Sunday, September 22, 2013

Initial War Trials for 3rd Company using the New Codex

After the prior battle report (where I went unprepared and rushed, leaving over 220 points off the table) and lost to Tyranids, I spent a bit more effort for the September “monthly tournament”.  The goal for me was to try out the new and improved Ultramarines from the codex. 

Army List for the Trial:

I decided to build a 1750 pt Tigurius-based Ultramarines list based on my existing models list:

Tactical squad, 10, CPG, PG, ML, Rhino
Tactical squad, 10, CPG, PG, ML, Rhino
Assault squad, 10, PP, FL, PF, CShield, jump packs, veteran sergeant
Devastator squad, 5, 4xML w/ FlakMLs
Tactical Terminators Squad, 10, PW, 9 PF, 10 SB, 2xCML
Contemptor Mortis, 2xKheres Assault Cannons
Stormtalon Gunship with SHM/TLAC

As you can see from the above, I deliberately included tactical, assault, and dev units specifically in order to see how they would work with the new Ultramarine Chapter Tactics.  One thing I did do to prepare was create a “cheat sheet” checklist on which I had spaces to record the psychic powers obtained for each game, listing of the chapter tactics and warlord tactic to be used each game, and reminders for all of the special rules used by the list.  This greatly helped me, and I’ll probably continue to use this as a tool in future events. 


I’m also doing this assessment in two separate blog entries, since it was getting a bit long as a read. 
Force Selection Notes:

A few other notes on the list above that were included in the trial by design:

1. Only the assault squad included a veteran sergeant.  Reason for this – I wanted the extra PF attack and higher LD for the squad, but more so for the extra attack PF.  I also found that in writing the list…Assault squad sergeants no longer get the 3++ storm shield, just the 6++ combat shield.  I considered swapping the plasma pistol for another flamer.  Overall, I need to add some more assault marine models just to give me better options with the new codex.  Points wise, there are clearly some better choices to me selected, but I need more models to do it!

2.  For the tactical and devastator squads, all are base LD8 with a non-veteran sergeant.  As a reminder, Space Marines can no longer “choose to fail” morale (the old generic chapter tactic) BUT can still automatically rally via ATSKNF.  My thought was that for these units, making it easier to fail (by not having a LD9 veteran sergeant) would be the better idea, since Marines with ATSKNF cannot be swept and would automatically rally.  The extra points that could have been spent on the LD upgrade (10) was instead spent on the combi-plasma guns.  This was one small way to get more AP2/higher S shots into the game, especially if it could be coupled with the Ultramarines tactical tactic (rerolling missed hits in a shooting phase).  I can tell you that I did not lose a marine to “Gets Hot” all day.

3.  Flak missiles were added to the devastator squad for 40 points.  The idea was I’d likely have to face flyers like Chaos Helldrakes, or Necron nightscythes or flying monstrous creatures.  The devastators combined with the Contemptor and Stormtalon would provide a strong anti-flyer capability, backed up with the Devastator chapter tactic (allowing reroll of snapshots for a shooting phase). 

4.  Contemptor Mortis – my FLGS allows Forgeworld “40K approved” models, and this would be my main source of support versus units coming in from reserves, or for horde control support.  For the points, if I could not take the Contemptor, I think I’d have added a HB dev squad and more to use up those points!

5.  Terminators – I’ve been using tactical terminators as a block of 10 for the past few months, and they form a good core from which to counter enemy deathstar units.  In particular, I planned to use the unit to accompany Tigurius.  The expectation was that Tigurius would have the forewarning psychic power, and with that, Tigurius AND the terminators would all have 4++ invulnerable saves to make them even better, or largely 5++ saves without them.  The major drawback is that the terminators (except the sergeant) punch with their fists at I1. 

6.  Air Support Stormtalon –The Stormtalon was seen as a “certain” addition to the list, because Tigurius includes rerolling reserves.  The idea was that it would be likely I’d see flyers or skimmers in every game, and I needed to have a redundancy to deal with them.  This turned out to be a true assumption, BUT, spoiler alert…the Stormtalon was never in any aerial combat…
Performance Assessments vs. Opponents:

The following is a summary of the key elements of the first game (games 2 and 3 will be a separate post), from the standpoint of performance, identifying Tigurius’ powers, OPFOR units and playstyle, mission objectives, etc.

Game 1 – Vs Chaos Marines plus Daemon Allies

This game was vs Thor of Creative Twilight. 

Here is a picture of his army on the tray:


The mission (Special Ops v2.1.1) was a complex one written by Thor that you can download from Creative Twilight.  Essentially it is the normal pitched battle deployment, and each player “secretly” determines their primary, secondary, and tertiary win conditions, and a fourth win condition that can yield bonus points.  There would be one objective on the table, in the center, that would be part of the win conditions.  IMHO it is a great mission for fun beer and pretzel games where time does not matter, but bad for tournaments as no two tables are playing the same thing. 

The OPFOR was about the worse case I was trying to plan for:

2 Flying Monstrous Creatures (Daemon Lords with spells such as Dominate)
Lord/Daemon of Tzeentch (with spells including puppet master, etc.)
Chaos Daemon Spawn, 5 (multiwound, high T, beasts)
Hounds of Khorne, Daemons, 10
10 chaos marines, Rhino, Special Weapons (plasma), Icon
10 chaos marines, Rhino, special weapons (melta), Icon
10 Cultists (reserved)
Bloodletters, 10, Daemons (reserved)

For Tigurius the dice gods were very friendly, and his Psychic Powers rolled up as nearly the best you could ask for:

Misfortune – reroll saves (play on an enemy unit)
Forewarning – Psyker and unit gets a 4++ save
Foreboding – Unit has counterattack AND fires overwatch at full BS

I had selected my primary mission as table quarters, secondary as kill points, and tertiary as the center objective.  I have no idea (now) what I was thinking.  This mission showcased how hard it is to play these missions with just 2 scoring units.  This would cause me to combat squad my two tactical squads into plasma and missile halves. 

Ultramarines won Game 1.  Final score of 28-3

OPFOR Assessment
The Chaos Player was able to select the table we played on, and chose one with the most line of sight breaking cover.  Chaos chose the deployment edge, and was also able to deploy and go first.  The list he brought was clearly strong in the assault, and in many ways, much stronger than mine, with more scoring units (4), and 6 really good assault units with that puppetmaster capability that I cared not to see. 

The OPFOR let most of the heavy work in the game be done by the Monstrous Daemons, Spawn, and Hounds of Khorne.  At the end of the game, the Daemon lords/Lord of Tzeentch, and Hounds were all gone back to the warp, and I did not yield a single kill point to the enemy in return, although I was fairly well damaged in places. 

The OPFOR showed the strength of having very fast, high T, high S models and having more opportunity for psychic spells than I could muster.  MVP was the large unit of Spawn, which pretty much owned/beat up my right flank.  At the end of the game, the Spawn survivors were in my deployment zone, ready to either assault the terminators or some tactical squad survivors the next turn. 

If there was any fault in the OPFOR’s battle plan it was keeping the cultists and Bloodletters in reserve.  Considering it is a tournament, you need as much on the table as possible as follow-up units or extra targets. 

The other potential failure was the use of the Chaos Marines.  They were content to stay out of the fight in the center and right flank, applying only fire-point shots from their Rhinos at range, essentially being held to take /meet end of game mission objectives like table quarters.  Had they joined in the fight in some fashion, the outcome would have been more favorable for the forces of chaos.  At the end, one squad remained in their transport, which helped me seal the win (table quarters cannot be controlled by mounted units), and IIRR the other was dismounted when their Rhino was blown on Turn 3. 

The forces of Chaos ultimately were nerfed quite a bit by the Bloodletters failing to enter from reserves.  Had we gone to turn 4, they would have come in automatically, and had the potential to impact several variations of the selected mission objectives, and thus the outcome.  However, where it might have come in and done the most harm was in the sweet spot of my ready Contemptor and devastators.  Overall, their failure to enter were 1 kill point for me, and essentially not a game changer. 

3rd Company Assessment
I deployed in a manner to try and take advantage of the OPFOR's deployment and the terrain, but there were no good solutions to getting any good line of sight to the Chaos lines, except for the flanking hounds on my left.  I worked to get the Devs and Contemptor to locations that also had fire lanes past the buildings and woods on my right.  I deployed one tactical scoring unit on my right flank, combat squaded, with the plasma half in the rhino, the missile half liking down a fire lane toward a Chaos rhino.  I deployed the second scoring unit as combat squads, the missile half on a building/balcony in my center, and the plasma half in a rhino on my left flank.  Tiggy and terminators were deployed in my center, so the most units possible were within range of Tiggy’s powers/traits. 

Overall, the combination of the three Tigurius spells was near perfect for the situation; Tigurius was to accompany the terminators, and he and the termies would be more amazing than normal with a 4++ save, overwatch at full BS, and counterattack (extra attack when charged based on a LD ckeck, as if charging).  Combining these three things every turn with the 6 other special abilities of the list (3 chapter tactics, warlord trait, rerolling reserves, rerolling psychic tests), I was feeling a little more secure that the Ultramarines could get the job done. 

The UM assault tactic was selected turn 1 – in order to try to get the terminators through terrain (woods) and into assault with the Chaos Spawn (which were in the woods directly in front of my deployment zone).  Tiggy failed to pass the test for foreboding, but got it on the reroll.  Forewarning played on the first roll.  Misfortune was played on the Spawn.  But when I rolled the charge distance (3 dice, take the lowest 2), I failed on the attempt and the assault re-roll! By less than an inch!  That meant the Chaos Spawn would emerge from the woods the next turn, ignore the terminators, and assault a nearby tactical combat squad instead.  On my left, everything else was spent shooting at the Hounds. 

Note that at this point the Daemons had failed a key reserve roll (getting only the cultists), but I got the Stormtalon on Turn 2 with the Tiggy re-roll.   

The UM tactical tactic was selected on Turn 2 – to give every unit a better chance in shooting, as was the one-use warlord trait (played on the devastators). Note that on the Chaos turn 2, the Khorne dogs assaulted my assault squad (I broke, almost ran off the table), a Daemon Prince had assaulted my Contemptor (we were stuck there into my turn), the Spawn had assaulted the nearby combat squad (who broke and almost ran off the table as well!).  I played this hand of buffs in order to increase /guarantee my firepower so that I had a chance to use them.  As it was the turn started bad but ended well.  I finished off the Khorne dogs in shooting, pre-wounded the Tzeentch Prince and then assault it, and killed off the third unengaged Daemon Prince with other shooting from the Stormtalon and other units.  Ultimately, the terminators ended the turn in assault with the Tzeentch Lord (I declined challenges to Tigurius right into turn 3), and my rallied assault squad survivors charged the other Daemon Prince to save the Contemptor (and they did in Turn 3, not before the Contemptor had lost 2 hull points). 

The UM devastator tactic was selected Turn 3 - in order to allow the devastators to relocate from their position and still fire on another unit (the Spawn now deep in my deployment zone), and give snapshots to other mobile units (plasma guns from the Rhino squad targeted a Chaos Marine Rhino).  It worked well, I did drop another Spawn, but two wounded ones remained.  At this point, the Stormtalon continued to move forward to engage the Cultists (who went to ground), the Tzeentch Prince was finished off by the terminators (while Tiggy continued to watch), and I was looking to keep myself well protected for the next turn.

At that point, the game clock was down to 10 minutes.  My opponent agreed we would not have time to complete the next turn in that time, so we tallied the points. 

I had more kill points, I had 2 table quarters to his one, and nobody held the center.  Neither of us earned quaternary points.  Ironically both of us, unprepared for last turn scoring, had scoring units still in Rhinos. 

MVP of the game was Tigurius, even though all I did with him was play powers and attempt to deny powers, and I was afraid to use him in CC.  The big issue was that Tiggy’s staff was S6 AP4, vs a Daemon with T5+, multiple wounds, and a low++ save.  I figured it was better to risk the terminators and their fists instead.  And I did, losing a few terminators each assault phase. 

Overall, the game played slow.  3 turns only!  I think everything was slowed down by having too many choices – starting with time needed to select your own missions, then time for rolling spells for all the Princes and Tiggy, then Warlord traits and boon, and time during every turn to stop and make rolls, apply results, etc...not to mention selecting the right turn for Tiggy's warlord trait use AND select each moment to use the three Ultramarine Chapter Tactics. As would be seen, I think my second game went to turn 4, and the last game completed turn 6. 

Regardless, it was a good starting game for the Ultramarines, and I was feeling a bit positive about the day.  Things at that moment were looking up! 
Hoping to get more on the blog soon,


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