Bring a Scout to a Tank fight?
Wednesday Night Gaming has come and gone, and today we bring you a battle report of a Planetstrike 2000 point game, as mentioned previously. Laur plays the attacking Space Marines, while I play the defending Imperial Guard.
Following on from the previous discussion, it’s time for us to compare lists to see the where’s and why’s of our individual army compositions, and see what impact they will have on the game.
As I’ve already discussed in-depth as to my reasoning behind taking a Cadian 515th Armoured Company setup, to re-cap my strategy is thus:
1. Set-up terrain in a cross-fire formation to maximise lines of sight, denying cover to the enemy.
2. Set-up objectives to deny certain board edges to the enemy and increase the risk of deepstrike mishaps as they scatter off the table edge. That means you Mr. Drop Pods!
3. Hole up my men in the AV14 bastions, relying on their Interceptor Quad guns and heavy bolters for supporting fire, never moving them. If I have to give away an objective or two to my opponent, so be it.
4. Rely on my AV14 front armoured vehicles to pound the enemy at long range. As with Planetstrike defensive setup, deployment is as per random table edge, but my greater reach, mobility and survivability (except in combat) means I can circumvent this problem. It doesn’t matter where I deploy if my 72” range battle cannon covers 85% of the table.
5. Use my Officer of the Fleet to increase the difficulty of my opponent utilising his units as and when he wants to with his ability to force a -1 on my opponent’s reserve rolls.
6. Combine all the strategy items above, to play an uber-defensive reactive game. If he’s in line of sight, I blow him to pieces. If he contests an objective, I blow him to pieces. If he assaults, I let him kill my men (all are expendable!) inside, then blow him to pieces.
In short, I will exploit the strengths of the terrain, the buildings, my tanks, and turn random deployment into an advantage for me, and a disadvantage for Laur.
Tyrannic War vets feeling right at home with their new Drop Pod.
Looking at his army composition, here is what I infer from his list.
1. Tigurius will allow re-rolls of reserves, even successful ones, in order to get around my Officer of the Fleet’s ability. In addition, he has all the SM psychic powers, so that can bring some serious hurt to my tanks and buildings, if lucky.
2. He has kept troops to a minimum (just 1 Scout squad in a Landspeeder Storm), kitting out on his 6no. elites with 2no. survivable heavy-hitting Termies, Sternguard with all sort of bunker-busting goodness (flamers and meltas) and Dreads built to flatten buildings. Using Drop pods, locator beacons and suchlike, I would guess he would hope to land his pods that come automatically on the first turn (2) to create screens and cover and establish a beachhead, for the rest of his men to come through. A combination of equal parts survivability, heavy-hitting, and bunker-busting. To me, an all-rounded nice list that would do the job, but also stay flexible as and when needed.
3. For his fast attack, he has a jump pack assault squad and Landspeeders, kitted out to take out buildings, but also provide a manoeuvrable boost for late objective contesting grabs. Going all out on the skimmers to get cover saves is a must to compensate for their poor overall AV (10 on all sides), so I would expect to keep these moving to close into melta range to do some damage and really mix things up on the table.
4. Just 1 heavy support, a Vindicator. I’ve never faced off against Laur as he tends not to rely on heavy support tanks in his Marine builds (as I always do to most extents, being an IG player), so this Demolisher cannon-equipped tank should be interesting.
With Planetstrike, while the attacker gets his ‘Firestorm attacks’ (D6 + no. of objectives), the defender in turn gets to setup the board any way he pleases. With my thoughts above, I referred to the page in the Planetstrike book re: crossfire deployment, and have made a reasonable attempt at it, placing objectives an inch and a half away from table edges, with some difficult terrain running down the middle. This will have the bonus of providing attractive targets to my opponent which he can hit on turn 1 if he comes out of his ‘drop zone’, but prove useful to me in that it stretches the board in such a way as to put as much distance as possible from one objective to another (corner to corner) where my tanks come in real handy. I’ve put some hills in the corners as well for the added incentive of deploying with great LoS views, but also being able to see my opponent do so, so I can shoot him should he choose to deploy there too.
Unlike the Planetstrike strategy of putting down as much difficult terrain as possible on the board to force difficult and dangerous terrain tests on my opponent, I’ve opted to leave it clear and clean to encourage him to deepstrike centrally. With cross-fire, nowhere is safe, everyone anywhere is a target. If he deepstrikes in the centre, all my men get a shot. If he deepstrikes in the corners, he may mishap off the table. To me, cross-fire is will give the defender a subtle advantage, as long as he has units that can launch an effective counter attack, or in my case, a counter-bombardment with my tanks!
As the defender I have chosen 4no. bastions, and I have put my HQ and 3 troops as per the above map. In theory, I have put my ‘weaker’ units in the corners to make them a less attractive target (forcing deepstrike mishaps) and a ‘stronger’ unit (30 men squad) in the middle, again to provide a disincentive. It is my hope that my opponent will go for what I perceive to be the ‘weaker’ corner (the eastern half of the board) in which really I will abandon, and counter-attack to minnow down my opponent with blitzkrieg/war of attrition-style tactics as the game progresses.
The Commissar wondered why his men were so keen on having him 'lead from the front' on the precarious Ork bastion shanty-town platform.
What I don’t want to happen is my opponent to take the long table edges which will afford him greater flexibility in deployment, and use the buildings as cover and interference to my tanks LoS.
As luck would have it, Laur decides on taking the Eastern half short table edge (to the right of the map graphic), perhaps thinking he can easily take over the top-right corner bastion, then proceed across the table from right to left taking over every objective one by one.
This fits in right with my strategy, as with the random dice rolls for defender reserve deployment, I have a 1 in 3 chance of either deploying opposite him (left-hand side short table edge) or any of the long table edges, or even deploying in his drop zone to attack from his back. Either way I will hope to put my tanks out of harms way, but his right into the way of harm.
LAUNCH THE FIRESTORM!
Laur rolls a 6, therefore gets 10no. Firestorm attacks (Str 9 AP3 Large blast, generates difficult terrain). He decides to attempt to pulverise my HQ bastion (bottom left). Out of a total of 10, he scatters 4 off the table, 2 onto the table to create craters (thus making obstacles for him if he chooses to deepstrike near there) and 4 hits on the bastion. Of the 4, he damages with 2, and gets a stunned, and weapon destroyed (no more interceptor quad gun) result.
We both thought this was a below-average overall result for the Firestorm, as I would have expected with the max. no. of attacks (10) he would have at least ruined one bastion, and damaged another, so I got off rather lightly to say the least!
So with that, we’re off to the highlights of the battle. As this is Planetstrike, there is no stealing of the Initiative as the Space Marines proceed with their invasion plans.
AV14 sandbags, the cream of Imperial defense technology.
NOTE: While the object of the game is objective holding (me) VS contesting (Laur) I have indicated KP values in the game, as this is in the case of a draw (2 contested vs. 2 uncontested bastions) in Planetstrike, you use the KP values to determine the winner.
TURN 1 SPACE MARINES:
1. Laur rolls to see what units he can deploy (as everything is in reserve) and on a 4+ (with re-rolls due to Tigurius) is allowed to deploy 2 of his Landspeeders, 1 Termie squad, his Assault squad, and a 5-men sternguard squad. 2 drop pods also come in automatically.
2. His drop pods scatter to areas more or less where he wants them, as well as the jump pack assault squad. However, both his Sternguard and Termies, in an attempt to deepstrike to the bottom-left corner to take out my HQ, have scattered off the table. On the mishap chart, I get to place the Sternguard in the most awkward place I can think of (equidistant between 2 bastions but clear enough for me to get a shot at). Unfortunately his Termies are lost in the warp!
3. My quadguns use their interceptor ability at the end of my opponent’s Movement phase. While only killing 1 assault marine, another hits the ironclad in its rear armour, getting 2 damaged results. Even with a cover save, it is destroyed!
4. Laur’s Sternguard fire all 5 of their combi-meltas, but only 2 hit, and fail to damage the thick AV14 building, even with 2D6 added to their damage roll. The Assault squad are a bit luckier assaulting my building (in Planetstrike units that can deepstrike in their rules get to assault straight away), but only manage to force a shaken, and weapon destroyed (no more interceptor) result. Landspeeders move onto the table but slow enough to fire their multi-meltas, but as they are out of melta range, they both fail to damage.
Landspeeders zoom forth, while the Sternguard footslog it.
Score is 2KP’s to IG. IG control 3 objectives, Marines contest 1.
TURN 1 IMPERIAL GUARD:
1. I roll to see what’s available to me, with a 3+ on comes my Devildog, a Demolisher, a basic Russ, and my Platoon command Chimera. A little bit of everything! Again I roll for deployment, and with my Russ I deploy from my enemy’s rear to block the advance of Sternguard, and with the others I place them on the long table edges.
2. My Chimelta earns its medals, stunning a Landspeeder, while the 4no. meltaguns take out another.
3. Devildog misses, but my tanks take out some Marines when their templates hit on target (demolisher takes out 6 assault marines on the spot, as they’re so bunched up due to Deepstriking/Assault).
Score is 3KP’s to IG. IG control 3 objectives, Marines contest 1.
TURN 2 SPACE MARINES:
1. Laur rolls, on a 3+ with rerolls he brings on everything else he has in reserve (the exception being his last squad of Termies). At this point, he realises he should’ve put Tigurius in with the Sternguard drop pod squad to lend some book-keeping muscle. Oh well.
2. His Landspeeder storm flames my HQ, and the commander loses a wound, a Meltavet and the Officer (he’s useless at this point, so throw him onto the fire! Use his body to block up that firepoint!). They take a morale test and hold their nerve (as the 40K rulebook doesn’t clarify 25% losses for men embarked in vehicles and buildings, we assume due to gets hot! and D6+ hits for flamers to building, if they fail a morale test they instantly disembark).
Unfortunately for Laur, as his Scouts assault the building his meltabombs fizzle out and fail to damage.
3. Fresh out of combi-meltas, his Sternguard can’t do much (power weapon not much good against AV14!) but hide between the Drop pods. His Dread uses it’s multi-melta on the bastion, but misses on a 1. Not much luck round these parts.
4. His Assault squad fares a bit better, braving dangerous and difficult terrain tests to destroy my Demolisher and consolidate in the river. Note that in order to do this, he is no longer contesting a bastion at this point.
5. His melta-armed Stern guard blows up my Russ, while his Vindicator pulverises my vet-occupied bastion to rubble, and I lose 5 vets and resulting in them pinned (but not broken). Tigurius comes along, casting quickening and might of ancients. He kills 2 more vets, the remainder lose their nerve and attempt to flee but are mowed down by a sweeping advance. As a bonus, Tigurius also now contests the rubble / ex-bastion.
It was rumoured that the Bastion was haunted by Gremlins.
Score is 3KP’s to IG and 3KP’s to Marines. IG control 2 objectives, Marines contest 2. The Scores Are Tied!
TURN 2 IMPERIAL GUARD:
1. I roll, and on a 3+ I’m able to bring on my Sentinels and a Russ from my table edge, and a Demolisher and a Russ from my opponent’s edge (with still 1no. more Russ in reserve. The wheels of steel keep on comin’!)
2. On the Eastern front, my Chimelta takes out the Landspeeder, and the Demolisher destroys the Vindicator, killing the Sternguard sergeant to boot, but the Russ misses.
3. My Devildog misses (again) the Dread, but my reinforcement Russ destroys it. Meanwhile Heavy bolter and flamer fire from the bastion kills 3no. Sternguard.
4. My commander attempts to order ‘Bring it down’ but screws it up. Still, 2 meltagun shots and a direct hit with my Master of Ordnance (I rolled a hit, and a 4 on a 2D6, minus his ballistic skill = Hit on Target! The Emperor be Praised!) means the Landspeeder Storm is toast!
5. Massed multi-laser fire from my Sentinels hit the remaining 4no. scouts 5 times. Scouts get their 4+ save (Multilaser being Ap6) but fail them all.
Score is 8KP’s to IG and 3KP’s to Marines. IG control 3 objectives, Marines contest 1.
TURN 3 SPACE MARINES:
1. His termies arrive automatically and choose to deploy in locator beam range of his bottom-left drop pod. They decide to assault the Sentinels, and just manage to catch the Russ, wrecking 2 Sentinels and forcing immobilised and weapon destroyed results on my tank.
2. 2no. Sternguard assault my fast-moving Devil dog, while the jump pack Assault squad assaults the bastion. However, a poor round of rolling means they fail to damage either.
3. While the lone meltagun armed Sternguard hides behind the Vindicator wreckage to attempt a late objective grab rush at game’s end, Laur casts Force Dome to give Tigurius a 5+ invulnerable save, and uses Gate of Infinity in an attempt to reinforce his Assault Squad. However, as it is a Deepstrike move, one of my Interceptor guns chatter away managing to pull off 4 hits (thank you twin-linked) at Str 7 AP4. Needing 4no. 3+ armour saves, another round of poor rolling and poor Tigurius’ finds his geneseed-enriched corpse floating along the river of industrial sludge. Ouch.
Score is 9KP’s to IG and 3KP’s to Marines. IG control 2 objectives, Marines contest 1.
TURN 3 IMPERIAL GUARD:
1. My last reserved Russ arrives from my table edge, but its large blast scatters away. The Devildog is a bit luckier, backing off, with flame and Meltacannon killing 1no. Sternguard.
2. Men in the bastion flame and fire away at the Assault squad, with the help of a large battle cannon blast from the Russ at the bottom right. 3no. Assault marines die.
3. My Chimera and Demolisher cruise away and pop smoke, and my Master of Ordnance tries to snipe at the lone, hiding Sternguard, but his blast fully scatters away, fortunately not hitting any of my tanks.
4. Meanwhile, Laur’s Termies finish off the last Sentinel and consolidate closer to my HQ bastion.
Score is 9KP’s to IG and 4KP’s to Marines. IG control 2 objectives, Marines contest 1.
TURN 4 SPACE MARINES:
1. The lone members of each squad leg it! His Sternguard to the right makes a break for it, he runs into difficult terrain to try to get cover saves and hopefully run and contest at the last gasp. The other Sternguard sergeant and Assault marine sergeant attempt to get round the bastion, while his Termies move, then run closer to my HQ bastion.
Score is 9KP’s to IG and 4KP’s to Marines. IG control 2 objectives, Marines contest 1.
TURN 4 IMPERIAL GUARD:
1. My tanks move into position to pursue the most efficient firing lines available to them, Devildog and Russ gunning for the Termies, another stalking the 2no. skulking Sergeants, and the Chimera and Demolisher looking to finish off the Marine in the ruins.
2. At this point, a Vet commandeers the Quad gun, and fires at the lone Marine attempting to contest the top-right objective. With an increased BS, the vet hits all four of his twin-linked shots, and even with a 3+ armour save the Marine bits the dust.
3. At this point Laur concedes the game. With still another 1, possibly 2 turns to the game, even in the unlikely event of tying objectives and surviving such a barrage of fire from my numerous tanks, I would win on KP’s, although it is more likely his remaining forces will fall to my bristling ordnance. Also my Chimera would unload its cargo of Platoon Command guard onto the rubble, re-claiming that objective on my behalf in the subsequent turn.
Final score is 10KP’s to IG and 4KP’s to Marines. IG control 2 objectives, Marines contest 1.
So, what went right for me?
I would say a combination of 3 things stacked the game to my favour:
Now, I’m not saying my strategy and tactics were good (strategy with a tank spam list? Horror of horrors!), but definitely in conjunction with good rolling (luck) it brought out the best of my game.
Good strategy in that I deliberately tailored a tank spam list, which is not undefeatable by any means, carefully figuring out what works (long range shooting) and what doesn’t (close range assault) with such a list, and adapting it to the Planetstrike defender’s terrain setup rule to give myself an advantage and put my opponent at a disadvantage.
Good tactics in that I stuck to one rule: For every action there is an equal and opposite reaction. Every attack my opponent launched, I could muster, launch, and hopefully succeed in a counter-attack. Look at the batrep graphic for Turn 2: Imperial Guard to see what I mean. I believe it was here that the game very much swung in my favour as I neutralised almost every threat that arrived in the turn beforehand.
While very much a reactive game as the Planetstrike’s randomness rules force to game to be, I would say I turned this to my advantage with the terrain (clear LoS to deny cover saves), so wherever I pop out with the random deployment, I should in theory still be able to shoot him wherever he may be. And in the event that I can’t, my Master of Ordnance would hopefully do the job!
Also, the Officer of the Fleet may only be 30 points, but in a game that relies on Reserve rolls he is clearly a must-have to put a monkey wrench into the machinery of my opponent’s plans. My opponent’s final squad of Termies arriving in his Turn 3 meant perhaps it was too late to turn the tide then.
Good luck in that I cannot deny I had terrifically great rolls as and when I needed them. I was clearly in the favour of the dice gods as my Interceptor guns shot the Dread (Planetstrike automated shooting means I can score KP’s even in my opponent’s turn. Insane!) penetrating through his back armour. I stopped 2 Landspeeders in their tracks with a single Chimelta the immediate turn after they arrived, and any ordnance blast weapons I shot, with their 1 in 3 chance of hitting prior to scatter, I hit. Even the Master of Ordnance destroyed a Landspeeder with a direct hit!
And to add salt to the wound, a lowly BS2 automated Interceptor Quad gun took out Chief Librarian Tigurius.
THE DARK MIRROR OF FATE?
I believe many things went terribly wrong for my opponent, Laur.
First and foremost though, I’d like to say he had a tactically flexible, survivable, and hard-hitting army list built with the best of what he could afford, designing them for cracking into buildings. In fact, after the game he admitted he could’ve put Vulkan Hestan into the list, but opted for Tigurius instead to deal with my Officer of the Fleet.
In any case I don’t think he had anything ‘wrong’ with his list. But what I think did happen is while he opted for a riskier strategy, in poker terms he got a bad beat. Poorer-than-average rolling conspired to mean he was more likely to crash and burn from taking such a risk, than soaring high and mighty.
What do I mean by this? Well, the clue is in the Planetstrike book, again in the Cross-fire terrain deployment section (4no. objectives). It even suggests how an attacker should deploy in such a setup, so go read the section if you’re still interested,
In my view, in the event of an attacker facing such a setup, I believe he has 2 choices.
1. Play safe, and go for close objectives working your way through your table half to safely grab 2 objectives before going for the last gasp and contesting a third. This means relying on footsloggers to get to a Dropzone to instant-grab objectives, with your deepstrikers backing you up in case things go wrong. In this case, I would’ve chosen a long table edge for a drop zone, which would mean I would grab 2 straight away (as opposed to 1, on a corner of a short edge) plus the added bonus of a long stretch of flexible deployment.
2. Go for gold and opt for grabbing all at one go. Footsloggers to grab close, fast and mobile to grab the middle, and deep strikers to grab afar. This is what I think Laur was trying to do, and if it weren’t for his poor rolling, he would’ve succeeded.
Or would he?
It is my belief that even if he HAD made his rolls (e.g. Meltabomb by scouts blew up bastion, dread and/or Sternguard blew up the bastion with 30 men, Landspeeders blew up my ‘unmolested’ bastion in the middle by the river), AV14 is still a tough nut to crack, especially with the vehicle damage chart (1/3 to wreck/damage). Also, even if he reduced it to rubble he would have to eliminate the men in it, and even then he would have to sit in the rubble to remain contesting it, which would leave them easy prey to my men.
But hold on, I hear you say! If he played it safe and grabbed objectives on his half, I’d still be able to sit comfortably on an unmolested section, popping away at enemies with my long range tanks (or artillery, etc) until he has no-one left to contest?
NYA-HA-HA! *twiddles moustache* That, my friends, is the beauty of the tank spam list.
Valet parking for the reserves were much to be desired.
Maybe then Laur was right and he didn’t have a choice. Perhaps it is the fact that I had all these long range tanks may have spurred my opponent into pursuing a riskier strategy. Who knows?
The one way I can see to counter this is bringing in more fast, mobile units to get stuck into both buildings and tanks. A bike spam list could a devastating counter. Or a Landspeeder & Scout spam list too! But do we have to do that? Probably not, just having one or two mobile elements, with their turbo-boost 3+ cover saves and 24” reach, you could ‘touch’ objectives at a late stage to contest at the last, giving a both a real, and psychological advantage.
The other innate weakness of my tank spam list that Laur could have exploited were my troops that sat in their AV14 buildings. By no means did they underperform, as all they have to do is sit in the bastions and shoot away, however they are easy prey for flamer weapons and perhaps with one or two more flamers in my opponent’s list, focusing on both bunker-busting AND bunker clearing instead of just one aspect, could have meant he would have cleared off the bastion’s inhabitants (e.g. the small squads of vets) which would have allowed him to sit pretty in them and force me to have to dislodge them instead. But of course knowing this, I had cheekily rectified this as much as possible by facing all my bastion entrances close to the table edges to make things difficult for my opponent.
POOR ROLLING PUNISHES MISTAKES?
As a final thought to end this batrep, I also believe the below-average rolling that Laur experienced compounded risks, or dare I say, errors, that he committed.
Not taking Tigurius in the Sternguard Squad (D’oh!) is more of an oversight than anything else, and his Dreads and combi-meltas AND melta-bomb scouts AND Firestorm attacks not doing anything is really, really REALLY unfortunate, and if it were me I’d be pulling my hair out.
What I’m referring to is 2 things: First off, Laur took a risk NOT turbo-boosting his Landspeeders as they came on his table edge. This meant he traded off survivability (3+ cover save from turbo) AND traded off melta range (he was outwith and could only damage with 1D6) for the opportunity to get the first 2 shots in on the firs turn. Failing to damage meant he was to be punished severely for this, as my Chimelta trundled onto the board and dismantled both of their AV10 front armour with ease.
Secondly, Laur wanted to capture or at least neutralise my HQ bastion in the corner on the get-go thinking them the easier, juicier and more threatening target (MoO), but made the mistake of not deploying his squad at least 12” away from a table edge JUST IN CASE of scatter. He took the risk once with the Sternguard and they fell off the board, placed instead in a position of my choosing. Possibly reasoning this would not happen again, he placed his Termies in the exact same position and they scattered off the table (again) but this time I rolled a 2 on the mishap table, and they were lost in the warp. (Note: I could be wrong here and he may have placed his Termies to try and take the top middle bastion instead. But in any case they scattered fully off the table)
The game would’ve been much different with Termies on the table on Turn 1, and it would’ve meant a more desperately fought battle on my part.
If you’ve made it this far, thank you very much for your attention and thank you very much for reading.
I’m not ashamed to admit that I had immense fun playing with a tank spam list, though I will admit I felt a tinge of guilt having had terrific dice rolls in the game VS my opponent having terrible dice rolls throughout. But just for a little bit!
Whether or not I’ll re-run this list again I don’t know as I’m always looking to try out new things with new lists. We’ll see.
I would like to thank Laur firstly for being a gracious enough host to allow me and his friend Doug to invade weekly his man-cave (oh-er!) and play with little plastic toy soldiers at his place. I’d also like to thank him (if you’re reading this) for the game last night, and as always would appreciate his thoughts with regards to last night’s game, if he’d like to contribute!
Still, next week (or so) the tables will be turned as I take on the role of Attacker (IG) and Laur and his Marines will be the ones defending and deciding the terrain.
What should I take then? A Leman Russ Vanquisher spam list? Storm Trooper spam? Chimelta spam? Vendetta spam? A can of Hormel Light spam? Further post on this to follow.
See you all in a week!