Please excuse this belated post. The game actually happened several months ago, and I’ve done the write-up, but couldn’t find the proper images to do the drawings in Vassal. Since it’s taken so long, I’ve opted to post it without the drawings (or else it will likely never see the light of day)…
Our local version of ‘Ardboyz is coming up soon, and you can see this is the army lists people are playing. This isn’t to say people are necessarily playing tougher lists (which many are), but they are bumping their points values up from our standard 1500 point games up to 1750. While I don’t intend to show up for the tournament, I’m all for helping people harden their lists, so I showed up to our weekly gaming group with 1750 points in hand, aiming for a new opponent.
Well, my aim has never been that good, and after 20 minutes of waiting for new blood to show up, I settled for another game with Cole. Now, I mean that with all due respect (which, of course, gives me license to say anything I want). Cole is a great player, modeler, blogger, and just an all around swell guy that I really enjoy playing. I just want to get in some games against people I’ve never played against as well. But Cole’s always a good game, so we threw down our lists to test out his force.
- Company Command Squad (Straken, Bodyguard, 2xGrenade Launcher, Medic, Astropath, Chimera)
- Vet Squad (2x Melta, Grenade Launcher)
- Vet Squad (2x Melta, Grenade Launcher)
- Vet Squad (3x Melta, Chimera)
- Penal Legion Squad
- Vendetta (HB Sides)
- 3x Armored Sentinel Squadron (Plasma Cannons)
- Leman Russ (Lascannon Front)
- Leman Russ Demolisher
A detailed write-up of the force can be found on his blog, here.
One great thing about his forces is that he doesn’t play min-maxed lists that you hear about all over the internet. While I’m always in pain after a battle (whether I win or lose), you can’t cry cheese at his army lists. IG is just an all-around great list, and he plays it very well.
- Chaplain (Jump Pack, Melta Bombs)
- Tactical Squad x10 (Lascannon, Plasma)
- Tactical Squad x10 (Missile, Melta)
- Tactical Squad x10 (P. Weapon, Meltabombs, Melta)
- Devastators x10 (Lascannon x2, H. Plasma x2)
- Devastators x10 (H. Bolter x4)
- Assault Squad x6 (P. Weapon)
- Land Speeder (H. Flamer, M. Melta)
- Land Speeder (H. Flamer, M. Melta)
- Bike Squad (P. Weapon, Melta Bombs, Melta x2)
- Ironclad (H. Flamer x2, Hunter Killer) in Drop Pod (Deathwind)
Since I did fairly well before with an all infantry force, I figured I’d give it another shot this game. I figured that with an ‘Ardboyz style tourney coming up, people might be inclined to take more vehicles, which is why I took more Las/Melta options that I normally would (mostly in the form of melta bombs). I opted to take these with power weapons instead of powerfists, figuring that I could save a few points, be more effective against infantry, and do relatively well against tanks still. Boy, was I wrong…
For mission, we rolled up my least favorite combination: Dawn of War with Capture & Control. I won the die roll, and allowed him to get first turn. This turned out to be a mistake because I’ve apparently been playing the Dawn of War mission incorrectly. In previous games, we deploy our standard 2x troops + 1 HQ and begin the game with night fight. On the second turn, we then start rolling for reserves normally. Cole pointed out that the mission actually reads:
All units that were not deployed, and were not declared to be in reserve during deployment, must enter the game in the Movement phase of their first player turn by moving in from their own table edge, just like units moving in from reserve.
Granted, this is a pretty obvious wording, but it’s one of those things that slipped my mind and I just never play it this way. I always play this mission as if I had declared everyone was in reserves. I didn’t realize that you get to bring your entire force on during the first turn. With that in mind, I’d have been MUCH better taking first turn—as it would give me a full turn of shooting after being able to position my army as I wanted them under cover of night fight. Doh! My mistake!
All that aside, he deployed a single Chimera in cover (and in difficult terrain??) along with a squad in the trees in the center of the board. In response, I plopped a combat squad with a Lascannon into a nearby bunker, and a missle launcher combat squad as far forward as I could into cover on the Western flank. Since I gave him first turn, I normally wouldn’t try to cease iniative, but I’d realized the mistake I made in giving it to him in the first place, so I tried (and failed) to take it back.
Turn 1: Imperial Guard
Everything he had steamed onto the board (except the two units he kept in reserve: Marbo & the Penal Legion) and unloaded for a terribly uneventful turn of shooting. This was due in part to some unlucky rolls on Cole’s part (he’d often miss, or roll a 1 to wound), and some great cover saves on my own. The end result of a turn of shooting was a single dead marine.
Turn 1: Marines
Everyone came storming on the board here. My thought wasn’t so much pointed at the objectives, but focused on getting across the board safely. The best way to do that was to climb up the flanks where there was ample terrain and then get in and pop things at close range with my melta-bombs. For this reason, I split my bike squadron and my assault squad on either side of the board and charged forward.
Using the rules for Drop Pod Assault, my Ironclad came down to challenge the Sentinels. I figured he’d make short work of them, and then mop up on the Manticore. With some bad deviation rolls, he landed in the nearby terrain. Both he and the pod failed their dangerous terrain tests, ending up immobilizing the dread, and ripping the deathwind launcher off the already immobilized pod. What a lackluster start to such an awesome unit. To top it off, I was planning on running the dread with melta/flamer, but had a few extra points at the end to waste, so I “upgraded” his meltagun to a flamer.
Oh well, he still had a hunter-killer, right? At least he could take out the Manticore before it unleashed havoc on my forces, right? Well, I guess it might have—had it hit…
And thus commenced six turns of a very angry veteran trapped in a sarcophagus, dumping hundreds of gallons of fuel onto a nearby tank in vain (since he couldn’t hope to hurt it with his str5 weapon). If that tank hadn’t been black to start, it sure would’ve been black by the time I was done with it.
My Speeders also came storming out of the gate, forcing him to mass fire at them, for fear of their multi-meltas. In hindsight, I don’t think this was my best move. I would’ve probably been better off trying to scoot them up behind cover as well, seeing how many melta/lascannons he had in his force. My thought here was that they’d soak up a fair amount of fire (which they did) and hopefully would get a chance to slip through and crack open some armor (which they didn’t…but I’m getting ahead of myself).
Turn 2: Imperial Guard
Again a massive volley of death was unleashed from his side of the board, and when the smoke cleared, only two assault marines and three tactical marines had fallen. Well, those and two smoking craters where my speeders once stood.
Though my speeders really did nothing this turn (and indeed, the whole game), they did suck up a ton of firepower. Of course, I failed every possible cover save they were allowed, and despite some bad rolling for damage, Cole managed to pick them apart until nothing was left.
During their reserves, both Marbo & the Penal legion came on. Marbo missed by a mile with his demolition charge (which actually resulted in it drifting into another squad and causing two casualties), and the penal legion had a lackluster charge as well. They came in on the Eastern flank, and multi-assaulted a combat squad with a power weapon, and a devastator squad. Imperial Guard in combat with the Emporer’s finest—Piece of cake, right? Well, fortunately for them though, my marines weren’t into fighting this turn and I only did minimal damage to them. The end result was they managed to tie up two of my units (including two Lascannons) which brought a smile to their commander’s face.
Turn 2: Ultramarines:
If it didn’t have a heavy weapon, it moved forward, if it had a heavy weapon, it spent the turn hunting birds. Well, they didn’t technically hunt birds, but they sure weren’t popping open vehicles. I’d managed to rip a multi-laser off one of his Chimeras, and a single lascannon off a Vendetta. It wasn’t horrible I guess, but I was really hoping for more.
In close combat, the assault marines ripped apart Marbo, and another combat squad jumped in to punish the Penal Legion. Despite their best efforts, they weren’t able to take the criminals out—but that really worked out in my favor, as it allowed me to live through another turn of shooting…
Turn 3: Imperial Guard
The bikers, who had annoyed the Vendetta took the brunt of the abuse this turn. Of the five that came out of cover to unload on the vehicle, only the squad leader (complete with power weapon and melta-bombs) survived the onslaught.
With all of the damage being pumped out from the far side of the board, I wasn’t losing as many marines as I would’ve expected–which gave me hope. He did manage to kill every one of my assault marines (whenI forgot that the Manticore isn’t AP3), and break my heavy-bolter devs this turn, who almost ran off the board, but stopped short. They weren’t a big loss though, since str5 seemed almost completely ineffectual against his armor 12 force.
In the assault phase, the Penal Legion finally got the chair, and I spread my units out to avoid the inevitable barrages that would come.
Turn 3: Ultramarines
My lascannons who had spent most the game rolling 1’s to hit, didn’t surprise me this time either. I’d had a relatively subpar shooting phase for most of the game, but I won’t blame the dice exclusively. Of course, Cole deserves some credit for putting together such a solid army, and keeping his front armor to me most of the game. Another part of my problem was that I was partially ignoring some av12 targets (namely the flyers) in favor of trying to stop templates from raining down on me—which were av14. Really, despite how much I hate ordnance, flyers should be taken out first if possible, because they’re just easier to kill, and they’re still devastating with all of those lascannons.
The chaplain charged headlong into the sentinels, and taught me very clearly that melta bombs aren’t as good as power fists. In general combats, I’d say they’re relatively comparable—getting the additional dice for penetration, but being limited to only a single attack. Against walkers (with a weapon skill), however, melta-bombs are atrocious. I charged into the battle fully expecting to devastate that unit in a turn or two… but then someone pointed out that I can only hit on 6’s since my opponent had a weapon skill. Ruh Roh….
Come assault time, the chaplain managed to only tie up the sentinels, but my bike leader snuck around and cracked open a command squad’s chimera. I was originally hoping to get entirely behind the tank so he couldn’t disembark, but the positioning of his other flyer prevented that from happening. Sadly, I wasn’t able to hinder him at all in that regard.
Turn 4: Imperial Guard
With so many of my marines dead or dying, he started advancing towards my objective. In the meantime, he unloaded on my other squads and things started looking awful bad for our heroes. On the Western flank, the demolisher dropped his pie-plate on my lascannon squad, doing 5 wounds between that and his hull-mounted weapon. Of the four marines left (two lascannons, sarge, & generic marine—who wasn’t in cover), I divided the shots to put two hits on the marine outside of cover and one on everyone else. The result?
Murphy’s law, right? Oh well, they weren’t doing a lot for me anyway!
Turn 4: Ultramarines
Seeing my only chance to win this game was to contest his objective with my forward-most combat squads, I spurred them into action. They moved forward and tried to take out the demolisher on their way… they succeeded at one of these (I’ll give you a hint, it’s the one that didn’t require me rolling dice).
Elsewhere, in his third turn of combat against thee walkers, the Chaplain’s armor finally gave way. Ruhr oh… more AP2 guns!
Turn 5: Imperial Guard
His entire force basically surged forward towards my objective. Predictably, his flyer landed directly upon it, thereby contesting it from me, and so much death was rained down on my nearby squads. Not many of them lived through it, but enough that I still had a sliver of hope to win this game. Maybe I should’ve been thinking of how to pull out a draw, but my units were really too dispersed to consider that. I was really pot-committed, and it hinged on two things: Taking out the Vendetta (and her crew), and sneaking by Straken, who was charging forward and blissfully removing nearby combat squads…
Turn 5: Ultramarines:
So, with the game almost over, I had to consider my options. My objective was likely to be contested, as I didn’t think he could kill enough of my marines to make a difference—though he could’ve tank shocked me off it (a rule which I hate, by the way). So, the other objective would make all the difference. So, I was pitting two combat squads against a demolisher and Straken’s crew. In short, it wasn’t looking pretty.
Straken had been positioned in such a way though that I could run past him and try to contest the objective. I strongly considered this, but decided against it, since the theory really hinged upon me rolling a 5 or 6 for their run move, and then rolling to end the game. Instead, I played it safe, and charged the Demolisher—to spread out my combat squads, and hopefully give them a means to run and snag the objective at the end of turn 6—if there would be a turn 6.
Meanwhile, at my objective, I ringed the Vendetta with marines as best as I could and charged into combat. Since all the marines had krak grenades, they all stood a single chance to wound the craft—but it would take one of those miracle things. Of course, I forgot I had melta-bombs there, and that was all the miracle I needed. Boom goes the Vendetta, and my layout was such that I figured some guardsmen would die in the explosion, since they couldn’t be placed. Despite a seemingly insignificant amount of space, Cole managed to legally get all his guys into the wreckage. Drat!
Turn 6: Imperial Guard
I bet you can’t guess if we made it to turn 6! Yeah, we did, and Straken removed all hope of me capturing the objective. One combat squad died horribly, and the other was cut off. The “right” answer would’ve been for him to consolidate straken towards his objective, and/or to move another nearby squad over to hold it. Instead, Cole moved everything forward again to taunt me.
Well, at least that’s what he’d have me believe. He’s really a good strategist, so I’m sure he knew that if he pulled back, he could pretty much hold that objective without repercussion. I really got a good vibe from him here, and though the game continued, this is the high part I want to end the battle report on. Ultimately, he could’ve won. He really should’ve won. We both knew the only reason that we tied is because he didn’t go for the easy win.
His objective for the game was to learn of how his units faired in combat and how he could use them to his advantage. He accomplished that without having to stomp me into the ground, and so he let me keep my pride. This just goes to show how great of an opponent he is.
What I Learned:
- Dawn of War allows you to move your units onto the board on first turn. Yeah, I know it’s obvious… but I gloss over that part every time I read the mission. I guess I really should expand this to say that it’s worth it to read over the book during your free time… Certainly know your rules.
- Power Weapon + Melta Bombs < Power Fist. At least when it comes to opening vehicles (specifically those with WS). Really, it’s not worth trying to save 5 points. Though I am fond of power weapons in smaller squads, ten man squads should really get a powerfist, if they get any sarge upgrades at all.
- When given a chance to take out a Leman Russ and a Vendetta with Lascannons, I should opt for the flyer—especially when I’m playing marines in cover. Several of my shots that were plinked harmlessly into Russ hulls, might have killed such lesser vehicles and taken some of the heat off my force.
- Great opponents aren’t just good generals. They’re also good people. If you ever get a chance to play Cole, don’t pass it up. Also, be sure to go check out his blog, because in addition to being a good person, he’s also got a lot to say.