Sunday, 27 January 2019

40k Escalation Tournament - Session 2

And so our second session came around quickly and I've updated my list to bring in some assault tanks (two Plagueburst Crawlers).

After the initial conflicts the "traitor" team is ahead in the overall score, and I'd won my first two games.

My list for this sessions was as follows:

Death Guard Battalion (8CP) - 999pts

++HQ (2 units)
Daemon prince of Nurgle with wings (Warlord) – 195 (“Krysler”)
Malefic talons, Plaguespewer
Suppurating plate Revoltingly resilient
Smite, Blades of putrefaction

Malignant plaguecaster (“Lastor”)
Pandemic staff (relic - 1CP) - 110
Smite, Plague wind, Miasma of pestilence

++Troops (3 units)
5 Plague marines 2x Blight launchers - 100
5 Plague marines 1x Blight launcher - 90
11 Poxwalkers - 66

++Fast (1 unit)
Foetid bloat drone 2x Plague spitters - 158

++Heavy (2 units)
Plagueburst crawler 2x Plague spitters & Heavy slugger - 140
Plagueburst crawler 2x Plague spitters & Heavy slugger - 140

My first battle was against an Aeldari force, the core of which were Rangers and Dark Reapers.

The mission was "Breakthrough" and as the attacker I had to assault the defended fortress and get my units off the far end.  this was going to be very tough for me, as a mostly tough but slow moving army.  It seemed a forlorn hope and that it would be very difficult to get anything off the table.  My plan therefore was to try to destroy the Aeldari, and deny them a victory by killing off their units.

The initial deployments

The Aeldari mill about preparing to take to the battlements.  the wraithlord would take position outside the gate, and the infantry took up positions in the towers and on the ramparts.

I deployed in as much cover as I could.  The plan was to bombard with the Plagueburst Crawlers, put the plague marines up to the walls as a distraction, and to get the Daemon Prince and Foetid Bloat drone in amonst the Aeldari to wipe them out.

The plan worked fairly well, and indeed most of the Aeldari were wiped out, but I just couldn't push forwards with enough force.  The battle ended with a 4pts to 1pt win for the Aeldari defenders.

Papa Nurgle wants us to sacrifice ourselves brothers!  So be it then; may His Garden grow...
 The attack goes in...

 Briefly, Aeldari banshees arrive to try to grab the outer objectives, and are quickly doused in corrupting filth by the daemon engine nearby.  They are wiped out!

The daemon prince and his copmanion bloat drone begin their blessed work butchering theyr way through the fort's defenders.

 His wet, giggling, howls ring across the battlefield as Krysler the daemon prince forces the surviving Aeldari to flee for their lives, but its not enough to prevent the loss.  The Death Guard do not break through the defender's lines.

It was a hard battle, which I was pleased to lose by so little a margin!

I think I did as much as I could to make the best of a hard scenario.

What I learned:

- The Plagueburst Crawler's mortar is a poor weapon, and its short range deathspitters are amazing (wiping out the banshees in one shot!)
- Every battle so far, my plague marines have been targetting early and reduced to 1-2 remaining in the unit, but those last two just. Don't. Die!

Game 2 was against Tom's so far all-conquering Sisters of Battle and this was a match I was looking forwards to.

We had three central objectives which would score each round, and score more if held by characters.  The Sisters had far more of those so this was going to be a tough fight for me.

I misdeployed my Plaguecaster in a defensive position in the backfield, fearing the sheer volume of bolter/melta/flamer fire the Sisters had.

Other than that things went to plan with a Plagueburst Crawler going solo on my right flank, the plague marines occupying the centre, and a strong left-flank advance with the daemon prince, bloat drone, and the other crawler...

The Sisters blocked up in the centre to gain local fire superiority and to take advantage of all their character aura buffs.  It was a good deployment and better than mine.

Celestine herself oversees her host!

On my right flank, things went as planned; I lost the plague marines, by the plagueburst crawler dominated, destroyed the sister Immolator tank and then proceeded to camp the objective here for the rest of the battle.

The Sisters dropped a large unit of Seraphim jump troops in to try to contest the flank.  Their bolt pistols and hand flamers chewed up the powwalkers milling around my Malignant plaguecaster but after their drop, the Plaguecaster's psychic power, and the plagueburst crawler's death spitters all but wiped out the flying Sisters.

All the action was on the other flank though with the main power of both armies locking horns.  Celestine was killed...twice...and the Sisters gasped in frustration as the Death Guard giggled in glee, shrugging off swathes of Righteous flame, and point blank melta fire!

Come to Papa's Embrace my children!  He has such blessed infections for you to enjoy...

The game ended, and although the Death Guard "won the fight" (there were few Sisters units remaining), the Sisters had player a better battle and won the battle, taking most of the Victory Points.

It was a good, fun game.

Things I learned:

- Keep your eyes on the objectives
- Get your deployment right
- The Death Guard really can shrug off a lot of damage 

So two wins for the first session, and two losses for this session.  

I must say I'm really enjoying Warhammer 40k.

Some shots from the other battles...

Tyranids in great host...

More 'Nids, defending the fortress from the Loyalist Astra Militarum.

The Blood Angels captain intends to personally sort out these traitorous guardsmen... 

The Traitor Guardsmen

Tyranids swarming!

The brave loyalist Astra Militarum led by Commander Pask.

The tournament standings are now as follows:

<¥> Allied Forces <¥>
Games Played: 13 Pts: 34 Average: 2.6
John - Astartes Blood angles - P:3 Pts 0 Av: 0
Matthew - Astra Militarum - P: 4 Pts: 4 Av: 1
Thomas -Sisters of Battle - P:4 Pts: 24 Av: 6
Harry - Eldar P:2 Pts:6 Av:3

* Traitor Forces * 
Games Played:9 Pts:34 Average:3.8
Stephen - Death Guard - P:4 Pts:12 Av: 3
Tom(Ash) - Dark Eldar - P:2 Pts:6 Av: 3
Joel - Astra Militarum - P:3 Pts:16 Av: 5.3

••The Devouring ••
Games Played:4 Pts:12 Average:3
Bob (Robert) - Nids P:3 Pts 6 Av: 2
Mike&Son - Nids P:1 Pts 6 Av: 6

Traitors winning by 0.8pts

The star of the show so far though are Tom's Sisters of Battle.

Now to figure out my next 250pt uplift...

Monday, 14 January 2019

40k Escalation Tournament - Session 1

A New Year brings on new projects and at our club a few of us have decided to dive into Warhammer 40,000 (40k) 8th Edition.  This is something I’d planned elsewhere (that didn’t come off), so I was happy to get involved.

The format over the next few weeks (a Sunday session every two weeks) is for an “escalation” tournament; starting at 750pts and adding 250pts each session.  We therefore plan the sessions to be 750, 1000, 1250, 1500, and finishing at 1750pts.  This will allow us to gradually build up a decent army over the course of the tournament.  There’s also a loose narrative to tie everything together.  The intention is that as our armies grow, we keep what we already have, but add to it.  There’s a certain leeway to drop some things at each escalation, but they need to be reintroduced at the next upgrade.  These aren’t hard and fast though, its more a narrative thing to keep the forces we’ve chosen looking like evolutions rather than full rebuilds.  From the discussions at session one, I get the impression, most people will be heading into the Knight list for some heavy unit upgrades later on...

Taste the future...

Its also worth noting that most if not all of us had barely actually played 40k 8th ed, so we were all new to the game and new to our armies.  The learning curves are going to be steep indeed.

I have an extensive Crimson Fists Space Marine force that I’ve been steadily collecting and upgrading since 40k 1st Edition, but I haven’t really played more than a couple of games since 4th Ed.  I’d planned to jump back in last year and bought the Dark Imperium boxed set to upgrade the marines.

Turns out there were also Death Guard marines in it and I’d already painted up the stuff in the box, plus a few extras.  So I figured that in the spirit of the escalation I’d dive into this new “traitor” faction.  After much deliberation (an enjoyable part of our hobby is list-building and tinkering about with your army organisation) I settled on the following list.

Death Guard Battalion (8CP) - 747pts

++HQ (2 units)
Daemon prince of Nurgle with wings (Warlord) – 195 (“Krysler”)
Malefic talons, Plaguespewer
Suppurating plate Revoltingly resilient
Smite, Blades of putrefaction

Malignant plaguecaster (“Lastor”)
Pandemic staff (relic - 1CP) - 110
Smite, Plague wind, Miasma of pestilence

++Troops (3 units)
5 Plague marines 2x Blight launchers - 100
5 Plague marines 2x Blight launchers - 100
14 Poxwalkers - 84

++Fast (1 unit)
Foetid bloat drone 2x Plague spitters - 158

I decided to build the core battalion first, to get a good “shape” and balance to the tabletop capabilities, but also to bring in the most Command Points I could at this stage.  This meant that I needed 2 HQ and 3 Troop choices.

I knew the armies in the tournament included on the Loyalist team, Blood Angels, Astra Militarum, and Sisters of Battle.  On the Traitor team we had Drukhari, Astra Militarum (“traitors”), and whatever I bring (Death Guard as it turns out).  We also had Tyranids as a “floating” list to come in on either side if needed.

So, with the battalion restrictions in place I had to use two HQs.  It seems that in 40k you need to compete in each phase of the game so I wanted two psykers (“spell casters”) to challenge in the Psychic Phase.  They can dish out pain, buff friendly units and “deny the witch” but potentially shutting off the opponent’s psykers too.  Both my HQs therefore would have psyker powers.  There’s also another consideration for this – my army would be fairly weak in anti-tank capability, and psykers being able to dish out “mortal wounds” would help fill this gap a little.  The Malignant Plaguecaster seemed a good choice as the “main psyker”.

I knew both from a gameplay perspective, but also from a “fluff” or narrative perspective that I wanted this army (called a “Tallyband” buy the Death Guard) to be the personal guard/force of a Nurgle Daemon Prince so I chose that unit as my Warlord.  I tooled him up with psyker, shooting, and melee capabilities so he could contest every part of the game.  At nearly 200pts of my 750pts available it’s a big investment, but worth it.  I’m thinking of where the army will be at 1750pts, so I was happy to overbalance a bit at the start.

The troop choices took some thinking about; and finally I settled on plague marines.  They’re tough but expensive so I could only bring in two units.  Maxing out the blight launchers seems the sensible approach as they allow the marines to advance and fire, overcoming their inherent lack of mobility.  I took two units of 5.  

I needed a third Troop choice though so went with Poxwalkers over Cultists as cheap “filler”.  As it turns out, even without Typhus to buff them, the Poxwalkers were excellent “bubble wrap” for my Malignant Plaguecaster; “they die; they live again!”

I wanted a Foetid Bloat Drone in too as I like the model and I wanted a bodyguard for my Warlord.

So I was happy that I had a robust force with some good anti infantry and mid range firepower.  Armour worried me as only my psykers were reliably putting hits on them with Mortal wounds.

So to Session 1...

(Apologies for the pictures – I got so wrapped up in trying to learn and play, that I forgot to take battle images...luckily others took a few so I’ve plundered them for illustrative purposes – with permission of course (thanks Joel)).

Also, the Adeptus Mechanicus player didn’t turn up.

First up I was facing John’s Blood Angels.  John was fielding the following...


This was pretty much our first game each so the learning curve started here.  We were playing the <<SCENARIO>> so there were 6 objectives to take and hold.

John deployed three units of scouts (two with sniper rifles) camped on his objectives, and a unit of 10 tactical marines.  Clearly he had stuff held in reserves, so I set up my plague marines and poxwalkers spread out to hold my objectives by also to block deep strikes into my backfield.  I set the bloat drone and daemon prince off on an aggressive warpath into the Blood Angel’s backfield with great success.

John kept his assault marines and HQs off the board until turn three, giving me two full turns of unopposed psyker power, and allowing me to fight only half his army.  When they did arrive, they dropped right into the “jaws” of my army and were killed off fairly quickly.

My Plague Marines taking the fight to the Blood Angels

"Be vewwy qwiet...we're hunting space mawwines..". 

Kit-bashed blight launchers...

When the last Blood Angel died on turn 5 I’d lost 4 plague marines.

What I learned:
- The poxwalkers, even basic, were far more effective than I’d expected; able to soak tremendous damage and keep coming back for more.
- A Plague caster with Pandemic Staff relic kicks out a lot of mortal wound damage.
- Plague marines seem to die when first shot at, but the survivors stick around and are hard to shift.
And from what John did:
- Small infantry units are better (minimises morale losses)
- Don’t keep you main units off the board in reserve – especially your psyker who can “deny the witch”.

So onto my second battle, which was against Matt’s Astra Militarum.

Matt’s Astra Militarum

Battalion detachment ‘746’– 5CP + 3CP battle forged

++HQ (3 units)

1x Company Commander - ‘31’ (Monty Greenstone)
1x bolt gun, 1x chain sword
Warlord – Grand strategist
Heirloom –Lorelle of command

Knight Commander Pask - ‘239’
Leman Russ 1x Gatling cannon, 1x lascannon, 2x plasma cannon

1x Primaris Psyker - ‘46' (Rincewind the malicious)
1x force stave ‘8’
Night shroud
Psychic maelstrom

++Troops (3 units)

1x Infantry squad (10) - ‘52’
1x mortar, 1x Plasma gun

1x Infantry squad (10) - ‘54’
1x heavy bolter, 1x flamer

1x Infantry squad (10) - ‘67’
1x lascannon, 1x plasma gun

++Heavy (1 unit)

1x Manticore - ‘133’
1x heavy bolter

++Elite (1 unit)

1x Bullygrins - ‘126’
3x bullygrin mauls, 2x slab shield, 1x brute shield

Bullgryns prep for the charge to take the relic...

We were playing the Relic scenario so the mission was to get an infantry unit to grab and hold the centrally placed relic until the end of the battle.  Given that I was both outnumbered and facing the horror of a tooled up Pask I was not hopeful for a win out of this.

Matt set up in a tight backfield castle, overseen by Pask.  He sent his Bullgryns forwards to successfully capture the relic and drag it back to his lines.  In the opening slavo, both my Plague marine units were dropped to a lone survivor, and both stuck around (one eventually deserving a Stratgem to restore a lost marine!).

Poxwalkers press forward to try to stop them, but the bullgryns make off with their prize.

This meant that I had to push forwards to try to take the relic; so I went all-out aggressive with everything pushing up – a style of play I like!

My plaguecaster, wrapped in poxwalkers lumbered straight up the centre, smiting for all he was worth, and buffing the poxwalkers with miasma of pestilence.  He managed to butcher the Bullgryns with psyker power buffed by the pandemic staff!  On both flanks, the lone plague marines lumbered on into cover to lay down their blight launcher fire, and despite much attention from the Militarum infantry, shrugged off lasguns and plasma fire to keep going!

Daemon prince and bloat drone sweep in to wipe out the Militarum.

My main attack came from the plague daemon warlord and the foetid bloat drone, that double-teamed into the enemy gunline and with a combination of psyker power, plague spitters, plague spewer and close assault, quickly shredded them to suppurating goo! 

The game rolled on into turn 7 and at the end of the game, Pask (reduced to less than half wounds) stood alone in his rapidly rusting tank.  My daemon prince remained on one wound, but crucially a single plague marine survived, having climbed to an upper floor with the relic.

An excellent game that swung back and forth until the final dice roll...

A second win of the day for me.

Things I learned:
- Poxwalkers aren’t just bullet sponges (including from Pask); they made a successful melee charge, replacing their losses along the way, and it took Pask turning his full attention onto them as they threatened to batter against his hull, to finally wipe them out with 40 Gatling cannon shots!
- Plague marines are brick.
- The plague daemon / foetid bloat drone combo is brutal once it gets into range.  Together they took everything the Militarum (including Pask, most of the infantry, and psyker) could throw at them for 4 full turns and kept going.  Although the bloat drone eventually fell, and the daemon lost 7 out of 8 wounds they were the stars of the match for me.  The fact that the daemon only has 8 wounds means it can hide behind the bloat drone!
What I learned from Matt
- Pask is horrible to face.  SO MUCH fire and rerolls (Gatling cannon stationary is 40 shots hitting on 2’s, rerolling 1’s...ugh...)
- Astra Militarum wall of fire is scary, but if you can get through it they are super squishy in melee.  I found that their morale could be used against them too, so you only need to knock out half in a unit to watch most of the others flee... 

And so for the results on the day

We’re using an “averages” point system so that players aren’t locked in and we can have a more relaxed atmosphere to the event.  The results after day 1 are as follows:

Session 1 - First Strike - 750pts

Death Guard (Steve (me)) – Played 2; Won 2; Pts 12; Av 6
Traitor Astra Militarum (Joel) – Played 1; Won 1; Pts 6; Av 6
Druhkari (Tom) – Played 2; Won 1; Lost 1; Pts 6; Av 3
Average points overall: 4.8

Imperium Loyalists
Sister of Battle (Tom) – Played 2; Won 2; Pts 12; Av 6
Astra Militarum (Matt) - Played 2; Lost 2; Pts 0; Av 0
Blood Angels (John) - Played 2; Lost 2; Pts 0; Av 0
Average points overall: 2

Tyranids (Bob) – Played 1; Lost 1; Pts 0; Av 0
Average points overall: 0

So the Traitor forces are ahead by 2.8 pts (See the narrative below).

Overall, as a first real intro to 40k, admittedly among a group of inexperienced players, I had an immensely fun time.  Not sure I’ve enjoyed wargaming this much in many moons!  Now onto upgrading the list to 1000pts.

Much kudos has to go to the players in the group too.  Most of us either knew each other but not well, or had met for the first time and it was a great day’s gaming played in a good natured and relaxed spirit of pushing toys about, chucking bones, and having fun doing it!

Can’t wait for session 2 in a couple of weeks!


Before the battles...

+++Message from: Lord Inquisitor Grey+++
++Message secure: Decoding ... Decoded++

++Message to: Admiral Blackthorn, commander of the Abbess assault fleet
+Message Subject: Update on task force mission

Admiral Blackthorn, this information is for you and your chief of staff only.

As you know, you are leading a fleet and ground forces in order to assist in the rescue of trapped Imperial civilians on San Leor, possible rescue of important relics and, if possible, the rescue of the Cathedral planet.

Unfortunately, this may not be possible. We have attached a Blood Angels company that will meet you at the staging point and be good assault troops as well as Adeptus Mechanics who maybe needed against dug in opponents.

Adepta Sororitas are also en route and have been asked to seek your advice before making their strike.

Some history on the planet. The planet was invaded by the Red Corsairs in 799.M41, culminating in the San Leor Massacre when six Orders Militant of the Adepta Sororitas brought retribution with a counter-attack that annihilated the invading Heretic Astartes.

Then two months ago a xenos threat, a Tyranid hive fleet, have send a splinter tendril towards San Leor. The forces of the Adepta Sororitas alongside their local Navy have been dealing with this invasion and coping.

However, forces of Death Guard Heretic Astartes have taken this opportunity and their fleet have taken the system by surprise. The local fleet let them slip past their lines misidentifying them as the reinforcements which they had requested.

The heretics have taken key positions as well as allied traitor mercenary guard who have kept and held key cities and also have a small naval fleet.

Also xenos Aeldari have been reported on the planet. Although it cannot be confirmed we believe these forces to be hostile.

As you know, the strike forces at your disposal are to hit at key areas to enable you to secure important objectives and to land the bulk of your forces.

You are to rescue and take command of forces trapped on the planet to retrieve them or utilise them as part of a counter strike.

However, what you did not know is that once important religious items have been retrieved, we will ‘report’ a higher proportion of rescued troops than expected and then you will be granted the authority to orbitally bombard the planet, regardless of who is left on it.

Let the traitors feel our wrath,
Lord Inquisitor Grey
+++Message End+++

After the battles...

Colonel Garseer looked over the map appraisingly with other officers. Only two days ago he and his men were cut off, surrounded and besieged in San Leor city by the Death Guard.

“Krysler, may have pulled his foul pox-ridden forces out, but we are not out of the woods yet. The blessed Blood Angels have had contact with Krysler forces,” Garseer shook his head, “I asked the Blood Angels to clear the trenches to the South, but the traitor regiment lead by a Captain Felidae was dug in and they were supported by heavy weaponry and armour.” He shook his head giving the officers the impression it hadn’t gone well.

Garseer looked over as a haggard officer hurried in, covered in muck and bleeding from a gouge in his face.

“Sir! I’m Company commander Monty Greenstone, 2nd Column, we were ambushed while trying to secure the landing site at the North ridge.”

Colonel Garseer offered him a place at the table, “Yes, I heard, cursed Eldar Raiders! I hear you had a few loses? How did the forces of the Emperor fare?”

“Well sir, what remained of the column had to give up on the site, we were then ordered on our return to the ruin of Beau Repare Cathedral. We had a priority mission to retrieve a statue or some such, I didn’t ask....”

Garseer looked wearily at the other officers around the table, “Greenstone, get to the point, we are sorely pressed!”

“Well sir, the statue had already been taken and all we found there were bodies. They were Sister of Battle as well as Xenos creatures. That’s when we came under fire from Tallyband; Krysler was there. Presuming Krysler wanted the statue also.”

“Sisters? Canoness Laelia won’t answer any of our hails or report in. I think they know we can’t save this planet. You’ve been out on the front, what is your view Commander Greenstone? Can we save it? ”

“Sir,” he wiped the blood off his face with an oily cloth, “without any landing sites, and unless we, the Sisters, and Blood Angels don’t start putting some holes in the enemy lines, I think we will be lucky to save ourselves.”

The remaining force lists were as follows

Sisters of Battle (Tom)

The Sisterhood of the Alabaster Citadel
Order Conviction: Stoic Endurance

++HQ (2 Units)
Canoness Laelia, the Adamant Lady. Power Maul, Condemor Boltgun - 45
Warlord trait: Indomitable Belief
Relic: The Book of Saint Lucius

Celestine - 160

++Troops (3 Units)
5 Battle Sisters. 2 Meltaguns, 1 combi-flamer - 81
5 Battle Sisters. 2 Meltaguns, 1 combi-flamer - 81
5 Battle Sisters. 2 Flamers, 1 combi-melta - 72

++Elites (1 Unit)
Sister Dialogus - 30

++Fast Attack (1 Unit)
6 Dominions. 5 Storm Bolters, 1 Simulacrum Imperialis - 80

++Dedicated Transports (2 Units)
Immolator. Immolation Flamer - 98
Immolator. Immolation Flamer – 98

Some of the other tables...