Winter in Wyoming is a thing of reality. That, combined with my wife being sick (and then, about a week later, me being sick) meant that the last couple weeks didn’t see me making it down to the game shop all that often. However, my 40k collection finally reached the critical mass (of assembled figures, really; I had the plastic men lying around for a fair bit longer) whereby I could start running solo games. I was excited–perhaps inordinately–about this, because almost every major game system I’ve ever learned I’ve taught myself to play. Being able to play at home also felt very important because Warhammer is a game with many rules, and thus far I’ve averaged one game every two weeks or so. That’s simply not often enough, even with all of the blogs I read on the daily, to actually cement most of those rules in my head.
This also provided me with the opportunity to test out some CSM (particularly, Noise Marine) units, and in doing so to get some actual practice with the shooting, vehicle, and transport rules. Starting with Daemons meant that I did basically none of any of that; even where shooting was happening, it was always on an individual basis and usually tied into psychic powers in some fashion. The largest quantity of dice I ever threw was 11 off a great Lash of Despair roll, but, again, that was all being measured from a single tall model with incredible mobility and pretty excellent resilience. Getting experience with maneuvering squads of gunmen was something that I knew would improve my tactical reaction to them. Granted, Noise Marines still avoid concerns about cover saves and so forth, but I like that staggering.
Also, having a couple of Rhinos on the board gave me the chance to both work on penetrating armor values and experience maneuvering, embarking onto, and departing from transports. Those and the Blastmasters also gave me plenty of blast templates to practice scattering. All in all, super exciting!
My first game was 1000 points, played on the only table we had handy, a 3’x3′ green relic of some forgotten time. I love this table, which we’ve used as everything from a dinner table to a painting station, so giving it a new purpose was great. For terrain I laid out my large Chessex mat and drew terrain, including ruins I hand-labled with multiple levels. Doing all of this felt invigoratingly like the artifice and industry of childhood.
Game 1: 1k pts of CSM versus 1k Daemons
Mission: The Relic
Deployment: Vanguard Strike
4 roll offs before i won table side (against myself, but my wife can’t roll below a 5 unless, apparently, she’s matching whatever I’ve rolled. She’s an amazing lady.)
CSM: 998 Points
Chaos Lord Mark of Slaanesh, Sigil of Corruption, Brand of Dude, Bike, Gift of Mutation (Shred), Lightning Claws (because I couldn’t know I’d roll Shred, alas)
WL trait- Flames of Spite (soul blaze for melee, self and unit)
Basically a bobo Lucius who exists to unlock my Noise Marines, I joined him to a unit of 3 unmarked Chaos Spawn. The rest of the list was a pair of 10-man Noise Marine units, kitted out with max Sonics (including flamers on the champs) in Rhinos with Dirge Casters and Havoc Launchers.
Daemons: 1000 Points
GUO: WL trait- reroll warp storm
Greater- S8 Lance with the dopest AP
Greater- Reroll Invuln
Lesser- Plague Flail
Psychic powers were a delightful boat of Enfeeble, Iron Arm, and Life Leech, guaranteeing that my first trip out of the gate with my Great Unclean One would see him an undying combat monster.
I also included a flying Prince of Nurgle with a Balesword and Fireshield. I’ve taken to rolling Pyromancy with Princes when I can spare the points, and it’s entirely out of a desire to hit Fiery Form, which is incredible on a Daemon Prince. It combines Forewarning with the killy part of Iron Arm, plus Soul Blaze for flavor. I’ll settle for Fire Shield on a Nurgle Prince, though, since it gives him a 2+ cover save all the time, even if the defensive fire hits aren’t likely to come into play.
The rest of the Daemon list is comprised of Ephialtes the Soul Grinder (MoN and Bombardment) and 12-body units of Daemonettes and Bloodletters, the latter with the lesser reward axe and an Icon.
Sitting on the couch, watching Farscape and checking Buzzfeed, my wife seizes for CSM. It’s perhaps the fourth 6 she’s thrown in twelve dice. Because the table’s so small, the Rhinos don’t really need to go anywhere, and in my excitement to actually have guns I start shooting before I’ve technically taken my movement phase. I scoot my Spawn and Lord forward, as they were the only units I planned to move in the turn.
From rhino one, two blastmasters get direct hit and zero deviation to collectively pulp six daemonettes, while I deviate away with the Rhino’s launchers (forgetting that twin-linked could have fixed this because, again, first time firing a launcher!) and miss with their bolters. The Brand of Skalthrax drops another 2 Daemonettes, surprising me with its relatively low strength; I’ve been spoiled by Doom Sirens. I’m already regretting not laying the S8 blasts on the DP instead of the daemonettes, since seizing put me in position to shoot him before he takes off.
During the assault phase the Spawn and Lord charge into the Daemonettes, with the Lord issuing a challenge. I expect the Daemonettes to all swing first, but then I remember that CSM get these things called assault grenades. That turns out not to matter, since Hammer of Wrath actually kills the Alluress, which is certainly a narrative-forging image. The Spawn collectively amass 18 attacks, only managing six hits out of that quanity; that ends up being enough to drop the daemonettes due to wretched invuln rolling. I consolidate the Spawn into the “woods” so they’re protected from Daemon shooting, and end the turn.
The bloodletters come in for the Daemons, which land right next to the CSM Rhino I wanted them to threaten. The DP activates his Fireshield, jumps the Spawn, and prepares to charge into them. The GUO enfeebles the Spawn, boosts himself with Iron Arm, and sets up to assault into the other Rhino. Ephialtes lets me drop my first Large Blast template–so exciting!–and chip some more life off of the Spawn. The GUO tries shooting his Rhino, whiffs such that even though I forgot to deny the witch it proves irrelevant, and when I remember Warp Storm I get 11; the cruelest result when there are no enemy Psykers on the board.
The DP charges into the Spawn, taking a wound from the Brand; Ephialtes fails his assault with a three, and the GUO shrugs off the overwatch as he waddles into a Rhino.
The GUO’s assault punches both Rhino guns off before smashing the box, leaving some hits sitting on the table! The Noise Marines bail, while I remember to roll on the Reward table for my Lord killing a character and his WS goes up one. Turns out not to matter, though, as the DP clips his head off with the first Balesword win to cut through the Lord’s guard. Baleswords have done well by me in my brief time playing this game, turning any fight with a durable Nurgle baddy into a high-stakes affair. With enfeeble, any wound would have been Instant Death, but I don’t tell the DP that. With a Warlord kill under his belt, the Daemon Prince is happy to hang out in a relatively dangerless assault for the CSM turn.
I was pumped to Tank Shock, but it turns out that the incredible consequences of that I saw in a Cities of Death game a few weeks ago were the result of wargear on the Ork Trukks, not an intrinsic element of the maneuver itself. Instead, I squeak the remaining Rhino over to the relic and disgorge the Noise Marines around the Relic. I bring my other Noise Marines a little closer to their wrecked Rhino, willing to bait the bloodletters to charge into them along with the GUO rather than have them charge into my Relic seekers.
Unfortunately, the mass of shooting I thought I was going to do ends up not happening, because my Marines can’t see the bloodletters and nothing they have available post-move can even dent Ephialtes. That, by the way, is going to be a theme; Ephialtes basically walks through everything in the next two games, partially because there are some rules I don’t know but mostly because I struggle to balance moving my Marines into position and getting the strong Blastmaster shots off.
The other Noise Marines do get to shoot from a stationary position, and choose to put their rounds into the bloodletters; again, I probably should have thrown the Blastmasters at Ephialtes, but I didn’t realize how brutal he’d be and do know how effectively bloodletters cut through marines. The Blastmasters take out six bloodletters, though the rest of the sonic blasters manage to kill one. The Noise Champion then drops a bloodletter with his bolter, because he’s a damn champion. Or a damned champion. The remaining Rhino takes out another four with his Havoc Launcher, reducing that unit to a minor threat.
With the bloodletters reduced to linebreakers at best, I turn to assault. The DP lays about with his instant death weapon, but the way wounds allocate he ends up dropping both of the already-wounded Spawn instead of doing an impressive 3-in-1 killing stroke on the fresh Spawn. The survivor, poisonous for this round, puts a wound on the DP.
On the Daemon side, the Marines deny the GUO’s enfeeble while he Iron Arms himself. The bloodletters tuck into some ruins, willing to hide and try for a late-game victory point on the line. Ephialtes creeps up on the Relic, spitting something lime-green and nasty that wipes out 5 Marines (S8 negating their Feel No Pain icon) with a direct hit. I do, indeed, pump a fist in the air. The GUO remembers he rolled Hell Gaze, and applies it directly to the Marines in front of him, followed by going for a Lifeleech. This results in three hits and three kills, thanks to the utterly brutal AP on everything my GUO shoots. Now we’re into assaults, with the Grinder declaring against the out of coherence marines while the GUO tries to trundle about two inches and bring the fight to the Marines.
In the DP assault, my Prince rolls execrably. Five swings with a six-point WS discrepancy manages two hits and a single wound; luckily, Instant Death. He moves closer to the assault with Ephialtes, the better to pursue the Relic in the event it somehow gets away. Hint, it won’t, because all these Fearless Marines are going to stand and die against enemies that they can’t kill. Ephialtes pulps two Marines. With FNP in place, the GUO only chops down one Marine, but they are trying to wound him using one Krak grenade a round thanks to his Iron Arm, so odds aren’t really in their favor.
With Ephialtes tearing through the Marine unit, it drops the Relic. Now I’m eyeing it with my bloodletters, wondering if I should push them into position to grab it, and equally unsure that I’d even have sufficient turns to get them off the map.
Fearing exactly what I just said, my remaining Rhino drives southwest to snipe at the ‘letters. One’s in view, and I center a plate on him in the hopes of taking out the nearest two. Alas, I only pop one. That puts all the others out of sight so my bolter’s no use.
In the assault with Ephialtes, the Krak fails to strike (so many ones, so many). Note that this is a few rolls before I process that a Krak grenade is not S8 but rather range eight. Ephie drops a Marine, and as we move to the other assault another Krak whiffs. The GUO drops another two marines in retribution, killing the all-important icon-bearer in the process.
Jumping back to the Daemons, the GUO’s blessing and malediction both go off, with the Iron Arming as much as it possibly could. His marine unit fails to deny, so even without Iron Arm they’re in a position where everything’s instant death…not that this matters without the icon, but when else am I going to play someone I can gloat over this hard?
The DP flies up behind the Rhino, ready to crack its rear armor. The bloodletters manage seven inches of movement through the ruins, gunning for the Relic in case tabling the CSM takes too long. In the Grinder combat, Ephialtes is once again unKracked. He punches the last non-champ Marine and reduces it to a smear. My GUO
Over six dice I throw five 1s and a 2. My DP can’t fail his assault, so he gets up ins. And…incredibly…amazingly…astoundingly, my DP manages zero hits against the Rhino’s rear armor. I certainly can’t fault the dice, they’re turning this solitaire game into something with a ton of ups and downs. All of my killy things are tied up in assaults except the DP, and my fixation on assaulting with him means he’s actually somewhat vulnerable to a full-on fusillade from the Rhino. I resolve to Soar with him next turn, relying on a vector strike to drop the Rhino, and fully prepared for the dice to give the Rhino the win.
The Rhino spins towards the DP and fires at full BS, but only manages wound which fails to beat the DP’s armor. In the Ephialtes assault I finally re-read and realize Kraks are only S6, not 8. This combat will hopefully, mercifully, end…now. Punched into the earth, the Noise Champion dies with a snarl frozen to his porcelain-daemon face. The GUO similarly puts his fight to bed, and even a madman concedes at this point.
So after this fight, I can definitely better understand the value of the Powerfist; combined with Look Out Sirs to keep its wielder alive, I could probably have killed at least one of the two big Daemon monsters in melee.