Wednesday, September 9, 2009

Here We Went Again...


My day job sucks sometimes. I build realistic real-time 3D environments for retail research (Think Doom with shopping.). The primary platform I develop on is called Virtools, and it's the best 3D visualization software on the market for what I do. Which isn't to say it's good. It's just the best of a bad field. Virtools is written by a French company, which means it's both brilliant and infuriating at the same time, as nearly all French tech products are.

Anyhow, I was supposed to play Farmpunk over at Saltire games on Tuesday. To avoid having the game end on turn 3 again, we had planned to get over there at 5:30 and start the game early enough to get through at least turn 5 before the store closed. We set this up around noon on Tuesday, when I figured I'd get my work done in a couple of hours, deliver it to the client, and then leisurely make my way over to Saltire so I could set up the table before Farmpunk got there.

But the French wrecked that plan . It seems that you can put a picture with transparency on a "Frame", which is what they call a 2D rectangle in Virtools. But if you make that frame a button, the rectangle won't render properly with a semi-transparent image on it. Seems simple enough, but I spent FOUR AND A HALF HOURS figuring out that it wasn't my rendering setup that was causing the problem. And another 2 hours reworking the piece to get around that REALLY STUPID application bug. So, I didn't get everything done and off to the client until 9pm. Which put the kabosh on our gaming. I was so mad I went out and drove around in circles for an hour.

And, since nobody else showed up at Saltire, Farmpunk didn't get his fix either. So we decided on a do-over at the GP-North on Wednesday, where we were the only people playing a game in the store. Man, this back-to-school thing really kills 40k attendance!

IG Forces

I took my Mech IG list with an extra Stormtrooper squad this time instead of Marbo and some other things:

HQ
175 Company Command Squad w/4 x Melta, Astropath, Chimera

Elites
105 5 Stormtroopers w/2 x Melta
105 5 Stormtroopers w/2 x Melta
105 5 Stormtroopers w/2 x Melta

Troops
155 Veteran Squad w/3 x Melta, Chimera
155 Veteran Squad w/3 x Melta, Chimera
155 Veteran Squad w/3 x Melta, Chimera
155 Veteran Squad w/3 x Melta, Chimera

Fast Attack
120 3 Sentinels w/Autocannons
145 Hellhound w/Hull Multi-Melta
145 Hellhound w/Hull Multi-Melta

Heavy Support
165 Leman Russ Battle Tank w/Hull Lascannon
165 Leman Russ Battle Tank w/Hull Lascannon

Total: 1850 pts.

WitchHunter Forces

Farmpunk took the latest iteration of his WitchHunters with inducted guard:

HQ
127 Cannoness (jump pack, Cloak of St. Aspria, Book of St. Lucius, Blessed
Weapon, Frags, Melta bombs)

Elites
183 Celestian Squad 2meltaguns, 4bolters w/ Krak grenades in Immolator
w/smoke, extra armor

Troops
418 2 x Sisters of Battle squad (1VSS w/book of St. Lucius, bolter.
1Hflamer, 1Meltagun, 7 Bolters) in rhino w/Extra armor, smokes

310 2x Inducted Veterans, 3meltaguns, sargent, 6lasguns, chimera
w/multilaser, Hull Hflamer

226 GK squad Justicar w/targeter, 2Psycannons, 3 GK's

Fast Attack
140 2x Inducted Armored sentinels w/lascannons

Heavy Support
280 2x Exorcist w/extra armor
165 Leman Russ w/hull Lascannon

Total: 1849

Note: This was before the new IG FAQ came out, which did away with the induction of Veterans. This was previously allowed for 'Ard Boyz, which were the induction rules we were using.

The Setup

As luck would have it, we rolled up EXACTLY the same mission and setup that we did the week before when the game got cut short. Seize Ground with a Spearhead deployment. Then Farmpunk won first turn again. Whoa... Deja Vu! The dice gods had spoken. We were obviously meant to fight this battle out!

(This pic is actually from the top of turn one, after Farmpunk had moved.)

Farmpunk set up with his Rhinos and Chimeras forward, while his Exorcists and Russ took bombardment duty. His Grey Knights hung back on his objective in the corner, content to snipe at anyone who got too close.

My plan was to meet his advance on my right with my Russes, the CCS, and 2 Chimeltas. While deploying in such a way that Farmpunk wouldn't be able to hit me with the Exorcist on my left without risking a difficult terrain roll on the woods it was next to.

My reserves (2 Hellhounds and 2 Chimeltas) would roll onto the board and take care of my left. With the stormies dropping in to kill armor wherever needed. In this way I hoped to halt his advance on my right and at least contest that objective. While taking the objective in my corner and taking 1 or two objectives in the center with my reserves. At least, that was the plan...


Turn 1

This was the turn of nothing. Lots of stuff fired, but nobody took so much as a scratch from it. On his turn, Farmpunk immobilized his right-most Chimera on the edge of the center building as he tried to cross it. His Exorcist on my left then immobilized itself (Hehe...) trying to get a shot at my Russes.

For my part, I immobilized one of my Chimeras by trying to move through the woods I was hugging to get some melta shots off at his lead Rhino. (sigh) That cost me a first-turn kill.


Turn 2

Now things got more interesting.

Farmpunk moved up agressively right on top of the objective, and proceeded to blow my Russ apart with his melta sisters. His Exorcist on my right blew the turret off of a Chimera, while his Immoliator zoomed around his immobilized Chimelta Vets to back up the melta sisters.

On my turn I was able to bring on the Sentinels, all 3 Stormies, and my 2 reserve Chimeltas. With only the Hellhounds left off-table.

I would have preferred for my Scout Sentinels to come in on my left behind Farmpunk's forces and shoot up his immobilized Exorcist and his Armored Sentinels from the rear. But even with a re-roll from the Astropath, they were determined to come in on my right where I needed them the least.


My Chimeras though, were in a perfect position to pop his Rhino and Chimera on my left and then flame the survivors. I would have lost at least one Chimera to return melta-fire from the survivors, but I was sure that the Hellhounds would be able to mop things up on the next turn and let me grab the center objectives, sending Farmpunk's backfield into confusion.

It was perfect, except that they both whiffed and failed to even stun their targets. ARRRRGH!!!


The Stormies did slightly better, nailing all three drops perfectly with no scatters. Unfortunately 2 of the 3 squads then whiffed their melta rolls. With only a dead Immoliator for my trouble. I'd complain more about my luck, but Farmpunk was whiffing a lot of rolls too.


In my center, I only managed to blow the storm bolter off of the Rhino with 5 close-range melta shots. Grrrr! As I mentioned before, the Stormies blew up the Immoliator, leaving the Celestians in a um, blister-pack-backing shaped "crater" in the middle of everything. The Demolisher whittled them down a bit, but they held firm.


Turn 3


On my left, the WhiffMelta Vets were squeezed in a fearsome looking pincer and shot up, losing their rides and having the rightmost of the 2 squads fall to heavy flamers and bolters from the Sister Squad. While the leftmost squad ended up in an invisible crater just in front of Farmpunk's Chimera.



No problem, I thought. On my turn they'll pop the Chimera and my Hellhounds will mop up the survivors! But we'll get to that later...


On the other side of the board, Farmpunk had pulled his Exorcist and Russ back from the Stormies and threw everything they had at them. Which amounted to a fart in a headwind as Farmpunk whiffed all his rolls. The Exorcist, for example, rolled a 6 for the number of missiles fired. Then Farmpunk missed with 5 shots and rolled a one to wound on the 6th... ouch! The GKs saved him some face by shooting up the nearer Stormie squad, leaving a lone melta gunner in front of the Exorcist.



The Cannoness, meanwhile, has jumped behind my immobilized Chimera on the right and whiffed her attack rolls. My Scout Sentinels then open up on her and do five wounds, all of which she saves. The Vets inside the Chimera open up on her with meltas and lasguns, but still no joy for me. That's 8 wounds that could have insta-killed her, but she just wouldn't roll a one. Arrrgh!

Over in the center, I put my surviving Vet squad back into a Chimera as I move it up to contest the objective. I know they won't last long, but I'm hoping to at least hold out long enough to force a couple of moral tests on the surrounding Sisters. I kill 5 girls in the nearest squad with heavy flamers (WooHoo!), but the squad holds firm. A couple of Celestians fall to my meltas, but they hold firm too.

Up on my right, Farmpunk's Russ finally eats melta-death from the Stormies in front of him.

On my left, the Hellhounds come on. Surely now, I can pop that Chimera and mop up the survivors with my inferno cannons. But alas, I had forgotten to roll the pin and moral checks for the lone surviving Vet squad I was depending on. They passed the morale check, but failed the pin check. Leaving them helpless before Farmpunk's Chimera and it's heavy flamer. And, given my deployment of the Hellhounds, I couldn't threaten the Chimera with their multi-meltas, as they were out of arc. So I took a pot-shot at the Exorcist, which missed. The other Hellhound killed a few Sisters at max range with it's Inferno Cannon, but they held firm.

Bye-Bye Hellhounds, it was nice knowing you...

Turn 4

Farmpunk does the obvious and kills one Hellhound with the Sentinels. His melta-vets immobilize and knock both weapons off the other, while his Chimera's heavy flamer kills 3 of the vets in front of it, leaving 2 melta gunners. His Sisters, meanwhile bail on the party. They get back in their Rhino and head for the big fight in my middle.

In my center, Farmpunk's Sisters blow up my command Chimera, leaving my Company Commander as the sole-survivor. He'll die later in close combat.


The Cannoness charges the Sentinels, who are all wrecked immediately instead of tarpitting her. I'm no longer questioning my luck at this point. I'm simply accepting my ordained fate.

Here's an overview of the battle so far. Notice the Rhino moving up on the right. The 2 surviving melta gunners on my left kill the Chimera in front of them with a nice big explosion, causing the squad inside to run... right over to the objective. Great. I'd kill them with the surviving Hellhound... if it still had it's turret.

My last untouched Vet squad is still in their immobilized Chimera, and it's a no-win situation for them. They need to get out and claim my corner objective, but my center is gone and there's a Rhino full of reinforcements moving up on my left that I couldn't stop with my reserves. And cover won't help against flamers. So I decide to get out and fire meltas at the center Rhino, hoping for a good explosion. Whiff! They do nothing. One melta hits but fails to penetrate. Good job boys!

At least the last surviving Stormie on my right knows how to shoot. He wrecks the Exorcist nicely. Farmpunk's squad that was falling back on my left rallies and kills the last 2 melta gunners from my reserves.

By this point the game is pretty much decided. I've clearly lost and can't hope to do anything else to him, but Farmpunk wants to play it out to the end. So we finish turn 5 before the store closes for the night. Farmpunk ends up with all five objectives and kills everyone but a single immobilized, weaponless Hellhound.

Final Score: 5-0

Thoughts

1) Sometimes, the dice just screw you for no good reason.

Overall, I thought my tactics were good. Though my deployment could have been a bit better. But every awesome break I got, like the 3 hits on the Stormie drops, was followed by a ridiculous whiff where I might as well have been throwing spitballs.

2) If you're not the beatdown, don't act like you are.

Back in the "All Wet" post, I posted this link about play styles. One of the interesting things that guy wrote about was knowing who the "Beatdown" and "Controller" are in every game. The Beatdown is the player who has to close with you to be effective. He's the aggressor. While the controller is the player who has to defend against this and shape the battlefield to his advantage.

Well, Farmpunk and I were both playing "Fire" armies, which are best suited to the beatdown. But he rolled first turn, which, combined with his army composition and deployment, defined his role for him. I should have then recognized this and embraced the part of the Controller. But no, I wanted to be the beatdown, even though it wasn't my choice to make (Blame it on playing gun lines for over 10 years.). So I pushed my armor too far forward when I should have maximized the distance he had to travel to get to me. A little extra distance would have made for a better fight in the middle.

I had plenty of reserves, outflankers, and deep strikers for playing the part of the Controller, but bad luck aside, I spread them too thin. I tried to kill everything on the table at once, and with better rolls I might have. But instead, maybe I should have dropped the Stormies on the near side of the board to support my reserves and force him to move everything else to react to me.

The Stormies did what they were supposed to (eventually) by knocking out 2/3rds of his artillery. But maybe they would have been better spent forcing him to shift some of his remaining troops from the battle-center to the middle of the table after they wiped out the Sister and Vet squads that I whiffed against with my reserve Chimeras.

3) Sisters + Melta Vets Really Suck to Play Against.

Farmpunk has been running his Sisters and Melta Vets in pairs, with the Rhino leading and the Chimera following in cover. Given that the Rhino has auto-glance Inquisition smoke instead of the 5th-Ed cover-granting smoke, this makes it nearly impossible to pop the Rhino, while the Chimera gets to fire and save it's smoke for later.

How do I stop this? Just prior to the new IG FAQ, I found myself running die-roll tests on how many Hydras it would take to stop an Inquisition Rhino on turn one. Here's the results:

2 Hydras vs. Smoked =I= Rhino (150 pts):
10% chance of stun
35% chance of immobilization
15% chance of wrecking
Total: 60% chance to stop it overall.

3 Hydras vs. Smoked =I= Rhino (225 pts):
15% chance of stun
50% chance of immobilization
20% chance of wrecking
Total: 85% chance to stop it overall.

Farmpunk almost always puts extra armor on his tanks, so the real chances are 50% and 70% respectively. Those numbers are not reassuring given the point differences.

And just for fun, here's how 3 Hydras would do when firing at the front of an Exorcist in the open.

3 Hydras vs. Exorcist:
35% chance of stun
25% chance of weapon destroyed
zero% chance of wrecking
Total: 60% chance per turn to stop it from shooting overall. Drops to 25% if given extra armor. Yuck!

Of course, I still need to deal with the Rhinos now. But at least there's not Melta Vets coming up behind. :)

3 comments:

  1. Cool battle report, very will written. I think you've given a good summery of what could be learned from the battle. Your right, your tactics and theories all seem to be great, you were just trying to play the wrong role.

    And the dice gods kicked you in the ass.

    Still, as you say, no more vets for you to face!

    ReplyDelete
  2. I thought about collapsing my formations until your reserves came in, then charging forward.

    It would have allowed me to take you on a bit more at my own pace. shake the Russes each turn, then take out a transport or two each turn.

    it was a good game.

    ReplyDelete
  3. fyi, i'll be at saltire this tuesday (tomorrow).

    ReplyDelete

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