The final round Tournament game at GiftsForGeeks loomed and it was gonna be a tough one. The combination of Space Marines and Guardsmen is a potent one in doubles tournament. It is exceptional how the two armies complement eachother on the table as much as they do in the fluff.
Guardsmen offer cheap troops with strong transports, capable of capturing and holding objectives, while the Space Marines allow themselves the capability of fielding incisive units for scouring out the heart of the enemy... our progress so far had been prodigious:
Kochi VIII Guardsmen & Sons of Sparta
Round One: Defending against Chaos Marines. The scatter/double destruction of the deepstriking Khronate Terminators AND Chaos Sorceror put the nals permanently in a complete rout for the attacking Chaos forces... The deathguard died to our S6 dakka, the Demolisher dominated the centre of the board and the Banewolf proved a very nasty surprise.
Round Two: Attacking the Tau. Despite destroying the Tau militarily, the Tau held on to a draw through the disruption pods of their vehicles and our lack of high strength weaponry. It did however produce the charge of the year, when 75pts of Rough Riders killed 350pts of Crisis Suits!
Round Three: The Orks didn't appear, so I fought my partner ... typically the Guard forced too many saving throws on the Space Marines ... and the banewolf killed two whole combat squads.
Round Four: Planetstrike against defending Orks. Adam had a signficant points boost (+200pts) and neither of us fancied facing Orks. We fancied it even less once all our planetary gizmo's failed wholesale. Guard held down the exterior while the Space Marines slaughtered the Orks inside the Fortress of redemption ... total victory.
Round Five: Straight Up battle against Mark and Jack's Guard/Stormbringers Space Marine army ...
Unlike the other battles, we opted for an open field between these two forces. Both players could choose either their attacking OR defending list and the battle would be a standard 40k random.
Mark asked me to roll, we got spearhead annihilation. We also won the first turn and deployment...
Now the above didn't fill me with a lot of confidence... Let me explain why...
Kochi Imperial Guard - 1000pts
Infantry Command Squad; 3 GL's and a meltagun
Squad #1: Flamer
Squad #2: Flamer
3 Chimera (Heavy Flamer)
4 Mortar Teams
Hellhound with extra armour and smoke
Leman Russ with 3 heavy bolters
Sons of Sparta - 1000pts
Command Squad with FNP, many power weapons and relic thingies!
Terminator Squad with Assault Cannon and many power thingies!
Assault Squad with SErgeant with PF and Melta bomb
Tactical Squad with meltagun and multimelta (they never hit anything with melta either)
And that's it! I supply the men, he provides the killy stuff. Against this we faced.
Marks PDF Troops - 1000 pts
2 Veterans Squads (Carapace) with powerfist and plasma/melta.
Jacks Stormbringers - 1000 pts
Uber Chapter Master on a bike
3 Squads of 5 Biker Space Marines
10 man Assault Squad
So as you can see ... we'd be facing down a tonne of bikers/assault marines AND vendettas and basilisks. It was like looking into a mirror of buffness, where everything on the other side was buffer and more killy ... worrisome.
One last thing...
Throughout the campaign, we'd been awarding 'buffs' to units (chosen by the other side). All the HQ's by this point were ridiculously hard. In addition to the cumulative buffs (for example, Paul's Assault marines have FNP and my Leman Russ had +1 BS), our opponent gained a further 150pts (because we'd won more games) and 4 USR buffs. They rolled and deployed them all on their 10 man assault squad.
Giving them FNP, Furious Charge, Fleet and something else quite nasty.
I didn't like them.
We deployed with one plan in mind. Get first turn and sink their charge. We knew the Terminators could take it, so everything else kept back out of charge range of the bikes. The Assault Marines would move down the flank (their FNP being useful).
TURN 1 (Us): 'FIRE FIRE FIRE'
The Terminators moved up front and centre ... holding the middle ground, while the Primaris cast 'nightshroud' to deflect the enemies attention. The Assault marines ranged left, hunkering down in some terrain. The Rough Riders moved through cover and got into a better counter-charge position, now the threat of flankers was over.
First turn firepower was awesome. The Leman Russ kicked it all off with an incredible shot - killing 7 FNP uber buffed Assault Marines in a single shot. Jack failed his 4+ saving throws spectacularly and Only saved one guy. A further MArine went down to the Russes 9 Heavy bolter shots. The 'uber-killy' assault squad had two members.
The Mortars turned their attention to the Bikers. Raining 7 hits down per group. The clustering resulted in a couple of bikers being killed in the front group. They were forced to take a pinning test (which they passed) but failed their leadership test. The front squad presently fled the board! This meant that in one turn of shooting we'd halved the attacking squads. However we didn't have anything left for the Vendettas or the Bassies... oh dear.
TURN 1 (Them): 'Flight of the Vendetta's'
The Command Bike Squad, led by a uber chapter master, revved their FNP bikes and plowed towards the terminators. The bikers fired, scoring no wounds. However the Vendettas also targetted the Terminators and their twinlinked lascannons were lethal, killing 3 Terminators...
The other bike squad weren't so brave and backed away from the foot slogging Spartan command squad. They fired a few boltguns into the ranks and killed a member.
The Bassies let rip, but scattered awfully, landing well away from threatening anyone. The Whirlwind was equally useless... 'oh well,' I thought 'there goes the luck for this game...'
In the Assault phase the Chapter Master and 5 bikes plowed into the terminators. Unluckily only the Primaris couldn't make it into the assault. This meant that the Marines and Chapter Master killed all the Terminators - but the sergeant wounded wounded the Chapter Master. They'd charged right into our 'trap' - but could we take them?
Turn 2 (Us) - "CHARGGGE!"
First up the hellhound and 2 chimeras arrived (one with a squad). All three went as fast as possible and popped smoke. My plan was to open up the battle and present multilasers to the Vendettas ... such were my hopes at this stage!?!
Shooting first and things started to go wrong. The Leman Russ shot scattered from the front Vendetta onto the tail of the rearward one - lucky shot! However, then began a tumultuous argument which started with 'the tail isn't part of the hull', eh? and went onto a big rules argi-bargie about whether vendetta even had hulls as they were (according to them) aircraft and therefore had fuselages, wings and tails ... and therefore a hits a hit - etc. To make matters worse I roll a penetrating wrecked result... then being me I agreed to break it down the middle, and he made his 'saving throw'...
That said, these sort of 'minor disagreements' bother me less and less nowadays. It's interesting that my response to this was 'oh well, that a little luck banked for later...'
That luck didn't need long to show itself as the mortars managed to wound and pin the last biker squad ... within a turns move of their opponents.
The countercharge was a little overkill... 5 Roughriders and 10 Assault Marines plowed into the Fray. The Roughriders went first and opted to attack the Biker squad. 11 Attacks turned into 5 power wounds. The Squad was wiped out ... but this meant that none of the Assault Marines were in base to base contact with the Chapter Master - wasting their attacks. In return the Chapter Master killed the Primaris Psyker - and still passed his leadership on a -4!
The combat consolidated.
TURN 2 (Them): Shooty shooty missy missy...
The Vendetta's split to address the two challenges onthe battlefield. One attacked the Leman Russ, while the other went after our Hellhound. The buffed Assault marines left their fortress and swarmed towards the hellhound too. The Dreadnought moved forwards and contributed his shots as well.
All in all, the hellhound was in for a bad day ... except nothing hit. Thanks to smoke (and I believe my cashed in luck earlier), my hellhound survived untouched.
The close combat was nastier. The Assault marines managed a single wound while the Chapter master killed 2 rough riders. This resulted in a -1 ld test for both the marines and the rough riders. The Rough Riders balked and retreated, but the assault marines held the chapter master up.
TURN 3 (Us): "In the balance..."
The Vendettas came under sustained S6 firepower this turn, which resulted in a shaken result for the one targetting the hellhound. The Hellhound put his trust in the Guardsmen behind him and raced up to the Battlements. Immediately he vented flamer across all three artillery pieces. This resulted in a stunned and a shaken result - great. Unconventional fire supression...
The Tactical Squad focused firepower on the last two assault marines, and failed miserably to wipe them out with rapid fire... however they had a whole mortar battery behind and they cratered them. One mortar team also assisted the hellhound with a glancing hit on a Bassie. The Command Squad charge the pinned bikes and wiped them out with power and relic weapons. The roughriders continued to retreat - into the ruins.
The Assault Squad and Commander exchanged wounds.
The Infantry Command SQuad made a break from their command bunker (which they'd been sitting in all game) and moved out to shoot the Vendetta. They missed with their meltagun and the grenade launchers couldn't glance it... oh dear.
TURN 3 (them): "By the benediction of the holy Emperor .. and all that!"
Jack Dreadnought charged into the Spartans Command Squad and killed the final retinue member. The Whirlwind finally found its range and killed on mortar team, pinning the unit. One Vendetta stayed still and deposited 10 Vets in carapace, a priest and their uber-commissar lord in charge range. The Priest and Vets murdered my infantry command squad while the Commissar gave good account - killing 4 Assault Marines. The Chapter Master was finally pulled down after killing one more - so 4 Assault Marines balked and ran. Escaping the Commissar Lord and running 11 inches.
The other Vendetta moved 24" and gained a 'turbo boost' save, alighting above a hill. The Commissar Lord and Vets Squad consolidated towards cover ... moving towards my undefended back line!
TURN 4 (Us): "Target barrage ... fire fire fire"
This turn the mortars and Chimera did incredible work. All three mortar teams targetted the Veterans, barraging them mercilessly - as the Tau had discovered, 4+ armour is no armour against mortars and the whole unit were cut to shreds. In addition the Mortars had enough shots left over to target the Commissar Lord, ripping him to shreds (despite FNP) ... the assault marines were left standing bemused for another turn!
Meanwhile the Leman Russ caught the Rightmost Vendetta with a mighty BOOM and it plummetted to the ground. On the left, MArk had made the mistake of leaving his rear armour open to multilaser fire and 6 shots later the vehicle was wrecked. 3 vets died in the flames. The rest came under sustained fire from another chimera in the centre at point blank. It's squad on board contributed 10 lasgun shots to the heavy flamer and multilaser deluge. Only three vets survived, but gripping their plasmaguns they ran for it!
The Dreadnought continued a bizarre fight against the Spartans Captain. No wounds were scroed for the second turn.
TURN 4 (Them): "Whittled Down..."
With so few options left, Mark downed 2 more assault marines with plasma fire and killed another mortar team with Whirlwind fire - but it wasn't nearly enough.
The Dreadnought and Captain continued to spar - the captain unstickiest melta-bomb ever failing miserably.
TURN 5 (Us): "Cleaning Down..."
The Chimeras backed off the dreadnought as a precaution. The hellhound continued to cook the basilisk and managed to blow the earthshaker off one. The Meltagun armed tactical squad (remember them?) managed to make it to the bastion and blow the first Basilisk up...
TURN 5 (Them): "The End"
The Dreadnought pulled the arms off the Captain (finally!) and the basilisk shot two tactical marines...
VICTORY! 11-4 killpoints.
This battle totally surprised me. Our complete lack of dedicated antitank, combined with fielding easy targets against Vendettas should have be a recipe for disaster. However luck played a huge part, allowing our hellhound to 'silence the guns' while our units were able to hold back the charge on so many bikes.
The mortars were awesome. Barrage after barrage killing, pinning and routing the enemy. Any troops in the open (and even a basilisk) received sustained S4 fire.
What it did show was that sustained S6 shots can neutralise any vehicle. Having that kind of sustained firepower from the Chimeras, completely stopped the Vendettas from dominating. Marks' lack of caution here proved decisive as he offered shots. Whereas if he'd been more caution, back off to 32" and popped some AV10 side armour this battle might have gone a different way.
As for the others - well the Leman Russ dominated and defended our line well. Shooting Vendettas out of the sky with a battlecannon can't be the easiest - and we even forgot his +1 BS all game. The Rough Riders were awesome. Close combat is all about momentum. Rough Riders can give you the edge to turn a devastating unit into an anacronym in one charge.
Finally the Assault Marines turned out to be a great back stop, despite not actually managing to connect a charge all game (robbed by rough riders and mortars - how embaressing) they were a constant threat and gave me the confidence not to split my Chimeras and focus on killing the Vendettas.