Relics of Treasure - Intro and Week 1

The latest league has started up at Black Knight Games, my friendly local hobby shop, and it's quite the doozy.  Not only is it nine weeks long, instead of the usual six, but it's got a whole host of unique rules and restrictions in play, courtesy of the much-ignored variable terrain rules from the later part of the big rulebook.  This promises to be a campaign like none other!

There's an actual player pack for this thing; for those interested in it, there's a pdf up of it, available here. For those who don't want to go through the whole thing, let me give you the highlights. The league is a tile-based campaign, with everyone starting with a single tile and each victory seizing another one to add to your points overall. No special or named characters; every game is played under the Ice World rules (Dangerous Terrain rolls fail on a 1 and 2, and Gets Hot weapons don't); lightning storms will strike on a 1 each turn, either forcing flyers to hover or to take a S7 hit; every game is Crusade, with D3+2 objectives; any Infantry model can hold an objective.

The big thing, however, is the Relic system. Each warlord starts off with a single Relic upgrade, and gains new ones by either seizing the secondary Relic objective in each mission, or killing the enemy warlord in a challenge (or both). There's a d6+d6 table to roll on, providing a full 36 possible options, though in each of the six sections there is an Explodes result, in which you get nothing. The relic effects can be stacked, and if you get a double that doesn't (having Fear twice, for instance) you're allowed a re-roll.

From a Tau perspective, the campaign rules have a couple of obvious effects. First, the increased risk of dangerous terrain will make it more dangerous to jump crisis suits in and out of nasty pieces of cover to get a better shooting angle. At a one-in-six chance this can be an entirely reasonable risk to take to get a better shooting angle; at one-in-three, however, it means that statistically it'll happen to your three-suit squad every single turn. To me, though, that's more than offset by the fact that Gets Hot stops being a thing. Ion weapons, already good, become even better with these rules in place, to the point where I almost considered trying to find some way to make use of the cyclic ion blaster. But the ion accelerator, the ion cannon and the quad ion turret all get a significant boost from the reliability of no longer having to risk Gets Hot rolls. This is especially useful on the ion accelerator with early warning override, as it means you can reliably pull off the blast against deep striking units of 3+ and 2+ models while they're maximally clumped together. Given that two of these weapons (the cannon and accelerator) were things Tau wanted to bring along from the start, this increased reliability is immense. Honestly, I even considered trying to incorporate the cyclic ion blaster.


Anyway, the league starts off at 1500 points, and eventually finishes at 2000, rising by something in the area of 75-100 points per week. So, let's start from the beginning!

Round 1: 1500 points
Deployment: Dawn of War

Matt (Space Wolves):
Wolf Lord w/Runic Armour, Thunderwolf, Storm Shield, Power Fist, Relic (Zealot)
Rune Priest
Dreadnaught w/Drop Pod
6 x Wolf Scouts w/Meltagun
10 x Grey Hunters w/2 x Plasmagun, Drop Pod
10 x Grey Hunters w/2 x Meltagun, Drop Pod
2 x Wolf Cavalry w/2 x Storm Shield
6 x Long Fangs w/2 x Heavy Bolters, 2 x Plasma Cannons, Lascannon
Predator w/Lascannon, 2 x Heavy Bolters
Razorback w/Lascannon

Swordwind Cadre:
Commander w/Iridium, Stims, 2 x Plasma Rifles, PENchip, Neuroweb System Jammer, Relic (+1 to Reserves)
XV104 w/Ion Accelerator, EWO
2 x XV8 w/2 x Plasma Rifles, 2 x Fusion Blasters, 2 x Advanced Targeting System
3 x XV8 w/6 x Missile Pods
8 x Fire Warriors
8 x Fire Warriors
8 x Fire Warriors
4 x Pathfinders
4 x Pathfinders
Hammerhead w/Longstrike, Submunition, Disruption Pod
Hammerhead w/Disruption Pod, Blacksun Filter
Skyray w/Disruption Pod, Blacksun Filter
Aegis Defence Line w/Quad Gun

Matt's Wolves are my least favourite kind of list to play against; large numbers of Marines in pods. Thankfully, he opted to deploy his Rune Priest in the back, with the Long Fangs, which spared me that threat dropping into my lap, at least. Having won the roll off, Matt started with his Wolf Lord and two cavalry, Long Fangs and Rune Priest, and both tanks on the board, with the Long Fangs up in a multi-storey ruin and the tanks behind a forest. The Lord was right up on the line, chomping at the bit to get to my lines, which consisted of everything I had in the classic drop-denial castle. I failed to get off my Seize roll, and Matt went for the jugular.

Fun fact; Matt is the first person to ever actually kill my Quad Gun. And he did it turn one, annoyingly. His dread and one of the two Grey Hunters dropped in, their pods scattering almost off the board, but leaving them in a still-advantageous position as the dread was perfectly situated to bring his heavy flamer to bear on my Pathfinders. My Riptide's interceptor managed to kill off a handful of Grey Hunters, but unfortunately my commander hadn't had time to activate his PENchip, and without Tank Hunter he just couldn't get through the dread's armour with the Quad Gun. Matt barbecued the Pathfinders, then blasted the gun to pieces with the plasma cannons on his Long Fangs, when I failed both cover saves for the stupid thing. That was a rocky start, and it didn't get much better when I realized that lousy positioning had left my deathrains, Skyray and the right-most Fire Warrior squad with nothing to shoot at. I shifted the rest of my army as best I could, managing to drop another handful of Long Fangs with the ion cannon, and put a wound on one of the cavalry. Turn 1 ended with Matt worryingly close to my lines already, and me not having done nearly enough damage.

Turn two Matt's third pod came in, dropping in front of a ruin on my left flank that contained my remaining Pathfinders. This time I couldn't draw a bead on any of them with my Riptide, so the Grey Hunters made it out unmolested. This would prove to be catastrophic, as despite a 4+ save the melta weapons they were toting managed to blast Longstrike's Hammerhead to smithereens, taking with it the easiest way to deal with the approaching dread, and the only weapon in my army capable of one-shotting the T5 wolf-riders. Matt's Wolf Scouts also turned up, managing to arrive behind my castle thanks to a Space Wolf special rule, though thankfully they didn't accomplish anything, and got blasted half to death by my Riptide for their troubles. The survivng Grey Hunters from the first pod also advanced, cutting down all but three of the Fire Warriors on the left, who amazingly stuck it out. Unfortunately, with so much of Matt's army already in my lines I had to turn my guns on the closest, and not necessarily the most intimidating, targets available. The ion Hammerhead finished off the Grey Hunters on the left, with an assist from the remaining Fire Warriors, but thanks to some lousy rolls my central Fire Warriors managed to drop not a single Wolf Scout, requiring me to divert my deathrains to dealing with them, rather than forcing saves on the Wolf Lord and his surviving bodyguard. My Commander and his squad managed to kill off the surviving bodyguard, but that left the Lord on his own, while my Riptide, having fired all its weapons, opted to charge the remaining Grey Hunters in the ruins (yes, charging with Tau, I was that desperate). Unfortunately, my Riptide whiffed his rolls, killing just one Grey Hunter, and that with his Hammer of Wrath attack, no less. In his turn, Matt had his Lord ride into the fight, finishing off the Riptide with multiple S10 AP1 power fist strikes, while his Long Fangs finished off the central Fire Warriors and the left-most squad broke under fire from the tanks, bolting for the table edge. His Grey Hunters consolidated out of the ruins, and his Lord advanced on my commander. I managed to make the Grey Hunters, at least, pay for their boldness, with the two groups of suits blasting them to smithereens, but that left nothing to try and take out the Lord before he charged. Meanwhile, my Skyray finally decided to takes its shot, firing off all six seekers and its SMS to achieve... one dead Long Fang. Which did, however, manage to shoot my Fire Warriors out of range, so y'know, I had that going for me, at least.

Turn 4, Matt pretty much wrapped the game up. Fire from his tanks killed one of my deathrains, and the remainder broke and ran clear off the board edge. His Long Fangs dealt with all but three of my Fire Warriors, who didn't break, while his Lord charged into combat and, once more wielding an absolutely absurd number of S10 AP1 attacks, absolutely smashed my commander and his two suits. At the bottom of 4 I had three Fire Warriors and a seeker-less Skyray left, and neither of us felt like wasting the time forcing the game to its conclusion by dragging it out, so I simply conceded. Matt got the victory, but since he hadn't actually gone for the Relic it was decided he didn't get the extra one on the table, nor had he challenged my commander, so he didn't get to steal mine. All in all, not the most spectacular start to the league.

Really, it was the positioning that killed me on this one. Having my Skyray take four turns to get a shot at the Long Fangs was just ridiculous, and leaving the deathrains blocked off from contributing against all but the most in-my-lines of targets didn't help, either. Granted, failing the cover saves on Longstrike's ride and the Quad Gun weren't my finest moments, but I did slaughter both Grey Hunter squads and the Wolf Scouts, so it's not as though I didn't accomplish anything. I think I should have focused on taking out the Lord, rather than the Hunters, towards the end, as he was the far larger threat, while sending at least someone up-field to make a run for the Relic for the bonus trait, if nothing else.

Well, some lessons learned, there! On to week two, to see if my cadre can seize the momentum and start grinding over the defenders of this soon-to-be-annexed rock!

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