Chapter 4: The Hunt for the Blood Marshall - Tournament Report
As promised, here's a write up of a recent tournament report I attended. I'm going to try something a little new here and include some narrative for the games in spoiler tags. Hopefully that way people who are after a tournament write up can just read the crunchy stuff, while those who would like to continue the adventures of Jacques and the 2nd company can do so.
The list I ran for this tournament was fairly straightforward:
Sammael (Jacques - my counts as Grand Master of the Ravenwing)
Talonmaster (w/ Heavenfall Blade relic)
5 Scouts w/ bolters
5 Scouts w/ bolters
5 scouts w/ bolters
Dark shroud w/ heavy bolter
My first game was against a Black Legion player with Abaddon, a terminator sorcerer, 3 oliberators, 6 havocs (4 missile launchers), 18 cultists and a heldrake.
The mission was scorched earth from the Chapter Approved Missions, and a dawn of war deployment.
I knew going into this game that the heldrake, havocs and obliterators would be the big threats to my army, especially my flyers. Fortunately, I won first turn, and sped into action. One Dark Talon used Speed of the Raven to fly all the way across the battlefield, passing over the havoc squad and dropping a stasis bomb on them. I lucked out and killed 5 of the 6 havocs! Everything else moved forward, and I used my scouts to sit on objectives and create a protective barrier around Sammael, the Talonmaster, the Dark Shroud and the other Dark Talon (all who stayed within 6" of each other to buff each other). In the shooting phase I unloaded everything I had on the heldrake, but could only take it down to 1 wound (which it then healed in its turn).
My opponent's turn was fairly short, he spread his cultists out to claim an objective, then dropped Abaddon, the obliterators and the terminator sorcerer down. He then warp-timed Abaddon past my scout safety net, into easy charge range of my HQs. In the shooting phase, his obliterators managed to take a few wounds off one of the dark talons, but didn't do as much as he had hoped despite using the stratagem to fire twice with them (the talon was on -2 to hit from the shroud, and warp timing Abaddon had taken him out of reroll range of them. In the charge phase, the heldrake tried to charge the wounded dark talon, but was killed in overwatch (overwatch with Sammael's full rerolls is brutal). Then Abaddon charged into the Talonmaster and Sammael, who did no wounds on overwatch.
The fight with Abaddon was incredible. My opponent used his last command point to put veterans of the long war on Abaddon, meaning he would be wounding on 2s. He then rolled a 1 for Drach'nyen's attacks (thus causing a mortal wound on himself), before putting 7 wounds onto Sammael. Incredibly, I made 5 of the 7 iron halo saves, before using a command point reroll to save a 6th.
In return, Sammael and the Talonmaster butchered Abaddon (my opponent rolled badly for his invuln saves).
The rest of the game was essentially mopping up - the Dark Talons took care of the cultists and two of the obliterators, while Sammael and the Talonmaster finished the Terminator sorcerer. In my opponent's second turn, the last obliterator failed to do any damage, before charging Sammael, again doing nothing, and the Grand Master finished the obliterator off.
In the end, a convincing win to the Dark Angels - in total I lost a grand total of 3 scouts.
The second game was Roving Patrol, which was tough for my army, as it relies on (1), everything being able to group together to buff and protect the Dark Talons, and (2) it is a fast moving but short ranged army, so having 2/3s of it having to spend a turn only 6" was very rough. Doubly so when going against my opponent - Ad Mech with 2 dunecrawlers (1 neutron laser and 1 Icarus array). He also had a Dominus, an Enginseer, 2 units of rangers, 2 units of vanguard and 3 dragoons.
I began the game with my Talonmaster and a unit of scouts on the board. My opponent had an Enginseer and a unit of vanguard. I deployed my Talonmaster out of LoS, and then put my scouts as far forward as possible, hoping to tie up his dunecrawlers if I got the chance.
I had first turn and unloaded the Talonmaster into the vanguard, killing them all except 1. Then, because of intervening terrain, the scouts couldn't see the lone survivor to kill him, but then also couldn't shoot the enginseer because he wasn't the closest model. Doh! In his turn, he did the same thing, killing all but one scout.
By then most of our reserves had turned up, but due to the short range on the dark talon guns, I couldn't do much. In return, his dune crawlers showed up and blew one Dark Talon out of the sky.
We spent the next few turns trading shots - I would hurt his neutron laser dune crawler, he would then heal it, and in his shooting phase his dune crawlers chipped away at the second dark talon but were surprisingly ineffective. His Dragoons failed a key charge in the centre of the board, leaving them exposed in my turn, where I whittled them down to 1. Sammael then failed a returning charge on them to try and finish them off. In his turn, he shot and killed my Talonmaster, who used 'Only in Death' to shoot and kill the last Dragoon.
By the endgame neither of us had much left - I had 2 units of scouts sitting on the centre objective and the one in my deployment zone, plus a dark talon, sammael and the dark shroud (all wounded at this stage), while he had the two dune crawlers and a dominus in his deployment zone. I made a desperate last push for his objective, but it wasn't to be.
Nevertheless, a minor win to the Dark Angels.
By this stage I was in the top 8 for the tournament, and in well over my head. In this game, it showed.
Game three was against a Dark Eldar list - an Archon, 2 units of warriors in raiders, some incubi in a venom, and 3 ravagers with dark lances. I'll keep this one brief, just like the game. I tried in vain to take out the ravagers, as I knew they would be the major threat to my dark talons. I was right and, having failed to kill them, they destroyed the dark talons, while the rest of his poisoned shots downed my scouts and Sammael. Then, the ravagers were able to mop up the Talonmaster and dark shroud.
I wouldn't say I was unlucky over the course of the game, but rather was unlucky on critical roles, which didn't help my cause.
The final game was against a very thematic World Eaters force - Khârn, a Daemon Prince with wings, and 3 units of 8 berserkers in rhinos. The mission was frontline assault - 4 objectives: 2 in no man's land worth 2 VPs, and one in each deployment zone (the one in your zone worth 1 VP, and the one in your opponent's worth 4 VPs). With 2 forces that really want to be up close and personal, this would be an interesting game.
I knew that the DP would be the key here. It was the only thing that could really do anything to my flyers, so if I could kill it and play keep-away from the berserkers, I knew I should be ok.
With that in mind, I deployed my army fairly centrally to give myself room to manoeuvre, but spread my scouts out into the corners of the board (we played vanguard deployment) to try and split his army up. He deployed everything in rhinos, except the daemon prince who was protected in a rhino triangle.
My opponent won first turn and moved everything into the centre of the board. He took a few pot shots at a dark talon, but didn't achieve anything much. In my first turn, I swung my force around to put some distance between us, and unloaded the dark talons into the closest rhino (I couldn't target the DP as it wasn't the closest model). It was destroyed, but the berserkers piled out in front of the DP, so I unloaded my Talonmaster (the only thing left that could shoot), and shredded the berserkers.
In his turn, my opponent did exactly what I hoped he would, and sent 1 rhino after the scouts near his table edge, 1 rhino after the scouts in my corner (where my home objective was), and then (surprisingly), sent his DP after the scouts in the other table quarter, away from literally everything else in my army. His shooting was again ineffectual, and then he failed the charge with his DP! His prince was well and truly out in the open. I left the scouts to their fate (that's what they're for, right?), and sent everything through the middle of the board to attack the daemon prince. Unfortunately I couldn't quite get the Sammael and the Talonmaster close enough to make the DP the closest model, but I was able to unleash the fury of 2 dark talons into him. It wasn't quite enough, and he was left on 2 wounds.
In my opponent's third turn, he charged and killed my scouts with his berserkers, and charged his DP into the scouts and finished them off too. Meanwhile, Khârn did a sneaky jump out the back of the rhino he was in and landed a long range charge on my dark shroud, destroying it before consolidating into Sammael.
In my third turn, Sammael fell out of combat and closed in on the DP. The Dark Talons and Talonmaster swung around to target one of the berserker squads, wiping it out and putting a few wounds on their rhino. Then, in the moment of truth, Sammael opened fire on the DP.
Sammael destroyed the DP in shooting, and with that threat destroyed it was all over from there. The Dark Talons hunted down the rhino and berserkers holding my home objective while the Talonmaster claimed my opponent's. Khârn and a rhino held the two no-man's land objectives, but in the last turn Sammael was able to charge into combat with Khârn and hold him to a stalemate, contesting the objective.
In the end, it was another convincing win for the Dark Angels, and after painting and sportsmanship scores were factored in, I managed to come second overall, my best ever showing in a tournament!