Monday, 20 November 2017

Winter War Tournament Report

Just back from Winter War, where I was trying out a Pure Harlies list (set out in the last post). Shadowseer, 2 Troupe Masters, 5 Troupes in Starweavers, a unit of 5 Skyweavers with Zephir Glaves, and 2 units of 2 with Star Bolas. It was a one day 3 game tournament, but with 46 players it was a big one.

Game 1

Drawn against a Craftworld army - Farseer and 2 Warlocks all on bikes, 3 units of Rangers, a Unit of Banshees and a unit of Guardians both in Wave Serpents, a Fire Prisim, a Hemlock, a unit of Warp spiders, a unit of Swooping Hawks and 3 Hornets. Dawn of War deployment, progressive objectives (you got a VP for every objective you were on at the start of your turn), Slay the Warlord, First Blood and kill more Fast Attack were the secondaries. I got first turn.

My opponent had deployed in a corner and I was set up centrally. I was most worried about his Hornets taking out Starweavers. He knew they were a threat so had bubble wrapped them with Rangers, relying on their -2 to hit to survive and then block my Bikes. However, even although he was aware of how fast Skyweavers are (and I had told him about Twilight Pathways) it’s one thing to know what they do, and another to see it on the battlefield. 

First turn my Shadowseer hops out her Starweaver 3 inches, moves 8 and rolls 6” on her advance to snuggle up behind some los blocking terrain. Skyweavers move to within 3”, ready to be boosted across the board. Solitaire jumps out, blitzes, and is 1” away from his Ranger screen. Starweavers move up onto objectives, but nobody else gets out, ready for turn 2 Fusion death on his vehicles. In the psychic phase the shadowseer gets of Twilight path way and the Bikes are 1” from his rangers.

In the shooting phase I clear his Rangers away, and my unit of 5 Skyweavers multi assault his Hornets ...... and do no damage what so ever! I wasn’t expecting to kill all three, but was hoping to get at least one. However, they will need to move and so are -2 to shoot next turn which is an advantage! 

In my opponent’s turn his vehicles move so are -2 to hit, and do very little damage. His Hemlock moves up and tries to smite my Shadowseer but I block the power. It then tries to shoot a Starweaver, but doesn’t kill it. The Spiders and Hawks come in, but again do very little damage. The Banshees jump out and assault my Bikes, killing all but one. In my turn 2  in his teeth with loads of fusion pistols. I kill the Hemlock (-1 to hit is all very well, but if youfire enough Fusion at it it will die!) the Spiders and the Hawks, degrade the Fire Prisim and take one of the serpents down to a couple of wounds. 

It’s pretty much over then. 19-1 win to me. To be fair to my opponent, his list wasn’t exactly optimised, and he was still getting used to the new codex (he didn’t use any of the fancy new stratagems). 

Learning points - Flyers are manageable by simply driving a couple of Starweavers full of fusion pistols up beside them and rolling 4+! Hemlocks in particular are vulnerable to this becasue of their short range. Skyweavers are amazing because of the huge long charges you can pull off with Twilight Pathways, but at S4, dont expect to kill very much when they get there. I’m wondering if I should just forget about the Zepheryglaves, and juuse them as a throwaway disruption unit.

Game 2

This was the game of the tournament. Against a friend from our club with his nasty new guard list. Cadians, with Creed a Primaris Psyker and some other little command guys, loads of infantry and heavy weapons platforms, Pask in a Punisher, another command Russ with a battle cannon, some scout Sentinals and a Baneblade - a Shadowsword I think - one with loads of heavy bolters, lazcannons and a huge “fuck off” gun (Volcano Cannon?) that only needs to look at a vehicle to kill it. There was no LOS blocking terrain on the table, and he rolled first turn.

Not going to lie, this was looking pretty bleak. The mission was capture and control (4 objectives), can’t remember what the secondaries were. Deployment was Serach and Destroy (diagonal table quarters). Because there was no los blocking terrain, I had set upon the line ready to rush him, it really was my only hope. IT would have worked if I had first turn, but with second turn....!

So I “clenched” and prepared to receive fire......and he killed 4 bikes out of the 5 bike squad.....! Minus 1 to hit, and 4++ for the win. But, to be fair, I was lucky. He made a mistake with the Shadowsword and deployed it too far back. It’s Heavy Bolters (which murder my Starweavers) were just out of range. Next turn I might not be so lucky ...... but I had an idea.

My opponent had made another mistake in deployment. He deployed a 3 models heavy weapons team of Heavy Bolters a little too far forward, and the infantry unit behind it was a little too close. If I could multi assault both units, kill the one at the back, and then consolidate into the heavy weapons team, trapping it in place.......I might just be able to shelter my whole army in combat, and then jump out and kill stuff next turn. 

So the Solitaire jumped out his Starweaver, and blitzed to 1” from the Heavy Weapons team. The remaining Bike did the same, and I moved up with 4 out of 5 Starweavers (the 5th was way out of position). Shooting was unimportant, but I think I killed a Heavy Weapons Team. 

I assaulted with one of the  Starweavers first, to draw overwatch. I think it took a couple of wounds, but got into combat with both squads. I was careful to make sure that, although it was within 1” of the rear squad, it was closer to the Heavy Bolter team. That meant, if I failed to kill the rear squad, I could still consolidate into the Heavy Weapons team. I did the same with the Solitaire, the bike and one other Starweaver. The remaining 2 Starweavers couldn’t fit, so had to go into the Heavy Weapons team. 

I rolled for the two Starweavers that could hit the rear squad first, killing a couple of guys. I was concerned that, if the Solitarie went first I might wipe out the squad, forcing more attacks into the Heavy Weapon Team, exactly what I didn’t want. It was critical that the Heavy Weapons Team survived. After the 2 Starweavers and the Solitaire, the rear squad was gone, that left 2 Starweavers swinging into the Heavy Weapons Team. Happily they wiffed, and all three Heavy Bolter teams survived, making it a much easier task to lock the team down.

In my opponent's turn, the only thing he could fire at was the Starweaver that didn’t get into combat. As you would expect, it died horribly, along with all its contents. I also killed the Heavy Weapons team in combat.

In my turn my priority was the 2 Leman Russes. I couldn’t get close enough to the Shadowsword to worry it this turn, but I was worried about the 40 shots from Pask’s Punisher!! This turn I would be in Fusion Pistol range, so I was expecting to kill, or at least cripple both of them. 15 Fusion Pistol shots later and both Russes were still standing. One of them wasn’t even degraded!! But that was OK, as I could just charge them, lock them in combat or force them to move out of combat ... and that’s what I did. 

Long story short, I would have tabled him if we had run for 5 turns, but we got the the end of turn 4. He was left with the Shadowsword on 5 wounds, and some guys. Interestingly the Shadowsword was then hitting on 6s, so couldn’t target any of my Starweavers!!

Learning points - minus 1 to hit and a 4++, makes the army surprisingly resilient, particularly against armies that normally hit on a 4+. The week before the event my opponent was teasing me about “paper aeroplanes” ....! Also, the tactical subtlety in the assault phase is huge. Being able to manage the first turn assault against those two squads, so I effectively locked most of my army in combat, was key to winning this game. Finally, guard are very vulnerable to Harlies once you get in about them. Flip belts, and rising crescendo make it so easy to hide in combat, and then flip out. It can make a mockery of a guard gun line IF you get there.

Game 3

With 2 big wins I was on table 2 against a Genestealer cult army. Four big squads of ‘stealers, and loads and loads (and loads) of cultists. Well over 100 models. This isn’t a great match up for Harlies. We struggle a bit with hordes!

The risk is that he comes in from Cult Anbush, rolls well, and I have 60+ ‘stealers in my face turn one. I just dont have the volume of fire to deal with that many bodies. So I decided to castle up, screen with my bikes, deploying the starweavers behind the bikes. The plan was, if I got first turn, to boost as fast  as possible across the board and get into the cultists ASAP. If he got first turn he would come in, probably wipe my bikes, but I would then counter charge with all 5 troupes and see what happens. He got first turn!

He rolled well on Cult Ambush and I had 70 ‘stealers and a patriarch within easy charges of my bike screen turn one. At the end of the turn, I had one bike left (one unit of stealers missed its charge). The Troupe’s jumped out and hammered the ‘stealers as hard as possible. After a couple of turns I had pretty much killed all of them bar the Patriarch, but by then my opponent was so far ahead on maelstrom points, it was all over. 

Learning points - it’s true what they say, you learn more from your losses than your wins. This loss highlighted a few points, and a number of mistakes
  • Screening with the bikes was probably a mistake. I should have retained their speed and fire power. I could have used 3 empty Starweavers to screen almost as effectively, losing less fire power, and allowing the Bikes to boost away from the stealers and get into the cultists. The disembarked Troupes could the have hammered the ‘stealers. 
  • I deployed the Shadowseer in her Starweaver. She should have been on the table to try and deny some critical psychic powers.
  • In one big multi-assault, I didn’t move my Troupe into contact with enough ‘stealers, which allowed my opponent to pull off enough ‘stealers  to leave that Troupe with nothing to swing at.
  • I threw my Solitaire away on a pointless attempt at killing a minor character. There were far better targets.
But mostly it showed up the lists weakness to hordes, and the lack of any screening units.

So, 2 big wins and a big loss, enough for 11th place out of 46 players. 

Retrospective on tournament to follow.


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