Friday, February 15, 2008

Battle Report: Necrons vs. Raven Guard Recon

The Imperial Guard was unable to stem the Necron tide, so the Raven Guard moved into to strike.
Scenario: Standard Recon
Necron Forces: Badelaire
Raven Guard Forces: Darkwing

Raven Guard Briefing
Darkwing: This will be my first battle using marines in a long time. While in the past I played Ultramarines, I chose the Raven Guard because I liked their background a lot. My entire army at this point is only 1600 points, and I will be using all of them. Therefore my army selection is rather straightforward.

Headquarters: My Command Squad consists of my Commander, a Veteran Sergeant, and four marines, all with lightning claws and jump packs. This squad will be heinous in close combat, but is useless in a firefight. Badelaire will be expending lots of effort in trying to get rid of these guys, so I must maneuver them wisely. Once they get into the assault, the killing will begin.

Elites: I have a squad of Terminators for Elites. I imagine that Badelaire will make them a secondary target for his Heavy Destroyers after the Predator. My Terminators and Predator outgun the Heavy Destroyers, so I will try to eliminate the threat they pose and move on to lesser targets.

Troops: For troops I have two Tactical Squads, one mounted in a Rhino, and one Scout Squad. My Scouts can infiltrate, and with four sniper rifles their goal is clear—go for the high value targets: Destroyers, Heavy Destroyers, and Immortals. Badelaire will undoubtedly have Scarabs, which I’m sure he’ll try to use to tie down my assault units, so their primary mission will be to eliminate any scarabs, followed by providing a base of fire against his main body or targets of opportunity.

Fast Attack: For fast I have a unit of five Assault Marines and a Land Speeder Typhoon. My Landspeeder is relatively fragile, so it will skirt the flanks and try to stay behind cover, popping out to take on any isolated targets (like the Heavy Destroyers). The mission of the Assault Marines is to get stuck in as soon as possible, either against Warriors or perhaps Flayed Ones. If I tie up Badelaire’s Flayed Ones with Assault Marines, then that frees up my firepower to keep pounding Badelaire.

Heavy Support: My only heavy support choice is a Predator Annihilator with two sponson Lascannons, a Necron killing tank if there ever was one. I’m sure it’ll be the prime target for Badelaire’s Heavy Destroyers. As such, I hope to start the game with it behind cover, then move it out to kill a Heavy Destroyer in the first turn, cutting the threat from them in half.

The Plan: As for tactics, this army is significantly different from my more usual Imperial Guard or Tau. My Raven Guard army actually has some close combat punch to it. My Command Squad is by far the hardest unit in the army, but also the most expensive. I’m sure that Badelaire will be expending an obscene amount of effort in destroying, or at least attritting it before it gets stuck in. For my part, I will do my best to keep it behind cover and out of sight until it’s ready to strike. When it does, the target will be his Necron Warriors. While I’m sure the Command Squad can take on any unit in his army head on, going for the Warriors makes the most sense. The marines will have an easier time against them than they will against Flayed Ones or Immortals, and the more Warriors I kill, the closer he will be to Phase Out, which much be my ultimate goal.

I can almost predict Badelaire’s deployment ahead of time: Necron Lord and a Tomb Spyder in the center, two units of Warriors on either flank, capped off by a Tomb Spyder on each end. Destroyers and Heavy Destroyers will be on the flanks, with Immortals probably in the center. A screen of scarabs out front, and infiltrating Flayed Ones.

Necrons Briefing

Badelaire: This will be the first “real” 40K battle between my Necrons and a Marine army. It’ll also be the first battle I’ve fought against an army with a heavy assault emphasis. I know Darkwing’s got his Super-HQ of lightning-clawed jump-pack marines and at least one other squad of jump-pack assault marines, so I’m definitely going to encounter some nasty hand-to-hand action. Fortunately, I’m guessing that both of these assault squads won’t be terribly large in size, and therefore if I can get a round or two of shooting in on them, I should be able to whittle down their numbers enough so that their charges won’t be quite so devastating. Five Destroyers unloading on marines should, on average, cause around 10 hits, 8-9 wounds, and 3 kills. For the Immortals, it’s about 10 hits, 7 wounds, and 2 kills. A squad of 16 warriors beyond 12” do around 10 hits, 5 wounds, and 1-2 kills, double that within 12” and rapid-firing. Therefore, on an average turn of shooting, a squad of Destroyers, a squad of Immortals, and two squads of Warriors should cause eight or nine kills.

So, IF there is an opportunity for a turn or so of shooting, I should be able to vaporize at least one of the assault squads and/or cripple a tactical squad in a turn’s worth of firing. The question is going to be whether or not Darkwing will give me that opportunity. Those jump-packs are going to let him leapfrog all over the board, and I know he’ll use the terrain to his best advantage. He’ll also have his Land Speeder and his Predator, and I’ll have to deal with them sooner or later, although I don’t think they’ll ultimately be that much trouble – a turn’s worth of gauss fire should be able to do the trick to each of those vehicles.

As for dealing with his assault elements in close combat? I’m bringing along a small squad of Scarabs that can hopefully tie down a unit for a turn or so, long enough for me to move up other units (such as my eight-man squad of Flayed Ones) or back off and prepare to hose the marines once they finish off the Scarabs. I’ve also tooled out my Lord for close combat – Staff of Light (probably no invulnerable saves in Darkwing’s list, and I want the shooting ability), Resurrection Orb for the all-important WBBs vs. those power weapons, the Gaze of Flame to blunt those assaults a little, and a Phase Shifter to give me a little defense against all those power weapon hits Darkwing will no doubt put against my Lord in an effort to remove the Res Orb from play.

Ultimately, my best hope for success will be to simply shoot his assault units as fast as possible, and if he gets into assault, try and hold him down with one of the large Warrior squads for as long as possible in the hope that he’ll eventually either be ground down by numbers, or he’ll finish the squad off, only to find himself stuck in the middle of a gauss cross-fire.

The Forces
Necron ForcesPoints
Necron Lord 185
Immortals (8)224
Flayed Ones (8)144
Warriors (16)288
Warriors (16)288
Scarabs (5)60
Destroyers (5)250
Tomb Spyders (3)165
Total Points:1604
Raven Guard ForcesPoints
Force Commander with Command Squad (6)412
Terminator Squad (5)240
Tactical Squad & Rhino249
Tactical Squad191
Scout Squad (5)85
Assault Squad (5)180
Land Speeder Typhoon90
Predator Annihilator155
Total Points:1602

Turn 1
The Necrons had aligned themselves into their usual battle line, while the Raven Guard massed on one flank. The Raven Guard left flank advanced, with the Predator shifting left behind Tactical Squad 2, and that squad and the Scouts holding their positions. Tactical Squad 1’s Rhino advanced out from behind a hill, then disembarked the Squad.

The Landspeeder Typhoon fired first, its multimelta wounding the Tomb Spyder. The Terminators fired on the Flayed Ones ahead, but were unable to wound any of them. Tactical Squad 2 fired on the Flayed Ones as well. The Plasma Gun overheated, killing its bearer, but the bolter armed marines fared better, killing one of the Flayed Ones.

The Scouts fired their sniper rifles on the center Tomb Spyder, but the Spyder’s armor deflected three of the penetrating hits. The Predator then fired its twin-linked Lascannon on the distant Destroyers, felling one of them.

Both of the fallen Necrons failed to repair themselves. The Necrons advanced, with the Flayed Ones and Scarabs moving towards the lead Raven Guard Assault Squad.

The Destroyers opened fire to soften them up, killing one of the Assault Marines. Then the Scarabs and the Flayed Ones assaulted them. The Flayed Ones unleashed 9 attacks, 7 hits, 3 wounds, but all were saved by the marines’ power armor. The Scarabs did better, with 20 attacks, 11 hits, 3 wounds, and 3 failed saves. That left only the marine Veteran Sergeant, who smashed apart two Scarab bases with his power fist. The Sergeant then fell back, allowing the Scarabs and Flayed Ones to consolidate into Tactical Squad 1.

Turn 2
The Assault Sergeant recovered his wits and moved to return to the fray. The Rhino advanced and moved itself to make itself a road block in front of a Tomb Spyder, shielding the Raven Guard forces behind from both it and the Destroyers beyond. The Landspeeder put paid to the Tomb Spyder with its Typhoon missiles. Tactical Squad 1’s Missile Launcher marines was out of the danger zone of the combat, and thus fired his weapon at the Destroyers, felling one of them. The Predator shot another down with its lascannon. The Scouts fired on the center Tomb Spyder, but their three hits failed to wound. The Missile Launcher from Tactical Squad 2 wounded it. The Terminators then fired on the single exposed Flayed One, out of the danger zone of the combat.
The Raven Guard assault the Scarabs and Flayed Ones
Then the Command Squad and the Terminator Squad both charged into the Scarabs and Flayed Ones. At the end of the round, no marines had fallen, while a pair of Flayed Ones were left standing.

One of the Destroyers self-repaired as did one of the Flayed Ones. The Necrons continued to advance, while the Destroyers shifted back and to the left. The Destroyers concentrated their firepower on the Landspeeder, destroying it three times over and leaving it a flaming wreck. The Immortals fired on Tactical Squad 2, delivering 3 wounds, but all were saved by the Marines’ power armor. The right unit of Necron Warriors had held their position and now they fired on the Predator, destroying it. The center Tomb Spyder made an attendant Scarab base.

In the assault, the Force Commander and his Veteran Sergeant killed the three remaining Flayed Ones, and the Command Squad, Terminators, and Tactical Squad consolidated their positions.

Turn 3
The Rhino turned to place its front armor forward, toward the Destroyers. The Terminators and Command Squad advanced, right in front of the right Necron Warrior squad. Tactical Squad 2 fired at the center Tomb Spyder, and they killed the Tomb Spyder with their bolters, causing the Scarab base to phase out with it.

Tactical Squad 1 fired at the Immortals, killing one with their bolters, and one with the Missile Launcher. The Scouts fired at the Immortals as well, but failed to wound any of them. The Terminators fired at the Warrior Squad, but caused no casualties.

The Command Squad and Terminators assault Necron Warriors
Then the Command Squad and the Terminators plowed into the Warrior Squad. The Force Commander killed three, the Veteran Sergeant another three, the Command Squad four, the Terminator Sergeant two, and the Terminators the remaining four. The four Warriors that had a chance to strike back hit one of the Command Squad, who made his armor save. The Terminators consolidated, and the Command Squad consolidated into the Immortals and Necron Lord.

One of the Immortals self-repaired. The Destroyers shifted right, while the left squad of Warriors continued to advance. The Destroyers fired on the now exposed Terminators, killing two of them. The Immortals not currently engaged also fired on the Terminators, killing one more.

In the assault the Force Commander wounded the Necron Lord, who wounded the Force Commander in return. Neither the marines nor the Immortals caused any damage, and the assault was a draw, so the combatants piled in.

Turn 4
The Rhino moved left to unmask Tactical Squad 1’s line of sight to the Destroyers. The lone Assault Sergeant jumped ahead, hoping to rejoin the fight. The Scouts fired at the left unit of Necron Warriors, killing one of them. Both Tactical Squads then fired on the Destroyers, killing one of them with a Missile Launcher.

In the assault the Force Commander cut down the Necron Lord, while his Command Squad killed three of the Immortals. The Immortals were unable to inflict any casualties in return. The Immortals broke and fled, and the Command Squad was unable to pursue, therefore it consolidated instead.

The Necron Lord’s Resurrection Orb allowed three of the Immortals to self-repair, but the Lord himself was too damaged to repair and phased out. Both the Destroyers and the Immortals fired on the Command Squad, killing two of the marines. Then the Immortals charged the Command Squad, and three of them were killed for their trouble, leaving three Immortals left.

The Command Squad fights against the Necron Lord and the Immortals
Turn 5
Most of the Raven Guard firepower focused on the Destroyers. The Assault Sergeant did nothing with his Plasma Pistol, but at least he didn’t kill himself with it. The Rhino’s stormbolter likewise did nothing. Both Tactical Squads also fired on the Destroyers, and together their firepower brought them both down, never to return.
Necron Warriors try to escape
In the assault the Command squad finished off the three remaining Immortals.

The Necrons were down to a single Tomb Spyder and one squad of Warriors. The Tomb Spyder advanced on the Command Squad, while the Warriors stayed put. The Warriors fired on the only target in range, Tactical Squad 2, and killed one of them.

Turn 6
The Rhino, Terminator Squad, and Assault Sergeant all moved into the Necron deployment zone. The Scouts fired at the Tomb Spyder, wounding it once. The Command Squad leapt over the hill and plowed into the Necron Warrior Squad. The Veteran Sergeant killed three of the Necron Warriors with his Lightning Claws, and that was just enough to drop the Necrons below their Phase Out threshold, so the entire army disappeared…

The Command Squad assaults the 2nd Warrior Squad
Necron Debriefing
Badelaire: Well, it could have been worse. I was phased out, but I had effectively wiped out Darkwing’s Assault Squad, crippled the Terminators, and destroyed his Land Speeder and Predator. I had also managed to score a couple of casualties on his Command Squad, although it was still above 50%.

So what did I do wrong? I think ultimately, I became complacent. I assumed my normal formation of the Lord flanked by Warrior squads in turn flanked by Spyders, with Scarabs ready to assault in front, Flayed Ones infiltrating, and Destroyers on a flank with Immortals in the middle ready to back up the Lord. The big problem with all this was that I made a huge mistake in not paying more attention to Darkwing’s placement. If I had worried more about his buildup on my right flank, and concentrated more firepower there to go against it, I might very well have bee able to shoot up his assault squads piece by piece. Instead, I had spread myself too thin, and I wound up effectively wasting my left-hand Warrior squad and it’s attending Spyder. Those units failed to support their endangered brethren, and my army in turn suffered destruction in detail.

While complacency might have been my general fault in this battle, there were a number of moments when I knew immediately that I had screwed up. For instance, I charged my Scarabs and Flayed Ones into battle and tied up his Assault Squad and his forward Tac squad, but his Terminators and his HQ squad also piled in, but unfortunately for me, the enemy was stuck in assault through my turn, preventing me from getting in a nice round of shooting. My forward assault turned into a springboard by which he was allowed to jump from the assault right into my lines, and deprived me of a chance to fire at him for a turn. Instead, I probably should have held back with the Scarabs, or charged them at the Tac Marines near my center, and kept the Flayed Ones as a counter-assault force.

Another unfortunate failure on my part was my Lord. 185 points in a single model can be great, IF you get some use out of all that expense. All he managed to do was land a single wound on Darkwing’s Force Commander and provide WBB to a couple of Immortals before dying. That 30-point Phase Shifter still failed three out of the four 4+ saving throws I had to make, and Darkwing was smart enough to attack the Lord through consolidation, not through a charge, making his Gaze of Flame worthless. And, since I had no nearby Warrior squad and no surviving Tomb Spyder within range, the Res Orb was unable to help the 16-man Warrior squad that was wiped out.

I will take some small comfort in the knowledge that there is probably no Troops choice in the game that could have stood up against 21 Lightning Claw attacks and a squad of 5 Power-Fist Terminators. In fact, had I been smarter in the way I played this game out, I could have made WBB rolls for that squad and had half of them get back up again, tying down some 600 or so points worth of marines just long enough for everyone to line up to shoot them apart when they finally slaughtered the last of my warriors and won the combat. In fact, while I didn’t think of Darkwing having Terminators in this fight, they were really mostly just insult to injury. If I had been able to shoot them a little more I would have probably wiped them out simply through volume of fire, and that would have been the end of it.

Finally, I think this fight was also a good example of two things I’ve seen a LOT in playing 40K. The first is that in a lot of battles, 10% of your point value does 90% of the work. While Darkwing’s command HQ was more like 25% of his army, the fact remains that it was far and away the most effective unit on both sides in the entire game. The Predator and Land Speeder accounted for a couple of casualties, the Tac squads spent most of the game plinking away at my Destroyers, and his Scouts did almost nothing, but the HQ Squad just about single-handedly slaughtered the majority of my army.

The second observation I can make here is that while one of something is often just a waste of points, multiples working in concert are often worth more than their combined values. Too many times you’ll have a single power weapon placed in a squad that does nothing, or a HQ model that just sits around wasted, or even a unit that just doesn’t fit into the emerging battle plan and flounders. Darkwing was smart in taking not one, not two, but three assault elements into the fight – the Assault Marines, the Terminators, and his Command Squad. Any one of these, or maybe even any two, would have allowed me a greater concentration of my units. But with three dangerous assault elements to deal with, he effectively managed to bait me with one, only to drop the hammer using the two others. My deployment just wasn’t sharp enough to give me time to react to my mistakes, and I paid the price for it.

Raven Guard Debriefing
Darkwing: Well, that more or less went according to plan. Badelaire’s deployment was almost exactly as I predicted, and I was able to concentrate my force on one side of the battlefield and overwhelm his flank.

I was surprised that Badelaire did not take a pair of Heavy Destroyers, as I had seen them being the biggest threat to my vehicles. That gave me a boost of confidence right from the start, but in the end he proved that he didn’t need them, as I lost both the Predator and Landspeeder in Turn 2.

I had planned on using my Assault Squad as a sacrificial lamb, and have it tie up Badelaire’s advance assault troops. That is what it did, as it got assaulted by the Flayed Ones and his Scarabs. When I had the opportunity to countercharge with the Terminators and Command Squad, I had no hesitation sending in the Terminators. However I was worried about the Command Squad, as moving them into this assault would potentially divert them from their primary mission—taking out a Warrior Squad. On the other hand, I figured that if I wanted to wipe out the Scarabs and Flayed Ones, I would need to use overwhelming force, and if I succeeded, the Command Squad could just consolidate back into cover anyway, so I had nothing to lose.

When my marines failed to wipe out the Flayed Ones in my own turn, I was annoyed that I had been bogged down, but the more I thought about it, the more I realized that it was a good thing. By being locked in assault in Badelaire’s turn, he couldn’t shoot at them, which made their current location even better than spending his turn in cover.

Wiping out the three last Flayed Ones in Badelaire’s assault phase was a foregone conclusion, and it set me up for a devastating Turn 3.

At the end of Turn 2 it looked grim on the surface, as I had lost my Predator and Landspeeder in that turn, and the bulk of Badelaire’s army continued their implacable advance. But Turn 3 really swung the battle in my favor as my Command Squad and Terminator Squad both got in close combat with one of his Warrior units. From that point forward, the battle was essentially won. After my squad had killed a total of 16 Necron Warriors on the charge, wiping out the unit, the rest was mop up. Badelaire would subsequently kill some Terminators and two members of the Command Squad, but by then the damage had been done.

While the Landspeeder only succeeded in killing a single Tomb Spyder worth just over half its own value, it achieved the mission by freeing up my assault force to charge in. The Predator did less well, as it spent most of the battle putting pressure on the Destroyers. Even though I lost both vehicles, I would say that they accomplished their mission, in that they assisted my Command Squad getting into assault.

I think that one of the things that worked against Badelaire was the fact that he has been falling into a predictable method of deploying his forces. The way he does it makes sense, and allows his troops to mutually support each other, but in this time I was able to concentrate my force, overload his flank, and then roll up the line. I’ll have to think hard about my next battle, as I’m sure Badelaire is unlikely to allow me to do that again.

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