Saturday, November 14, 2009

Victorious March

Time to skip ahead a bit and talk about something more exciting, my first 40k win.  After two hard-fought draws  and a terrifying loss I eeked out a win at 1,000 points against Chaos Daemons.

My list was pretty simple, adapted down from my earlier 1500 point list by dropping the Land Raider and the Terminators, then tossing in some different wargear and weapon loadouts.  My Grey Hunter packs gained Mark of the Wulfen, Wolf Standards, and swapped in Plasma guns for the armorless Warp-fiends.

I apologize for the lack of pictures of the game - I will start taking my camera with me and snapping as much as I can, though in test runs it produces less-than-great results

The game was a pitched battle deployment with five objectives.  I lost the roll for deployment, and my opponent chose to deploy first.  I, of course, failed to seize the initiative.

Fresh off the heels of my humiliating defeat, I tried to learn from past mistakes and deploy a bit tighter.  On my right flank I had my Long Fangs set up with my Dreadnought protecting them.  A foot-slogging Grey Hunter squad, accompanied by my Rune Priest, held the middle and an objective.  On my left flank were my two Rhinos, Blood Claws along the outside and the second Grey Hunter squad on the inside.

I had intended to bait my opponent with the Grey Hunters Rhino and then come smashing into whatever attacked it with the Blood Claws close behind.  The Dreadnought on my right flank was solely designed to protect the Fangs from getting chewed through early on, but that would prove to be wishful thinking at best.

With his first turn, my opponent set out a delicious, irrestible trap for me, bringing a squad of Daemonettes just out of range of the Dread while a second squad of Daemonettes and a Keeper of Secrets camped out in cover nearby, waiting for precisely the right time to strike.  Would I give in to temptation and charge my Dreadnought at the enemy, spewing flamer fire and leaving my Long Fangs to their own devices?

Fuck yeah, I would.  For the Wolftime, motherfuckers!

Look for this guy in an upcoming Space Wolves Soundtrack post.  Obviously.

In the bottom of Turn 1, my Dread went straight for the bait, taking out five Daemonettes with his heavy flamer and another two with his assault cannon.  Trap or not, I was pretty happy with the result.  Left unguarded, my Long Fangs let loose with heavy bolters and a missle, knocking a few wounds off of the second Daemonette squad but failing to leave as lasting of an impression as their mostly-dead walker buddy. 

My foot-slogging Greys opened up with their bolters on the hermaphroditic monstrosities, but despite having moved to the objective, only a small handful were within range.  I didn't get to throw enough dice, and cover saved the day again.  My Rhinos advanced on the action and we moved to turn 2!  This is where things get a little ugly for both of us.

Deep striking turned out to be a bit of a pain for my opponent.  What I think was a unit of Fiends of Slaneesh didn't get to enter play and another squad of Daemonettes were destroyed by mishap.  I guess that's the risk you take with deep striking armies!  One group of Fiends did enter near the objective and my combat with the Keeper of Secrets.

Now, I don't really know a lot about the different armies in 40k.  My opponent was gentlemanly enough to explain just what each of his units was good at and what I should worry about both before and during the game.  Hearing it out loud and seeing it in action are two differen things, though, and I was amazed at just how far his units could move to get into assault range.

His Keeper of Secrets charged out of cover and closed in on my Grey Hunters, taking out a total of six with his massive number of attacks.  My Rune priest fired back with his Runic Axe and inflicted two wounds of his own, but things were still a bit scary in the middle of the board for me.

Elsewhere, my Dreadnought had scattered the first squad of Daemonettes while the Fiends advanced on my Long Fangs and tore them apart, killing them all.  (My Rhinos were still a bit outside of range, I believe)  Oh well, lesson learned there.  Don't leave my Long Fangs alone!  I haven't really been able to use them that well yet, as they seem to draw the attention of any deep striking/high mobility unit around.

When my turn came up, I had to stop and think about how to act.

This is pretty much how I look at the table the entire time I play.

Higher initiative really terrifies me as a Space Wolf.  My second game was against an Eldar army, and the Howling Banshees really did a number on my Terminators.  When you take into account the high number of rending attacks in the Chaos Daemon army, I was a bit reluctant to close the gaps and get into melee.  Ultimately, I decided that their high mobility would have drawn me into close combat no matter what I wanted, and I might as well fight it on my own terms.  If I could at least draw a bonus for charging, I'd be happy.

My Dread turned and faced the second squad of Daemonettes, content with reducing the first to a shadow of their former selves.  Another flamer shot added a few notches to his belt, with the assault cannon not really living up to it's earlier effectiveness.

My second Grey Hunter squad disembarked and charged into the Fiends, killing about half and taking minimal casualties.  My Rune Priest and his squad were wiped out by the Keeper, who then ran off to fight my Dreadnought.  Rattling the cage of their Rhino, my Blood Claws didn't see any action this turn, though their mounted Storm Bolter did manage a casualty on the second Daemonette squad.

At the top of 3, deep striking again failed my opponent as his final squad failed to enter play.  When five penetrating hits from the Keeper were rolled on my Dreadnought, things were looking pretty damned grim.  Then they all came up 1's and 2's, and I got to swing a gigantic fist back and finish that damned thing for once and for all.  The dice gods were apparently pleased with my Dread's earlier display of reckless abandon!

With the Keeper of Secrets dead and both Daemonette squads reduced to less than four members apiece, it was up to the Fiends to do their best and carry the weight.  Unfortunately, my Grey Hunters proved too much for them.

At this point my opponent had a tactical choice to make.  Does he charge with his remaining Daemonettes and hope to finish off my Grey Hunters, or does he scatter to the opposite end of the board, living to fight another turn?  In the spirit of the game, he decided to try and duke it out, which I thought was awesome.  It was a very friendly contest, and I was having a really good time rolling so many dice and seeing so much close combat, and he kept the game going strong.  It might not have been the most tactically sound decision, but it was certainly fun to finish off the game in assaults.


When my turn came up, I did end up finishing the game with close combats.  I rolled great saves after the higher initiative strikes and managed to do enough damage to down his remaining troop squads, leaving him with nothing capable of holding the objectives in the subsequent turns.  We could have played the game out from there, but we elected to call it a win for me and a good time all around.

We talked for a while afterwards about our thinking and tactics, what we could have done differently and what we thought worked well.  For my part, I was really impressed with his positioning and movement around the board.  Daemons are already very mobile, and he made excellent use of that strength to keep them threatening.  I felt like I deployed a lot stronger and got to actually make use of all my units with one exception.

Poor Blood Claws, not ever getting to leave the comfort of the Rhino and take some skins for their dorm wall back at the Fang.  I deployed them far out on my left flank on purpose, hoping my opponent would send something towards those objectives that they could sink their swords into, but he never came that way.  Instead of glorious battle they just camped the objective at the end of the last turn, still buckled into their transport seats and probably chomping at the bit for some action.  Next time, guys, I promise!

My HQs have died in every game thus far and I continued the trend with my Rune Priest.  I need to learn to keep his squad out of the mix, but I really can't help it!  It just feels so damned *right* to get stuck in with the Wolves.  Next time he'll hang back and blast away with Living Lightning/Murderous Hurricane while his squad brings hot plasma death.

Once again I forgot to make a pre-game crib sheet with my weapons, number of attacks, and other info.  I keep meaning to do this and then just cranking out more lists instead, and so far I have relied on my opponents to tell me what I'm hitting and wounding on with every roll.  While I appreciate their willingness to help a new player out, I think it's time I started relying on myself so that I can learn the numbers.

The award for game MVP definitely goes to my Dreadnought.  Taking out about ten Daemonettes on his own as well as finishing off the Keeper of Secrets while shrugging off rending blows left and right.  I hadn't really been able to use him properly until now, but this time he really paid his dues.  His Heavy Flamer was the best 10 points I spent in that list.

In other wargear notes, Wolf Standards didn't really do much for me, as I didn't really roll enough ones in the round that I activated it.  I'll use them a few more times before making my final judgments.  Mark of the Wulfen proved useful when I rolled a 6, earning my Grey Hunters a few more precious attacks to defeat the Fiends in close combat.

All in all I'm really happy with the win.  The game was tremendous fun and I had a really good time fighting the Chaos Daemons.  They're a really cool army with some fun tricks that keep you on your toes.  I can't wait to do it all again, and hopefully next time I'll have some more paint on the table!

Monday, November 2, 2009

Space Wolves Soundtrack Mk. I

The Space Wolves are an army with plenty of character to go around.  When it comes to Werewolf Vikings in Space, you have to be fairly careful in your approach to aesthetics.  Most of you are going to end up on one end of the spectrum (BOK link) with the beardo losers who couldn't swing a sword if their lives depended on it or on the other side.  On the other hand, if you have an ounce of good taste in your body, you'll play your army like Russ intended; a bunch of blood-thirsty, xeno-wasting, berserk viking motherfuckers without any of the new-agey nonsense or furry affiliation.

(Dressing up like animals to have sex?  Bjorn the Fell Handed would eat these babies for breakfast.)

In order to help you avoid turning yourself into the portrait of an ineffectual nerd, I'm going to give some recommendations for Space Wolf-inspired listening.  The music makes the army, motherfuckers.

We'll start with the aforementioned Amon Amarth.  Yes, they're terribly popular and well-known to metalheads, but they're also one of the finest viking metal acts around.  Twilight of the Thunder God was one of the best albums of 2008, full to the drinking horn's brim with viking mythology and crushing riffs.

Fuck yes.  It's obvious, but it's still so fucking good.

All of their back catalog is worth listening to and they've got a DVD, Wrath of the Norsemen, complete with dudes fighting on stage in full viking regalia.  I watch this while painting.  Get the fuck into it.

For slightly more esoteric viking metal we turn to Enslaved, and in particular last year's transcendent Vertebrae.  Enslaved is a band that has never been afraid to experiment with their sound, but none of the results have been as phenomonal as Vertebrae.  1996's Frost is a black metal masterpiece, but Vertebrae is something else entirely.  Experimental and progressive without ever becoming masturbatory or boring, Vertebrae is a perfect metal album.  It's challenging, atmospheric, and varied.  Play it when you're making lists or talking Wolf tactics; it's a bit more cerebral than the rest.

Enslaved videos have always been so damned hilarious.  Please just pay attention to the music here.

That's all for now, more will follow soon!
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