Monday, October 26, 2009

A Mediocre Debut

Don't let the title fool you; I had an excellent time playing my very first game of 40k.  I rolled into Endgame with my army packed inside a Space Hulk box, freshly assembled without even a drop of primer in sight.  I mistakenly set up on one side of the gaming area - directly opposite from all the actual 40k players - and started diligently studying my rulebook.

Once I realized my mistake, I approached a couple of players who were setting up a Space Marine vs. Chaos Daemon game on a table and asked if I could watch them play.  I explained that I had never played 40k before and was new to the hobby, and I was hoping I could get an idea of how the game plays by watching someone else.  They were very friendly and told me to pull up a chair, so I went to get my things.

On my way back over, I was intercepted by some folks painting around a table and I got offered a game of my own!  Of course I accepted, eager to start rolling dice and pushing plastic.  We settled on a points amount of 1250 based on what I had brought with me and sat down to get things together.  I explained that I would need a lot of hand-holding and help with the rules, but my opponent was a very gentlemanly sort who was eager to help a new player out.  A great start for me!

Our game ended up being Marines on Marines, Space Wolves facing off against the iconic Ultramarines.  I brought two squads of Grey Hunters along with some Long Fangs, a Land Raider Crusader stuffed with Terminators, and a Rune Priest leading the way.  I only had a single Rhino modeled at the time, but I was determined to put it to good use.  We each had a single Dreadnought.

Aren't these guys just begging for a frost axe in their smug little faces?

Rolling for mission type and deployment we came up with a two-objective pitched battle.  My opponent placed an objective in the north east (from my position) corner and I put mine closer to the middle of the board in the west.  When the time came to deploy, I let him go first so that I could observe and see how he positioned his forces.  I was pretty clueless on how to do this effectively and I thought I could get a decent idea by watching someone else.

The Ultramarines set up camp on their objective with a Tactical Squad and Vindicator.  Meanwhile, a pair of Rhinos containing more Tacs & his Dread made ready to charge my objective.

For my part, I set up with my Long Fangs atop a hill, behind cover and with a clear line of sight to the objective, ready to pop the incoming Rhinos with Lascannons and then open up with Heavy Bolters on the contents.  My first squad of Grey Hunters was foot-slogging their way towards the objective from the same hill, armed with the only special weapons I had modeled at the time - a pair of plasma guns.  The second went in my Rhino a bit further east, capable of reinforcing my objective if things went bad or turning towards my opponent's if I thought I had a chance to make it.  My Land Raider sat firmly between the two groups.

At the time of this writing the game was over three and a half weeks ago.  I had wanted to write about it but was so wrapped up in playing that I forgot to take detailed notes, so what follows is more of a rough summary than a genuine battle report.  Those will come later, hopefully with some illustration to make them more interesting.

On the first turn my opponent moved in on my objective with his Rhinos and Dread and stayed camped out on his own.  There wasn't much shooting to speak of, and so the turn passed to me and I got to make my first 40k moves.  I closed in on the objective with my Grey Hunters while my Long Fangs took shots at the Rhinos, immobilizing one and glancing off the other.  Our Dreadnoughts met in the middle and started swinging at one another, neither doing much damage.

Dramatic re-creation of our heated Dreadnought battle.

My Rhino inched toward the objective, but I didn't know the rules well enough to remember I could have moved a full 12" rather than just 6". 

My Land Raider moved closer to the objective to reinforce both squads of Grey Hunters, staying carefully out of range of the Ultramarine's Vindicator, but again I only moved 6".  At least I got to take some shots with the mounted multi-melta & cannon, missing the Rhinos by an embarrassingly wide margin.

Eventually I finished off his advance on my objective, though it cost me my Grey Hunters, my Rune Priest, my Rhino, a fair amount of my Wolf Guard Terminators, and my Dreadnought.  His walker got the best of mine, but my lascannon-wielding Long Fangs stepped up and took revenge mere seconds later.

When the battle for my objective was said and done, I had my Long Fangs, about a half-dozen Grey Hunters, my Land Raider, and three Wolf Guard Terminators.  When the battle started to turn my way, my opponent started to move his Vindicator up into the mix, forcing me to counter with my Land Raider.  After some disappointing shooting from my tank early, I was hoping to show that little snub-nosed bitch (the Vindicator, not my opponent!) what's up.

The Vindicator's Siege Cannon:  Size Matters?

Unfortunately, the Vindicator had other plans.  A shot from my multi-melta missed yet again and then the Vindy fired back, exploding my Land Raider with a single siege shell.  I will forever live my life in fear of those bulldozer Saturday Night Specials on treads.

The game ended before I could slog my way close enough to contest his objective and secure the win.  Blowing up my LRC really screwed my plan over, but I suppose I only have myself to blame.  There were far more effective ways to maneuver my tank towards the objective, I simply chose the simplest and most direct route.

I went home feeling pretty good about getting a draw on my first game.  I met a lot of friendly folks and had a really good time actually playing the game, which is always important.  I also learned a lot about the game systems and how to make my army work.  I learned that points value does not always mean a unit can trump another, similar unit (260 point LRC vs. 125 point Vindicator) and that I need to be more careful in how I move around the board.

The rest of the night I spent trying to figure out ways I could have won the game.  I was hooked hard, and I couldn't wait to get in another game.  Isn't newbie enthusiasm adorable?

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