Sunday, March 09, 2014

Battle Report - Chaos vs Angels of Death - 3000pt Doubles

You might remember that last month Dan, Jamie, Matt and I had a big doubles game which saw the Imperium of Man take on the Tyranid horde. The teams were shuffled around this time with Jamie and I fielding the Angels of Death (BA/DA) against Dan and Matt's forces of Nurgle (CD/CSM). In the spirit of a friendly, fluffier game, I'd be fielding a pile of ravenwing bikes but without the somewhat obligatory darkshroud and banner. My list consisted of Sammael, three units of bikes, two attack bikes, a land speeder, a big unit of black knights with an allied SM detachment featuring a libby on a bike, tactical squad in a rhino and a stormtalon (represented by a nephilim). It's a real shame I can't justify the real Nephilim but with the 40pt price difference and lack of Hover there really isn't any contest with the talon.

Jamie's half of our army consisted of a reclusiarch, sanguinary priests, jump pack assault squad, 5-man assault squad in a razorback, tactical squad in a rhino, death company and DC dread in a stormtalon, attack bike and a baal predator. The chaos forces consisted of two flying princes, plague drones, plaguebearers with heralds, great unclean one, Cypher with a big squad of CSM, plague marines, bikes, Typhus, soul grinder, obliterator and a defiler.

We were playing the Scouring with Dawn of War deployment. Jamie and I got the first turn so we deployed our bikes spread out with the theory being that if our opponents tried a refused flank deployment we'd have the speed to cover the ground. We also combat squaded everything we could. Whilst bigger squads would be better at tieing up enemy combat units we'd lose less when being shot at. Additionally there'd be less chance of our firepower being wasted on smaller units. Well all that and the fact that we'd got to try and cover as many objectives as possible to spread out the Chaos forces and hopefully weaken them.

Our opponents didn't try the refused flank and instead deployed their forces to match ours. Cypher and his large unit of nurgle CSM infiltrated near the centre of the board. They'd need to be dealt with early on. This was obvious bait but we couldn't afford to ignore them. Similarly the defiler and soul grinder would be a big problem for our foot troops. We were able to get a melta in range straight away thanks to scout moves but despite penetrating it's armour the daemonic invulnerable save prevented any damage. The bikes holding the melta would now surely feel the wrath of the great unclean one. Pretty much everything else focussed on Cypher and his unit. Sadly Cypher was giving his unit a 3+ cover save which was often 2+ with Night Fighting. Still, the combination of black knights (who helped out with their rad grenades) and ravenwing bikers the squad was cut down to size. We'd failed to kill anything for First Blood though.

Looking across the board we were concerned we'd over commited our bikes too early as we were well within range of everything in the Chaos horde. Unsurprisingly the GUO killed off the small squad of bikes who'd failed to destroy the defiler. The plague drones and daemon princes shot forwards with the drones engaging a squad of bikes in combat whilst the princes used their breath of chaos (I think) to kill off a pile of bikes. Meanwhile the chaos bikes, defiler and soul grinder cut swathes of bikes down. The bikes then charged their opposite numbers and caused them to fall back. I can't recall the exact number but I think we lost something like 18 bikes in the first turn alone!

Luckily both of our flyers arrived but thanks to classic cheesy play from Matt the flying daemon prince claimed a cover save from touching area terrain which was then boosted by Shrouded. The daemon prince was at least grounded but it still had a couple of wounds left. Meanwhile the BA attack bike and assault squads from the rhino and razorback tried to destroy the chaos rhino but failed. The jump pack squad tried the same with the baal predator lined up to flame the occupants. Once again the meltaguns failed to destroy their target. The predator had now nicely lined itself up as the GUO's next victim and the assault squad was forced to charge the rhino to destroy it. Meanwhile one of the DA attack bikes came on behind the defiler and penetrated it's armour with it's multimelta. Once again the defiler made it's 5+ save. Another ravenwing combat squad tried the same with a melta to the face of the soul grinder and once again the 5+ save was made. After an abysmal turn of shooting out only hope of causing any damage was the black knights charging Cypher and his unit and catching the DP in a multi-charge.

Sammael decided to take on the DP on his own whilst the Cypher challenged the black knight huntmaster. The prince struck out at Sammael but luckily he survived on a single would and was even more lucky when he managed to wound twice and kill off the prince! Meanwhile the knights killed off the remaining CSM in Cypher's squad. It was all down to the huntmaster now who miraculously managed to kill off Cypher too giving us 3 VP into the bargain. I wasn't convinced this was enough to turn the game around but it was certainly a big blow to our enemies. Even better when they realised they'd forgotten to the deploy the portalglyph (that Dan had converted up from some false teeth!).

Now we were in trouble as the Heldrake arrived. The combination of Heldrake and Daemon Prince saw off the black knights, librarian and Sammael with just their vector strikes and flamers. At least this left the DP out of combat and on the ground. The drones finished off their bikes and moved to take on the DA tactical squad who were tucked up in their rhino. The GUO easily smashed his way through the baal predator. The plague marines in the rhinos now targetted the blood angels. The bikers helped them by charging the jump packers. The defiler had forgotten all about the attack bike behind it but fortunately for our opponents the nearby squad of plaguebearers was able to get into combat with the bike.

Another attack bike was able to outflank right behind his comrade but suffered the same issue with defiler AGAIN making it's invulnerable save. The flyers teamed up to try and down the heldrake but failed. The stormraven disgorged it's occupants with the death company charging the daemon prince and the DC dread taking on some plaguebearers.

The chaos forces struck back with the soul grinder charging the DC dread. The drones weren't able to destroy the DA rhino but stripped two hull points from it. Our right flank had pretty much completely folded and things weren't getting better as Typhus arrived from deep strike to wade in to the combats in the centre of the board. The obliterator came in too and destroyed the BA rhino.

Victory seemed nearly impossible at this point but we still had some hope as thanks to the Scouring the land speeder and stormtalon would be scoring. The DA tac squad hopped out of their rhino to try and cut down the drones but could only kill one and suffered a charge from them as punishment. Luckily they were able to win out though and cling to their objective. That was until the heldrake came into contest it.

In the last turn we tried some desperation tactics and used the speeder and talon to contest our opponents' objectives whilst we tried to destroy the heldrake to reclaim our objective. It was too little too late though as the soul grinder took down the speeder (having dispatched the DC dread. Still the game finished 14-9 which was a lot closer than it felt.

To me our defeat game down to our inability to destroy vehicles even with half range melta. The soul grinder and defiler passed five or six 5+ invulnerable saves so they kept on shooting and whittling down our forces. Neither rhino fell to melta preventing us from charging the occupants. Not destroying these vehicles was huge but made more so by the fact that it left us exposed to reprisals.

Both Typhus (who was deep striking) and the GUO are pretty easily avoided with an army as mobile as ours but thanks to getting bogged down a lot of the time they were able to get stuck in. The other key factor was the widespread high toughness. Our army wasn't high on numbers due to the relative expense of bikes but their weaponry was better at dealing with high toughness than ours.

There could be a debate about whether we should've taken first turn or not. Being able to directly counter the powerhouses of the chaos forces would've been useful and we'd have been able to use our speed to dictate the terms of the battle. Not only that but we'd have been able to cover the objectives in the later turns with less chance of reprisal. Trouble is, with a bike army you really feel like you need to go first to make the most of the scout moves and ensure those Jink saves are available.

I can't say I especially enjoyed this game at the time. There were several instances of our tactics falling flat thanks to poor dice on our part or jammy dice on theirs. If we'd even killed one of their vehicles in that fateful turn 2 then things may have been very different. I must apologise to the group though as I was pretty mardy towards the end of the game.

Anyway, hopefully things will be much more fun in our next big game for which we'll be upping the ante to 4,000 points to see the Imperium (Matt/Jamie) face off against the Greenskins (Me/Dan). The Orks will be fielding a couple of stompas and our scouts report they'll be facing off against a baneblade, warhound and imperial knight. I'm (for the most part) enjoying these big games, not only because I love doubles but also because we're trying to minimise the amount of dirt/cheese in use.

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