Friday, January 20, 2017

Exploring the Current Thousand Sons - Third Iteration

What excites me about the current Thousand Sons is that it packs a punch while still being flavorful, with its over-reliance on magic, it's single-mindedness automata, and how battlefield tactics slant towards deception. Did I mention it's really flavorful? Change agents, that's what we are.
Before I go on, I'd like to share my personal criteria for my Thousand Sons army lists. Just because ...:
  1. Must be built on a core of Rubric marines. As far as possible, each Rubric unit must be "favored" (a concept that no longer has rules at the squad level) with 9 models or multiples of 9.
  2. No Cultists, or them new-fangled beasty cultist wannabe things.
  3. No Daemons. I spent a few years before this book came out fielding a Thousand Sons army with a daemon allied detachment (1 Lord of Change and a pack of Pink Horrors). It was a really strong list, but I really do prefer no daemons at all, if possible (on another note, a Tzeentch daemons list looks quite stupidly strong). Daemon engines are exempted (because I do really like the Defiler and Heldrake models).
  4. No Magnus. Because I don't know why he would bother playing in my house or local store (I just got over justifying to myself why Ahriman would bother to do the same, and that took me a few years of deep earnest conversations with myself).
  5. No non-Tzeentch/non-Thousand Sons allies (though I might just allow a Shadowsword, because my ancient Armorcast one is begging to be Tzeentched up - but definitely no Knights of any persuasion).
So in the first game I had with the current book (it was really new then), I fielded the list that could be deployed fastest as we were rushing - Ahriman, Exalted Sorcerer, 5 Occult Terminators in Land Raider, squad of 8 Rubric marines (couldn't go 9 because they had to share their transport with the 2 lead sorcerers), squad of 9 Rubric marines on foot, Heldrake and a Land Raider.

That army faced a White Scars army that had 3 Land Raiders, a couple of Razorbacks, assault termies and Drop Pod-borne Astartes. With the help of some nasty Heretech spells which made easy work of the loyalist armor, the White Scars were almost wiped out for minimal Thousand Sons losses.

In my second game, I decided to try a funny list that uses the Astral Grimoire - Ahriman, Exalted Sorcerer, Sorcerer, a squad of 18 Rubric marines, 5 Occult Terminators in Land Raider, Heldrake, Las-Pred.

This army faced a Death Watch army with a scary Watchmaster, a squad of Deathwatch vets, a Deathwatch bike squad, a Deathwatch ven Dread, 3 Ultramarines Tactical squads in Drop Pods, 3 Ultramarines Terminator squads and an Ultramarine Land Speeder. Lucky for me it was a Kill Points game - the only survivors from the loyalists was the Watchmaster (who killed Ahriman and his sorcerers) and the Drop Pods. Thousand Sons were left with 4 Rubric marines, 1 Terminator, the Heldrake and the Land Raider.

Iteration No.3
This iteration of my Thousand Sons army expands on the first list. Rhinos are still invaluable, even after millennia of service on both sides of the divide. And especially so for my slow and purposeful Rubricae. And the fact that Ahriman can cast his witchfire spells from the handy top hatch hasn't gone amiss. So 1 of the Land Raiders had to go.

Another change from the previous lists is that I finally got around to assembling my Occult Terminators (I had been using my old converted Rubric Terminators as nicely painted proxies), and just had to put in the really nicely casted soulreaper autocannon and helfyer missile rack. What's another 50 points between friends?

Thousand Sons War Cabal (1850 points):
Ahriman, Arch-Sorcerer of the Thousand Sons
Sobek Sekmet, Exalted Sorcerer - mastery level 3, Seer's Bane
5 Scarab Occult Terminators - soulreaper autocannon, helfyre missile rack
Land Raider - dozer blades
8 Thousand Sons marines
Rhino - dozer blades
9 Thousand Sons marines
Rhino - dozer blades
Predator - lascannons, dozer blades

This time I faced a Ravenwing army that's just fresh from being awarded Best Loyalist Army in a recent local tourney. It had something like:

Chaplain on bike - mace of redemption
6 Ravenwing Black Knights (commmand squad) - apothecary, standard bearer
6 Ravenwing Black Knights
6 Ravenwing bikes - 2 meltaguns, sgt w powerfist
6 Ravenwing bikes - 2 meltaguns, sgt w powerfist
6 Ravenwing bikes - 2 gravguns (don't remember if the sgt had a powefist)
2 Ravenwing attack bikes - multimelta
2 Ravenwing attack bikes - multimelta
Ravenwing Land Speeder Typhoon
Ravenwing Land Speeder Typhoon
Ravenwing Land Speeder Typhoon
Ravenwing Dark Shroud

It's actually not too different from my own Ravenwing army. We rolled Spoils of War, Night Fight is on, and Thousand Sons got first turn.

The battle was fought over a desolate landscape, with blown-out ruins, sparse dead forests and hills. It was perfect country for speed and manouver.

The scenario specified Hammer & Anvil deployment, and the Ravewing amassed in 2 flanks - on my right flank, the stronger wing of  their army anchored amidst some ruins, while on my left flank they took advantage of a craggy hill.

Having far less units to deploy, I decided to take advantage of the width-wise deployment (which meant that my 2 flanks are not far apart), and spread my army, using cover just in case he seized the initiative - Terminators in their Land Raider on the left flank behind the wrecked Rhino, Rubric squad in their Rhino behind the ruins in the center, the Predator on the main avenue and next to a ruin facing down the loyalist bikers, and Ahriman and Sekmet with their Rubricae in their Rhino behind the Predator.

As was predicted, the loyalists scouted forwards to close the range, the squad with the gravguns to the fore, while their long-range missile Land Speeders hung around the back center of the field, ready to lend support for either flank.

Turn 1
The battle began quietly enough as my Predator turned left and sped towards the center of the Thousand Sons' line.

As the Rhino in the center lurched forwards onto the main thoroughfare, its top hatch opened to reveal Asthmus the aspiring sorcerer, who unleashed a cascading Breathe of Chaos spell on the lead Ravenwing bike squad, nearly wiping it out. The Rhino bearing Lord Ahriman also advanced slightly, the Arch-Sorcerer casting deadly Psychic Shrieks from his Rhino's fire point, which finished his aspiring sorcerer's job, and severely damaging another squad.

Then, both Rhinos retreated rearwards, keeping a safe distance from surviving loyalist meltaguns (shooting phase flat out moves - my opponent accused me of "Eldar cheese!").

On the left flank, the Land Raider advanced slightly and pivoted, its assault ramps hitting the ground hard as elite Scarab Occult Terminators disembarked from its bowels. The Scarab Occult Sorcerer loosed his Psychic Shriek attacks on the nearest Ravenwing bike squad, felling a couple of loyalist bikers, then his squad's autocannon and missiles, combined with the Land Raider's weapons, opened up on the Land Speeders in the rear, but thanks to the cover of night and some inhuman jinking manouvers, only 1 Land Speeder was glanced.

In response, the Ravewing line surged forwards. The attack bikes on my left flank opened fire on the Land Raider, but were too far to gain optimal effectiveness. Nevertheless, they did manage to score 1 glancing hit.

The surviving bikers opened fire and charged the Occult Terminators. The Terminators' overwatch fire felled one of the bikers, even as the impact of Ravenwing bikes on Terminator armor killed one of the Terminators. The Occult Sorcerer bellowed a challenge which was dutifully accepted by the powerfist wielding veteran sergeant, who was duly slain by a combination of the sorcerer's hatred and high-strength stave. The other Occult Terminators put to the sword the other bikers, and the lone survivor only just managed to escape with his life, speeding to a crook behind the hill for safety.

On the right flank and center, the Ravenwing line barreled forwards, now led by the Black Knights at the tip of the advance. Ravenwing shooting was ineffective as most of their guns were not in range, and the missile-bearing Land Speeders were jinking and could not aim their weapons to effect.

Turn 2
The Heldrake failed to appear, which was much regretted, as the Ravenwing mass in the center offered the juiciest of targets.

Asthmus' Rhino advanced towards the leading Black Knights. Once again emerging from the Rhino's top hatch, his Breathe of Chaos spell obliterated 4 of the proud elite bikers. Lord Ahriman followed up with multiple Psychic Shriek attacks but failed to wound the surviving Knights. Then Asthmus' Rhino went flat out forwards towards the right of the Sons' flank (it really looked like a drive-by shooting), while Ahriman's Rhino fell back once again. 

On the left, the Occult Terminators advanced towards the nearest Attack Bikes, while their Sorcerer unleashed Psychic Shriek on the Ravenwing Command squad in the center, to no effect. Inferno bolter and heavy weapons fire from the terminators wounded one of the Attack Bikes before the Terminators' charge finished them off.

The Land Raider and Predator, which by now had manouvered to the Sons' left flank, focused their fire on the Land Speeders, destroying one, and forcing another to jink.

Intent on revenge, Ravenwing bikers on the right flank sped up towards Asthmus' Rhino, even as the 2 surviving Black Knights approached that Rhino from the other side. Melta fire made easy work of the Rhino, blowing it apart, the blast killing 1 of the Rubricae inside. The Knights opened up with their Talons, easily felling another 4 Rubricae, before charging in to wipe out Asthmus and his squad in a flurry of Corvus hammer attacks (this was a really bad series of saving throws - didn't roll a single save for Asthmus' squad).

The Chaplain and his Command Squad peeled off from the center and headed toward the Occult Terminators, guns blazing before charging in. The Scarab Occult Sorcerer locked in mortal combat with the Chaplain in a deadly challenge, both champions wounding the other. The Knights of the Command squad felled one of the Occult Terminators. 

Turn 3
With a Banshee wail, the Heldrake roared onto the battlefield, its deadly unearthly fire wiping out the Ravenwing bike squad on the Sons' right flank, partially avenging Asthmus and his Rubricae.

On the left flank, the Land Raider pivoted and opened fire on a Land Speeder, damaging it despite the pilot's wild jinking.

Meanwhile, both the Predator and Ahriman's Rhino fell back to fulfill a Hold the Line order.

In the on-going melee between the Ravenwing Command squad and the Occult Terminators, the Sorcerer killed the Chaplain with his glowing force stave. And thanks to the blessing of Tzeentch, the rending Corvus Hammers could not get past the Terminators' ward saves.

The Ravenwing are fast running out of men. The 2 surviving Black Knights on the right flank came around the ruin there to close with Ahriman's Rhino. The Dark Shroud peeled off from close support of the Command squad, which was still in melee, to execute a risky manouver amongst the center ruins to capture an objective.

On the left flank, the 2 surviving attack bikes closed with the Land Raider and opened fire with multimeltas at point-blank range. Tzeentch was smiling on this Land Raider as it was only stunned with 2 hull points remaining.

The 2 surviving Land Speeders also fired at the Land Raider, to no effect.

In the melee between the Ravenwing Command squad and the Occult Terminators, the challenge now was between the Black Knight champion and the Scarab Occult Sorcerer, a duel which ended in neither side getting past the other's armor. However, another Occult Terminator was hewn by the flailing Corvus hammers.

Turn 4
With a quiet suddenness, the Heldrake banked sharply to port and attacked the Dark Shroud with a Vector Strike that left the skimmer immobilized. 

Ahriman's Rhino sped forwards towards the ruin in the center where the Dark Shroud sat damaged, the Arch-Sorcerer's repeated Psychic Shrieks finally slaying the last 2 Black Knights on the right.

The Predator pivoted and let loose its lascannons on the grounded Dark Shroud blowing it up in a fiery explosion (I needed that to happen to seize an objective - one of the downsides of not having ObSec Rubrics in this detachment).

Meanwhile, the Land Raider snap-fired all guns into the oncoming attack bikes, destroying one, and wounding the other.

The drawn-out melee continued, with both champions failing to wound one another. But the last surviving Occult Terminator finally succumbed to the repeated rending Corvus attacks.

The last surviving Ravenwing attack bike approached even nearer to its Land Raider target, but missed its mark (ikr, point-blank range, and you miss. All those years of dedication, prayer and training ...). The Land Speeders kept up their fire at the same target, and managed to score a glancing hit despite the Land Raider's thick hide.

Sensing his moment of glory, the last surviving Ravenwing biker from the very first charge decided to lend a hand to his Command squad, who had been locked in combat with the Occult Terminators for some time now. Redlining his engine, he sped headlong into the lone surviving enemy Terminator, killing the vile champion in the impact. Expecting congratulatory prayers, the biker was much chastised by the Black Knight champion, for the champion had intended to capture the enemy sorcerer alive (it was an objective my opponent had been holding onto for awhile, hoping to score it with the Sorcerer).

Turn 5
The marauding Heldrake descended rapidly into hover mode and skimmed forwards over the battlefield. The Land Raider advanced towards the right flank, climbing over the battlefield debris, and nearly throwing a track (thank God for dozer blades, what a great investment). The tank opened fire on one of the Land Speeders, but once again the loyalist skimmer was able to avoid the incoming shots. Meanwhile, the Heldrake went flat out into enemy territory, capturing an objective. 

Ahriman's Rhino moved forwards in the left flank, and the Rubric squad with the 2 attached Sorcerers disembarked, advancing on foot towards the Ravenwing Command squad. While his deadly magicks killed the last remaining Attack Bike, the Arch-Sorcerer's Psychic Shrieks were unable to harm the loyalist Command squad Knights. Sekmet the Exalted Sorcerer cast Invisibility onto himself, his Lord and the accompanying Rubricae.

As the Rubricae advanced, they opened fire on the Ravenwing Comand squad with their inferno bolters, Sekmet also calling in a fiery blast due to his being a Lord of the Silver Tower. The Predator joined in the concentrated firepower into the elite loyalist bikers, but after the dust settled, none of the loyalists were harmed.

The Ravenwing Command squad took the bait and roared towards Ahriman's squad at breakneck speed, Plasma Talons rapid-firing, but unable to draw a bead on most of the Invisible Rubricae,  killing just one.

Meanwhile, the Ravenwing Land Speeders switched targets and fired their krak missiles at the hovering Heldrake, but the Daemon-engine was able to easily jink out of harm's way.

Then in a final act of desperation, the proud Black Knights of the Ravenwing Command squad charged into the Invisible Rubricae, their bikes' impact killing 1 Rubricae. Sekmet the Exalted Sorcerer challenged the champion and weilding his Seer's Bane, easily hewed the Black Knight champion and the entire Ravenwing Command squad in one graceful sweep of the possessed daemon weapon.

And with that last deadly strike, Tzeentch truimphs again!

The Thousand Sons won the battle 10-6, including First Blood, Slay the Warlord and Linebreaker. As was expected, the Thousand Sons are not very adept at scoring objectives, given the small number of units in the army, and the fact that in this detachment, they don't have ObSec. In retrospect, it was a good call to give each squad a transport vehicle. Rhinos ftw!

Consistent with the first 2 battles, the enemy was severely punished. The Ravenwing was left with only 1 bike and 2 Land Speeders surviving. The Thousand Sons lost squad Asthmus and their Rhino, though the Land Raider was 1 hull point away from being wrecked. The Land Raider performed well as a fire magnet, to be sure.

The Scarab Occult Terminators were really tough, and while I only managed to use their new ranged weapons twice before being locked into combat for all eternity, I think 50 points for 2 krak and 4 S5 AP3 rending shots on a super-tough fearless Terminator platform is pretty good. And the 2+/3++ (thanks to Force being a blessing) saves are just amazing.

Breathe of Chaos, even coming from a lowly aspiring sorcerer, is insanely good. Especially against the Ravenwing, who can survive most shooting pretty well.

This game is the first time I didn't forget to re-rolls 1's To Hit, and the first time I used Lord of the Silver Tower (though 3+ re-rolling jink saves kinda made that moot). It's also the first time I saw the Seer's Bane really used to full effect - it is one deadly piece of accursed kit!

I noticed that in all 3 battles thus far, my Thousand Sons faced only their loyalist erstwhile brethren - White Scars, Deathwatch, Ultramarines, Dark Angels. It would be interesting to see how they would fair against xenos (Eldar and Tau are going to be really tough, I expect) and other Chaos forces, though I would love to face a Space Wolves force!

As always, the Thousand Sons' truimph was with a combination of deadly magicks, manouver and close assault.

Totally looking forward to the next one.

Keep them dice rolling ...

Thursday, January 12, 2017

It's 2017! Omigosh, when did that happen?

Time ... just flies. Really fast.

Thank God I managed to make time couple nights back for a game with my Thousand Sons. I used a funky experimental list that's quite scary for myself - not so much for my opponents:

Thousand Sons War Cabal
Exalted Sorcerer Sekmet, w ML3 Astral Grimoire and Seer's Bane
Sorcerer Soreth, w ML2 and Mark of Tzeentch
5 Scarab Occult Terminators, w heavy warpflamer
    in a Land Raider dedicated transport
18 Rubric Marines
Predator - tri-las

1850 pts

It's got 12+d6 warp charge dice and is a tiny army at 1850 points. I frankly had no idea how to use this list, but the thought of 18 Rubric Marines plus 3 high powered sorcerers (not including the Aspiring Sorcerer in the squad itself) flying around like jump infantry is really cool.

My opponent fielded a Deathwatch + Ultramarines list. I think he had:

10 Deathwatch marines
5 Deathwatch bikes
Deathwatch Venerable Dreadnought
3 five-man Tactical squads in 3 drop pods
3 five-man Terminator squads
Land Speeder Typhoon

He was quite shocked to find that he actually outnumbered me - apparently that doesn't happen too often.

Lucky for me, we rolled Purge the Alien, and I had precious few Kill Points to give away.

The game ended in a 9-6 win for the Thousand Sons. Some thoughts and highlights:

  • It was quite amusing to bubble-wrap my Predator with a horde of Rubrics, a job normally left to cultists and other such undesirables. In any case, I didn't do a good job with it and the Predator was alpha-striked by drop pod borne marines.
  • 18 Rubrics plus 3 independent character sorcerers are deadly! That squad wiped out 2 Tactical squads and 2 Terminator squads in close combat (it helps that the Exalted Sorcerer has Seer's Bane), plus another Tactical squad and Terminator squad with magic and shooting.
  • On the other hand, even this big squad is no match in close combat with uber-cc specialists like the Watchmaster.
  • My excitement with the heavy warpflamer has waned considerably after my opponent learnt not to close with the Occult Terminators. Time to find the extra points for the soulreaper autocannon.
The game went to maximum turns, which turned out to be a bad thing for Ahriman, who was slain in close combat by the Watchmaster in the very last assault phase. He was very lucky to last that long. Thousand Sons scored Linebreaker, while the loyalist scum scored First Blood and Slay the Warlord.

By the end of the game, the Thousand Sons were left with only 4 Rubrics, 1 Occult Terminator, the Land Raider, and the Heldrake. I lost every single sorcerer.

The loyalist scum only had the Watchmaster and 3 Drop Pods left on the table.

It was bloody game indeed. Khorne is pleased.

While this list was fun to play, I don't think it would have done very well in a Maelstrom or most objective-based mission. There's simply not enough flexibility and not enough units.

But hey, at least Khorne is cool with it.

Tuesday, December 13, 2016

Ahriman Ascending

I got my Wrath of Magnus books a couple of weeks back and I meant to post something about it but didn't get around to doing it. Then I had my first game using the new rules last weekend.

The Thousand Sons are back - big time!

I must say when I first read the rules I was slightly disappointed with the unchanging points-cost, and the fact that the fancy new weapons (warpflamer, reaper cannon) just add even more points to an already expensive army.

Then I remembered that the magic in the Thousand Sons lies with the ... magic!

For one, the revamped Tzeentch powers are simply awesome! But best of all, your sorcerers now have access to some amazing psychic disciplines, which gives your army amazing flexibility.

For example, in my game on Sunday, I faced a White Scars army with 3 Land Raiders, plus 2 other tanks. So each and every sorcerer who could, rolled at least once on Heretech (of course we also had Tzeentch, Telepathy and Divination). And the result was crazy.

But first, here's the list I used. We were in a rush, so I used the list that was quickest to deploy:

War Cabal:
Exhalted Sorcerer - mastery level 2, Seer's Bane
5 Scarab Occult Terminators - with heavy warpflamer
  in a Land Raider with dozer blades dedicated transport
8 Thousand Sons
9 Thousand Sons
Land Raider with dozer blades

The White Scars loyalist scum was using some kind of formation that had 3 Land Raiders - 2 Crusaders (one of which was the Warlord, carrying a Techmarine and 2 Servitors) and a Redeemer, the Land Raiders carrying 2 squads of 5 Assault Termies (3 with thunder hammer & storm shield, 2 with lightning claws). They also had 5 Space Marines with plasma gun in a Rhino, 10 Space Marines with a melta gun in a Drop Pod, and another Tecmarine with 2 Servitors in a Razorback with twin-linked lascannon.

So I gleefuly gave Ahriman, his Exhalted Sorcerer and the Scarab Occult Sorcerer Heretech spells, on top of Tzeentch and Ahriman's Telepathy.

The Heretech spells are just deadly against vehicles. On Turn 1, the White Scars Warlord Land Raider Crusader got hit by multiple castings of Flayerstorm and Scrapcode Curse, and was quickly wrecked (glanced to death). Scrapcode Curse gives D3 haywire hits, and Flayerstorm reduces the target by D3 hull points. Crazy stuff.

Flayerstorm also hits nearby targets with D6 rending hits everytime it brings down a Hull Point. Later in the game, the second Land Raider Crusader was killed with it, and a nearby Rhino blew up because of it.

Seer's Bane on the Exhalted Sorcerer is really good. The Artifact is expensive, but at S=Ld, and you know how good the sorcerer's leadership is, he easily hacked the loyalist marines to bits. It's a daemon weapon, and I of course would have to roll a 1 when I used it.

When I first read about them, I kinda scoffed at the Scarab Termies. But I love 'em now. Fearless Termies with AP3 combi-bolters and a heavy warpflamer, not to mention getting a level 2 sorcerer to boot. It's awesome. Combined with the fact that they and their dedicated transport Land Raider infiltrated, they almost scored First Blood by wiping out a 5-man Space Marine unit in Turn 1 (First Blood was scored in the Psychic Phase, when the White Scars' Warlord Land Raider Crusader was toasted).

It was a truly brutal game. Just as before, and since CSM Codex 3.5, the Thousand Sons are best used aggressively. By Turn 3, the White Scars had lost all 3 Land Raiders, a Rhino, all 10 Assault Marines, all 15 Space Marines, the Drop Pod and all 4 Servitors. Only the Razorback and 2 Techmarines remained. The loyalist scum duly conceded. The Thousand Sons lost 6 Rubricae and a Termie.

I'm itching to try out more games with this new super-magic Thousand Sons. I just tweaked the twin-Land Raider list I used to include a Rhino - in the game, the Thousand Sons squad on foot didn't do much at all. And I do need to remember to re-roll 1s, and Hatred Space Marines, and the Exhalted Sorcerer's Lord of the Silver Tower.

I do have another War Cabal list that I'm curious about - just 1 Land Raider for the Termies, an additional budget-sized Tzeentch sorcerer, Rhinos for both Thousand Sons squads and a Predator. But the list I'm most curious to run is Ahriman's Exiles combined with a CAD - a total of 8 psykers and 17+d6 magic dice, on top of 2 squads of Rubrics, a Heldrake, a Land Raider, and the curious fact that the Exiles cast on 3+.


Keep them dice rolling.

Monday, September 19, 2016

From the Archives: 6th Assault Grenadiers Routs Ork Horde!

I was messing around with the way back machine, and found this battle report from my old site. It's a fiercely fought battle between my 6th Brandenburgers and Orks, sometime in 2010 (that's Fifth Ed right?).

I had a good read, and thought you might enjoy it too. I do remember the battle - it was super bloody involving 2 horde armies, and out of hundreds on each side, only handfuls remain:

Captain Tillman lowered his binoculars and calmly issued the final orders for his men to make ready for combat. He did not need any visual aid to know that the ork horde is upon them and will contact in a matter of minutes. His scouts had counted some 110 greenskins, including a whole mob on their noisy bikes and the contraption the xenos call trukks. Against this, his 3rd company arrayed 108 men in 3 platoons, including Commissars Busso and Kastner lending their unshakeable faith to 1st and 2nd platoons respectively. The two Leman Russ Demolishers, Basilisk and Manticore from divisional support were also a welcome boost. The three ancient relics that he had been ordered to retrieve must not fall into xenos hands. His assault grenadiers have no choice but to defeat the xenos and cleanse the field of them.

The position he had chosen was strong, with nearly all his force concentrated on the right flank. The assault grenadiers of 1st and 2nd platoons massed to the fore of his position, anchored against some ancient ruins, with the Demolishers holding the extreme right. The ruins themselves were occupied by 3rd platoon, lascannons at the ready. The missile launchers of 2nd platoon’s heavy weapons squad were occupying a small hill to the left of the main position, somewhat unsupported but with an excellent field of fire. Tillman sited his Manticore in the extreme right behind the safety of the ruins, and the Basilisk in the extreme left of the field in an attempt to bait the xenos into splitting their forces.

The oncoming greenskins spread the breadth of the battlefield, slugga boyz blanketing the field from left to right. Behind and to the left of the wooded ruins was a sizeable mob of nob bikers, and to the right of the same wooded ruins was the rattling trukk, belching thick brownish black smoke. The ground started to shake amidst the deep rumble of massed xenos iron-shod boots. Breathing a quick prayer of faith, Tillman bellowed into his micro-bead, “Here they come! Steady Brandenburgers! For the Emperor!”

Like a surging tide, the orks bounded forward towards the Imperial line. On the left flank, the bikers gunned their engines and sped straight towards the Basilisk at breakneck speed. On the other flank, the trukk did much the same, bumping across country at dangerous velocity, then swinging ninety-degrees into a skidding stop. Led by a bellowing warboss, the huge frames of ork nobs poured out of the vehicle with unnatural agility and charged straight into 1st and 2nd platoons. Tillman couldn’t help but sneer at the xenos’ audacity of ten of their number taking on more than 60 of the Emperor’s finest in hand-to-hand combat. The greenskins’ fearsome great weapons and power-klaws cut many of his men down, but the Brandenburgers gave back as well as they got, and seriously bloodied all but the xenos’ medic, who somehow escaped injury.

To the right of the melee, a huge mob of 30 slugga boyz stormed straight towards 3rd platoon’s position. Seizing the moment, Lieutenant Trierenberg’s 2nd platoon command squad and the 20 men of 3rd platoon advanced into rapid-fire range. Trierenberg shouted “First rank fire! Second rank fire!” and they opened fire in disciplined rapid-firing volleys, shredding the greenskins into ribbons. Tillman saw this, and ordered Sergeant Windmann’s Demolishers and Lieutenant Weigel, OC 3rd platoon to join in the enfilade, and immediately the deafening boom of the tanks’ fearsome demolisher cannons and ripping roar of their heavy bolters joined in the cacophony of death.

Only seven orks emerged from the dust of the explosions, and they threw themselves straight into Trierenberg and his squad, easily cutting them down with choppas and blunt objects. The orks’ leader went straight for the Demolishers, miraculously doing them no harm despite his snapping power-klaws (auto-hit, four 1’s to pen). This was the only chance this mob got and they were subsequently wiped out by massed lasgun volleys from 3rd platoon.

The melee between the ork warboss’ nob retinue and 1st and 2nd platoons was not going well for the xenos. While many good Brandenburgers were killed, the weight of numbers began to tell, and one by one the nobs were being skewered by bayonet, saber, power weapon and power fist. The ork leader had no choice and called his Waaarrghhh! Bellowing at the top of their corrupted xenos lungs, the massed orks picked up their already fast momentum and poured forwards with renewed vigor. A fresh slugga boyz mob piled into the on-going melee, thankfully not doing too much damage, while the mass of orks from the left rushed forwards towards the main fight.

The nob bikers broke off from their interception course with the Basilisk and swung towards the right flank at full speed, impatiently intent on getting into the thick of the swirling melee. Tillman spotted this and ordered all available guns on them. The Manticore fired first, its rocket arcing in a low trajectory before its multiple warheads landed amidst the nob bikers in three great explosions of fire and dust. The Basilisk rolled steadily forwards, its tremendous Earthshaker cannon barking and throwing hi-ex death into the middle of the nob bikers. Sergeant Windmann gave an order into his microbead, and as one his Demolisher squadron lurched forwards and swung left to bring weapons to bear on the nob bikers, huge cannon belching fire and the resulting explosions scattering the nob bikers further. 2nd platoon’s heavy weapons squad joined in the mayhem and loosed deadly krak missiles into the bikers, the missile contrails snaking menacingly into the bikers’ positions.

Out of the smoke and fire of the Imperials’ concentrated firepower, three surviving bikers led by the biker warboss roared straight into the melee. They were too late to save their nob kin, who were mercilessly cut down by the intrepid Brandenburg assault grenadiers, the trukk warboss being last to go down. The relieving slugga boyz mob were themselves having a difficult time holding down their supposedly-puny human opponents in the close-combat and many orks were slain, though the human infantry’s numbers were thinned down to only a handful. But the fury of the surviving bikers’ charge was enough to tip the balance, and as the assault grenadiers’ numbers dwindled, 1st platoon ceased to exist. Commissar Busso was swinging his power-axe in silent fury, his fine commissar uniform and cap slick with xenos blood, and was about to turn to face a nob biker when a large-caliber big shoota shell slammed into his face at point-blank range. Two meters away, Commissar Kastner’s crackling powerfist had just smashed into the chest of a xenos warrior, lodging deep into the creature, but before he could remove his weapon from the body a nob powerklaw cut him in two. The three remaining survivors of 2nd platoon had no choice but to fall back, successfully eluding the blood-crazed orks.

The so far unblooded ork slugga boyz from the left flank finally arrived at the sharp end of the battle. With unbridled ferocity, the mob bounded across open ground and up the small hill where 2nd platoon’s heavy weapons squad were sited. The squad could only turn and let loose a single volley before the xenos horde was upon them. The fight was completely one-sided, and in a matter of seconds the xenos warriors were shrieking their foul language in celebration as some of their warriors swung captured Imperial missile launchers in the air, precariously balancing stacks of krak missiles on top of each other in a mad show of glee.

Captain Tillman witnessed the destruction of his 1st and 2nd platoons with a cold calm, without any hint of surprise or alarm. He had been silently keeping tabs of the battle, and so far the losses were about even in terms of the sheer number of warriors slain on each side. But he had the tactical advantage of reserves, in the form of 3rd platoon, and mobile fire support from his tanks. He waited until the retreating remnants of 2nd platoon was in shouting distance before projecting his voice across the field, “Sergeant Reichelt! Get back in the fight!” The grizzled veteran sergeant simply nodded and held up his hand to halt his squad’s retreat, and they turned around to face the enemy once again, weapons at the ready.

The handful of surviving orks and nob bikers from the huge melee that had cut down 1st and 2nd platoons would need to be dealt with decisively. Captain Tillman ordered 3rd platoon to fix bayonets and advance, and gave the order for disciplined ranked las-fire. He himself shouldered his ancient lasgun, took aim and steadily squeezed the trigger, felling a xenos warrior. Sergeant Windmann’s Demolishers were called to the fore, rolling forwards with the impudence only unchallenged Imperial armor could ever show. Once again, the great demolisher cannons spoke and fiery orange explosions blossomed amidst the nob bikers, incinerating one of them. Sadly, the blast was so close to Sergeant Reichelt’s survivors that it caught his meltagunner full in the chest, and the unlucky guardsman fell in a smoldering heap. The Basilisk, still advancing towards the enemy lines, lent its high explosive weight into the fire, obliterating even more xenos.

By the time the dust settled, only the bike warboss remained standing, and even then was badly injured. He roared out in anger and frustration and gunned his bike towards the Manticore, one of the many objects of his hatred. The hapless Manticore crew could only fire their last missile, whose warheads impacted amidst the remaining slugga boyz mob with fearsome effectiveness. That was to be their last act, and within moments the crazed warboss was upon the warmachine, its oversized powerklaws slicing the Imperial armor like so much cardboard and paper, and the proud machine soon caught fire and ceased to function.

The loss mattered not to Tillman, and with his characteristic calculative calm, ordered 3rd platoon forwards in an all-out rush for the nearest ancient relic. “Move! Move! Move!” he demanded, and the mass of Imperial manhood ran forwards as fast as their tired legs would carry them. Tillman and his command squad led the advance, the company banner flying proudly amidst the smoke of battle. He ordered Lieutenant Weigel’s platoon command squad to focus fire on the remaining xenos warboss, and the combined lasgun, lascannon and plasma rifle fire easily put the beast down.

There remained only the matter of the 25 or so orks from the last surviving slugga boyz mob. The Basilisk advanced steadily towards another of the ancient relics, even as its Earthshaker spat flame, sending a hi-ex shell into the middle of the mob and scattering many xenos limbs high into the air. Windmann’s Demolishers, untiring, advanced relentlessly from the right to close the trap as they too opened fire sending fearsome demolisher shells and a hail of large-caliber heavy bolter shells into the xenos.

The beleaguered orks milled around aimlessly and finally spread out in order to lay claim to two of the ancient relics, but in so doing denied themselves of much of the available cover. Captain Tillman was not impressed, and even as he pressed his 3rd platoon forwards and claimed an ancient relic, he ordered the Basilisk to advance at full speed straight into the xenos in order to scatter their grubby hands away from the Emperor’s ancient relic. Windmann’s merciless Demolishers once again came into their own, the booming demolisher cannons and roaring heavy bolters pouring great plumes of death amidst the xenos. As the mayhem subsided, only five orks remained standing, and after a moment of bewilderment at their violent fate the xenos warriors turned and ran off the field.

Imperium Victor! Ave Imperator!

Monday, September 5, 2016

Eldar xenos meets Ordo Xenos

After getting the jetbike squad painted to tabletop standards, the Windriders were immediately rushed into action in a 1850pt Spoils of War battle against ... the Death Watch by John!

Talking about super-elite funkiness, the Death Watch mon-keigh could be equipped with just about anything. And they can do funky stuff like almost everyone can deep strike (and easy to arrange for no scatter), split firing, mixed squads, special rounds everytime you shoot, etc.

I might be off on some of the details, but John's Death Watch was made up of:

Brother Captain Artemis (amazing scaled down model of Inquisitor fame)
5 Death Watch veterans - 1 with heavy bolter, and I'm sure the rest were funked up too
5 Death Watch veterans - with 4 (four!) heavy bolters that can move and shoot as normal
5 Death Watch assault marines - including a couple with the uber S10 hammers
5 Death Watch assault marines - more uber S10 hammers!
5 Death Watch terminators - including 4 (four!) with cyclone missile launchers
5 Death Watch bikes - with 3 plasma guns
1 Death Watch venerable dreadnought - with plasma cannon

The renegade Alaitoc Windriders was the same list as before:

Farseer Lahnn on jetbike - Spirit Stones of Anathlan, singing spear
3 jetbikes - scatter lasers
3 jetbikes - scatter lasers
3 jetbikes - shuriken cannons
3 jetbikes - shuriken cannons
3 jetbikes - 2 shuriken cannons
3 jetbikes - 2 shuriken cannons
6 Swooping Hawks - exarch with Hawk's Talon
Fire Prism
Fire Prism
Aspect Host:
5 Fire Dragons with exarch
- Wave Serpent with twin-linked bright lance, shuriken cannon
8 Warp Spiders, exarch with twin-linked death spinners
8 Dark Reapers with exarch

This battle looked one-sided at deployment. The mon-keigh were outnumbered, outgunned and outmanouvered. And the Eldar got first turn!

Unfortunately, there were no surprises. The Death Watch were almost tabled after 3 turns. We called the game at the bottom of Turn 3. The score at that point was 11-1 to the Eldar.

The Death Watch only had 2 bikes and 3 terminators remaining. The Eldar had lost their Dark Reapers and a jetbike squad. The Fire Dragons didn't even get the chance to disembark and spent the entire time watching the battle from the comforts of their Wave Serpent (I believe there was some Elven version of popcorn and soda served on board too).

There were a couple of interesting moments though. It was the first time I managed to use Eldritch Storm. And that pyschic power is not funny if you're on the receiving end. The gigantic template covered 3 Death Watch squads, AP3 Fleshbane. They could only rely on Feel No Pain and Artemis' squad had cover saves. But the blast was spectacular, and many of the mon-keigh's finest perished in that one blast.

Another unfunny moment was perhaps the first time I actually used the Warp Spiders' flicker-jump to full effect. They were about to be lit up at short range by 4 Death Watch heavy bolters - when they suddenly flickered into the warp and came back behind a large wall, out of line of sight. I did feel sorry for the mon-keigh.

A couple days later, we decided to play another game with the Death Watch, and this time I brought my Thousand Sons. That's Ahriman, 2 favored Thousand Sons squads, 1 Rhino, 1 Heldrake, 1 Land Raider, 1 Predator, 1 Defiler, allied Lord of Change (His Exalted Lord Ka'Kaa), and a pack of 10 Horrors.

This time the Death Watch had: Artemis, 5 Death Watch veterans, 5 Death Watch assault marines (with them hammers of course), 5 Death Watch termies with 4 cyclone missile launchers, 2 squads of 5-man Death Watch terminators (each with an assault cannon), 5 Death Watch bikers with 5 (five!) plasma guns, 1 Death Watch venerable dreadnought and an allied 5-man squad of assault terminators of the Ultramarines.

The Death Watch started first and had the upper hand for the first 2 and a half turns (and was leading 6-1 at that time), but from the bottom of Turn 3 onwards, the Emperor's watchful eye strayed from his hapless servants and through a combination of sorceress magicks, tactical prowess and good fortune, the Thousand Sons carried the day with a 10-7 score, including First Blood (Defiler got that one on Turn 2 when he finished off the Death Watch bike squad which he charged in the previous turn), Slay the Warlord and Linebreaker.

Some of the funniest (not at that time, but in restrospect it warrants some mirth) moments was Ahriman's first pyschic phase. Three times he let loose Psychic Shriek on a squad of hapless Death Watch terminators - for zero wounds scored! In fact, he did score one wound - on himself! That was simply an abysmal psychic phase, to say the least.

Another highlight was the first time I got to use Lord Ka'Kaa's (the Lord of Change) Prismatic Gaze (yes folks, it was a week of trying out big Warp Charge 3 spells), which he cast successfully on the Death Watch venerable dreadnought. And of course, I rolled a '6' on the D table.

All in all, it was a brilliant week of dice-rolling. This next couple of weeks I'll hopefully get back into painting - finishing off the 3 Dark Reapers and 2 Warp Spiders, as well as the terrain for my table.

Keep them dice rolling!

Friday, September 2, 2016

Jetbikes are table ready!

Just a quick update - in a frenzy of last minute painting, the 6 new scatter laser jetbikes are ready for battle, which happened just an hour after the bikes were painted.

I finished up the weapons, shading, gems, helmets and runes. I also took out the Hemlock and painted additional gems onto it, but didn't get around to adding more runes.

After I unpacked it onto the gaming table, I realized that I forgot to finish the helmets - the faceplate details weren't painted and the helmet runes were not there.

O well, that's something that I need to get back to then.

After this, I'll need to paint 5 more models to get this iteration of my Windrider Force full painted - 3 Dark Reapers (including the Exarch), and 2 Warp Spiders.

I'll post the batrep next, or at least a summary of the battle.

Keep them dice rolling.

Wednesday, August 24, 2016

Jetbikes inbound!

Finally managed to put more than just the undercoat to my scatter laser jetbikes. All the bikes sport my Alaitoc renegade blue armor with light blue stripes. As of last night, I've managed to block paint the underslung scatter lasers, as well as the riders' helmets and fringe thingies.

Next up, I'll put another layer of yellow for the helmets, paint in the eyepieces and the gems for the riders and their jetbikes, the jetbikes' instrument panels, a light wash for the riders, touch up on the highlights after the wash, decals for riders and jetbikes, and they should be done.

Also, when I get to the gems, I'll whip out the Hemlock and paint more gems for that flyer. I was rushing it when I painted her and she really needs more gems on that gorgeous body of hers. I'll probably add a couple more runes as well.

I should be able to get all this done in time for my next game 2 weekends from  now. Totally looking forward to it!

Keep rolling them dice ...