Today I'll have a quick look at game 4 to 6 and give a quick summary of what I learned at Caledonian.
Game 4 - Foot Horde Necrons
In the list of armies you don't want to face with a mech guard list in a dawn of war game, a horde of Necrons rates pretty near the top. When he won first turn I knew it would be even worse. Luckily the primary was seize ground.
His army consisted of two squads of 15 warriors, two squads of 10 warriors, 2 squads of 10 immortals, 2 units of 6 scarabs, a unit of 6 wraiths, and a shedload of overlords, lords, crpyteks and assorted nastiness. Not to put too fine a point on it, I was bricking it.
He deployed two units of 15 warriors along the centre line. I deployed nothing. In his first turn he moved everything on and a massive wave and then reversed his central warriors a little. We were playing on a desert board and the effect was impressively cinematic. In response I refused flanked with my entire army except the stormtroopers and vendettas. the stormtroopers outflanked as usual, and the vendettas came on on the opposite side of the board. Since they couldn't do much to a foot horde I intended to use them to contest secondary. He would have to dedicate entire units to removing them or he would almost certainly lose secondary. The Stormtroopers would move on at the edges and try and pull him off objectives. The main body of my army would smash into one flank of his force and try and roll it up from the end.
To put it bluntly, the plan worked, but only just. My opponent was a very nice chap and we had a very hard fought but friendly game, but as soon as things started going wrong for him he seemed intent on blaming the dice for every single thing. This got annoying, since a lot seemed to go wrong. Firstly, his crypteks failed wantonly to destroy pretty much any of my AV12. This is not unlucky, this is standard stuff. It is why AV12 is amazing and you need huge quantities of S8 to get through it. Secondly, his scarabs got owned pretty fast by heavy flamers, and his wraiths were obliterated by the combined fire of my entire army. Literally, the entire army. He seemed to think this was unlucky as well. From them on my superior mobility began to show. I took control of the centre when I killed the entire of one of the units of immortals with a demo charge, and moved chimeras with squads up to contest the others.
I almost fucked it up on the final turn when I forgot that Necrons can be placed anywhere in coherency if they get back up. As a result he contested a few objectives and it came down to a 4+ wbb roll for his lord who was on another of my objectives. He failed, I won. Queue more moaning about luck :) Seriously though, he did seem to roll low at a few crucial points and it gave me just enough of the edge to pull a very bad match-up back to a narrow 12-8 victory.
Game 5 - Vulkan Bikers
Now this isn't something you see every day. It consisted of a bike captain, three bike squads with meltas and melta attack bikes, 3 speeders with typhoons and multi-meltas, and a unit of TH/SS termies in a redeemer with Vulkan. The primary was won by the player with the most scoring units wholly
within 12" of the centre at the end of the game, the secondary was
capture and control. This was quite honestly the best game of the weekend for me, despite the fact that it ended in a loss. It was incredibly tight, tactical affair, and was well played by both players. We were both mentally exhausted afterwards.
Deployment was basically quarters. I won first turn and took it, thinking to get some good shooting in quickly. I outflanked the stormies as usual. He then reserved everything. Damn, good decision. Turn two he got around half his units on, not including the raider with termies and Vulkan, thank god. He castled up the opposite corner, clearly intending to sweep across the board hidden by the large amounts of LOS blocking terrain. However, my stormies, outflanking in the midst of him, killed a few bikes, knocked some guns off some speeders and generally held him up, as usual. Damn I love them. By turn 4 he had the rest of his reserves on. The raider and another bike squad and speeder were moving to take my objective, the rest of his bikes were trying to take the centre. I countered as best I could with my chimeras but they were no match for bikers. I did however, block his raider and termies very successfully so that they couldn't get anywhere near my objective. This was some of my best play of the weekend and along with the stormies, was responsible for the loss being so narrow rather than total.
At the end of the game he had one biker in the middle, one biker on his objective, and termies threatening to overrun my objective held by some vets. I also had the platoon command squad in the centre, making it one all. Incredibly, his bike captain had charged the PCS and only killed four of the five. I then passed my check and stayed in combat making it a draw for primary. A bit lucky perhaps, but so was he, having only two scoring models left!
It ended with a draw for primary, a draw for secondary and a 315 victory point lead for him. If the difference had been 301 or less, it would have been a vp draw. He was 15 points over the limit so it was a 11-9 win. Crazy. However, I just couldn't find it in my to be disappointed. I genuinely believe the better player won in this case, and the way in which he played what was a very odd list left me in no doubt as to why he captains the Scottish ETC team.
Game 6 - DoA Blood Angels
Not much to say about this one really other than that it was always going to go heavily one way or the other. In short, I castled, everything he had came down in the second turn, didn't kill much through smoke, and I killed over 1000 points of stuff at short range in a single turn. Demo charges, melta, plasma, heavy flamers, you name it, it all fired. I wiped him off the board by the end of turn 4 for my only 20-0 win of the weekend. While it felt good in some ways, it was a sad way to end a great weekend because it just felt a bit hollow and felt bad for the guy. However, I believe he made some crucial mistakes. Firstly, he should have combat squadded despite the fact that it was kill points primary. He had such a massive advantage in that regard anyway and needed the extra threat vectors. Secondly, he needed to concentrate his forces more. He came down across my battle front and I destroyed him piecemeal.
What did I learn about my list? More than ever I feel that stormtroopers are a very valid choice in the Guard codex. Look only at points cost and they suck, but they outperformed those costs in each and every game, literally handing me the win on two occasions and contributing in the others. They bring a highly mobile, versatile threat which can come from anywhere, which is something the often inflexible guard codex has trouble providing. The Astropath just made them even better. I also learned the Psyker battle squads are incredibly unreliable. Their low leadership and the proliferation of fearless troops and psychic defences meant that they were only useful in a single game. While they are quite a threat, I will think twice before including them again. Autocannons in vet squads? yep, still useful, you really should all try them some time. Demo-charges, again yep, still fantastic and well worth 30 points for the terror they cause alone.
So, after six games I ended on three solid victories, one narrow victory, a very narrow loss and one painful stomping. Combined with my very good soft scores this put me in 12th place overall and I couldn't be happier. I
took a list with lots of things many people consider inefficient and came out higher than the vast majority of conventional guard lists, and furthermore ended in about the top 10%. Far higher than I could have and indeed did hope for (I was aiming for top 25%).
More importantly though, I had a great time.
With the exception of game three, which was somewhat frustrating, I had a
set of very enjoyable, mostly hard fought battles against thoroughly
nice opponents who I'd be happy to play again. Roll on next year!