We didn't go for a structured mission - given the fairly small nature of our forces and the chance that we might have to call the game early, we did a simple Take And Hold where we had to rush scoring units onto a centre building. That way, if we had to finish early we could easily declare a winner. On arriving, the dining table was a bit too small, but there was an empty double bed upstairs (despite my initial reservations about where this was going ... ), which we covered in a large sheet of cardboard and a grey cloth. Some of our half-finished city ruins completed the scene. Also, Headologist hadn't managed to finish his Rhino transport, so I dropped my Salamander to even out the points. A good lesson in:
- being flexible during deployment
- improvising to make a table
- being handy with a pencil and paper for those last-minute adjustments
Anyway, despite all obstacles we managed to deploy:
Headologist rolled on the Warlord Table and gained the City Conquerer rule - that gave him extra movement and cover for all his units - that would definitely come in handy. For my part, I got the Dust of a Thousand Worlds, again giving me some extra movement in all those ruins but over a smaller area. H then successfully rolled for first turn, and the game began!
|The Ratlings, hidden in the Sanctum Imperialis,|
did well and took out a number of well-hidden scouts.
With the first grasp of the tape measure, H moved everything forward, determined to get a hold of the objective early on. His rapid movement, coupled with the wide deployment zones, meant that most units would be able to get onto the objective by the second turn at the latest. On the right, he moved up a very powerful Bike Squadron and the Land Speeder pressed onto the objective. By limiting its movement, however, H ensured he'd be able to get off at least one shot at full BS. The First Squad, hidden by the central objective building, don't quite make it into the centre but were all up against the walls. The 10-man scout squad on his left moved out of the building towards my battle line.
In the shooting phase, the Land Speeder could now see one of the squads guarding the lascannons and mortars and fired off an appropriately named 'miss'ile launcher - which missed. With the rapid fire bolters of the bike squadron (now able to fire at full range despite the movement), they managed to take down two of the veterans on the far right flank. One of the First Platoon squads on the other flank took a few casualties from the snipers embedded in the tower with the Techmarine. I winced as I took two brave Guardsmen back to the carry case: I knew that with their Camo Cloaks, Stealth, and the efforts of the Techmarine they had a 2+ cover save that would make it very difficult to shift them.
|The Lascannon batteries at the start of the battle. I|
knew they'd be a tempting Deep Strike target ... but how
many men should I leave to guard it?
Overall, a good first turn. Although the most powerful units stayed in reserve, First Squad were nearly on the objective and the bikes were menacing down upon the mortars and artillery. I picked up the tape measure and dice ...
I had to do something to stop the wave of power armour converging on the objective. Suppressing the Imperial Guard urge to leap straight into the shooting phase, I got ready to move. Put simply, everything advanced. The veterans on my left moved towards those nasty bikes, to put a bit of distance between them and the vulnerable mortars. All the infantry began converging on the objective; only the Hydra and the Ratlings stayed put to give some fire support.
|The big scout squad was survivable enough to battle|
through a fusillade to make it to the objective on
the penultimate turn and contest it.
As the shooting phase came round, I knew this was where I had to thin the ranks. The Guard are all abut shooting anyway, but this time round I'd skimped on power swords to fit in my third mortar so all close combat would suffer. Also, a factor in this game was the 36" minimum range of the Earthshakers which meant they could only just shell the edge of the objective. My poor bloody infantry were going to have to get their bayonets dirty. Two of the Earthshakers fired at the First Squad, looming over the objective, and both missed. The third fared better against what I called the Bike Swarm, killing three of them. The mortars fired at First Squad again - one missed but the other killed two, pinning them and holding the objective clear for another turn, at least. A final mortar shot wounded the scary-looking attack bike chariot.
Against all the odds, the Ratlings killed one of the scouts in the tower and the Hydra made short work of two others skulking round the building. The lascannon batteries variously fired at the bike swarm and the sniper tower, but a combination of poor shooting and good cover saves protected their targets. On the right, as my infantry squad moved into cover they made use of the new snap shooting rule to fire the Heavy Bolter on the fly, killing another scout with a very lucky roll.
I'd thinned the bike squadron nicely and the First Squad was wounded and pinned, but I'd have to do a lot more to take and keep the objective. Despite their casualties, the scouts on the right flank looked like they'd cause me some headaches ...
|End of the First Turn, from Headologist's side|
|The Bike Squadron would have eaten through my|
Infantry Squads so it took the brunt of the Artillery Fire.
After their casualties last turn, the scouts moved back into the safety of their building while the Bike Squadron pressed on. With First Squad pinned, that was all the movement for the second turn.
Shifting their attention to another one of the squads covering the mortars and lascannons, the fusillade of bolter and melta fire killed three of the Guardsmen in the building in short order. Further left, the Land Speeder opened up with everything on my command squad, but failed to wound anything, and the scouts in the tower picked off one of the Ratlings that had been shooting at them last turn.
A quiet turn, but the screening troops protecting the artillery and lascannons - the soft underbelly of my army - were being thinned out and that Bike Squadron was just one turn away from charging ...
|Good ... but they did kill my commander|
I had to get on and contest the objective, so I pressed two infantry squads with a platoon commander into the building. The two outlying infantry squads on the far left and right stayed still to provide fire support from the buildings. That was a gamble - would they be better blasting away with heavy weapons? Or contesting the objective?
As I moved onto my shooting again, the guns of the Guard roared - and all the Earthshakers managed to kill was two of my own Veterans after some bad scatters. Poor show - the mortars again did better, killing another of the bikers with the lascannon accounting for another and the Infantry Squad finishing off the last of the Bike Squadron. One of the other lascannons took a hull point and a Heavy Bolter off the Land Speeder, but it was still menacing my command squad with its missiles.
Everything else in my army missed. Curse you, BS3! But on the plus side I'd killed off the bikes and the Land Speeder looked a little more manageable. But next turn the reserves would surely start arriving ...
|The Second Turn - death of the Bike Squad and Land Speeder|
|The Hydra was a dependable bastion, anchoring the|
right flank and killing off scouts. But it never managed to bring
its guns to bear on the important objective until Turn 5.
A big tactical decision here. Should the Deep Striking Second Squad take the objective, or should they go for the artillery? Trusting First Squad to survive and win the game, they Deep Struck into my tightly-packed Heavy Mortars and Lascannons, threatening my whole battle plan. The First Squad, now unpinned, moved calmly onto the objective and the scouts in the building also moved towards it, solidifying H's hold.
The shooting phase was quieter though - the only hits were onto one of my squads contesting the objective. A combination of sniper fire from the tower, and Rapid Fire from First Squad killed enough of the infantry for them to leg it. The shame! On a more tactical note, that reduced my hold on the objective to a single infantry unit and the command squad, while power armoured marines entrenched themselves. Oh, and Second Squad's landing fire managed to take down one of the lascannon crew with murderous ease. This was going to get tough. Unfortunately, having Deep Struck nothing could assault so the dice were reluctantly handed over.
|First Squad - they proved impossible to shift|
and held the objective from Turn 3.
Hopefully the full weight of my shooting could be brought to bear now the majority of H's force was on the field. I started by about-facing my Veterans and moving them back towards the Deep Striking Second Squad. Rallying my infantry squad I pushed them back on the objective supported by my command squads, and satisfied the right flank was secure I moved the Hydra back round onto the centre, giving it a good field of fire onto the central building.
At the dawn of the shooting phase, I was brimming with optimism. The scouts dashing over to the objective took three casualties from the Earthshaker. I got cocky. I thought I could pick out Squad A from among the ruins and fired an Earthshaker shot - it scattered, and as I saw the dice land I realised they pointed directly at Captain Nero's command squad ... we measured the distance and agreed the shot had landed squarely on the Commissar's head. With no defence against the Instant Death (now I know how it feels!) it was only through rolling a few ones that my Standard Bearer and Armsman survived.
|A Ratling's eye view ... the squad in the bottom|
right is the one that sprinted to the objective
in the last turn to snatch the draw.
Whoops! Full of vengeance the mortars opened up on First Squad, only managing to kill one. A lot of other poorly thought-out, red-mist shooting failed to kill any more of First Squad so I turned my attention to the Deep-Striking Second Squad. The lascannon, some of the mortar crew, the Hardened Veterans and Platoon Command squad all let fly, and as the dust cleared I saw four dead marines. Not good, but made them a bit more bite-sized for the upcoming close combat. I should also mention that my mortar crewmen killed more that turn firing their lasguns than they did firing the Heavy Mortar. For shame! A lone lascannon brought down the Land Speeder with a lucky shot and the Ratlings took down another cover-saved sniper with a lucky roll, ending my shooting phase.
Charge! I pushed the veterans in with the platoon commander with Second Squad - my wave of attacks killing two marines for a cost of two of the command squad, deadlocking the combat. I charged the Platoon Command Squad on the objective into First Squad - the overwatch fire killed everyone but the officer who was promptly and efficiently cut to pieces next turn.
|Third Turn - Deep Strikes arrive, and the armies converge on the objective...|
|Second Squad deep struck right into the gun line and|
caused havoc for two turns.
As the final reserves arrived, the Captain and his pointy assault squad dropped in just behind the building, ready to charge in and cut up my lovely new scoring units. To back him up, the scouts finished their dash across the open ground and were just on the steps of the objective building. H's hold (although it was still contested) looked fairly solid.
|Capt Nero's squad,|
moments before being
vaporised by a
Sniper fire from the tower took out two more of the fire support squad, but everything else was engaged so the shooting phase quickly ended. With the foolhardy charges on the central objective bloodily repelled, all eyes turned onto the deadlocked combat near the mortars with Second Squad. With some alarmingly unlucky dice rolls from H - none of the eight power weapon dice even hitting - the Guard managed to win the combat and force Second Squad into retreat, hacking them down as they fled. A small win, but one which didn't change my slender hold on the objective ...
With not much movement to be worked out, pushing my veterans towards the objective, I opened up with all three Earthshakers on the Deep-Struck command squad before it disappeared into the objective building and to safety. I managed to kill four with a very lucky shot, but even with two marines the Captain was more than able to cut up my infantry squads. The Hydra tore into the scout squad that had just taken up position on the objective and killed all but one, and the mortars killed four of the First Squad, leaving them with just three. I had no assaulting this turn, but I was happier - with one round of lucky shooting, the game was back in the balance. I couldn't beat marines in a fair fight, but what about when I'm fighting squads of three and one? Everything to play for in the last turn ...
|Fourth Turn - brutal close combat erupts across the board!|
|Brave, but foolish ...|
Time constraints meant that this would be the last turn, so every inch of movement was critical. With the majority of the armies dead the turns were quick now. The Captain moved onto the objective and closed with the lone Infantry Squad inside, while the remainder of First Squad swapped fire with one of the support squads in the buildings. The lone remaining scout took a pot shot through the ruins at my objective squad and killed one, before the Captain charged them and killed another six (!) of the poor beggars, who promptly retreated and lost me my slender grip on victory. It all came down to the last turn ...
|1st Platoon 1st Squad sprints to (just) contest the objective!|
Right. I could do this - the Captain was with a Fast Attack choice, and so they weren't a scoring unit. All I had to do was kill the three marines of First Squad and the lone scout.
But first, with a Herculean effort of running, one of my surviving squads made it onto the objective steps. Yes! It wouldn't be an outright defeat, at least. The three remaining men of the squad that'd just suffered at the hands of the Captain also bravely rallied and moved back on to contest the objective.
In a huge table-turney bit of jamminess, I might even be able to win if I could kill those scoring units. The Hydra levelled the anti-aircraft autocannons at the last poor scout and ripped him to pieces. Good start - I just had to kill the three men of First Squad. All I had was a Heavy Bolter - three shots. I picked up the dice, trembling with fear (as well as normal dice-shaking action) ... oh dear. More time on the firing range, I think: two, two, one. With scoring units from both sides still on the objective, the game ended a draw.
OBJECTIVE CONTESTED: DRAW!
Post Match Interviews
|If I could have killed these last three, I could have scored a|
win. I suggest the nickname 'Implacable Bastards' for them.
Colonel Scipio: "Wow! What a nailbiter! From impending defeat, to certain victory to a well-fought draw in the space of a turn. A great game and a great introduction to some of the new bits of Sixth Edition. If anything, that game was a testament to the enjoyability and simplicity of the good ol' Take and Hold, but some parts of the new rules certainly gave it a fresh spin.
I was quietly confident at the start of the game - I knew that most of H's force would take a few turns to get on the field, so my artillery could get to work and I could take them on a bit at a time. In practice, the short lines of sight between the buildings and my inaccurate artillery meant that, while I had what technical bods call 'fire superiority', I couldn't kill very much. It was hard to translate that suppression into actual casualties. Nonetheless the first few turns went okay and I managed to take out the Bike Squadron without ever having to face it in close combat.
Two big wins for me were the Hydra, which could reliably be called on to kill one or two scouts a turn, and the Ratlings, who killed three of the five tower snipers despite their 2+ cover save. With regards Sixth Edition, the Snap Fire rule gives my three-shot HBs a 50:50 chance of hitting something with at least one shot, even on the move, and they managed to get a few kills this way in the games.
|The last roll of the game - my Heavy Bolters|
failing miserably. They seemed to be more
accurate when snap shooting at BS1.
Next time round, (after executing the Artillery Ranging Officer for killing my commander), I'm going to invest in power swords. The combat against Second Squad near the mortars was eventually won, but if I'd had a power sword or two it would have been a turn earlier, giving them chance to get over the objective.
Like many of mine and Headologist's games, it came down to a few lucky rolls - those last three Heavy Bolter shots, a couple of crucial leadership checks, and certainly some unlucky scatters. All in all, a successful game!"
This was also going to be the first game of 6th for both of us. After the last game, I tried to be much better prepared for tanks - meltas and lascannons were thrown in the mix and practically every squad (all but the Scout Snipers) had melta bombs - that'd show him ... So when I saw what Scipio had put on the table I nearly wept. Nasty artillery, mortars, heavy weapons ... As well as a table full of Poor Bloody Infantry. At least my bikes with their meltas and flamers would quickly be able to deal with the mortars and hopefully some of the infantry too in a quick sweeping attack across the flank ..... After rolling on the shiny new Warlord table and getting the City Conquerer trait which seemed suitably fluffy, we rolled off for the first turn which I managed to win. With the mission being take and hold, the two units I had in drop pods would come in handy. Looking across the table, Scipios army was a terrifying sight.
|The Bike Graveyard - as their intended target, I was both|
disappointed not to get to see them in action and relieved
not to have had to.
The artillery definitely provided a conundrum, by Turn 3 when I'd decided to try and bring in the reserves, I had the choice of trying to nullify the ordinance and leaving myself too far away to get to the objective by Turn 5 or whether to go for the objective and try and hold out through the blasts of artillery.
I went for the latter, bringing in a tactical squad in the middle of the enemy big guns. Immediately I thought I should have brought in the commander and assault squad on the arty, as they were a non scoring unit anyway. No matter I'd committed now; the Commander's unit was a pretty potent CC one and hopefully they would be able to shift any of the Colonel's units off the objective. Along with some very unlucky artillery rolls from Scipio, they performed well in this task and the game ended as contested. The game definitely rested on a few lucky rolls on both sides, but I definitely feel I benefitted from a few of those slightly more.
All in all a thoroughly enjoyable and close game, with photos of my hastily constructed and unpainted models a good motivator to crack on with the painting. Watch my blog for some incoming painted models in the next couple of weeks..."
And that's it! Nail-biter really is the word. If ever I do a ragequit post about prices again, someone link me back to this battle. Because this really is the bread and butter of what 40K is about, good games, good friends, good times. And you can't put a price on that.
(Except £180 for the Forgeworld guns and £25 in petrol to get there).