Yes I'm doing it again...

After a tumultous three years which included me finishing my MBA and starting my CFA, I've decided it is better for me to work towards another Grand Tournament entry than not. It'll give me something to write about online, something to photograph, and will provide a use and a reason for some of the many models I've bought but never painted. I also plan on getting my Orks and Goblins on the gaming table both in WFB and in 40K. My goal is to enter Las Vegas GT 2009 with an army list that uses the new Codex well and is designed for 5th Edition. In the mean time, the Diseased Sons will make a fairwell/greatest hits tour culminating in an appearence at Astronomi-con Vancouver.

Two Games, One Day

I rarely play. I haven't played since West Coast Mayhem. This was the first army list I ever fielded with the latest Chaos Codex and it was a gimicky one. I always do stuff no one else has ever done. There is often a reason for it. My army list actually went 1-1 possibly getting massacered by the Loyalist and massacering a Loyalist army a few hours later. You can read about my list and read Malcolm and James' thoughts too, as I roped them into my quest for world domination, or something.

1500 points of Toughness

My theme for this army list was toughness. To that end I brought Syphilis in 20 Plaguemarine strong form, a ten model Plaguemarine squad in a rhino, but before I costed those I brought all three of my dreads to out dread Malcolm. I also brought Slim because he is toughness six. With my final 180ish points I added my Predator and my first ever fast attack choice, Sluggie!

Game One: Pregame

Armies deployed for battle

I met Malcolm at West Coast Mayhem where he was all too helpful to my opponent who also happened to be the tournament organizer so he didn't need the help. Ever since I've plotted his destruction or at least planned to play his army. He runs Iron Hands who I've decided to lump in with the Iron Warriors and take to publicly mocking. As I said I wanted to out-Dread his army list and kill his Iron Father who I referred to as the Tin Foil Father. I accomplished both these feats. Of course I deployed horribly, didn't know the rules for my own army, had my dreads go crazy and kill my own models and other acts of shame...

Yes, it's true: I'm that oh-so-helpful guy who stood next to Muskie and gave his opponent all kinds of helpful advice and rules clarification. I know I'm directly responsible for the death of his Rhino (which, as I found out much later, was a wrongful death based on my misinterpretation of vehicle damage rules). Any guilt I may felt was gone when Muskie called me out on the Bolter and Chainsword, with such complimentary phrases as "Tinfoil Father" and going on about rust and corruption being stronger than metal, and in true Iron Hands fashion, I threw down the gauntlet (if you'll forgive the pun).

I decided to keep the same list as I've been using, though it's been tweaked to take on Orks (though with very mixed success). I figure if there's one thing that can beat a low-count, elite, survivable army, it's an elite, low-count army that packs a mean punch. That, and I was too lazy to write up a new list and repack my case. Beyond that, I wasn't sure whether Muskie would be joining the campaign, or if we'd be playing a pickup game, so I needed to be able to fight my foes there. Fortunately (?) for me, Muskie joined the campaign and now I was fighting for pride AND campaign points.

My HQ consisted of my trusty Iron-Father, an Epistolary with Fear of the Ancients. My elites were two Ven Dreads with Assault Cannons and DCCWs, a five-man Terminator Squad with two Assault Cannons (sense a theme yet?). Troops was two five-man Tac Squads with a powerfist, meltagun and heavy bolter and both mounted in my infamous Razorbacks that everybody thinks are Rhinos. Fast Attack is for the weak (the weak, I say!) and Heavy Support was two Vindicator with Power of the Machine Spirit (my old stand-bys) and a Whirlwind (which I keep moaning about but never drop).

I didn't know what Muskie was bringing in any specificity, so I didn't have any goals beyond winning. But enough yakking, *git to tha foightin'!*

Game One: Early On

End of two full turns

I got to both put my models on first and choose who went first. We played a straight up kill scenario which is OK, but I generally do better with an actual mission. I put Syphilis on one flank and promptly abandonned them to Malcolm's gun line. They basically marched to their death the entire game. Feel No Pain is good but not aggainst multiple Demolisher Cannons and multiple Assault Cannons. My Plaguemarines are even more Heavy Bolter-proof. If you're bringing less than an Autocannon to the party don't bother against massed Plaguemarines.

H2H is joined on the left flank

The rest of my army generally got in its own way or ran around insanely. About the only things that did well were Slim and the assault squad in the Rhino. They eventually got into H2H with the Tin Foil Father and his lackies. They crushed them eventually but their massacre role left Slim not quite in cover where he died to massed Assault Cannons and Storm Bolters.

The Iron Father stands alone

After Slim's death and Gangrene being widdled down to three models. I knew I was in deep trouble. My dreads were anything but reliable and effective and the giant tower which we counted as area terrain ment very few shots were directed at the bulk of Malcolm's army which just kept bombarding Syphilis.

This is how the deployment phase went. I won the roll to choose sides, as far as I can recall, but regardless I got the side I wanted. There was a long river running the length of the board, except for a few inches on my left of clear terrain. In the centre of the board was a giant tower/fortress thing that basically cut the two halves of board off from each other. Perfect for my purposes. Why? Those who've read any of my "batreps" know that I am eternally spreading my armies too thin and getting chewed up. Lately, to counter this, I've taken to castling, or deploying in one corner. In general, it's been working decently, getting me two wins against Warboss Z and his Orks and two losses, which is my best ration against him ever. But that's just the backstory. This is the interesting bit:

Muskie: I brought Syphilis!
Me: Wha?
Muskie: Syphilis! (At this point he started deploying his twenty-strong plague Marine squad).
Me: Twenty Plague Marines? Madness!
Muskie: You can't kill Syphilis! No-one can kill Syphilis (It must be noted that the family browsing the board games was looking seriously nervous by now)

Much like cats and small children, you should never tell an Iron Hand what he can't do. We tend to take it personally. Thus, I made it my overriding goal to kill Syphilis. To that effect, I plopped the Whirlwind in cover behind a forest on my left, with the Vindicators flanking a line of tank traps on my centre-left. The Termies stood behind said tank traps. Two Dreads were left of the Vindis in a forest. My Librarian and one Tac Squad were on my left, guarding the gap between the board edge and the river and preparing to counter-attack if Syphilis made it across the river. My Iron-Father and his Tac Squad were on my right, behind the tower, guarding against, y'know, THE REST OF THE ARMY. O.o

I poured fire on Syphilis with a vengeance, but it still took me the *entire game *to kill them, with a last-turn charge by the Librarian to wipe them out. On my right, the rest of the Nurglings (Nurglians? Nurglites?) advanced, thought I got lucky with Muskies Dreads rolling ones and sixes on their madness checks. His DCCW-equipped dread ran around the tower, frothing and bellowing, right into by guns, while the two shooty dreads were hampered by terrain and lack of LOS.

Game One: Later On

I destroyed one of Malcolm's dreadnoughts

This game was part of a campaign so Malcolm was very keen to wipe me out and I dutifully died. Syphilis lasted until the top of the sixth turn which was pretty impressive considering the amount of firepower they absorbed. However at 510 points they can't kill enough. Against some opponents or during some missions they are worth taking, but most times they spend far too much time walking through difficult terrain and just become a giant fire magnet. I have two ideas on how to make them better, but generally the optimal Plaguemarine squad is under ten models and in a rhino. In 2nd Edition I used to field a lot of five man squads on foot...

Today I had 30 Plaguemarines, which is a lot, but spread over only two squads. This doesn't maximize special weapons or powerfists which seems to be the goal of most people. I don't think all tiny squads is the way to go, but more powerful guns and extra close combat ability is good.

Syphilises Last Stand

When Nurgle was really limited in their ability to get heavy weapons on the field I converted up not one, but two twin heavy weapon dreads. They both ended up in H2H against Malcolm and got beat down. I've come to apprechiate the instant kill power of the Dreadnought CCW and the Heavy Flamer is so cheap I think it is a better option than the Missile Launcher. I got plans for possibly three more dreadnought configurations and I'll be taking a dread despite their many shortcomings to Astronomi-con Vancouver.

My final act of futility was to try and Tank Shock the Terminators with my once again mobile rhino. This failed spectacularly and the rhino was destroyed by massed Assault Cannons to its rear armor.

When the Plague Marines in their Rhino came moving up my right flank, I diverted my Iron-Father and the Tactical Squad he hangs with to intercept them. It was a pretty brutal fight, with the Iron Hands largely prevailing over the pus-boys, but my Iron-Father ended up, as he usually does, alone in a circle of enemies, until he got jumped on by the Daemon Prince and smacked down. Fortunately for me, the Terminators were in easy range and shredded the Daemon Prince in a hail of Assault Cannon fire. They proceeded to mulch the few survivors of the Plague Marine squad. The two shooty dreads moved into their range, trying to take revenge, but I assaulted them both in one combat phase and the powerfists did their work. After that, it was clean-up time, with the Librarian and his Tac Squad charging and wiping out the remains of Syphilis and the Terminators destroying that impudent Rhino.

All-in-all, I was quite impressed with my army in this battle. My list is optimized at fighting out "elite" armies, especially power-armoured ones, where I can use my firepower to deal a hammer blow and hopefully cripple my enemy in the first few turns. If I had been facing massed Plague or Chaos Marines, I doubt it would have gone my way. The terrain was also a big help. The river across the board was an effective barricade to slow down Syphilis and the Dreads, and that giant tower let me castle on the left-hand side of the board and focus everything on what was in front of me. It was also one of the few times I've really made a hard plan and stuck to it, and I think the results speak for themselves. Too bad I can't have that level of concentration in all my games... After much consideration, this is basically the list I'm taking to the HoH tournament on the 27th, and maybe to Astronomi-con in July, depending on its performance in the meantime.

Change of Plans

I was suppose to play the one person who hadn't played yet. He was keen to play my spiffy Nurgle army, but after Malcolm massacred me, he changed his mind and fought Malcolm to try and slow him down as he was doing well in the campaign. This was disappointing to me, as I usually do better in my second game. I play so rarely I usually forget what to do. I eventually wrangled up a game against James and his Imperial Fists.

Game Two: Pregame

The 1500 points of Diseased Sons I used

This game was also against marines, but he had no pie plates. He did have an Inquistor, an Assassin, allied Inquisitional Storm Troopers, a Landspeeder, a predator, scouts, assault marines with Chaplin, and two las/plas squads. Undaunted I promptly kicked his ass.

I deployed more intelligently, sticking one dread on the extreme right flank and another on the extreme left flank. Combined with more buildings and better dice rolls I was able to do a lot more with my three dreads. The Beast Rabaan went in the middle, but I stuck Sluggie close to him incase he went on a Fire Frenzy!

I have to admit my deployment was rather poor, as Muskie points out. I spread out across the table, and left myself unable to really concentrate firepower on either the HUGE plaguemarine squad or his DP/dread force. Leaving a single squad on my right flank to take on a lone dread didn't work out so well either - it would have done much more assisting the other units on my left or center.

Game Two: Early On

Syphillis Stare Down

I again won the role to go first and gave it to James. I always deploy conservatively and his army didn't look to have as devastating of first turn shooting as some. My dreads were more effective killing razorbacks, tactical marines, scounts, even getting into the big hoe down involving the assault marines, the chaplin, the assassin, and Slim.

The predator also did well, killing many of the Inquisitor's little minions and generally scaring James out of the center of the battlefield. Syphilis looked imposing and took a lot of fire. Eventually they used their heads and got behind some terrain, forcing James to move his Lascannon.

Slim stands alone

Slim quickly got into H2H where it looked iffy. But when all the rules were taken into account he took out the loyalists who thought they were on par with a Deamon Prince. Of course he ultimately died, but both he and Gangrene got into H2H quickly and controlled the center of the board.

Wow, those plaguemarines are tough. This is the first time I've faced a nurgle army, and while I expected them to take a lot of fire, I was still very impressed. My inquisitor squad with 3 heavy bolters and a psycannon (was there a plasma cannon there?) shot at the plaguemarines all 4 or 5 turns, and didn't even get close to bringing them under half strength.

Game Two: Later On

After I won the big H2H, James started to back away. I was determined to drag the speeder down and threw a lot of crap at it. Gangrene had to also see off the Assault squad and eventually almost got the Predator too. Twin mealta guns is nice.

The end is near for the Imperial Fists

We were running out of time but we basically got four full turns. James' predator was the only thing unharmed. All his characters were dead and his tactical squads had one and two models left respectively. Every other footslogger in yellow was dead. It was a better performance for Musk, the Diseased Sons, and the Forces of Chaos.

I got creamed, by an opponent who deployed better and fought better than I did, no doubt about it. All I can say is - yarrr!

Final Thoughts

The campaign map

I'm unlikely to run three dreads in a list again. Although they can be a source of cheap heavy weapons they are unreliable. Sluggie did nothing but die. How can you be fast attack and move slower than a normal foot soldier? I did not know they could charge so far, I will try out a squad of three Beasts of Nurgle someday soon.

Slim is good at killing enemy characters, though I got his rules slightly wrong against James. But once he leaps into the open, he usually gets gunned down. Originally for my GT4 army I was thinking Deamon Prince because they are the only HQ choice that is a scoring unit. The demise of retinues is annoying. I now think the DIY retinue or a really mobile man-sized leader is the way to go. I have several plans for old models to make appearences, but my ultimate Las Vegas GT commander might surprise some people. At Astro I've got a familar face pencilled in, but I don't want to tip my hand. I hope to get the opportunity to playtest both stuff I'm thinking seriously of using as well as just stuff I got painted or will paint for fun and completness.

Although it is a bit odd, I'll give James the last word. I'd play both of them again, though Malcolm readily admitted that in a tourney, especially one like Astronomi-con his army would get dinged in comp. I still think it is beatable and it may have lost to the Orks after beating me. I never do it anymore, but I actually am pretty could at coming up with counter tactics for particular foes. When you patch your Tin Foil Father back together, I'll be available for a rematch. 1500 points again since that is what Astonomi-con is? But first I took on Rob's IG for the upteenth time as he seems to have become my most regular opponent. A fact I plan to recognize for posterity...

This was a fun game - as I mentioned, the first time I've faced a nurgle army. It's only the 4th or 5th time I've played chaos (started playing 6 months ago), and I always find them challenging. Heck, I find everyone challenging! Every game I play has given me new food for thought, though, and I'm already modifying my list to be more focused. Muskie has inspired me to try out larger squads, and last weekend I tried out a list incorporating a 10 marine tac squad, and a 10-man Inquisitorial Stormtrooper squad. Their resiliency was key in my victory over a Stormwind Eldar force. Woo hoo! Now I'm starting to think that I should try Astronomi-con for more practice...

Words and Images © Andrew "Muskie" McKay.
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