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Events and Battle Reports
Counter Offensive 5
Intro <> Battle Summaries 1 <> Battle Summaries 2 <> Photos

Counter Offensive 5: Battle Summaries, Part 1
On August 9 and 10 2008, Dream Wizards, in Rockville, Maryland, hosted Counter Offensive 5,  a casual gathering of gamers for a weekend of 40K brutality. No entry fees, no registration, no tournament: just show up and play. In preparation for CO5, I had prepared various “concept army” lists. So how did those armies do? 


Fighting Tigers take on Eldar in the first battle at Counter Offensive 5

“Character” List (1500 points): Fighting Tigers of Veda Space Marines
This list was built around a specific character from my overly-large collection of Space Marines: you can find a description of it here. I played two games with this list, both against Eldar.


Matthew and his way-cool Eldar. I hope to play him--and them--again soon

The first was against Matthew Vile and his force from Craftworld Lugganath. The army included a Farseer, Rangers, Pathfinders, Jetbikes, a D-Cannon, Guardians with starcannons, Vypers, War Walkers, and Harlequins. Matthew deliberately limited all of unit sizes to prime numbers: 1, 3, 5, 7, 11, and 13—an excellent touch. As we set up and played, several people came by to admire Matthew’s excellent paint jobs on all his miniatures, and it was no surprise to me that he won the “Best Painting” prize being offered by Dream Wizards that day.


Some of Matthew's beautifully-painted Harlequins. The photo does not do them justice

We played a “Capture and Control” mission, using the “Spearhead” deployment. The first turn saw the Eldar fail to inflict any damage, while my Tigers gunned down all three Vypers. On the following turn, my Whirlwind killed most of Matthew’s Rangers, who spent the rest of the game falling back. An excellent start, but Matthew was far from beaten. 

On Turn Two, his War Walkers outflanked my forces and attacked my Command Squad and Whirlwind from behind. While the Walkers’ shooting only hurt a little, it was their subsequent charge and the following Assault Phases that did the most damage to my guys. The Walkers killed my Standard Bearer, my Apothecary, both flamer guys, wounded Captain Patel, and destroyed my Whirlwind. Meanwhile, my power-fisted Veteran Sergeant flailed uselessly, rolling snake-eyes to hit on two separate Assault Phases.


War Walkers outflank--and cause all kind of problems for--the Fighting Tigers

At the start of the battle, I had nominated both Scout Squads and the Veterans to outflank the Eldar and attempt to seize their objective, but bad rolls placed the “assault” Scouts (with bolt pistols and close combat weapons) and Vets on my end of the table, with no hope of reaching their goal. Trying to make the best of a bad situation, I threw them into the War Walkers and—with the help of my Dreadnought charging in and lending a hand—eventually, at the bottom of Turn Four, I managed to take down the last Walker. This ensured that the Tactical Squad I had on my objective would hold it for the rest of the game.


Tactical Squad Rudra 1 waits for the charge of the Lugganath Jetbikers

While I had been dealing with that melee, my other Tactical Squad had been steadily advancing along a flank, shrugging off gunfire from Pathfinders and chewing through charging Jetbikers. Opposite them, my Attack Bikes had zoomed relentlessly towards the Eldar deployment zone. On Turn Four, my “tactical” Scouts (with bolters and a missile launcher) successfully outflanked the Pointy Ears, the Veteran Scout Sergeant flaming Matt’s Guardians (with his bolter-flamer) and then charging in to wipe them out. After withstanding a charge from the Harlequins, the Scouts beat down the Clowns and took the Lugganath objective. My Attack Bikes and Tactical Squad mopped up, taking pressure off the Scouts, and the game ended after seven turns. A most satisfying beginning to CO5, and an awesome game against an excellent opponent! 


"Tactical" Scouts charge Guardians near the Eldar objective as Harlequins lurk nearby, waiting to strike

The second game was against my old friend the “a-MA-zing” Mike Somerville and his Iyanden. We played the “Annihilation” mission with the “Dawn of War” deployment. Mike’s forces included a Farseer, Autarch, Dire Avengers, and Fire Dragons (including Wave Serpents mounts for all); plus Pathfinders and Falcons: not a single Wraithlord or Wraithguard to be found (very unusual for Iyanden).


Mike (in black shirt) maneuvers his Eldar while our friend Chris takes notes for Mike's 40K blog

The game started off slowly, with my 5-man Tactical Squad poised in cover on a hill, and my Captain + Command Squad and full Tactical Squad taking up a defensive positions in the building near the center of the board. Turn One had no real action to speak of. On Turn Two, my Whirlwind and my Veterans came on, the latter outflanking the Eldar and moving into cover. Mike’s Avengers unleashed a Bladestorm; after that, the supporting Eldar units snuffed out what had been left of the Vets. Game on!

As I had in the previous game, I attempted to have my Scouts outflank the Eldar, with some success. The “assault” Scouts came on Mike’s left flank, where the bulk of his forces were, and crushed a Dire Avenger squad. The rest of the Iyanden turned their guns on the Scouts and ended their noise tout de suite. More successful were the “tactical” Scouts, who came on the board on my left flank, far from the main action, but made up for it by using their missile launcher to destroy one of Mike’s Falcons.


"Assault" Scouts outflank the Eldar, but they are soon wiped out by concentrated fire

In the end, my 10-man Tactical Squad and Command Squad never really got into the fight: Mike sniped at them with long-range weapons, though he did not manage to kill either squad. The Fire Dragons advanced boldly up the field, killing my 5-man Tac Squad and my Dreadnought. As the game went on, Mike cleverly used his surviving Wave Serpent and Falcon to ram my Rhino and Whirlwind. I was ahead on Kill Points as Turn Five ended, but the game continued on and Mike pulled ahead for a well-earned victory.

Analysis: Overall, I’m pleased with how the “Character” list nicely combined “fluffiness” and on-table ability. The Tigers handled the Lugganath Eldar well, despite the War Walkers’ MVP performance (and my Veteran Sergeant’s abominable rolls with his power fist). The Iyanden’s mobility was too much for my guys in the second game, but they still put up a good fight and had Mike—an outstanding player—sweating and working hard to pull out a win. 

“Effectiveness” List (1500 points): Yblis’ Bzrkx Necrons
This list was unapologetically built to win; you can find a description of it here. Despite my warning that my Necrons are cursed, my friend Chris borrowed this army for two games during CO5. He lost one of those games (against my daughter Beth) and pulled out a draw in the other. I played the Necrons against Carl Menconi, a fellow I hadn’t seen in years, and his Greyhammer Space Marines.

Like the game against Mike, this too was an “Annihilation/Dawn of War” match. Carl brought Tactical Squads in Rhinos, a Chaplain, Assault Marines, a Whirlwind, a Scout Squad, and two Dreadnoughts. I set up Lucifer, my Necron Lord, and two units of Warriors in a ruined building on my right flank and dared the Greyhammers to come get me.

Night Fighting on Turn One kept either of us from inflicting any damage, but on Turn Two, my Necron Lord shot two Marines with his Staff of Light and one of my Necron Warrior squads immobilized Carl’s multimelta-Dreadnought. As more Necrons came onto the board and reinforced those in the building, I sent my Scarabs up my left flank to keep Carl’s Scouts busy. More ‘bot firing knocked the missile launcher off the other Dread and immobilized one of the Greyhammer Rhinos.


The Greyhammer Marines move in against the Necrons of Yblis' Bzrkx

On Turns Four and Five, the Greyhammers kept moving forward and my guys kept firing, immobilizing the other Dreadnought but failing to slow the Rhinos. The Chaplain-led Tac Squad and the Assault Squad bricked their difficult terrain rolls and failed to charge my Warriors, but one Tac Squad did succeed—in a big way. After losing a piddling three Warriors, my Toasters failed their Morale check, and were caught and destroyed by the ‘Hammers. The fact that my Heavy Destroyers vaporized one of Carl’s Dreads did little to improve my mood.

As in the game against Mike, if the contest had ended on Turn Five, I would have won, but the deciding die roll decreed that we go on for another turn, and then victory eluded me. My three surviving Warrior Squads devoted all of their rapid fire (90 shots total) to wiping out the Chaplain and the threatening Tactical Squad, but the other Tac Squad charged another squad of Warriors, killed five, and ran them down, just as they had the turn before. Carl and I ended with a draw.


The Necrons put up a good fight, but are not able to stop the Greyhammers

Analysis: This was one of the best games I ever played with my Necrons—any game where I can keep the notoriously fragile Heavy Destroyers alive is a good game—but it wasn’t enough. The new 5th Edition rules have severely gimped the ‘bots in two major areas: dealing with vehicles, and close combat.

Back in 3rd and 4th Edition, taking vehicles against Necrons was simply gift-wrapping Victory Points for the Toasters. Necron Warriors with Strength 4 rifles could take out Land Raiders thanks to the “gauss” rule that gave the Necrons a glancing hit for each “6” they rolled for armor penetration. Roll enough “6’s”—say, if your Warriors rapid-fired a vehicle—and rack up enough glancing hits, and you were assured to get a “6” on damage, destroying the target. 

Now that 5th Edition makes it nigh-impossible to kill vehicles by glancing hits, Necrons have to rely on more fragile, expensive units like Destroyers (packing Strength 6 weapons) and Heavy Destroyers (S 9) to take down vehicles. As you read, the best my Warriors could do was stop, not kill, the Greyhammer Dreads and tanks.

A far more serious problem for the ‘bots is the revised rules regarding break tests after losing close combat. Consider the Assault Phase from Turn Six of this game: a squad of 10 Tactical Marines charged 15 Necron Warriors and hacked down five. Under the 4th Edition rules, the ‘bots would take a Morale check with no penalties; given the Necron Leadership of 10, the ‘bots would most likely stay in the fight. The subsequent “We’ll Be Back” roll would bring 2-3 Toasters back online, so at the start of the next Assault Phase, the Necrons would have had 12-13 Warriors fighting the Marines.

Under 5th Edition rules, however, the Necrons take a Morale check at -5; not surprisingly, they’re going to fail most of the time (Roll a “5” or under on two dice? Only if they’re four-siders). With Initiative 2, Necrons are not running away from combat very quickly: even Guardsmen and Sisters have the drop on them. Thus, wearing down Necrons in hand-to-hand combat has gone from a challenge to a cakewalk. Necrons—despite Toughness 4, Armor Save 3+, and “We’ll Be Back”—can be easily wiped out. Hey, if I wanted to play uber-shooty creampuffs who can be casually slapped around in the Assault Phase, I’d play Tau. 

The solutions to these god-awful new weaknesses the Necrons have now are fairly easy. To help them deal with vehicles, let gauss weapons rend. You won’t be taking out Land Raiders with Warriors anymore (S 4 + d6 +d3 = 13 maximum Armor Penetration), but they’ll be able to nuke Rhinos. To make them more resilient in close combat, declare Necrons to be Fearless. There: was that so tough? 

So am I happy with how my Necrons did? Yes. Will I be playing them before a new Necron codex comes out, fixing their major vulnerabilities on the 5th Edition tables? No, I won’t. Not unless someone really, really wants a game against them.

“Fun” List (1496 points): the Kurindans
To quote the “crockydiles” from my favorite comic strip, Pearls Before Swine, this list aims to do nothing more than “keel tings.” I assembled this list of 40K-Lizardmen-using-Tyranid-rules using stuff I just wanted to bring for fun. So did I have fun? I sure did!

My sole game with the Kurindans at CO5 was against uber-good-guy Yann Folange and his Deathwing Terminators. We played “Seize Ground” with the “Pitched Battle” deployment. Because Yann and I are goofballs, we used Peppermint Patties for objectives, with the understanding that if you take the objective, you get to eat the chocolate. Any game that involves chocolate is automatically a good game.


Yann moves his Deathwing. The two "Megasaurs" have smashed "into" the buildings, and use them for cover

I made Yann set up first, and man, I have never seen so many Terminators on one board before. I deployed my guys in cover, sending !Klrt and his bodyguard (the Broodlord and Genestealers) to outflank the Deathwing. I successfully managed to seize the initiative from Yann, so I went first. My Space Lizards rushed forward, scampering and thundering right past the two objectives I had set down nearby. As I mentioned in the intro, and repeated to Yann, I did not have the slightest interest in playing to win—I just wanted my guys to munch some dudes!


Kurindans swarm over Belial and his bodyguards. Despite many attacks, only one Termie dropped! 

Munch they did over the five turns that the game went on. On Turn One, Belial and his Command Squad teleported in, mere inches from my horde of Purple People Eaters. I much appreciated it (despite the 10 Hormagaunts that the Deathwing shot), as I find chasing the Lizardmen’s prey to be much less enjoyable than actually narfing it. On my Turn Two, both rampages of Newts (Hormies), their Troglodyte minders on Kangasaurs (Tyranid Warriors with wings), and the Finbacks (Raveners) swarmed onto Belial & Friends. While the Newts managed to kill a Termie, Belial and the others focused their attacks on the weak point (the Trogs), killing them. Having lost combat, the Finbacks and Newts developed second thoughts, and fell back.

But not for long. Displaying their annoying tendency to act as “yo-yo” troops (rush in, fall back, rush back in), the Newts and Finbacks regrouped, charged Belial and his squad again, and wiped them out. After a bunch of Termies killed a heap of free-range Hormies, some other ones rushed “JoJo” and “Larry,” my Megasaurs (Carnifexes) and, after taking a few licks, killed them with power fist attacks. Poor JoJo! Poor Larry!


Though vastly outnumbered, the Deathwing's guns and power fists wiped out the Kurindans

Turn Four saw my remaining Newts and Finbacks charge more Termies, killing some. !Klrt & Friends finally decided to arrive, on the wrong flank, of course (the one farthest from the action). Deathwing Guys charged into melee, squishing more Newts and finishing off the Finbacks. On Turn Five, the Terminators turned their attention to !Klrt, charging him and losing some brethren before squashing the Broodlord. It was, as one might expect, a substantial victory for the Deathwingers.

Analysis: Every so often, it’s fun to play a 40K game where your strategic plan consists of two words: “Get them.” Every unit in my army got to kill somebody, which was all I really wanted. 

For future reference, though, choosing to have my Broodlord outflank was a serious error. I could have benefitted mightily from having another Synapse unit on the table: it was sheer luck that I was able to regroup my Hormagaunts whenever I needed to. !Klrt could also have gotten into the game much faster if he had started off on the board on Turn One; as it was, Yann threw me a bone by charging some of his guys into !Klrt & Co. rather than backing up and shooting at them. 

Prior to this game, I had thought that it was worth the gamble to let close-combat squads outflank. I mean, hey, there’s only a 33% chance that the unit will wind up where you don’t want it. While the risk of that happening is relatively low, the effect is quite high: if your close-combat squad doesn’t come where you need them to, it’s quite likely that they are not going to be a significant factor in the game. 

Finally, my Kurindans received many compliments from the other gamers there, both for the idea (Lizardmen in 40K) and the paint jobs; I pointed out that it was friend Pat who had done almost all the figures. The only ones I had painted were “JoJo” and “Larry,” who drew much admiration and good-natured chuckles: the other gamers appreciated that while many Tyranid forces can be called “Godzilla armies,” few can make that claim literally. 

“Discovery” List: Fearful Symmetry Chaos Space Marines (1499 points)
This force was designed to test the capabilities of some of the units from my latest army; you can find my list for CO5 here. I teamed up with my friend Patrick Eibel and his “Wolf Brothers” (Space Wolves using the units and rules from Codex: Chaos Space Marines) against #1 Jungle Fangirl Jennifer Burdoo (and her home-grown Fighting Tigers of Veda Space Marines) and my daughter, Beth, who was borrowing Pat’s Witch Hunters, the Order of the Sisters of Mercy.


Pat advances his Wolf Brothers as Beth (in white) and Jen (in pink) await

We played an “Annihilation” mission with the “Pitched Battle” deployment. Jen and Beth spread out on their side, while Pat and I loaded up in the center and our right flank. I deployed my Bronze Tygers (Defilers) first, using them to screen my two squads of Chaos Marines. I put my Greater Rakshasas (Possessed Chaos Space Marines) on my extreme right flank, right up front, counting on the Defilers to block most fire towards them and their armor to help them shrug off the rest. I kept Shamshir Talatra (my Chaos Lord) and his Terminator bodyguards in reserve, to Deep Strike them where needed. 

Jen and Beth failed to seize the initiative from us, and Pat and I boldly advanced our forces. Over the course of five turns, fire from Beth’s Exorcists and Jen’s deep-striking Land Speeders managed to immobilize and knock out the battle cannons of both Bronze Tygers before finally destroying one mechanical beast. My Chaos Marines were able to run across the field and performed very well when shooting against and fighting in hand-to-hand combat with the Sisters. One of my CM squads eventually went down to concentrated fire, and the second was left with four members taking cover in some ruins. 

The Greater Rakshasas performed very well, shrugging off fire and smashing into a Tactical Squad of Fighting Tigers. The Rakshasas’ randomly-rolled ability to launch a Furious Charge was very helpful, and eventually, my Rakshasas prevailed and survived the game.


The Fearful Symmetry easily deals with the Fighting Tigers, but is hammered by the counterattacking Sisters of Mercy

Shamshir Talatra and his Terminators did not fare nearly so well. After they came on the board on Turn 3, Beth wisely concentrated the bulk of her firepower on them, hitting them with blasts from an Immolator, an Exorcist, melta gun-wielding Dominions, and several rapid-firing squads of Sisters. The fact that a Havoc missile launcher blast from one my Bronze Tygers deviated onto the Termies, killing two of them, didn’t help. Shamshir and crew were taken out before they could do any serious damage. Still, the “bad guys” (Pat and I) held our own against the “good girls” and eked out a tie of 7 Kill Points per side.

Analysis: When I originally chose the Defilers for my army, I had imagined that they would be hand-to-hand terrors, using Fleet of Foot to quickly reach and tear through the enemy. In the three games I’ve played with this army since the new Chaos Codex was released last year, my Defilers have yet to assault anyone, usually because they’ve been immobilized well short of their quarry. Opponents also seem particularly keen—can’t think why—on removing the battle cannons from my ‘bots when they get a “Weapon Destroyed” result, leaving me with less-than-stellar Havoc launchers for backup guns. Time, methinks, to forget about getting an extra attack in hand-to-hand and to put the autocannons back on the Defilers.

I am completely satisfied with how my Chaos Marines fared, even without Rhinos, long-range weapons, or daemons to summon. With each squad equipped with a flamer and a melta gun, and led by a tooled-up Aspiring Champion, my basic guys kicked butt. Just as impressive is my overly-large squad of Possessed Marines: they may cost a lot, but they’re worth every point. 

Similarly to how my Broodlord fared, Shamshir & Friends would have been better off starting on the board. In this game and a pre-CO5 practice game that I played with Beth and the Sisters, Shamshir found that there was really nowhere safe to teleport in. In both games, Beth surrounded him with multiple units, counting on volume of fire to wear down his bodyguard and take him down. In the practice game, Shamshir lived long enough to charge a Sisters squad, kill five of them, and force the rest to flee. In this game, he didn’t get that chance. Methinks that advancing him up the board behind the Possessed Marines or one of the Chaos Marine squads would have been the better way to go. 

Conclusion
So, thus endeth another Counter Offensive. I had an excellent time, a lot of fun, and I learned a lot. I re-met some old friends and made new ones. The other gamers there voted the Fighting Tigers the “Best Army,” for which I received store credit and gave to Beth: she now has plenty of toys to build up her fledgling army of Aquamarines. Best of all, I got to spend a lot of time with my daughter and really show her all the fun aspects of a hobby I’ve loved for more than 20 years. I know I’ll be back for the next Counter Offensive, and I’m sure Beth will be there, too. 

Counter Offensive 5
Intro <> Battle Summaries 1 <> Battle Summaries 2 <> Photos


Related Pages 
Other Counter Offensives

Posted October 2008
 

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Fighting Tigers:
Codex <> Tactics <> Gallery <> Allies and Enemies <> Tales of the Tigers

Other Pages:
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Events and Battle Reports <> Campaigns <> Terrain<> FAQ <> Beyond the Jungle