Friday, 29 January 2010

Wednesday Games Night: Battle of the Wheels of Steel

When I told L, our local Marine player, to prepare for the arrival of the ‘New Dirteh Basterds’, with new toys, new tricks, and new tanks of the 5th Edition Imperial Guard codex, I was over the moon with excitement. Finally, a 2000 point game, with my rats, my Psykers, Marbo, Straken, all the sweeties in the candy shop. Little did I realise, like myself, my opponent had brought a list of PAIN.

So without further adieu, here’s a nice little graphic legend showing the forces at play (I’ll be referring to my opponent’s forces as Ultrasmurfs for ease of reference. I know they ‘count as’ Raven Guard bikes, but If they look the part...), that memorable Wednesday night gone past:

“Bikers, and bikers, and bikes, oh my!”

List & Terrain Analysis

I had previously discussed my reasonings as to the wheres and whatfors of the selections of my list. A touch of chimeltas spam. Some cheeky anti-MEQ tanks. The long arm of the battlecannon. And as many cute little special character toys I could fit into 2000 points, with hopefully a hint of competitiveness and charm (hence ratlings).

While I understand some people’s concerns regarding a ‘Catachan Mechanised’ brigade going somewhat against the ‘established fluff’ of the Catachan Jungle Fighters, I just say “Hey it’s in the rules”, and “Hey it’s just a game”, and “Hey! Only not too long ago Catachan’s couldn’t get access to Heavy tanks or even Lascannons”. If Ol’ Iron Hand’s going to have to commandeer a Chimelta, by the Will of the Emperor, he’s gonna do so!

Without fully knowing my opponents forces in advance to remove the possibility of list tailoring, I expected drop pod assaults at the forefront, or even a Raven Guard-style jump pack assault force, or Landraider spam. The thought of Biker spam to rush me DID cross my mine, but I did think to myself “L surely doesn’t have the model count, and so would not proxy them surely”.

How was I supposed to anticipate that he would purposely buy 13no. new painted bikes off Ebay to supplement his existing 6no. unpainted, unglued bikes, just so he could get run a competitive biker spam list? ;) (that one’s for you, L, if you’re reading).

So I discounted that and resigned the possibility of taking hellhounds, banewolves, hydras, and other anti-biker goodness to the dark corners of my mind. Surely my pimped-up heavy stubber defensive, multi-laser & heavy flamer-kitted Chimeltas were more than adequate, even with an ultra-mobile, ultra-tough biker list of an opponent. My mobility, flexibility, durability and firepower would hopefully minnow down the enemy numbers, making every loss really, really hurt. And I had the advantage of knowing the lie of the land!


*ahem* A slightly revised map to the one discussed previously, with almost the same setup. D, our Ork player/invigilator spent a day making new river sections on the table, and jumbled everything around. So the terrain was re-setup, and as you can see there is now a lot less difficult terrain, and a more established zone of ‘blind spots’ from the three-level hills. 4+ ‘buildings’ are still there, elevated positions and ‘difficult zones’ to force bikes to circumvent them. The rivers still snake around in a way that hopefully, I’ll get to use to my advantage with the chimeltas amphibious rule, and with my previous thoughts I would get to use the terrain to my advantage. Or will my opponent turn the table on me and do so instead?

NOTE: The one thing I will point out here is after going through each other’s lists as an introductory overview as per the force graphic, L mentioned that there is a particular item/upgrade/something he had paid for in points in the list, that was SECRET, and I was not allowed to know about it, otherwise it would impact the way I played the game. I countered that I had nothing to hide and gave full transparency of my list to him, and thus the opposite should apply (as we won’t be making any last minute modifications to give a pre-knowledge edge over the other), but this was counter-overruled by our third-party invigilator, D, who said L can play it the way he likes it without me knowing what it was that was ‘going to happen to me’. And it was his board and his place.

I thought this both a little unsporting, and unfair, but against my wishes and protest, the game was played anyway not knowing what this was that was so earth-shattering, and also having not been given the opportunity to pull out a secret magic ace-in-the-hole myself, so watch this space!

Mission & Deployment

We roll off. The mission is Annihilation! That means Kill Points!

Waitaminnit. Aren’t KP missions bad for IG overall?

Let’s see: I have a total of 14 KPs, compared to the Marine’s 12 or 16 depending on how he partitions his squads with regards to Combat Squads.

So, could be good could be bad. I do know my Chimeltas are a lot more survivable than naked infantry, even in good cover (as you need time to finally pop the cans of spam before getting to the meat inside)..

What’s the Deployment?

Roll off. Dawn of War.

Bleurgh. Dripfeeding our armies in? Playing a ‘I react’ ‘You react’ ‘I react’ off-the-cuff game? No thanks. So we roll off again.

Still Dawn of War. Right, right, third time lucky? We re-roll for the final time. Whatever comes up must stick this time!

Dawn of War. It must be fate.

We roll off to see who goes first. The Marines get to go first, but elect to use HQ Shrike’s infiltration ability to join a squad of ‘Troops’ (a 5-men squad of bikers, bikers being troops apparently due to the Captain being a biker), along with a 10-men squad of close-combat kitted Scouts.

So, I have to deploy first, then the guy who goes first deploys after me 18” range in full sight or 12” hidden, thus getting me in close-combat on the first turn with fleet and whatnot? Argh. I had better steal the initiative later!


I put my 2no. Chimeltas, and HQ in the river, hopefully in a way to make the enemy’s life a bit more difficult, giving me good line of sight and close enough to each other to give multi-laser/flamer backup, while leaving room to move if I need a quick getaway. I declare Marbo (as per his rules) and Harker (outflanking) in reserve, with the rest of my men coming in on Turn 2.

Happy as a Chimelta in mud.

The Marines set-up their scouts 18” away from my forces, but Shrike and his bikes ‘hide’ behind the building, and so are 12” away from me. I curse the fact that I hadn’t realised that the building itself can function as a blind spot, but then I realise with Shrike’s jump pack moves and/or the bikes 12” move, 6” charge reach, this is pretty much a non-issue. It’ll now be my job to just sit there and take my lumps, and hopefully survive to dish out the dirt later. L declares the rest of his Marines will come in on Turn 2

I do a final roll to steal the initiative. Nope, the Ultrasmurfs go first! So, onwards to the battle-report, complete with photoshopped map graphics, photos and highlights:


1. All ‘scouts’ do their scout move, come into range, run (the scouts) and charge. Who cares about Night-fighting?

2. Scout sarge powerfists one of my Chimelta’s, wrecking it. Shrike & his bikes blow up another, the blast killing 4 vets in total, in my 2no. disembarked squads.

Chimeltas meet Shrike Bikes & Scouts. Shoryuken with the Powerfist baby!

Score is 2KPs to the Marines, Zero to the Guard. Good start (for the Marines). Rackum frackum.


1. My turn to react. Vets move out of the way for Straken’s ride to flame the bikers. I’m using a template weapon. What’s Night-fighting again? Vets also shoot said enemy, thus 3 bikers die and Shrike takes a wound (leaving him 2no. left).

2. The other vets pour out melta & shotgun fire, charging the Scout Squad with Straken’s furious charge influence. They lose 2 of their own but kill 8 in total, though the Scouts hold their nerve.

Yoga flame = Roast Ravens tonight!
Score is the same as per last turn.


1. The rest of the Marines come on board, turbo-boosting and jumping their way across the board. Vrooom vroom. Man, that’s an impressively long reach they have.

2. Shrike separates from the bikes and goes for some vets. Bikes explode Straken’s ride, killing the Master of Ordnance and a Meltavet, and 2 vets from the squad in the river. They ruined Straken’s ride! He’s not gonna be happy..

3. Combat! Scouts lose one more, but the power-fist Sarge chews up the rest of the vets, and consolidates. Shrike kills 4 more vets, but succumbs to the Vet Sergeant’s powersword. Take that Shadow Captain of the Raven Guard’s 3rd Company, take that into your pipe and smoke it!

The Macragge branch of the Hell's Angels ride their bike convoy in unison

Score is 4KP’s to the Marines, to 2KP’s to Guard. Now we’re talking!


1. With the Astropath still alive, Harker and Marbo pop out where I want them. The rest of the Catachans arrive in a slightly bunched-up deployment, in the hopes that this will deny the manoeuvrability of the bikers somewhat, and force him to face my army in its entirety. Or so the thinking goes. The remaining vet hides in the pile of Ratlings and passes himself off as one of them, in order to be overlooked for purposes of denying my opponent a Kill Point. Tee-hee!

2. A hidden ‘scout bike cluster mine’ blows up underneath the PBS’ chimera, but luckily doesn’t damage it. It’s location had been determined ‘in secret’ on a scribbled piece of paper, verified by our third party referee. All I can say is if it DID blow up my PBS, I would have been a very unhappy camper I can tell you...

3. First of the new toys, the PBS try to weaken the resolve of the bikers near the Landspeeder, but roll an 11 on their Psychic test. Lovely.

3. Straken gives an order, and kills the straggling vet, while Harker and his ride kill 4 bikers.

4. A Russ takes out the Landspeeder Storm. Boo-yah!

5. Marbo misses. Maximum scatter on a double 6 (with BS5, it's 7" away now). Nuff’said.

6. The rest of my tanks try to kill the Captain and his bikes. Only 4 plasma blasts connect, but the 3+ turbo boost save is just too good.

Score is 4KP’s to the Marines, to 4KP’s to Guard. Optimism is high!


1. Bikes turbo boost again, ready to get to the tanks next turn. Everything else advances steadily. Jump troops go right into the river, passing their dangerous terrain test.

2. Scouts shoot at Marbo with their side arms. With only 2 shots wounding, and me thinking he’s in Difficult terrain (4+) and has Stealth USR (+1 to cover save), I choose not to Go To Ground (WHY??) to save on a 3+ cover save. Fails both and dies. Nuff’ said.

3. A bike stuns Harker’s ride, while a double-twin-linked autocannon armed Dread, being able to see Harker, successfully kills the Astropath, Medic, Meltavet AND wounds Harker once, even while going to ground to give a 3+ cover save. Hmm.

Marbo bites the dust.

Score is 5KP’s to the Marines, 4KP’s to the Guard. Alas poor Marbo, I knew him well.


1. Tanks move around a bit, primarily to try to give the Rats and PBS a good line of sight. Weaken Resolve and Pinning Test on Bikers HERE I COME. I roll a Psychic test for the PBS. Double 6’s. NOOOOOOOO. (The Overseer shoots 3 in the head, splattering their gory remains inside the Chimera). The Rats & Chimera shoot at the Bikes anyway, but their 3+ cover save is still too good to beat.

2. With Straken down and Harker still stunned, there’s not much else to do but fire everything at the jump-pack assault squad (what I perceive to be the more necessary threat). Cannonfire, heavy bolters & plasmafire kill all but 1 (refusing to go to ground), though he holds his nerve too. Damn that high Marine leadership!

Hey ho the dairy o
The cheese stand alone.

Score is still 5KP’s to the Marines, 4KP’s to the Guard.


1. Tacticals disembark, and assault Harker’s ride with the remaining biker, while the lone Jump Troop jets away to deny me a much needed KP. Bikes get into position, while the Biker Captain detaches from his group.

2. Harker’s ride is stunned again, and the Marine scouts pin down the Ratling Snipers (Leadership 6 after all) after losing one to sniper fire. You know what they say, he who lives by sniper fire...

3. The Multi-melta attack bike successfully wrecks one of my Russes, and the Captain and Scout Bikers shake, shake and immobilise one Russ and half of my Executioner squad. Not too shabby for me, I thought! (Shame about the wreck).

How long is 12"? Why my dear fellow, it is as long as my
Best part of the game, figuring out how much dice to roll. 1... 2... 3.. 4...

Score is now 6KP’s to the Marines, still 4KP’s to the Guard. Oh dear.


1. Tanks manoeuvre even further to put some distance between them and the bikers, while Straken gets up and moves (1”) in difficult terrain. I note here that I forgot to run him out of LOS of the Dread, or give out any useful orders that may have assisted him or others, as we shall see in the next turn. Damn you ‘Senior Officer’ Orders ability!

2. The Psyker’s ride fires at the attack bike and his squad, and the PBS FINALLY pass their psychic test to fire a strength 6 blast. Unfortunately I roll a 5 for the AP value, so only 2 bikes are killed.

3. The Executioner fires it’s 3no. plasma plates (backwards! It’s front face AV14 is still facing the Dread’s autocannon. Sneaky) at the Captain, killing 2 more of the bike squad (the attack bike loses a wound being a 2 wound model), wounding the Captain twice (leaving him with 1 wound) and killing 2 more of the scout bike squad. Was hoping for a KP here, but good, reasoned, and proper wound allocation on the part of our Marine player ensures greater survivability of his bikes.

"I didn't manage to buy a painted attack bike off Ebay so here is my proxy."

Still 6 KP’s to the Marines, and 4KP’s to the Guard.


1. Bikes chase down the Executioners, although L makes the mistake of positioning his multi-melta attack bike to the side, as he gets a bit confused by my backwards/forwards tank turret. Tee-hee. Another of my Executioner’s becomes Shaken, though the other clears. Good news!

2. The lone biker and tactical finally blow up Harker’s ride (though losing 1 of their own in the ensuing explosion of debris). Horror of horrors, Harker and 2 Catachan Devils are shredded in the blast, and the squad breaks and runs for it.

3. The Dreads fire everything at Straken as they can still see him (D’OH!), and even with going to ground and getting a 3+ cover save, Straken bites the dust and the surviving melta vet loses his bottle and legs it off the table. Nice one.

Leman Russ Punisher (Executioner proxy) as driven by Knight Commander Baxter Frunnt.

Score is now a respectable 8 KP’s to the Marines, and yet again 4KP’s to the Guard. ARG.


1. Righty-o, it’s a stretch but I need KP’s to equalise here. If I kill the lone biker, blow up the Rhino, and mop up the biker Captain and 1no. wound attack bike. I’ll have a draw. Can I do it? YES I CAN! SELF-BELIEF WILL CAUSE INSANE GOOD LUCK ROLLS. This I know from my 3rd-edition codex days, that and better-painted armies win more games, yesiree.

2. I elect to use my PBS to flatten the biker. Come on Soul Storm! YOU CAN DO IT! I roll a Psychic Test, and get Double 1’s. Double D’OH! The Overseer executes yet another Psyker, but because it’s double 1’s I still get to use the power. But then it’s less effective Strength-wise, and it scatters.

Just. One. Of. Those. Days.

3. The fleeing vets are still in range to the Rhino (but not 6”) and melta away, with a single Shaken! Result. Definitely just one of those days.

4. My last unshaken Executioner kills the Attack Bike. And joy, of joys! A single Ratling manages to snipe the Captain, taking away his last wound and spilling his geneseed-enhanced brain all over the bloodsoaked rubble of the battlefield. Aaaaahh (This is why I take Ratlings now and then).

We roll off for the last time, and it’s a 2, and no more turns. We shake hands. Great game! (despite losing).

Final Scores: Marines = 8KP, Guard = 6KP.


In the land of ‘what-if’s’ I could have stolen the initiative, gone first and wiped out the scouts. I could have passed my Psychic tests and pinned down those pesky bikes, or flattened the last biker for much needed kill-points. I could have had more chimeltas spam to serve as survivable screens for my tanks, or I could have chosen different heavy support components that could lay down effective hurt onto the bikes. Or I could have even deployed my HQ/2 troops more aggressively to create more breathing space for my Russes, with the Chimeltas screening in advance.

But that is all to remain in the land of what-ifs.

I did learn that an all-biker rush list, can be pretty tough to fight even with chimeltas spam, especially going on the second turn and not having the heavy support there to dish out an effective rate of fire.

I also learnt that much of the ‘terrain exploitation’ I talked about in principle, didn’t apply so much in a game where the enemy turbo-boosts and jumps in and out of terrain, relying instead on using the terrain against me to their advantage.

Lastly I learnt I had sh!t dice. Always blame the dice!


Just kidding.

A quick VP analysis shows that the Marines gain a rough 1200 worth of victory points, and myself 1070 victory points (using the old method of full points for full wipe-outs and fleeing squads, half points for immobilised/weapon destroyed and squads under 50% strength), also compare 8 KPs, to my 6 (again in the land of what-if, if the game lasted a couple more turns I COULD have gained an extra 2 KPs, but then the Marines would claim the 1KP from my fleeing Catachan Devils as they run off the board). Therefore, a hard fought, close-game, not an out-an-out beating I would think, although at times it sure did feel like it.

D, our referee, reckoned I could have fared better if I split my incoming tanks & PBS in turn 2 at opposite corners, therefore forcing his bikers to split up even more. Perhaps I’ll try that next time.

I also realised that my 320 points of investment in the PBS, Marbo, and Ratlings, most certainly did not do me any favours, especially when they underperformed.

Straken, however, was a star team player. His Counter-attack & Furious Charge range is just pretty awesome. Some people say ‘Assaulty-Guard’ is laughable, but in this game it was I that did the laughing when Shrike got the living shrit kicked out of him.


1. The Mech Spamremacy: Even with the loss, this still proves to me that mech-ed up Guard with Chimeltas are a formidable force, definitely more survivable and pose a greater threat to enemies of all types. I had put heavy stubber and heavy flamers on the Chimeras and a power weapon and shotguns on the Vets to make them a greater, more credible threat, and combined with Straken can pose a danger to even heroes the like of Space Marine Captains. They are definitely worth it, and in future I will rely on this load-out in a more aggressive fashion to get stuck in into the enemy instead of hanging back and jamming up my more slower-moving forces.

2. Iron Hand's Has A Steady Pair: Straken is my new herocrush. Combined with mech and a medic, this Guard codex character really adds flavour, fun, and thrills to the game. Definitely take him again.


1. What’s This Nonsense About Where To Fight? Not following my own advice with regards to terrain, manoeuvrability, breathing space, etc. I should have either made a firm commitment to spreading my forces to spread the bikes apart and use my longer reach to minnow them down, sacrificing a unit or two for the greater good (tee hee), or formed a more impenetrable castle in a corner to use all my forces as one while his straggling bikes and scouts, etc are rendered useless. Also, in Dawn of War, I most definitely will deploy more aggressively, if the scenario was to be replayed again under the same conditions.

In hindsight, while putting my Chimeltas by the river seemed a terrific idea, this caused a downside in which I couldn’t really bunch up my Russes behind a wall of them, as difficult terrain and the ensuing traffic jam would make life even more difficult for me. In retrospect, I think not having enough space between tanks is definitely a weakness of mine and this was exploited by my opponent, so I hope to rectify this is my next game.

2. Putting All My Eggs In One Basket: Don’t. I relied too much on my new toys, new tricks, and new tanks, leaving me with a less effective solid core (e.g. chimeltas, screening infantry hordes, or even an al-rahem outflanking force maybe) to rely on. Too many spectacular gambles also resulted in too many spectacular failures. My Elites, were most definitely, a 360points block of uselessness.

3. Senior Officer Memory Loss: Forgetting to run Straken out of LOS, or bark out more useful orders (like Move! Move! Move!, or even Incoming! To stack up my got to ground + cover save) in the heat of the battle. So easy to forget, especially in the heat of battle!

4. When Shot At, Duck & Cover: Not making Marbo Go To Ground was a mistake, when he should have, as he would’ve been assaulted anyway, and I really needed him to stay alive. Scouts could have kicked his ass though, perhaps. Marbo may be good, but he's not that good surely.

5. Secret Ace In The Hole: I will come clean on this and admit the ‘hidden secret game-changing’ declared but undeclared Marine Scout Bike Cluster Mine did p!ss me off more than losing the game itself (evident by my grumpy look by my Turn 2, which would have been even uglier if it did do any real damage). I know it was only 10 points, but I called this up on L after the game, and he was under the impression that in the Space Marine codex this was the manner and method as to how a booby trap was to be played (in secret). We both reread the passage re: scout bike cluser mines (pg 67), and discovered that while the exact location/deployment of the booby trap is meant to be in secret (duh), he was in fact, supposed to declare straight up to me that this is indeed the case and that he had purchased booby traps/mines instead of "I paid for something cool but you can't know about it as it'll change the way you play which then defeats the purpose of me buying it", and apologised for his misinterpretation and the matter was resolved.

Perhaps I am taking the whole ‘list transparency’ thing a bit too seriously (after all it’s only a game, and some people even play ‘secret lists’ in certain games), but at the time I did feel personally aggrieved by this. Maybe I’ll write up another article re: list reveal, before, or during, or even after a game, but that’s for another time!


Am I right in saying that I had lost the game as a combination of a bad meta-game list? Bad deployment? Bad luck with the dice? A combination of all three?

Or perhaps was it a gamble my opponent made and it paid off this time? I also note that he too had some bad rolling, as I’m sure more of my Russes and Chimera’s should have blown up earlier and I was lucky this was not so.

Do Biker Spam trump Mech Spam? Should I bring some REAL Mech Spam (e.g. all Chimeltas) next game? Should I have played more aggressively (e.g. deployment, maybe even drop-troopin’ Stormies)?

Can Two Wheels of Steel really beat Four? (Or is it 52 wheels per tank track, I forget?)

Who knows. All I know is despite the loss, I did have fun, and so did my opponent.

I also hope you have all had fun reading, and dissecting this battle report as much as I have enjoyed producing this, for your contemplative armchair-general reading pleasure. Many t(h)anks, and the floor is yours gentlepersons. Critique away!

Wednesday, 27 January 2010

Where To Fight.

“Sometimes you can beat the odds... With a careful choice of where to fight.”

- Dwight McCarthy, The Big Fat Kill (Sin City)

With all the never-ending thoughts and internet chatter on the army list-building metagame, and various discussions on undercosting/overcosting new units in recent ‘dex releases, I thought I’d try and build and post an article here on the 512th regarding the importance of knowing the battlefield, knowing the strategic value of terrain, and how to use this to one’s tactical advantage.


I refer you to the graphically modelled map of the game I will play (hopefully) tonight earlier. Refer also back to said post for photograph, list, etc.

(Leman russ model added for scale reference & northpoint for orientation)

D had set up the landscape with a ‘grass / plain sortie’ type of engagement in mind, realising full well I’ll be trying out a mech-ed out list, and that my opponent, L, will either be using a mixed/spam list of vulkan hestan/drop pods/bikes/jump troops/rhinos/landraiders, and/or whatever he can fit into a 2000pt list.

There are woodlands granting 5+ cover saves and counting as difficult terrain. A river (5+ cover save, difficult terrain), impassable terrain (2 large tree-balls), stacks of hills (that give an elevated position but no cover save), and 2 ‘buildings’ (inaccessible, but giving a 4+ cover save, not difficult terrain).

The type of mission, deployment, and who goes first will be decided when we start playing, so that’s all up in the air. All I can do here is mumble on theoretically how I would deploy, using the terrain to my advantage, and get further into the nitty-gritty depending on what mission, who gets first turn, etc. Hopefully, by giving you an insight into my reasonings in doing so, I hope that an open-discussion critique can shed better light, or ‘learn me some lessons’, on the art of ‘choosing carefully where to fight’.


Classic set-up. Top third (roughly) vs. Bottom third, with a 12” gap from the middle of the table. Here’s how I see the battlefield starting from ‘above’.


If I were to deploy in the northern sector (lets call it that) I have a good spread of 'hills' in the corners & the middle, some impassables, a choke point (bridge), river, and a building. Ideal?

The building would give me a good location to place my rats, preferring to stick them close to a PBS rather than infiltrate them out to give away a kill point. I’m still keen to test out this possible pinning synergy (as discussed in a post by Sandwyrm on his blog), so we’ll see if this will reap me rewards, or I’ll be punished adversely so for not taking a more competitive combo (e.g. another squad of troops).

I note I can always deploy the rats making use of their infiltrate ability to create an infiltration denial zone in the event of marine scouts, but since i’m using a mech-ed up list, I’ve not much to fear myself from sniper rifles and to me, this is a non-issue.

Trees and hill give some amount of cover to obscure my chimeltas, relying instead of the enemy to approach me aggressively and get bogged down manoeuvring through the difficult terrain (also making it harder for drop pods/jump troops to approach).

Sticking chimeltas right next to, or in a river, gives me an immense advantage due to the amphibious rule (all water features count as normal terrain. Vroom vroom). That is something players tend to forget, and I will make it my duty to remind L of this rule just so he knows and can't cry foul later. I can just run my chimeltas up and down the river no bother, and place them in such a way that forces the enemy to take difficult, or dangerous, terrain tests, in the event of an assault. Bargain!

Of course, my Russes are still subject to the tests as they go up and down the rivers, so the choke points then become a strength or a weakness. Should I park a Russ on the bridge, in the hopes that if it does get wrecked or blown up, it makes the choke point a greater disadvantage to the enemy (or even myself?). Time will tell.

I have also squadded up my Executioners to lay on the 6no. blast template pain on heavy infantry. The 36” threat range should prove an effective deterrant, and force the enemy to rely on a rhino rush instead, right into my chimeltas/PBS Soulstorm/leman russes.

Finally, I’ve separated my 2 leman russes, relying on their long reach to battle cannon the enemy to death. I have noted that however I position them, there exists a few blind spots in the southern sector where the enemy can hide from my battle cannons .

All in all though, the north sector seems a good choice, given that I also intend to outflank with Harker to funnel my opponent into the centre, plus the same reasonings apply even if I reserve my army in the event of a drop pod assault.


Some hills to give an elevated position gives me a great ‘commanding overview’ of the battlefield if I were to position my russes at each corner. With tiny blind spots in the northern sector deployment zone, should I choose to play a long-range shooty game, this would seem worth it.

I would note that the southeast corner suffers from a more restrained position, and is less flexible in the event of a fast, shock assault. With less places to run, perhaps the SE is more of a liability than a strength. Also, the proximity of a large hill near a bridge can be dangerous re: jump troops assaulting, and the lack of a spread of soft/hard cover means I’m inclined to look at this southern sector less favourably.

The one thing going for it though is ‘blind spots in my own zone’. Behind the impassable ball, and the hill I could conceivably park my chimeltas/executioners in such a way to avoid getting shot by devastators and other long range badness, rushing them out in the last minute as the enemy approaches.

I will note though, that my Marine opponent tends to rely less on a shooty game, knowing full well he’ll be outgunned, thus I’m more inclined to expect a greater emphasis on assault, and so a sector with clearer terrain, but more blind spots, I think, is less effective for the list I’m playing. Also, the threat posed (both statistically real, and psychologically evident) by my Master of Ordnance and Marbo, means I won’t have to worry about my opponent hiding away as he’ll want to keep them moving towards me anyway.

The way I see it, irrespective of mission (KP, and/or objectives), I want my chimeltas to be able to engage the opponent in short range using the cover to my advantage, not hang around hoping to get shot, and when rushed out at the last, they fall to pieces. Also, should my mech armour fall to pieces I want to be able to move my men into cover (as Guard die by the droves in the open due to AP4, 5, etc) and force my opponent to take difficult terrain tests to counter-act the fast assaults.

I way I see it, the Northern Sector seems like the stronger option. Though this is obviously all hypothetical as my opponent may end up going first, or I deploy in a way and then the enemy takes the initiative, with regard to my thoughts above re: terrain, would you agree? Or disagree? And why?


Corners V Corners, with a 12" radius gap from the centre. For expediency’s sake I’ll describe my thoughts as such:


With my forces superimposed on the map above, and with much of the considerations described already re: cover saves, rivers, blind spots, etc, the NW quarter has the advantage of being in an immense blind spot (due to the hill in the SE quarter), and should anything be going up the hill, it’ll get shot to pieces by everything I’ve got. Also, again with Marbo and the MoO I’ll be forcing the enemy out of the shadow of the hill into the reach of my battlecannons, and the proliferation of soft cover is good news for my forces. However, there is the lack of water features that give my chimeltas an advantage. A cheeky trick is traded away for greater flexibility for all my vehicles. Seems a good trade.

In the SE, putting all my forces in the blind spot will serve me well to not get shot, but I would think is a poorer location for my ordnance. I would have to end up doing my best maximising the river cover for my chimeltas, and pushing my russes to the extremities of the deployment zone to make use of slightly less favourable firing zones. But as it’s also quite clear with nowhere for troops to run into in terms of sort cover,, I will not willingly choose to deploy in this quarter. If my opponent gets the first turn in this mission setup, and is canny enough to realise that forcing my list to castle up in unfavourable conditions, I will certainly be fighting an uphill battle.

I would think forcing my opponent to setup in this quarter, pie-plating him with battlecannons as he peeks round and up the hill, and dropping MoO barrages as his vehicles are bunched up, would be better for me.


This seems more evenly matched now. SW has a spread of soft cover, a building, some impassable terrain, and a location to hide in. Conversely the NE also has choke points, long stretches of rivers, and a building closer to the edge to boot.

I’m sort of torn between the SW/NE setup, both seem fine to me and what I believe a ‘balanced’ fight will take place if this setup ensues. What I can see though, is the NE suffers somewhat from the hill being in the way to block LOS into the SE quarter, where fast moving assault troops can stick to the shadow of the hill to get closer and closer to my forces. A lot of my ‘fears’ regarding the SE quarter, having less cover spread and less room to move about generally, apply here.

Now that I think about it, it’s the shadow cast by the hill that bothers me. While I’d love to use the cheeky ‘park a chimeltas in or by the river’ trick, I think my list emphasises mobility and survivability in such a way that having more space to move around and room to breathe is preferable. To me, SW seems preferable.

When it comes to Spearhead/Table Quarters though, if I had the choice I’d take the NW corner, forcing the enemy to take the less-favourable SE corner. Agree/Disagree?


Table halves, 1 HQ 2 troops, and an 18” no-deployment zone. This one’s a tough call, as the rest of the forces arrive in drips and drabs making long term strategic planning harder to achieve, as the dice gods decides our fates. This is harder to discuss, as the game is now very much a reactive game. I deploy, therefore limiting your options. You deploy in reaction. My guys in reserve arrive or not to react to your reaction, etc. It’s a chain of events that’s harder to theoryhammer, but I’ll do my best.

Using the same considerations as for Pitched Battle above, the Northern Quarter seems to have the better set-up and if I were to deploy first, I’ve found recently that aggressive deployment (put it in the middle as much as possible), to create an 18” no-go-zone can really impede the options of the other player, so this I will do, also taking advantage of the Chimelta’s amphibious rule where possible (illustrated as above)

One thing that also helps is my Astropath, adding +1 to my reserves roll (and helping Harker in his outflank). So I hope my leman russes and executioner cavalry will arrive quickly to attack the enemy’s piecemeal forces.

In the event this tactic is turned against me (me going 2nd), again I’ll rely on my better reserves rolls to pull me through, deploying my forces in a far-out manner as possible to remain unmolested to prove a credible threat against the enemy.

With Dawn of War, only time will tell!


So there you have it. A long winded article (please excuse my rants and ramblings) with some pretty pictures.

I fully realise that all the above is moot, as dice rolls can go awry, luck plays a big part of the game, the missions may and can vary, and sometimes the best laid plans go afoot. Also, I know some people regard 40K as being ‘tactically childish’, so I’m looking to see if serious, well-considered observations on the ‘lay and the lie of the land’ can really have an impact in one’s game. This I believe to be true, do you?

Do cover saves really matter? Do blind spots, firing lines and impassable terrain have that great an impact on your game? Can deployment itself, win or lose a game?

Feel free to comment, agree/disagree, or provide stories/anecdotes regarding how one’s deployment won/lost you a game.

I’ll certainly take any advice on board, and hopefully with the luck of the dice gods and the knowledge gleamed above, I’ll prove victorious soon! Batrep to follow soon, thanks for reading.

Tuesday, 26 January 2010

Even More Rebus 40K

"Whenever you are confronted with an opponent, conquer him with Rebus."
- My hat? My candy!

It's that time again True Believers! No-prize to the correct guess of the overall theme, and an even bigger sloppy wet no-prize to any who can correctly link 2 of the answers together! Mucho gusto, muchachos & muchachas!












Note: All images here used for entertainment purposes and completely without permission being completely unofficial and in no way endorsed by Games Workshop Ltd. Thank you for playing.

Sunday, 24 January 2010

Artwork: Project Big Kahuna - 05

Let's Make Love and Listen to Death from Above.

Note: All illustration work depicted here is fan art which is completely unofficial and in no way endorsed by Games Workshop Ltd.

Saturday, 23 January 2010

Like A Kid In A Candy Store


I have a confession to make. I haven’t had a proper game using my 5th edition Imperial Guard codex.

Don’t get me wrong. I’ve played 800pts round-robin games to break me into the new rules. Senior Officer Orders, the Lumbering Behemoth of the Leman Russ. Mech vets in a couple of Chimeras, and even the Punisher (killing 15 Gaunts in one go!) My 5th edition codex isn’t exactly in mint condition, but come Wednesday I’ll be playing a 2000pt game in which I will be using every toy I’ve drooled over and wanting to try out for ages since the codex came out. I have been told to bring on the PAIN!

So, here’s the draft list of my new 2000pt Guard, entitled: The New Dirty Basterds.

  • HQ
1.1 Command HQ – Iron Hand Straken, 3no. Meltaguns, Medic, Carapace, Master of Ordnance, Astropath.

Chimera transport – Multilaser turret, Heavy flamer, heavy stubber defensive weapon.

350 points

  • Troops
2.1 Vet Squad - Stonetooth Harker, 3no. Meltaguns, Chimera transport (as per 1.0)

2.2 Vet Squad – Power weapon, shotguns, 3no. Meltaguns, Grenadiers, Chimera transport (as per 1.0)

2.3 Vet Squad – Power weapon, shotguns, 3no. Meltaguns, Grenadiers, Chimera transport (as per 1.0)

630 points

  • Elites
3.1 Ratling Sniper squad (10no. ratlings)

3.2 Guardsman Marbo

3.3 Psyker Battle Squad – Overseer & 9no. Sanctioned Psykers, Chimera transport (as per 1.0)

340 points

  • Heavy Support
4.1 Naked Leman Russ – 1no. Leman Russ, battle cannon, hull heavy bolter.

4.2 Naked Leman Russ – 1no. Leman Russ, battle cannon, hull heavy bolter.

4.3 Executioner Squad – 2no. Leman Russ Executioners, Executioner plasma cannon, hull heavy bolter

680 points

Therefore 15 Kill Points, 3 scoring units.

For me, this will be a new toys, new tanks, new tricks list. Specifically, I’ll be playing a 2k game against L, the Ultrasmurf player, with terrain set up by D (Ork/Chaos player) as per below:

The forces of the Imperium on a picnic.

From what you can see at the setup (Rhino, Russ & Hound shown for scale reference), it’s a pretty open field. D wanted to create a ‘grassland sortie’, knowing full well I’ll be all mech-ed up and probably, so will L, hence the lack of large-scale cover, ruins, etc (the 2 buildings shown are non-difficult terrain giving a 4+ save, 3 large balls of impassable terrain trees, with soft difficult terrain woodland cover giving 5+ saves.)

Also, we’ve deliberately been asked to create lists that do not use allies (no anti-deepstrike, so I will have to take my lumps when the pods do drop on my head), AND the mission parameters and deployment will be decided upon the roll-off come Wednesday night.

In addition, our lists basically use whatever we have, to limit the amount of proxying that we usually resort to. So basically, it’s my Guard at 2K VS L’s Marines.

L, in his part, has enough toys to constitute perhaps 2 squads of fast moving bikers (4no. each), 2 Landraiders, 3 drop pods, plenty of tacs/devastators, 2 squads of scouts, 4 dreads of all sorts, NO landspeeders, and a max. of 15no. terminators so there is plenty of flexibility and scope of type of enemy I shall be facing. In fact, I’ve harped on so much about the impressiveness of a daemonhunter inquisitor anti-deepstrike mystic force, AND the fact that whenever L HAS deepstruck his pods I tend to hold my forces in reserve, means I have put the fear into L in the use of his multiple drop pods. Or he may go full deep striking goodness, loading up on meltas and multis (as he KNOWS I will be using all the vehicles I own, these being 5 chimeras/hounds and 4 leman russ tanks).

I reckon that L will use a mix of deepstrikers (1 dread, and 1 filled with a squad), another heavy support dread, plenty of bikes, devastators, scouts, and a mechanised rhino force of tactical marines. Basically a take-all-comers list, perhaps with Vulkan Hestan to pimp up the meltas, with enough mobility and flexibility to counter-act the fast mobile force I have prepared. Rumour has it he may even consider taking a Librarian, or even Tigurius into his forces.

Here’s the reasoning behind the list above:

  • HQ Load-out:
Rumour has it Straken is a close-combat beast. A c-c Guard beast? This I must try out for myself!

A master of ordnance to get L to push his forces closer to my tanks and melta, a medic & carapace to really toughen up the squad, and an Astropath to allow me to assist in Harkers outflanking, and in the event of an all-reserved game I’ll be able to better bring out my chimeras in a less than drip-fed fashion. Because of the Master of Ordnance, this will mean the Chimera stays at the back pie-plating L as many turns as possible, before using it’s mobility and flexibility as a counter-attack in case of deep strikes.

  • Troop Load-out:
Mech vet spam! I’ve used up to 2 in a game before so I know exactly how competitive they can be, but 3? Bring it on! The load-out for Harker is to ensure he gets to outflank and put the fear into L, funnelling his forces to the centre of my firing lines and maybe grabbing an objective late on in the game.

The others either will be put in reserve depending on L’s marine loadout, OR grab objectives at the last gasp, OR screen the Russes providing interference and keeping away mechanised forces with their multiple meltas.

  • Elite Load-out:
Marbo! To put the fear into L. Psychology is such an immense part of the game, and I hope Marbo’s He’s Behind You ability will unnerve L so much as to cause him to think hastily, erratically and make a mistake or two for me to capitalise. The fact that L has experienced my deepstriking demo bombs in previous edition games and is scared sh!tless because of it, means the fact that I’ll take Marbo alone has re-gained the points I’ve put in to take him. Also, the Astropath ensures Marbo gets on table sooner.

Anyone with any memorable stories re: Marbo?

I’ve never used the PBS before, but their much-overlooked Soulstorm ability seems to me an effective anti-tank measure. If the enemy has poured his troops out of the tin-can rhinos, I can weaken their resolve and rely on the synergy of the Ratling snipers to put down the pinning pain upon them. This has been designed solely to put the proverbial monkey wrench in L’s plans. Marine bikers and Terminators watch out!

I love Ratlings due to the pimped-up nature of the Pinning Rules. Cheap, and a great deterrant when they do work. L hates them.

Question: Does weaken resolve work like a shooting attack? (needs to be shot?) Or is it just a psychic test, than an automatic Leadership weakening occurs for the targetted group?

  • Heavy Support Load-out:
Because I’ve spammed up all my Chimeras as transports, I now have no model-proxying options in terms of artillery (hydras, manticores, basilisks, etc), so it’s tankhammer all the way baby.

The naked Leman Russ I find to be a bargain. To me, sponsons do seem a waste of points as I’m always on the move, and I never really get a chance to stay still to fire everything, so I rely instead on the range of the battle-cannons and clever manoeuvring to gain the advantage of the dominant firing lanes.

I’ve grouped the 2 executioners together (due to the 3no. heavy support slot limit) as a heavy infantry deterrent. 6no. plasma cannon AP2 blast templates with no gets hot! will really scare the daylights out of L’s marines, thus putting him at an arm’s distance to let the battle cannons blow them up from a distance.

The overall strategy is as follows:

1. Irrespective of getting first turn, or going on second, I have bristled my troops with specific marine-killing weaponry and improve their survivability so to grab objectives at the last, or stay alive to deny KP’s (if it is a KP mission, I may even put all the melta troops into reserve and drip feed them in as trouble-shooters) and/or mop up scrabbling enemy remnants.

2. Use my elites to run interference. The shininess and unfamiliarity of the new units will be an effective sweat-inducing distraction, to allow my troops to take advantage of the chaos in his ranks.

3. Battle-cannons and MOO barrage to keep the enemy at an arm’s distance. Pop his tanks, landraiders, etc, so that the Executioners get to mop up the remnants with plasma templates.

4. HQ play a counter-assault/troubleshooting role, filling in the gaps in my defences.

Note: In our group, we tend to play ‘hidden’ transports, in which the opponent, despite knowing each others lists when introduced, roll out our transports with our opponent not knowing what’s inside them until they shoot or disembark.

In the end, I’m hoping with this shiny new 5th edition list, my new toys (12no. meltaguns!), new tanks (executioner plasma cannons), and new tricks (marbo, Psykers) will win the day.

Lastly, here’s a draft batrep map I worked up from Photoshop (a Vassal-esque attempt) to give you an overview of the battleground come Wednesday. As you can see, some hills, some trees, a water feature with bridges, which I’m sure will become fiercely fought over choke points. All of which to trundle out my new 2K army. Bring it on Ultrasmurfs!


Comments on the list, anyone?