Tuesday, October 15, 2019

Battle Report: Bloody Wolves vs. Tyranids - 5,000pt Game at Warhammer World

The report of my death was an exaggeration - Mark Twain

Well it's been a while at least! There's a reason I haven't been blogging about 40K recently is because I simply haven't been playing it! Part of that is a result of having a second child but the major factor is the number of excellent board games I now play instead. I'll have to post a top 10 or something similar soon so you can see what I've been playing.

Meanwhile we kept our annual(ish) tradition of Matt, Jamie, Dan and I meeting up at Warhammer World for a big game. This time round it was Matt and I versus Dan and Jamie and we decided to have a 5,000pt game. Space Wolves and Blood Angels (Bloody Wolves for those of you who remember our Doubles efforts) would take on Tyranids in a modified version of Relic. There'd be a central objective as usual but there'd also be five teams three of guardsmen to represent the PDF running from the Tyranids. The Adeptus Astartes had come to liberate the planet from the Tyranids but the PDF had vital intelligence crucial to their efforts. The guardsmen would advance every turn back towards the Imperial lines and could only be killed in combat. Each surviving unit was worth points to us and any unit wiped out was worth bonus points to the Tyranids. We aren't a fan of all the complicated stratagems so decided to stick to the rulebook ones but without the restriction of one per phase.

Battle took place on the excellent J'migan Bridge board which we played lengthways to give us more close quarters fighting. The forces deployed on either side of the dry river bed and the Imperials would be taking the first turn. We somewhat foolishly decided just to pile headlong towards the Tyranids with the bulk of the Space Wolves force. The Knights and BA predators hung back to give artillery support. The early volleys managed to take down the tervigon, a venomthrope and a handful of gaunts. I was also able to rack up some wounds on the tyrannofex and the harpy. On the other side the Blood Angels weren't faring so well, the tactical squad that drop-podded in barely managing to kill any genestealers.

Speaking of 'stealers, Jamie used his large horde of them to tear open the grey hunters' rhino. Fortunate for me that he did since otherwise there'd have been no escape for them. As it was I managed to just squeeze them into a gap to allow them to disembark. Meanwhile the tyrannofex sprayed acid at the already damaged stormwolf and brought it crashing down. Fortunately the Wulfen survived (with help from some re-rolls) and we spent some command points to allow them to attack and kill the harpy before it could swing. Elsewhere the genestealers made short work of the drop pod tactical squad.

It didn't go well for them after that though as the combined fire on the left flank was able to wipe them out, followed by the screamer-killers, taking out the major threat on that side of the battle. The Wulfen charged headlong into the termagants to stop them firing off their weapons, killing them in great swathes. Njal and his terminator brethren piled out of the land raider to go to work on the other gaunts, broodlord and carnifexes. The fire from the knights made short work of the tyrannofex and remaining venomthropes. The most dramatic events were taking place on the bridge itself though. The death company dread managed to take out old one eye only to be killed by the broodlord and Swarmlord, the resulting explosion damaging both in return. This left the blood claws (who'd recenlty left their razorback) and the knight warden to deal with the wounded tyranid monsters. Dante and his assault squad arrived behind the tyranid lines but Dante failed his charge. Astorath and his tactical squad did even worse and both failed to make it into combat.


At this point we were feeling pretty good but there was an ominous pile of Tyranid models that had yet to be deployed. Two trygon primes, a hive tyrant,  some raveners, deathleaper and three lictors all now entered the fray. With the genestealers tackling one of the armiger helverins too it looked like we'd soon be surrounded. Unfortunately for Jamie and Dan, most of their reserves failed to make it into combat. This also resulted in them taking some unnecessary wounds to overwatch. This was probably the tipping point of the battle. The Imperial firepower was able to clear out the trygons and lictors keeping the predators and remaining helverin safe. The blood claws dispatched the genestealers on the bridge and the warden made short worth of the swarmlord and broodlord after some poor luck on the invulnerable saves.


Meanwhile the wulfen continued to cut swathes through the hordes of nids before them, downing a warrior brood before smashing into the zoanthropes. The terminators struggled against the carnifexes but not before Njal had managed to down the broodlord with Smite. The assault squads finally started to do their job cleaning up some other warriors and more gaunts. Dante wasn't so lucky though as the hive tyrant made him look silly. In fact, the way Jamie was rolling his invulnerable save probably extended the game for a good hour! He eventually succumbed to the warden though and by this point it was essentially game over. The remaining firepower mopped up the last of the genestealers and carnifexes. Deathleaper had one final stand against the terminators though, killing Njal but falling to the pack leader's hammer. With time running out, we decided to wrap it up there. It was a clear victory for the Imperium.

 



Conclusions
I have to say I enjoyed that more than I thought I would. There's nothing quite like 40K for creating those epic scenes of two mighty armies clashing. It helps a lot when you're playing on beautiful scenery with painted armies obviously. There are some awesome looking photos from the game. The scale is always fantastic and it still creates those moments when a unit achieves something you wouldn't expect it to. I'll happily play the odd game now and then.

However, it hasn't reignited my passion for the game. We weren't rushing but it still took us six hours or so to get through the game. Yeah, we could've played a couple of games with smaller armies but the big draw was the scale of it and being able to play doubles. I had really high hopes for 8th edition. When we went to Coventry for Warhammer Fest, just before the launch of 8th, I remember listening to the speakers and thinking, "they finally get it". Fast forward to now and I think the game has a lot of the same problems creeping back in. When the indexes first came out we had a very streamlined game, albeit with a lack of flavour. We're now back to a similar level of silliness with stratagems, faction abilities, etc. In 5th and even 6th edition, I could show up to a tournament, look at my opponent's army and know exactly what to expect. That just isn't the case now. Only someone who lived and breathed the game (and played several times a week), could hope to remember all the combos of armies, stratagems, etc. That takes away a lot of the strategy and puts too much emphasis on list building over generalship.

I was glad, therefore, that we didn't use any of the faction stratagems. Even so, all the re-rolls and modifiers still make things complicated. This is a problem GW created by sticking with a D6 system. I'd hoped we might see a return of D4, 8, 12, 20, etc. That would give more options for differentiation between units and weapons without having to add re-rolls. There's also some of the same nonsense that has always plagued 40K. Why would a unit of marines sit in their rhino, surrounded by genestealers and just let them tear the vehicle apart killing them in the process. They'd throw open hatches and fire off their bolters or slam the ramp open, squashing a couple of aliens and come out guns blazing. It's moments like that which ruin the flow of the game and detract from the willing suspension of disbelief. It's like the moment in a film where the hero makes a miraculous recovery or similar, jarring against the immersion of an otherwise entertaining movie.

There are a lot of positives to be taken from the current "new GW" though. They're engaging the community in fantastic style, something I never thought I'd see from them. Not only that but they're taking ownership of the competitive scene and tinkering with rules to try to keep certain builds from dominating.

All that being said, it just isn't a good enough game to take my attention away from the huge array of excellent board games that are frankly much more enjoyable. Like I say, I'll try to post up some reviews, top 10s, etc. In the meantime, I've put quite a chunk of 40K stuff up on eBay to cut down my collection significantly. I've amassed quite a pile of Tyranids too as I'd intended them to be my new army for 8th. I still enjoy the hobby side of things so they might get painted up. Facing them in this game has definitely made me want a fully painted horde. Just a shame they won't see battle much.

Thursday, September 13, 2018

The Future of Double Trouble?

As I'd mentioned ad nauseum, Double Trouble 4 was my last event. I know a lot of you were disappointed by this and were hoping that someone would step into fill the void. Well I'm pleased to tell you that not one but two people are planning similar events in the future. I'll post more details of Ian Connolly's plans in another post but for now my friend Jamie Jackson has some news about his event Two's Company, Four Means War.

Some of you may have met me over the past 7 years at Alex’s various events. Unfortunately, number 15 was the final one as Alex has family commitments requiring more of his time going forward. I’m sure you will all agree that he’s done a fantastic job over the years and that it’s a shame they have now come to an end. Or have they....? 

Those of you who were at Double Trouble 4 may have met myself, Alex G (tall chap with salamanders, hard to miss) and Rich (there as a reserve with the shiny harlequins). On our road trip back to Cambridgeshire we were discussing how good the event was and between us we concluded we could attempt to run it ourselves. 

The more we discussed it, the more keen we all were and before we knew it we had investigated venues, dates, feasibility, etc. and were at a point where we were almost ready to proceed. This is where you guys come in. Hopefully we will get some local interest plus some guys from our club in Cambridgeshire interested, but what would really make things work would be if some of the Blog Wars/Double Trouble veterans continued to attend. 

In a nutshell, it will be the same format as Double Trouble, same points, almost the same scoring system and same cost of £17.50 including lunch. We will try to make the prize support (raffle will still be a thing) as generous as it always has been but that will depend on the level of support from the new venue, which is looking likely to be Imps Wargaming in Lincoln https://www.imps-gaming.com/

Why not Element you may ask. Quite simply, Element is a 4 hour drive for us which involves an overnight stay and has put a lot of people off in the past. Lincoln is a bit more central and the venue has 18 tables, 20% off GW and is geared up for the community. 

So what do you need to do? For now, nothing except comment below to express interest so we can get an idea of how popular it will be. Alex B will be in attendance as a guest of honour and has kindly agreed for us to both use his rules pack and to promote the event on From the Fang. As things progress I will also place updates on my own blog: http://indexastartes.blogspot.com

I appreciate any support and if the first one is a success we will look to continue running it 6 monthly as before. 

Cheers, Jamie. 


Thanks Jamie. Hopefully you agree it sounds exactly like the kind of event I was hoping would spring up to fill the void. I hope you'll all support Jamie. I'll hopefully be heading along to relax and play in the knowledge that someone else has to do the legwork!

Tuesday, September 11, 2018

My Double Trouble 4 Battle Reports

I was thrilled to be able to play in my last ever event. Not least because I'd spent a decent chunk of time in the run up to the event getting my army ready. My list was just about as simple as they come. An Imperial Knights list featuring two Armiger Helverins with meltaguns and a Knight Crusader with rapid fire battle cannon and an ironstorm missile launcher. The crusader was also my warlord so got the +1 to its invulnerable save and the Endless Fury upgrade to its gatling cannon.

Game One - IK & Wolves vs. CSM & Custodes
My partner Matthew Spencer had a mixture of grey hunters, thunderwolves and intercessors. Our opponents Dan Wellington and Callum Reed had cultists, a heldrake, two rhinos with CSM in one half and three jetbike shield captains and a walking one plus some terminators in the other.


Our opponents took the first turn and forced us to deal with the cultists which the space wolves did fairly easily. That bought time for the CSM and shield captains to get involved though and slowly cut down the sons of Russ.



Elsewhere the Heldrake zoomed forward to flame the Wolves but fluffed its rolls. It managed to charge one of the Helverins though and despite not doing much damage it was able to force it to fall back and not do much of anything in for its first turn. There was really no reason for me to deploy them that far forward but it showed my lack of experience with this list (i.e. none!).



The other Helverin was more effective though unleashing a volley of fire at the Heldrake which would've downed it had our opponents not used a CP re-roll on an invulnerable save to keep it up in the air with three wounds. We put more fire into it but somehow it hung around. Eventually being taken down but not before soaking up a decent chunk of fire which was needed elsewhere.



The Crusader easily downed a rhino with its first volley but failed on its second turn. It did wipe out a a squad of CSM with ease though. The terminators arrived in their third turn (they simply forgot them in their second) and smashed up a Helverin. It wasn't long before they dug into the second either.


We finally managed to kill a shield captain with the last shot of the game but they'd taken down a big chunk of our force by this point. The Crusader was unscathed but little else was around to support it. Thanks to spending too much time chatting we ran out of time and ended after just three turns with a 13 VP 846 BP to 8 VP 796 BP scoreline. For a more competent battle report head to Dan's blog here

Game Two - IK & Ad Mech vs. Astra Militarum & Drukhari
A reunion of sorts in my second game. My partner Jamie Jackson used to be a regular opponent for me until he moved back down south and one of my opponents Nathaniel Gibbs (and his stunning Dark Carnival Drukhari) was a former partner at the original Double Trouble event. His partner Rob Nathan is a regular at my tournaments too.



Once again our opponents got the first turn but we got away largely unscathed. A few wounds on the Crusader being the only real damage. Over our first few turns we mostly made short work of the Drukhari with the exception of the grotesques who withstood a huge amount of firepower before eventually falling. Their deaths weren't in vane though as they managed to hold up the knights pretty effectively.



Thanks to a poor choice of deployment zone on our part, Rob's tanks were able to castle up nicely in the far corner and stay mostly out of range and line of sight for a good chunk of the game. With basilisks, a manticore and a wyvern, line of sight wasn't an issue for Rob who kept chipping away at our army from range. My knights made their way over to start trying to down some of the tanks but the crusader found itself struggling to avoid damage despite a further +1 to its invulnerable save from stratagems. Somehow it clung on to a final wound though which I thought would be enough to allow it to still destroy some vehicles. That was until Rob discovered some of the conscripts were in lasgun range. I think you can guess what's coming. A single conscript managed to hit on a six, wound on a six and, predictably, I failed my armour save with a one!



Meanwhile, Jamie mopped up as much of the Drukhari as he could see despite the Mandrakes giving him pause. The Helverins, unperturbed by their big brother falling to lasgun fire, made their away around the ruins to bring their autocannons to bear on the tanks. As they made their way in they also took fire. With the game coming to a close I decided to get a little greedy and split up their fire to try to kill all of the remaining tanks. Two basilisks and the manticore remained and I was frustrated to see them all survive on a single wound. Since this was the last turn I decided to charge in with both Armigers despite one having a solitary wound remaining.


What followed was easily my highlight of the day. With what should've been the last roll of the game, the manticore exploded taking out both basilisks. Neither basilisk exploded but the Helverin did and the combination of the two explosions took out an unsuspecting Commissar Yarrick who'd foolishly decided to hang out between the tanks! Awesome!




The game finished with 10 VPs and 1,619 BPs to us and 15 VPs and 979 BPs to them.

Game Three - IK & Death Guard vs. IK & Blood Angels
I'd played against Jonathan Lyness at DT3 and he'd returned with the same DG list this time. I realise at this point that I never finished my DT3 battle report post!! Anyway, I've never had the pleasure of playing Dave Weston, despite multiple appearances at my events, so I was pleased to find myself opposite him and Tom Capper's Blood Angels in my final game.



Well, that was until I realised how far the Cerastus Lancer could move! A huge 2D6 advance plus the Full Tilt stratagem meant early in-fighting between Dave's House Raven Lancer and one of my House Raven Helverins. The Helverin was pulverised without much effort and the Lancer became priority target for my Knights.



Elsewhere the Death Guard and Blood Angels has a big melee in the middle between the cultists and  Astorath and the sanguinary guard. The Daemon prince didn't do as well as we'd hoped against Mephiston but still did enough to get rid of him in the end. The blight drones did most of the heavy lifting in the midfield taking on the warglaives and holding them up to keep my Helverin alive.



Whilst all this was going on my Crusader was backing itself into a corner whilst it tried to down the Lancer. Thanks to a snake eyes advance roll, Dave found himself outside charge range which proved fatal for his knight. The Crusader could then turn its attention to the rest of the army. They certainly learned to fear it as it downed Astorath, both warglaives and the recently arrived terminators (who'd killed the second Helverin). It then finished off the sanguinary guard and priest to complete a tabling.




Since Dave was shy by a chunk of points we took a 6 VP, 1709 BP to 5 VP 916 BP victory. Enjoyable game though which could very easily have gone wrong has the Cerastus made it into combat with the Crusader. Again, you can find a more competent report on Dave's blog here

Conclusion
Ultimately a story of not getting first turn. We really screwed ourselves over with both our choice of deployment zone and our deployment in the second game but still, having the first turn in any of my games would've almost certainly given me much more comfortable games.

The knights played pretty much exactly as I thought they would. The Helverins can put out an impressive amount of firepower but what really makes them great is the flat 3 damage per shot. With the help of the Skyreaper Protocols stratagem one of them would've solo'd the Heldrake in the first game were it not for a command re-roll. The meltaguns were mostly a waste of points but it made the points bang on 875 and they did strip the odd wound here and there.

The Crusader was equally predictable. In one game it took on most of the opposing army solo whilst in another it was downed pretty cheaply. That's my main issue with the random damage for weapons. It mostly feels like luck whether or not the high wound units survive. Still some of the stratagems, particularly the Raven ones are insane.  For example, 1 CP for +1 invulnerable, 1 CP for re-roll to hit versus units with "FLY" and 2 CP to re-roll ALL 1s in the shooting phase!! The latter is particularly powerful especially with random shot number and random damage weapons.

I'm pretty sure this will be my last tournament play for the foreseeable future. I had such high hopes for 8th edition. It's such a huge improvement in a lot of ways and GW is certainly a much better company but I can't help but feel they still don't have it right. Personally I think the solution is to move away from a D6 system. There are just too many re-rolls to the point where your opponent can basically just announce they're re-rolling 1s and say it's a special rule or stratagem. In the old days I'd have challenged these things a lot more but it just seems like there's so much of this around that it's likely to be legit.

Don't get me wrong though. Game two in particular showed me that this game can still be dramatic and a lot of fun. The loss of a knight to a lasgun was hilarious as was the chain reaction of explosions to end the game.

I can't face the idea of selling any (more) of my armies. Perhaps when my son is older he'll be interested and I still enjoy the painting. Who knows?

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