Monday 28 March 2022

Crusade Battle Report - Adeptus Mechanicus vs Crimson Fists


Time for game three of the Grim Dice Crusade League with my Ryza Adeptus Mechanicus aka The Helios Explorator Fleet. After a pair of wins in game one and two, I'd be up against tougher opposition in this round of games, and first up it was Kerryn and his Crimson Fists. Last time I played him was in the last round of the January 2020 (remember those days?) Grim Dice tournament when I got battered by his Centurion spam, so while this Crusade league is a different beast entirely, I was preparing to get a little bit battered.

Once again from the Plague Purge mission pack, this time at Incursion level, we were playing the Tip of the Spear mission, an attacker and defender mission with four standard objectives, a funky chevron deployment map and a bonus special rule for each player. Attacking units got +1 to advance and charge, while defenders got to ignore combat attrition modifiers (or ignore morale entirely if they already did) and use the overwatch stratagem for free.

Tech Priest Manipulus Eldane Katronosa was joined by their usual cohort - Destroyers, Vanguard, Ruststalkers and Sterylizors, and new additions: three Kataphron Breachers with heavy arc rifles and six Serberys Sulphurhounds. By the grace of the Omnissiah, they were also assigned The Implacable Guardians, a pair of Kastelan Robots, and their handler, Cybernetica Datasmith Cykent Bosk. 

For this mission the Ryza forces were attacking the Crimson Fists - presumably they had some valuable archeotech and refused to yield ground for it's rightful recovery. One of my agendas was to search a random objective for archeotech components, and of course it was the one in the Fists' deployment zone, so that checks out.

The Crimson Fists, led by Captain Razal Solano, were fielding a full Primaris infantry force with plenty of experience among them already. Two squads of Intercessors with auto-bolt rifles and one of Veteran Intercessors were backed up by Hellblasters (a squad of both heavy and assault variants) and six boltstorm Aggressors. A sprinkling of upgrades (including a relic powerfist on the Vet. Intercessor Sergeant and an up gunned heavy plasma rifle for the Hellblaster Sergeant) meant I was behind on Crusade points and would get some bonus CP.

Deployment. As is their way the Sterylizors stayed in the skies while most of the vulnerable infantry concealed themselves where possible. Notably Captain Solano stood out in the open, (earning the moniker 'Captain Big-bollocks') though in truth he was protected by a squad behind the ruins - all posturing from these Space Marines.

Katronosa evidently made the calculated risk to offer the Fists a chance to surrender, because they immediately pounced on their attackers, guns blazing. Lessons learned - don't expect reason from Astartes.

In turn one the Crimson Fists got into firing positions, while the Aggressors advanced up to a central objective. The Hellblasters got somewhat unlucky, the machine spirits of their weapons rebelling against being turned on their creators, and suffered a series of fatal weapon overloads in killing a couple of the Breachers and damaging a robot (which reflected some mortal wounds at the heavy 'blasters).

The Veteran Intercessors however proved their worth with a withering volley of bolt fire to completely remove the Sulphurhounds.

In my turn one the AdMech forces moved up to get some shots in and line up some key charges - Kastelan Robots vs  Aggressors and Ruststalkers vs the Veteran Intercessors. Shooting took out the assault Hellblasters (Katronosa getting the killing blow with the upgraded Magnarail Lance) but the Kataphron Destroyers produced a poor volley to only kill one of the heavy variants.

In melee the charges were successful and the Ruststalkers cut down two of the Veterans (could have done with more mortal wounds here - I really needed to kill these guys!) Datasmith Bosk electro-shocked the Aggressors to ensure they would be fighting last so the Robots could have a crack at them - going into Conqueror Protocols and killing three (the others saved by their trans-human physiology.) In response one robot and all the Ruststalkers fell.

A mixed turn one, but leaning in favour of the fists, if they could capitalise on it.

Turn two, the Crimson Fists moved up to put the boot in. Intercessor units in the ruins came out to play, while the remaining Hellblasters charged up and remove the Destroyers, handily winning their duel. 

Captain Solano stepped up to deal with the last robot, but failed his four inch charge (with a reroll - quad ones!) The Kastelan punched another Aggressor to death.

The remaining Veteran Intercessors made it through the wall into melee with the last Breacher, punching it to death and picking up their third unit kill. They followed up by piling into the improved strength Vanguard and suriving the return attacks.

The Vanguard were able to pile into the objective to claim it for the start of my turn, but at this stage there wasn't much left on the table for me and no good places for the Pteraxii, so they stayed in the sky. The Kastelan did manage to kill the last Aggressors, though I was hoping to do it in shooting so it could charge the Captain. Sadly it wasn't to be, and even though the Vanguard Alpha did good work with his taser goad, the Sergeant of the Veteran Intercessors remained to eventually wipe the unit.

Crimson Fist turn three and it was time to turn the screws. The heavy hellblasters combined with bolter volleys from the Intercessors to finally down the last robot. With just one model left on the board - Eldane Katronosa - Captain 'Big-bollocks' Solano stepped up, actually passed the charge this time, and punched out the Tech-priest.

In my turn three the game had definitely gone, but it's Crusade so there was still glory (and experience) to play for. The Pteraxii Sterylizors dropped in and proceeded to roast the lone Veteran Sergeant from those distructive Intercessors, getting a measure of revenge (and a bunch of XP since he was on an objective and that achieved an agenda.) In turn four Captain Solano cleared them away with his dual fists, leaving no active combatants for the forces of Ryza. A victory for the Crimson Fists.

Clearly, this could have gone better - (though at least I did kill some units this time round!) But it was not all doom and gloom, since with the experience for taking part a lot of my units ticked over to Blooded rank. Sadly the Robots and Sulphurhounds were damaged and got no experience out of it, but all of my original 25 PL force are now rocking some form of upgrades.

The Skitarii units received battle traits from the AdMech book, the Ruststalkers getting Enhanced Bionics (giving them a 4+ invulnerable save) while the Sterylizors received Blessed Bodies (mini transhuman, can't be wounded on twos.) I felt that it seemed a bit odd to give the Destroyers a 'trait' so opted to go for a weapon upgrade on one of the Plasma Culverins - getting two rolls since it's not a character or vehicles/monster, and ending up with +1 strength and AP.

Finally Eldane Katronosa was both rewarded and wounded - a chest wound reducing their wounds characteristic by one and a battle trait from the AdMech book - Teleportation Node. This ability lets them jump into reserves at the start of a movement phase, to be deployed back in my deployment zone the next turn. A bit niche but could prove to be a powerful trick!

Anyway, that's two wins and a loss for the Second Cohort - including two battles against other Imperial forces! Obviously they are not here to make friends, only to recover archeotech - and there will be more opportunities. Hopefully you've enjoyed reading, thanks for checking this post out, and stay safe!

Tuesday 22 March 2022

Battle Report - Orks and Harlequins vs Tau


This one is a bit of a throwback to pre-pandemic days when I used to play with John a lot and we played a couple of four players games in the early days of Grim Dice, before they had a store. I teamed up with Ken running some nice new Harlequins, while John was joined by Jim, both of them with new Tau. Not having any space elves, I took Orks, being fellow children of the Old Ones. With three out of the four of us with new books, being a bit rusty and us all not really having met up since the lockdowns began, it was destined to be a not particularly serious game with plenty of mistakes!

With that in mind we opted to try and keep it simple, with 1000 points a player, acting as two complete 2k lists (with the exception that our alliance didn't break our faction rules) and using the Only War mission from the core rules - basically four objectives, a point for each one held in the command phase, that's pretty much it.

For my detachment I went Beast Snagga themed - 15 of the Boyz, Squighogs, Nob on Smasha Squig and Mozrog Skragbad to lead them. A unit of five Meganobz in a Trukk provided some extra muscle and a couple of ten strong units of Boyz and a Weirdboy rounded out the force with some utility.

The Boyz were joined by Ken's Harlequins - three Troupes in Starweavers, three Skyweaver jetbkes, a Troupemaster, Shadowseer and a couple of Deathjesters - one of which had some crazy exploding sixes rule and a way to get an automatic six to hit.

John and Jim both took Farsight Enclaves for ease of use, with John having written both lists weeks in advance (and Jim apparently having read his half the night before!)

John (camouflaged) took Farsight, a scary burst cannon Coldstar commander, some Fire warriors, two missile armed Broadsides and a big mixed loadout Crisis blob that started off the board.

Jim (blue and red) had Shadowsun, some more Fire warriors, a Ghostkeel, a sneaky Gun Drone squad and a pair of Riptides. Plenty of dakka in these lists!

Deployment, trying to take advantage of terrain where possible and with the Boyz mobs on a couple of objectives. I had a strong presence on the right flank while the 'quins were poised to sweep round on the left. Luckily we rolled first turn, giving us a chance to move up before all those guns hit us.

Our turn one movement wasn't too fancy, just shoving everything forward apart from the objective holders and tucking in behind cover where possible. In the psychic phase the jetbikes got protected from being targeted at long range, and the Wierdboy cast Da Jump - rolling a double one...

But then succeeding with a reroll. The Beast Snagga Boyz jumped up and over to the Tau lines, within charge range of a couple of juicy infantry squads and behind a wall for overwatch.

Our shooting was fairly minor - putting a bit of damage on the Ghostkeel, but we were hoping for more in melee...

Sadly, for us, the Boyz failed their charge, which could have made things very interesting early on. Instead the Trukk managed to Ramming Speed into the Ghostkeel, giving the Tau something to think about (and causing John to question Jim's placement of the suit!)

In Tau turn one, they... well they did Tau things. Thanks to the Harlequins' various protective rules against ranged firepower, most of the guns got pointed at me. The Trukk, Meganobz, Beastsnagga Boyz and Squighog riders all melted under the barrage. Brutal! However this did leave the 'quins open to cause mayhem.

Turn two, we scored a couple of points and then our remaining forces pressed the attack. WAAAGH! Was called, and Mozrog (who had survived being shot by a Riptide) got into position to have a go at Shadowsun, while the Harlequins moved around to get charges all over the place. The Weirdboy had a go at Jabbin Fingerz on the Broadsides, but he double one'd it, even with a CP reroll!

This time the Harlequin shooting was more potent, with the mortal wounds from the Skyweavers combining with shuriken cannons to take out one of the Riptides. A few Tau infantry were killed as well, and one of the Death Jesters nearly killed the burst Commander.

Charges happened. The Troupes made a mess of a Fire Warrior team, while on the other side of the board another unit combined with my characters to take out the Ghostkeel, which forcefully exploded dealing mortals to a range of our units, and disuading my Nob on Smasha Squig from piling into the Broadsides thanks to their improved melee profile!

The duel in the middle ended in disapointment as, thanks to her drones, Shadowsun survived Mozrog and Big Chompa's onslaught with a single wound remaining! 

Tau turn two, and the Crisis Suits arrived. They picked up a point for an objective, then had an extensive discussion about where to place their units. John wanted to use the suits to take a more central objective with their move-after-shooting stratagem, while Jim wanted them to go after an objective in our territory currently covered with Ork Boyz. After much debate, John suggested that Jim should "play your own game" while he focused in his unit. As such a Riptide moved over to hold the objective John wanted to control, meaning he might as well go for the Ork held one. A true big-brain 4D chess moment! 

In any case the Tau once again did Tau things, killing almost all the remaining Orks, including dropping Mozrog (though he got back up again with his warlord trait) - leaving just a couple in the unit on the Objective so the Crisis Suits could charge in. Perhaps against the odds, the Nob managed to survive on one wound (even saving on a 6 a late attack from a forgotten drone), then promptly used the auto pass morale strat to hang in their and Obsec the Objective.

In our turn three I had two models left so a pretty easy time of it. Ken's Quins turned their guns on the last Riptide, killing it thanks to nine hits from three shots by the Death Jester. They also removed the last of the Fire Warriors. Mozrog braved the Broadside overwatch, getting away with it to reach melee and kill off their drones.

In Tau turn three they were a bit behind on the objectives, but they were about to go about clearing the field. The Broadsides failed to kill Mozrog with close range shooting, and having opted to split fire, wasted their smart missile shots. The burst commander made a mess of a couple of Harlequin troupes, while the Crisis team and newly dropped in Gun Drones blasted that Death Jester and knocked the 'quins off their objectives (while also killing the last Nob with some token fire).

At the end of turn three it came down to Farsight eyeing up a charge on Mozrog - if he didn't get him those Broadsides might have been in trouble! He made the charge and just about took off the Snakebite Warboss' last couple of wounds with his sweep attack!

With that we were just about running out of time (and I had run out of models!). We agreed that while the children of the Old Ones were ahead on points, the Tau controlled two objectives with their two toughest units and we didn't have much left to remove them - plus their shooting would surely kill whatever we plonked on the objectives - it was a narrow Tau victory, probably hinging on if Mozrog had survived and killed the Broadsides.

And that was that. Awesome chaotic fun with much rules confusion and good natured bickering thrown in. Seeing the new Tau and Harlequins in action was... something. I can definitely see why in optimised competitive scenes they are both a nightmare at the moment! Luckily in this kind of game it's all a bit of a laugh so it doesn't really matter that we got half the rules wrong!

Hope you enjoyed this report, it was a fun one to go back over. Thanks for reading, stay safe out there, and remember: Play your own game!

Thursday 17 March 2022

'Sponge Nid' Project Part Five - Heckin' Chonkers


To finish off the big spongey Tyranid project, here are a selection of some very large bugs (and some bonus Zoanthropes). This is, for now at least, the last of this project so they'll be boxed up soon and sent on to a hopefully very happy client, but not before I post a load of pictures of the last few models - and I think I've saved the best for last here.

Before that though, a quick recap. I used a combination of 'cheating' techniques like sponging and contrast paints to get a nice natural looking, but fairly efficient and easily replicated scheme. I've painted a swarm of little bugs, a host of medium ones, a herd of Carnifexes and a selection of big monsters so far, and now:

First up, a pair of Tyrannofexes. These are another of my favourite Nids, so it was fun to paint them. As you can see they were struggling to fit in the light box!

The Acid Spray is my favourite of these weapons - it looks really brutal and it's always fun to spew out a wave of auto-hitting attacks, especially if they melt elite infantry or take out low flying aircraft!

The somewhat phallic Rupture Cannon is probably the 'standard' option for these guys, filling the long range anti tank roll that traditionally Tyranids struggle with (unless you have 18 Hive Guard...) - however at time of writing a new Tyranid Codex is on the way, so who knows which option will be the best? With that in mind they've been magnetised so the client can use whichever version they want...

...Including the usually weak but always cool looking Fleshborer Hive!

Next up, some extra Zoanthropes. Always useful bugs, they have been modified to be finless like the other three from the medium bug post. This was kind of a test of the painting method to see how consistent they are with previous versions. Turns out, fairly close!

All six together - new at the front and old at the back. I think it's pretty hard to tell (aside from the missing 'legs' on the original three) so I'll call that a win.

Finally, something truly alien...

The Haruspex! What an absolutely crazy kit, turning the gribbly factor up to eleven! Using the tongue colour for all of it's grasping jaw tendril things, and covering it all with blood and gore, makes it really stand out!

I've actually got this kit myself - I was waiting for a new Codex to decide how to build it for my Nids, but I think it has to be the old Grabby Tongue now. Having previously painted an Exocrine, I know that is also a cool model, but it's just not nearly as fun as this monster!

Anyway, I've had fun with this one, and I hope you've enjoyed reading along. Thanks for checking out the blog, and stay safe out there!

Sunday 13 March 2022

Learning Age of Sigmar Part Two - Seraphon vs Legion of the First Prince


This is part two of my attempts to get into actually playing AoS, and in a similar style to part one, It's going to be kind of half battle report and half discussion about what I'm learning. Once again I was playing against Dargiris and his chaos forces - this time taking the form of an army of mixed daemons led by Be'lakor himself! It was matched play, 2000 points, this time the scenario was 'The Vice' - an interesting mission where four objectives in the corners converge onto a single centre point in turn four.

To make it easier on myself I stuck with the same subfaction, Coatl's Claw, Coalesced. Slightly different unit selection though with the addition of the Bastiladon. Still led by the Oldblood on Carnosaur, Skink Oracle and Slann, with three units of Saurus cavalry, two of ten Saurus Guard and then a couple of units of Skinks. This felt like I had a decent melee punch backed up with some magic and shooting and some chaff units to grab objectives or get in the way. I've no idea if this is 'good' but it definitely feels more like an army that's purposely designed to do something than the last list.

Be'lakor's forces featured himself, a Lord of Change, big blobs of Horrors and Bloodletters, a couple of small units of Plaguebearers and some Flamers. Initially at least, I was informed that summoning was definitely on the cards for this force, as were models coming back to units in the battleshock phase.

Deployment - pretty straightforward I think, we both put our most powerful units in the middle facing each other, with our cheaper units in the corners to claim the objectives. My cavalry were also taking up flanking positions, with one unit backing up. This time I tried not to block my units in too much, giving them room to go forwards and either close enough together to support one another or far enough away that they would be harder to tag into awkward melees. I think I got it more or less right this time.

We rolled for priority, and I lost, so Dargiris gave me first turn. It was mostly spent marching forward after some buffs were flung around in the hero phase. The Slann did get a good deal of mortal wounds off with his Comet's Call spell, which was nice. I also remembered to use his ability to make one unit +1 save vs shooting, which would potentially be relevant in this game, and I swapped out his lore spell for a different one - which then failed to cast for the rest of the game. But it's the thought that counts!

I think, aside from a few bits like the Troglodon's regeneration, I didn't miss too many hero phase abilities in this game, which I'll take as a win!

Shooting was a thing that happened - the Bastiladon lasered the Lord of Change, but he grew all his wounds back shortly after.

The Chaos turn one was pretty similar - they moved up, tried to cast some spells (the Slann was on pretty good form for denying spells) then did a bit of shooting. The Lord of Change got some good rolls and halved the Carnosaur, while the Horrors chipped a bit off the Troglodon. They did summon a unit of Daemonettes though to support the Bloodletters. We both scored points for holding our two objectives, and also got two points for our battle tactics - we both took one that awarded points for three units running and ending up close to one another.

Going into turn two, priority was won once again by Chaos, and first turn given once again to the Seraphon. I'm not sure if the double turn would have gone better for them or not - with the objectives closing in towards the centre it might have opened up an opportunity for me to sneak in behind?

Anyway, the lizards moved up across the lines, ready for some charges. Before that though some spells and abilities happened - and I learned that the Slann not only makes a unit +1 save vs missiles, but also lets them fly, so my Guard jumped out of the building they were in. I decided the forward melee troops had to go, targetting the Daemonettes with some effective firepower to all but eliminate them and then charging the Bloodletter blob with the Oldblood, Saurus Guard and Saurus Cavalry. Turns out, that does the trick. Coatl's Claw Saurus Cavalry put out a lot of damage on the charge!

On the flank the Trog and Cavalry charged into the Horrors. Between them they killed 21 of the 20 Horrors, leaving the unit 40 strong after splitting. I'm not sure if this was a mistake or not, the Horrors were never likely to be removed, but I did hold them back from swarming the centre. Perhaps it would have been better to just throw the Cavalry in and leave the Troglodon to stomp around elsewhere?

For the Chaos forces, it was time for Be'lakor to get involved. He charged in to kill off the Oldblood (fulfilling his battle tactic), while the Plaguebearers piled in to bog down my Cavalry. On the flank they combined with the Horrors to bring down the Troglodon (just - if I'd remembered to regenerate him he might have lived...)

I'm not sure if I kind of fell into the trap here, or if this was a good trade for me. No doubt the Bloodletters would have been a problem if I hadn't killed them, and because I'd charged forward my units were mostly on the Chaos side of the board - which netted me points again for the battle tactic - once again we were even on points at 9 a piece.

Turn three, this time Chaos first, and Be'lakor cut through a bunch of my Saurus Guard while the Plaguebearers and Horrors gummed up the works once more. Be'lakor was tempted to fly off to one of my objectives, but the handy Skinks were in position to control it anyway, so he stayed to fight. In my turn I decided I need to go big or go home, and gambled on killing the first prince. The Bastiladon rolled pretty hot, but Be'lakor was able to save or pass off most of the damage to the Plaguebearers. The Cavalry charge was hampered by a few Saurus Guard still living and being unable to fall back and get outside of 3 inches of everything, and as a result the big(ish) daemon lived. With a failed battle tactic that put me a couple of points behind, but in turn four the objectives disappeared to be replaced by one central one, pretty much slap bang on top of the Bastiladon.

We didn't really have time to play the last couple of turns, with me slightly behind but standing on the objective it was going to come down to the battle tactics to decide it, and we had no real way of knowing how that would go, so we called it a draw. After the last game I'll definitely take that!

I had a lot more fun this time and it definitely felt more like a game. With all the results possible at the end it felt like decision making was going to matter, rather than just throwing models and dice at each other. I don't think I got too many things wrong in terms of rules, but I'm not entirely sure what to take away from the game tactically. Should I have tried to hold back the Troglodon or the Cavalry rather than charge the Horrors? Perhaps on the charge the Cav could have taken out a unit of Plaguebearers? I don't know. It felt like there were two or three immovable blobs that I was able to keep away from the centre but in doing so perhaps I wasn't able to throw enough resources at Be'lakor when it came to it.

I'm still not really sure or worried about if what I'm taking is 'good' - my collection is fairly small anyway so I can't vary it up too much, but I think most of it performed pretty well. The Oracle on Troglodon was maybe the only thing that was a disappointment - didn't really do much damage in melee and failed a spell when it mattered, but possibly that was just me misplaying it. It does look really cool too!

So I think we can safely say I am learning this game - it was still slow progress but it is starting to come together. As an aside I really enjoyed this mission, it feels like it's designed to produce close games which is always appreciated. Hopefully there will be chance for a part three soon enough, and hopefully you'll check that one out as well. Thanks for reading, and stay safe out there.