Monday 28 August 2023

Alpha Strike

Have spent much of the past few weeks working on my Horus Heresy army, I was pleased to be able to get the entire force out for a 2200 point game against Pete.

The mission we played was Shatter Strike, in which the aim is to get units into the other players deployment zone. This was made trickier by the fact that we ended up playing lengthwise on the table with arrowhead deployment zones that were largely screened by the buildings I'd set up in the centre of the table.

Points would be scored as follows:

  • Slay the Warlord - 1 point
  • Most units killed - 1 point
  • Line unit in opposing DZ - 2 points
  • Other unit in opposing DZ - 1 point
Blood Angels

My army selection featured every model I've painted so far and so was limited to an extent. Given that the Blood Angels want to get to grips with they enemy, it's still not fast enough (beyond a couple of Rhinos) and doesn't have the firepower for a long range battle.
  • Cataphractii Praetor (Warlord)
  • Consul Chaplain
  • 10 Tactical Marines in Rhino
  • 20 Tactical Marines
  • 5 Tactical Support Marines (Meltaguns)
  • 5 Recon Marines (Nemesis Bolters)
  • 8 Indomitus Terminators
  • Casta Ferrum Dreadnoughts (Multi-melta)
  • Casta Ferrum Dreadnoughts (Lascannon)
  • 5 Heavy Support Marines (Missile Launchers)
  • Predator (Illiastus Assault Cannon & Heavy Bolters)
  • Leviathan Dreadnought (Power Drill/Claws)
Alpha Legion

Pete has not only found a much quicker approach to painting his army, he also is much better at maintaining his focus. As such he has a notably larger force to choose from. However, he did choose to leave units I don't currently have an answer to (namely Alpharius and a Land Raider Spartan) at home, making for a much more balanced battle. He still outranged me, but that's more to do with failings in my army than his.
  • Praetor (Warlord)
  • Consul
  • 10 Tactical Marines
  • 10 Tactical Marines
  • 10 Tactical Marines
  • 5 Tactical Support Marines (Plasma Guns)
  • 10 Headhunters
  • 5 Cataphractii Terminators
  • Contemptor Dreadnought (Twin Lascannons)
  • Contemptor Dreadnought (Lascannon & Multi-melta)
  • Sabre Tank (Neutron Blaster)
  • Leviathan Dreadnought (Twin Storm Cannons)

I deployed first and put my fast moving tanks on the left with the Chaplain leading a Tactical Squad in one Rhino and the Tactical Support Squad in the other. 

On the right I deployed the Dreadnoughts with the aim of stopping a counter offensive on that flank. The Terminators and larger Tactical Squad we put in the centre with the aim of pushing up through the factory and probably just holding the line as it was unlikely they'd move fast enough to cross the board in time.

The Heavy Support Squad were placed on the hill with a position that would allow them to provide cover to the infantry and Dreadnoughts.

With the benefit of being able to see my deployment, Peye aimed his Contemptors to my left, clearly intending to destroy the Rhinos and remove the small advantage I had in mobility.

His Sabre was placed opposite my Dreadnoughts, which was likely to be an unequal fight, but I think he was intending to just occupy them. Whilst the massed infantry swarmed forwards 

When it came to deploying infiltrators I learned a valuable lesson as I hadn't screened properly and suddenly found a large squad of Headhunters behind my lines looking ominously towards my Missile Launchers.

As a counter, I opted to put my Recon Marines halfway up the board on my left. I wasn't sure they'd achieve much against the Contemptors, but they might be able to slip past when the shooting started. At least I should get the first turn to try to get them into better cover...

...and then, of course, the Alpha Legion stole the initiative!

Alpha Legion Turn 1

As certain summer becoming autumn, a first turn roll did not go my way. Fortunately, this time it didn't turn out to be too punishing as the factory in the centre of the board combined with the deployment zones to really impede lines of sight.

However, this meant that the Contemptors only had my Recon Marines to shoot at and, in a textbook case of new model syndrome, wiped all but Sergeant Chavez out.

Pete's equally new and shiny Sabre failed to hit the Dreadnoughts with its Neutron Blaster and was left looking somewhat exposed in the face of their heavy guns.

Finally, and inevitably, the Headhunters demolished my Missile Launchers in a hail of Bolter fire. However, before they died, the Heavy Support Squad were able to unleash a salvo of Krak Missiles that took out several of the sneaky infiltrators.

First blood to the Alpha Legion.

Blood Angels Turn 1

With the two Contemptors looking incredibly menacing, I opted to make use of my mobility and switch my assault to the opposite flank, moving the Chaplain's Rhino up behind the advancing Dreadnought phalanx. Lascannon fire lanced out and destroyed the Sabre's Neutron Blaster, turning it into a mobile machine gun nest.

Meanwhile I moved the Tactical Support Squad's Rhino into cover to lie in wait for a possible ambush on the two Contemptors. This was an incredibly obvious move, intended more to give Pete something to think about.

Rather than run and hide, the doom Sergeant Chavez took aim at one of the enemy Missile Launchers that had clambered on to to roof of a building and promptly pinned them for the following turn.

Then I turned my attention to the Headhunters, and directed my Predator and large unit of Tactical Marines towards them. Although regular Bolters were never going to wipe them out in one go, the Headhunters were reduced to the point of no longer beaming a real threat and just needing wiping out.

Alpha Legion Turn 2

The Alpha Legion infantry swept into the factory complex using the buildings as cover. The Plasma Gunners Ans set themselves up in defensive positions in one of the buildings to support the advance of the Terminators through the centre.

Inevitably, the heroic Sergeant Chavez was gunned down for his neutering of the Missile Launchers' firepower.

Repositioning his Contemptors had given Pete a narrow shot at the lurking Rhino behind the building.

This is all it took to destroy the transport, disgorging the squad inside who fortunately took no casualties.

Blood Angels Turn Two

As I feared I was already losing out on the unit exchange rate and I needed to get forwards if I was to have any chance of victory.

The remaining Rhino advanced cautiously, using crates as cover from the deadly Lascannons whilst the plodding Casta Ferrums turned the Sabre into slag.

Meanwhile my rear units finished off the last of the Headhunters, freeing then up to join the assault, but the Terminators and Leviathan in the centre were being slowed significantly by difficult ground created the opposing Leviathan's Phosphex Launcher and were prevented fro charging by Pete's shrewd use of his move reactions to get his Terminators to run away fall back tactically.

Alpha Legion Turn Three

With one flank empty of targets and the other holding back in the face of my advance, the Alpha Legion turned their attention to the Blood Angels Terminators and everything that could fire at them did so.

Lascannons, Storm Cannons, Plasma Guns and massed Bolters tore into the Blood Angels assault unit and sheer weight of fire brought them down one by one until only the Praetor was left.

However, he too succumbed to enemy fire and the balance of the battle was now firmly in Pete's favour.

Blood Angels Turn Three

With Pete now definitely in the lead I needed to get into his deployment zone to have any chance of victory.

The Rhino gunned it's engines and rushed straight into the enemy Missile Launchers ramming them, killing one and narrowly avoiding being destroyed by a well placed Krak Grenade.

The larger Tactical Squad began the long march in support of this advance (which would only be relevant if we got a sixth turn) whilst the Predator leant it's guns to helping the Dreadnoughts in slowing the enemy advance through the factory.

Meanwhile, knowing that five Marines with Meltaguns had no chance of stopping two Contemptors, I moved the Leviathan out to my left as a defensive move to dissuade the enemy Dreadnoughts from making a rush for my deployment zone.

Alpha Legion Turn Four

Pete could clearly see what I was up to and turned his fire towards my Rhino. Fortunately for me, it was screened from many of the bigger guns and I used my evade reaction to protector from the point blank Missile Launchers.

This meant the the looming Cataphractii Terminators had to charge the Rhino rather than its somewhat more important cargo, which spilled out at the end of the combat phase with their objective in sight.

Ominously, the Contemptors backed off from the Leviathan on the other flank. The mercurial Alpha Legion had clearly decided to forgo their initial objective and concentrate on defending the gains they had already made.

In short, it was guns o'clock.

Blood Angels Turn 4

The battle was going to be decided on the right flank. Tactical Marines surged forwards with Dreadnoughts in support whilst any guns that could poured into the Alpha Legion to thin their numbers.

On the left the Meltaguns and Leviathan broke cover with the sole intent of pinning the Contemptors and Tactical Squads in place, reducing their ability to either surge forwards or reposition for defence. They concentrated their fire on the Marines as they were significantly easier targets.

In the combat phase the Blood Angels finally made some charges. With Pete once again using his move reactions to flee like a coward back off out of charge range, the Chaplain's squad opted to plough into the Missile Launchers and finish them off.

Meanwhile, the Lascannon Dreadnought made it into the enemy Terminators and began tearing them limb from limb. Although they held their ground, the Alpha Legion warlord and his bodyguard were prevented from intervening in the defence of their deployment zone.

Alpha Legion Turn 5

On the left flank the Alpha Legion continued to flee screaming like children withdraw in the face of the enemy advance, keeping the Leviathan at arm's length.

In the centre, the Alpha Legion Terminators were wiped out in combat with the Dreadnought and the Praetor ran away crying failed his morale check and avoided being run down by a sweeping advance.

On my right Pete turned every gun he had available on the Tactical Squad threatening his deployment zone. The Storm Cannons and Bolters blazed away but if just one Marine survived I could snatch victory in the next turn.

They didn't. So I couldn't.

Blood Angels Turn 5

However, hope wasn't lost. If the Dreadnought that had beaten the Terminators could charge the enemy Marines it could possibly sweeping advance to victory and if there was a sixth turn the remaining Tactical Squad could achieve the objective with two VERY long advance moves.

The Tactical Squad managed to move twelve inches towards the enemy deployment zone. The were in striking distance...

The Dreadnought made it's charge and barreled into the Tactical Marines, weathering hits from the Consul and the Sergeant's Power Fist it managed to win combat but the enemy held their nerve with the Dreadnought reduced to a single wound.

At this point, the Alpha Legion were still leading...and then we rolled up another turn...

Alpha Legion Turn 6

Pete moved everything he could to get a bead on the Tactical Marines and once again blazed away at the exposed Blood Angels, once again wiping the unit out and removing all hope of a last gasp victory.

In the final fight, the crippled Dreadnoughts armour was pierced by the Consul's power sword, finally ending the life of the hero of the chapter.

At this point we called the game because there was no way my remaining units could alter the result.

Pete had slain my warlord and destroyed eight of my units (I'm not certain if dedicated transports count as separate units for scoring, I'm assuming do but it doesn't change the outcome). Although I'd caused his warlord to flee, he'd managed to rally in turn 6 and I'd only destroyed four (maybe five, I might have got one of the Tactical Squads) units.

Neither of us had achieved the primary mission objective.

Final Score: Alpha Legion 2 - Blood Angels 0

This was a great game which swing backwards and forwards and genuinely could have gone either way. As I suspected, the telling factor was Pete's superior firepower and my inability to get my Terminators into combat (things I have taken action about).

What I really liked is that we both ended up playing to the character of our respective legions. The Alpha Legion were sneaky and evasive, eschewing glory in favour of securing concrete gains, whilst the Blood Angels fought valiantly, and made furious assaults to get to grips with the enemy.

The combination of the scenario and the internal balance brought about by Marine Vs Marine combat led to an experience that was infinitely more enjoyable that playing 40k 10th edition a few days earlier.

It was a palpable reminder that the result isn't what makes a good game, it's the fact that both sides get to play.

Oh, and about that whole needing firepower and a way to get Terminators into combat sooner thing...

...yeah, I'm on it!

Acquired: 83
Painted: 215
Lead Mountain: 470

Wednesday 23 August 2023

Older And Fowler Things

I haven't visited Middle earth for a little while and so when Matt was suddenly free for a game a few evenings back it seemed like the perfect opportunity to return to our Quest of the Ringbearer campaign (which is taking longer than Frodo simply walking into Mordor).

When last we left the Fellowship they had heroically defended themselves from a pack of Wargs but Gandalf was hurt. This was potentially a problem as before they could face the long dark of Moria, they would need to make it past the Watcher in the Water.

For this scenario we stepped away from the main campaign book to an older version of the scenario which featured in White Dwarf.

I did this for two main reasons. Firstly I don't own the massive Watcher in the Water model because: a) I don't want to, and b) it's not actually in the water, which is stupid.

Secondly, and I may have mentioned this before, a long time ago in the early days of the first edition of this game (none now live who remember it) I wrote a scenario very much like this fact almost exactly like this one and shared it on The Last Alliance forum (that's how long ago it was, people weren't monetising absolutely everything). It's my belief that the printed scenario was at the very least heavily influenced by my ideas (the same goes for the Old Forest scenario with moving trees).

I can't prove any of this as the website went kaput years ago, so you'll just have to take my word for it.

So basically this is an officially source, printed and published and yet still homebrew scenario.

However this did mean I needed a Watcher to be in the water. I painted some 3d printed tentacles some months back and so set about making a body/head for the creature as quickly as possible (I had a few hours).

Pushing spare daemon parts into a vaguely sculpted blob of green stuff produced this:

It looks a bit like a drowning chicken.

However, Tolkien never said the Watcher didn't look like a drowning chicken and so I slapped some green and cream paint on it, smothered it in Agrax Earthshade and got ready for the game.

The base was done in the same way as the tentacles, PVA and tissue paper to make ripples, painted white and given a green wash (which was still drying when Matt arrived).

And so, on with our tale...


As the party entered Moria a cry went up from the rear and Frodo was dragged to the water by a slithering tentacle.

Sam went immediately to help him and somehow managed to force the thing to drop his master.

The rest of the party came rushing out of the doors to see what the commotion was and help the Ringbearer.

As they emerged from the gloom they saw the lake was alive with slithering snake-like tentacles threatening to drag Frodo to his doom.

The Fellowship leapt into action to drive off the grasping appendages and in a combination of swordplay, thrown axes, lucky strikes and many, many arrows managed to drive off the tentacles.

Even Merry and Pippin won their fights.

However, as they all paused for breath it was revealed that Sam had been dragged off his feet and was now dangling above the gaping maw if the creature.

A stalwart voice could be heard across the water, "don't mind me, get Mr Frodo to safety!"

However, Legolas promptly ignored him and put three arrows into the tentacle holding Sam, causing him to drop into the water.

Heeding Sam's words Aragon, Boromir and Gimli began shepherding Frodo to the doorway of Moria.

Pippin decided discretion was the better part of valour and headed inside, however Merry bravely attacked one of the tentacles to prevent it from reaching Legolas, allowing the Elf to continue to help Sam with his bow.

Sadly, Merry's bravery was his undoing and he was dragged into the water.

Aragorn led the way as more hacking and slashing allowed the Fellowship to get Frodo ever closer to safety.

However, with two Hobbits in trouble, Legolas was unable to hurt the creature enough to protect both of them.

San made a desperate swim to safety but Merry was dragged under the waves.

Sadly, Sam's swim was short lived as he can't swim and he too was once again pulled towards the fowl beast.

Despite this, the rest of the party were getting Frodo closer to safety, beating back each wave if tentacles as it arrived.

However, they could do nothing but watch as Sam was finally pulled under the water.

But with the Fellowship guarding him all the way, Frodo made his way inside Moria despite the tentacles trying to reach him.

What remained of the Fellowship headed deeper into the mines. They were exhausted and distraught about the fate of their friends.

Having managed to get five members of the Fellowship including Frodo to safety, I had managed to win the game. Aragon's free point of Might each turn was, as ever, a game changer, and once I'd managed to get Frodo behind the party's three best fighters the game was never really in doubt.

We decided the bravest companion was Merry because he took on several tentacles alone. I'm not sure if a defeated party member can gain this benefit, but if it wasn't him it would probably be Legolas who's bow was crucial in holding the line and keeping several tentacles occupied with Sam.

The Fool of a Took was once again Gandalf, who achieve absolutely nothing. The Watcher's three free points of Will each turn rendered his magic useless and with him only on one wound from the previous game I was very careful with him. This does mean he'll still be on a single wound next time too.

Here are the current Might, Will and Fate points for the Fellowship:

Winning the scenario means that nobody can actually die, but with the attrition beginning to take effect, the Fellowship are beginning to weaken, which doesn't bode well with the amount of goblins they will need to chew through.


Out on the bank of the pool a splashing sound heralded Sam hauling Merry out of the water.

"Come on Mr Merry, I don't know why that thing let us go, but we've got to catch up before the next game."


On a side note, I received the updated edition of 7TV from the recent Kickstarter which included a free miniature. This counteracts the progress achieved from getting the drowning chicken done as that wasn't actually a miniature before I started.

Acquired: 82
Painted: 215
Lead Mountain: 469

Monday 21 August 2023

No Change There Then?

I've finally played a game of 10th edition 40k. As ever it was against Pete as Matt continues to refuse to bow to the GW marketing machine or peer pressure.

I decided to give my Daemons a run out for a couple of reasons. Firstly I wanted to get my Lord of Change on the board for the first time and the nature of my army meant I didn't need to make any decisions about army building.

Pete's Space Wolves were selected for much the same reasons: it was pretty much everything he has painted and he can't use his Primaris Marines in Horus Heresy or 2nd edition (unlike his Imperial Guard or Eldar).


Daemonic Incursion

Lord of Change with the Everstave (Warlord)
Daemon Prince with Wings
The Changeling
Exalted Flamer
10 Pink Horrors
10 Pink Horrors
6 Screamers
3 Screamers
6 Flamers 
Burning Chariot

Champions of Russ 

Ragnar Blackmane (Warlord)
Primaris Librarian
Primaris Lieutenant with Frost Weapon
10 Assault Intercessors
10 Intercessors
10 Hounds of Morkai
3 Bladeguard
3 Eradicators
3 Inceptors
3 Aggressors
Redemptor Dreadnought

When I looked at what I was facing I'll admit I got a bit of a sinking feeling.


In a clear statement of how we both thought the game might go, the noble sons of Russ stood out in the open, and the craven servants of change cowered behind cover.

This was my first game and I hadn't realised at this point that cover which didn't completely obscure me was worthless as it only improves armour, not invulnerable saves.

I had my Flamers Deep Strike whilst Pete had done the same with his Inceptors.

We were playing the free mission in the downloadable rules which allows you to deploy objectives pretty much wherever. So Pete placed two in his deployment zone, whereas I had to put one a little further forward to allow my Shadow of Chaos rule to affect the middle of the board.

We rolled for first turn and I won, which I'm not entirely sure was a good thing.


With none of the Space Wolves within range I advanced a little to allow my units to shoot and to give my fast melee units a chance to strike in the following turn.

The Lord of Change killed a handful of Intercessors and a couple of Hounds of Morkai fell to the Daemon Prince but otherwise very little damage was done.

I did manage to spread the Shadow of Chaos to the middle of the board, so there was that.


Pete's right wing advanced at pace. Ragnar, the Librarian and the Assault Intercessors headed straight for the objective screened by Screamers and the Hounds of Morkai made haste towards the Pink Horrors sat on my central objective.

The shooting phase was as painful as expected, perhaps moreso.

Screamers and Horrors took pistol fire as the prelim to the inevitable charges they would face and the Lord of Change was reduced to only 6 wounds (out of 18) by the Redemption Dreadnought, which has a frankly offensive number of guns.

In the combat phase the Screamers we're almost destroyed and the Pink Horrors were turned into unit of Blue Horrors.


In the command phase the Horrors failed and lost control of their objective. I'm not sure they should have taken one as the number of Blue Horrors left was not less than half than the original unit size, however this is a grey area that needs further research so the upshot was I only scored 1 victory point.

Shooting was somewhat desultory again, but I did get more aggressive with the smaller unit of Screamers, the Daemon Prince, the Lord of Change and the Burning Chariot.

I did bring my Flamers down to protect the objective being threatened by Ragnar's advance, but they didn't make a massive impact.

On the upside, the Daemon Prince eradicated the Eradicators, the Screamers took the Intercessors below half their unit size, and the Chariot did the same to the Hounds of Morkai - which were things that would be significant later.

Predictably the Lord of Change ate a faceful of overwatch from the Redemptor and then was slapped senseless in combat.

At least I'd got to play with it for two turns.


In a move that allowed us to pretend it was a close game, both the Intercessors and Hounds of Morkai failed their Battle Shock tests meaning Pete only scored 1 victory point as well.

Pete countered my Flamers by bringing his Inceptors down and combined with the Assault Intercessors and Aggressors adding their formidable firepower began the process of whittling down my units defending the objective.

On the other side of the board the Daemon Prince somehow weathered the storm of fire from the Redemptor but was pulverised in the subsequent close combat.

The Librarian leant his weight to the Hounds of Morkai but the Burning Chariot was still getting the better of the fight.


By this point things looked bleak. I managed to hold on to both objectives thanks to the Blue Horrors in the centre passing their Battle Shock test, which meant that briefly the score was in my favour.

With no shooting of note, the close combat phase saw the Hounds of Morkai almost wiped out, and just the exalted Flamer left.


With two more victory points in the bag, guns blazed and all but the Changeling, a Changecaster and a handful of Blue and Brimstone Horrors were left to try to hold the objective on my left.

The Burning Chariot totally fluffed the combat and do lost control of the objective after the Horrors were wiped out by the Redemptor.

At this point we called the game as there was no real way I was going to score any more points, and Pete was going to pick up between 2 and 4 in the final round.

We had the final score at 7-3 to the Space Wolves (possibly 7-4 depending on how Horrors interact with Battle Shock) but it's a scoreline that flatters me as it felt like a curb-stomp.


I think I deployed badly as I should have put all my shooty units together to defend objectives and benefit from the Lord of Change'd buff and my fast attacking units should have been put together to attack in force.

I also shouldn't have advanced on the first turn. The shooting damage I did wasn't worth moving into range of Pete's guns and allowing him to charge on turn one.

I should have used the Flamers to capture an enemy objective. I don't think I can win a straight fight against Pete's army, but I could possibly have outmaneuvered them and play the objectives.

I don't have the means to take out the Redemptor, so avoiding it is the best bet.

At the moment the jury is out for me on whether 10th edition is something I'll play more of. Despite mistakes, the nature of 40k makes it feel oppressive in a mismatched game. The sheer volume of rerolls Pete's units were getting from innate rules felt overwhelming in that it meant almost everything he tried was successful, whereas I was far more subject to the whims of the dice.

On the up side, the rules are much better for casual players like ourselves and genuinely allowed us to take a pick up and play approach.

I'm going to stick with the Daemons with this game and try to learn how to get the best from them.

It may take some time...