Thursday, February 2, 2017

40K Thursday - Blood Angels Holiday Battle 4: 2000 points "Cloak and Shadows II"

The undercard featured Blaster's Eldar vs. Red's Necrons
Despite losing badly in terms of card-based VP's last time I felt like I was finally figuring out how to use the Blood Angels on the table. With 2000 points to play with this time I had some new ideas I wanted to try out - let's talk about the list:

This is a Baal Strike Force - it means they get the Red Thirst rule which is a +1 initiative on the charge and can take 4 Elite choice, vs. the 3 of a normal Combined Arms Detachment. Most of their units have Furious Charge (+1 Strength on the charge) as a standard thing anyway. Swinging with a Strength of 5 at an initiative 5 means they go before most armies and hit harder than most as well so melee is definitely a place they want to be.

  • Mephiston
  • Librarian (with a jump pack, Mastery Level 2)
I really like Mephiston and had fun with him last game so I brought him in again. He will once again be riding the drop pod express. He has a bodyguard upgrade this time - more on that below.

I decided to double-down on psykers by bringing in a generic level 2 librarian. I wanted someone to accompany one of my Death Company squads so I gave him a jump pack. The priest had worked alright last game but the DC already has the Feel No Pain special rule which is the Priest's main benefit, so he doesn't add much to that unit. A psyker on the other hand adds a variety of useful buff powers so he made more sense this time.

I mean he's basically Dracula with power armor and a lightsaber - how can you not like that?
Also, remember that in 40K he's one of the good guys.

  • Tactical Squad: A 5-man squad with bolters and a missile launcher
  • Tactical Squad: A 5-man squad with bolters and a plasma cannon
I caved here. I've always been a "full 10-man squad" guy when it comes to tactical marines, from my original Howling Griffons (20 tac marines in two squads) back in Rogue Trader through my Crimson Fists (30 in 3 squads) to even my chaos marines (30 in 3 for my Iron Warriors too). It's a new age though and for the BA's tac marines are just not where the action is. All of the marine forces have formations now that reward taking multiple tactical squads in some way but none of them require full-strength versions. These typically require 3-6 of these squads so the incentive is to take minimum size units to get the bonus then spend your points elsewhere. The current BA version of this formation is nothing special but the Baal Strike Force is hungry for points for those 4 Elite choices. For this fight I went with the two minimum sized squads with a heavy weapon each. They can park on an objective or in cover and maybe contribute in some way.

  • Death Company: A 7-man jump pack squad with two power weapons (accompanied by the Librarian)
  • Death Company: A 7-man jump pack squad with two power weapons (accompanied by Dante - see below)
  • Furioso Dread with a frag cannon and a heavy flamer in a drop pod (appeared in the last two fights)
  • Sternguard veterans: An 8-man squad with 4 combi-meltas and 2 heavy flamers in a drop pod (accompanied by Mephiston)
This is a big chunk of the "hammer" part of the army. Two units of Death Company this time, both accompanied by a heavy-hitter. Jump packs give them speed, plus they are fearless and have Feel No Pain and 5 attacks each on the charge ... yeah. 

The always-good dread in a drop pod to clear a squad out of cover with triple templates. I expect one of these will be in pretty much every list I take from now on.

The biggest change here is the Sternguard. You don't hear a ton about them in most Blood Angels lists but they are in the book. They're legendary for being a drop-melta squad but they have uses beyond that. Their Special Issue Ammo makes them good against anything in the game. Being able to take a combi-weapon is a nice option, but being able to bring heavy flamers is good too. Their 2 attacks (along with all of the other BA boosts) means they can do some harm in assault as well. I think they have a lot of potential, and Mephiston will only make them better.

Fast Attack
  • Assault Squad: 5-man squad with 2 melta guns plus two inferno pistols on the sergeant in a drop pod (also appeared in the last fight)
  • Bike Squad: 3 bikes, 2 grav guns plus a combi-grav on a sergeant, and an Attack Bike with a multi-melta (altered since the last fight)
  • Bike Squad: 3 bikes, 2 grav guns plus a combi-grav on a sergeant, and an Attack Bike with a multi-melta (altered since the last fight)
This is the rest of the "hammer" of the army. Despite their inability to kill the land raider last time, I still like the drop-melta squad. That can't happen every time, right? They are a much bigger threat than the classic multi-melta dread in a drop pod and give me 4 melta shots instead of just one. I think they're a must-take. 

The bikes have been reshuffled this time. Instead of one bigger squad (with fewer guns) I've split them into two squads and added multi-melta bikes as reinforcements. This makes them really nasty against heavy infantry and vehicles both. It's a little tempting to gear up those sergeants - make him a veteran, give him a power sword, and charge them into something since they are such a mobile unit but  I really want them to shoot things, not charge things, so I'm keeping him bare bones other than the grav weapon. 

Heavy Support

None! No devastators! No predators! No land raiders! This is unusual for me but I am learning.

Lord of War

  • Dante, the chapter master of the Blood Angels

A chapter master leading a unit of death company - yeah! It might be overkill but he is a beast in melee and so are they so they should work well together. I've had a nicely painted mini of this guy for two years now and never gotten the chance to use him. With artificer armor, an iron halo, and Eternal Warrior he's not going down easy, and with Hit and Run he and his boys can go find another party if they get bored in any particular fight.

The plan
The tac squads, the bikes, and the DC all start on the board, with 3 drop pods waiting in reserve.

  • The bikes are a shooting threat to almost any unit in a marine army so they each pick something and go for it, grabbing objectives as needed
  • The tacs hold ground
  • The DC target the biggest threats and begin jumping their way. I don;t care much about objectives with them - they are on the table to destroy things.
  • Turn 1 the drop-melta assault squad pods in and wrecks a tank
  • Turn 1 Meph and the sternguard pod in on the biggest other threat - tank or infantry or monster - and melta/special/flamer/psyker it off the board - this is my most flexible unit for both positioning (being able to land anywhere on the board) and ability to destroy any target
  • Turn 2 (or whenever we roll him up) the Furioso pods in and erases a troublesome squad

The Fight
Blaster took most of usual faves - Blood claws + wolf priest in a land raider crusader, long fangs, couple of grey hunter squads, and this time he also added a pair of dreadnoughts. He also brought Logan Grimnar, chapter master of the Space Wolves, so there was a chance we could have two chapter masters going toe to toe in this fight.

I went second. I forgot to grab a pre-game pic of the field so we will open with the end of Turn 1:

You can see we already have a pretty good fight going on here. 
  • At the top of the picture his grey hunters are behind the tower as my Dante-led death company move up towards them.
  • On the right side my librarian-led death company have com over a bridge headed for the land raider
  • The upper drop pod is my melta assault squad. They were aiming for the land raider but deviated ridiculously far and ended up over there. They opened up on that plasma cannon dread and managed all of 2 hull points. Again.
  • The lower drop pod is the sternguard. They were kind of  a patchwork unit for this fight so there are red guys, blue guys, and Meph but that's all one squad. Meph has buffed the squad and then they blasted the raider and took off 3 (out of 4) hull points - gah! We did manage to immobilize the thing though. The yellow rings are crew stunned or something similar. 
  • At the bottom of the pic that's a grey hunter squad on the ground and his long fangs up in the building. 

Here's another view of Turn 1 - one of my tac squads is in that red ruin at the left getting blasted by his long fangs. the other is out of frame in the woods at the middle of the bottom there. 

Turn 2

At the back of the field Logan Grimnar and his Thunder Hammer Storm Shield wolf guard terminators deep strike in. 

The inevitable swarm of blood claws gets the jump on my death company. My guys are not quite as strong when they don't get the charge so this is bad - my guys eventually go down under the weight of attacks here.

Both grav bike squadrons find themselves within range of Logan's squad. Zap zap!

Dante and the other death company leap in to the claws, determined to avenge their brothers.

The grand melee: In the center the long fangs blast the sternguard and blow several away. The plasma cannon dread torches the drop-melta squad who break and run. The grey hunters shoot more sternguard. The Blood Angels return the favor and finish them off. 

Turn 3

On Turn 3 the plasma dread charges Mephiston who points his trusty plasma pistol that way and ZAP! The dread goes down to an incredible overwatch shot that hits and glances, taking off his last hull point, dropping the armored wolf in his tracks!

The Furioso drops in with a goal of eliminating the long fangs. He drops in, moves up into the building, and BLAM BLAM WHOSH ... the long fangs are gone! Exactly as planned!

Logan's damaged squad blasts the tac marines in a desperate attempt to claim objective 5, then fails its charge. The tac squad kills one more terminator as the bikes close in.

On the BA turn Mephiston charges in and destroys the remaining wolf dread with his red lightsaber and Blaster concedes!

(That's two dreadnought kills on one turn for the psychic vampire BTW)

The VP total was only 4-2 but I was about to score Slay the Warlord and he didn't have much left on the table.  
  • Dropping a TH/SS unit with his warlord that far back seemed like a mistake to me. he had two cards that would score if he took objective 5 and that does matter but I don't know that would drop 400+ points that far away from the more intense part of the fight.
  • The Furioso did exactly what I wanted him to do!
  • Sternguard are awesome but they are fairly expensive tooled up like that. I may have to adjust them some in the next battle.
  • Meph was a superstar just as I had hoped. I think he's my guy for medium to bigger fights
  • It sucks when your death company get charged - but that's why you take two of them!
  • The tac marines sat on objectives and took casualties. they didn't inflict much harm but they did their job.
  • Drop pods are amazing but they don't always land where you want them to - that's why you take 3 of them! Or maybe 5 next time ...
I'll have more thoughts in the next post wrapping up the whole series and also what I'm going to do with the army next.

Monday, January 30, 2017

Something New for Monday: How Playing Cards are Made

Seemed appropriate with a Deadlands game starting up ...

Sunday, January 29, 2017

40K Sunday - Blood Angels Holiday Battle 3: 1500 points, "Contact Lost Again!"

Jumping up to 1500 points opened up a lot of options for me, and the experience from the previous two fights demanded changes.


  • Mephiston
  • Sanguinary Priest (with a jump pack, Fury of Baal, and Valour's Edge)
I like psykers and the BA's can take a level 3 in Mephiston. He can buff a unit with his powers and also by being a part of it as he is pretty stout in melee. He's an interesting special character and I wanted to try him out.

The priest is there to accompany a jump pack assault squad and improve them both offensively (with his weapons) and defensively (with Feel No Pain). 

  • Scouts: A 5-man squad with sniper rifles and a missile launcher
  • Tactical Squad: A 9-man squad in a drop pod, heavy flamer, and two hand-flamers on sarge. These guys were accompanied by Mephiston.
  • Death Company: A 6-man squad with a power weapon. 
  • Furioso Dread with a frag cannon and a heavy flamer in a drop pod (appeared in the last fight)
Fast Attack
  • Assault Squad: 6-man squad wearing jump packs with 2 plasma pistols, vet sgt with a power sword - the pirest went here (appeared in the previous fights)
  • Assault Squad: 5-man squad with 2 melta guns plus two inferno pistols on the sergeant in a drop pod
  • Bike Squad: 5 bikes, 2 grav guns, and a combi-grav on a sergeant (upgraded since the last fight)
Heavy Support
  • Devastator Squad: 5-man with 4 missile launchers
Looking back at it now this is not a list I would take again. I've learned a lot. It seemed OK at the time though and I had a lot to learn. 

Turn 1 
The Wolves went first, blew away my scouts and tore up my devastators again. All the cover in the world won't save you if someone puts enough shots into them. First blood to the wolves! 

I moved the bikes and the jump troops up. Then I landed two of the pods. 

The drop-melta squad landed right in front of Blaster's trademarked core force of 15 blood claws + priest in a land raider crusader. I figured if I could take it out I would have a notable advantage. I also figured 4 melta shots would be enough to do it. We'll never know about the first thing because I was wrong about the second thing. I believe I blew up a weapon and knocked off a total of two hull points. With 4 meltas ...

The tac squad led by Mephiston landed in between a pack of grey hunters in some ruins on the ground (behind the pod in the pic above), a dreadnought, and the long fangs up in the tower. The original purpose of this squad was to blow up the long fangs but I got distracted by the difficulty of getting the flamers onto that tower so I went for the easier target. Three flamer templates and a bunch of bolter shots hammered them good but left a few alive. Oh, and Mephiston managed to hurt himself with his plasma pistol. One step forward, one step back. 

Turn 2
The far-left (to me) grey hunter squad shot my drop melta squad off of the table, allowing the crusader to turn towards the center of the board and disgorge the expected horde of space wolves. They proceeded to fail their charge roll against my guys and were in a perfect position to be blasted on my turn. 

The space wolf dreadnought charged Mephiston and what was left of the tac squad and Mephiston showed his stuff. First he shot it with his plasma pistol and took off a hull point (overwatch!) and then he cut it in half with his Sanguine Sword! The joke now is that his special psyker power is really a red lightsaber he found somewhere. 

On the BA turn the grav bikers unloaded into the blood claws, the Furioso came down and blasted them hard, and pretty much anything I had shot them up. There were only a few left after this so the assault squad jumped over to deal with the grey hunters emerging from the woods. Meph and the boys finished off the grey hunters in the ruins with a charge of their own.

Turn 3
The Blood Claws move up but are not in a great position. The grey hunters moved up. Oh and the long fangs wiped out the last tactical marine and Mephiston with it. Plasma cannons are tough on marines, especially with no invulnerable save. At least I got to conduct a thorough review of the look out sir rules during these first few turns. Slay the Warlord for the Wolves!

The assault squad charged into the remaining grey hunter squad. The Rune Priest turned out to be geared up for melee and was pretty tough. 

Turn 4
The grey hunters take out the assault squad and poor sergeant nameless! I didn't see that coming but that wolf psyker had some serious wargear! 

The dread blasts the last few blood claws leaving only their wolf priest leader alive.

Turn 5
The grey hunters charge the dread; the wolf priest charges the bike squad. The long fangs are busy blowing up drop pods.

Turn 6
The last biker dies but the Furioso dreadnaught wipes out the hunter squad, including the rune priest, giving me Slay the Warlord!

The End
By the end only my dreadnaught is left alive, while he has the long fangs, a damaged land raider crusader, and his wolf priest.

The game ended 7-1 in favor of the Space Wolves. Yes, the only point I scored was that STW on Turn 6! My cards were terrible! "Go get this objective" - sure, the one I just moved away from? I'll get right on that. I really treated this more like a kill point game and did not pay enough attention to the cards. I'm usually the one who preaches "know your victory conditions" in this game but I largely ignored my own mantra this time. 

This is not an effective anti-tank force
Goats of the game:
  • My way-too-small-for-this-size-battle Death Company started out on the far right of the field opposite a predator annihilator. They spent the whole game moving towards the middle trying to get in on the action and achieved nothing! I did not use them properly at all. That's 150 points of nothing!
  • His Predator started out in that ridiculous position "in" the bunker (ruins) and stayed there the whole game with not much to shoot at once my DC moved off. 
  • My scouts were wiped out turn one by the hunters and the land raider. My BA's are developing a legacy of unfired missile launchers over the course of these games. That's an 86 point squad that served only to give my opponent first blood.
I was fighting stuff like this the whole time too - "hitting on 3's!"

Things I learned:
  • Drop pods are good but not auto-win.
  • Drop melta squads are good but not auto win
  • Furioso dreadnaughts in a pod are a ton of fun
  • Grav bikes are good but a 5-man unit means two of those guys (42 points worth) are just shields for the other three. Why not spend a few more points and take 6 bikes split into two 3-man squads? That's two maneuver units and twice as many grav guns. Why I could even throw in an attack bike to beef them up a bit more.
  •  Heavy Flamer Tactical Squads: I like them, or at least I want to like them, but I'm not sure they are strong enough to be a hammer unit, even with Mephiston there to buff them. The Furioso kind of covers the "nasty anti-infantry template weapons" drop option even better than these guys. Theoretically they should be able to fry a unit, then move in and hold that ground but it hasn't worked all that well in the games I have played with them. 
  • Death Company: they do not need to cover a flank. They need to cover the middle or wherever the action is. Also six is not enough. Need more. I've believed for a long time that if you like a unit in this game and want it to succeed TAKE TWO OF THEM DAMMIT!  From now on I will. 
  • Last, but not least, Mephiston: He is two tons of fun! A level 3 psyker means a decent set of powers plus his red lightsaber. Even without a charge he is WS6 and I5 with 5 attacks at strength 10! That is assuming you got the sword up - and you did because that's his thing. With some buffs from the BA's special discipline he makes his squad better and if they get into melee he is nasty nasty nasty. Sure, he lacks an invulnerable save for some dumb reason but that's why he travels with a squad - look out sir is his invulnerable save! he will be in every force I deploy if I can manage the points at all.