You read it right, folks: We temporarily sidestepped our passion for independent, affordable gaming and spent some time in that grimdark universe where war is constant, money flows like water and cranial embellishments never go out of style.
This weekend, Karl and I got in a 1500 point game of the glorious carnage that is 6th edition 40k. My Dark Angels tried to take out Karl's Imperial Guard. Throwing caution to the wind, we both brought lists inspired by the fluff of our chosen factions. I brought an all-Ravenwing army full of new models and a brand new codex. Ravenwing is the mobile assault arm of the Dark Angel's Space Marine army, and nearly all units come from the fast attack category.
Sammael, Master of the Ravenwing, rode in on his jetbike, accompanied by:
- 1 Ravenwing Black Knight command squad with 1 grenade launcher
- 1 Ravenwing Champion, and a banner bearer
- 1 Ravenwing attack squad (3 bikes)
- 1 Ravenwing attack squad (6 bikes)
- 1 Land Speeder Typhoon (dual missile launcher)
- 1 Land Speeder with an assault cannon
- 1 Attack bike with a multimelta
- 1 Lascannon/missile launcher venerable dreadnought
- 1 Deathwing terminator squad with storm bolters and a plasma cannon (started in reserves)
- 1 Nephilim support jetfighter (started in reserves)
- 1 Ravenwing darkshroud (a large land speeder that confers stealth to units in a 6-inch radius)
Karl's Imperial Guard was a much larger force. Putting 80 figures and 5 vehicles on the table, he brought:
- 1 Command Squad with a Master of Ordinance
- 2 Platoons with 3 infantry squads in each, half with a lascannon and half with an autocannon
- 1 squadron of 3 Basilisk mobile artillery
- 1 standard Leman Russ Battle Tank
- 1 Leman Russ Demolisher
- 1 squad of 5 ratlings
Putting aside the random terrain rules in the rulebook, we setup a table thematically with the Imperial Guard holding the line against the Dark Angels, who were advancing through the remains of a village and a boulder field. We were playing a modified version of the "Purge The Alien" mission from the 6th edition rule book. Karl's army started in and around various buildings and ruins (including his new Mine Entrance terrain piece).
Most of the Dark Angels circled around the darkshroud unit in order to take advantage of the stealth feature. In hindsight, this may not have been the most tactically sound decision, but it looked awesome on the board as they rode up in style.
Dark Angels seized the the initiative, and the bulk of them moved along the road and behind some rocks for cover. The attack bike and land speeders circled to the right to take the enemy by surprise while the dreadnought moved to cover in the backfield. Dark Angel fire shot up some of the Imperial Guard infantry, and took a hull point from a Leman Russ Demolisher. The attack bike and land speeder killed all but one ratling. The remaining ratling ran away, never to be heard from again.
The Imperial Guard immediately started dropping the pie plates, taking out Sammael and one of the command squad members who missed ALL cover save rolls. The dice were NOT with me! Shooting continued, resulting in another lost command squad bike, 4 bikes from one attack squad, and 2 from the other. It was a brutal start to the game.
Deathwing Terminators dropped in on one of the remaining bike's teleport homers, and the Nephilim jetfighter zoomed in from reserves. The terminators and jetfighter massacred 2 full infantry squads in the shooting phase. The terminator's plasma cannon took a hull point from one of the Leman Russ tanks. The attack bike went further to the right side of the field, staying behind cover.
Predictably, the Imperial Guard's turn began with more pie plates, killing one of the attack squad bikes and immobilizing a land speeder. Concentrated fire from plasma cannons and lascannons destroyed the entire terminator squad.
Another squad was decimated by the jetfighter's dakka, and the dreadnought took out one of the Leman Russ tanks. The remaining bike and landspeeder boosted forward and shot into one of the bunkers, taking out some troops. The attack bike came around the side and multimelta'd the other Leman Russ. It exploded, taking out the attack bike, and most of one platoon command squad.
The Imperial Guard shooting phase took out the last bike and land speeder and a lucky snap shot took a hull point from the Nephalim fighter.
At the start of turn 4, the Dark Angels' only remaining units were the flyer and the dreadnought. The flyer zoomed along the Imperial Guard deployment zone and took out some more troops. The dreadnought also took out a couple more. The three Basilisks dropped some indirect barrage shots over the lonely dreadnought and managed to take a hull point and immobilize it. At this point, it was facing into cover, and would be useless for the rest of the game.
Little happened in this turn. The jetfighter zoomed off the board, into ongoing reserves. Imperial Guard troops on the right flank started moving forward, and another round of Artillery fire failed to further damage the dreadnought. We rolled to see if the battle was over, but it continued for another turn.
The Nephilim flyer zoomed back onto the field, and took out some more troops. In a repeat of the previous turn, the dreadnought stared at the wall but was again unharmed by the Artillery barrage that rained down on (or should we say "near") his position. The flyer again remained unharmed.
We rolled to see if the game would continue, and the dice decided that the game was over! We tallied up the score, and the Dark Angels lost 8 to 10, only a minor victory for the Guard. I am surprised the score was so close, as it really felt like a massacre to me!
It was a great epic battle. I am looking forward to playing with this army list again. I am sure I can use the Ravenwing more effectively. I suspect that if I had turbo boosted the bike squadrons, I could have assaulted in the first round, and kept the bikes alive for at least another turn or two.
The Nephilim jetfighter looks awesome on the table, and was very useful in this game, but it costs a lot of points that may be better spent elsewhere. No matter what anyone says on the internets, my las/missile dread is one of the best performing units I have (plus, he has dangling skulls). I will always try to fit him into my lists.
Next time I fight Karl's Imperial Guard, I'll try fielding an all-Deathwing terminator army.
Here are some thoughts from Karl about the game: "This was a lot of fun, and reminded me of why I liked 40k. It was only my second game with the 6th edition rules, and Josh was patient through quite a bit of rule-checking, but they didn't seem overly complicated. I definitely saw the advantage of lascannons over autocannons against tough enemies. I've got the parts to do it, so maybe I'll go ahead and make lascannon teams for the rest of my infantry squads. The flyer rules really seem to add a new dimension to the game. One aircraft isn't a game changer, but if one player were to show up with two or more, and the other player didn't have any aircraft or any ground units with the "skyfire" ability, it could drastically tilt the game. I'm not sure whether this is a new and interesting addition to the game that will encourage balance between air and ground units or a cynical plot by Games Workshop to make players buy expensive new units. Perhaps it's both, but I look forward to seeing how it shakes out. It has definitely given me the desire to someday build and paint up the Hydra Anti-Aircraft Flak Turret decks (can be switched with my basilisks) and Valkyrie flyer that I have in storage."
-- Josh, Chicago Skirmish Wargames club member