Sunday, March 15, 2009

DAEMONHUNTERS versus Chaos Daemons

Game: Warhammer 40,000 5th edition
Opponent: Gary
Mission: Annihilation
Deployment: Pitched Battle
1st turn: Daemonhunters
Points: 1500
Location: 278.M41, Mandag, Hexen Sub, Skolarii sector
Background: The Daemonhunters take Mandag spaceport allowing Imperial troops to land unopposed. The Daemonhunters go on to secure the perimeter along with their Imperial Guard allies.

Daemonhunters with Imperial Guard allies
  • Inquisitor Lord Severus, thunder hammer, bolt pistol, sacred incense, sanctuary, 3 combat servitors, 2 acolytes with power armour and bolt pistols, 2 familiars, 2 hierophants, 3 mystics
  • Inquisitor Kurven, Psycannon, power armour
  • Inquisitor Mabus, Incinerator
  • Eversor assassin
  • 6 Stormtroopers, 2 flamers, rhino
  • 6 Stormtroopers, 2 melta guns, rhino
  • 6 Stormtroopers, 2 plasma guns
  • IG infantry platoon
  • Command section, junior officer, missile launcher, 2 plasma guns
  • Infantry squad, missile launcher, grenade launcher
  • Infantry squad, missile launcher, grenade launcher
  • Infantry squad, missile launcher, grenade launcher
  • Armoured Fist squad, flamer, Chimera, multilaser, heavy bolter, heavy stubber
  • Sentinel, multilaser
  • Leman Russ, heavybolter

Chaos Daemons

  • Bloodthirster
  • Winged Slaaneshi Daemon Prince
  • Daemon Prince
  • 8 Bloodletters, Standard, Musician
  • 8 Bloodletters
  • 5 Bloodletters
  • 7 Daemonettes
  • 8 Flesh Hounds
  • 8 Flesh Hounds
  • 3 Flamers
  • Herald of Tzeentch
  • 5 Horrors, Changeling

This was an interesting game because it highlighted a situation that has often cropped up when I play against regular opponents.

Gary had put together some more ruined buildings, as well as five horrors. I congratulated him on the terrain and we discussed how important it was to have a good mix of line of sight blocking terrain (most of Gary's buildings have solid ground floors with no windows), area terrain (like woods) and obstacles (like barricades - Gary had constructed one of these as well).

Terrain and deployment
Gary won the dice off and put me in to bat. I chose the edge with a three storey tower in the centre which gave better shooting opportunities. I started Severus in the middle to utilise the mystics with all the guard infantry nearby. The Leman Russ anchored the right while the Armoured Fist squad held the left. Everything else would come on from reserve.

My plan was to hit the Daemons with my shooting via the mystics and then counter charge with my reserves just as the Daemons hit my lines. If the Daemons held back I would advance across the whole line and use my mobility and long range shooting to hit one flank and then turn on the other next.

The game
The bloodthirster and a unit of flesh hounds entered play in and around the woods in the middle of the table. The daemon prince and eight bloodletters arrived hard on my right flank. The herald also tried to land here but scattered badly and I placed it in the far left corner of the battlefield. I think Gary was trying to take out the Russ but with the loss of the herald it survived.

My flamer stormtroopers led by Mabus zoomed in from reserve and fried all but two bloodletters in a below average round of shooting. The rest of my shooting wiped out the survivors, though, along with the daemon prince, although my Leman Russ missed its shot completely.

On my left I shocked Gary by targeting his flesh hounds behind the wood. They were on the fringe beyond the last tree so got no cover save. I killed five of them. I couldn't see the Bloodthirster because of the tall trees next to him.

This was the subject of our first big 'discussion' of the game, which was ironic considering our conversation about terrain before the game began.

The three survivors came forward, along with the Bloodthirster to attack Severus' squad. The hounds failed their difficult terrain test from the hierophant and were short but the 'thirster got in. The greater daemon whiffed loads of attacks, as did Severus, but the Bloodthirster was finally killed after three rounds of combat. The hounds had been shot to pieces by this stage.

Gary continued to put heavy pressure on my right flank and the daemonettes and another bloodletter squad warped in. The flamers and horrors also arrived. The horrors killed several stormtroopers in Mabus' unit and he fled off the battlefield, just as he did in our previous game. I think Severus will be keeping a beady eye on him in future battles!

I held the left flank throughout the game quite comfortably. The winged daemon prince landed here and was supported by the herald moving up the flank. I lost the Chimera and a handful of guardsmen but killed both units with the help of Kurven and the melta gun stormtroopers in their rhino.

I got the Sentinel from reserve and moved it on from the flank behind the flamers. I charged into combat and held the Daemons up for several turns but I couldn't kill them - they passed six consecutive invulnerable saves.

The Changeling had a massive impact on the battle. Looking at the rules as written we eventually concluded that the power could be used every time one of my units shot within 24" of the Changeling. I failed three out of four leadership tests and killed my own Eversor assassin and finished off the plasma gun stormtroopers. The Russ passed it's test but it's battlecannon missed the daemonettes.

Gary dropped his final bloodletter unit onto the right flank too. At this point we paused the game again to have a long debate about keeping to the focus of the mission.

My view was that Gary hadn't won his last two games because he ignored the objectives, although he had caused heavy casualties. I felt I had adapted my gameplay from 4th edition to 5th edition which meant I was doing far less damage but stealing wins and draws.

In annihilation games the Daemons had a massive advantage because my army would give away almost twice as many kill points as they would. Rather than simply trying to kill as many of my units as possible, regardless of the casualties, I felt the Daemons should concentrate on accumulating a lead in kill points while giving away as few as possible themselves.

Gary pulled his bloodletters back to deal with my Sentinel. They destroyed it and then hid behind a building. The second flesh hound unit warped in in the far left corner behind a building and hid too.

It was the wrong move, though, because it meant I could kill his relatively weak exposed units quickly garnering me easy kill points. The horrors, flamers, small bloodletter unit and daemonettes disappeared in short order for just the loss of two guard squads. The Daemons killed some models from Severus' squad but not enough to claim a kill point.

Result: Win, 10 kill points to 9

Learning points
  • Will Gary's tactics change now that we've spoken about how to win in 5th edition? Watch this space.
  • I didn't much enjoy this game for the reasons I talk about below and I'm seriously considering giving up the playing side of the hobby for a while. I could spend the extra time painting more models and doing more with my blog. If I do continue to play I need to find a way to get more out of my games, whether that means playing campaigns, tournaments or with a mix of opponents.
The forest LOS/cover save and Changeling issues were perfect examples of the problems I have playing games against my regular opponents.

I read the rulebooks when I buy them, read the army codex, read White Dwarf, print out the FAQ's, check out online forums and listen to podcasts. My opponents don't. That means I am usually well informed about potential rules issues before they come up while my opponents aren't.

Most of the time I shy away from contentious units when I'm building my armies, and/or discuss them with my opponents in advance. I also 'pull my shots' on the tabletop and usually take the weaker option when a possibly arguable rule presents itself. I usually let my opponents get away with minor rules infringements during the game rather than pull them up on every little thing. This means I often feel like I'm playing a kind of 'ghost' version of the game with one hand tied behind my back.

By the same token my opponents must get frustrated when they play against me because every now and then I'll reference a rule that they are completely unaware of. Then they will point out that several games ago we played differently. That's usually because I didn't think it was a game breaking moment at the time and therefore not worth pointing out, because a new FAQ has been released, a codex is reprinted or rules are 'clarified' in White Dwarf, or maybe just because I thought they understood the rule and it was tight but I couldn't be bothered to argue about it.

They're probably coming to the issue from the point of view of precedence; they play the game the way they played last time without any in between reading of the rules or seeking out of FAQs and such. If it was good in the last five games why should it suddenly change now? From my opponent's point of view these inconsistencies might seem like rules-lawyering or worse, outright cheating.

When I got back into Warhammer fantasy I tried a different tack by trying to get the rules perfect during every game. I thought if we could nail things early there would be no problem later but that doesn't work either. Our games slow down to a crawl and I still feel bad about winning a game because my opponent didn't fully understand the rules rather than through a clever strategy or tactic.

It's like we're playing the same game but at two different levels.

Here's the question: is that my problem or is it up to my opponent to learn the rules?

Maybe I should just be a bit tougher, press my knowledge advantage and take the wins? Then the ball is back in my opponent's court and it's up to them to either put the effort into learning the game or continually get beat.

Or maybe I should just loosen up and play rough and ready with the rules, turning a blind eye to rules infringements and taking the hits when they come. It is just a game after all, a way to wind down after a tough day at work. Why should I get so worked up about something so minor?

I really don't know.

Does anyone have any thoughts?


  1. Good batrep. Don't give up buddy, I'd suggest multiple smaller games with lots of cover. Dev and I are playing a 6 army tournament with 6 races of 500pts each. Everybody fights everyone and we're recording goal difference etc. Try it, it quick, fun and dirty and you get less rules issues.

  2. That's a great idea. I had a similar one a while back because Gary and I have so many armies between us. I suggested picking 8 or so 1500 point lists and playing a tournament amongst ourselves to see which army would win out. Gary didn't go for it, though. 500 points would make it much more practical.