Saturday, January 26, 2013

Battle Report: First Game with Dark Angels (1850pts)

As you may have read here, I've been trying to put together a decent Dark Angels list using the new codex. Part of that process is obviously playtesting. With that in mind Jamie and I decided to have a Dark Angels vs Dark Angels battle to try out the new book and see what we could learn from each other's lists. Think of it as a live fire training exercise!! I'm going to do a very brief battle report and then a pretty detailed unit by unit analysis.

I took List A from my previous post which consisted of purely Ravenwing units. At this point let me apologise for the quality of the pictures. It wasn't the most immersive game of 40K I've ever played since my army was pretty much totally grey plastic and my bikes didn't have riders!! Anyway, Jamie had a very different list that took units from all three wings. He'd got something like this:

Jamie's 1850pts of Dark Angels
Azrael
Librarian
Command Squad (plasma guns & Standard of Fortitude)

Veterans with assorted power weapons (joined by Azrael)
Rifleman dreadnought

10 Tactical marines (missile/flamer i think)
5 Tactical marines  (heavy bolter
5 Deathwing terminators (assault cannon, 1x claws, 2x TH/SS)
3 Ravenwing bikers (plasma, melta, serg)

Devastator squad (10 man, 2 missiles, 2 plasma) - combat squadded

Aegis Defense Line (no quad gun)

Think that's right but I'm doing it from memory so the points might not add up. Anyway, pretty mixed bag of stuff but the idea is that everything clusters behind the aegis line and uses the FNP from the banner to weather fire and hold the objectives. Meanwhile terminators and bikes make a break for distant objectives.

Battle Report
I got first turn and deployed everything centrally clustered around my Darkshroud with Sammael out front. The attack bikes and a combat squadded RW attack squadron went on each flank. Jamie sat everything behind his aegis with his 10-man tactical squad with libby, RW and DW in reserve. He then stole the initiative!

Without moving I wasn't getting my Jink saves which cost me an attack bike and a couple of other bikers. Sammael initially took two wounds until I remembered I had an apothecary in the command squad and promptly passed my FNP saves. Most importantly the Darkshroud survived a penetrating hit but was left immobilised. Great! I then advanced up the field and tried to make the most of my Standard of Devastation by unleashing a salvo of fire. Sadly Jamie's armour and FNP saves were sickeningly good so he didn't end up losing much.

Jamie killed off a few more bikers including most of the command squad (including Sammael who fluffed his saves from the dreadnought). The tactical squad walked on but couldn't kill the remaining attack bike. Terminators dropped on an objective in my deployment zone. With the standard still around I fired off another volley hoping to thin out the veterans and then charge them with two attack squadrons. One squadron snake-eyed its charge range leaving the other to get mauled in combat by Azrael and his veterans. Another squadron failed to kill many devastators and got bogged down in combat with them. The remaining squadron killed 4 of the devastators with the help of the black knights but this put them well out of combat range.

Somewhere in all that the Nephilim showed up and killed the dreadnought (just!) before failing to do much else. More on that below.

The following turn saw a lot of bikes go down to the rapidly changing firepower vs surviving bikes ratio. This allowed Azrael and his vets to maul the attack squadron that'd failed the charge. The black knights swung round and wiped out Azrael and his squad in revenge but were cut down by the terminators next turn. Eventually the protracted combats were won by Jamie and I was left with an immobilised Darkshroud and a heavy loss.

Unit by Unit Analysis
Sammael
Sadly all I got to see of him was one plasma cannon blast which Jamie saved anyway! He died a bit cheaply but probably because he was front and centre and an obvious target for Jamie. Perhaps its worth keeping him back a bit to react to enemy movements thereby helping keep the RW command squad alive longer too.

Librarian on Bike
Had a difficult time choosing powers for him. In an army full of twin-linked guns, Prescience isn't as much use and I couldn't decide on another discipline. His Power Field Generator is a bit of a waste of time in this list too. Whilst out of combat the squad get 3++ or 4++ depending on if they turbo-boosted. In combat he's giving the enemy an invulnerable save defeating the corvus hammers and his force weapon! Therefore the points would probably been better spent on mastery 2 and hence two rolls on the powers. His auspex could be pretty useful and if he's using Blessings he won't need to shoot anything else.

Ravenwing Command Squad
The apothecary helped keep Sammael alive a bit longer (if only briefly). The inclusion of a grenade launcher was useful as rad grenades can make the Standard of Devastation salvo even more potent i.e. 4 shots at 12", twin-linked BS4 and wounding on 3's! The standard survived a while but probably because Jamie didn't focus on it quickly enough (as he admitted). Had Jamie not been quite so good at 3+ saves followed by 5+ FNP he'd have lost a lot more! It's certainly something worth taking if you've got a large number of bikes and it wasn't that difficult to keep things in 6" range of it.

Ravenwing Attack Squadrons
Probably due to the fact that this was my first game using bikers since 2nd edition I don't think I used them to their best. For starters the attack bikes should've gone into Outflank reserve to get them in on the dreadnought unscathed or else challenge for objectives. Might even consider heavy bolters to use them as interference on objectives rather than tank hunters.

My biggest mistake was in my use of the normal bikers though. They shouldn't really be charging into combat, especially that veterans squad with all those power weapons. Essentially you have to think of them as highly mobile tactical squads only charging in when desperate or confident of winning the combat. I wasn't taking too much damage from Jamie's shooting and should've made him come to me a bit more to play to my manoeuvrability advantage.

They do put out a disgusting number of shots with the standard but it also made me forget to use my special weapons. Part of me thinks the plasma guns aren't necessary as they aren't actually much better than the salvo 2/4 bolters. Obviously if the standard dies or against mech they become useful again and low-AP is nice. Could be somewhere to save points though. The meltaguns are good for the amount of FNP out there and cheeky vehicle kills.

Ravenwing Black Knights
Love them as much as I thought I would! The highlight of the game for me was when they killed off Azrael and his remaining veterans. Here's what happened.

Azrael and the veterans were fresh from combat and consolidated into a crater. The black knights had been lining up the terminators but I spied a chance for some consolation kills. The veterans were still in range of the standard so would be getting FNP on top of their cover but I had other ideas. The librarian used his Auspex to reduce their cover to 6+ and the remaining grenade launcher hit with a rad grenade leaving them with T3. The plasma talons were lucky and hit and wounded with all 6 shots. The veterans were easily wiped out and Azrael was faced with two Iron Halo saves or extinction. Jamie rolls a 4 and a 1 and thanks to doubling out their T3 with S7 he was insta-killed and couldn't take FNP.

Now, there's debate about whether that's legal or not. Some argue that the grenade launcher and auspex happen at the same time therefore the plasma talon shots don't benefit (combat would though). However, my take on it is that the auspex and rad work as long as they hit. You then roll to wound after this so it isn't quite as simultaneous as people claim. Hopefully it'll get FAQ'd I hope how I did it is RAI. The thing that makes me think it is that it specifically says rad grenades can affect the Instant Death threshold.

Either way they're a great unit and most armies will fear them. Sadly they got charged by the terminators and failed to hit with Overwatch. They then failed to rend and bought it to lightning claws and hammers. More fuel for the "don't charge with bikes" fire.

Darkshroud
Despite being immobilised I managed to get 2-3 turns of Stealth for a lot of my army. It's a big, obvious target though and relies heavily on you getting turn 1 for maximum effect. If you get Night Fight it could be excellent in that first turn though. I originally thought it should have 3 hull points and be a bit more expensive but frankly with AV10 it's going to go down to a penetrating hit so hull points won't help much. For the points I think it's definitely worth including in a bike heavy list.

Nephilim Jetfighter
Here comes the disappointment. I'd convinced myself that it wasn't that bad. Sadly, it really is. Now obviously Jamie didn't have flyers for me to test it against but I think I know how that'd go. It was lucky to take out the dreadnought (thanks to it already losing a hullpoint from the attack bike) and didn't do anything for the rest of the game.

Having just written those "How to Deal with Flyers" articles I'm thinking it's a bit of a waste of 180pts. Part of me thinks I'd be better ignoring flyers and focussing my attention on everything else instead. Time will tell I suppose. Difficult to persuade myself to keep it in the list though. It's too expensive for what it can do and S6 missiles just feel like a kick in the teeth. A Blood Angels Stormraven is 20pts more and about 20x better!

Overall Analysis
I was worried that there wouldn't be many bodies in this list. Granted Jamie didn't have many either but I think a pure-ravenwing list is certainly viable. I can trim the points down a bit and perhaps include something from the other wings though. Maybe even some land speeders to keep it ravenwing.

Even though it was all grey plastic and missing bits here and there I really loved how the army looked on the table. Once I get a bit better hang of using them I'm sure they'll be a lot of fun.

I'll be trying to do something similar to this for my first few games with Dark Angels. I know it's a bit of a lengthy post but I wanted to get my thoughts down in type to help me plan out my furture lists. I hope it was useful for others too. I'd love to hear your thoughts.

In other news, as you can see I haven't made much more progress on my scenery! I'm determined to get it done though because I hate how it looks in these battle reports. It'll make a nice break from painting all those bikes!!

1 comment:

  1. Good game pal, was interesting to see how each of the banners was such as boon to the respective armies. Despite the lack of fliers/aa on my part (not intentional, I just figured I'd ignore/use volume of fire if they were an issue) the Nephilim was sadly as lackluster as we had predicted.

    Was a shame the darkshroud was reduced in effectiveness so early - ironically a vengeance may have served you better as a gun platform that would have needed my attention. As you know I'm not a fan of area effect powers that grant whole units a bonus due to conga-lining. Fair enough that fluff wise a darkshroud should conceal a bike enveloped within it's cloud, but why would it conceal another bike 18" away??

    As for the plasma talons, they were brutal. I think there's more evidence for RAW here in that the rad grenades take effect during the to hit part of shooting and therefore indeed are effective duringrolling to wound. In terms of balancing them however (killing multi-wound SM models on a 2+ combined with an auspex decreasing cover save) I think it should be FAQd to only effect subsequent units firing and close combat. We'll see.

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