Tuesday, 31 March 2009

Imperial Guard - Strengths and Weaknesses

By Suneokun.

Further to Ron at FromTheWarps request for Imperial Guard posts, I've felt inspired to have one last look back over the performance of our outgoing codex over the last two Editions of W40k.

So please feel free to browse my analysis of the outgoing Imperial Guard codex, with some potential insights, gripes and suggestions.

Codex: Imperial Guard - a codex review.

This Codex was really born out of a surprisingly revelation to the GW ranks. This is plainly clear in how unprepared they were to release this codex. For example, look at the variety of models or the number of tanks available in this codex compared to the launch of say, the Orks or the two Space Marine itterations between then and now.

Codex: Imperial Guard was released as a 'ground tester' for a new unproven army. Anyone looking back through old copies of White Dwarf can see the woefully expensive beginning of the Imperial Guard in the beautifully detailed Cadian, Valhallan and Mordian metal models. But field a whole army of them? No thanks, my pockets aren't deep enough.

It was only with the release of the Catachan (and subsequently the Cadian) plastic boxsets that this codex really got underway. Beyond that, the selection of model choices or tanks was very limited.

Powered by its own formidable fluff, the undeniable 'Gaunt's ghosts' effect of Dan Abnetts work and some cracking models - gamesworkshop prepared to launch the Imperial Guard. But what they released as a minor quickly became a major leaguer to compare with the sales of Space Marines.

Inspite of being puny humans with rubbish flashlights and no morale and the tenacity of a small beetle, player chose a human army over all the nids, eldar, orks or superhumans available.

For the most part most guard players played guard exactly for this reason.

Playing Guard: 4th Edition.

There was often ongoing jokes about how Guard players really appreciated the wins, becuase they lost so much. In the confines of 4th Edition, with weaker vehicles, rubbish shooting skills, abysmal close combat and iniative, no cover saves (comparatively), consolidating 'roll up' close combat and negliable saving throws - Guard just sucked.

They were the gunline who'd left all the decent guns at home. Despite having counterassault units (Rough Riders and Ogyrns), they were either feeble one shots or so overpriced you were better off buying basic guard units and throwing them to the dogs...

Guard could only win via attrition or a 'surprise' factor, and then only with a good tailwind and some nice 4+ to hit rolls, and that was if they didn't kill your leaders - so why the weaknesses?

  1. Elites, what elites? The elites options in the Imperial Guard Codex are good, don't get me wrong - but they are very limited and anything that comes with fun toys is outrageously overpriced. Veterans are fun, but are essentially pricey speedbumps with a slightly higher BS. Stormtroopers are interesting, but need to spend even more points on deepstrike or infiltrate. Ratlings are well-priced and essential, Ogyrns and Techpriests - oh dear. While at Apolcalypse these models had their place, they were woefully outclassed in normal games. Especially when you consider the next problem...
  2. Doctrines - a brilliant concept, applied uselessly. The idea was similar to the 'buy Khan, get Smurf bikes as troops' idea. The concept was that through the use of doctrines you could 'personalise' your army, making it unique and surprising. The problem was that the cost was so high. Effectively, you could choose 5 doctrines. However if you used doctrines you automatically forfeited any decent unit in your codex. Anything from storm troopers to special weapon teams would require 'buy-back' to include, further reducing your choices. This led to enormously skewed army lists. Entire armies adopting 'Drop Troops' and dropping everything bar the tanks because its free. This is brilliant for the guard player - but ultimately dissapointing as the only way to win was by 'surprising' your opponent as your army was so second-rate.
  3. Sentinels - don't get me started on sentinels: see here
  4. Tanks - for a treadhead army, we often came incredibly light on tanks...
Anyhow I digress. In Fourth Edition we were the kicking boys of the armies... but things were about to change.

5th Edition Resurgence

The old Guard codex got buffed to a high shine by the new edition of Warhammer 40k. The better cover saves, true line of sight, template weapons scattering, tanks being tougher, running, non-consolidation into another unit AND more lethal combat (meaning your boys usually died in their turn and you can shoot them!), deployment rules, deep striking, and flanking all gave the Imperial guard options that never happened before.

Finally one single option dominated all, only Troops could capture objectives. Guard can do troops, guard can do troops really well.

So while the Tyranids suffered badly, the necrons withered and the Tau flummoxed - the Guard were resurgant and ranked 4th overall on the BoLs listing (even before the new codex). This listed them above Space Marines! Under the new rules only a few armies could stand toe to toe with guard for fire power, making the guard dominating.

New Codex thoughts...

With a new codex a bare few months away my palms are already itching. There are too many NEW options to really consider the technicalities of playing this army. The new codex, while adopting the same models and similar points values has exploded with multivarious options that truly astound!

Like the Space Marine or Ork Codex before it, with are moved from choosing a limited list and using it in an innovative way to being given a treasure trove of options and asked to sherry-pick the best options.

Guard have particularly benefitted from the continued sponsorship of ForgeWorld, without their guidance (like an independent film or music arm to a big enterprise) GW wouldn't have realised just what a following Guard have and given it its due. So what's for the future?

I wrote the following recently on the Imperial Guard Message Board, as a longtime member and contributor I'd recommend it as the first resource for all you budding Guard players out there.

Tell RollingThunder and AddictiveWoz I say Hi!


Re: IG Codex Leak
« Result #2 on Mar 25, 2009, 4:11pm »
[Quote] [Modify] [Delete]

The new codex appears to follow the ork and smurf codex's and provide an army to all comers. You can field 18 fast attack and heavy tanks alongside your chimera'd up grenadiers squads and command squad.

You can deploy a lightweight 'catachan-esque' infiltration force (using veterans etc) and upgraded Sentinels.

You can deploy 18 lightweight skimmers (9 Valkyrie in fast, 9 Vendetta in heavy) and flummox you enemy.

You can deploy the most troops your enemy has ever seen, ignore intervening squads in platoons and gain twinlink against antitank and antimonster, plus gain a free bladestorm for your lasguns.

You can deploy 9 usable 'light tanks' including anti-GEQ, anti-MEQ and anti-tank variants and completely dominate the close range. (BTW: I don't think NERFing the hellhound is a bad idea, the current Inferno cannon is one of the best in the game. Subsequently, few hellhounds survive beyond turn 2.)

Backed up by 9 indirect firing monster weapons.


What's your opinion?

Monday, 30 March 2009

ToSsA - With Commissar Yarrick!

By Suneokun.

"Welcome, Scum and All, Welcome to the Tournament of Six Small Armies - or ToSsA. [Aside] tell Jones in marketing he's dead, no I really mean it this time!"

"My name's Commissar Yarrick - you may have heard of me?? Anyway, out here in the Kochi sector we're having a friendly little crack about between six competing species ... needless to say, I'm not allowed on the pitch - otherwise this would be a one way bloodbath with my bootprint stomped all round the bathroom, yersee?

Unfortunately, some ninny-hammer decided to pit six 500 pt armies off against eachother. Oh, and each of the armies will be competing in a total of 30 battles. We're fast approaching the end of the first 5 battles and the roundup looks like this: ROUNDUP.

Sooo, without further ado, I'll pass over to errr ... Commissar Bob for the in action game report of battle four .... Commissar Bob, who let him in, the man's an idiot ... I'm what? I'm still on? But you gave the hand gesture ... I'll give you a bloody hand gesture in a minute! Yeah? Well with my right hand, so brace yourself - plebicite! WHAT? We're still on, oh ... OVER TO YOU BOB!


Hi and welcome to the fourth matchup in this exciting tournament, on the dice roll, Devilin rolled for the Eldar, whilst Suneokun took out the enraged Orks.

Eldar Roundup: The Eldar have had a typically enigmatic tournament so far, forcing the Space Marines to a draw, they lost on points difference, but only by a paltry 58 points. So while in the lower part of the table, they are still in a strong position to move forward.

Eldar Strengths: Their indomitable Farseer. While lacking the raw close combat destruction of the Orks Warboss the Farseer is kitted out with fortune - this means that in close combat he enjoys two 4+ invulnerable saving throws. He can form up a decent close combat option out of most units.

The Eldar force is troop option rich with Guardians, Dire Avengers and Eldar Rangers. These forces give this army real options, especially when combined with the Waveserpent transport - the most versatile transport in the tournament. The Eldar only lack in one aspect (boom boom!) and that's high strength firepower. They lack either the high strength or low AP weaponry to challenge many adversaries.

Orks Roundup: The Orks have been uncharacteristically underwhelming in the tournament so far. Against the Imperial Guard they scraped a technical draw whilst losing by 242 killpoints. This points difference will prove difficult to climb and they have a mammoth task ahead of them.

Orks Strengths: Close Combat. The Orks have a dominatingly cheap number of close combat attacks. Led by their Warboss, who is a walking lethiathan in close combat. Alongside this element is the more specialist Nobs squad and the invaluable Deffkoptas. These units are tough and have the firepower and brawn in close combat to hold up and challenge units across the board. I wouldn't be surprised to see these boys as key game makers. Finally they have the gretchin, nuff said really.

Deployment and objectives: The roll came up with a seize ground objective (with the maximum 5 markers) and a Spearhead deployment. We rolled to see who went first and Devilin won the roll and opted to go second.

The 'Grey' Horde muster up!

Turn 1: The Ork Horde surges forward. The Orks and Warboss break right towards the closest Eldar - the Guardians - while the Gretchin fill the middle of the board. The small group of Ork Nobs flank left behind some detritus and out of line of sight from the Eldar Rangers. Everybody Runs. The Guardians retreat back, while the waveserpent drops the Dire Avengers and Farseer within 18" of the Gretchin. The Eldar let loose with everything they have on the Gretchin mob, devastating wounds with no cover save reduce the gretchin to 5 models and the runtherds and they fail their 6 on Leadership, routing and leaving the game.

The Eldar Guardian play 'distraction' behind the hill.

Turn 2: The Ork Horde on the right charge, warrrghh and attempt to assault the guardian's, but are out of range. The Nobs on the left are luckier and manage to engage the Waveserpent, succeeding in a surprising two 6-to-hit results, unfortunately they fail to glance or penetrate the armour.

The Deffkopta's perform an essential job and nullify the Eldar's most lethal unit.

Meanwhile, on the reserves roll the Deffkoptas flank, shoot and charge the Dire Avengers, killing one on their assault. Despite only having an iniative of 2, the deffkoptas have a T5 that effectively nullifies the Dire Avengers attacks, leaving only the Farseer to threaten, in the combat the Orks kill a total of 4 Avengers in return for one wound. Despite this the Farseer easily passes his leadership test and carries on! The Avengers Are Trapped! Woohahaha! The Waveserpent repositions and picks up the Rangers while the guardian shuffle back from the Ork horde.

Footslogging Ork Horde, out of range after a dissapointing 3 on the fleet roll.

Turn 3: With the Waveserpent moving only 2", both the Ork Horde and the Nobs concentrate their attacks on this vehicle. With a combination of 5 S5 attacks each, the Nobs batter the vehicle (with only a 4+ to hit) and destroy it. Due to the proximity of the Ork Horde only 3 rangers survive the blast and can be deployed. The Deffkoptas and Avengers experience a turn of stalemate with rerollable saving throws rescuing the Eldar. The Rangers and Guardians flee behind a building, hoping to attack the Deffkoptas or flee.

The Nobs and Deffkopta's surround the Eldar Tank.

Turn 4: The Ork Horde turns its attention to the Eldar, the Warboss and Mob manage to roll some solid 'through cover' moves and catch the two units. The Warboss finishes the Rangers off while the guardians are assaulted and break off the board. The Nobs charge into the combat with the Avengers. Despite losing a Nob (at a pitiful T4) before he could come to grips a further 2 Avengers died, drawing the combat again.

Warboss and Posse catch the fleeing Rangers and Guardians (this is pre charge, which scored a 3!)

Turn 5: The Eldar were trapped in combat, but failed to wound in their own turn, meanwhile the Ork Warboss charged into the fray while the Ork Boys retreated back to stretch between two objectives. The Warboss piled into the combat and with his powerfist denied the saving throws for the Avengers, only 2 more avengers fell to poor rolling, but it was enough to challenge the Eldars nerve. The Farseer passed his leadership test and also passed his perils test for the pesky fortune.

Turn 6: The boys spread out, securing two positions as the final combat loomed. The combined weight of the boys and the warboss killed off the remaining Avengers, leaving only the Farseer within 3" of an ovjective to contest it.

Boys Mob spread out, connecting two objective (spore mines), while the lonely (but frustratingly undamaged) farseer can only contest one.

Conclusion: a convincing win by the orks, the Deffkoptas speed AND flanking really won this game. With the Eldar's best anti horder unit tied up in combat with T5 mini's I was free to massacre the others at my leisure. Devilin felt frustrated in this game as a moment decision making cost him the battle, but it only takes one mistake at 500pts to break an army. Spliting the Warboss off from the Nobs also proved a useful trick, while not being T5, the nobs were a small enough group to evade sniper fire and engage the enemy. Their S5 on the charge shouldn't be underestimated, if only they had big choppa's?

After this match, Dev and I discussed the pro's and con's. I think that the Eldar's biggest mistake (like the Tau) was deploying everything on turn one. With the Waveserpent and the pathfinders in reserve I would have been a lot less confident in deployment. As soon as Dev saw me holding my deffkoptas back, he should have been planning against ambush. That didn't happen.

We've also agreed that we should plan a rematch with swapped sides for us both. This means I'll need to come up with something clever to face down the Orks with the Eldar - and the Nid's with the Tau. My personal favourite would be to match the Farseer with the Guardians and charge the Ork Mob with the Warboss. With the dice on side I could manage 9 wounds to their ten, with a little luck (and some rerollable invulnerable saves) I could hold up the Orks for one or two turns allowing the Waveserpent/Avengers and Rangers to counter ambush the Deffkoptas and then mop up the other squads. The Gretchin would be easy, the Nobs persistent. Then I have time to massacre the Ork mob at my leisure (with a 12" move skimmer tank in the way, maybe surplying a tank shock as well...) and kill the Orks. Then the Warboss would need to choose between charging the Rangers or the Avengers to contest - either way I win.

Ork Victory, 3 points to the Orks. 412 killpoints to 90 killpoints. This affects the tables as follows:
  1. Orks: P2 4BP 80KP (322-242)
  2. Tyranids: P1 3BP 266KP
  3. Guard: P1 1BP 242KP
  4. Space Marines: P1 1BP 58KP
  5. Eldar: P2 1BP -380KP
  6. Tau: P1 0BP -266KP
The Eldar's loss gives the Tau a really good chance of breaking out of the bottom position with a game in hand. The Orks have claimed a narrow lead, but if the Tyranids can continue their performance in this second round against either the Space Marines or Imperial Guard, they'll be no catching them on wins or points difference.

Stay tuned!

Wednesday, 25 March 2009

Facing Death in the City - what would you take?

I'm soooo dead guys, Heeeeelpppp!

By Suneokun.

I've been asked for a rematch against Dustins Tau. So we'll be going 1500pt with Guard against his Tau in Cities of Death. Apart form having to pull out the rulebook and double check the benefits, are there any options people can suggest.

Clearly I won't be able to outrange him, like in the last battle (see here), so I hand it over to you guys - how do I keep my boys alive when their facing Tau in cities with pulse rifles - I shudder to think...

Needless to say, detailed battle report of my astounding defeat will be presented to you for your delectation...

Help me Obi-Wan, you're my only hope...

Thursday, 19 March 2009

Guard v Tau 1500pt Seize Ground

By Suneokun.

With a few weeks left before the new Imperial Guard codex arrived, Dustin at 'Gifts for Geeks' emailed to say the scenery and his 6' by 4' battleboard were all ready and did I want to face another drubbing from his Tau (ok, he didn't say the last bit, but it adds drama, dunnit). As such I only felt it fair to give the Old Guard codex (which has given me soooo much pain over the years...) a final outing against the Tau forces.

Apologies for some fo the photo's in this batrep. For some reason my camera went all 'desert storm/blair witch' project during the combat... some are nice though...

Previous Experience: In our last encounter (see here), Dustin gave my 'close combat hungry' army a right pulse rifle drubbing. Despite playing a couple of practice games, I was too eager to furnish my army with my newly finished Rough riders and Orgyrns (without a moments thought for the points sink), the game wasn't finished and apart from a lucky battle cannon shot massacring 7 Kroot and 2 crisis suits, the traffic was all one way.

Revelations: Since then however, I have had a 40k epiphany relating to both army selection and army deployment. When I researched and wrote these up, I was half concerned (in the back of my head) that I was actually talking out of my posterior, and my concept wouldn't fly. However, what I've found over the following five battles is that the tacticas are actually pretty straightforward, robust and enable me to prioritise troop choices, tactics and targets neatly. Out of the previous 5 battles, 3 have been glorious victories and 2 have been draws (although to be fair one draw was against Orks, with Guard on killpoints and I killed/routed everything bar his deffkoptas - but meh?).

Tactica in a nutshell: choosing an army (in my opinion) is about understanding heat and deniance. Heat is my term for the real and/or perceived 'lethality' of any given unit. Effectively Terminators have more 'heat' than mortar teams - simple enough. But heat is subjective, a scout squad on an objective will attract more heat than a TH/SS Terminator Assault squad (who isn't about to hit your lines). Understanding strategies around heat is essential, as this feeds directly into the 'on-the-field' tactica of 'choices'.

is all about choosing your forces to best exploit your ability to avoid enemy fire altogether and still achieve your objectives. Fritz's Saim Hann army are an excellent example of how you can use speed, reserves and terrain to effectively deny your opponent an effective turn of shooting. Relying on armour saves or cover saves is a secondary and last choice. The priority is to use tactics, deployment and placing to ensure that your opponent CAN only shoot his railguns at troopers. Deniance is determined by range, movement, indirect fire, exploiting terrain and finally good armour. And options should be chosen in that priority.

Deniance however, doesn't work properly with a clear understanding of 'circles'. Circles are the imaginary sphere that surrounds every unit, dictated by their fire power and/or charge effect. Understanding these 'spheres' gives us three key advantages. We can see where the enemy is weakest and can be exploited, we can also see where our firepower is concentrated and exploit or adjust accordingly. Finally circles help us manage deniance, especially ranged deniance, turn on turn. The following battle report is a good example of this.

Understanding heat however feeds into the battlefield tactic of 'choices'. If you present only one danger to an opponent, he will target it. Now you may choose to do this (A demolisher, wraithlord, Nob warbike mob or Eldar Seer Council will often play 'fire magnet' to actively attract firepower) however understanding circles and deniance will ensure that when you move, your primary focus should be on maximising your impact while offering a maximum number of difficult choices to your opponent.

As an example, look at another set of games - snooker, pool or billiards. In these games, potting the ball is not enough, to become really competent you have to play multiple layers ahead and maximise your options (potting as many balls as possible) while making strategic choices to deny your opponent the same opportunities.

So if we can maximise these options, we can increase our chance of winning. This however does not concede the final playmanship point. This is that good behaviour is rewarded by the dice. What I mean by this is the following. In the game you are about to read, my 7 ratlings shot at 4 pathfinders. Despite scoring five hits, when it came to the 'to wound' roll, I rolled a complete run of 1's. Five 1's, no other. Now unless I have a retro-active 'natural roll', I just managed a 1 in 7776 chance. Both Dustin and I were so amazed that the 'justice' of it doesn't even come into it. IF you have a series of rolls that go against you, don't get upset - just settle happily that you have karma 'good news' coming your way...

On with the battle report.

Dustin's Tau: from our previous battle, this was a 'stripped down' version of the 2000 pt force. Dustin had focused on 'antitank' firepower with plenty of numerous troop options to tie up objectives.

  • Shas'El with two Shas'Ui bodyguards, Missile Pods and Plasma Rifles all round, 1 shield drone.
  • Crisis Suit Monat with Missile pod and Fusion Gun.
  • 1 squad of 12 Fire warriors with pulse rifles, a Shas'Ui.
  • 1 squad of 12 Fire warriors with pulse rifles, a Shas'Ui.
  • 1 squad of 12 Fire warriors with pulse rifles, a Shas'Ui.
  • 1 squad of 12 Kroot with 5 kroor hounds and a shaper.
Fast Attack
  • 1 Piranha with burst cannon and 2 gun drones.
  • 8 Pathfinders with Shas'Ui, devilfish with gundrones and burst cannon, disruption pod.
Heavy Support
  • 2 Broadside battlesuits with twin-linked railguns and smart missile systems.
  • 1 Hammerhead gunship with railgun.
  • 1 Hammerhead gunship with ion cannon.
Suneokun's Guard: from previous experience (and playing Tau myself) I knew that the best thing was to draw up a gunline beyond 30", denying the army its pulse rifle advantage. As such I focused on 48" and 36" firepower. The objective was to target the bigger targets (Broadsides/Hammerheads) and reduce the average strength to 5. Then my chimera 'gunships' could trundle in and pour firepower into the Tau troops. During all this, I selected 5 mortars. These long range weapons would repetitively 'ping' the entrenched Tau and Kroot, hopefully scoring some good hits, pinning and forcing them to 'go to ground'.

  • Command Section [5]: Junior Officer, Veteran with company standard, mortar team and guardsman. Commissar with bolt pistol.
  • 3 Mortar Teams [6]
  • 3 Autocannon Teams [6]
  • 3 Missile Launcher Teams [6]
  • Ratlings [7] Sniper Rifles, +1 saving throw, infiltrate.
  • Storm Troopers [5], Sergeant with power sword, meltagun, flamer, 2 hellguns, deepstrike.
  • Platoon Command [5]: Junior Officer, bolt pistol, Heavy Bolter, meltagun, in a Chimera Transport with Multilaser, heavy bolter and heavy stubber.
  • Squad One [10]: Heavy Bolter.
  • Squad Two [10]: Mortar.
  • Remnant Squad [5]: Flamer.
  • Armoured Fist: Heavy Bolter, Meltagun in a Chimera with Heavy Bolter, Multilaser and heavy stubber.
Fast Attack
  • 3 Lascannon Sentinels.
Heavy Support
  • 1 Leman Russ Battletank with battlecannon and heavy bolter.
  • 1 Leman Russ Battletank with battlecannon and lascannon.
The 3 sentinels would skulk behind the battletank and target armour and battlesuits @ 48". Although I couldn't outrange the railgun (the only weapon i couldn't), I could deliver enough lascannon fire on my turn to pretty much guarantee a kill. The railguns would then be in the unenviable choice of killing a tank or one of three sentinels...

Objective: Seize Ground (five markers)
Deployment: Spearhead
Dustin won the roll and opted to take the first turn and deploy first

Deployment: going second suited me and I aimed to deploy my troops in layers which would combine to deny the Tau decent shots while leaving my units free to attack his. I secured my far right flank with my ratling infiltrators. While they would be outside the leadership assistance of the command HQ, and therefore vulnerable to routing. They could stop the Kroot from deploying on my flank and flanking my heavy weapon teams.

The mortar teams, missile launcher teams and autocannons all arrayed at the back of the board, well outside 30" and within range of the whole Tau quadrant. The HQ command sat centrally, ready to dole out Ld9 rerollable leadership test with a commissar's headshot as backup. The heavy bolter squad setup at the front, they were inside 30" but a combination of a 3+ save in the bunker, 10 men and the commissar standing behind them should keep them in place. The Leman Russ's deployed just beyond the tower, out of line of sight for the Broadsides. The Sentinels deployed behind them and the Chimeras took up a position to deter Dustin from bringing his Kroot into the top left flank and contesting that objective.

Dustin deployed his men in cover, and as going first had little control over placing them in range or not. His Kroot and piranha would attempt to suppress the Ratlings and threaten that flank. His ion cannon would play chicken with the Leman Russ's and attempt to slow the chimera's...

Turn 1: Tau - With the Broadside have good lines of sight from the top of the building. The problem is that they cannot move and fire. Thank to my crafty deployment I have 3 sentinels and 2 battletanks within 48" and the broadside cannot target any of them. The broadside have to settle with killing some autocannon team. One of the fire warrior squad embarks at the start of the turn and the devilfish races forward to challenge the objectives in the centre. The Kroot move and run forward to attack the Ratlings looking very exposed on the right flank. The pathfinders target the heavy bolter team (the only target in range apart from the ratling). The markerlights add plus one to the BS and reduce the saving throw to 4+. Refusing to duck, five guardsmen are shot down by missile pod and pulse rifle fire. The Ion Cannon takes a potshot at the furthest Chimera on the far left, but his the building. The other Hammerhead's railgun shoot, hitting both the Missile Launcher team and a single autocannon team member. Despite five hits, it only causes a single wound to the missile launchers.

Turn 1: Guard - By maneurvering by Leman Russ' I could target the Kroot on the far right flank with the battle cannon. In addition I moved up the Sentinels with lascannons and the lascannon armed leman russ. The four lascannon managed two pentrating hits and despite the 4+ saving throw clearing one shot, they wrecked the hammerhead. Good start. The chimeras had inched forwards, but couldn't target the fire warriors. The mortar teams open up, bombarding the fire warrior teams in the centre ground, the 5 mortars combined for a total of 13 hits, this resulted in 8 wounds and 5 casulaties. This bombardment pinned the right most Tau team. The heavy bolter team in the bunker and a couple of laguns opened up on the approaching Tau Monat. Combining their fire with the autocannons proved too much and the Crisis suit died, his heavy armour failing under too much supression fire. The Missile Launchers and the rearmost Leman Russ targetted the Far kroot. While the Leman Russ' shot deviated, the missile launchers managed 6 kills (with no saves) this resulted in the Kroot routing back the way they'd come. The Ratlings knew they had a deadly purpose and lines up the Broadside Battlesuits. Despite succeeding with 5 hits out of 7, I proceeded to roll 5 1's. That's a 1 in 7776 chance! So the broadsides survived.

Turn 2: Tau - With the majority of the armour still out of line of sight of the broadsides, the Tau had few valuable targets. Dustin concentrated firepower again on the Autocannon and Missile Launcher causing a couple of further loader to die. In addition, the Tau Piranha swarmed forward to give covering fire and attack the ratlings - who were now looking awfully beleaguered. The Devilfish rushed up to the damaged bunker and deposited its gundrones.

Turn 2: Guard - With the encroachment of the Piranha and the lascannon vehicles in position to strike I gambled that I could kill his tank killers before my boys died. The two leman russ' came out from behind the building. The heavy bolter Leman Russ shot its battlecannon into far pathfinders, meanwhile the lascannon russ joined the 3 sentinels in targetting their lascannons at the Broadsides. The leman russ managed to destroy the Broadside's shield-drone. Despite only 2 shots getting through the broadsides failed both their cover saves - the Broadsides were no more!

Taking the bull by the horns, I deepstruck with my small stormtroopers squad right in front of the Tau Hammerhead. One melta shot later and a weapon destroyed roll left the Tau battletank stripped to a mere double burst cannon. In one turn I had managed to reduce the Tau armada's firepower to maximum S7 and ranged 36". Effectively the Tau's anti-tank options were gone.

With such effective tank shooting, the rest of the army went to work. The other Leman Russ targetted the Pathfinders with his battlecannon, killing three. Despite this, they passed they pinning and leadership tests, thanks to the Shas'Ui. The Missile Launchers went after the devilfish at point blank range, but the devilfish gained a 3+ save from an intervening gundrone squad and the shots went wild. The autocannons lacked much to shoot at at all, so the loaders and gunners aimed at the floating gundrones - killing one, the drones lost their leadership and subsequently left.

On the right flank the situation for the ratlings was more desparate. They now faced a piranha and the kroot - neither of which the ratlings had much chance against. Trusting to luck the ratling attempted to rend the Piranha and succeeded with a single hit. The piranha suffered a 'crew stunned' result, trapping the Kroot behind it.

Turn 3: Tau - The tau returned fire with full force. The command squad, pathfinders, Hammerhead and a fire warrior squad scored massive damage on the small stormtrooper squad. Despite the firepower, the sergeant survived and kept his head on the leadership roll. The devilfish in the centre leapt over its fleeing gundrones and deposited 12 fire warriors on the target. They immediately opened up on the Autocannon team in front of them but despite losing a further two men (bringing it down to just 1 man) the squad held, thanks to the commander and his commissar. The Piranha gundrones dispatched and started drifting towards the guard lines. Meanwhile the crowing calls of the ratlings was cut short as the kroot aimed their longrifles. Cracking shots pinged out and they mananged to kill 4 out of 7 ratlings despite the ratlings' 3+ save. The ratling (with only Ld6) legged it in no uncertain terms.

Turn 3 - Guard: WIth the confidence in my armoured column, the Leman Russ and chimera 'gunships' moved forwards. Now that the 'real' danger was gone, both troops units in the Chimera's popped the tops and loaded their heavy bolters. The combination of 2 heavy bolters, a multilaser and heavy stubber across two tanks started to ring out of these mobile pillboxes. The effect was immediate. The sheer volume of fire forced one squad of Tau to go to ground. The other squad lost a further 2 men but held firm. The Leman Russ fired into the building but scattered.

The other leman russ targetted the devilfish and his tau firewarriors guarding that objective. Unfortunately the battlecannon shot scattered into no mans land. The Sentinels had lined up on the Devilfish too. However despite being within 12" to deny the 4+ dsiruption pod save, the devilfish was obscured by the bunker and gained a 3+ save! The devilfish didn't get as much luck from the missile launcher team who managed a weapon destroyed result. With the chimera's pinning down the fire warriors the mortar teams could concetrate fire on the firewarrior bunched up under the transport. They managed a total of 12 hits, resulting in 8 casulaties. This reduced the full squad to a meager 4.

While this was going on, the stormtrooped sergeant went on the offensive and charged the pathfinders. The pathfinders used their proton grenades and gained the upper hand in close combat thanks to half the unit being in cover. I unfortunately forgot about the frag grenades the sergeant is armed with and he went down spectacularly under a tatoo of markerlight carbine butts before he could get to work with his power sword.

Turn 4 - Tau: With the ratlings routed the Piranha was now free to race towards the Guard lines. The disarmed devilfish hovered impotently as the 4 fire warriors managed a 6 for difficult terrain and leapt into the guard trenches. They proceeded to shoot up the missile launcher team, bringing that unit down to two - again the commander/commissar/company banner saved the day. The kroot eyed the objective in the open on the far side of their silo and hunkered down out of line of sight.

The Shas'El and bodyguards popped out of their building to target one of the chimera. Despite achieving two hits, they failed to penetrate the armour with their S7 weapons. They then retreated back behind the building. The two fire warrior squads in the building and the pathfinders were ineffectual in shooting as their numbers were now so low.

Turn 4:Guard - The Chimeras continued their approach scoring multiple hits and securing the top left objective. Next turn I would deploy the armoured fist into position. The firepower from both tanks withered the fire warriors down to a a four and five man squad. The leman russes had a different target, by moving their full 6", both ordinance templates were brought to bear on the Command Squad. With a shuffle of consternation, Dustin realised this was instantkill no saving throw ordinance template territory! Luckily for his, both templates scattered dramatically and the leman russ 'fluffed' the opportunity with dignified aplomb.

Elsewhere Dustin wasn't so lucky. The sentinel cleared the bunker and skewered the devilfish with their lascannons. The missile launcher team and autocannons targetted the Piranha, but its 3+ turbo boost save proved too much. The command team charged down the trench and opened fire - downing two more fire warriors. The mortars were a difficult choice, after all so few targets were bog enough, after long thought and careful guestimating of distance I targetted all the mortars at the Kroot at 48". The hit was millimeters short, but the blast got six kroot. What followed was the karma of the scattering battlecannon shots as two mortars hit and the third scattered in a further 5 kroot. 17 hits resulted in 10 wounds - no save. The kroot were reduced down to one shaper.

At the end of that turn, the Tau had a total of 9 fire warriors across three squads and 1 shaper all taking leadership tests. They all passed, but it was clear that the Guard now held two objectives uncontestable. One within easy reach (outside my bunker) and the Tau could attempt for two objectives with few enough men that my return fire would be devastating and I could contest anyway.

Dustin conceded the game.


The Guard:
Well that went to plan, sort of... personally I wasn't expecting the consistantly damaging firepower to be that effective. The deniance tactic worked brilliantly, with the majority of my army being outside pulse rifle range. I 'discovered' the effectiveness of the 'Chimera gunship' through the guards list in the "battle of six armies" tournament, and once the anti-tank options were clear these behemoths could trundle forward unleasing a torrent of firepower. With the drastically reduced price of Chimera rumoured in the new codex, plus their rumour of being upgraded to fast - these boys in numbers will be devastating.

The Leman Russ' proved excellent, giving me effectively a bullet proof vehicle screen to approach his lines. I quite like the combination of the Heavy bolter Leman Russ and the Lascannon option. Giving one tank a choice while the other targets troops only.

After this battle I am definitely modifying my Sentinels to Lascannons - they were awesome! The low 'heat' a sentinel generates when there are so many other juicier targets on the board meant they survived the whole game. This combined with being able to deploy 3 lascannon shots meant I could effectively get the jump on all the armour in the game. The lascannon is also the weapon of choice against Broadsides as it combines great range with AP2 instantkill. S9 is essential for challenging A13 vehicles (especially where disruption pods are included!).

Finally, I was really excited about how well the mortars worked. They consistently haranged the Tau lines, indiscriminately pinning or routing units. In return they received no casualties. They were untouchable. The missile launchers, heavy bolter squad and autocannon received all the attritional fire, and thanks to the commander/commissar/company banner combination - held their ground.

The Tau: After the game, Dustin admitted that he hasn't lost a game with his 'gunline' Tau except against Guard. Of the three games he's lost, two were outshot and one was close combat (probably with something like 'light infantry doctrine'). He was a brilliant opponent and took the hits on the chin, was 'generous' about numbers of hits, saving throws etc and actually inspired me to play the same - we had a couple of 'rulebook wobbles' but that was mainly over neither of us being able to find the rule in the rulebook! He was a pleasure to play against, and inspired me to 'raised my game' beyond being petty about little things...

... However, Dustin doesn't like drop troops or flanking and it cost him the game. Afterwards he felt he should get another Hammerhead and perhaps convert the Ion cannon hammerhead back to a railgun for maximum templates. I think that would help, but I think it would be a mistake beyond a key option - flanking and deepstrike.

Under the new rules, pathfinders (and their devilfish), kroot and stealth teams can flank. While this is fairly pointless for the pathfinders, Kroot and stealthteams, combined with some deep striking Crisis Suits could have completely carved up my left flank. The stealth teams could have securely flanked (either attacking the ratlings or the Armour) and shot up the rear armour of the leman russes, chimera or lascannon sentinels. This would have crippled my ability to attack his Broadside and effectively neutered my antitank options. A stealth team could then hide behind a wrecked vehicle or hid in the open trusting to a 3+ save and the stealth fields. With a couple of drones in squad, they would have been unstoppable. In addition a crisis suit team could have demolished the leman russes with fusion/missile pod fire. The kroot flanking could have attacked the ratlings immediately, or been on hand to kill the armoured fist and command squad when they surged out.

Stealth suits and Crisis suits aren't great in close combat, but against anything without power weapons, they would have thrived. Crisis Suits a T4, with a 3+ save, which gives them a better than fair chance against guardsmen if they charge. The guardsmen hit first, but 10 hits only result in 0.74 wounds - I like those odds.

Finally, despite watching leadership after leadership test passed with ease, Dustin didn't go after my command squad. Six would later and he would have had a good chance of routing my Ld7 troops (who were all lined up on the board edge). The combination of a flanking/deepstrike phobia and shooting at my 'preffered targets' meant Dustins firepower was wasted. Something tells me next time I won't be so lucky!

Dustin's Dog Witnessed the Whole Thing - poor thing!

Monday, 16 March 2009

Tournament Roundup with Commissar Yarrick

By Suneokun.

"Hi, this is Commissar Yarrick here at the 2009 interspecies battle tournament. As you may be aware, five different species and a bunch of genetically modified farmboys ... heh, farmboys? Ummm... are duking it out to be the pick of the crop.

"I'm here with the boys, [behind his hand: smile and wave, boys, smile and wave] to get you the latest, bestest and greatest lowdown on this historic tournament. To get the lowdown on the lists involved and to laugh expotentially at the cow faced Tau, check this out.

"Before we get to the result, can I just direct your gaze back to here. Suneokun has pulled his digital camera out of the cupboard and has updated the blog-post with battle photos, reviewed and updated scores and even added witty comment ... yeah right whatever?!?"

"Look shmuck ... do I have to read all of this ork-spillage? I do? Good grief, I'm a blasted war hero! I've fought of the Orks off Armageddon! Twice! I don't have to do this, its beneath me... sorry what? I do, do I - or what? Ah, ok, the Arrogance? Oh right ... damn you all ...

"HERE'S the latest results!"

Tyranids: After a brutal display of hording evilness, the Tyranids wiped the Tau out to a man. Well actually half a man! That mean a full 3 battle points in the bag and an impressive 266 killpoints. Tyranids are definitely one horde to watch, but they are fragile and highly dependent on good deployment and keeping the Synapse creatures alive.

Guard: Surprisingly, the old guard are leading the 'drawists' and coming in a strong second. Despite having a codex that so outdated it could have dated it own daughter's offspring. The Guard managed a very convincing draw against the Orks, picking up 1 battle point. Convincing - try a 242 victory point difference. At 500 pts the range and firepower of the guard, combined with their 'Chimera gunship' is a telling challenge for all.

Space Marines: The Smurfs can only manage a paltry third after a lack lustre performance against the Eldar. They got one battle point for the draw, but only secured 58 kill points. This means a solid draw ties the middle of the table. The Commander was repeatedly unlucky in close combat. The saying power is good, the firepower is less so.

Eldar: For a battle that hung in the balance for so long, the Eldar were actually very unlucky to come off second best. A bit more survivability on the Waveserpent and victory would have been theirs. That said, they were very jammy with Farseer 'RockSolid' Redhelmet hitting every turn with his ONLY attack! One battle point, - 58 killpoints.

Orks: The Orks equitted themselves well, but failed to make it to the Imperial Guard gunline. Despite this, the huge mobs saved them as the killpoints were pitiful. The Orks still represent a dangerous challenge. The deffkoptas are the most mobile force in the tournament and most of the other armies will struggle to shoot them down, the Orks were lucky and got a single battle point. Despite this, the Orks face a significant hill to climb with a deficit of -242 pts.

Tau: Such promise - sadly misplaced. The combination of the Tyranids lightning attack and the persistent pestering of the Ethereal doomed the Tau of J'Etsu to their first ignominious defeat ever! The firepower failed them and their leadership tests never went the right way. That said, only the Tau have the fire power to face down the Guard AND the space marines. And if guided well, they stand an excellent chance of beating the Orks. Their small troop option is a significant weakness however. They sit at no battle points and a deficit of -266 killpoints.

"Stay tuned to your pict-slates for next weeks exciting installment of Six Army Battle Tournament Thingie... I can't read that! This goes out before the watershed, Emperor damn you man!

"Good Grief?!"