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Month: September 2011

Battle report: Grey Knights vs. Space Wolves (1750 points)

Recently I started a Grey Knight terminator army with Grand Master Mordrak as the centrepiece.  I invited “Newbreed” and his Space Wolves over to give the terminator list a thorough vetting.  My friend Sébastion Le Prestre de Vauban, an accomplished military engineer and master-mind of defensive strategy, came over and offered to commentate on the game.

My Mordrak list was:
HQ
Mordrak + 5 ghost knights (x2 halberd, x2 swords, banner)
Inquisitor, psyker: psychic communion, terminator armor, psycannon, sword, x3 skulls,

TROOPS
10 terminators, x2 psycannon, x3 halberds, warding staff, banner, justicar w/MC hammer, psybolt
5 terminators, 1 psycannon, 1 falchions, banner, warding staff, justicar w/mc hammer,

HEAVY
psyfleman, searchlight
psyfleman
psyfleman
The Space Wolves list was:

HQ
3 rune priests (all with living lighting then jaws, tempest, hurricane)

ELITE
4 wolf guard with combi-meltas, fists

TROOPS
X4 grey hunter squads with meltas in rhinos

FAST
Speeder, multi-melta/flamer
Speeder, multi-melta/flamer

HEAVY
X3 long fang squads (5 rockets, sergeant)

I brew some coffee and arrange the table tastefully.   The terrain offers some good locations to deploy long fangs and dreads but there are also ample LOS-blocking features.

We rolled a random mission and came up with five objectives, dawn of war deployment.  Mordrak used Grand Strategy to make all three dreads scoring—nice one!  I then bested Newbreed on the roll to place objectives and then again on the roll for first turn.   We spread out the objectives and then I deployed.   I decided to combat squad the large unit of terminators.  The inquisitor deployed on the table with five terminators in the central ruin.  The plan is to deepstrike Mordrak nearby and the two units should be able to support each other.

[Intercession by Vauban:  “Why combat squad?  You have three dreads and two infantry units to score.  There are five objectives, not six.  A man only has one stomach even if he is a fat slob.  A much better decision would be to plop the ten man terminator squad in the middle of the table with the inquisitor attached.”]

Newbreed decided to hold everything in reserve.  Everything.  He wants to wait until the disposition of my forces is clear.
[Vauban remarks: “Clever F*&#”]

I am, of course, content with his decision because my stacked psychic communions will keep my terminators off the table until his force disposition becomes clear.

 Inquisitor and five terminators deploy while the space wolves stand ready in reserve.

TURN 1

I deep strike Mordrak to the middle of the table in front of a ruin.  Two dreads stomp on to the table on my right flank and one dread takes the left flank.  Mordrak’s unit runs into cover and the dreads run as well hoping to occupy advantageous positions.   The Inquisitor moves towards Mordrak but rolls poorly for difficult terrain and running.

Below: the end of turn 1

[Vauban comments: “Not a terrible plan by the GK player.  We can see that he means to claim the three objectives on his right while using a single dread on the left to vex any wolf unit that occupies the objective on that side.”]

TURN 2

Mordrak and the inquisitor successfully cast psychic communion.  I take a +2 on the roll and keep both remaining terminator squads off the table.  The inquisitor unit moves towards Mordrak at a glacial pace.  However the dreads have better luck and occupy some excellent sniping locations.  Mordrak continues into cover.

Only two space wolf units arrive from reserve: a land speeder and one squad of long fangs.   They come on to the space wolves’ right flank.

Line of sight is traced along the barrel of the weapon, right?

The Inquisitor squad claims the central objective.  Note: the other terminators are inside the ruin.

Long Fangs and a speeder arrive from reserves.

[Vauban gushes: “What a fabulous table.  Pity the armies are not up to the same standard.”]

TURN 3

[Vauban chides: “Two turns through the game and no shooting—what tedium! ]

The stacked psychic communion keeps the two remaining terminator squads off the table.  The dread on the my right wrecks the space wolf speeder.  Mordrak and the inquisitor unit continue to gird themselves.

The space wolves receive four units from reserves: three grey hunter squads and another squad of long fangs.  The fangs occupy barricades on the space wolf left flank.  The three Hunter squads in rhinos enter the center of the board.  Two move on 6” and one moves on 12” to obscure the other two.  It pops smoke.  The squad of long fang that walked on turn 2 fires on a dread and destroys one of its auto-cannon arms.  A rune priest inside a rhino casts Jaws of the World Wolf at Mordrak’s squad but three terminators pass their tests.  Shooting at the same unit is also ineffectual.

Long fangs seek succour behind xeno barricades:

Three grey hunter squads in Rhinos:

TURN 4

The two terminator squads arrive.  One deep strikes near the long fangs on the space wolf left, the other near the fangs on the space wolf right.

[Vauban notes: “A poor decision.  Let the space wolves have the objective on their right.  With only 20 terminators the GK forces cannot afford to spread out.”]

Mordrak’s squad and the inquisitor squad move to engage the center grouping.   A mediocre shooting round sees the termies on the GK left drop two rockets, while two dreads combine to immobilize one rhino.  The third dread kills the sergeant in the long fang pack on the space wolf right.   The terminators on the GK right fail to cause any casualties among the long fangs.  The inquisitor destroys the storm bolter on the immobilized rhino.   Mordrak and his unit charge the immobilized rhino and wreck it.

The remaining grey hunter squad arrives from reserves.  The space wolf player drives off the remaining mobile rhino in the center towards the objective on his left.  Two squads of grey hunters prepare to unload on Mordrak.  Combined jaws and shooting kill four ghost knights.  Mordrak and the remaining knights are killed in the ensuing assault at the cost of three  grey hunters.

Grey Knight terminators deep strike near Long Fangs:

On the other flank Grey knight  terminators make a similar deep strike:

Mordrak and his ghost knights are greeted by the occupants of two rhinos:

TURN 5

The two dreads on my right flank move to secure the objective.  Pop smoke or shoot at the long fangs?  I decide to shoot at the long fangs.    The termies on my right move to engage the intact/full rhino.  The inquisitor squad moves up—finally getting some good difficult terrain rolls—to get some payback for mordrak.  Shooting again disappoints as both dreads combine to kill two long fangs while the terminator squad pings off the rhino.  On my left flank the termie squad charges and wrecks a rhino and the grey hunters disembark in good order and prepare to shoot the hell out of the terminators.  The inquisitor squad charges and wipes a squad of grey hunters and consolidates to an objective.

The space wolf player moves his forces to destroy the inquisitor squad.  In the shooting phase both long fangs on the space wolves left flank ping off the dreads.  Shooting kills three terminators in the inquisitor squad.    On the space wolf right shooting kills three terminators.   When the dust settles on the assault phase only the inquisitor remains in the center while the warding stave is the sole survivors on the GK left flank.

The game, unfortunately for the Grey Knights, continues.

Warding staves are great in assaults:

Two dreads hold an objective:

TURN 6

The dreads pop smoke and pray really hard to the emperor.  The remaining terminators shoot and wreck the last remaining rhino.  The grey hunters get out and prepare to unload.

[Vauban sighs: “It’s déjà vu all over again.”]

The space wolf player wrecks the remaining dreads despite their smoke screens.  The grey hunter squad eliminates three terminators with shooting and then charges and kills the remaining two.

[Vauban says: “Pity it was in the middle of the day because the grey knight player could have used a drink.”]

Victory to the space wolves.  Mind wiping will have to wait.

Aftermath.  Indeed, I could have used that extra squad of terminators on my right flank.  As I type this the glue is drying on additional halberds for the terminators.  This battle has shown that I6 /5++ is better than I4/4++.

[Vauban concludes: “But for two crucial tactical errors by the Grey Knight general, combat squading and spreading his forces, the game would have been close.”]

The Dreadfleets Set Sail!

Some of the great images from the new Dreadfleet game Games Workshop are releasing! And of course the usual plastic crack addicts will be buying it as soon as they can get their glue covered fingers on it!


Discussion over on OnTheStep.net.

ETC Team Report: Round 2

Round 2: Belgium vs Ireland

The Finnish bidding process was well-practiced, from this point on, the captain (along with the players) had a handful of minutes to consider pairings. The sheet was filled out incorrectly in this round. Ireland should be on the left.

Belgium win the roll-off and the Belgians must make the first bid.

1. We bid our Chaos list and the Belgians reply with Eldar. An 11-9 win runs ahead of expectations.
2. They bid their Imperial Guard and we attack with Space Wolves. A 10-10 draws drops us behind the curve.
3. We bid our Grey Knights and the reply is Blood Angels. Again, the defending list performs better than hoped for. 11-9 to the Irish.
4. They bid their Grey Knights and we send in our Tyranids. A severe 4-16 loss leaves us increasingly low on points.
5. We bid our Orks, they allocate their Space Wolves. A remarkable 16-4 win for the defending list.
6. The Belgians send out their Dark Eldar, we give them our Eldar. Another severe loss for the attacker. 2-18 to Belgium.
7. The remaining matchup goes well. Our Dark Eldar is met by their Tyranids. A badly needed 20-0 massacre.
8. The champion’s game sees their Orks face our Blood Angels. A 8-12 defeat for Ireland.

Overview

The theme of the round appears to be defending lists performing above expectations, massively so in the case of the Ork list. The attacking lists do not perform well, failing to win any of their games.

Although the Irish are within 4 points of a round win, almost a quarter of their total score comes from one very favourable match-up. Whether the fault lies with the skill of the players or the nature of the match-ups cannot be said but certainly a poor round for half of the team.

Bold

ETC Team Report: Round 1

With the release of all the match sheets online, the War Altar presents a round by round breakdown of our ETC performance. The ETC using a bidding system whereby teams take it in turn to put lists forward. This leaves the list put forward vulnerable to bad match-ups.

This year, the Irish team attempted to mitigate this by bringing three “shield” lists, designed to limit the potential loss when bid. These were the Ork Kan Wall, Blood Angels Raider Spam and Eldar Seer Council lists. We also attempted to maximise our gains by bringing two “sword” lists designed to take advantage of the ability to choose your matchups. These were Tyranid Stealer Shock and Dark Eldar Venom Spam. The remaining three lists were generalist in nature, Chaos Lash, Grey Knight Standard and Space Wolf Standard.

If I refer to a list/player failing in their role without mentioning the mitigating circumstances (if any), I hope they will not take offence. As I believe my own failings in this area were greatest, rest assured that I will be suppressing strong urges to excuse them. This is a strictly mechanical review of the results, feel free to expand on them in the comments.

Round 1: Ireland vs Finland

We were relatively confident of a good result in the first round. Prior to the tournament, we had run through several mock bidding sessions and realised that whether going first or second, the correct order of bids would leave the Finns with poor matchups.

We lost the roll-off and had to bid first.
1. We bid our Blood Angels and were countered by their similar Blood Angels list. Our defender fulfilled their duty exactly, scoring a 10-10 draw.
2. The Finns bid their Tyranid list and we replied with our Dark Eldar. Our attacker scored a respectable 16-4.
3. We bid our Orks and they put forward their Chaos Space Marines. Again, our defender scored a 10-10 draw.
4. They bid Space Wolves and we threw our Eldar into the fray. He won 16-4.
5. We bid our Grey Knights and they countered with their Black Templars. Once more, a 10-10 draw.
6. They bid their Imperial Guard and we responded with our Space Wolves. A third 16-4 win.
7. The remaining list was our Tyranid player and the opponent was Grey Knights. A 3-17 defeat for the Irish.
8. Their champion was the Orks player and ours was the Chaos player. A 10-10 draw.

Overall
Three defending lists managed their perfect results garnering 30 points. Three attacking lists managed solid victories securing 48 points. This was a great result considering the very equal opposition. Our initial belief that attackers should aim for 20-0 was shattered in the face of very good players who didn’t feel like assisting in their destruction. A 16 point win came to represent a solid win rather than an average win.

Thus, the exacting performance by those six lists left us requiring 8 points from two games for a round win. The Tyranids collapsed to a 3-17 loss but the Chaos drew the Champion’s Game to grab an additional 10 points.

Conclusions
As you can see, the sword/shield division wasn’t strictly upheld when it came to the actual pairings and attempting to force our lists into their pre-determined roles would have led to a worse result. Both teams were evenly matched in skills, comparable in list quality and so it was the pairings decided the victor.

I’ll restate that for emphasis, this round highlights the critical importance of generating the best possible match-ups. While never guaranteed, bidding exercises involving the actual ETC lists can help identify certain combinations which the opponent cannot unlock.

After last year’s ETC, the Irish team concluded that the Irish tournament scene could provide players of the calibre required but that an over-arching list design philosophy would be required. This was implemented. For 2012, bidding practice must take equal priority alongside game practice. This is not a task for the captain alone, he needs a variety of opponents to hone his skill against. One man cannot identify all possible combinations.

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