We had a pleasant surprise this week as Simon managed to show up and finally play a game. I think it was partly because it was his birthday and he got to do what he wanted for one day, so I’m super flattered that playing 40k with me was right near the top of his list (I’m sure I wasn’t the #1 option, but I’m more than happy to be his backup plan). So we set to the task of playing an 1850 game:
Ultramarines Strike Force
- Decurion Detachment:
- Cato Sicarius (granted Infiltrate to a tactical squad)
- Demi Company:
- 10x Tactical Marines w/ Lascannon & Plasmagun
- 10x Tactical Marines w/ Multi-melta & Meltagun
- 10x Tactical Marinse w/ Plasma Cannon, Flamer, & Powerfist
- 6x Assault Marines w/ 2x Plasma Pistols inc. Vet Sarge w/ Power Axe
- 10x Devastators w/ 4x Missile Launchers
- 10th Company Task Force:
- 10x Sniper Scouts w/ Camo Cloaks inc. Missile Launcher
- 5x Sniper Scouts w/ Camo Cloaks inc. Missile Launcher
- 5x CCW Scouts w/ Vet Sarge w/ Powerfist & Combi-melta in Landspeeder storm w/ H. Flamer
- Librarius Conclave
- Librarian in Power Armor w/ Jump Pack & Force Staff (Iron Arm, Warp Speed, Smite, & Force)
- Librarian in Power Armor w/ Force Sword (Prescience, Forewarning, Misfortune, & Force)
- Librarian in Power Armor w/ Force Staff (Objuration Mechanicum, Invisibility, & Force)
- Officio Assasinorum Detachment:
- Eversor Assassin
So, my goal was to try out the Decurion detachment, since I had a little longer to make a list and familiarize myself with the rules. I wanted to go infantry heavy on my list on a lark. Originally the plan was to go 100% infantry, but I overlooked it to add a storm to my list since I had so many scouts.
From a compositional standpoint, the list seems kind of weak, seeing as I didn’t put much in the list that I would truly consider competitive, but on their own, there are some reasonably strong choices–and the fact that I really don’t have vehicles makes most heavy weapons less effective against me.
For psychics, I tried to mix things up and only rolled with one Divination psyker. This was partly because I see that as a crutch, because I wanted to test out the other powers, and because I’m not sure how great prescience was going to be in my list (especially because I was going to start the game with so many tactical & devastator doctrines). So, I opted to roll the jump pack libby on Biomancy, figuring he’d make it into combat eventually, and the third librarian went with a mix of Telekenisis and Telepathy. I started with the former, but when I rolled the one power that I actually wanted (Obj. Mechanicum), I shifted to telepathy and somehow managed to roll the other power I wanted.
Simon’s Black Legion
- Chaos Lord in Terminator Armor w/ Chainfist, Lightning Claw, Gift of Mutation, Veterans of the Long War, Mark of Khorne
- 5x Terminators inc. Champ w/ 3x Powerfist, Heavy Flamer, Lightning Claw, Vets of the Long War, Icon of Vengeance, * Gift of Mutation
- 10x Chosen w/ 2x Plasma, Veterans of the Long War & Icon of Vengeance in Chaos Rhino w/ Dirgecaster & Combi-flamer
- 10x Chosen w/ 2x Plasma, Veterans of the Long War & Icon of Vengeance in Chaos Rhino w/ Dirgecaster & Combi-flamer
- Fast Attack:
- 5x Chaos Spawn
- Heavy Support:
- 3x Obliterators w/ Veterans of the Long War
- Defiler w/ Dirgecaster, Warpflame Gargoyles, & Havoc Launcher
- Vindicator w/ Combi-bolter & Daemonic Possession
Ok, looking back at this list after the game, I’m noticing a few things. Firstly, it’s a very elite based army–even the heavy support choices feel like elite units, and he really doesn’t have any fodder to speak of. Smaller, elite units really lend themselves to this mission though, so that should work out for him.
Secondly, he doesn’t have a single troops choice? Am I reading that right? I wonder if he went unbound (I’m guessing not), or if his codex lets him do squirrely things like allow his chosen to “count as” a troops for the purpose of this game. Simon just doesn’t seem like the sort to play an unbound list, so I’m guessing it’s more of the latter…
I was really happy when I saw his list (despite my usual irrational fear of pie plates), because I knew that a helldrake would be a huge liability for my force. When I was looking at it on the table before Simon arrived, I knew that a flyer would be a glaring weakness of mine–especially one that ran around ignoring cover with AP3 flamers. I certainly breathed a sigh of relief when I saw that he didn’t bring it this game.
(I apologize, as I apparently forgot to take a picture of his army before the game)
Mission & Deployment
For mission, Simon opted to pick a mission out of his codex instead of the normal ones. This particular mission, KILL THEM ALL!, involved me setting up in a 12″ radius from the center of the table and trying to survive an entire game. Meanwhile, Simon’s forces had to deploy at least 12″ out from that circle, but could completely envelop me. In addition, any unit of his that died during a turn was immediately added to ongoing reserves and could come on from any board edge.
The advantage I had was that the only way to win or lose the mission was for him to wipe me out–to a man. If I had any living models at the end of the game, then I would win the battle. If not, he held the victory.
It didn’t occur to me at the time, but this is almost exactly the old “Meatgrinder” mission from the 3rd edition book (it was 3rd edition, wasn’t it?). The only differences I can see are in deployment, and I believe in the classic meatgrinder scenario, the attacker had an option to remove a unit from the table if it was below 50% at any time. Sadly, whatever edition that was, it was before my blog started, so I don’t have a record of how I’ve done in such a scenario before. If memory serves though, it was always pretty close: missions that ended early almost always went to the defender, but if it was able to stretch to turn six or seven, the odds favored the attacker.
I didn’t particularly like the look of the mission myself, partly because my army composition didn’t really contain any durable units (though Invisbility would surely help, right?), and partly because the terrain was just not ideal for this mission. In fact, I started off by combat squading everything (except the one infiltrating tactical squad who would have Invisibility throughout the game). This allowed me to have more small units that forced him to spread out his firepower. Unfortunately it also filled the center of the table (which had almost no terrain/cover in it–due to the way that I set up the board) and I was more than a little worried about the Vindicator & Defiler’s large blasts. With so many infiltrators (both scouts and tactical squads), I was hoping to spread out and deploy them into the forests to get some sort of cover saves. Sadly, since Simon was able to deploy within 12″ of me–and completely surround me to boot–there just wasn’t any forest I could deploy in legally–so that left me plopping scouts out in the open.
Simon failed to seize the initiative and I took the first turn…
Turn 1: Ultramarines
I started off the game with 7 doctrines, so I knew that I was going to use one every turn, and I learned during a recent game that popping devastators on turn one (when they’re all still alive) seemed to be fairly effective. Then I spread out a little bit (as much as possible without moving my heavy weapons), threw up some psychic defenses (Invisibility would surely help me a ton this game) and proceeded to the shooting phase.
My goal for the game was going to be to disable his unit to the best of my ability without destroying them. So, while I’d normally want to have a bunch of lascannons & melta weapons to take care of tanks, it actually turned out to be a bit of a blessing that I had taken so many missile launchers. My biggest priorities were to take care of the large pie plates since I was so densely concentrated in the middle, so my first shots went into the Vindicator. After a few squads had fired, I managed to shake it (and he somehow failed his demonic 2+ to ignore) so I moved on to other targets. I should’ve been looking at the Defiler at this point, but instead I wound up throwing everything else I had at a nearby rhino, trying to open it up so that I could snipe the passengers.
Murphy’s law dictates that I used up all of my shooting to wreck the rhino, so that I had very little to fire at the inhabitants. What did work for me is that they were pinned in the corner in such a way that that they had to disembark from the back of the wreck, so that at least would slow them down a turn (not that the wreck would stay–since the mission rules dictated that he’d get them back at the end of the game anyway).
Otherwise, my small arms fire went into the unit of spawn, as I’ve heard they can be particularly nasty when they reach assault…
Ultramarines Remaining: 71
Turn 1: Black Legion
Otherwise, he managed to nuke 80% of a Devastator combat squad with his defiler (including both missile launchers), and killed a few marines here and there with some other sporadic shooting. He did manage a first turn assault (thanks to a combination of a 12″ no-man’s land deployment and his spawn being beasts), but due to invisibility he only managed to score a single unsaved wound on my tactical squad.
The rest of his units advanced up the table and took pot shots here and there, killing a handful of marines.
Ultramarines Remaining: 64
Turn 2: Ultramarines
My second turn involved more of the same from the first turn: I again focused fire on the Vindicator, but inadvertently blew it up. My other shots went into the chosen squad that I had expelled from the rhino during the previous turn, and what I didn’t kill in the shooting phase, I went ahead and charged in the assault phase (only to find out that his models had more attacks than my assault marines did on the charge!).
Elsewhere in assault, my tactical squad managed to win the combat and take no wounds despite the fact that I failed to manifest Invisibility for the turn and each spawn had 6 attacks each. It came down to me rolling (and passing) seven armor saves for the phase.
On the far end of the board, I did put out some melta and missile fire into the other rhino, but only managed to remove the pintle-mounted flamer as a result.
Ultramarines Remaining: 62
Turn 2: Black Legion
Simon surged that rhino forward on his next turn, tank-shocking the scouts out of the way (who passed their leadership–due to Cato’s Warlord trait–in fact, I didn’t fail a single leadership test for the entire game). Anywho, the chaos marines popped out and unloaded into Cato’s squad, doing a wound to Cato and killing off a random marine. It wasn’t a huge success, but it wasn’t as bad as the other chosen, who wound up being wiped off the board in combat.
His Vindicator came back on the board and put a hole into the other missle devastator squad (who luckily had a 4+ invulnerable save due to Forewarning), and his reserves started showing up. The terminators were still delayed, but his Obliterators came down, and then immediately suffered a catastrophic mishap roll after landing on my unit which destroyed them outright. In a normal game, that would’ve been crippling, but at least he got to walk them onto the board the following turn…
Ultramarines Remaining: 53
Turn 3: Ultramarines
Knowing I had to deal with the Vindicator, I wound up pouring shots into it until it was stripped of a few hull points and immobolized. Granted, it had clear line of fire to everything in my deployment zone, but between the limited fire arc and range, I was able to keep it fairly well neutralized where it stood.
My jump pack librarian opted to leave the assault squad for more oblative wounds from a nearby tactical combat squad. The assault squad, however, pressedt heir advantage towards the advancing Defiler in the hopes to immoblize it with a lucky plasma pistol shot (but that would have to be in a later turn, as they spent this turn hiding like chickens behind a nearby copse of trees).
Cato and his unit did (along with some snipers and missile launchers) did a pretty good job of thinning out the other chosen squad. Brandon was insisting that I finish them up by charging them–which is really the conventional wisdom: I charge him and get extra attacks, or I wait a turn, let him charge me and he gets extra attacks. I just don’t think conventional wisdom applies in this particular mission though.
Case in point, if I charge him, he gets a round of attacks (3 attacks each), and then he doesn’t get the extra attack for charging me next turn. So, over the course of two combat phases, he gets 6 attacks each. If I instead wait and just absorb the charge next turn, he only gets 4 attacks each. Sure I don’t get kill him in the first assault phase, but my unit didn’t need the protection of being locked in combat (there weren’t many nearby units to shoot at me) and this particular game I didn’t want to kill my opponents, but rather just survive until the end.
Ultramarines Remaining: 53
Turn 3: Black Legion
Of course, in the ensuing combat phase, those same chosen opted to charge me, but Cato put a stop to that before it began. He was able to kill one with his plasma pistol during overwatch, and smote the other two in his challenge before they had a chance to strike. Of course, that just meant that I had to deal with 10 more chosen next turn…
I’m not sure when, but it was either this turn or the turn prior that I wound up killing the unit of spawn in assault, so another one was hot on it’s heels and opted to take the same tact: throwing themselves on the “invisible” tactical squad until it crumbled. Sadly, I wasn’t able to successfully manifest Invisibility that turn–nor would I do so again until the 5th turn. The irony is that the only unsaved wound I wound up taking on that squad for the entire game was that first turn when they had invisibility on them…
Elsewhere, his terminators came down and scattered horrificly far onto a tactical squad and then mishapped as well. Their mishap allowed me to place them where I wanted, which pretty much put them out of the entire game. This mission was such that he actually would’ve been better off had they been completely destroyed on entry. I guess those are the breaks though.
Ultramarines Remaining: 43
Turn 4: Ultramarines
My strategy remained largely unchanged from the start of the battle. I kept units where they were for the most part, utilizing what little cover I had available. One unit that did hop around a lot was my Eversor, who wanted to stay alive so I opted to hide him from shooting for the most part. By this turn, I realized that between his invulnerable save and FNP, he was about as durable a target as I had, so I opted to put him up front–thinking that anything that shot at him would not be firing at another unit, and perhaps he could whether a storm (spoiler alert: he didn’t).
Otherwise, I failed (Again) to put up Invisibility, but that didn’t seem to impact my tactical marines, who stood fast and saved everything against his spawn (who, coincidentally, often rolled either poisoned attacks or an armor save of their own–which they never actually passed a save with).
My defiant assault marines hopped behind the Defiler, and caused a penetrating hit, but it was ignored by it’s demonic save. I opted not to charge it because there was no point in giving up the models–at least he’d have to shoot them next turn, right?
Ultramarines Remaining: 43
Turn 4: Black Legion
And shoot them, he did–sadly he only managed to kill the sarge (I kept the plasma pistol so that I could fire overwatch–but missed). At least in combat, my little assault marine held is ground due to a nasty whiff by the WS3 beast.
At this point, he had a squad of chosen to bring back on along with the obliterators. The chosen opted to help out their brethren namesake, while the obliterators marched on from the far end of the board (perhaps a dubious option since there were far fewer targets on that end–but then again, he also had far fewer answers there as well.
His shooting was to plink away at the stragglers where he could. He did manage to take out quite a few (including a nearly completely combat squad), but it started to look like he wasn’t going to be able to take care of everyone (including the landspeeder which was cowering behind a large hill in the back of the field).
Ultramarines Remaining: 35
Turn 5: Ultramarines
I honestly don’t remember what happened this turn except for this picture. This lone assault marine managed to tank a defiler for another full combat phase. Normally I don’t like to be very repetitious in my photos, but he seemed pretty memorable when he survived the first round of combat, but after the second round, he was downright heroic. Sure, he didn’t hurt the vehicle, but the fact that he was still alive was enough to impress me.
As for what else happened that round? I shot stuff, or something. What does it matter, my assault marine was ascending to the status of Primarch 2.0!
Ultramarines Remaining: 35
Turn 5: Black Legion
For what turned out to be the game’s final turn, more shooting and chaotic combats ensued. The “invisible” tactical squad managed to almost completely wipe out the spawn for a third time, while the heroic assault marine lived through another round of combat (though Cato soaked up a plasma gun hit and then proceeded to die to a stray bolter round so… you win some, you lose some).
I did take quite a few more casualties, but at this rate, I was going to be able to last a few more turns. But that proved to be unnecessary, as the random game length roll came up and ended it for us.
Ultramarines Remaining: 29
In the end, I still had the following models alive:
- 1x Assault Marine
- 19x Tactical Marines (spread out across various squads)
- 2x Librarians
- 6x Scouts (spread out across various squads)
- 1x Landspeeder Storm
Any one of those models would’ve won me the game, so I guess it was a pretty decisive victory. In hindsight, Brandon appears to have been correct: what I thought of initially as my weakness (a ton of not very durable space marines) actually turned into a strength (taking pot shots on one last marine per combat squad turned out to be more than Simon’s forces could handle).
In contrast, I had managed to kill the following out of Simon’s army:
- 29 Wounds worth of Spawn (which is really one wound shy of killing the unit three times)
- 2x Squads of Chosen
- 1x Vindicator (and immobilizing the other in such a way to remove it from the game)
- 1x Rhino
- 3x Obliterators (well, this was the result of a deep-strike mishap, but they still died!)
In fact, the only units that survived unscathed were the defiler and the terminators (who never made it to combat). It makes me wonder if the sides had flipped if I would’ve been able to accomplish the same objective…?
What I Learned:
- Decurion detachments are interesting. The bonuses I got for running the formation(s) were: I got an excessive amount of doctrines to use (which turned out to be relatively good); my librarians could share powers and harness easier (never used); Scouts got to use +1 cover save (under utilized as there was no real cover for me to deploy in). In total, I didn’t get all that much from running the formations, and the army I used was questionably weak in power level. Granted, I’m sure it could be min-maxed, but I don’t know how great it is.
- Battlescribe is flawed. I use this to build my lists and I always knew that these programs aren’t ideal, but I couldn’t find my codex so I had to rely on this. Brandon tells me that I could’ve used bike squads or centurion devastators in the Decurion detachment, but I didn’t see the option in that program. I may be getting misinformation though–I haven’t looked it up.
- Invisibility didn’t work. At least not for me–and not for this game. Most of the game I wasn’t able to successfully manifest (either I was just barely off, or he rolled enough dice to nullify–perhaps I should be throwing more than 5 dice at it each attempt?). Either way, my units were oddly more survivable without it–though I know that’s a fluke.
- Alternative missions exist. I always forget that there are those extra battle missions that can be played. It’s nice to add a little variety to the game, and though I didn’t feel the mission wasn’t at all in my favor, it worked out in the end.