Thursday 6 August 2015

Battle Report 15- 1500 pts Dark Angels Ravenwing vs Mechanium

This week, I had arranged a game against Steve's 30k mechanium army. We had agreed to play 1500 pts on a 6x4 board using a maelstrom mission. As I have talked about previously, I am a big fan of maelstrom missions and I was happy to get another game in.
I continued my forays into the new Dark Angels codex and decided to yet again field a Ravenwing army. My army consisted of:
Interrogator-Chaplain- Crozius Arcanum, Rosarius, Bike, Mace of Redemption, Meltabombs (IC)
Librarian- Level 2 psyker, Bike, Conversion Field, Meltabombs (L)
5 Ravenwing Command- Champion, Apothecary, Ravenwing Standard (CS)
5 Black Knights- Huntsman has Meltabombs (BK)
5 Ravenwing Bikers- 2 Grav guns, sergeant has Meltabombs (RB1)
5 Ravenwing Bikers- 2 Meltaguns, sergeant has Meltabombs (RB2)
5 Ravenwing Bikers- 2 Plasmaguns, sergeant has Meltabombs (RB3)
Darkshroud- Assault Cannon (D)
Landspeeder- Heavy Bolter, Assault Cannon (RL1)
Landspeeder- Heavy Bolter, Assault Cannon (RL2)

I wanted to try the Interrogator Chaplain in this game and he took to the field as my warlord. I think his Zealot ability will give a big boost to the Command squad and make them more effective in combat. I gave him the Mace of Redemption for the strength increase and AP3. I have never played mechanium, but had heard that some units can have high toughness, so hoped this would be a nice counter. I rounded out the HQ choices with a Librarian, I am still wanting to try the Dark Angels Interromancy powers to see if I can use them effectively. He was given a conversion field to boost his survivability and will be deployed with the Black Knights.
I took three units of Ravenwing bikers armed with grav guns, meltaguns and Plasmaguns for some variety to take on whatever I may come up against. I rounded out the list with three Landspeeders; the ever useful Darkshroud and two ravenwing landspeeders with heavy bolters and assault cannons.
I had a lot of manoeuvrability, which should help with objective seizing and had a fair amount of firepower and combat potential to deal with the enemy.  
My warlord trait was The Hunt; potentially useful, but not great. The Librarian got Mind Worm, Righteous Repugnance and Maelstrom of Misery. Giving a unit such as the Black Knights rage will always be effective and I had not yet tried Maelstrom of Misery, but it should be powerful against any high toughness Mechanium units.

Steve's army consisted of:
Magos Dominus- Power sword, Cortex controller, Refractor Field, Photon Gauntlet, Abeyant (M)
3 Castellax Battle-Automata- Mauler Pattern Bolt Cannon, Flamer (C)
3 Thallax Cohort- 2 Lightning Guns, Multimelta (T1)
3 Thallax Cohort- 2 Lightning Guns, Photon Thruster Cannon (T2)
3 Myrmidon Secutors- Power Axes, Phase-Plasma Fusils (S)
3 Myrmidon Destructors- Power fists, Graviton Imploder, Photon Thruster Cannon (D)
Thanatar- Hellex Pattern Plasma Mortar, TL Mauler Bolt Cannon (Th)

Fortunately for this battle report, Steve was able to write up some thoughts on his army selection and the game itself. These will be incorporated into the report as I go along and will be highlighted.

Steve: "I knew I was going to be severely outmatched in terms of manoeuvrability with all those bikes and speeders. I was also unsure as to what to expect and I was concerned that I might be going up against some Deathwing Terminators or possibly a vehicle or a Dreadnought. My compulsory troops choices were the HQ (Magos Dominus) and the two troops choices, which is this case were the two squads of Thallax. The Castellax Battle-Automata are a troops choice, however, they don't count towards the two compulsory choices.

The Magos is a pretty poor character, so I gave him the Abeyant to toughen him up (+1W and It Will Not Die), along with the Photon Gauntlet and IRad Cleanser for short-range anti-tank and anti-personnel use, respectively.
The Thallax had their usual armament of one squad with a Multimelta and the other with a Photon Thruster to give them the ability to get through armour should they encounter it (one in three Thallax can carry a heavy weapon). Due to the Djinn-sight they have a -2 cover save modifier applied to their shooting, which should come in handy against Jink saves!

The squad of three Castellax are a good tough unit and can put out plenty of accurate fire with the Mauler Bolt Cannons. I thought the two flamers each carried would also come in handy against the bikers if they ever got used.
The Myrmidon Secutors with two phased Plasma Fusils were a no-brainer against a marine army and I was counting on the BS5, S6, AP3 shots to saturate the biker's ability to Jink.

The Myrmidon Destructors were equipped a bit cagily- the Irradiation Engine for killing bikes, the Gravitic Exploder for short range firepower against armoured targets and the Photon Thruster for long-range shooting against armour.
Finally, I took the big guy! The Thanatar Seige Automata is a great looking model and the high T and W value is always useful. Also, I hoped that the Helix Plasma Mortar would be pretty devastating with S8 AP2 on a large blast and forcing the opponent to re-roll successful cover saves!"
We rolled for the mission and got Spoils of War. This is an interesting one as you are able to score your opponent's "Secure Objective X" cards, meaning that you can potentially pick up a lot of points in one turn.
Steve won the roll of for objectives and we began to place them on the board in a random fashion. He also won the roll off for deployment zone and deployment, choosing to take the darker side of the board and to deploy first.

Terrain and objectives. The Shields represent the objectives, the number corresponds to the objective number (sorry, the colours are not too clear, from left to right the objectives are 1, 5, 6, 4, 3, 2).
The Battlefield.
Steve spread his forces across the board, The Thanatar deployed on the left, supported by a unit of Thallax Cohorts. Further to the right, the unit of Myrmidon Secutors took cover in the ruins, while the Magos Dominus in the unit of Myrmidon Destructors took the ruins to the right of the centre. The Castellax took position in between the central ruins, while the second unit of Thallax covered the right flank from the ruins on that side of the board.

Steve: "I was unsure how the Ravenwing would perform. I knew I couldn't outmanoeuvre them, so I opted to play it safe and keep most of my guys in cover and then hopefully attrite them with shooting until I could move out of cover and start grabbing objectives. Although my troops are tough, I know from bitter experience that they can be swamped and killed with sufficient shooting or close combat. As such, only the Thanatar and the Castellax were out in the open as they were my toughest units to kill. One unit of Thallax went for an objective in cover, whilst everyone else hunkered down in the ruins to do some serious shooting." 

The Thanatar and Thallax.

The Secutors, Castellax and Destructors.

The second Thallax unit.
Seeing the disposition of the enemy forces, I decided to focus on my left flank and centre. The Command squad and Black Knights deployed in the centre, the protection of the Darkshroud helping them out. The other bike squads deployed around this central force, grabbing as many objectives as I could in case the cards came up favourable. I chose not to scout any units, as I did not want to get closer to the enemy guns.

I failed to seize the initiative and Steve got the first turn.

Objectives- No Prisoners, Behind Enemy lines, Secure objective 5.
Turn 1- Mechanium.

On the left flank, the Thallax advanced into the cover of the landing pad, while in the centre, the Mechanium troops made their way towards the Ravenwing bikers opposite them.
The Automata advance.

In the shooting phase, the Thallax ran onto the landing pad, their move overseen by the Thanator as he readied his guns on the command squad. The plasma mortar fired out, catching two of the command squad. Both bikers survived the blow though, but it did cause the unit to jink (Steve managed to roll a double 1 to wound, so no casualties were caused). The Castallax opened fire on the Black Knights, one of the elite warriors perishing from their bolt cannon shot, despite Jinking. The Thallax on the right added their firepower to the unit, but were unable to kill any of the warriors. The Magos directed his squad to open fire on the Darkshroud, the Destroyer's weapons causing a glancing and penetrating hit, both of which were saved by the Jinking skimmer.

With no assaults, the turn was over, the Mechanium scoring 1 point for claiming objective 5. They discarded Behind enemy lines, the slow moving Mechanium unlikely to advance far into the Dark Angels deployment zone.

Objectives- Hold the Line, Behind Enemy Lines, Hungry for Glory. A decent set of cards for this turn. Hold the Line was easily achievable as I had plenty of units in my deployment zone. Behind enemy lines would be difficult to get this turn, but would be much easier in subsequent turns. I had little hope of getting Hungry for Glory as I was not planning to launch any assault this turn.
Turn 1- Ravenwing.

The Ravenwing moved up onto the objectives in front of them, while the Black Knights and Command squad advanced to get into range of the enemy. Some units held back, hoping to secure their deployment zone.
The Ravenwing move forward.

The Plasma gun bikers seize the objective.

The Librarian summoned the powers of the warp onto himself. He cast Maelstrom of Misery on the Thallax in the ruins to the right. He succeeding in charging the spell, but a massive 11" scatter ensured that no damage was caused. He then attempted to cast Righteous Repugnance on the Command squad, but his efforts were blocked by the fickle nature of the warp (Steve managed to block the roll).

The shooting phase began with the Command squad targeting the Castellax, they hit three times but caused no wounds. The Black Knights and plasma gun bike squad added their firepower to the enemy robots. The Ravenwing bikers caused two wounds on the squad, while the Black Knights caused no wounds, one veteran biker succumbing to Gets Hot! from their plasma talons.
The two landspeeders and grav bike squad fired at the Thallax squad on the left flank, but could not damage the enemy unit (one speeder caused 2 wounds, one was saved and the other made its 6+ FNP roll).
The Castellax are targeted.

With no assaults, the turn was over. I scored 1 point for Hold the Line and discarded Hunger for Glory.

Mechanium- 1 VP
Ravenwing- 1 VP

Steve: "I could roughly see where the Ravenwing were headed. I was happy enough that I had sufficient firepower on my left flank with the Thanatar, a squad of Thallax and the Myrmidon Secutors. The middle looked a bit iffy and I was worried that my Destructors and Magos would be overrun, so I brought up the Castellax to be a speed bump and also to bring down as many bikes as possible. Shooting was pretty dire, with the on-target plasma mortar failing to wound on snake eyes. Not a good start! At the end of the turn, I think I only killed one of your bikes, however, I had at least managed to force several of your units to Jink."

Objectives- Secure objective 3, Secure objective 4, No Prisoners. This was not a great hand, both objectives were in the Ravenwing lines and with the mission used, I could score them in my next turn.
Turn 2- Mechanium.

In the centre, the Destructors, Secutors and Castellax advanced in the centre towards the Command Squad.
The Castellax move up.

The Mechanium turned their guns on the Ravenwing. The Thanatar fired at the Darkshroud and managed to penetrate its Jinking (the gun gave -1 to cover save, but I still managed to fail a 3+ re-rollable). Unfortunately for Steve, his penetration roll came up a 1, so the Darkshroud could only snap shoot next turn. The Thallax squad on the left fired at the plasma gun bikers, their special rules reducing the Jinking save of bikers (-2 to cover save), resulting in the death of two bikers. The Secutors saw the bikers falter and wiped out the remaining Dark Angels (they caused a massive 12 wounds on the Ravenwing bikers).
The Castellax fired at the Command squad, despite causing 7 wounds, only one biker perished. The Destructor Lord fired his Irradiation Engine at the Black Knights, their Jinking proving useless against the attack and two Knights died. The Destructors added their firepower to the Magos, peppering them with hits, but could find no chink in their armour (despite getting 4 hits, the Destructors failed all their wound rolls despite needing 3+). The Thallax on the right fired at the closest Landspeeder, they managed one penetrating hit, but the Jinking speeder saved the shot (on a 6+ due to -2 cover save from the Thallax).

In the assault phase, the Castellax attempted to assault the Command Squad. The Black Knights opened up with their plasma talons, causing one wound to the approaching enemy that was saved. Unfortunately, one rider died when their plasma overheated, increasing the charge distance for the enemy robots. The Castellax, however, managed the 11" charge to reach the Command Squad. The Interrogator-Chaplain led his squad in the attack, raining blows upon the enemy machines, but he was unable to harm them (the chaplain hit 3 times, but failed to wound any on 4+). To add to the insult, the Castellax passed their Blind test on I2. The Black Knights in the command squad were able to inflict one wound on the Castellax. In return, the Mechanium robots caused 3 wounds, all of which were saved on the Chaplain's invulnerable Rosarius. The Interrogator-Chaplain led his squad out of combat (using Hit and Run).
The Castellax surge forward to assault.

At the end of the turn, the Mechanium scored First Blood and No prisoners.

Objectives- Secure Objective 3, Blood and Guts, Behind Enemy Lines. A nice set of objectives this turn, I could easily grab objective 3 and with my mobility could get to the enemy deployment zone easily. In addition, I could hopefully grab objective 3 and 4 from Steve.
Turn 2- Ravenwing.

The Ravenwing moved to grab the objectives on the board, several units advancing to the enemy deployment zone.
The Librarian used Maelstrom of Misery of the Castellax, causing one wound which was saved by cover.
The Meltagun bikers move up on the objective.

The Ravenwing move to the enemy deployment zone.

In the shooting phase, the meltagun bikers turbo-boosted onto the objective, while one of the Landspeeders tubo-boosted onto another. The second Landspeeder fired at the Thallax on the left flank, but caused no wounds. The Command squad fired at the Magos and Destructors, slaying one of the enemy warriors with their plasma fire. The grav gun biker squad fired at the Destructors, causing a further wound and slowly decreasing the squad. The Black Knights fired at the Thallax, causing one wound on the unit in cover.

The Command squad attempted to assault the Magos, but were unable to reach the enemy (I managed to fail a 5" charge).

With no further assaults, the turn was over and I scored Secure Objective 3, two secure objective 4's (mine and Steve) and discarded Blood and Guts.

Mechanium- 3
Ravenwing- 5

Steve: "I was surprised that Mike moved his bikes forward but didn't make any charges. This was the best turn for me as the shooting was very profitable! The squad of bikers advancing on my left flank were wiped out by the combined fire from the Thallax and Secutors and another squad in the centre being mauled by the Irradiation Engine (Torrent, Fleshbane and AP3 is a very nasty combination!). The most critical roll of the turn did not go my way though- my Thanatar getting an on-target shot with the plasma mortar on the Darkshroud, which failed it's Jink roll and took a penetrating hit....only for me to roll a one on the damage chart. If I'd managed to kill that think I reckon I would have cripped your Jink saves significantly. I was also annoyed at not being able to do more damage with the epic 11" charge my Castellax made!"

Objectives- Witchhunter, Supremacy and Domination. Another bad round of cards for Steve. With his slow moving foot units, he would be hard pressed to grab the objectives necessary to score.
Turn 3- Mechanium.

In the movement phase, the Thanatar and Thallax on the left flank moved towards the meltagun bikers. The Castellax moved back towards the Ravenwing units, while the Magos led the Destructors slowly through the ruins (they were only able to move 2" despite having move through cover).

The Thanatar fired at the meltagun bikers, killing one. The Secutors fired at the bikers in front of them too. Despite causing 9 wounds, only one Ravenwing bikers died. The Thallax added their firepower to the slaughter, killing a further two, leaving one meltagun biker remaining, who passed his morale check. The Thallax on the right fired at the Darkshroud scoring one glancing hit and two penetrating hits. The jinking skimmer saved the penetrating hits, but the glance got through, leaving it on one hull point.

The Destructors fired their Irradiation Engine at the command squad, hitting four and killing two (I made two FNP saves). The Magos and other Destructor fired at the command squad, but were unable to cause any more damage.
The Castellax fired at the Librarian, causing one wound on the psyker.

The Magos attempted to charge the command squad, but failed to reach the unit (failing an 8" charge).

Steve scored no points this turn and discarded Domination.

Objectives- No Prisoners, Secure Objective 6 and Secure Objective 1.
Turn 3- Ravenwing. Error her- RL2 moved and turbo-boosted to grab objective 1 this turn.

The Ravenwing moved towards the objectives, while the majority of the forces moved to face the Destructors.

The Ravenwing surround the Magos.

In the psychic phase, the Librarian attempted to manifest Mind Worm on the Magos using 4 dice. I periled, the Librarian taking a wound which brought about his demise. To make matters worse, the Magos blocked the psychic attack.
The last member of the command squad fired at the Destructors, but his plasma talon overheated and the Apothecary died. The Black Knight, Grav gun bikers, Darkshroud and Landspeeder fired at the Destructors and Magos, causing 6 wounds and killing the Destructors and leaving the Magos on one wound.
In the assault phase, the Interrogator-Chaplain and Black Knight charged at the Magos. The Chaplain caused 4 wounds on the Magos, slaying the enemy warlord.

At the end of turn 3, I was able to gain Slay the Warlord and all three objectives. I had pulled far ahead of the Mechanium, they would need to pull a lot of points in the next turn to even it up.

Mechanium- 3
Ravenwing- 9

Steve: "Very clever move on Mike's part- massing most of his forces with the Darkshroud and bringing them forward. This took them out of line of sight of my Thanatar and brought them under the Stealth umbrella, plus massing most of his firepower in one place. I didn't really achieve much this turn at all, except lose my HQ, Destructors and an objective. Not being able to shoot Overwatch (Thanks to the Darkshroud- Mike) was also a massive blow to me as the Irradiation Engine would have probably done a fair amount of damage to his troops as they charged in."

Objectives- Secure Objective 4, Ascendency and Supremacy. Again, a tough set of cards for Steve, all based on grabbing objectives.
Turn 4- Mechanium.

The Thallax moved towards objective 3, while the Secutors and Castellax advanced on the Ravenwing units in their deployment zone. The Thanatar and Thallax unit fired at the Darkshroud, but were unable to bring down the enemy skimmer thanks to its Jink saves. The Secutors fired at the Interrogator-Chaplain. They caused a great 13 wounds against the warlord, but amazingly, I saved all but 2, leaving the Chaplain on a single wound. The Castellax fired at the grav gun bikers, causing 5 wounds but thanks to the presence of the Darkshroud, all wounds were saved. On the left flank, the second Thallax unit killed the last meltagun biker.

The Castellax attempted to charge the grav gun bikers, but failed the 8" charge (on another double 1). The Thallax used their jetpacks to boost towards objective 4.

The Mechanium scored no points this turn and discarded Ascendency.

Objectives- Secure Objective 2, Secure Objective 4 and Path of Redemption. I could achieve these three objectives quite readily this turn and would score an extra point for Steve's objective 4 too.
Turn 4- Ravenwing.

I advanced on the Castellax with the Chaplain, Knights and grav bikers, while the Landspeeders moved to claim the objectives.

The Ravenwing units focused their fire on the Castellax, causing two wounds on the enemy robots. They followed up the shooting with an assault, the Interrogator-Chaplain, Black Knight and Ravenwing bikers smashing into the Castellax. The Chaplain caused 4 wounds on the charge, the Knight and bikers causing a further 3 wounds, leaving one of the robots with one wound remaining.
The Castallax are targeted in Turn 4.

At the end of turn 4, I scored Secure Objective 4 twice and Path of Redemption.

Mechanium- 3
Ravenwing- 12

At this point, Steve conceded the game. I was way ahead on points and it would be difficult for him to catch up.

Steve: "I knew I was beat pretty early on in this turn. I couldn't kill that damn Darkshroud, despite numerous penetrating and glancing hits with plasma mortars, lightning guns and Photon Thrusters (all of which I've used to damage or destroy much more heavily armoured vehicles in the past!). I also had nowhere near the speed or manpower to take and hold sufficient objectives to gain enough victory points. Even going to extremes with my shooting came to naught. I couldn't even get a lousy victory point by killing the Chaplain after having 18 BS5 S6 Ap3 Phased Plasma Fusil fire shooting at one lousy guy!"

Another great game for the Ravenwing. There were two factors that contributed to the win; Mobility and Jink saves.

My force was so much more manoeuvrable than the Mechanium army, meaning that it was much easier for me to grab objectives when the cards came up. This was doubly important in this scenario as given the special rules, I was able to grab any of Steve's objective cards as well. Unfortunately, the forces of Mars could simply not move fast enough to score the points required, to do so would have meant forgoing shooting.

Again this game showed the durability of the Ravenwing. The re-rollable Jink saves coupled with the bonus from the Darkshroud made it very difficult for Steve to wipe out my army, which would have secured his victory. He was able to wipe out quite a few of my units, but not enough to stop me scoring objectives. This was even with special rules that reduced my cover saves. Talking after the game, we both agreed that if he had been able to take out the Darkshroud early on, it would have been a very different game. This unit is amazing. Coming in at less than 100 pts, it greatly boosts the survivability of Ravenwing units, through both giving them stealth and preventing overwatch by enemy units. I was able to charge the Destructors and Castellax without suffering from overwatch, which could caused a lot of casualties to my units.

There were a few other points during the game that I noticed:

1. This was one of the first games where the Black Knights caused a lot of damage to themselves thanks to the Plasma Talons. Over the course of the game, the Black Knights and Command Squad caused 4 unsaved wounds on the enemy with the plasma talons and three of the riders died thanks to overheating.

2. I still need to work on using the Librarian effectively. He had a good set of powers this game, but did not really achieve much. I managed to cast maelstrom of misery a couple of times, but was unlucky with the scatter on the first shot. My other attempts at psychic powers were stopped by Deny the Witch and he eventually ended up killing himself.

3. Jinking dramatically improves the survivability of my units but seriously reduces the firepower. By forcing the Black Knights and Command Squad to jink each turn, Steve was able to limit the damage caused by these units in the shooting phase. As it was, I was lucky that the game relied on objective grabbing and not on killing units, as the Mechanium definitely had the upper hand in this aspect.

4. Steve was quite unlucky with the maelstrom cards he was drawing each turn. They all seemed to be objectives on my half of the board or objective based cards such as Supremacy that he had trouble managing. A few more of the killing or morale cards would have helped his score significantly.

5. The Mechanium are a tough army. Lots of high toughness and multi-wound models with some great weaponry. The amount of AP3 weaponry they can throw out is fantastic, as well as being able to reduce the cover saves of enemy units. I was very lucky not to lose a lot more models each turn.

6. I completely forgot about all my Hammer of Wrath attacks in this game. Not sure it would have made any difference, but I need to remember to use them.

I think this mission played to my strengths much more than Steve's. Had we been playing an Eternal War mission, I have no doubt he could have won, either through causing more kill points or by whittling down my army enough to claim more objectives at the end of the game.

Overall, a great game against Steve and a chance to face an army I have never fought before.

That was a strange game for me as I usually lose my Thallax and have my Destructors and Magos alive by the end, this time it was the other way around.
I always struggle with an objective-based game as I typically have very little in the way of numbers (usually 16-18 models for 1500 points) and very limited manoeuvrability . However, if I had managed to kill that Darkshroud, I reckon I would have had a good chance of winning. My set-up was a bit flawed, as although the Thanatar had a pretty great field of fire at the start of the game, Mike was able to move out of line of sight quickly and he ended up hardly doing anything. I probably would have been better sticking him next to the Destructors and Magos. You live and learn!

Overall, it was a good and enjoyable game, though I'm still getting to grips with the rules and it's good to play against someone who has a good grasp of them, as some of my games have been against people who tended to ignore some of the rules. Mike clearly had a better plan as to how to win and moved his units to do that really well, I must admit I was quite impressed by that (Thanks!- Mike). I was, however, quite happy with the durability of my units and have a few ideas about additional troops to help correct some of the areas where I am deficient. Which will mean a re-match at some point!

Thanks again to Steve for a great game and for taking the time to put together his thoughts on the battle for me! It's nice to see the battle from the perspective of both players and what tactical considerations were taken into account. I will hopefully be able to convince a few more of my opponents to do this in the future. Hope you enjoyed the latest battle report, any comments about the battle or suggestions on improving the reports? Leave them below!


  1. #6 is a big deal with bikes. It doesn't seem like much, but it's similar to a drop pods storm bolter. Doesn't do much...but those little shots can change the course of the game!

    1. Yeah, I generally try and use them in all my games when I can remember. I just meant that in this instance I don't think it would have made much of a difference as with the high toughness Mechanium, I would have needed 5's or 6's to wound. Might have allowed me to finish off that Castellax though!

    2. I watched a drop pod kill a 200+ daemon prince once. Every roll counts :)