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Analysis: Astra Militarum in 8th Ed, HQ Units

Let's analyse the HQ options available to Astra Militarum . Like all my reviews, this will be from a competitive play perspective, ...

Saturday, 26 September 2015

Battle Report: Astra Militarum vs. Space Wolves



The final round of the tournament saw my Astra Militarum pitted against a Space Wolf army with Thunderwolves and three Pods. The mission was Cloak and Shadows, but there was no lurking in this game—it was carnage all-around!

Mission

The third round was Cloak and Shadows with Dawn of War deployment, and the tournament special rule of 3VP per Objective held at the end of game.

Army Lists

Here is a summarised version of my Astra Militarum and Imperial Knights army list:
Company Command Squad, Regimental Standard, 3x Plasma, Chimera
Veteran Squad, 3x Plasma, Chimera
Veteran Squad, 3x Melta, Chimera
Veteran Squad, 3x Melta, Taurox
Devil Dog, Multi-Melta
Vendetta
Exterminator, Lascannon
Knight Warden
My opponent's Space Wolves were built something like this, using a Faction-specific Detachment that provided an automatic Reserve arrival each turn but significantly lacked Objective Secured:
Wolf Lord riding Thunderwolf with toys
Rune Priest with Runic Armour
Grey Hunters with Melta in Pod
Grey Hunters with Melta in Pod
Grey Hunters with Plasma in Pod
Thunderwolves with Storm Shields
Long Fangs with Missiles
Lots of aggressive units, including a fast and tough assault unit, plus a solid backfield shooter. This was going to be challenging!

Deployment

Objectives were well-spread across the table, and there was a big LOS-blocker in the middle of the field. My opponent won the roll-off and deployed first, on the side of the table which had a nice ruin with Objective for his Fangs to camp in. He only had two units to place since the rest of his army were Podding.


My side of the table was much sparser in terrain. I deployed the toughest vehicles (Russ, Knight, Dog) on the outside to provide cover to my squishier and more strategically valuable mechanised infantry units.


I chose not to attempt to Seize the Initiative, since moving first would have broken my anti-Pod deployment and I had no good shooting targets given my opponent's deployment.

Turn One

Pod Marines did what Pod Marines do best, and dropped in close to nuke my tanks with melta and plasma.


A Hunter squad with the Rune Priest dropped in front of my Exterminator and exploded it with good rolling on their two meltaguns. The Priest successfully cast Precognition, which would become very significant later.


A plasma-armed Hunter squad dropped in front of my Knight, which seemed a strange choice to me. Realising that his S7 would struggle to scratch my AV13 and Ion Shield, my opponent chose to instead shoot the weak side AV of the forward Chimera. His good rolling continued, and my transport exploded and killed six of its passengers, with the survivors failing their Pinning check even in proximity to my Regimental Standard.


The Thunderwolves snuck around the back of the big LOS-blocking building. My opponent had bloodied my nose with his first punch (and scored First Blood) but he did not score his secret Tactical Objective for the turn.


I disembarked all my infantry to maximise my firepower, and the Knight and Devil Dog both advanced to intercept the Thunderwolves swinging around the centre. The Pinned melta Veterans were restored to full BS by a Get Back Into the Fight Order, and together with my other melta Veteran squad they killed all but one of the Grey Hunters on their side of the ruins. The Knight blasted away at the Thunderwolves with his gatling cannon but did no damage to the 2+/3++ save Wolf Lord tanking wounds in the lead.

On the other side of the ruin, my Company Command Squad and plasma Veteran squad lined up their shots on the Grey Hunters escorting the Rune Priest. Remember how he successfully cast Precognition in his turn? I didn't, and neither did I realise that he had Runic Armour for the combined effect of a 2+ rerollable save. Now, that wouldn't have mattered if I'd saved all my lovely plasma shooting til last... but of course I fired that first to scour away all the Grey Hunters, then realised my error as a bucket-load of lasgun dice bounced off the buffed psyker. Sad face.

I charged my Knight into a Pod and easily destroyed it—I didn't want it hanging around in range of an Objective all game. My Knight also took the opportunity to Stomp the nearby lone surviving Grey Hunter, but it kept on surviving.

My Tactical Objective was Witch Hunter—but I had of course failed to slay the Rune Priest.

Turn Two

Another Pod of melta-armed Grey Hunters dropped in behind my Knight, and the Thunderwolves moved in to circle the titan.


The Objective-camping Long Fangs unleashed a barrage of frag missiles at my dismounted Command Squad, killing all but the Commander, who was left facing the similarly solo Rune Priest. Unsurprisingly, the ensuing duel saw the psyker victorious, Slay the Warlord for my opponent, and me without Orders for the rest of the game.


A meltagun got past my Knight's Ion Shield and with more hot rolling stripped a full 3HP from the titan. The Thunderwolves charged in to finish the job, with my Knight D-chopping and Stomping a couple dead before going down. The ensuring explosion scattered well, scoring multiple D hits on the Thunderwolves, but alas no 6s were rolled and storm shields mitigated the rest of the damage.


The situation was looking extremely dire for me at the start of my second turn. I knew that the battle was already lost, but perhaps the war was salvageable... time to chase VP!

I tank shocked the hidden Rune Priest into the open, where plasma Veterans easily finished him off. The rest of my Veterans blazed away at the Grey Hunters and killed most of them, but the few survivors would continue to plague me in later turns. The newly arrived Vendetta and the Devil Dog shot ineffectually at the Thunderwolves—my opponent seemed incapable of failing 3++ saves.

I scored 2VP this turn from killing the Rune Priest and grabbing a far-flung Objective with my Devil Dog.

Turn Three

While I was playing the VP game, my opponent was simply going for the throat. The Thunderwolves and handful of surviving Grey Hunters crashed into my dismounted Veterans, with unsurprising results.


Despite the seemingly hopeless situation before me, I resolved to find a way to win this game. A handful of surviving plasma Veterans jumped into the Command Chimera and zoomed off towards the Long Fangs. My other Chimera swung around to shoot the Grey Hunters whilst remaining within claiming range of the Objective in my deployment zone, which was worth VP for me this turn. My Taurox sped off towards the centre, and my Vendetta dropped into Hover mode and moved onto a midfield Objective which was also worth VP this turn.

The few shots fired by my Chimera failed to slay the Grey Hunters, but it nevertheless earned me a VP thanks to Objective Secured. The Vendetta also scored a VP, and with my Devil Dog holding another Objective in my opponent's deployment zone, I scored an extra D3 VP for holding three Objectives (I rolled 2VP). This brought me up to 6VP, whilst my rampaging opponent remained on only 2VP for First Blood and Warlord.

Turn Four

Realising the danger he was in, my opponent quickly set about cleaning me up as quickly as possible to ensure victory. The Grey Hunters charged and destroyed the cheeky Chimera, while the Thunderwolves loped over and tore down the Hovering Vendetta. My opponent scored 2VP from the Kingslayer Tactical Objective.


In contrast, I ignored the enemy forces, and focussed instead on the Objectives. My Devil Dog remained in place to score its Objective, and finally shot dead a Thunderwolf too. The Chimera blitzed towards the Long Fangs, and my Taurox beelined for an unattended Objective on my opponent's side, scoring me another VP, and bringing the running score to 8–4.

Turn Five

This was do-or-die for my opponent. I didn't know what Tactical Objectives he was drawing (due to the mission) but it seemed to me that he was just aiming for a tabling instead. He was assured a VP for Linebreaker from a Pod, so the Thunderwolves charged and destroyed my Devil Dog, while the last few Grey Hunters chased my Taurox—they took a potshot with their meltagun from long range but the light vehicle thankfully passed its cover save.

This was it! The Taurox moved further away from the pursuing Grey Hunters, positioned to hold an Objective and score Linebreaker. The Chimera dropped off its Objective Secured, plasma-wielding Veterans then sped back towards another unattended Objective. The Veterans stole the Objective the Fangs had camped all game, then added insult to injury by zapping a few with plasma.

The game ended with me ahead on Maelstrom and Secondary VP, so the extra 9VP I then scored for holding Objectives was redundant—my five surviving models had stolen sweet victory!

Conclusion

My poor opponent was faultlessly gracious in defeat, even after having a full-points victory stolen away by three Guardsmen and two damaged transports.

This game was a perfect example of why you should never give up in a competitive game, even if your army gets mauled in the early game. I believe there is nearly always a path to victory—if you play smart enough—and especially so in multi-Objective missions. I too often read and hear complaints that modern 40k games are always one-sided; I disagree, and think the problem is typically players giving up too early / easily.

At the end of the day, I finished second in the tournament, with first place being taken out by a Daemon army that I unfortunately never got a good look at—I think it was a mixture of offensive Slaanesh and summoning Tzeentch that flooded the field with bodies to hold all the Objectives.

I have to say I was not that happy with how my army performed, despite my wins. The solo Knight Warden was mostly ineffective. The Devil Dog was mostly worthless, but that is to be expected from an overpriced unit that did not have optimal targets all day. If I could have had anything different, I would have taken more mechanised Veterans—it really is the mobile, shooty infantry which make this army function.

So I guess it's back to the workbench, to get on with building another two Veteran squads and their transports!

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