Episode 78: The Hero Dies In This One

Another report so soon! After posting my last Battle Report to my local Facebook Group, which I do from time to time, and it just so happened I was able to line up another opponent for Monday. This time I was against Dylan, someone I've played many times and who got 2nd Place at the last RTT I attended. Dylan has grown by leaps and bounds as a player during 2018, going from a very casual Iron Hands list all the way up to a very competitive mixed Imperium army.

I took mostly the same build that I did in my last game, just some small upgrade tweaks. Since I knew this game would be more competitive I wanted to get more table-time with some of the parts of the army that are still very much in testing such as the big Death Company unit.



Imperium (Me)

Imperial Guard - Cadians

Company Commander w/ Shotgun, Karov's Aquila (Warlord w/ Grand Strategist)
Primaris Psyker (Psychic Maelstrom, Terrifying Visions)

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

Heavy Weapons Team w/ 3 Mortars
 Heavy Weapons Team w/ 3 Mortars 

Blood Angels

Captain w/ Jump Pack, Thunder Hammer, Storm Shield
Captain w/ Jump Pack, Thunder Hammer, Storm Shield
Captain w/ Jump Pack, Thunder Hammer, Storm Shield (The Angel's Wings)

8 Death Company w/ Jump Packs, Thunder Hammers (1 w/ Chainsword, Boltgun)

 5 Scouts w/ Bolters, Sergeant w/ Storm Bolter
5 Scouts w/ Bolters
5 Scouts w/ Bolters

Deathwatch

Librarian w/ Force Stave, Stormbolter, Jump Pack (Psychic Scourge, Null Zone)
Watch Captain w/ Jump Pack, Thunder Hammer, Stormbolter
Watch Captain w/ Jump Pack, Thunder Hammer, Stormbolter

7 Veterans, 1 Veteran Sergeant, 1 Blackshield w/ Chainswords and Stormbolters
7 Veterans, 1 Veteran Sergeant, 1 Blackshield w/ Chainswords and Stormbolters
7 Veterans, 1 Veteran Sergeant, 1 Blackshield w/ Chainswords and Stormbolters



Imperium (Dylan)

Custodes

Shield-Captain on Dawneagle Jetbike
Shield-Captain on Dawneagle Jetbike (Auric Aquilas)
Shield-Captain on Dawneagle Jetbike (Eagle's Eye)

Imperial Guard - Cadians

Company Commander w/ Kurov's Aquila
Company Commander (Warlord w/ Grand Strategist)

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

Heavy Weapons Squad w/ 3 Mortars
Heavy Weapons Squad w/ 3 Mortars
Heavy Weapons Squad w/ 3 Mortars

Raven Guard

Captain
Lieutenant

Company Ancient (Banner of the Emperor Ascendant)
5 Aggressors
5 Aggressors

5 Scouts w/ Bolters
5 Scouts w/ Bolters
5 Scouts w/ Bolters

5 Devastators w/ 3 Lascannons, 1 Missile Launcher, Cherub
5 Devastators w/ 3 Lascannons, 1 Heavy Bolter, Cherub
5 Devastators w/ 3 Lascannons, 1 Heavy Bolter, Cherub



Mission and Deployment
ITC Mission #5
Frontline Assault

 Imperium Secondary Objectives (Me)
Headhunter, Old School, Death By a Thousand Cuts

Imperium Secondary Objectives (Dylan)
Headhunter, Old School, Recon

For Terrain I went a bit heavier than usual but nothing egregious, I actually think the more Line of Sight obstructing stuff you have the better! I also try to make my tables work even if Hammer & Anvil is in use so having three center pieces is very helpful for that. Everything was played as Ruins.

Deployment is very important in this matchup so I tried to start slow. My Death Company went in Reserves which Dylan answered with his Company Commander in the middle of the Deployment Zone. This clued me in as to where his Guardsmen would go and gave me a rough idea for the Devastators so I planned accordingly.

Hoping to try out something besides castling up I also put my Guard in the middle. My reasoning was there is no way to escape the Mortars for either of us so I might as well maximize Cover and Line of Sight denial. I was also hoping to manipulate the Aggressors onto the left side as Deployment continued, Dylan put his Devastators on the right so if I could cut them off the game gets a lot easier. Unfortunately I made a few flubs by spreading out my Infantry Squads instead of just castling up in the center-left. This happened because Dylan put Scouts on both flank Objectives and I wanted to challenge him, I should have just let them be for the early game.

Ultimately I ended up with most everything in the center, one Infantry Squad split on either flank, and a Watch Captain on the right flank. Dylan used his Scouts to grab Objectives whereas I made more of a bubble around my castle. All my Veterans went into Reserves along with the Death Company.

Despite getting the +1 to go first I lost the roll and failed to Seize the Initiative. Dylan placed the Aggressors pretty close to my front lines, one on the center-right and the other on the center-left. This meant I had to mentally write-off pretty much every unit that starts on the board except m Characters.










Pre-Game Thoughts

I've played Dylan a few times with the list he's taking and we've determined that the game is massively in favor of whoever goes first. The Aggressors are a very all in and expensive unit which is why I don't personally like them, when they work they really work but when you go second they're very bad. Raven Guard are not as all in as Alpha Legion typically which makes this strategy more viable than what's available for Chaos but it's still risky.

I know from experience that there's no practical way to bubble out the Aggressors without committing to an extreme castle in the corner. However I wanted to test some other Deployments so I mentally excluded that before the game began. I was also curious to see how my list would handle two 3++ Shield-Captains. Those Relics come at a price but Dylan's list is less demanding on Command Points than mine is. I also don't have a ton of Mortal Wounds although it's very hard to get those on a Shield-Captain that's being played well anyways.

Overall I think my army is better suited to going second due to all my Reserves but the game is still very much an uphill battle.



Imperium Turn 1

In true gunline fashion Dylan moved very little, adjusting the positioning on one of the Scouts. Going into Shooting I lost all the Scouts except one Sergeant, all the Mortar Teams except one base, and an Infantry Squad. Overall this is pretty much what I expected to happen with the Aggressors, Dylan's Mortars also rolled well despite him forgetting to do Orders.

My remaining Sergeant and Mortar Team both passed Morale and it was time to see if I could pick up the pieces.

Score
4-0 for Dylan




Imperium Turn 1

My left Infantry Squad moved up through the ruins, hoping to be able to kill the Scouts between shooting and combat.  The other Infantry Squad stayed still while the Watch Captain near them zoomed up, also hoping to remove the Scouts on the right. My Relic Captain used Upon Wings of Fire while the other two jumped towards the building in the center, aiming for the Aggressors. Both the Librarian and Primaris Psyker poked their heads out a bit but still staying safe.

I decided to drop the Captain on top of the center building and after a lot of consideration did not bring any of the Veterans or Death Company in. This was a mistake that I'll detail at the end of the report.

Shooting did very little as I had very few guns. I killed three Scouts on the left and two on the right but rolled poorly for the Mortars and wasn't able to open a hole in any of the screens. Charges got the Relic Captain into the left Aggressors, the other two Captains into the right Aggressors, and both my units near the Scouts into them.

The Watch Captain easily pasted the three Scouts as I'd chosen Troops for my Mission Tactic, I was only able to drag one down from the other unit though, having lost a Guardsmen to Overwatch and the Sergeants Chainsword. I also managed to wipe out all the Aggressors by using Red Rampage on the Relic Captain. One Captain Consolidated into the center Scouts who bounced off.

My hope was to kill the center Scouts with a Captain fighting again and that the left Scouts would also die but it didn't pan out. This would have tied us on Kill More with me having Hold More and opened up the center as a great place to put my Veterans into Turn 2. At the end of the day I just didn't have the firepower to get all that done.

Score
5-5 Tied






Imperium Turn 2

With most of his important units untouched Dylan moved all the Shield-Captains out, keeping two on the center-right while one went left. The Scouts Fell Back from the Captain but Dylan forgot to Fall Back with the remaining Scout Sergeant.

Orders went onto all the Mortar Teams for re-roll hits, as well as the same Order to one of the Infantry Squads. The Guardsmen shooting killed my last Mortar Team and most of the right Infantry Squad. Devastators and Shield-Captains managed to kill all my Captains and one Watch-Captains as I just ran out of screens and had some poor positioning

Charges saw the Shield-Captain on the right get in on the remaining Watch Captain while the one on the right reinforced the Scout Sergeant. My Watch Captain lived with a wound but failed to do damage back while the Infantry Squad was mostly killed off and couldn't drop the Sergeant. I passed my Morale checks.

Score
12-5 for Dylan






Imperium Turn 2

Knowing that the game was completely over I moved the Librarian towards the center Shield Captain and ran the Primaris Psyker towards the left. All my Reserves came in with a Veteran Squad and the Death Company on the right in Dylan's Deployment Zone and the other two Veterans squads largely centered.

Psychic saw Null Zone get cast despite Spark of Divinity and each Shield-Captain took three wounds from a Smite and Psychic Maelstrom.

Shooting pretty much wiped out the Guardsmen, leaving two Mortar Teams and one with a base and wound down. One Infantry Squad was just a Mortar, the other was a guy and a Mortar.

Charges got the Death Company into all three Devastator units and the Librarian into the Shield-Captain and Scouts. The Veterans tried to help in a few places but didn't make the Charges. In Combat I bounced off the Shield-Captain, which was a desperation attempt anyways, and wiped out one and a half Devastator units. Unfortunately Dylan was rolling really hot and killed all but two of the Death Company with punches and guys punching as they died thanks to the Ancient. My Watch Captain was finished off by the Shield-Captain and the Librarian was left with a wound. Finally the Infantry Squad on the right was destroyed.

I quickly let Dylan go through his Turn 3 which saw almost all the Veterans wiped out by the Shield-Captains as well as the last two Death Company. The Librarian died to Combat which would leave me with a couple Guardsmen, my Psyerk, my Warlord, and ~5 Veterans.







Post-Game Thoughts

While initially I didn't think there was much to be learned from this game I thought about it later and came to a few realizations. I won't talk about the First Turn because both me and Dylan have played this matchup enough to know that if I go first I likely win and the same is said for him.

Despite going second the game was actually lost in Deployment and on Turn 1. It's now clear that castling in a corner is the only viable Deployment against this type of list. I could have put the Mortars and Infantry Squads more in the back and then made a no-man's land between that line and the Scout bubble. This would force the Aggressors to only shoot Scouts and Mortars are actually not all that good against Guardsmen in Cover, so I would probably have been left with something.

Besides that my Turn 1 was a series of disastrous decisions. My best play was to drop one Veteran unit in my Deployment Zone and use them plus Psychic Powers/Character shooting to kill off one Aggressor unit, this has extremely heavy odds in my favor. The other unit could be dealt with by one Captain using Red Rampage and Honor the Chapter, again that's extremely heavy in my favor.

Spreading the Characters out in Deployment was also something I should have done as it would split Dylan's attention and ultimately give me information on where the Devastators are going but without giving up targets. The Devastators are basically a six drop package so I could have baited them out and used the center building to cover the Veterans coming in on Turn 1, guaranteeing their safety. Bolters and Mortars do very little to Marines in Cover.

This would have created a situation where only one Captain died on Turn 2 and I had much more of my Guard left. While I'd be losing on Objectives I would probably have tied on Kill More as I could have just shot whatever Scout unit was near me or gone for a very cheeky Charge on the center Scouts and then Consolidate through a wall towards the other Scouts, although I'm not sure if the measurements were right for that.

With all that in mind the game was very useful as a similar list to what Dylan runs (in terms of the archetype) is pretty popular with Chaos. This also cements the continuous need for Scouts with me, I wasn't sure they were still good with the Deep Strike nerf but between infiltrate, being able to still bubble-wrap, and the Objective game they're worth the points.

After this game I came to a few realizations. One is that Mortar Teams don't work in my list, lots of people are running Guard right now for the CP and Mortars get tossed in because they're cheap and have good math for cost. However they do not clear screens as quickly as this list needs them to, especially if -1 to Hit comes into play. They also tax my available terrain because it's hard to hide such big bases. Mortars are fine in more of a gunline build because you can slowly get value out of them over time, my list doesn't work that way.

I'm also walking away as not a big fan of the one Death Company unit. This was originally put in as a way to one-turn Knights with ease as well as be useful against other Lords of War and durable normal targets. In practice it's too many eggs in one basket, I can kill a Knight with a small unit and a Captain, or even just a Captain at times. Having two small units gives me more flexibility into the vast majority of games where I'm worrying about Wave Serpents, Venoms/Ravagers, etc.

I also need more, immediate, screen clearing. For that I may try Inceptors as their math is pretty good with Deathwatch. I may also decide to scrap the Deathwatch entirely, they're really strong but I can retain most of the good things about them by running the Shield-Captains and adding more Guard. That's something I've been toying with for awhile and it has pros/cons but I may try it in an upcoming game. At this point I have a stable of units that I really like across four Factions, now I'm just trying to find the best marriage between them. I'm sure I'll figure it out just in time for the FAQ to come through with unexpected changes which against ruin my army. :P

Anyways that's all I have this time, I have another game this week and then a tournament on Sunday so hopefully this is making up for my previous drought. Feel free to give me a shout, it's really cool to talk to people who read my content.

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