40k: Alternate Universes 1850pt Tournament

kingbreakers-iconColin and I went to yesterday’s 1850pt 40k tournament at Alternate Universes.  There were 14 players.  Lots of Tau, tons of Space Marines in various flavors generic and wulfen, and a fair bit of Necron.  Colin wound up 6th after losing the final match at the top table and having his 3-0 hopes derailed.  I managed a whopping 12th of 14, taking three straight losses.  For the Emperor!

Going in I was expecting to lose at least two games.  The whole point was to fight some different armies and see these fabled Riptides, Necron flying circuses, and so on.  I wound up losing three games, so… Mission accomplished!  As a bonus, I did also tie for the Sportsmanship prize, which I put toward a ++–+– INQUISITION REDACTED –++-+.

More photos from my three games are in the gallery.

You're gonna need a bigger sword, yo.

You’re gonna need a bigger sword, yo.


My list was basically what I’ve been rolling lately, though I sacrificed a couple preferred options in the name of taking a fully painted army:

  • Capt Angholan—Vulkan
  • Librarian Rorschach—Librarian w/ Mastery Level 2, Terminator Armor, Storm Shield
  • Sternguard x5 w/ Drop Pod w/ 3x Combi-Meltas
  • Tacticals x10 w/ Vet Sgt, Razorback, Powerfist, Plasmagun, Missile Launcher
  • Tacticals x10 w/ Rhino, Vet Sgt, Melta Bombs, Meltagun, Missile Laucher
  • Tacticals x10 w/ Vet Sgt, Flamer, Missile Launcher
  • Devastators x9 w/ Vet Sgt, 2x Plasmacannons, 2x Heavy Bolters
  • Landspeeders  x3 w/ Multi-Melta, Heavy Flamer
  • Predators x2 w/ Autocannon, Heavy Bolter sponsons
  • Aegis Defense Line w/ Quad-gun

In particular I dropped a Terminator squad I couldn’t get painted in return for a second Predator and some more Tactical and Devastator bodies.  I also took some less efficient bits and bobs just to fill out points a bit.  Among these, I decided to experiment with upgrading the Librarian to an Epistolary (ML 2).  I didn’t think this would be an efficient use of points, but I was hoping rolling twice on the charts would get me at least one useful power.

Round 1

First match I faced Frank, who wound up 2nd overall and taking the General’s award.  He brought 4 Night Scythes, 3 Annihilation Barges, a Riptide, and various friends.  The mission was distinctly unusual, objective based but with the objectives being the bodies of deceased characters.  That includes sergeants and such, so by the end there were a ton of markers all around the table.

Castle up!

Castle up!

My Army is a fairly shooty and defensive oriented Marine corps.  Without any Necron foot troops on the table to try and run out and kill, I stacked the gunline up tight in a back corner.  Sternguard went after the Riptide and met horrible blasting Interceptor death.  Landspeeders went after the Barges but couldn’t take them down fast enough.  The Quad-gun did tag a Night Scythe, but that just positioned its contingent running on from the table edge to claim the smoldering bodies of my Librarian and Sternguard sergeant.  The rest of the army just inexorably closed in, picking away at my units and eventually crushing them.

Ultimately I’ll have to think more about what to do against a force like this.  The Barges with their AV13 shield are very tough to take down with most ranged shooting, and deliver a lot of punishment on their own.  The Riptide warrants a careful approach.  I’ll have to consider that; Snipers, Sternguard playing defensively, I’m not sure what.  If there were objectives to go for and try to stand on this would have maybe been more competitive, but the weird not-kill points, not-objectives setup kind of left me flummoxed, on top of a hard opponent army I haven’t faced before.

As a side note, it was kind of funny getting about halfway into Turn 2 and realizing I was defending terrain some of Tom M’s buildings.

Necrons, Necrons, everywhere.

Necrons, Necrons, everywhere.

Round 2

Next I faced Alex, who wound up 5th overall, and his Necron foot horde.  Three Annihilation Barges, bunches of 10-man Warriors and Immortals, and a squad of Lychguards.  The mission was a variant on the Relic with 2 markers at the center of the table and different rules on moving them.

For a long while it looked like this mission would be close but go my way.  My gunline was able to pick apart a lot of undead, the Sternguard got one Annihilation Barge, and I got a lucky break on another immobilizing itself largely out of harm’s way on terrain.  Marines were able to swarm up and around the objectives and were just about to start running them back when the Lychguard teleported in from the backfield.  Massed shooting nearly obliterated them…  But then they all stood back up.  Mildly annoyed, they counter-multi-charged into nearly all of the Kingbreakers’ vehicles at once.  Their warscythes destroyed all of them, crippling the Imperials in one fell blow.

Over the top!

Over the top!

First rank, fire!  Second rank, fire!

First rank, fire! Second rank, fire!

After that the remaining Kingbreakers troops valiantly strove to secure the relics but each fell to a man.  Defensive units kept up suppressive fire on the ridge afterward, but eventually the Necron Lord was able to crawl up, grab a relic, and slink away like the cowardly xenos he is.  The other relic was snatched by the Lychguard as they ran over the hill and high footed it back toward their lines.

This could have gone another way fairly easily I suppose.  Without the Lychguard surviving en masse and able to hit every vehicle at once, the Kingbreakers would have been much better positioned to push back the undead tide as the designated looters ran for home with the relic.  Though it’s pretty tough against the Necrons, to a large extent I think my army has enough shooting to manage reasonably well with this sort of horde.

Round 3

Finally I faced Cliff and his mix of Space Wolves and Crimson Fists with Drop Pods and lots of Missile Launchers in a Kill Points mission.  I rolled to pick table half as well as to go first.  The table was not arranged well, with one half wide open and essentially no terrain.  I castled up in the terrain, not as advantageous to me as it would be against standard Deep Strikers instead of Pods, but it left several of Cliff’s units wide out in the open.  They almost but not quite went down to massed shooting in the first turn.  After that the game was kind of indeterminate.  It was not a fast playing game, and we wound up playing only 3 turns, at which point Cliff had guys in position to run onto terrain objectives, wipe out a couple Landspeeders, and claim victory.

Stalking the alleys...

Stalking the alleys…

Crashing the gates.

Crashing the gates.

General Thoughts

It was obviously rough taking three straight losses, but that was the expectation going in.  The group at Redcap’s just isn’t fielding Riptides, tons of flyers, etc., and a lot of that stuff you need to see to learn how to fight.  You can’t really appreciate what a Riptide is bringing until you’ve had to go after one.  Beyond that, this was also a friendly and welcoming group, so it was a good time.  There were also a lot of really nice looking armies, which was a nice change.  I don’t go to many tournaments, but it’s been my observation that more competitive groups are actually more likely to have pretty nice armies around.  After all, the guys are committed, have been playing a long time, and spend a lot of time on it, so the armies get painted.


The one strong army note I have is that the Librarian is almost certainly getting the boot.  Even pulling two powers, in several games I didn’t get anything particularly worthwhile even for a more defensive footing.

The Quad-gun was fortunate to at least do some damage, including down a flyer—some would say its whole purpose in being—so it can stay.  For now.  Predators and Devastators did their usual good job, though between the Aegis and them my defensive base has a bit too large and unwieldy of a footprint.  I could have definitely used the Terminators in their usual bubble wrap role however.  That would have made a big difference in Round 3, and probably in Round 2 as well.

More than that though, the day raised thoughts about tournaments in general.

Death comes for us all.

Death comes for us all.


As far as I could decipher, AU applies a fairly systematized scheme for the painting component of the competition scores, so questions of subjectivity and so on are greatly mitigated, though not eliminated.  Without an organized viewing of some sort it seems tough to get votes for the separate Best Painted Army prize, but my takeaway is that this requires showing up early to have your guys on display while everyone’s chilling, and having a cool display board to grab eyeballs.

Beyond that, it was definitely cool to have a bunch of nice looking armies around.  Clearly the painting score component encourages guys to take that seriously.  But there were also guys who’d borrowed friends’ models precisely because of that score, and I wouldn’t be surprised if some (though probably not many) were commissioned.  That’s kind of weird.


Though I didn’t play much beforehand, my impression is that a lot of progress was made in 5th edition to eliminate comp scores and FOC restrictions that enfeebled a lot of armies and skewed the competition.  This was possible because things were somewhat balanced, at least at times.  I think 6th edition is on track to reverse that trend though.  There’s just so much crazy out there, and more coming out all the time, even before you throw in allies.  I guess the pace at which the game is changing could be argued to itself be a balance, but I don’t think that’s how people will respond.

I always assume the Necron Lords are cackling hideously, monotonally, continuously throughout every game.

I always assume the Necron Lords are cackling hideously, monotonally, continuously throughout every game.

AU seems to be dealing with that by reminding people that the games are supposed to be “fun,” and threatening to drop the hammer on “abusive” lists.  That mild mannered form of comp/FOC is as problematic over the long term as the formal version though, and in some ways worse.  It’s much more subjective and variable not having an actual specified set of restrictions to plan against.  Fuzzy lines also create an imbalance, wherein some people try to stay well away from what they guess to be the line, fielding weaker armies than others that either perceive the boundary differently or are willing to push it, knowing they’ll “get away with it” because it’s not a hard line.


It was also somewhat eye opening hanging out for a bit in a different, very vocal, very stereotypical gaming group.  Between the language, the teasing, and the sophomoric horseplay, I can easily see why not everyone, especially girls and women, would perhaps not be comfortable in such a group.  It’s so easy to develop an insular culture that isn’t appealing to the larger world.  By no means a bad group, quite the opposite, but the atmosphere is quite a bit different and more boys-club from that now at Redcap’s or formerly at PAGE.

They came from everywhere, and nowhere!

They came from everywhere, and nowhere!

Battle Report: Combat Patrol 750 2010/02/02


I track my games played on BoardGameGeek, so I am happy to report that tonight I played my 50th game of 40k, ever. I started playing in the spring of ’08, so that seems reasonable when you figure in a majority of them are small games—250pt Lunchhammer, 400pt and 750pt Combat Patrol, etc., with multiple games played in one normal length session. At this landmark I have to say I’m pretty happy about it. My few months playing 4th Edition yielded many many frustrations with a poorly written rulebook. I’m glad to say most of those issues have been resolved in the new core rulebook, so hopefully the ongoing problems with rules writing and so on in the codexes will be resolved in the next edition! I’ll also say that as I’ve learned to play better I’ve found the game increasingly tactical and strategic, particularly with the increased mobility and other improvements in the 5th Edition rules.

As for tonight, Alex has unfortunately had to unexpectedly drop out of the PAGE/Redcap’s Combat Patrol Tournament due to a commitment with the reserves, so Buford, Lorenzo O, and I got together so I could proxy his match with Buford. In summary, we’re handling byes/defaults in the following way: The odd player out is guaranteed two Minor Victories. However, if a proxy match can be set up, they can earn more points. This seems to strike a reasonable balance between not giving away too many points for the bye while also not penalizing that player either.

Match Setup

Rules were the same as my report last week, and are up on the mission page: The campaign defender is trying to break through and alert primary defenses on the incoming invasion. The campaign attacker, of course, wants to stop this.

Buford brought out his Space Wolves in a matchup with my Kingbreakers. This chance to replay this mission was particularly interesting to me as in my last 7 or so 40k games I’ve played all Imperial Guard or Tyranid. I definitely had to get back into an anti-power armor mindset. Toward that end, I loaded up on plasma cannons, meltaguns, and heavy bolters:

  • 6xSternguard w/ Power Sword, 2xCombi-Melta, Razorback
  • 10xTactical w/ Powerfist, Plasmagun, Plasma Cannon, Rhino
  • 10xTactical w/ Meltagun, Plasma Cannon, Razorback
  • Landspeeder w/ Multi-Melta, Heavy Bolter

Buford brought the Space Wolves equivalents of roughly:

  • 5xScouts
  • 6xTactical w/ Powerfist, Razorback w/ Lascannon, Plasmaguns
  • 6xTactical w/ Powerfist, Razorback w/ Lascannon, Plasmaguns
  • 4xBike Squad w/ 1 Attack Bike, Heavy Bolters, Melta Bombs
  • Chaplain on Bike

Game 1

For the first game I took the campaign attacker role, defending against the rush. I rolled to choose and selected to deploy and go first. Again I was hoping to push forward and stop Buford down on his end of the table, making it harder for any units to make last minute rushes for the table edge. However, this did force me to spread out across the table to try and block all approaches. I also had to keep in mind that his Space Wolves Scouts would quite likely enter via my table edge and then immediately run off, so I needed to be prepared to hit them if possible. Unusually for my recent games, I also broke up both Tactical Squads, with the two Plasma Cannon squads sitting in cover ready to fire away.

Buford basically split his forces between the bikes and the Razorbacks. The bikes repeatedly turboboosted their way along the one, rushing for the edge, while the Razorbacks advanced more slowly. I was very happy to see this turboboost attack as in writing the mission scenario that had seemed like a clear, dangerous strategy people would try.


Mid-game, the turboboosting bikes are ready to rush off the board, while the Scouts have entered in the Kingbreakers rear area to cause havoc...

I harried the bikes a bit with Plasma Cannon and Landspeeder fire, but neither accomplished much. In the end the gambit was stopped by driving Tactical 1’s Razorback across from the middle of the table in its swing position blocking that lane, then assaulting the bikes. I figured this would result in the death of Tactical 1, which it did, but it held the bikes up for a few turns and killed a few models. After that they were weakened, held up, and bunched together, ripe to be finished off by the remaining Plasma Cannon and Landspeeder.


Sgt Scolirus fights to stall the escaping bikes as long as possible...

Meanwhile, the Plasma Cannons traded shots with one Buford’s Razorbacks, crippling it early in the game. Definitely the most useful shooting I’ve had with the Plasma Cannons against vehicles. In a heroic move, however, the Scouts Outflanked directly behind one of the Plasma Combat Squads and obliterated four its Marines in a single impressive round of Bolt Pistol shooting. The scouts then assaulted the Plasma Cannoneer and then ran off the board, the hit and run attack ensuring I could not get a Major Victory.


The Space Wolves' Razorback is worse for wear after several rounds of Plasma Cannon pummeling.

On the other side of the board, the two pairs of Razorbacks traded fire with the Kingbreakers’ machines immobilized fairly early. This left Sgt Titus to carry out one of his typical actions, running directly into the oncoming enemy to successfully destroy the inbound enemy transport. This resulting in several waves of melee, with his squad eventually wiped out by the Space Wolves, only for they in turn to be caught up in the Sternguard’s counter attack. Although costly, these assaults ensured there was no time for the Space Wolves to slog through on foot to exit the table.


Game 2

The second game had to be called due to time after the third round, but I was quite comfortable according Buford the victory. Buford won the deployment roll and opted to go first. Between that and his strong anti-vehicle components in the Lascannon Razorbacks, he was able to set up a solid pincer scheme with his units. Most of my army made it pretty far across the table, and some would have escaped, but the vehicles were all stopped just short of where they needed to get to. The Meltaguns and Combi-Meltas all failed to take out the opposing Razorbacks in time, leaving the Kingbreakers exposed to heavy shooting as well as the predations of the very mobile bike squadron. My Landspeeder also died early, assaulted and brought down after rushing headlong into the enemy.


The Kingbreaker advance grinds to a halt.

img_0339img_0341img_0345Lessons Learned

I was pretty happy with my army in the first game, defending against the rush. Some mistakes were definitely made for the second game though, attacking. My heavy reliance on transports was simply shut down by Buford’s Lascannons. A group of Assault Marines jumping across the table definitely would have been better in many respects.

I also should not have rushed my Landspeeder forward as quickly. I simply discounted how many attacks he’d be able to bring to bear on it. Although its Flat Out cover save protected it against all shooting, and nearly every close combat attack failed, one got through, and it only took one. That was a big loss because it gave me little long reach capability to take out the Lascannons.

More to the point, it was probably a mistake to take only one Landspeeder. I dropped one because they start getting hard to fit in the list when kitted out with Multi-Meltas and another weapon—70 points for an MM and Heavy Bolter. Although useful against the bikes, it probably would have been better to drop the Heavy Bolter and a Sternguard or whatnot to put two Landspeeders out there with Multi-Meltas for vehicle hunting.

Even more generally, I probably shouldn’t have advanced so quickly. I was hoping to quickly book for the table edge and exit, but it probably would have worked better to advance more slowly. The Lascannons are simply too lethal to Rhinos and Razorbacks when exposed for mulitple turns. Buford’s bike squad was also a significant problem as its high speed enabled it to quickly move around hitting any critical problem areas. A single Landspeeder just can’t do much against a good sized bike squadron, particularly after it’s quickly dispatched by them, so I really could have used more units with mobility to counter act them.

All in all though, a couple goods games, and a great time finally meeting Lorenzo O and Buford!

More photos are available in the Flickr set.