The battle was played out in our subterranean enclave known as The (or Das) Bunker, on a 4' x 4' board with (roughly) 1,000 points a side. My own army, 2 Battalion of the Palladian Guard (army list here). The opponents: valiant Spears of Mawdryn. It was going to be bloody. I was using my own house rules for Palladians, while Headologist was trying out some rules of his own which emphasised the hit-and-run nature of his own marines. Anyway, with an Annihilate/Spearhead mission duly selected randomly, battle commenced...
|Imperial gunline, with Captain |
Nero and his
The Spearhead setup called for four table quarters, each side deploying in the opposite corner. Our terrain consists of most of the Cities of Death set, with the addition of the Ruined Chapel piece. I plugged for a fairly traditional concave gunline, flanks protected by a Demolisher and the Platoon Command Squad.
|Mawdryn attack bike (chariot)|
Winning the roll for first turn, I pushed my Hardened Veterans towards the centre along the edge of the Imperial Palace. Some lucky movement, as well as the Land Speeder's pre-move, meant that I was in range with my Meltagun. Huzzah! Wanting to make sure I brought the thing down, I appropriately issued the Bring it Down! order which allowed me to fire the meltagun as twin-linked. None of the other weapons could fire since I moved, so it was all down to the meltagun! Despite securing a hit, a measly one meant that the Speeder was unscathed and my Vets were horribly exposed to all those spikes on that Chariot as well. Uh oh! In other action that turn, my Salamander managed to blast away one of the scouts from Sniper's tower with a couple of autocannon rounds. Otherwise, I was reasonably static and couldn't see much else, content to wait for my foe to approach me.
|Veterans lying in wait|
with a meltagun.
Now, for Headologist's reply. With the other scouts moving round towards my Demolisher and the Ruined Offices, a sneaky deep strike of his commander, Captain Keresyk, landed right in front of the Salamander and messed up all my plans. In the shooting phase, the Land Speeder took his revenge on the Veterans and frag missiled them, killing two. The scouts in the tower managed to snipe one of the command squad as they approached Sniper's Tower. But the real pain came in the assault phase, with the Chariot smashing into the exposed Veterans, killing one, but assuring them of a hard fight if I wanted this unit to survive the next assault phase.
|Captain Keresyk deep striking.|
|Scout Flambe! Sgt|
Mordwydd meets a toasty end.
Now, the retaliation. Another hit to my plans came in the form of another Deep Strike, this time with a full squad of Sgt Caswyn's 10 marines pretty much landing on top of the Salamander. Damn. I wasn't prepared for this much, and the battle lines were shifting uncomfortably. The squad on top of the Ruined Offices suffered three casualties from Sgt Ysgarran's squad of 5 Marines. Another great victory came in the assault phase as the chariot smashed its way through the Hardened Veterans, sending them fleeing then cutting them down mercilessly. A barrage of missile launchers failed to hit the salamander, but the Guard squad on the southern flank was then wiped out with a combined shooting attack and charge from the chariot. Two units wiped out in one turn.
|Two army commanders locked in|
mortal combat - the way it should be!
My shooting phase, as was usual, the busiest but Turn 3 was quiet for me. Turning back to fire the Demolisher onto Sgt Ysgarran's squad, I failed to hit anything. The Salamander managed to claw back some honour for the Imperium by blowing up the chariot with a lucky autocannon shot. The assault phase was a little better, as the platoon commander managed to wipe out the pesky scouts in Sniper's Tower.
Then came the retaliation, as the marines tightened their grip on my bashed-up battle line and Sgt Caswyn's squad blew the Salamander to bits with krak grenades. After two turns of cut-and-thrust combat (and definitely helped by the softening up before the assault) Captain Nero managed to hack down Capt Keresyk's squad. Although I was securing a few nice little nuggets, I seemed to be loosing units every turn. This was going to be close.
|A lucky plasma pistol shot|
takes down the Speeder.
Another relatively swift turn from Headologist; the only two units left now were Sgt Caswyn's still-strong squad which managed to wound Nero and the Commissar with a volley of bolter fire, and Sgt Ysgarran trying vainly to blow the Demolisher to bits with some optimistic krak-grenading.
|The game came to a close with Sgt|
Ysgarran struggling to get through
the thick armour of the stunned
The turns were over in a matter of minutes now, with just one or two shots/combats to determine. In the penultimate turn, the Demolisher managed (finally) to get a good shot at Sgt Caswyn's squad, blasting eight of them into oblivion, but the two remaining warriors stood fast (including a worrying-looking missile launcher).
Caswyn ordered the last remaining marine to load a krak missile, and it came close to blowing the Demolisher apart. A four to hit, a six to glance the front armour ... but a healthy low damage roll meant that he would survive the turn, albeit unable to move next turn.
The armies were pretty much packed up by now, with only one or two dice to roll. The surviving Guard managed to take down Sgt Ysgarran's squad to its last man (still krak-grenading the rear armour of the Demolisher).
With only one active model now, the only thing left to do was fire off a last missile launcher ... but as the dice bounced off the corner of the Imperial Palace and flipped to reveal a '2', the shot was missed, and the game was over.
Since the marines only had two models left, the Guard were the victors, but victory was bittersweet; only four men and the Demolisher left alive out of nearly forty who began the match.
Result: IMPERIAL GUARD VICTORY
|The Army commanders eye each other up before the|
|Useless Hardened Veterans, cut down by|
|The Ruined Offices were an excellent vantage point for the Heavy|
Bolters but also meant the squad didn't last long up there.
|The Salamander's final moments ...|
|Capt Nero, moments before nearly being|
blown up by his own tank.
What a fantastic re-introduction to 40k in what must be my first game in over four years.
Almost immediately I was placed in a conundrum over which vehicle to aim for first: the Salamander or the Demolisher. With the Palladian Guard being more dependant on Officers and commands than your average Guardsmen (but deadly when it all comes together), I opted to focus most of my efforts on the Salamander. The plan initially went awry when my Drop Pod-bound Captain and Assault Marines drifted seven inches away from the target. I never managed to get them towards it at all if I recall correctly. My attempts to get the Scouts of Sgt Morddwyd, armed with melta bombs, round what cover was available to get to the Demolisher failed miserably as it spewed forth flames at more and negating any cover save at all. The 5-man Tac. Squad of Sgt Ysgarran fared a little better and lasted throughout the game, able to get a little flamey retribution of their own for Sgt. Morddwyd – with their flamer taking out a chunk of the squad perched above the Demolisher's “garage roof,” but fared less well against the Demolisher, lacking anything better than Krak grenades. See point 1 of lessons identified.
The game definitely highlighted the importance of sportsmanship, without it we would have respectively kept an intact Land Speeder and a fully mobile Demolisher, but the game would perhaps not have been as fun as it was. It may have been an Imperial Guard victory, albeit a narrow one, but it was a thoroughly enjoyable game.
- Every unit is taking melta bombs. I don't care who they are, they're packing something to deal with bloody tanks.
- Lascannons. If I had been able to equip a Marine with a lascannon today, I certainly would have done. Alas, there was none on my plastic sprues so I left it off the list. The next time I'm in the local model shop, I shall be purchasing one!
- Take transports. I had originally planned to take a Rhino, but having been lazy and not managed to build it yet, I deployed without it. Had I been able to take one, I may have been able to deal with the Demolisher on the other flank. I'm still undecided as to whether drop pods or transports are better – drop pods are the more fluffy choice however.
- Drop Pods have weapons. Despite mentioning on several occasions that the drop pod did at least have a storm bolter, I missed every opportunity to fire it. Sure, it wasn't a game changer, but taking your time and being systematic is never usually a bad thing.
- I cannot land a hit with Power Fists. Every roll I made, and in total there must have been about five or six between Captain Keseryk and Sergeant Caswyn who embarked on the field as power pugilists, neither of them managed to land a single hit – I pictured them desperately trying to lift their arm from the ground as Guardsmen mercilessly walloped them with rifle buts.
- Establish whether buildings are accessible or not. I spent most of the game going round the central Palace, when I reality I could perhaps I have taken my Scouts through it, thus getting to the Demolisher with my melta bomb scouts without them being barbecued. Still, I think it was more fun to have a huge impassable hulk in the middle of the board.