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Counter Offensive 2
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2: Witch Hunters
by Ken Lacy
That said, I'm glad that I played Tau for a few years first, before switching to Sisters. Playing Tau, particularly when you play as competitively as I do, I learned the value of never making mistakes. The times I lost with Tau, it was almost always because I had made some rather glaring tactical or strategic mistake -- during deployment, movement, or occasionally shooting. Rarely was it simply bad dice (although occasionally even that happens. This is a game with dice, after all).
Sisters of Battle require a similar care and patience, and conservative game-play. They are an army that will sustain shocking losses over the course of a game, so you want to make sure that the losses are always worth it. You don't want to make a lot of mistakes with Sisters, or you will lose, and lose badly.
That said, here are seven things I learned over the weekend.
1. Read your codex and accompanying FAQ! I managed to make me an illegal list (the one posted here), because I had Sisters squads of 9 in Rhinos. The minimum squad size for a Troops choice of Sisters of Battle is 10. There were a few other things that FAQ changed, too. Thanks to Chris Robinson for pointing it out!
The matriarch of local preceptory of the Order of the Sacred Rose cast a rather skeptical look at her erstwhile junior 'colleague'. Canoness Commander Foxxy Cleopatra of the Swinging Order of Sisters was not only most shockingly young, but sported an almost sinfully gaudy array of colors as livery, which only highlighted the bright colors of her power armor and her decidedly unorthodox haircut... and yet she looked positively tame compared to the units under her command. And it might have just been young Cleopatra's dialect of Imperial Gothic, but to the matriarch is seemed an appalling mish-mash of informalities and colloquialisms held together by a total disregard for the conventions of proper grammar and seasoned with a complete lack of honorifics.This little battle was a 2-on-2 megabattle pitting the Necron forces under Kenton Kilgore and Rob van Pelt-Cathcart against the Witch-hunter armies of Ken Lacy and Pat Eibel. After a full day of Counter-Offensive gaming, we piled into the spacious and well-equipped Eibel basement and came up with the nefarious details: 1000 points apiece, to fit into a single 2000-point force organization chart apiece. The Necron Overlords cackled a great deal, and eventually came up with:
The allied Witch Hunters were a bit more limited by the model selection, but after much hemming and hawing threw out the following:
Keepin' it real! Pat (left) and Ken (right) represent
This accomplished, we threw a mass of 'industrial' and Necromunda terrain on the table, randomly scattered all of it 3d6 inches, then rolled for mission: Seek & Destroy (Alpha).
Immediately, this was going to be an uphill fight for the Necrons: they started the game with a total of six scoring units, whereas the Witch Hunters had no less than TWELVE. Twice as many. But the Necrons were quite game, and thus we rolled for sides and deployed our units.
The Necrons ended up deployed relatively conservatively, spreading out in a large mass hiding in and behind a number of buildings and other terrain in the middle of their deployment zone. They were spread out in large part because of the Leman Russ, of course.
The Witch Hunters capitalized on this by setting up almost entirely on the right half of the board, with the two tanks (Russ, Exorcist) and a unit of Retributors anchoring the left, a unit of (dismounted) Stormtroopers and all the allied Guard in the center, backed by a stationary Chimera, and four mobile units (Stormtroopers + Canoness, Celestials + Canoness, two Sisters squads) on the right flank, prepared to go barreling across the board and smashing into the Necron left. The right flank had been chosen because it had great LOS to most of the other deployment zone. One lone unit of Retributors set up well to the left of all this, but in a very nicely fortified position with decent LOS.
The Witch Hunters responded by blowing away all the Immortals and both Necron Lords. The Exorcist managed to get LOS, and combined with the firepower of two Divinely Guided units of Retributors, the Immortals were simply vaporized! On the right flank, four Witch-Hunter transports raced forward and deposited two units of Sisters onto the Necron left flank. After a burst of flame and Divine Guidance, backed up by the ranged firepower of Imperial Guard support units, a over half of a Necron Warrior unit was gone!
Not pausing to savor that sweet victory, the Witch Hunters proceeded to wipe out the damaged Warrior squad -- the few survivors that stood up again joined another unit. The Sisters on the right flank re-embarked, and their Rhinos trundled ever deeper into the Necron left flank.
The Witch-Hunter right flank, faced with this mass of Necrons in their midst, unloaded in their entirety. Backed by the furious firepower of nearby Guardsmen, hit by multiple Divinely Guided flamers, blasted by Exorcist missiles, and riddled with meltagun (and Multimelta) fire, the Necrons and the Lord were dropped to a man...er...Necron. And there was much (Witch-Hunter) rejoicing! Elsewhere, the Necron right flank was finally moving into range, and took a few pot-shots from Retributors as they moved up.
With just three units of Necrons left facing them, the Witch Hunters chose to vent their fury on the unit closest to their lines, not coincidentally also the most exposed (and out of terrain). A unit of 15 Warriors was reduced to a mere two, although five subsequently stood up again the turn after.
With the Light of the Emperor shining on them, the fleeing Retributors held firm -- but still could not fire their heavy bolters. The LOS angles were ghastly, and only a few Exorcist and Retributor pot-shots could be taken at the recently teleported Necron menace -- as a result, only a handful went down, all to stand back up again. On the right flank, the 'mobile' units, badly out of position, raced to lend support to the threatened Witch-hunter left flank.
In the bottom of the last turn, the Witch Hunter right flank arrived, and with Divinely Guided flame and massed meltagun action, wiped another squad of Necron filth off the face of the planet. And, with that, there were just twenty Necrons left on the table: a half-strength unit of five, and a full-strength unit of fifteen. The Necrons phased out, and the field was left to the much relieved, and very happy, Witch Hunters.
Outcome: Witch Hunters win
By comparison, the Necrons lost over 3/4 of their army -- thus, they phased out. They had just one intact scoring unit at that time.
What did it was the overwhelming, and overwhelmingly nasty, long-range firepower of the Witch Hunters. With two Divinely Guided Retributor units, and Exorcist, a Russ (though granted, it was blown up right away), two Chimeras, and three IG heavy weapons, the Necrons simply couldn't compete at long ranges. And, when they teleported in to try it up-close, they were unable to compete with the close-range firepower that the Witch Hunters could put out that way.
Unfortunately, the Necrons didn't take two Veils of Darkness. But the mobility and firepower afforded to them by an indestructible Monolith or two could have greatly aided their chances against an army like the Witch Hunters.
Ken was pleasantly surprised that Sisters of Battle perform so well against Necrons, though he suspects that Destroyers and Monoliths would make things a wee bit trickiers.
Pat was sufficiently impressed with the sheer nastiness of short-range Sisters firepower (and faith points) that he's decided to cut way down on the number of guardsmen and Stormtroopers he uses, and max out on Sisters, if possible.
Rob was quite stoic about the loss, and already coming up with evil schemes to have his revenge. He was also quite rightly confident that a different deployment pattern would have caused the Witch Hunters far more trouble than the one in this game.
And Kenton was left shaking his head in bemusement at how truly evil Sisters of Battle are on the battlefield. He was careful to mention this at least two or three dozen times as he carefully packed away his Warriors -- of which not a single one survived the battle.
© Copyright Ken
Lacy, September 2005. Used with permission.
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