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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, ...

Sunday, 30 October 2016

Battle Report: Astra Militarum vs. Ravenwing

I recently took my Astra Militarum to a three-round, 1500 pts casual event. The event organisers had requested that players bring moderate-strength lists only, so I built a full 1500 pts of Astra without a Knight; and it seems like great minds think alike, because there were no Knights to be seen at the event and more Astra lists than I had ever seen before!

I wanted to try something a little different so I built my entire list from Formations only:

Assault Company Formation
Company Command Squad, Volkov's Cane, three Plasma Guns, Regimental Standard
Chimera, Autocannon, Dozer Blade
Veteran Squad, three Plasma Guns
Taurox
Veteran Squad, three Meltaguns
Taurox
Veteran Squad, three Meltaguns
Taurox
Hellhound, Dozer Blade

Armoured Company Formation
Tank Commander, Punisher, Punisher
Exterminator
Exterminator
Exterminator
Enginseer

1500 pts

I used the Chimera datasheet from Imperial Armour Vol 2 so I could upgrade its turret to an autocannon, which has the added benefit of being 10 pts cheaper than the Codex version and has five fire points instead of the Lasgun Array.

The idea behind this list is 'maximum dakka'. It has no blasts or indirect fire, but it rolls a hell of a lot of dice every shooting phase, mostly at S5 and S7. It has a little bit of plasma and melta to deal with hard targets, but generally just grinds down the enemy with weight of fire—even 2+ saves fail 17% of the time!

Round 1: Deadlock vs. Ravenwing

My first game was the Deadlock mission against a Ravenwing biker horde. Deadlock is a poorly-designed mission as its outcome is nearly always decided in the first two turns—with fewer and fewer opportunities to score VP as the game progresses it is nearly impossible to recover from a slow start. Against a super-mobile MSU list I knew I had my work cut out for me.


Our table was super-densely packed with terrain. We treated all those fortifications and gun emplacements as pure scenery—no firing a cheeky vortex missile! Objectives were evenly scattered across the table, and we both deployed as best we could in the scant space in our respective corners. The Ravenwing then Scout moved into midfield.


I had the first turn and drew a fistful of in-achievable Tactical Objective cards—oh dear. I had all the Objectives on my opponent's side of the table, hold all six objectives, kill a non-existent flyer, and launch a successful charge (one of the Cadian cards).

Movement was minimal, since I had nowhere to go laterally and a horde of enemy to my front! Points were tight at 1500 pts, so I had to skimp on Dozer Blades across my force to afford more tanks—and this was the worst table to be without Difficult Terrain rerolls! I did, however, pay those 5 pts for my Hellhound, so my first move of the game (and event) was through terrain with my Hellhound. And of course, I rolled snake eyes and immobilised my close-support tank at the back of my deployment zone. AAARRGH!!

With movement done, I blasted away at the onrushing bikers. Everything predictably Jinked, and combined with Stealth from Night Fighting I did very little damage. I did kill one solo Attack Bike and wound another, so I picked up First Blood, but I scored no other VP this turn. I tossed the literally impossible kill-a-flyer card, but was still left with a hand of effectively-dead cards.


The Ravenwing generated their Tactical Objectives and drew a guaranteed 8 VP first turn. Good game.

We played on for fun, and the Ravenwing that weren't sitting on Objectives moved in on my armour wall. Having forced everything to Jink saved me from all that melta in my face, and all I lost was a single HP from a Taurox. The bikers couldn't assault after Scout moving, so we moved on to the second Astra turn.


Time to let slip the dogs of war. Two squads of Veterans disembarked and my tanks positioned to fire for effect. The Exterminator on my right flank tank-shocked an Attack Bike off an Objective, and it chose to death-or-glory with its multimelta—it got death.

The Astra blazed away and killed most of the Attack Bikes and bikers, immobilised the Land Speeder (on an Objective) and even took a wound off Sammael! But the Sammael Command Squad was still in my face, another biker squad wasn't too far behind, and there were yet another two biker squads in his backfield. Oh dear...

Sammael and his crew shot dead half the dismounted guardsmen, then charged and slaughtered the rest. The remaining bikers plinked away at my armour and stripped a HP here and there, but I still hadn't lost any vehicles. With a set of fresh Tactical Objective cards, the Ravenwing earned another pile of VP.


The Command Squad and last Veteran Squad disembarked, vehicles moved to block the infantry from charges, and shooting began. Not even Sammael and his Feel No Pain Command Squad could weather so much firepower and I scored the moral victory of killing the Master of the Ravenwing. I also finished off the Land Speeder and midfield bikers.

We were running short of time at this point so we called the game. In three turns my opponent had lost most of his army but scored 18 VP; I had lost very little but had only a meagre 8 VP. My only way to win would have been to wipe out the Ravenwing, which was certainly achievable with my firepower in the remaining turns, but the dense terrain meant that a single biker could easily hide and deny me the win.

Despite the loss, this was a very enjoyable game, and it really does highlight that you don't have to actually kill the enemy to win a mission.

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