Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Campaign Report

For months now I've been eagerly anticipating playing the campaign I'd written for Matt and I. The format has been discussed in previous posts so I'll get on with the battle reports. I'm not going to go into as much detail as I normally do as to be honest they were all pretty quick and bloody affairs.

Battle 1 (500pts - Annihilation)
With no force organisation restrictions I decided to give Blood Claws a chance to finally prove themselves. I backed them up with a Wolf Priest, Lone Wolf and a Land speeder. Matt had very different ideas for his 500pts and brought Mephiston and a full squad of Sanguinary Guard. As you can imagine I didn't fancy my chances very much!

Predictably Matt got to attack and quickly got Mephiston into combat with the Blood Claws. His SG took down the land speeder without breaking a sweat then proceeded to help the master librarian with the massacre at hand. Some how I failed miserably with the vast majority of my power weapon attacks so Mephiston came out relatively unscathed. In his dying throes my Wolf Priest managed to dispatch 2 of the SG however.

My lone wolf should've probably charged the SG instead of Mephiston in order to buy my blood claws some time to do some damage. However, to be honest the two armies were hopelessly outmatched so I'd have been lucky to come out of it with a win.

Battle 2 (1000pts - Seize Ground)
Thanks to my abysmal performance in battle 1 Matt started off with about 400pts extra. My list for this battle was a fairly standard selection of Rune Priest, 3x GHs and some long fangs. The only real surprise was that one of the squads was in a drop pod instead of the standard rhino. The plan being to hit one of Matt's objectives hard early on and hopefully slow down his advance. Matt took 2 largeish jump pack squads (one with a reclusiarch), some scouts and his librarian dreadnought. 

My drop pod crashed in right between Matt's scouts and the dreadnought. Deciding that the dread posed the largest threat I barraged it with fire and manage to remove one of its arms and immobilise it (Matt still hasn't had success with it). I'd have liked to whittle the scouts down a bit too but had I hit them the dread would've been difficult for me to take down. 

Matt's assault marines deep struck right in front of my long fangs. They let rip with small arms fire only managing to kill a single heavy bolter. Sadly this messed up the coherency so they'd have to move next turn (d'oh!). Pretty much the rest of Matt's army hit the rune priest and grey hunters that came out of the drop pod. The squad was taken down to just one man and the priest and I only managed to kill 3 scouts. They were quickly finished off by the SG in the subsequent combat.

Somehow Matt's scouts managed to get two rending hits on my rhino and immobilised it. Mephiston wrecked the other rhino with his pistol but thanks to cunning disembark I kept out of his assault range. The flurry of power fist attacks brings him down but not without heavy casualties on my side. On the other side of the map the assault marines make short work of the long fangs. 

I got some inane pleasure out of watching Matt's sanguinary guard trying and failing to destroy my drop pod which was contesting his objective. At this point it's pretty obvious that I can't win so the only thing left to do is to try and kill as much as possible to make the remaining battles less painful. Brilliantly I forget what I'm doing for a minute and decide to rapid fire with my grey hunters squad despite easily being in charge range. Needless to say I'm made to pay for my mistake and in the end I still manage to take all but 3 men down in that squad. The game ends here before I have chance to do any more damage. Interestingly thanks to it being objectives it's technically a draw but Matt wins on VPs.

Battle 3 (1000pts - Annihilation)
I felt pretty good about this battle since Matt would start with less points than me and I hoped my Tau would be able to inflict some damage with punishing amounts of firepower. 

I deploy in such a way as to make Matt choose between killing my hammerhead or my broadsides. I send a devilfish full of fire warriors towards where his scouts are hiding in the hopes of rapid firing them to pieces. Brilliantly my rolling is awful and I only kill one. Matt returns fire and forces the FW to flee. With a stroke of luck they flee just the right amount that I can finish the scouts off on my way off the board!

Matt's obsession with sanguinary priests (and who can blame him?) means that a torrent of fire simply pings off his assault squad who make every single FNP save!! Obviously this doesn't help my plans and they smash into my lines with far more force than I'd hoped. The 3 remaining assault marines from the battle with my grey hunters use their meltagun to blast apart the hammerhead.

The real failure here is my commander who despite having a decent BS and a small array of low AP weapons only seems to hit with a single shot per turn which isn't really helping matters! The kroot excelled themselves in shooting and somehow kill a handful of assault marines. Once Matt's assault squad had reached my lines I didn't have much chance. He wipes out the entire army and somehow still has about 500 points to carry over to the final battle.

Battle 4 (2000pts - Planetfall)
So we've never done Planetstrike before so we were both looking forward to it (me less so after 3 crushing defeats) and I spent a good while setting up my fortress deploying my excessive numbers of heavy support units (just because I can) inside the walls. Matt then gleefully began his firestorm and out of 6 blasts rolls 4 hits!! His makes short work of the battle cannon I'd given to one of my bastions, kills two long fangs and stuns the other bastion!

Thanks to some more flukey scatter dice rolls Matt deepstrikes pretty much his entire force inside my fortress. The interceptor guns manage a couple of lucky wounds on the Sanguinor. Dante and his honour guard proceed to rip apart my long fangs, the death company dwindle my terminators to a single model and a single pesky assault marine that was left over from the Tau battle manages to immobilise my Vindi making it pretty much useless. Matt isn't finished there so the Sanguinor mashes the predator like it wasn't there and the Sanguinary Guard (who survived the entire campaign!!) kills the long fangs razorback. Out of my 2000pt list I'm down to just over a thousand after Turn 1.

In my turn I pile my Grey Hunters out of the bastions. One squad wipes out the death company but Matt informs me thanks to a strategem they'll be back in a turn or two. The whirlwind does nothing and subsequently gets blown up. The other Grey Hunters squad kills most of Dante's honour guard. 

In turn 2 my remaining Grey Hunters are wiped out and I'm left with the bastions gunnery (some use that is!). Since the battle is lost Matt sees no problem in letting me bring Bjorn in from reserve despite me not having any other models left. He does his best but the battle was over long before he set foot on the field.

Well what can I say? I learned a lot which is sadly the case when you lose like that. The first battle had quite a big influence on the campaign as a whole (which was actually good because that's how we designed it). I picked most of my lists based on cool things I wanted to try out. This was especially true in the final battle when I had far more heavy support than was sensible with little in the way of troops to back them up. I should've crowded the interior of the base with lots of scatter scenery to make it a bit more difficult for Matt to successfully deep strike.

At the time I was pretty mardy about the whole thing but looking back it was certainly interesting to play battles where the outcome had a big influence on the battles yet to come. I'd like to do a campaign again soon but next time I'll think more about how my lists will perform not just about what seems cool!

Saturday, October 23, 2010

Thoughts on Special Characters - Part 3: Ragnar Blackmane

Ragnar may not seem like an obvious choice for most Space Wolf players as they'd prefer to use Logan. However, In my recent battles I've found Ragnar to be far more useful.

I'll start as I have with the other SCs and look at his statline. It's a pretty similar story to Logan's apart from he's one attack short and comes with a 3+ power armour save. You might think he loses out but in fact since he gets a +D3 attacks bonus on the charge it isn't normally an issue. The lack of terminator armour means his unit can make sweeping advances which always helps! He comes with the standard Wolftooth necklace and Wolf tail talisman combo. His frost blade means he'll be hitting with an S5 power weapon (S6 on the charge) and melta bombs are thrown in for those opportunist vehicle kills. I doubt many people would upgrade him to have a couple of fenrisian wolves but the option is there and they are slightly better than the standard ones. He gets an invulnerable 4+ save too.

So what makes him worth your valuable points? Well his special rules are, in my opinion, better than Logan's. Insane Bravado gives you +D3 attacks on the charge and this applies to the whole unit. Imagine coupling this with a Wulfen grey hunter and you can see the potential. Further to this his War Howl gives the unit Furious Charge which once per game he can give to any units in 12". Now according to the FAQ this can even be used on the counter charge. So you get some BA charging you thinking they'll be hitting first and instead you all strike at the same time. Against most other enemies you'll go first and with the sheer volume of attacks you can dish out they'll stand little chance of hitting back. A full squad of 9 grey hunters with a Wulfen and Wolf Guard could dish out a maximum of 60+ attacks at S5 (or above)! Add in a Wolf standard and for one phase you'll hit with most of them, potentially you'll have wiped out a mob of 30 boyz after sweeping advance. Oh and Ragnar's saga means he gets bonus attacks if he kills a lot of things. Assuming he gets 8 attacks on the charge, he'll hit with 5/6, wound with 4/5 so that's a hefty bonus if there's anything left after the initial round!

I'd always put him in a decent sized squad and mount him in a transport. A rhino is the obvious choice for grey hunters. Let your opponent de-mech you then charge in and wipe them out. My preference however, would be a drop pod. Aim for one of his valuable squads or for that lonely troop unit sat on an objective right at the back. Obviously you can't charge straight away but if you rapid fire a squad nearby you're sure to attract attention. When your opponent comes into charge you can probably make short work of most things on a counter charge and then you're free to roam round the back of his lines. Obviously, you'll be attracting a lot of fire but with a decent sized squad you'll be fine. Remember if your enemy is firing everything he has at that one squad then the rest of your army can do what it wants! Finally, you could stick him and his squad in a land raider but just Ragnar and the LR comes to 490pts so it's hardly a cheap option!

I think it's probably clear from this post that I'm a big fan of Ragnar but there's still quite a few special characters left to discuss. Next I'll talk about the most unique of them: Bjorn the Fell-Handed.

Friday, October 08, 2010

On the Campaign Trail

Matt and I have been playing 40K for about a year now (since we started playing again that is). As I've mentioned before we've mostly played Annihilation games using Pitched Battle deployment. This has kept our interest for a while, largely due to us both having a good choice of armies and individual units to keep our opponent guessing. However, we want to start varying the rules a bit and both like the idea of a campaign where each battle has an influence on the next. So I decided to draw up our first campaign. The point limits for each battle are fairly low with the aim being that we can get the whole thing done within a day. We've found that now we're familiar with 5th edition we can get a couple of games totalling around 5K points done within a day

The basic structure consists of four battles: a 500 pt initial skirmish, two 1000 pt battles and a final 2000 pt decider. This means we'll play a total of 4500 pts over the day which should just about be possible with time to change the board around. The image shows the structure of the campaign. I'll be using my Wolves and Matt will take Blood Angels.

Battle 1
One chapter's patrol will happen upon a border guard from the opposing chapter (randomly determined who discovers who). The patrol must attempt to annihilate the border guard in order to prevent the incursion being noticed. The border guard are deployed in the centre of a 2x2' board with the enemy deploying anywhere else as long as they aren't within 12". The scouting party then takes the first turn. No units can be placed in reserve. The game continues until once side is wiped from the face of the map.

This battle should be fun because we've decided to ignore the force organisation chart. I imagine it won't take long at all as once one side has the upper hand it will be difficult to stop them. Quick and bloody!

Battle 2
The winner of Battle 1 calls for reinforcements, supplies and ammunition and pushes into enemy territory. The enemy sees the vapour trails of the incoming drop pods and sends a force to seize the supplies.

This will be a 1000pt Seize Ground game with 3 objectives. The winner of battle 1 gets to pick the location of 2 objectives and the loser places the third. The winner of battle 1 gets to keep any models that were still alive at the end of the first battle so may therefore start with more than 1000pts. Neither side may deploy any units and instead may bring as much or as little on in the first turn as they like. The winner of battle 1 will get the first turn.

Other than what I've mentioned about this will follow the usual Seize Ground rules with a standard 5-7 turn game length. The winner of battle 2 is now on the attack with the loser defending (for the purposes of the final battle).

Battle 3
Both armies have tasked their allies with patrolling the perimeter of their defences so as their enemies push forward they meet an unexpected foe. The winner's remaining forces from battle 2 are all they have to fight a full 1000pts of an allied army (in my case Tau and in Matt's IG).

Standard annihilation with the winner of battle 2 taking the first turn. The idea here is that whilst the extra forces in battle 2 should've made it easy for one side to achieve victory it will be difficult for them to win battle 3. This should prevent one side achieving victory in all four battles.

Both of our alternate armies are very shooty so it should mean we thin out the marine armies pretty well before the final battle.

Battle 4
The attacking side (winner of battle 2) launches a planetstrike on their enemy's base. We're playing it as a Planetfall mission from the Planetstrike expansion. We both liked the idea of using the expansion as it sounds like absolute carnage. Again the winner of battle 3 will get to keep any remaining forces to add to their 2000pts whilst the loser will just get a fresh 2000pts.

The number of battles won by each side determines how many points they'll have to select strategems. With both sides getting 3 pts plus an additional point for each victory.

I hope that all made sense, i'm sure it'll become clearer when we're actually playing. I'm really looking forward to trying this out. There's an obvious problem with allowing models to be carried forward to the next battle there's the issue of what to do when we don't have enough figures to allow this to happen. This encourages us to select armies that are pretty different for each battle. The problem comes in the form of the Troops selection. I'm going to need to take GHs in all the battles and Matt will probably want jump pack assault troops in all of them too. We'll have to see what happens but I don't image there'll be much left at the end of the first battle and it's unlikely the marine army will be the victor in battle 3. Just have to see how it pans out.

The planetstrike game should be fun. As I've mentioned I've bought an Imperial Strongpoint from GW so we'll have plenty of scenery for it. I like the idea of setting up a fortress and then seeing if your opponent can navigate his way through your defences.

Saturday, October 02, 2010

Army Gallery - Part 1

Since I started this blog I've been promising pictures of my army so it's about time I delivered:
As ever you can click on the images for a better look. You'll notice that there's a lot of vehicles for the amount of troops. This is because I'm in the process of painting my grey hunters and wolf guard in bulk. Once they're finished it should look more balanced. Also whilst I've put sand on some of the bases there's only a couple that are actually painted. I intend to leave the basing til last so I can make the entire army the same. I've learned a lot whilst painting this army, particularly, that you can paint quickly and still achieve a good result. 

The first model I finished was this dreadnought. I've done some very minor conversion work in the form of giving it a wolf pelt under the sarcophagus, a wolftooth necklace and wolf icon. All of which were borrow from the fantastic Space Wolves Pack which provides plenty of material for converting normal Space Marines into the Sons of Russ.

I've attempted to give it some battle damage, both with paint and by messing up the plastic with a knife. Not sure how successful it is but I don't think it's bad for a first try.

The next unit I painted was this Long Fangs pack. This was my first attempt at using the basecoat, wash & drybrush technique that the guys over at Space Wolves Blog use. It's a very satisfying way to paint as it gives great results for minimal time and effort. 

I've already bought a second devastator squad from Dark Sphere to make another pack. This will also give me more weapon options when I want to field just a single squad. 

My next unit painted were these  skyclaws. I've used them in a few battles now and I'm still undecided on their effectiveness. I've bought a Space Marine Chaplain with Jump Pack that I intend to convert into a Wolf Priest so that I can stop these guys charging into combat without shooting the target unit up a bit first.

I'll have to convert one of them into a Wulfen at some point since I've come to the conclusion that no squad should be without it!

This is my predator which thanks to the excellent article on the Space Wolves Blog is fully magnetised so can be used with any combination of Predator weapons. It can also be completely stripped down and used as a Rhino or alternatively a Razorback. I'm intending to add some weathering and battle damage to it at some point but for now i'm trying to get as much of my army painted as possible so details like that can wait until later.

I'm pretty pleased with how all my vehicles have turned out so far. On the first picture you can see I've also got a razorback/rhino, land raider and drop pod that are pretty much finished. Again I'll weather/damage them at some point.

Finally, we come to my HQ slots. I was amazed how quickly I managed to paint these guys. Again they've got to be based but for the most part I'm really pleased with them. All of the models in my army need work on their faces but I'll probably do this at a later date too. Part of me thinks I should've put more of my troops in helmets for ease of painting but too late for that now. At least you won't mistake them for anything but Space Wolves.

There we go then, that's what I've done so far. It doesn't seem like much considering I've been painting this army for a while now. However, I've got several units that are in various stages of completion that I've not show here. So far I've got the following finished (minus some final details like basing):
  • Logan Grimnar
  • Ulrik the Slayer
  • Njal Stormcaller
  • Rune Priest
  • 1 Dreadnought/Bjorn the Fell-Handed
  • 5 Skyclaws
  • 6 Long Fangs
  • 1 Rhino/Razorback
  • 1 Predator/Rhino/Razorback
  • 1 Land Raider (Godhammer)
  • 1 Drop Pod
Doesn't seem to bad until you consider I've got the following still to paint:
  • Ragnar Blackmane - half finished
  • Canis Wolfborn - not even assembled yet so might become a ThunderLord
  • Wolf Priest with Jump Pack - needs converting from a Chaplain
  • 30 Grey Hunters/Blood Claws - just need to do the details on them
  • 3 Wolf Guard with Combi-melta/PF - half finished
  • 5 Wolf Scouts - half finished but shouldn't take long to complete
  • 10 Wolf Guard Terminators/Arjac/Lone Wolves - base coated only
  • Swiftclaw Bikers (3 bikes, 1 wolf guard and 1 attack bike)
  • Land Speeder - half finished
  • 6 more Long Fangs - not assembled
  • Whirlwind - base coated
  • Vindicator - pretty much finished
  • Land Raider Redeemer - base coated
  • Lukas the Trickster - not assembled
Phew! Sounds a lot when you list it all out. In actual fact most of it is painted in some way and shouldn't take too long to finish. My next project is the 10 terminators and I might make them into an article showing my painting technique if I remember to take pictures at the various stages!

I've got a campaign against Matt's Blood Angels next weekend so I've got to try and get a lot done this week! The end of it is a planetstrike mission so I've got an entire Imperial Strongpoint to paint up too. Obviously, I've got no chance so I might just aim to have the terminators nearly done for then and the scenery will have to wait.

I'll put some details of the campaign up mid-week and obviously battle reports on here once the dust has settled. Can't wait!


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