Saturday, January 19, 2013

Blood on the Pavement: A Warhammer 40K Battle Report

The Introduction

Yesterday, I made a post about an upcoming game of Warhammer 40,000.  My White Scars Space Marines were set to take on a strike force of Grey Knights in small, 500 point skirmish.  Last night, the battle was fought and, well...  It was a very bloody affair.  What follows is a brief battle report with pictures illustrating the final position and casualties of each unit at the bottom of each players turn.

Disclaimer: I apologize in advance if I flub any rules explanations or unit abilities.  I have very little experience with my opponent's army and my notes from last night are very brief.  In addition, I'm still learning the 6th edition of Warhammer 40K and I might just be dead wrong.  Also, these armies are both works-in-progress so please forgive us for incomplete and unpainted miniatures.

The Armies

In my post from yesterday, I laid out my White Scars army list.  I made one slight change before playing and swapped out the Land Speeder Storm for a standard Land Speeder.  This was largely due to the fact that my Storm model wasn't completely built yet, but also because I didn't think my Scouts would need a transport and the regular Land Speeder is slightly more survivable.

My opponent fielded a tiny, yet elite strike force of Grey Knights.  These guys are very expensive (points-wise), but have a lot of tricks up their sleeves and some of the most devastating weaponry in the game.  His total model count was 7 (compared to my 12) and his list looked something like this - 

HQ: Grey Knight Captain 
  • Terminator Armor
  • Master-Crafted Nemesis Force Halberd
  • Master-Crafted Storm Bolter

TROOPS: Grey Knight Strike Squad

  • Psycannon
  • Justicar w/ Nemesis Force Halberd

HEAVY SUPPORT: Dreadknight

  • Heavy Incinerator
  • Heavy Psycannon

My main concern going into the game was the Dreadknight.  I had the melta weapons to pierce his ridiculous armor, but the damn thing isn't a vehicle and has a Toughness value).  That's a tough nut to crack and I deployed my army with the intention to try and drop the Dreadknight as quick as possible.

The Set-Up

Our mission for this game was The Emperor's Will and our Battlefield deployment was Dawn of War.  My Captain secured the Warlord trait of Master of the Vanguard (which unfortunately never came into play) and my opponent's Captain gained the Intimidating Presence Warlord trait (which he did get to use, but was not effective).  We placed objective markers, but I'm going to spoil a bit of the battle and reveal that they never came into play - you can, however, see them at the top and bottom of the right side of the battlefield (represented by servo-skull markers).

My White Scars are lined up on the bottom of each of the pictures below.  As you can see in this first one, I threw my bike squad and captain (he's the biker with no head and all the metal bits on him) dead center to face off against "Legs" McGee, the Dreadknight.  My plan was to have them drive up, pour a TON of bolter and meltagun fire into the thing, slag it and then loop around to charge into the Strike Squad that was being accompanied by the Grey Knight Captain.  My Scouts  set themselves up in a high perch which gave them line of sight to damn near everything on the battlefield (lower right, in the building) and my Land Speeder hid behind that big rock column (lower left) to avoid being blown away on the first turn by the Dreadknight's big guns or massed small-arms fire from the Strike Squad (which you can see in the top left, coming out of the ruined building).

My Captain and 2 other bikers got clipped off the bottom of this pic, but I swear they're there.

The Battle

On his first turn, my opponent marched his Grey Knights forward.  No fancy maneuvers here - he just closed the distance.  Afterwards, shots from the Strike Squad were able to ice one of my bikers.  Not a great start, but I still had my meltaguns!  Thankfully, he was still too far off to attempt to engage me in hand-to-hand combat during his Assault Phase.

For my first turn, I moved my bikes up and set the Land Speeder off to the lower left hand corner of the board.  For the Speeder, my goal was to keep the Strike Squad within range of my heavy bolter, while staying out of their range.  Unfortunately, the Speeder's shots were ineffective.  My bikes, on the other hand, did better (but not great).  Their melta weapons were able to inflict a single wound on the Dreadknight.  My scouts also took a few potshots at the lumbering pair of legs, but their high-tech sniper rifles were unable to find an exploitable chink in its armor.

Moving into the Assault Phase, I realized that my bikes were a little too close.  One of the things I like best about 6th edition is that players are now free to pre-measure distances at any time and had I taken proper advantage of this, I could have brought my melta weapons to bear and given myself enough space to avoid a counter charge during my opponents next Assault Phase.  As it stood, I tried charging into the Dreadknight to at least avoid getting kicked to death.  With it's crazy high Toughness, my bikers would've needed to roll 6's to do any damage on the lumbering behemoth.

This is where the tide of luck started to turn for me as I ended up failing to roll an adequate charge distance and lock the Dreadknight down.  My biker just sat in the middle of the road looking fearsome.

And another case where I couldn't quite capture the whole field.  My Land Speeder is off to the lower left, out of frame.

As you can see, the bad luck didn't stop at my failed charge.  Though the Grey Knights had similar misfortune in their own charge attempts, their ranged weapons reaped a heavy toll on my Captain and his squad.  I lost another biker and my all-important Attack Bike (with it's mounted heavy weapon).  Oh!  And my Land Speeder got plinked and lost one of it's hull points.


At this point, I needed to make a desperate gamble - so I veered off to the left with the bikes and charged the Strike Squad.  Before the melee commenced, I took a few shots with the Land Speeder, the snipers and my bikes, but was unable to cause any casualties.  My Captain challenged the Grey Knight Captain and the two of them ended up locked in combat for the rest of the game.  Unfortunately, the rest of the Strike Squad made short work of the 2 bikes that had bravely charged in alongside their commander.

And this is what the board looked like right before my Captain finally succumbed to the onslaught of the Grey Knights.  Two rounds of concentrated shooting with the Dreadknight's heavy weapons made short work of my Scouts and the Landspeeder proved unequal to the task of mowing the bipedal death machine down with it's heavy bolter.

Though my Captain fought valiantly, he was only able to deal a single wound to his Grey Knight counterpart before his luck finally ran out and he was brought low with a mighty halberd swing.

The Conclusion

They say that defeat is the great teacher and...well, I definitely learned a lot from this game.  Grey Knights?  They're tough.  Like, super tough.  I was not expecting those 6 men to last as long as they did and the Dreadknight is going to haunt my dreams for a while.  If I could change anything up, I'd likely drop the Scouts and the Land Speeder for a regular old squad of Space Marines on foot (or in a Rhino transport, if I had the points) to get more guns (and, like, a missile launcher or something) on the ground and force my opponent to attempt more armor saves.

Despite some awful dice and being all but tabled, I still had a lot of fun with this game and can't wait to start painting my models and building the army up beyond a mere 500 points.  I hope you guys enjoyed this battle report and that you'll leave a comment or drop me a line with some feedback.  I'd love to do more of these (for Warhammer, X-Wing or any other games)!

Friday, January 18, 2013

A Very Special Training Exercise, starring Khajiun Khan

I've never tried my hand at a battle report before, but I've got a game of Warhammer 40K tonight and I think I might give it a spin.  My friend Ken and I will be throwing down with 500pts using the latest 6th edition rules.  He will be playing a small strike force of Grey Knights and I'll be bringing my savage White Scars to bear.

Several of my friends and I have been playing these small games using a modified Force Organization chart (requiring only 1 Troops choice as opposed to 2) in order to acclimate ourselves to 6th edition.  My own experience with 40K is tumultuous (I've only rarely ever had a field-able army), but I've been entrenched in the setting since the game's 3rd edition.  For my money (quite literally), 6th has been a very tight, comprehensive system that captures all the great elements that past versions have waxed and waned on.  Heroes are incredibly heroic and powerful without being armies unto themselves.  Core units of troops are essential for every army to secure and hold objectives.  Vehicles are now neither wafer thin nor mandatory mobile cover.  It all fits together rather well.

When the call went out to start playing again, I had just sold my 5th edition Ork army.  I thought long and hard about picking the Greenskins up again as they are easily my favorite part of any Games Workshop intellectual property, but I didn't want to have to struggle with list building like I did in 5th edition and I certainly wasn't prepared or motivated to build and paint a massive amount of foot-slogging boyz from scratch.  No, for this I wanted something more compact and elite.  As it happens, I'd been pumping out a few characters for Fantasy Flight's Deathwatch rpg and I had really come to love and appreciate the White Scars chapter of Space Marines.  There's a lot I could say about the Scars from a cultural/historical perspective, but that might get a little wordy and stray off topic (cultural appropriation in Space Marine chapters has got to be covered by someone somewhere).  Suffice it to say that I love Genghis Khan as a historical figure and the thought of a massive army of unrestrained Space Marines on bikes appealed to me.

So, I got my hands on a Dark Angels Ravenwing Battleforce (because it is essentially a bike army in a box) and set to work.  I was lucky enough to score some old White Scars bits off eBay and a few friends helped me scrounge up the bitz I wanted to start adding a Mongol horde flavor to the army.  So far, I haven't gone too crazy, but it's a start.  After playing a few games, I've settled on a list that incorporates as many bikes as I can reasonably fit in 500 points.

HQ: Space Marine Captain

  • Space Marine bike
  • Lightning claw
  • Lightning claw

TROOPS: Scout Squad

  • Sniper rifles

TROOPS: Space Marine Bike Squad

  • 2x additional bikers
  • 2x Meltaguns
  • Attack bike
    • Multi-Melta

FAST ATTACK: Land Speeder Stor

I have actually gone ahead and thrown in the mandatory HQ and 2 Troops choices required by the standard Force Organization Chart despite the house rules requiring just 1 Troops choice for this size game.  I used Sniper Scouts in one of my test games and was really impressed with them (and the new plastic models).  They make a nice long range addition to the bike squad that has to get up close and personal to get the most out of their devastating melta weapons.  The Land Speeder Storm isn't really necessary as a transport for the scouts, but it gets me a nice mounted heavy bolter and is very characterful for an army that is highly mobile in the fluff.

Now, I'm not sure what my opponent will be fielding tonight, but last I talked with him he had a list that had a Captain, a 5-man Grey Knight Strike Squad,  and a Dreadknight.  This is a tiny, tiny army and I will have an unusual numerical advantage, but the Grey Knights are tough and the Dreadknight is scary - I mean look at it!  If this is the army I end up facing, then my plan will be to secure any objectives with the scouts and pepper his Strike Squad with sniper rifle fire with support from the Land Speeder Storm.  The bikers, meanwhile, will swing wide to slag the Dreadknight with melta fire before charging into whatever remains of the Strike Squad and/or Captain.

Tonight, I'll be taking pics and notes for a full battle report which should be up on Saturday.  Since the White Scars and Grey Knights are both Imperial forces, this is just a "training exercise" from a fluff standpoint, but I hope I can lock down a victory 

For the Khan and the Emperor!