Berks Spring Assault

berks-paThis weekend I went out for the Berks 40k Spring Assault in the Classic track, a 1000 point casual-oriented tournament. Unfortunately several other PAGE and Redcap’s people bailed at the last minute, but Tom M, Colin K, and Steve S were also there. The Classic track had 40 players, and the 2500 point Unleashed track another 16, so together with a bunch of organizers, judges, and spectators, there was a sizable crowd. This was actually my first time going to the Spring Assault, and I was not disappointed. Despite a couple rough games personally and winning absolutely zero of the many many raffle drawings, it was as expected a really fun day.

A few more photos from my games and just a couple of armies on display are in the photo gallery. Unfortunately there was enough going on all day, and my games busy enough, that I didn’t manage to get nearly as many photos as I usually do, particularly from the surrounding games and armies.



I went with something atypical for me—no Drop Pods, no Sternguard, no Knight (not permitted in this format!), no fortification, just dudes in trucks and some skimmer supports:

  • Captain Angholan (Vulkan)
  • Squad Scolirus: Tactical x10 w/ Veteran Sgt, Powerfist, Flamer, Missile Launcher, Rhino
  • Squad Harbinger: Tactical x6 w/ Veteran Sgt, Combi-Melta, Meltabombs, Meltagun, Rhino
  • Squad Titus: Tactical x10 w/ Veteran Sgt, Chainsword, Meltabombs, Meltagun, Missile Launcher, Rhino
  • Scouts x5 w/ Camo Cloaks, Sniper Rifles
  • Landspeeder w/ Multi-Melta, Heavy Flamer
  • Landspeeder w/ Multi-Melta, Heavy Flamer

That is a pretty traditional and fluffy Space Marine list, but has some units of dubious performance in the modern day. Landspeeders, particularly of this kit-out, are not super strong at the moment, to a large extent simply due to not getting the Salamanders’ flame re-rolls. But their high mobility can be useful in these kind of small games to grab objectives and such and I love them, so I went with it. Vulkan on the other hand is generally a very good unit for a combat-oriented Space Marine, he’s just a lot of points to sink into a single T4 infantry model at 1000pts.

The Rhinos I took over Drop Pods because I expected terrain to be slightly lighter than what we generally run, so I wanted something for my dudes to bunker up in. With such few units I was also worried about my ability to cover any Maelstrom type mission with dudes on foot after Podding in.

All in all, to foreshadow a bit, I wasn’t too shocked to struggle in two games against newer toys, and was pleased to do well in the other half of my games.

Round 1

Dawn of War, Crusade with 4 objectives, against Mark V H’s Eldar. His list had a good mix of units, I actually think it was originally designed for Highlander format as nothing repeated. I think it really hurt me this game to not have my usual Drop Pods and Sternguard. With the Pods I could have taken the fight directly to the xenos, potentially slagging his exposed D-Cannon artillery, and the Sternguard could have put poison and melta on the Wraithknight. As it was though, those barrage S10 AP2 shots tagged anything I did manage to hide from the walker and a Wave Serpent, with a Nightwing Interceptor coming in later to clean up. The Kingbreakers did take down the Wraithknight Aevethon’s Lament, but it was a pyrrhic victory just before they were swept away.



Round 2

Vanguard Strike, Purge the Alien with old school Victory Points (1 point for each 100 pts totaled among completely destroyed units), against Louis J and his Iron Hands. This kind of mission is always tough for me, and this seemed like just a particularly bad matchup for it. His army was a bit light on units, so playing for objectives I think I would have been fine. But for kill points all my light vehicles and troops rushing across a fairly open field at him seemed like they’d be tasty targets for his large quantity of S6+ long range shooting before I could get any melta into play: Dudes with lascannons, two Razorbacks w/ twin-linked Lascannon sponsons, grav Bikers, a Contemptor, a Sicaran, and a Master of the Forge. My usual Sternguard and Drop Pods again would have been useful here, to melta-drop some opposing vehicles. So, I kinda went to left field and played for a draw by reserving almost everything and hoping to simply keep it from being killed. Scouts I buried completely out of LOS within a hut to keep me in the game. Landspeeders I put on the table but very carefully out of LOS and range to anything, as juicy targets to try and draw the Iron Hands forward.



In the end I brought the ‘Speeders out of hiding too early and they got slagged before doing anything meaningful. Partly that was do to poor targeting priority, sending them against the bikers to protect the Scouts rather than trying to trade fire with the Razorbacks. The other Kingbreakers that came on and went right into hiding did some damage after the enemy finally came forward enough to strike at meaningfully. It wasn’t enough though and I went down to a minor loss. Potentially this goofball strategy could have worked if I’d changed the order up a bit, deploying a Rhino and flying on the Landspeeders, and overall stuck to my guns and done nothing but waited for him to come to me piecemeal. It was really difficult for me to do all that sitting around though, even as Louis was a great sport and found it hilarious that basically nothing happened for three turns. Overall I wouldn’t do this strategy again, and was probably kitted out to fight toe-to-toe with this army anyway, but it just seemed like something different to try and maybe put him off kilter and engender a major mistake tipping the balance. That almost worked, when he finally broke and started bringing units forward, but then Louis realized what was about to happen and stepped them all back just a few meaningful inches before I could bring on a solid thrust at them.



Round 3

Dawn of War, a variant on the Relic with additional immovable objective markers, against Chris S and his Dark Eldar. The Kingbreakers swept this one fairly systematically. Scouts got sacrificed as a ploy to bring some troops forward, which then got burninated as the meltas and missile launchers took down the opposing Raiders one by one. Even the Razorwing flyer eventually took a fair amount of damage. The Rhinos in turn just churned up field until they were controlling all three objectives and the xenos tabled except for the jetfighter. Here I think the Dark Eldar mostly just couldn’t bring on enough of a concentrated force to really score some major damage before the relatively fragile units could be rolled up one by one.




Round 4

Old-school Spearhead setup, fighting to kill and control monstrous creature Peeps, against Steve S and his Space Wolves Chaos Marines. This deployment setup is funny, and one that I actually think about a lot in coming up with new arrangements for our events. Each army gets a table quadrant to deploy in, but must be at least 12″ from table center. The thing is that it doesn’t really preserve the 24″ boundary. The corners closest to center are a fair bit closer, so you’re open to Turn 1 charges if you deploy there, first player Turn 1 charges no longer being barred by the rules AFAIK. I totally forgot about this, deployed in the forward corners, and got immediately charged by Steve’s horde of Chaos dogs, cyber dogs, and Thunderhammer-wielding lord and henchman on Juggernauts.

IMG_0777-cropped IMG_0779

That was basically ok, because a Landspeeder and Rhino went *poof* and then the whole horde was ideally placed for the entire Kingbreakers army to drop flame, meltas, bolters, missiles, and the kitchen sink on it. Being kitted out with a fair bit of flame, including Salamanders’ re-rolling flame on the infantry, was decisive in tackling the dogs. Re-rolling meltas due to Vulkan, combined with several missile launchers, plucked wounds off the Juggernauts fairly rapidly. I also got very lucky on Steve’s Stormwolf flyer not coming in until Turn 4. Earlier on it would have shifted the game back in his favor quite a bit.

As things went though, very quickly only the lords and a couple straggler dogs were left standing. Then the sugary bio-morphs arrived…



The Peeps came in via deep strike and wielded a WS4 BS2 S6 T6 W6 I2 A3 LD10 3+ Monstrous Creature, Eternal Warrior, Feel No Pain (5+) profile with Laser Eyes R18 S6 AP4 Assault 2. I brought mine in near my encampment so that it could fight the Juggernauts and then be easily claimed by my guys. Steve also dropped his Peep by my guys as he didn’t have much on the backfield except a Rhino charging at me, and hopefully it’d be able to do some damage on its own. Really though, the Peeps wound up being largely pushovers. Each of us wound up destroying the other’s Peep in close combat, Steve with his Juggernauts and me with powerfist wielding Sgt Scolirus. I was stoked because this kind of thing totally justifies my inefficient nostalgic dedication to powerfist sergeants.



After that there were a bunch of small combats. The lords got mopped up. Steve’s flyer arrived and together with the Rhino each delivered a handful of Chaos Marines into the battle, but by that point there were far too many Kingbreakers outnumbering them and they went down pretty easily. The Rhino managed to dash onto one of the dead Peep objectives to contest it, as we ran out of time before I could finish it off, move for Linebreaker, and so on to sweep up more points. But still the Kingbreakers had killed one Peep, held the other dead Peep, and had slain the Chaos warlord, for a doubled-points victory.



Final tally was that I got crushed by Eldar, took a minor loss to the Iron Hands, won a perfect game against Dark Eldar, and massacred Chaosy Space Wolves. So I lost two games I thought would be extremely difficult just based on armies (let alone players, Mark from Round 1 finished 7th overall), crushed a game I in some sense should indeed have won (newer player to this edition, with a difficult to play army), and wrapped up the day winning the game I wanted to win but could have gone either way (against Steve, a friend and good player who’s crushed me many times).

The scoring system is a little opaque, but my painting and sportsmanship must have boosted what on average seemed a middling amount of points per game, to put me 11th of 39 registered players in the final standings. Tom finished an impressive 8th, and Colin and Steve 17th and 18th for all of us to finish in the top half.


All in all, yet another excellent Berks tournament. Bonus points to Berks and Mike B for the best catered lunch I’ve seen at a 40k event, notably including tons of vegetarian options. I was super glad I went despite it being a crazy weekend—Friday I moved, just barely managing to keep my 40k stuff from being lost among all the unopened boxes, and Sunday I ran a small but intricate tournament. I’m definitely looking forward to next year’s Spring Assault already, and hopefully we’ll get more people to come out from Philly and enjoy such a great event.


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.


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.


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.




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.



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!


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.




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!


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.


A couple more general thoughts.


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.


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.


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.



PAGE Apocalypse 2014: The Defense of Kimball Prime


With the fall of Caldor IV and Rittenhouse Hive, yet another of Abaddon’s years-long black crusades continues to build momentum.  Gazing deep into sector holomaps, Kingbreakers’ leadership decides to make a stand on Kimball Prime.  Great works begin as the planet is made into a fortress world, with bunkers, shield generators, and innumerable weapons batteries built from the ice wastes of the poles to the sweltering jungles of the equator.  Here the traitor’s tide of war will be blunted, or the incursion will rage through the sector unstoppable.

Despite a snowstorm shortly before and a variety of other hiccups, most of the PAGE crew got together for its much planned 2014 New Year’s Apocalypse this weekend, to smashing success.  Brett, Colin, Lovell, Steve, Tom, and Warren joined armies to form the Forces of Discord.  Akil, Jason, Justin, Owen, and myself made up the Forces of Order.

Lots more photos are in the Flickr gallery.

The battle underway!

The battle underway!

Listen, we could spend all day rollin' butt loads of dice, or you and me could just Rochambeau right now and get a beer?

Listen, we could spend all day rollin’ butt loads of dice, or you and me could just Rochambeau right now and get a beer?


After extensive ad hoc rebalancing for missing players—presumably caught in the Warp—the two teams came out to about 20,400 points each, from an originally planned 24,000, including all Titans, superheavies, and gargantuan creatures.  The armies of Discord brought a variety of Chaos Marines, Daemons, Cultists, Traitor Guard, and Necrons, supported by a Reaver, Warhound, a Baneblade chassis, Greater Bloodthirster of Khorne, Great Brass Scorpion, all lead by Abaddon.  The Forces of Order brought together many allies, including Space Marines, Space Wolves, Dark Angels, Tau, and Imperial Guard, supported by a Reaver, Warhound, and three Baneblade chassis, lead by Librarian Rorschach.

The planet writhes in flames as the war grinds on to near stalemate.  Finally all the hosts come to a head in a single line of battle stretching across half the planet.  Desperate times at hand, the great heroes Grimnar, Belial, and Creed together with legendary commander Farsight hurl themselves into combat at the head of great columns of men and vehicles.  Awaiting them lies a brutal gallows roll of all the mightiest foes of the Imperium, from blackest Abaddon himself to the greatest daemons of the Warp, with even the machined strategist Imhotekh and all his advisors rising from a newly awoken Tomb Citadel to throw in his lot with the bid to take down an Imperial sector.  The last push begun, Captain Angholan clasps gauntlets with his battle brother Rorschach and embarks to the front, leaving the latter and his Council of Librarians to divine the Emperor’s light and guide the forces of order.

This planet is ours now.

This planet is ours now.

Party's on the other side of the table, boys!

Party’s on the other side of the table, boys!


The board was 6′ x 17’4″, with teams each taking a 2ft long-edge deployment zone.  Chaos won zone selection in a roll-off, and then took first turn as well after bidding 5 minutes’ deployment.  The Imperium, expecting such a low bid from the heretics and having significant foot and vehicular forces to field, bid for a full 30 minutes of setup.  Discord placed a dual set of Void Shield Generators and Vengeance Battery fortifications, with a Necron Tomb Citadel nearby.  Loyalist fortifications included multiple Imperial Bunkers, Vengeance Batteries, and a Void Shield Generator creating a 12″ protective bubble over their central position.

Heretics placed one home objective in the Citadel, another safely ensconced within the overlapping Shield Generators, and targeted an immensely important fir tree among the ice caves on the Imperial flank for their opposed objective.  Kingbreakers declared their central command buildings as tightly clustered home objectives, while the Dark Angels and Tau targeted a critical defensive wall in the jungle temple on Discord’s far right flank as the breach point through which to break the crusade.

Table setup and deployment; click for larger view.

Table setup and deployment; click for larger view.

We followed standard 6th edition Apocalypse scoring for the match: Killing superheavies, gargantuans, and the designated supreme Warmaster are each worth a point; objectives are scored at multiple times and progressively increase in value, in this case after Turns 2, 4, and 5 (game end), and for 1, 2, and 3 points per objective each time.

Let's do this thing!  Steve's scratchbuilt Warhound Titan.

Let’s do this thing! Steve’s scratchbuilt Warhound Titan.


How quickly shift the tides of war!

Major axes of movement & reserve arrivals; click to enlarge.

Major axes of movement & reserve arrivals; click to enlarge.

Turn 1

Combat began hectically, with the defensive Imperials in particular rushing to activate all of their comparatively numerous models and ultimately skipping a fair bit of shooting when time ran out.  Chaos declared a Trophy Kill objective on Grimnar on the Imperial right flank and began pursuing it with a massive Traitor Guard armoured spearhead combined with Abaddon himself and his Terminator bodyguards.  Innumerable daemons spawned into existence, anchored to the Materium by a host of greater daemons bursting forth from the Warp at each corner of the battle and shrouding the field in their Tetragon of Darkness.  A massive Necron Pylon came into existence in the very center of the combat, while Necron Sentry Pylons also beamed into place around the Discord objectives.  Discord claimed a Baneblade chassis while Imperials killed the Pylon to gain one point each through the course of the first turn.

Necron, Traitor Guard, and Abaddon, what could go wrong?!

Necron, Traitor Guard, and Abaddon, what could go wrong?!

Turn 2

The Emperor’s light shone brightly in the next round as the Great Brass Scorpion approached Imperial lines but fell to massed multi-melta and lascannon fire.  Chaos’ foul Tetragon was also quickly broken, with several greater daemons assassinated at their anchor points.  Imperial shooting also took out a Baneblade chassis, and all this without giving up a kill point themselves.  Further, Discord discarded their previously earned point to enact the Lies of Tzeentch Strategic Resource and temporarily control the opposing Reaver, forcing it to friendly fire and obliterate a number of Dark Angels Terminators.  Fast moving Necron Destroyers rushing from their recently awoken Citadel did manage to contest the Space Wolves’ objective, leaving Order only 2 points on objectives versus the Discord 3, but the Imperials and allies still came out ahead after Turn 2.

Ohmygod, we're so behind schedule; I need to take a break...

Ohmygod, we’re so behind schedule; I need to take a break…

Turn 3

Quickly though the clouds darkened over the Imperium.  Abaddon and friends bested Logan Grimnar in personal combat, achieving a Trophy Kill strategic asset and claiming 3 points.  Simultaneously the traitor Reaver and tank columns took down a loyalist Baneblade chassis for another point, the earth shaking crunch as its flaming pieces hit the ground second only to that of Grimnar.  These combined losses in the polar fighting left the Space Wolves distraught and open to systematic decimation in the coming turns.

Ongoing tremendous amounts of heavy shooting also did little to stop the inexorable flanking march of the Greater Bloodthirster onto the Imperial’s command bunker.  Only sustained sacrificial delaying tactics and careful positioning of many Space Marines, Imperial Guard, and Tau vehicles and infantry continued to keep it from reaching the Kingbreakers’ encampment and cracking open the critical Void Shields.  Ultimately Order gained no points and ceded its lead in the planet-wide battle royale.

For the greater good!  Blood for the Blood God!

For the greater good! Blood for the Blood God!

Turn 4

Approaching the endgame, the match pitched into a grinding battle of quarter inches and small chances.  Discord caused a cataclysmic explosion on the jungle flank by exploding the Imperial Reaver.  More damningly, the raging Bloodthirster, chosen warrior of Khorne, achieved his primary objective and crushed in a single blow the Imperials’ Void Shield Generator, exposing the command bunker and both objectives previously under its aegis.

Recovering from their mounting losses though, Order achieved several critical successes.  Hulking in screaming victory over the savaged ruins of the Shield Generator, the massive Bloodthirster was yet again lit up and wracked by fire from every possible weapon across half the field of battle and finally succumbed, sent back to its blood god at the very door of the Imperial command bunker.  The great warmonger Abaddon was similarly forced to flee the battle in the face of mounting personal injury, yielding Order 2 points for these kills.

Significantly, the Dark Angels’ long battle through the heart of an equatorial jungle temple paid dividends.  With the bulk of the Chaos flank guards tied up by the Unforgiven, the Tau, Imperial Guard, and Kingbreakers were able to sweep the targeted strategic breach point.  At the same time, Kroot reserves and Imperial Guard bombardments arrived to reinforce the Space Wolves struggling under massive combined assault and help prevent further Necron and Traitor Guard incursion.  These actions denied Discord a third objective for the second round of scoring, which awarded two objectives each.

Air cav inbound!

Air cav inbound!

Turn 5

In its last moments the epic battle for Kimball Prime reached a fever pitch of critical moves, last-chance shots, and final coups de grâce.  Resurrecting the courage of Russ, Space Wolves squadrons regrouped into secure positions overlooking the bizarrely anonymous Discord objective in their midst.  Charged thrusts from elite soldiers and fast attack vehicles of the Tau, Dark Angels, Imperial Guard, and Kingbreakers also swept away the straggling Chaos Cultists and lesser daemons attempting to resecure the breachpoint, the nearby traitor Warhound stomping in rage at its inability to stop the loyalist troops swarming about its feet.

These are not the droids you're looking for!

These are not the droids you’re looking for!

But even as the Forces of Order prepped for these advances on the flanks, Discord piled all of its remaining heavy shooting onto the Kingbreakers’ command headquarters, the Bloodthirster’s suicidal, singleminded, successful mission to cripple the Shield Generator having rendered it exposed for the first time in the battle.  With the points near tied and Discord’s two home objectives safely held but the third stripped away and Order claiming its own flank objective, everything came down to the two on the bunker complex.

With nearly all other long range shooting eliminated or crippled, the traitor Reaver and Warhound Titans combined fire to strip away the bunker’s internal Void Shields and then pummel it with the most powerful weaponry ever fielded.  They were prevented though from directly targeting the most critical troop units and the bunker itself by a well placed Shield Generator Strategic Asset, carefully saved for exactly a deeply dire moment such as this.  A precious few Forest Guard platoon members survive the incoming blasts, even as nearby Kingbreakers Tactical Squads rush in to shore them up.  The Forces of Order continued to hold their two home objectives.

The last of the flanking Obliterators dead and Skarbrand sent back to the Warp, Captain Angholan pauses to survey the battlefield and catch his breath.  His muscles all clench though and his eyes yield to horror as he turns just in time to watch a final massive overcharged plasma blast from a retreating tainted Reaver slam into the newly unshielded command bunker, instantly obliterating its top ramparts and engulfing an extraordinary area in blazing gouts of flame.  Sprinting into the blinding rockrete dust, he calls on all his decades of steely training to choke back surging memories of the fall of Forestway and his own long entrapment in the collapsed capital building.  Armor servos shriek in protest as he rips apart nanobar and flings away huge chunks of rockrete.  Finally tossing aside an entire interior wall, he falls to his knees.  Ahead of him is a large energy bubble supporting all the tremendous rubble of the upper levels.  Huddled inside are a few all-but-dead yet still living Guardsmen and Space Marines.  At the center is his great, troubled friend Rorschach and the Kingbreakers’ Council of Librarians, eyes closed and faces a rictus of concentration from the inconceivable effort of maintaining the telekinetic shield.  With Angholan frozen in relieved shock, Squad Scolirus finally catches up and slips around their Captain to begin carefully extricating the survivors.  The battle is won.

Kingbreakers dance in the flames!

Kingbreakers dance in the flames!


The Forces of Order break Discord’s Apocalypse winning streak!

Reap the tallyman, Nurgle!

Reap the tallyman, Nurgle!

Order claimed 5 of the 7 possible kill points offered by the Discord forces by tagging the Pylon, Scorpion, Bloodthirster, Baneblade chassis, and the Warmaster (Abaddon), leaving the Warhound and Reaver on the table.  Order also held two objectives after Turns 2 and 4 as well as three after game end, for a total of 20 points.

Discord claimed 3 of the 6 possible bonus points offered by the Order forces by eliminating the Warhound and two Baneblade chassis, leaving the Reaver standing.  It also claimed 3 more in achieving a Trophy Kill on Grimnar, declared as one of their Strategic Asset selections.  However it spent 1 to enact Lies of Tzeentch.  Discord also held three objectives after Turn 2, as well as two after Turn 4 and game end, for a total of 18 points.

Final disposition; click to enlarge.

Final disposition; click to enlarge.

Game Thoughts

In a game like this there’s a thousand big and small things of note that happen.  These are just a couple very top level notable observations.

Range and Formations

It was really helpful to have Owen, a newcomer to our Apoc fights, be able to make the battle.  That made a big difference in equalizing the 6th edition experience levels across the two teams, helping Order play both better and within the time limits.  Tactically speaking, it was particularly helpful that he plays Guard and has played a few large battles before as he thus brought a significant increase in Order’s long range, heavy shooting.  On an 18′ long table even the normally impressive 48″ reach of a lascannon just doesn’t amount to much.  Without that we would have been in real trouble.  I was really counting on some of the missing players’ armies to provide the ability to go out offensively and hit things at distance, but the Guard shooting at range probably present a safer way to do that anyway.

Sometimes you just gotta call in the veterans.

Sometimes you just gotta call in the veterans.

Despite the story text above, my Librarians were yet again a huge, huge disappointment.  At this point I’m pretty used to how limited in appeal they are for normal play.  But I had high hopes for the Apocalypse formation I fielded, basically 5 Librarians potentially tossing out a D weapon large blast every turn.  Literally nothing walked into their line of sight and range though that wasn’t immediately swept away by much less risky shooting.  One consequence of having two redundantly Void Shielded, heavily armed encampments staring at each other across a relatively open expanse was that almost nothing ventured into what became a completely empty dead man’s land across the desert terrain.  I thought about having them disembark the bunker to get better sightlines, but even then not that many targets wandered close enough, and our little Warmaster would be out running around with giant Greater Bloodthirsters and such running amok in close quarters.  I love the models & concept so much, but…

In stark contrast to the Kingbreakers' flaming self-entombment, the Necron basically stand around all day just talkin' about how awesome their fortress is, not even noticing it blasting stuff on its own.

In stark contrast to the Kingbreakers’ flaming self-entombment, the Necron basically stand around all day just talkin’ about how awesome their fortress is, not even noticing it blasting stuff on its own.

The general point there though is that the Apocalypse formations are basically dumb.  They’re either (1) incredibly hard to field, (2) very brittle, or (3) have limited effect.  To (1), of the Space Marine formations, the majority involve fielding a full company of troops or a weird collection of very specific HQs.  On (2), a great many of their effects can be easily defeated, e.g., no one walking within two whole feet of my Librarians, or Brett’s Tetragon of Darkness being popped almost immediately.  For (3), due to the extra points available with the missing players Justin did actually field and use a Space Wolves Great Company.  But despite the large number of models and points that entails, I couldn’t tell you that I noticed the benefits.  Similarly, I actually fielded the requirements for a Space Marine Predator Assassin Squadron.  But I didn’t select the formation because it seemed more limiting than useful.

Hey, hey, buddy, don't start nothin', won't be nothin'!

Hey, hey, buddy, don’t start nothin’, won’t be nothin’!


Obviously critical to the success of all of our Apocalypse games is the effort put beforehand into balancing the headliner models.  Coincidentally but unfortunately, the Forces of Discord have many more Titans, superheavies, and gargantuans at hand than Order.  Fortunately though they have so many that there’s enough—and they’re more than willing—to share them around and balance things out.

But, to that need to put a lot of effort into balancing things, D weapons are pretty dumb.  Since they’re so strong against everything, they make everything else all uniformly worthless.  With no protection of any kind being allowed against them, there’s no reason to field anything but the cheapest possible options and put all the points toward your own D weapons.  Given that they’re both equally dead if tagged, and equally unable to strike back at the shooter, why field 14 point Marines when a 5 point Guardsman is just as useless?  A ~250 point Landraider versus a 55 point Chimera?  Previously I had mixed feelings about the recent expansion of D weapons into the regular game.  Watching them up close again though has really pushed me to be very concerned.

Yep...  Good luck with that axe, buddy!

Yep… Good luck with that axe, buddy!

Similarly but in the other direction, the new Void Shields fortifications are probably also a problem.  I don’t have as much of an issue with them because ultimately they don’t directly remove models, and they’re somewhat readily countered on their own as well as much more internally balanced—you do what the Bloodthirster did: Walk right in, get protected from remote shooting by the Void Shields themselves, and then smash them.  But they’re almost certainly too cheap though for such a massive buff to a potentially large number of units.


Beyond that, I’m going to save for another post some thoughts on organizing and executing Apocalypse battles.  Ultimately we all collectively put a lot of thought into crafting a good plan and come at the game with the right mindset, and that all paid off in overcoming near disaster with multiple missing players and instead having a truly great day of gaming.

Again, more photos are in the Flickr gallery.  Till next time; the Emperor protects!

Huh... I guess he's really good with that axe?  Sergeant Harmon contests the Discord flank objective!

Huh… I guess he’s really good with that axe? Sergeant Harmon contests the Discord flank objective!