BATTLE REPORTS - The Hand of the King - 50 (tactical)

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

For many good reasons, I went into my local gaming store knowing that this would be the last game recorded for my Hand of the King series. As it turned out, it wound up being against our local punisher guard player. I had brought more or less exactly enough stuff to play a 1500 point game that night, but my opponent-to-be really wanted to be able to go back up to 1,850 points after so many weeks stuck nearly russless at 1,000.

Sifting through my options, I came up with one that I've always been meaning to try at some point, and so figured that tonight I'd take the plunge.

This game wound up being Scouring, Vanguard deployment, at 1850 points.

My list (Imperial Guard) was:

CCS - power fist, 3x meltaguns
        - chimera

Vets - 3x meltaguns
        - chimera
Vets - 3x meltaguns
        - chimera
Vets - 3x meltaguns
        - chimera

3x armored sentinels - lascannons

Eradicator- lascannon, multimeltas
Vanquisher - lascannon, plasma cannons
Executioner - lascannon, plasma cannons

Ordo Malleus Inquisitor - terminator armor

5x Grey Knight Terminators - psycannon, Thawn

My opponent's list (Imperial Guard) was:

Lord Commissar William T. O'Reilly - 2x plasma pistols, carapace

Veterans - 2x plasma, 1x melta, carapace, Bastonne
Veterans - 2x snipers, 1x melta, lascannon, camo cloaks

Vendetta - heavy bolters
Vulture Gunship - TL punisher cannons
Devil Dog - multimelta

2x Vanquishers - hull lascannons
2x punishers - hull lascannons, sponson multimeltas
LRBT - hull lascannon, sponson heavy bolters

My opponent won first turn, and decided to take it. His warlord trait was worthless, while I drew night attacker which I greedily, greedily took. I didn't bother seizing the initiative, as I wanted to take full advantage of the searchlight disparity.

Before the game began, we flipped over our scouring tokens and...

... My opponent got all the points! Needless to say, with only 5 points worth of objectives on my side of the table to the 10 points on my opponent's side, he'd be playing the defensive game, and I'd have to seriously throw everything in to have a chance at this.

1.) The game starts with my opponent scooting back his army on the top side of the board. He also tries to reposition his punishers only to have the one that needed to make a difficult terrain test fail it, giving him two squads of punishers. Only on the right did he move up with his vanquishers.

Shooting saw only the vanquishers doing anything but, despite needing to attack quickly, I had offset my bottom-side force in from my maximum deployment line, ensuring that my opponent was over 24" away. A predictable two hit, but one was blocked by cover. The other was a vanquisher cannon which went through, and caused an immobilized result on my vet-toting chimera.

In return, I move everything but the vanquisher and the armored sentinels forward. In the process, one of my other vet squad chimeras gets snagged in terrain. I've got to capture my opponent's objectives, but only have a single squad with a working transport, and it's the one farthest away from the objectives to boot.

Shooting sees the immobilized chimeras light up some targets for my russes, while the remaining one on the top moves flat out, and the CCS one pops smoke. My rolling is terrible, though, and the only thing that manages to happen is the vanquisher getting a glance on one of the other vanquishers with its lascannon.

2.) My opponent begins his next turn a little more aggressively, now that I'm getting rather stuck already, and I've got exactly two transports barreling towards him.

But before that, my opponent rolls for reserves. The vulture stays off, while the vendetta comes on and drops off it's cargo via grav-chute insertion. Namely, the squad with Bastonne, and his lord commissar. The squad plops down via deepstrike rules, and then scatters 7" directly towards his vendetta.

A bout of head-scratching then ensues. The rules for moving with fliers say that you should just ignore the base, and any model that can fit under the flier can be placed there. On the other hand, my opponent couldn't physically place the unit because the center model would have to be put underneath the plus-shaped flyer stand, and a base is still part of a model (which you still can't move though, and counts as a mishap for deepstriking purposes). We go around in circles and get input from everyone else, and in the end decide to 4+ if it's a mishap or not. I roll a 1, which means it counts as a mishap. When grav-chute inserting, the rules say that if a unit mishaps, it is wiped out as if it rolled a 1 on the mishap table.

The squad is thus counted as destroyed, sucked into the turbines of their own vendetta. This gives me first blood and slay the warlord, and also wipes out 1 of my opponent's 2 troops-based scoring units this game.

For the rest of my opponent's turn, he manages to blow up my top-side chimera with his devil dog, and the lascannon on his LRBT hits my eradicator, leaving it infuriatingly just outside of 36" to shoot his cover-ignoring shot against the camo cloak vets on his 4-point objective. His vanquishers then decide to repeat my performance from the previous turn against my vanquisher. One hit yielded no damage.

3.) On the bottom of turn 2, my GKTs arrive. I've got sweaty palms about this, knowing just how absolutely wretched both of our luck has been so far this game. I also think about all the times I've ranted and railed against people taking terminators and then throwing them pointlessly and unsupported into the middle of their opponent's stuff, rather than using them as a more cohesive part of their army and playing it more conservatively.

That said, I've only got 4 points worth of objectives I have any serious chance of taking, and depending on what my opponent does, I might not even have that. There is simply no substitution for clearing my opponent off of his objective, and now that I've lost my chimeras AND my cover-ignoring russ, I'm running rather low on options.

As such, I decided to deepstrike the terminators very aggressively, unsupported, right into the middle of my opponent's stuff. After all, I've got Thawn, and he probably will only need to make it into close combat once to annihilate that pesky guard squad.

The terminators get placed in a crater, because that's really the only option. I nervously roll the scatter die, and roll a "hit". I breathe a sight of relief. Then, I pick up 6 dice to roll for dangerous terrain rolls. 4 out of the 6 of them are 1's. TWO of the armor saves are 1's. A GKT with a sword goes down, and I lose a wound off of my malleus inquisitor.

In shooting, my now-pointless eradicator unloads its anti-tank guns at the edge of multimelta range to no effect, while the remaining infantry (the vets on top) shoot into the devil dog from the edge of regular melta range and land a penetrating hit that explodes the vehicle, giving me a point for killing a fast attack unit. Meanwhile, on the bottom, both chimeras disembark. The CCS gets the vet squad closer with a run order, and then does it to itself and gets just far enough to hide completely out of LOS in the small bit of ruins in the lower right.

My psycannon paladin then shoots into the rear armor of the healthy punisher in front of it, as I'm not going to be able to shoot away my opponent's vets, and that's the thing that can do the most damage in return. Of all my shots, 1 hits, which causes a penetrating result which rolls a 1 again, shaking the vehicle. I do catch my first lucky break this game, though, and between the armored sentinels and the squad in the immobilized chimera, I manage to get in a meltagun hit. The shot pens and blows up the flier

In return, everything wheels around to shoot at the GKTs, except for the vulture, which comes on and obliterates my vet squad out in the open (the survivors broke and ran a LONG way away over the next few turns), and the LRBT, which misses with its battlecannon against the few meltagunners in front of it, which causes the rest of the tank to snap fire, only killing one vet.

Then I get the fury of a vet squad, a punisher cannon, a snapfiring punisher, and two vanquishers aimed at my GKTs. For the first time in my life, I roll dice and have a 2 qualify me for a passed armor save. When all the dust had cleared, I lost two terminators (including the psycannon), and Thawn, leaving me with a wounded inquisitor and a terminator with a hammer, but that would be good enough!

4.) At the bottom of turn 3, Thawn doesn't get up. In fact, things look rather shabby for me at first glance. I've got almost all of my army stuck either immobilized or lumbering with plasma cannons in my deployment zone. My opponent still has his expensive objective, and both fliers still on the table. In fact, all I've killed so far has been a single devil dog - my opponent has done more damage to himself than I have to him.

There was a lot that I didn't have, but there was one thing I did have - 10 angry, angry models on my opponent's side of the board, and the weapons to make that anger count.

The vets on top move up to the russ, getting JUST out of melta range. My CCS pops out of the ruins against the vanquishers who had fatefully turned their backs on the officer and his squad. The GKTs, as much as the two dudes with thunder hammers want to paste a punisher, decide on the more sober route of going over towards the veterans on my opponent's objective.

Shooting sees my entire backfield shoot at the vulture, and the end result is the worst result better than a complete miss - an immobilized result. This is usually pointless against fliers in this edition, but it's doubly-so against a vehicle with vector dancer. Meanwhile, the CCS fails bring it down on itself, and two of the meltagunners hit for at least easy penetrations against rear armor. The end result is that one of the vanquishers is blown up.

But the real magic happens in assault. On top, the vets get in against the LRBT with krak grenades for three free hits (forgot to move it), for two glances. On the bottom, my powerfist officer charges the other vanquisher in the squad. I only draw two hits again, and one of them fails to do anything. The other penetrates, though, and, thanks to Ap2, blows the tank up. Meanwhile, the GKTs get into close combat with the nearby vets. I roll comically poorly with the thunderhammers, though, and only kill a couple of them, leaving them all stuck in close combat.

On turn 4, the vulture guns down my command squad, and the LRBT kills off the vets threatening it. Close combat sees yet more epic fail by my hammernators, losing the remaining GKT, to only one enemy model killed, for a drawn combat.

Thankfully, Thawn gets back up and moves into the close combat. To make up for the previous turns, everything hits and wounds, and the vets are horribly butchered. That and my exterminator knocked off the last hull point off of the LRBT.

Turn 5 sees my opponent unloading a crazy amount of punisher fire onto Thawn and the Malleus inquisitor. The rolling against the inquisitor is pretty terrible, though, and I only fail 1 of the 12 armor saves the inquisitor needs to make, leaving him on the board while Thawn is thrown back down by the flier.

My opponent takes stock of the game. I've got a hammerhand+thunderhammer inquisitor in easy explode-you-to-death range of the unimmobilized punisher. Assuming that the inquisitor did his job, that would leave an immobilized, wounded punisher and an immobilized wounded vulture as his only models on the board. Meanwhile, I controlled my meager objectives, while my opponent had none of his own, and Thawn was scoring and would have all the chances in the world to keep standing back up and then hiding on the 4-point objective.

At this point, my opponent concedes. My armored sentinels and my remaining vets each held a 2-point objective, and I had first blood, slay the warlord, and linebreaker, and killed a fast attack unit. My opponent just had slay the warlord for a solid victory for me.

- Firstly, let me say that, pooling the two of us together, that is probably the worst die rolling I've seen in a game of 40k in person.

- Secondly, at first glance it might look like my opponent was doomed to fail, because it was an 1850 point game in which my opponent only brought two troops choices, but I think you've really got to look deeper than that to see what was going on here.

Because my armored sentinels did nothing. My plasma cannons never got to fire. My 245 point executioner did literally nothing that game, while the vanquisher only manage to glance something once. In fact, if you cut out units that removed zero enemy models, I showed up with a 775 point army to an 1850 point game. And yet, my opponent was just 4 hull points away from being tabled at the bottom of turn 5. Meanwhile, everything in my opponent's list sans the vendetta and its cargo killed at least one model, and yet I still had most of my stuff on the table - two chimeras, a vet squad and my CCS being the only things completely absent.

Which is astonishing, when you think about it. Given that my opponent had the advantage of being able to defend, this should have been a one-sided slaughter of my army, but, in fact, the opposite wound up being true. Honestly, I'm still a bit puzzled.

My only real explanation I can offer is that I applied my killing power better than my opponent did. Every russ on the board had a miserable performance that game, but my opponent sunk twice as many points into his russes than I did. Meanwhile, my opponent's only other serious firepower was tied up in fliers, which only showed up AFTER I had gotten what little offensive movement I had upfield. In the end, a vet squad, a CCS, and 5x terminators (one of which didn't even survive the drop) took down a devil dog, 2/3ds of a russ, 1/3rd of another, a squad of vets, and two more russes in just two turns. Neither of our relatively static firebases did much this game, but my few mobile units very seriously outclassed those of my opponent.

- As for the how of this game, the best answer I can come up with is the same conclusion I came to when I played against this player two games ago - chimeras. Even with half of them being immobilized before I got a chance to move them anywhere, I was still able to get 6 meltaguns and a powerfist officer onto my opponent's side of the board. Even if my opponent hadn't killed himself with the vendetta drop, or even scattered out of range, the only thing that really would have happened is that my executioner would have finally gotten to shoot something other than its lascannon, and my eradicator would have actually had a target this game. Add to this my deepstriking terminators, and I was just able to put stuff in my opponent's deployment zone (or, for that matter, wherever I wanted them), while my opponent rather couldn't

The biggest coup in this regard was with my CCS. Starting on the board and being able to really use terrain allowed a 105 point unit to kill 340 points of leman russes in a single turn.

Meanwhile, my opponent was relying only on units that relied late on the one hand, and relying very heavily on very slow units with the other. Had the situation been reversed, and I was holding onto the objectives and ruins in the upper right, I can't imagine how my opponent would have come even close to winning that game.

- As you see, I made the rather curious choice of including armored sentinels in my list. Oddly enough, this game shows exactly why. When I was throwing down 5 russes, I was getting the sneaking suspicion that I was overinvesting in russes. Trying to shoehorn a 4th russ into my list was proving to be rather awkward, especially as it wasn't terribly obvious with which other tank it would be paired. Plus, it does come with some minor downsides, like needing to shoot both tanks at the same target, and having more vulnerability in close combat. The CCS showed this, and if the two punishers hadn't been split up by an immobilized result, it's very possible that my ordo malleus inquisitor could have killed both.

Meanwhile, there was a problem with my fire tanks. Not only did it not put down as many shots as I'd like (specifically referring to the devil dogs), but I also had a major problem on scouring missions. On said games, I'd need to keep my relatively fragile vehicles further back, not only so as not to give away victory points, but they also had the ability to hold objectives. But without my fire tanks storming forwards, my whole strategy fell apart, like in game 46.

So, what I wanted was a unit that was able to put out more high-strength shots and earlier than a devil dog, while also preferably not being a russ, while also being an asset, rather than a liability in scouring missions. Despite the fact that 12 shots only rolled only one (or maybe two) hit for zero damage, the fact that said unit was 6 HP of AV12 hiding behind cover while being able to score on this mission was pretty much exactly what I was looking for from them. If they had actually drawn a reasonable hit rate with those lascannons, they likely would have earned back their points in kills.

What's also a little interesting as well, is that they have decent synergy and survivability. My opponent's heavier guns were pointed at my russes, and their weaker guns were pointed at my chimeras. Plus, they are able to operate at longer ranges, rather than shoving themselves up my opponent's throats to be effective, and they also have a lower threat profile than, say, a hellhound.

Despite its high cost, I think this unit is actually rather overlooked. In any case, I get the moral victory of my opponent bringing a vendetta and me bringing armored sentinels and the vendetta was killed off without doing anything positive whatsoever, while my sentinels, even with apocalyptically terrible die rolling scored 1/2 of my objective points this game.

- Also, yes, Ailaros took allies. In this case, it was due mostly to laziness, and the fact that my narrative would come to a nice conclusion with grey knights being present. That, and since game 20 of my public game series, I'd always had a passing interest in perhaps running an inquisitor in my guard army.

Of course, I played them exactly wrong by dumping them unsupported into the thick of my opponent's stuff, and they were largely slaughtered. They did, however, serve as an EXCELLENT distraction (allowing my CCS and vets to sneak up on other stuff), and they did do what, really, you take terminators for - they showed up in the backfield, and survived well enough against a deluge of firepower to kill a scoring unit off of an objective. Plus, with bounce-back Thawn, there was a real chance I could have stolen the objective myself. It's like send in the next wave x100.

Will I be using GK as allies again in the future? Perhaps, but probably not. This was more of a fun chance to try terminators than anything else.

- Probably the sorest loser of this game was the LRBT. Before this game I already considered it to be the unequivocally worst type of leman russ, and was not disappointed here. The main cannon shooting meant that the sponson weapons did virtually nothing that game. A heavy bolter killed A veteran. Meanwhile, the main cannon, in 5 turns, only rolled 2 hits, which isn't that far off what you'd expect. In this case, it killed 3 more vets, and bounced off the front armor of one of my russes. Even if it had managed to penetrate the armor, you're looking at needing a 6 to wreck it.

It was 185 points of painful awkwardness that managed nothing more than killing 4 guardsmen before it was unceremoniously removed from play. And that was with average rolling, unlike everything else. At least the immobilized punisher killed a grey knight terminator with a psycannon, and it even had the excuse of poor rolling and being stuck facing the wrong way the entire game thanks to failing the one difficult terrain roll my opponent had to make.

MVP: Undoubtedly the GKT. My opponent stumbled out of the gate by giving me two secondaries, but with conservative play with his devil dog, he could have easily sat pretty on 7 points worth of objectives while I would have been left grasping to make the points up on my side of the board. Instead, the GKTs showed up and wiped out the camo-cloak-in-ruins unit that was sitting on the 4-point objective, and thereby ended my opponent's chances for a victory. Plus, there was a decent chance that Thawn would have gotten back up, and would have single-handedly scored as many objective points as the rest of my army combined.

Hero of the Game: Melchoir. He started the game in a transport against two lascannon vanquishers, and what did he do? Charge in and kill them both, like a boss.