Batrep: Ultramarines vs. Black Legion (80 power)

Simon managed to come spend the early part of Black Friday at my place where we commenced with a good old-fashioned game of 40ks. This is our story.

The Forces of Ultramar (Brigade):

  • HQ:
    • Chaplain Cassius
    • 1x Lieutenant w/ the Burning Blade & Combi-Flamer
    • 1x Lieutenant w/ Powerfist & Stormbolter
  • Elites:
    • 1x Chapter Champion
    • 2x Honor Guard
    • 1x Company Standard
  • Troops:
    • 5x Tacticals w/ Plasma Gun & Multi-Melta
    • 5x Tacticals w/ H.Bolter, Flamer, & Powerfist/Plasma Pistol
    • 5x Tacticals w/ Missile Launcher
    • 5x Tacticals w/ Plasma Gun & Lascannon
    • 5x Tacticals w/ H.Plasma Gun
    • 5x Tacticals w/ Meltagun, H.Bolter, & Powersword
  • Fast Attack:
    • 1x Attack Bike w/ Multi-Melta
    • 1x Attack Bike w/ Multi-Melta
    • 3x Bikes w/ 2x Melta & 1x Powersword
  • Heavy Support:
    • 1x Whirlwind w/ Castellan Missiles
    • 1x Whirlwind w/ Castellan Missiles
    • 1x Thunderfire Cannon

Simon started off by stating he was going to try to fill out a Batallion with only 80 power. That seemed a little far-fetched to me because you just have to have some cheap options. I know that Tyranids can do it because they have so many 2-3 power level options–many of which are quite good–but for Marines & Chaos, it seemed far-fetched. It’s worth noting that he eventually had to pull the plug, but I barely squeaked by using the cheapest of all of the painted models I had for each selection. Of course, it didn’t give me a whole lot of options, but frankly the list isn’t so bad.

When I look at the list above, I have some mobility (the bikes), some long range fire power in the form of various heavy weapons; lots of ways to hold objectives; and some ways to deal with hordes (lots of bolters). The only thing the list seems to be lacking is any real assault power (or psychics). To combat the former, I wound up deploying all of the characters / small units together in a sort of a deathstar. That gave me a bunch of power weapons in a group that could prove formidable against most anything if they had to get stuck into assault. In total, that’s a Champion, 2 Lieutenants, Cassius, Standard, and the Honorguard, plus a couple of combat squads–granted, it’s not the toughest thing in the world, but it’ll work as an assaulty type unit in a pinch.

Simon’s Black Legion (Batallion):

  • HQ:
    • Chaos Lord in Terminator Armor w/ Lightning Claw, Chainfist, First Among Traitors, Mark of Khorne & Talisman of Burning Blood
    • Daemon Prince of Khorne w/ Wings & Axe of Khorne
    • Warp Smith
  • Elites:
    • 5x Terminators w/ Combi-bolters & Power Fist
  • Troops:
    • 10x Cultists w/ Autoguns
    • 10x Cultists w/ Autoguns
    • 10x Chaos Space Marines w/ Combi bolter, Powerfist & 2x Plasma Guns
  • Fast Attack:
    • 1x Chaos Spawn
  • Heavy Support:
    • 1x Defiler w/ Mark of Khorne
    • 1x Forgefiend w/ 3x Ectoplasma Cannons
    • 1x Maulerfiend w/ 2x Magma Cutters

Like I said, Simon’s list started as an attempt at a Brigade, but when he couldn’t hit the numbers, it fell back into a Batallion. His problem is that he doesn’t own a bunch of models that would’ve worked out for the low point totals. Heavy Support is a big point sink with the figures he has, spending at least 8 power on most items in that section–which really dragged him down.

I feel like this became a relatively representative list for him though. There’s nothing here that I hadn’t seen before (except for maybe the single spawn), so I felt like I knew what to do against it.

Mission & Deployment:

When making lists, Simon pulled out his Chapter Approved and we lamented that neither of us ever really used that book. So, we cracked it open and played a mission called “Race to Victory.” Frankly, I felt it was a cop-out as far as missions go. It seemed like several other missions: Draw up to 3 cards each turn, and score more than your opponent. The “twist,” was that after anyone scores 10 objectives (not victory points: “objectives”) the game ends that battle round.

The problem is that–even if you complete all three objectives each turn, it’s going to last a minimum of four turns. And how likely is it that you’re going to score 10 of them in four turns? Seemingly not very. Anywho, for board setup, we got short edges with the arrow wedges. Simon chose his side and started deploying.

My goal for deployment was to put the long range weapons in the back, and then concentrate a bunch of the characters in the front so that I could have a way of surging forward to grab objectives. I know I mentioned it above, but that wasn’t an army design thing–but a strategy born of necessity. Clearly, with 17 units to deploy in an 80 power game, I was the last to deploy. Even then, I won the die roll for first turn, and Simon failed to seize.

Commence bombardment.

Turn 1: Ultramarines

My first turn, I felt good about what I had in front of me. I swerved two attack bikes into shooting range of his Demon Prince–at sunch a point that a charge on me would’ve been nearly impossible. It felt prudent to make him pay for putting his character at the front of the spearhead in his army (though I should note that I suggested he redeploy him at that point, and let him take it back–but Simon didn’t want to). I managed to hit him twice and strip him down to a single wound–thereby neutering him for much of the game.

Sadly, nothing else on my board was able to contribute much to the turn. I scraped a few wounds off of various models, but couldn’t manage to walk away with first blood. I did; however, secure one objective I was already standing on and passed the turn with at least one point.

Score: Ultramarines – 1 vs. Chaos – 0

Turn 1: Black Legion

Simon’s turn was about repositioning his units for better cover, and the ability to charge on the next turn. He had two “hold objective” missions: one he was already on with cultists, and another that was easily within the grasp of his prince and marines. His army didn’t have a ton of shooting–and what it did have, didn’t strike me as overly impressive. I mean, a BS4+ monster with heavy weapons? Both the Forge Fiend and Defiler need to advance to be effective, and they’re incredibly tough–but they’re not remotely accurate while moving.

In total, he did even less damage to me than I’d done to him. Where I was afraid that I’d–for sure–lose a point for first blood, my fears were unfounded. He did manage to snag two objectives and take the lead though.

Score: Ultramarines – 1 vs. Chaos – 2

Turn 2: Ultramarines

There was so much measuring during my turn because I wanted to utilize the bubbles to the best of my abilities. I started off with runs from characters until I got someone who was fast enough to spring up to the top of the building and hold an objective (technically he only had to make it up two floors, but still, he had to run inside first, so that was going to take a run roll of 4+. My champion filled that role, so the rest of the guys divided up their lot as to what they planned on doing. I had basically every heavy weapon in my army lined up for the defiler, so it was a guaranteed kill. I then planned on sneaking my bikes up on the side to take pot shots at the mauler fiend, and figured I’d get at least a few shots on the forge fiend as well.

Well, that was the strategy. In practice, I had a fairly horrible round of shooting. I did a number of wounds to cripple the Mauler Fiend with the bikes. Everything else in my army poured fire into the defiler in order to kill it. I rolled poorly and he made some saves that ensured that, although he wasn’t able to keep his model alive in the end, he did save a lot of fire power that could’ve been focused on other units.

I pulled out two points for holding “mission critical objective” that I was already on, plus another for destroying a unit (and getting first blood as well).

Score: Ultramarines – 3+1 vs. Chaos – 2

Turn 2: Black Legion

It was then that Simon’s line hit mine. I knew that I was sacrificing the bikers for a chance to kill the Mauler Fiend before he hit me and it was a gamble that I took (and lost). He also parlayed that into some extra movement for both his chaos space marines (who bore the brunt of the overwatch from both attack bikes and the squad of bikers without harm), and for his daemon prince. The good news is that the marines sucked up the overwatch shots, but the bad news was they blocked off the fiend from getting his attacks. He had chosen to swing with the prince first because he was down to one wound, and there was some risk that the bike squad could’ve finished him off if he hadn’t rolled well with his marines. By the end of the round, one of the attack bikes managed to escape with only a single wound (actually, from the photo, he looks unscathed, but later he was dragging a wound counter around with him for some reason).

His terminators also dropped down in my back line, near to an objective he wanted to score, and also close enough to threaten various fire platforms in my backfield. They failed their initial charges, but left me with something to think about on my turn.0

He scored nothing and conversely, I scored two points with my champion for defending an objective high in the tower that he could neither reach, nor target (due to him being a character).

Score: Ultramarines – 5+1 vs. Chaos – 2

Turn 3: Ultramarines

I’m sure I won’t bring it up much, but I was spending command points like they were candy. Being Ultramarines, I can get them back (though not as well as I used to be able to). Still, I found myself using points throughout the game to discard freshly drawn objectives, handle re-rolls, and converting a couple of heavy bolter rounds into Mortal Wounds. The other thing that was pretty consistent in sucking up command points was using them with my thunderfire to slow down this terminators (hint: I would repeat this effect for basically the rest of the game).

I felt like I had enough oompf in the middle to take care of the various units there. First, I had the attack bike disengage and fire into the Daemon Prince (long live Ultramar), which he did with great success–earning me points for “Scour the Skies” and “Overwhelming Firepower” for killing a flyer. The rest of the guys wanted to soften things up a bit before I charged in. I knew I could kill off the cult marines with what I had, but it was going to be in his best interest to pay command points to swing first since I had no one killy unit there that was big enough to really put a dent in it. So, I exchanged shots into them and into the Mauler Fiend.

I recall the words leaking from my lips, as I pondered what an explosion would do to my army: should I take the risk? I mean, this lascannon right here could do the trick…

Too late, the die had been rolled and I destroyed the infernal contraption. Fate, conspired against me and it lead to a devastating chain reaction that would drastically affect the future of the game. In that explosion, I lost eight marines (including the remnants of two combat squads) to his two chaos space marines. Furthermore, I lost another 10 wounds to the various characters strewn around the area, leaving me with only one model with more than 2 wounds remaining: my company champion with 3.

Then, when it came to charging in, I had nobody left to muster the attack. By this point, the chaos marines were down to just a power fist and a plasma gun. Still, when I chose my units to go in, nothing could weather a single lucky shot from that plasma gun. At first I went in with the honor guard (which was, in hindsight, a mistake, as he could’ve just soaked wounds for someone else going in). The plasma overcharged and smoked him. Then, I went in with my company champion. I mean, what are the odds he gets lucky with the overcharged plasma again AND a bolter shot?

I shouldn’t tempt fate.

Finally, I did make the charge with the multi-melta marine and squished them all with the Burning Blade relic. I did score two points this turn, but my turn clearly went to Simon. Not only did he kill off ten of my models (including four separate units) and did another 6-7 total wounds of damage–but he also scored four points for defending objectives that were nowhere near me.

Score: Ultramarines – 7+1 vs. Chaos – 6

Turn 3: Black Legion

Worse yet, I had left myself completely out of position. The Forge Fiend’s closest target was my warlord. He managed to whiff on his shots though, and only one went through–but I shrugged it off with the might of the rozarius. Gotta love invulnerable saves.

His terminators ambled forward, but since they were slowed by the thunderfire, they didn’t even bother to try and charge–instead opting to fire into the attack bike (which, come to think of it, is where he lost that wound I referred to earlier).

The net effect though was his turn was a wash.

Score: Ultramarines – 7+1 vs. Chaos – 6

Turn 4: Ultramarines

Enter: shenanigans.

In retrospect, before the big explosion, I was sitting pretty, but at this point, I had so many wounded characters huddled around a ruin in the middle of the board. The only thing I had saving me was that I had a multi-melta marine there as well, and he was closer to the bulk of Simon’s forces that he afforded my guys protection.

The attack bike sneaked out and grabbed an objective, while everything I had dumped their ammo into the terminators–doing hardly any damage. I did earn two objectives for snagging two objectives though, and stretched the lead out a bit. My last objective required me to kill off his Forge Fiend though, and it was so far away and out of sight for most of my army–plus he had a warpsmith with him.

Score: Ultramarines – 9+1 vs. Chaos – 6

Turn 4: Black Legion

Knowing that I wanted to kill the fiend, and having no better target due to the aforementioned shenanigans, Simon vaporized my poor attack bike, gaining a point for “For the Dark Gods!” The terminators moved forward again, but failed to get into charge range. Realistically, the lord might have been able to shoot the gap and move/charge on his own, but he didn’t seem to want to risk that.

Score: Ultramarines – 9+1 vs. Chaos – 7

Turn 5: Ultramarines

You would think that an army full of the emperor’s finest would be able to handle a squad of terminators, wouldn’t you? Granted, I’d taken a number of causalities throughout, but I still had a Missile Launcher, Heavy Plasma, Multi-Melta, Lascannon, and a bunch of various small arms. Not that it mattered–Simon had the ability to roll 5+.

That left me with a single terminator body guard and his character–which I could not stop from charging me.

I also ran into an interesting snag here:  I pulled “Priority Orders Received,” which is the objective that says:

When this tactical objective is generated, immediately generate a bonus Tactical Objective — this does not count towards the number of Active Tactical Objectives you currently have in play.  Your warlord is the only unit that can be used to achieve the bonus Tactical Objective….”

It goes on to give examples.  So, the next objective I drew is “Supremacy.”  That’s the one where you have to score three objectives at the end of your turn.  So that leads me to question what do you do in this situation?  Do you:

  1. Ignore it.  Obviously he can’t control three objectives, so ignore this for the rest of the game.
  2. Discard the “bonus” objective (ie. “Supremacy”) and draw a new one.  There’s a bit of a feel bad if he gets an objective that he can’t score–then again, it’s a bonus, so sometimes you just won’t be able to do this.
  3. Allow him to score the objective.  He’s part of a team, so he can achieve one of those on his own–the best that’s feasibly possible.

We went with 1.  I think there’s an argument to be made for two, and I don’t think I’d deny my opponent from it, but it was a casual game, and I felt it was close.  Taking it could’ve blown the game out.  I also questioned what I should do with that objective.  Since it wasn’t valid for the “Priority Orders,” do I discard it, or does it become one of the objectives that I drew that turn.  For the record, I went with discarding for the same reason stated earlier.

Score: Ultramarines – 9+1 vs. Chaos – 7

Turn 5: Black Legion

And charge he did–before doing so, he took a pot shot and did the final wound to one lieutenant, before charging in and squishing the other like a grape. Luckily, I had my standard there, so I was able to swing back with the fist and at least hurt him before going down.

Otherwise, his cultists held the backfield, though they were progressively being thinned out by whirlwind fire. The Forgefiend started to advance, figuring that he had no purpose in the backfield, so he might as well move forward. He was a little reluctant here, but I think it was the right call. He was already healing 1+d3 wounds per turn because of his rules and the proximity to the Warpsmith, so there wasn’t all that much risk.

He also scored a solid three points for killing an enemy in assault, killing an imperial unit, and killing a character (ignore the fact that he only really did one of those things!).

Score: Ultramarines – 9+1 vs. Chaos – 10

Turn 6: Ultramarines

My turn consisted of trying to split the difference between the chaos lord and the terminator, while ensuring that I could kill them both. I tried to arrange it so my characters could charge either target, but that their closest shots were at the lord–who was clearly the bigger threat. That way, I could kill off the little guy with a stray plasma or las shot and then put everything else into the character to bring him down. In total, that worked, though it took all of my shooting to do so.

Though this left my characters exposed and in the open, they would be protected during the shooting phase by the brave Multi-marine hiding in the shadows.

Score: Ultramarines – 9+1 vs. Chaos – 7

Aftermath:

Simon wound up drawing his objectives and playing out his turn, but it was a forgone conclusion. Had he gotten better objectives, he had a chance to pull it out (or at least a tie), but when you draw things like “Domination,” there just isn’t any hope. The turn played out much like you’d expect–the spawn charged forward and engaged the heavy weapon trooper–though he did not kill him. The fiend blasted into the back ranks of my army, but it was all for naught. When we rolled the die to see if there was an extra turn, there simply wasn’t. He had a great surge at the end, but just not quite enough to put him over the top.

Final Score: Ultramarines – 11+2 vs. Chaos – 10

What I Learned:

As with every game, there’s a number of things to learn. Many of my lessons came from using new units and trying new techniques:

  1. Honor guard can soak wounds from nearby characters. I played them wrong this game–and they never did anything except die.
  2. Bubbles are hard to keep track of. I had a variety of bubbles from those characters, and I didn’t always do a great job of remembering them. I feel like I did pretty good on my turn, but when it came to guys dying in the opponent’s turn, I forgot my standard on more than one occasion.
  3. The standard was handy. I wish it was more often than 50% of the time, but I know I’ve complained about the ability of Wulfen to attack after they were dead–it was nice to have some of that gusto on my side.
  4. I can use my CP’s. I started off with what–15 total CP’s in this game? And I used every single one. A bunch of those went into discarding objectives that weren’t valid for me. I was largely using them because it felt like I had a glut of them the entire game. Still, I was out of them by turn 4-5. That’s different than I normally play, so maybe I should be a little more free with swapping objective cards? Typically I have dead points at the end of the game.
  5. Defilers and Forge Fiends look cool, but they’re basically big/tough units that are mediocre at shooting. Sad for Simon, but good to know for the future…
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