The Weekly War - Salamanders v Grey Knights

The Weekly War - Salamanders v Grey Knights

Last time I published a battle report on this blog, it had been a hot minute since the release of 9th edition. This time, my excuse involves a combination of moving, laziness and getting a table ready to go. But I've finally found some time to both have a proper game of Warhammer 40k and do a write-up for my blog.

My opponent was, as per usual, my father, who shall remain nameless. Dad doesn't normally have time to play on the weekend, so we worked to find a timeslot that works for us during the week. This report is our second game at the new place, our first being a 500-point tester.

One of the chief advantages with having my own gaming table is the ability to prepare the ground. 9th edition is fantastic for this, as you can do just about everything involved in game setup ahead of time, have your opponent show up, and roll dice.

So before Dad got here, I did just that - I laid out the 30x44 as per the mission diagram, created the board and the only thing Dad had to do was pick secondaries and roll to determine attacker and defender. Made for a really relaxed experience.

We played 1000 points and the game took approximately two and a half hours.

++Salamanders Battalion Detachment - 3 CP++

HQ
-Adrax Agatone
-Primaris Librarian (Relic - Tome of Vel'Cona, Warlord Trait - Forge Master)

Troops
-5 Assault Intercessors (Thunder Hammer)
-5 Intercessors (Aux. Grenade Launcher)
-5 Intercessors (Aux. Grenade Launcher)

Elites
-3 Aggressors (Flamestorm Gauntlets)

Fast Attack
-3 Suppressors

Heavy Support
-3 Eliminators
-3 Eradicators

Dad's force was more mundane - Grey Knights aren't known for their diverse roster of options. Dad's force opted for a big right hook of Terminators - which you can see in his army list.

++Grey Knights Battalion Detachment - 3CP++

HQ
-Grand Master (Psycannon)
-Librarian (Combi Plasma, Daemonhammer)

Troops
-10 Strike Knights (2 Psycannons)
-5 Grey Knight Terminators (Heavy Incinerator)
-5 Grey Knight Terminators (Psycannon)

Fast Attack
-5 Interceptors (Psycannon)

I wasn't nervous about Dad's firepower, or his combat potential. In the right set of circumstances, Adrax could bully both of his HQs and my shooting, especially on such a short board, was stronger.

This is what the board looked like. I had reconfigured it a little to have more blocking terrain in the centre to prevent too many clear fire lanes.

Setup

The scenario we played was "Forward Push" - with 4 Objectives:

For those unfamiliar with 9th edition scoring, your primary goal is to control 4 objectives. You get 5 points for controlling an objective, 10 points for controlling 2 and 15 points if you control more than your opponent, to a maximum of 45.

My secondary objectives were Attrition, Engage on All Fronts and Slay the Warlord. Roughly translated, 4 victory points in a round where I destroyed more enemy units than Dad, 2 victory points in a turn if I had a unit in three table quarters (increasing to 3 if I had a unit in all four) and 6 victory points if I killed the enemy warlord (Dad's Grand Master)

On the other side, the Grey Knight secondaries were Linebreaker, Slay the Warlord and Thin Their Ranks. Again, this translates to 4 victory points at the end of any given turn in which Dad got into my deployment zone, 6 points for killing my Librarian and 1 point for every 10 models destroyed at the end of the game.

Making a habit, Dad won the roll-off and opted to attack, forcing me to pick a deployment zone and deploy first.

Deployment

On such a small board, deployment options are always limited, even for small, elite forces like ours. Trading deployment options, Dad deployed the terminators in force on the Salamanders' left and added the strike knights as a fixing force on the right:

Having the advantage of numbers, the Salamander force deployed centrally. As bait, I deployed the Eliminators in the leftmost building and added the Intercessors as a counter-force. I then built up a strong centre-right position, planning to cast defensive powers on the assault intercessors and use self-sacrifice to shield the Eradicators and Aggressors:

The table set, the Grey Knights won the roll-off and opted to take first turn.

Turn One

Like the sound of a dinner bell being rung, the Grey Knights sprung into action. On the right, the Terminators rolled forward, intent on causing harm to the Intercessors out of cover. The Interceptors also opted to teleport on the top of the centre building, promising a warp shunt afterward.

At the end of the movement phase the Interceptors opted to warp shunt forward, delivering them to the doorstep of the Salamanders line:

(My apologies for the unpainted miniatures.)

The movement phase all sorted, the leftmost Strike Knights decided they didn't want to be a fixing force anymore and cast Gate of Infinity, joining the Interceptors in front of the Salamanders right:

Movement tricks expended, the Interceptors chipped a wound off the assault Intercessors with a de-powered smite, but no other powers were in range. That was fine, the Grey Knights would let their storm bolters do the talking, as both units of Terminators, the Strike Knights and Interceptors unleashed a storm of bolt and Psycannon fire on the Salamanders.

When the dust had settled, there had been limited effect - the Suppressors had opted to use their Smokescreen stratagem to inhibit the Strike Knights' accuracy, only losing a wound. The intercessors were not so fortunate, losing two of their number. Meanwhile the combined fire of the Interceptors and Terminators felled two assault Intercessors.

There was nothing for it but for the Interceptors and Strike Knights to charge. It appeared the passage through the warp had sapped the Strike Knights' forward momentum as they failed their charge even with a re-roll. Meanwhile the Interceptors ran into a wall of burning Prometheum, as the Aggressors opted to use the 'Born Protectors' stratagem, firing overwatch at the oncoming Grey Knights, torching four. This left a lone Interceptor to hit the front line.

To make matters worse, Adrax Agatone performed a heroic intervention, ensuring the Interceptor Justicar would join his brothers soon.

The combat was swift and brutal. The Justicar fought like a demon, felling an Intercessor with his power sword, before Adrax crushed the warrior's skull with Malleus Noctum.

So the Grey Knights had made a dent, but there was a long way to go in the piece. Intent on responding with overwhelming force, the Eradicators and Aggressors moved to fill the gap in the centre. On the left, the Intercessors moved to occupy the centre objective.

Not to be outdone by the prior display of firepower, the Intercessors and Aggressors felled six strike knights. However, this was the high watermark of the Salamander shooting. The Suppressors failed to hit a single Strike Knight and the Eradicators inflicted a single wound on the Terminators.

In the last action of the turn, Adrax rumbled into the remaining strike knights (not before losing a wound on overwatch) and felled them all with his hammer. With that flank cleared completely, Adrax opted to pressure the centre-right objective, in the hopes of forcing a reaction.

Grey Knights - 0
Salamanders - 0.4 (4) [Attrition - 4]

Turn Two

Failing to make a significant impact with their first attack, the Terminator force on the left flank had taken minimal damage - and now eyed the fairly threadbare Salamander fixing force.

Reaching into the warp again, the Grey Knights empowered themselves with Hammerhand and Astral Aim, whilst inflicting some bumps and bruises with some de-powered smites. In order to leave targets to assault, bolters were stowed and Nemesis Force Weapons activated.

Having advanced to spitting distance of the Salamanders' left flank, the Grey Knights thundered into the overextended Intercessors:

Realizing the threat of the Thunder Hammer, the Terminators butchered the assault marines first, consolidating into the Salamanders firebase, tying up the Eradicators and Librarian. The Intercessors had more luck, having higher toughness thanks to Drakeskin, but still lost two of their number.

The game had now swung back and the outcome was wholly dependent on if the Salamanders could turn aside the Grey Knights offensive momentum.

The Intercessors fell back to allow the Suppressors and Aggressors to thin the left-most Terminator unit. Realising the gambit to redirect some of the Grey Knight offensive pressure had not succeeded, Adrax moved back to assist the melee at the centre of the board. In an astonishing positional misplay, Adrax would have to roll quite a high number in order to make the combat, having to go around the Aggressors. He managed it - only just, though.

The Salamander shooting had reasonable impact, the Aggressors and Suppressors combining fire to remove two Terminators. The Eliminators took aim at the Grey Knight Librarian but in an astonishing display of ineptitude, scored no hits. They would have to wait another day.

Adrax rolled into the Terminators, but between poor results swinging his hammer and good saving throws from the Grey Knights, only a single warrior fell. The Eradicators also managed to contribute, inflicting a wound on another. Choosing again to try and hurt the Eradicators, the Terminators were unable to inflict any damage of note thanks to the toughness and protection afforded by their Gravis armour.

At the conclusion of the second turn, both sides had thrown haymakers at each other. The Grey Knights had fully committed to a brawl in the centre and forced the issue, but the Salamanders had absorbed the pressure and were standing firm - if only just.

Grey Knights - 5.1 (5) [Thin Their Ranks - 1]
Salamanders - 5.4 (9) [Attrition - 4]

Turn Three

Having fully committed to the melee in the centre, there was not much to do but have the Grand Master and Librarian up the ante.

The Salamanders had failed to remove the threat of the loose unit of Terminators on their left flank. These warriors now advanced on the Intercessors, intent on hacking them apart.

Prior to charging in, some Smites were handed out, inflicting two wounds on Adrax. The increasing casting cost proved prohibitive and the Terminators were unable to manifest the spell.

The time for shooting was well and truly over. Realising the threat Adrax posed to the Terminators and to their person and opted to try and bring him down with their combined output. Though the Librarian did manage to bring him down with his Daemonhammer, the Salamander hero opted to counter-attack between phases, reducing the Terminator squad to a man. This freed up the Eradicators, but allowed the Librarian to consolidate into the Aggressors.

Elsewhere the Terminators made good on their threat - with no Drakeskin to protect the Intercessors, the affair was resolved quickly and decisively.

The Salamanders were slowly gaining the upper hand now. With a number of free shooting assets, the dice finally lit up in a big way. The Eliminators, having adjusted their scopes, caught the Grand Master in transition between combats - two rounds found their mark, putting him down for good.

The Eradicators then felled two Terminators with their Melta Rifles. Finally, the Aggressors channeled the spirit of Bray'Arth Ashmantle, choosing to turn their flame weapons to pistols with a stratagem, badly wounding the Librarian.

Now down to the Librarians, an Aggressor and a Grey Knight Terminator were both slain in the fight phase. What had started as a swirling melee was finally starting to settle and it appeared the Salamanders had edged out their elite brethren.

Grey Knights - 10.1 (11) [Thin Their Ranks - 1]
Salamanders - 10.10 (20) [Attrition - 4, Slay the Warlord - 6]

Turn Four

With the Grey Knights reduced to a single Librarian and a Terminator, the result was now clear. In the spirit of extracting maximum value from a miniatures game, Dad had one last sting in his tail, steering his Justicar into the Salamander Librarian. Despite having T6, it wasn't enough and the Justicar laid him low, in what turned out to be the last act of the game.

It had been close and hard fought, but in the end the Salamanders had managed to grind out a narrow win over the Grey Knights.

The Wash Up

As it turns out when you and your Dad are the same person, with aggressive playstyles and a preference for movement and close-to-mid range firepower, it gets messy, quickly. There was a turn one assault and turns 1-3 were ultraviolent.

In a lot of ways, the opening gambit of the Grey Knights - shunting forward the Interceptors and Strike Knights - felt out of sync with the Terminator attack on the right. Rather than split the Salamanders, it allowed for one flank to be cleared out, then the other. If the attack had been simultaneous, it would've done more damage.

The strike knights failing their charge didn't help matters either. But a gameplan should never revolve around relying on an outcome with a probability of 12%.

Before I get too excited though, I'd like to point out a few things.

Dad's still learning the army. He's using an older book, that hasn't recieved the FAQ improvements and doesn't have an extra wound on his Strike Knights. He was also thirty points short of a full army. I was ten points over, although the grenade launchers did nothing.

If that wasn't enough, Dad didn't use any of the Grey Knight tides from the Psychic Awakening book. Now that he's read that those exist, he will start using them now. He also didn't use a lot of the infantry-based Grey Knight stratagems, like Psybolt Ammunition.

Dad did none of those things and nearly ended up with a win anyway.

On the flip side, I was my own worst enemy. I frequently rushed myself, skipped my psychic phase twice, mucked up unit positioning and failed to properly consider the ramifications of a number of different actions. In particular, feeding the two-man assault intercessor unit into the Grey Knight Terminators for no reason.

Yet, despite all this, I am still a massive proponent of the new board sizes. I've yet to meet someone who does not like the 30x44 board size. It promotes early action and makes assault and close range weapons very relevant. It also has minimum terrain requirements, although I chose for a quite built up board to encourage movement and assault.

It might be the two wins on the trot on my home turf, but I'm really enjoying 40k at the moment. And soon, once I've finished up a few more terrain pieces, I can start going to 60x44 - which will be a blast.

Man of the Match - Adrax Agatone

Big Adrax was just that. His personal kill tally was six strike knights and four terminators - he also absorbed a ton of pressure from the Librarian and the Grand Master. He has gotten a little worse with the changes to auras, but as a counter-assault piece, he's so very, very dangerous and on the night, he showed why.

It's a good thing the Grey Knights opted to Smite him out of existence - he was only just finished off by two characters twice his value and easily could've dealt with both of them. It's tough to consider any other HQ when Big Adrax is just around the corner with Malleus Noctum.

Le Hidden Gem - Eliminators

They did one thing all game. I make it sound bad but that one thing was 100-0'ing a Grey Knight Grand Master. As it turns out, with BS 2+, access to a -2 (-3 on the first turn) AP, S5, D3 damage profile and the ability to pick out characters, these guys are no joke. They're also dirt cheap and will hold an objective for days.

And they're only 90 points. Or you can also give them baby lascannons. Hell yes, I've got to get me some more Eliminators.

That's all from me, catch you next time for another instalment of the weekly war!

Catch you next time,
Vulkan

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Rowan Naveau

About Rowan Naveau

I'm Rowan (Vulkan) - and this is my blog. Here you'll find a stream of consciousness about video games, wargaming and just about everything else.