Yesterday's game was great fun! An interesting match up between my, relatively elite, Word Bearers and my opponent's massed, but low quality, cultists. I was massively out-numbered, to the extent that I really thought I'd be swamped. It didn't work out like that...A close game that led to us actually calculating the victory points for the first time. More on that later.
Here's the army I chose for the battle:
Dol Barack - Chaos Lord
Mark of Slaanesh, power axe, Master-crafted Plasma Pistol, Haywire Grenade, Conversion Field.
Jarmin Moon - Master Sorcerer
Mark of Slaanesh, boltgun, Force Rod, Hood of Hellfire (+50% tax for Imperial gear), Refractor Field, Acquiescence, Quickening, Strength of Mind.
First Acolyte Timour Locke - Sorcerer
Boltgun, Force Axe, Prescience.
Gul Karnak - Aspiring Champion (Veteran CSM squad)
Mark of Slaanesh, power fist, boltgun, meltagun, krak grenades, Armour-piercing Ammo.
The Apostle's Fist
3 x veteran CSM in terminator armour, 1 x combi-flamer, 1 x power fist, 1 x power mace.
3 x CSM, 3 x boltgun, 3 x krak grenades, power fist, power axe, power mail (+50% tax for post-Heresy gear).
3 x CSM, 2 x boltgun, missile launcher with frag & krak missiles.
3 x CSM, 2 x boltgun, missile launcher with frag & krak missiles.
3 x CSM, 1 x boltgun, 2 x flamer.
Predator, twin heavy bolter sponsons, assault launchers.
Rhino, assault launchers.
The Astral Choir
6 x daemonette.
I drew Dawn Raid as my mission; I had to get a squad with less than 50% casualties, or an undamaged vehicle, into my opponent's deployment zone. This would be a tough one for me. Fortunately I had a rhino and some terminators, which meant I could put a very tough squad in there and bunker down.
For my opponent's cultist to really be viable, they need a bunch of psykers. This led to us putting aside our gentlemen's agreement of 1 psychic mastery level per 500 points. So I gave Jarmin Moon an upgrade to master sorcerer, which turns him into a pretty formidable warrior with an extra power. I was VERY disappointed in my power draws. He pulled Beam of Slaanesh (Toughness test on 2d6 or become spawn! Pretty awesome) as his first primary power, which I swapped in the hopes of getting one of the powers that force a Leaership test to aid in my daemon summoning. That went down the pan when I drew the only power I don't like in the Slaanesh deck
Because you draw all Primary powers before going on to secondary, my opponent then pillaged the Adeptus deck for his demagogue & pair of magi. Given that there was a very good chance that this pillaged all the powers I would want, I decided that TImour Locke would draw from the Librarian deck (lots of melee buffing powers) and Jarmin Moon took his secondary ones from there too. Locke's turned out to be pretty much useless on what is pretty much an otherwise normal CSM. Moon's could make him a pretty good melee combatant (Quickening doubles movement distance & attacks and whatnot) and help protect the army against any nefariousness from the cultist coven.
The opposing cultist army was drawn from one my opponent has been putting together. His aim is to make it interesting and have a chance, without being Eldar levels of abusable. They've got their own way of summoning daemons, which is different from CSM and means that the psykers act as a coven, but can't use their powers in the psychic phase they carry out their ritual. It turned out that between them, the demagogue & magi pretty much drew the powers that would have helped on my mission: Displacement and The Gate. The first moves a squad or single model 2d6 inches, the second puts two ends of a portal within 18" of the psyker and stuff can go through. They also had Hellfire, burning pillar of flame that stays in play, Machine Curse, shut down weapons/vehicles, and Scan, find hdden things & look at rival psykers power (bit naff).
The rest of the army was made up of two close combat units of beastmen (with 2 wounds each, pretty tough), three units of 10 cultists (poor quality chaff, but numerous), a PDF squad with a missile launcher and boltguns (old school Imperial Guard plastics, lovely with BIG heads), and some bodyguards for the coven. And a Leman Russ. This thing bristles with two heavy bolter sponsons, a lascannon and a battlecannon. It was probably the thing I outright feared, as it could turn my small force into a puddle of goo.
Slightly blurry photo of the cultist deployment:
We had to use the full width of the table for deployment because there were so many bleeding (or soon to be bleeding) cultists! On my left, the PDF & Leman Russ were deployed backed up by both beastmen squads. The centre is held by two groups of cultists, the first being the lovely semi-naked kilt wearers that GW put out at the end of 2nd edition, an the next one being old Necromunda redemptionists. The last squad of cultists were on my far right with the coven and their bodyguards placed back from the front.
As you can see, we decided to use my old Necromunda terrain. It looks great still, with hindsight, not so good for more than a handful of models in an army.
And here's my deployment:
With my much higher strategy rating (5 vs. 2), I had the advantage of seeing my opponent's deployment. So, full of bravery, I completely refused my left flank! That Leman Russ was scary. I did have the option of putting 1st Coterie & Dol Barack on my left. Between Gul Karnak's meltagun Armour-piercing Ammo, two power fists and Dol Barack's Haywire Grenade, they could have gone tank hunting. Except that could have led to them being swamped by PDF & beastmen. So they're in the middle to try and stop me being flanked badly. I put 2nd & 3rd Coterie where they could see plenty of cultists to unload their frag missiles at. They're out in the open, but I was trusting to range and power armour.
My predator is lined up on what is really the only route across the board without excessive manoeuvring. Its job is to scream across and unload 5 sustained fire dice of heavy bolters & autocannon on whatever it can see. 4th Coterie and Dol Barack are going to be running forward in support. Twin flamers That should crispyfy some cultists.
Finally, The Apostle's Fist and Jarmin Moon are in the rhino. They aren't going to get to the enemy deployment zone quickly, because the rhino will need to manoeuvre a lot, but they should get their safely. Between them, their should be enough resilience to survive to the end...I didn't really know what to do with Timour Locke. Naff power, not much ability. So I just stuck on my far right to plink away with his boltgun.
I won the roll off for first turn and decided to force my opponent to go first. This would give me a final turn to maybe get into his deployment zone with no chance to shoot at whoever ended up sat in the open. It would also mean that they might move into range for my first shooting round...