Simon and Jon were our opponents for game 4. These guys had brought a combination of Guard and Salamanders with the ubiquitous Aegis Defence Line. Their list consisted of two drop pods with a tactical squad in one and sternguard joined by Vulkan in another (both with plenty of melta/flamer - as you'd expect). They were joined by an infantry platoon, Leman Russ and pair of vendettas.
The mission was four objectives and standard Dawn of War (Pitched Battle in my mind) deployment. The sternguard drop pod was the first to fall and with the pile of meltas we were sure they'd take out one of the dreadknights. Luckily for us Matt had some disgusting luck with his invulnerable saves and the monstrous creature came out with two wounds remaining. Thanks to nightfighting the rest of the army was relatively unscathed.
In what our opponents described as a very gutsy move we dropped the grey hunters' pod in behind the Leman Russ. Unlikely before against the vindicator, this time the combined firepower of plasma and bolter was enough to wreck the mighty tank. One dreadknight went straight for the guardsmen and incinerated the command squad. Thanks to some clever Look Out Sir manipulation the astropath survived but the company commander wasn't so lucky. The other dreadknight helped the thunderwolves out by flaming the sternguard. They'd deployed them in two layers so that only one combat squad could be charged but we hoped that the dreadknight could make a hole big enough to charge through. When this failed we opted to try and multi-charge with the thunderwolves. Sadly overwatch fire from the sternguard was enough to kill off the front thunderwolf so only one squad could be engaged. The thunderwolves again struggled in combat and eventually fell to a counter-charge from Vulkan who'd split off from his combat squad.
The vendettas arrived and ganged up on the dreadknights to save the guardsmen and sternguard. Before the vendettas opened up with the lascannons the guardsmen on the ground fired their lasguns. Much to our amazement they wounded 5 times and Matt managed to roll a triple 1 leaving a previously healthy dreadknight with a single wound. This allowed one vendetta to fire at each dreadknight and easily finish them off with their lascannons. With the loss of the thunderwolves this was a heavy blow. We'd now rely on the purifiers and grey hunters to finish off the remaining troops but the vendettas would definitely survive the game.
The grey hunters parked up their rhino and lined up for a Jaws attack which would hopefully kill off the heavy weapons teams and astropath. Our opponents got lucky and passed their Deny the Witch roll though! The grey hunters who'd killed the Leman Russ marched down the hill bolters blazing and helped kill off more guardsmen. Elsewhere Vulkan had to footslog it back towards his lines to try and save the guardsmen.
The remaining drop pod hurtled out of the sky and the ensconced tactical squad fired at the rune priest's grey hunters thinning their numbers significantly. With a dwindling supply of figures we'd need some luck to pull something out of this game. The rune priest decided to split off from the grey hunters and go for a jaws attack on one of the combat squads but could only kill one marine. The hunters on the hill killed an infantry squad with bolter fire. The remaining grey hunters hopped the defence line and wiped out the platoon command squad in combat. With a combination of Prescience and a malediction (who's name I forget), they purifiers were able to gun down an entire combat squad. The rune priest sadly failed his charge though.
In a single turn we'd managed to turn our fortunes around. One of the vendettas went after the hunters on the hill and the other went to drop off an infantry squad on one of our objectives whilst killing off some acolytes. The tactical combat squad went after the rune priest for a Slay the Warlord point. Thanks to a secret mission they needed to kill him in combat though and he was able to cut two of them down before he died. He'd lost a wound to Perils early on and failed the only save he had to make from the tactical squad.
The hunters had now come in from the flank and gunned down the rest of the guardsmen before heading towards an objective. This ended up being contested by Vulkan however. The two remaining tactical marines held the other objective and went to ground behind the defence line as the purifiers fired. Matt managed to score 10 wounds so we felt sure they'd perish. Even with a malediction forcing re-rolls of successful saves the tactical marines passed all 20 their 2+ saves! As it stood we had no chance of winning but with a turn 6 this time we had chance to turn things around. A second volley from the purifiers whizzed across the field and this time the marines weren't so lucky.
With an objective each it would come down to secondary mission points. We'd both got Linebreaker and Slay the Warlord so it came down to that gutsy Leman Russ kill for First Blood to win the game! Bollocks! We'd ended up on table bloody 2 again!
It has to be said that Jon and Simon gave us one of the best games of 40K we've ever had. The whole thing was so dramatic with grey hunters making a pincer attack on the guardsmen, drop pods slamming in across the field and vendettas zipping around. Had their prayers to the Emperor (literally!) been more successful the game could easily have gone their way.
Game 5 - Titanic Fenrisians vs. Disco Inferno (CSM/CD)
Sure enough, despite taking a less competitive, unbalanced list we'd managed to end up on table 2 again. We were pleasantly surprised however to find Rob and Matt waiting for us. We've played Rob before in a previous doubles tournament with a different partner. The game was a straight match up between our Bloody Wolves and their similar BA/SW combo. It lives in infamy in our minds as the game where Mephiston was destroyed by a grey hunter pack in a single round of combat thanks to rending wulfen attacks and power fist. Knowing these were decent guys who would still give us a fun game meant we'd managed to avoid the problem of top table asshattery despite ending up there!
Anyway, this game was certainly going to be a very different affair. Their list was a combination of Chaos Daemons and CSM supported by Daemon allies. This essentially meant a Bloodthirster, 3x3 flamers, 9 screamers, 10 CSM, a winged lash-prince, pink horrors, plaguebearers and fiends. There were simply tons of things for us to have to kill and despite having grey knights we didn't really have them in enough numbers to make the most of their anti-Daemon rules. The mission was the 6th equivalent of Capture and Control from 5th with a single objective each and diagonal deployment.
The drop pod grey hunters were our best hope of getting First Blood but with very little on the board we had to go for the winged Daemon Prince. Despite wounding plenty of times, including twice with the plasma gun, the prince emerged with a single remaining wound. The rest of our army stayed packed together to try and encourage our enemies to deep strike within range of the anti-reserve fire of Coteaz (I must learn the name of the rule). Unfortunately our opponents were too smart to take the bait and threw everything at the grey hunters. However, all that ended up being needed was the combination of lash and flamers which not only killed all the grey hunters but glanced the drop pod to death too!
This left us with a choice. Hold our ground on our objective or push out and try and clear their troops from theirs. We went with the second leaving the purifiers to guard our objective whilst the dreadknights, thunderwolves and rhino pushed forwards. We moved the thunderwolves into a nearby forest to try and get an unlikely but possible charge on the screamers. Sadly this meant triggering a mysterious terrain roll (at my suggestion) which gave us brainleaf fronds. Rather brilliantly this randomly determined that the S10 power first thunderwolf would be causing 4 automatic hits on his own squad!! You just knew it'd be him and not the other three. I was lucky enough to fail to wound with one of the hits but could only save one of them on the storm shield before the bearer and another thunderwolf died to friendly fire!! Hmmm great suggestion Alex, awesome.
The remaining thunderwolves and grey hunters (who lost their rhino to more flamers) were charged by the screamers and wiped out over a couple of turns. This left me with no further role in the game with my entire force destroyed. The dreadknights tried to thin out the fiends but both were eventually tarpitted by flamers/fiends/horrors. If they could kill them off in time they might be able to engage the CSM and contest their objective giving us a shred of hope. Sadly the screamers had other ideas and their S5 AP2 attacks were perfect for killing off the dreadknights.
Whilst all this was going on the purifiers were fighting their own battle against the two flying daemons. Two units of plaguebearers had failed to drop in on them with one being lost to the warp and the other being misplaced. Meanwhile managed to take the remaining wound off the daemon prince but the bloodthirster was closing fast. Coteaz passed his Prescience roll but failed the second power which allowed Overwatch at full BS and granted Counter Attack (both of which would've been useful). Still they managed to strip all but one wound from the bloodthirster. The inevitable charge saw the bloodthirster challenge Coteaz but the Knight of the Flame stepped up with his halberd. With his preferred enemy he should be able to at least hit the daemon but even with double Hammerhand he failed to wound meaning he was easily killed by the greater daemon. Coteaz then refused the second challenge. The final purifier also failed to wound the daemon and Coteaz was now alone and easily killed off.
All that was left for our opponents to do was kill off a few acolytes with flamers. The acolytes put up a brave fight mananging to draw the first round of combat but the end was inevitable. We managed to pick up a single secret mission point though and a point each for killing the Daemon Prince and Herald. It was a shame to end on the loss we'd been searching for all weekend but we were happy to have lost to Rob and Matt. Their list was brilliantly thought out and devastatingly well played.
Daemons are pretty damn good right now. Flamers got a lot better and their reduced save doesn't really compensate. The combination with lash is still very effective. It's a shame our rune priest was narrowly out of range to attempt to cancel it but I doubt the grey hunters would've survived anyway. Screamers are ridiculously good for their points and put out a disgusting number of attacks. With two wounds their not exactly easy to deal with either. As I've said, the list was an excellent one and they deserved to win all of their games. It's a shame that with GW's scoring system they missed out on the top three though!
Scoring system problems aside (I've talked about them plenty before), this has to be the best tournament we've played in. We enjoyed every single game and with the exception of a somewhat mis-matched first game the rest were incredibly close run, dramatic affairs which really pushed our tactics to the limit.
I think the main reason we enjoyed it soo much was because we decided to use something fun for a change! June's list was brutally effective but wasn't exciting to play. Essentially we did a bit of movement then rolled dice until things died. This is my idea of a fun 40K game. With three units in our list that are brilliantly hit and miss we knew there'd be dramatic results. Whilst the brainleaf fronds result was really unlucky it had a profound effect on the game and was entertaining. I think it shows that the 6th edition rules that some are quick to ignore can really help to bring a bit of variety to even competitive games.
I'm hoping that GW continue to run at least some kind of doubles tournament as it's definitely the best way to play 40K if only for the fact that there's 4 of you round the table instead of 2. Thanks to all of our opponents this weekend for making it one to remember.
Now, I need to get painting my Dark Eldar for the small matter of Blog Wars 4!