone, but neither Steve nor I had any use for it, so it simply was more difficult terrain for our transports and vehicles.

What happened? 
Steve won the roll-off to set-up and move first, and chose to set up in a line across his deployment zone.  Given the massive building in the middle of the table, though, this meant that he was effectively creating two ‘wings’ to his army, as such:

Right Wing (my left): Leman Russ on the far side, with two Chimeras, then two Hellhounds, and the Basilisk hiding behind trees on that side.

Center (hidden from nearly everything in my deployment zone): HQ Chimera.

Left Wing (my right): one Chimera on the far side, with a Leman Russ in cover in the woods on that wing, then two Hellhounds and a second Chimera toward the center.

Outflanking: the two Lascannon Sentinels.

I set up in a mobile castle planning to rush to my right around the building, with AV12 front-armor Chimeras in front, and everything else screened behind them.  Steve’s first turn was fairly ineffectual, given that only one vehicle (his Leman Russ on the right) was shooting, but it did manage to immobilize the Chimera with my Brother-Captain and flamers.  The unit sat out the battle in the back lines, in relative safety, as everything else happened around them.

My shooting in the first two turns was astoundingly bad – even with multiple close-range melta shots (over 20 shots at BS4 over two turns) at close range, I managed to kill just one Hellhound and one Chimera.  Fortunately, the fact that half of Steve’s army couldn’t see me, meant that I was able to keep most of my force intact despite choking two turns in a row in the shooting phase.  I had thrown two Chimeras and Immolator onto my left flank, hoping to delay the other half of Steve’s army while my units got over their massive hangover and figured out where the triggers on their weapons were – and it worked, though I had lost all three vehicles (and their contents) in the process by the third turn.

Then in the bottom of the third turn, my units started to get serious, and seven Guard vehicles died – two more Hellhounds, two Chimeras (and their contents), the unit of Sentinels that had just arrived (and missed after shooting at a transport) and a Leman Russ.  Now I was cooking with fire (literally)!!  Steve’s entire flank collapsed, and thrown onto the defensive after a very decisive turn, the Guard tried to retreat to the far side of the table-top to take advantage of their range advantage.  But now that I had the range, I wasn’t going to let the Guard get away, and they continued to lose vehicles (and units) to my meltas and flamers. 

The game went a full seven turns, and the Imperial Guard were able to keep one Leman Russ, and one unit of Veterans in a Chimera, alive by circling them around to my deployment zone (taking pot-shots at my Brother-Captain in the process), but lost everything else.  I had lost about half my vehicles and their contents (all four Chimeras and two of the Guard units, 3 Immolators and their squads – Celestian, Dominion, and Storm Trooper), plus my Brother Captain to a lucky plasma-gun shot, but despite their lousy shooting the first two turns, it turned into a rather decisive victory for the sisters.

Turning the Tables
The Imperial Guard did three things in this game that really hurt them: one in the deployment phase, one in the movement phase of the first turn, and one in the movement phase of turns two and three.

Deployment: why are you spread out?  With a giant LOS-blocking piece of (effectively to vehicles) impassable terrain in the middle of the table, spreading out in your deployment zone means that you are chopping your army in half.  Your opponent hasn’t deployed yet and will absolutely take advantage of the fact that your army is split in two.  MY army list does not have a ton of long-range vehicle-killing firepower.  Pick one corner or other and castle up, and make me have to come in and deal with EVERYONE at once.  On a related note, why are you choosing to out-flank with your Sentinels?  They should be on the table right away, trying to blast away at my transports before they get to your lines.

Movement (turn 1): why are you moving toward me?  No, honestly, why?  I have no long-range firepower, and am a nasty, nasty army at close range… so why are you moving CLOSER to me instead of sitting back and shooting for two turns?  Even your Hellhounds have an effective range of about 18 inches (about 20 inches maximum) without including movement, so there’s no reason to get close to me.  Have everything else sit back and shoot, and when I get close, use the Veterans with meltaguns as a mobile screen (they melta something, their ride blocks my movement).  Then flame the snot out of me with Hellhounds, acting as cruisers on the flanks.  Create layers of transports protecting your heavy-hitters in the back (your Leman Russes) and keep the triggers on your guns completely depressed.

On a related note, why is your HQ Chimera busy hiding behind a building for virtually the entire game?  You told me yourself that the squad inside has no value apart from the Astropath – so why are you trying to keep them alive, and incidentally denying yourself the use of the guns on the transport?

Movement (turns 2/3): why is half of your army concentrating on taking out one or two Chimeras full of useless guys?  Why are they not hitting the accelerator and immediately rushing to help out the other half of your army, and taking advantage of the fact that the Sisters apparently forgot which end of their weapons is the “boom boom” side?  Why are you wasting two turns of movement and shooting on a couple units that I clearly am throwing at you just to distract you, and which are stuck in vehicles you have already immobilized in the middle of an open field, and who thus can be dealt with at your leisure? 

As it was, the Guard were unable to take advantage of my two (!!) lousy shooting phases, with half the army concentrating on wiping out my “distraction” force of two Chimeras and an Immolator.  By the time they realized that help was needed, my units had figured out what they were supposed to be doing, and Steve’s other flank had completely collapsed.

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