Tuesday, 11 July 2017

Caledonian Revolution 2017: Game 2- Deathwatch vs Astra Militarum

Game 2 of Caledonian Revolution 2017 saw my Deathwatch taking on John's Astra Militarum army.

The misssion for game 2 was Big Guns Never Tire for the Eternal War, Tactical Escalation for the maelstrom mission and Dawn of War deployment.

My army consisted of:
Battalion Detachment
Watch Master- Guardian Spear (W)
Watch Captain- Jump Pack, Xenophase Blade, Bolt Pistol (W)
Kill Team 1- Sergeant with Power Sword, Black Shield with Power Sword, 3 Veterans, 2 Frag Cannons, Vanguard Veteran with Pair Lightning Claws, Deathwatch Biker with Teleport Homer (KT1)
Kill Team 2- 5 Veterans with 2 Frag Cannons and 2 Shotguns (KT2)
Kill Team 3- 5 Veterans with Meltagun, 3 Combi-meltas (KT3)
Kill Team 4- 5 Veterans with 5 Stalker Pattern Boltguns (KT4)
Kill Team 5- 5 Veterans, Terminator with Power Fist, Storm Bolter and Cyclone Missile Launcher (KT5)
Rhino- Storm Bolter (R1)
Rhino- Storm Bolter (R2)
5 Vanguard Veterans- 2 pairs Lightning Claws, 2 Heavy Thunder Hammers (VV)
4 Bikers- Teleport Homer, Power Axe, Power Maul, 2 Power Swords (DB1)
4 Bikers- Teleport Homer, Power Maul, 3 Power Swords (DB2)
Corvus Blackstar- Twin Assault Cannon, 2 Stormstrike Missiles, Hurricane Bolter, Auspex Array (CB)

6 Command Points

My Warlord was the Watch Master, who had the Legendary Fighter warlord trait. 

John's army consisted of:
Battalion Detachment
Tempestor Prime- Power Sword, Tempestus Command Rod (P1)
Tempestor Prime- Power Sword, Tempestus Command Rod (P2)
Sergeant Harker (H)
10 Ratlings- Sniper Rifles (R) 
Astropath- Laspistol, psychic barrier (A)
5 Tempestus Scions- 2 Plasma Guns (S1)
5 Tempestus Scions- 2 Plasma Guns (S2)
5 Tempestus Scions- 2 Plasma Guns (S3)
10 Tempestus Scions- 2 Plasma Guns, Power Sword (S4)
50 Conscipts (C)
Taurox Prime- 2 Autocannons, Taurox Gatling Gun, Storm Bolter (T1)
Taurox Prime- 2 Autocannons, Taurox Gatling Gun, Storm Bolter (T2)
Taurox Prime- 2 Autocannons, Taurox Gatling Gun, Storm Bolter (T3)

Spearhead Detachment
Commissar Yarrick (Y)
Manticore- Heavy Bolter (M)
Basilisk- Heavy Bolter (B)
Wyvern- Heavy Bolter (W)

Super Heavy Auxiliary Detachment
Shadowsword- 3 Twin Heavy Bolters, 2 Lascannons, Storm Bolter (SS)

7 Command Points

Yarrick was his warlord, and he had the Tenacious Survivor warlord trait. Quite a tough Guard army to face. The giant conscript blob would need to be wiped out to a man thanks to the nearby Commissar Yarrick (he stops them losing more than 1 model for a failed morale test). I know how powerful the artillery can be, and I can imagine how tough the Shadowsword will be to take down. The Scions and Taurox Primes also appear to be solid units in 8th edition. 

We placed the objectives as shown below:
We were using objectives 1-4 for the Eternal War objectives, 5 and 6 were only for Maelstrom points. 
John won the roll off for deployment zone (the tournament pack made this a roll off, rather than an automatic choice). The deployment order was as follows:
  1. Kill Team 5 (Cyclone Missile)
  2. Ratlings (reserve)
  3. Vanguard Veterans (reserve)
  4. Basilisk
  5. Watch Captain (reserve)
  6. Sergeant Harker
  7. Kill Team 4 (Stalkers)
  8. Manticore
  9. Deathwatch Bikers (LHS)
  10. Wyvern
  11. Deathwatch Bikers (RHS)
  12. Tempestus Scions (reserve)
  13. Rhino 1 (Meltagun squad)
  14. Tempestus Scions (reserve)
  15. Rhino 2 (Frag Cannons Squad)
  16. Tempestus Scions (reserve)
  17. Corvus Blackstar
  18. Rest of John's army- Scions in reserve, the rest on the table. 
There was no doubt that I would finish deploying first. Thanks to having so many units in reserve, I essentially had to deploy most of my army, while John could hold back and counter. 

As expected, the Artillery units went at the back, on his left flank, with the Shadowsword to the right. The giant unit of Conscripts went at the front to shield all the tanks, backed up by Yarrick and the Ratlings. 

I decided to focus much of my army on my right flank, opposite the artillery. I figured I could get to them quickly and get the bonus points in the mission for destroying them. I put a unit of Bikers on the left flank to go for the objectives. 

I chose to go first and John failed to seize. 

In turn 1, I drew Secure Objective 1. 

On the right flank, the two Rhinos advanced, using their smoke launchers to distort the enemy's vision. One unit of Bikers and the Corvus Blackstar raced down the centre of the battlefield towards the conscripts. On the left flank, the Bikers moved up to the objective, behind the cover of the platform in front of them. 

In the shooting phase, the Corvus Blackstar split its fire between the enemy tanks and conscripts. The Assault Cannon fired at the Wyvern, taking two wounds from it. The Stormstrike Missiles fired at the Manticore. One hit, but failed to wounds. I used a Command re-roll to succeed and took three wounds from it. The Hurricane Bolters fired at the Conscripts, killing 6 of them. 

The Terminator in Kill Team 5 fired his Cyclone Missile Launcher at the Manticore. One shot hit and wounded, but John made his 6+ save to protect the vehicle. 

The Stalker-armed Marines and Deathwatch Bikers fired at the Conscripts, killing 7 more of the squad with their combined firepower. 

In the morale phase, Yarrick kept the Conscripts in order, executing one of the squad to keep the rest in line. 

At the end of my turn, I scored no points and discarded Secure Objective 1. 

In his first turn, John drew Priority Orders Received- Area Denial (have no enemy units in 6-12" of the battlefield centre). 

The Scions all arrived from reserve, deploying in the Deathwatch lines to target the backfield units. The rest of the Guard army stayed in position to bring their guns to bear. 

In the psychic phase, the Astropath cast Psychic Barrier on the Conscripts, improving their save by 1. 

The Tempestus Scions in the forest targeted the Bikers with their Plasma Guns, overcharging them. Thanks to the nearby orders of the Prime (allowing them to re-roll 1's to hit), the Bikers were decimated by the Plasma fire. The other two squads of Scions targeted the Kill Team in the woods, equally decimating them with Plasma fire. 

The Shadowsword fired at the Corvus Blackstar. The Lascannons both hit (on 5+), getting through the flyer's armour and taking 9 wounds from it. The Heavy Bolters fired at the Corvus, doing two wounds. I failed both 3+ armour saves and the Corvus was down to 3 wounds. The nearby Taurox added to the volley, destroying the flyer with its weaponry. Two of the squad perished as they emerged from the vehicle.

The Conscripts fired at the newly disembarked Kill Team, wounding them 10 times. Continuing my good fortune, I failed 5 of the 10 3+ saves and the squad was decimated, leaving one Marine. One of the Taurox fired at the survivor, easily killing him.

The Ratlings fired at the Bikers, wounding them once. The final Taurox fired at the Bikers, wounding them twice, but failing to get past their armour.

On the left flank, the three Artillery tanks and Harker targeted the Deathwatch Bikers. The combined firepower of the tanks managed to kill two of the Bikers. leaving two remaining (John used a Command Point re-roll to try and increase the shots of the Manticore).

At the end of his turn, John scored First Blood and 4 Kill Points. My mood was pretty sour at this point. John had effectively wiped out a third of my units so far and I had yet to do much damage to any of his.

Deathwatch- 0 Maelstrom, 0 Kill Points
Astra Militarum- 0 Maelstrom, 4 Kill Points, First Blood.

This turn, I drew Psychological Warfare (force a failed morale test) and Assassinate (kill an enemy Character).

The Watch Captain arrived from reserve, landing on the right flank to support the Kill Teams as they disembarked from their Rhinos. In the centre, the Watch Master and Bikers moved up on the Conscript unit.

In the shooting phase, the Frag Cannons targeted the conscripts. My dice were still on terrible form as I rolled 7 hits for the 4D6 shots. Despite wounding on a 2+, I only scored four wounds and killed three of the Conscripts. The Bolters and Shotgun of the squad killed another 2. Both Rhinos targeted the squad, killing another 2 with their combined firepower.

The Bikers fired at the Conscripts, killing four, while the Watch Master slew another one with his Guardian Spear rounds.

The Terminator fired his Cyclone Missile Launcher at the Manticore, hitting, but failing to wound. Two of the Meltaguns in Kill Team 3 targeted the Manticore, hitting once but failing to wound. I used a Command re-roll to wound and took 6 wounds from it. The other two Meltaguns took 5 wounds from the Basilisk.

The Deathwatch then launched a charge at the Conscripts, almost every unit in the front line assaulting them. The Watch Master saw a gap in their ranks and launched himself at Yarrick to try and slay the enemy warlord (and stop him handing out those re-rolls to practically the whole army). Yarrick hit with two of his overwatch shots, wounding twice and getting past the Watch Master's 2+ save once (I swear, my dice were cursed at this stage).

The Watch Captain struck at the Conscripts, killing three. John then used two Command Points to interrupt and use Yarrick to attack the Watch Master. He struck with his Power Claw, wounding twice. I failed both invulnerable save and was forced to use a re-roll to pass one of them, so the Watch Master took three wounds.

The Watch Master struck at Yarrick, wounding him four times and getting past his invulnerable save twice. Yarrick only had 4 wounds and each wound did D3 damage, so maybe I had a chance at slaying him. True to form for this game, I rolled a double 1 for damage and Yarrick only took 2 wounds.

The rest of the Deathwatch attacked the Conscripts, killing 10 more of the squad. They failed their Morale test, but only suffered one casualty thanks to Yarrick. I was able to consolidate some of my forces forward to engage some of the Guard vehicles and stop them from firing in the following turn.

At the end of my turn, I scored Psychological Warfare for one point.

This turn, John drew Big Game Hunter (destroy an enemy vehicle) and still had Priority Orders Received (Area Denial).

The Basilisk and two of the Taurox fell back from combat. The Shadowsword moved up, as the Scions in my deployment zone advanced on the objectives, using the "Move, Move, Move" order to advance even further.

In the psychic phase, the Astropath cast Psychic Barrier on Yarrick, improving his saves by 1. This led to a debate. As the rules for the psychic power do not specify armour save, we played this as it also increased his invulnerable save to a 3+, as the rules for invulnerable saves say it cannot be modified by negate armour modifiers, but says nothing about increasing it.

Yarrick fired his pistol at the Watch Master, but failed to wound. Sergeant Harker fired his Heavy Bolter at Kill Team 2, killing one of the squad. The nearby Taurox added its firepower, wounding 7 times and killing two of the squad. The Wyvern fired at the unit, scoring 12 wounds and easily finishing off the squad.

The Manticore fired at the Rhino, wounding it once and doing 3 damage. The Shadowsword fired its main gun at the Rhino, easily destroying it. It then fired its Heavy Bolters at Kill Team 5 in the ruins. The Bolters managed to do 7 wounds, of which I managed to fail five 3+ saves! John was pretty apologetic as I removed most of the squad, but sometimes there is nothing you can do when your dice desert you. To add insult to injury, he fired the Storm Bolter at the Terminator, wounding once and getting past his 2+ armour save. The Ratlings targeted the Terminator and managed to kill him with a Mortal Wound.

In the charge phase, the Shadowsword assaulted the Watch Master. The behemoth tried to grind the Watch Master beneath its tracks, wounding him once. I failed my Iron Halo save, using a Command re-roll to pass it. The Super Heavy tank also attacked the Bikers, killing one of the squad.

Yarrick then attacked the Watch Master, wounding him once, but I passed my Invulnerable save. The Watch Master struck back at Yarrick, hitting four times, but only wounding once (despite needing a 3+!). John failed his 3+ Invulnerable save, even with a Command re-roll. Yarrick had only 2 wounds left and I had a 66% chance of killing him. Of course, I rolled another 1 for my D3 damage and Yarrick survived the combat.

The Conscripts and Deathwatch struck at one another. I managed to kill three of the Guardsmen, leaving only two left. Yarrick executed another of the Conscripts, leaving only one remaining.

At the end of his turn, John scored Big Game Hunter and 3 more kill points.

Deathwatch- 1 Maelstrom, 0 Kill Points
Astra Militarum- 1 Maelstrom, 7 Kill Points, First Blood.

This turn, I drew Secure Objective 5, Defend Objective 6 and has Assassinate.

The Vanguard Veterans arrived, landing near the woods to target the Basilisk. The surviving Biker fell back from combat, as the Kill Team and Rhino moved up on the Guard tanks.

In the shooting phase, the Rhino fired at the last Conscript, killing him and finally giving me a kill point. The Kill Team split their fire between the two tanks. Two Meltaguns fired at the Manticore, but neither hit. One Meltagun hit the Wyvern and managed to destroy it.

In the charge phase, the Vanguard Veterans assaulted the Basilisk and made it in, suffering no damage to overwatch fire. The Rhino assaulted Sergeant Harker, followed by the Kill Team, who also targeted the Manticore. The Watch Captain and Biker assaulted Yarrick.

The Watch Captain struck first at Yarrick, hitting with his four attacks, but failing to roll a single 4+ to wound. John then used another two Command Points to interrupt combat and have Yarrick attack the Watch Master. He scored one hit and one wound, but I made my invulnerable save. The Deathwatch Biker attacked Yarrick, but failed to wound.

On the other side of the field, the Kill Team attacked Sergeant Harker, killing him before he could attack, but were unable to harm the Manticore (bur would at least stop if firing in the next turn). The Vanguard Veterans with Lightning Claws attacked the Basilisk, putting two wounds on it. I then attacked with the two Heavy Thunder Hammers, failing to hit on a 4+ with any of my four attacks! I used a command point re-roll, but missed once more.

The Watch Master then struck at Yarrick, hitting and wounding twice. John failed his two invulnerable saves, but then rolled a double 6 for his warlord's Tenacious Survivor saves. Needless to say, I was not very amused. I think the phrase "can I catch a f@*$-ing break?" was heard for the umpteenth time around the table.
The Shadowsword attacked the Watch Master, hitting twice and wounding twice. I passed one invulnerable save. I had three wounds left and the attack caused D3 damage. Naturally, John rolled a 3 for his D3 roll and the Watch Master was killed.

At the end of my turn, I scored Assassinate and 3 kill points.

In this turn, John drew Objective 1, Objective 5 and Priority Orders Received (Area Denial).

All Guard units engaged in combat fell back to safer positions, allowing the rest of the army to target the Deathwatch forces.

The Astropath attempted to cast Psychic Barrier, but failed in the attempt.

The Shadowsword fired its Lascannons at the Watch Captain, wounding him once, but I passed my Invulnerable save. The Main cannon fired at the Rhino, but failed to wound it. Its Heavy Bolters targeted the Vanguard Veterans, killing two of the squad.

A Taurox targeted the Deathwatch Bikers, wounding him 8 times. I failed four saves and the final Biker perished. Another Taurox targeted the Watch Captain. The Autocannon managed to take a wound from him. The vehicle's other guns fired at the Watch Captain, wounding him 13 times. I failed only three saves and the Watch Captain was left on one wound.

The Shadowsword assaulted the Watch Captain and Rhino. The vehicle split its attacks putting two wounds on the Rhino and one on the Watch Master. I managed to pass my Invulnerable save, and the Watch Captain struck back, wounding the vehicle once.

At the end of his turn, John scored Objective 5 and one kill point.

Deathwatch- 2 Maelstrom, 3 Kill Points
Astra Militarum- 2 Maelstrom, 8 Kill Points, First Blood, Slay the Warlord.

This turn, I drew Objective 4, Objective 5, Objective 6 and Blood and Guts (kill an enemy unit in the assault phase).

The Rhino and Watch Captain fell back from combat, the Rhino moving to the objective, while the Watch Captain went into the ruins. The Kill Team and Vanguard Veterans moved up on the Guard Artillery tanks.

The Kill Team split their fire between the Manticore and Basilisk. Two Meltaguns fired at each vehicle, destroying both the Guard tanks.

As the game was coming to a close, I decided to go for a long-range charge with the Kill Team Veterans on the Shadowsword (my intention had been to charge either the Manticore of Basilisk if they survived). The Shadowsword fired its overwatch, wounding three times with its Heavy Bolters. I failed all three wounds and three of the squad died. The squad made the charge, as did the Vanguard Veterans, who managed a 10" charge on the Shadowsword.

The Vanguard Veterans struck with their Thunder Hammers, doing two wounds and doing 9 damage on the tank with my final Command re-roll. The Veterans struck at the tank, but failed to do any damage. A futile gesture, but at least I had bloodied the Super Heavy. The Shadowsword attacked back, killing three of the Vanguard Veterans.

At the end of my turn, I scored Objective 6 and two kill points.

This turn, John drew Objective 1, Objective 1, Assassinate and had Priority Orders Received- Area Denial.

The Shadowsword fell back from combat, as the Scions moved up on the objective in the ruins. It fired on the Rhino, only managing to take three wounds from it with a Lascannon.

One Taurox fired at the last Kill Team, wiping them out with their massed firepower. The next Taurox succeeded in killing the last Vanguard Veteran. The Ratlings targeted the Watch Captain, easily slaying him.

Finally, the last Taurox fired at the Rhino and succeeded in destroying it.

At the end of his turn, John scored Assassinate, Area Denial and four kill points.

Deathwatch- 3 Maelstrom, 5 Kill Points
Astra Militarum- 5 Maelstrom, 12 Kill Points, First Blood, Slay the Warlord, Linebreaker.
End of the game.

A win for the Astra Militarum. As John had tabled me, he scored the full 20 tournament points and I scored zero.

That was a tough game! I thought it was going to be a long shot for the Deathwatch when we had deployed, but I really didn't think it was going to be as brutal as it was. It did not help that my dice seemed to be completely against me during the game.

Without a doubt, the Tempestus Scions and Taurox Primes were amazing in the game. Thanks to the orders of the Tempestus Primes, the squads were able to overcharge their Plasma guns and annihilate two of my units, without suffering a single casualty to overheating. The Taurox can also put out an incredible volume of fire, and having three of them on the table was pretty brutal.

I'm not sure how I could have altered my plan to succeed in the game. Perhaps putting all my units on the right flank may have been a better idea, allowing me to advance en masse on the Guard lines. The problem with that was that the range on the Tauroxes and artillery was sufficient that there was nowhere on the board that I could hide from them. My best bet might have been to overwhelm them on one flank and hope I could survive enough of the return fire to do some damage on the rest of the Guard army.

I can see why a giant Conscript blob and a Commissar is proving to be such a valuable tactic. There are few armies that can decimate the entire unit in a single shooting phase, and the Commissar keeps the unit from falling apart from Morale. Even if you do focus your whole army on the Conscripts, wiping them out is only killing 150 points of the enemy army.

So, with one victory and one defeat at the tournament, I was hoping to secure a win in my next game to finish the day on a winning ratio. 


  1. What a horrible battle! It's one of those fights where it could easily have gone another way if the dice hadn't been so much against you. Big infantry blobs and vehicles definitely seem to be the trend in 8th so far

    1. Thanks Richard. I think my poor luck was exemplified in failing to kill off Yarrick, despite my best efforts and the statistical odds that I should have done so!

  2. I took a bit of a beating the other day in my first game, against Grey Knights (too much smite spam), but my list was a bit ramshackle and I'm smoothing it out now. Just got a Corvus Blackstar today, but I'm undecided between stormstrike missiles and the Blackstar rocket launcher - which would you recommend?

    1. I'm a bit undecided on that choice, as I have only really used the Stormstrike missiles. If you know you will be facing a flyer, then I might try for the Blackstar, as you get the bonus to hit.

      Honestly, I'm a little underwhelmed with the Corvus after playing a few games. It's firepower is a bit lacking as most of its weapons are Heavy, so you are hitting on a 4+ at the very least. You might be better off with the Lascannons in place of the Assault Cannons (is this even an option?), as it will give your army some much needed anti-armour firepower. I find the assault cannons a bit lacklustre against vehicles, but reasonably good against infantry.

      It is fairly durable, but it doesn't take a whole lot to bring it down. My Corvus Blackstar has only survived past turn 1 in a couple of my games.

  3. Jesus what did you do to dice in a former life for them to hate you so much? :P Sometimes it just goes against you I guess, though as you said, that was a tough line up from the start.

    One question, your deployment order... you both put units in reserve before you had finished deploying units on the table. Is there somewhere in the rulebook that states this or is it a house rule? We hadn't seen it and so far at our club we've been deploying units and then at the end saying "the rest is in reserve" which would mean he would have to commit more of his ground forces before seeing where all your units would go. But of course, if we're wrong, I'd like to know...

    1. My dice go through stages of loving me and hating me, same as everyone I suppose. However, when they hate me, they REALLY hate me!

      Units in reserve count as a deployment drop, according to the rulebook. I like this, as it stops a "deep strike"-heavy army from keeping most of the army in reserve, but still getting to go first. It also makes armies that are drop heavy like the Guard one in this game, more difficult as I had to deploy most of my army and my opponent could react to my deployment much easier.

    2. Learn something new every day, thanks I shall nip this in the bud at the club before it becomes an ingrained habit :P

      Yes, there is that advantage to a guard army, I discussed this with Alex over at From the Fang, that back in the old Warhammer Fantasy days you could design an army small and go first, or lots of drops, so you would know exactly where his big expensive dragon was before you had to deploy your cannons... knowing you are going second, set yourself up to ride out the storm and counter attack with zeal. As this guard player clearly did...

  4. Ouch. Sounds like you had the sort of game I was getting at fluffageddon last year pal!

    As you've said, scions and tauroxes, particularly with plasma, seem to be in the top tier of stuff at the moment, I have a mate who plays scions and by all accounts they're now thoroughly disgusting to face.

    I think in your case I'd probably have been inclined to go all out for the conscripts to try and strip them down on turn 1, but with the commissar it seems the natural winnowing of the unit is restricted too much, a scaleable number of executions would seem fairer, dependent on how much the Ld test is failed by.

    1. He did the right thing by squeaking his way through to Yarrick one on one, kill him and the conscript blob explodes, he just got bloody unlucky on his dice rolls. The only other possibility would have been sniper fire to take Yarrick out, but if he's deployed most of his army before the guard player does then the guard player could probably position himself to avoid that eventuality.

    2. Sadly, the Deathwatch army has no sniper units. I thought for sure the Stalker Pattern bolters would be sniper, but no luck.

    3. As I say below, use a Vindicare

    4. Hadn't realised they weren't, still learning my orks haven't even begun to try to learn my guard or deathwatch yet...

  5. Just from reading, not sure visually how the placement was, you seemed to spread out too much of your firepower. Just like AoS, I feel you take out one vehicle at a time rather than split fire with your Blackstar. Always concentrate firepower to eliminate at least one enemy, otherwise you are left with a bunch of vehicles still shooting at you next turn. I may be a bit of Turkey, but I will always have a Vindicare attached to my Deathwatch to eliminate annoying characters. I feel that's being pretty fair since this guy but a Shadowsword on the board. Just a thought, also that abysmal rolling just happens sometimes

    1. Yeah, I think concentrating on one vehicle at a time is the key in the game. Trying to whittle down 2 or 3 to make them worse is just not as effective.
      I think a Vindicare would be a good addition, it would give me some much needed anti-character firepower. Unfortunately, I didn't have a copy of Index 2 at the time. I have now picked it up and will hopefully be trying out some of the Assassins in future reports.

  6. Brutal, thanks for posting tho. Always a great read.