The Kochi 20th Light Infantry in their new incarnation
Shadowing his eyes, Captain Sharma squinted at the beautific view before him. During the briefing the spook indoctrinator had described this world as a land of medium geological value with a potential as an agriworld. Sharma ran his eyes along the line of flashing green glinted across the hilltop and felt that 'I425' didn't really hit the right note to describe the vibrancy of the azure sky, slashed across with cumulous clouds, or the way in which the virident green grass rustled in quiet harmony. The word that refocused into Sharma's mind when he looked on this world was one said in contempt by the mechanicus indoctrinator.
The hills had a certain tilt of evocation, and the valleys invited exploration. The crystal stream bore fish of which the soldier had never seen. And the Kochi 20th Light Infantry were stomping their way across it with some distain. Take somewhere beautiful, place 30,000 Crystal World mining veterans on it, and watch the glow of wonder turn to sadistic grins in the moments before the drop loader has even relocated.
Sharma didn't regret their contempt. To an extent, it kept them on-game and in focus. His command team and NCO's were perfectly aware that Sharma's skill lay elsewhere and that his glowing appreciation of the surroundings were a small price to pay for his nuanced command.
Light Infantry were a dying breed. Such a specialist force was growing rare in a conflict zone filled with monstrous tyranids, Tau technosourcery and Chaotic Space Marines. That said, they'd found themselves deployed in city fights and hive runs. Usually strategic objectives where the tank were too afraid to venture. And now they found themselves dropped into a paradise with little transport and a bunch of Eldar no doubt looking down their noses at them.
"It's a throne-gone situation, you ask me, Sharma. How you want to play it?" Growled Commissar-Lord Jact Donagrodski. Sharma turned to shine an appreciative smile at his irreverent peer. Donagrodski was still in his prime, his peppered black hair giving out to grey. His posture looked cocksided. A Tyranid warrior had taken his 'damn best sword arm' during a campaign four years before, and the mech-assists had seen fit to attach a giant servo arm. It worked in a similar fashion to Sharma's own powerfist, which he'd left back in his command tent.
"I like the view." stated the senior officer. "but I don't like what it does for our chances." The Commissar grunted in response, pushing his hand inside the folds of his cloak and retrieving a hip flask, which he offered to Sharma.
"You've seen the reports from the sappers. We've lost a good proportion of our walkers and flyers. We lost another 2 Valkyrie last night. We're being penned in."
Commissar Jact raised an eyebrow. "Reckon somethings brewing too eh?" he grumbled. "Reckon it's soon?" he glanced speculatively at the small commander's wizen and scarred face. Sharma cleared his throat.
"Yes well, I've think I may have an idea about that..."
This game is a little bit of an experiment for me. Under the old codex I used to run with a lot of heavy weapons teams and my force was designed around the concept of a light infantry. We had one hellhound and a couple of Chimeras and could call on a Leman Russ and some Sentinels - but the army was actually all about the groundpounders and the sort of pounding they could withstand.
Lets be blunt, the old codex was pretty broken. The commander could lend a Ld9 to a 'castle' 12" across with everyone getting a reroll thanks to the regimental banner. The heavy weapon teams had 6 individual models, so it took at least 4 wounds to even affect their fire power. To top it off a commissar could add an additional +1 to every leadership test, and would shoot the commander if he blinked (and then take over). It was a nasty combination, to see it in effect, check out this battle report, where the combination of this castle and a few tanks decimated Dustins tau force at GfG's.
Under the new codex, heavy weapons have taken a serious nerf. The new two wound base means that heavy weapons are particularly vulnerable to S6 instantkill fire. In another more recent game against Mark, my hellhounds ripped his heavy weapon teams apart, killing three lascannon teams in a single shot, while the other shot killed 3 autocannons and whole command squad.
But I was facing an army I'd wanted to fight in a long time ... Eldar Saim Hann.
The plan was a simple goal but a demanding feat, create a rubix cube that Ant (commanding the Jetbikers) couldn't crack. It would either work spectacularly or fail miserably ... what to do?
My first action was to start where I always start - the opponent. Saim Hann can field:
- ultrafast, tough (for Eldar) infantry with good saves
- a tough uber-killy unit in the fortuned Seer council
- lots of nasty lance weaponry which will make a mockery of my lovely AV14 tanks
Secondly, like the Tau, the Eldar lack lots of longrange firepower. If I could create an army which could hit him in hiding (something I see Fritz doing a lot) while offering long-range durable firepower AND the potential to ambush any Jetbikes that get too close ... that'd do it!
And that was the key thing. Jetbikes have a twin linked shuriken catapult with only a 12" range. That mean that even with a 'reverse course', the jetbikes would still be within melta or rapid fire range, Importantly they would be easily in range of my Rough Riders... so that's where I started.
The Origins of the 'Leafblower Lite' have been playing in my mind for a long time, as many of you will already be aware, I'm a big big fan of utilising Mortars. So much so that I dedicate a lot of time to their brilliance. I was also inspired by Darkwynn's 'Leafblower Armylist' that appeared in the 'Ard Boyz Tournament.
Although there are many dissentors (not least of all the vitriolic Stelek) I liked the idea of an army list in guard that had both aggressive and defensive options, and most importantly - reach. I also wanted to create a cheaper version (the BoLs boys are very forgeworld orientated), which wouldn't table anyone in turn one, but would make the Light Infantry list viable.
- Commander Sharma with Powerfist, boltpistol and refractor field. Command team with a meltagun, a regimental standard and a lascannon team in a basic Chug (Chimera).
- Commissar Lord Jact Donagrodski with a bolt pistol, refractor field and powerfist.
- Sly Marbo (le soldat): Ripper Pistol, Poisoned Blade, Demo charge, nearly every USR you can think of.
- Leftenant Grub: Powerfist and laspistol, command team with a missile launcher and two grenade launchers in a Chug.
- Squad Alpha: Sergeant with a powerweapon, Autocannon and grenade launcher. Commissar with bolt pistol and power weapon.
- Squad Beta: Sergeant with a powerweapon, Autocannon and grenade launcher.
- Squad Charlie: Sergeant with a powerweapon, Autocannon and meltagun.
- Mortar Team #1
- Mortar Team #2
- Mortar Team #3
- Mortar Team #4
- Mortar Team #5
- Leftenant Holler: laspistol and powerweapon, command team with a missile launcher and two grenade launchers in a chug.
- Squad Delta: Sergeant with a powerweapon, Missile Launcher and grenade launcher.
- Squad Echo: Sergeant with a powerweapon, Missile Launcher and grenade launcher.
- Squad Foxtrot: Sergeant with a powerweapon, Missile Launcher and meltagun.
- Rough Riders  Sergeant with a powersword
- Rough Riders  Sergeant with a powersword
The ideal deployment is shown below. Effectively the two infantry platoons form two nasty tarpits with lots of ablative wounds and heavy/special/power weapons. The Commissar Lord adds an additional powerfist, but also allows the deployment to shift between a stubborn Ld10 uber unit and three Ld10 units (depending on the opponent/deployment).
The Commissar shares his 6" Ld10 with both uber-units AND anyone else in range (mortar teams for example. The commander in the middle drops Ld10 test 'bring it down' and 'fire on my target' on the MLs/ACs. To top it off the enemy needs to drop 7 men in a turn to force a Ld10 test. Oh and the regimental banner gives a reroll on both the Morale and pinning tests.
With the Eldar fielding catapults, the grenade launchers and meltagun would add additional 24" firepower ... I just hope he comes in range of my lasguns ... The rough riders, with an 18-24" range give a strong pre assault unit.
Against seercouncils the ideal is to catch them with rough riders and then pile in the 28 bodies ... even a rerollable 4+ invulnerable will still result in 4 dead seercouncil. And a stubborn 30 man unit will just tarpit or kill them.
So how would this 'oldschool' army do against Saim Hann jetbikes?
SAIM HANN ARMYLIST
Ant had owned his jetbike army a long time, however they'd only seen the light of day once. As such a lot of half constructed jetbikes and vypers were removed from the box, with stands being 'recycled' as the casulaties were removed.
- Autarch: Fusion Blaster and Shining Spear on jetbike.
- 4x6 jetbikes with 2 shuriken cannons each.
- 2 Vypers with Bright Lances
- 2 Vypers with Starcannons
- 1 Vyper with scatter laser
- A Vindicator tank (pretending to be a fire prism)
Unluckily for Ant we rolled for Annihilation and Pitched Battle Deployment. Ant would have to 'crack' this rubix cube.
Ant won the roll and opted to go second.
Taking advantage I deployed nearly everything, while holding the powerfist infantry command squad (and Chug) and Mr Marbo in reserve. I castled up on the left flank, deploying the 30 man squads in a morass of cover at 8-12" onto the board. The mortars and command Chugs deployed behind them with the roughriders. The CommieLord deployed in a trenchline offering Ld10 to all. One of the advantages of a 30 man unit is that it can pick up a Ld10 bonus for a heavy weapon team positioned feet away!
Viewing Ant's list - I decided to place two groups of mortars away to the right, in cover in the middle of the board. These being two killpoints, I positioned the rough riders behind them.
Ant's deployment focused on lining up his deployment zone, usually dehind some cover. Ant's inexperience showed through here as I was expecting more reserve moves from his jetbikes, utilising deniance. He faced me squarely though with the 4 of the vypers, the tank and 2 jetbike squadrons facing the castle while the autarch led the other two jetbike squads and the remaining vyper against my vulnerable centre.
Sharma ordered the two 'uber units' to fire. The missile launchers failed to hurt the fireprism (hounded by holofields and AV12) while the autocannons managed to unarm one of the brightlances. The mortars barked across the board like a turn barrage. I suddenly realised the weakness in my plan. Due to the large bases of the bikes, I could only strike at 1-2 bikes a turn. This meant that I was scoring a maximum of 7 hits (on three hit rolls) and usually 3-5 hits. Despite this, the mortars managed to kill a couple of jetbikes in turn one and force a leadership test.
The brightlance shot out and wrecked the command tank. The crew passed their pinning test (at Ld10 with a reroll) and aimed up their lascannon. The shuriken cannons managed to down one mortar team on the right and a guardsmen on the right. Meanwhile the Prism Cannon took careful aim at the morass of guardsmen and blewa gigantic hole in the lines, hitting 8 and killing 1. Hehehe!
After my last tournie experience of Marbo, I was surprised when both he and the chug arrived from reserves, I dropped them into the right flank and took some brave shots at the incoming jetbikes, downing one. The autocannons, lascannons and missile launchers switched targets and focussed on the vulnerable vypers, destroying the brightlances and shaking the other group. A single missile launcher (from infantry command) managed to immobilise the FirePrism.
Meanwhile the rough riders did what they do best and made a 22" charge into the nearest Jetbike squad attempting to pummel the pointy ears. The attack ended dissapointingly with only one kill on a 4+ to hit, 3+ to wound! The Jetbikes retaliated with a kill of their own and the combat was tied.
Marbo meanwhile stepped out the pub door behind the Autarch and calmly threw his demo charge at the Autarch. BS5 on a demo charge is lovely, but Marbo rolled a 1 to wound the Autarch. So instead the jetbike warrior next to the Autarch died... boo!
The mortars opened up again, showing a remarkable hit rate again (I think I rolled one barrage scatter at the initial, and with Ant's dice!) This time they managed to wound, pin and then rout the rightmost jetbike squad. With this unit gone, the other jetbikes turbo boosted to the left, abandoning the castle. The Vypers followed suit, with only the Fire Prism holding fast (and shooting another 3 men). The roughriders depended on their power weaponed sergeant, and despite the T4 they managed to kill a single rider to the eldars failure. Despite this, the Eldar held.
Marbo stalked out from cover and moved towards the rough riders. Meanwhile the 3 Autocannons, 3 Missile Launchers and the command Lascannon gained 'bring it down' on the FirePrism. The shots pattered on the armour, but the autocannons proved to much and score another immobilised result, destroying the tank.
The Mortars fired again, peppering a few wound of the already bothered jetbikes. Marbo made it to combat and finishes off the Jetbikes single handed ('oh look a 65pt lictor with a bomb' said Ant). The roughriders wheeled about and charged the two starcannon vypers, however they needed a 6 to hit with their krak grenades... they fail.
Ant was now looking to clear up some killpoints, as I'd amassed 3 so far (two jetbike groups, a Vyper squadron) to his none. He moved forward aggressively, putting a wound on marbo (despite him going to ground) with his two starcannon vypers. Meanwhile, the Autarch shot up the Chug on the right.
The Autarch failed to hit the Chug at point blank range with a fusion gun (he rolled a 1, thereby yet another example of how awesomely lucky Chugs are!), but took it out with his brightlance. The Scatter Laser on the lone vyper targetted one of the mortar squads and between it and a fast jetbikes squad they massacred a unit. The other unit remained untouched, the 'go to ground' having soaked up all the firepower Ant could muster.
The Heavy weapons teams tracked sideways and targetted. The Lascannon made a classic shot and snuffed out the Autarch with a single ***puff*** of smoke (he clearly needed taking out of his misery after the last turn epic fail)...
The Autocannons targetted the lone Vyper for an easy killpoint, but the combination of glancing and holofield proves frustratingly effective and it escaped with just a shaken result.
The Missile Launchers targetted the Jetbikes attacking the mortars and along with all the mortars on the board reduced this unit to a single member. Despite having a Ld8, the model stuck with the fluff and ran for his life!
The infantry command squad sidestepped the immolated Autarch and charged the Vyper. However, again the Vyper gained a six to hit and it proved too much for the Sergeant and his squad.
In retaliation, the Eldar targetted Marbo (failing to kill again, thanks 2+), the lone Eldar Vyper raced back behind lines while the Infantry squad felt exposed. Not as exposed as the rough riders who were hacked down by twinlinked shuriken fire.
I'd secured five killpoints to Ant's two in the last turn. Ant had a brave crack at both Marbo and the infantry squad (who'd wisely retreated back to the tank wreck for cover and gained a 3+ cover save). In retaliation I pummelled the 'hidden' jetbikes with mortar rounds and killed another couple - but to no avail.
FINAL SCORE: 5-2 to the light infantry
I don't think this proved a true representation of the anti-Saim Hann force. The potential of this many mortars is ridiculous, they comprise a lot of bases and the combination of 15 multihit, multiwound, multi-pinning indirect fire shots is great. At 300pts its a steal. I won't say they're anything stupid like autowin, but they can persistently chip away at units across the whole board.
On an objective based game, this battle would have been a lot harder. The flexibility to deploy lots of squads would have helped, but the 30 man fire base was tempting.
Half way through the game, Ant was scratching his head, trying to work out how he could possibly 'crack' this formation. Afterwards we discussed the formation and its weaknesses. He did point out that in a tournament game he would have hidden/ouranged the mortars and picked off the outlying mortars. In a tournament I would have castled up totally.
The strength of this formation is that it represents a rock and a hard place. It can hit you in hiding, or when you come out you'll face lascannon/missile launchers. Against hordes the massed mortars are far more lethal than any tank. Against mech its got plenty of durable antimech and the 'bring it down' can really hurt. Against pricey close combat specialists (like striking scorpions, harlequins, Assault marines or Terminators) the big units have enough models to make attrition a real problem. The two roughrider units are built for termie killing and can hit in waves.
The weakness is that its pretty static (which makes you vulnerable) and if your 'detterence' of melta/powerweapons and heavy weapons fail, you're wide open. The units are also only durable in cover, outside cover guardsmen die ... but that's never changed.
Marbo's an optional extra ... but as the ultimate 'swiss army knife' marbo can kill something important, distract the enemy and potentially go down fighting. Which is nice to have. He's also quite hard to kill (although only when being shot at in cover!)
Please let at it. This list isn't what I usually play and is actually quite boring to play (there's little to no risk involved), I prefer the mixed army of M&Ms (Mech and Mortars) but I was missing the old approach...
My plan is to replay Ant in a month with reversed armies ... forcing me to learn the Saim Hann.
but how would you break the cube?