Saturday, 25 January 2014

Inside The Spaceship

God bless you, John Blanche, and your stupid heels.
I've always had a fondness for the Sisters of Battle - I was 13 when their 2nd Ed Codex gave them their first real army list, and inexplicably a young teenage George was rather drawn to the John Blanche cover pictured above.  I'm therefore always happy to play my chum Dave, whose efforts to befriend me online are part of why I got back into 40K at all, and who has a Sisters army.

Today we met for my first 40K of 2014 to play Kill-Team.  Not the fancy new Kill Team ebook, I must confess, but the older free PDF rules GW had on their site. We gave ourselves a slightly larger point allowance of 300 and then played two games back to back - each only took about an hour, and gave us plenty of time to chat about UK politics, Channel 4 television programs, who he and I would cast as a female Doctor Who, how Dave's wife and baby daughter are doing, and my recent attempts to make moulds.

For those of you wondering if I can finally score my first nerdy win of the year.... read on!

Set-up for game number 1.   Note the sister with the Heavy Bolter in a sniping position on top of the rock spires on the left hand side; meanwhile, two Sonic Blasters fill a similar role on the right.
Dave's force featured regular Sisters and Celestians; a squad he doesn't usually take.  My own was 6 Chaos Space Marines and six Noise Marines.  A couple of sonic weapons thrown in, but I found it a struggle to buy even minimal units without hitting the point ceiling.

Game one was a regular Kill-Team game using my Martian-esque terrain - red hills and rock-spires.  A single objective in the middle of the table is worth 5 points; various 1 and 2 point award can be earned by killing leaders & specialists, forcing Break tests and getting the first kill.    

The leader and Blastmaster take aim at the approaching sisters.
 Unfortunately, things did not go my way.  This game was a bit of a massacre in which my main Heavy Weapon hit nothing, and my leader lead the charge into an assault....

The Celestians demonstrate why they get paid the big bucks.  Dave's opinion on this unit has greatly improved after these games. which he got cut down without touching anyone.  The Sonic Blasters managed to keep the Sisters on the objective busy, but my Rainbow Warriors got picked off early one and only one kept going to the bitter end, with the game ending with a failed Break Test and a rather whopping 16-3 victory goes to Dave's force.
A Rainbow Warrior Marine refuses to budge, despite being surrounded by foes, and scores me my only points of the game by bumping off the enemy leader.
However, since this was a quick affair we decided to squeeze in a second game.  Still using our Kill-Team we also added into the mix the Forge World-originated Zone Mortalis rules, which covers play in confined areas like starships.  Using some dungeon tiles from Dungeons & Dragons and Advanced Heroquest we built up a starship

Set-up for the second game, with various passageways inter-linked to avoid dead ends.  The central room, with the objective, is considered difficult terrain.
 We otherwise used the same rules as last time - set up in opposing quarters, big points for central objective but lesser points to be awarded for other things and the Break Test when the teams fall to 50% strength.  The 1" squares on the map made movement a lot easier - it's a bit artificial to stick to the squares, but a lot of the time it's quicker than using your tape measure for mundane "run down a corridor" stuff.

After a turn's movement.  With the multiple routes around, the forces have all split up.  Evidence I'm really in Scotland present on the table.

Dave did not have a great start here.  As you can see in the above picture, he's moved a half-dozen Sisters into the Z-shaped corridor bend, but this makes them all nice and neatly bunched in for my Blastmaster.  The rules for Zone Mortalis make all template & blast markers gain a special rule called Shred (so even nastier) and the way scattering works means it's far less likely to miss.  Therefore, they are sitting ducks for a round of shooting....

New internet sensation: "5 girls 1 blast."
 ...and my luck held out, with 25% of his army out of play with my first shot, though his Sisters leader was thankfully out of the firing line.  Compared to the quick massacre of my Marines last time, the confined area played to my strengths, and the Sonic Blasters Salvoing down a major corridor gave that angle of approach real problems.

Late game and the casualties mount up.  I hold the objective but his sisters have broken through and can now challenge.

The battle saw a bit of a turn mid-way through when his Sisters leader got into melee combat and lead the fightback.  More importantly, perhaps, we discovered that with the special rules on blast markers, the normally dull Frag Grenades went from "that thing everyone has and hardly ever uses" to "main weapon of choice for any amount of enemies above 1"  With Frag Grenades the objective room was cleared of Chaos Space Marines, and while I still had guys left they'd struggle to get back in time..

The guardians of the objective snuff it, and the Sisters leader moves into position.  For these small games we left the dead where they fell, only moving them out the way when they blocked movement.
 A few amusing close combats ensued - more attacks for the Sisters, but the Initiative bonus the Slaanesh marines have meaning they always struck first so had a chance to beat the odds.  Things were going quite close and both sides were down to their final few figures, forcing Break tests all round and proving some tense moments where the dice only just came up in our favour, allowing the game to press on to 7 turns.
The final turns and the survivors struggle on to the bitter end.

In the end, Dave won this match as well, but it felt much swingier - The final score being something along the lines of 12 - 5, but for most of it the game seemed like it go either way.  We both had a good laugh, most importantly, and definitely want to try playing these sorts of games again.

The first Zone Mortalis match could have probably used more terrain - I felt very exposed in my table quarter.  Both games suffered a bit from the single objective though the multiple paths through the spaceship did at least ensure there was more going on than just a bitter fight in one room.  (A previous Zone Mortalis match I played had the objective in a room in the far corner with one entrance, which lead to a rather underwhelming finale in which a Dreadnought blockaded the door and a force without any armour-punching-heavy-weapons pretty much just queued up to die.)  Using one of the other Zone Mortalis missions with multiple objectives would probably help, and spread the fighting out further - several rooms and corridors on at the far end saw no play.

So, that's 3 games, 3 loses in 2014. The plan is that I've got a 2 vs 2 game next week with Dave and two other chums, Rory & Charles, using these same Zone Mortalis rules.  Time to ponder how to build a 300 point list now I've got some experience....

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