WARNING - WALL OF TEXT!
I played in a great narrative-driven tournament this weekend: the Massacre at Istvaan V! There were a lot of fun and interesting things about this tournament:
- it was an all space marine tournament, with each player declaring his allegiance to the Emperor or Horus at the start of day 1. I, of course, was a loyalist. :D
- the tables were broken up into 3 zones - left flank, right flank and vanguard. The flanks played 1500pt games, the vanguard 1750pts
- each zone had different missions for each round and each faction having different objectives for the same mission (which were not shown to the opposing player until the end of the game)
- each mission scored objective points and kill points. Objective points counted towards your personal score, kill points towards your faction's score.
One of the best things of the tournament was the matching system. At the start of each round, an overhead went up showing the list of players for each side ordered by their total objective store (ie weakest players at the top). The organizers would then proceed through the list, giving the each player an opportunity to pick their opponents. The challenged opponent would then have the choice of table. It was a great system, which meant that friends and rivals were able to call each other out, while generally allowing players to choose to play against others of their performance level.
I've put some links at the bottom of this post if you'd like more information on the campaign.
Each player had to provide a name and background story for their army, which was then etched into a dogtag created by the organizers. These tags were used to track which players were on which tables, and were a great souvenir from the tourney. I wanted to play something completely different (and more fluffy, given the type of tournament), so I went with an all Death Company list. Since named characters weren't permitted, I had to pay an extra 66pts (determined by the judges) to purchase Astorath's ability to take multiple DC units.
- Reclusiarch (melta bombs, hand flamer)
- 15-man Death Company (thunder hammer, 2xpower weapon, land raider crusader w/multi-melta)
- 6-man Death Company (power fist, power weapon, 2xbolter, razorback w/heavy flamer)
- 6-man Death Company (power fist, power weapon, 2xbolter, razorback w/heavy bolter)
- 5-man Vanguard Vets (jump packs, thunder hammer, 2xpower weapon, 4xmelta bomb)
- Death Company Dread (Talons)
- Death Company Dread (Fists)
It is definitely a do or die list as it can't claim any objectives and has no long range shooting, but it has TONS of offensive power. 100% feel no pain while rerolling hits and wounds is just gross. :D
NOTE: I've tried to remember names and outline my opponent's list for each of the games, but at this point they're a blur. Don't be surprised if the army lists are a little vague or not pointed out exactly right. :D
Game 1 - vs Space Wolves
I was challenged in Game 1 by the traitorous Shaun, my partner from last month's doubles tournament. He was playing an all-foot space wolf list:
- rune priest
- wolf priest
- battle leader in terminator armour with 2xClaws
- 4 10-man grey hunter squads
- 5-man biker squad
- lone wolf with TH/SS in terminator armour
- 2 long fangs, one with 2xML/2xPC, the other with 2xML/2xLas
This was an ambush mission, with each side deploying their army within 4" of each other at the center of the table (no reserves, deep strike, etc), and all infantry starting out of their vehicles - this was to represent us all hanging out as allies on parade. The traitors could infiltrate half their units, but could do nothing but shoot with those units first turn. Loyalists would then have to activate units on their first turn. Turns 2+ were as normal. Basically a blood bath waiting to happen. This really played to my strengths, as all my meaty assault units were right in his face.
He put most of his units in the center, brought in two grey hunters on his board edge as backup, and put a long fang back in each of my corners (nicely exposing all of my infantry who had been hiding behind their transports). He was able to vaporize one of my small DC squads with his initial barrage... and then he got swamped with DC as almost all my units activated successfully. While the DC ate his center and moved on his board edge, the land raider and vanguard vets turned and took out the long fang unit on my back left corner. By the end of the game, I'd destroyed everything except for long fang unit in my back right corner. Victory to me!
Fun game, and Shaun was a great opponent (especially given the pummelling he was taking).
Memorable Moment: Tank-shocking an untouched 10-man grey hunter unit with a weapon-destroyed razorback and driving them off the table. :D
Game 2 - vs Space Wolves
I picked the table for this mission, and was joined by a Space Wolf player. This game was a 'kill the traitor' mission, with each player providing 2 infantry models to be moving (ie scattering) objectives. The objective was to be the player to hold the secret papers held by one of the traitor models. The traitors were evenly spaced across the center of the board and randomly scattered each player turn.
This was another bloody game. My opponent got first turn so (with some unfortunate traitor scatter) was able to capture/kill 3 of the 4 traitors to my 1. Also unfortunate was the fact that the last traitor captured (and the one to cough up the objective) was on my far left, well away from my center-right main force. I easily batted through his termie and grey hunter units in the center and swung my army left while my sole unit in the area (a small DC unit) held up his objective-holding grey hunters for 3 round of combat. He played it smart, however, and managed to keep the objective out of reach. A lucky land raider-killing shot on turn 5 that killed my last transport (and longest ranged weapons) gave him the win.
Another fun game, even though I lost on mission objectives. I got lots of kill points, however.
Memorable Moment: Taking 25-30ish wounds over a couple of turns from his Redeemer's flamestorm cannon and making all but one FNP save!
Game 3 - vs CSM
Adam and I were at about the same ranking, so we challenged each other. Adam was running a Khorne list with:
- 2 berzerker squads in rhinos
- 10-man raptor squad
- 3 obliterators
- daemon prince
- chaos lord with khorne daemon weapon
- 2 defilers w/close combat arms
Each player had an 18" deployment off of the narrow edge of the board, leaving a huge 3" gap for me to run through. While Adam was playing a largely-Khorne army, he had way more long ranged shooting so opted to wait and make me come to him. One razorback and most of the contained unit were wiped early on, but the rest of my infantry survived to get into combat. Berzerkers are a good match for DC, so I knew I needed to get the charge - however, when I failed to pop one squad's rhino I made the mistake of bailing out to assault in order to blow up the rhino and oblits (which I did - they died nicely). However, that left my large squad to get assaulted by both units of berzerkers, his lord and the daemon prince. While my other small DC squad eventually moved up to support, the damage was mostly done. Fortunately the slow-moving dreads managed to wipe the raptors and a rhino no the way in. End result: tie in objective points, despite the bloody mistakes I made.
Memorable Moment: At this point, the Horus-ites were at Desperation Level 1, which meant they could reroll saves vs shooting but had to Death or Glory vs tankshock. In the last turn, my land raider was able to shock a berzerker unit (killing the fist), the daemon prince (killing it) and the last berzerker from the second squad (killing him). Two kill points from a single tank shock! Sweet....
Game 4 - vs Space Marines
This was my single worst result... ever. I played against Jeff, who was a great opponent and helped keep things upbeat. This game had a standard 12" deployment, and almost all of the objectives were claiming-based (which I couldn't get as I had no scoring units). No worries, I'd gone into things knowing that I'd run into situations like this. Unfortunately this game all went wrong. My faction purchased an opening artillery barrage - I got the minimum number of templates and all but one scattered at least 10" (hitting nothing). The last managed to kill a scout. Two of my three transports were destroyed in my deployment zone. My vanguard squad (TH, 4xmelta bombs) dropped in and assaulted a vindicator twice and never got a hit. And the traitors purchased a Primarch for this round, which showed up mid-game and managed to put enough of a dent into my large DC unit that I wouldn't be able to kill anything with it (removing the opportunity to get that single non-claiming objective).
End result, I got zipped - no kill points, no objectives. The best I managed to do is get one scout squad down to one model due to repeated application my razorback's heavy flamer. Ouch. Don't get me wrong - Jeff played well and there was still some fun to be had... in fact, by the end it was so bad it was getting to be stupidly funny. :D
Memorable Moment: Having his primarch not achieve any kill points. In other games, a primarch would arrive and take out 2-3 KP (transport, unit and maybe attached HQ) but all he did in mine was eat about 8 death company models from a unit of 15. :D
Game 5 - vs Space Marines
With the last result dropping my standings, I was challenged early in the round selection by a young guy (13ish, I'd guess). Nice kid, but a bit of a baby seal. It didn't help that this mission played directly to my strengths. The traitors had an 18" deployment zone, and had to pick three terrain pieces inside that zone to be bunkers. All his vehicles had to be placed in reserves. My objectives were to destroy the bunkers and kill as much as possible... it was a bloodbath. I loaded my whole army on one flank, marched up, flamed the contents of the bunker, blew up the bunker, and moved on. Rinse, repeat. He dropped in an ironclad hoping to disrupt things but my own dreads turned and quickly took it down. My vanguard were the heroes of this mission, however. For the first time ever they survived a game, hopping from bunker to vehicle to bunker, using their melta bombs and thunder hammer to wreck house. By the end of the game they're accounted for a dread, a drop pod a bunker and a predator without losing a model. Not too shabby at all for a typically expendable unit.
- Having my blood talon death company dread chase a weapon-destroyed rhino around the table for 4 turns. It was like a dog futilely chasing a car - too funny!
- Their Primarch showed up on turn 1, but since all my units were either vehicles or in transports he couldn't hurt me!
Game 6 - vs CSM
This last game against Brian was a meat grinder mission... literally. Any non-vehicle unit killed would be brought back on via reserves on the following turns. And a number of the objectives involved making use of this mechanic. The whole point was to throw yourself heedlessly into combat! No problem for death company....
Brian was playing a chaos marine list, with a couple 10man marine squads, a unit of lesser marines, havoks, raptors, and a large unit of berzerkers in a land raider. I pushed hard up the left side, and met a wall of enemy troops. The result was a massive scrum, with death company beating on berzerkers, marines, raptors and (on turn 2) a Primarch. By turn 4, most of his infantry units had died and come back. Meanwhile, my two small DC units were down to a single man each that simply refused to die and my large unit was still at half strength. My vanguard came in and killed one marine unit's transport - but rather than being slaughtered on the following turn (as is typical), they got locked into combat with a lesser daemon unit and lasted 5 combat rounds. When Brian's berzerkers respawned on turn 4, they mounted up into the land raider and rushed towards my left-side push... only to be surrounded by my death company, blocking all of his exits and trapping the berzerkers inside. His attempt to back away resulted in my death or glory thunder hammer immobilizing his land raider in place. He couldn't get away... and my death company couldn't stop attacking the vehicle they couldn't hurt. And that's the way the game ended! Victory for me, with more objective points and way more kill points.
- The traitors were at desperation level 4 during this game, and so ran out of heavy weapon ammo when a to-hit roll was a 1. This knocked half of Brian's havoks out on turn 1, the rest on turn 2. They spent the rest of the game climbing down from their perch trying to kill themselves in combat so they could respawn with ammo. :D
- Brian's respawned raptors moving calmly behind my DC dreads, shooting each in the back with meltas while they futilely beat on the land raider's hull.
At the end of the day, the traitors won (boo!). With a kill point total of 869 to 844 over 120+ games, that's an amazingly close result. Personally, I ended up about 11th of 42, which is plenty decent for me. I also managed to win Best Sportsman! (I had them fooled!)
This tournament was a crazy amount of fun. The missions were great, the armies looked fantastic, and the players were really into it. I'm really looking forward to the next one!
... And I've since purchased my first box of death company. They performed so obscenely well that they've earned a permanent place in my Blood Angels army!
Photos from the event:
In particular, some of the amazing armies that participated:
One of the few shots of my own Shadow Templars (the grey guys) during game 5:
Blood of Kittens