04 August 2017

40k Battle Analysis: Coulda, Woulda, Shoulda

The battle report from Tuesday's game against Bull's Orks highlighted a few points worthy of contemplation discussion.

Our opening game of 8th Edition was all about unlearning old rules. After having a couple of weeks to ponder on that before this week's game, Tuesday was all about getting to grips with the new rules. We used battle-forged armies, rolled for deployment, etc. and used Stratagems for the first time. Things went a lot better, but inevitably a few things were missed. To complicate the situation more, I had a brand new codex, with all the additional rules that implies. It's going to take some time before we truly get into our flow, without unintentionally bending or breaking rules or phase order, but we are only two games in.

For this week's game, my problems began in list construction. The books don't make it terribly easy to create things with points, to know what is/isn't included and exactly what you need to charge for. Wording is a bit vague in places. Anyway, I had priced up all my available units and then took enough to hit the 1000pt mark exactly.

I took the Razorback and Dred from last time (albeit re-armed the Dred with something more appropriate). The Razorback tore chunks off Boss Zagstruk in Overwatch, took his last wound in combat, then killed at least 5 Boyz from Ork unit three. It also absorbed a lot of hits from the Warbanner Boy and multiple units of Boyz before finally exploding. That explosion almost killed Banner boy and took another 4 Boyz down too. From a points perspective it probably broke even with kills, but its tarpit role was invaluable in protecting the Captain and Librarian from follow up waves of Boyz. The Dred killed about 10 Boyz in total, combined 1 round of shooting (the heavy flamer misfiring) and 1 round of combat. It took the full weight of attacks from a unit of 15 Boyz before dying (even then only just). Its main contributions were being deployed wide to protect the line and prevent the Stormboyz dropping in to my left, and then diverting the path of the final unit of Boyz away from the Captain and Librarian combat. In these aspects it did its job well and is a solid unit, though the fact it can be taken out in one solid round of combat is a worry.

Expecting vehicles I had taken my Hellblasters, which turned out to be a waste against Strength 4 Ork Boyz. They killed 5 or so Boyz from unit three, and a few more from unit two, before being overwhelmed in combat, which is not their strong point. My Sternguard were a last minute filler unit to round out the numbers, and that was the biggest part they played, apart from one round of Overwatch resulting in a couple of dead Stormboyz.

The Reivers played their part quite well this week. Buoyed by the addition of two more models (albeit unpainted) the took out the Paindoc and hit the Wierdboy from behind, pulling Ork units three and four across the board to deal with them. This was key to slowing down the Ork advance and, though they may not have paid for themselves in kills, they were big winners on the day. It's nice to be able to pay the Orks back in kind, dropping a unit on them in their own table half.

The Aggressors had a very clear role to play – to burn lots of Orks as they charged in. However, poor deployment and positioning deprived them of using their flamers at all, and they spent the entire battle in combat until they were finally destroyed. They did hold out for a long time against a horrific number of attacks, their Strength 5 proving to be the tipping point. But in the end, the 2+ to hit and pure volume of hits meant that the Orks would kill them eventually. They almost certainly didn't pay for themselves, but their staying power helped tie up the Ork numbers for some time.

And finally my two (heroic) characters…

The librarian didn't manage to cast as many spells as I would like. Having an enemy psyker on the table didn't play a massive part, it was more a case of not rolling high enough to cast. He did hit his numbers when he needed to though, and the Captain spent most of the game buffed to an epic level. The Libby did clock up quite a few kills, notably the Banner Boy, and provided a great support for the Captain, who was the heart of the army.

The Captain, who was upgraded to a Chapter Master owned the table around him, to the point that I don't really recall Bull openly attacking him in combat. I gave him the Burning Blade relic to aid his attacks and it proved essential. I had considered the Salamanders Mantle for +1 Toughness, but being T7 rather than T6 (buffed by the Libby) against these Orks didn't give any additional benefit. His Warlord Trait of Iron Resolve meant that he had an extra Wound and allowed him a 6+ Feel No Pain equivalent. That's T6, 7 Wounds, 3+ save, 4+ invulnerable and 6+ FNP—no wonder he survived untouched! His buff allowing re-rolls to hit for units within 6" was awesome, and when combined with the Salamander Chapter Trait of rolling 1 Hit and 1 Wound miss per unit per fight meant that those around him were doing lots of damage. Yet despite this he probably didn't pay for himself in kills, despite felling bucket loads of Boyz.

Despite that, he was the lynchpin and was ultimately the reason why we prevailed on the day. I could have been more brave with him and often he missed out on combat as Bull strategically removed casualties around him, leaving him outside of combat when his turn to fight came. He needs to be in the thick of things to be at full effect. He is an awesome character, but I need to try him with different combos of Warlord/Chapter Trait and relics to see if there are better options.

As far as the overall game went?…

The big mistake from my perspective was initial deployment and positioning. My gaming experience allowed me to find a way to pull things back from the precipice, albeit only just. I needed to be on my A-game, which is hard when you don't really know your own army or your opponent's capability, or the rules properly for that matter.

The Primaris marines are expensive and few in number, but they are resilient and it took this game to see that in action. I'm undecided whether regular "mini" marines would have been a better choice. Maybe I need to test that theory, quantity over quality. I also ignored the Banner Boy for far too long, only killing him in the final turn. This made my job immeasurably more difficult. I had the opportunity, when the Dred charged into combat, but fearing a low charge roll I opted for the nearest Ork Boyz unit as the only target. Ork Boyz hitting with 4 or more attacks each on 2+ is just horrible and I should have taken him down as soon as I could (note to self)—Scout Snipers may be the way forward on that score, taking characters down from range.

I did ignore the VP objectives (first blood, etc.) and favour of simply surviving. Standing across the table from such a large number of Orks was very intimidating, even for a tournament vet. The Boyz may not have had much defence individually, but the ability of a unit of 30 to pump out 5 attacks each hitting on 2+ will decimate any army. Being outnumbered more than 4:1 and losing six guys in the opening exchange does not do anything to boost confidence.

At the end of the day we pulled a minor victory out of thin air, against a brutal and unrelenting assault by an experienced greenskins general. It felt good, if exhausting. I am now feeding off the buzz of 40k gaming and list building, something I thought was relegated to the past. Thanks as ever to Bull for being an awesome opponent and host, and for not pulling punches when things were going bad.

If you wanted to read his take on the game, go visit Bull's blog here.

Roll on the next game…!


  1. Good stuff! I've found very much the same with primaris marines - good, but prone to paying heavily for every casualty (and unnervingly short-mid ranged).

    List building in this edition really is going to be an art form I think, balancing low volume high damage shooting like lascannons with high volume to ensure you have enough guns to take on the hordes, and decent quality middle ground shooting to account for heavy infantry (hint, grav cannons with amps are still extremely good with a high volume of good quality shots, they only really struggle against lighter vehicles).

    Looking forward to the next game, glad to hear you've 'got the bug' again!

    1. Next game on Tuesday. I am looking for something a little more balanced and am definitely expecting to face Ork vehicles!

  2. I ended up playing against Orks with an Inquisition/Assassinorum list last weekend. There was definitely a major feeling of "Um, there's a LOT more of them than there are of us!", but I pulled it out on Tactical Objectives by the end, even tho my Army was absolutely mauled.

  3. Another close fought battle, good to hear GW managed to get the balance right in this edition.
    The only thing stopping me from jumping in right now is the fact I hate painting marines and I made a box I will nog play with unpainted models ever again.

    1. Unpainted models do make me uncomfortable too – one day I will table a fully painted army ;)