Redcap’s February tournament yesterday was a doubles event, 1000 pts per player/2k per team, no allies other than your partner, and no Escalation or Mega-Bulwarks. Doubles is, quite rightly, a particularly popular format so a good bit more players came out than usual. There was a pretty good mix of factions across 10 teams/20 players: Eldar, Grey Knights, Chaos, Guard, Necrons, Tau, Tyranid, and Space Marines from all of their codexes.
With this tournament, Redcap’s has started using Torrent of Fire. ToF’s signup process doesn’t make a ton of sense and their web interface is awkward—nothing seems to be where or flow how I would expect—but it’s kind of neat to have a detailed leaderboard. Previously I usually had to scramble to steal or take a picture of the final printout to get any final record. It was also cool to be out at dinner and people be able to look up post-2nd round rankings as soon as Jake posted them.
Rob W and I teamed up for this campaign, the Kingbreakers joining his Fyrehaus Battalion to try and enforce some order in a sector apparently full of Necron and some very confused Grey Knights and Dark Angels. Ultimately we finished 2nd after one team was disqualified in the final round for not having a Forge World book for one of their units. All three of our games were super tight and really really good, claiming a draw-win-win and just enough bonus points to edge out 3rd place with an identical record, the guys we tied against in Round 1.
Photos are up in the Flickr gallery, this time including a fair number of the other armies around the store.
Rob and I immediately settled on an alpha strike+castle strategy, splitting focus by offense/defense rather than left/right or a truly integrated combined army. He loves his IG Colossus and I love my Drop Pods, so it seemed reasonable. After playing a scrimmage against each others’ halves last weekend, he brought:
- Company Command w/ 2x Snipers, Missile Launcher
- Platoon Command w/ 4x Snipers
- Veterans w/ Lascannon, 3x Snipers
- Infantry Squad x10
- Infantry Squad x10
- Conscripts x30
- Vendetta Gunship
- Vendetta Gunship
- Colossus w/ Heavy Flamer
- Imperial Bunker w/ Quadgun, Comms Relay, Void Shield
- Capt Angholan—Vulkan
- Librarian Rorschach—Generic Librarian (ML 1, Power Armor)
- Squad Harmon—Sternguard x5 w/ Poweraxe (Mastercrafted) and 3x Combi-Meltas in Drop Pod
- Squad Scolirus—Tacticals x9 w/ Vet Sgt, Powerfist(Mastercrafted)+Boltgun, Flamer, Drop Pod
- Squad Titus—Tacticals x10 w/ Chainsword (Mastercrafted)+Bolt Pistol, Meltabombs, Meltagun, Multi-Melta, Drop Pod
- Landspeeders x2 in squadron w/ Multi-Melta, Heavy Flamer
One change I would consider to Rob’s list—though admittedly without having a super tight handle on how it played out—would be more heavy weapons, probably swapping out snipers to do so. On my end I’d drop the Landspeeders. Originally I was going to play 10x Sternguard with no Speeders, but swapped in the latter at the last minute because I was worried about not having hardly any special weapons once the alpha strike fizzled out. In practice though, with Rob camped out in our rear and all my army forward, the Landspeeders were alone in the midfield and got wiped out before they could have much impact.
The Librarian’s primary role was to be a cheap buff to the Conscript blob, hanging out with his IG buddies in the backfield all day and giving that unit And They Shall Know No Fear. My impression was that this was generally pretty useful, keeping those guys from being swept or running off the table at several key points. With that defensive positioning, Rorschach again assumed the role of Warlord so Angholan could strike forward and throw his life down for the Emperor without giving up a victory point. Obviously this would of course then be the one day were Vulkan’s Warlord Trait, +1 to combat resolution, would have been hugely helpful in tipping the balance of several interminable assaults… Damn it!
First up were Harrison and Joel with their Necron and Tau in Crusade (4 objectives) and Hammer+Anvil (long table). They chose sides and went first, but via the Emperor’s grace we seized the initiative.
With a number of ruins on the table, Kingbreakers were able to drop on important targets without being intercepted by the disappointed Riptide. Angholan and Squad Scolirus flamed an entire unit of Firewarriors off an objective, while Harmon’s Sternguard popped Imotekh’s Ghost Ark, claiming First Blood. The Tacticals got decimated by Broadsides and Wraiths. Eventually Angholan took care of the latter and wound up in an interminable, boring close combat challenge with the Tau Commander in an Iridium Suit (2+ save). On the upside, that kept him from being shot at and tied up the Broadsides from doing anything. The remaining single Tactical ran and hid nearby in hopes that Vulkan would win out and clear the objective to be claimed. Meanwhile Squad Titus dropped, again sneaking in without being Intercepted, and wiped out another unit of Firewarriors on an objective.
In our backfield, the IG spent a bunch of turns hanging out. Imotekh effectively suppressed that entire half of our army by keeping the game in Nightfighting. Eventually they got some real action when a Nightscythe arrived and dropped a unit of Warriors off near an objectives. Unfortunately our two Vendettas got slagged by an Annihilation Barge, two whole squads of Guardsmen dying in the flaming wreckage. Combined with the terrain and nightfighting crippling the Quadgun, that dramatic loss enabled the Nightscythe to slip through. Harried for a few turns previously by a deep striking Tau suit popping in and out of cover nearby, the Conscripts and Platoon Command didn’t maneuver in time to physically cordon off our second objective tightly enough, enabling the Warriors to run through and contest it. The Colossus did eventually pound the Necron on their home objective, but didn’t have enough turns without nightfighting to clear them off.
Outcome & Analysis
The game finished a tight draw: 1 objective each, with us claiming First Blood, them Slay the Warlord, and both Linebreaker.
All in all, Alpha striking the Firewarriors definitely worked out. It forced half the Necron troops to stay in their home base to hold it, though they basically would have done so anyway once their Ark transport was popped. More importantly, that eliminated all of the Tau troops, granting us a bonus point. We wound up only beating Harrison+Joel by 2 points in the tournament, so tagging the troops rather than more deadly targets was doubly worthwhile. The Ghost Ark though in hindsight I have mixed feelings about. It would have been good if the Necron troops and HQ moved forward and could have been better shot at by the IG, while leaving nothing behind to claim their home objectives once all the Firewarriors were gone. Taking out the Annihilation Barge instead would have also prevented it from wrecking our Vendettas. On the other hand, with all the terrain and its armor, the Ark would have stood a really good chance of dropping those guys off directly in front of our castled objective, which could have been a huge problem.
Next came Byron & Max and their Necron (damn it!) and Grey Knights (WTF?), hugging it out with the Fyrehaus-Kingbreakers in Purge the Alien and Vanguard deployment, bonus points for 1 Troop at full strength and if each player has a unit in the opposing deployment. They chose corners and went first.
Looking at our alpha strike options, we had a couple dilemmas. Known heretic and huge jerk Coteaz encamped in a Chimera with Psykers and Plasmacannons created a large bubble we couldn’t drop into without being wrecked. Both flanks also presented important targets, with a phalanx of Annihilation Barges on one, and Draigo + Imotekh and troops on the other. Fortunately for us their army spread out too much in its first move, giving us effective places to come down outside the Coteaz bubble. Sternguard attacked the Barges to only partial effect, but took one out in close combat the next turn. Squad Titus though melta dropped a Ghost Ark for First Blood. Enraged at the loss of his pimpmobile, Imotekh lead his new BFF Draigo and some warriors to crush them. That kept them in the backfield and away from Coteaz though, enabling Angholan and Scolirus to drop nearby and wind up in a grueling game-long combat with Draigo.
In the opposite corner, Guardsmen pretty much spent the whole game shooting at 3 Knight Paladins that teleported directly onto our castle. Eventually the Fyrehaus was reduced to throwing shoes at them, but they turned out to be allergic to leather and died just in time. Of particular danger here was how hard our castle was crammed into the corner, meaning that any morale failure stood a good chance in units running off the table. The Librarian’s conditioning and leadership kept the blob alive, though the game did bog down at one point in a healthy debate and TO decision about whether or not a Guardsman’s toe had slipped off the table edge. Despite the bubble wrap working overtime to keep the Colossus alive, Imotekh kept nightfighting going until a whopping turn 5, yet again stymieing the IG artillery. Vendettas arrived just in time to trade kills with the Annihilation Barges as they made their way onto our ground.
In the closing moments of the battle Angholan won the epic whiff-fest against the xenos-allied heretic Draigo, swinging us by 3 full points (Draigo, Slay, Linebreaker). In retribution for the crippling Nightfighting, Angholan rushed forward to flame some cowering Immortals, dropping one and blocking their full-troop bonus point.
Outcome & Analysis
For several turns the Fyrehaus-Kingbreakers pulled ahead to a substantial lead. The Necron-Knights held tough though, pulling even in midgame. After that the score swung back and forth wildly with big gains on each side as crippled units were finally eliminated, Drop Pods gaussed to death, and so on. Eventually we came out ahead though, 13 to 9, including Slay and Linebreaker. We also claimed a critical bonus point for a full troop by keeping a unit safely ensconced in the bunker.
A couple opposing moves would have dramatically affected the game. Most importantly, their army should have kept tighter to Coteaz. As-was they moved too far from his protective bubble, leaving them prone to the Drop Pod strikes. I’m not sure what benefits Draigo gets as Warlord, but putting him in a very aggressive posture alone on the leading edge as the Warlord risks multiple victory points in Purge missions with Sternguard Pods around. Similarly, the Barges maybe should have ignored the Sternguard and just kept moving forward. They probably would have outpaced the Sternguard, who had no effective ranged attacks on them after the combi-meltas were spent, and better supported the Paladins against our castle. Though the Sternguard only took down one, baiting the others in this way to stay behind a turn was probably worthwhile.
Finally we faced Brett and Toby with their IG and Dark Angels in Big Guns (4 objectives) and Dawn of War, bonus points for claiming two secondary objectives and both opposing Warlords eliminated. I was particularly excited about this as Brett and I haven’t played in some time. Toby’s army is also really well done, especially considering he’s only been playing and working on it for a couple months.
Notably about deployment, Brett dropped two Vengeance Batteries with Battle Cannons on opposite sides of the table, right on the half-line and covering our entire deployment zone. Combined with his Leman Russes and Toby’s Plasmacannons, it was unfortunate for us to draw this match on one of the more open tables. Though it came on anyway, despite our frustrations at prolonged Nightfighting in the earlier games, we were prepared to invoke it via my rolled Warlord trait in order to give some shelter the first turn. Ultimately the Guard’s searchlights though mitigated this.
Sternguard made a super tight landing inside bubble wrap around the Leman Russes but again whiffed on the meltas despite Vulkan re-rolls. Fortunately they were able to hide from serious retribution, literally in a crevice between a rock (an actual rock) and a hard place (their Drop Pod), and tied up a Dreadnought for the game. Angholan and Scolirus flamed a Company Command Squad for First Blood and Slay. Angholan quickly wound up in single combat with Azrael for literally the entire game with zero wounds scored, tying up the DA leader and a blob of troops well away from an objective. The other Tacticals came down to explode a Russ, finish the Dreadnought, and threaten an objective, tying up a Techmarine and his Servitors’ heavy weapons in the process.
Back home, Fyrehaus took out the Vengeance Battery directly in front of their castle before it could have much impact. Afterward they spent the game in a running engagement with Deathwing Terminators teleported onto their flank and supported by bikers sweeping around. This was a close cut thing. The Terminators eventually died but the bikers literally ran circles around our castle. Though not impossible, claiming one of the two home objectives in the endgame would be difficult with this unit around, and two was definitely out of the question. In the end the Emperor again helped out, ensuring the remaining traitorous Dark Angel biker crashed and died trying to jump the flaming wreckage of the Colossus.
Fyrehas Vendettas meanwhile swept in to take out a Leman Russ, then deposited their troops to work toward the two opposing objectives before turning around to assist in home field anti-Terminator defense. One squad died in a valiant headlong rush into Dark Angels plasma Tacticals, while the other was lost to a man in cut-throat ruins combat with an opposing Platoon on the objective near table center. Their sacrifices however bought time for a Vendetta to hover back around and blast the Unforgiven off their objective, securing the victory.
Outcome & Analysis
The false Imperials were vanquished, with each side holding 1 objective, Slay, and a Heavy Support kill, but Fyrehaus-Kingbreakers also taking First Blood, Linebreaker, and an additional Heavy Support kill. We additionally took another Bonus point for claiming two Secondary Objectives. This was another super close game that swung back and forth. For a while we were up, then the game was close, then things looked grim, and finally it pulled out at the last possible moment.
One mistake on the opposing side was they forgot about the remaining Vengeance Battery for most of the game. I chalk this up to simple unfamiliarity with the IG army in use. On our side, one mistake was that after destroying the Dreadnought I could have gone toward either of the opposing objectives. I went toward the more heavily defended one, hoping to break through the Techmarine unit and contest with the Dark Angels. The Techmarine is too survivable though and slowly picked off my Tacs. In contrast, my Marines could have easily assisted our own IG in sweeping the Infantry Squad on the other objective and then easily sat there holding that.
Not surprisingly, several questions about how doubles work did come up. A minor one is whether or not I could take actions in the shooting phase before Rob issued his orders. Though disadvantageous to us, we strongly assumed not.
More important are the army-wide effects. I didn’t really think about it until Colin pointed it out, and don’t believe it would have affected our game much, but I don’t believe the Necron+Tau combo were rolling Imotekh’s lightening against the Tau. Tthe Necron+Grey Knights combo though was super eager to roll lightning against their own guys for the sheer chaos of it…
A more general question was about Imotekh’s lightning against fortifications, i.e., units embarked in buildings. Clearly though don’t hit the embarked unit, just like a transport. But does lightning strike the building? I believe Imotekh’s Storm is worded as hitting all enemy models, which I would argue does not include fortifications. A different but connected question is whether or not the lightning hits Void Shields when striking units on battlements. We all assumed it would.
Rob and I each made a significant tactical error around objectives that would have been a big boost: Fyrehaus not blocking off a home objective against the Necron in Round 1, which would have converted a draw to a win, and Kingbreakers going for the wrong objective at the end of Round 3, which would have converted a win to a crushing victory. Other than that we played well and I’m happy with the result.
One thing we did underplay throughout the tournament was the Librarian. He was definitely useful giving passive buffs (And They Shall Know No Fear, his high leadership) to the Conscripts, but there were a few important times we forgot to use his powers when they would have actually been useful. Rob of course doesn’t usually field Librarians and the model wasn’t really in his army, and on my part I was basically handing him over to Rob for the backfield defense and then forgetting about him, so we blew it a couple times.
Given that I usually play Drop Pods and generally close range shooting, I’ve never really appreciated just how strong is Imotekh’s enforced Nightfighting. In the first two rounds here though it was really crippling for the bulk of each game. The Necron+Tau combo is particularly powerful due to that, with the Tau and their Darksun Filters ignoring the Nightfighting.
As noted up top, this was a rare occasion I didn’t play Angholan as Warlord, and I could have actually really used Vulkan’s Warlord Trait of +1 to combat results. For once he didn’t actually die at any point, and instead spent each game in ridiculous combats featuring characters with 2+ saves swinging AP 3 swords at each other. In some ways that wasn’t bad, each time he tied up entire units and contested or defended objectives all by himself. But it would have been nice to win some combats and force opponents to retreat or be swept. That trait would have made a big difference in Round 1 in particular, greatly boosting his chances to sweep the Tau and allowing a remaining Tactical to claim an objective.
Also as above, 5 more Sternguard with 3 combi-meltas would have been a good swap for the Landspeeders. However, another interesting idea would be to exchange for Scouts in a Landspeeder Storm! I’m dying to get one of those in play, and this would have been a good place for it. With the Comms Relay re-roll and the Storm’s fast movement, we could have potentially kept them back until mid or late game, then flew on to shore up an objective in the endgame.
That in turn would have addressed a basic problem of ours. As always, the tradeoff with an alpha strike is that once it runs out of steam you’re going to be struggling to hold onto the lead you hopefully built up. A late arriving cheap Troop unit could have helped with that. As-was, you could really see this in each of our games. For the first couple turns it would look like we were way up, but then as my guys got eliminated the games would draw much closer and then it’d be tough & nail. The first two games it was particularly funny: With the Nightfighting from Imotekh, Rob would be really crippled to do anything for a couple turns while I was fighting heavily on the front. Then my guys would all be dead or in combat, leaving me with little to do, while he would be super busy defending our backfield.
All in all, this was another excellent day of gaming. Rob and I have a similar mindset to the game, and our two armies and play style complemented each other well here. Our opponents were also great, and each game was really close and super fun.
Again, more photos are in the Flickr gallery.