Thursday, October 5, 2017

Safehouse Tourney - What a Blast!

The 40k tourney on 9th September at Safehouse was simply a blast! As usual, I had zero expectations, but real big kudos to Safehouse, the TOs, my opponents and everyone who was there. I truly had a great time, which the whole point of a tourney.

The tourney used ITC rules and we each played 3 games. I brought a slighlty adjusted version of the Windrider army I brought to Singapore in the previous tournament:


Windriders of Alaitoc (Outrider Detachment)
Farseer LahnSeiraPartecion - Farseer Skyrunner with Singing Spear
7 Fire Dragons with Exarch
4 Windriders, each with shuriken cannon
4 Windriders, each with shuriken cannon
4 Windriders, each with shuriken cannon
8 Dark Reapers, Exarch with Tempest Launcher
2 Wave Serpents, each with hull shuriken cannon and turret shuriken cannon, and Spirit Stones

Wings of Khaine (Air Wing Detachment)
Hemlock, with Spirit Stones
Hemlock, with Spirit Stones
Crimson Hunter Exarch, with bright lances

The first battle was against an angry-looking Blood Angels army, led by the golden boy Dante himself.

If my memory serves well, the army was a battalion detachment with:

1x Captain
1x Apothecary
1x 5-man Assault Terminator squad
2x 5-man Tactical squads
1x 5-man Scout sniper squad
2x 5-man Devastator squads
2x Land Raider Crusaders

The terrain was ... sparse! A couple of craggy hills, a couple of woods. And a nice bastion for the mon keigh Devastators. And I got so used to the dense terrain in Balau and AB too ... But it looked good, so all was good.

I think the scenario was Secure and Control. The Blood Angels had first turn and proceeded to advance on my position. The Land Raider Crusaders, screening Dante, engaged at extreme range and gunned down bikers from the lead Windider squad that didn't hide well enough. I used 2 CPs to make sure the sole survivor didn't run away and give away First Blood.

From my turn 1 onwards, the battle was one-sided. The 2 Hemlocks managed some fancy pin-point flying, lining up close to Dante and killed him with Smite and a volley of heavy D-Scythe. Combined fire from the Crimson Hunter and Dark Reapers heavily damaged a Land Raider Crusader (down to a couple of wounds), and massed shuriken fire wiped out the scouts. To make sure the other Land Raider Crusader didn't use its awesome firepower, the lone surviving jetbiker charged it, survived the hail of incoming overwatch rounds and ended up with the pic of the tournament for me.

The battle ended with a decisive Eldar victory. Blood Angels were left with 1 Devastator marine and the Captain with 1 wound left. The Eldar lost 4 jetbikes and a couple of Fire Dragons.

Officially, my opponent's army is Sisters of Battle. But it looked like AdMech to me.

I really don't know either army well, but it was something like:
St Celestine
The insane fat AdMech boss dude
A skinny AdMech character dude
A small squad of AdMech snipers
SOB squad
SOB Retributors with heavy bolters
6 of those uber shooty Baymax robots
4 of those gangly AdMech walkers with lascannons
Eversor assassin
Commissar (I think)
50 Conscripts

I think the mission was The Scouring. Which meant that there was no First Blood, but Big Game Hunter for me meant having to kill the 6 Baymax bots.

What really saved me was terrain. There was enough LOS-blocking terrain to mitigate the Baymax uber shooty squad. Hearing that they can dish out 2x 54 shots a turn, and the fact that they also represent the Big Game Hunter VP, they became priority target. Unleashing almost all my firepower, the bot squad was wiped out in 2 turns.

Eldar pretty much controlled the game - right until Turn 3. I wasn't paying attention to time, and it turned out that Turn 3 was the last turn. Bent on killing St Celestine, I changed my mind about embarking the 4 surviving Dark Reapers (Big Game Hunter VP on my side) into the safety of their Wave Serpent in order to add to the weight of fire. Turned out I didn't need the firepower as the living saint fell to massed shuriken fire. But when she came back, she killed the Dark Reapers AND scored Linebreaker, and therefore winning the game.

Losses were heavy. The Eldar lost both Hemlocks, the Fire Dragons, the Dark Reapers, and 3 jetbikers. The mon keigh lost the Baymax squad, one of the lascannon walkers, the assassin, both SOB squads, and a bunch of conscripts.

This was against the Saim Hann who brought an Engine of Vaul in the form of a Scorpion grav super-heavy tank.

The smelly Saim Hann had:
1x Farseer Skyrunner
1x Autarch Skyrunner
2x Warlock Skyrunners
7 jetbikes with shuriken cannon
15 Guardians w bright lance weapon platform
2x Fire Prisms
Scorpion super-heavy grav tank

The terrain was ... worse than sparse! And with an uber shooty long ranged weapon on the enemy side, this was going to be tough.

I won this narrowly, making a couple of noob mistakes in the process. One of them was not resisting the temptation to attack the Scorpion with my Fire Dragons. The Dragons' volley plus Dark Reaper fire crippled it, but I should have followed up with a charge to force it to move. Either that or I should have concentrated on wiping out the rest of the army instead.

As it turned out, losses were heavy on both sides. The Alaitoc were left with only 3 Windrider squads, the Farseer and 1 Wave Serpent. The Saim Hann were left with the Farseer, the Autarch, the Warlocks, half the jetbikes and a crippled Scorpion. A narrow victory which I could have made better.

All in, it was a fantastic experience. I ended up in 6th place and had fun throughout. I look forward to the next tourney. Congratulations to the winners and to Safehouse for an amazing tourney!

Faizal's Crimson Fists - Best Sportsmanship

Kadir's Raven Guard - Best Painted (and to me, awesomely fluffy)

Chris' IG - Best General (just realized I don't have an army display pic)

Thursday, September 7, 2017

Balau Resurrected

The hallowed halls of the Balau Sector were once a hive of epic wargames activity, where friends gathered once or twice a week (more during tournament season), fielding impressive armies of all persuasions, and gleefully rolling dice till the wee hours of the morning amidst bellows of laughter, whoops and shouts, and capped by the obligatory trip to the local mamak joint for some teh tarek and roti, where the deeds of the preceding wargaming action were recounted, celebrated or mourned.

The history of the Balau Sector as a private wargames nexus began over two decades ago in 1994. My brother and I decided that the large spare basement room would be best utilized as a personal wargames space.

Initially we had an 8'x6' table with lots of 15mm terrain. Our main period at the time was Napoleonic, and we used Napoleon's Battles a lot, though we also used In The Grand Manner and General d'Brigade (and the occassional madness of Chef de Bataillon). We had a cozy group of around 4 regular gamers and we eventually called ourselves the IXth Coalition.

The IXth Coalition expanded to incude WW2 wargaming, using Command Decision at first, then moving to Rapid Fire! using plastic and metal 20mm models. The basement could now fit up to 2 large tables (typically two 8'x6', sometimes split into 3 or 4 smaller tables). The coven of regular gaming friends expanded as well, and the typical wargames night would host around 4-5 wargamers engaged in epic horse & musket or tank & rifle action.

Throughout the second half of the nineties, all the wargames action at the IXth Coalition involved refighting historical battles in those two periods. It was classic ol' skool wargaming in which armies were always WYSIWYG and fully-painted, and stuff like points-based games, "balance" and competitive-play were all alien notions.

Then in early 2000 Warhammer 40k finally arrived. Some of the members had tried to introduce 40k much earlier, but 2nd ed really looked and felt too cartoony and character-based (instead of army-based) to catch on. Warhammer 40k 3rd ed changed everything.

40k took Balau by storm, with the group even changing its name from the Napoleonic-inspired IXth Coalition to the more 41st millennium Imperium-isque Balau Sector. I started with the 3rd ed Eldar Battleforce (all of which are still in my collection today, and in fact the 3 jetbikes from that box are still seeing frontline duty) from a store in Singapore and the rulebook from eBay. I didn't even have a proper HQ and kit-bashed a farseer from a mage model. My brother started with a Dark Eldar army which was as deadly as it was graceful.

Balau Sector grew rapidly. Wargaming nights easily hosted upwards of 6-10 wargamers, and there were typically 3 to 4 tables up and running at any given time. We got into everything 40k. Everything. Hobby, lore, competitive play, mega-battles, campaigns, related games (BFG, Necromunda, Blood Bowl, Fantasy, Mordheim). You name it.

Balau Sector members quickly gained a reputation as players with highly-thematic competitive armies, and for awhile dominated the local competitive scene (we played countless practice games, and Balau Sector even had its own "aggressor" generic Space Marine force built around the day's meta, against which members would test their armies). It was great fun going to a tournament as a group of friends in a loosely-grouped "team" as it were. Our members won many a tournament in Malaysia and Singapore, and regularly placed in the top 3 for overall, generalship, painting and sportsmanship awards.

Campaign play was a very important feature of the Balau Sector. In fact, the best campaign I've ever experienced was run at the Balau Sector by Kai, which ran over an epic 10 weeks! Officially known as The Campaign for K-50490, and best remembered as Kai's Campaign, the GM-run campaign saw 8 armies fight over strategic resources in a far-flung world, complete with resource management, secret strategems, recon and special forces, experience points and strategic moves. Truly memorable.

Before 40k Apocalypse existed, mega-battles were another huge wargames activity which Balau members really deeply enjoyed. So when Apoc first came out 2007, we took to it like Berzerkers to blood.

For a solid 9 months, every single wargame played at the Balau Sector was an Apocalypse battle, typically on 12'x6' tables, with at least a couple on a huge 16'x6' table. The pure spectacle and epic scale of Apoc completely filled our imaginations and wargames appetite. Very quickly, Balau Sector saw scores of Forge World, GW and scratch-built super-heavies, flyers and titans take to the field. We were so much into Apoc that when a tournament came around, and we decided we needed to practice a few "regular-sized" games, the 6'x4' table looked really small.

In 2009, through a combination of real-life work and family factors, activities at the Balau Sector began to wind down. I eventually transferred my own personal wargames flag to Legio Malaysia, which boasted simply the best wargames facilities ever seen in Malaysia, and ran some of the best tournaments, painting competitions and campaigns I've seen.

The guns finally fell silent at the Balau Sector in late 2010, interrupted by the occassional wargame now and then for the next 6 years. As with most places neglected, tables and terrain fell into disrepair and much was lost in those dark years.

In May 2017, I was reminded that the Balau Sector has always been an awesome place to wargame, hobby and hang out. So I moved my wargames table from JB back to Balau. And started acquiring, building and painting terrain.

I reached out to people who enjoyed the Balau Sector over the years - and realized that we have a sizeable alumni. Off the top of my head - Rizal, Kai, Saleem, Faizal Paxter, Vinder, Gary, Faizal, Amin, Dann, Khairul, Jeff, Doc Selvam, Quake, Kadir, Dhany, Nick, Doc Chua, Ainul, Jo, Azim, Mahmud, Eddie, Ang, Syamel, Din, Wolf, Mark, Max ... and I'm sure I've left out a bunch of names here, my apologies if your name is not here.

Today, the resurrection of Balau Sector is well under way. There are now 3 tables permanently set up - urban, grassland/woods and desert - with a fourth table on the way. There is an abundance of 28mm terrain, and I continually acquire more over time. The old (like 20 years old) 15mm and 20mm terrain are still around, and at some point I will start building more 15mm terrain for Napoleonic and Flames of War and perhaps Team Yankee action.

Also, in the next couple of months, there finally (after more than 20 years) will be air-conditioning, which will make day-time gaming more pleasurable. The lighting will also be rewired to replace the spotlights with bright white fluorescent lights. I'm also bringing in some new shelves to replace the old ones, for storage and display of armies and terrain.

I am stoked and totally looking forward to the next couple of decades of wargaming action at Balau!

Monday, August 21, 2017

First 2k Tourney in 8th Ed!

It's been a long time since I wrote anything here. And an even longer time since I played in 40k tournaments.

I have been slowly dipping my toes back into 40k tournaments for a couple of months now - but nothing serious. By not serious, I mean I just use existing models and paint jobs, and have zero practice games in.

I played a doubles event at Alexandria in the dying days of 7th ed, using a 1,000-pt version of my AirCav, teaming with Amin's Ravenwing. And a 1,000-pt 8th ed kick-off tourney using my Brandenberg IG.

But last Saturday was what I regarded as my first real 40k tourney since 2009, which was also in Singapore. In between then and now, I was very involved in a lot of the early Legio tourneys, but not as a player.

The Road to War 2,000-pt 40k tournament held at and run by the good folks at Gamersaurus Rex was a blast! It was a tiny tourney, but the terrain, the TOs, the players, the atmosphere and the whole thing was just a lot of great fun! I also really enjoyed that they chose to use the ITC ruleset. It was my first experience with the ITC rules, and I must say it's a brilliant set of rules and scenarios for tourneys.

I brought my Eldar Windrider army for the tourney. In the run-up to the tourney, the army went through several iterations. The list started off as a direct port from my 7th ed list, complete with Fire Prisms and Warp Spiders, but without the scatterbikes. After a few weeks of lots of 40k games, learning the Craftworld Eldar index, learning 8th ed itself, trying out stuff, and lots of fine tuning, I ended up with the following list:


Windriders of Alaitoc - Outrider Detachment
Farseer Skyrunner - jetbike, singing spear
8 Fire Dragons, with Exarch
3 squads of 4 jetbikes, all armed with shuriken cannon
8 Dark Reapers, Exarch with tempest launcher
2 Wave Serpents for the Aspect Warriors, both armed with twin shuriken cannon in the turret and a chin-mounted shuriken cannon. The Fire Dragons' Wave Serpent was also equipped with spirit stones

Wings of Khaine - Air Wing Detachment
2 Hemlocks, one with spirit stones
1 Crimson Hunter Exarch, with bright lances and pulse laser

This tiny list came in at 1,996-pts, with 5 CPs. Going in, I was expecting to have a hard time against hordes, but I really like the speed of my army.

Round 1: vs Tsui's Defenders of Macragge
ITC Combined Arms Mission 1 - Retrieval
It's a real pity I didn't manage to get a pic of Tsui's army, and of the game itself for that matter. Really nice-looking army. His list was:

Roboute Guilliman
Sergeant Chronus
2 Venerable Dreadnoughts with plenty autocannon dakka
5 Terminators
3x 5-man Scout squads with bolters
2x 5-man Devastator squads with heavy bolters
1 uber Predator with the funky autocannon and lascannon sponsons
2 Rhinos
1 Lord Commissar
20 Conscripts (nicely painted as Macragge PDF)
1 Acolyte
Eversor assassin
Culexis assassin

Deployment was Dawn of War and most of his army was deployed on his far right flank, anchored by a hill. His center was held by the Conscripts and a Scout squad and his left by the 2 other Scout squads. My deployment pretty much mirrored his - heavy on my left, light on my right.

I managed to get first turn and the Air Wing proceeded to attack his anti-aircraft assets, destroying one venerable dreadnought and severely damaging the other. Because of Chronus, I largely ignored the Predator until later in the battle (the tank survived with 3 wounds left).

A couple of highlights of the battle:
On turn 3, I switched flanks, abandoning my left flank and hitting his weak left and center. All the Scouts and PDF troopers were wiped out, and I easily controlled all objectives on that flank. The bulk of the Ultramarines were simply too far away to respond.

I had been using one of the Wave Serpents to screen my Farseer against infiltrating assassins. At some point, I actually forgot about that assignment and moved the Wave Serpent up to support the attack on his left flank. A Culexis assassin appeared and I was really lucky that he failed the 9" charge (with CP reroll). The nearby Dark Reapers then took care of that threat.

Aftermath: Decisive Eldar victory. I controlled almost all the Eternal War objectives, and scored almost all Maelstrom ones too, and scored Linebreaker. Neither of us got Big Game Hunter (mine were the Dark Reapers, and his was Guilliman) or Slay the Warlord. I lost a Wave Serpent and both Hemlocks. Ultramarines lost all their Scouts, the Terminators, a Rhino, both Venerable Dreadnoughts, the Commissar, the Conscripts, the Acolyte and the Culexis.

Round 2: vs Chris' IG horde
ITC Combined Arms Mission 3 - No Mercy
I really didn't want to be paired against Chris. Not only could we have done this game back home in JB, but I somehow suspected that his army's got more bodies than I had ammo. His list was:

4x Company Commanders
4x Commissars
4x 50-man Conscripts (that's 200 guys, with a potential of 800 lasgun shots combined!)
2x 10-man Infantry squads
2 mortar squads
2 Manticore
1 Baneblade
2 Taurox

I felt a little outnumbered.

Deployment was Vanguard Strike, and 3 of his Conscript blocks were deployed in line forward, with one more immediately behind the center block. The Baneblade, Manticore and other hard hitters were deployed in the rear, making ready for a first strike by my jets. My deployment was heavier to my left flank, except for the Fire Dragons on the right (which proved to be a mistake).

Again I managed to get first turn, with the Air Wing sallying deep into enemy territory. The Hemlocks made easy work of one of the Manticores, scoring my First Strike. The Crimson Hunter, with supporting long-range starshot fire from the Dark Reapers, quickly stripped away 10 wounds off the Baneblade.

Some battle highlights:
The IG return fire in turn 1 was not effective at all, which denied him what turned out to be a crucial point for not scoring First Strike.

Mortars! I would say the IG's most effective units that day were his mortars. They wiped out a jetbike squad that got within range, helped kill my Fire Dragons after their Wave Serpent was destroyed, and was even harrassing my flyers (with some special airburst shrapnel rounds I assume).

Engaging and wiping out large blocks by rolling up the flanks works just like clockwork. We all probably know this, but to see it in action is pretty cool. When I remembered to do it, I was able to wipe out more than 100 Conscripts by creeping up his far right flank and firing away. I should have done that right from turn 1, instead of waiting for them to come closer.

Spirit stones are awesome! The Hemlock with the spirit stones eventually died, but it took the IG the entire battle to shoot it down.

Aftermath: Perfect Draw. I scored more Eternal War kill-points (based on Power Levels - the Baneblade alone was 30 points). He dominated Maelstrom objectives (no way I could contest those, which is why I needed to use my massed shuriken cannon firepower from turn 1 against the hordes). I scored First Strike, he easily did King of the Hill and no one got Slay the Warlord. I lost a Wave Serpent, a jetbike squad and the Fire Dragons. The IG lost the Baneblade, both Manticores, a Taurox and 2 Conscript blocks.

Round 3: vs Gavin's Imperium Tourney Warhost
ITC Combined Arms Mission 6 - Secure & Control
Gavin came into the final game by tabling both his earlier opponents. I only managed 1 win and 1 draw. So I did feel like the underdog - a little. His list was:

Roboute Guilliman
2x 5-man Scout squads - sniper rifles. One of the squads had a heavy bolter, the other a missile launcher
3 Primaris Aggressors
5-girl Retribution squad with heavy bolters
Thunderfire cannon with attendant Techmarine
Lord Commissar
50 Conscripts
Culexis assassin
2 Stromravens

Deployment was Spearhead Assault and Gavin made good use of the huge ruined complex near the center to anchor his line, Conscripts bubble-wrapping the ground quite effectively and Stormravens in the rear in defensive positions. He was prepared to go second. I won the roll-off to start - and then he proceeded to seize the initative!

A combination of orders and Guilliman's presence saw the mon-keigh bound forwards like World War Z zombies, both Stormravens sped forwards and focused fire on my spirit stone-less Hemlock. And he survived with 2 wounds left!

Some highlights:
Scoring First Blood. That was a good feeling - starting second and still scoring First Blood. I got lucky his shooting was not so good in his first turn. The heavily damaged Hemlock sped forwards as best as it can and unloaded Heavy D-Scythe death onto the nearest Scouts, sending them to oblivion. One of the Stormravens was also destroyed under the combined firepower of a Hemlock, Crimson Hunter and massed shuriken cannon fire.

That one time when my Hemlock went for Smite instead of Conceal was a bad move. It was easily shot down in the turn after that.

Not going for Celestine was a mistake that cost me the battle. At one point, Celestine had sallied forth and charged my Dark Reapers. I could have easily fell back with the Dark Reapers, disembarked the nearby Fire Dragons and fried Ms Celestine to a crisp. He would be less aggressive with the second incarnation of the girl. Celestine was really the only unit he had (other than the flyers) that could chase down my army. Instead, the Fire Dragons went for another close target - the second Stormraven. Although they easily killed it (overkilled it, more like), the Stormraven would also have easily been crippled by massed shuriken cannon fire.

Also, with only 50 Conscripts, I should have used my shuriken firepower from turn two onwards to thin their numbers down, or even destroy the unit.

Aftermath: Decisive Imperium victory. I only managed First Blood and Linebreaker. Ignoring the Conscripts cost me the Maelstrom and Eternal War points. My army was doing ok until after my mistake with Celestine, and only the Fire Dragons and one Wave Serpent survived the battle. I managed to kill both Stormravens, the Retributors, both Scout squads, and the Thunderfire cannon.

Thoughts on the Tourney:
I thoroughly enjoyed it! Had a superb time with some excellent games with great people. A road trip to go play 40k with new opponents in a different environment is always fun, and the TOs for this tourney really helped make sure that it is indeed fun.

I ended up 3rd overall. I'm not sure what my generalship score was, but I imagine it wasn't that high with only 1 win, 1 draw and 1 loss.

If I were to use this Eldar army again in another tourney, I will definitely give all eligible vehicles spirit stones. They are just awesome and totally worth the 10 points.

I enjoyed all the games I played, and each had its own character. In the first game, I was able to use my army's speed to outmanouver the mon-keigh, but his skill in using the assassin threat minimized the effectiveness of my hard-hitting aspect warriors. In the second game, I got over my horde-phobia, realizing that they die faster than you think - though by turn 3, Chris just wanted to game to be over as he was getting physically exhausted moving around 200++ dudes. The last game was really enjoyable and was the most tactical for me. I had to plan and execute each move purposefully, and there was simply no room for tactical errors at all. Unfortunately, I made a few.

Thanks again to my cool opponents, the other participants, the Malaysian contingent, and a huge thanks to the awesome TOs and hosts at Gamersaurus Rex. It's a great store, and I highly recommend a visit there. I ended the day buying some excellent terrain kits from the store.

On to the next tourney!

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.