The Armchair General part 2 by Mike Foulks

22 Nov

The Armchair General

Failure is the foundation of success, and the means by which it is achieved (Lao Tzu)

Thank you for the feedback on my first article, now that my blogging cherry has been popped I plan to do an article like this every fortnight.  If you do have any stories of lessons you have learned or bad beat downs where you are trying to find something positive to take out of them please do leave me a comment or email my secretary (that’s you Dave) and I will pick it up in a future article.

Before we go any further I should point out that I am not a complete loser.  Well in 40k terms anyway.  A few weekends ago I attended Throne of Skulls and got a very respectable 3 wins and 2 draws out of the weekend nabbing best Chaos Space Marine general to boot *pause for applause*.  With all this victory I can’t have made any mistakes right?  Wrong!  A win can be just a few dicerolls away from a defeat and that is what I want to talk about today.

What was I taking?  Well being a relative newcomer to the hobby I thought my list was a really original piece of tactical insight that would dazzle and amaze all who saw it… Then I saw a beasts of war video about if dual lash is dead and they pretty much ran through my army list.  Doh.  It was:

Daemon Prince (wings, lash of submission, mark of slaanesh)

Sorcerer (melta bombs, lash of submission, mark of slaanesh)

2x 5 man chosen units (2x melta guns in each mounted in a rhino with a combi melta each)

1x 3 man terminator squad (2x combi meltas, heavy flamer and power fist)

2x 5 man chaos space marine squads

2x 3 man obilterator packs

2x godhammer land raiders (one is a dedicated transport for the terminators)

Now for those of you counting that is 10 lascannons so there is quite a bit of anti vehicle alpha strike here which will allow the lash to come into the game from turn 2 when the obliterators will switch to heavy plasmas and clumped up marines will die horribly.  Scoring units?  Well I have 2x 5 man squads sitting in land raider bunkers…  Not convinced?  Me neither so the list has undergone some revision for next time.

I am actually just going to talk about 3 of the games because whilst in the others I can’t claim to be faultless I think that the reasons for victory were mostly about the list.  Both of the games I am ignoring here were kill points vs rhino heavy armies and with 10 lascannons and only 6 of my 13 kill points that will go anywhere near my opponent it was a real uphill battle for them.

Game 1

Vs Janus Avivson – Grey Knights – 5 objectives – dawn of war

Janus brought just 18 models to the tournament and they were stunning.  His list was Draigo, 10 paladins, 5 more paladins, 2 dreadnights with the wargear that gives them the shunt move.

I got first turn, he made his dreadnights scoring.  The short version of our game was that he put Draigo and the big paladin unit on the middle objective.  Each turn they walked forward and shot at my obliterators and sorcerer who were in the middle of the board hiding behind a wall.  I lashed them back 7 inches and clumped them for plasma and he allocated the wounds out so no one died.  Towards one side of the board his 5 paladins were pounded in similar fassion by my other obliterator cult who eventually died when he made it to melee but my return fire finally killed the paladins.  My 2 land raiders sat in the corners of the board lascannoning away with painfully little effect.  His dreadnights were right on the flanks and my outflanking chosen killed the one on the left but got killed by the one on the right, it then went on to smash up a land raider.  Draigo didn’t pass a single save all game and died from the first 4 shots that hit him.

What went wrong?  Turn 5 I realised that I had made a terrible error and not moved my surviving land raider towards an objective early enough in the game.  It was over 24 inches to the nearest one and if the game ended turn 5 I had lost so I moved it 12, crossed my fingers and got lucky.  Turn 6 the land raider made it to the middle of the board where there were still about 5 wounded paladins.  They were scoring one objective and his dreadnight having shunted all the way back to his deployment zone was scoring another so even by contesting that middle one I was still losing.  To make matters worse he blew up the land raider with hammers so it looked like even if we got turn 7 I was in trouble.  The dice came through for me and I managed to get a turn 7, break the paladins who didn’t run far enough to rally but were outside of contesting range.  I claimed the middle objective, he held on to one with his dreadnight (down to 1 wound) and the game was a draw.

Moral of the story?  Move to objectives early even if you are a gun line army or are trying to stay away from a rock unit.  I also think I probably hamstringed myself by not focusing fire well.  Trying to whittle down 15 paladins in 2 units at the same time with strength 7 shots is not going to weaken the firepower they have left to throw at you one jot.

Game 3

Vs Graham Preedy – Orks – Draw Bore – spearhead

Graham has a beautiful Kan-wall list.  I think it was 9x Kans, 2x Big Meks with KFFs, 4x 20 boy mobs and 2x squads of kommandos (one with snikrot).

This is a bad match up for Graham from the get go.  No psychic defence means I can lash the mobs that the big meks are with back so that the Kans get no cover saves from the forcefields.  The Kans die easily to lascannons and my only real problem is can I kill enough boys before they get to me.  My objective was pretty far back and had a landraider sat on it, his was at the front of his deployment zone.  Between the objectives the scenery funneled any advance into a lethal fire corridor.  I was going first again and though only 1 lash was in range I think 5 Kans were dead by the end of my first shooting phase.  He moved and ran everything toward me and I clubbed him for a couple of turns with the only real event of note being snikrot turning up and with the help of some shooting from the Kans he managed to kill my daemon prince.  This is the turn I made my mistakes: 1) I stopped shooting at the last 2 Kans so that I could get rid of the kommandos.  They subsequently charged and wrecked my offensive landraider 2) I brought on my outflanking chosen behind his lines and this resulted in him turning half of his boys around to go back and get them.

Who knows how things would have turned out if I had played it differently.  The way that the game turned out, I got rid of the last of his Kans, and the rest of his big push forward fell apart, the chosen got butchered at the back and he ran everything towards his objective which was in ruins fairly close to board centre.  I didn’t have the firepower to shift him so it was game over and a draw.  Now my thinking here is that if I had focused down the Kans my landraider could have rolled onto his objective to contest it and his odds of penetrating with the rest of the army were not great.  Also, if I hadn’t dangled the carrot of easy kills behind his army they might have kept coming towards me and been too far away to get back to their objective in time – granted Graham could have seen straight through this or the dice could have screwed either one of us but I think my decisions turned a great matchup for me into a draw rather than a win.

Game 5

Vs Daniel Sackett (again!) – Space Marines – 3 objectives – pitched battle

So I was worried facing Daniel again after he schooled me so bad last time – see my first blog.  He was running a codex space marines pre-heresy lunar wolves list.  It is a great looking army and he had gone with the fluff in a big way: no librarian, no razorbacks, two full tactical squads with the oldschool shark-fin missile launchers…  This was good for me so long as it wasn’t too many objectives so I was really pleased with the game type we got.  We had the 3 objectives in a line from one corner of the board to the other with the one dead centre in the middle of a large wood.

I have never played a game where my opponent has been as badly screwed by the dice as this one.  Highlights included: the landraider on my objective getting shot by 1 multimelta, 5 melta guns and 4 lascannons over the course of the game resulting in it being immobilised and stunned for just 1 turn, my daemon prince out in the open on 1 wound passing 13 3+ armour saves in a row (eventually dieing to perils of the warp), and a sterngard unit 9 inches from the board edge breaking and leaving the table.  Despite the onesidedness of the game Daniel was a great sport and played a blinder managing to get a lone tactical marine onto the objective by his deployment zone whilst simultaneously contesting both other objectives at the end of turn 5.  The roll to see if we got a turn 6 was a terrifying one but once again the dice were with me allowing me to butcher the single marines at both of the side objectives (is 3 twin linked plasma guns within rapid fire range overkill for 1 guy out in the open?) and clean up the middle too.  Lesson to be learned?  Don’t get sloppy when your dice are hot or it could cost you big.

Anywho, after much rambling the thing I really want to drive home here is that you can win by an inch or by a mile.  Sometimes that doesn’t matter one jot but at other times, the inch that you thought you were going to win by can be stolen away from you by a lucky run roll or the game ending too soon or too late.  Timing, as they say, is…

… everything!


9 Responses to “The Armchair General part 2 by Mike Foulks”

  1. Andy Ovel November 22, 2011 at 15:48 #

    Good blog, this is fast becoming one of my favourites.

    I would be interested to know the full army lists of those you played against; I know it’s hard to remember everything in all the excitement of the day

    So if your opponents are reading this, and wanted to add their full lists in the comments I would be interested to read them. Also I would love to know how they felt the game went from their point of view.

    I have recently become fascinated by the phenomenon of perceived advantage by one side, and how two opponents can look at the same models, on the same board and yet both of them feel like their opponent has the upper hand!

    A good read thanks. 🙂

  2. GeorgieP November 23, 2011 at 01:02 #

    My favourite too!

  3. Dan Sackett November 23, 2011 at 10:11 #

    I played Mike in the last game with codex marines. List was basically:

    captain w/ power weapon
    command squad w/ 2x melta, 2x flamer, 1x fist in a rhino
    2x 10 man tacticals in rhinos
    1x 5 man tactical in rhino
    2x individual land speeders w/melta-flamer
    2x auto-las predators
    2x riflemen dreds
    1×7 sternguard in rhino w/ 4x combi-meltas

    From my point of view, luck was not completely one sided, but it went bad for me at all the key moments. There were a few mistakes I made but on the whole there wasnt much I could have done to make up the dice (I shot all of my army that I could at a daemon prince on 1 wound, caused 13 wounds and he passed all 13). As Mike said, had it ended turn 5 I would have stolen the win, by the end of his turn 6 I couldnt win.

    • Mike November 23, 2011 at 15:51 #

      Glad people are liking the blog and thanks for the feedback.

      @ Andy: Dan’s was the only list I couldn’t remember completely. The other 2 I think I got pretty close to accurate in the article. It’s not so hard to remember your opponents list when he only puts 18 models on the table.

      I have to admit the paladin list in particular I saw and thought “I’ve got this with all my AP2”. The perceived advantage dissapeared quite quickly when I realised they had 2 woulds and every single model was different for wound allocation!

      • Andy Ovel November 23, 2011 at 18:21 #

        18! Was there that many? 🙂 lol

        Paladin lists are quite effective, and that wound allocation is a real pain!! 😦

        @ Dan: Thanks for putting your list up too. I know statistically at least the luck of the dice should eventually equal out in the end, but I’m always amazed how many games of mine end up being decided on that last dice roll, whether it’s armour save, moral check or roll end of game! :$

        I noticed you prefer to use Rhinos over Razorbacks; Is this because you prefer a larger squad size to the extra firepower of Razorback?

      • Tom December 9, 2011 at 21:15 #

        The 2 wounds per model thing is confusing me, if you’re hitting them with lascannons and or Melta they are being insta gibbed aren’t they?

        Please tell me you weren’t using the Obilts plasma cannon.

  4. Dan Sackett November 23, 2011 at 18:45 #

    I am afraid I chose rhinos over razorback for fluff reasons. It is a pre-heresy Luna Wolves army, that is why there is no razorbacks and a captain instead of a librarian. Luna wolves didn’t have razorbacks or librarians. It was Throne of Skulls so I thought I’d see how well I could do with a less popular dex.

    • Andy Ovel November 23, 2011 at 21:53 #

      That’s cool.

      Fluff = WIN 🙂

      Sorry I should have reread the article before asking why you took the Razorbacks, Mike did say you had made the effort to have more fluff in your army.

      I approve. 🙂

  5. Mark Perry November 25, 2011 at 11:38 #

    Agree on those paladins. You finally get past that armour only to have them take wounds on 5 different models and have them all still standing …

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