Kevin and Jon went head to head with Dark Eldar and Orks, respectively. Jon was utterly amazed at how many shots a loaded Venom can put out and took heavy losses early on. Although Jon's new Killa Kans made a good effort at knocking the skimmers down, Kevin was pretty lucky with his 5+ saves. Despite the initial losses, the Greenskins evened up the score once they had finally crossed the table. I'm not sure which of the two officially won, but apparently the score was too close to really declare either player the winner.
|Kevin puts a lot of work into his models|
|Jon's experience with his Killa Kans was mixed|
For the second game night in a row I played the Cabal's Daemon army (by that I mean the Daemon army purchased by Bryce for use by the Cabal members). I went up against Carl's Grey Knights and discovered that a) Carl had been reading his codex and b) Grey Knights have a lot more advantages over Daemons than Daemons have over Grey Knights. Carl took advantage of Warpquake, which causes enemy units trying to deep strike within 12" of a Grey Knight squad with the special rule to have a mishap. This was devastating to the Daemons since the shooty units were too far away to do much damage on the first turn and the close combat units had to crawl across the table under fire. This, combined with the fact that the Grey Knight's have the preferred enemy rule over Daemons, meant certain doom for the denizens of the Warp. Carl has since purchased a Soulgrinder for the Cabal's army in the hopes that it will help to even things out a bit.
|The Cabal's Daemon army|
|Bryce used heavy blue washes for the Grey Knights|
|The Bloodletters are supposed to be tainted by another|
god of Chaos, hence the blue color
This past game night saw a four way, 1000 points per army free for all on our new 4'x8' table. (While I had remembered my camera for the previous game night, I forgot it for this one.) As usual Carl had his Grey Knights and Jon brought his Orks. Bryce and I, who regularly alternate between armies, played Eldar and Ultramarines, respectively. Carl and I set up across from each other while Bryce and Jon set up on the far end of the table. I had first turn and used a partially assembled Drop Pod to land a multi-melta Dreadnought within melta range of Bryce's Wave Serpents. I love this gambit, which not only strikes fear into the hearts of your opponents, but can be very effective. Unfortunately, when it fails it can fail spectacularly since you leave a unit in the open having earned none of the 140 points you just expended trying to pull it off. I thought the Dreadnought was doomed when I missed the opening shot. I turned out to be very wrong, much to Bryce's frustration.
On the other end of the table I had taken advantage of the terrain to set up my Snipers within range of Carl's Dreadknight. Unfortunately I was only able to inflict two wounds, one of which was rending, and Carl was able to save both. On a subsequent turn, the Snipers inflicted two rending shots on a Grey Knight Purifier squad while my Tactical Squad's missile launcher killed another. My decision to attack the Knights with half my squads while dedicating the other half to fight the Eldar turned out to be a serious tactical error. Carl kept most of his forces together and hit me with everything he had while Bryce had enough units and shots to occupy both me and the Orks. Although he made his first kills against the Orks, Carl saw my Scouts as a threat and sent the Dreadknight after them. It inflicted six wounds on the six models, all of which had 3+ cover saves. In my unluckiest roll of the night, I rolled a four and failed all the remaining five cover saves (this is not the first time my Scouts have been decimated by failed 3+ cover saves). The five-man heavy weapon half of my Tactical Squad met a similar fate when they failed five out of six 3+ armor saves.
On the opposite end of the spectrum of luck, a Grey Knight Venerable Dreadnought and an Ultramarine Vindicator traded shots back and forth for several turns. Twice the Vindicator stunned or shook the Venerable, but it was neutralized by the Psychic Pilot. And twice the Venerable was destroyed and then saved by the Venerable rule (remind me why so many Space Marine players think Venerable Dreadnoughts aren't worth the points?). Although unable to destroy the much more expensive Venerable Dreadnought, the Vindicator was able to survive multiple lascannon attacks that either didn't penetrate its armor or that merely shook or stunned it. When finally forced to use smoke launchers, it made every 4+ cover save against both the Venerable and the Dreadknight. Finally, the Vindicator was immobilized and, in the subsequent turn, lost its primary weapon. It gave up the ghost when the Venerable Dreadnought and the Dreadknight smashed it to pieces.
In the meantime, Jon fully dedicated his Orks to fighting the Eldar, although he lost his Lootas early on to Carl's Dreadknight. The Orks pressed forward against heavy Scatter laser fire and eventually got into combat with Asurmen and his Dire Avengers. Although I didn't closely follow that fight, it seems that Asurmen made an incredible number of armor and invulnerable saves and that his squad made a big dent in the Ork mob. I had been marching my Terminators, a heavily upgraded Captain, and the close combat half of my Tactical Squad towards the Eldar when Carl teleported a five-man Grey Knight Strike Squad into range of my forces. I directed my fire towards them and eventually killed four of the five. After that delay, I was able to get three surviving Terminators close enough to a Wave Serpent to destroy it, took two more casualties from bright lance fire, and then lost the final Terminator when he tried to assault an Eldar walker across dangerous terrain. My remaining Tactical Marines were wiped out by Scatter laser and Psycannon fire coming from two different sides. I lost my very expensive captain when he was hit by a bright lance and failed his invulnerable save (he spent most of the game trying to cross the table and did almost nothing else).
And then there was my Dreadnought. After failing to hit anything upon leaving the Drop Pod, I had given it up for lost. But for multiple turns Bryce poured all his bright lance fire into it and manged only to stun it, shake it, and destroy both its close combat weapon and its multi-melta. Still it kept on going until it finally limped into combat with two Eldar walkers and destroyed both. When it started its march towards a Wave Serpent, Bryce again opened up his bright lances on it... and failed to penetrate its armor. Bryce was reduced to yelling, "Why can't I kill this Dreadnought!?! Somebody please kill this Dreadnought!" Finally, Carl's Venerable Dreadnought shot it from behind and succeeded in immobilizing it. Bryce declared the Dreadnought the game's MVP for soaking up so many shots and still earning back its points. You don't get to be a Dreadnought by being a quitter.
With the Orks gone and the Ultramarines reduced to a single immobilized Dreadnought, Bryce and Carl finally went head to head. The Eldar bright lances eventually carried the day, although Bryce pointed out that had we called the game at the traditional six turn mark, the Grey Knights would have won based on the number of points remaining.
Much of what we got out of this game simply confirmed what we learned from other games. For example, the survivability of Venerable Dreadnoughts and the indirect value of a unit (who knows how much my Dreadnought earned in the form of Bryce's expended opportunity costs). For me, the biggest lesson was...
Beware of Dividing Your Army
Although the game was a four way free for all, there was no reason for us to attack everyone else simultaneously. It wasn't too surprising that it was just Carl and Bryce left at the end. Jon was fully dedicated to attacking Bryce (who designed his Eldar army to take on hordes), Bryce ignored Carl because he didn't pose an immediate threat (they were on opposite corners of a 4'x8' table), and I divided my forces between Bryce and Carl. Originally I had intended to send the entirety of my army against the Eldar, but I saw the opportunity to take shots at the Dreadknight, figured that I should back it up with something, and dedicated a large chunk of my army to fighting the Grey Knights. This isn't the best idea given how few in number Marines usually are. Other than wiping out the Lootas that weren't shooting back, the Grey Knights mostly avoided a two front war and instead focused on a part of my army. Had I thrown all my forces against a single opponent at a time, I think I would have done a lot better, especially since a headlong rush at the Eldar would have meant that Jon and I would have been attacking Bryce almost simultaneously. As it was, the Eldar were able to whittle down the bulk of the Orks before redirecting their fire at my partial army.