Tuesday, April 13, 2010
Battle Report III, part two: The Battle
I had my work cut out for me. Pitmann had selected a hard-hitting, but pedestrian, force that included 20 Chaos Marines, 20 Berzerkers, 10 Treminators, 3 Obliterators, 1 Daemon Prince, a Defiler, and a Land Raider. By comparison, the Onorevoli offered a mere 25 fragile but scoring Scouts, and put the rest of their faith in HQ and Elites and other sundry models. I certainly wasn't expecting to table anyone; instead, finesse was the order of the day…
The Iron Warriors went first.
The Iron Warriors sounded a general advance with three of the Troops units and the Dread moving forward. Surprisingly, all the Iron Warrior Troop elements on my right moved forward. I wasn’t expecting this. Not at all. Moreover, the standard CSM unit to my left (ie: closer to my objective) was the only Troop element to stay at home. Something was amiss. I was quietly scratching my chin.
Continuing a really improbable streak from last game, the Defiler dropped a serious amount of fire on Telion’s Squad and killed half of them –despite an ambitious cover save and Camo Cloak bonus (see Battle Report II for more on this particular point). Telion managed to keep his boys on the table, but really five guys on turn number one… We were about 10 minutes into the game and I was already getting worried. I’d just lost 20% of my crucial, objective-claiming Troops selection.
But it wasn’t all gloom and doom. The Land Raider, Chaos Dread, and CSM squad targeted Scout Squad IV (the foremost snipers) and only managed to kill one. The LR, in particular, stunned us both with a truly shocking number of ones and twos on his “to wound” roll. Ahem. My curse seems to be spreading.
It was already a peculiar start.
My Drop Dread flung himself comfortably into the space that had just opened between the CSM squad on my right, the LR, and the Defiler. Herein lies the beauty of the Inertial Guidance System as it never ever fails to place that Dread snugly between a whole mess of enemy units. The Dread ambled out and took the TL Heavy Bolter off of the Land Raider. I was hoping for much more, and the choice may have seemed rather suicidal, but since I intended to funnel my Scouts up the center channel directly infront of the LR, the HB seemed a more pertinent threat than a Lascannon.
The Devestators finally lived up to their name and destroyed the Defiler. That was a huge relief for me, and Telion.
On my left, the Librarian and the Scouts switched spots –the Librarian to help intercept the Berzerkers that would be coming around my left flank, and the Scouts to get their Teleport Homer toward the center. I’ll confess I was torn about this one, but if I’ve learned anything these last two games it’s to play more aggressively –and so rather than keep the teleport homer back where it would be safe (and able to help defend my objective), I decided to push it forward where it would actually be a threat. The mirroring Scout Squad on the opposite flank did exactly the same so that either group was skulking up the middle.
The Whirlwind fired a shot that drifted so wildly it almost wounded a Berzerker from a squad nowhere near the original target… almost.
Some pieces to the puzzle started to fit together for both of us this turn. One Deep Striking unit of Terminators arrived for the IW and drifted dramatically toward the table edge -so close, so very, very close- but that’s not even what really caught my breath. They dropped onto my right edge, the exact opposite corner from my objective.
The remaining Troops advanced as before, which was not particularly remarkable, but it was at this point that we both realized that Pitmann had been enjoying something of a mental lapse. He convinced himself (despite the bright glowing greenish yellow plastic piece that was marking the objective on my left) that I had placed the all-important objective on my right, beneath my Devestators. Perhaps he thought this because the Whirlwind was favoring that side, and because the Devs were my only unit in power armor… I’m not sure. But this at least explains why everyone on my right moved forward while the rest of the crowd seemed a bit hesitant. Well, this was a reasonably grave mistake, and by that I mean “jammy bit of luck.” Schoolboy error.
This particular squad of Terminators would now have very little contribution to make other than take out their collective frustration on my Devs. Their first attempt at shooting ended ineffectually, with only a wound or two handily saved by the Devs.
In a similar vein, the LR and the CSM squads (with their ubiquitous Plasma weapons) unleashed all they could against the Dread and his inert Pod. It’s worth thinking back to Battle Report II here once again, because Pitmann went three-of-four with his plasma malfunction saves this round of shooting. Better than last game, to be sure, but I suspect that someone will be using Melta next game.
For all that, the Dread was immobilized, which was regrettable but completely fine as far as I was concerned. As it turns out, he was still able to contribute in some peculiar and significant ways.
The Onorevoli did not enjoy any Deep Striking this turn, and so maneuvered those precious Teleport Homers slowly, gently closer to the objective snuggled underneath the Landing Platform.
On my right, the Devestators thought that they would be clever and try to break open the Terminator armor with their mighty Lascannons –and thereby extend their own longevity. They shouldn’t have bothered. They only killed one, and I was left face in palm at yet another failure to appropriately use those Devs. They’re off the table next time. Promise.
On my extreme left, the Librarian moved to intercept the isolated squad of Berzerkers advancing toward my objective. He was feeling pretty headstrong, no doubt. He’d intended to concentrate really, really hard and then extinguish as many Berzs as possible with Avenger. Afterward, he’d hoped to charge in with Quickening in order to deny the dreaded Berzerker Assault and lock those poor devils in a hopeless, circling combat, etc. etc.
Well. The first part went to plan. The Librarian melted five Berzerkers with his mind, but Pitmann was wise to my antics and, naturally, realized that this is a game of at least five turns. As such, he simply removed the first five Berzerkers facing the Librarian, and thereby left the him drifting desperately in the breeze -both out of assault range and vulnerable for the next turn. I’ll let you gentle readers decide the wisdom of both our actions here as (for me) this was a point of tremendous second guessing later on…
Sensing a disturbance in the warp nearing blind panic, the second Librarian broke cover and moved himself to the left to support his kinsman.
The Whirlwind did nothing relevant.
The Obliterators arrived and situated themselves as one half of a Librarian sandwich. The Berzerkers lined up as the other half. Unfortunately for the Iron Warriors, a few shots designed to soften the Librarian overestimated how genuinely soft he actually was… and killed him outright. It looks like the Librarian’s warp-fueled intuition was, in fact, correct: he would deny the Berzerkers their charge –ah, Fate. She is a fickle mistress. Pitmann did suggest that he should get to consolidate anyway, you know, for the intention and the effort, but no sale on that one.
For lack of any other genuine target, the CSM squads bounced a few more rocks off the Onorevoli Dread, dislodged the weapon from the Drop Pod, and managed not to incinerate themselves while doing so.
The Chaos Dread flailed wildly into the Scout IV snipers that were trying to inch themselves through the alley that marked the midpoint of our table. Despite his bluster, he failed either to kill or to route the humble Scouts in his turn, opting instead to do so in mine, which denied me the chance to shoot at him. Jammy.
The Berzerkers on my right were now running in an attempt to become a significant part of this game.
The Terminators, also on the right, charged the Devs and lost another member of their team for doing so. In return, they utterly dismantled the Devs.
The Onorevoli, once again, did not enjoy the benefits of the Deep Strike Universal Special Rule this turn, and I was growing increasingly concerned that my precious Teleport Homers would be ground under an Iron Warrior boot by the time I needed them. Where they could, the Scouts cowered behind trees, and rocks, and anything else that came to hand.
The Onorevoli Dread wrecked the LR, which was considerate of him.
The surviving Librarian assaulted the Oblits to keep their extended arsenal off the rest of my army. He didn't have much hope of winning, but duty called (such altruism from both of my otherwise haughty Librarians. What’s up with that?). I was hoping that his Force Weapon might help here on the multiple-wound Oblits, but it was not to be on this turn.
The Whirlwind did nothing relevant.
Madness and Carnage erupted this turn.
The Daemon Prince finally arrived and scattered safely but well past where Pitmann wanted him. Sensing that the Onorevolli Deep Strike luck was about to change as well (and in an effort to make daemonic lemonade from his own deep striking lemons), the DP opted to use the drift to his advantage and align himself to intercept the Onorevoli Terminators that would be arriving imminently.
The Chaos Dread went mental and Fire Frenzied into Scout Squad III on my right. Miraculously, the Scouts only suffered two casualties. Pitmann immediately swore to retire that Dread for good. I could hardly blame him.
Following the Daemon Prince’s lead, much of the IW Troop elements began either to hesitate or to pull back toward their own objective. This was a rare moment of indecision for Pitmann, but some restraint was essential at this point. He didn’t yet have anyone truly covering his objective and (although safe but never entirely certain) the time to correct that might very well be rapidly running out. The CSM squads around the middle knocked the CCW and Bolter off the Dread… but suffered a self-inflicted plasma casualty for the effort –cough, cough. (This is, by the way, the second game in a row that the Dread finished missing and arm and immobilized. That constitutes a trend).
The Berzerkers on my left demonstrated their clarity of purpose and ran with haste directly past an ongoing close combat (the Oblits and Librarian) toward my objective. Blood for the blood god?
Speaking of which, the Librarian managed to chop a Oblit in half with his Force Weapon. A bit more of that and all would be well, otherwise all he could hope to do was keep the Oblits tied to his hip for the remainder of the game. It’s not exactly glorious, but important all the same. By this point, I had precious few scoring models left and I needed to keep those IW guns occupied.
The stranded IW Terminators on my right fired out of spite at the Whirlwind and blew its turret off –thereby ending its chance to do anything relevant for the remainder of the game… ugh.
And then things got really interesting...
At the bottom half of the turn, the Onorevoli Terminators arrived en masse in the middle of the table, directly between the Daemon Prince, x2 CSM squads, and the Chaos Dread. Hoorah, teleport homers. Suddenly the whole game looked entirely different; it was absolute mayhem. Terminator Squad I fired everything it had into the CSM on my left, in front of the TH/SS Termies, and came up with only a single wound. That was a bit disappointing.
My Dread fired into the DP and wounded him, which Pitmann felt was a bit crass.
The surviving Scouts from Squad III on my right slipped in with the Terminator Squad I in an effort to sneak toward the IW objective for a cheeky chance at glory. The DP was in the way of my other Scouts, so they peeled back (having duly delivered the cargo) to help the lonely Librarian in this travails. Their contribution to the combat was appreciated, but useless, as the Librarian took a wound anyway.
For his part, Telion moved his Scouts to the other side of the building behind which they had been hiding. This exposed him to all the madness in the middle of the table, but further shielded them from the Berzerkers closing on the extreme left. Telion was simply hoping that everyone on the in middle was too busy to notice.
The Whirlwind broke cover and sped toward the mayhem, if only to be counted among it all.
The final Squad of IW Terminators arrived in the DP’s footprints, shot at Telion’s squad, and took another wound from hapless Scouts. The Terminators were still a bit far from the action to influence the game this turn, but if we went to Turn Six or, Emperor help us, Turn Seven, they were going to be trouble for the remaining Onorevoli.
Still, at home, the Iron Warriors now began to sense that quite a lot was not going exactly to plan, but they seemed a little bit unsure exactly how to correct that. One squad of CSM fell back again toward the objective but got themselves tangled up with all the detritus strewn across the field. The immobilized Dread did some tremendous work getting in the way here -once again proving the theory that if one simply stays completely stationary, the significant moments will come find him. Nevertheless, the CSM managed to shoot up the Scouts and end any distant, vainglorious hope the Onorevoli had of actually claiming the Iron Warriors objective. I was now down to a mere eight or so scoring models in two squads.
The other CSM squad charged my TH/SS Termies. Again, I didn’t see that coming. Pitmann later told me that he’d underestimated the SS ability to stay in the game, but that he was really hoping just to act as a speed-bump anyway. Brave, but the ensuing combat was predominantly one-sided. Only one CSM survived, although his squad did manage to take out one Terminator almost by accident.
The Chaos Dread once again went mental –this time with Blood Rage, and charged directly into the Onorevoli Terminator Squad I. The DP decided to join in the fun, but I was reasonably confident that 7 Terminators could give as good as they got against all comers… I shouldn’t have been. The Onorevoli facing the Daemon Prince got pummeled, losing three Terminators before they even knew they were in combat, while the Terminators facing the Chaos Dread lost another. The remaining Terminators rolled three times on the Vehicle Damage Chart, wrecking the Dread twice. Still, the Onorevoli lost combat by one and needed to pull it together to stay in combat.
They failed and ran.
Thankfully, the Daemon Prince was too busy gorging himself on the crowd he’d just minced to notice the three remaining Terminators slip away. Instead, the DP turned and pursued fresh meat elsewhere.
The Berzerkers on the right waffled a bit, but were otherwise too far out of the game for all intents and purposes. The stranded Terminators nearby took another pot-shot at the Whirlwind but couldn’t add any more insult to the injury.
Things weren’t exactly going the Onorevoli way, but they still had some opportunities to tie up some loose ends in their half of the turn. Finesse is the watchword.
The TH/SS Termies tried their best to close with the IW objective. If not this turn, then surely next, they would be knee-deep in what promised to be an utterly brutal struggle to get within range and contest. This was desperate stuff.
I couldn’t really expect Telion to hold much longer -what with five remaining Berzerkers just barely out of reach for Assault, but who would be well within range to contest the objective and more if Turn Six ever arrived.
So the Onorevoli did what they could where they could and prayed for nightfall. Finesse.
The immobilized Onorevoli Dreadnaught pinged another wound off of the Daemon Prince with his Melta… again, crass.
The Librarian chopped another Oblit in half with his Force Weapon, but got a bit too close to the remaining Oblit and died accordingly. The Scouts were now locked in a dreadful combat that they could only hope to prolong for as long the Emperor saw fit.
The three fleeing Terminator remnants sorted themselves and charged into the five IW Terminators that had just arrived. Again, the combat was designed purely for practicality from my point of view. I simply needed a draw (or at least not another route) in order to keep the Terminators ensure that they were well away from Telion and otherwise incapable of shooting next turn. And indeed, the combat was inconclusively drawn. Finesse.
And there we were. The Iron Warriors hadn’t quite managed to get a scoring model within range to claim their own objective (a mere inch or two), and the Berzerkers weren’t yet in range to contest the Onorevoli objective. Telion was sitting with his head between his knees right next to his objective, repeating his orders again and again: "stay alive. stay alive. stay alive." So if the game ends here, Onorevoli sneak out a truly Pyrrhic victory.
Ref Pitmann asked that I roll for it…
…and the game ended there. The noble Onorevoli claimed a first victory against their nemesis the Iron Warriors. Let me conclude simply by stating that this is what a battlefield should look like in the darkest heart of the 41st millennium -utter mayhem. Glorious.
Be sure to stop by Thursday when I try to sort through all of this in “The Vultures Circle.”