Two Fridays ago, I was in DC for work, and managed to sneak in a game with fellow blogger Drathmere, from 40k Hobby Blog. Astute followers of my blog will remember that this summer we were supposed to play a game, but for various reasons, things fell through. This time though, our paths crossed and we managed to put his recently purchased battle board to good use.
Anyway, after we got past all of the formalities, and my oggling his multiple painted armies, we broke down and played a game. After all, that is what we had set out to do, right? (by the way, if you’re looking for some more pics of his armies I got to take while I was down there, check out this post).
So, then it came down to chosing exactly which armies we wanted to pit against each other, and let me tell you, those choices seemed endless. For painted armies that I could see, there were Marines, Blood Angels, Dark Angels, Tau, Chaos Marines, Tyranids, and IGuard. Then, as we reminisced about various 2nd edition armies we’d played, he’d produce neatly packed away boxes of painted minies for those armies as well, including a force of Squats!
Apparently he’s never gotten rid of an army he’s purchased, and after playing the game for more than a decade, a person tends to amass quite a collection. But, we had to make a decision, so we opted for an army I’d never played, Dark Angels, and a counterpoint in a nicely painted force of his, Blood Angels.
One note I’d like to add here is that the pictures, as always, are thumbnails and can be blown up if you’d like to see more detail. Also, I want to apologize for the image quality, as I’d forgotten my camera, so all these pics are a little grainy, and none do his models justice. He’s a speed painter, but each model stands out on it’s own, and they look even better together as a painted force. If you want to see more detailed pics, I’m sure he can muster some images on his own blog.
So, without further adieu, I give you the players in this exhibition game:
Dark Angels Forces:
- Belial w/ Lightning Claws
- Sammael on Landspeeder
- Veterans x9 (power weapon, storm bolter, flamer) in Rhino
- Deathwing Terminators x5 (designed for wound allocation)
- Deathwing Terminators x5 (designed for wound allocation)
- Ravenwing Attack Squadron:
- Bike Seargant w/ Power Weapon
- Biker w/ Meltagun
- Biker x4
- Attack Bike w/ Multi-melta
- Landspeeder w/ Multi-melta & Assault Cannon
- Heavy Support:
- Land Raider Crusader
- Dreadnought w/ Lascannon & Missile Launcher
I say “forgotten” because we quite simply forgot to add them to the battle. When we were originally chosing armies, he just started taking models off the shelf and adding them to my Dark Angels force. I figured he either A) was going to just make this a fun-style game, grabbing a handful of models and hoping they were approximately even in the end, or B) knew a few basic lists for the force implicitly. It turns out, it was more of the latter, but as with all things, there are bound to be some oversights. As such, my staunch dreadnought forgot to show up for this battle…
I liked this list overall because it forced me out of my comfort zone. I’d used most of the units (or comparables) before in my other games, but even then there are subtle differences with the way things in the DA book work. For instance, the lack of turbo-boosting during scout moves, inferior storm shields, and old-style smoke launchers to name a few. The only things I would’ve really taken out of the list (had I a choice), would’ve been to convert the LR Crusader into a traditional Godhammer variant, and to change the style of the Terminators to avoid the wound allocation shenanigans.
I’d mentioned that to Drath before the game, but he insisted that to win with such an older codex, it would be necessary to play those sort of rules to my advantage. I’m sure he was probably right, but I wasn’t out to win this game so much as to have fun…
Blood Angels Forces:
- Commander Dante
- Librarian w/ Shield & Sword powers
- Furioso Dread w/ Talons
- Sanguinary Guard x5 w/ Infernus Pistol & Plasma Pistol
- Sanguinary Priests x2 (One with Pack for above, the other without to join the assault squad). Both with power weapons.
- Assault Squad x 5 w/ Melta & Flamer (no packs)
- Scout Squad x5 w/ H. Bolter & Assorted Weaponry
- Fast Attack:
- Baal Predator (Assault Cannon & H. Bolters)
- Heavy Support:
- Land Raider (Godhammer)
- Dev Squad w/ Plasma Cannon x2, Lascannon, Missile
After choosing my army (again, based on the fact that I’d never played them before), it was his turn to pick. Knowing that I was going to do a battle report, he reached for his nicely painted Blood Angels so that the pictures would turn out better. All in good fun, I started flipping him crap for giving me the worst army he owned and then pitting it against the 2nd best codex out there (ok, maybe the third). I think he felt a little bad when he realized that, and offered to switch forces… to Imperial Guard of all armies!
A few good chuckles later, he started putting his Blood Angels force together. After all, we were both out to have fun, and I don’t mind losing a game… but you better believe I stepped up my skills knowing the power differences between the two army books.
Mission & Deployment:
For missions, we opted to dredge something out of the Missions book. He’d never played anything from there, and I’d only played a handful of missions. Really, my thought process here was that I didn’t think my army could stand up to a straight mission between our forces: True, I did have one more unit of troops for capturing objectives, but in anything with Kill Points, I just knew he’d slaughter me: so I was hoping for something with an alternate win condition.
I suggested that he just choose a mission that sounded good, but he was overwhelmed with the available options. Instead, we rolled up a mission and got the Chaos mission: Black Crusade.
This was oddly fitting because we were just talking about a novel he was reading concerning the “secret” of the Dark Angels. In it, I guess the secret was that there was a list of all of the chapters that were falling to Chaos, and they were atop the list. Apparently, Lion’El Johnson was set to be the king-pin in the gang before Horus muscled his way in.
Now I’m more than a little out of touch with the fluff, having not read much of it since 2nd edition, but Drath’s apparently kept up with it rather well. He was able to put a logical twist on why we would play this mission and how things would work. Naturally, with this sort of back-story, I had to play the role of the heretics. As an added bonus, that would almost assuredly get me first turn!
The bad news was that the mission was based on Kill Points. Even worse, an added benefit was given to every unit in each of our armies that wasn’t fearless (they’d get preferred enemy)… but come to find out, apparently everything in my list was fearless! One small point of consolidation was that only one of his units succumbed to the Black Rage (Dante & the Honor Guard), so they gained Fearless, and thereby did not gain Preferred Enemy…
Another special tweak in the mission is that all non-vehicle units get something akin to the old “without number” rule. In essence, any non-vehicle unit that dies entirely goes back into reserves.
For deployment, I held only one squad of terminators in reserve (the one without Belial). Everything else deployed as far up in my deployment zone as possible, fairly balanced over the middle of the zone, but leaning a bit towards the Eastern side (as that’s the one that provided me cover). With little-to-no cover on his edge, he deployed everything in a wall on the Northeast corner tetrised behind a hall of his tanks to ensure anything fragile would get cover saves on turn one. His scouts infiltrated into the Western ruins to finish our deployment.
My units with scout (which are apparently all the Ravenwing units) surged forward and we diced off, giving me first turn. Actually, I’d forgotten to make my scout move before rolling, but he let me go back. I was willing to re-roll for first turn, but he didn’t take me up on that…
Turn 1: Dark Angels
One thing my list did have going for it was a bunch of quick-moving melta weapons, all of which had the scout special rule. I had an attack bike and a speeder (both with multi-meltas), and a bike squadron with a melta gun. I had broken up the bike squad into combat squads of 3 bikes each (one with melta, one with a power weapon), figuring that would give me a little more flexibility. I could then use these as suicide squads thanks to the without number rule.
So, everything surged forward and tried their best to stay together. The first shot of the game was a multi-melta from my land-speeder to his land raider. A 6 to hit, a 10 for penetration, and a 6 on the damage table meant a lucky set of rolls and one less tank to deal with for the rest of the game.
At this point I graciously offered to call the game right here. I figured it only could go downhill for me, and I was willing to accept a single die roll victory. Oddly enough, he declined…
The rest of my shooting was uneventful, either missing entirely, or just being unable to shoot due to range or the fact that I’d moved too fast. Still, I can’t complain about taking out 250 points of his army on turn one.
KP Totals: Dark Angels 1 – Blood Angels 0
Turn 1: Blood Angels
In retaliation, his line shifts Eastward to make up for the hole in his lines left by the Land Raider. The devastators only manage to shake the speeder who tore apart the land raider, and the Vindicator lobbed a shot into my rhino–a shot that should’ve destroyed it. Lucky for me, it was blessed with the older style smoke launchers, and instead it spent a turn where it could not shoot (big whoop). My bikers with the power weapon took some heat from nearby special weapons troopers and two thirds of them died on the spot.
In assault, my melta-armed bike squad paid the price for missing the dreadnought, as his blood talons made short work of the entire squad.
KP Totals: Dark Angels 1 – Blood Angels 1
Turn 2: Dark Angels
Knowing that I couldn’t let the Vindicator live for another turn, I opted to focus fire on it. My plan was to surge forward with my own raider, and deploy my Terminators in such a fashion so that they could assault the vindy. Since it had moved only 6″, and my terminators had an old-school thunderhammer amongst them, I figured I stood a reasonable chance at preventing it from shooting–at least. There was also a chance that I could’ve multi-assaulted both the Vindy and the nearby scouts though, if I played my cards right, but multi-assaulting can be a tricky thing to do properly, and rather than bother with it, I just prepared to assault the tank.
Before I’d gotten a chance to, the yahoo-gunner in my raider destroyed the vindy with his multi-melta, thereby refocusing the terminators at the nearby scouts. The only problem with that plan was that Sammuel had opened up on the scouts, and caused enough wounds to force a break test (which they failed). The only saving grace is they weren’t able to run far enough to get out of charge range of the terminators… I’ll let you guess how that combat ended.
Meanwhile, my single biker from the first squad notices something wrong with his chopper and turbo boosts into “the garage” back in my deployment zone. I knew at this point that squad wouldn’t have enough oompf to do much of anything, so figured it was better to hide him out in back than to give Drath a free kill point that would keep coming back each turn…
KP Totals: Dark Angels 3 – Blood Angels 1
Turn 2: Blood Angels
The Baal shows up from reserves and rolls the Western table edge (where nothing was, but at least it was blessed with some reasonably long-range fire power). Despite having 9 shots, it only managed to kill a single biker. The other bike squad wasn’t quite so lucky, losing 2/3 of it’s members to a single volley from another squad.
The dreadnought moved forward to threaten my landspeeder, and missed him with his gun. Then, he charged in and barely made contact with the speeder. With all of his prowess, he couldn’t muster anything more than a shaken result though…
Meanwhile, Dante and his posse arrived, deep striking into the heart of my forces, and decimating my rhino, and threatening everything nearby. With their 18″ assault range, it was clear that my vets were going down… but hopefully they could hold out for a turn.
KP Totals: Dark Angels 3 – Blood Angels 2
Turn 3: Dark Angels
By this point, I’m not in a bad position. Granted, I’m in a short-range firefight with a notoriously nasty short-range codex, but with the weapons I had, I didn’t figure I’d do very well in a long-range fight. I had taken out the hardest vechiles to destroy already, and was planning on avoiding the hammer unit of sanguinary guard (simply because I knew I couldn’t take them out with anything less than my entire army. Besides, even if I did, they’d only come back, due to the special scenario rules).
So, I sacrificed the vets to keep the hammer unit at bay, and turned the rest of my army towards his devs and assault squad, leaving one multi-melta to take care of his dreadnought (at side armor). Of course, he misses, so I was forced to divert the melta-bike squads over to take up the slack–but he missed too. Finally, Sammeal opened up with a rending shot from his assault cannon and remove the dreadnought from the equation. While I was glad to have it die, I wasn’t overjoyed that it took most of my shooting to do so… but at least he wouldn’t be taking out a squad per turn anymore.
My vets, in their last act of defiance unloaded on the Sanguinary guard. Of course, a 2+ armor save with a 4+ FNP means very little casualities were inflicted (read: one). Anything else I had moved as fast as possible away from the Sanguinary guard…
Meanwhile, my Terminators spread out along his deployment zone, knowing his scouts would inevitably have to come back for more…
KP Totals: Dark Angels 4 – Blood Angels 2
Turn 3: Blood Angels
“The turn that it didn’t pay to be ravenwing.” In the shooting phase, a nearby assault squad opened up on my bikes, and peppered them with an abyssmal amount of firepower: only two bolters wounded. Lucky for him, that was all he needed to finish off my squad. Elsewhere, the devastators opened up on my landspeeder (who had moved flat out to avoid the Sanguinary Guard), and scored an immobolized result–sending it crashing off the board.
My veterans prove to me that I hadn’t underestimated the Sanguinary Guard, who have enough power weapon attacks to take out a squad twice their size… Sadly, one thing I didn’t consider is that they’re not a retinue, so Dante could (and did) break off from the unit. So, while they were destroying my vets, Dante skirted off and chopped up a helpless biker who was repairing his ride in “the shop.” Hrmpf… some people.
For reserves, the decimated scout squad shows up; trying to avoid the terminators, they hug the side of the board.
KP Totals: Dark Angels 4 – Blood Angels 6
Turn 4: Dark Angels
the table (and rightfully so after that last turn!). I opted to put them at least 19″ away from the guard, in a tricky spot–and they deviated off the board. For the mishap table, they rolled a ‘delayed’ result, so they’d have to wait until next turn… Try as they might, the scouts could not find solace. My land raider focused in on them, and killed two: forcing a break test. Wouldn’t you know it, they fled, and ran off the board for another kill point.
Meanwhile, my terminators snuggle up to the remaining three devastators, managing to kill only two of them, but they proved that was enough, and ran the last one off the board as well. After that, they consolidated back into their congo-line of doom, waiting for both the scouts and the devs to come back and play.
Everything else spread to the sides and back of the board, to get as far away from the sanguine guard as possible.
KP Totals: Dark Angels 6 – Blood Angels 6
Turn 4: Blood Angels
My army proved too fast for the Sanguinary guard, who could do little more than clench their fists at my closest unit: the land raider. Though they were armed with melta-pistols, they weren’t able to penetrate, and neither they, or the Librarian (who failed his psychic test, and therefore could not strike at strength 10) could do anything of consequence to it’s hardened exterior.
On the Western flank, the Baal predator, along with the scouts and devastors (who both decided to show up again), unloaded on my attack bike, and vaporized him under a hail of bolter fire.
KP Totals: Dark Angels 6 – Blood Angels 7
Turn 5: Dark Angels
My Terminators came down, for real this time, on the Western side of the board, to help Sammael deal with the newly arrive scouts and devastators. Really, the scouts were just a free kill point–it was the devastators that were truly bothering me. So, between the two terminator squads, Sammael, and a bike squad, I’d managed to pepper the devs down to a single Lascannon remaining… their remaining shots, stealing the free victory point that was the scout squad.
Elsewhere, my other bike squadron (with the meltagun), and the multi-melta attack bike came back on the board from reserves, and both managed to get in range of the Baal (rear armor, no less!), and were able to stun it.
KP Totals: Dark Angels 7 – Blood Angels 7
Turn 5: Blood Angels
Another painful turn for the Dark Angels. Finally, the Sanguinary guard caught up to Belial and his scout hunting terminators, and that was not exactly a fair match-up. While it’s true that one of my terminators survived to attack back, he promptly died to fearless wounds at the end of combat. Sadly, he had taken my game of red-rover I’d been playing with the scouts and turned it against Belial and his boys. The downside here was that he’d earn 2 KP’s per turn, and I’d only earn one… It was clear I was going to need a new strategy.
To make things worse, his librarian mustered up enough pscyhic fortitude to power up his ensanguined sword, and crack open my land raider, giving Drath yet another kill point. Until this turn, I thought I was doing rather well, but having three of my most powerful units die so easily left me feeling a little uneasy…
KP Totals: Dark Angels 7 – Blood Angels 10
Turn 6: Dark Angels
Belial and his boys teleport down on the edge of the board. I knew they’d be within charge range of his assault squad and librarian, but I figured I could handle them. What I was really trying to accomplish was to put them close enough to kill the scouts, but far enough away to avaoid the charge from the sanguinary guard. One of those happened. If you’re curious as to which, let’s just say: I scored my fourth kill point from that squad for this game!
On the other end of the board, the melta-bike squad and my MM attack bike moved up for a better position on the Baal, and vaporized it. And the last devastor? Well, he didn’t fair too well against a squad of angry terminators.
Maybe this game was winnable after all?
KP Totals: Dark Angels 10 – Blood Angels 10
Turn 6: Blood Angels
So, I was almost accurate on my gauge of what 18″ looks like. Really, I might have been spot on, but when I deep struck the terminators down, I was forced to deploy them around my deploying model, thereby reducing the total distance between them and their would-be assaulters. Because of this, they got pummelled by both the Librarian and
the Sanguinary guard. The silver lining was that only one Sanguinary Guard made it to assault, and when I made my pile-in moves, I was able to do so, while avoiding getting into base to base with Dante.
When the smoke cleared out of that battle, all of my terminators had died, except Belial who had taken a single wound. Normally that wouldn’t be so bad, but Dante and his infernal deathmask reduced Belials starting wounds to 2, along with a couple of his other stats. The fact that I had to keep bringing a gimped Belial back into the fray was annoying to say the least–but I guess it was no different than the helpless blood angels scouts…
Anywho, Belial was able to strike back and kill the librarian that turn, so despite the fact that he’d killed/injured five of my models and I’d only hurt one of his, it was still a draw.
And surpise, surprise, the devastotars and scouts showed back up to party. For some reason though, they opted to come in on the center of the board, far away from the charge range of any of my units…
KP Totals: Dark Angels 11 – Blood Angels 11
In combat, without the benefit of furious charge, Belial was able to strike at the same iniatitve as the blood angels, taking a Sanguinary Priest out (the one with the jump pack) before he went down for the second time this game.
Elsewhere, the rest of my forces opened fire on the devastators, taking out all five, and Sammael managed to take out the five scouts completely. Again, thanking the gods for the free kill points that were those blood angel scouts.
KP Totals: Dark Angels 14 – Blood Angels 12
Turn 7: Blood Angels
At this point we’d been keeping track of the flow of the game, but not strictly tallying up the kill points; had we had a
better grasp of them, this turn might have ended differently. As it was though, he focused on what he could, sending all of his new reinforcements (a Librarian, a Sanguinary Priest, and a scout squad) head-long into a nearby ravenwing biker squad of mine–but not before peppering them with his devastator squad.
He was only able to do 2 wounds to me, but again, I failed my armor save for fearless wounds, and he wound up killing the unit entirely. Sadly, this was only enough to give him one more KP, which was not enough to tie.
In hindsight, he would’ve been better off breaking his librarian off and charging one of my vehicles with it. Granted, it most likely wouldn’t have worked out for him, but if he could’ve destroyed the vehicle, and had the scouts done enough damage on their own to kill my bikers, he could’ve at least pulled out a tie.
Final KP Totals: Dark Angels 14 – Blood Angels 13
Things worked out much differently than I had originally planned. I figured with an outdated codex, I’d have been stomped into the ground by such a powerful book as the Blood Angels. Had we kept a better track of kill points as the game progressed, I suspect things would’ve gone much differently in those final rounds, and I probably would’ve lost.
But more importantly than winning or losing was having fun, and I can honestly say this was the best game I’ve played in a long time. There’s something so pleasurable about playing a game who prioritizes fun over winning, and Drath really demonstrated that. He was still a tough competitor, but there was no quibling about anything: no rules debates, no LoS issues. We were obviously there to have fun.
And I had it in droves.
He’s a great painter, a great player, and a good person, inviting me to play a game like that. I enjoyed myself tremendously and hope to be able to return the favor some day… if only he can find a reason to come up to Alaska…
What I Learned:
- Drath is a good guy and a great painter. You should follow his blog, and play him any chance you get.
- Eastern DC isn’t as scarey as everyone lead me to believe. Granted, I probably just didn’t go far East enough to be truly frightened…
- Outdated codicies aren’t hopeless. Oddly enough, the handicap of an older codex proved helpful at multiple times (for instance: with 4 shot assault cannons). I still think DA are significantly behind the power curve when compared with the BA book, but they can hold their own, if you remember to play the mission.
- Mixing up missions is fun. It’s also important to me, or the game stagnates, but you have to remember to play the mission: this was pivotal in me winning the game. I don’t mean to say that Drath somehow forgot to play the mission (which was actually hard to do, since our goal was to eradicate each other), but my strategy of focusing on killing his weakest units repeatedly worked well. Honestly, had he not had a unit of Scouts that I could pick on, I don’t think I could’ve won that game. I got lucky in the begining to take out his vehicles, and then preyed upon the scouts for last few turns. Those scouts counted for more than a third of my total KPs!