PAGE Apocalypse 2015: The Fall of Kimball Prime

kingbreakers-iconThe Kingbreakers’ First Squad burst from their Drop Pod even before it hit the ground, running as one toward their objective. Flamers swept away a pack of zombie cultists without pause. Sergeant Scolirus’ powerfist dispatched an intercepting greater daemon on the fly, preserving momentum. The battle brothers each felt the tingling energy crackle as they breached the overlapping void shields but none had a moment to reflect on it. Their target in sight, Captain Angholan jumped in a single bound to the top of the shield generators, ran across the battlements, and leapt into space, hurling an ancient Vortex Grenade into the smoking maw of the corrupted Warhound directly in front of them. At this range the wildly unpredictable warp attack might prove as deadly to themselves as the traitor Titan itself. But none would ever be able to say they had not given everything for the Emperor that had saved them.

This past weekend the Philadelphia Area Gaming Enthusiasts (PAGE) crew held its roughly annual major Apocalypse match. The event was expanded this year to two days: One of Recon Squad skirmishes and a Cataclysm mini-mega battle, and another day of full-on Apocalypse battle royale. Sixteen players participated, with 24,000 points per side in the finale.

A largely successful push was made by the entire group this year to field painted armies and terrain, and tons of photos are up in the Flickr galleries:

A full report of the campaign follows below.

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We march to war!

The Long War

This was basically the finale of a series of events loosely connected by narrative and players over the past half decade:

Campaign map from the 2010 Combat Patrol League.

Campaign map from the 2010 Combat Patrol League.

For 2015’s climax of this story arc, the Legions of Discord brought The Scythe of Unbound Light to the gates of the Kimball Prime Manufactorum, bulwark of the Forces of Order on the planet and last bastion of the Imperium in this system. Meanwhile the instigator behind this entire campaign was also revealed…

Kimball Prime

The entire weekend was fought over a single board, representing the main gate to the major Manufacturom on Kimball Prime (the venue, my house, being on Kimball St and my painting log being the Kimball Prime Manufactorum Log). Though we’ve previously done well at building good Apocalypse boards, this year a bunch of people built even more terrain so we’d have a single unified look.

The table was just over 6′ by 17′ long, following our usual calculations on sizing multiplayer and mega-battle tables. Apocalypse deployment zones were L-shapes, with the teams taking one short edge and all but 4′ of their respective long edges, creating a 2′ strip of S-shaped no-man’s land. At one end was the parade ground and main gate fortress of the Kimball Prime Manufactorum, built for a display board at this year’s NOVA Team Trios Tournament. The other end was anchored by a series of giant skulls emplaced on Chaos temples, representing The Scythe of Unbound Light. Both were essentially played as Aquila Strongpoints with Macro-cannons, the fortress actually being two strongpoints but one cannon, and The Scythe having two annexes. These were blended into an urban core in the middle, with the ruins progressively more dense toward the center. Between and among all this both sides deployed defensive constructs, with Discord’s Iron Warriors in particular laying down extensive siege works.

The field of battle prepped and ready.

The field of battle prepped and ready.

Recon Squad + Cataclysm

The first part of the campaign used our Recon Squad rules for 200 pt skirmishes. These are very similar to the traditional GW Kill Team variant, but with tighter rules and better adaptations to 7th edition. Around these we used our Twilight on Caldor IV campaign mechanics, in which each player picks a legacy like Bodyguards, Sentinels, Headhunters, or Scouts from eight options, and tries to achieve that legacy through winning several specific scenarios from eight missions like Assassination, Installation, Excavation, or Breakthrough. The main table was divided up with twine into four 4×4 Recon Squad boards, with two more side boards assembled for fighting at the poles and in the swamps of Kimball Prime.

Legacy card for the Sentinels.

Legacy card for the Sentinels.

A pack of Screamers dominated their matches, helping the Legions of Discord to a healthy 116 to 83 victory in the vanguard battles of the imminent Apocalypse. In a key moment, however, a squad of The Fallen were run to ground in a ruined Imperial chapel, yielding the first hints of the greater forces at work behind the scenes.

kingbreakers-iconBrother Teleos stepped carefully among the rubble, futilely trying to avoid crunching in the loose debris. The shadowy figures had clearly retreated into these chapel ruins once the cultists they’d been using as meat shields had been pulped. At the distinctive boom of a bolter firing behind him, instinct spun Teleos around instantly even as another part of his mind registered that it was too late already. It took a moment then to process that he was still functioning, and then another to fully register the robed, power armored figure falling to the ground mere feet away, a long monoblade raised toward him. Framed in the archway beyond stood Ghost Sergeant Harmon. The black clad Kingbreaker gave Teleos the sign for eyes-up before silently stalking on deeper into the chapel.

Fallen and Kingbreakers have a standoff in a ruined Imperial chapel.

Fallen and Kingbreakers have a standoff in a ruined Imperial chapel.

In the next part the Recon Squads gained 300 points of reinforcements and piled into a single Cataclysm battle over half the main board. On the edges of the parade grounds a seesawing conflict was fought between Mechanicum automata and Chaos Cultists joined by summoned daemons. Across the battlefield, an isolated band of Imperial Fists were rolled off the flanks of the temple grounds by daemons and traitor Marines. Coming to reinforce the position, Clan Raukaan troops found themselves ambushed by Night Lords. Despite a steady armored push up the center of the battle, Major Zdarsky’s 59th Armageddon crashed onto the enemy objectives too late to swing the Imperials’ fortunes.

By the end both warmasters were slain but Discord continued its successes, holding the majority of the six primary objectives in scoring rounds after Turns 2, 4, and 6 to earn 20 points to Order’s 14, both having also assassinated several opposing warlords. Squads on both teams squads secured their legacies, with the daemons’ Penetrators claiming an Order objective and the Kingbreakers’ Bodyguards successfully executing a flying block for Major Zdarsky and his armored column.

Lizardmen fight against the Imperium that would scorn them.

Lizardmen fight against the Imperium that would scorn them.

Night Lords stalk the shadowed alleys and ruins.

Night Lords stalk the shadowed alleys and ruins.

The Cataclysm underway.

The Cataclysm underway.

Apocalypse

The next day the conflict at the Manufactorum gates expanded again. Companies of Space Marines, packs of Cultists and Daemons, Mechanicus war engines, and all manner of armies descended on the battlefield.

Setup

Six primary objectives were placed before deployment in a ring around the board:

  • The main gates of the Kimball Prime Manufacturom;
  • The base of The Scythe of Unbound Light;
  • The headquarters of Discord’s siege works;
  • Clerics’ dormitories at an Imperial Shrine;
  • An Imperial Aquila Strongpoint with Vortex Missiles;
  • A newly arisen Necron Citadel.

After all deployment was complete, each player additionally placed a secondary objective anywhere 12″ from table edges and other objectives.

apoc-board

Scoring was held after turns 2, 4, and 5 (game end). Primary objectives could only be scored by troops in the mid-game rounds. All troops had Objective Secured regardless of detachment structure. Primaries were each worth the current turn number. Secondaries were worth one point each. Warlords, superheavies, gargantuan creatures, and mighty bulwarks were additionally worth a point each, with an additional point for slaying the designated warmaster (chief warlord).

Having handily won the preceding day, Discord took the prerogative of choosing to deploy and play first or second and chose second. They also got a free Macro-Cannon on The Scythe for their successes throughout the campaigns. Each team took up to 30 minutes to deploy, with Seize the Initiative unavailable. Modified Apocalyptic Reserves were applied, with a schedule of earliest arrival based on maximum unit movement speed. Each turn the commander for each team could designate one unit to make an All Out Attack, advancing at triple its movement but foregoing shooting/running/moving flat out. Both commanders also selected eight Strategic Asset cards to be given to their warlords in need throughout the match.

The Sentinels of Terra and the 59th Armageddon await the onslaught.

The Sentinels of Terra and the 59th Armageddon await the onslaught.

Battle

The Forces of Order had a nearly decisive first turn, inflicting major losses. The Kingbreakers’ Librarius of Rorschach make a suicidal Drop Pod strike into the heart of the enemy deployment zone. Binding their psychic potential together, they cast a massive Warp Vortex directly on top of a corrupted Hellhammer, blasting it immediately into the Immaterium. Though the entirety of the Librarius gave their lives for the action, their angry spirits lived on in the vortex they’d spawned, sucking a number of Greater Daemons back into the Warp throughout the battle.

Nearby, punishing bombardment from the 59th Armageddon and a contingent of the Sentinels of Terra on the parapets of the main gate fortress obliterated a Void Shield Generator and a corrupted Baneblade on the leading edge of the Discord siege works. Covered by the withering hail of fire, the Knight Errant Greenheart simultaneously charged across the battlefield and plowed through the zombie cultists futilely blocking its way, stomping through their lines and crushing the other Void Shield Generator guarding the Discord siege headquarters.

At the far end of the battlefield, Clan Raukaan Centurions and Sternguard made a mass drop on the Necron Citadel and astoundingly earned a critical first turn kill of the emerging Transcendant C’Tan before it could wreak havoc.

A Great Unclean One exchanges mighty blows with a Terminator Sergeant.

A Great Unclean One exchanges mighty blows with a Terminator Sergeant.

Reeling from these blows, the Legions of Discord worked grimly to pull their battle plan back together. Four greater Daemons bound together in a Tetragon of Darkness shrouded the Chaos troops in protective wards from the enemies now running amok among their lines, while the nanites and scarabs of the Necron Citadel did the same for the automatons. A massive blind barrage shielded the advance of hordes of Lizardmen, Night Lords, and other traitors in the shadows of a many-legged Greater Brass Scorpion toward the Mechanicum’s Aquila Strongpoint. One of Ahriman’s Covens sacrificed itself en masse ahead of the group to spawn a bevy of warp rift vortexes that would plague the soldiers of Mars for the entire battle. Responding in kind, a Dark Angels Librarius began tearing at reality ahead of the oncoming army. Together the two bands of psykers turned that entire quadrant of the battlefield into a crazed, unpredictable nightmare where instant death might come at any moment, no matter how brave the warrior or thick the armor.

A Dark Angels Librarius recklessly tears rifts in reality all about the incoming Chaos Marines from their Aquila Strongpoint.

A Dark Angels Librarius recklessly tears rifts in reality all about the incoming Chaos Marines from their Aquila Strongpoint.

A band of Chaos Marines marches toward the Mechanicum's Strongpoint.

A band of Chaos Marines marches toward the Mechanicum’s Strongpoint.

With little left in reserve following the punishing first round strike, the Forces of Order were stretched thin to cope with seemingly endless Discord reinforcements and slowly the momentum shifted.

Deep in the Discord lines, isolated bands of Kingbreakers, Dark Angels, and Raukaan fought brave tactical battles to claim important ground, but were repeatedly swept away by outnumbering opponents: Once the Siege HQ was threatened by Order forces, Land Raiders full of Chaos troops appeared to fight them back. With the Necron Citadel about to be overrun by combined arms, a large band of Cultists arrived to hold it until the Maynarkh could regroup. Again and again the story repeated, snatching victory from the loyalists.

On the Imperial side, wave after wave of Necron flyers harrassed the Mechanicum position. Though many Tech Thralls and reinforcing Raukaan gave their lives to shore up the Strongpoint and the Greater Brass Scorpion was eventually brought down, the redoubt was inevitably overcome in a flood of Chaos Marines.

Deathwing drag down a daemon spawned on the parapets of the main gate fortress.

Deathwing drag down a daemon spawned on the parapets of the main gate fortress.

Most devastatingly, late in the battle several small squads of Chaos space marines outflanked onto the Imperials’ position around the shrine dormitories. Having already repelled a large attack of Soulgrinders, lesser daemons, and zombies, the position had been thought secure. Heavy shelling from the 59th Armageddon combined with sustained fire and assaults from the Kingbreakers and allies eventually cleared the position, but the damage had been done. Stretched thin across the multiple objectives in the area, there wasn’t enough time for Order forces to shore up the position before a final, desperate, high speed strafing run of an entire squadron of Necron Doom Scythes managed to wipe the defenders off the primary objective in the closing moments of the battle.

Inquisitor Hersch and Kingbreakers Tacticals investigate noises in the alleys around the shrine dormitory.

Inquisitor Hersch and Kingbreakers Tacticals investigate noises in the alleys around the shrine dormitory.

Maynarkh Doom Scythes make a high speed formation strafing run through the occupied city ruins.

Maynarkh Doom Scythes make a high speed formation strafing run through the occupied city ruins.

Midway through the battle, however, the last of Discord’s primary siege works had been finally cracked open. Exposed therein was the treacherous mastermind of the entire campaign: No less than Cypher himself! His position was immediately obliterated beyond all recognition by the Sentinels of Terra and the 59th Armageddon. Presumably nothing could have survived the severe overkill, but the Fallen’s fate is unconfirmed: Deathwing rushing to the site were intercepted en route and unable to gather evidence either way.

apoc-movement

Outcome

The Imperial bulwarks on Kimball Prime are lost before the might of The Scythe of Unbound Light and the Manufacturom lost to Chaos, but the instigator of this campaign throwing the sector into disarray is revealed!

Both teams claimed 5 superheavy/gargantuan/bulwark and 3 warlord kills, though Order also dispatched the Discord warmaster—Cypher cowardly hiding in a bunker! After Turn 2 Order had a small lead (19 to 15), but Discord gained a slight advantage by Turn 4 (40 to 37), and then Order’s long edge collapsed in Turn 5, yielding a final total score of 65 to 51 in favor of the traitors, heretics, and xenos.

A solitary sniper eyes up the battlefield.

A solitary sniper eyes up the battlefield.

Analysis

A few points on the game play itself as well as the design of the match.

Game End

With 120 points up for grabs, the 65-51 Apocalypse outcome certainly wasn’t a blow out. With another turn before scoring the end several of the objectives would have been closely fought, potentially dramatically changing the outcome. The Kingbreakers in particular were setup for 6 turns, and didn’t have time to move back onto the Dormitory objective when the game ended early. By that point though most of the (merely mortal) warlords were ready to pack it in after a long, brutal campaign. We did a reasonable job of keeping things to our schedule, but this was a packed weekend of two long days of gaming. Regardless, in the future we’ll probably score every turn and commanders will have to be prepared for the game to end early in the event that the group starts to flag.

The Mechanicum's Strongpoint is overwhelmed in a combined tide of living and corrupted metal.

The Mechanicum’s Strongpoint is overwhelmed in a combined tide of living and corrupted metal.

Balance

Our group consciously works to make our Apocalypse battles more than just Titans point & clicking at each other from across the table. In this match basic troops, heroic warriors, and giant war machines all felt equally important and critical. To a very large extent the game came down to a couple combat squads of Tacticals slugging it out with some Chaos Marine stragglers over a primary objective in the last turn. Among the factors contributing to this are:

  • Major units, defined as anything with more than 9 hull points/wounds, are “negotiated” between the teams. For this match we agreed not to allow Reavers, though we have in the past, mostly because one in the group isn’t painted and very very few of our players are familiar enough to use them effectively. Otherwise everything was allowed and this rule basically just prevents surprises, and enables some shifting around of excess Baneblade-chassis to roughly balance the superheavies across the two teams.
  • Tons of line of sight blocking terrain as well as barricades, rubble, and other smaller terrain providing places for the little guys to hang out. In addition to the board pieces placed pre-game, we ignore the official Apoc rules and leave ruined vehicles in place (as destroyable wreckage) as well as amending the 7th edition core to still replace exploded vehicles with craters, so that infantry have places to hide, particularly after spilling out of a transport.
  • Permitting only Troops to hold the primary objectives in the mid-game scoring obviously makes them critical. Giving all Troops the Objective Secured rule regardless of detachment is also a nice and very relevant buff. A good number of points came down to having Elites vs Troops on the secondary objectives.
A full handful of plasmacannon Sentinels lurched about in Order's backfield waiting for deep striking traitor Terminators to squish.

A full handful of plasmacannon Sentinels lurched about in Order’s backfield waiting for deep striking traitor Terminators to squish.

Deployment Zones

The funky deployment zones used here definitely made things interesting. It’s certainly not uncommon in Apocalypse for a section of the board to get blown away early. This setup though makes the long ends of the L-shapes “obvious” focal points for massive bombardments and attack because they’re exposed on two sides.

Despite Discord’s significant siege works, most of their forces on that point were obliterated early on. Probably Order’s Sentinels and 59th Armageddon should have advanced en masse to roll down that flank a bit after it was opened up, but they were harassed enough by deep striking Oblits and Daemons to stay put. In turn, that gave space for the large number of reserves Discord had held back to roll on and just barely mantain that point.

On the opposite end, Discord didn’t manage to knockout Order’s Strongpoint at that leading edge for quite some time, but the writing was on the wall with an inexorable wave of enemies working toward it from multiple angles. Order placed a ridiculous amount of forces around the main gate objective for mostly psychological reasons, as well as not wanting to split up commanders’ forces, but we should have allocated some of them down at the opposite end.

So, both sides expected the brunt of the fighting to be at those points, but neither adequately realized how true that would be. Encouraging that kind of analysis is a good thing, so I think this deployment setup worked well without being more punishing on any particular player than Apocalypse can be anyway.

Grenadiers oversee the battlefield.

Grenadiers oversee the battlefield.

Strategy

To that end, this match was actually really strategic. Though definitely not a perfect game, 40k done well is by no means a beer and pretzels affair. That’s surprisingly also true of Apocalypse. With enough attention to terrain, scenario, schedules, and balanced teams, there’s a ton of strategy to be had.

For the most part, Apocalypse doesn’t have the same tactical game that standard 40k does. There’s just too much going on, and not enough time to micro-optimize play or avoid all mistakes. I almost certainly removed my warlord on a failed save he didn’t actually fail but was too harried to catch that the power weapon attacking him didn’t defeat his artificier armor. At the same time, I know his unit lived through a turn when they could have gotten crushed because an opposing player was moving too fast trying to get in all of his actions, and accidentally blocked the Discord Warhound from going after them. It was actually jarring going from Recon Squad, which is very tactical, to this monstrosity. My skirmish Saturday against Colin’s Fallen was extremely chess-like and tight (and awesome!), whereas Sunday’s chaos was all about the broad strokes, having a well designed list and making the appropriate large scale moves that sailed well above all the really fine grained stuff.

A Typhoon heads out on patrol.

A Typhoon heads out on patrol.

To a large extent, 40k is a game of resource management and area control rather than micro-maneuvering, and in my eyes is a better game for it. Apocalypse done right takes that to a different level even as it swings on pivotal dice rolls just like any other match. Discord won this game because they kept a large number of units in reserve and combined them well with strategic asset cards to bring them on in the most effective places at just the right times. Ultimately it came down to just a couple Chaos Marines posing a significant threat, combined with a few flyers in position to sweep away the counter-response.

Though the gambit looked very promising at the start, Order didn’t have enough oomph left after its initial alpha strike even though it was largely successful. Compounding that, we didn’t wipe out enough of the opposing defenders in the mid-game to prevent Discord from sneaking small groups of reserves into critical positions. Most importantly though, the alpha strike and serious buildup around the main gates left all our troops committed in the wrong places going into the end game, and we just weren’t as able to adapt as the opposing army bringing in new troops all around the board.

In sum: Two very different strategies, both almost worked out, one wound up with a solid win through intentful strategic play and a lot of pre-game thought. That’s exactly how it should work. And along the way there were ridiculous piles of armies and huge models being pushed all around the table…

The Apocalypse somewhere in the early turns.

The Apocalypse somewhere in the early turns.

Closing

It took a lot of advance work and was a looong weekend, but this was a stellar event encompassing a huge swathe of 40k gaming: Skirmishing, Apocalypse, campaigns, narrative, frantic late night painting, the whole shebang.

Again, lots of photos are up in the Flickr galleries:

g6587We’ll also be posting the PDFs driving all of this, and are also considering hosting a larger event around the Philadelphia, Pennsylvania (USA) area sometime in the future. If you are interested in either of those, please sign up for our very low-volume, announcements-only mailing list!

Next up is our regular tournament/event at Redcap’s Corner on Saturday, January 24th. Details will be posted to the store’s 40k mailing list and the PAGE Forums shortly, but armies are 1850 points and entry $10. Be there or be forever a traitor enslaved to laughing gods!

kingbreakers-iconCaptain Angholan subtly motioned for his men to wait as he stepped forward onto the dais. In the complete silence he could hear the soft boom and crunch of the colossal battle going on outside the courtyard. Here though the air was completely still and stale, dead. Ahead stood the motionless monarch, flanked by row after row of his automatons. Eyes locked on his opponent, Angholan swept his softly flaming Vorpal Blade languidly across the arc of the room, then pointed it straight at the Nemesor. Deep in its hollowed eye sockets he thought he could see a slight upbeat in the small lights set there. Then, wordlessly and as one, the ranks of automatons slowly moved forward, enclosing their leader safely behind. The licks of flames at the edge of Angholan’s blade burst to life as First Squad stepped up to join him. It could go down that way too.

The Kingbreakers' Captain Angholan and Squad Scolirus fight their way onto the Necron Citadel to challenge Nemesor Zahndrekh personally.

The Kingbreakers’ Captain Angholan and Squad Scolirus fight their way onto the Necron Citadel to challenge Nemesor Zahndrekh personally.

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Berks PA Doubles @ Railyard

kingbreakers-iconSaturday the dynamic duos of Colin and Brett and John L and I went out for a Berks PA 40K Doubles Tournament at Railyard Hobbies. First of all, that place is amazing. I haven’t been to the Railyard before, and it blew my mind.  It’s ridiculously huge, and the terrain building supplies are all but endless. Definitely a good tournament venue, and though a bit out of the way from Center City Philly, potentially worth the trip for terrain materials and tools.

Armies were 1500 points per player, battle forged but no other restrictions. Both players on a team fielded a warlord. All partners were treated as Allies of Convenience. A single psychic warp charge pool was shared.

Eight teams showed, with various Marines, Imperial Guard, Daemons and Chaos Marines, a small Eldar presence, Necrons, some Imperial Knights, a couple more Knights dropping out of a Thunderhawk, and oh yeah a C’Tan and his buddies who just happen to also be Knights. Photos are in the Flickr gallery.

For the Emperor.

For the Emperor.

Armies

John and I fielded what I feel is a well balanced and relatively normal army. Originally we were going to divide into John on offense and me on defense. But then we were both busy and didn’t coordinate at all, so we wound up with a combined thrust across backfield, midfield, and the frontline.

On the Raukaan side:

  • Epistolary w/ The Gorgon’s Chain
  • Ironclad Dreadnought w/ Drop Pod
  • Sternguard x5 w/ 5x Combi-Melta, Drop Pod
  • Tacticals x10 w/ Meltagun, Lascannon, Lascannon Razorback
  • Tacticals x10 w/ Meltagun, Lascannon, Lascannon Razorback
  • Stormtalon Gunship
  • Stormtalon Gunship
  • Centurion Devastators (Grav-Cannons and Grav-Amps, Hurricane Bolters)

On the Kingbreakers side:

  • Captain Angholan (Vulkan)
  • Squad Harmon (Sternguard x5 w/ 3x Combi-Melta, Drop Pod)
  • Squad Scolirus (Tacticals x10 w/ Powerfist, Flamer, Missile Launcher, Drop Pod)
  • Squad Harbinger (Tacticals x5 w/ Combi-Melta, Meltagun, Meltabombs, Drop Pod)
  • Scouts x5 w/ Sniper Rifles
  • Devastators w/ 2x Plasmacannon, 2x Heavy Bolter
  • Knight Errant Greenheart (generic melta Knight)
  • Inquisitor Hersch (Coteaz)
  • Imperial Bunker w/ Void Shield

The few “gimmicks” in there are the Knight, Coteaz, the Void Shield Bunker, and the Librarian with The Gorgon’s Chain hanging out with Centurions hoping to cast Invisibility on them. Well, ok, maybe that’s a couple of gimmicks.  But it’s no re-rollable 3++ on a 6 HP model or a world-ending god shard. And it’s a solidly fluffy, Marines-out-for-a-stroll force composition.

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Come get some!

Round 1

First up we faced Ethan and Dustin with Imperial Guard and Space Wolves with a Knight. Mission was Dawn of War (12″), five objectives, double value Slay (effectively quadruple if you tagged both opposing warlords), Linebreaker, and bonus points for killing both opposing warlords while losing none of your own.

These guys did a good job deploying, in part through simply having so much to field. We had no juicy, vulnerable alpha strike targets and wound up taking risky drops against the opposing Knight, tucked hard into a corner and surrounded by Guardsmen. One Combat Squad went well off course but luckily toward our own forces, and bunkered down in ruins on an objective until it had a chance to pop out late-game and help slag a Punisher. The joint Sternguard attack put five hull points on the traitor Knight but didn’t manage to take it down before being summarily blown off the board. A lone surviving veteran did tie up the enemy Knight in combat for a turn or two, though this mostly just protected it from our lascannons.

Our Knight meanwhile trudged forward dropping melta on Terminators and Guard tanks, eventually walking onto an opposing objective. Centurions defended our center table and wiped out Terminators that made it to threatening positions. Squad Scolirus and Raukaan Tacticals burned out Creed and the Guard’s Company Command, but paid for it when Captain Angholan was forced to face the full withering fire of a Punisher at point blank and was mortally wounded. With things looking grim in the mid-game,  the Space Wolves and Guardsmen  started taking chances on risky reserve drops with terrible results teleporting in and dropping from flyers, further boosting our momentum.

Scoping out the battlefield.

Scoping out the battlefield.

Creeeeed!

Creeeeed!

Notes

We wound up with all the objectives and secondaries, only missing out on max points by losing my warlord. Unfortunately I took a bunch of chances on Angholan withstanding the Punisher, trying to tank wounds on him rather than his squad. He actually made it through the main gun pretty ok, but I forgot it would also then be shooting heavy bolters and a stubber at him and it was just too much. On the upside, it seemed like almost nobody got this bonus either.

The big thing here was that we had a bunch of weapons to fight Terminators, enough alpha strike and mobility to pen their army up against their back line, and nothing especially fearful of the Guard’s large blasts or heavy weaponry. Our small Combat Squads all over the place made for inefficient blast targets, and a combination of good line-of-sight blockers and the Knight’s shield rendered the missile launcher and lascannon teams largely moot until we could take them out.

Aaaaaahhhh!!!

Aaaaaahhhh!!!

Round 2

Next up was Zack and Brad with Imperial Guard and Grey Knights. Mission was Vanguard deployment (corners) for table quarters control with bonuses for Slay, surviving friendly Warlords, and no enemy units in your deployment zone.

Joint Sternguard blew up a Landraider, dumping out the many Purifiers inside on foot, far removed from our central area. The Sternguard along with reinforcing Raukaan Tacticals and an Ironclad Dreadnought spent the battle in an ongoing fight with them before eventually prevailing.  Our Knight got an early lucky hit torching the Grey Knights warlord and his bodyguards. Greenheart and our lascannon teams then wore down a squad of plasmacannon Sentinels before they could target our Centurions. Squad Harbinger put a lot of wounds on a Dreadknight, which then shunted right into the middle of half a dozen Raukaan lascannons. Captain Angholan and Scolirus spent the battle in assault with a group of Bullgryns protecting their Lord Commissar, eventually smashing her. A late arriving Vendetta and Valkyrie harried a thinly held rear table quarter, but were slowly attrited away by Stormtalons and lascannons.

No further!

No further!

Aaaahhh again!

Aaaahhh again!

Notes

We wound up with max points in this one, controlling all the quarters and picking up the secondaries. This battle was very similar to the previous one given the matchup. Again we were fortunate to have many tools, especially the Centurions and Knight Errant, for taking out Terminators. Zack did a great job of drawing it out with his Guard via harrying thrusts all over the board, but with us largely taking out the Grey Knights early on we just had too much momentum.

I really liked this mission. I wouldn’t want to replace standard objectives with table quarters, but it’s a good mix-in. One thing I liked was that because it’s harder to calculate on the fly, and in some ways easier to swing at the last minute, it can be much less clear who’s ahead and by how much, raising the tension throughout.

You're following the wrong path, commissar!

You’re following the wrong path, commissar!

Round 3

Finally we faced Mike and Al with their four Imperial Knights and Necron C’Tan army. Mission was Hammer and Anvil deployment (long axis) for a combination of kill points and objectives, with bonuses for Slay and each surviving troop unit.

All three objectives wound up placed in a short line along the table center cross axis. We mostly positioned far forward, as near to them as we could, and held on as long as possible. Join Sternguard got a good drop on one of the opposing Knights but its rerollable save via the Adamantine Lance formation shrugged it all off. The Knights and C’Tan hung back for several turns pinging away at our threatening weapons before coming forward supported by Night Scythes. From there the forces of good got slowly rolled up.

Yep.

Yep.

Notes

We picked up a single point for the Raukaan zapping a Night Scythe, and otherwise gave up an obscene amount of points as all our units except one lonely Drop Pod got obliterated. We felt it was a moral victory that we lasted until Turn 7, but the outcome was pretty much foregone from the start. Four Knights with three in an Adamantine Lance, a Transcendant C’Tan, and four Night Scythes with Warriors is a rough force to be looking at across the board. Playing the long axis didn’t help, as it enabled them to lurk out of range of our lascannons for most of the game. I really don’t know how we could have done any better against this army though.

Hands up!

Hands up!

Outcome

We didn’t come in with any tournament bonuses (early list submission, fully painted, etc.), but it seemed like few people did so that didn’t matter. Despite the third round drubbing, John and I held on for second place by a reasonable margin. First place, our Knights+C’Tan opponents, were ridiculously far ahead. A couple people quietly cheered us as the “non-cheese real winners.” I was happy with how we played throughout, and the final results. Depending on how you consider the NOVA Trios (we got crushed on games but got the 2nd best prize), that maintains what I believe is still a straight record of 2nd place results for me throughout 2014.

Thoughts

A couple more general thoughts.

Meta

I’m always hesitant to single out individual units, but it seems very plausible that the Transcendant C’Tan is a gamebreaker. Talking afterward I asked Al what could beat it. He replied “Well, you could buy a Warhound.” I had to work pretty hard to keep a straight face. Eventually he did come up with some other ideas, but they were all generally very specific and substantial purchases.

The Adamantine Lance formation is certainly a huge problem. It makes absolutely no game design sense to take an extremely strong, somewhat undercosted unit like the Imperial Knight, and give a collection of them huge bonuses for no additional points cost. Sure, they have to stay within 3″ of each other to get the effects, but that’s barely a limitation for the group in practice. Some of GW’s formations make rules sense to me as a way to fix or buff underpowered units and armies, like the Stormwing formation. A huge problem in frequently being a deliberate cash grab, like the Tyranid supplements (1, 2, 3), but otherwise solid. Others like the Lance though are definitely detrimental to both the game’s affordability and its play.

Lords of war.

Lords of war.

Tournament

The final mission highlighted issues with the scoring approach being used here, and I gather in several of the Berks PA events. Rather than determining games by victory points and then giving tournament points for wins and losses with bonuses for some special conditions, points earned in missions were simply summed throughout. In that last game the entire opposing army would have only given up fourteen kill points total even if we’d somehow managed to destroy everything. Meanwhile, John and I were each fielding that many units. That’s one thing in terms of the problems inherent to kill points missions, but a huge problem for a tournament if that goes directly into the tournament standings. It wouldn’t have mattered, but those last guys got a massive points boost off John & I between the kill points, objectives, and bonuses, unfair to everybody else. In general, tournament points should always at least be capped, preferably normalized.

That matchup was also a good example of where optional continuous scoring can really help balance the game. If we could have scored points throughout by holding objectives then we could have played a more tactical game, sacrificing units to try and hold up the oncoming tide with no expectation of lasting to the end. We all but certainly would have still lost, but potentially we’d have stood at least a chance of not being completed wiped on points, given that our opponents had so few units with which to attempting claiming and holding throughout.

On a final note, three thousand points total is probably too many points for a doubles game. Somewhat counter-intuitively, they tend to run slower anyway. At that many points there’s just a lot going on to begin with, and doubles games can take a very long time. That’s particularly true if at least one side is active in all the phases. It seemed like Colin and Brett really suffered from this, with several of their games cut short when they would have benefited from more turns.

Conclusion

Despite those concerns about the scoring and the serious balance problems built into 40k itself right now, this was a super fun event, well run in a low key but smooth manner and with a great crowd. Berks is going to run another team tournament in January, and I’ll definitely try to make it to that.

Again, more photos are in the gallery.

Wwwwaaaaaahhhhh!

Wwwwaaaaaahhhhh!

Redcap’s 2000pt Tournament

kingbreakers-iconRedcap’s June tournament was the first for 7th edition. Unfortunately it was very lightly attended, probably mostly due to the start of summer. In particular the two adjacent colleges, Drexel and UPenn, just went on summer break. Pat and John volunteered to team up to make an even four contestants and enable a round robin tournament. We bumped the points up from the planned 1850 to 2000 to make list rebuilding easier for them.

Otherwise this was a straight 7th edition tournament. Benn and Jake made up some new bonus battle point conditions and elaborated new details on the more exotic terrain pieces (Radiation! Tesla Towers!) but the missions followed Redcap’s existing format based on the 5e/6e/7e core missions. Notably, this already includes a simple alternate scoring scheme. For objective control missions you can optionally score one victory point each cumulatively at the start of your turn rather than three VPs each at game end. In annihilation you can opt to score a victory point for every 200pts killed rather than one per unit. No limitation was placed on detachments, unbound armies, allies, or anything else. Unfortunately no one showed up with anything super crazy, despite our hopes.

More photos are available in the Flickr gallery.

Stay on target!

Stay on target!

Army

The least traditional army composition actually wound up being mine, which featured a big stack of five source books: Space Marines, Astra Militarum, Inquisition, Stronghold Assault, Imperial Knights:

  • Combined Arms Detachment: Space Marines (Salamanders)
    • Captain Angholan—Vulkan
    • Ghost Squad Harmon—Sternguard x5 w/ 3x Combi-Meltas, Poweraxe, Drop Pod
    • Squad Scolirus—Tacticals x10 w/ Vet Sgt, Powerfist+Boltgun, Flamer, Multi-Melta, Drop Pod
    • Squad Titus—Tacticals x10 w/ Vet Sgt, Chainsword+Bolt Pistol, Meltagun, Missile Launcher, Drop Pod
    • Scouts x5 w/ 5x Camo Cloaks, 5x Sniper Rifles
    • Squad Harbinger—Devastators x5 w/ Chainsword+Bolt Pistol+Signum, 2x Plasmacannons, 2x Heavy Bolters
    • Akil—Predator w/ Autocannon
    • Justus—Predator w/ Autocannon
    • Imperial Bunker w/ 2x Void Shields
  • Combined Arms Detachment: Astra Militarum
    • Commander Higgenbotham—Company Command Squad w/ Plasmapistol, Flamer
    • Veterans w/ Flamer
    • Veterans w/ Flamer
    • Armoured Sentinel w/ Plasmacannon
  • Inquisitorial Detachment
    • Inquisitor Coteaz
  • Imperial Knight Detachment
    • Knight Errant

The Predators were last second additions to bump to 2000 pts. Given more time to prep I would probably have kitted up another Drop Pod of Tacticals for more deep striking objective grabbing and camping.

One reason for that particular Guard structure is to have two Combined Arms detachments and together with Coteaz have three options for my warlord:

  • Vulkan if a bonus point condition warranted it;
  • Coteaz if I faced daemons;
  • The Company Commander otherwise.

I wound up using the Company Commander each time to get access to the BRB traits but they did not matter.

In each battle I took all of Coteaz’s powers from Divination as I really only cared about Prescience. Despite this list being a bit all over the place, I’m a big fan of keeping things simple, particularly new elements. I wasn’t planning on spending brain cycles debating between multiple powers. In addition, with two mastery levels I generally wouldn’t have enough warp charge to cast multiple powers.

This was the first time in quite some while that my army wasn’t pretty much entirely painted. That was a bummer, but I decided it was worth it in the spirit of trying new stuff for 7th edition. Unfortunately much of that army I had essentially no experience with. Coteaz I’ve used once before. Guardsmen I used in our January Apocalypse battle but they just sat around in a bunker. The Knight I just assembled this week; I actually had to buy the codex while signing up for the tournament yesterday.

All that said, despite its many parts and source books, for a 2000pt battle that doesn’t seem like an obnoxious list to me and is actually pretty balanced and fluffy. Unfortunately it seems like it would be banned under the restrictions some of the major tournaments are gravitating toward. More on that in a future post.

Let's do this thing!

Let’s do this thing!

Round 1

First up: Carl and his Tau, featuring a Commander, some Broadsides and Marker Drones, a Skyray, 2 Riptides and 18 Crisis Suits. The mission was Crusade (4 objectives), long axis deployment. We both picked alternate scoring. I deployed first and went first.

Fight!

On the drop I wasn’t able to land my Sternguard out of line of sight and they got hammered by Riptides on the intercept, yielding First Blood, a 2 VP swing as it also denied me First Blood on the Skyray. Tacticals though came down to contest Carl’s home objective. With all his Crisis Suits reserved and the army preferring not to move out aggressively, that left Carl scoring little in the early going. In contrast the Kingbreakers spread out all over the board and ran up an early lead.

As usual with the alpha strike though and particularly against Tau shooting, the momentum slowly turned and the thinly spread Kingbreakers got rolled back across all quadrants. Exacerbating the issue, the Knight was taken down right in the locus of the army, generating a catastrophic titanic explosion that crippled a number of units. Eventually the bunker’s void shields were broken through and the battlements started taking casualties, notably yielding Slay the Warlord when Commander Higgenbotham and his veterans got fragged by a cover-ignoring blast.

Look at me, I'm so awesome!

Look at me, I’m so awesome!

Outcome

Kingbreakers hold out for the win, 9 objective points versus the Tau’s 3 objective points, Slay, and Blood. Tragically the endgame death of my warlord deprived me of a crushing victory by putting Carl just above half my points.

Analysis

I think Carl’s big issue here was that he incorrectly decided very early on that he would have to table me to reclaim victory from my initial points lead, and he focused entirely on that. Among other things, that’s a risky strategy if you’re not totally sure of the clock; between my infantry movement and his extensive shooting + movement—the many assault jumps in his army take quite a bit of time, effectively adding an entire second movement phase to his turn—this game only went 4 turns. Particularly with those assault jumps giving so much mobility, if he hadn’t lost sight of the objectives he would have been easily able to start cranking out objectives points very soon after his Crisis Suits arrived from reserve.

Random meetings in a dark alley in the 41st millenium.

Random meetings in a dark alley in the 41st millenium.

Round 2

Next up: John and Pat with their Clan Raukaan and Imperial Fists team-up, both using their respective codex supplements. Core elements included 3 lascannon Devastator Centurions, 3 grav-amp/hurricane bolter Devastator Centurions, two Librarians with various relics, a Stormtalon flyer, a Thunderfire Cannon, a collection of Drop Pod Tacticals and Sternguard, and of course meltaguns and lascannons everywhere. The mission was Purge the Alien (annihilation), very much a rarity at Redcap’s. Deployment was 12″ long edges. I chose alternate scoring, they went for normal. I deployed first and went first.

Fight!

Ghosts on the drop managed to wound the Raukaan Librarian despite his Centurion bodyguards soaking up wounds. This paved the way for the Librarian to die from Perils of the Warp and yield First Blood and Slay the Warlord. Tactical 1 had little impact on the drop and took heavy casualties but Angholan eliminated the Thunderfire Cannon before expiring to overwatch fire. Most of the Imperial Fists spent the game engaging the Knight Errant en route to their encampment, eventually taking it down as it thrashed through ruins. The Stormtalon buzzed about strafing the bunker’s void shields to hopefully expose it for random lascannon potshots. Everybody else spent the match in a drop pod furball mirror match, with Raukaan and Kingbreakers going blow for blow throughout the trench works and ruins across the board.

Barbarians at the gates!

Barbarians at the gates!

Outcome

Kingbreakers prevail again by a slim margin, 5 kill points plus First Blood, Slay, and Linebreaker versus 6 kill points plus Linebreaker. This was a really great game, with tons of different activity going on all over the board. Not only was it extremely close but it was super hard to quickly gauge the score throughout. Nobody had any real idea who was up or down until the final tally, though I think they thought they were much farther behind than they were.

Thoughts

One notable local meta thing is that Redcap’s reworked their cathedral/dockyard ruins set up quite a bit. It’s now visibly more open, though there’s still a ton of ruins for cover and straight out line of sight blocking. I liked the board a lot before even though its very limited firing lanes hampered me, but the new version is much smoother for 40k play, particularly at the larger end of the points spectrum, and more fair to more armies.

No doubt important in this game was the Sternguard more or less successfully going after the Raukaan Librarian. Him taking a Perils wound was huge, but it was a big deal that the Sternguard got at least one wound on him beforehand. The guy’s tough to kill: Can’t be insta-gibbed by double strength, has a 3+/3++ save, Feel No Pain, and typically hangs around with some 2+ save Centurion bodyguards. Even without the Libby going down though, taking out two grav-amp Centurions in that first turn was a big mental boost. John did come in with Invisibility known to his Librarian, but with two of them down I was much less worried about him being able to shield that unit even before he expired prematurely.

Skeletor says: Protect me, you fools!  With your lives if necessary! And maybe even if not!

Skeletor says: Protect me, you fools! With your lives if necessary! And maybe even if not!

Alternate Scoring

This was the first I’ve seen Redcap’s alternate annihilation scoring, and it might actually have been its first appearance. It was pretty obvious for Pat and John that they should take normal scoring as my list featured a whopping 21 possible kill points, even before any combat squadding. Much of that was also fairly squishy.

On my end, choosing alternate scoring was a mistake that very nearly cost me the round. Glancing at John & Pat’s army they didn’t seem to have a ton of units, certainly an underestimate. None of it seemed super squishy either—not many Rhinos or such, and a bunch of hard targets like Centurions and a flyer. My logic was that alternate scoring would defeat a core strength of Marines: Having a bunch of single dudes or pairs hanging around doing nothing but not yielding up a kill point for wiping their entire unit. This is precisely a big part of how I snuck in the win: By the end I had four near-dead but persistent Space Marine infantry units—3 Tacticals, 2 Tacticals, 1 Sternguard, 1 Scout. Thinking about it more clearly though, 200 pts per Victory Point in alternate versus a straight-up unit per point in normal scoring is too high a tradeoff. For example, you’d have to kill an entire 10 man Tactical (140 pts + upgrades) as well as their transport (35 pts) for that point, versus two under normal scoring, three if they combat squad.

So, under the current Redcap’s rules, my new heuristic is I should all but always choose alternate objective scoring and almost always choose normal annihilation. Alternate annihilation only possibly makes sense if facing an extremely dense Terminator army or such, and even then only if they have large blobs (not the standard 5 man squads) or very expensive kit-outs. I think that logic holds for most armies, so both sets of alternate scoring conditions probably warrant some tweaking, one for being universally better and the other universally worse.

All these void shields and no one brought a fly swatter?!  Damnit!

All these void shields and no one brought a fly swatter?! Damnit!

Round 3

Final match: Colin and his Blood Angels/Dark Angels deep striking bonanza. He brought close to what he announced he would: Belial, 15 Terminators, a Reclusiarch, 2 Furioso Dreadnoughts, a Death Company Dreadnought, Assault Marines, Death Company Tacticals, and Scouts. The mission was Crusade (4 objectives) and table corners deployment. We both went for alternate scoring. I deployed first and went first.

This was probably the most thought I’ve seen put into objective placement under the new 7th edition rules. I placed mine as hard as possible into diagonally opposed corners, hoping to curtail adjacent deep striking surface area. Colin placed both of his near the center, in opposite directions along the long axis.

Deployment.

Deployment.

Fight!

The Inquisition detects a group of Blood Angels Scouts skulking about outside a continental capital and decides to bring them in for questioning about suspected mutations within their geneseed. Captain Angholan takes this charge a bit too zealously and accidentally flames the initiates to a crisp for First Blood. Hearing their dieing calls for help, equally suspicion-clouded Dark Angels in the sector drop in alongside more Blood Angels to avenge their barbecuing. Kingbreakers call in reinforcements, and before long nobody can back down from the fighting throughout the shanty town surrounding the city.

Far from the Kingbreakers outpost, Belial precision deep strikes in tight quarters and wipes out Squad Titus. The Kingbreakers’ Knight ally is mobbed by Furiosos and assault cannon Terminators, with Angholan nearby but unable to break through copious slum detritus in time to assist before it is detonated. Ghosts make a desperate landing into a massive vat of highly corrosive industrial waste, taking heavy casualties as the veterans struggle to not sink under the weight of their power armor. Their sacrifices are awarded however by perfect positioning and the outright kill of a fearsome Death Company Dreadnought before joining the ongoing firefight echoing down the main avenues.

Up and down the alleyways, Devastators and Predators trade fire with Terminators, screaming balls of plasma charges and pounding autocannon thumps rebutted by the continual chittering of assault cannon hits across the scrap metal structures. Heads tucked low, the Forest Guard charge forward in all directions to reclaim ground for their fallen battle brothers but are repulsed by the raging Blood Angels Reclusiarch and caught short working their way through ruined Drop Pods.

Stick 'em up! --- I can't! This is as much flexibility as I have!

Stick ’em up! — I can’t! This is as much flexibility as I have!

Outcome

Dark-Blood Angels win convincingly, 8 objective points and Linebreaker to 1 objective point and First Blood.

Through turn 3 we were tied, neither of us scoring much on objectives as nearly all were contested. After that though Colin had swept my Troops off and gotten more of his on, quickly racking up the points with three objectives scored on each of turns 3 and 4. Nearly all his army consists of troops, including the Dreadnoughts and Drop Pods, and in several cases trumped my Predators and other units to claim objectives out from under them.

Both of us screwed up and forgot to take a moment to punch a building when we had nothing else to do, and thus gave up a cheap bonus battle point. Always stay on top of your bonus points!

Thoughts

Everybody else chose to go second against Colin so the Deathwing and Pods would come down and they’d have a chance to shoot at him on their first turn. I went first so I could claim First Blood against the Scouts and setup my guys on objectives to hopefully claim points on turn 2. I think that was a reasonable decision, though I have to think more about whether it was best. Among the downsides were letting Colin basically optimally target all my dudes rather than forcing him to go after some objectives blind. It put a lot of pressure on me to instantly build up effective defenses around those objectives to score at least once or twice before probably getting wiped. Compounding the basic challenge there is basically everything in his army having Objective Secured. It’d be a lot easier to do when looking at opposing Sternguard or regular Terminators coming down. All in all, not a ridiculously poor strategy, but a tough road.

In practice though I poorly bubble wrapped the far objective with disembarked Tacticals. In my head I was trying to get a couple shots on the opposing Scouts just in case, and to bubble wrap the Drop Pod a bit. The first of course was completely unnecessary, and the second a lesser priority. That line of thought wound up skewing my deployment around the objective and Belial’s squad was able to contest it, preventing me from scoring it on turn 2. In reality with how my Pod came down I should have been able to deploy those guys to force Belial far enough away from the objective to score that critical point at least once.

Mid-game.

Mid-game.

Somewhat similarly, despite me placing my objectives in the corners, I opted to not build my castle there. That left my control over that objective much much more tenuous, and in fact Colin got a lucky break when my combat squad holding it broke from shooting casualties and ran out of place, costing me another point. Otherwise though my whole castle group would have had extremely limited firing options.

Instead I placed the fortification where the Devastators would have somewhat reasonable firing lanes on both the central objectives, and they did wind up doing a lot. The fort was also then positioned for the Guardsmen to run at either my corner objective or the closer of the central markers.

Unfortunately I wound up not actually executing that well and used my Guardsmen poorly. Timing is everything and I misgauged a bit. I also didn’t utilize my orders well, just through inexperience. Moving toward the corner objective, if my Guardsmen had charged Colin’s Assault Marines a turn earlier instead of rapid firing I might have been able to stall the Blood Angels just long enough for my Predator to score it once. Similarly, I started moving my other squad of Guardsmen toward the central objective late, partly out of neglect and partly fear they’d get shot up too early. I then compounded that by not using my orders to have them shoot + run, or even better to run faster, and potentially get onto that objective to score once.

Stop kicking me! Stop kicking me!

Stop kicking me! Stop kicking me!

Outcome

Despite the crushing loss at the end, I still wound up apparently winning the tournament, though I confess I don’t fully understand the rankings. Carl actually wound up with more battle points than me, with John and then Colin in 3rd and 4th. I’m assuming that whatever scoring was used in Torrent of Fire to run the round-robin—not the way most 40k tournaments are usually done—bracketed me ahead for beating Carl and John, Carl beating both John and Colin, and John beating Colin. Carl also won the painting raffle so I think he came out ahead on loot regardless.

Either way and despite the low attendance, I was pleased to continue my streak of not finishing worse than 2nd this year. The loss to Colin was a blow as I had tried to kit out my army specifically to fight his, but I think with just a bit better play I might be able to swing at least a close game.

Army Thoughts

Scouts continue to be particularly useful in 7th to infiltrate onto objectives way out in no-man’s land. That’s going to be increasingly important through the combination of the new objective placement rules with increasing focus on cumulative and other scoring mechanisms not simply applied at game-end.

Even with my inexperience and some misplay, the Guard contingent did a good job. The bubble wrapping was useful and they actually did some damage in shooting. That core of Company Command + a Veteran Squad or two is basically the cheapest setup for an Allied or Combined Arms detachment, respectively. Taking an Infantry Platoon would incur another ~40 points, trading off the Vet Squad surcharge for a required Platoon Command Squad. This scheme also basically matched the models I had on hand, though I still had to build four plain Guardsmen the morning of the tournament as my others all had obvious special weapons and such. I would definitely consider bringing more Guardsmen just to sacrifice for bubble wrapping both the bunker and the Knight.

Two Combined Arms detachments would also enable both a bunker and a Void Shield Generator. That’s definitely something I’m thinking about, caveat that I think castling up is going to be less and less viable with the newly developing objective placement rules and scoring mechanisms.

No castles, only attack!  Attack!

No castles, only attack! Attack!

The Knight was somewhat disappointing, though not a blowout. It didn’t actually manage to kill hardly anything, but everybody saw it as a huge threat and devoted significant focus toward bringing it down, in and itself a useful thing. I was torn beforehand but currently think the Errant with its melta blast is indeed the better option, compared to the 2x large blast of the Paladin variant. It’s a tough call, but the second blast is probably overkill and the melta bonuses more useful.

With Drop Pods and such increasingly back in vogue the Knight can really stand solid bubble wrapping to stand off melta weapons. It also needs to be kept away from terrain to have maximal impact. Somewhat oddly it moves a very fast 12″ over open ground but apparently—the intent is unclear—moves in terrain like a typical model with Move Through Cover, at most 6″. Note that this is a big debuff for super-heavy walkers versus other super-heavy vehicles, which move 12″ regardless of terrain and can’t immobilize. Given the fire that will concentrate on the Knight, I think you really want it running forward as fast as possible to smash some enemies in assault before it goes down. Just as importantly, that will help ensure the catastrophic super-heavy explosion happens in their lines and not yours.

Seventh

Although a small tournament, this was a great day with a bunch of good players and tight games. It was unfortunate there wasn’t a wider variety of armies to see more of what’s possible under raw 7th edition rules. We also did uncover a whole bunch of things that are either ambiguous or deceptively substantial changes in the rules. But I remain really optimistic about the core of this edition, and am currently as excited about 40k as I was at the start of 5th, which is quite a bit.

Again, more photos are in the Flickr gallery.

You gonna die, boy! --- Aw, leave me alone, you guys don't even score!  Seriously, you're like the only thing in the game that doesn't anymore!  Just let me have this, it's all I do!  Aauuguguh!

You gonna die, boy! — Aw, leave me alone, you guys don’t even score! Seriously, you’re like the only thing in the game that doesn’t anymore! Just let me have this, it’s all I do! Aauuguguh!