Imperial Fists Vs Iron HandsPious Cork, Scrivener's Assistant 4th Class, blew the caked dust off the ancient data scrolls. His augmetic eye whirred in the semi-darkness of the deep crypt, hidden far, far beneath the typical administrative strata of the mighty battle station Phalanx. When he could at last make out the lettering, he sighed with relief - his masters, the mighty Librarians of the Imperial Fists - would be pleased that the documents were in relatively good repair. This particular crypt had been uncovered somewhat by accident - an old cache of after-action reports from the 4th Company of the Fists somewhere around M38. It was left to the Librarian's various mortal vassals and servitors to see if there was anything of use for the chapter records.
Moving gingerly, for fear of causing the ancient data-weave to rupture, Cork removed the first scroll in the heap and asked his servo skull to produce a soft light by which to read. He scanned the first line of the beautiful illuminated lettering...and froze. "By the Throne..."
The words read "By chance and misadventure, I, Chapter Master Troilus, did find myself and my brothers unjustly besieged by the sons of Ferrus Manus on the winter-locked world of Ivta Prime. Herein follows my account of the bloodshed in all its ignominious detail."
Yes, thought Cork, this was going to be a fruitful endeavor indeed...
In honor of the new marine book being released, I and a friend of mine broke out our respective Astartes hosts to have ourselves a little battle, I with my Imperial Fists and he with his Iron Hands. Imperial Fists GarrisonImperial Fists BattalionHQ
Chapter Master w/Relic Blade, Master-crafted Bolter (Warlord: Storm of Fire)
Librarian w/the Honor Vehement, Force Staff, Psychic Powers: Veil of Time, Psychic ScourgeTroops
5-man Tactical Squad Attica w/Missile Launcher
5-man Tactical Squad Delphos w/Missile Launcher
5-man Scout Squad Apollo w/Sniper Rifles
9-man Tactical Squad Macedon w/meltagun, powerfist, combi-flamerElites
5-man Terminator Squad Helot w/Cyclone Missile Launcher
3-man Assault Centurion Squad w/Hurricane Bolters, 4x Flamers, 2x MeltaTransport
Drop PodImperial Fists SpearheadHQ
Lieutenant w/Power Fist, Bolt pistolHeavy Support
8-man Devastator Squad Scylla w/4x Lascannon, Armorium CherubIron Hands BattalionHQ
Chapter Master on Bike w/Armor Indomitus, Thunderhammer, Combi-plasma (Warlord: Stoic Resolve)
Techmarine on Bike w/Combi-plasmaTroops
10-man Tactical Squad w/Meltagun, Combi-melta, Missile Launcher
10-man Tactical Squad w/Meltagun, Combi-melta, Missile Launcher
5-man Scout Squad w/Sniper Rifles, Camo CloaksElites
Apothecary on Bike w/Teeth of Terra Fast Attack
4 Veteran Bikers w/Stormshields, StormboltersHeavy Support
Stormtalon Gunship w/Heavy Bolters, Twin Assault CannonTransport
Rhino w/ 2x StormboltersMission, Terrain, and Deployment
We rolled randomly for mission across the BRB and the two CA supplements and we wound up with...the Big Guns Never Tire. Four objectives, Heavy Support options worth bonus points, but Heavies also score better than troops.
Terrain was an icy tundra with a road going roughly in a NE to SW direction. At board center was a checkpoint on the road, including a large in-tact building, two trenches (across both sides of the road) and a watchtower. The NW corner had a small forest with a frozen lake, the SW corner had a ruined building, the NE corner had a large rock, the center of the eastern edge had a larger forest, and the SE corner had a hill. Generally a pretty open board, except for the two forests and the whole center of the board, which was LOS-denying or cover. Objectives went in the NW forest, the center of the road checkpoint, a crater in the center of the southern edge, and the hill in the SE.
Deployment was Hammer and Anvil; my opponent won the roll-off and elected to take the eastern edge of the board, I'm assuming for the larger share of forest and cover (not that cover would do him any good against the Fists!). I got the western edge, which I think was the better edge--closer to more objectives and closer, also, to the checkpoint at the center of the board. We alternated deploying units. I put the Librarian and Tac Squad Macedon in the Drop Pod. The two other tac squads took the ruin in the SW corner on the assumption that it served no real tactical value and so they'd get to shoot rockets all game without getting much attention. My snipers took the top of the watchtower (which was just outside my DZ) and the Devastators took the NW forest at the very northernmost edge, so their lascannons had a better LOS downfield. The rest of my forces squeezed along the northern half of my DZ, using the big building to block LOS. Both Vindicators flanked the Chapter Master and Lieutenant, the Centurions aimed to get into the trench at the southern side of the checkpoint, and the terminators deployed in a row in front of the tanks, their objective to get into the northern trench on turn 1.
The Iron Hands combat squadded both their tac squads, putting both units of 5 guys and a missile launcher in the central forest and the sergeant/melta plus three guy units both squeezed into the Rhino, which deployed mostly behind the building at the northern edge (but its backside was visible to my Devs--oops!). The Vet Bikes, Bike Apothecary, Bike Techmarine, and Bike Chapter Master massed at about the center-front of his DZ, all sheltering behind the building. Both Contemptor Dreads deployed further south, not behind the building. The Thunderfire Cannon deployed in the far SE corner and the Storm Talon was also back that way, which would give it plenty of room to fly around and strafe me.
DeploymentSnipers in position!Pretty crowded back here...Camp Who CaresA lot of bikesIron Hands Artillery and Air SupportCyborgs in the ForestTurn 1
I finished deploying first (despite this being a total MSU-off) and the Hands failed to seize. Since I had no interest taking 3+ saves on my expensive Centurions and Terminators, they all advanced into the trenches to get cover. The Vindicators went on either side of the watch tower and the chapter master and lieutenant moved up as well, but not so far that the Devastators wouldn't get support. The Devs then nuked the Rhino right off the board with a single salvo, disgorging the two melta tac squads, which cozied up behind the building after taking about 4 casualties all-told. My rockets from the tac squads tried to knock out a Contemptor but only managed about 3 wounds or so (damned invul save!).
The Drop Pod landed north of the Iron Hands' forest. The Librarian tried to work Veil of Time and failed, but *did* manage to Psychic Scourge one tac marine to death. The massed shooting of Tac Squad Macedon killed about 2-3 other Iron Hands, so nothing spectacular. I tried for my charges and failed, but the overwatch shots just bounced off, so things weren't all bad.
Top of Turn 1I claim the checkpoint!The Element of Surprise...does not very much.
Okay, so the thing with the tac squad in the drop pod is this: they are sort of a stupid unit, not well suited to doing anything in particular. HOWEVER, they are just dangerous enough
so that you can't ignore them and just dangerous enough
that you can't kill them without investing some resources. Specifically, my opponent moved his Storm Talon to strafe them while they were also shelled by a thunder fire cannon (twice!) and shot by all the tac squads in the woods and the snipers, too. When the smoke cleared, my armor saves were pretty well above average and I only lost 6 marines (and all the snipers' shots bounced off the Librarian's hardcover book-based armor).
In the center of the board, the melta tacs squeezed up against the building even more tightly in the hopes of being able to ambush some unsuspecting centurion or some-such. The Contemptors and ALL the bikes moved south to get range and LOS to the Centurions. The big guys then endured a RIDICULOUS amount of firepower--52 bolter shots, four plasma shots, and 12 Kheres Assault Cannon shots--and wound up losing...2 wounds. For serious, that little trench paid off big time--I only lost wounds to the plasma shots. What also paid off was the fact that my opponent, because he was bringing non-codex marine units (Apothecary on bike, Bike Vets), he didn't have access to Combat Doctrines, which was overall a very solid advantage for me all game.
Bottom of Turn 1Ready...Take Aim...Strafing run!The bullets tickle!Turn 2
Counter-attack time! First things first, I switch to the Tactical Doctrine. AP just about everywhere, baby!
The Librarian smites three wounds off the Storm Talon (which it reduces to two because the Flesh is Weak, don't you know?) and then melts another Tac Marine's brain with a Psychic Scourge. Tac Squad Macedon shoots one of the tac squads down to one marine (ignoring cover + AP is GREAT, guys!) and then assaults the other tac squad and kill 1, leaving only two left there.
My Terminators move up and try to shoot the Storm Talon, but miss (and then I forget to assault with them). I think I try something similar with the Devastators and they choke, too. The Missile Launchers from the southern ruin do better, though, taking 5 wounds off the wounded Contemptor.
The main show, though, is shooting those bikes. The Centurions brace themselves and pile on the hurt with their armor piercing hurricane bolters augmented by the Imperial Fists's chapter tactic, meaning I get 39 hits on 36 shots! They aim at the Bike Vets, who all go down except one guy. Then it's up to the Vindicators. Charon, which was the one in the south, lobs a massive siege shell at the Chapter Master (who was now closest) and, even though the last remaining vet took two of those wounds like a champ, I was firing 6 shots, I hit with 4 (thanks Chapter Master!) and wounded with 4 (thanks LT!) and did a total of...14 wounds to a 7 wound model. Even The Flesh is Weak was not enough to save him and pop he went. The Techmarine met the same fate at the hands of Karybdis, which blew him off the board with a whopping 7-8 wounds, too. Finally, the snipers took a shot at the Apothecary and did maybe one wound--nothing much to write home about.
Top of Turn 2Not Pictured: the smoking craters where the bikes used to beA slap-fight in the forest
In the bottom of 2, the Storm Talon jets west to strafe the Devastators, killing 4. The Apothecary turns around and charges my Librarian, killing him in combat. The squad fighting Tac Squad Macedon falls back and shooting fells the other two men in the squad, leaving the sarge and his powerfist who does manage to kill the straggler from the first tac squad in overwatch. Somehow, someway, Tac Squad Macedon continues to divert enemy resources away from my main column.
The Contemptors take cover behind the building, one of them limping. The Thunderfire Cannon shells the Centurions twice, but only does one wound in total. The Iron Hands just don't have the oomph to put me on my back foot.
Bottom of Turn 2Oh! Running away, eh?Turn 3
In my third turn, the sergeant of Tac Squad Macedon shoots the remaining tacs to death and then charges the scouts, only to be killed in overwatch by a well-placed sniper bullet (the map is inaccurate here). They finish play having wiped out 10 enemy marines and occupying a significant portion of enemy firepower and attention for several turns. In the south, Vindicator Charon takes out the wounded Contemptor and the missile launchers put five wounds on the other one. The terminators and the Devs try to shoot down the Storm Talon, but only do 4 wounds. The Termies then shoot and charge the first of the two melta squads, wiping them out, and then consolidate into the next one. The Snipers take some shots at the Apothecary and don't do very much. Everybody else bides their time--if my opponent wants some objectives, he's going to have to walk into LOS of my big guns.
Top of Turn 3Peek-a-boo!
The Storm Talon continues its attack run, wiping out the remainder of the Devastators. The remaining tacs fall back from the terminators, who are then shelled mercilessly by the thunderfire cannon and blasted by the Contemptor before being charged by both the Contemptor and the Apothecary--they are wiped out to a man, though not before the Contemptor takes a few wounds in overwatch. It's down to 3.
Bottom of Turn 3Just can't seem to stop it's rampage...Turn 4
The snipers in my turn finish off the enemy snipers in the woods with an exceptionally well-placed volley. One Vindicator aims its Demolisher Cannon at the sky and fires and airburst, blowing the Storm Talon to ashes, but the resulting crash and fiery explosion does 2 mortal wounds to just about everybody, killing a Centurion, taking out 2 snipers, damaging Vindicator Karibdys, and wounding both the LT and the Chapter Master. Ouch!
Top of Turn 4
Down to minimal resources, the Iron Hands make one last calculated attack. The remaining tactical squad climbs up the building and advances into melta range, shooting five wounds off the closes Vindicator. The Contemptor Dread follows suit, doing another wound. The Thunderfire Cannon scores another couple wounds--the Vindicator is sitting at 2 left right now. The Apothecary spurs his bike into high gear and charges, only to catch a Vindicator shell in overwatch and evaporate in a fine red mist. The Contemptor tries to charge the vindicator, too, but fails the charge roll.
Bottom of Turn 4Last push!
At this point, I am sitting on one objective and can easily get one more. I have First Blood, Linebreaker, and Warlord. My opponent's troops atop that wall are as good as dead, for certain, leaving him only his Thunderfire Cannon and one objective, plus one (possibly two) for dead heavy support choices. My opponent concedes the game. Final Score
Imperial Fists: 6
Iron Hands: 4Post-Mortem
This was a really fun battle and we got to try out a lot of different things in the new books. Some first impressions:
-Thunderfire Cannons are super good, much to my mild surprise. They will be even better with Combat Doctrines.
-Combat Doctrines are great, so ditch your Index units ASAP.
-Terminators are still very much not worth it, even with the new rules.
-Librarius Discipline continues to be lackluster and Librarians generally lame, alas.
-The Storm Talon is a great weapon system, if a bit overpriced.
-The Chapter Master + LT combo is a NO BRAINER and worth every CP for a cut-rate Guilliman in any army.
My Vindicators redeemed themselves this game - the Chapter Master's re-rolls make ALL the difference. I also loved the Centurions (though I feel like Devastator Centurions would be even *more* fun). The Devs didn't perform well, but I do feel like I *have* to take them. The Imperial Fist chapter tactics impressed me quite a bit--ordinarily denying cover doesn't seem that great, but against Marine armor saves, it is *really* good, especially when combined with Combat Tactics. Also, there is life yet in the ol' Tac Squad in a Drop Pod diversion. It would be better with a Chaplain, I think, and maybe some alternate load-outs and support, but they impressed me with their tenacity and they caused all kinds of trouble, which is always nice. My opponent's loss of all the bikes in that super-expensive death star unit was a rough hit--he underestimated just how nasty the Vindicators could be to elite units. He probably won't make that same mistake again.
Anyway, this was a really fun game and I learned a lot. Thanks for reading and thanks, as always, to my opponent!