Well, I had (probably) my final game of the year last night – one last match-up between the Dauntless 215th of Praetoria and the dreaded Stormbringers… I have had quite a few games against this particular hoard of Daemons, and the tally is very much in their favour as my blokes have struggled with flying monstrous creatures, buffed invulnerable saves, summoning spam, and all manner of daemonic trickery. One last throw of the dice to address the balance, one last chance for glory, one final opportunity for the men of Praetoria to avenge the dead and exercise the Emperor’s judgement on the minions of chaos… this is their tale.
Forces: Ross had summoned the mighty Be’lakor, (the armour-bane powerhouse), to his infernal cause, along with two big units of screamers (plus heralds on discs), two big units of Horrors, and two big Soulgrinders. Colonel Ballon of the 215th led his command squad and three veteran squads, and was joined by a highly experimental engineering corps war construct, (the equal of any Imperial Knight), as well as a disturbing agent of the Culexus temple of assassins… a Wyvern, a couple of melta-scion squads, a couple of Sentinels and a scattering of characters complete the task force.
We decided to play a simple ‘kill everything’ kinda game with no other objectives, standard setup, and no special rules. Ross won the roll-off & set up first with a fairly central deployment – screamers & Be’lakor up front and Soulgrinders behind. The horrors were on the flanks and in cover. I placed a vet squad in cover on the left flank and the Tripod on the right, acting as a screen for the assassin and another vet squad. The remainder held the centre… I failed to seize the initiative and we were under way!
Daemon turn 1: The Screamers pushed forwards aggressively, one unit towards the Tripod and one towards my centre. Be’lakor also headed towards the Tripod. The horrors on the weaker left flank summoned a unit of Daemonettes (who scattered badly), and Be’lakor cast Invisibility on the Screamers facing the Tripod (losing a wound and the power in the process – due to perils!). Cursed Earth was attempted somewhere but failed, and the Screamers ‘ran’ to line up for a 2nd turn assault.
Praetorian turn 1: Ah, familiar territory – Screamers all up in my business. My Tripod advanced on the flanking Screamers on the right, with the Culexus and a squad of vets tagging along. The centre reshuffled slightly to line up a considerable amount of plasma weaponry on the Screamers threatening the centre, while the vets on the left flank sighted up on the Daemonettes. My psychic phase was uneventful, but my firing was pretty good. The Screamers in the centre lost a few, and the Daemonettes were badly mauled. The Tripod snapped a shot at the invisible Screamers but focussed most of its fire on Be’lakor – sadly with little effect. The assassin and vet squad opted to run closer to the Tripod – I wanted to get the Culexus null-bubble (or ‘nubble’) in to play. I charged the Tripod into the invisible Screamers, struggled to hit them with the D weapon but managed a few wounds by stomping through them towards Be’lakor, (though the Daemon Prince managed to escape harm). The Screamers consolidated their attacks into single armourbane hits, but did not cause any damage. Finally, one of my armoured Sentinels charged the Screamers in the centre – I knew that there was a good chance they would struggle with AV12 and I hoped to tie them up for a few turns.
Daemon turn 2: Very little movement from Ross this turn – Be’Lakor scooted around the back of the Tripod and lined up a charge while the Soulgrinders picked their way through terrain to hold the centre of the board. Both units of Horrors hunkered down, and both units of Screamers were in combat. The psychic phase saw five hounds of Khorne summoned on the left flank (who then scattered nicely towards the centre!), and Be’lakor had cursed earth cast on him. No shooting to speak of – the remaining two Daemonettes lined up a charge but lost one of their number to overwatch and failed to make the distance, and then it was crunch time as Be’lakor joined the fight against the Tripod… seven strength 7 armourbane attacks were unleashed but the gods of chaos were clearly looking the other way as the Tripod only lost one HP. The Tripod focussed attention on the Daemon Prince – the machine failed to create an impression on Be’lakor with the D weapon, but did get two stomps in… one of them came up with a 6 and according to the rules the victim is simply removed from play… no saves, no nothing… Be’lakor was banished! Meanwhile, the Sentinel in the centre held the Screamers to a draw.
Praetorian turn 2: Wow… Be’lakor gone and two of Ross’s main units tied down in combat – things were looking good! Not too much movement from me this turn – the assassin and vets continued to advance towards the combat swirling around the Tripod, while my centre manoeuvred to deal with the hounds that were threatening them. A squad of melta-scions dropped in behind the Soulgrinders. The psychic phase was hilarious… I attempted a psychic shriek against the hounds with the astropath in the command squad – the power succeeded but I copped a perils, rolled a 1 and spectacularly blew up most of the command squad… the remainder promptly ran off the table! The good news was that I rolled 16 for the attack and did a goodly amount of damage to the hounds. Disciplined plasma fire accounted for the remainder and the immediate threat to the centre was negated. The vets on the right flank poured everything into the remaining Daemonette (no kill like overkill!), the Scions failed to do any real damage to the nearest Soulgrinder (damned invulnerable saves!), and the Wyvern hammered the unit of horrors that had been doing all the summoning. The combat between the Sentinel and the screamers rumbled on, while the Tripod dispatched a good number of Screamers. The remainder went down to Daemonic Instability thanks to the combat resolution and the -3 Ld incurred by the Culexus ‘nubble’… The Tripod was victorious and on the loose!
Daemon turn 3: Ross was now really up against it… The Soulgrinders moved to within charge range, and the horrors shuffled around a bit. The unscathed unit of horrors cast flickering fire and dispatched the hapless Scions in the psychic phase. The winds of chaos blew fickle this turn – all Daemonic saves were reduced by -1… a sign that the gods had turned their faces from the Stormbringers perhaps? One of the Soulgrinders thundered into the unengaged Sentinel while the other joined the combat between the other Sentinel and the Screamers. The unengaged Sentinel bought the farm, but the other hilariously survived the charge and kept the Screamer & herald pinned for another turn!
Praetorian turn 3: The Tripod moved to gain line of sight on the Soulgrinders, while the vets on the right and centre also closed on the unengaged daemon engine. The assassin pressed on towards the largely unscathed unit of horrors. The psychic phase was uneventful – all dice being diverted to the Culexus, who dispatched a few Horrors. The firing phase was productive – the Wyvern finished off the damaged unit of horrors, while the vets and Tripod killed one of the unengaged Soulgrinder. The remaining Sentinel finally went down to the last Soulgrinder, having heroically held up a Screamer & herald for most of the game.
Turn 4: The now free Screamer & Herald lined up to charge the Vets in the centre, while the remaining Soulgrinder lined up to charge the vets on the left flank. Nothing of note in the psychic or firing phases, and all charges were made. The Screamer and Herald accounted for the vets in the centre in one last act of defiance, (which reinforced my gratitude for the efforts of the plucky Sentinel that held them up all game!). The Soulgrinder fluffed against the vets on the left, only managing to kill one (though the vets were unable to hurt it in return). I dished out more fire power in my turn, messing up the remaining horrors with my Wyvern. All my attempted charges were unsuccessful (both at extreme range). We called it at this point – the Stormbringers were thoroughly defeated, and the men or Praetoria had avenged the fallen from so many previous encounters. Truly, the Emperor protects…
So, what did I learn? Well… The Imperial Knight (represented by my Tripod) is amazing – it accounted for a unit of Screamers, a Herald, Be’lakor and a Soulgrinder. That said, I think it got lucky against Be’lakor – that fight could have easily gone the other way, and then I would have been in deep do-do… It was the first time Ross had fielded Be’lakor and the first time I had fielded the Tripod (in a proper game), so one of us was going to suffer from shiny model syndrome! Sometimes you just have to ride your luck, and I am sure that there will be many fights between these two in the future… The Wyvern was as a stone-cold killing machine – I estimate that it accounted for well over 20 Daemons, and was primed to send a bunch more back to the warp… I definitely plan to add another to the list – nothing gets the job done like the Wyvern, and just 65 points!!! Finally, Armoured Sentinels make a great tarpit against troops that aren’t kitted out for anti-tank work, (and the multilasers come in handy as well!). That one plucky Sentinel tied up a big chunk of points for most of the game, and was the unsung hero of the game for me… My troops did what troops are supposed to do – lay down their lives in service to their Emperor.
I was less pleased with the assassin if I am honest – she did ace a few horrors and did a good job of disrupting the Daemonic psychic capabilities, but I was far too conservative in my deployment and she couldn’t get to where she needed to be quickly enough to be truly effective. The Scions were disappointing – only one squad arrived, and they failed to drop their target… two melta shots are not enough to guarantee a kill on a Soulgrinder… My choice of characters could have been better – I went with a priest (who did nothing all game), a Commissar (who did nothing all game), an Astropath (who was spectacular, but not necessarily in a good way!), and a Primaris psyker (who did very little all game). It is all situational of course – I think that these characters can pull their weight in certain situations, but probably not the best choice for what I was up against… I should’ve dropped the lot in favour of another Wyvern and a Master of the fleet to get those Scions into the game!
Anyhow, that is being overly picky I think… A big stompy walker, a little bit of luck here & there, a couple of tarpits and a metric shit-ton of shooting was enough to carry the day. All praise to the Emperor, and three cheers for the doughty men (and machines) of Praetoria!