Episode 73: Friendship with Chaos Ended, Now Imperium Is My New Friend

The Spring FAQ has come and gone, if you're interested in checking out my thoughts on the update you can view them on this very blog. With the update I believe Chaos is going to have a very tough time maintaining a competitive edge prior to another Chapter Approved pass. The good thing is that the FAQ is curing some of the underlying sickness in the game, such as spam, which should allow Games Workshop to make much more precise changes. For example the Plagueburst Crawler list never really took off because people didn't want to buy 9+ of that model, now that it's restricted to three in a list you'll see them all over the place. As an overall trend I think the power-curve within 40K is going down and I consider that to be a very good thing.

Onto my list, I have repented and seen the Emperor's Light! My glorious Skaven have decided to join the Imperial Guard and makeup for their wrong-doings. I chose to go with Imperium for a few reasons, one Cultists are no longer a viable unit in the competitive game. Since I like Hordes, that was a bit of a turn off from Chaos. Secondly I didn't want to buy an entirely new army so I wanted to re-tool some of what I had. Thirdly the reason I didn't go with Imperium in the first place is they had too many ingredients in their soup and I didn't want to buy all that stuff. Fortunately the change to Detachments means I likely won't have to.

I'm now playing what is close to a standard Blood Angels and Imperial Guard build. I've tested this list once in the Post-FAQ Meta but I've made some tweaks since then and I was HEAVILY proxying in that game. This time around I have more models but still need to do a lot of conversion work, which will most likely consume my week. For this game I'm playing Dylan, one of two brothers that I've played quite a few times. Both have improved a lot since 8th Edition dropped and Dylan recently made the change to Raven Guard from Iron Hands which I thought would be a good test for my list.


Army Lists

Imperium

Battalion Detachment - Catachans
Company Commander w/ Shotgun [Warlord w/ Grand Strategist, Kurov's Aquila]
Primaris Psyker w/ Psychic Maelstrom, Terrifying Visions

Infantry Squad w/ Mortar
Infantry Squad w/ Mortar
Infantry Squad w/ Mortar
Infantry Squad w/ Mortar


Brigade Detachment - Catachans
Colonel "Iron Hands" Straken
Company Commander w/ Boltgun
Company Commander w/ Boltgun
Ministorum Priest w/ Chainsword, Laspistol
Sergeant Harker
Astropath w/ Laspistol
Infantry Squad w/ Mortar
Infantry Squad w/ Mortar
Infantry Squad w/ Mortar
Infantry Squad w/ Mortar
Infantry Squad w/ Mortar
Infantry Squad w/ Mortar
Scout Sentinel w/ Heavy Flamer
Scout Sentinel w/ Heavy Flamer
Scout Sentinel w/ Heavy Flamer

Heavy Weapon Team w/ 3 Mortars
Heavy Weapon Team w/ 3 Mortars
Heavy Weapon Team w/ 3 Mortars


Supreme Command Detachment - Blood Angels
Captain w/ Jump Pack, Thunder Hammer, Storm Shield [The Angel's Wings]
Captain w/ Jump Pack, Thunder Hammer, Storm Shield
Captain w/ Jump Pack, Thunder Hammer, Storm Shield
Captain on Bike w/ Thunder Hammer, Storm Shield
Captain on Bike w/ Thunder Hammer, Storm Shield
10 Death Company w/ Jump Packs, 9 Power Fists, 1 Chainsword, 10 Boltguns



Raven Guard

Battalion Detachment - Cadians
Company Commander [Kurov's Aquila]
Company Commander

Infantry Squad w/ Mortar
Infantry Squad w/ Mortar
Infantry Squad w/ Mortar


Battalion Detachment - Raven Guard
Kayvaan Shrike
Lieutenant

5 Scouts w/ Boltguns
5 Scouts w/ Boltguns
5 Scouts w/ Boltguns
5 Devastators w/ 3 Lascannons, 1 Missile Launcher, Armorium Cherub
5 Devastators w/ 3 Lascannons, 1 Heavy Bolter, Armorium Cherub
5 Devastators w/ 3 Lascannons, 1 Heavy Bolter, Armorium Cherub
Vanguard Detachment - Raven Guard
Captain w/ Jump Pack, Power Axe, Combi-Plasma

Company Ancient w/ Boltgun [Banner of the Emperor Ascendant]
10 Hellblasters
6 Aggressors
6 Aggressors


Mission and Deployment
ITC Mission #3
Spearhead Assault

Imperium Secondary Objectives
Old School, Recon, Headhunter

Raven Guard Secondary Objectives
Old School, Recon, Headhunter


Terrain was laid out in a very familiar style for my tables, two Line of Sight obstructing pieces in the center-ish, something in each corner, and two small pieces along the flanks. Everything was declared Ruins with the first level blocking Line of Sight, per ITC recommendation, and the Craters were payed as just that.

Dylan started Deployment by announcing he was going to Infiltrate the Jump Pack Captain, Hellblasters, and both Aggressor units. I put the Death Company and one non-Relic Captain in Deep Strike and then started putting my Guardsmen down and getting them all in Cover. Dylan did much the same although his were not in Cover, ringing around the building to my left where it was clear the Devastators and other fire base models would go.

I committed two Sentinels to the left, one to the right, and a Bike Captain to each side while the Jump Pack Captains held the center. My Priest and both Psykers went in my center building while I spread the Commanders out for Leadership and Orders. Dylan put all his Devastators, Shrike, Lieutenant, and the Acient where I knew they would go.

We then rolled off for pre-game movement as the Raven Guard have Scouts and I have Sentinels, Dylan won the roll and was able to put the Scouts forward. I moved two Sentinels back to break up some Line of Sight from the Devastators, hoping to save maybe one of them. Unfortunately I'd boxed them in a bit so I wasn't able to go as far as I wanted.

Dylan also won the roll for first turn which I elected to give him in the interest of testing my list. One Aggressor unit each went on the flanks while the Captain and Hellblasters reinforced the left side.












Pre-Game

Turn 1 is going to hurt as the Aggressors will no doubt punish my Guardsmen. Fortunately I think I can hit back and kill them all with the Captains once the dust settles, my goal is to take the middle Objectives by Turn 2. Because the Raven Guard army is so gunline focused it should be hard for Dylan to reclaim that ground once I've dealt with the units he infiltrated, but there's a lot there.

My Mortars are just going to try and counter his Mortars, I have more shots and buffs so that shouldn't be too hard. If I can clear a path by Turn 3 then I can get in and start beating up some of the Devastators which should seal the game. The big worries are the Hellblasters as I don't have much to kill them from range, which is their weakness, and all that Plasma is a real threat to my Blood Angels stuff. It may also be hard to get to some of the Characters that Dylan has, in hindsight I think I should have taken Behind Enemy Lines and just parked two Captains back there from Turn 3 onward, that would also make Headhunter a lot harder for Dylan to get.



Turn 1 - Raven Guard

With predictably little movement given the nature of his army Dylan goes pretty much right into shooting. Both the Aggressors claim two units of Catachans, which is about what I expected, while I lose both Sentinels on the left to the Hellblasters and some stray Devastator shots. Guardsmen on the middle floor of my building also bite it from spare Lascannons and end up running from Morale.

With no Charges to speak of Dylan passes the turn. All in all that's about the damage I expected to take, having Cover on all the Guardsmen fortunately forced the Aggressors to be a bit more conservative with their shooting. I felt there could have been a few more splits and some reliance on Morale to maybe get one more unit away from me but other than that it was a pretty straight-forward turn from a gunline.

Score
4-0 for Raven Guard
(Recon, First Strike)






Turn 1 - Imperium

Having a pretty clear plan in mind I moved all the available Captains, sending the Bike to the left and the rest to the right. My Sentinel Advanced towards the right as well, hoping to make a long Charge via Crush Them into the center. None of the Guardsmen move and I Deep Strike a Captain to help with the Aggressors on the left, which Dylan uses Auspex Scan on, doing 4 Wounds with the Aggressors.

Shooting sees Bring It Down go out on most of the Mortars, killing 3 from one of Dylan's units and 6 from another. All around pretty poor dice from me and good saves from Dylan. My Sentinel flames a few Scouts on the right side who actually get finished off by the Bike Captain in an unexpected turn of events.

Charges go out with Crush Them going on the Sentinel. The Bike Captain on the left takes the Overwatch from the Aggressors, losing no wounds, as both Captains get into Combat thanks to Descent of Angels. Everybody on the right gets in as well with the Angel's Wings Captain leading the way to stop any pesky Overwatch. My Sentinel also rolls a raw 8 to get into Combat with the Scouts, taking no damage. Because of his placement this will ensure my Captain on the right can't be shot and the Sentinel can't be seen by the Devastators.

I start off with the damaged Captain on the left to prevent as much as I can from Counter-Attack, he kills 4 Aggressors which allows Dylan to pull my Bike Captain out of Combat due to my bad placement. Dylan does interrupt me on the right but only does three wounds to the regular Jump Pack Captain before I wipe that whole unit out. Combat with the Scouts is a wash, which I'm fine with.

None of Dylan's Guardsmen run from Morale which keeps him way out in front on kills for the round. Fortunately I was able to even the Objectives up and not dig myself too big of a hole, I'm just short of Recon on the left. I definitely made a few mistakes this turn, the Aggressors should have been wiped out but I also forgot to usse Honor the Chapter on the damaged Captain and finish them off that way. Not moving my Psykers was also a blunder as they'll likely play no part in this game now with me already pushing Dylan back.

Score
5-3 for Raven Guard









Turn 2 - Raven Guard

Dylan starts off by Falling Back with the Aggressors and Scouts, moving back towards the left with both. The Hellblasters come down towards me, still on the left flank, and the Captain jumps between my two Captains. The Guardsmen also spread out to keep the anti-Deep Strike bubble going, no longer as concerned with accurate shots.

Scouts, the Mortars and some of the Hellblasters take shots at my Sentinel but only manage to do two wounds via some fortunate dice (for me), my damaged Captain gets mowed down by the remaining plasma. Devastators wipe out my back Mortars with ease and then just kill a few more Guardsmen as they have no other targets of value thanks to my trusty Sentinel.

One Charge goes out from the Raven Guard Captain into my Bike Captain, which felt optimistic. I take one Wound and then beat the imitator down with Honor the Chapter and regular attacks, the Captain then uses Only In Death Does Duty End for another wound on me.

Overall this was a huge swing turn for me as I managed to avoid any real damage and even netted a Captain kill, although that shouldn't have happened. I'm now aiming to finish off the first part of my plan and claim the middle which is only defended by some Scouts, two Aggressors, and the Hellblasters.

Score
8-4 for Raven Guard
(Headhunter for both)







Imperium - Turn 2

On the left my Bike Captain moves up to deal with any of the threats over there while the rest of the Captains move up the right and hug terrain, avoiding the eager Devastators. Having done his job I send the Sentinel over to the left to try and clear off the Objective before his demise. The Death Company also come down on the left but I forgot about Auspex Scan again so I lose 5 of them to the Hellblasters. Really bad move by me. I also didn't move the Psykers, again, furthering my Movement Phase mistakes.

Shooting sees me leave each damaged Guard unit with one model, a Sergeant and Mortar respectively, while Lasguns net me a Scout. Between the Sentinel and Captains I'm able to remove the Scouts on the left Objective, to my surprise. At this point my shooting targets are drying up.

Charges get the Bike Captain into the Hellblasters, taking no damage, as he's joined by the Death Company using Descent of Angels. My Sentinel gets into a slightly damaged unit of Scouts, again taking no wounds.

Combat kills all but two of the Hellblasters and does nothing to the Scouts, who then do nothing to me. I then use Honor the Chapter on the Death Company, piling them in and finishing off the Hellblasters. They're then able to consolidate into the Aggressors who fortunately only kill one. Originally I'd planned to do this with the Bike Captain but I was a bit nervous with there being two Hellblasters left and wanted them gone, in hindsight they were no threat at this point so I should have gone with my original plan.

The Mortar runs from Morale while the Sergeant sticks around although I still get kill more for the round as well as hold more since I cleared off the left Objective. I'm now where I wanted to be in the game, although I did have to commit the Death Company and they'll all die on Dylan's turn. From here I need to mop up the center and then keep Dylan off his hoe Objective and I should be able to get a win from there.

Score
8-9 for the Imperium
(Recon)







Raven Guard Turn 3

Without much left to think about Dylan Falls Back with the Aggressors and Scouts again. The Guardsmen Advance to try and keep a defensive line but by now there's gaps in it they can't fill. Shooting removes the heroic Sentinel and minces the Death Company along with what Guardsmen can be seen. After a short turn Dylan passes.

This turn there were a few errors made such as leaving both the Company Commanders out. They were the only models holding the home Objective, which could be been relegated to the Sergeant while the Commanders ran away to preserve Headhunter. As is I have an easy Charge into both of them with a Captain, which should remove them both. I think Shrike should have also gotten into a much more offensive position while Dylan closed the gaps along the ruins to deny me from being able to Charge up there, that's more important than shooting some Guardsmen.

Score
10-9 for Raven Guard






Imperium Turn 3

I move to put the game away early with the right Bike Captain getting up to the Company Commanders while his counter-part readies to finish the Aggressors. I use Upon Wings of Fire to move the Angel's Wings Captain to Charge the Devastators, netting yet another Auspex Scan for Dylan. Ugh! I'm writing a note about the Strategem from now on. I finally Advance both Psykers down the building to try and Smite the Aggressors as killing one would really seal the deal there.

In the Psychic Phase my Primaris Psyker Perils, through a re-roll, doing a wound to himself while the Astropath does nothing. Shooting removes the Guard Sergeant and all but the Mortar from the last unit which is guaranteed to run as Dylan is out of Command Points. I also gun down the last of the Scouts.

Charges get me into the Devastators, Aggressors, and Company Commanders for no damage. I kill three Devastators while taking no wounds back, finish both Aggressors, and kill both Company Commanders after using Honor the Chapter due to some awful dice.

At this point we effectively call the game as Dylan can't do anything more and I have plenty of time to kill a few more Devastators with the Astropath's help while easily getting Linebreaker and Recon maxed out. Dylan puts some shots into the Captain in his building, which I absorb, and Charges with Shrike, where neither of us nets a kill. For fun we roll out the combat fully and Shrike kills my Captain, surviving with one wound. I don't believe I'd be able to finish him off for Slay the Warlord but I would likely get Last Strike by thinning the Devastators a bit over three turns and then finishing a unit with a Jump Pack Captain Charge.







Post-Game

Overall I was very unhappy with my play this game but it was a very enjoyable one. Dylan's twist on a gunline was interesting and I can see it being very effective moving forward. The Aggressors really hurt but even going second they can be put in a reasonably forward position, depending on terrain, and provide a great counter-punch with the Powerfists. We both agreed the Hellblasters seem out of place as they're pretty squishy against most armies, I believe they're getting swapped out for Dreadnoughts in the next test game.

As for other changes I suggested making one of the Company Commanders the Warlord as it's very easy to keep them safe and it enables more Command Point recycling. The Banner can still be bought with Command Points, although I'm not sure how effective it is in this list. With some more creative placement and in games where the Aggressors hang back I think it could get value but it's close, those points may be better spent elsewhere. Time and testing will tell.

I love my list, so far it's everything I wanted it to be. The only tweak I may do is dropping the Chainsword Death Company to upgrade one of the Captains to a Bike. Initially I was worried about elevated terrain and Fliers but it's so easy to block all Charges onto a building that I don't know that it matters, and the Death Company more than help with Fliers. Toughness 5 and the extra wound is a big deal, I also like the extra 2" of Movement without as much reliance on Strategems. This would give me more flexibility in my Deep Strike versus Deployment as well.

Looking back on the game I should have gotten moving with the Guardsmen a lot earlier, probably on Turn 2. This would have let me control the board more, have effective Overwatch absorbers, and also position myself to keep getting kills in the later half of the game should we have kept playing. As is this would have been a medium score win, probably a 28 being realistic. Not terrible but given how much I was able to get ahead it could have been better. Doing small things like keeping the Sergeant around to net a kill later in the game matter when you look back.

Besides that I didn't move out with the Psykers early enough, who could have helped get some of those Devastators down, I didn't finish off the Aggressors right away with poor positioning and poor Strategem use. I also got caught by Auspex Scan three times this game which is just inexcusable, all I can say is I kept forgetting it. Now that I'm playing a much more assault oriented Deep Strike list I need to keep that and the similar Eldar Strategem in mind or it could cost me big time.

For positive I stuck to my plan and executed it well overall which enabled me to win the game. I used my combat tricks well and did order of operations almost entirely correctly. I started the game with 20 Command Points (after buying The Angel's Wings) and managed to spend them all by the Top of Turn 4 which reassures me that the Brigade is worth it. From now on I'll probably also buy The Veritas Vitae, it's pricey to buy two Relics but with how many Strategems I use I should always make the Command Points back. I also like all the things I "have" to take in the Brigade, Sentinels in particular are just monsters. I do need to learn to move forward with the Guardsmen better, they're actually much better in Combat than they are with shooting in this list because of my Regiment and the buffs I can put on them, my Heavy Weapon Teams can hold the back-field.

As I anticipated Guard is completely broken and I wouldn't be surprised if Games Workshop has to re-write the Battalion/Brigade change to exclude armies like them and Tyranids. There should be some opportunity cost when taking a Brigade but if you have super cheap or super useful Elites/Heavy Support/Fast Attack like those Factions do it's something you'd do anyways! The amount of Command Points that Guard in particular can recycle is just stupid and I expect to see at least a Battalion in every Imperium list. In fact I'd go as far to say if you can take Guard and aren't your list is probably sub-optimal. Pure Marines/Custodes/AdMech/etc. is completely dead.

I'm going to try hard to get a game against non-Loyalist Marines this week as that feels like all I play against lately and I want to test against other stuff. If you'd like to see my army go against something in particular please let me know, I do have access to people that are happy to proxy. Other than that I have to do a lot of conversion work for a big GT that's happening in three weeks, I'll probably post pictures of the finished army when I'm done.

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