Another warm-up game vs Rob

Well after a year or more hiatus I played another game of 40K. This would be my second game with the new rules. What can I say, my MBA took a lot out of me, I still haven't recovered. Once again I'm playing Rob and his Imperial Guard. This time we played a 1700 point game and I fielded an army that was closest to what I would like to take as my next grand tournament army.

The Forces of Nurgle

From left to right I took:

What I would change is take a different HQ choice, I armed Maceo expensively and relatively stupidly. I was trying out some options I hadn't tried before from the Chaos Codex. My HQ choice for my Nurgle 3.0 army will have the Kai Gun. I also will not be taking a Defiler in my next Grand Tournament army. I think it just becomes a giant bulls-eye. I will instead have a dreadnought which will be cheaper but hopefully still effective at killing stuff more than 18 inches away. Every non-vehicle of course has the Mark of Nurgle and Toughness 5.

The Nurgle army I used

Imperial Forces

Since the last time Muskie and I played I have been able to paint up some Inquisitional allies for my Imperial guard army. They are in the form of: Inquisitor Lord Hesquiat and retinue (3 Gunservitors, 2 Sages, a Heirophant and a Familiar), two units of Inquisitional Stormtroopers with Rhinos and a Grey Knight Teleport Attack. To add these to the army meant that I had to drop quite a bit of stuff. I basically maintained the core of the army, dropping the Rough Riders and Leman Russ. Although I face other Chaos armies on a regular basis this would be the first time that the Grey Knights would actually get a chance to get at some Daemons as I know Muskie ranks his Plague Bearers very highly. I knew Muskie was honing his army for GT play and I was a little concerned that this army wouldn't be competitive enough to give him a good workout - we wouldn't want him heading off to the big city over-confident.

Deployment

How the armies deployed

Although I swear I said "never again" last time, I once again made it so one deployment zone had a river which effectively acts as a trench. Once again out of laziness I let Rob have that side and I ended up not even bothering for the most part to try and assault the troops in the river bed. I actually deployed with an eye to completing the mission. The best cover was on the left flank so I put most of my points on that side. I put one rhino alone on the right flank. Since I had Infiltrators, Chosen which I chose to Deep Strike and Plaguebearers I didn't have very many troops to deploy. I left the center of my deployment zone empty and Rob ended up deploying his infiltrators in a clump of trees behind me. My Infiltrators where front and center which is where the Chosen ended up at the start of turn two.

Rob's Deployment Thoughts

Since I always seem to end up on the same side of the board I saw no reason to deploy differently. I put both my HQ's (the Colonel and staff and the Inquisitor and retinue) in the centre of the table with one of the Stormtrooper units and the Armoured Fist squad and it's Chimera. On the left flank I placed the HQ's Chimera and on the right flank, but close to centre, I deployed the other Stormtrooper unit. I've heard of the refused flank but I've never heard of a refused centre. Muskie pioneered that move this game. Having placed one unit opposite my Chimera on my left he then placed everything else (bar the Infiltrators, Plague Bearers and Terminators) opposite my near empty right. This left a big hole in his deployment zone that I just had to take advantage off with my platoon of Light Infantry. I actually had no intention of going for Muskie's deployment zone; I knew Muskie would certainly try to get into mine so I intended to try and shoot him down before he got here. I figured if I destroyed the rest of his army then it wouldn't matter if that huge unit of plague marines was sitting in my deployment zone.

Nurgle Turn One: Advance my minions

After my half of turn one

I won the roll to choose sides, the roll to deploy, and the roll to go first. Rob made several comments about my rolling but it never made that big of a difference as I rolled poorly at times which people always conveniently overlook... Getting to shoot first allowed my Defiler to actually fire. It just used its 360 degree fire to drop and ordnance template on the guardsmen who had the audacity to infiltrate into my deployment zone. I also shot them with a lascannon and an autocannon from the predator. I advanced my Rhino 12 inches and used its smoke launchers. The infiltrators and the "gun line" advanced. I forgot to move my lord. He was hidden in some trees. Several times I forgot to move things that were in the middle of a clump of trees. The infiltrators didn't do much but a large part of their job is to not die so I can summon deamons and teleport my terminators.

Imperial Guard Turn One: Rally and Redeploy

At the end of turn one

Rob rallied his heavily shelled guardsman unit in my deployment zone. He also backed away his storm troopers in one rhino and generally lined up to shoot my infiltrating troops in the trees. I think two survived. My rhino was also immobilized.

Nurgle Turn Two: Deep Strike

I continued to shoot my heavy support at the guardsmen in my deployment zone. I advanced Syphilis Squad, they would spend the entire game marching across the board. I dubbed them my "armoured column" because it was this big purple column that Rob generally ignored. My terminators arrived as planned and proceeded to kill a bunch of storm troopers. I even remember to move my general this turn. The plaguemarines in the rhino got out of their damaged vehicle and calmly immobilized the Chimera twice with their plasma gun and bolter fire. I also killed a guardsmen with the bolters on my immobilized rhino.

After my half of turn two

Imperial Guard Turn Two: Deep Strike continued

Rob teleported his Grey Knights onto the battlefield but they didn't quite end up where he wanted them to be. He complained about it, but they survived the battle so it couldn't have been that bad. This turn also marked the start of several frustrating turns at shooting at my Chosen in Terminator armor. I think one model died this turn, but Rob did bust off the plastic spikes on one model though and I then later chipped my tooth as part of my effort to glue it back together.

After turn two

Nurgle Turn Three: Summon Deamons

After failing on turn two, I was able to summon my plaguebearers, they deviated but a little closer to Rob's troops. I ended up charging some guardsmen. I even killed a model with Nurgle's Rot. I missed the Grey Knights with my Demolisher Cannon. My predator continued to do well though Rob repeatedly attempted to park his Rhinos in my line of sight. The terminators got in another round of fairly effective shooting.

After my turn three

Imperial Guard Turn Three: Charge!

Rob continued to shoot at the terminators killing one or two. More successfully he wiped out the infiltrating plaguemarines and I believe the Grey Knights were able to charge the Plaguebearers and kill them all. However Rob had informed me that they could come back to the battle if they were wiped out so I planned ahead and made sure their was a target waiting for them after they died.

Nurgle Turn Four: Back from the Warp

After my turn four

I was only too happy to put my plaguebearers right beside some more of Rob's Guardsmen but by some quirk of the rules I was not able to charge them. Even though I was literally a millimetre away and in the same stand of trees apparently you can never be closer than one inch to a model unless you charge. So my difficult terrain test of double ones prevented my Plaguebearers from charging this turn.

Rob thought he was pretty clever parking his Rhino right in front of my predator but I'm not too proud to blow it up. I believe I got two penetrating hits but the wreck remained to block sight. I shot my demolisher cannon at some guardsmen in his deployment zone. Sometimes I missed but twice more my ordinance hit home almost killing the Inquisitor but he made some sort of invulnerable save.

Imperial Guard Turn Four: Continue to shoot terminators

This was another turn where Rob poured almost all of his fire into the terminators. He killed one or two but he also continued to kill guardsmen with his own overheating plasma guns. There was no hand to hand this turn, this game had very little hand to hand combat.

Nurgle Turn Five: "Keep on marching funky soldier"

After my turn five

A turn or two back it became apparent Rob was going to let my "gun line" march across the board. My general couldn't score the bonus points so he started making his way towards Rob's center. I decided to keep the Defiler stationary so as to fire the main weapon. I briefly considered trying to make a run for the other side of the border but walkers can only move six inches per turn. If it was a vehicle I could throw it into high gear for a turn or two...

The squad that was in the Rhino rounded the terrain feature in front of them to be confronted by another Chimera. I thought about just huddling behind some cover and going for the bonus points. I generally don't opt for the cowardly option, it doesn't seem in character plus they were almost at full strength and I thought I could get into Plasma Gun and Bolter range once more.

Imperial Guard Turn Five: Fresh Targets

The Chimera definitely opened fire on the Plaguemarines killing one or two but they are fearless so they weren't going anywhere. The Terminators once again were the target of all available weapons. The Grey Knights continued to advance back towards their own deployment zone through the river bed.

The end of turn five

Nurgle Turn Six: Just playing out the stretch

After my turn six

I moved Syphilis squad deeper into Rob's deployment zone and I advanced my Lord under the bridge up the river bed towards Rob which surprised him. I'd love to say this brilliant tactic worked out and won me the game but just the opposite. Poor rolls on the difficult terrain test to charge left Maceo vulnerable to return fire from the unit he had planned to charge. Jaundice squad managed to damage the Chimera significantly however they succumbed to return fire as well so I think I would have been better huddling my lord and that squad behind cover for a couple of turns.

Imperial Guard Turn Six: One last volley

Rob made his last volley count. The repositioned Storm Troopers wiped out Maceo. The Inquisitor who survived being directly hit by an ordnance template and the rest of the Imperial Guard around him finished off the terminators, even the Jaundice squad was destroyed though it took almost every last shot Rob had available. The Plaguebearers had destroyed the guardsmen in the trees in my deployment zone and Rob had no intention of running more of his troops into my deployment zone to try for the bonus points.

Another Draw!?

So after Rob complains the entire game about his die rolling and even I think I'm winning for a change and despite using literally half my army on one flank to push through to his deployment zone when we added up all the victory points it was a tie. I think the official score was 1021 to 959 for me. I got 400 bonus points for Syphilis squad but in the last turn I think the terminators, Jaundice, and Maceo were killed. Combined they were worth more than 400 victory points.

I accomplished the mission but I didn't win. I spent the entire game marching across the board with Syphilis, they never took a shot. Maceo was armed to use the last of my points. Infiltration isn't as good as deamonic flight or something that increases the speed of the model. I took the psychic power with the 2" range and I never got close enough to use it. Either you give your HQ choice something that makes him move faster and tool him up for H2H or you keep him cheap and keep his head down.

Hopefully I'll learn the rules a bit better and when I get the last few models painted I'll get to practice with my actual GT army a lot, something I didn't get to do before Calgary or Vancouver. One of my big weaknesses is a lack of patience. Perhaps if it had been a tournament game and I was really trying hard to win, I would have just hunkered down in cover instead of risking several hundred points of models to kill a few more guardsmen. Although the Deep Striking worked out pretty good this time, I don't plan to always Deep Strike my terminators. I also have to try and infiltrate and Deep Strike onto a flank rather directly in front of the enemies center everytime. I never used to take terminators or deep strike when there was chance of the entire squad being destroyed before they even hit the table. Lastly although it is boring and used too often I plan to buy an invulnerable save for my general. He won't cost as many points and will likely not charge across the entire board alone at the enemy lines either...

I will also set up the modular terrain different. I always put the long sides parallel with the short sides of the pool table but the terrain works so many different ways.

Imperial Conclusion

I rarely win with my army- I like to think it's because I choose sub-optimal units and not because I'm a crappy player (but really...). However, I frequently find myself on the shy side of a draw and this game was no exception. It looked to me in turns three and four that I was going to be massacred. Now Muskie may claim that my dice rolling was no worse than his but I don't think he was paying very close attention. My dice rolling for the first half of the game was sub par. I failed 3 out of 4 leadership tests I was required to make (although I did eventually rally two units), after 3 turns of shooting with several BS4 plasma and melta weapons (along with many heavy bolters) I had killed two Terminators... and two Stormtroopers from overheats. The two lascannons had about 3 turns of shooting with a total of one hit between them and the subsequent to-wound roll was a one! On turn 5 however my luck swung the other way, just enough to score a draw. I should give Muskie credit - he helped me out by sending one of his Characters for a little walk into range of my meltaguns and forgetting to move his Terminators for one turn (he kept losing his models hidden in the trees). Those two little errors probably had more to do with it being a draw than two rounds of good luck! Another cause for celebration was my grey Knights. After their inital scatter from a well hidden location right into LOS to the Defiler they managed to survive the game unscathed. I have, I kid you not, lost this unit to bad scatters 4 out of 8 games that I have used them. I was thinking that they might be cursed (one time I failed 9 out of 9 3+ saves) but this game they made it through - hopefully the curse is broken.

What's Next?

I'm not sure, I'm actively looking for a job so I have tried to not drag out all my miniatures and paints. However my job search isn't going so great and I have lots of models I could paint. I plan to improve the paint jobs on some of my older models. I also want to make some more scenery. I want real rocks that block line of sight not just trees. I plan to make some craters and several small pieces of terrain. I also will slowly be making a city fight table which has also been on my long term plans for quite some time. In addition some Orks and Goblins may get painted I've held off painting my lord and ForgeWorld dreadnought for years because I want to make sure they are good center pieces and not rushed or left partly finished.

After the passage of yet more time, I finally decided to have a go at painting the Chaos Lord I converted to lead this third tournament entry. He is armed with a Kai Gun and painted signifigantly different from anything else in the army.

Words and Images © Andrew "Muskie" McKay.
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