Thursday, 4 April 2013

A Proxy Army

I have exciting - well, for me - news and some pictures of painted models for you! But first; a battle report.

I have had for some years (since 2005 at least) a small collection of Games Workshop's Tallarn Imperial Guard. They are basically 1930s Jordanian Arab Legion in space, and in my corner of the Imperium of Humanity they represent the 8th Drokharan Taureg Legion's 7th Ashkar. Because JY is collecting Tau and basing them for fighting in a desert, and because my Taureg Legionnaires are desert based, and because my cardboard adobe Middle-Eastern-style buildings are, well, what they are, I have decided to try and build this little collection into a fully fledged army.

So today I took the list - 1500 points - to AC's place for a game against his Blood Angel successors. The majority of my army was comprised of proxy figures using my old reliables, the Karaboudjani Kataphraktoi (who have been fighting in the 41st Millenium for a decade now).

I fielded the following:

7th Ashkar:

Ashkar Command Squad:
Ra'ed (MAJ) Tafiqi Bey - boltgun.
Lascannon team, plasma gunner; medic

Commissar Lawrence - plasma pistol, power sword.

Ministorum Priest Balthazar - shotgun, eviscerator.

Elites 1:
Stormtrooper Squad Theta-Six-Eight:
Didn't actually take part - I forgot them!

Troops 1:
First Platoon HQ:
Molazim Awal (1/LT) Mehmet Ali - plasma pistol, sword
Lascannon team, plasma gunner, medic

1 Squad:
Raqeeb (SGT) - lasgun
Rocket launcher team, grenade launcher, 6 Legionnaires

2 Squad:
Raqeeb (SGT) - lasgun
Heavy bolter team, grenade launcher, 6 Legionnaires

3 Squad:
Raqeeb (SGT) - lasgun
Autocannon team, sniper, 6 Legionnaires

Troops 2:
Second Platoon HQ:
Molazim Thani (2/LT) Ataman Zaed - plasma pistol, sword
Lascannon team, plasma gunner, medic

1 Squad:
Raqeeb (SGT) - lasgun
Rocket launcher team, grenade launcher, 6 Legionnaires

2 Squad:
Raqeeb (SGT) - lasgun
Heavy bolter team, grenade launcher, 6 Legionnaires

3 Squad:
Raqeeb (SGT) - lasgun
Autocannon team, sniper, 6 Legionnaires

Fast Attack 1:
Sentinel Troop:
3 Scout Sentinels - multilasers, hunter-killer missiles; searchlights.

Fast Attack 2:
Sentinel Troop:
3 Scout Sentinels - multilasers; hunter-killer missiles

That worked out to 1,285 as I'd forgotten the Stormtroopers. Completely. Never mind!

AC took:

Bangles Successors:

Astorath the Grim
5 Terminators
5 Death Company with jump packs - power weapon, thunder hammer, pistols and chainswords
10 Assault Marines - flamer, plasma pistol, lightning claws, pistols and chainswords
Death Company Dreadnought - Blood Talons and all the bells and whistles (I suspect)
Dreadnought - Multi-melta and storm bolter
10 Devastators - Signum, 2 plasma cannons, heavy bolter, rocket launcher; bolters
Predator - Autocannon, sponson lascannons

I think that was it.

We used the Battle Missions book with 5th Edition 40K rules, rolling up 'Trench Warfare' - a mission tailor made for Guard (hurrah)! We also added in, for the first time, the Death World rules - utterly mental and so bizzare that we decided the only way the events could be happening as described was if we were fighting on a Daemon world. Ho hum.

After deployment we each had d6 x 6"x1" strips of defences to place - either tank traps (impassible to vehicles and 5+ cover for infantry) or razorwire (difficult, dangerous for infantry and squishable by vehicles). Any units in the open were assumed to be dug in and in receipt of a 4+ cover save that would be lost the moment the unit moved.

There were four objectives - a holy relic, an ancient suit of armour, a fallen Marine commander, and a treasure chest.

Then the kicker - only Troops and Heavy Support units without transports could be deployed! I rejoiced, AC cursed.

Deployment: To my right, a squad of meltagunners in a foxhole behind some razorwire. Then First Platoon in the ruined three-story building holding the ancient suit of armour, then Second Platoon - 2 Squad is off screen to the left of the command squad. First Platoon's mortars are behind the building. The strips of paper are mostly razorwire.

I promptly rolled a '1' and gave first turn to AC.

End Marine Turn 1 (a)

Turn one was, I hoped, going to be uneventful. AC moved his Devastator Combat Squads into the trenches to gain the 3+ cover save they offered, and then... and then... he rolled on the Death World chart. And the building suddenly writhed with angry vegetation!

End Marine Turn 1 (b)

Aiee! Six men dead and a wound on the autocannon, and the enemy hadn't fired a shot! I resolved to equip the Taureg jundis (privates) with secateurs next time.

With that, it was my turn one, and my Tauregs settled in to exact a small measure of retribution for the deaths of their fellows.

End Guard Turn 1

And so they did! After the end of the shooting phase and the useless Death World roll (I forget what it was) five whole Space Marines were dead! Five! And it had only taken the efforts of nine squads of Guardsmen! The tenth - the meltagunners of 2 Platoon - had moved up to try and grab the treasure chest but had stumbled a bit during the move and hadn't got close enough either to claim cover from the wreck or contest the objective.

In the Space Marine's turn two, the sky suddenly ignited (I'm not making this up, it is a genuine result on the Hellscape Hazards table) meaning that any Deep Striking units would have to make a Dangerous Terrain test. Well, that's pointless, I thought, until the Death Company and Predator arrived. The Death Company deep struck onto my exposed left flank (eek) and looked poised to roll up my army, squad by squad, in the next few turns (aiee). The game seemed over already...

End Marine Turn 2

But I never give in that early! The plasma cannon in the left flank trench killed all six of the meltagunners, and on impact the Thunder Hammer wielding Death Company Marine was found to have been cooked inside his armour during the descent through the burning sky.

So now it was the fateful turn. I had to kill the Death Company, all of them, or otherwise I may as well pack up and go home. I was just lucky Astorath the Grim hadn't bothered to get up in time to join the Death Company. At this point JY called me, and I informed him I was probably going to be packing up and going home sooner rather than later.

Dutifully, fingers crossed, I rolled for my reserves. A sentinel troop and the crazed priest! Huzzah! I knew where they were going:

Enter the Cavalry! Turn 2

A hail of energy weapons fire and solid slugs (and mass-reactive armour-piercing rocket-propelled .75 calibre bolts) raked the Death Company, but in the end it was the hunter-killer missiles of the Sentinels and the Eviscerator of the priest that put paid to the frothing loonies.

Balthazar, wounded, but alive. Notice absence of 8' tall powered-armour wearing, jump-pack equipped, psychopathic blood-crazed supermen. Apparently pure faith (and a ruddy great big chainsaw) can defeat such things.

I rejoiced! Perhaps the battle could be won yet!

End Guard Turn 2

At the end of my turn two, Balthazar had joined up with 1/1PLAT and I was feeling a lot more comfortable. It had dawned on me that the likelihood was the Space Marines would be forced to feed units piecemeal into my guns, and my men were in the almost unheard of position of having a 50% chance of survival no matter what they were shot with. I still had most of my army in one piece (again unusual) and was holding an objective.

The Space Marines, however, still had Astorath the Grim, some very scary Dreadnoughts, Terminators, and a mob of Assault Marines. They could very well swing it their way.

End Marine Turn 3

In turn three, the Multi-Melta Dread came on, and the Predator blew the multilaser off one of the Sentinels. The Devastators broke 2/1PLAT and they fell back - but not off the board. I relaxed. It could have been much worse.

In my turn, 2/1PLAT rallied, and the Command Squad, Comissar, and remaining Sentinels arrived. Ra'eb Tafiqi Bey ordered his sentinels to 'Bring [the Predator] Down!' and they volleyed their hunter-killers at the distant tank. One hit, and rendered it combat ineffective for the next turn. Volleys of fire from the Guard lines finally put paid to the Devastators, removing a significant potential threat.

End Guard Turn 3

So the stage was set for a Guard victory. Perhaps. AC is a cunning and ruthless opponent who rarely misses a trick and against whom I never claim victory until the game ends and we have checked victory conditions.

By the way, the main reason that I haven't really mentioned the Death World table rolls is because I have forgotten what they were. They were crazy, bizzare, and rarely affected the game significantly.

In the next Marine turn, Astorath arrived. I was very, very worried. He could - all by himself - significantly alter my battleplan. Mainly by killing a lot of men.

The Dreadnought fired at my Sentinels on the left and did nothing, the Predator sat there, and Astorath fired his bolt pistol at 1/1PLAT ... doing nothing.

End Marine Turn 4 - Astorath just visible as a blur behind the Sentinels on the left.

I was rather panicked. I moved my Mortars towards Astorath, surrounded his rear with Sentinels, advanced the second Sentinel group to shoot at him, and rotated as many heavy weapons as I could to point at him. Over on the right flank, 2PLAT HQ sprinted for the holy relics on the tail section of the crashed Aquila lander, while 3/2PLAT gingerly picked their way through the razorwire towards the same objective, losing two men to it in the process.

Back on the left flank, my mortar squad shot at Astorath, doing nothing. Then the second squad to shoot at Astorath - 3/1PLAT - scored four hits (two lasgun and two autocannon) and three wounds. The following exchange took place:

Me: "How many wounds does he have?"
AC: "Three, I think." *rolls dice*

Guard Shooting Phase, Turn 4, The Saving ThrowThat Killed Astorath

THREE ONES! That's a 1:216 chance, maths fans! Astorath has a 2+ armour save and a 4+ invulnerable save... and he was DEAD. The autocannon and a lasgun had got him, and from now on 3/1PLAT will be remembered as the killers of Astorath... at least in my head.

I was sure to win now. I hoped. But there was still the Terminators and Assault squad to contend with, and the Furioso Death Company Dreadnought.

End Guard Turn 4 

The Marine reinforcements finally arrived en masse in Turn 5... except the Terminators, because AC forgot. He forgot. He never forgets. He must have been more rattled by Astorath getting slotted than he was letting on! 

Anyway. The Furioso plodded on behind the Predator, the Assault Squad slammed home next to the Holy Relics, and the biggest single loss of the game was about to be inflicted by his troops on mine. The Assault Marines flamered and bolt pistol'd 2PLAT HQ to death with contemptuous ease. 

I grinned. The game was in the bag now. And then his tank shot apart the remains of 2/1PLAT, leaving just the grenadier and Raqeeb standing. I winced. Now I had nothing holding or contesting any of the objectives, or so I thought. 

(I forgot to take a picture of End Marine Turn 5)

I responded by double-timing 1/1PLAT and Balthazar towards the treasure chest, and firing everything I had at the Assault Marines, aiming to take them down below half strength. Coherent bolts of energy, sniper rounds, autocannon shells, grenades, anti-tank rockets, mortar bombs, and bolt shells hammered into the exposed Marines, felling six of them. 

I had done all I could. I wasn't sure it was going to be enough. I rolled the dice to see if the game ended... and it did.

End Guard Turn 5, and End Game.

I measured the distance to the objectives, and we checked the rules on holding them. I had won! 2-0! Any Troops unit that isn't fleeing can hold an objective, and I had two - held by 1/1PLAT and 2/1PLAT - while the Relic on the tail section of the Aquila was over 3" from the Assault Marines!

Victory - at last - was mine! 

I couldn't crow too much, though, as the scenario really worked against Andy here. I think my army performed well, though, and at this rate I'll get the hang of the 5th Edition Codex just in time for the 6th Edition one to roll around. 

I made my usual amount of mistakes - making the meltagun squad leave cover too early, target priority, that sort of thing - but survived largely intact because the enemy was forced into my guns unit by unit and destroyed piecemeal.

Good job it was only a training exercise, eh, folks? 

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