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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, 5 November 2016

Battle Report: Astra Militarum vs. Chaos Marines

Here we go, the third and final battle report of this series. After a loss to Ravenwing, and a win over Blood Angels, my Astra Militarum faced-off against Chaos Marines for their final showdown.

Round Three: Tactical Escalation vs. Chaos Space Marines

Finally, a reasonably balanced mission! My opponent was playing a beautifully-painted by very sub-optimal army—even by Chaos Marine standards. A Nurgle Lord and Slaanesh Lord made a couple of Plague Marine squads and a few Noise Marine squads into Troops, and the rest of the list comprised Nurgle Spawn and a Predator. A bunch of marines in Rhinos, even with Feel No Pain, are just not that scary these days.

My opponent had first deployment and turn, and split his forces evenly between his left and right flank with not much in the centre. I spread my forces fairly evenly across the full frontage of my deployment zone.

And then I seized the initiative.


My Hellhound pushed up my right flank and everything else just took aim and started shooting. I popped the Nurgle Rhino facing my left flank for First Blood and poured the rest of my firepower into the Nurgle Spawn on the same side, killing two and wounding the last one escorting the Steed-mounted Slaanesh Lord. My Tactical Objective was an Objective deep in my opponent's deployment zone so I just discarded it at end of turn.

My opponent rolled up an Objective just in front of my right flank forces, and pushed an empty Objective Secured Rhino up to snatch it out from beneath my Taurox. The rest of the Chaos Marines facing my right flank held position whilst those facing my left flank advanced aggressively. Noise Marine blastmasters took one Taurox down to its last HP, and the triple-lascannon Predator did likewise to another Taurox.


I rolled up a couple of midfield Objectives that I might have been able to reach this turn if I'd overextended, but I planned to play cautiously and neutralise some threats before I moved too far up the field. My Command squad and two Veteran squads dismounted on my left flank, and my last Veteran squad dismounted on the right. The Ignores Cover Order was issued and the firestorm began...

Meltaguns fired by Veterans on both flanks slagged Rhinos, and mass dakka from Russes killed the dismounted marines. Plasma and lasgun fire took down the last Spawn and wounded the Slaanesh Lord. The Hellhound moved flat out to block LOS between the Noise Marines and my dismounted Veterans on my right flank.

My opponent rolled up Objectives in his backfield and was pulling ahead in VP despite his losses. Without LOS to shoot anything on my right flank, all his remaining forces—except the two squads camping Objectives—moved to reinforce on my left. Shooting failed to kill off the damaged Tauroxes thanks to some cover saves.

The Slaanesh Lord charged my Command squad and issued a challenge; my Enginseer accepted and was promptly cut down. Winning the challenge earned the Lord a roll on the Chaos Boon table...



...and he was rewarded with spawnhood! Now lacking an armour save, the weight of dice from the rest of the Command squad brought the Spawn-Lord down.

With that key threat gone, I started pushing my way down the field towards all the midfield and enemy Objectives I needed to take to get back ahead in VP. Multiple vehicles immobilised themselves in terrain—I really missed the Dozer Blades I had to cut to squeeze into the 1500 pts limit!

Not much died on my third turn, with all my movement diminishing my firepower and a series of successful saves and FNP rolls keeping the remaining marines alive.


There was not a lot my opponent could do at this stage; we were roughly even on VP, but he had lost half his forces without inflicting much damage on mine, and he was starting to roll up Objectives on my side of the table. His Warlord and escorting Plague Marines took cover and killed some Guardsmen with bolter fire, and the Noise Marines took the Hellhound down to its last HP with their blastmasters.

I moved in for the coup de grace. Veterans and the Command squad on my left flank moved right up to the Plague Marines and prepared to blow them away with the Ignores Cover Order... but I rolled a 12 and lost all my Orders for the turn! Nevertheless, the sheer weight of dice thrown at the Plague Marines wiped them out despite cover and FNP. Punishers, the Hellhound and Veterans on my right flank killed the last of the Plague Marines on that side of the field and started work on the Noise Marines.


Having earned Slay the Warlord with the death of the Plague Marines and Lord, I was now ahead in VP and my opponent had very little left on the field—just the Predator and a squad of Noise Marines. To his credit, he fought on, but did not further meaningful damage to the Astra Militarum.

The Emperor's loyal Guardsmen continued their advance down the table. All my dakka chipped away at the Noise Marines until the last one dropped, and the Veterans reached melta range and slagged the Predator. The Chaos taint had been wiped from the battlefield!

Conclusion

Despite only winning two out of three games, I was very happy with how this Astra list performed. Even in the game I lost, I could have come close to tabling my opponent if we'd had the time to play out all our turns. I was definitely never short of firepower, and my wall of AV14 Russes were impervious to most of what I faced.

That said, I don't think this list would fare as well in a harder environment with Knights or Wraithknights; I could probably kill one in the early game but the second one would inevitably (and literally!) Stomp all over my tanks from the midgame onwards.

Bringing Knights of my own is the obvious countermeasure, but if I was trying to stay pure Astra I think I would drop the Armoured Company and bring in some flyers instead—an Air Superiority Detachment of a pair of Vultures is clearly better than Punisher tanks, and a pair of Vendettas would give me some super-mobile Objective Secured large-footprint units with very relevant firepower against Knights and Wraithknights. I would probably also swap the Assault Company for the equivalent units in a Combined Arms Detachment.

I really enjoyed this event, my opponents were all great people to play with, and it seemed to me that everyone else there was having a good time. It really goes to show that if you want to have a friendly, casual organised play event you can do so by managing player attitudes and expectations rather than resorting to comp systems, rules changes and other bullshit.

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