Thursday, January 26, 2012

Honorguard against Steel Rain... for all the marbles

As I mentioned in my two previous posts, I had the opportunity to play in a 2K tournament on Sunday. My first round was a lucky, but convincing win against an SW list, while my second round was solid victory over a Newcron army.  My list was:

Paladins (5) with DH x2, Halberd x2, Pyscannon x2, and Banner
GKSS (5) with Pyscannon and Pysback with SL
GKSS (5) with Pyscannon and Pysback with SL
GKSS (5) with Pyscannon and Pysback with SL
GKSS (5) with Pyscannon and Pysback with SL
Venerable Rifleman
Rifleman Dread
Stormraven with TLMM and TLPC and SL
Dread Calgar with Teleporter

The tournament itself was a three-round tournament with each of the three deployments. The objectives for each round were the same: three sieze ground objectives, two capture and control objectives, and KPs. Winning an objective was worth 10 points, draws were worth 5, and losses 0 for a max of 30 points per round. I didn't get army lists from my opponents so I am going from memory.

Round 3
Deployment: Spearhead

So I rolled into the third round with 60 points and was paired off with a Space Marine player who had also received 60 points from his previous rounds.  I don't think either of the next two people had 40 points, and I think I had a sizeable VP lead, so I just needed to force a draw to win the Tournament.  However, when I saw his list, I knew I was facing an uphill battle:

Tactical Squad with PF, MG, MM, and DP
Tactical Squad with PW, Flamer, MM, and Rhino
Tactical Squad with PW, Flamer, ML, and Rhino
Scout Squad (10) with Snipers and Cloaks
Ironclad with DP
Ironclad with DP
Devestators (5) with MLx3 and LC and TLLC Razorback
Devestators (5) with MLx3 and LC and TLLC Razorback
Thunderfire Cannon

I know this doesn't look like a min/max list, but I played my Smurf army enough to know that looks can be deceiving.  Vanilla Marines are very flexible and can generally outlast you to secure a win.  This army definately concerned me, as he had a several threats that I would have problems countering.  Vulkan could munch any of my GKSS without fear and could probably go toe-toe with Calgar if needed.  The Ironclads would be very difficult for me to kill without meltas, and in CC they could at least seriously hurt anything in my army.  Calgar and the DH Pallies could drop them, but only with heavy losses.  The Devestators and TLLC Razors could demech me and leave me open to the TFC and Ironclads.  Luckily, he had very little shooting that could seriously threaten Draigo-escorted Pallies.  Most of his S8/AP2 weapons were solo, so I could take most of the saves on Draigo. 

We placed our Sieze Ground objectives and then rolled off for first turn.  He won and took it.  We then deployed our C&C objectives.  The table looked like:

He deployed the Scout, TFC, and Devestators on the large hill in his corner and placed the empty Lazerbacks to my left of that hill.  He placed the two Rhino Tacticals relatively forward, so they could obviously push for the far objectives.  However, I think he made a critical mistake, as he did not combat squad anything.  I assume that he was worried about KPs.  Because objectives accounted for 2/3 of the possible points, I would have combat squadded everything and swamped me with scoring units.  Even if he lost KPs, he would have a good chance of winning the other two objectives and therefore the tournament.  I also think he made a mistake here in deployment which I will talk about later. 

At that point, though, I was still pretty worried about how to approach the game.  I had rolled another three for Grand Strategy (all three games!), so I actually had more scoring units than him once the Dreads and Calgar were included.  However, he had the high ground and first turn... and he could drop multiple Ironclads in my face on Turn 1.  Unless I siezed, Warp Quake would not help.  He would most likely drop in on me, and most of the fighting would take place in my deployment zone.  If I got demeched or pinned in my deployment zone, I would not have time to get to his C&C objective or either of the far Sieze Ground objectives.  I knew I could not afford to deploy against his firepower, so I made the fateful decision to go full reserve again.  I hoped that by going full reserve, all of his pods would be down before I rolled on.  This would allow me to engage the Ironclads at range and take on his army one piece at a time.  I just had to hope that I had good reserve rolls or he would punish me with his firepower.

Turn 1
He was a little thrown by deployment and really didn't know what to do.  He decided to have the Dreads use Drop Pod Assault (Steel REHN!!!) and hold Vulkan and the Tacticals for later.  He aimed for the upper left corner (my perspective) of the ruins, but both scattered quite a bit, with one going back and one forward.  He then rolled his Lazerbacks to my left and the Rhinos down towards the small hill.

With him choosing to place the Ironclads on the left side of the board, I knew I could avoid them for most of the game and just bum-rush his castle in the upper right corner.  I could write-off C&C and focus on KPs and Sieze Ground and more than likely get at least a draw.  At worst I might lose KPs, but win Sieze Ground and tie C&C.

Turn 2
His Drop Pod with Vulkan and friends came in above my C&C objective, and he elected to not combat squad them.   He shuffled the Ironclads down towards that objective.  He also moved his Rhinos closer to my board edge above the dead trees and popped.  His Lazerbacks shuffled a bit and just chilled out. 

Rolling reserves would be the moment of truth.  I rolled them up and only got the Stormraven and a Pysback.  Crap! 

I decided that the Stormraven was dead no matter what, so there was no point in turbo-boosting.  I moved it on 12" to between the dead trees and small hill and hopped Draigo and the Pallies out to where they could shoot/charge the closest Rhino.  The Pysback moved up towards the objective on the hill and the GKSS inside piled out.  I wanted them to help kill the Razorbacks... and they didn't want to be inside when it probably exploded next turn.  I shot the Pallies, GKSS, and Stormraven MM into the closest Rhino and did nothing.  Luckily, the Mindstrikes and Plasma Cannon hit home and caused a ton of wounds to a Devestator Squad and the Scout squad.  My opponent had forgot about those and clustered his guys up on the tall hill.  I think I killed a ML and Sarge from the Devestators and killed 3 or so Scouts.  The Scouts then promptly broke and ran off the table.  Woot!  Now he would have to pull a squad back if he wanted to hold those two objectives.  The Pallies then proceeded to wreck the Rhino in CC.  The guys inside piled out and were not pinned.

Turn 3
My opponent had a choice to make.  He could cut and run with the still mobile Rhino and possibly avoid CC with the Pallies or he could stay and try to gun the Pallies down.  The dismounted squad was pretty much toast no matter what.  At best they could form a line an inch away from the Pallies and kept the Pallies from moving foward.  In his situation, I think I would have done that and ran away with the mobile Rhino while the Ironclads and Vulkan ran as fast as possible to help.  However, he went all in and unloaded the mounted Rhino squad and set them up to flame/rapid fire the Pallies.  The dismounted squad moved up on the other side of the Pallies to do the same.  The Ironclads milled around some more and moved towards my C&C objective.  He then proceeded to knock the Stormraven out of the sky and wrecked the Pysback with the Lazbacks and Devestators.  The TFC and Tactical shooting did manage to put some wounds on the Pallies, but I didn't lose any guys.  However, he fired pistols and charged with the squad that had been forcibly dismounted.  This was not a great move for him, as Draigo and the Pallies proceeded to smush the squad and take a 5-6" consolidate forward towards his castle.  Now I would be within charge range next turn. 

On my turn I used Draigo to increase my reserves roll and got all but one Pysback in.  I hopped Calgar across the dead trees so he could charge the dismounted Tactical Squad.  The two Pysbacks came in on the right and started pushing up towards the objectives.  One squad got out to take pot-shots at the closest set of Devestators.  The Ven Dread rolled in behind the dead trees to screen himself from the Lazbacks.  The other Dread came in on my right and lined up shots on the TFC.  Draigo split off from the Pallies and moved to take on one Devestator Squad while the Pallies moved towards the other.  My shooting managed to kill the remaining Rhino, but everything else bounced off the TFC.  Draigo and the Pallies then destroyed both Devestator squads while Calgar killed several from the Tactical Squad.  I think they broke and Calgar caught them and killed a few others with No Retreat.   My opponent was now in serious trouble as he only had one troop unit left, and it could only affect one Sieze Ground and/or a C&C objective.  They would have to stretch really far to capture both.  I was ahead on KPs and would easily be able to take/hold his C&C objective and the other two objectives.

Turn 4
He didn't have a lot of options.  He moved one Dread to the C&C objective to protect it from my Pysback in reserve while the other started stomping towards the center Sieze Ground objective.  It probably wouldn't make it in time, however.  Vulkan and the Tactical Squad started stretching out to cover both objectives.  I think he shot Draigo with one Lasback and the Pallies with the other, killing a wounded Halbred Pally.  The TFC took it's last shot at one of the dismounted GKSS, but because they were at max-coherency, the Justicar and Pyscannon managed to survive and passed morale.  Calgar kept beating up the Tactical Squad and didn't lose any wounds, but stayed locked in combat. 

My last Pysback came in and I started it up the center towards the center Sieze Ground objective.  My other two Pysbacks pushed towards the upper two objectives just in case the Pallies failed morale or something silly.  I took pot-shots at the Lasbacks with the Dreads, and might have killed one.  Draigo then stomped in and killed the Techmarine/TFC while Calgar finished off the Tactical Squad.

Turn 5
My opponent was pretty much hosed at this point.  He took whatever shots he had, but otherwise just held tight and waited for the finish.

I hopped Calgar next to the center Sieze Ground Objective and got ready to charge.  Everything else moved towards objectives and took pot shots at his Laserbacks.  Draigo rejoined the Pallies and they settled in on the upper right objectives.  Calgar charged into Vulkan and the Tactical Squad and pulled them off my C&C objective.  Calgar took a wound from Vulkan and then directed all of his attacks back at Vulkan to try and gib him.  However, I rolled fairly terribly and my opponent made his saves.  In hindsight, I should have went against the squad to make it impossible for them to hold both objectives even if I lost combat, but oh well.  I think Calgar also took a PF wound.  I did lose combat, but Calgar decided to stick around, so everyone piled in.  Had that combat kept going, Vulkan and the Squad might be able to grind Calgar down, but there were still five GKSS coming to contest or take the objective.  We called the game at that point, and I won another 30 point victory and the tournament!  I picked up another CCB and box of Lychguard for my future Necron army.

I think my opponent lost this game because he split his forces.  Had Vulkan and the Ironclads been closer to his castle, I would have had a MUCH tougher time taking those objectives.  By podding them over on my left, I was able to completely ignore them.  If he had Combat Squadded, that might have helped also, as he could have sacrificed squads to the Pallies to slow them down.  The Scouts running on Turn 2 also hurt him a lot, as it further reduced his options.  Charging the Pallies was a bad idea, as it allowed me to kill a unit in his turn and gain extra movement.  Had that not happened, his Devestators and TFC might have survived another turn or two and done a lot more damage.  If you are going to shoot Pallies, you HAVE to shoot EVERYTHING at them.  Anything less and they are going to laugh it off.  Had he put both Devestator Squads into them, he might have been able to force enough wounds to kill a few (they were all wounded at the end of the game) and possibly even force a morale check. 

Overall, I was very happy with how my list performed.  I think my list was about the same power-level as the SW and Vulkan players, but definately had an advantage over the Newcrons.  The Stormraven provided just enough mobility and fire support to be worth taking.  It also worked VERY well as a fire magnet, as it died on its first turn in all three games.  Dread Calgar was absolutely devestating not only because of the stuff he actually killed, but also his ability to Shunt and contest hard-to-reach objectives late game.  It always seemed like he was single-handedly holding down the fort while the rest of the Honorguard were trying to catch up!  I think him chewing up SWs left and right ranks up there with the fluff story from the codex of him beating back Orks from a gate by himself for a couple of days.  The Pysbacks didn't do as much, but were still able to suppress vehicles or kill off weakened units while providing mobility to the GKSS.  I will admit that I got fairly lucky with my rolls from Grand Strategy, as the ability to spam scoring units really helped with this format.  I think I am going to stick with this list for a while, and see how it goes.

I think I played pretty well over the three games, even though I made a couple of blunders during the second round.  All three of my opponents knew the rules which was awesome... I hate rules arguments.  They were all very nice guys, and I hope to play there again one of these weekends when I have some time off of work.

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