Saturday, June 29, 2013

Big Red Guns On Fire

Librarian Arcadius flexed his gauntlets around his force axe handle as his mind reached into the warp.  Around him stood his bodyguard of Terminators from First Company. They had teleported to the surface some hours ago with orders from Tigurius to search this section of an old battlefield.  This zone contained an old medical research facility of the Adeptus Sororitas, where blood pathogens and viruses had been studied. The he felt it rather than sensed it.  Numerous armored vehicles were approaching from the Northeast. With a glance, Sergeant Scipio signaled for reinforcements and the rest of the Calth reaction Force mobilized.    

The local FLGS is doing some construction this week ("replacing the parking lot" = new septic system).  With that going on, my buddy Ripped Dragon invited two other firends to get over to my game room for a evening of 40K.  The two guys are great, learning 6th edition 40K through weekly games.  Since there wass the four of us, we decided to go with a 1500 point team format. I won't go into player details, other than to say each player controlled roughtly the same number of units for their side.

3rd Company Reaction Force ms Blood Angels Mechanized Battle Force
1500 Points
Vanguard Strike / Big Guns Never Tire

The Blood Angels (Elements of 7th Company)Librarian, PAxe, Jump Packs, Warlord
Sanguinary Priest, Jump pack, Shield of Sanguinius and Unleash Rage
Tactical (Assault) Squad 1, 5, MG, PW, Las-Plas Razorback
Tactical (Assault) Squad 2, 5, MG, PW, Las-plas Razorback
Tactical (Assault) Squad 3, 5, FL, PW, TLAssCann Razorback
Assault Squad 4, 10, 2xMG, PW, Jump Packs
Fast Attack Baal Predator (Flamestorm variant), HB Sponsons
Fast Attack Baal Predator (TLAssCann variant), HB Sponsons
Heavy predator, AutoCann, LC Sponsons
Heavy predator, AutoCann, LC Sponsons

Calth Reaction Force (Ultramarines 1st and 3rd Companies)
Librarian Arcadius (TDA, Shield, force axe, Gate, Avenger), Warlord
Terminator Squad Scipio, 10, 10xSB, 2x CMLs, 1xPW, 1xCF
Sternguard Squad Venatus, 10, 2xCMGs, 1xMG, 2xCPGs, 1xPG, 1xLClaw, Pod w/ SB
Tactical Squad Ovatius, 10, PG, MM, PW, Pod w/ SB
Tactical Squad Theta, 10, PG, MM, PW, Pod w/ SB
Stormtalon, TLAssCann, MLs

Open battleground with rubble piles, ruins, former defense line, few tank traps.  4 objectives were placed at coordinates (in feet X,Y from lower left of the UM table long edge) #1 = 1,2; #2 = 3,1.5; #3 = 3,3; #4 = 5,2.

Strategic Assessment:
In dice rolling, it was detemined thee battle would begin in daylight, Ultramarines would select the lower left corner for deployment, and that the Ultramarines would have first turn (as deferred by the Blood Angels). We selected the lower left to get the BAs into the most open terrain and give us plenty of good territory for deep striking or pod dropping. The BAs chose to go second, because their mobility was superior, and they could use that turns 5-6-7 to grab as many points as they could for a win.

The Ultramarines deployed only Librarian Arcadius and the Terminators.  All Pod squads and Stormtalon would enter later as required.

The Blood Angels deployed in a Pod-defense castle, a rough triangle centered on the librarian, so that all units would benefit from their ability to cast Shield of Sanguinius and grant a 5+ cover save to the entire force for the first Ultramarine shooting phase.  The Blood Angels chose not to try to sieze.  (See Picture).
Strategic Thoughts: Now, we selected our lists before we rolled up the mission.  I just selected my experimental 1500 point list that has been the core of my games over the last 2 months or so.  I could not say that Ripped Dragon did not list tailor to 1500 points vs marines, and to make matters more difficult, we rolled up Big Guns, meaning his 2 Heavy Predators were able to score objectives.  Including the 4 objectives, linebreaker, first blood, and warlord, (and single KPs for the Heavy Preds) there was a total of 17 possible victory points on the table. 

My team mate and I were playing a list that forces you to close with the a game with wide-spread objectives. There were two ways to play this though (Option 1) drop in and hide near our deployment zone (with 2 nearby objectives), or (Option 2) drop in on the Blood Angel deployment zone and create havoc.  We decided since the scenario was against us, Option 2 was the best choice.
Turn 1 - Who left the gate open?
Librarian Acadius attempts to gate himself and his terminators forward, but fails his psychic test.  They are situated behind a rubble wall, and are able to move forward a bit.  Sternguard Squad Venatus and Tactical Squad Theta drop in to the front of the Blood Angels Castle, with the Sternguard forming a melta and separate plasma combat squads.  Tactical Squad Theta stays as a single large squad.  The Blood Angels librarian successfully casts Shield at the declaration of the shooting phase.  In shooting, the Ultramarines explode a Baal Predator (Frst Blood), explode a razorback, and remove a hull point from another Baal Predator. One sternguard is a casualty in the explosions.  The Blood Angels suffer no infantry casualties.

In response, the Blood Angels dismount one combat squad from an intact razorback, and then as the librarian, Sanguinary Priest, and 10-man assault squads move to engage Tactical Squad Theta, the two dismounted combat squads and other armored vehicles position to engage the two Sternguard combat squads.  In shooting, Tactical Squad Theta takes three casualties and chooses to fall back out of assault range, and the two sterngard combat squads both take casualties, but determine to remain in place.  The terminators are shot at by the two forward predators, and one terminator is a casualty.  One Sternguard combat squad is assaulted, but in overwatch using "gets hot" rounds kill two of the five Blood Angel marines. 

Score UMs = 1 (first blood); BAs = 3 (Obj #3).

Turn 2 - More Cowbell
In rolls for reserves, Squad Ovatius pods into the frey, arriving right behind the lead BA Armored Vehicles combat squading as they exit the pod, into a Plasma Team and Melta Team.  The Stormtalon does not arrive.  Librarian Arcadius again tries to gate, and fails to do so (how many variations of 11 are there?...).  The terminators have not cleared the wall yet, and again roll low for distance, but they at least clear the wall. In shooting and grenades from the newly arrives combat squads the second Baal Predator becomes immobilized, while the adjacent heavy predator loses a hull point to a glancing hit.  The Terminators also fire on the heavy pred, taking another hull point to a glance. Tactical Squad Theta had regrouped from its fall back move and lines up to shoot at the BA assault squad, dispatching one BA marine. The pods are all firing storm bolters at dismounts, but cause no casualties.  The sternguard fire on a weak dismounted combat squad and eliminate it.  In assault, the two BA predators are wrecked from grenades.
The Blood angels are furious over the assault on their armored task force, and the desruction of their two Baals and one heavy pred. The assault squad, librarian, and Sanguinary continue to be drawn away by the retreating Squad Theta, and shoot at them.  With more casualties, Squad Theta determines to break and run further to lead this major element further away.  In the center, one sternguard combat squad is removed by BA shooting, and the other is reduced to one marine, who determines to break and move behind his drop pod, outside assault range.  On the upper center, the last mounted BA combat squad exits their razorback, and their flamer and shooting cause casualties in the two newly arrived combat squads that had assaulted the predators.  Firepower was added from their AssCann razorback, eliminating one of the combat squads and leaving the other with 4 marines.  The Ultramarines hold their ground. In assault, the assault squad determines to assault the remnants of the falling back Squad Theta, which they do, and the remnants of Squad Theta are eliminated.

Score UMs = 2 (FB and Hvy Pred); BAs = 0

Turn 3 - Hey, Can I Get Some Frikkin' Air Support?The Stormtalon hears the call and arrives on the battlefield, flying top speed towards the last remaining heavy predator.  The Ultramarines know they are down to just 4 tactical marines as a scoring unit, and the BAs still have 3 troop scoring units and one heavy pred scoring unit on the table.  Running away is not an option. The single surviving sternguard rallies and moves around his pod to shoot up the nearby (weakened) BA combat squad, takling the down to one sergeant.  Librarian Arcadius finally is able to get himself and the terminators, to a locations about 18 inches from the BA Assault squad element.  In shooting, the Stormtalon rolls its dice and the heavy predator is not even scratched.  The terminators put maximum firepower on the BA Assault element, but only take down one assault marine after cover saves and FNP saves.  The Sternguard survivor kills a BA tactical marine.  No other damage is done. 

The BA Assault squad element decides to get behind cover in the lower right of the battlefield, at a location from which it can easily strike at Obj #2 or #4.  The combat squad in the center determines to take down their Sternguard adversary, and the other Combat squad goes after the remaining UM scoring unit.  The lone sergeant mounts into the lasplas razorback to be held as a trump card. A remaining las-plas razorback lines up to shoot at a drop pod shielding the terminators, while the last heavy predator and AssCann razorback are used to shoot at the Stormtalon.  The stormtalon takes a hull point in damage and loses its Skyhammer MLs.  The drop pod explodes, leaving a crater.  The BA combat squad shoots at tand then assaults the UM scoring unit, and in assault, each loses a single marine arnd are locked in combat.  In the center, the BA Combat squad assaults the sternguard survivor, and takes him out.   
Score UMs 3 (FB, LB, HvyP); BAs = 0

Turn 4 - Making Pulp Fiction
The Ultramarines quickly confer and determine a continued course of action. Librarian Arcadius orders his bodyguard to go after the Las-plas razorback on the right, while he works around the central drop pod to avenger the combat squad that had taken down the last of the sternguard.  The Stormtalon goes into hover mode to get a side shot on the predator.  In shooting, the last predator explodes.  Arcadius dials up Avenger and the template kills three of the four marines, and he charges the survivor.  The terminator squad's rockets stunn the Las-plas razzorback and stuns it, and then they charge it getting the distance they need to cross the former drop pod's crater and other debris.  In their assault, the razorback explodes, leaving its single rider in the crater, and one terminator as a casualty. In assault, the tactcal marines take casualties but remain locked in combat.  

The BAs are now down to their Librarian, Sangunary, and 5 assault marines, a single sergeant, a 3-man combat squad, and a AssCann razorback, to the UMs Librarian, 8 terminators, 3 tactical marines, stormtalon, and 2 drop pods.  The turn goes quick, as the assault element moves towards Obj#2, the lone sergeant toward Obj#4, and the razorback lines up on the Stormtalon. In shooting, the stormtalon is not damaged.  In assault, the BA tacitcal marines take the UMs down to a single marine carrying a multimelta.

Score UMs = 4 (FB, LB, 2xHvP); BAs = 0

Turn 5 - Will the Fighting End?
The UMs have tough decisions to make,and it takes a moment to try to figure out what to do to preserve the point spread.  (Take a moment to think about what you might do)...the day turns to night.

The Terminators move onto Obj#4, where they can shoot at either the Assault element or the lone sergeant.  The Stormtalon goes back into flying mode, and lines up to shoot at the BA assault element. Librarian Arcadius advances on the ongoing assault to try and rescue or avenge the last scoring trooper.  In shooting, the Stormtalon and terminators take out 2 assault marines.  Arcadius makes it into the ongoing assault, but the last tactical marine is dispatched before he can heft his Axe.  He takes down two of the opposing BA marines, and the last, a sergeant, runs for the table edge.  

The BA assault element jumps and runs to get on Objective 2 which is located outside the UM deployment zone) and tries to stretch into the UM deployment zone.  The lone sergeant rallies and shoots his pistol at Librarian Arcadius.  The AssCann razorback chases after the Stormtalon and wrecks it. Dice rolling has the game going to turn 6.

Score UMs = 4 (FB, LB, 2XHvyP); BAs = 3 (Obj#2)

Turn 6 - Measure that Again
The turn goes fast. Arcadius casts Avenger, but fails to take down the lone BA sergeant.  The terminators fire on the BA Assault element at Obj#2 from their location at Obj#4, and the BAs go to ground, coupled with their own cover save from the Librarian for a 3+ cover save. One BA fails his save. The Librarian assaults the BA sergeant and dispatches him.

The BA assault element has gone to ground, and only a lone sergeant near Obj#4 and the AssCann Razorback can fire at the terminators.  None are lost.  A dice is rolled, and the game ends.
Final Score UMs 4; BAs 4???. 

Yep, the BA players were claiming Obj#2 AND linebreaker for their Sanguinary priest being in or very nearly in or possibly in but maybe not, the UM deployment zone.  Meh, we decided not to argue, but it would have been great to have a win vs Ripped Dragon for one of those rare moments of celebration.  The game is a DRAW!!!!

After Thoughts:
We only used between us 8 of the 17 possible game points....

Ripped Dragon and I talked about the game after the new players had left, briefly critiqueing how the two different forces operated. As for the Blood Angels, the list was awesome, with some pretty resilient units.  The BA issues resolved around their tactics.  By castling up as they did, is still allowed the UMs a first strike opportunity; since BA armor are all fast vehicles, they could have placed their predators, for example, in reserves.  They also faiiled to take advantage of the number of objectives; they could have spread out more and used their mobility to quickly make this a 12-4 game.

The Calth Reaction Force experiment continues!  Ripped's biggest concern was that the list does not have enough scoring units, for which I'd have to agree.  It has the potential to creatte 4 small scoring units, but in today's 40K, that is certainly not enough.  It does well in killi-ness, but when table quarters or objectives need to be taken and held, it starts to fall apart.  The "New Guy" also exacerbated the problem, by not being able to keep this 600 point elephant of terminators and librarian into the fight until about turn 3, and even then they were not able to assault anything till late in the game, in part because of tactics and bad psychic test rolls turns 1 and 2. Even the Stormtalon was not a player till turn 3.  What might be interesting (at 1500 points) is to cull out some terminators (2 and a CML) in order to get a scout squad or a tactical combat squad for holding a table quarter or objective at game's end.  At anything larger than 1500, I'd consider that the thing to do would be to grab another drop pod and full-sized tactical squad for essentially the same purpose, late game mission support. 

All for now from me, what are your thoughts?

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