Friday, February 27, 2015

You Brought a Knight? Oh, This is Going to be a Tough Night

First off - before I get to the Battle Report - two things were brought up on my favorite podcasts for you to ponder:

1.  Paint Scores.  As a best practice, if you are going to score players at an event on painting, have a scoring checklist and stick to it.  I loved hearing about how some guys have had the same army scored using the same rubric over several events by the same judges and got different scores each time.  If you are an event organizer, this is a very important thing to address.

2.  Maelstrom tactical objective cards.  I heard an interesting suggestion - instead of discarding cards "that cannot be scored" (like destroy a building or fortification), score the minimum points on that card instead.  There are various interesting reasons why you should consider doing that. One thing being it slows down the player cycling through their deck.  It also "levels the field" if players are not taking certain types of units to keep an opponent from scoring on them.  Note that this only likely impacts 3 or so cards in the deck.  I may try that in my next game. Also, BTW, at the local gaming level, we also were reminded that if your codex has special tactical cards, the wording is "must replace" rather than a choice...

The following is a battle report I played in the League last week.  Of course I was looking to play at a different point range, but I was able to modify a list quickly to get to this level.  Doing this though is always kind of unfair.  At this point level I'd have likely played something totally different, rather than just "added to".

1750 Points, Maelstrom Mission #2.

5th Company Blood Angels
Librarian, Level 2, Force Axe, PP, JP, Warlord, force, Quickening, Unleash rage, Wings of Sanguinius
Sanguinary Priest, Power Axe, JP

Death Company, 5, 1 PF, 2 PAxe, 3 CS
Death Company Dreadnought, MM, SB, BTs, MagnaGrapple

Assault squad, 10, 2 MG, 1 IP, PF, JPs
Assault squad, 10, 2 MG, 1 PAxe, Deathstorm Drop Pod

Tactical Squad, 5, Flamer, Las-Plas Razorback
Tactical Squad, 5, Flamer, Las-Plas Razorback

Baal Predator, Flamestorm, HB sponsons

Predator, TLAutocannon, Lascannon Sponsons

Stormraven, TLMM, TLLC, BSMs

This list is still experimental, modified from my last game.  Frankly, it would have been better to have a 1750 list prepared that was optimized for taking down the big stuff.  The "on the fly" modification was adding 5 more assault marines with a power axe to the drop pod element, it might have been better to have 5 more assault marines with jump packs and meltaguns as a separate unit, or whatever I could get for the points needed (about 100).  The painting and appearance is slowly improving. I think I'm going to mod those lasplas razorbacks though - they look goofy having the TLPGs on the hatches, leaving a gap on the turret.  I need to check our bitz boxes for some sort of targeting stuff or gear to either plug the hole on the turret, or just move the TLPGs to the turret.

OPFOR - White Scars w/ Knight

Chapter Master, Bike, PF, Warlord
Librarian, Terminator armor, level 2, Force Staff, Force, Flame Breath, Sunburst, Fiery Form

Knight, rapid fire battle cannon, regular CC weapon, heavy stubber, the usual variant.

Bike Squad, 8 plus 1 MM AB, PF, misc upgrades
Bike Squad, 8 plus 1 MM AB, PF, misc upgrades
Bike Squad, 8 plus 1 MM AB, PF, misc upgrades

Tactical Squad, 5, bolters
Scout Squad, 5, snipers

The Battle
I'll go quick on the battle and just refer to the key photos as I go.

I "won" the roll to go first and deploy first.  Terrain was pretty light, so I decided since my plan was to not remain in my deployment zone anyway, was to choose the lighter terrain area, that had the best turn 1 LOS blockers.  The deployment was intended to be the "drag and drop", so I went heavy on the center, looking to split the table.  The OPFOR deployed seemingly stronger to my left with the Knight, scouts, and 2 biker squads.

Here in the middle of turn 1 you can see the start...I jumped forward with my assault element and used the razorbacks to "wall off" the advance and give cover.  I'd hoped to jump further forward, but I rolled a 1 for warp charges, and i think I was only able to get quickening off.  I did not want to move "too far" forward on the right to keep from being assaulted (and losing some of the BAs' advantages).  Instead of getting everything off on this side, I'd decided to try and drop the pod squad on my far left at an objective, and the pod veered further away.  The goal was to try and use that squad as "knight bait" and draw my opponent's other half left as well, which it did.

Overall, shooting yielded me a few bikers and a tac marine, but no major damage to the OPFOR.

(I hate how I can't rotate photos directly in Blogger)...This is actually during the bottom of turn stormraven was late coming on.  The DC dread dropped off, and the stormraven (with DC) flew on.  On the right, the Assault element is "stuck in" with the surviving bike element, and where I'd hoped for a quick resolution, the presence of the Chapter master on bike was really causing me trouble!  In the far laft, the assault squad shot up and charged in on the bike squad there, and also got stuck in.  The OPFOR was making 3+ saves like a mad man and not breaking.  In the center, he'd advanced the other bike squad, and the Baal predator caught them napping, and I flamed out 4 bikers before on his turn he assaulted the predator (ongoing in the photo - the predator was wrecked).  Placement of my other predator in the corner became a problem - it had few targets to shoot at.  The razorbacks were a failure, they accomplished nothing other than to become wrecks.  I was falling behind in points too.

In this shot, you'd think I had it made...librarian and sergeant and sanguinary priest with a bunch of assault marines vs a chapter master and another biker.  Things went all to crap with some bad dice rolls and bad psychic phase play.

Here we are around the beginning of the 4th turn...

Middle of the 4th the far far left, my two surviving assault marines are heading toward where his scouts are hiding on a hill.  The knight took a bunch of hits from the DC dread before it wrecked him and then began stomping toward my right flank.  That central bike squad, having finished the Baal, then moved and charged my tac squad on one of the objectives.  On my right, the assault element is gone, but the DC and stormraven saved the moment - the DC popped out and assaulted the CM at I5, taking him out before his PF could swing.  The Stormraven popped his librarian the old-fashioned way - lascannons and multimeltas to double him out.

I did not have a better picture to capture the moment, but here we are in Turn 5...the DC actually went on to attack the damaged Knight in CC, and actually got lucky!  But then the knight catastrophically exploded, killing all but one of the surviving DC.  They then headed towards the scouts.  On the right, the last of his 4 bikers headed towards my predator, and I worked to try and shoot them, but he made every single save.

 Here we are basically at the end of the game, turn 7.  My opponent had just the 4 bikes remaining.  I'd worked hard to kill them or break them, and instead they'd turned away from the predator, and charged a tac squad, killing all but one (who did not break), keeping me from eliminating them during my turn.  I still had 1 DC, 2 assault marines, drop pod, the predator, and stormraven...if that marine had broken on turn 6, I'd have had another chance in turn 7 to eliminate the 4 bikers for a tabling...if only...if only...

And here is the final Maelstrom score - turn 7, White Scars won 13 to 9.

Overall, it was a very enjoyable game and a tone of fun to play the Blood Angels again.

I'm off to the laboratory (army builder) to do some improvements...for the next time...but this game gave me a second loss in my division of the league.  4 more games or so to go in about 2-3 weeks...

Breaking News
Played another game, this time vs an opponent who was packing 6 dreadnoughts (three+ were special forgeworld seige dreads), and a knight, and 6 drop was a tremendous game at 1750 using the same list as above...I was getting wrecked hard in Maelstrom Mission 3, his dreads were either MM dreads to the siege versions packing S6AP3 flamestorm weapons, seige drills, and S5AP4 heavy flamers.  The knight was his warlord.  The table became a junk yard of pods and vehicles and dead dreads.  Eventually the Knight and my DC dread tangled it up, and the knight - pre-damaged by other shooting - was killed off in a catastrophic blast in my deployment zone.  I eventually (regardless of the knight) won, as my units tangled with and fought the podded dreads all over the table.  It was a crazy game.  Hint...siege dreads at front armor 13 and a fit of mis-communication or bad judgement I'd charged one with a tactical squad (before they got run down with that AP3 flamer BTW), and that turned into a scrum where I added my assault element  and he countered by charging in his knight,which cost me the tac squad and the assault element, librarian, sanguinary priest...but I recovered from that and moved forward.  The game had an early issue where the DC dread deviated onto a necron ruin, and we decided since the ruin had not been declared impassable, we did not know what to do.  Overall, we decided that since the dread (magnagrapples) had move through cover, even with rolling a dangerous terrain test of 1 he was not immobilized, instead rolled on the deep strike mishap table and went back into ongoing reserves and ended up having to walk on, and played a little roll in the battle till around turn 4 when he wrecked a OPFOR pod at an objective, and later tangled with the knight, getting the charge off, and at I5 and rage, wrecked it. Another weird thing is that the DC dread has furious charge...but you cannot get S above 10 anyways?  Anyhow, I still need to figure out some of the issues with a DC dread and the "drop"....In this game, there was no "drag and drop" strategy - just alot of effort to survive the knight while hunting dreads....No photos...


Tuesday, February 17, 2015

Erratica - my 50th Blog Post

Just a rambling post today, I've had a cold, bad enough to keep me from the FLGS, but not bad enough to keep me from work at the office.

1.  Saw that GW published "as January" FAQ updates for the 40K rule book, orks, dark eldar, and spacewolves.  Nothing really there of note, except that - as suspected - immobile skimmers CANNOT JINK.  I ran into this in a few games in the past in 7th edition...most recently vs Tau.  Another good one to remember is that infiltrate cannot be conferred on independent characters during deployment/scout moves by joining a squad/unit that has it.  The only other thing was that hammer of wrath hits on vehicles/walkers are vs the facing unless immobilized.  I did make a shortcut to the FAQ page on my i-phone, just for reference during games.

2.  I'm a rulebreaker of sorts.  I have to confess.  I was pondering list changes last night, and realized on re-reading Stormraven rules that I'd been putting two marines more into it than capacity.  Jump pack death company.  Capacity is 12 marines...or 6 jump pack marines...Not that it has been a game changer, but I'd always appreciate it if you think I'm doing something wrong to tell me.  So now I either need to drop two death company marines, or drop all the jump packs and add more DC...I think I can re-balance the DC to be 10 in number, by dropping some PWs and the jump packs.  But I like the jump packs because in some games I might not want to deploy in the Stormraven...the jump packs give them more mobility, and hammer of wrath.  So...regardless, something has to change. (Update - yep, created a revised list with 6 DC, should work pretty well, but who knows...the extra points allow other upgrades too.)

3.  With the cold has been a sort of malaise.  I should be painting more.  Right now I'm running low on the older GW-named paints, and I'll need to re-stock.  We are also running low on ArmyPainter red primer...regardless, I have two rhinos and the Baal Predators in progress.  As soon as these are done, I'll finish painting the DC unit.  After that, the order may be tactical meltagun/multimelta marines, Stormraven details, command squad, sanguinary guard...lots of stuff.

4.  As part of the issue, I have not yet had a real, ready game in the 40K league.  I have until mid-march to get a game in, and right now I'm 0-1 (based on the "loss" posted two weeks ago).  I've got to start getting games scheduled and just get to them. I'll need to get 1 or 2 games in each week to get them all in at this point.  Right now (or as of last night) hardly any games in my Division had been reported...So right now, my Eldar opponent may be leading the division (1-0), I'm in second (0-1), and everyone else is plain 0-0.  Some of the other divisions are posting more games, with the other "Crossroads" division having each player with about two games played at this point.  I'm sort of glad I'm not in that Division, it has some awesome players!

5.  Tactica - I always laugh a bit when some guys post "tactica" which ultimately just boils down to a review of the codex, and rants about what they think are the better units.  Unit reviews and wargear reviews are not actually tactics.

Tactics are the applied small unit approaches that you can detail out in order to achieve a particular mission or function.  For example, saying that a blood angels tactical squad armed with a flamer, combiflamer, and heavy flamer is great, is not tactics.  However, detailing out that to eliminate a key light infantry unit (such as tau pathfinders) from ruins, by attacking it turn 1 with a drop pod containing the same blood angels tactical squad, including positioning the tactical squad so as to get cover from the pod from later enemy reaction fire, is a tactical approach.  Frankly, I'd always love to see descriptions like that.  So, please, don't confuse codex reviews with further penance - here is a larger tactical discourse - for lack of a better source, I'll call it the "Drag and Drop" tactic:

  • Mission or function:  Attacking a OPFOR who has deployed on a broad front, with a goal of isolating a section of front, and setting up the assault for the following game turn.  
  • Types of units required: Mobile or deployed screening elements to create the isolation, and follow-on / assault elements to push forward with the attack.  
  • Strengths / Timing: Establishing the isolation turns 1-2, creating the assault opportunity turn 3 and on.  You can select which flank to focus on.  
  • Opportunities / Benefits: You are providing LOS blocking elements to increase unit survive-ability to preserve them for the assault.  You are effectively splitting the OPFOR's forces, and potentially controlling the table center.  
  • Weaknesses:  You can be countered by the OPFOR's mobility, and can be susceptible to massed blast / artillery fire.    

The Drag elements are the ground elements (fast vehicles) and such that can get out and create the immediate isolation / LOS blocking needed.  Like a drag race they zoom out into position on Turn 1, with the fast rhinos capable of going as far as 18 (or more) inches to get in position when including movement in the shooting phase (flat out).

The Drop elements are jump pack or other fast assault units, either deployed on the table and advancing swiftly up behind the screen, or coming in from reserves to do the same thing.  The goal for them is to counter assault, not be assaulted.  For blood angels, getting the assault move is the most important aspect of their lethality.  You need the isolation (visual and physical screening) as a means to preserve the assault elements from enemy fire. You need to keep the assault elements within 18 or so inches of your screening units too, so they can in fact counter assault if your screening units become assaulted.  

Here are rough two sketches to illustrate the concept (below).  I've been developing with this idea for over time, first with Ultramarines and now Blood Angels.

The example here is not that simple.  The OPFOR has about 5 mechanized infantry units and a supporting artillery unit in the sketches.  I'm using about the same amount of units, but some are as combat squads.  The biggest thing is using a wall of "cheap" vehicles (rhinos and pods) to create a wall, screening my infantry from reaction fires (creating cover saves or blocking LOS completely).

In my sketches, the OPFOR actually is counterattacking into my units, rather than staying put as a gunline.  The OPFOR is advancing towards the objectives and firing as reactions, but by the end of turn 1 I already am able to control three or so objectives and am already assaulting forward with the "Drop" units.  If the OPFOR had similarly fast units to the Blood Angels (like Eldar bikers or Wraithknights, or had Imperial knights, etc), the concept gets a lot more complicated and dangerous, as the Darg and Drop Units themselves could become tied up and eliminated.  

The overall concept, if successful, then allows me to clear the right and pivot left as we get toward the end game.  Overall, you may consider that this is just a variant of a flanking attack, but I think the Drop units give it more speed when coupled with the Drag units as a screen.