Friday, September 2, 2016

Awakening

Titus stirred.

The chirp in his sensors had actually stirred first, which had the effect of gently nudging Titus from his dream state.  Titus was momentarily saddened.  He had been dreaming a great dream, one of  his youth, on a hunting trip in the mountains of Macragge. Then Titus remembered his duty and purpose.  Titus began his awakening protocols.

With mental thoughts, rather than physical motion, as practiced over a century of time, He began the ordered protocols and internal checklists.  Auxiliary power units began to hum with warmth and energy.  Hydraulic systems were pressured, tested for leaks.  Computer control, communications, data, and sensor systems came on line next as programming checked each engram for errors or faults.  Throughout it all, Titus kept his visual and audio inputs shut down.  He preferred it that way, not wanting to see or hear his true environment until he was ready.  Titus frowned at the list of faults and maintenance issues that slowly built up on his internal display.  One power fist digit was under pressured, probably the sign of an aging component that would need replacement.  One power unit only achieving 99.123% of power.  A gyroscope seemingly needing re-calibration.  Hydraulic pressure sensors in his right leg indicating the need to replace a filter. Ammunition was nil.

Communications messages reduced to text form cluttered his in-vox system.  Well over 75,000 messages in all.  With a mental gesture, he began screening through the messages. Some were simple location system reports indicating his presence on the Ultramarines battle barge Octavius II.  Others were rough greetings from his battle brothers. Many were daily devotional messages from Chaplain Tiber.  He scanned on, reading messages from his captain, a few minor battle reports.  Reports of warp translation.  Training schedules. Promotions.

Breakfast, as it was, consisted of input of a balanced paste through his feeding tube. Per his own request, the nutrient paste changed from a smoky bacon-like sense to that of a bitter coffee. It gave him strength and unfogged his mind.  

On completion of his startup protocols, and his communications read, discarded, or archived, Titus mentally reached for another button on the display.  Mentally hammering it home, with a massive clunk, a bright widening beam of light bathed Titus. The doors widened to their full potential.  Then with a thought, Titus began motion, massive right foot followed by left, into the light of the room. He bowed forward.  Standing before  him was Techmarine Arius. Arius returned the bow.  "Good Morning Brother Titus" said the Techmarine.  "We have need of your service"...Beyond were Chapter Servitors with panniers of large bore explosive ammunition. Each round was polished to a high sheen, each marked with the Emperors Blessed Seal and the Ultramarines Chapter Symbol.  Titus advanced further into the room to begin his rituals of arming...  


Friday, August 26, 2016

Apparently not...

1850 Point Game - Maelstrom #5 vs Tau

OK, spoiler...no pictures...

So, like this Wednesday, at Crossroad Games, I won the lucky dice roll (we use dice to pair up players on our Wednesday "club night")...I was paired up to play vs Tau.  I'd put the player as top tier, and the match-up could have been written right out of the Mont' Ka campaign.

My army (I know, you were expecting something different) was basically (I'd made a new list, forgot it, so did this more or less from memory - it should be pretty close but I don't know if I forget something meaningful):

Emperor's Wrath Artillery Company:
Company command with HF, officer of Ordnance, vox, Chimera
BERP the Enginseer
Manticore
Wyvern
Basilisk

CAD:
Company commander (warlord), plasma guns, astropath, vox, Chimera
Veteran (grenadier) squad, plasma, Chimera
Veteran (grenadier) squad, plasma, Chimera
Veteran (grenadier) squad, plasma, vox, Taurox
Banewolf
LR Demolisher
LR Punisher

My warlord trait was lead by example, where my Warlord and his unit would score 1+ for objectives.
The Astropath had Psychic Scream and IIRR Domination (target unit has to roll leadership before doing anything).

My opponent had a great Tau list that was everything you could want to take in a rockem' sockem list:

Optimized Stealth Cadre (OSC)
Retaliation Cadre (RC)
Everything Tau is optimized for weaponry, wargear boosts, etc.

The Tau determined what deployment zone they wanted, and also deployed first, went first.

The interesting thing about the Tau list, is that they start the game with just the Optimized Stealth cadre on the table. Only 2 drones with the GhostKeel. The strategy is that they take it to Turn 2, where the entire Tau force arrives from deep strike reserves on Turn 2.  The Tau commander (only character) and his bodyguard of 9 or so suits, can pretty much split fire at everything, and not scatter on the drop.  Special rules have the Tau weapons always hitting vehicles on rear armor.  Extra bonuses pretty much twin link everything, give extra cover boosts, reroll 1's, armorbane, etc....you get a pretty good picture of it.

I did not really know that at the beginning of the game.

I did not reserve anything.  Probably should have.

Overall, the game was a close deal through turn 4 when the game was called for time.

I lost, like 12-9 or so, but at the end of the game I only really had one veteran squad still in play.

Turn 1 - the Tau OSC came up the center, and focused on my Russ's, taking the demolisher to 1 hull point. In response, I used my vox network to twin link the artillery, and put it all down on the stealth suits.  Failed orders to pin or ignore cover.  Even with twin linking, scattering was my foe, and although I caused over 10 wounds, only three stealth suits from the two comingled units were removed.

Rules conundrum:  The Tau player claimed that a piece of special rule or wargear in the OSC meant that if the stealth suits were within 6 inches of the Ghostkeel, that their cover save would be doubled from units firing more than 12-inches away.  He wanted to double down his cover saves to a 2+.  I argued that it would not work from artillery barrage, since the direction of damage was from the center of the blast templates, not the distance of the artillery piece. It went in circles until we decided to dice it off and I lost.  Stealth suits benefited from the doubled 2+ cover, and that cost me a lot. I did get domination on the Ghostkeel, which was about the only thing awesome for the turn.

Turn 2, the entire tau RC arrive, and pretty much none scatter to any bad position.  The tau commander and his suit group plop in from of the artillery company,  The other units go after the CAD.  By the end of the turn, I'd lost 3 chimeras, the manticore, basilisk, and demolisher, and banewolf all to Tau special rear-armor seeking munitions. In response, I shot up and killed off a few of the smaller suit units from the RC.

Turn 3, more of the same, I lost the remaining chimeras, Taurox, wyvern, punisher, warlord, commander, astropath, etc.  I scored some points with what I had left.  BERP tried to assault the RC commander and unit for wrecking all of the vehicles under his care - he was dropped by the overwatch fire.      

Turn 4, Tau move up and consolidate to hunt down the remaining enemy units.  I get some shots off, but I'm pretty much down to a squad of survivors in the Tau deployment zone.

Overall, it was an interesting game, and if I'd had time, I'd have wanted to try it again but with holding all of my tanks and artillery in reserves, or with the artillery in a corner, bubble wrapped by dismounted veterans.  That way, on turn 2, my reserves could have come in and reacted to the Tau force in a more meaningful way.  On the other hand, our Wednesday night crowd are not really in the mode of "Beats lab" where we can stop a game, rewind, and try stuff out to see what works or not.  I may go ahead and optimize this list further and try it again next week.  I find I'm getting better with orders.  And yes, the Warlord trait helped me grab an extra point in the game...

The biggest damage came from all the Tau munitions going right to my rear armor with no cover saves allowed.

Overall, failing on ignores cover orders on turn 1 was sad and a bit of a game changer.  Also, I need a penitential moment with my codex, as I need to confirm stuff on giving orders.

First game using a Taurox. I have one built with the twin linked autocannon and twin linked storm bolter turret (apparently it does not come with a heavy stubber!). It was able to zome ahead to get me an objective, but quickly died to tau fire.  The squad inside lasted a while there till they were killed off.

I think since the veterans have all been killed off enough in the last year I ought to go to just bare-bones infantry, not veterans, and give each sergeant a power axe...that might have been good this game, the AP2 would have been a better tool in a charge into one unit of suits.  

All for now!

MING
  

  






  



Tuesday, August 16, 2016

Did I learn Anything?

Dang.

This might be the last post of my 2015-2016 gaming year (long time readers know I go from August 15 to August 15, aligned with the old Ard' Boyz' cycle).  Deliberately, I spent maybe the first third of the gaming year playing Blood Angels, and the remaining two thirds playing Astra Militarum.

The gaming year, compared to last year, was a disaster.  Look at the record - over in the right margin of the screen.   7 Wins 5 draws 20 Losses.

Almost the opposite of last year - where I played Ultramarines with a splash of Blood Angels.

Now, arguably, my experience may not be too different from the other Astra Militarum (Imperial Guard) players out there.  Overall, did I learn anything?

Maybe.

Am I ready to give up on playing the Astra Militarum?  Meh, maybe not yet.  I am a glutton for punishment!

So - here is my last game of the year in pictures with comments:

JOINNNN USSSSS.....

1850 Points, Astra Militarum vs Demons and Zombies

The 555th Regiment, still much reduced, returned to the front lines.  Rumors swirled of the dead walking, demons ever present, and the taint of chaos bringing ruin everywhere.

We were playing Maestrom Mission #1, or so.  Corner deployment zones, objectives, 3 cards max per turn.  I was playing my new variant, where the CAD's company commander had an Astropath as an advisor, and the Artillery company commander had a master of ordnance.  The Astropath shows promise - with the primaris of Psychic Shriek. My CAD company commander was the warlord, and he had the Zealot (Cadian) warlord trait.   In turn 1, the AM moved forward, looking to whittle down the enemy with the firepower of both companies.  The enemy lost several Khorne dogs and some zombies, but again, this demon led army is very resilient.


In the psychic phase of the Demon Turn 1 the Keeper of Secrets summons another blob of plague zombies.  and the entire mass keeps shuffling forward.

BERP, the Enginseer of the Artillery Company needs more experience.  Never ever stand at the back end of a missile launching artillery piece...considering the demons had no real shooting weapons, I have no idea what BERP is hiding from...

By turn 3, the AM front lines were breached.  Remannat (soon wiped out) Khorne Dogs (and Herald) assaulted the AM left.  The Keeper in the center.  Zombies to the right.  Overall, the Demons were doing great on objective cards.  The AM was vapor locked with cards it could not score on.

Soon, the CAD company commander was gone.  So were the Khorne Dogs, and some other demon units.  But the mobility of the AM was gutted.

When you are a zombie, you just keep shuffling forward...

Eventually, due to store hours, the game was called.   Zombies win, 15 to 5.  

Overall, it was a fun game.  This is not the first time the 555th have run into a Demon horde army.  It is always a great challenge to see if you can wreck them before they wreck you.

Overall, some takeaways:

1. Once the demon player deployed, the AM should have worked turn 1 to redeploy towards the left and focused everything on the Khorne Dogs first - instead, the target priorities were spread all over the place.  The Khorne Dogs are a key linchpin of this army - they - and the Herald, need to get removed first.  

2. The Astropath periled again, second game in a row.  Not a big deal.  In this game he tried to put wounds on the Keeper - did not work.  If I'd concentrated on the dogs, I'd have faired better in the points exchange.

3.  One of the guys I work with - a Marine turned Geotechnical Engineer - used to play AM.  He suggests that spending points on Veterans is a waste.  He wants me to instead try a IG Platoon, regular squads, mechanized, and use the saved points for something else (like more Wyverns), or at least convert from Grenadiers to demolition specialists.  Hmmmm....

4.  Change the warlord to the AM Artillery commander and roll on the strategic table instead.

5.  Practice more.

So, what thoughts do you have?

Even in this game, I though about starting totally dismounted, just to have more lascarbines and laspistols shooting at the blob leading edges. I probably would still have run into problems with board control and actually wounding the horde. IIRR the demon player had four sources or so for spells - his favorite being cursed earth - to make his army even tougher, and he had the grimouire (sp) on the Keeper, making things even nastier.  I was outclassed in warp charges like 13:1.

All for now.  And remember, comments are always appreciated.

Friday, July 1, 2016

BERP Observes the Chaos of it All

BERP was still rebooting several of his personal repair protocols, especially the ones that dealt with memory function.  In his minds eye he just experienced some stuff that even a lifetime of worshiping the Ominsiah could not cure. BERP knew one thing - his report and data had been transmitted upwards through the Mechanicus chain of command, and it seemed to cause a ripple effect in the data streams that normally would come back to him.

BERP the Enginseer had just survived his first encounter with Demons.

Typical for fighting with the 555th Cadian Mechanized Regiment, BERP was attached to support the artillery company. When they deployed forward into the red ash wastes, BERP had sent a terse data stream back to his Prime that his request for servitors had not been timely met.  BERP was going to the frenzy of battle with just his own tools and knowledge.

The battle of the bikers was still fresh on the minds of the 555th. The Regiment was still fighting in a reduced formation - down to two companies instead of four.  The tank companies had been stripped away to act as the force's reserves.

BERP was always mystified by how these Cadians deployed.  Every battle, these veterans remained in their Chimera Transports and fought from each one as a bunker.  BERP, on the other hand, needed free access to his assigned equipment, and his role was not to fight but to repair.



The 555th was deployed as a flanking force, in a region of red ash wastes that wafted over anything that disturbed it.  The 555th was advancing in force through the wastes, the Mechanized element was forward and the artillery was to the rear of the column.  All of the vehicles halted when the column vox channels all seemed to burst forth on all frequencies with the same word.  Ed.

All eyes and sensors scanned to the dusty plains and ruins.  This area had been the site of a different battle days before, and it bore scars of the fighting that had been held between the Astra Militarum and renegade marines.

As the commanders of the two companies consulted, flashes of green and blue warp-light sparkled to the left flank of the force.  All of the vehicles turned to face the threat.

Then it happened.

Bursting forth from the dust, flying monstrosities appeared, flying and flapping towards the column.

The commanders knew that their best means to fight this incursion was to fire back, into the mouth of the ambush.  To flee in disarray was to die.




BERP had been riding on the loading deck of the Basilisk.  He stepped down and awaited the need.

Las-fire and shells soon pumped out of the force into the demons.  The demons cared naught, and with waves of staves and incantations, soon more demons appeared.  Fighting grew fierce, as the head of the column became engulfed in fighting.  Splashes of demon fire poured out as flames, and Cadians fought and died where they stood.  No units broke, all remained steadfast. One Cadian sergeant challenged a demon, but the evil beast's weapon smote the sergeant as an explosion of warp fire that engulfed the demon and squad.



Even the Mechanized Commander, with his veteran retinue and advisers dead, fought and backed slowly down the line, providing an example of steadfast courage.  The commander seemed to become stronger and more fierce as he advanced away from the demons, who pursued at a respectful pace. All the while, artillery ranged from pounding distant and danger close targets, trying to support the beleaguered veterans.



Soon, the battle neared BERP.  A mighty demon actually leaped upon the Basilisk, damaging it beyond repair. All faster than BERP could react. Soon, other vehicles were wrecked, and men poured out to continue the fight as they always did.  Some demons issued forth gouts of warp flame, some, seen as greater leaders, constantly issued incantations and fired bolts of light and power from their hands or staves or breath.



But then as quickly as it started, with a swirl in the winds, the battle ended.

All that was left was to catalog the data, file more reports, and await support.  And look through the wreckage for salvage.

Through it all, BERP realized, he'd not done a damn thing.  He had not even tried to repair anything.  Or collect data.  Or provide advice or aid.  He'd just stood there the entire time...watching.

So yes, I fought last night, Cadians vs Demons at 1650 points!  Due to time constraints we could only complete 3 full turns...and we ended as a 5:5 DRAW!!!!

This was Maelstrom mission #4, similar to last week.  I was using the Cadian deck, he was using the Demon deck.  Overall, it was a lot of fun!  Looking forward to next week...

 








Thursday, June 23, 2016

BERP's first Bike Week

Techpriest Enginseer BERP (Basic Engineering Repair Protocol) was now a veteran, having completed his second battle.   He stood on the blasted plain, his red cloak moving in the wind.  His bionic eye focusing on distant wrecked structures.  His one good, human eye, tired and bloodshot from the dust and smoke.

BERP had accompanied the Cadian 555th Company to this distant world just this week.  Assigned as per the prior protocols to an attached Artillery Company, with vehicles similar to before.  As programmed, BERP was initially deployed with the Manticore, his cables connected to the tank, monitoring its systems and prepared to fire it should the crew fail to follow orders.  The enemy, he was briefed, were renegade Space marines, all mounted on bikes or jump packs, perfect for this open, dusty environment.  Bike mounted marines were not, however, an enemy BERP had much dealing with.  A good radio net was established between formation commands, to improve the accuracy and efficacy of the artillery.

The battle was to begin with the artillery opening up as before, once the bikers were detected.  BERP saw that everything was in order, and the enemy was not in sight.  That changed in a split second, when an a giant beam of energy lanced downward towards the 555th from the skies above and erupted into a devastating conflagration.  The beam, probably from a space-borne system, lanced between the Manticore and nearby basilisk, and in an instant, both exploded and were destroyed. BERP momentarily lost his own function, but in an instant his training and programming had him looking for other vehicles to support as he disentangled from the debris.  The Omnisiah Protects its own.



Already, the bikers were swiftly approaching.  Shooting of energy and mass-reactive weapons erupted all across the 555th's gun line.  BERP saw the Banewolf shudder under a multimelta impact, and runes flashed that the damaged vehicle was already immobilized.  BERP moved in that direction, which would also be the center of the 555th's line.

Fighting continued.  On the right, the Wyvern battery and Ordnance officer and mortar team ignored the oncoming renegade flanking force, and instead supported the Imperial left.  It was a gambit to try to cause as much damage as they could, ignoring their own personal danger.  Damage was done, ordnance raining down, but was woefully inaccurate.  The artillery missed the front lines of the marines and instead pummeled the second wave - jump pack assault marines...


As he moved to the left, BERP sorted through the incoming communications and data, recognizing that as the biker renegades assaulted the 555th from the front, the stronger renegade command was flanking the line on the right.  BERP reached the damaged Banewolf and attempted repairs.  On the right flank, he could see that the renegades were breaking through that flank, and BERP received the order from the Artillery Company commander that he was now to report to the 555th directly.  Soon the Wyvern, security force, and Artillery Company command were engulfed in short, brutal fighting with the bikers.


The supporting Vendetta flashed overhead, heading left.  The goal seemed to be to breach the renegade biker lines and allow the 555th to advance away from its crumbling right flank.

Before BERP could be successful in his repairs, the Banewolf was wrecked by bikers advancing up the flank.  The Commander of the 555th's Chimera now also began to smoke, and commander dismounted, power sword in hand.  The battle quickly devolved into a rout, the 555th moving left, away from the renegade biker command, their gambit to destroy the units before them a hard fought success. At one point the Company Commander with BERP in tow, looked to assault an attack bike squad that was looking for them in the dust and smoke of the battler, but the bikers moved away before contact.



As the smoke and dust continued to clear, the Vendetta provided air cover for the dismounted survivors.  The renegade marines did not pursue.

BERP was saddened by the loss of equipment.  In part, he felt that the battlefield was just no place for the vehicles under his charge.  Soon he would be arriving back at the force's depot, and start the process over...there was more fighting coming.

Thursday, June 16, 2016

Taumorrow Comes

Techpriest Enginseer BERP (Basic Engineering Repair Protocol) was distracted.  Assigned to the artillery company of the 555th Regiment, Cadia, he was in his first major battle.  His dendrite connector cords sniffed the air around him, the air palpable with the distinct odor of ozone - the remnants of the plasma blast that had only moments below erupted on the Manticore before him and had nearly thrown him to the ground.

Behind him, a Wyvern issued another four satisfying krumps in rapid succession, sending the blessed explosive shells of destruction downrange to the enemy positions.  BERP strove to reawaken the Manticore's engine, his mind reaching out for the Manticore's spirit for guidance.  It could, he see, keep firing, it just could not move.  Some sort of electrical discharge from the blast had immobilized the vehicle.  BERP barely cringed as another large blast from the Tau hit the Command Chimera nearby - and with smoke pouring up from that vehicle, the command squad of the artillery company exited the vehicle and sheltered behind it.  The Wyvern behind him was also damaged in that same blast and it now called for attention.  BERP moved over to it and connected to the Wyvern.  His mind now reached into the stricken vehicle and he attempted another repair.  The Manticore fired another large artillry rocket at the enemy off in the distance.

Nothing seemed to work right under these conditions thought BERP. Another plasma blast now bloomed overhead, showering BERP with debris.  The Wyvern itself stopped all functions.  BERP looked at the open firing platform and saw the crew were all dead or on fire.  BERP frowned, wrinkling his one remaining eyebrow.  Whith what passed for a sigh, he disconnected from the wrecked Wyvern and turned his attention back to the Manticore.  It, at least, was still capable of firing, thought BERP.  He observed it had one missile left in its racks.  Soon, BERP would move to the next artillery piece.  Servitors and a recovery vehicle were ordered with the mere thought, to come forward and recover the Manticore for repair and rearming.  

Nearby, the Artillery Company Commander and his subbordinates were all yelling into different communications systems, and the battle was continuing. BERP was somewhat grateful for his location behind as solid concrete structure.  On one hand, he wanted to collect data on this enemy, the Tau.  On the other hand, his program was to see to and repair the artillery throughout the battle.  BERP mused that in due time, with Victory won, we could be afforded the chance to collect data on the Tau's military technology. Until then, he would perform his function.

(yes, in part due to the attached Artillery Company Formation, the 555th beat a Tau force at 1750 points. It was fun...)







  

Friday, June 3, 2016

The Sun Will Be Out...Taumorrow'

For the greater good, I played a 1750 game this week vs Tau.  Of course I did not get time (yet) to update a better Astra Militarum list, so I took one of my prior lists (1650), carved off a 100 point vet squad, and cobbled in a Vendetta with door gunners, and added another flamer to another squad.  Pretty much dealt with it, but meant I had one formation (Emperor's assault company) and a bucket of unbound stuff (or allied formation, as it were).

Overall, it was a very close game, and I lost, 4-3.  Very low scoring, Contact Lost mission.  The battle hinged around a Shadowsun-led, suit blob, that apparently could spit fire to multiple units, had preferred enemy, tank hunter, AP2 weapons, ignores cover...

Due to time constraints and a late start, we could only get four turns in.

I used the Cadian tactical cards deck and WL traits, staying true to the fluff of the 555th "Triple Nickels".  The best part was drawing the WL trait that allowed me to ignore morale checks from shooting casualties.  The worst part was drawing cards Turn 1 and 2 that were half about either assaulting the enemy or being in the enemy deployment zone.

It was still a fun game. Any game is fun.

My opponent BTW was either just being nice, or not to aggressive.  His game plane really just hinged on his central deathstar playing in the center.  He clearly could have sent his Riptide, Longstreet, and other units out to capture more objectives.  It's another reason the game was close.  I think I drew cards 1:3:2:2; he drew 1:2:2:3.  I think he clearly could have drawn 1:3:3:3 with very minor movements.  In fact, I think I spent more time watching what he was doing than playing my own game...

Things I need to address (won't be playing for the next two weeks):

1.  Get the Emperor's Wrath artillery company built.  Overall, I need to have orders for artillery to just make them better.

2.  Drop the officer of the ordnance.  Won't need him with a better artillery formation.

3.  Possibly drop the Cadian' mechanized formation for a CAD.  That way even the Vet's Chimera's stay as obsec, although I lose the bonuses for shooting enemies near objectives (which I forget in turns 1 and 3 of this game). It also allows me to squeeze in a Primaris Psycher, to attach to the artillery for Prescience.

4.  Other stuff.  Need to always squeak in a flyer or two...the CAD allows that easily.

I'll get a revised list up for comment someplace...maybe at Frontline to see what Frankie and Reece think.  Then here. Or both at once.  Somehow, I have just two more months in this gaming year to finally get the Astra Militarum figured out!

All for now, enjoy the weekend!