Thursday, March 4, 2010

Battle Report II, part three: The Vultures Circle

As far as battles go, this one was terrific fun. Just consider what almost came to pass: a daring, dicey, and fragile victory eludes the Onorevoli in Turn Five; a desperate and aggressive victory slips through the Iron Warriors’ clutching grasp in Turn Six; and then, the mad Onorevoli scramble to salvage a draw at the bottom of Turn Seven -with literally one inch to spare in the equation! The pendulum doesn’t swing much more dramatically than that.

Each army brushed against both victory and defeat. For the Onorevoli, this will be remembered as the game that almost was. Still, they return to the bookshelf extremely pleased (perhaps even relieved) to have drawn and to have at least glimpsed a victory for the first time. The sullen Iron Warriors will be wiser next time, but may still be smarting from what they will certainly consider a game stolen from their grasp. They will be looking forward to their next encounter, no doubt, but for now we should reconsider the field as it lay.

A Clean Game: I’m going to speak for the honorable Referee Pitmann here, but all things being said, I’m quite pleased with ourselves. Considering the sporadic opportunities we have to play, I’m always chuffed when Pitmann and I manage a game without a single hitch. Sure, we would both likely have played a few moments differently if we were able, but that’s par for the course, as well as a significant part of the fun. At the end of each game, it’s always good banter to sit and ponder what went wrong, where we screwed up, who earned his paystub, why the dice gods hate us, love us, and hate us again. Indeed, it’s the spirit of those post-game moments that makes this installment, the Vultures Circle, as important as any other –to me at least. But I digress once again…

What’s important here is that this game came off without a single genuine hiccough/hiccup. There were a few moments in which we needed to look up or clarify a rule (we were both a bit surprised, for example, to rediscover that the rotation of an otherwise stationary vehicle counts as movement for embarkation, but not for shooting, etc), but that is absolutely normal in such a wondrously complex game. What’s most relevant here is that we didn’t mangle any rules, that we didn’t muddle the various editions as we were playing, that we didn’t mismanage our workaday duties. There were no suspect assaults, as with last game, etc. That’s great news, and we deserve hearty pats on the back.

And now to the lessons and the lamentations…

Some Heavy Choices: Even here in Chicago, the Land Raider Crusader stands out as one astonishingly expensive taxi. I would have done better to leave it at home. As a threat, the Ref hardly noticed it. Sure, my Librarian got to jump out of it and then immediately assault his Daemon Prince, but that’s a pretty soft contribution for 250+points. Moreover, with three units of Scouts on the table (each with a teleport homer), there’s plenty other/better opportunities to get my Terminators exactly where they belong, and in a timely fashion too. The possibility that this bad boy will be parked in the Motor Pool for the next game is somewhere between “strong” and “very strong.”

If not the LRC, then certainly the Devestators will take a knee for the next matchup. Twice in two games they contributed little more than their own target priority dilemma. Both games, they simply got stuck indecisively shooting around the table, missed anyway, and then got mashed up in Close Combat. I rested the Whirlwhind this game, only because it converts into the Rhino for my Tactical Squad, but I think next time I’m going to have some serious soul-searching to do with the Devs/LRC as well. At roughly 240-250 points apiece, I can’t help but feel that they are keeping other potentially more relevant units off the table. Perhaps next time I’ll experiment with a “Heavy-Free” list…

Camo Cloaks, Cover Saves, and Going to Ground: Boy did I blow this one. As Telion’s squad was getting pummeled by the Defiler in the penultimate moments of the game, I kept repeating to myself, “Camo Cloaks would be handy right about now. Camo Cloaks would be handy now. Camo…”. Moreover, I should have sent them to ground as well. In all likelihood they would have been minced anyway (my rolling will never be categorized as “inspired” and the rate of fire coming their way at the end was significant), but the combined cover bonuses of a camo-cloak and “going to ground” for a unit in a building (a unit that had no real contribution to make in the coming turns other than to sit perfectly still on the objective anyway) may have made a gentleman’s difference. This is particularly true had the game ended in turn six. That would have stung. The problem is this: I fooled myself into thinking that they were making a valuable contribution toward the annihilation of Pitmann’s CSM squad that was pegging it toward my objective –indeed, toward the very Scouts that needed to be going to ground. It was a reflexive call based on some confusion about what their real purpose was, but it is a mistake that I intend to learn from.

The Drop Pod Dread: I still feel that the tactics here are sound, but I’ve yet to really get what I hoped for from this guy. One of the problems I face repeatedly with Pitmann is that every individual piece he throws at me spells trouble. As such, I have worked hard to make sure that his units are not arriving together or pressing too greatly in unison. I want to slow his progress and pick the fights on my terms; the Drop Pod and the Dread are integral to that plan. In both games, the Dread has stopped or stalled a significant portion of the Berzerker rush, and that’s a contribution I’m not willing to overlook. Still, there is something missing here. As I type, for the first time I’m wondering if the answer isn’t… perhaps… another Drop Pod Dread. I’ve noted that there’s a new Venerable kit coming out soon and (after the Camo Cloaks of course) there just might be enough points sitting around to splash out on a Shiny New Ancient Warrior. I’ll have to scratch my chin a bit more and mull this one over.

Well, that concludes the second battle report, and the first “Vultures Circle” installment (… or is it “The Vulture’s Circle”? That depends, I suppose, on whether “circle” is a verb or a noun. More chin scratching.) Either way, I intend to make this a regular feature after each battle report as well as a part of any other tactical musings that might leap to mind. I hope you enjoyed it as much as I have.

Tomorrow: Melta, Melta, Melta.
See you then.


DarkTemplar said...

I've really enjoyed following this battle report, and was looking forward to this third installment and the post mortem – the best bit sometimes.

One thing stands out for me in terms of the Onorevoli performance. It was reactive in the main, and that (in my humble opinion) was why you will always struggle to win against an aggressive opponent such as these IW.

As regards army list, you have already identified some key point wastage. I would deffo drop the Crusader and take a second drop pod dread and get the two going in together – double the trouble. I would replace the Lascannons in the Devs with Missiles and have them and a tactical squad sit on your objective, and send everything else down the IW throat.

The Librarians can take 2 powers can they not? I would drop one of the Libs and get the other one, in a squad, stuck into enemy foot troops. I'd add a Chaplain too (but I am biased).

Add a couple of cheap scout units to infiltrate/outflank and distract – giving your opponent something close to home to worry about allowing your main threat to be ignored.

Just a thought or two off the top of my head, though I am rusty in 5th Ed rules, but take what you can.

bsmoove said...

Thanks for the comments. It's nice to know that all of this isn't simply slipping into the Ether.

With regard to the Librarians, I've really struggled with finding the second useful power for them. Avenger rocks, of course, but after that all the powers seem really contextually specific. I've not really found a "go to" choice yet. Any suggestions or ideas about what you've seen work would be welcome.

I've come to something of a crossroads with the Onorevoli. I've started them with pretty much pure fluff in mind -painting the models as I saw fit and creating the units that I thought were cool (seriously, x4 Lascannon Devs?) and I now have to refine these choices a bit to get them working on the tabeltop more efficiently.

For example, I've eschewed the choice of Chaplains for fluff reasons (these boys are drifting toward heresy and a Chap might interfere with that trajectory), but I distinctly need a unit that can muss things up a bit. So perhaps the fluff will have to sit one out as well.

And besides, I'd leap at the opportunity to convert one...

You are completely correct about your "reactive" observation, and I definitely think that a second Dread might help keep the IW on the back foot.

We're hoping to get a game in this weekend or next, so there's certainly more mayhem on the horizon.