Friday, May 7, 2010

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.

What happened? 
Bobby won the roll-off and began his deployment, setting up his Orks in layers: an arcing line of Killa Kans (and the Deff Dread) in the front rank, with all four mobs of Boyz behind them, in two layers of units.  The Big Meks were positioned toward the front of two units of Boyz, giving all the walkers (and the front units of Orks) cover, and the Deffkopta units were sent to outflank.

I deployed all my heavy-hitter units: the Hornsuits/Broadsides, Ranger (Crisis) Suits, Quasar/Hammerhead, and Scout/Pathfinders.  The suits deployed in and around a large wooded area deep in my own corner, and as far back as possible while still deep in cover.  A layer of Slann/Kroot provided an assault screen for the suits (and one of the Pathfinder units).  The second Pathfinder unit deployed off to my left, using their scout move to clamber onto a tall hill at my nearby short edge of the table, and the Hammerhead gently floated to the right of my trees full of guns.

I kept one unit of Kroot, and both transports (full of Brave/Fire Warriors) in reserve, with the Kroot planning to outflank, and hopefully get into one of those other corners to contest or claim later in the game – by which point, I expected most of the Orks to have migrated more toward my corner, and thus well away from the Kroot.

For the most of the rest of the game, Bobby ran his entire army toward me, and not only ran but kept rolling very high for his run moves (4 inches or more, EVERY TIME).  With a massive wave of Green rolling toward me, I began choosing targets, and hoping that I was making the right choices.

In the first turn, I killed 6 of 9 Killa Kans.  Markerlight hits took away the KFF cover save, exposing the AV11 walkers to a barrage of high-strength weapons fire.  In the second turn, BOTH units of Deffkoptas buzzed onto the table, right in my back corner, but fired (and missed) with all their Rokkits, attempting to kill Crisis Suits.  Well out of assault range of the Suits, they were swarmed by the nearby Kroot out of the trees, lost the combat, tried to flee, and were wiped out (Kroot Hounds for the initiative!) in short order.

They’re in the trees, man.  In the trees! 
(picture by Chris "TheEC")

With one unit of Sluggaboyz having gotten close to my lines in the second turn, I threw the firepower of my entire army at them, and they went away – the three survivors were well out of assault range, and ate some Smart Missiles the following turn.  It was impressive, the firepower I could bring to bear, particularly with Pathfinders stripping cover saves from units.  In turn 3, it was the Deff Dread that ate it – but I otherwise had a pretty lousy shooting phase, managing only to stun another Killa Kan, and otherwise very little else.  My transports and Kroot began to come onto the table, however, and zipped around Bobby’s far flank, making for his rear (and for corner captures).

Bobby sent two Killa Kans, as well his unit of Shootaboyz, after the Kroot and Slann transports, and now that he was within a next-turn assault range of my main lines with a second unit of Sluggaboyz, stopped running his units forward and instead took potshots with Rokkits and Big Shootas, killing two of my Crisis Suits.  With a big, pristine unit of Ork boyz to deal with, I went to work, but managed to kill only 23 of 31 Boyz that turn – the surviving eight WAUGHED (to make absolutely sure to get in assault range), and assaulted my Pathfinders; one Killa Kan also made it into my lines, and assaulted my assault screen of Kroot.

The Pathfinders collapsed like a wet noodle, and the triumphant boyz were shot to pieces by vengeful Crisis Suits.  The Kroot, on the other hand, stubbornly stuck around instead of running, causing a little heartburn for a turn or two (happily, they stuck around during my assault phase as well).  My remaining Big Gunz burped, and most of another unit of Sluggaboyz (the last unit left) fell down.  And, joy of joys, my second Kroot unit in the far corner were now within assault range of Bobby’s Shootaboyz.  After ‘softening up’ the unit with a Fire Warrior drive-by, the Kroot piled into the Shootas and wiped them out decisively, consolidating into some nearby woods afterward.

Night fell at this point, but the game continued.  With only one (badly mauled) mob of Boyz left, Bobby piled them into combat with the Kroot, helping out one of the remaining Killa Kans.  The Kroot didn’t even have a chance to run, but this meant that the Killa Kan, and the last unit of Boyz, was now standing in the open at point-blank range to all my surviving Big Gunz.  After the smoke cleared, the Orks had just one Killa Kan, one Nob, and one Big Mek left, and the game came mercifully to a close at that point. 

I had claimed two corners, the Orks only contested one (ironically, my starting corner) and claimed none.  I had come one wound from claiming the secondary objective (kill all enemy Troops), but had claimed the tertiary objective (kill the most expensive enemy non-Troops unit) by wiping out the priciest unit of Killa Kans at the game’s end.

Turning the Tables.
Bobby’s biggest mistake in this game was made during his deployment phase – there were several problems with his deployment that meant that instead of assaulting me with his entire army (at once!) and overwhelming me with targets, he was instead feeding me one unit at a time, and as a result giving me an excellent chance of dealing with each unit in turn.

(1) First, when I say the Orks “deployed in an arc”, you would think this meant an arc with the wings closer to me, given the 12” radius restriction from board center in the deployment.  Instead, what actually happened was that the Orks deployed in an arc with the wings further from me – a nice way of using Killa Kans to protect the flanks of the mobs taking cover behind them, but also resulting in the models on the wings deploying nearly 12 inches FURTHER AWAY from my corner.  Orks shouldn’t be worried about Tau assaulting them, or moving CLOSER to flank them.  Orks should be worried about getting as close as possible to assault, the better (and faster) to do it.  This deployment meant that I literally had an extra turn to shoot at Bobby’s mobs, compared to what could have been.

This is how the Orks actually deployed

(2) Second, the four Ork Mobs deployed in four loose clusters, with two clusters in front, and two clusters behind.  In other words, the two mobs in the back would have to travel not only to my lines, but ALSO the entire distance of the mob in front, in order to get to assault range.  Bobby would have been better served deploying his four mobs in four thin columns, so that all four mobs would have members at the ‘front’ of the assault at the same time.  Given that he is allowed to remove casualties from the rear, this wouldn’t have hurt his ability to assault me quickly with any one mob, and would have meant that multiple mobs would have been in assault range simultaneously.  Instead, after I nearly wiped out one mob (which took my ENTIRE ARMY’S firepower to pull off), the next mob in line still had nearly twelve inches (the width of the mob in front!) to travel, just to get to the same place.
This is how the Orks should have deployed

(3) Third, the Ork models were very spread out, with nearly 1.5 inches between each model.  True, I did have a big blast Railgun template, but on the other hand I had only ONE template weapon.  The Orks could have been better served packing in a little closer, just to ensure that the leading edge of all four mobs would be as close as possible to my lines.  Granted, Bobby was deploying first, so couldn’t be sure that I would be deploying here or there, but it wasn’t as it he had no idea what my army was likely to do (= stand and shoot).

(4) On a related note, Bobby’s instinct during game-play was to keep his Ork mobs separate, and not intersperse models from different mobs.  I did point out that this was basically denying his mobs the additional movement (in some cases, as much as three inches of additional movement!) they needed to get to assault range, and indeed, none of his mobs would have gotten into assault range if they hadn’t used those extra inches (‘mixing’ models from different mobs in the process) during the game to get just that bit closer my lines – his mobs only JUST made it into assault range on those two occasions when they did.  This also applies during deployment, of course – you still get cover saves if most of your (huge, huge!) mob is in cover behind those Killa Kans… so why aren’t you interspersing models in front with the Kans, to get as far forward as possible?

Apart from these deployment and formation problems, however, the game went pretty well, with only two further decisions I would consider questionable.  The first was choosing to send the Deffkoptas after my Crisis Suits, instead of jumping on a fully exposed unit of Pathfinders on my far left flank – particularly after having just seen what Pathfinders could do to an Ork army.  Instead, the Deffkoptas not only missed, but then were beat down by a nearby unit of Kroot, rather than taking down Pathfinders and then buzzing around and being an ongoing pest.  Even if the two squads had been separated a bit more, odds were that I would have had to split fire, and not been able to assault both at once with my Kroot.  All in all, a missed opportunity here.

Second, the Shoota boyz that I hit with a Fire Warrior drive-by chose to remove models from the “back” of the unit, rather than remove models from the “front” and pull the unit out of assault range of my outflanking Kroot.  I know that this is a very Orky thing to do, but it meant that instead of assaulting (or not) on his own terms, and getting additional models into range to throw dice, Bobby’s Shootas ended up strung out in a long line (Bobby chose to keep his Nob, at the “back” of the unit alive, and thus had to maintain a long string of models to keep coherency) that, when assaulted by the Kroot, lost the ensuing melee DECISIVELY.  True, given the damage Shootas had taken, the combat was probably going to be in favor of the Kroot anyway (even had the Orks been assaulting), but at least an Ork-turn assault would have been able to go in shooting, cause some more damage, and potentially have a better shot of winning.

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