Wednesday, January 9, 2019

Back from the Holidays: Battle Report for Warhammer 40k

Hi!
I am busy writing my own AD&D 1e clone book: it is going very well and we are having a ton of fun. But with 5 kids, a new business (taking off! we did our first payroll this month!), close friends getting married, and the holidays, I took some time off from blogging.

A New Interest
At Christmas my darling wife bought some Warhammer 40k books (Imperial Guard and Space Marines) for the boys who asked for them. I used one of the gift cards to buy the Core Rules.
We read them. The last time I read the rules was version 2, we got 8th ed.
By Thursday we had purchsed about all the Codices (mainly as PDFs)! We got the dining room ready and we played a game this last weekend, our first as a family.

Warhammer 40k Battle Report
From Jack

"After finding the starter rules free online and receiving the Imperial Guard Codex as a very welcome Christmas present, two of us, me and Sam, decided to try our hands at a game of Warhammer 40,000.

 For our test game, we used simply tokens in place of painted models (don't judge us; we're new), and did a more-or-less matched play game at 500 points with no stratagems or army doctrines, on an empty field with no terrain modifiers.

We planned and reviewed for several days, then fielded the following forces:

 Me: using a
    Platoon Commander as warlord
    2 infantry squads, each with a lascannon team.
    A command squad, with regimental banner and voxcaster, all armed with pistols and chainswords.      A team of 3 ogryn. A commissar.
    A minimum size wyrdvane psyker choir.
    3 armored sentinel walkers, each equipped with a missile launcher.

   Sam:
   Techpriest as warlord
    4 servitors, 2 with heavy bolters, accompanying the Techpriest.
    A commissar.
    A command squad.
    2 scout sentinel walkers, each with a multilaser and a sentinel chainsaw.
    An infantry squad.
    A minimum size wyrdvane psyker choir.
    A Leman Russ battle tank, with 2 additional heavy bolters.

   My plan was to use the sentinels to counter any deployed vehicles while the rest of the force moved up so the ogryn and command squad could close to meele combat.
  Sam's plan was to use a storm of heavy bolter fire and the tank's battle cannon to obliterate opposition, while the Techpriest kept the vehicle alive.

  This was complicated by our using the scenario Only War, and rolling that the objective was a relic, which was on the other side of the field from where our lines were drawn.

 I won initiative by a single point of power and mostly stuck to plan, moving my force up and doing good damage with lucky initial infantry fire, although I diverted one of the missiles to a scout sentinel, doing brutal damage to it but leaving the Leman Russ only moderately wounded.
  Sam countered with scathing fire, which suffered from an initial bout of bad luck that rapidly evened out, and used the Techpriest to continuously repair the tank, leaving it in the fight for the whole battle.

   The resulting battle was a meat grinder, as is to be expected from new players. The bulk of our forces met in the middle, where concentrated fire from both sides eventually killed everyone after my poor understanding of the charge rules coupled with Sam putting his commissar in exactly the right space blunted the ogryn's charge.

  By the final round, only our two commissars were left on the middle of the table surrounded by a lot of dead infantry. The commissars fought in an epic duel in which mine won the final fight phase with only 1 wound remaining.

  Meanwhile, the Techpriest's prayers and Sam's constant shouts of,
  "Praise the Omnissiah!"
  kept the Leman Russ alive in spite of constant missile fire.

  Too late did I realize that I should've targeted the servitors immediately; they are weak units, but their heavy bolter fire chewed through my infantry ranks, and taking them out of the fight might've saved me.

  Meanwhile, Sam realized too late that with our sentinels set up facing each other head on, the obvious move was to have the scouts charge. Once they did, my armored sentinels were occupied and could no longer fire, crippling my heavy weapons capacity.

  Contrary to our expectations, even a team of 3 wyrdvane psykers, basically the weakest psychic unit in the whole game, seriously influenced the flow of battle. Their ability to deny the witch meant that they largely neutralized each other, but well placed smites did take out some of my infantry and contribute to downing one of his scout sentinels, with fascinating effects on the flow of gameplay.
 Moreover, a lucky roll that nightshrouded the Leman Russ on turn two took its survivability from high to outright guaranteed.

  Finally, by pivoting and sending one of my squads to hold the relic, where they miraculously made every morale check even outside of the range of all my officers, I was able to hold the objective the whole game. On the final turn, heavy bolter fire finally wiped them out, but by having the platoon commander advance by himself to its position, I won on a technicality. With my armored sentinels tied up, the Leman Russ near full health, and my officers scattered, Sam would've certainly won if it went even one more turn, so in the end, we called it a tie.

   Everyone involved, even the spectators, had no prior experience in the game. With that in mind, a few notable things leapt out.

In no particular order:
    1) The game is actually very simple. The rules are straightforward and easy to understand. The only trick is that the correct sequence needs to be followed. If you get the firing process and the flow of melee combat in order, it's not a difficult game at all.
     2) The dynamic between ranged and hand-to-hand combat is fascinating, and probably a big part of the longevity of the rules. Ranged combat gives you much more tactical flexibility and adaptability, but not only does going hand-to-hand kill models faster, but it locks the target down so they can't do anything else. The dynamic this puts between ranged infantry, melee infantry, ranged vehicles, and melee vehicles is enormously deep.
     3) On that note, the dynamic between infantry and vehicles is enormous in and of itself! I hesitate to make further statements until we're experienced in other armies, since the Astra Militarum are so vehicle-focused.
     4) Contrary to our fears, setup and gameplay were both fast. There are plenty of tabletop games where just getting ready to play is an investment, but this is not one of them. Furthermore, while the actual gameplay does take a while, it's downright short compared to even a quick game of D&D. I can definitely anticipate slipping in a game after work on a weekday!
     5) Characters are actually quite survivable. Even without the fact that they can't be targeted normally, they're tough enough and good enough hand-to-hand that they tend to survive. This is good, since so much of any given strategy revolves around them.
     6) Perusing the other codices, it really seems like most overall judgments should be reserved for now until we can play more with other factions. As near as I can tell, one of the best things about this game is that every army has its own unique feel and playstyle without being pigeonholed into a single strategy, and I can't wait to make use of that.

   In any case, we very much liked the game, and are looking forward to playing it more. Some of us have since fought small battles of Necron vs. Space Marines and Necron vs. Thousand Sons, but I wasn't really there for those, and can't vouch for them (it doesn't sound like they went as well, anyway).
  [Note from Rick: we were trying out the unusual rules to see how they worked on the table, so - not much to say.]

  I've got Orks vs. Imperial Guard, Imperial Guard vs. Space Marines, and Orks vs. Space Marines all lined up with different members of the family, so we'll see how that goes. Right now, it seems like Space Marines aren't good enough to justify their high point cost per unit, but only time will tell if that holds true in gameplay.

  More reports to come! Wish us luck!

1 comment: