BATTLE REPORTS - The Hand of the King - 35 (tactical)

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

After getting assigned a bye on the first round of the tournament, and very narrowly losing the second game, it was on to game three. This time, I was up against one of the players not from my local store (this league/tournament was a joint venture of our place and the place from the next city up the interstate). For the first time since I played Al'Rahem power blobs (so, the second time ever), I got an opponent reaction of "Oh, I was hoping I wouldn't have to play you. Be gentile." when I and my army was revealed as their opponent for the game.

This is naturally somewhat disconcerting to me.

The game itself was Purge, with Dawn of War deployment.

My list (Imperial Guard) was:

Lord Commissar - power fist, plasma pistol

Veterans - 3x meltaguns, plasma pistol, lascannon
                - chimera, 2x heavy bolters
Veterans - 3x meltaguns, plasma pistol, lascannon
                - chimera, 2x heavy bolters
Veterans - 3x meltaguns, plasma pistol, lascannon
                - chimera, 2x heavy bolters
Veterans - 3x meltaguns, plasma pistol, lascannon
                - chimera, multilaser, heavy bolter

Exterminator - lascannon, Pask

Vanquisher - lascannon, multimeltas
Vanquisher - lascannon, multimeltas

Vanquisher - lascannon, multimeltas
Vanquisher - lascannon, multimeltas

My opponent's list (Space Wolves) was:

Bjorn, the Fell-Handed - plasma cannon
Logan Grimnar

Rune Priest - runic armor, living lightning, storm caller
Wolf guard - battle leader, storm bolter, saga of the hunter

8x Grey hunters - plasma guns, mark of the wolfen
8x Grey hunters - plasma guns, mark of the wolfen
5x Wolf Guard - one with chainfist, assault cannon, and three with storm bolters and power fists

Iron Priest - Saga of Iron

5x Longfangs - 2x lascannons, 2x missile launchers, power fist
5x Longfangs - 2x lascannons, 2x missile launchers, power fist

ADL - quad-gun

I can't remember what my opponent rolled for his warlord trait, but if grey hunters and/or wolf guard can't normally outflank (I really don't know my space wolves codex), then he may have rolled it. My warlord got acute senses, which wouldn't be helping me this game.

There was no night fighting this game. I won the roll to go first and took it. My opponent failed to seize.

My opponent basically threw down his aegis and hid his army behind it - the two long-fangs squads went on the edges with the mob of grey hunters with bjorn, his techmarine, and the priest in the middle, and dared me to charge it. With the exception of an outflanking grimnar, and a few outflanking space marines, my opponent didn't have any serious mobility, and, given that it was purge, I had little incentive to do any movement. Given that I also have considerable long-range firepower, this game was all but guaranteed to be a horrible standoff between two gunlines that just sat there plinking at each other.

This would not do.

1.) Even though this is a tournament, I decide that I'm going to make a game of it after all. Everything moves forwards 6" in a massive tank charge. Shooting starts with a vanquisher squad targetting bjorn. The multimeltas are just barely able to reach, and I get a couple of nasty shots in with the eight screw-you guns. He's got cover, though, and so only one penetrating hit makes it in and sticks. I roll a 6 for damage. He's venerable, so I have to reroll it and throw down a 5. Bjorn still explodes, dinging a wound off of the rune priest.

It turned out, though, that the dice gods did not much appreciate some uppety guard player one-shotting Bjorn the Fell-Handed. Of all the rest of my shooting, my opponent decides to make 4+ cover saves, leaving my army killing only one devestator over on the left.

In return, my opponent's luck continues, seeing the quad-gun throw a pair of non-lethal penetrations on one of my chimeras while a pair of missile launchers throw down a pair of pens on another, causing a shaken and immobilized results. The guardsmen inside decide to make for the ruin in the middle of my deployment zone.

At the top of two, my armored charge continues to crush forward. I open fire with everything again. Again, things don't go as hoped as 16 anti-tank weapons plus pask and a smattering of heavy bolter fire manage to kill three whole devastators.

2.) At the bottom of 2, both of my opponent's outlankers show up, and he decides to bring in one from the left, and one from the right, both of which spend their first turn on the board running.

His gunline then continues its fire, the quad-cannon finishing off the chimera it shot at before while a lascannon and a missile launcher dev throw a penetrating and a glancing hit at the chimeras trying to hide. The end result is another immobilized chimera.

3.) At the top of three, I push on with my tanks, determined to see an end of it. The only exception is all of those dismounted guardsmen, who form up in and around the ruins and wait for grimnar and the other grey hunters squad to close in on them.

I shoot with a thousand points of leman russes combined with errant other fire, and kill... literally nothing.

In return, grimnar with his terminators get into storm bolter range of the guardsmen, while the grey hunters just eke into single-tap range against the rear armor of my right-side russ squad. Shooting sees the injured chimera finished off, and grimnar and his boys raking over the veteran squad, leaving just two meltagunners in the squad. Meanwhile, the single-tapping bolters manage to put down TWO glances on my right-side vanquisher squad.

So far, this game has been a train wreck. Three turns of shooting has killed bjorn and 4 space marines. Worse, I'm now playing a mech list, and my opponent has been rolling really well with heavy weapons, so I'm now three chimeras wrecked. At the top of turn 4, I've only got 2 kill points to my opponent's 3. Something needs to change, and change fast.

Thankfully, three turns of having nearly the worst luck possible is enough to atone for Bjorn, and my dice finally decide to roll like normal. In the back, 6 meltaguns, three lascannons, a plasma pistol, and pask, all at BS4 put down a lot of anti-tank wounds on grimnar's terminators. Not having storm shields, they're chewed up pretty quickly, leaving just grimnar on the table. meanwhile, my vanquishers continue their charge, their weapons landing on target against the longfangs, and my opponent's dice roll average cover saves, seeing the longfang squad on the right all but wiped out, while the other one on the left is finally taken down.

4.) The game is close at the bottom of four, but my opponent isn't out of it yet. On the right, the grey hunters move in. On the left, grimnar charges forwards against his assailants. In the center, his grey hunters squad re-mans the quad-cannon (using it to throw down an astonishing two glances and a pen on the command chimera, wrecking it), and his iron priest, with nothing to do since the beginning of the game, leaps over the defense line and countercharges my needlessly in-rushing tanks.

On the left, grimnar rolls well for charge range, and my overwatch of doom loadout does nothing. He easily crushes the squad, which runs away, but then fails to rally, and two long retreat rolls put it off the table. Meanwhile, he single-taps my guard squad in the ruins. 10-shots puts down 6 wounds. I fail literally every cover save. The techmarine charges the russes, his 3 S8 attacks landing 2 of them for a pair of penetrating results seeing the right-side russ squad brought down to a single-HP vanquisher.

5.) I hate to say this, but at the top of 5, my assault began to falter. My right-side russ backed away from the iron priest and presented side armor to the grey hunters. The remains of my veterans form up a melta hedge against Grimnar. I really, really want to get my fourth vet squad with the lord commissar into close combat with the remaining grey hunter squad on the other side of the ADL, but I blink and retreat them backwards to handle Grimnar. Only the left-side vanquishers and Pask advance.

On the right, my vanquisher pretty easily ends the iron priest with its anti-tank guns. On the left, my vanquishers and pask bring down the quad-cannon. The LAST thing I need is that thing operational with my command squad out in the relative open.

In the rear, my melta hedge opens up on Grimnar. For the first time in the game, my opponent rolls below average, and 5 meltaguns and a lascannon punch through grimnar's invul save. With nothing left to shoot at, my command squad runs back forward. I'll eat some bolter shots, I'm sure, but there are goobers in the front to handle that.

In return, in an epic display, he charges his rune priest and the squad forward, trying to get to grips with my commander. The grey hunters try for a LONG charge against the right side russ and almost, but not quite, manage to make it. Living lightning and bolt pistols ding the vet squad, stripping away the guys who didn't get cover, and injuring the lord commissar. He rolls for the charge, and only draws a 6, but I've got overwatch of doom. The lord commissar aces a space marine which leaves him a few inches shy for him to get the charge in, what without their lead man, and now that the front vets were dead.

I'm a little bit ahead at this point, but I really want the game to continue. I've made my giant armored charge, and I'd hate to see it end right before it finishes. And there's an epic final close combat that needs to happen. Thankfully the game continues.

Turn 6 sees me plinking at the grey hunters on the right, and then charging in with my left side. The two right-side vanquishers and pask along with meltagunners roll pretty poorly and only manage to kill 4 of the remaining space wolves, bringing them down to just whatever their version of the sergeant is, and the injured rune priest. I then easily make the charge. His guys kill a couple of guardsmen with their weapons, and then the lord commissar winds up with his power fist and easily knocks the last two guys senseless, consolidating over the ADL.

The game goes on to turn 7, which sees my opponent again trying to make a long-distance charge with his remaining grey hunters, and my right-side vanquisher continuing to pummel them, bringing my opponent down to three models at the end of the game.

I had 10 kill points for the stuff I slayed. Plus, I got another one because my opponent failed to keep Bjorn's body safe (I guess it's just a liability on purge missions), plus linebreaker, first blood, and slay the warlord for a total of 14 points. My opponent killed 4 chimeras and drove a vet squad off the board, but everything else still had at least something on the board for 5 points, for an Imperial Guard victory.

- Firstly, let me say that the armored charge, despite being completely unnecessary and somewhat detrimental, was super awesome.

More importantly, this gives me my first real glimpse at something I've been looking for in the previous 34 games. For the first time in this rules edition, a unit of infantry that I put on the table at the start of the game made it all the way over to the other side of the board, and scored linebreaker.

My guardsmen have been able to advance.

- Also, I'd note, that I had a lot more access to close combat with this mech setup. Both games saw me actually get to use my powerfist, which, as you know, has been rather rare as of late. If I'm able to actually get a powerfist into a position where it can survive for more than a turn or two, and give it a little extra mobility, it means I can actually use it. That makes me very happy.

- You will also note a sudden preponderance of plasma pistols compared to my... well... ever. I was nicely surprised with how well they did over these last two games. As you've been seeing, these vet squads' overwatch is beastly, and the plasma pistols help. Furthermore, with BS4, they're not actually that shabby. In this game, I killed a terminator and two space marines with plasma pistols, and in the last game, I killed two terminators. In saturation, with good ballistic skill, and plenty of chances for overwatch, this was a surprisingly nice little bump to my army's over all killing power.

And, like the power fist, the guys actually survive long enough with enough force cohesion to be able to actually use them.

- This is yet another data point for my all-melta/las strategy. In this game, the previous one, and the previous one before that (against dark angels), I fought against a list that I was really not set up specifically to handle. In the end, though, throwing together all of the vanquisher cannons, lascannon, and meltas/multimeltas (and, now, making them BS4 and adding plasma pistols), I've got 38 guns in my army that are Ap2 or better (and will wound basically anything on a 2+). The sheer quantity of them makes it enough so that they are able to accomplish what I would otherwise need plasma guns to handle, while also still being proper anti-tank weapons (see the last game against guard).

I'm becoming more and more confident that you really can do it without mid-strength firepower.

- So, in the end, there were two players who had 3-0 records in the tournament. They were paired together to play a game to see who got first and second. Behind them, there were three players who had 2-1 records, including myself. This meant that there was a tie, which meant that it went into tiebreakers. Because I had been given a bye in my first game, I had won, but I had won it with zero victory points, which put me at the bottom. The other two players who were set to fight it out in the fourth round for third place had both already left for the night. The game was called a draw, and the two of them who had accumulated more VP was declared third place winner.

In the end, a couple of decisions made by the TO, and a couple of bad die rolls kicked me squarely down to the middle of the pack. I'd be upset by this, but it appears that this is a pretty common thing for tournaments, so the better attitude is just to take the results of tournaments less seriously (well, less seriously than I already do, given the small number of dice rolled in any given few games of 40k).

More importantly, though, this is a team league, so how well you did didn't give the individual a bunch of points, but rather gave the team a bunch of points. Third place gave a few points to the good guy team (both of them were on the same team, so whoever would have won would have had the same result), while the top game was for much higher stakes, and was between the neutral team (which is doing much worse than the good guy team, so less of a threat), and one of the players on my fellow bad guys team.

Their game was between necron, and CSM/necron. I stayed long enough until turn 2 rolled around to take a picture:

The game apparently went seven turns of complete carnage. When it was over, the two of them tied on objectives. And they tied on victory points. It then rolled over to the guy on my team winning because he had killed about 100 more points of his opponent's stuff than he had lost himself. Talk about a close game.

This does put my team in a pretty commanding position as the league draws to a close. There is only one week left, which means that there isn't a lot of wiggle room left. Meanwhile, we won the first multiplayer game, which put us in the lead. We lost the second, which, along with a lot of losses on our team, allowed the good guys to get to within striking range. This, though, puts us pretty squarely back on top. I don't know if the end-of-league apocalypse game counts for the league, but even if it does, I don't know if it's going to be possible for them to make a comeback.

MVP: This will have to go to my trusty vanquishers. The uncompromising nature of their guns racked up kills slowly, but consistently, and without taking serious damage to boot. A very honorable mention goes to the Lord commissar, though. If he had been able to roll even average with his charge range on the first game, he would have single-handedly caused the game to be a draw (which would have rolled over to a win on tie-breakers), even with all the other awful luck still being in place. In the second game, he racked up 1/4 of my kill points. For a model that costs less than 100 points, that's really not too shabby.

Hero of the Game: This one clearly goes to Melchoir. I think I might be running him as a lord commissar rather than as a senior officer more often. He has more survivability, and better stats, which means he can do more awesome stuff, like punch out a dreadnought, and single-handedly charge a defense lines and crush the remaining defenders.