Monday, 2 October 2017

Some People Are Worth Melta For: Salamanders vs Renegade Knight

"Bringing a Knight to a 1,000pt game would be too reductive!"

"Nah - as the only target on the board, you'd kill it easy!"

Only one way to find out...

Everyone pile on the Traitor Knight!
It's All-Skype Fight Night!

This battle is rooted in a question: if I, Stylus, were to face a kitted-out Knight in a low-points game, would I get an ass-whooping? I thought I would, so if I lost, I was still going to win my bet.

And I, Leofa, was still going to have to contribute something to my second battle report so, either way, I lose. 


Long Tall Salamanders

HQ 1 - Chaplain in Terminator Armour, Crozius arcanum, Combi-melta.
Relic: The Salamander's Mantle (+1T). Warlord: Anvil of Strength +1S)
HQ 2 - Lieutenant, Power Fist, Combi-flamer
Elite 1 - 5 x Terminator Assault Squad, Lightning Claws (sgt), 4 x Thunder hammer and storm shield, Teleport Homer
Elite 2 - Ironclad Dreadnought, Seismic hammer, Meltagun, Heavy flamer, Dreadnought combat weapon

Elite 3 - Dreadnought, Assault cannon, Heavy flamer, Dreadnought combat weapon
Troop 1 - 5 x Tactical Squad, Combi-melta (sgt), Meltagun
Transport - Razorback, Twin lascannons, Hunter-killer missile

1000pts - Vanguard Detachment, 4 CPs

When I was putting together a list that could face a Knight, I found myself browsing a lot of melta (for the Knight) and flamers (for the cheap troops that I assumed would be the only ones that could fit in the list). With that, the choice of Salamanders as a Chapter is obvious, although their nifty tactic of re-rolling failed hits and wounds per unit doesn't hurt either.

I couldn't decide whether I would fare better at range, or close combat, so I split the difference. the Thunder Hammer Terminators were to drop in and assault the Knight, with the Chaplain joining them to re-roll their misses. The Ironclad could also do some freaky damage with this Seismic hammer.

The other Dreadnought would be a useful backup. The tactical squad brings a little extra melta and the Lieutenant offers some re-rolling for their wounds. The Razorback would hopefully get them across into melta range quickly, and offer some fire support of its own.

The Venal Swords ...with Questor Traitoris back-up

LoW 1 - Renegade Knight, Avenger Gatling Cannon, Heavy Flamer, Rapid-fire Battle Cannon, Heavy Stubber, Additional Heavy Stubber, Stormspear Rocket Pod

HQ 1 - Chaos Lord on Bike, Combi-Bolter on bike, Plasma Pistol, Power Sword (Relic: Murder Sword)

HQ 2 - Chaos Lord with Jump Pack, Pair of Lightning Claws

HQ 3 - Chaos Sorcerer - Warlord (Unholy Fortitude), Bolt Pistol, Force Sword, Death Hex & Prescience

Elite 1 - 5 x Chaos Chosen, Bolt Pistol, Boltgun

998pts, Supreme Command Detachment, 4 CPs

In retrospect, Stylus' idea of spamming expendables might have been more sensible, but I hadn't taken my lovingly painted* Renegades to war yet so they deserved the outing.  The initial plan would be to hold the characters back so thy can't be targeted and then let them mop up the remains / objectives once the Knight and most of the enemy have bitten the dust. 

*When I say "painted", I mean by Kraken, of course. And when I say "lovingly", I mean begrudgingly.


The Scouring - as we're playing on a 4x4 board, we reduced the standard six objectives to four, worth 2pts, 1pt (inferior, top-left)) or 4pts (superior, top-right). Hammer and Anvil deployment.

As I placed last, I deployed first. I went with the side with the superior objective, naturally, and then did my best to hide from the Knight's frightening firepower by cowering behind the buildings.

The Dreadnought and Ironclad stood behind the building in the top left. The Lieutenant and Tactical Squad piled into the Razorback, who hid behind the building in the bottom-right.

The Chaplain and Terminators went into the teleportation chamber, and I braced myself to weather the first turn of shooting.

The Knight took cover from the lascannons and the rest of my troops hid behind a building.  Now to shoot these disciples of the false Emperor dead...

Turn 1 - Salamanders

I steal the initiative!


While I can't turn down this unexpected fortune, I really wasn't set-up for this. The Razorback scoots out from hiding, while the Dreadnoughts begin their slow waddle across the battlefield.

In the enemy's deployment zone, the Chaplain and Terminators drop in unannounced, keeping their fingers crossed for a long charge.

In the shooting phase, the Razorback lascannons off five wounds from the Knight, though its hunter-killer missile goes wide. The Chaplain's combi-melta takes off four more wounds until Leofa remembers he has an Ion Field. The shot is foiled, although I'm now wishing I had taken a lot more melta.

In the assault phase, the Terminators fall woefully short, and now I'm really wishing I had given them ranged weapons, as they're stuck in the Renegades' castle with nothing to do. To add insult to injury, one of them drops to the Knight's Overwatch.

Turn 1 - Renegades

Right, I'm going to have to make short work of his lascannons and meltas otherwise I'm not going to last long. Accordingly, both Chaos Lords line up to charge the Chaplain before he gets a chance to melt my Knight again.

Meanwhile, the Sorcerer relieves the Terminators of their invulnerable save, allowing the Knight to gun them all down in the shooting phase. But I've not focussed enough fire on the Razorback and leave it standing with two wounds - I reckon I'll pay for that later...

In the assault phase, the jump-pack Lord charges the Chaplain, who makes his melta overwatch, but is foiled by my invulnerable save. This leaves the biker Lord to charge with impunity, dropping the Chaplain to the murder sword.

That is one nasty relic. With Terminator armour and +1T, I was hopeful of at least surviving long enough to hit back. But the Murder Sword inflicts one mortal wound every time it hits the intended target (not wounds, hits - did we read that right?).

Turn 2 - Salamanders

Ouch! Not even one Terminator left to retreat on its teleport homer (this was my backup plan for scoring a cheeky objective). Half my army's gone, with First Blood and Slay the Warlord gone with it. Turn 2, and I'm already just playing for pride.

Clinging onto its last few wounds, the Razorback stays still. With more confidence in thin air than the Razorback's survivability, the Tactical Squad and Lieutenant jump out and make a huge advance move downfield.

Both the Dreadnought and Ironclad advance forward, knowing they have to weather at least one more round of shooting.

In the shooting phase, the Razorback lascannons hit the Knight, but bounces off the ion field.

And that's it. No further shooting, just advancing forward trying to close the range. What am I, genestealers?

Turn 2 - Renegades

Realising, I only have one more round of shooting before the Dreads charge me, the Chosen move up to screen the Knight, and the Lords get lined up to take on the Dreads in melee next turn.

The Sorcerer Smites two wounds off the Dreadnought and now to my favourite part - the shooting phase!

Which the Knight shooting whiffs almost completely, only taking out one tactical marine. Gah! At my other troops manage to whittle down the Dreadnought’s wounds a bit more.  But that damn razorback  is still on 1 wound!

Turn 3 - Salamanders

That was a very fortunate turn for my guys to survive a storm of dakka. Hardly able to believe its luck, the Razorback stays still. The Tactical Squad and Lieutenant get ever-closer to the Knight. The Dreadnought walks forward warming up its Assault Cannon, while the Ironclad advances, needing to get something into melee.

The poor Razorback turrets fail to wound, the Dreadnought flamer kills two of the Chosen and the Ironclad melta (a fraction away from the Knight) kills another.

The Dreadnought also opens up on the Knight with its Assault Cannon. Not the best choice of weapon, when I could have easily hosed down the Chosen, but if I knock off just one more wound, it will drop a level of effectiveness, and I could do with reducing its BS before the next turn. Vulkan is with me, and I actually manage to get a wound through - but it gets saved!

The Tactical squad's melta has better luck, and takes four wounds off the Knight. Now I'm starting to regret an earlier draft where I had a veteran squad loaded out with these things.

In the morale phase, the two remaining Chosen pass easily.

Turn 3 - Renegades

I'm not out of the woods yet - the Knight is getting less effective and my marines are being chipped away too. The Knight edges back around to target the tactical squad and the Lords move in ready to charge the Dreadnoughts.

The Sorcerer Smites another brace of wounds from the Dreadnought and now to my favourite part - the shooting phase!

...Which is mercifully more effective this time. The Razorback finally goes down, as does the Dreadnought, and the Ironclad is taken down to four wounds. That's more like it. 

Both Lords then assault the Ironclad, but the jump-pack Lord is killed by Overwatch. The biker Lord (who also takes an Overwatch wound) chips away three wounds leaving him on one.  And when the Ironclad strikes back with his combat weapon he returns the favour and leaves the Lord on just one wound too. It seems no one can quite finish the job today. 

This may have been a decisive mistake on my part: with a choice between the Seismic Hammer and Dreadnought fist, I went with the latter, favouring more attacks over higher-damage ones. But since I only sneaked one hit through, I'd rather it had been the 5-damage one (instant death), rather than the 3-damage one (which needed two successful hits). Having my Ironclad tied up for my next turn was not going to help my cause.

Turn 4 - Salamanders

Arrrgh! That one last wound on the Chaos Lord is making all the difference! If the Ironclad were free to move and shoot, he'd have the Knight all lined up in melta range. As it is, I have to waste my time squishing Evil Knievel here.

The Tactical squad gets into close-melta range and open up with both guns, doing eleven wounds to the Knight.

If that wasn't sufficient, they follow up in the assault phase with a charge on the Knight, losing only one to Overwatch. With the path cleared, the Lieutenant gears up his Power Fist and joins them.

The Ironclad, predictably, kills the Chaos Lord dead, then can only watch as four Astartes take on the Renegade Knight. He's a big fella, but with only two wounds left on his profile, I dare to dream.

The Lieutenant smashes away with his Power Fist. Three attacks are saved, but one sneaks through. I roll D3 - only one wound!

The Tactical marines then take on the impossible take with their combat knives. One of them actually scores a wound on the behemoth - and it's saved.

Turn 4 - Renegades

The Sorcerer Smites off the Ironclad. The Knight withdraws and opens up with everything and wipes out the Tactical Squad and Lt.

In The Knight Garden

Objectives? What objectives. I may have been tabled, but I was right about one this: plop a Knight down at this level, and it all becomes a game of hunt-the-Knight.

So considering my army build, tactics, and deployment were completely hopeless, I think I did quite well to take it to the wire. If only one more dice roll had gone my way (having the Ironclad free to melta the Knight, flame the Chosen, and charge the Sorcerer, for example, could have cleared the field in Turn 4), I could be looking at a very unjustly-deserved victory.

It all went wrong before it began. Stealing the initiative proved, as it did last time, to be a poisoned chalice. My plan to sit back and counter-punch was scuppered, and I had to react quickly. In retrospect, maybe I should have held back my Terminators until a later turn, dropping them in when the Renegades' formation had begun to string out, rather than right in the middle of a castle. Certainly, my Chaplain had no business going anywhere near that murder sword.

In fact, a plan that relied on Assault Terminators making a 9" charge is one pretty much doomed to fail. If I had given them some nice combi-meltas they could have wreaked plenty of havoc from range and not needed a Chaplain to accompany them.

The rest of the army seemed to hold up well. The Dreadnoughts were hitty and durable, the Tactical Squad nearly saved the day. I like the Salamander Chapter tactic - it's not game-breaking, since you can get a similar effect with Captains and Lieutenants, but it does mitigate against unlucky rolls. And in games of this size, it allows each unit to feel the benefit, rather than needing the character's bubble effect.

The poor Chaplain never got a chance to shine, but I'd still swap him out for Librarian, since I miss not having anything to do in the Psychic Phase (oh, for a last-turn Smite!).

In short, it was a fun time that had my head fizzing for better ways to take down a Knight, but I don't think I'm in a hurry to do so again.

For me, it was a good back-and-forth game, with many a swing of predicted outcome: after the lascannon and melta in the first turn I thought "I'm doomed", then after my first shooting phase I thought "this game's mine" and then when the knight was taken perilously close to death I was all "dooooom!" again. But that's pretty much my emotional journey through most games so nothing out of the ordinary I suppose... 

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