Wednesday, March 27, 2013

First Timers: Dark Angels vs Chaos in 6th Edition

Most disturbing result on a search for "first timers"?  Could be.
Remember when I used to do battle reports here?  Neither do I, but it's going to happen anyway.  You.
may have noticed my gaming pendulum has swung back towards 40k lately and today was the maiden voyage of 6th edition.  This game has been a while in the making but the stars aligned properly so that EV and I could throw down, tabletop style

Normally I'd have some preamble to the lists, but not so much this time.  You can imagine me being eloquent here if you like.  EV ran this list, or at least something that looked close enough to it that I can't tell the difference.  The big stuff (Helbrutes, Daemon Prince) were worrisome, but the overall lack of Marines was pleasant to see across the table.  After some finagling I came up with the following:

Librarian (level 2)
2 * 5 Deathwing with Assault Cannon and Chainfist
2 * 10 Tacticals with Plasma Cannon, Plasmagun, and Plasma Pistol
6 Ravenwing with 2 Plasmaguns, Multimelta Attack Bike, and Mulitmelta Land Speeder
10 Devastators with 4 Missile Launchers

One of these items is a holdover from my 5th edition Blood Angels.  If you squint real hard you can probably spot which one it is.  The main factor in what I took was what I had: two Dark Vengeance boxes worth of stuff.  (I have a box of Deathwing as well, but it has yet to be assembled.) When I first started nurturing the idea of a Dark Angels army I wanted nothing but Terminators and maybe bikes.  I've softened on that stance since, but the basic theme is still the same: shoot a lot.  I've run Blood Angels, off and on, for more than 10 years, so it's well past time for a change.  While sitting still and shooting instead of charging into glorious melee feels weird, the shoot first approach has been working well for my Axis forces and it'd be silly to try and make a melee-centric force out of Tacticals and Scouts as Dark Angels can't take Assault squads as troops choices.  The contents of Dark Vengeance, once I had them in hand, hammered these ideas into a workable shape: power armor firebase with bikes as mobile firepower and Terminators as advancing doom.  HQ was easy: the internet says to take a DA Librarian with Divination, so I did.

For this first time with the new rules we kept it simple: kill points with the standard long edge deployment.  Terrain setup was entertaining as I could put pieces right up against each other, something I always want to do in Dust but can't with the 4" between pieces thing.  I won the roll to go first and was going to defer, with the idea that EV would move up into range of my guns during his first turn.  EV suggested I mull the idea over while we put out terrain, which allowed me time to discover that there would be a mere 24" of dead space between our deployment zones, which would put most everything in range of the big guns from the beginning.  Armed with this knowledge I set up a couple ruins as a place to put my immobile shooters, then proceeded to make a corral on EV's side of the board by plugging gaps between buildings with tank traps and cargo containers.

Dark Angels deployment
My deployment followed the plan I had during terrain setup, namely put the power armor in the center to shoot.  I put one unit of Terminators on the right where there was more terrain to hide the advance of Chaos and the bikes way out on the right so they could fly up the flank to guide the other squad of Terminators in, who I'd put into reserve to try out Deep Striking Deathwing.  I'd try to roll the flank while hammering away with my central troops, but all of that would be contingent on EV's deployment.

Chaos deployment.
Fortunately, for me, EV deployed in a way that would work with what I wanted to do.  The bulk of his troops ended up in the corral and to the left.  Both Helbrutes were on the right, opposite my bikes and Terminators, while the Daemon Prince did what his ilk do: hide behind terrain, Rhinos, particularly large shrubbery, whatever is handy.

Just before beginning my turn I remembered I could Scout the bikers forward, so I did.  The squad went up the flank while the Attack Bike rolled up the center towards the Helbrutes (not pictured).

Essential photograph here.

Turn 1

The face of the enemy.
This is as good a place as any to put this: pictures will be inconsistent.  It's been a while since I did one of these so my sense of when to take a picture was a bit off.  Thus we get a shot of a movement phase, but not the end of a turn, and things of that sort.  I blame Bettman for the lockout.  You should too.

My actual movement phase was remarkable in that it didn't involve shoving all my troops forward.  The bikes continued their loop around the flank, eying a spot behind the woods to call in the thunder (aka Terminators) on the next turn (when I had decided they would come on.  Deathwing get to make a flashy entrance), while the Attack Bike rolled up to some cover and lined up a shot on a Helbrute.  After much measuring and rules contemplation I sent the Speeder up the middle, then moved it up again in the Shooting phase behind a cargo container.  The last bit of movement was the Terminators, who began their advance.

My (limited) advance.

Shooting was much more engaging.  I learned that both my powers (I picked the main one that gives rerolls on attacks, then rolled up another that forced rerolls on successful armor saves on a target enemy) worked at the beginning of my movement phase, made a note of it for next turn, then started shooting.  First up was a Plasma Cannon, which hit the mark in the middle of a knot of Chaos Marines, though the cover they were in meant I only killed a couple of the seven (!) that I hit with the blast.
They're down there.  Or were...
Next the other Plasma Cannon opened up.  This one drifted a bit, but still managed to kill a couple enemies.
There's a target out there somewhere, honest.
I shot the whole Ravenwing squad, except the "running" Land Speeder, at the Helbrute on the right, but didn't do anything of note to it.  Then the Terminators shot up some Chaos Marines.  This would have been more effective had I remembered I got rerolls from Inner Circle (aka Preferred Enemy), but that didn't occur to me until the next turn.  A couple more rebels bit the dust, so it worked out anyway.

Remember what I said about inconsistent photography?  Here it is.  Not only did I miss the end of my turn, the first shot I have of EV's turn is a closeup of where my Land Speeder used to be.  Turns out they're not very resilient and can easily be gunned down by an Autocannon.
X marks the spot where I used to have a Land Speeder.

Remember that last paragraph where I implied I had more than one picture of EV's turn?  Not so much.  What I do have is an end of turn shot, where you can see how his Daemon Prince flew screaming across the table to flap about above/next to the Tactical squad on the hill.  Most of the Chaotic army moved forward, albeit slowly as most of it was busy forcing their way through trees and over barriers.

End of turn one.

Turn 2

Sometime during EV's turn I found out that Deep Striking happens at the beginning of the movement phase, which shot down my plan to drop my reserve Deathwing in the back right corner.  Instead of showing up behind the Helbrutes, they popped out right in front of them.

Not quite how I drew it up in the huddle.

After that slightly dispiriting start things turned in my favor.  My Librarian got both of his powers off, giving the Devastators he had joined re-rolls for missed attacks and cursing EV's Daemon Prince with having to re-roll successful saves.  (Go ahead and mentally insert the Oprah "You get a ___" meme here.)  The Devastators were...devastating (rimshot), putting a couple wounds on the DP and more importantly grounding it, which caused another wound.  When it hit the ground the Tactical squad on the hill opened up, rapid fire style, and put the thing out of its misery.  I decided against the Plasma Cannon here for fear of drifting into my own squad, so the heavy weapon Marine pulled out his Bolt Pistol instead.

Taking out the Daemon Prince sure opened up some space.

Then the other Tactical squad shot down field and again took out a handful of Chaos Marines.

An expensive, but effective, Plasma Cannon.

Hot on the heels of my success against the DP, my right flank blasted away at one of the Helbrutes, blowing off its Power Fist before finishing the beast off for good.  See that die by the Attack Bike?  That's the wound it took after EV convinced me that difficult terrain tests for bikes aren't so bad as you only fail on a one (check) and now get an armor save against it (failed).  At least the bike has two wounds.
Big gribblies not so worrisome now.
The non-Deep Striking Deathwing had shot at the remaining Helbrute in turn one with no real result, so this time they targeted the Marines to the left with much better results.

Whittling down that squad.

No end of turn shot again, instead straight into the Chaos turn.  The remaining Helbrute advanced and shot up the central Deathwing squad. scoring a pair of wounds with its Autocannon.  No worries since I got a 2+ against the wounds, so it only makes sense that I'd fail both.

This is why we always roll the dice.
I have to give EV credit for this next one.  He charged one of his Cultists squads into my bikers, despite the obvious long odds, because it was what they would have done.  In a glorious display of competence my bikers cut down a handful of cultists for no loss in return.  Then the (veteran) sergeant butchered the challenging cultist leader before he got to swing.  Having had more than their fill the cultists broke and ran, but were easily run down by my bikers.

Actual red smear.  (note: it's fake)
Things went better for EV in the center when he charged his Helbrute into my now depleted Deathwing squad.  The combat served as a great reminder of one of the central tenants of out 40k games: power fists never do anything.  EV had a handful of attacks that all missed or failed to wound, as did my four attacks.  Let the stalemate begin!

New edition, same sissy slapfight.
In other news, the Chaotic left flank continued its slow advance through ever scrap of terrain available.  While the cover was giving them some limited protection from my firebase, it was also giving me extra time to shoot at them.  The Chosen were down to four models and had barely reached the center line, while the Lord's squad was even further behind.

End of turn two.
 Turn 3

My movement phase was short again with just my right flank advancing.  I couldn't shoot the Helbrute since it was engaged in melee, so I turned my attention to the (small) Marine squad and Cultists that made up the rest of the flank.  Between the Terminators and the bikers the flank was swept clean.

Who knew rapid fire and Storm Bolters did so much work?
In the middle I continued to hammer away at the advancing left flank.  The Chosen were taken down to a single member and I started plinking away at the Lord and his squad as well.

Slow and steady wins the (shooting) race.
Something odd happened in the melee phase: power fists did some work.  EV kept to the script by failing to do any damage with his, but I slipped up and wrecked his Helbrute with mine.

How does this happen?  Power Fists don't work.

Things were more or less decided at the end of my turn.  All of EV's big nasties were down, his right flank had evaporated, and he was down to a one trooper squad, another dinged up squad, plus some hiding cultists.  Meanwhile I had lost two Terminators, a Land Speeder, and a wound from my Attack Bike.

Dark Angel turn three.
EV gave it one last hurray, sending the Chosen out to charge my Tactical squad on the hill.  He rolled a long enough charge, but the lone Chosen didn't make it through the hail of fire.

Overwatch is back and it is fantastic.
 After that the Lord and his squad tried for the hail mary charge (a 12 incher) but came up short.  We called it at the end of turn three as a clear win for the Imperium.

End of game.

Hard for me to find much to nitpick in this one as I got to do most everything I wanted and had it all work out.  The Land Speeder was the obvious failure, but I expected that going in.  A single AV 10 vehicle with a pair of hull points was never going to last long, but since this was my first time fielding a Land Speeder I would have liked to shoot it once or twice before it flamed out.  The Deep Strike gaffe was unfortunate as well, but that's on me for insufficient attention to detail.  Failing the only two saves my Terminators had to make was unfortunate as well, but aside from that they performed well.  I'm sure I've played Terminators before, but it's been long enough that they would have still been on regular bases instead of the "new" 40mm Terminator bases.  The shooting first approach worked well, this time at least, and was a pleasant departure from my usual melee horde.  The bikes had a particularly strong showing, both shooting and melee, which will make me consider a Ravenwing heavy force more than I already was.

Dark Eldar poster boy.  I think.
The transition to 6th was relatively painless as well.  There were a couple trips to the rulebook, mostly brief, though we weren't entirely sure if you could Rapid Fire as a charge reaction.  It doesn't make sense that you can, but we didn't find anything saying you can't despite among the listed prohibitions (blast weapons mostly) so we played it as workable.  The flying Daemon Prince wasn't as horrific as I expected it to be, though I'll put that down to good fortune on my part.  The internet tells me that DPs got the nerf bat in the latest book, and I'm inclined to agree though I want to reserve judgement for a while.  Comparing Khorne to Nurgle and finding Khorne less resilient isn't noteworthy and seems like a reasonable explanation, especially when combined with my aforementioned good luck and getting both my psychic powers working in concert.  The Librarian was a strong performer, as they tend to be, and is bound to be a foundational piece of the army.

A successful first outing in the new edition for the good guys.  I expect next time to be far more difficult as EV has already promised (threatened?) to pull out his Dark Eldar for the next game.  Nothing is more entertaining than taking a dozen Dark Lances to the face each turn, plus approximately one billion splinter shots, all while watching the poncy elves flit around in their fancy boats.  We'll see how well the shoot first approach works against a different foe.


  1. Yeah, I am not a big fan of the whole "Overwatch" thing. It kind of makes non-swarm assault armies... Pointless. I know your dudes would surely blaze away at mine as they advanced, but to me that's what your shooting in the previous turn is about. And that Librarian with that Devastator squad? You'd better bet he's got some Bale Fire and/or Very Angry Daemon Princey Goodness coming his way. That re-roll to hit power is just ridiculous. Prescience is clearly the way to go, and it's a shame that the only way I can get it is... Not at all.

    In the end this bout was really one-sided, but at least we learned about the game a bit.

    Any way, phear my Dark Elfdar! They comes for your soulses!!!

    1. As gratifying as it is to have all your plans work out flawlessly, it doesn't make for the most engaging game. The Librarian was all set to go into a Tactical squad until we were deploying when it occurred to me that he'd be much more effective with the Devastators. Serendipity and all that. The Devs started life as glorified point fillers, but seeing how effective the combo was has made me rethink their place (or lack thereof) in future lists. I've been sitting on a box of Devastators for years that should look real nice painted up green.

  2. Oh, also, we were using way too much terrain (d3 pieces per 2'x2' section), and each piece has to be placed 3" away from another piece. Sorry, but your hyper-cluttered board dream will again have to go unfulfilled...

    1. Can I still put a tank trap next to a building? That's the big draw, though I find myself leaning towards more terrain in general of late.

    2. Nope, terrain is terrain. If agreed on before the game small clusters of terrain (like my piles of bones or groups of crates) can count as a single piece.

      Oh, also, the hard and fast rules for placing fortifications can be found (along with all the other terrain placement rules) on page 120. Fortifications in particular are in the upper left hand corner. That ought to help us next time we throw down. I'm a little worried about how much (or little) terrain will be on the table, but we'll have to see what comes of things.