A few weeks ago, we had decided to play a game of planetstrike, but life got in the way and we never actually managed to field that game. With the holidays abound, it’s been hard to squeak in my regular Friday night games, but we did manage to get in a game on a Saturday morning. This will turn into a game of many firsts for me, so bear with me during this batrep.
Brandon’s Word Bearers:
- Chaos Lord w/ Sigil of Corruption, Melta Bombs, Power Weapon, & Vets of the Long War
- Bloodthirster w/ 2x Greater Rewards & 1x Lesser Reward
- 10x Chaos Space Marines w/ 2x Meltagun, PowerFist, Vets of the Long War, & Melta Bomb in Rhino w/ Dozer Blade & Dirge Caster
- 14x Chaos Space Marines w/ 2x Plasma Gun, Power Weapon, Vets of the Long War & Melta Bomb
- 10x Cultists w/ Autopistols
- 10x Bloodletters inc. Champ w/ Lesser Reward
- 10x Plaguereapers w/ Instrument of Chaos & Icon
- Fast Attack:
- 5x Warp Talons w/ Melta Bomb
- 4x Screamers of Tzeentch
- Heavy Support:
- Defiler w/ Dirge Caster, Warpflame Gargoyles
- HellBrute Mayhem Pack
- Hellbrute w/ Multi-Melta
- Hellbrute w/ Plasma Cannon
- Hellbrute w/ Twin-linked Lascannon
- Fortification (free)
- Aegis Defense Line w/ Icarus Lascannon
Obviously, Brandon played with a primary detachment of Chaos Marines, an allied detachment of demons, and an extra formation for the mayhem pack. Per usual, it’s a pretty good blend of units, though I do immediately see it doesn’t seem to have much long range shooting. This is because he tailored the list to the mission. Since he knew he was playing planetstrike, he wanted to focus on the ability to deep strike and bring in reserves–thereby allowing him to potentially get a first turn assault. The theory was that it should make units like the Warp Talons, who are typically seen as overcosted, much better.
The lone fortification was an afterthought. It turns out that the mission I had rolled up (Beachhead) required him to have a fortification, and he didn’t bring one, so he snagged various parts around from my spares to make up a suitable substitute.
Not sure how, but I somehow managed to skip taking a proper picture of his army as well. Doh!
- Varro Tigirius (Prescience, Vortex of Doom, & Purge Soul)
- 5x Assault Terminators w/ Thunderhammers & Stormshields
- (Ally) Vindicare Assassin
- 10x Tactical Marines w/ Plasma Cannon, Flamer, & Powerfist in Drop Pod w/ Deathwind
- 10x Tactical Marines w/ Multi-Melta & Meltagun in Drop Pod w/ Deathwind
- Fast Attack:
- 1x Attack Bike w/ Multi-Melta
- 1x Attack Bike w/ Heavy Bolter
- 8x Assault Marines w/ 2x Plasma Pistols & Power Axe
- Heavy Support:
- 3x Centurions w/ Lascannons & Missile Launchers
- 3x Centurions w/ Grav Guns & Hurricane Bolters
- 10x Devastators w/ 4x Missile Launchers
- Fortifications (FREE!)
- Fortress of Redemption w/ Icarus Lascannon
- Bastion w/ Icarus Lascannon
- 4x Vengeance Weapon Batteries w/ Battlecannons
- 2x Aegis Defense Lines w/ Quad Guns
I started off with the fortifications because, as the defender in an Planetstrike game, they were free! So, naturally, I decided to use everything that I had painted (and I’m glad that I don’t have more of those buildings painted because it would’ve filled up the entire table). From there, I decided to play a more shooty-based army, largely because I had just painted up my centurions (post on those to come), and I threw in a second set so that I could compare the missiles to Brandon’s recommended Hurricane Bolters.
My grand plan was that I was going to put the lascannon cents up in the top of the fortress of redemption so that they could use the line of sight and ranged advantage, and then I could stick the others inside the bastion and kill anything that came close. Far be it from me to actually put a centurion atop the fortress though. For the record, you can only get one on top of that–not three.
We were also talking about vindicares in a previous game, and I wanted to show Brandon that they could be effective, so I included one of those as well. From there, I knew that I was going to want some sort of counter-assault unit, so I added the assault squad (I know they’re not popular, but I like them well enough) and a terminator assault squad. I also threw in the tactical squads because I was going to need troops to keep “objective secure” (not that it ever seems to do anything in the game), and I used a drop pod figuring that I could hold a distant objective with it if need be.
With the last 100 points, I was able to work in a couple of attack bikes. I didn’t figure they would do all that much, but I’ve been burned by not having mobility in games before.
Mission & Deployment:
In Planetstrike, the defender gets to setup the terrain for the mission. Since we were playing at my house, it was clear that I should be defender so that I could setup terrain. I rolled up the mission randomly (though, in hindsight, maybe we should’ve just played the first one), and got “beach head.” Unlike most of the games in the planetstrike book, this allowed me to dictate the side that Brandon would be deploying on, so I setup a suitable looking Ultramarine base on a hill. Strategically, since I knew his deployment was going to be in the center, I likely would’ve been better off splitting my forces into the two corners to force him to spread out, as well as to put extra distance between me and him, but I didn’t want to be cheesy.
This is a good time to say that I didn’t really read the rules for Planetstrike so much as I glossed through them. The only rule that really stuck out in my mind was that the attacker got to go first and got to use “Firestorm” attacks. This allowed him to get a series of S9 AP3 large blasts before the battle started. Given my unnatural fear of large blasts, this was a big concern of mine, but up until the time of deployment, it wound up slipping my mind. Brandon was goodly enough to remind me that he was going to rain fair upon me, and that terrified me to the point that I only deployed two combat squads on the table outside of a building–and only then because I was forced to because I had fielded to Aegis lines.
Everyone else sat inside the building or waited in reserves.
Brandon wound up only deploying three units: some cultists on his lone objective, his defiler, and a unit of CSM in a rhino. The defiler positioned itself for a first turn charge, and the rhino, well, I’m not sure what his plan was with that. Everything else chose to enter play via deep strike.
And then the Firestorm rained down upon me.
Due to the mission special rules, all of his attacks were upgraded automatically to S10 AP2, and he had paid 2 of his 5 planetstrike points to be able to reroll the scatter on them. To make things even more terrifying, the mission also gave him an extra firestorm attack for each building I had (keep in mind that the fortress of redemption counts as 4x buildings), giving him a total of 10+1d3 barrages to start the game. My small bit of luck to start things off was that he only rolled a 1, so that’s good news, right?
He opened up by dropping templates and killing any marine foolish enough to stand in the open, along with a quad gun, vengeance battery, and bastion. But then I remembered that I had bought an asset with my 4 planetstrike points that gave me a 4++ save, which he let me go back and roll. Of the three hits that damaged the bastion, I saved all four, and just enough saves on the quad gun to keep it alive as well. The vengeance weapon battery wasn’t as lucky.
He then strayed his shots to the other end oft he board, and with the remaining six shots managed to almost no damage. In total, I think he took hull points off two of the buildings, but didn’t destroy any, and failed to even cause my guns to be unable to shoot for a turn.
So, as devastating as 11x S10 AP2 attacks could be, I survived relatively unscathed. While that dismayed Brandon a bit, I reminded him that it put my entire army out of position: nobody was up where they wanted to be, and many of my units were in reserve and due to come out a random side. I think this did little to cheer him up.
Turn 1: Word Bearers
With Brandon able to roll for reserves immediately and charge with those units that did come in, it made for a really quick feeling game. Despite not making many (or practically any) assault on the first turn, it really did give the feeling of him being on top of me immediately. All of his units hit or deviated very little upon initial placement, but only one (the raptors) was able to make a first turn charge–and that was really the one unit he didn’t care to have in combat, as they didn’t have much punch against buildings.
Otherwise, he put out a few shots here and there, but nothing overly devastating. By and large, the bulk of the damage had come from the initial barrage, and the dismay from having him right on top of me from the get-go.
By the way, this particular mission dictated that we didn’t score until the end of the game, but he did earn first blood during the initial firestorm attacks (which are technically during his first turn) so that counts, but I won’t tally those up until the end.
Turn 1: Ultramarines
So, during his initial deployment, I’d elected to snap-fire most of my automated sentry options. Of them, I think only one actually found it’s mark, immobolizing a dreadnought between two buildings. I was happy it wouldn’t be moving around, but wasn’t terribly pleased to have a multi-melta so close to all of my fortifications.
I take that back, I think another of my interceptor shots actually wounded the Bloodthirster. So, during my shooting phase, I kept trying to pummel it. I’ve seen it in combat too many times to know that I didn’t have anything that could stand up to him. For that reason, I popped my Devastator Doctrine and marched four missile launchers up to the top of the balcony to fire at him. After only managing a wound or two, I unloaded a squad of lascannon centurions into him as well, but that wasn’t quite enough to kill him (I think it did take him down to a single wound).
I would’ve fired my battle cannons, but Brandon used another of his planetstrike tricks to force all of my weapon platforms to snapshot. Granted, most of them couldnt’ fire as they’d already used the interceptor rule last turn, but it did a good job of nullifying all of those battle cannons.
The only other damage I did that turn was to pour a couple of fistfuls of prescienced grav cannons into the defiler and glance it to death rather handily.
I did get three squads of reinforcements in: Assault Marines on the side, Heavy Bolter Attack Bike on my side, and a drop pod of tacticals. I used the first two to distract his chaos space marines on the far side–figuring they would tie them up for a while, and the drop pod held back to harass the cultists in Brandon’s backfield.
Turn 2: Word Bearers
The bloodthirster swept forward threatening to charge my bastion, but was ultimately afraid of my centurions’ overwatch (though I did find out later that centurions don’t get to overwatch because they have “slow and purposeful.” Instead, he charged in his screamers to soak the damage (though I neglected to fire, since they weren’t technically engaged and should’ve been able to fire overwatch at a second charger–assuming they were allowed to fire overwatch at all, that is), and then proceeded to fail the bloodthirster’s charge to another nearby building. The screamers proved to be too much for the bastion though, wrecking it completely. Likewise, a single melta bomb ensured that a nearby vengeance battery met a similar fate.
He also got the last of his reinforcements: a squad of plague bearers, who dropped in and immediately charged my drop pod marines along with the cultists. As luck would have it, I managed to wound and kill enough to actually win the combat, and do several ensuing “no retreat” wounds to the plague bearers.
The warptalons charged a unit that had emerged from the fortress to man some heavy bolters, but were interrupted with a hellbrute ripped apart the center section of the fortress, causing my combat squad to fall to the ground and get shredded by the falling debris. Still, the warp talons did swoop and kill the last tactical marine quite easily.
Meanwhile, another hellbrute charged my remaining two tactical marines that were foolish enough to stand outside. Between the three of these, it left me with a ramshackle squad of 2 centurions and Tigirius surrounded by two hellbrutes and a squad of warp talons–leaving me with only a few desperate options.
This turn definitely made it seem like an uphill battle for me.
Turn 2: Ultramarines
While I had trouble all over the table, the biggest issue was that the center of my force was depleted and no reinforcements were coming to help. Essentially, I was down to half a squad of Centurions, who would be woefully outmatched by the hellbrutes and warptalons nearby. Granted, they did have the Vindicare for moral support, but due to his positioning, he didn’t have line of sight to anything nearby, since his view over the edge was blocked.
I did wind up getting the multi-melta bike in and my second drop pod squad (though I had forgotten I purchased a pod with them because I apparently put it in the wrong spot, so they walked on). The bike strolled on and shot one of the ‘brutes in the back, but that damaged ricocheted off the aegis. Luckily, the centurions were able to ding him enough to immobilize him, taking at least one assault off of the table. I knew I just didn’t have enough pew pew to hold them all off, so during the psychic phase, I went ahead and dropped a Vortex of Doom on the other hellbrute, and took him out along with a warp talon or two in the process. So that really just left half a squad of talons to threaten me–and a squad of bloodletters that I had previously forgotten about.
The best part about it? I finally got to use my whiffle balls!
Elsewhere, my melta-tactical squad strolled on and between them and the las-centurions I was able to finally kill the bloodthirster before he was able to make it into assault. Whew… Oh, I also got my thunderhammer terminators, but they decided to come on the wrong side of the board (Brandon suggested I should’ve deep struck them…)
Otherwise, my drop pod tacticals fought in combat against the plaguebearers, lost, and then failed to stay stuck in battle, leaving themselves open to enemy shooting in the following turn…
Turn 3: Word Bearers
At the start of the turn, the vortex took a positive shift and killed more talons, bringing their number down to just two, while also killing off another Centurion and damaging my fortress’ tower. What I didn’t expect was that Brandon redirected the talons to assault my nearby melta squad instead of the Centurions, along with his screamers (which was more than enough damage to wipe me out without suffering any casualities himself).
But my centurions weren’t exactly safe. They took a plasma cannon shot to the face, taking them down to just one wound guy and Tigirius, who both met the assault of a full squad of bloodletters (including a champion with an AP2 weapon).
But, as luck would have it, I accepted his champion’s challenge with Tigirius (to save the cent from AP2 hits) and managed to kill a couple of ‘letters before they struck me. When the smoke of that battle cleared, I’d won combat, and significantly reduced the threat for future turns, but lst my centurions in the process.
In shooting, my tactical squad that had been playing with the plague bearers was mowed down, so they redirected their angst against the nearby drop pod…
Turn 3: Ultramarines
With a little luck, Tigirius smote the last of his foes and then promptly hid behind a hill to avoid being shot to pieces by the rest of the Chaos army. Otherwise, I don’t think my turn had a lot going on. From here on out, the turns started to pick up relatively fast.
My terminators charged in and destroyed the plague bearers, and then started consolidating backwards towards objective #6 (thinking it was unlikely that they’d catch the marines harassing me in my deployment zone). My two active vengeance weapons batteries continued to hammer on a nearby rhino as it was the closest target, and they were actually hitting and removing some hull points.
My last remaining las-centurion punked both of the warp talons, and then backed into a corner to see if he could defend against the screamers…
Turn 4: Word Bearers
Though my army had thinned out quite a bit, Brandon was down to just a handful of units at this point, including two immobilized hellbrutes, 2x screamers, and a large blob of CSM’s (oh and a stunned rhino). The good news for him was that both dreads were parked on existing objectives, so all they had to do was live until the end of the game and he’d hold those. Sadly, he didn’t have any additional way to defend them or really to pressure me on other fronts.
The one thing he could do was fire off a round of shooting from *my* quad gun and take out his Icarus lascannon–thereby preventing me from shooting at least one of his dreads in the back.
You know what? During the game, I kept thinking that he shouldn’t be using my guns, but now that I think of it, he was using my gun to shoot his gun–that’s pretty funny how that worked out.
Turn 4: Ultramarines
At this point, I just spread out and went for objectives. Tigirius ran towards one, the terminators fell back onto another, and my multi-melta bike popped the rhino that would allow the H.Bolter bike to hold yet another.
Err… wait, someone managed to punk the immobilized hellbrute in the center of the board–so maybe that was the MM bike? Whatever the case, I did free up one objective and secured a few of my own. In the interim, my Vindicare kept shooting at another dread, but Brandon refused to stop making those cover saves…
Turn 5: Word Bearers
With the game winding down, Brandon was faced with a series of bad decisions. Essentially the only unit he had left that could affect the game was the screamers, and so he took the path that was most likely to be successful. That choice was to pop his screamers over and to charge my MM attack bike (who only had one wound on him, and then hope to get enough of a consolidation to move back over and snag an objective).
Conceptually, I agree that this might have been his best idea (although taking out my warlord would score another point as well, so that might have been viable as well).
And he pulled it off. Granted, I had a spectacular round of overwatch, hitting with all three shots and killing one completely with a melta-shot, and wounding the other with my bolter. The last demon had enough oomph to take out the bike and consolidated back onto the objective though.
Turn 5: Ultramarines
On the objective, he was, but not out of line of sight of the heavy bolter attack bike, who got a round of Prescience and punked the demon where he stood. With me on three objectives and Brandon on two the game ended.
Final Score: Word Bearers: 6+2 to Ultramarines 9+1
What I Learned:
Just when you thought I knew everything possible about my army, I go and play marines and learn that I know absolutely nothing…
- You have to pay for veteran Sarges. In the previous edition they came stock, but apparently not anymore. I actually like this change, but was completely unaware of it. Shows how often I play marines in this edition… To make it more problematic, I’m testing out “Battlescribe” for the ipad and the option to upgrade the sarge is buried so deep that I didn’t even see it after looking for the option for a while.
- Just because you have lots of buildings, doesn’t mean you should take them in Planetstrike. I get buildings for free, so why wouldn’t I take them? Well, one good reason is that I get a S10 AP2 large blast dropped on me because I took that building. It was great to finally use some of these buildings (for free, no less), and it worked out to my advantage, but I got decidedly lucky with my first turn invulnerable saves.
- Just like above, but with Aegis Defense Lines. Just because you have them, doesn’t mean you have to use them. I threw them on the table because they were pretty and fit in the theme, but I’m sure they helped out Brandon way more than they ever helped me out this game. I’m not sure that I ever really got a save from them, but they not only were giving my opponent saves, they were also completely blocking line of sight from things like my vindicare.
- For Centurions, Hurricane Bolters > Missiles. This isn’t a universal truth by any means, but the las/missile varients proved far less effective than the grav/bolter options. Not having the missile twin-linked kind of hurts and, wouldn’t you know it, there were plenty of targets for small arms fire on that side of the board, that the missiles weren’t particularly effective against. Maybe Brandon was right after all?
- Centurions can’t fire overwatch. This is because they have the “slow and purposeful” rule. We didn’t know this in the game, but Brandon mentioned it afterwards. Not that they did much overwatch damage (read: I think they killed a single model), but the threat of it really held Brandon back. It’s also good to know because the last time I faced them, I was terrified to charge them.