Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Blood Angels vs. Plague Marines IV: Once More Into the Breach

Am I on the horse this time?
Battle Chronicler looks pretty, but was taking far too long, so I went back to the usual formula for this report to get it done.  I have tried a different layout, with embedded pictures instead of alternating pictures with blocks of text.  We'll see how it looks.

Last week I was determined to beat EV's Plague Marines.  I had a plan going in: shoot stuff.  Shoot it a lot.  I was hoping my Devs would take down a Daemon Prince, or at least give it a real good wounding, before it could hide in melee.  I knew EV would hide them behind his Rhinos, so I formulated a target priority for the Devs: Daemon Prince > Rhino > Plague Marine > Obliterator.  If the assault marines could create a hole in the Rhino screen then I could potentially send 8 missiles into a Prince, plus any remaining melta, which should accomplish my shooting goals.  I wanted to send something after the Obliterators as well.  Ideally this would be the Sanguinary Guard as they should breeze through a pair of Oblits, possible even two pair.  This would also keep the Guard away from the Princes and Plague Marines so they could come in later to clean squads up.  I also wanted to try Unleash Rage instead of Blood Lance on my Librarian and put him in an assault squad so he'd have more bodies around him for Unleash Rage.  I hoped the rerolls would counter the natural resilience of the Plague Marines so that an assault squad could finally kill one of them.  I made no changes to my list and planned around EV doing the same, which he did.  I won't reproduce them, but I will put in a handy link to the last battle report.  We alternated setting out terrain again and ended up with a table like this:

The battlefield.
EV won the roll and chose the edge with the hill.  We were playing "regular" deployment, using the long sides as our zones, with kill points.  This was the first time I played kill points and after hearing all the moaning about them I was curious to see how they worked.  EV fielded 13 KPs thanks to his Rhinos while I had 12 thanks to combat squading my Devs and each Sanguinary Priest counting as a point.


EV put most of his units in the middle, splitting a pair of Oblits and a Rhino to the side.  I thought about going with the refused flank and loading everything on the side of the Oblits, but with no cover or elevation for my Devs it didn't look so great.  Instead I just spread out to avoid templates and had a sort of zone idea for the game.  I wanted to keep the field of fire for my Devs as clear of my own troops as possible, with the very hard to see yellow-shaded area being my prime real estate.  The Guard and one squad would go up the right to deal with the Oblits while the rest of the army moved up and tried to stay out of each other's way.  With set-up complete, I tried to seize the initiative and failed.

Turn 1.
No picture for the middle of turn 1, so this one at the end is pretty hectic to look at.  EV rushed his Rhinos forward, popping smoke on the lead one and hiding the Daemon Princes behind.  His Obliterators shot up my two rightmost assault squads, killing 3 from each.  When he went into the parking lot formation, I started to curse swapping out Blood Lance for Unleash Rage.  Blood Lance would have been perfect for this situation, potentially able to hit all three Rhinos and maybe even a Daemon Prince.  Lack of lance aside, it was still a promising set-up for me.

The plan that didn't work.
  I moved my assault squads to the middle, stringing the one marked for the Obliterators out so that the meltaguns could add in to the Rhino shooting party.  I wanted to pop as many Rhinos as possible while also assaulting all the contents, so I went through my shooting deliberately.  It was for naught though, as all three assault squads and a pair of missiles shot at the lead Rhino and failed to destroy it.  While it had popped smoke, 8 shots should be able to take out a single AV11 vehicle.  Sticking to my targeting priorities I went after the Rhino blocking my LoS to the green Prince and took it out.  The remaining missiles went into the Prince and caused a wound.  I sent in one squad to blow up the smoked Rhino in assault.  This was not how I hoped the turn would go.  Instead of knifing through the Rhinos with melta and crippling a Prince with missiles, I had managed to clog up the central firing lane with a wrecked Rhino and set up my entire army to be assaulted in turn 2.

Middle of turn 2.
EV's second turn almost played itself.  With my squads hanging in the wind he could set his lines for firing and assaulting as he pleased without having to worry about things like ranges.  The one surprise came when he sent the brown Daemon Prince into the assault squad that was, in theory, headed for the Obliterators.  I was also surprised by the double team faced by the squad that assaulted the Rhino, though on reflection the Prince that hit the other assault squad by itself was enough to do the job.  I stopped the green Prince's Warp Time, so more of that squad survived than expected.  The Plague Marines squads double-teaming the assault squad started an epic slap fight that saw little damage caused by either side, thanks to FNP and unenthusiastic power fists.  The brown Prince mopped up the squad it assaulted, save the Sanguinary Priest who was safe from reprisal as the Prince killed everyone else.  I may have caused a wound.  EV also shot at the Sanguinary Guard before all the combat, and probably softened up the brown Prince's target as well.

End of turn 2.
With a large chunk of my force dead, and most of the rest engaged and waiting to die, I didn't have a lot to do.  The Devs shot at what they could to little effect.  Obliterators laugh at krak missiles.  The Guard charged into the brown Prince and cut him down for no loss, then advanced to try and cut down the fire sure to be coming in the next turn.  The green Prince killed his limit thank to Warp Time, while receiving little damage in return.  By now I'd had two rounds of combat with the green Prince where I had two power weapons and a power fist, all rerolling their misses thanks to Unleash Rage, but had little to show for it.  With the mess in the center I sure could have used dice that were at least room temperature, but no love was to be had.

Middle of turn 3.
Like the turn before it, turn 3 played itself in large part.  EV shot up the Guard in the center, but cover kept two members of the squad alive.  He also jockeyed his Rhino around a bit, pulling one back while sending the other forward in the woods.  My Librarian must have died to a Perils of the Warp roll or something as both he and the squad around him died to the Prince this turn, leaving only the Sanguinary Priest alive.  The slap fight trudged on, with each side again killing a single foe.  There were no less than three power fists in this combat, yet three rounds of combat later perhaps 5 models had died.  Epic dice failure.  I won't blame my dice for how this game turned out as I put myself in a bad position on turn 1.  At the same time, bad dice are bad dice and we both had plenty, especially in the slap fight.

End of turn 3.
In the end of turn 3 the Sanguinary Priest the survived the brown Prince's assault joined up with the Guard.  I made a mistake here.  What I did was send this unit behind the Plague Marine lines to charge a unit in the back and then try to roll up the line.  What I should have done was send them against the Daemon Prince.  While they probably would have died in the combat, EV's Prince would have been tied up for another two rounds at least as he could only target one Priest at a time and would have been facing two.  I might even have killed it considering I would have had 8 SG attacks, on the charge, with both Guards having their MC reroll, plus 5 attacks from the charging priest and 4 more from the already engaged Priest, all ignoring armor and forcing the Prince back on it's 5++.  Granted the Prince's higher WS and T6 would have prevented a lot of those hits from wounding, but it had lost a wound or three by this point so it might have gone down.  Instead I cleared out one squad of Plague Marines, freeing up the Guard and the remnants of an assault squad while I lost the Priest engaged with the Prince, who was then free to roam at will.  The Devs may have shot at stuff, but to no effect.  At least my power fist got into the slap fight, killing two Plague Marines while their fist continued to miss.

Middle of turn 4.
Like the rest of them it was pretty obvious what would happen in turn 4.  EV started shooting my Devs, though cover and scatters meant he didn't do much damage.  He also sent the Rhino out of the woods and towards the Devs, popping smoke on the way.  This one had a flamer in the squad and a combi-flamer on the Rhino, so it was about to be a bad time to be holding a missile launcher.  The Prince charged the Guard and wiped them out, while the lone remaining Priest kept the string of futility going.  The slap fight  again produced a loss for each side.  Kindly ignore the extraneous BA shooting lines.  I got my pictures mixed up and thought this was the end of 4, but it's the middle.

End of turn 4.
In my half of turn 4 I shot at the Rhino with everything that could see it, that being 6 missiles.  Once again, a combination of smoke and poor rolls meant the Rhino was unharmed and ready to torch my Devs.  The slap fight came to an abrupt resolution when the Plague Marines decided they were done missing and killed the two remaining Blood Angels for no loss in return.  The Prince also mopped up the Priest.  Four turns later, I had gotten exactly one round of shooting in against the Princes, and that was a half-strength one at best.  The melee in the middle meant my Devs were effectively useless for most of the game as Obliterators were often the only available target.  Now all my infantry was dead while EV still had an untouched squad, a Prince, and the remnants of another squad.  Kill points may have been close, but were about to get a lot further apart.

Turn 5/endgame.
No middle of 5 shot.  See previous turns about the predictability of this one.  EV sent his Rhino squad in, along with the Prince, to wipe out the central Devs.  The Oblits fired into the mass on the left.  After combat, the victors moved up into the teeth of the missiles.  If I had a good turn of shooting, I could take down the Prince and perhaps whittle down the squad as well.  EV hid the pair of Plague Marines in the middle to preserve their KP, so I couldn't have shot at them despite wanting to.  In the end my shooting was as effective as it had been all game, which is to say not at all.  6 missiles into the Prince and still it stood.  We called the game here.

This is probably the worst game of 40k I've played, and certainly the worst since starting back up.  I thought I had a carefully laid plan in turn 1, but lack of shooting prowess combined with forgetting the Princes could fly meant that the game was all one big melee in the middle.  The assault marines and Plague Marines are two tough customers, which results in long combats like this.  Things should have resolved quicker because of all the power fists involved, but in the end all the basic troops did was tie each other down so the hammers could sweep them aside.  EV's two hammers (Princes) beat my one (Sanguinary Guard), and the rest is history.  At least my Psychic Hood worked in this game, which probably saved my Guard from being wiped out when they charged the brown Prince.  The Devs were effective(ish) when they got the chance to shoot, taking out a Rhino and putting a wound on a Prince, but the lone round of shooting before the melee cranked up wasn't nearly enough to get anything substantial done.  The Sanguinary Guard were the lone bright spot here.  They work wonders when they can charge something that doesn't have power weapons, or doesn't have many and goes slower, but they're fragile enough that they only get a charge or two a game before shooting and attrition wear them out.

If I learned nothing else from this game, I learned that assault marines just don't work against Plague Marines, at least not as the main attacking force.  It's hard to believe that I can cut through Deathwing terminators with relative ease but can't do anything against Plague Marines, but the results are convincing.  The B&C has provided a few ideas for immediate use, like Warp Time not affecting armor saves and Blight Grenades not working when the unit is already in combat, but not having the CSM book I'll have to check EV's.  While the lack of armor save re-rolls would be helpful, as is the idea of pinning a squad in place and then piling on, I don't think either one or both of these will turn the tide.  I've said before that I'm convinced I have the tools in my list as it is to beat Plague Marines, but I think I've changed my mind.  Changes are afoot, though what exact kinds I have yet to decide on.  Power weapon spam via either DC or VV is an option, as is meching up, and plasma will be as effective as melta against Rhinos while cutting off FNP and regular armor saves.  Reluctant as I am to change my list to counter EV's, the basic premise of my list (horde of assault marines) is countered very well by Plague Marines, so I can either adapt or continue trying to put the square peg in the round hole.  This sounds a little weird even to me considering this is the best result I've had against the Plague Marines yet, but this high-water mark is well short of the goal.


  1. Awesome battle report mate,
    really like the board also.

  2. Thanks, glad you enjoyed it.

    EV has a couple nice tables and a variety of terrain in different themes and scales. Plus his models are all painted, which makes my slow pace all the more glaring, though it does serve as motivation to pick the brush up.

  3. Well, for one, I never re-roll armor saves under Warptime, just to-hit and to-wound rolls. (^_^) I do need to go out and buy a new codex, though (stupid little theiving brats at G.W.). I'll go grab one as soon as finances allow. I'll let you leaf through my Army Builder list any time you want; the rules are pretty much word-for-word there.

    As far as defensive grenades are concerned, if I did cheat you on that on, I'm sorry.

    Sending the sanguinary priest against Big Nasty wouldn't have achieved much, as I'd just allocate my attacks, two apiece, and tear them apart as they only have one wound each.

    By the way, your Librarian died to my Prince in close combat- that Psychic Hood was cramping my style.

    The reasoning for the brown prince going after the squad heading for my oblits was simple- I didn't have enough assault range to get my hands on that Librarian like I wanted to, so with a difficult terrain roll of 2" I ended up going after the squad I had parked next to "just in case". It was really just a matter of opportunity. Of course, I forgot the big guy has "Move Through Cover", which might have changed up my assault had I rolled better, but oh, well. At least I traded my Prince for a more expensive assault squad. Each worth one Kill Point, but I still keep track of the relative point values of things (a holdover from fourth edition).

    Any way, if you want another matchup with a re-tooled list, I more than welcome it. I'm sure you'll figure out how to decimate this army eventually, but that's why I'm working on my Dark Eldar!

  4. I don't mean to imply that you're cheating. For my part, I'm just not sure what all your stuff does which is part of the problem. Somehow I have a firmer grasp on your Cryx and Cygnar than I do on the Plague Marines, which makes no sense considering how long I've been playing the different systems. Those Plague Marines seem to be such a purpose-made counter to my assault squads that I think I must be missing something. Perhaps I'll get myself a CSM codex so I can study it at my leisure. Chaos has always had a strange appeal to me, plus it'd be a better idea than a vanilla marine army if I want to recycle the older BA models I have.

    Of course another part of the problem is my less than firm grip on the rules of 40k. Having years of background with the game I figure that I know how it all works, but apparently enough has changed (not to mention what I've forgotten) that there are plenty of little intricacies that I just don't grasp. I keep meaning to go back through the rulebook more thoroughly, but it hasn't happened yet. Thinking of rulebooks, I also keep meaning to bring your big WFB book back. One of these days.

    I'm looking at expanding the BAs in general instead of specifically building a hard counter to your list. Despite my large existing collection, there's plenty of stuff that I don't have. I really want to get a Stormraven, but I still haven't made a list with one that I like. Assault Terminators jumping out of one is such a nice idea that I'm dying to try it, but the trade-offs required are awful steep.

    I think I have one more approach to take with my list as it stands. If it works out then great, but regardless I'm taking this opportunity to expand. As such, if you want anything from the Warstore let me know. I forget when their cut-off for price hikes is, but I think it's fairly soon. I assume you've also seen the PP 10th anniversary deals, though I don't know that they'd hold much appeal for you, but if not I plan on putting something about them in my next post.