Thursday, April 15, 2010

Battle Report III, part three: The Vultures Circle

Ahhh, Sweet Victory. How the Onorevoli savor the hard-won moment of glory and triumph...

Well. Perhaps that’s a bit disingenuous.

THE REF: To be fair, the story of the day has to begin with Ref Pitmann himself. It was a mentally and physically challenging week for the Honorable Ref, and this was not his finest moment on the battlefield. And while I would like to laud the Onorevoli cunning and resilience (and there were a few moments of each), I can’t help but feel that a better-rested Iron Warrior general would have given the Onorevoli a bit more trouble for their effort.

LIST: As I mentioned, I was extremely pleased to see Pitmann step outside of his comfort zone with the pedestrianized construction of his list, both because it’s good for regular opponents to do so (and Pitmann has been playing these, and only these, IW for 10 years now…), and because I really struggle with the Rhino-encrusted, Fast-laden force that he usually brings to bear on his unfortunate opponents. It’s nice to play something if not exactly new, at least new-ish and significantly different.

But, at the end of the day, this cost Pitmann significantly. Having grown accustomed to the speed at which his army usually moves, I think he struggled in late turns getting his forces where he needed them. Without Fasts choices and Rhinos, the Iron Warriors wanted to be a few steps ahead of their own movement, which they never quite managed.

If Pitmann had been able to plant a scoring unit on his objective a bit sooner, the game could likely have ended a draw. Instead, we saw a mad scramble as a standard unit of CSM tripped over itself in a vain effort to cover their own objective before the surprisingly quick Turn Five. And indeed, one more turn would have changed the complexion of the game entirely, as the necessary Troops choices would have been in good form by the end of Turn Six, but that’s never a guarantee in the modern game. Alas.

Still, I sincerely believe the Iron Warrior list was/is entirely solid (with one minor, but crucial, exception). With that many hard as nails models on the table, with a Land Rarider and a Defiler and a Dreadnaught and 40 infantry plus 10 terminators plus 3 Oblits etc, the sheer numbers involved meant that I was always going to be focused on sneaking out the victory rather than winning a smash-faced brawl. That’s the Onorevoli way, as they’ve been utterly exhausted by their campaign to extinguish the Iron Warriors.

PLASMA: this is the crucial exception mentioned above. Sure, plasma weapons are Terminator killers, but in two games with 6+ self-inflicted plasma casualties between them, I can’t help but feel that Pitmann will be switching to Melta in future games. Which also leads me to the next point…

THE DICE: Statistical Probability has no place on our table. The Dice Gods were against Pitmann last weekend; there’s no other way to say it. How else can one explain a Fire-Frenzying Chaos Dread accounting for only two humble Scouts at point blank range.

THE HONEST MISTAKE: Pitmann’s confusion about the placement of my objective cost him considerably. It very nearly wasted the first two turns of movement, which had a series of knock-on effects with the rest of his army. Certainly, the Deployment forced him to spread his army out. Once he realized where the objective was actually hiding, however, he needed to fold the redundant half of his army back toward his base, and aggressively pursue my objective with the other half. This way, every piece of the puzzle would still contribute to the plan. As it stands, at least two powerful units (one Berzerker and one Terminator) took my Devestator bait, and thereby took themselves out of the important moments of the game.

Once he realized the error, Pitmann was forced to rely on the vagaries of Deep Strike to get challenging units close to my objective, and that simply didn’t work out for him -moreso because he was also forced to respond to my own Deep Striking forces, which would be landing much more accurately than his.

All of the above created a push-me-pull-you feel to the Iron Warrior play last weekend, with units back-tracking and scrambling rather than moving with planned, decisive purpose. Which leads to the recap of the Onorevoli performance…

THE PLAN: I believe that a significant part of the push-me-pull-you dynamic mentioned above stems directly from the Onorevoli plan. Templar has correctly noted in past reports that the Onorevoli seemed to play “reactively” rather than “assertively.” This was not the case for battle number three. The Onorevoli had a distinct plan and stuck with it (with only one useless but perhaps costly digression). As such, the Iron Warriors were largely left reacting to my plan rather than the other way around. This was a refreshing change of circumstance… for me.

The Dread managed to blow some stuff up and also soak up a fair bit of attention that would otherwise have been better spent elsewhere. The Scouts delivered their Teleport Homers to the important parts of the table although a delicate few more inches could have helped tremendously to seal a victory. Telion kept himself alive long enough to claim my objective. In fact, this is the first game that any Scouts survived at all. That's progress. The Librarians ran hopeless but worthwhile interference in my half. The Terminators pressed Pitmann back into his own territory. The Devestators blew up that pesky Defiler (but missed the opportunity to take a decent swing at the Chaos Dread –this is the aforementioned digression from the plan, and a clear symptom of my own target priority issues with those Devs). Only the Whirlwind failed to contribute anything at all and will certainly sit it out the next game.

Although not perfectly, the plan worked.

THE MISSING LINKS: I still need to rethink my Heavy choices –which will largely mean scrapping most of them. I also intend to rethink my policy toward Fast choices –which will mean putting glue to plastic and paint to brush. The Scouts are fragile but aptly fluffy, and I’m going to continue to resists the urge to load up several squads of Tactical Marines in shiny Rhinos simply because it makes compelling strategic sense to do so. At most, I’ll deploy one squad of five, with a Rhino escort, but not a single model more.

The Onorevoli are flirting with Heresy, damn them, there’s little room left for sense and strategy.

I hope you’ve enjoyed this rather lengthy series as much as I have, and I look forward to seeing you tomorrow for the next installment of Hailed vs. Hated.

p.s. A Gentleman’s Ones made it on to FTW’s Tuesday Top Ten this week (thank you kindly. I am honored), and I’ve noted a significant uptick in activity. Welcome one and all. Today also marks the end of the tenth week of posting. I think it’s off to a good start, and here’s to the next ten.


The Dark Templar said...

Once again congrats on the win B, not to mention addion to the FTW Tuesday Top Ten. Well deserved in both cases.

I agree with your initial observation that The Ref confusing the position of your objective handed the initiative to the Onorevoli, and his lack of speed also contributed towards this. However, it was nice to see the loyal(ish) marines on the offensive.

I will admit to cringing a little when I saw the Lascannon-filled Dev squad, from a points cost perspective alone, they had the bite to take down the Defiler so fair play to them. I would have taken a Pred or two instead.

I might have been tempted to use the ineffective Whirlwind to tank shock some units (not the Fearless ones obviously) maybe a Terminator unit, see if you could get them to run, then stay within 6" and herd them of the board.

I'm not a great fan of scouts right now, simply because of their lower BS. However, you've just explained the reasoning for not taking Tactical squads so that's cool.

The only thing I would like to see is a few more vehicles, purely because they make great distractions, excellent terrain pieces, can block line of sight and create killing corridors for you to shepherd the enemy into – unless they insist on going through them rather than around them!

Excellent battle report again!

Anonymous said...

I must say that bsmoove is being far to modest. Simply put, I was beat -- both strategically and by b's command of the rules. One of the great parts of playing this game is that it requires focus, the ability to adapt, and a strong grasp of the rules to ensure the most "bang" for the point. My dice -- well, I simply say that they were off by a gentleman's one. Repeatedly!!! But, it is a poor craftsman that blames his tools. So, congrats to B for the strong play. I'll be back!!

Grizzled Gamer said...

First and foremost, congrats on the win.
Secondly, the armies were both very well painted and it made for an excellent battle report.
I am not a big fan of the whirlwind or the scouts. Now, I liked to see both of the well painted units, but I would replace them in future games with a few more vehicles and tactical squads.
I realize that both of these recommendations were already stated by Dark Templar.
So, I guess my last piece of advice would be to include more speed in your army. It had more than enough firepower, it just seemed a bit pedestrian - and pedestrian armies are my sole province! LOL! :-)

Brian said...

@ Dark Templar. Cheers.

I can hardly blame you for cringing about the Las-Devs. I do the same every time I write an army list with them in it. The feeling rarely subsides until they are cleaned off the table (usually by turn three). Alas. They were painted for fun, but haven't produced much of said fun on the tabletop. They're going to have plenty of time for a nice long think about this fact during the next game.

So, vehicles and Fast choices it'll be! ( do you/would you usually kit-out your preds, btw?)

I've been desperately trying not to be either too competitive or too derivative in the construction of this army. The first point is the reason that I've dismissed the standard Tactical and Rhino army. The second has held me back on Fast choices for fear of somehow unsubtly stepping on BA or, emperor help us, Dark Angel toes with hordes of assault marines or bikers. If I were ever to play anyone other than the good Referee, I would want that person to see something that they'd never quite seen before. Right now, I'd say the Onorevoli are not quite unique but at least reasonably peculiar.

That's part of the theory anyway. Now, I'm waffling between adding a bit more bite to the this force, but unsure a) how I can do so without being too obvious, and b) how I can do so without corrupting-abandoning my fluff.

@ Ref P (aka "anonymous") You're not fooling anyone with that anonymous business. How's your Sat afternoon look for Round IV of this epic clash of Iron and Will? I know that I'd told you it would take me a week to write all of this down, but you'll have deduced by these typo-infested reports that the enthusiasm got the better of me. Worse yet, it's left me anxious for that rematch.

@ Magilla. I know what you mean about those Scouts. ugh. But I just love those little nutters. This may make you slightly ill, but I'm trying to finish out a squad of 5 Scout Bikers that just don't seem to get any closer to completion.

But nevermind that. If you had a choice between Bikers and Assault Marines, which would you take? I'm leaning toward Bikers (to complement the Scouts Bikers), but then fear I'll be too Dark Angels. Then I lean toward Assault and run in to the same prob with BA. How about Skimmers? hmmm.

Thanks as ever for the interest and the responses. Great stuff.

Wyatt said...


I have a few ideas that will greatly increase the power of your army and still allow you to use your beloved scouts.

First, Heavy support. Dump the Devs. You can get 2 vindicators for the price of that one devastator squad. Vindicators are solid tanks which will be difficult for opponents to ignore. Demolisher cannons are so scary that they needn't even fire a shot to really have a big effect on the game.

Second, your fast attack. I would take one or two land speeder storms. Give them heavy flamers, and put in scout squads which are geared for close combat. 5 members, flamer, sarge with a power weapon/fist and melta bombs. This is a unit that can really worry a lot of players when it outflanks.

Also try this: Give those scout bikers a teleport homer. Take less normal terminators and more TH/SS terminators. Give one librarian Gate of infinity. If you get first turn, you scout move up with your bikers. Then use gate of infinity to teleport your TH/SS terminators on top of the enemy turn one. 10 TH/SS terminators, while expensive, will complement your drop pod dread, and literally make the game in your court right out of the gate.


Brian said...

Wyatt, you are an absolute legend. Thanks for the tips. It'll take me a little bit to get the models sorted, but keep an eye out for the Vindicator, and Land Speder Storm options in the reasonably near future.