BATTLE REPORTS - The Hand of the King - 14 (tactical)

To view the Hand of the King registry, click here. To view the game's battle report, click here.

This game was the second week of an escalation league at my local game store. It was decided that the escalation would start at the low, low points value of 250. The restrictions were one mandatory troops choice, and then a second from elites, troops, or fast attack.

The mission for this game was Battleforce Recon, found on page 362 of the BRB with the suicide squads additional rule (so, everybody was an independent character). Because of the low pointed nature of this game, this report actually represents two games.

My list (Imperial Guard) was:

Vet squad, 3x plasma guns, Harker
Vet squad, 2x sniper rifles

My opponent's list (Blood Angels) was:

5x sniper scouts, one with missile launcher

5x assault marines, sarge with THSS, one with flamer

My warlord rolled Master of Ambush, which, given that half my stuff outflanked meant that this would be useful for me this game. My opponent rolled something worthless for his warlord.

I won the roll to go first, and my opponent chose not to seize. At deployment, the field looked like this

My snipers were on the top floor of the ruins. My opponent kept his assault marines out of LOS while his snipers infiltrated into various hiding spots in the ruins spread across the board.

1.) The game began with me generically moving things up and to the right. Some guardsmen started crossing the street, while others went up to nab the lower left objective. My two snipers start a duel against his snipers, but score no kills.

In response, my opponent moves his assault marines up into the middle of the board and fans out. His snipers return fire on mine, causing one to fall from the ruins for first blood.

2.) Meanwhile, more of my troops try and cross the street at a full sprint. Two of them manage to make it into cover, but one of them is taken down by a rending sniper shot as he runs for cover.

3.) On the top of turn 2, most of my harker vets show up, and attack in various places. A few go for the lower right objective, a pair of plasma gunners outflank my opponent's assault marines out in the open, while harker shows up behind the missile launcher scout on the upper right objective in such a way where he gets cover from the scout unless it moves.

On the lower right objective, the guys running across the street make it into cover, and meet up with some harker vets to take the objective. The sniper on the second floor is picked off by one of my sharpshooters to let them capture it. On the center right, my two plasma gunners open up. One of them gets 1 hit to kill an assault marine. The other gets one hit and one overheat. The plasma shot fails to wound the marine, while the overheat kills the vet...

Meanwhile, Harker throws down on the scout in the upper left, but he passes his cover saves.

4.) My opponent had kept his flamer assault marine in reserve, and deepstruck him into the mass of guys in the lower left. The flamer kills two, and then the roughly 4 or 5 guys nearby can't manage to take it down with lasfire. He jumps again, and is able to get three guys (including one on the objective) in a single flamer blast, but he only manage to roll above a 3 once to wound. He then charges one of the guys he flamed (the front one survived), only to enter into a whiff-tastic close combat. My third plasma gunner shows up on that side and waits in the ruin for when he eventually breaks out, hoping for an easy plasma kill.

Meanwhile, on the right, the missile scout shoots Harker, but his stealth cover save keeps him safe. An assault marine then charges at him through the ruin, only to be taken down by heavy bolter overwatch fire as he bursts through the window. The next turn, Harker would throw the scout out of the ruin with the help of some nearby lasfire, clearing the upper right objective.

In the middle, the assault marine sergeant charges the remaining plasma guy, who fires overwatch, missing the marine, but managing to overheat, killing himself (two of the three plasma gunners were killed this game, both of which were through overheats to only one marine killed in return). To make up for this, my opponent's last assault marine charges towards the lower left objective and the nearby heroic lasgunner rolls boxcars for overwatch, seeing my opponent fail an armor save.

By the end of the top of 4, my opponent had a single assault marine still locked in close combat with more guardsmen hanging around, ready to attack if he broke out. My opponent firmly held the center objective, but I equally firmly held the lower left, while it would have been a short stroll for harker to claim the upper right one. I'd killed his warlord, but he hadn't killed mine, and I had linebreaker while he didn't. At basically 8 to 3, and with little my opponent could do to pull out a win, my opponent conceded.

- As you saw, my opponent's dice weren't very kind to him this game. I may have had wretched luck with my plasma guns (seriously, why do I bother taking them?), but losing a pair of assault marines to overwatch combined with a handful of lasguns taking down his warlord was brutal. The game was a few passed armor saves from going the opposite way.

I would like to note, though, that for the first time since January 25th, 2007, I've beaten a Blood Angels army with Imperial Guard. Hopefully the next time I achieve this feat won't be after another 5 years and 9 months of play.

- I'm not much one for gunlines, but the sniper and countersniper thing this game was actually pretty neat. I definitely got the feel of sharpshooters desperately trying to keep down the heads of snipers in the ruins while my regular soldiers made a mad dash for safety. The part where the sniper scout headshotted the last, straggling guardsman as he ran for cover was particularly classy.

Plus, this game kept the one-on-one thing that was so neat about the previous week's matches. It definitely felt much more dramatic, or, dare I say it... cinematic to have a few guys running around a ruined city trying to defeat each other in a series of epic duels. Plus, the part where harker took down a space marine with overwatch as the genetically engineered killing machine burst through the ruins definitely had a Jesse Ventura with a minigun feel to it.

- As noted, I decided this game to swap the stormies for outflanking vets. In this game, it worked out rather well, as my reserve dice basically gave me what I wanted. Most of the guys showed up at once, and most of them showed up on the right side of the board, where I needed them. In this case, the scoring was important, as harker scoring meant that I was able to TAKE the upper right objective, rather than merely clear it off.

On the other hand, I'm pretty sure I would have done a lot more damage with the stormies, and as I was able to get scoring guys onto the lower left objective from my original vet squad... I don't know...

Anyways, I asked my opponent for a rematch, and he declined. Instead, I picked up my second game against a tau player.

My list (Imperial Guard) was:

Vet squad, 3x plasma guns, Harker
Vet squad, 2x sniper rifles

My opponent's list (Tau) was:

Crisis suit - TL plasma, targeting array
Crisis suit - TL flamer, missile pods

7x firewarriors
7x firewarriors

My warlord rolled Conqueror of Cities, and my opponent rolled Master of Maneuver.

My opponent won the roll to go first. I failed to seize. At deployment, the field looked like this:

I forgot to put warlords on this map. In this game, my opponent's was his light-colored suit (with TL plasma), and mine was my non-harker vet sarge, hanging out on the back by the bastion.

1.) My opponent begins the game by fanning out from his little fortress. His warlord suit and 6 firewarriors head out to the left to the upper objective, while 4 firewarriors strike out towards the lower right objective. The remainder, including his flamer suit, stay on the upper right objective.

2.) In return, I peel away some guys in the same rightward shift as last time. This time, though, it's pulse rifles, not sniper rifles, and my opponent makes maximum use out of the 36" threat range of his small arm, taking out the snipers and the guys running toward the obejctive with a combination of small arms and missile pod fire, giving him first blood.

3.) At the top of turn 3, I get ready to spring my trap. My opponent only has 4 firewarriors and a suit guarding his objective. If harker and a plasma vet, or perhaps a couple of lasgunners and a couple of plasma vets show up on the right side, I've got the ability to wipe out the local forces and then just hang out, gone-to-ground style behind his own fortress walls while I take his objective. The rest of my army only needs to kill the 4 firewarriors moving south to have a repeat of exactly what happened the last game.

But this time, my dice decided I would have a different game. 7 of my vets arrived from reserves, but harker and a plasma gunner weren't in the mix. The other two plasma gunners showed up, but BOTH of them arrived on the LEFT side of the board. This meant that it was 5 lasgunners against 4 firewarriors and a flamer suit.

On the left, I desperately try to get my plasma gunners into some cover, and on the right, well, I can't charge in because he's got overwatch, including a flamer, so instead the lasgunners just open up on the squad in front of them. 10 BS4 lasgun shots later, and my opponent only manages to fail a single armor save.

4.) In return, my opponent uses his warlord suit to MSM a plasma gunner while a nearby firewarrior takes advantage of his pulse rifle restored to 15" double tap to kill the other one through the ruins. Meanwhile, the 4 south-bound firewarriors kill off the remainder of what I have moving towards the right side objective. A harker vet had managed to show up and not get killed, and attempted to charge the firewarriors before they could make it onto the objective only to be cut down by overwatch.

5.) Meanwhile, in the fortress, my opponent killed off 3 of the 5 guardsmen with shooting, but had to split apart his squad to do it. In return, the remaining two guardsmen charge in against his remaining firewarriors. One of them loses the close combat on the turn he charged in. The next one lost his close combat the turn after, leaving nothing left on the right.

My plan finally falls apart when it takes until turn 4 for harker and the last plasma vet to show up. They show up on the right side, and my opponent had thankfully re-squadded some of his fortress guys, allowing harker to kill off a couple of firewarriors and ding the suit. The plasma gunner rolled a hit and an overheat. The hit finished off the suit, and the overheat killed the vet. This left harker alone, on turn 5, against an opponent who, for the first 4 turns of the game, had managed to fail only two armor saves. He was easily blasted off the objective by my opponent's 30" guns and MSM plasma.

6.) On turn 6, my opponent used that 36" threat range in conjunction with a couple of turns of maneuver to attack the guys hiding behind the bastion. Things went to ground, but I didn't pass cover saves (come to think of it, I think I passed exactly one save this game), allowing him to clear off the lower right objective and kill off my warlord.

The game ended when a lone guardsman, who had been locked in close combat with a firewarrior in the center of the board since turn 4 finally killed off his foe.

My opponent had two objectives, along with first blood and warlord. I had nothing, for a 6-0 rout.

- Obviously, the luck situation was more than reversed this game. Between my inability to make a save of any kind and my opponent's near inability to fail one, combined with the utter failure of the half of my army that was outflanking to behave appropriately, with the additional insult of his firewarriors beating me 2:1 in close combat, there was simply nothing doing for me this game. I can only take refuge in the fact that I wasn't tabled.

- Of course, tau are a bad matchup for foot guard to begin with. My opponent very skillfully used the new buffs to pulse rifles, and the traditional benefits of MSM with his suits. My opponent always got a turn or two to shoot at my non-outflanking stuff before any of his stuff was even in range of my weapons. Combined with a lack of area terrain against Ap5 small arms that have the range of a heavy bolter, and really my ONLY hope was my outflankers this game.

In this game, I can DEFINITELY say, that stormtroopers would have helped me much, much better. Deepstriking would have been better than outflanking (regardless of coming in on the wrong side or not), and the Sv4+ and the Ap3 would have made them much, much better fighters against everything my opponent brought. They wouldn't have scored, but they probably would have stopped me from getting nearly tabled.

- I would like to note, though, that if I could have passed a couple of 2+ cover saves with harker, and had actually won the close combat in the upper right, despite the otherwise utter disaster, things were still pretty close at the bottom of 5. My opponent would have had 2 objectives to my 2, and my opponent would have had first blood, but I would have had linebreaker.

Of course, in this game, it only took one turn to turn that 5-5 into a 6-0. So it goes.

MVP: It shouldnt' be much of a surprise that it's Harker. He and his outflanking infantry basically won game 1, and even though they utterly screwed it up in the second game, Harker himself was still the most valuable model therein.

Hero of the Game: The single heroic and shockingly accurate guardsman from game one who threw down an assault marine in overwatch. Power armor? More like power... loser! ... yeah