Relics of Treasure - Week 5

Round 5: 1750
Vanguard Strike

James (Space Marines – Iron Hands)
Captain w/Power Sword
5 x Terminators w/Land Raider Crusader
5 x Sternguard
10 x Tacticals w/Multimelta, Meltagun, Rhino, Hunter-Killer Missile
10 x Tacticals w/Missile Launcher, Meltagun, Rhino, Hunter-Killer Missile
5 x Scouts w/Missile Launcher, 4 x Sniper Rifles
5 x Assasult Marines w/5 x Plasma Pistols, Meltabomb
Venerable Dreadnought w/Twin-Linked Lascannon, Missile Launcher
5 x Devastators w/Lascannon, 2 x Plasma Cannon, Heavy Bolter

We were supposed to go up to 1850 this week, but my opponent was relatively new to the hobby, and couldn't quite swing it with what he had, so I agreed to drop back down to 1750. No sense trying to drive the newcomers out of the hobby, after all. As usual, it was Crusade (4 objectives), and since I still had one last unoccupied territory in my area there was a relic in the centre of the table. The last time that will happen, though; from here on out, if I want to add yet more tricks to my Commander, I'm going to have to take them from the smoking plasma-riddled corpses of my enemies.

Which I am totally comfortable doing.

Commander w/Iridium Armour, Stimulant Injector, Shield Generator, 2 x Plasma Rifle, Onager Guantlet, Relic (Hit and Run, +1WS/BS for squad)
2 x Bodyguards w/2 x Plasma Rifle, 2 x Twin-Linked Fusion Blaster
XV104 w/Ion Accelerator, Early Warning Override, Stimulant Injector
3 x XV8 w/6 x Missile Pod
3 x XV8 w/6 x Missile Pod
9 x Fire Warriors
9 x Fire Warriors
9 x Fire Warriors
4 x Pathfinders
4 x Pathfinders
Sky Ray w/Disruption Pod, Blacksun Filter
Hammerhead w/Disruption Pod, Blacksun Filter, 2 x Seeker Missiles
Hammerhead w/Longstrike, Disruption Pod, Submunition
Aegis Defence Line w/Quad Gun

I had actually planned to run an Ethereal and another squad of Fire Warriors initially, but after working out the math to drop down from 1850 I realized I'd left my fourth squad at home; with nothing else on me worth spending the spare 81 points on, I opted to drop them and the Ethereal, and work the Sky Ray into my list, instead. I'd brought it along in a 1500 point tournament on the previous weekend, and been pleasantly surprised by its performance; it did far better then than the first time I fielded it (when I left it blocked by terrain for three straight turns, admittedly), so I thought I'd try and work it into my lists more regularly. I scored the perfect deep strike warlord trait (fifth straight game running, counting the three-round tournament...), and won the roll-off to go first.

The table was heavily terrained, forcing me to spread out, with two objectives in each of our deployment zones. My ionHead, a unit of deathrain Crisis and a Fire Warrior team anchored one corner, while the railHead, second deathrain squad and another team of Fire Warriors held the right flank, and the middle was filled by a Fire Warrior squad on the Quad Gun, the Sky Ray, and the Riptide, with the Pathfinders on the wings of my deployment zone to get good cross-shots and my Commander and his bodyguards, as usual, in deep strike reserve. In response, James put his Devastators in heavy cover, deployed his Captain and Terminators in the Land Raider and dropped his Dreadnought behind it, and stuck the Sternguard up on my right flank in a forest and the Scouts out of sight behind a tree in the centre. The two Rhinos, with their Tactical squads, and the ASM began in reserve, the latter in deep strike, obviously. James failed to seize, and I prepared to start...

Which was when Matt dropped a new rule on us. The weather had worsened; a blizzard had blown in! The entire game would be conducted under Night Fight rules, against which Night Vision would not work, but with the change that shots could be taken at targets more than 36” away, it just decreased BS by 1. Needless to say, I rather wished I'd brought more markerlights, but ten of them across three units should still suffice.

Troubled by the problem of the blizzard, I nevertheless pushed forwards. One pathfinder team lit up the Devastators, allowing my ionHead to kill the two plasma cannons and the heavy bolter, while the other team marked the Land Raider for Longstrike, who unfortunately only managed to stun it. My Sky Ray boosted forwards 12” to get into range of the Sternguard, but was impeded by my Riptide and deathrain squad, who were likewise heading up the middle. The deathrains ran and jumped, putting them safely on the relic, while the Riptide attempted to blast the scouts but lost his target in the blizzard (read, he scattered off target). The Devastators broke and ran, but sadly not off the board, and I passed off to James. The Devastators promptly auto-rallied, and he set about conducting his rather meagre turn; his lascannon Devastator did manage to pop the first deathrain suit, despite the Night Fight cover saves, but I'd positioned the first two on the relic and had the second one pick it up, fearing just such a loss. His dreadnought failed to hit with both weapons, while his Land Raider Crusader threw rather faint-hope shots at my Riptide, none of which accomplished anything. My deathrains did not break, and I picked up the dice for Turn 2.

My Commander dropped in from the start, apparently unwilling to go through a repeat of last week, for which I was most grateful. The deathrains hustled the relic back towards the Fire Warriors holding the Quad Gun, who stretched out to put themselves on an objective as well, while the Riptide advanced and the tanks made their little lateral moves. My Sky Ray only hit with one markerlight, and given that the Sternguard were in a forest and I was more than 12” away it seemed silly to burn my seeker missiles on such a solid chance of not killing anything, so I held my fire. Longstrike was more successful, exploding the Land Raider with help from the pathfinders and their Ignores Cover markerlights; the explosion left the embarked unit standing in a crater, perfectly lined up for my Commander and his squad. Between them, eight plasma rifle shots and two fusion blasters managed to kill the entire Terminator squad, though the Captain remained hale and hearty, passing his Iron Halo save against the single fusion blaster shot I managed to push onto him. My ionHead burned the marker tokens from my Pathfinders to try and shoot up the side of the Venerable Dreadnought, but unfortunately only managed to strip a hullpoint in the end. My deathrains passed off the relic in the assault phase, while my Commander jumped away from the Captain a rather meagre distance, and that was that.

James' reserves were not so orderly as mine, with the multimelta Rhino squad cruising on but the ASM and second Rhino remaining in reserve. My Quad Gun stunned and immobilized the unlucky Rhino, despite the considerable cover save it sported, and I opted to reserve my Riptide's ion cannon for the targets, rather than the transport. Shaken but undaunted, the Marines pushed onwards, with the Dreadnought once more failing to accomplish anything, the Sternguard killing one of my deathrains from the second squad, and the Captain making it into close combat after not a single overwatch shot struck home. This combat would last for the rest of the game, with my Hit and Run rolls failing every round, and his Captain making the save every time I connected with the Onager Gauntlet to try and double him out. Tenacious fellow, that Captain.

I was feeling damn confident, given the defeat-in-detail I looked to be handing out, and may have gotten a bit sloppy. My right deathrain squad accomplished nothing against the Rhino, which passed the few cover saves I managed to force it to take, while my Riptide and ionHead both failed to do more than strip a single hull point from the Dreadnought, even after Nova charging the former's weapon. I decided to start blasting Scouts off the table, not wanting them to remain so close to my objective indefinitely, and with a couple of units' worth of firepower whittled them down to a single sniper scout, who passed his break test. In his turn, James rolled up both units from reserve, with his second Rhino coming on out of line of sight for my Quad Gun, leaving them no choice but to fire on the ASM, who failed an armour save; this, after scattering right onto the very edge of the board, no less. Rather unlucky chaps. But James' luck was turning, as his Dreadnought killed both of my left-flank deathrains, and his newly-arrived missile launcher-toting Tactical Marine blew the railgun clean off Longstrike's Hammerhead. Annoying, but not catastrophic, though I was starting to find myself with too many targets and not enough guns to draw down on them, thanks to all the terrain on the table. It really does make a difference.

Turn 4, I managed to put down the Dreadnought, and despite again failing to hit with both markerlights threw all my Seekers into the Sternguard, reducing them to two models. I picked off the last of the scouts with the SMS on my ionHead, and killed two more Assault Marines with firepower from the three dispersed squads of Fire Warriors in the area, while Longstrike used Tank Hunter to strip two hull points off the newly-arrived Rhino with his SMS. Four S5 shots, re-rolling pens, that ignore cover automatically aren't a terrible way to deal with AV11, though it would have worked better if I'd been able to get at the more vulnerable AV10 instead.  My surviving deathrains, meanwhile, wrecked the previously-damaged Rhino, forcing the ten-strong squad inside to pile out of the safety of their metal box, and into the waiting arms (and markerlights, and Ignores Cover-boasting ion accelerator) of my Riptide and pathfinders. A single basic Marine survived the barrage.

James pushed hard on Turn 4, throwing himself wholeheartedly into a desperate but not impossible strategy. The surviving Marine from the otherwise-annihilated squad hopped onto one of his objectives, while the two Assault Marines moved up to threaten my central Fire Warrior squad on their objective. If he could somehow keep those three Marines alive through my next turn, and the game ended on Turn 5, he'd have snatched a draw from the jaws of total, crushing defeat. But it was not to be; one of the Assault Marines fell to overwatch fire, which wasn't bad actually since they took fire from three squads of Fire Warriors, a squad of Pathfinders and a Quad Gun, while the sole survivor went down under the spastic flailing of the Fire Warriors, dragged down in close combat by sheer weight of numbers. An ignominious end, indeed.

With no units still in position to break my 2-1 hold on the objectives, and nearly the whole of my army still intact compared to a single ten-strong squad in a Rhino with one hull point left, James elected to concede at the end of Turn 4. Sadly, that meant I never did get a chance to splat his Captain with the Onager Gauntlet, but I did make off with yet another relic, and I won, so the game can hardly be said to be anything but a success. Of course, it could have been more successful if I hadn't rolled up +1 Attack for my relic's effect, because if there's one thing I didn't really need, it's to be moderately better but still kind of terrible in close combat. Ah well, it could be worse; at least it didn't explode!

No real MVP this time around. My Commander just kind of stood there for two full game turns locked in combat with something that had no real chance of hurting him but which he could not seem to kill, Longstrike needed two rounds of firing to deal with a single Land Raider, and my Sky Ray refused to hit with both markerlights, a necessity to really make sure its target disappeared. I suppose I'll just give it to my Pathfinders in general, without whose reliable Ignores Cover contributions this battle would not have gone nearly so well. There's a reason they're so often the first to fall, after all.

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