Kris has been aching for a low point game, so he came over to my place and we threw down on a 700 point battle. (Well, I think it was a 700 point battle, but it was something about that price range).
- Chapter Master (Terminator armor, Power weapon, Storm bolter)
- Close Combat Scouts x5 (Power fist)
- Tactical Squad x10 (Melta, Multi-melta)
- Landspeeder Storm (H. Flamer)
- Devastators x6 (2x Missiles, 2x H. Plasma)
- + Razorback w/ twin-linked H-bolters
- Librarian (Living Lightning & JotWW, Artificer armor)
- Librarian (Living Lightning & Freki/Geri, Artificer armor)
- Chaplain (Artificer armor, +???)
- Wolf Guard x3 (Terminator Armor, Melta)
- Grey Hunters x6 (Melta, Power weapon)
- Grey Hunters x6 (Melta, Power fist)
My take on the battle was that I knew Kris loves to use his Terminators, but something he said a couple of days before the battle lead me to believe he was going to try something drastically new. Since he rarely takes vehicles (other than drop pods, and an occasional land raider), I figured this was where he was heading. Because of this, I made sure to include some anti-armor (in the form of the tactical squad), but I was careful not to engineer my army against him.
This is a big part of the game to me. I try not to build an army that specifically beats my opponent, and will throw in various things to ensure that I have a balanced force. Case in point, I used bolters on my razorback and added a whirlwind—both of which are largely seen as ineffective against traditional marine forces. One reason I do this is so that I’m not accused of being a power-gamer; another is that it gives more of a challenge. The last reason though, is because my opponents typically don’t get the same options against me.
Many people in this area only play one army, and then don’t have every unit type available to them (because they haven’t purchased and/or painted them). While I’m fine with people using unpainted models or proxies, some people just don’t like, and I can respect that. So, many players are stuck playing with little variation in their force. I’m fortunate to have several armies that I can play, each of which has a fair amount of varied units. Coupled with the fact that I’m not particular about using unpainted models (or proxies), and very often mix up my lists, it’s almost impossible for an opponent to engineer a force against me. Some might say that’s an advantage I have based on my pocketbook, or a willingness to try new units, but I’d rather the advantages come down to generalship on the battlefield, not the size of my bank account.
That said, Kris’ force wasn’t what I expected. True to general Kris form, he used a ton of characters (which shocked me in such a small game), and his terminators, but his variety was in the form of Grey Hunters. Oddly enough, using the most basic of troop choices was his idea of “mixing it up.” I will say that I’m happy that he didn’t use Logan, but I wasn’t terribly keen on facing a force that was 50% HQ…
The mission we rolled up was Capture & Control with Dawn of War. I won the dice roll, and opted to go first (so I could use the tower on my side of the board)… The two objectives quickly turned into the buildings in each of our deployment zones.
I could deploy “up to” two units of troops and an HQ, so I opted to deploy just the HQ and a combat squad of five marines with bolters atop the tower. My goal here was to give myself a clear line of site for the orbital bombardment with the Chapter Master, and then have a small throw-away squad to hold the objective.
Kris separated one Wolf Guard out to join a Grey Hunter squad and a librarian behind some nearby trees on the Western half of the board, and deployed a token squad of marines by his objective as well. He failed to seize initiative, and the game begun…
Turn 1: Ultramarines
With night fighting rules in place, and very little on the board, I took some bolter/storm bolter pot shots at his advancing squad, but wound up doing nothing more than annoying the Nordic forces. No picture here, because nothing changed from deployment…
Turn 1: Space Wolves
Kris advanced his nearby unit, and blasted off some storm bolter and lightning into the marine squad. Despite their 2+ cover save (3+ for the fortification +1 for going to ground), I managed to fail four of the five wounds. Luckily, the last remaining model made his morale test, and was out of sight for the bulk of the game due to laying down.
Turn 2: Ultramarines
When my reserves came on, I was blessed with the rest of my tactical squad, my Devs (in the razorback), and my whirlwind, which came on in the left corner, middle, and right corner (respectively). In the shooting phase, since Kris had advanced in such a way to avoid cover from most of my force, I unleashed the Whirlwind and the bombardment on his hapless squad. As luck would have it, both of these hit and, of the nine potential victims, seven of them died immediately, leaving only a librarian and a squad leader.
My devs were ineffectual at this point, as were my tactical marines, but really there wasn’t much to shoot at.
Turn 2: Space Wolves
Kris rolled up all of his reserve units. He added the second librarian to his rear-guard, and brought the rest in to replace his floundering assault on the West side.
Seeing his forces melting before him, the forward librarian and squad leader hesitated, taking up a position behind a nearby group of trees. On the other side of the board, the newly added librarian fired bolts of living lightning into the whirlwind, ripping it’s launcher off and immobilizing it in a single blow—effectively removing it from the game entirely.
Turn 3: Ultramarines
The last of my reinforcements (the scouts and the storm) showed up, and huddled behind my objective. Though Kris had only his librarians for support, either of them could shred the vehicle quite easily.
In the shooting phase, I had a few choices, but I measured them carefully. I recognized that Kris’ front librarian had no invulnerable save, but could claim a cover save based upon the fact that his squad mate was obscured by the nearby trees. So, I needed to kill the marine so I could fire my multi-melta at the character. I opened by firing my storm bolter at the squad, and scoring a wound. When it came time to allocate, Kris didn’t want this character to get wounded, so he allocated it to the sarge, and then failed his armor save.
This mistake really cost him his HQ. Since his librarian had multiple wounds, and the sarge could leverage the cover save against AP2 weapons, the better answer would’ve been to take the storm bolter hit on the character. Granted, it seems like a minor difference with a relatively small chance of affecting the outcome, but ultimately, this is what caused a pile of molten metal to appear where the librarian once stood, with an accompanying smile from my multi-melta trooper.
By this point, it was looking like a pretty clear victory for me, but Kris could possibly thwart my ability to contest his objective and pull a tie.
Elsewhere, my Devs had taken up a position and started firing on the advancing chaplain and his squad, but weren’t able to do much damage. Despite scoring a fair amount of hits, nothing seemed to get through the armor, or cover saves.
Turn 3: Space Wolves
Kris shuffled his other librarian around for a clear shot, and started plinking away at my other vehicles—destroying my razorback (This “shuffling” ultimately sparked a rules question about characters moving in units, you can see more in detail here). His chaplain and friends just ran full-tilt towards my objective.
Turn 4: Ultramarines
My scout speeder shot across the board to hide behind a nearby ruin, ready to scoot out on turn five and contest the objective. The rest of my units tried (in vain) to kill off the advancing terminators.
Turn 4: Space Wolves
The chaplain and his friends advanced into a hail of fire, shrugging off most everything I could throw at them. What few ranged attacks he had plinked harmlessly off my forces.
Turn 5: Ultramarines
The bulk of my force unloaded into the advancing unit but were still unable to do anything. Turn after turn, Kris was hiding his unit where they were largely out of sight, and those shots that I was getting were deflected by cover. This turn was no exception. For the second turn in a row, my army failed to take out a single unit.
This turn was the start of bad decisions for my scouts. First, I underestimated the distance from my landspeeder to the far objective, and move flat-out to try to contest this turn. Sadly, it was still a few inches short…
Turn 5: Space Wolves
Capitalizing on my mistake with the landspeeder, Kris advanced his squad out of cover and destroyed the vehicle. Since he was within 6” of the craft, he fully expected to charge me as well, but to thwart him, my scouts evacuated on the other side of the wreck, denying him the charge. The damage had been done though, I now had a unit that was out of contesting range, and that was hopelessly outclassed by their nearby opponents.
It looked like the game was destined to be a tie…
Turn 6: Ultramarines
So, I weighed the options with my scouts heavily. The way I saw it, I had a couple of options:
- I could fire my pistols and charge with the marines and do a reasonable amount of damage (though he has counter-charge)
- I could move into cover and force him to charge me in cover guaranteeing that I’d strike first (forgetting that he had frag grenades)
- I could try to move around the objective so that I was in scoring range, but far enough away from him to force him to make two difficult terrain tests to charge me.
I opted for the latter, as the other two would see the scouts outmatched in combat. I did manage to roll well for my move through cover, but sadly, I rolled a 1 for my run move, and was trapped. Had I rolled a 5 or 6, Kris would’ve had to roll about 10” between his difficult terrain test and his run move (which is less than a 1% chance), so he’d essentially have been forced to take me out via shooting. While it was possible, I felt my odds were better this way than to stand toe-to-toe with 7 marines and a librarian.
Unfortunately, it didn’t work out for me.
Likewise, on the other side of the board, I was weighing my options carefully. I had to take out two terminators and a chaplain or otherwise keep them out of my objective. In hindsight, the best move would’ve been to run my Chapter Master downstairs a turn earlier, and charge out to keep him at bay. That wasn’t an option any longer, so I just opened up with everything I had. When all was said and done, the terminators had fallen (finally), and the chaplain was down to a single wound.
Turn 6: Space Wolves
Predictably, Kris charged my scouts and wiped them out entirely, securing his hold on that objective. To my surprise though, he advanced his chaplain and charged my tactical combat squad. Had he merely ran forward towards my objective, he could’ve held it without risking his last wound in assault.
It was a risk though, because if the game wasn’t going to end there, he was better off locked in assault than standing in front of my devastators. Maybe it wasn’t a bad move after all, but not one without risk. As it stood, he was now winning the game, unless I could score a wound in assault. Striking at the same initiative of the chaplain, my six attacks scored only a single wound—but that was enough!
Or at least I hoped it was. Kris made his save, and the game ended. Another loss for me!
What I Learned:
- Though the game looked like it was in my favor the entire time, it’s a good reminder why you never give up. Granted, this isn’t something new I learned, but it was just a good example of this in action.
- Kris loves his characters. For the first time in a while, he didn’t use a special character, but facing three HQ’s in a 700 point list seemed a little nuts. When I play Kris, I should probably keep this in mind.
- Chapter masters have a great badda-boom. I’ve taken them before, but I generally gear them up for assault, and forget that I need to stand still to fire it. That’s unfortunate though, because it’s oh, so deadly.
- Check the odds before making a risky maneuver. Instead of zipping my speeder over for a chance to win it on turn 5, I should’ve been happy with a slight chance of a draw, and better odds of winning should turn 6 come around…