Tuesday, 13 August 2019

Blue and Green Should Not Be Seen: Ultramarines vs Death Guard

Image result for ultramarines vs death guard

I, Pootle, am keen to host a Skype battle for the first time. Kraken has obliged but, to mix things up a bit, I'm going to command Ultramarines and Kraken will take charge of the Death Guard.

Which marines will be proved right?

(Hint - it ought to be Blight!)

It's All-Skype Fight Night!


Given the suffering that The Second Law's daemon engines have caused in the past, I'm expecting to face at least one, probably a Foetid Bloat-drone. The core of my army is therefore a unit of Hellblasters and a unit of Devastators (with two missile launchers and two heavy bolters to be able to make use of the Flakk Missile and Hellfire Shell stratagems to put mortal wounds through). I also know how nasty a Daemon Prince is so I'll take a Redemptor Dreadnought to have something durable to match one in combat...hopefully. I'm also taking a unit of Inceptors to deep-strike and distract Kraken, but hopefully grab some objectives too.

My troops choices will be three units of Scouts, partly to minimise points but partly to be able to infiltrate and get onto objectives right from start - hopefully Kraken will spend time killing them rather than advancing to get within range of my heavier firepower.

The army will be led by a regular Captain with Power Fist and the Sanctic Halo to give him a 3++ save. He'll be my warlord with the Adept of the Codex skill to recover CPs on a 5+. I plan to deploy him with the Hellblasters, but offer some close-combat counter-punch if necessary. He will be supported by a Lieutenant (who'll deploy near the Devastators) and a Librarian.
  • HQ - Captain with Power Fist and Master-crafter Boltgun, Sanctic Halo, Adept of the Codex.
  • HQ - Librarian with Boltgun, Force Stave, Might of Heroes, Psychic Scourge.
  • HQ - Lieutenant with Power Axe and Master-crafter Boltgun 
  • Troops - 5 x Scouts; Boltguns, Sergeant with Chainsword
  • Troops - 5 x Scouts; Boltguns, Sergeant with Chainsword
  • Troops - 5 x Scouts; Boltguns, Sergeant with Chainsword
  • Elites - Redemptor Dreadnought with Heavy Onslaught Gatling Cannon, Onslaught Gatling Cannon and twin Storm Bolters
  • Fast Attack - 3 x Inceptors with Assault Bolters
  • Heavy Support - 5 x Devastators, 2 x Missile Launchers, 2 x Heavy Bolters, Armorium Cherub
  • Heavy Support - 5 x Hellblasters with Plasma Incinerators
A mix of semi-painted Primaris marines, some really old marines from when I first started playing (very nearly 30 years ago) and a special guest proxy appearance from Scout Sergeant Pootle

Death Guard

I'm a newbie to commanding the Death Guard, although not to losing to them! So I have a good idea of what most people take and what is supposed to work. Being the pig-headed idiot I am, I'm going to try something different - an exclusively infantry force with a Daemon Prince and Blightlords as the heavy hitters, then a big zombie mob and some motorized infantry backing it all up. 

Death Guard aren't known for speed, but this game is going to be more about holding objectives than usual (see below). That's something of their specialty! The plan would be to squat obstinately on a couple of home objectives whilst sending the DP, Rhino and Blightlords out to grab other stuff. 

Having no firm grasp on what I prefer with this army, I've taken what I think looks shiny. That never usually works! You never know, though, it's possible I could accidentally stumble on a winning combo. Luckily, I have an ulterior motive. Nobody has beaten Pootle's Death Guard army so far. If anyone can break their winning streak, it's going to be me and my special lucky dice. 

  • HQ - Daemon Prince with Suppurating Plate, two big claws and the Curse of the Leper, Warlord with Living Plague trait
  • HQ  - Terminator Sorcerer with standard gear, Miasma of Pestilence and Putrescent Vitality
  • Troops - 6 x Plague Marines, Champion with Power Fist, 1 with a plasma gun
  • Troops - 6 x Plague Marines, Champion with Plaguesword, 2 with plasma guns
  • Troops - 20 x Poxwalkers
  • Elites - 6 x Blightlord Terminators, Champion with Balesword and Combi-bolter, 1 Flail of Corruption, 1 x Blight Launcher, 2 x Combi-plasma
  • Dedicated Transport - 1 x Rhino

A few skeletons bulking up the Poxwalker numbers


We're playing Cleanse and Capture plus Scorched Earth, so up to three Maelstrom cards each round. You also scored 1 VP per held objective at the end of your turn, and you're allowed to blow up objectives in your opponent's deployment zone if you control them, scoring you d3 points and taking them out of play.

(This is the same homebrew I just played Stylus at and lost. I'm a glutton for punishment!)

Battlefield & Deployment

As you can see, the photo is a little skewed, so the map isn't quite the right size for the picture. This means that the deployment is a little off for movement and so on, but I just stuck the units where they physically appeared instead. Obviously, this is HUGELY IMPORTANT and makes a MASSIVE DIFFERENCE, which is why I needed to point it out. 

I immediately manage to screw up my chances of winning the game by winning the deployment roll-off. That never happens! What do I do now?

Pootle and I are both overdosed on Hammer and Anvil and Dawn of War after recent fights. So I go with Spearhead, because then I have three objectives already in my deployment zone. Excellent!

As planned, I split my two shooty units up, putting the Devastators on the hill to the South-West on top of objective 4, with the Lieutenant nearby to re-roll wound rolls of 1.

The Hellblasters go in front of the ruined industrial complex, supported by the Captain.

The Redemptor sat right at the front of my deployment zone and the Librarian held objective 3 in the backfield. I thought about putting a unit of Scouts on top of the central hill, but realised that if (when) Kraken deployed a unit of Plague Marines right in front of them (getting a 2+ cover save) they'd be toast; better that they both deploy on the flanks and see if one of them can sneak up onto the central hill and snaffle objective 5 later.

The third squad of Scouts sat at the back, ready to spread out to help deny deep-strike.

Having seen where the enemy is, I feel like there's an obvious strategy to pursue. To that end, I defend the two rear-most objectives. Plague Marines in the hut on the bottom right, Pox Walkers and Sorcerer in the ruins above. 

The Rhino and DP take cover behind the big rocky pillar. Pootle has covered his back line against deep strikes, and just checks that I'm putting the Blightlords there like any normal general. 

But I'm not any normal general! I'm a pig-headed fool! So the Blightlords are going to take on everything that can be thrown at them and shrug it off, because that's the last thing Pootle would ever expect! They deploy on 5, come take it now, Scouts!

Turn 1: Ultramarines

One of these days Kraken is going to roll nothing but 6s and steal the initiative to his heart's content. But that (almost inevitable run) isn't starting just yet so I get to go first.

And on that day shall the leopard lie down and sup with the lamb, etc.

My objectives were Secure Objectives 1 (under the Poxwalkers - not happening) and 3 (which the Librarian is sitting on), and Emperor's Retribution (D3 points for taking an objective off the enemy).

I move the Hellblasters forwards to get line-of-sight to the Blightlords on the hill. Because they're right at the top (with some of them dangling off the sides to fit into the small area available) I can easily do this. Tragically I'm nowhere near rapid fire range.

Because there's no deep-strike happening, the rearmost Scouts drop back onto Objective 3 and the Librarian runs forward to get closer to the action. The Lieutenant also moves down the hill (but stays within 6" of the Devastators). The Dreadnought backs up about 6" (not shown on the map) so that he can get LoS to the Blightlords (the shoulder of the hill was preventing him seeing them from where he started).

In the psychic phase I put Might of Heroes on the Dreadnought to get his toughness up to 8, then everything unloads onto the Blightlords. I play Scions of Guilliman on the Devastators to let them reroll 1s to hit (not getting the CP back) and load a Hellfire Shell into a Heavy Bolter (not getting that CP back either) and cause a mortal wound on the Terminators, upped to two wounds with a CP reroll (I didn't get that back either) neither of which were saved by Disgusting Resilience.

The combination of two Missile Launchers, one Heavy Bolter, 18 shots from the Dread's Gatling Cannons and 8 Storm Bolter shots plus five over-charged Plasma Incinerators left only one Blightlord standing. I should mention that (predictably) Kraken's dice rolling helped significantly - he rolled multiple 1s for saves and no Disgustingly Resilient saves AT ALL.

Objectives Scored: Secure objective 3 (1) plus 3 for holding Objectives 3, 4 and 6
Objectives discarded: Secure objective 1
CPs left: 5

 Turn 1: Death Guard

Well, a-DOI! Of course if you leave your most valuable unit out where everything can see it, it's going to get battered. 

All the same - how on earth did I lose so many? And to bolters

Well, most of what I hit you with was a lot tougher than mere bolters.

True! I don't mind going down to a Krak missile. But I also lost what, one? One and a half to bolt shells, and that rankles. Still, no point crying over spilt pus. Better try and pull this back. 

My objectives are Behind Enemy Lines (why didn't you deepstrike?!?), Secure Objective 4 (under the Devastators, why didn't you deepstrike???!) and Area Denial (WHY DIDN'T YOU... oh no, wait, I can do that!), so it's looking like the uphill struggle just got an even steeper gradient.

The Poxwalkers won't be doing much for a while, especially after I get a 1 for the advance, but I suppose I can be thankful the northern flank is secure. The Sorcerer keeps pace with them, smiting off a pair of scouts up ahead. 

What I really need is a good advance with the Rhino, so it can screen the DP as he leaps on those pesky scouts on objective 6. Thing is, if I want him to get there, I can't risk shooting any of them - it's a 7" charge, and it'll only get longer if I kill any of them. Hardly ideal. Nor is rolling and re-rolling a one for the Rhino's advance.

This means the DP's smite-like power isn't useful, so I spend a strategem to change it to Miasma of Pestilence. Okay, the Sorcerer has that already, but he can't reach. The DP duly shrouds himself in buzzing sickness, flexes his talons and prepares to charge. 

Nope - even with a re-roll, that gets him nowhere! Oh, Facepalms! And worse - that means although I can claim Area Denial, it's only the little version. Those scouts I didn't charge are denying me the chance of more VPS!

Objectives Scored: Area Denial (1), 3 (holding Objectives)
Objectives discarded: Secure objective 4
CPs left: 6

VP score: 4-4

Turn 2: Ultramarines

I drew Secure Objective 4 (which my Devastators were usefully occupying) and Defend Objective 5 (under the lone Blightlord). I decided to move the Scouts in the North from behind the cottage and act as a smite-shield for the Inceptors who I landed on the North slope of the hill near objective 5.

The Hellblasters moved forwards to get LoS on the Rhino (and Daemon Prince or its passengers if I managed to clear the Rhino out). I pondered whether to keep the Dreadnought back out of charge range of the DP, but decided that I'd take the risk; the Captain, Librarian and Lieutenant moved up behind the Dread to countercharge the DP if it got into the Dread. Lastly, the Scouts tried to keep hold of Objective 6 but backed away from the beckoning Daemon Prince.

The Daemon Prince was actually very slightly behind the Rhino

In the psychic phase I failed to cast Might of Heroes on the Dreadnought and couldn't see anything within range to smite.

I used the Devastator's Amorium Cherub to fire one of the missile launchers twice and added shots from the Hellblasters, Redemptor, Captain and Lieutenant, but despite the fusillade of fire only took a five wounds off the Rhino (proving that I am capable of dodgy dice-rolling too).

Pah! You're a novice! I'd have taken none!

I had more success in the North where the Inceptors and Scouts killed ten of the Poxwalkers between them. I then failed to charge the Inceptors into the Blightlord, even with a command reroll (which I think the Captain's trait recovered for me).

Objectives Scored: Secure Objective 4 (1) plus 3 for holding Objectives 3, 4 and 6
Objectives discarded: Defend objective 5
CPs left: 6

 Turn 2: Death Guard

New objectives could still keep this battle viable. Defend 5 is a good shout, there's still a lone Blightlord on it and I can bolster him with the Plague Marines from the Rhino, who climb out of the top hatch and nimbly skip up the hillside. Because they're like little ballerinas.

The DP prepares to slaughter those scouts, the Rhino limps forward hoping to explode on the Dreadnought later, the Blightlord counts his blessings (2293, all buboes) and primes his gun.

The Plague Marines in the back tower can't really add much, but they do shoot a Scout off Objective 6. No harm in softening them up for the kill at this point, I reckon, it would be just like me to kill four out of five with a whole Daemon Prince. Their sister squad opens up on the Inceptors, slaying one.

Then the Poxwalkers surge up the hill, swamping the Scouts, although I lose a couple trying to dual-charge the Inceptors. After that, the Plague Marines charge into the hover-marines. Finish them, and Objective 5 can be safely defended!

It's a disappointing fight, though. A lone Scout manages to hack his way free of the zombies, whilst the Inceptors shrug off the Plague Marines unscathed. No scathe in return, of course, but all the same, I'd somehow expected more of the fatties. Still, at least the best is still to come!

Hello, my dice.

Yes, although I roll well and butcher the squad, Pootle rolls well on his saves. If he can reroll a six on a single armour save, that scout Sarge survives, and sure enough, for a CP, the nippy little clucker somehow scrapes through. To say I am displeased (if somewhat unsurprised) is an understatement!

I remember saying to you that the lone Sergeant was immune to morale as the squad had only lost three to the DP, however I'd forgotten that you'd shot one earlier in the turn, so the sergeant would have run if I'd rolled a six followed by another six (so pretty unlikely); nevertheless, sorry!

Despite all this, it could be worse. All I have to do is survive another round of massed firepower from the almost entirely intact Ultramarines, and I'll be absolutely fine.

Objectives Scored: 3 for holding objectives
Objectives discarded: Behind Enemy Lines
CPs left: 2

VP score: 8-7 to the Ultramarines

Turn 3: Ultramarines

I drew Kingslayer as my new objective, and look! There's a Daemon Prince sitting right in front of my guns...

The two surviving lone Scouts fell back from their respective combats, the Redemptor moved forwards to stand next to the Daemon Prince, the Hellblasters repositioned slightly to keep within 6" of the Captain and Lieutenant, who shuffled slightly to site themselves carefully within 6" of the Devastators, Hellblasters and Redemptor to maximise rerolling hits and wounds. Lastly, the Inceptors flew over to take Objective 6 from the Blightlord Champion.

I needed a CP to put Might of Heroes onto the Dreadnought and I think failed to cast Smite.

The Inceptors and the Scouts managed to shoot down three of the Plague Marines on top of the hill, and a barrage of fire from the Devastators (who spent two CPs on a Flakk Missile and a Hellfire Shell for the Daemon Prince), the Hellblasters and the Dreadnought nearly did for the Prince there and then, leaving him on only a couple of wounds I think.

The Inceptors charged into the Blightlord, causing one mortal wound from their Crushing Charge ability. I decided that I'd fight the Inceptors first to tempt Kraken to interrupt with the DP and fight against the Dread with his last two CPs - I figured that the Redemptor was tough enough to survive, but I didn't want to run any risk of the Blightlord Champion lucking out and killing the Inceptors.

I didn't manage to kill the Blightlord. Kraken pretty much had to interrupt and fight first against the Dreadnought, but his typical dice-rolling didn't manage to wound even once.

Yup! Seven hits, no wounds.

In return the Redemptor landed 13 wounds and (despite rolling 7 Disgustingly Resilient saves), the Prince fell.

Objectives Scored: Kingslayer (1), Emperor's Retribution (2), Slay the Warlord (1), Raze objective 5 (2) plus 3 for holding Objectives 3, 4 and 6
Objectives discarded: none
CPs left: 4

At this point, with no real hitting power left and a large point deposit (plus it's past midnight for me), it's time to throw in the sticking, feculent towel. 

We had a look at the next set of objectives for the Death Guard, and they weren't particularly helpful.

Result: 17-7 to the Ultramarines 

Locker Room

Mission accomplished, in the Bush-iest sense! At least it was quick. Proof if you needed it that the Death Guard are quite capable of losing!

Not a great list, of course, compared to what they can field. Probably a fairly major mistake to stick the Blightlords out at the start too, although you'd usually expect maybe a couple more to survive on disgusting resilience than I managed! Afterwards, Pootle suggested deep striking them between the Devastators and Hellblasters, shooting one unit and charging the other. I hadn't though of that, and it certainly sounds like a solid plan, if a big ask of my luck.

I would have put the Sorcerer with the Blightlords in deep-strike, shot up the Devastators on arrival (who wouldn't have survived) and then charged the Hellblasters. Even though Ultramarines can fall-back and shoot, the -1 to hit would've meant that they wouldn't have wanted to overcharge. If this was timed to coincide with the arrival of the Daemon Prince, the marines might have been in trouble.

And with hindsight, the short-edge deployment meant a slow, shorter-range army was going to struggle. I got greedy, thinking that three objectives under my belt from the get-go would rack up easy points and force the Marines to come to me, but it certainly didn't work out that way! 

Unfortunately for you, my Scouts meant that I could deploy forward and also start with three objectives and then distract you somewhat with their presence.

I feel a bit apologetic I didn't make a better game of it! Next time, Gadget Pootle, next time... 

If I'm honest, I was rooting for the Death Guard pretty much straight after I blew away the Blightlords. Still, for every close game we have we also have a thumping - this balances out the game between the Nurgle Daemons and Tyranids!

I quite enjoyed the combination of Maelstrom objectives and sitting on objectives. It reduces the random elements of some of the cards (which are still fun) so I think is worth trying again - perhaps with more balanced armies...

Before I forget, though, I need to mention the scenery. Pootle made it all when he was much younger, and it makes for a great board - flexible, effective and practical all in one. I wish I'd been that forward thinking when I was a teenager! 

Thanks. It's been bagged up in my parents' loft for 25 years; nice to finally justify not binning it! Maybe one day I'll get around to finishing painting it - though I've still not finished painting all the miniatures I bought when I was a teenager and now I'm adding to the backlog there.

Anyway, thanks for being a good sport (as always). I think I speak for all of us in hoping that your dice-rolling luck improves soon (maybe save it for Stylus though?)


  1. Blimey. I think Kraken needs to remove stepping on a black cat from his pre-game routine.

    Nice board set-up - Studio #4 for the WoffBoot!

    1. I thought you were supposed to eat the cat to absorb its luck?

  2. Thanks, I'm quite proud of my big LoS-blocking hill and it works quite well as a central feature. Part of me would like to spend a bit of time painting it up a bit more, another part of me...