Tuesday, 20 February 2018

WoffBoot XII: Militarum Tempestus vs Thousand Sons

Once a year, Kraken and I, Stylus, enjoy the novel experience of actually playing a game of Warhammer in the same room as each other.

And yet I still have to Photoshop this.

Always a treat, but this time the stakes have never been higher: The Thousand Sons have one mutated hand on the WoffBoot trophy, and only the Militarum Tempestus can stop them!


Kraken's Imperium boys have been taking a whuppin' so far in the tournament, but there are three good reasons why I'm taking nothing for granted:

  1. Fate is fickle
  2. I've used a very similar Tempestus list and murderated a Hive Fleet Kraken force
  3. The last time Kraken fought my practice tournament list, he tabled me in three turns.

That said, my infernal bolters give me some of the best anti-infantry shots in the game (not counting that Gatling Taurox, *gulp*), so if I can find a way to deal with his vehicles, I should be able to mop up the squishy humans afterwards.

I'm also facing three psykers, so it shouldn't all be plain sailing for me in the Psychic phase either.

One things for certain, with 13 Command Points in the mix and both of us recycling, there should be stratagems aplenty.

Crucially, this is the ninth time I will be commanding this legion, a portentous number that I trust will earn me the favour of Tzeentch.

The Tumultuous Creed: Thousand Sons

  • Exalted Sorcerer, Force Stave, Inferno Bolt Pistol, Frag & Krak Grenades
    Warlord: High Magister
    Relic: Helm of the Third Eye
    Prescience, Death Hex, Smite
  • Daemon Prince with wings, 2 x Malefic Talons
    Gaze of Fate, Warptime, Smite
  • 6 x Rubric Marines, Force Stave, Warpflame Pistol, Inferno Boltguns
    Weaver of Fates
  • 10 x Tzaangor, Tzaangor Blades, Brayhorn 
  • 10 x Chaos Cultists, Shotgun, Autoguns, Heavy Stubber
  • 5 x Scarab Occult Terminators Force Stave, Inferno Combi-Bolters, Power Swords, Soulreaper Cannon, Hellfyre Missile Rack
    Glamour of Tzeentch
  • Defiler, Battle Cannon, Twin Lascannon, Defiler Scourge, Defiler Claws, Combi-bolter
Points: 1000 | Battalion: 6 CPs

For my part, I've had three good games that have taught me some of the limitations and strengths of my list. 

Firstly is that for a shooty list, it's not quite as shooty as I'd hoped. Yes, the tanks and Scions can shred unprotected troops, but only if they don't do sensible things like hide in cover or worship Nurgle. And the Thousand Sons are fairly impregnable against small arms fire, so it's going to take some determined shooting to shift them. The Tauroxes are also very frail, and need cover saves to help stay in the game. 

This means that I'm not quite as mobile as I'd hoped, unless I stick together. Deep striking is fine, but usually leaves those small ambush squads out by themselves, and they go down fast. Moving as one isn't a bad idea, the army hits very hard at short range, but it's a case of win the game immediately or die in the next turn at that distance, as everybody outclasses me in hand to hand. 

Third is that the Inquisitors are actually pretty dangerous in melee, coupled with their psychic powers. Not durable, but all the same, a force to be reckoned with. 

But can I put any of these lessons to good use?

9th Hagan Lampreys: Militarum Tempestus & Inquistion

  • Tempestor Prime, command rod and chainsword,
    Warlord: Grand Strategist
    Relic: Kurov's Aquila
  • Primaris Psyker, Force Stave
    Nightshroud, Psychic Barrier, Smite
  • 10 x Tempestus Scions, 4 x hotshot lasguns, 4 x hotshot volley guns, 1 x vox/laspistol, Tempestor with boltpistol and chainsword
  • 5x Tempestus Scions, 1 x hotshot gun, 2 x plasma guns, 1 x vox/laspistol, Tempestor with power sword and plasma pistol
  • 5 x Tempestus Scions, 1 x hotshot gun, 2 x melta guns, 1 x vox/laspistol, Tempestor with bolt pistol and chainsword
  • Taurox Prime, twin autocannons, Taurox battle cannon
  • Taurox Prime, twin hotshot volley guns, Taurox gatling gun
  • Valkyrie, two heavy bolters, lascannon, two multiple rocket pods
  • Xenos Inquisitor, Inferno Pistol, Force Sword,
    Smite, Terrify
  • Malleus Inquisitor, Condemnor Boltgun, Power Sword
    Smite, Dominate
  • Xenos Acolytes, 1 with stormbolter and chainsword, 1 with laspistol and chainsword
  • Malleus Acolyte with stormbolter and chainsword
  • Daemonhost
Points: 1000 | Battalion + Vanguard: 7 CPs  | Militarum Tempestus trait

Game 4: Tactical Escalation

Escalation is an interesting one - more objectives generated as the turns go on, which suggests a late-game steal could be (literally) on the cards.

You also get bonus points for scoring objectives in your chosen category. Naturally, I chose the 'Thousand Sons' category - although I've only just broken the seal on my deck of objective cards, so I have no idea what they will be. I bet they're all about casting psychic powers, which I'm awesome at.

I went with 'Secure', as it's reasonably likely to turn up at some point. In my opponent's deployment zone, knowing my luck so far. 

Kraken wins the deployment and picks Hammer & Anvil. In a wild turnabout of deployment, I'm the one who goes with a refused flank (Defiler in the bottom-right corner, infantry surrounding it, Terminators and Tzaangor in deepstrike), while Kraken spreads his forces out across the board.

Well, not all the way across. The bulk of my forces went front and centre, ready to seize a handy turret in the middle for cover. But I did put the tanks on the wings, mostly to spread my presence across the field and make it harder for those rascally deep strikers to spoil my day. 

Only one melta squad going into deepstrike (wonder who they'll be gunning for), and by keeping all his transports empty, Kraken finishes deploying longer after me - which results in me taking the first turn.

Turn 1

We're off! I have that Valkyrie marked for death, so I waste no time in gunning for it. My Defiler holds steady while the rest of my infantry shuffle around and my Exalted Sorcerer edges into his glorious 24" Smite range.

Before that can happen, and despite past experience, I drop in my Occult Terminators directly in front of both Valkyrie and Battle Cannon Taurox. Kraken wastes no time in popping stratagems to take a shot at these cheeky deepstrikers and one of my Terminators is already down a wound.

I retaliate in the Psychic phase, throwing down all my usual buffs on the Defiler, then trying out a Smite on the Valkyrie, just to get the ball rolling before shooting starts. To my delight, a cast it with an 11, then score 6 whole wounds off it. Imperial Ingrid is not looking as impregnable as I once feared.

When the shooting starts, the Defiler then blasts away and takes the Valkyrie down to its last couple of wounds. I decide to split-fire with the Terminators (I never learn) and shoot up the Taurox, while sending a couple of Hellfyre missiles into the sky. By this point, I reckoned the Valkyrie would be so degraded, I could safely focus on bigger threats.

In rapid-fire range, with Veterans of the Long War in play, and good AP, I was expecting to do serious damage, but I roll horrendously and barely chip the paint. Conversely, my missiles perform excellently and bring down the Valkyrie! First blood to me and the unit I feared the most is off the board!

Warhammer 40k battle report - Maelstrom of War - Tactical Escalation - 1000 points - Thousand Sons vs Militarum Tempestus.

However, I'm still peeved at not really harming that Taurox, so I declare a charge, reckoning my Power Swords ought to cleave through that armour. More stratagems, and I lose two Terminators to Overwatch before getting them to complete the charge with a command point re-roll.

Vengeance for Cadia! and Defensive Gunners! The twin rallying cries of the Militarum Tempestus!

In combat, I'm able to hack a few more wounds off the Taurox, but the Force Stave whiffs its attack, and that's what I really counting on to rack up damage. Not the best end to the turn, but at least it won't be firing next time.

I'm already feeling quite comfortable about the game - one and a half vehicles dealt with, and just some puny humans left to mop up.

Warhammer 40k battle report - Maelstrom of War - Tactical Escalation - 1000 points - Thousand Sons vs Militarum Tempestus.

Well, as opening moments go, that could have been a lot worse. Losing the Valkyrie has at least preserved some of the rest of the troops. And the Terminators feel like a flop - they could easily have wiped out any of my infantry they chose to with that firepower. Wasting it on merely damaging the tank was foolish. 

The big infantry squad peg it into the tower, as the Gatling Taurox cautiously moves into cover on the right flank. The Battle Cannon nips out of combat and behind some ruins on the back line, and the plasma gunners line the balcony above the Terminators and bide their time. The Inquisition express an air of deep concern in these same Terminators, and all of them pop over to see what's happening. 

The Psychic phase is a blur of smites, most of which earth in the Scarabs, and then the shooting phase sees them plasma'd apart to the very last, thanks to the 'Bring It Down' order. Elsewhere I also nearly wipe out the Cultists with gatling spray, and even take down a couple of Rubrics with sheer weight of fire. I'm missing that battle cannon, though, and worried about the Defiler - those long range smites are a real problem!

Long term, though, I am most worried about Victory Points. My objectives drawn are typically poor, and I'm already a handful behind. But we're not done yet...

Turn 2

My poor Terminators - they really seem to operate best as flat-track bullies. They can gun down the weaker stuff, and act as a tactical surprise, but they do tend to crumple in a fair fight (it doesn't help that I keep rolling 1s for their armour saves).

But I'd written them off anyway, and I still think this Imperium force can be dealt with at range. Especially as my objectives are to just defend the one in front of my Defiler, or seize the one that's a leisurely stroll for my Rubrics.

So I just batten down in my deployment zone, and keep the Tzaangor in my pocket for another turn. I cast the usual round of Psychic buffs (no super-Smite this turn, sadly, but I do scratch the Gatling Taurox) and let my Defiler's guns go to work.

Unfortunately, I get a bit greedy with my targeting. Even with the Daemonforge stratagem in play, I would have needed a pretty good run of luck to take out both Taurox - but that doesn't stop me trying.

Through a combination of bad rolls and good armour saves, both armoured vehicles come through without a scratch. If I had targeted the one that didn't benefit from cover, I would have almost certainly seen a result - as it is, despite snagging a few Victory Points, I've essentially squandered a turn and handed the initiative back to Kraken.

Curse you, fate!

Warhammer 40k battle report - Maelstrom of War - Tactical Escalation - 1000 points - Thousand Sons vs Militarum Tempestus.

Bunkering down is exactly what I hoped they'd do - if I got pounced on in my back line again, although I'm confident I'd deal with it, I'd have almost no board presence. With that in mind, it's time to drop the Melta Squad and see if I can't ambush the Defiler now that the Cultists are out of the way. 

The Inquisitors and their teams advance up the board, hugging cover but not really getting into range to threaten anything, so it's a quiet psychic phase. The Plasma squad follows them. 

Shooting goes well (mostly) - although the Melta squad fluff their rolls a bit, the Cannon Taurox gouges the Defiler for a goodly chunk of damage, and the Rubrics lose another pair of dusters, despite their cover. But I still haven't actually scored anything beyond a paltry one point for having functional psykers. At least there's not many of the enemy to actually get through! I could yet table my way to victory.

Turn 3

This is the turn where my Tzaangor have to deploy, and that suits me just fine, since there are three juicy Victory Points to be had in the middle of the table (Seize and Defend Objective 2) and I need some fast-moving objective-secured infantry to push the Imperium off.

So I drop the beastmen within minimum charge range of the plasma sqaud, and fly up the Daemon Prince for good measure.

All the usual goodness happens in the Psychic phase (there's nothing particularly dynamic to report when you're just gaining invulnerable saves, attack re-rolls, extra movement and a free re-roll for anything - but trust me, it really increases your effectiveness) and in the Shooting Phase, my Defiler learns his lesson, takes singular aim at the Battle Cannon Taurox and blows it away.

Multi-charges abound in the Assault Phase - the Deamon Prince hits the Scions, while the Tzaangor target the Inquisitor (making sure they leave enough of a trail back to the objective).

The result is a bloodbath, although the Daemon Prince actually leaves on Scion alive (surely so he can tell the tale of slaughter, not because my dice rolling sucked). The Tzaangor throw everything into the Inquisitor (continuing their glorious character-killing streak) and do so much damage that not even his Acolyte feels like jumping in the way of it.

So that's one point for the objective, and two more if I'm still claiming it next turn. I note with some concern that, in my rush to tear up the vile Imperials, I have put my Daemon Prince a lot closer to the enemy that anyone else ... hope that doesn't come back to bite me.

Warhammer 40k battle report - Maelstrom of War - Tactical Escalation - 1000 points - Thousand Sons vs Militarum Tempestus.

Wretched mutations! Blasphemous Beasts! 

Well, this clearly can't stand. I pull the remaining acolyte and plasma sarge out of combat, as they'll only die otherwise. The remaining characters muster round the Daemon Prince in a formation the tactical manual calls 'Circle of Smite'. 

This pays dividends! Between Smites, Inferno Pistols and Storm Bolter fire, the Daemon Prince is left looking distinctly tatty. And better, with supporting fire from the tower and the remaining Taurox, the Beastmen are also in bits. When the close range mugging commences, it's a matter of moments to finish off the Daemon Prince with a combo of force weapons. The rest of the Beastmen ought to vanish under morale, I'm hoping. 

That lone Melta guy even manages to hurt the Defiler, although not for much. His team didn't do their job, exactly, but I can see Stylus stressing about them, so they've achieved something in terms of thorns in sides, I suppose.

In the Morale Phase, I have to spend my last two command points to ensure the surviving three Tzaangor don't scamper off on their bird-goat legs. That at least does get me the Victory Points for defending the objective, and I can't really begrudge the command points - I've been stealing so many from Kraken's stratagems, my six points have been used at least ten times.

Other than the wretched Defiler, there really isn't much left of the foe! Although I'm not in great shape either, and the VP gap is ever greater.

Turn 4

The objective cards are starting to make fun of me: I draw two Thousand Son-themed ones, which should be good for bonus points, but scoring them will be difficult. 

The first objective is to kill 9+ enemies - which was a lot easier last turn when there were plenty of Imperium footsloggers in the open. The second is to cast 2, 4 or 6 Psychic powers for 1, 2 or 3 points respectively. Ordinarily I could do this in my sleep, but with the Daemon Prince gone, I only just about to get the minimum number cast (I refuse to give up my more expensive spells in favour of spamming out stinky Smite - we have some pride in this Legion)

Other objective cards are nicer - I once again have to hold an objective in my own deployment zone, so what's left of the Rubric squad doesn't have to exert itself. The Defiler also auto-heals sufficiently to find its mark and tags the last melta Scion with bolter fire, before turning its big guns to tear apart the Gatling Taurox. Once again, it's proved itself the last big beast standing.

However, I'm still pushed back into my corner with just three Tzaangors as my advance force. I charge them into the assassination party that took down my Daemon Prince, they kill the Primaris Psyker, but the Acolte soaks the wounds done to the Xenos Inquisitor and they are cut down in return. 

Warhammer 40k battle report - Maelstrom of War - Tactical Escalation - 1000 points - Thousand Sons vs Militarum Tempestus.

We're limping towards the foe, now. Without vehicle support, heading into the one-monster gunline that is the Defiler is certain death. All my remaining characters do this anyway, although I get shut down in the psychic phase thanks to the overwhelming number of enemy Deniers.

In shooting, I focus everything I have left on the Defiler, which is really just the four Hotshot Volley guns in the tower. A plink here, a plunk there - it's slow but steady work, and the king crab just needs one good push to tip it over the edge.

Time is against us here, however. There's a vital supply drop I can't miss coming up in about twenty minutes (I need to pick my girls up from daycare), and I'm so far behind on points that tabling is my only option for a win. Again! I nearly concede, but with superfast rolling and a total lack of careful thought about decisions, we pitch into the last round.

Turn 5

Quick decisions! Everybody hide!

That's pretty much my plan, as I find myself on far weaker tactical footing than I expected. Most of my assets are gone (even the Defiler's feeling the pain) and while I was dealing with the Scion vehicles, his infantry were gunning down most of my army.

I push my three remaining Rubric Marines into a ruin, then scamper my Warlord as far out of reach as he can manage, because I might just get tabled here.

What's left of my firepower blasts away at the big squad of Scions, but they're nestled in the ruined tower and aren't easy to shift.

All that remains now is to sit on my Victory Points and hope I've done enough.

Warhammer 40k battle report - Maelstrom of War - Tactical Escalation - 1000 points - Thousand Sons vs Militarum Tempestus.

There's just one hope left - the wounded Xenos Inquisitor and his Force Sword. I pelt forward and ready him for a last-ditch charge. 

Not before smiting, of course! That sneaks through the wall of denial, and claims another wound off the spider tank. Of course, there's still Overwatch to survive.

The lascannon hits! I'm doomed. 

No, I only take a single wound, so he's somehow still standing. Then the battlecannon hits as well!

And again, it's just a single wound! Lurching and limping through the hail of fire, the Inquisitor makes a long-bomb charge through the snowy craters and starts hacking. 

Although he's a fierce hacker, he needs sixes against that armour. Against the odds, I get a hit through, and leave the Defiler on its last two wounds. That's all it needs, though, and it effortlessly picks the Inquisitor up in one claw and finally squishes him. 

There was some shooting in the background, I'm sure, but against that cinematic demise I can't quite recall what it achieved. Not much, I suspect, maybe a Rubric or a wound off the Defiler? Not enough, at any rate, and with my last valiant effort well and truly spent, the game is the Thousand Sons'.

Final thoughts

Wow! For a game that I thought was in the bag after the first turn, that became my closest game in the tournament! After the all-melee armies of Tyranids and Nurgle Daemons, this army was a very different prospect and I may have struggled to switch gears to deal with it.

Fortunately the objective cards were with me, and allowed me to sit on a big stash of victory while Kraken was forced to chase the game. A 6th or 7th turn would have been interesting. I think I would still have won, but it may have come down to my warlord cowering in cover as the rest of my army got shot away (not the first time I've taken that path to victory).

Given that this turned into a shooting match, the strongest suit of my army, I was disappointed I didn't manage to swing it! The objectives were against me, though, and even if I'd grabbed a first turn with everyone inside vehicles, I think racing towards the foe would probably have played into their superior melee prowess.

Mind you, I was generally too keen to castle up with this lot. Playing them faster and looser, using the manouverability of vehicles to shift about - maybe that's where I was going wrong. Ah well - I shall consider my failure on the tree of woe, as is traditional for my people. Rest assured, however, you have not heard the last of the 9th Hagan Lampreys!

But I was happy with how the army did, and I've really enjoyed playing it. In my many unsuccessful test games, I've felt the need for a shooty, fighty daemon engine, and the Defiler has a strong case for MVP in most games. The Tzaangor have also won their way back into my affections - I think putting a unit into the webway is going to be a standard tactic from now on.

But the real star in my army has to be the Psychic Phase - when I had a good run of power, I did well in my games. When fate abandoned me, I started to struggle.

Well done lads, you did us proud back home.

Warhammer 40k battle report - Maelstrom of War - Tactical Escalation - 1000 points - Thousand Sons vs Militarum Tempestus.

And best of all, I get my giant man-hands on the WoffBoot Cup!

Whereas I delight in retention of my own trophy of choice. 

By the power of Greyspoon!

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