Tuesday, 28 February 2017

Conclave of Har Game Report: Second Edition. Space Marines Vs Eldar.

It's no secret that we love Second Edition Warhammer 40,000 here at the Conclave. Not only is it the edition that Lee and I commenced the hobby with, it is also in our opinion, the best most cinematic and narrative edition of the game. Indeed the Conclave of Har is the home of the Second Edition Revival Project though work on that has stalled somewhat due to a number of factors, not least that the latest version of 40K has incorporated a lot of elements of Second Edition itself, rendering our work somewhat diminished in the grand scheme of things. Maybe 8th will offer a better opportunity.

So for now we just squeeze some 2E games in where we can, and our 'Day of 40K' offered us such an opportunity. Originally Lee suggested 1500 points but I remember all too well how long Second Edition could take to play at even moderate points levels and cut that down to 1000pts. Now I had planned to take a Genestealer Cult even though they were unpainted as it would be something a little different, however a number of problems which are ably documented in the Kill Team report HERE meant that I fell back on my standard army, Space Marines. 

Problem is you really do not get many Space Marines for 1000 points. Even a fully kitted out Tactical Squad will run you 350 on its own. However back in the day the Force Organisation Chart didn't exist and your army selection was instead based upon percentages with 25% as a minimum from Squads  and up to 50% for each of the other departments. 

So it was that I saw myself with the opportunity to field an army much like I used to back in the day, I'm sure Lee will be able to tell you with varying amounts of fondness of facing my three Dreadnought Ultramarine army with plenty of sniper scouts on the side. (He has a beard now but it was bigger in those days - Lee).

Therefore my Emperors Blades army was as follows: One Codicier (Lee was taking Eldar so I would need some kind of Psychic counter) a full Tactical Squad sans heavy weapon, which I would split into two Combat Squads, a Whirlwind for artillery support and Two dreadnoughts. I felt a pang of guilt at this selection but in all honesty Lee's second Edition Eldar builds could be pretty brutal and I'd likely need the extra firepower. In addition I selected some protective wargear for my Codicier opting for an Aegis Suit and Psychic Hood so that I would be better protected against his Psychic Powers.

My Space Marine Army: The Emperor's Blades

My force was equally strained in what it could fit. I would have more Eldar than Allen had Marines but they can still be expensive, particularly as I couldn't leave Aspect Warriors out of my force. Lucky for him my tanks are in the display cabinet at the office. My force was too small to include a Farseer so I took a Warlock Champion who is a level two psyker. My hope was that Librarians were costly enough that if Allen included one then it would just be a Lexicanium so it would be easier to dispel his casts but as it turned out he took a psyker of equal level so ho hum. 

The Warlock was not my leader though, that honour went to a Banshee Exarch. In second edition Exarchs were purchased as toughness 4 2 wound characters who were given the armaments of their temple and purchased additional Exarch powers. Mine was a Banshee with an Executioner and a conversion field for a bit of extra protection. Her powers were Fighting Fury, which gave her an extra and War Shout which meant she caused Fear. She would be accompanied by a unit of four Howling Banshees.

How I loathed this book back in the day....

The bulk of my army was made up of two squads of Guardians all armed with Shuriken Catapults. Each of these weapons as a range of 24", one sustained fire dice at S4 -2 armour save per shot, Space Marine Killers! When we were playing this as teenagers I had a hell of a time getting enough models together for a squad, now I was only using a fraction of my available models.

For a bit of fast moving harassment I took a unit of five Warp Spiders which at 205pts basic was the most expensive unit in my force. For support I took a Warwalker with two missile launchers and a Vyper with a Shuriken Cannon and Scatter Laser.

In second edition each player could have a separate mission, this was something we definitely like and greatly miss even if GW tried to reincorporate them with the tactical objective cards in seventh. In this instance Lee had the mission Witch hunt. His objective was to kill or at least wound my Codicier. I had Engage and Destroy, this was a simple kill mission, take out as many units as I could and get extra victory points for obliterating entire squads and vehicles.

I decided to go period specific with the terrain so we used the Necromunda scenery from our Kill Team game and the powerstation from the Storm of Vengeance campaign pack.

Now second edition had Strategy Cards as well, cards that you would keep in hand and use at opportune moments during the game to try to gain the upper hand. We actually completely forgot to use them during the game but I originally drew Virus Outbreak which Lee and I refuse to use as it is utterly broken and can cripple the opponents army making for a dull game (the designers even gave instructions via White Dwarf to tear it up and throw it away - Lee). My redraw was the moderately useful Minefield but as I saw we neglected to use them in any instance. 

So with that it was time to start the game, we deployed and I went first.

Turn 1

It turned out however, that I couldn't see any of Lee's army, the cowardly xenos lurking out of sight. This being the case I put pretty much the entire army into Overwatch. This wasn't the Overwatch that you have now that just enables you to take a snap shot at a charging enemy this was a proper delaying of your shooting till the opponent moved into line of sight, you would get a minus modifier to your shot but it was still often useful. Tokens were placed and my army bade it's time. All except the Whirlwind, which took an Indirect Fire shot at Lee's Guardians, the Scatter and Artillery Dice came up a hit and 5 Guardians were blown into little pieces by missiles. 

As there had been no movement and precious little shooting and nothing had charged into combat it was the Psychic Phase (Psychics were done at the end of the turn in 2E) The Warp swelled and a Total of 11 cards were shared out with myself getting the extra as it was my turn. However, my powers were not such that I could really use at the time and I settled for engaging Lee in a Psychic Duel, he passed the challenge though (we rolled the same after modifiers) and retained all his powers. I stored a card in my Force Staff and It was Lee's turn.

Where are all these Eldar then? 

I'm no dummy. Last game we played with these armies I lost a Dreadnought to Space Marine fire in turn one before I had even moved a unit so yes, everyone was in hiding which allowed me to begin the first turn of this game relatively unscathed. Most of my units ran as anyone who was going to pass in front of Allen's overwatching units needed to get the additional -1 to hit for moving over 10" where possible. Regardless, I managed to get past all that out of sequence firing in good shape. 

My Warwalker wanted to take out a dreadnought so fired both of its missile launchers but failed to penetrate. Checking the weapon stats it wasn't going to be easy with D6+D10+8. I would need some pretty good rolls, having two shots and some psychic back up should help. My Vyper hoped to make a better show of things zooming up to Allen's Whirlwind which I knew was going to give me no end of headaches but disaster! My thinking had been stuck in seventh edition and shots at the rear of a Whirlwind with a Shuriken Cannon and Scatter Laser could do nothing, the best armour penetration I would be able to do was only D6+D4+5! Oh for a lascannon. I decided to shoot up some marines instead but because I had moved so fast the modifiers on my to hit dice meant I hit nothing but air. 

I hoped to have a more successful psychic phase but with only 5 cards split between the two of us the chances weren't good. To top it all my attempt to cast Guide on the Warwalker failed as Allen played the Daemonic Attack card but thankfully the Warlock survived!

Turn 2

I had no charges to declare (2E combat was done in Combat phase but you HAD to have declared and charged in in the movement phase) and I didn't really need to move so It was straight to shooting. My Twin Lascannon Dreadnought tried to take down Lee's War Walker as this was the only thing that had any real anti-armour weapons (rub it in already-Lee). I hit and on rolling for location hit the right weapon. I easily beat the armour and one of the missile launchers was destroyed. The Plasma Dread shot too but hit the Eldar Pilot himself and with a 2+ invulnerable Power Field save the alien escaped harm (Wubalubadubdub!-Lee). 

The combat squad had more luck though and took out the Howling Banshees heading towards my Librarian. With no overwatch modifier the Astartes rapid firing Boltguns made short work of the Eldar Combat troops. The other Combat Squad went on Overwatch as there were Warp Spiders on the prowl on the left flank. The Whirlwind failed to hit, Indirect fire was always more inaccurate. At least I didn't roll a misfire on the artillery dice so nothing went wrong with the launcher. 

In the Psychic Phase I was able to cast Salamander and a flickering tongue of fire shot out 5D6 directly in front of my Librarian and took a wound off the Howling Banshee Exarch, the only survivor from her squad.

My luck has to run out soon as that Whirlwind can cause major havoc for Eldar but there was nothing I can do about it as none of my units bar the Warwalker had anything that could even scratch it and that was on the opposite side of the board. And my Banshees man, son of a bitch! 

Still, got me some Warp Spiders and they jumped over to the Marine squad my Vyper had failed to hit. Their 3+ armour meant they took no casualties from the overwatch fire as they were moving out of cover and more than 10" thanks to their jump generators. Laying down multiple flame templates each marine even partially under the template had to take an initiative test, if they passed then they leapt out of the way of the monofilament cloud in time but if not then they were ensnared and took an automatic wound with a -2 save which left three piles of minced Marine. I jumped out of there but lost a Warp Spider in the process. Sad face.

My Warwalker only had one missile launcher but this hit the dread, the +1 to hit for a large target coupled with my targeters helped but I couldn't penetrate the armour. Bad news for Allen though as I had some guardians in range of his Marines. More specifically I was in range of his Codicier who was the target of my mission card. Sure he had terminator armour but force enough 5+ saves on two dice added together and he'll drop sooner or later. Didn't happen this turn though.

I did manage to get another shot off at the dread with the Warwalker thanks to Guide but that armour must be made out of Nokia 3310s cause that stuff didn't break.

At the mid game point (2E games only lasted 4 turns) I definitely had the advantage, slight though it may be. Obliterating the Howling Banshees (The Exarch was an Independent Character and not part of the unit) afforded me extra points due to my mission and gave me the lead. However, there was still much to play for and a good amount of Eldar to continue to be a thorn in my side. The Warp Spiders in particular were a problem and I had to keep them away from my Codicier...

At the midpoint the Marine right flank looks very strong whilst the jumping Warp Spiders harry the left. 

Turn 3

Movement was once again minimal from the Marines, the Combat squad on the right took down a couple of Guardians, meaning Lee would have to take break tests. The Las Dread hit and penetrated the War Walkers Leg Armour but could only stagger the construct causing it to crash into the power station but causing no additional damage. The Plasma Dread took out another two guardians on the left side and the reduced combat squad, being unable to target the Warp Spiders finished off the squad. The Whirlwind fired at the Spiders but once again scattered off target. 

The Psychic phase saw a mighty 11 cards dealt out but there was nothing for me to cast so I just saved a force card for next turn. 

It was time to hunker down and trade fire with the Marines with my Shuriken Catapults so I moved them into some ruins. The Vyper when psyker hunting as I wanted those mission points as the Space Marines weren''t being cool and headbutting my missiles and such. The Warp Spiders went into mince some more marines but they all dodge the fire and to top it off I lost two Spiders on the jump back which gave a victory point to Allen for 50% squad casualties.

By this point I had given up on blowing up the dread so targeted some marines and popped one to lie down next to the one the Guardians had shredded so that meant a break test. The Vyper disappointingly failed to hurt the Codicier which meant I was running out of options.

By the last turn the Marines are in the ascendancy...

Turn 4

I started my last turn passing my break test and then by declaring a charge on the War walker with my Plasma Dread. If I couldn't shoot it down I'd tear it apart with my Power Fist! My Codicier moved into cover heedless of Lee's taunts, no point in taking chances. The reduced combat squads positioned themselves to finish off the Guardians. 

Shooting saw the Whirlwind miss AGAIN! Sigh, a 25% percent success rate was not going to please the chapter master...  Still at least the Tactical Marines went some way to restoring chapter honour, finishing off the Guardians. Robbed of their target the other Combat Squad shot down the Banshee Exarch. Finally the Lascannon Dread shot down the Vyper by killing both of the crew, the Jetbike crashing to the ground in a heap of wreckage. 

The combat between the Dread and Warwalker saw the dread hit the War Walker 7 times (in 2E you both rolled a dice for each of your attacks and added your weapon skill plus modifiers comparing scores with the difference being landed in hits-) Despite this, all I could do was rip off the other missile launcher, If I'd hit the pilot I would have crushed him as his armour save was only good against weapons fire. 

 Despite 12 cards in the Psychic phase nothing was cast. 

I passed all my break tests so started to move. I had nothing to lose by trying to get out of combat with that dread so made a disengage move, Allen took his free hit and smashed it to pieces. It was going to die anyway. I was damned if I was just going to let that Codicier bugger off woundless but I had nothing in range so decided to knock off his mates instead.

The Guardians took down a single marine and the Warp Spiders also killed a marine. My Warlock hurled his Singing Spear at the dread but only managed to give it a gammy knee. Time to pin my hopes on the psychic phase.

I had enough cards to cast Executioner, sending an astral version of myself to fight a round of combat for each power card I expended but Allen reflected it back at me ending the game. Poop.

A quick totaling of the points revealed the Marines to be victors by 13 points to 3. Glory for the Emperor's Blades!

I'II shall not quickly forget that if I want to bust armour that I need to bring lascannons to the party. That or I need to get my dread with D-cannon built again. Eldar used to have to walk and run everywhere and that was the problem here as Allen could stay entrenched. Some Hawks may have helped, dropping a few krak grenades on the marines may have had a noticable effect. Still, I'll be bringing a Falcon or Fire Prism next time.

That game was loads of fun if a little one sided. Lee just couldn't cope with my Armour and he was actually really lucky that my Whirlwind was only 25% accurate. (They are a bit hit or miss but against Eldar if they do strike true they will wreak absolute carnage)

Also, Lee's rolls for his Psychic Phase certainly didn't help. Whilst I was consistently rolling double figures in my turn Lee was rolling much lower giving him much less to work with, the few powers he did get off I didn't have too much trouble countering.

That said, his War Walker was a pain in my Ceramite plated neck, Whilst I had the firepower to take it  out I just couldn't hit the right BIT of it and I honestly thought it was going to escape entirely unscathed, thankfully Lee walked off and gave me the free hits to finally wreck it.

I'm also really lucky that Lee killed three of his own Warp Spiders for me as I was having a horrible time against them. They are monstrously hard and therefore monstrously expensive. They could have caused me real problems and decimated my infrantry.

Ultimately though it was Lee's failure to take out my Codicier that cost him. It wasn't for lack of trying though I think I would have used the Vyper a little more aggressively. Losing the Banshees so early was a big blow for him too and maybe a different Aspect Warrior unit with more fire power would have been a better option.

After the 2E game we squeezed in a game of 7th. This also was a win for the marines (bigger army) but it was MUCH closer with only one point in it as Lee's excellent Chaos army gave me a run for my money.

The Seventh Ed game was significantly Larger. 

I even had to use a few partially painted figures!

Saturday, 4 February 2017

Conclave game report: Kill Team

It's hard enough to find time to paint these days let alone game, Schedules rarely match up and we all have various commitments to fulfill meaning that any time that we can fit in for a game is at a premium. Being an adult sucks sometimes.

Thankfully the opportunity presented itself recently for not just a game but a DAY of gaming, such a rare chance had to be exploited to the maximum. We arranged to squeeze in three games total. One Kill Team, one Second edition and one Seventh, A day of 40K.

I'd never played Kill Team before. I had no idea what to take, I knew Lee was taking Orks so I was likely to be outnumbered no matter what. I toyed with taking Genestealer Cult so that I would at least have a chance of  matching his numbers, but they are TOTALLY unpainted and I really had no idea how to go about putting a force together. Besides I was planning to use them for the Second Edition game. I knew I wanted to take something other than Space Marines, which I thought might be a bit dull,

Next up on my assembled but painted list was Necrons. Four Canoptex Wraiths might prove interesting, 3++ and phase shifting.  Problem is I moved not all that long ago and couldn't find them to save my life (they have since been located). Damn, there went my Seventh Edition list as well.

I still, didn't want to use Space Marines, they were fully painted but no, just no, i'm sick of using Space Marines for everything. I think it was Gangs of Commoragh that gave me the idea to use Dark Eldar, When they were first released I bought a massive army, but since they were treated so poorly in 7th they have languished in a box doing, well, not very much at all. They were also unpainted but I was very much running out of options here, I'm not a very prolific painter even if it is my favourite part of the hobby.

In the end I settled on ten Reaver Jetbikes. An Arena Champion and Three Blasters, (one for each of my specialists) took me to the 200pt limit. I had considered taking less Reavers and giving a few of them Cluster Clatrops to increase the amount of Hammer of Wrath hits but in Kill Team each model is an Individual and none would have more than 2 wounds so it would have been pointless. Besides, I was going to still be outnumbered. The advantage of the Jetbikes though is I could hopefully zip around and stay out of the Ork's range, picking them off to try to get them to break.  I certainly wasn't planning to get into combat.

I like little games of 40k and Killteam offers just that. On top of that as every model is a unit all on its own every dice roll would count, as Allen would later learn. This evokes games of second edition where every roll had significance.

I chose to play Orks as I have so many but have had few chances to try them out in seventh. As well as my own collection since last we played I have obtained a mountain of Ork models from a work colleague which has boosted the amount and type of units I have available. With this in mind I was ready to try out all manner of force compositions.

My first idea was to go pure Kommando led by Boss Snikrot who with two wounds and a modest amount of points would have fitted nicely in a Killteam. Unfortunately I could not find the model so that idea was out (till next time). Next I considered Boss Zagstruk and Da Vultur Skwadron but I couldn't find him either which was a shame as I wanted those Str10 hammer of wrath attacks in case Allen brought a vehicle along.

After considering a Killa Kan or two I decided to take a varied force and try to outnumber whatever Allen brought along. Having visions of glory with Kommandos and Stormboys dashed I decided to take a unit each. THe high speed of the Stormboys meant that I could get stuck in with the 3 attacks (4 on the charge) these boys had as well as their hammer of wrath attacks. On the charge they could be devestating. As I needed a leader and because only a big tough Ork would do I added a Nob with a power klaw to the unit. If Allen did bring any vehicles I wanted to be able to take them out sharpish.

With my Kommandos I had a unit with the option to infiltrate and get in close to any objectives. I took a rokkit launcher and gave that Ork Eagle Eye so he would stand a chance of hitting something. I rounded the force off with a unit of ten Gretchin and a Runtherd to give me numbers. They may only have grotblasters but every shot counts in Killteam so I was hoping to surprise Allen. My full list can be found at the end of this post.

We were using the Necromunda card terrain for a classic feel and Lee went first, he moved all his Orks forward apart from his Rokkit Launcher which was perched up atop of a building. That could be a problem, especially as he would be re-rolling to hit (weapon specialist). Lee was clearly going for the objectives. He could have them as far as I was concerned, my plan was to thin his numbers and swoop on the objectives later, preferably once he had broken. After all I would have to kill 12 of his models to reduce him to half strength. He only had to kill five.

His Rokkit launcher missed but the reroll paid dividends and he blew one of my Reavers out of the sky as I failed my cover save. First Blood went to Lee! Thankfully his Stormboyz acted more like Orks and rolled a triple one with their sluggas.

I had the numbers and was going to use them. Objectives were a priority but my plan was to make it look like the Stormboys were going for them but then keep going and charge the Reavers. While that was going on the Kommandos and Gretchin would follow up and consolidate my positions.

Night fighting could have done for my shooting which was a bugger as my rokkit Kommando managed to hit but out in the open as it was that Reaver stood no chance. Most of my boys were out of range only having sluggas and those that did missed. Ho hum, it is to be expected with Orks.

Right, time for revenge! I had planned to target Gretchin for an easy kill to get myself First Blood but that had gone, except... we were meant to be using Night Fighting! We hadn't taken that into consideration at the time and neither of us could remember the roll, so I rerolled the save and the Reaver came back. First Blood was mine to take.

But the trio of Reavers on the left all missed or failed to wound, and it was left to the four in the middle to blow away a Stormboy on the gantry getting me that Victory Point. My specialist with Fearless (at least he wouldn't be running away) managed to nail the Rokkit Launcher with his Blaster, that was a relief, threat eliminated. Only ten more kills needed to get Lee taking Break Tests!

The three Reavers on the right managed to take out the Gretchin's Runtherd as a bonus, every little helps after all. Nonetheless, killing three a turn just wasn't going to cut it... I used my Jetbike move to get back into cover as much as possible.

I'm too honest by far, letting Allen save his Reaver but we're playing for fun not for victory at all costs. Allen managed a few kills, Orks have paltry armour, but I could afford a few losses.

It was as Lee undertook his second turn that I realised I had completely forgotten to Rapid fire. Balls.

I'm honest but it's not my job to point out things like rolling all the dice you're entitled to, it's your job to remember that ;)

Lee's second turn consisted of charging his Stormboyz into as many Reavers as he could, after consolidating his hold on the objectives, I completely forgot to Overwatch (you can tell which of us re-read the rules the night before) and Lee was the one now using Hammer of Wrath attacks, taking out my Weapon Specialist that had Eagle Eye. I had a feeling this was going to hurt.

However, two of my Reavers actually managed to kill their opponents, the other died, pulled from his mount and another was crushed to bloody gibbets by the Nob with the Power
Claw. That was me with a Third of my force down. Still at least no one was stuck in combat so there was no need for me to Hit and Run.

I was looking forward to getting stuck in. I knew I would be hitting second once the Hammer of Wrath attacks were out of the way but those Dark Eldar hit surprisingly hard. As I said, every dice roll counts and I had not much in the way of saves to protect myself. Thank Gork (or possibly Mork) for my Nob (tee hee). Of course all that drama distracted Allen to what the Kommandos and Gretchin were doing.

Revenge! Again! I HAD to take out those Storm Boys or this was game over on turn 2. The two blaster toting specialists downed the Nob, That's Slay the Warlord for me! Elsewhere my reduced Kill Team managed to Kill all the Storm Boyz before getting back into cover.

Bit painful that, I had hoped my Nob would have survived but he was no better armoured than his boyz. If anything this shows how much Orks rely on mobs to see them through, they are an attrition army. One day we'll play a full sized game of Druchari versus Veridi Gigantus and that will have an entirely different outcome.

Turn 3 had Lee once again keep the objectives as his priority, with his fast hitting assault team gone, he was happy to take a pot shot with one of his Boyz, it was good enough though as another Reaver came crashing down.

Every. Dice. Roll. Counts. Bye bye Reaver. One more and Allen would need to start taking bottle checks.

I only had six Reavers left but this was my turn I was sure of it. I only needed to kill another couple of models to make Lee take break tests and with his remaining force consisting mostly of Grots I couldn't see them sticking around. It was time to be bold, decisive and stop skulking in the shadows. I moved into prime shooting positions and prepared to deliver the kill.

Except that I failed to kill ANYTHING, I either missed or didn't wound with the whole Kill Team and despite my jetbike moves back into cover I was horribly exposed. Bollocks. That was some truly horrific dice rolling, the Greenskins had obviously adapted to the poisons I was using.

Well that was lucky and certainly made up for me losing all my Stormboyz. You'd have thought these boys were painted blue. Had Allen's luck been in this could have been the end of the game pretty much but fortune is fickle and the match continued.

Lee's 4th turn saw his reduced force thankfully fail to punish me too much. The Grots failed to achieve anything and only another Marksman Ork Boy managed to take down another Reaver. I was now taking break tests.

Success, another casualty and in Allen's force every death counts as he has half the models he started with.

Which thankfully I passed, all being clustered round my Leader and using his LD of 9 to cover my whole Kill Team. Fortunate.

Elsewhere I finally managed to kill enough Orks to get Lee taking break tests, if the game went on... and just in case it didn't I moved my Jetbikes to contest every objective. Being bold hadn't worked for me last time but if I left Lee the objectives and the game ended it he would win 3-2.

As an Aeldari player I am well versed in the quandry of moving my jetbikes over to contest/claim objectives, not knowing if another turn was coming which would see your fragile units blasted away. Still, break tests would now kick in for my force and with no leader and most of my remaining troops with a measly leadership of 5 I could well see my force melt away fairly quick.

The game continued though, and Lee had to take break tests. Predictably three Grots and two Ork Boyz decided the fight wasn't for them anymore and legged it. His shooting was ineffective so he charged in. I Overwatched one Ork to death and he failed to do any damage so I used Hit and run to move away.

In small games like this my advice is to be bold. This is what I did, going for victory through decisive Orkish action. It didn't work out exactly how I would have liked and some of the Orks that ran were holding objectives, one which was too far away for me to do anything about so it at least focused my tactics.

My turn 5 break tests were just about all passed (I was too far spread to utilise my Arena Champions stats) and I gunned down another three Grots, Lee only had two models left to my four, it was looking good for me.

However, the last two Gretchin, were too brave (or maybe stupid) to run away. To make matters worse one of them even killed my Leader in combat! Super Gretchin. That wasn't supposed to happen. Another point for the Orks.

Hahahahahaaa. Millennia old gladitorial champion ended by a Gretchin. If he has a contract with the Haemonculi to be ressurected I'm not sure how he'd live this one down. Kill all the witnesses I expect. It was getting very close but I could still win.

My turn 6 had me still in a very good position, winning the game comfortably. However, the sight of my Arena Champion being pulled from his saddle by the diminutive Greenskin clearly unnerved my Kill team as the first two reavers ran away, including the one that had the objective all to themself. My victory was slipping away. Thankfully the last Jetbike stayed so Lee didn't win by default.

It was the Endgame and this was the position: Lee controlled one Objective with one Gretchin and the other was Contested. I had First Blood and Slay the Warlord and Lee also had Slay the Warlord. Currently it was a draw. 2-2.

So I had to take out one of the Gretchin, either would do. I chose the one controlling an objective. This was the last roll of the dice, literally. Thankfully my rolling didn't let me down and poisioned shards riddled the Gretchin killing him. Victory for the Dark Eldar!

See, every dice counts. Allen's Reavers scarpered despite having good leadership while my Gretchin remained. It really came down to the wire and there were lots of notable moments, great fun. I can see us playing more Killteam.

Damn right that was a lot of fun. Full of events and the unexpected just like a game should be. It's like a mix of Necromunda and 40K and is definitely something I could get into a little more. It also cries out for some aftergame phase, for leveling and the like. Maybe I'll work on that at some point.

As far as tactics go, I think it was fairly solid. A few awful dice rolls aside I did an awful lot better than I expected. The jetbike move was invaluable and allowed me to get back into cover in most instances. Had I remembered to rapid fire (and my Combat Drugs which I COMPLETELY forgot about as well) I might have secured a more comfortable victory.

I think Lee's Kill Team worked fairly well, I would have been tempted to take less Gretchin and more hard hitters though, A lot of his force just  sat on objectives and I think in a game like Kill Team you really need more of your force active. A few more Stormboyz would have seen me in all sorts of trouble. Then again, Lee's numerical superiority was quite telling and it took me a long time to break him down.

You see, large numbered Kill Teams are always going to do really well as each model is an individual unit meaning that apart from templates only one can be killed at a time. I have had it suggested to me that a Kill Team of 22 Pink Horrors would be good and in all honesty they would be pretty much unbeatable given the amount of wounds you would have to inflict to wipe them out (they are Fearless so you wouldn't be able to break them) Flamers or some other template weapon would really be your only hope. In addition grenades would be king in Kill Team one grenade throw per unit per turn doesn't matter when every one of your models is a separate unit!

So overall we like Kill Team a lot. In today's bloated 40K ruleset it was refreshing to play something that was quick easy and endlessly entertaining. Only needing a handful of models and much  more personal Kill Team gets two thumbs up from us and has a lot of potential.

Thursday, 2 February 2017

Conclave of Har review: Ragnar Blackmane, By Aaron Dembski-Bowden

A happy mistake brings you this review. At the GW open day on 2nd Jan I picked up this book in error. I had MEANT to buy Leman Russ (which wasn't actually out as it happens) and grabbed this thinking it was that title. By the time I realised my error it was too late.

I wasn't that downhearted though, ADB is a safe bet these days and doesn't churn out crap books. I certainly can't remember any in any event. I'm sure I would enjoy reading his Ragnar Blackmane tale just as much as Wraight's latest effort on the Space Wolves' Primarch.

Afterall, the last time I remember reading a book based around Ragnar it was Bill King's Space Wolves series and that was very good though it might seem a little dated by today's standards. I was also a little put off by King's depiction of the character but ceded that this was in Ragnar's formative days as the books told of his transition from Fenrisian tribe member to superhuman Astartes. Apparently the series was picked up by another author after King's departure, I never read it. I'm not a fan of other authors picking up and continuing existing works and have not read the latter Gotrek and Felix books (another King opus) for this very reason. Indeed, I fervently hope that Dan Abnett returns at some point to continue his Gaunts Ghosts and Inquisitor series. I'd hate to see his vision compromised by anyone else though I grant that would be better than never having them concluded at all.

However I digress, this is but one of a series of Space Marine Legends (not to be confused with the Warhammer 40,000 Legends Partwork) each of which focuses on a different character. Available so far are Shrike, Azrael, Cassius and this book, Ragnar Blackmane. Assuming that they intend to continue, there is a lot of scope for future books. This new series seems to be in the preferred Black Library format which is to say a small hardback, a little longer than the Novellas but shorter than a full length novel at 200 pages. It's much the same as the Beast Arises series which recently concluded. It's an expensive format but it looks like we are stuck with it for now.

Anyway, lets get to the meat of the book itself. The story is split across different periods of Ragnar's life as a marine. It starts in current times, indeed as he is on Cadia fighting against Abbadon's latest Black Crusade it can be said that this is the most up to date of Black Library books, certainly the fight is not going well and Ragnar is forced to admit that he may well not survive and this may be the end of his saga, in which case he is determined to make it an ending worthy of song. This is a seasoned and wiser Ragnar, one that has been Jarl for some time, a less brash and impetuous warrior, worthy of the title 'legend'. It is prehaps surprising then that the vast majority of the book takes place in the past, showcasing a much more immature Ragnar. The sections on Cadia are little more than bookends to the story. With a tale from Ragnar's past sandwiched in between and broken into two parts.

I'll not say a great deal  more for risk of spoiler but two other legions are involved one of which is the Dark Angels (of course) and Ragnar's actions then directly influence events in the future. The narrative is tight, and the writing is up to ADBs usual standards even if the actual story and exploits of Blackmane fall some way short of 'legendary'.

And that perhaps is the only real criticism I can level at this book, its all a bit standard, Nothing of import really happens and you get the feeling that there were many more sagas of Ragnar that would have been better suited to a title like this. This feels like the kind of book that ADB could write in his sleep and you get the feeling he is on autopilot pretty much all the way through, this is effortless for him. Even the template used for the Space Wolves is that laid down by Dan Abnett in Burning of Prospero, though ADB does add a few embellishments like the supporting main character who is a Bard and Ragnar's antagonist in the story.

So overall its a solid effort. ADB is a safe bet as I said and this is an enjoyable if not particularly memorable book that oozes an effortless class and elan. The characterization is good and it seems that ADB could turn his hand to pretty much any Space Marine chapter without breaking a sweat. Should Dan be unable to continue his series ADB would probably be my choice to pick it all up and he shows what he can do here without even really trying. It's just a shame that it's not a little bit more epic and special.

Incidentally I do now have Leman Russ and will be reviewing that soon.