Relics of Treasure - Week 8

Round 8: 2300 points
Anton (Space Wolves)

Wolf Lord w/Thunderwolf, Artificier Armour, Power Fist, Storm Shield
5 x Wolf Guard w/5 x Thunderwolf, 5 x Storm Shield, 3 x Power Axe
Rune Priest
10 x Grey Hunters
10 x Grey Hunters w/2 x Meltagun, Drop Pod
10 x Grey Hunters w/2 x Meltagun, Drop Pod
10 x Grey Hunters w/2 x Meltagun, Drop Pod
6 x Long Fangs w/5 x Lascannon
Dreadnought w/Twin-Linked Lascannon, Missile Launcher
Land Raider

Yet again I found myself going up against the forces of the Imperium, and for the first time since week two there were wolves on the far side of the table from me. Anton's forces were drop-heavy, as is common amongst the wolves of Black Knight Games, but with three heavy support choices and a pack of wolf-riders, he had a strong on-table presence from the beginning. I expected a tough fight, though I was hoping it wouldn't be quite as tough as the last time I went up against the wolves.

Commander w/Iridium, Stims, Shield, 2 x Plasma, Relics (Hit & Run, +1A, +1WS/BS for squad)
Commander w/MSSS, C&CN, PENchip, 2 x Twin-Linked Flamer
Cadre Fireblade
XV104 w/Ion Accelerator, Early Warning Override, Stimulant Injector
3 x XV8 w/6 x Missile Pod, 3 x EWO
3 x XV8 w/6 x Missile Pod, 3 x EWO
3 x XV8 w/3 x Plasma, 3 x Twin-Linked Fusion Blaster
9 x Fire Warriors
9 x Fire Warriors
9 x Fire Warriors
12 x Fire Warriors
12 x Sniper Kroot
5 x Pathfinders
5 x Pathfinders
Sky Ray w/Disruption Pod, Blacksun Filter
Hammerhead w/Disruption Pod, Blacksun Filter
Hammerhead w/Disruption Pod, Longstrike, Submunition
Aegis Defence Line w/Quad Gun

I won the roll-off, and opted to go first; I wanted to put the hurt on the Wolves first, if I could. My warlord Commander and his assault team started off in deep strike reserve, and my Kroot were set to outflank, while the rest of the army arrayed in a line along the board, as far back as I could. The Ethereal anchored the middle of the board, with the Fireblade in the twelve-strong squad, hanging out on the Quad Gun. They were surrounded by the Sky Ray and one of the Fire Warrior units, while the deathrains were on the edges of the centre, midway between the three detachments. On my left flank, the Riptide and the support Commander hung around with the ionHead and one of the Fire Warrior squads, while on the right flank the railHead and the third small Fire Warrior squad guarded the edges. The Pathfinders went down last, settling in behind the Aegis centre-left and inside a copse of trees on the

In response, Anton set his Dreadnought on my left, behind a copse of trees, his Long Fangs on a tall ruin in the centre, and his Land Raider, with Rune Priest and Grey Hunters, on the right, while the Wolf Lord and his retinue settled in between the Dreadnought and the Long Fangs. Everything else settled into their drop pods, waiting to fall in on my head at their earliest opportunity.

Night Fight actually kicked in this game, though of course it wouldn't hinder most of my shooting, and having failed to seize, Anton handed off to me for my first turn.

And good heavens, did I put it to good use.

The only real movement was my tanks, to make certain they generated their cover saves; everything else was basically already where I wanted it. My shooting phase started off with my Riptide, backed up by the support Commander's Ignores Cover/Twin-Linked, obliterating the entirety of the Long Fang unit in a single shot. After that, my Pathfinders on the left lit up the dreadnought, giving my deathrains there a perfect BS5 shot into it which, even with the forest in the way, ended up with the Dreadnought reduced to a smoking pair of stumpy legs. And last, but not least, Longstrike took careful aim, and with the Land Raider neatly exposed from his vantage point, sent a single slug straight into the engine core, blasting it to smithereens and leaving the Rune Priest and his Grey Hunters standing in a crater. My right-flank Fire Warriors took a few potshots at the exposed Marines, and my ionHead dropped its blast on the Wolf Lord and his retinue, but neither managed to do more than put the odd wound into the unit once accounting for armour saves and unreliable Tau shooting. Still, even with those two HQ-supported units essentially untouched, Anton had lost the entirety of his Heavy Support choices, and all of his long-range firepower. It was about as decisive as a turn can be.

But of course, much of his army hadn't even been on the table turn 1; I'd hit him hard, but he had a chance to hit me right back. Two of his pods came in, landing in my lines and disgorging their contents. Of course, that just gave me more targets, since I had four different Interceptor-toting units available. My Riptide dropped its pie plate on the unit on my left flank, killing half the Grey Hunters (including one of the meltaguns), while the deathrains on my right flank stripped out a handful of models as well, though none of the really important ones. I also tried to replicate a regular feat, pouring my second deathrain team's fire into the drop pod to try and force an explosion and kill more Grey Hunters that way, but it seemed I'd exhausted my dice; they offered up a couple of glances, and that was that. The Quad Gun, on the other hand, did put down the drop pod on my right flank, taking out a couple more Grey Hunters in the process. Finally, out of guns, I had no choice but to invite a rather shell-shocked Anton to continue his turn. Marshaling his forces as best he could, Anton lit up the back of Longstrike's Hammerhead with a couple of meltaguns, flash-frying the Tau tank ace, the only casualty my forces sustained that turn. Which isn't nothing of course, but given the loss of so much of the Space Wolves, it wasn't much, either.

With so much of my long-ranged firepower already spent on dealing with deep striking threats, my second shooting phase was a bit less decisive than my first. With a Fire Warrior team sweeping up around a large ruined farmhouse on my left flank, and my reserves refusing to arrive, I still managed to find enough firepower to wipe out the survivors of the left-flank Grey Hunters squad, and most of the team on the right, as well. More important in the long run, however, the Fireblade-boosted Fire Warrior team in the centre managed to peel off two of the approaching Wolf Guard, with the Wolf Lord out of position to tank for them. In his turn, Anton's third drop pod arrived on my right flank, scattering right up against the hill top my right-most infantry were on. The Riptide's ion accelerator had been recharged, but unfortunately I was a little less accurate with the scatter this time; the Riptide's final tally, once all the rolls were in, was three-quarters of a Pathfinder team, a handful of Fire Warriors, an exploded drop pod and, by extension, two Grey Hunters. The lone surviving Pathfinder broke, heading back towards the table edge at a leisurely jog, but the Fire Warriors remained committed. With the drop pod out of the way I fired on the Grey Hunters with my right-flank deathrain suit, but only forced a handful of minor causalities.

After a long period of taking a beating, however, Anton was finally in a position to give one back. The original right-flank Grey Hunter squad, who'd dropped in first turn, had hustled towards the centre of the board, where they found their luck strong enough to get into charge distance of my central Fire Warrior squad. You know, the one with the Ethereal and the Fireblade? Considerable amounts of Overwatch ensued, further whittling down the Grey Hunters to just a handful of models, at which point they were too few to kill enough Fire Warriors to overcome the Ethereal's LD10 advantage when it came to dealing with their break test for losing combat. The Wolf Lord and his surviving retinue thundered in, wiping out my left-flank Pathfinder team, though that simply left them consolidating into relatively open terrain once they predictably overkilled the infantry squad.

That would turn out to be especially bad for him, because at that point I had almost no targets for much of my army other than the Wolf Lord and his retinue. Aside from the Fire Warriors and deathrain team on my right (plus their lone Pathfinder, who rallied), and my Kroot who came in well up on my left flank, in Anton's deployment zone, every gun in the army was levelled against them. Faced with a torrent of fire from two Fire Warrior teams (one boosted by Storm of Fire), my ionHead, my Sky Ray's SMS (its missiles had been volley-fired to finish off the nearby Grey Hunters turn 2) and a deathrain unit, even artificier armour couldn't hold up, and the Wolf Lord, his guard and their monstrous beasts were left smoking on the snowfields. In my assault phase I lost a few more Fire Warriors, but managed to kill a couple of Grey Hunters in return, and once again my Ethereal kept them in the fight. The Space Wolf attack had been fierce, but it was blunted, and now the Tau's superior firepower was winning out.

In his third turn Anton had almost nothing to do; a few pot-shots from his drop pods, which accomplished nothing, and his Rune Priest and Grey Hunter squad hustling up for one of the distant objectives, more a formality than anything else. In the end, however, he did get to at least win a moral victory, as his Grey Hunters finally dragged down my Ethereal and his bodyguards, grinding one of the spiritual leaders of the Empire under his fur-clad boots. The Grey Hunters hustled back towards the Quad Gun, desperately trying to grab hold of its firepower, and Anton passed off to me.

It being turn 4, my Commander finally turned up, dropping neatly in behind the Rune Priest's squad, the whole of my army on the table at last. Back in my deployment zone I manoeuvred to put an infantry model on all three of the objectives, splitting my support Commander from the Riptide just in case I needed to send the former for the objective and the latter for the Grey Hunters, but it turned out the Space Wolves' armour couldn't stand up to concentrated pulse fire any better than their leader's. Across the board, my Commander and his team took careful aim and, with a flurry of plasma bolts and fusion blasts, utterly eradicated the entire squad, Rune Priest and all. With the Wolves dead, my Commander's team used their assault move to hop forwards, putting them neatly on top of the last of the five objectives. At the end of turn 4, Anton had two units left on the table, both drop pods, and we decided to call it there. I'd claimed all five objectives, scored all three secondaries, denied the two share-able ones to Anton, and even killed his Wolf Lord to seize a Fearless-granting relic for my warlord. I literally could not have done better.

Just one more week to go. The final showdown, with the man who'd stayed ten points ahead of me, in first place, nearly the entire time...

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