Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Rock-Con 2011: Gentleman's Grand Tournament, Game 1 vs. John Pickle's Fire Angels

Thus begins the epic tale of Skavald the Troll-faced's competitive Warhammer 40k!

On Saturday, November 5th, I played my first tournament game of 40k and as per usual my luck put me up against last year's Gentleman's GT Champion! Reminds me of my first swimming lesson, when the instructor pushed me into the deepest part of the pool. Thankfull for me, my opponent was not playing Carcharadons...

Enter John Pickle's Fire Angels!
Now, now, don't let the name fool you. The Fire Angels have nothing to do with Sanguinius' boys. They are an Ultramarines successor chapter of the 25th Founding and are known for their participation in the Badab Wars. What you see on the left is their Badab War era power armour. "Nowadays" it is silver, rather than white.
John's army was using the Badab patterns and colors for his Marines and naturally used Codex Space Marines for them as well.
I actually don't face a lot of pure Space Marine players. At least not on a regular basis. While a lot of people tend to underestimate them I personally think that there are a lot of interesting, very competitive builds that can easily wreck my Space Wolves' day. John's list..... was one of them:

1850 Space Marines
Fire Angels Chapter

HQ- Librarian "Oberon" with Null Zone and The Gate of Infinity - 100 pts.
HQ- Master of the Forge "Trexus" with a Combi-Flamer - 110 pts.

Elite- Dreadnought with two Twin-Linked Autocannons - 125 pts.
Elite- Dreadnought with two Twin-Linked Autocannons - 125 pts.
Elite- Dreadnought with two Twin-Linked Autocannons - 125 pts.

Troops- Scouts(x5) with Camo Cloaks, Sniper Rifles(x4), Missile Launcher, Melta Bomb(x1) - 125 pts.
Troops - Tactical Squad(x5) with Power Fist(x1), Combi-Melta(x1) - 125 pts.
Dedicated Transport: Las/plas Razorback - 75 pts.
Troops- Tactical Squad(x10) with Meltagun(x1), Power Fist(x1), Combi-Melta(x1) - 220 pts. + Dedicated Transport: Rhino - 35 pts. (His list was missing the Rhino, but when all points are added up it is correct)
Fast Attack- Land Speeder with Typhoon Missile - 90 pts.
Fast Attack- Land Speeder with Typhoon Missile, Multi-Melta - 100 pts
Fast Attack- Land Speeder with Typhoon Missile, Multi-Melta - 100 pts

Heavy Support- Dreadnought with Heavy Flamer, Twin Lascannon - 145 points
Heavy Support- Dreadnought with Heavy Flamer, Twin Lascannon - 145 points
Heavy Support- Dreadnought with two Twin-Linked Autocannons - 125 points
Reflection: Man, what a list, huh? Look at it. Full HQ, Elite, Fast Attack, Heavy Support and pretty much 5 Troops choices. SIX Dreadnoughts that could unleash tons of firepower towards me, not to mention the Typhoon Land Speedes.. and.. and.. just.. everything. So much firepower, so many vehicles. As you can see it is a very well-rounded list with tons of anti-armor versatile enough to be incredibly useful against infantry as well (autocannons, typhoons, missile launchers, etc.)
I was going to have a hard time against this list for sure. My ten Missile Launchers were going to be only so-so effective against his Dreadnoughts, but I would also need to pay attention to the three separate Land Speeders. It was clear that if I wanted to win the game I had to come to him.
Story of my life...

The Mission:
Round 1
If I Can't Have It . . . 
This mission follows all the normal rules for games of Warhammer 40,000 as outlined in the Organizing a Battle chapter of the Warhammer 40,000 rulebook (e.g, Ending the Game [p. 90], Seize the Initiative! [p.92], Mission Special Rules [pp.94-95], etc.), except as already noted in your tournament rules packed and described below.

This mission employs the Pitched Battle deployment. (See p. 92 of the Warhammer 40,000 rulebook.)

Primary Objective (4 points)
Defend the Flag: After determining who goes first, but before deploying their armies, the players alternate turns placing a total of 6 objective markers, starting with the player who has the first turn.
  • The 1st objective marker each player places must be positioned in their own deployment zone.
  • The 2nd objective marker each player places must be positioned in their opponent's deployment zone.
  • The 3rd objective marker each player places must be positioned anywhere in their opponent's half of the table.
    Objective markers must be at least 6'' away from any board edge and 12'' away from any other objective marker.
     While you claim and contest any objective markers according to the Seize Ground standard mission rules defined on p. 91 of the Warhammer 40,000 rulebook, the only ones that each player may count toward winning the "Defend the Flag" Objective are the objective markers that have been placed in their half of the table. Thus, the maximum number of objective markers each player can claim for the purposes of winning the Primary Objective is three.

Secondary Objective (3 points)
Follow the Annihilation standard mission rules defined on p. 91 of the Warhammer 40,000 rulebook.

Tertiary Objective (2 points)
Lead by Example: Have one of your HQ Independent Character, Monstrous Creature, or Walker models anywhere withing 16'' of your opponent's deployment table edge at the end of the game.
 Whooo... boy. That took forever to copy.

I won deployment and chose to just play on the side I was on. It had some buildings and decent locations for my two Long Fang packs, which was enough for me. I kind of wish I had taken the side with the LoS-blocking primed water bottles, though.. I made a small mistake deploying my Thunderwolves to the far right of the board, but it eventually turned out to be a good thing. I was pretty excited to get the first turn, hopefully negate some of his firepower before he got the chance to use it..
He deployed in a denied flank-fashion, putting all of his firepower, all of his Dreadnoughts, etc. as far away from my Thunderwolves as possible. His Rhino with the Librarian and Tactical Squad, plus the Land Speeders were hiding out of LoS.
... and then he stole the initiative.

John's Turn 1: 
The Dreadfleet...
"Stealing the Initiative is going to lose me the game.. I just know it" he said.. or at least something like that. Nice foreshadowing. ;P His first turn was amazing. My Vindicator got neutralized just like he did in all of my future games.. Tons of shooting from all over the place wrecked my Rune Priest's Rhino and my far lest Rhino got shaken. A single shot is fired at my Thunderwolves but no damage is taken.

My Turn 1: 
Some wreckage!
It was time to react. Thunderwolves moved as fast as possible and ran 1 o 2 inches.. Far right Rhino next to one of my objectives actually left it and moved full speed towards my opponents objective and towards his Land Speeders. My disembarked Rune Priest squad starts walking towards the now unoccupied objective on my right as the Rune Priest is casting Living Lightning. Out of 7 turns I rolled 6 shots with Living Lightning.. a total of 4 times! Now I don't really remember what I hit and whether it got damaged or not. After some shooting I had some shaken Dreads, two Immobilized Land Speeders and a Wrecked Land Speeder.

Notice the poor immobilized Vindicator.. 

 Following Turns: 
The next few turns were a blur. Everything was super intense, mostly because my opponent was a great player. Not only did he have a lot of experience but he was fielding a very competitive army. Throughout the next few turns his Dreadnoughts kept on shooting at my vehicles, with a lot of firepower focused on my left Rhino. He never really focused my Thunderwolves until it was too late.
My Rune Priest kept on moving towards the objective to the right, while the Rhino on the left side left the objective to go Razorback-hunting. Thunderwolves ran a little, but they wounldn't get a charge until turn 3..  My Rhino tried to melta his Razorback but nothing really happened. A dangerously close Dreadnought got destroyed by a barrage of krak missiles!
The far right Rhino got immobilized and my guys were forced to dismebark and walk towards his Land Speeder, passing by one of the objectives that only John could claim. The pack of Grey Hunters spent the rest of the game trying to damage the Land Speeder until they made it explode..

John's Tactical Squad + Master of the Forge disembarked from the Razorback when the Sniper Scouts came from the left table edge. Something wrecked my Rhino and after a ton of shooting the Grey Hunter pack got whittle down a little and then got charged by the Tactical Marines. Even with the Wolf Banner in action, my few remaining Grey Hunters lacked the punch they needed and only one Grey Hunter remained.

My Thunderwolves managed to get a charge on a Dreadnought but got locked in combat with it after a few unlucky rolls. Rune Priest kept on shuffling to the side like a crab and more missiles went after the Dreadnoughts. My big Grey Hunter squad left their Rhino (the second one on the far left, which substituted the one that left the objective and went for the Razorback) and charged into the combat that the lone Grey Hunter was fighting! With blood-curdling wolf howls the sons of Russ went after the Fire Angels, Wolf banner raised high.. All Fire Angels dedicated their attacks at the lone Grey Hunter who was the center of their attention but he survived nonetheless. With Master of the Forge Trexus left the battle was a clear victory for the Wolves! Trexus ran and the lonely Gey Hunter chose to consolidate after him, making him flee automatically next turn. The big group of Grey Hunters consolidated back into the building where the vital objective was.

John now had a chance to respond to my shenanigans! His scouts embarked inside the Razorback, contesting one of my objectives. I knew I was never going to have it, so I decided to keep the two I had already and hope to either move John's dudes from one objectives or to tie the Primary. With so many Kill Points all over the place there was NO way I was not getting the Secondary. I guess one good thing about my list is that it only has a few easy Kill Points to give. The Rhinos and perhaps the Long Fangs. It's hard to get rid of 10 Grey Hunters without using tons of low-AP weaponry or a crazy dedicated assault unit. And then there are the Thunderwolves...
Dreadnoughts started to move around - a Heavy Flamer/Lascannon one started to walk towards my objective on the left, knowing that with some pressure and a possible assault it would tar-put my Grey Hunters forever (no Power fists, you see...). A second Dreadnought joins the Thunderwolf assault, hoping to tar-pit them and actually succeeding. Free kill points, though!
Trexus sniped the Grey Hunter chasing him with a combi-plasma... and the Dread failed to charge my Grey Hunters!
Thunderwolves managed to kill one Dreadnought.

At this point my Rune Priest and his Grey Hunters were on my objective and nothing was going to move them away from it! My Grey Hunters moved away from the Dreadnought and shot it with meltas, managing to prevent it from moving and shooting for a turn! Woot!
The Grey Hunters at the top right finally managed to kill the Land Speeder with shooting. I think I managed to actually destroy the Razorback and immobilize the Rhino behind the terrain. The Thunderwolves now finally eat the Dreadnought and are now all over John's face. He has to deal with them and he has to deal with them quickly!

Turn 6
With the Thunderwolves running wild John had no choice but to dedicate most of his turn to getting rid of them. Null Zone cast by Librarian Oberon, Trexus' Heavy Flamer and many, many bolters, missiles, autocannons, lascannons got rid of my Thunderwolves, but the damage had been done. Check out the carnage.
5/6 dead Dreadnoughts, 2 dead Land Speeders!
On my Turn 6 I just wanted to reinforce my positions. It really looked looked like I could at least tie the Primary, if not actually win it. I shot at the scouts but nothing really happened, manage to destroy the fifth Dreadnoughts, started walking back towards John's objective on the right with my Grey Hunters. A very short, not too eventful sixth turn. Oh, oh! I managed to immobilize his sixth Dreadnought! What a relief!

Turn 7
Last turn and what a turn it was!
First: Librarian Oberon casts Gate of Infinity and teleports next to the third objective. He is currently holding 3 to my 2. God, I had completely forgotten about that power! He rolls double 2's and had to kill a guy, though. Thank got my Grey Hunters were sort of close to contest the objective, but it was still a very risky run.
Then I realize that the Libby squad is in front of my Immobilized Vindicator, but then John manages to destroy its weapon... ;( 
Then, his Scouts make a run for the yellow Bomb Squig objective and actually take it. His small tactical squad hides behind the objective, which is behind the LoS-blocking bottles.
Master of the Forge Trexus attempts to close in and do some damage to my Grey Hunters on the objective but fails.

My Turn 7
My time to rise and shine. The entire outcome of the game is pretty much dependent on whether my Grey Hunters can make it within 3'' of the Warboss objective. They move full 6'' - right next to the diffucult terrain. I need to roll 3 or 4+ on my Run move to make it..
Two meltagun-equipped Grey Hunters peek out of the building, next to Trexus and melt his face.
I try to move the Scouts off of the objective but no deal..
I move my Rune Priest's pack so that I'm closer to the Librarian. Time to attempt Jaws of the World Wolf. I pass my check, then the Psychic Hood of the Librarian fails to block the power. John then rolled a 5 for his Initiative test on the Librarian and poor Oberon got sucked into the warp.. 2 HQ's slain in one turn? I'll take it.

"Huh? What happened to Librarian Oberon? He was JUST here.."
And then the Grey Hunters get close enough to contest the final objective.
Just like John predicted, stealing the initiative actually lost him the game. It just allowed me to react to his teleportation maneuver, which was so brilliant!
The Primary was a tie.
The Secondary I had by a landslide, having lost two Rhinos, a pack of Grey Hunters, Skarvald and his Thunderwolves.. any maybe one of my Long Fang packs. Just the loss of his firebase - 5 Dreadnoughts and 2 Land Speeders was enough for me to win the Annihilation objective.
It's quite possible that his last Dreadnought was 16'' away from my table edge, but we forgot to count that in.

What a great game, though. I really tried to describe the carnage and the pressure that I felt while playing against John's Fire Angels. He was a great opponent, who made no mistakes and every turn we had to react to each other's moves. The fact that the game got to Turn 7 and that it was almost a tie should say a lot about the game as a whole. It never really felt like any of us had the upper hand when it came to the objectives and I really feel that not list building, but pure strategy and tactics won me the game. Oh, and a little bit of luck.

Thank you, John, for such an awesome first tournament game. It was an honor to play against you and I hope we clash forces again in some other event.

I leave you now with what me and my friends call "The Dreadnought Song". Listen to the lyrics.


  1. Congrats on winning your first ever tournament game! Nice job pulling off a victory, that sounds like it was a really fun and exciting game.

  2. Good job. John is a solid player. It sounded like a smash mouth game for the both of you, which is the way it should be.

  3. A great game my favorite kind... Close :)


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