Tuesday, 27 January 2009

Emperor's Fist Campaign - First games

Well, I have already played my first two games at the “Fist of the Emperor” campaign. According to the draw, I had to play both in a shop I had visited a couple of times. Attention was excellent there, and their gaming table and scenery attached was of a very good quality. That was a nice start.

My first opponent was an old space marine player I haven’t met before. He fielded an Ultramarine army which included models of the 80’s – early 90’s, such as devastators with a shoulder-mounted heavy weapon, the old space marine captain (the one with the helmet like the new Sicarius) and, best of all, a predator of legend. All FULLY painted. It was a real pleasure to play against such a cool and balanced army, moreover when the opponent was also very friendly and easy going. And it was great to get my ass kicked by 7-4 in a spearhead annihilation mission by this army. If only half of my games were played against such a great army & opponent…

My second opponent turned out to be a bit more of a disaster. He got almost one hour late to the shop, but I admit that having forgotten your wallet at home means a bit of a mess when trying to get to the subway without money. This time we played spearhead but with the seize ground mission, four objectives in total. The game was a pain for me, having to deal with the only army I’m not ready to face: more Tyranids. In a great performance of “Brood War”, we almost annihilate each other before reaching turn five, where although I was pressing strongly his lines, he was holding 2 objectives for my only 1; then the dice decided to go for another turn, and I wiped his remaining troops from the table for a victory on my side. Hurray!

Now I got some spare time before the games to be played on February, so I’d better finish those termagaunts once and for all (still zero points in my painting score – no way!)

Friday, 16 January 2009

Last test for the Tournament

Briefing: again, another battle report of my bugs. But this time, and as promised, with pictures! They may not be the best shots I could have made, but I'm proud of the result :)

Last Saturday I enjoyed a game against one of the usual customers of my local GW store. We played a 1.500 points battle in an Imperial world, where old buildings and vegetation mixed together as the result of the effects of a Tyranid bio-invasion and its common bio-spore bombardment. The Salamander space marines took defensive positions to face the incoming alien horde…

The battlefield in all its glory. The Baneblade didn't take part in the battle (luckily)

The dice decided for a seize ground mission with four objectives, with me placing two in no-man’s land and in the open, and my opponent placing two close to a table border, one of them in cover. The pitched battle deployment gave him control of that table border (d’oh!), where he deployed his troops: sniper scouts, a venerable Dreadnought and a Thunderfire cannon in some ruins on the left flank, a Whirlwind and a tactical squad (divided in combat squads) on the right flank, and a Demolisher, Tu’Shan and five tactical marines (another combat squad) in the center; plus two Ironclads with drop pods in reserve. I went for a change in my usual tactic of dividing my army in two and avoid the central part of the board – the why of this, well, I’m not sure yet; I think the idea of having Ironclads appearing in front of me and blocking my advancing route scared me :P – and deployed in a line: twenty gaunts on each flank and ten in the center, having another ten in reserve (to fill gaps and capture objectives), shooty Warriors, the Dakkafex and a Zoanthrope on the right flank, a heavy Carnifex and another Zoanthrope on the left flank, and my Hive Tyrant and the remaining Carnifex in the center. I reserved as always my Broodlord and his small retinue to do an outflank attack.

The left flank with the gaunts, zoanthrope and heavy 'fex

Right flank with gaunts and Warriors, threatened by an Ironclad Dreadnought

Center of my deployment. Note my Tyrant hiding behind a building to avoid lascannon fire

I failed to seize initiative and the battle began, with an Ironclad pod landing on my right flank, where I just had a Dakkafex (who sucks at close combat) and a Zoanthrope to deal with it. The Thunderfire cannon killed most of the central spinegaunts in his first salvo (where did this weapon came from??) while the Whirlwind fired and missed completely (I’ve noticed that indirect fire is everything but accurate). The scouts killed a few spinegaunts on the left side. In my turn, I responded with a general advance of my troops and a very poor shooting phase, killing only three miniatures after placing five small and three big templates (not a good start, actually).

At the beginning of turn two, another drop pod landed in my left flank and another Ironclad emerged from it, burning one of the spinegaunt brood with his heavy flamer that, thanks to Tu’Shan, counted as twin-liked; leaving only one gaunt alive. The Thunderfire cannon killed some termagaunts, while, the Whirlwind missed again, and some spinegaunts of the right flank were killed by frag missile and bolter fire. Some wounds were placed on my Tyrant Guard and the Carnifex of the center by lascannon fire and Demolisher shells too. In my turn, the Broodlord appeared in the left flank and run towards the building where the scouts and the Thunderfire cannon were hiding, and my reserved termagaunts appeared in the center-right of my former battle line. I moved my Dakkafex towards the right edge of the board, trying to use it as a bait for the Ironclad, and fired to a combat squad on range, killing two marines. Both Zoanthropes in both flanks failed to hit both Ironclads (both+both+both = d’oh!!), and the rest of my shots failed to do anything. In the assault phase, the heavy ’fex on the left flank charged to the Ironclad and suffered a wound, destroying one of his close combat weapons in the process. If the start hadn’t been good, this second turn hadn’t also been too good for my army.

Turn three began as always: the three times damned Thunderfire cannon blowing up my gaunts – at this point I had lost over 60% of them, and that was a real problem because they were my only scoring units – and the Whirldwind missing again. Tu’Shan and his retinue advanced to face my Hive Tyrant in the close-and-personal way, while the venerable Dreadnought on the left flank killed a few genestealers of the Broodlord retinue with his heavy flamer first, and then charged the unit. On the other flank, the Ironclad killed a Tyranid Warrior but this was a mistake my opponent realized soon, because I removed the closest miniature to the Dreadnought and thus it wasn’t able to charge (and smash) the rest of the unit. The Whirlwind missed his shot, and another wound was put in the Carnifex on the center. During the assault phase of the left flank, my Broodlord and his genestealers destroyed the venerable Dreadnought before it could attack (at last a strike of luck!), losing one of his members when the machine exploded; and the heavy Carnifex lost another two wounds to the Ironclad before destroying it completely. Two Dreads less were good news for me, and my turn started with the Broodlord entering the building towards the Thunderfire cannon with very, very bad intentions; and the wounded heavy ‘fex advancing towards that building too, and fired towards the exposed side of the Demolisher, hitting it (S8 impact!) but being unable to penetrate its plating of 11 and failing in his task of preventing the tank from firing in the next turn. In the right flank, the Dakkafex killed another space marine; while the shooty warriors killed another three and pinned them, and the Zoanthropes were unable to hit anything (again). The assault phase had the Broodlord charging the Thunderfire cannon and tearing the Techmarine operator apart. Now this was a good turn, third time lucky I suppose :)

The Broodlord making a mess of the Salamanders' troops

Turn four had Tu’Shan charging the Hive Tyrant and the remaining Ironclad taking the bait and rushing forward the Dakkafex. The combined fire of the sniper scouts and the Demolisher finished my heavy ‘fex, and the Whirlwind missed his shot again (Mental note: if I ever have to use it, never rely on indirect fire). The rest of shots from the Salamanders were ineffective (does this word exist in English or am I making it up?). In the assault phase, the Ironclad shredded the Dakkafex (four hits, four wounds, bye bye Dakkafex), and then came the big combat between the big guys. My Tyrant attacked first due to his I6, and with his WS6 and four attacks he managed to kill… one space marine. Tu’Shan hit him three times, but failed to wound the monster; and the Tyrant Guard killed another marine. But then, the veteran sergeant of the squad put two wounds on the tyrant thanks to his power fist, and I knew he was doomed. In my fourth turn I swarmed the two objectives of my side with my remaining gaunts (28% of the initial ones) and fired my weapons to the marines to no effect. In the assault phase the Broodlord ate the sniper scouts, and the Tyrant killed two marines before being finished by Tu’Shan himself. As a response, the Tyrant guard killed the remaining veteran with power fist, but The Chapter Master of the Salamanders stood firm.

My Tyrant was not enough to defeat the Salamanders' Chapter Master. Next time I'll have my revenge...

And this was the end of the battle, because it was getting late and I had to go to my grandma’s for a family meal. I was declared winner for two objectives to one, but I would have liked to know what would have happened with one or two turns more. Probably Tu’Shan would have advanced, destroying everything in his path and contesting one of my objectives. Or maybe I would have finished the combat squad holding one of his objectives with my templates. Anyway, a great game, in which the only thing I missed was a higher amount of painted miniatures, and that has giving me the urge to paint more of my bugs. Hopefully for this Sunday’s battle (the first of the “Fist of the Emperor” campaign) I’ll have finished another unit of termagaunts I’ve been recently working into, and this will mean my first painting points of the year!

Wednesday, 7 January 2009

Tournament list test

Briefing: again, this is a long post which deals about playing with tyranids; no eldar stuff in here. And I've been writing for over an hour, so it can be a bit dense. Am, I forgot my camera at home, so no pictures in this post. This all can make the reading a bit dull; be warned.

Okay, I had my ‘Nid army list ready for action (I love old Duke Nukem 3D sentences sooo much…) and it was about time to play a couple of friendly games with it before the beginning of the Inter-Store Tournament. I arranged a battle versus one of the red shirts of my city, who also happens to be a really nice guy and a good friend of mine, and we met for the challenge of beating his new and quite cheesy Space Marines (SM) with my hyperactive bugs.

I’ve been using for some months some of the quick reference sheets published by the bloggers of From the Warp (thank you so much), so it has become a piece of cake (Nukem rules again!) the previously tedious task of setting objectives, deployments and that stuff. The dice decided that we were going to play a Seize Ground mission with three objectives, which were placed in no-man’s land and quite symmetrically – one close to the left border of the table, another to the right border and the last one more or less in the center of the table. Only the objective on the right border (from my point of view) was in cover, and it was the one deployed by my opponent. I deployed mine in the open because, although I don’t know why, there seems to be a psychological rule saying that if one objective is in cover, you must reach & hold it as soon as possible; whereas if the objective is in the open, it becomes much less tempting, and you’ll have time in the last turns to approach and take it. I didn’t want to see quick-deploying marines reaching the objectives in turn 1 (or 2) and entrench there, where they would be difficult to throw out; and I had also been reading some tactical thoughts about placing objectives in the open in The Way of Saim-Hann blog, so I wanted to give this tactic a try.

Once the objectives were placed, the dice decided for a Dawn of War deployment, what had me taking first turn and deploying my Hive Tyrant and his retinue in the very center of the table, with one unit of spinegaunts to the right and another to the left. While deploying I had a funny idea and deployed the gaunts in a row, so I had the imaginary line that divided the board in two halves almost completely covered with my ‘nids. This was a great tactical movement, because in Dawn of War the player who deploys second can place his units anywhere in his own half of the board but not closer than 18” to any enemy unit. My deployment effectively restricted his deployment area to a maximum of 6-7” from his own table border, thus preventing his squads from occupying the ruins he had in his half of the board because they were placed more towards the center of the table. I’ll have to write down this tactic for further battles… The SM deployed a tactical unit in a rhino close to the right border, obviously aiming at capturing the objective in cover, and a squad of scouts in a building placed really close to my table border (pesky infiltration rules); while I declared that my Broodlord was attempting a flank advance (more pesky infiltration rules).

My opponent failed to seize initiative and the battle began. All my army but the infiltrating Broodlord came from my border, and the scouts were annihilated by a fire storm of fleshborers, deathspitters and devourers (my dakkafex killing three of them), while the Hive Tyrant advanced lonely and the spinegaunts in the center of the table lurked while waiting for additional synapse control. In his turn, my friend deployed a drop pod (my first drop pod!) with a tactical squad and a Chaplain in the left side, backed by a Land Speeder Tornado, and a Land Raider Crusader with seven assault terminators (four with thunder hammers) in the center of the board. The termies disembarked and run towards the Tyrant, while a squad of devastators ran behind the Land Raider towards a good-and-in-cover fire point.

At this point, I had to change all my tactical principles. The seven-man termie squad was by far superior in hand-to-hand combat to any of my units, even my Hive Tyrant. The new storm shields rules give them a 3+ invulnerable save, so an assault with my Tyrant or my ‘fexes would result in perhaps a termie or two less and surely a big bug less in my army, something I couldn’t afford if I wanted to win. What could I do then? Well, fortunately my army has a good resource to deal with these events, and it’s my brand new “Wound Saturation Tactic”; or in more common words, “fire everything over there”. Deathspitter and barbed strangler templates, coupled by fleshborer and devourer fire would help me thinning the ranks of these super-humans. So the Tyrant withdrew shamelessly (and running!) towards my table border while most of my army fired relentlessly to the terminators. Meanwhile, a Zoanthrope took control of the left flank, and the Broodlord deployed in the right side (pity, because I wanted him in the left side in order to eat that chaplain) and finished with the SM tactical unit that had already (and predictably) occupied the objective in cover in a single close combat round (he killed five marines and his retinue another five - perfect result). I didn’t know that units who flanked could assault the very turn they entered the table, but one of the redshirts nicely pointed in the rulebook that non-assault-when-you-deploy rules are only applicable to deep striking units. Good new for my stealers, indeed; and second squad out for the SM army.

My opponent moved his troops, and while his Land Raider and terminators advanced forward, his devastators reached a good-and-in-cover firing point; and the squad of the chaplain occupied some ruins close to the objective to the left. A rain of fire was directed towards my heavy Carnifex, and after failing a big bunch of armour saves, he was dead; as it was later the zoanthrope controlling the left flank (the remaining zoanthrope moving towards there to prevent the gaunts from falling back). In return, another Carnifex charged and destroyed the Land Raider, and some terminators died to acid projectiles. With the destruction of the Land Raider, the enemy’s forces were severely damaged, leaving (literally) a big hole in the center of his battleline, but nonetheless the SM kept pushing forward.

I was taking the upper hand, but the battle was far from won. His Chaplain squad could advance at any moment and contest the left side objective, hold by the moment by my gaunts, his devastators could do the same with the central objective, and his terminators were heading towards the right side objective. Besides, he had a fast moving Land Speeder that could contest any objective. But I knew that everything he could get at that moment were contested objectives, so I had a draw assured at minimum. I went for the win, firing wildly to the terminator unit until only two members remained, and then, to my surprise, they failed their morale test and flew, unable to regroup due to the proximity of my Broodlord and his retinue!! This unexpected event, coupled with the destruction of the rhino by the tyranid warriors, left the right side objective in my hands without opposition. The Land Raider-destroyer Carnifex advanced and engaged the devastators in close combat, finishing them. The central objective was also mine! And at this point, in the 6th turn, my opponent elegantly conceded defeat because all he could do was contesting one objective (the left one) with his Chaplain squad and another with his Land Speeder while I kept one controlled. Tyranid victory!

Some thoughts after the battle: I felt really uncomfortable during most of the battle, because I’m not used to face better hand-to-hand units than mine, but luckily I was cold-blooded enough to keep exploiting the strongest points of my army and, although using my troops in a somehow odd way, managed to achieve a good result. Placing two objectives in the open was a great idea too, because my opponent didn’t dare to approach them at the beginning of the game and preferred to stay in cover, close to them; which allowed me to swarm them with my gaunts to control/contest them. My opponent didn’t play very well, he should have advanced the Land Raider at top speed and disembark the termies in front of my lines, directly assaulting them, instead of walking through the battlefield while being shot to death (although at a very low rate thanks to that incredible armour). My inability to deal with vehicles was stated again; it was a lucky roll what I got to destroy the Land Raider, but the Land Speeder was a constant pain I couldn’t shoot down; and it took me four turns to destroy a fast-moving and empty rhino in close combat – and it needed to be stunned first with a deathspitter salvo. I think I’m gonna have trouble with mechanized lists.

Monday, 5 January 2009

Happy 2009!!

New year already! Wow, these last days have passed so fast I've barely have time to spend in the hobby. My last post is from the 16th of December! Oh my, Christmas time is sooo consuming... meeting the family, doing a lot of shopping, calling old friends, fighting the flu... every year the same story for me :)

I've had two weeks of holidays and this is the very first really free day of the agenda. So all my carefully planned painting schedules have been ruined, as always. OK, on Wednesday I'll come back to my working routine, maybe then I'll be able to keep painting at a consistent pace... I really hope so.

Meanwhile, I've taken a pinture of my eldar warhost at its current state. The Vyper is not finished yet, and I challenge you to guess which will be the next addition to the force... c'mon, its easy!

Currently I'm painting some termagaunts (like the one lurking behind the blue guys in the picture), I'd like to have an all painted tyranid army for the inminent inter-store tournament; after that I'll continue with my Alaitoc force. And talking about painting and schedules, I've just read a post from Lone Pilgrim about giving oneself some kind of "score" for painting minis, and I've liked the idea a lot (thanks mate). I'm sure it will encourage me to finish my army sooner, and other minis as well. I've thought of something like this, very similar to his scoring style:
  • Infantry miniatures in standard round bases - 1 point
  • Heavy infantry (big round bases), bikes and the stuff - 2 points
  • Light vehicles, dreadnoughts, monstruous creatures, walkers, etc. AND top grade painted minis (e.g. commanders) - 5 points
  • Vehicles - 10 points
  • Superheavies - 20 points (although these are not in my list)
Let's go working :)