Thursday, 7 September 2017

Warhammer 40,000 - Druchii vs. Crimson Fists

This evening, something happened that has not happened for an age; I played Warhammer 40,000.

Like many wargamers, I cut my tabletop teeth on the "gateway games" of Games Workshop's (GW) offerings, including the first edition of Warhammer 40,000: Rogue Trader, but I haven't played in that realm since 3rd edition (late 1990's).  However, for various reasons my inner moth has been drawn back to that particular flame with the recent release of 8th edition.  I've already trown my wallet into the door of my local GW Store and purchased the library of new books (immeidately obsolete it seems), the base gamebox (hooboy those minis are lovely!), peripherals etc. and resolved, like with 5th, 6th, and 7th editions, to never getting round to actually playing!  however, several read throughs had me champing at the bit to give this version a go.  GW seemed to me to have sorted out a decent game. 

Discussing other matters and plans with my friend Graeme, mostly revolving around how to access rules to do the sort of large-scale skirmishing in "Darkest Africa" that is on the planning table (psuedo-Colonial games appear to be on the rise in the historical wargames community, even among the sneering fraternity who normally deingrate fantasy/sci-fi games while pushing around their mock-Napoleonic "ImagiNation" forces) we proposed to give 8th edition a try.  The plan was "if these rules work will kitbash them into something we can use elsewhere".  

So tonight we put roughly 850pts each on the tabletop.  I say roughly, as when trying to work out how this works, I'm sure I didn't quite get it right and it took a bit of web-fu to find the debates around what's included in a figure's points value.  I've got that sorted now but for this I way have stuffed up a bit.

Both Graeme and I broke out our antique figures, forged in the mists of time, in the centuries back when Games Workshop produced metal miniatures.  My collection mixes in a few younger toys including really rather poor (and misnamed) "Finecast" resin figures, but like Graeme's collection, mine certainly includes some venerable ancients!

Back in 3rd ed. when I was a GW store manager, I collected a sizable Raven Guard army but over the years I've been slowly repainting this as a Crismson Fists force.  I hate the colour blue, but I'm willing to accept it for the first, coolest, and most studly chapter of marines.

I mean come on!
This is awesome!!  Look at the heroic beakies!
I had the following force (roughly):

Pedro Kantor as my commander
5 Tactical Marines (plasma pistol and flamer)
5 Tactical Marines (plasma pistol and plasma gun)
5 Tactical Marines (plasma pistol and melta gun)
6 Bike Marines (melta gun and attack bike with heavy bolter)
5 Scouts (camo cloacks, 3 sniper rifles, 1 heavy bolter)
1 Dreadnaught (multi melta and dreadnaught fist)

Graeme on the other hand took his Dark Eldar Druchii; a faction the GW have traditionally neglected.  I'm not sure what he had in detail but i think it was:

1 Archon (with cool shimmering armour field)
4 Incubi with glaives
5 Wytches on a Raider transport
7 Scourges (tooled up with anti-tank guns)
10 Warriors
10 Warriors
6 Jetbikers
Most of what he had was also ripped off their nappers on combat drugs, stims, and assorted intoxicants that made them better than basic; and it seemed the more the battle went on, the more whacked out they got!  I loved that theme for the army.

We decided to build "battalion formations", and both promptly made a mess of it and failed to meet the requirements.  Nil desperandum, we proceeded as if we had to give us enough "Command Points" to play around with the "strategems" element of the rules; a very nice mechanic that allows you to add in abilities and effects that are specific either to the scenario or army you're currently playing.

We also decided to play the "patrol" scenario because this allowed us to start with only a few units on the board.  Having only a few things to track early on, meant we could work slowly through the rules and figure out what we're doing; and as the game progressed we could feed other units in, helping us try out some of the scenario rules as well.  As it turned out, this worked very nicely, and aside from the constant reference to the unit data sheets (due to our lack of familiarity), things ticked along quite nicely.

This is how the battle went.

The boys on parade.  Sadly, we had to draft in some of the Raven Guard snipers and bikers...
Also, I forgot to get a photo of the Druchii line-up.

Marine snipers survey the battlefield from their vantage point.  
Their patrol recon reports back to HQ the presence of hated xenos, as their scopes seek out any enemy leaders.

Early action saw the sneaky Druchii bring their flying bike warriors onto my flank.  The mechanism to do this was a neat part of the rules, with "command points" being used to purchase "stratagems" to affect how things happen in the game; in this case allowing the Druchii reserves to come on from any board edge rather than their base table edge.  Neat!  My counter options to this involved being able to make Graeme's reserve rolls worse in an attempt to delay their arrival, while boosting mine so that I could try to overwhelm him before his full force arrived.  These elements of the game are an excellent addition that really seemed to enhance the tactical play.

Anyway, the jetbikers swept in on the flank of my road bikers, laid down some fairly ineffective splinter rifle fire (these Druchii weapons are good against infantry, not so good against vehicles) before charging into close assault.  We think we got this right, and it seems that units can move, shoot, and charge into melee in the same turn, so lots of tactical options there.  As the Druchii bikes are also Flyers, it seems they can also flee the melee and still fire - something that non-flyers can't usually do.  This is a big tactical advantage.

This brutal fight on our right flank drew in my dreadnaught and together with the frankly awsome bikers combined with a terrifying dreadnaught close assault weapon tore the Druchii bikers to pieces! 

I alsways liked marine bikers way back, and in this edition they seem like a "must have" unit.  Fast moving, tough as nails, hard hitting and able to kick out a ton of bolter fire, this unit more than any gave Graeme's army trouble.  If fact in our discussions after the game he was of the opinion that he needed something in his list to specifically deal with them!

Meanwhile, over on the other flank, a small section of marines encounter wytches on a raider flying transport.  The Druchii disembark, volley shots and then charge in.  We couldn't find anything that said you have to be able to see the target of your charge into melee move, which seemed odd.  I'll do some post-game homework on that point to make sure we did it right.

Outnumbered the doughty marines are jumped on, and despite fighting hard they are eventually cut down.

It's also interesting that vehicles can charge into melee.  We presumed this is the crew rolling up and engaging.  Even though the marines (here with the meltagun) were beaten, they gave a good account of themselves and killed ff a few wytches.  I wasn't sure whether the sergeant could use his plasma pistol in melee, so I didn't use it.

They died with their boots on...

With the Druchii flank move destroyed, Pedro Kantor, the commander of the force, sorts out a fighting line for the advancing xenos coming across from the other flank.  

By now, my marine reinforcements have arrived and I've organised them now into a fairly solid line of boltguns.  The "patrol" scenario is a simple "kill the enemy" affair so we're lokking to kill off each other's units.  the main marine advantage appears to be short range "rapid fire" shooting so i wanted to stand off and put some shots down range into the Druchii.  My snipers in the ruins have a special ability that allows them to target the Druchii leader wherever he is (normall he has to be the closest model) so I try some shots there.  They hit but is blur-field armour thing means he sinply avoid those shots.  Eveything else opens up in a bolt-storm.

The man himself!
"Still we stand, with fire in our eyes and valour in our hearts. Let them think us beaten. We shall teach them otherwise."
 The Druchii wytches, fresh from their success, mount their raider again and slice swiftly through the air towards the Space Marine lines.

It becomes clear to both of us that mobility is vital for most units and foot-slogging infantry need transports.  I think both of us will be investing in fast moving troops or transports.  I like the (dis)embarking rules now, which seem simple and provide for some interesting tactical options for "battle taxis".  Long gone is the "rhino-rush" tactic though! 

Meanwhile, the Druchii reinforcements arrive.  At long last, as Graeme had consistently failed his dice rolls to bring on his reserves.  According to the scenario, at this stage of the game they came on automatically!  Good job too or Graeme may never have got them on.

His reinforcements also including a heavily armed cabal of scourges, tooled up with anti-armour weapons.  These were qite a nasty shock to my dreadnaught that had, up to this point, felt almost entirely safe amid the buzzing storms of ineffectual splinter-fire.

Swooping into the battle, their dread weapons rake the Marine ancient warrior encased in his dreadnaught and nearly fell him in a single volley!

I forget the name of the weapns used, but it was a real surprise to see my venerable warrior almost completely taken out in one shooting phase!  He survived with one wound though.  Now, I think we made a mistake here, because I actually made a morale check for him for the lost wounds, but I think it wasn't needed as only "destroyed models" prompt the morale test.  Lesson learned there.

Actually, the Morale thing was the bit we found confusing.  Rolling 1d6+losses to stay under morale seemed to mean that in almost every case, both sides would always's the point of the Morale test?  I'm sure it'll become clear the more we play.

Reduced to a single wound but a punishing fusillade!

The scenario reached its final game turns and the Druchii and marines engage in their final showdown.

With the Raider shot down by bolters, it didn't explode and the Wytches survived.

Come you aliens, show me what passes for fury amongst your misbegotten kind!
Sustained bolter fire brings down the raider, and a desperate melee ensues.

And the battle ends with the marines up 3 points to 2, for a marginal win.

All told an excellent first game.  I'm pretty sure we did a few things wrong but we both came away from this trial game eager to play again.  

Warhammer 40,000 8th edition is just a good fun game an I hope to be playing a fair bit more of it.


  1. Nice. Not a great fan of 40K. But your batrep was very entertaining. Thanks for posting.

  2. 1-20 A2? as in Hyperdyne Systems Model 1-20 A2? (I alway thought the A2s were a bit "twitchy")

    Anyway, great report!

    I'm in the same boat - haven't really played since Rogue Trader and just getting back into it. I have kids now, their friends are into it... so...

    Actually we'd picked up 7th and tried a game or two and were pretty underwhelmed - but 8th is looking a lot better and I'm really looking forward to having a go at it myself.

    (I'm pretty sure I read somewhere that anything that is designated "pistol" can be used in melee).

    1. "Twitchy"? That could never happen now with our behavioural inhibitors. It is impossible for me to harm or by omission of action, allow to be harmed, a human being.

      I'm very impressed with 8th. Its far from perfect but then what game system is (apart from Warband of course...hehe...)? But I'm currently finding it a very enjoyable game and there's lots to love about it.

  3. Nice looking battle report!

    To answer your questions...

    Yes, you can shoot your plasma pistol in the shooting phase even if the sergeant is in close combat. That's the big benefit of pistols!

    For morale: rolling d6 + losses under your Leadership score might seem easy at first, but once losses start to mount it becomes more difficult. In addition, many armies (such as Chaos Space Marines) have penalties that inflict additional Leadership penalties.

    Hope that helps!