Sunday, 25 June 2017

40K: To Punch an Alien

In the Grim Darkness of the Fortyfirst Millenium
I still buy plastic crack

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Behold! Two men in their forties playing an appropriate game!

Heh, I am still in my thirties for a little while longer.

Damn you, ageless Kasfunatu!

I am Kraken; age has not wearied me, nor the years condemned. Twelve of the buggers, I think, since last I ventured into these waters. Well, not really, it's basically Age of Sigmar with guns, and I venture out into those waters all the time. But I'm allowed to celebrate a little. All these 40K models I've painted, and nary a game in all this time.

So hurrah! Break out the bolters and burn yourselves a heretic, we're back in business, boys!


We decided to give matched play a go, that's the closest to our usual format for games like this. Once our lists were picked and the table sorted, we'd roll for missions from the rulebook.

Last time I played 40K was 3rd Edition, when there was still only a single rulebook, flyers weren't a thing and plasma weapons didn't get hot. Back then, I had four armies - an Imperial Guard/Inquisition mash-up, Orks, Chaos Marines and even a smattering of Adeptus Astartes from box sets and so on. It was this last I turned to for the easy introduction I needed, and as Kas was hosting, I put together a list of Crypt Angels from his (beautifully painted) collection.

The Beginner's Battalion

  • HQ - 1 x Terminator Captain with storm bolter and relic blade (Warlord)
  • HQ - 1 x Librarian with force stave, bolt pistol and grenades. Null Zone and Might of Heroes powers.
  • Troops - 5 x Tactical Marines, one with a flamer and a power sword and fist for the sarge
  • Troops - 5 x Tactical Marines, one with a missile launcher and a chainsword for the sarge
  • Troops - 5 x Tactical Marines, one with a plasma gun and a chainsword for the sarge
  • Dedicated Transports - 2 x Rhino with storm bolter
  • Elite - 1 x Dreadnought with assault cannon, storm bolter and close combat weapon
  • Heavy Support - 1 x Predator with predator autocannon and two lascannons

It's a little bit of everything, a nice balanced force that's maybe nothing special, but has plenty of boots on the ground (for Space Marines, i.e. more than ten) and gives me a bonus three Command Points for a total of six. This is a new mechanic. I can spend them on rerolling dice on a one-for-one basis, or autopass a morale test for two, or even pull shenanigans in the melee phase if the T'au charge me. Like that will happen.

There's no plan, because I don't know what the mission is yet. Command said it was need to know.

I wasn't sure how this was going to work. It seemed like nice balance. I know I want to take out the lascannons as I expect them to be the bane of my armour. No review of the rules for specifics, but safe assumption from prior editions.

T'au Command Central

  • HQ - Commander in an X84 suit, railgun, high yield missile pod, target lock, Shield Generator; Gun drone; MarkerDrone
  • HQ - Shas’o’ralai std weapons inc 2 blacklight drones
  • HQ - Longstrike in his Hammerhead tank, with an ion cannon and 2 gun drones plus a seeker missile (Warlord)
  • LOW - KV128 Stormsurge – twin burst cannons, plasma blastcannon, cluster rocket system, four destroyer missiles, twin smart missile systems, a hefty endorsement from the NRA and additional target lock, shield generator and advanced targeting subsystems

After a recent trip to WarhammerWorld I had a few new Forgeword Tau T'au; and a very nice present from Kraken had turned up (namely the book with rules for such models) - Thank you again - and so I set out to building.

My favourite Tau 7th army was when I could take crisis suits as Troops, something no longer possible; well not until they release an updated Enclave codex I assume. 

I look over the detachments and spot the Supreme approach. 

I throw together the basis of list (not above) before realising that I can't get it all in. Cut back, and submit for Kraken to point out I don't have all the HQ I need. 

Lesson 1 from list building: the prices shown rarely reflect what you'll end up paying.

In lieu of making more sensible, I replace 2 elite crisis suits and 4 drones with an HQ tank; and make it my warlord.

He brought a Lord of War? In the grim darkness of the fortyfirst millenium, the kid gloves are off, then.

Terrain and Mission

As we are still adapting to the new rules system, the battleground looked perhaps a little age of sigmar-y. A feudal world, obviously, complete with Olde Pubbe charme.

Well the industrial zone scenery has recently been in the Swedish paintshop. It is fair to say though, apparently the grass is quite lush in the future.

The George and Dragon, M.41

A quick roll in the book got us the Eternal War mission 'Secure and Control'.

It's at this point that I realise building a list of 4 models plus drones may not have been the smartest move. I saw the big guns and got excited.

Two vital objectives, each set up in our own deployment zone. Victory is secured either by wiping out your opponent or by getting more Victory Points, and these are scored at the end of the game as follows:

  • 3 points - Take and Hold - have the most models within 3" of an objective marker 
  • 1 point - Kill the Warlord -  Snuff the enemy boss
  • 1 point - First Blood - Be the first player to wipe out a unit 
  • 1 point - Linebreaker - Have a unit in the enemy's deployment zone at the end of the game

Only two objectives, my bad list design could have hurt me more there.

I won the dice-off, so I picked the deployment zones, and kept it very easy with a north/south line deployment. Kas has the shiny new objective models, so my guys were keeping a genestealer in a cupboard out the back of the pub, and his lot had a huge world-destroying bomb by the side of a dry stone wall. High Command said they were important, but they were high at the time.


Now that there's a mission, I have a plan. T'au are famed for the strength of their shooting, and equally famed for being terrible at close combat. Marines are good all-rounders, so my plan is to send two rhinos forward with two of the Tac squads and both command units. The remaining Tac squad will provide covering fire with its lascannon, along with the Predator tank, and together they might just about attract enough attention from the Stormsurge to let the rhino units close and assault it in hand-to-hand. 

Where they'll die anyway unless I can bring it down in a single turn. The big gun it carries, the plasma blastcannon, is a massive shotgun and does frankly appalling damage close up. Plus the big lug can just wander freely out of close combat, it's too big to care about anklebiters. Still, I don't think I have enough firepower to bring it down from range, and I'm game enough to try it the old fashioned way.

So, yes, my 'plan' is to ride into the teeth of his guns and then try and punch those teeth out with a powerfist. #rodethesixhundred

My "plan"; the tank and the surge concentrate on one tank/transport and take one out a turn. The commanders strike from the Manta above into the backlines to disrupt/get linebreaker/make a bid for the objective.

Having deployed, it seems Kas will get first turn (he finished putting down first). There's a chance I can steal the initiative on a 6, though, and I try! And fail. And re-roll for a command point! And still fail. Heh - totally worth it.

T'pau Turn 1

Having realised that a hill that only covered shin was not going to give cover my Surge strode up on to the hill with a view to get behind the archway in the center.

My tank was neatly hidden and did not plan to move; and the crisis suits set down as close as they could to the squad in the tower.

It is fair to say I might have slightly underestimated marine armour after piling missiles and railgun shots into the tower and only taking one marine out. The Irish T'au was able to knock several wounds off of the rhino with his EMP blast. Longstike managed to clip the Predator.

So I like the rule that you have to nominate where everything is firing before you fire it; but on the Surge, and without the familiarity of using a few times, I know regularly missed attacks (we did not go back... it will teach me to read and check!). Ignoring the one-use only missiles, I still had 6 guns to shoot. The surge was going to better up close; at range, with minimal AP, the marines where able to shrug off a lot.

It helped that they were in the tower, giving them a boost to their save. But throughout the game, the Marines and their tanks did sterling work with saves, proving highly resilient to most kinds of death.

Plan status: gulp

Crypt Angels Turn 1

Okay, now I know where his pesky jumpsuit commanders are, I can deal with them. The rhinos roar forward, coughing smoke to make them harder to hit. If he keeps focussing fire on the back one, he'll probably bring it down next go, but I reckon he's going to get cocky and think about advancing those commanders towards my back line. So when my passengers stagger out, coughing smoke like an A-Team extra from a flipped jeep, they can charge them handily.

The Predator breaks cover, so it has the option of lending fire support against said enemy commanders, although I have a crack at the Stormsurge instead. It totally shrugs off everything I can throw, not that it's much. What? It has an invulnerable forcefield as well as twenty wounds? Jeez.

Otherwise, it's a quiet turn. The Dreadnought is out of range, and the squad in the tower fire their lascannon pointlessly into the air before the marines use a curtain of bolter fire to wipe out the Darklight drones famous Irish T'au assassin Shazzer O'Reilly brought with him.

"Wow they go down easy", I exclaim; for Kraken to remind me they still have saves.
"Oh yes, phew"... snake eyes.... "Wow they go down easy"

First blood to me! For some lousy drones. Cheap shots, but I'll take them.

I pass all my morale checks. I'm Marines, that's what they do.

T'pau Turn 2

T'pau Turn 2

The Rhinos came up quick and not really wanting to test out the gun-platform in melee I decide to stand still and lock anchors rather than keep my advance up.

The commanders spread out, such they can still claim protection from drone, shoot the tower, but also enclose on the Rhinos. In hindsight, given I wanted to shoot and had no bonus for moving in... this was a bad idea.

I continue to be slightly underwhelmed compared to my lofty expectations of shooting... Although realise a Stormsurge would be great shooting against a mook army... where are those 'nids!

Another marine from the tower fails to dodge the hail of missile fire. The predator weathers the storm with a couple of scratches, and the Rhino carrying the enemy commander is down to its last wound.

Crypt Angels Turn 2

Crypt Angels Turn 2

Well, the back rhino didn't die, but Kas has fallen into my trap. Everyone piles out of the back metal box, then the Librarian uses both of his powers without mucking them up. Null Zone makes it impossible for enemies to use their invulnerable saves within six inches, and Might of Heroes buffs the Tac marines with extra strength, toughness and attacks. Kas says something like "nice!" when I read out the rules, but I can tell he's nervous.

I was. T'au are not known for their combat; let alone combat against some boosted angry marines whose car I had been shooting up.

The other rhino grits its teeth and advances towards the enemy objective. Sure, they'll die, but they'll distract the enemy for a round doing it, and the rest of my army could use the break. 

Assault cannon fire from the dreadnought and the squad in the tower takes out another of the drones round the T'au. The Predator pumps a lot of fire into the ruins that Longsight is hiding behind, making them even more scenic. Then I lose two tac marines as we charge into combat. And my Captain! Although he's not dead, he just gets left behind when he fails the charge, the great slowcoach. 

The combined overwatch for the greater good was good. Not that effective when only two models; I could see that being useful.

Yeah, charge one unit and their nearby mates join in with the shooting! Nasty.

Combat swiftly hacks a pair of wounds off the commander, but it's a bit of a whiff. Even without a forcefield, X84 armour is fairly decent, and the Librarian can't quite get through it. At least the sarge punches a wound off the cow-faced xeno scum with his power fist. Take that!

Only one, it would have been two but he commander managed to briefly use a marketlight drone as a temporary improptu shield.

I pass all my morale checks.

T'pau Turn 3

T'pau Turn 3

Now T'au don't want to be in combat (although the X84 did not get destroyed I was pushing my luck by staying there) thankfully with the crisis suit jet packs they can freely disengage.

A two edged sword, I was then free to shoot, but was bound to then be charged again. I was confident (well not really) that I could do more by jumping out, shooting, waiting for the charge, attempting the joint overwatch and then hoping to survive.

So that's what I did.

The stormsurge came into his own, as he aimed the pulse blastcannon at the rhino that just ran over its foot. Boom. Okay, so that's what that gun is supposed to do... you just need to be close! Got it.

Although the flying debris from the exploding tank did manage to disrupt an armour plate on the surge's leg.

Crypt Angels Turn 3

Crypt Angels Turn 3

Shouting "oi! get back here!" the remaining marines in the centre field chase after the T'au again. This time, the Captain makes it in, although the Tac Squad loses another man to overwatch fire. 

Badly battered and now less accurate, the Predator manages to shoot the last drone off the T'au Commander with a well-placed autocannon shot. The outlying Tac Marines duck into cover and ping some useless small arms fire off Longsight's hull, before waiting for the inevitable.

Note to self: get more drones (not models)

Close combat goes even worse than before. The Librarian hasn't managed to get Null Zone up and running, although he has buffed the Captain. Even so, my attacks aren't pulling up any trees, so to speak. Either his shield generator soaks them, or I miss. The bugger makes it through the round, and then somehow manages to put a hoof through one of the Tac Marine's faceplates before he legs it. 

I pass all my morale checks.

T'pau Turn 4

T'Pau Turn 4

Turn 4 and I think about objectives and line breaker. I am not going to contest the objective with the Predator, the Dread and the Rhino reversing without some lucky shots; but could get into his lines.

So I break from combat and head the other way.

More chips on the predator and many missile fly out off the Surge to nuke the newly disembarked marines. That's my weird ET looking ship objective.

Whilst taunting the marines the big shoulder powered shotgun rears on the Crypt Angel captain and creates a smoking hole of terminator armour. 

Crypt Angels Turn 4

Crypt Angels Turn 4

Brother Captain [I forgot to name him] shall be avenged! As the crippled rhino creeps towards the safety of the pub, the Dreadnought and Predator give me covering fire, concentrating on the wounded T'au commander. This time, he's out of drones and luck. And also forcefields, the Librarian has his null zone working again. I even slap him with the Smite power for luck.

The feeling of taking out the jumpy little bugger with a successful charge from the Librarian is well-worth it. Even if it leaves the Librarian alone in a field with a lot of guns trained on him.

At least I pass all my morale checks.

T'pau Turn 5

T'pau Turn 5

Time was ticking; deciding for defensive the Irish T'au jumped to the cover of the tower and EMP'd the librarian off the board.

Whilst the storm surge and carried on their assault.

Crypt Angels Turn 5

Crypt Angels Turn 5

It wasn't an illegal move, the tank had advanced in my turn.

Hmm. In the absence of boots on the ground, I put my faith in superior firepower. Unfortunately, the enemy rather has that in spades right now. Nodding wisely to itself, the ancient veteran marine in the Dreadnought sarcophagus manouvers his giant tin can to hide behind the pub, and stands with his hands in his big tin pockets, whistling nonchalantly.

Chicken... Sensible, but chicken.

The Predator can barely see out of its battered viewslot by now, so its firepower is once again foiled by poor shooting and excellent armour saves. 

The game could finish right now. My forces are dead or retreating, but I'd be staying on regardless. There's a random chance that this is the last turn, however, or a larger chance after the next round. Turn 7 is the absolute end if I'm not dead before it. Kas rolls, and we've got at least one more. 

I pass all my morale checks. Because all the men are dead, and the vehicles don't take any.

T'pau Turn 6

T'pau Turn 6

This is where Kraken is very gallant, and reminds me that I am out of range of the objective and get no points for blowing up an empty rhino. I thank him kindly, retract the anchors and stomp back down the hill a bit. Before letting leash with many unguided missiles to tackle the dreadnaught and other shots at the two tanks (depending on range).

Combined Surge-ical LongStrike and we are left with a dreadnaught on one wound left on the board.

Crypt Angels Turn 6

Crypt Angels Turn 6

Pretty short turn from me. The Dreadnought thought he was safe behind this nice traditional hostelry, but reckoned without those damn smart missiles raining down on him. He stays put, shifts his fingers to his ears, and awaits the end.

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And consoles himself by reciting this speech as well.

Which comes now, as Kas rolls for a continuing turn and doesn't get it. Guess I failed that morale test at last.

Final Scores

Crypt Angels: 4 VPs (Take and Hold for my own objective, First Blood from the drones)
T'Pau Sept: 5 VPs (Take and Hold from their objective, Slay the Warlord, Linebreaker)

T'Pau Victory!

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Time for a little R'n'R

Locker Room

I'm not going to lie, I looked at the lists we had and I saw this result coming. What I didn't foresee was that it would be a) fun and b) close.

I didn't. In a straight up pitched battle maybe, but with objectives I thought your weight of units had me. Especially as first round of shooting for me was pretty unspectacular.

True to both our forms, I took a fluff-appropriate but rather weaksauce list compared to Kas's vicious Forgeworld uberboss nightmare line. Yeah, I got more command points, but big whoop! On an almost open field with minimal objectives to fight over, I was always going to be outgunned.

I tried to create list with three command points, but then remembered some of the things I was playing with were in Sweden.

Yeah, the Barracuda and Remora flyers are on the table this week in fact. Thank god.

To be fair, we did not know the mission when the list was put together. However, it is fair I am more likely to favour fewer ubers... that said, my initial list was more normal.. it even had Fire Warriors in it. 

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I am the Fairey Swordfish in this visual analogy.

But the rules help the armies play closer to what I'd expect from the fluff. So the armoured marines can shrug off fairly horrific firepower before going down, and that brutal Stormsurge actually didn't feel broken to fight. In fact, it's not even a brilliant shot, and relies on having Markerlight support, which Kas didn't really field in strength.

Yes, that was a failing. Needs a radical list rethink (see below too!)

Now, I never played 7th Ed, but the internet assures me that driving two rhinos across a field under that kind of firepower would have been impossible. Park one under a giant plasma gun, and yes, it's not going to live very long. But that's okay, really, it feels entirely appropriate to me. And it was funny, as a dying rhino was the only thing that managed to hurt the big suit all game.

Yes, in 7th, the vehicle saves are different and that many shots (albeit needing a 6 to hurt if strength was the same at 5)... but the weapons and number of shots and templates and lot more have changed too. However I would not like to chance that a Rhino could survive single turn like it can now.

And here's the secret - I actually won! Yep, moral victory is mine. For two reasons.

One is a rules lawyer piece of nonsense. When you're using points to pick a team, your army must be 'Battleforged', which means organised into detatchments with specific numbers of types of units in organised slots. They also all need to share Faction keywords, so mine all had Adeptus Astartes and Crypt Angels as theirs, which in fluff terms means they're all from the same chapter so you'd expect them to be fighting together.

Yep, agreed.

I didn't spot it before the game, but Longsight is T'au Sept, whereas Sean O'Casey is Ke'lshan Sept. So I'm not sure they can actually be in the same detachment legally *strokes neckbeard. But that's not what I'm claiming moral victory for, as it's an easy mistake to make, even for noob veterans like us.

Oh. Hadn't even twigged. If only there was some online tool to help with all the cross referencing. I hope that GW comes out with one soon; the fan made one I had used for 7th has recently been shut down.

You're not claiming that as victory are you??!

[Late edit - nope! Because I'm wrong. You just need to share one faction keyword, not all of them, so Kas's list is entirely legit]

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No, but the moral high ground is mine. Had the game ended on turn five, I'd have won! Kas, getting all over-eager, had moved his Stormsurge forward on the first turn, and thus was actually too far away from his objective to claim it. Having spotted this, I felt it would have been poor form not to mention it, so I did. During the following turn, when the game hadn't finished. Otherwise he'd probably have been cheerfully pounding away at the Dreadnought and forgetting about his actual mission.

Very sporting of you. You can claim this victory as yours. You are right on both counts I would not have thought to move back if you hadn't mentioned. I was close to it; but not within 3". If I had been 10" off, I might have twigged, maybe. 

Nah, it's all good. A victory is a victory, and if I'd stuck to my plan of rushing the Stormsurge, maybe even moving the Dreadnought up to help, I'd have done better I think. So the loss is mine, even if I can delude myself that I kept the moral high ground.

Oh, 40K. You were always my favourite tabletop game, for the fluff and the fun. With these new rules, you've won me back over. I'm home to roost, and all is forgiven.

Which is a bugger, as now I'll have to seriously consider getting a new army. Nuts.

What are you going for? What's the 40k equivalent of Scum?


  1. Inquisitors aren't scum, exactly, but they might employ them sometimes? So I have plans for Militarum Scions plus Inquisitors. And then Tyranids, although probably using proxies from a board game to spare my wallet.

  2. Must... not... start... new... army...

    1. It's too late for me. Save yourself!!

    2. I have been playing 500-1000pts of Tyranids. Might branch out to Genestealer Cult this weekend.

    3. You mentioned your list is mostly genestealers - what else are you running/scuttling with?

    4. Just face-huggers (ripper swarms).

      2 broodlords
      2*20 stealers
      3 rippers