Sunday, August 16, 2009

Planet-Strike Take 2! Marines v. Chaos Space Marines

Well, Mike and I decided to give Planet Strike another whirl this last weekend over the city fight table. This time around, I was defending with my Celestial Lions and he was attacking with his gorgeous Chaos Space Marine army. We talked over the board and decided to play COD with the caveat of ignoring dangerous terrain tests for the board. We really wanted to play in an urban setting….yet obviously an entire army deep striking into dangerous terrain tests all game would be slightly unfair. So, we threw the terrain tests out and built the table.

We decided on five total objectives with three being bastions, one home-made bunker, and one home-made comm center. This allowed for some generous stratagem selection and our choices were as follows;

Chaos Space Marine Stratagems

Dawn Assault
Heavy Duty Drop
Sustained Assault

Celestial Lions Stratagems

Power Generator—Large north building
Ammunition Store—Large north building
Void Shield—Northern bastion
Machine Spirit—Northern bastion

Celestial Lions--Marines
Counts as Calgar
Two groups of Assault Terminators 6 strong
Venerable Dread with MM, Heavy Flamer
Three tactical Squads with MM, Flamer
Three Speeders with MM, Heavy Flamer
Plasma Devastator Squad
Dakka Predator

Chaos Space Marines
Slaanesh Daemon Prince
Nurgle Daemon Prince
Tzeentch Daemon Prince
Two groups of Plague Marines 9 strong in rhinos with powerfists
One group of Zerks 8 strong in rhino with powerfist
Two groups of Oblits 3 strong, one group of Oblits two strong

Here are some overviews of the table;

I decided to put some items in reserve as defender in hopes I would have a counter-punch after Mike’s initial punch. So I placed my Assault Terminators (both groups), two Speeders, a Predator and a Rhino in reserve. With my reserves settled, Mike launched his firestorm (he received a generous 7 templates)…but my luck won out and the templates managed to shake a bastion and blow off a weapon. Overall, could have been much worse!

Chaos Turn 1

Speaking of worse, Mike’s turn began with a bang (That bang continued all game long!). We often joke while choosing DS locations “Go big or go home” and he went big…and it paid dividends. He chose to deep strike his Slaanesh Prince on the 2nd level of my building housing the Plasma Devs. A scatter in any direction would have likely meant mishap…and he rolled a hit! The Slaanesh proceeded to probe/eat/defile four of plasma devs in the assault phase as well and they stuck. There went 250+ points…

Mike continued his ‘Go big or go home’ deep strike strategy with his Heavy Drop Stratagem. He chose a Plague Marine group in Rhino as his Heavy Drop and managed to land them right between my two defended obstacles on the bottom floor of my building. This essentially meant they were shooting my tactical squad in the back with no cover now. Nice! Only the Sarg and a regular bolter marine lived.

Two Obliterators walked on in the southern part of the city and launched a melta fusillade at that bastion which exploded, killing two of the marines inside. Luckily, I was out of assault range in the wreckage! Ironically, the east bastion which had the most power next to it (A Tzeentch Prince and three Obliterators!) survived both shooting and assault, albeit the marines inside were shook and could not shoot next turn.

Marine Turn 1

Well, things already looked bad. My plasma devs were basically dead and I already lost a bastion. My reserve rolls were rather unkind as well, as I only received one of my Terminator Assault squads and one speeder. I used my locator beacon from the Sarg in the eastern bastion and brought my Terminator Assault Squad in led by my counts as Calgar. This unit eventually charged the Tzeentch Prince, Nurgle Rhino and Khorne Rhino in the assault phase. The Prince fell but they didn’t even scratch the rhinos! Not good…

In the southern portion of the city, my luck did turn a bit. My speeder fired its MM and Heavy Flamer on the two oblits, causing three wounds. Mike was nice enough to roll three 1s! This was one good piece of luck in my turn. During the assault phase, the Slaanesh prince finished off my Devs…which essentially meant he was free to roam on Mike’s turn again. So much for luck.

Chaos Turn 2

The rest of Mike’s army showed this turn. A Nurgle Prince moved on to the southern bastion ruins where the dead obliterators lay to engage the remaining marines. Emperor and friends attracted a lot of attention this turn…two groups of Obliterators, a squad of Plague Marines; a squad of Khorne Berzerkers surrounded my Assault Terms. After the shooting cleared, only 3 Assault Terms + counts as Calgar remained. After the assault of the Zerks, Obliterators and Plague Marines even big daddy Calgar died, taking 3 Obliterators with him.

In the west, the Slaanesh prince continued his rampage and destroyed my western bastion, failing to kill any of the 5 marines inside. Mike fired at the two remaining Lions in the large building, killing one. I chose to auto-fail my morale test to escape assault and fell back 9 inches. This lone marine actually did something late game.

I’ll use the deaths of my terminators as a good example though of Mike’s play. Many players will do some rough math in their head and throw the required number of troops at an enemy unit, ending up disappointed when a few bad rolls throws off their game. Here was a perfect example of Mike using overwhelming numbers to ensure no dice rolls would prevent the unit from being wiped. Even after all the Zerk, Plague marine attacks….it still came down to Oblit power fists to finish this squad, when mathematically the Zerks and Plague Marines should have done the job.

Marine Turn 2

Night fight unfortunately remained but at least everything, barring my reserve rhino showed this turn. I brought two speeders on to the board centering on the Slaanesh Prince. My Venerable Dread also advanced on the Prince. My Dakka Predator also moved on this turn but night fight foiled any shooting. Between shooting from my marines, two speeders and a Venerable Dread I only did two wounds on the Slaanesh Prince. Not good!

I chose to continue my delaying action in the eastern portion, again bringing my Assault Terms down next to that bastion. A group of obliterators (His last group) and three plague marines died in the ensuing melee. Unfortunately, the Zerks chain axes started revving up…as they would be in assault shortly. In the south, my speeder moved away slightly to remain in night fight range, dealing a wound to the Nurgle Prince. I charged my Venerable Dread into the Slaanesh Prince (Desperate!), hoping he would survive this round to save my marines nearby…and after losing two arms and failing to wound the Slaanesh Prince..he still stood.

Chaos Turn 3

Mike sent his Zerks into my Assault Terms and wiped the unit (The Zerks just tore up this game!). The Nurgle Prince cast warp time and managed to immobilize my southern speeder. The Slaanesh Prince finished off the Dread, which would leave him open to the Dakka Pred and marines next turn. In the west, the Plague Marines that had been brought in via Heavy Drop moved up and blew a speeder out of the sky. Mike was dismantling my army in each sector of the city and it was quickly turning into a rout…

Marines Turn 3

Hmm, Mike had pretty much taken my army apart. After I rallied my remaining marine in the big building, I decided my only hope was that the east bastion would hold against the Zerks and Plague Marines, finish off the Slaanesh Prince and Nurgle Prince, grab the building objective and attempt a tie. So, my Dakka Pred, five marines and a speeder unloaded on the two wound remaining Slaanesh Prince….doing a single wound! So much for those plans…to be fair though, Mike has some rather abysmal rolling earlier…so karma was coming around I suppose. The Nurgle Prince finished off my immobilized speeder (Which failed to wound it during shooting) and started eyeing my bunker bastion in the middle of the city. Night fight remained.

Chaos Turn 4

Mike sent melta shots and powerfist attacks from both his Zerks and Plague Marines..and the bastion held! This was rather improbable but I was hoping that luck would hold. In the middle of the city however, the Nurgle Prince tore the bunker apart and exposed the five marines inside. The Slaanesh prince killed the marines of the bastion wreckage (This Prince had a Rambo kill counter going by now..sheesh). At least Mike rolled poorly for his consolidation and the Dakka Pred would get another salvo at him! He advanced the Heavy Drop Plague Marines up and blew off the MM from my Speeder as well. I was getting down to a handful of models…

Marine Turn 4

I continued moving my lone marine up the big building towards the objective. My Dakka Pred finally finished the Slaanesh Prince…after he ate 1/3 of my army. My remaining marines in the middle bastion rubble managed to wound the Nurgle Prince again (He was down to 1 wound). I turbo’d my speeder off to the south, hoping to claim the furthest bastion rubble. Night fight remained. Few models make for fast turns!

Chaos Turn 5

The Plague Marines managed to melta the west bastion (oops) and both the Zerks/Plague Marines made their difficult terrain rolls for assault. The Plague Marines were essentially unneeded however, as the Zerks Slap Chopped ™ my marines into coleslaw. The Nurgle Prince rampaged into my remaining marines in the bowels of the city, again rolling a poor consolidation. Mike now held the east bastion, the west bastion and the middle bastion. I held the big building objective.

Marine Turn 5

I turbo’d my speeder again towards the southern bastion and swung my Dakka Pred around to fire on the Nurgle Prince (Failing to finish off its last wound). I moved deeper in the building around the objective to remove any visibility on my lone marine. Fast turn!

Chaos/Marine Turns 6/7

I’m going to consolidate the last two turns, as little happened. Mike’s Nurgle Prince ripped apart my Dakka Pred and I moved my Speeder into contact with southern bastion. My lone marine held in the building and Mike consolidated on the other objectives...Night Fight persisted until the very end.

Game end

Mike/Chaos Objectives: 3

Ryan/Marine Objectives: 2

Looks close right? Except when you do this =):

Ryan/Marine remaining army: ONE marine and ONE speeder with a weapon blown off

Mike/Chaos remaining army: Nurgle Prince, three rhinos, 16 or so Plague Marines, 6 Zerks

Marine Player Summary:

What a spanking. Two models left at the end of the game (and one was damaged!). Mike had a lot of power left at game’s end too….well I can see now throwing both of my Assault Terminator groups into the east was a mistake. My thoughts were, if I could bottleneck/hold a bulk of his power down in that sector I would have a chance to separate/kill the rest of his army. I was also hoping that by removing his Oblit groups early he would have difficulty blowing my Bastions (Which he did not!). I sent a lot of points down in that sector…and the Zerks just chewed everything up. It was also my first time trying Calgar out…and I wasn’t that impressed. His invulnerable save just doesn’t cut it and if I were to run non-Vulkan marines, I think Lysander would be my next choice. Mike has some smart play this game as well, by not splitting any of his force and focusing on my Assault Terms in overwhelming numbers. Back to the drawing board on defending with marines…..

Chaos Marine Player Summary:

Well, things went well for me this game, maybe too well. Assaulting after deepstiking is really powerful especially with units like Daemon Princes. Ryan put some thought into his deployment. He knew which three Bastions he would try to keep and set up a defense line and placed units to provide covering fire. After some luck with scatter rolls, I was behind and in his defensive position. After turn one, I had the advantage and pretty much kept it.
Great right? Well no, it isn’t. When I think of Planet Strike, I picture epic fights along the lines of the opening battle of “Saving Private Ryan,” but being able to circumvent defenses kind of defeats this. Not to mention how easy it is for Monstrous Creatures/melta-bombs to blow up Bastions in close combat. Plus it seems in our games it is better to not occupy them at all, unless you like your shooting units to do nothing but die.

As the attacker, I think that it should be really hard to take a defended position and I want to be able to take my strongest units to accomplish it. Sure I could change my tactics and handicap myself by unit selection but then it loses its epic nature and appeal. So with that in mind we made some changes.

Overall Planet-Strike Impressions:

Man defending is tough! In both games now, whoever was the defender just got ran off the board. We talked over our views on the issues and made a short list;

1. Bastions simply die in one turn to assault/deep strike melta

2. Competitive board construction and army design would not lend itself to thematic 40k (Men behind walls and in bunkers). Competitive Planet-Strike would likely be all reserve defenders..and we don't want that.

3. Bastion auto-guns are weak and inconsequential.

Based off those issues, we made the following changes;

1. One bastion has an 8 inch NO Deep-Strike bubble.

2. Bastions need a 4+ in HTH to hit due to the withering fire pouring from them--If the player scores an immobilized result during the shooting phase, then the enemy auto hits in HTH for ONE turn only.

3. Add a 2 point stratagem to add a further 8 inch NO Deep-Strike bubble to a further bastion.

4. Defender may deny the attacker two drop zone board edges, the defender may choose from the remaining two.

5. All bastions are BS 3.

We tried this out as well and the defending marines actually won. The game felt much more thematic and enjoyable, with the result being up in the air until the last couple of turns. Bastions mattered and the board looked like something from the fluff. Now, keep in mind the above rules are customized for how we play and our army selection. For example, a defending marine player could very well put everything in reserve via drop pod and be very competitive in normal Planet-Strike rules. Add the above changes and he would likely dominate. So salt/pepper to taste with how your group plays. Thanks for reading!



Managarm said...

Very nice batrep. And amazing board and armies you have there!
Really enjoyed both your reports, keep it up!

Hornblower said...

The armies look tremendous. Really like the Celestial Lions. Ashaxe's armies never disappoint either.

Good write up and I'm looking forward to my own Planet Strike game

AgeOfEgos said...

Thanks for the comments. I expect we'll put another report up in a couple of weeks with our tweaked rules. Thanks again for reading.

Craig Welter said...

That is a great looking table! Thanks for posting the battle report.

laur said...

Hey, I'm new to Planetstrike so have a quick question. How can the defending Terminators deepstrike and assualt in the same turn? Isn't this new ability reserved for the attackers only?