Events and Battle Reports
Counter Offensive 2015: Introduction by Kenton Kilgore
Every summer, some of my buddies from across the East Coast get together for a weekend of casual gaming. We've been doing this for a very long time: the first such get-together was Fall From Grace in Greenville, South Carolina way back in 2000, and then we moved up north to Maryland in 2004 with the first Counter Offensive. Since that time, the number of participants has shrunk due to folks getting older and busier (and some have--HERESY!--quit 40K), but those of us who make it almost always have a great time. In keeping with the habit of recent years, our venue was Dropzone Games in Glen Burnie, MD, about 45 minutes from my house.
Each year, I try to do something different, and this time was no exception: I brought a Fighting Tiger of Veda army list that I had configured but hadn't the chance to test drive. It's one of 8 different lists that I have for my Stripeypants, all of them using the previous Codex: Space Marines (published in 2013), and based around some sort of theme: this one's is "infantry." As in, there's not a vehicle in it.
Fighting Tiger Grand Shikar II (2000 points)
So let's review: that's 86 Space Marines, 60 of them Tactical Marines in 6 squads (I like big Troops, and I cannot lie). The Devastators should provide sufficient anti-armor, backed up by the power fists of the Tac Sergeants. I've never used Legion of the Damned before, but for about the same cost as Sternguard, I have Fearless guys with serious Invulnerable Saves who Deep Strike into battle to provide some much-need mobility. Let's see how this does, shall we?
Battle #1: It Sure Gets Dark Quick This Time of Year
My first game was against Bryan Layton and his newly-acquired Dark Angels (using some Formations from the new codex). Bryan is a veteran gamer like me, but hadn't yet played a game of 7th Edition. Accordingly, we used the basic missions in the rulebook and skipped some of the finicky details like Mysterious Objectives. We rolled up The Scouring with Dawn of War deployment, placing objective markers as per the mission rules. My randomly-determined Warlord Trait was Iron Resolve.
Some of Bryan's Ravenwing, ready to attack
We played on a 4' x 6' table (standard at Dropzone) with lots of city ruins, some of them quite tall. Bryan brought an All-Wing force: lots of Ravenwing Bikers and Speeders, two squads of Deathwing Terminators, all led by Sammael and escorted by what was to become the bane of my existence, a Ravenwing Command Squad with an Apothecary (also tagging along was a Librarian). Bryan set up his guys in a line across his deployment zone, keeping the Termies in reserve. I concentrated most of my forces on my right, but put a few on my left to take and hold the objectives I had placed atop some ruins. I failed to Seize the Initiative, and all of the Ravenwing performed their Scout moves.
On my right flank, Sammael and the Ravenwing Command Squad lead the charge
On Turn 1, the Ravenwing roared up in the faces of my army, forgoing firing to turbo-boost so as to end up mere inches from my lines. As my Fighting Tigers are an Ultramarine successor, I invoked the Assault Doctrine and moved in to give what I thought would be a thorough thrashing. However, my Shooting Phase was "meh" (3+ covers saves from Jink and Skilled Rider for all the Ravenwing, which he could re-roll), and Overwatch fire took out several of my guys, including 6 of 10 from Rudra 1 Mahaduyana, who found themselves facing the Ravenwing Command Squad.
It was then that I discovered that, similar to the Necrons and Craftworld Eldar, the Dark Angels, too had benefitted mightily from "codex creep." For example, because of a Formation, the Speeders and Shroud that accompanied the Ravenwing Bikers in their group could fire Overwatch, despite the main rules that say 1) vehicles may not fire Overwatch; and 2) a unit cannot fire Overwatch if it is not actually being charged (which they weren't--as I said, I was going for Bikers). More silliness: because they were Ravenwing, their Overwatch shots hit on a 5 or 6, not just 6. And to top it off, despite having the Assault Doctrine that lets me re-roll charge range, my Captain and Command Squad didn't make it into hand-to-hand, failing their charge by 1/2".
Failing a charge by 1/2" despite having a re-roll. It was going to be one of those days at the office....
Because of the Ravenwings' Toughness 5 all around, it was hard to actually lay some licks on them, and in the case of the Ravenwing Command Squad, even when I thought I pasted them with a power fist, the Apothecary's Feel No Pain (which he could re-roll because Reasons) kept them upright. My guys scratched the paint on the Harley's Angels, and then Bryan's guys bugged out thanks to Hit and Run. Sigh.
Turn Two continued the fun and codex jackanapery when the Deathwing arrived (they could choose what turn they wanted to show up on); they did not scatter because of the locator beacons Ravenwing carry as standard issue; and they could re-roll misses on the turn they arrive, because Why the Hell Not. I was getting the impression that the modus operandus behind the new Dark Angel codex is simply to create excuses for DA to roll and reroll dice until they win.
My two squads of proxied Legion of the Damned came on behind Bryan's forces, causing him some momentary concern, but the game pretty much went like this: my shooting didn't do much*; I tried to charge, losing dudes to Overwatch but occasionally hacking up some Ravens (I took particular glee in downing his Speeders with krak grenades); he'd take his lumps, scoot out with Hit & Run, move and shoot the hell out of my guys on his turn.
*Example: On Turn 4, both Devastator Squads fired 7 lascannon shots on the Ravenwing Command Squad, and he didn't lose a single one, thanks to Jink and Feel No Pain, both of which he could re-roll.
Despite believing that I could win a battle of attrition against a small, elite force like the Ravenwing/ Deathwing combo, I was soon down to a handful of my original number (I did manage to kill Sam-I-Am in hand-to-hand combat, so there's that), and, of course, losing objective markers I had taken. Nevertheless, had the game ended on Turn 5, I would have won. The die determined that the game would go 6 turns, however, and on that last turn, a DW squad took out some fellows who were holding an objective. Out of 86 figures to start, I was left with 3.
Dark Angels: 8 Victory Points (5 for objectives, 1 for First Blood, 1 for Linebreaker, 1 for Slay the Warlord)
Fighting Tigers: 5 Victory Points (4 for objectives, 1 for Slay the Warlord)
Once upon a time, back in the Kinder, Gentler Age of 3rd Edition 40K, I believed that there was no "cheese," and that codices were more-or-less balanced. But that was when I had faith in the game designers; after reading the last few releases, I have lost confidence in them, and the new Codex: Dark Angels only confirms that.
I'm not saying that the new Dark Angels are unbeatable--nothing is. And I'm not saying that Bryan is a bad guy--he isn't. But even he agrees with me that the various Formations and special abilities and gravy poured all over the new Angels are ridiculous. If you had a bike-heavy army, why on Earth would you play White Scars, for example, over Ravenwing?
So, yeah: a very frustrating, annoying game, but I was able to exact some revenge. More about that later.
Posted August 2015