BATTLE REPORTS - The Hand of the King - 7 (tactical)

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

This game was Scouring, with dawn of war deployment at 1850 points.

My list (Imperial Guard) was:

CCS - fist, standard, lascannon
Priest - eviscerator

Primaris Psyker

10x stormies - 2x flamers
10x stormies - 2x meltas
10x stormies - 2x meltas

Vets - 3x plasma, lascannon, carapace
Vets - 3x melta, lascannon, carapace
Vets - 3x melta, lascannon, carapace
Vets - 3x melta, lascannon, carapace
Vets - 3x melta, lascannon, carapace

3x hydra squad

ADL - icarus lascannon

My opponent's list (Dark Angels) was:

Belial

5x termie squad - THSSs, cyclone, apothecary
5x termie squad - THSSs, cyclone, sarge with LCs
10x tac squad - plasma gun, cannon, pistol, rhino

Vindicator
Vindicator

ADL - quadcannon

Rune Priest

5x wolf guard - power weapon, termie armor + cyclone
(the two with upgrades got peeled off as "sergeants" while the rest guarded the rune priest)

5x grey hunters - las/plas razorback

6x long fangs - with 5 missile launchers, las/plas razorback.

My warlord rolled Master of Defense, and my opponent rolled Immovable Object. My opponent's rune priest got prescience and maladiction. Night fighting was rolled for turn 1.

My opponent won the roll to go first. I failed to seize the initiative. Note that the value of the objectives are in magenta.

1.) The game begins with Belial and the deathwing including the apothecary plopping square in front of my stuff.

2.) Everything else of my opponent's makes a move up-field in a general advance. He keeps his rune priest on the quad gun, a squad of termies on his 2 value objective and a squad of tac marines on his 4 objective, but all his vehicles move up. Longfangs+cyclone wolf guard throw their 7 mini-pies into my troops, but the +2 cover from nightfighting, sometimes through hills, and sometimes through ruins really throws a wet towel on the damage.

He did use a razor to light up one of the squads, though (which took a bit more damage from missiles). In return, I get ready for 4 lascannons and three hydras to blow it off the board turn 1 for first blood. Unfortunately, my entire army only manages to reduce it by a single hull point.

3.) At the top of turn two, my opponent rolled everything forward square into mid-field. My opponent's stuff is just too far away still (vindicator cannon only close enough to knick front guys, etc.), so most of the killing power is in his mini-pie party on the bastion.

Somewhat decent displacement, somewhat crummy rolling by my opponent, and, most importantly, carapace armor really save the day. It went something to the effect of 7 shots for 16 hits for 10 wounds for 4 dead, give or take. That is a very manageable casualty load from over 250 points of missile launchers.

In return, my flamer stormies and one of my melta stormies shows up. I'd been thinking about how my main problem was that I wasn't supporting them so that they were just getting killed right away. A nearly undefended 4-point objective behind some ruins and a defense line was just too juicy of a target, though. Plus, if I would have kept them closer to the vest, they would have been wasted shooting Belial with their Ap3 small arms.

The flamer stormies land dead on target and attack his plasma-cannon-toting combat squad in the ruins. Cover is very kind, though, and the guy without cover was vaporized but the other eight wounds only manage to finish off a single marine.

Meanwhile, the melta stormies scatter 9", but this time not DIRECTLY ONTO SOMETHING. The end position is less than ideal, but it's still within 6" of the right side vindicator. They easily slag it with side armor shots.

4.) Frustrated by his missiles bouncing helplessly off of carapace, my opponent turns his longfangs on my hydras. The turn before they had turned out an ASTONISHING 10 wounds on Belial's terminators. They had passed all their armor saves that time, but my opponent certainly knew his terminator luck couldn't hold out forever. All the clutter in the way combined with more sub-par rolls sees the exterminators damaged, but not wiped out. The fact that it's a squad of three of them makes it a more interesting challenge, as the closest guy basically gave a ruins save to the rest of them.

Meanwhile, Belial takes a cruddy difficult terrain test with his buddies and they don't make it anywhere near close combat, so they run instead. In return, I unload on them with 9 BS4 meltaguns, 2 BS4 plasma guns, and my lightning finger psyker (he failed his first psychic test and then rolled very poorly on both his number of shots and his hits. I think he only put down 1 wound), along with 4 BS4 lascannons and other assorted fire.

The melta hideously chewed through the terminators, the S8 ignoring FNP and taking down the rest of the squad. Belial and his juicy non-eternal-warrior managed to make the couple of invul saves thrown at him, but he had suddenly found himself very alone. In return, he charged into one of my vet squads only to see 3 melta shots and a lascannon put down 3 overwatch hits that resulted in a single failed invul save - enough for instant death.

5.) My opponent pretty quickly realised the threat my stormtroopers posed by securing his flank objective and wheeled around the rest of his army to deal with the threat. His termies were far away, though, and his left side vindicator had been destroyed by some meltavet fire (for first blood), and said vet squad had then immobilized his right side razorback, making the guys inside walk.

My opponent's plasma cannon shot into my clustered flamer stormies, but cover worked nearly as well for me as for my opponent. Meanwhile, the other stormies were behind a defense line, and were only whittled down to roughly half casualties.

In return, my flamer stormies and melta stormies roll poorly, but manage to shut down the plasma cannon. My remaining stormies show up near where the flamer ones did with a hit and use their hellguns to wipe out the tac squad that popped out of the right side rhino.

My opponent throws everything he has into the stormies, but the defense line, the ruins, and carapace armor keep the casualties down on the three squads (respectively) to the point where they're all still alive. At the bottom of turn 4, I charge some stormies in to krak grenade the rhino and my flamer stormies finally clear the objective of marines.

By this point, my opponent has no real ability to take away any of my objectives, and if the game ended on turn 5, it would have been 5 tac marines contesting an objective against the tattered remnants of my stormtroopers, while controlling neither of his other two. At best, if he got the objective on turn 6, he would have had 4 points to my 11 (I nabbed all the secondaries). In any case, my opponent decided to concede.

- Luck: my opponent's luck was close to the middle, having a few crummy shooting phases and a few good saves phases. My luck was a bit better than normal with one exception - I rolled snap shots LIKE A FIEND. I hit at least a third of them, and possibly more. Moreover there were a couple of times I rolled 6's on non-snap fires when I really needed them. For example, my right-side meltavets shot at his vindicator through ruins. I rolled a 6 (or possibly 2) to cause a penetrating hit which not only shut down a vindicator but also gave me first blood. For reference, 3 BS4 meltaguns wrecking a vindicator through ruins happens only about once in 12 times you try it. That 6 made all the difference (well, FoMT didn't hurt either).

- This game was against the same person I played two games ago (the dark eldar player), and as you can see there were different results. A big part of it was my opponent being a bit kinder to my guard army with the list he brought (not so overwhelmingly offensive), but there were a few things that happened for me that also changed the outcome (other than good dice instead of bad).

- This is game two with my "duravets", and I've got to say, I'm really loving the carapace. A majority of my saves made in this game didn't come from 4+ cover, but rather were carapace saves out in the open (the stormies and a couple of vets), and were carapace saves in 5+ cover. This upgrade really is starting to show its usefulness already. To math it, a model that takes a 5+ save everywhere is only 75% as durable as a model that takes a 4+ save everywhere. Put another way, 80 models in carapace armor have the durability of 107 models in flak armor. In this game, it was the difference between the stormies lasting through the game to hold the right, or them being wiped out, or my opponent getting first blood against vets instead of me.

Furthermore, I'm becoming rather impressed with my dura-vets in general. They have the staying power of a foot horde, still, but their force concentration is much, much better. Remember those 15 BS4 melta/plasma/lascannon shots I threw at Belial in a single turn? This kind of damage would have been very difficult to achieve with infantry platoons. I could have perhaps pulled it off if I had brought a couple of meltagun SWSs, but guess what my opponent would have shot his long fangs at? Also, the vets had enough durability to be able to advance. If there had been a turn 5, I would have crossed over the threshold into my opponent's side of the board and meltagunned that long-fang bastion from point blank range. Had the game moved on to turn 7, I very well could have had linebreaker with a vet squad.

It may have been timid this game, but for the first time this edition I've been able to actually advance with foot guard, and it feels damn fine.

- So, this game really shows what my stormies are all about. Given even average luck on the scatter (2 hits and a 9" scatter is a lot closer to average than 2 10" scatters and a horrible accident on a mishap), stormies can create a second battle within the battle. Yes, by the end my stormies were pretty badly shot up (only 8 out of the original 30 survived), but they cleared my opponent off of an objective and then HELD it. By the end, my opponent had to divert roughly 2/3ds of his army just to handle my stormtroopers, giving up two objectives in the process. Instead of everything cascading on my vets, they took relatively little damage and easily held the objectives on their side of the field while my opponent struggled to keep his, much less attack any of mine.

Had I taken small suicide squads, my opponent would have possibly lost his objective temporarily (though that's not even assured given how the dice went this game), and used local forces to sweep aside the stormies and reclaim the objective, allowing more stuff to be thrown at my main army, possibly preventing them from taking their furthest objective. If first blood had gone the other way around, the game could have easily been a 6 to 7 loss for me.

In this case, you really, really do have to look at stormtroopers as more than just the sum of their killing power. 30 deepstriking dudes in carapace armor created a major strategic problem for my opponent, even when they were unsupported. This, I posit, is the real reason to take stormtroopers. If you want some one-shot damage, there is stuff in other slots that either does it better (as in, gets more than one shot off), or cheaper.

This army-within-an-army is certainly going to continue into the future.

- As you can see by my list, I broke down and took hydras. The careful balancing act I'm trying to put on here is to bring as little anti-air as I can possibly get away with so that I can spend as many points as possible on other stuff. This game provided a test of this idea. If my opponent DOESN'T bring fliers, is the rest of my non-dedicated-anti-flier army able to still be competitive despite lugging the dedicated-anti-flier around as more or less dead weight?

Because in this game, it was. Despite rolling a freakish number of 6's, my opponent saved pretty much everything. I think the entire contribution of my hydra squad was 1 HP off a razorback, and my psyker threw like 1 armor save at some termies. I'm starting to feel like my list is getting rather settled for the moment, so making small adjustments to this ratio is probably the only serious changes that are going to happen in the near future.

- You probably missed it, but I made an accidental head fake with my ADL this game. I put it almost all the way to the right, which made my opponent assume that that was where I was going to make my stand, so he made sure to put an objective over on the right - where the battle would be taking place. After I saw just how many ruins I had on my left, I decided to crowd my objectives over there instead. As my opponent had placed his objective on the right first, he was kind of stuck with spread-out objectives, which meant that, with first deployment, he was sort of stuck with a spread-out army, which played rather well into the hands of my stormies.

I almost wonder if that isn't the REAL point of an ADL - something to allow you to participate in the strategy of terrain placement better.

- To return quickly to the duravets. Melta and lascannon. Yes. They blew up 3 vehicles, wiped out a 5 man FNP termie squad, and one-shotted Belial. None of that would have been possible lugging around S7 weapons. It kind of makes sense to have a plasma squad for the psyker to hang out in, but otherwise...

MVP: This is actually kind of a tough one. One of my vet squads did very, very well, blowing up a vindicator, and then wrecking a rhino, making the guys get out and walk. They also claimed a 2 point objective at the end. They basically single-handedly held the center of the board.

But on the other hand, it still has to go to the stormies. They took points away from my opponent, and they ruined my opponent's plans. If my opponent had decided to just plow forward anyways, I could have had my second wave stormies show up and defend my vets. There's nothing strategic these guys can't do with decent luck.

Hero of the Game: The vets that stared down Belial. I think death or glory should also be used for holding your ground against tactical dreadnought armor.