Dad has been chomping at the bit to put his Knights on the table and push them into the red zone. In a lot of ways, Dad's Knights are some of his favourite miniatures. And whilst he's incredibly proud of the work that he's done on them, he's often been hamstrung by a small playgroup that is unhappy with the idea of dealing with lords of war.
I have some really negative feelings built up about superheavies and lords of war. I remember the release of the 'escalation' book, intended to allow the use of Baneblades and Warhound Titans and all sorts of other silly things. Coupled with the abysmal ruleset of sixth edition (which marked the start of the 'we're a miniatures company' era, which led to GW's CEO stepping down), it leaves a bitter taste in my mouth and was responsible, in part, for my departure from the hobby.
I haven't really played Tournament 40k since, either.
None of that is Dad's fault and at the end of the day, I play 40k because it's fun. Not just the rolling of the dice, but the complete package. Refusing to have a game with someone because you think you can't win is, in this pundit's considered opinion, a little bit weak. I have learned in my post-tournament period of 40k play that you have to enjoy three hundred and sixty degrees of the game.
I'm not saying you have to enjoy losing - that borders on masochism. But you have to enjoy the end-to-end experience, even when you're losing.
That wall of text probably deserves its own segment one day.
So that's how we arrived at the idea of Dad wheeling out a Knight and some Armiger friends in 800 points. Knowing what was coming, I challenged myself not to tailor my list and just to play it like a normal game.
The game took two hours. One other thing - yes, we took some creative liberties with how Dad could place his knights - I didn't build the table well, so I was very free and easy with letting Dad place his knights and armigers.
++Salamanders Patrol Detachment - 2CP++
-Adrax Agatone (Warlord Trait - Lord of Fire)
-5 Assault Intercessors
-5 Intercessors (Aux. Grenade Launcher)
-5 Intercessors (Aux. Grenade Launcher)
As I have laboriously discussed, Dad brought his knight and Armiger friends to the table. The miniatures cost too much to be able to fit anything else, thus making this army list really easy to write out:
++Super Heavy Detachment - 3CP++
-Knight Warden (Meltagun, Stormspear Rocket Pod, Thunderstrike Gauntlet, Warlord Trait - Ion Bulwark, Relic - Armour of the Sainted Ion)
-Armiger Helverin (Meltagun)
-Armiger Helverin (Meltagun)
I thought on it for a day and knew that Dad's firepower would remove a unit a turn and that I would have to make peace with that. I knew there were a lot of ways I would lose - Dad wasn't just going to serve up his Knight and let me shoot at it until it fell over and if I tried to all-in the Warden, I'd end up disappointed and dead.
This is the board that we played on - you'll note just how crowded it is. Super Mistake.
(Yes, that is a Golden Gaytime. It was delicious.)
We played "Divide and Conquer" - with 4 Objectives:
My secondary objectives were Raise the Banners High, First Strike and Titan Slayers. Translated, that allowed me to plant a banner on objectives for additional secondaries, 6 points if I destroyed a unit in the first turn (9 if I destroyed more than Dad) and 12 points if I managed to kill the Knight Warden.
In case it wasn't incredibly obvious from that selection of secondaries, I thought the way to win was to kill the knight warden. I also thought I could pick up an early Armiger for easy points. Also if at any poiny Dad chose to play defensively, I would be able to camp on objectives and generate more VPs.
Dad's secondaries were First Strike, Linebreaker and Slay the Warlord. First strike is as above, 4 points in his turn if he can get a unit into my deployment zone and 6 points if he killed Adrax.
I did finally tell Dad that thin their ranks was not a good fit.
Dad's secondaries were all reasonable. Knights move quick and wouldn't have problems getting into my deployment zone. Adrax would need to get his hands dirty, leaving him easy prey for the Warden and First Strike makes sense when you have access to lots of high-powered weapons at (relatively) long range.
Once again Dad won the roll-off, however it didn't matter so much as I'd be deploying all bar three of my units after his anyway - meaning I would have the deployment advantage.
Unsurprisingly, Dad deployed like the fearless knight pilot he did - and just dumped them all in the clear terrain to the center-right:
Expecting to lose the first turn, I deployed defensively, making use of the ample cover I had setup:
For a change, I won the roll-off for first turn. But I opted to give first turn to the Imperial Knights, and the call to start engines was given.
Trying to get optimum fire angles for First Strike, Dad's Knights opted to take up firing positions atop the buildings.
(Yes I know this isn't legal but I made the board poorly for knights and also we're playing a casual game at home, for fun. I'm not about to huff about something like that.)
Unfortunately I could not perfectly shield all my miniatures from the Knight firepower. I was aided by Dad's poor luck, losing only a single aggressor and a single assault intercessor. The Warden was either out of range, out of line of sight, or rolled poorly and failed to inflict any damage.
The Salamanders crawled out of their hidey-holes and immediately set about finding new ones to cower in to avoid getting removed from the battlefield. The Eradicators ducked out from behind the shelter of their building, whilst the Suppressors took up firing positions atop a nearby building.
In shooting, the Salamanders were faced with the same poor luck the Knights had. With one member outside line of sight, the Eradicators were unable to bring their firepower to bear and inflicted four wounds on the the rightmost Armiger. The Suppressors had more luck, using a stratagem to count as stationary and inflicting six wounds on the other.
Both sides had tried to maneuver to get strong shooting results - and either through poor dice or bad positioning, had not achieved the outstanding success they desired. Neither side had lost yet - but both were in vulnerable positions.
Salamanders - 0.0 (0)
Imperial Knights 0.0 (0)
The Knight Warden moved to the centre of the board to deliver destruction. Having survived the initial shooting without so much as being targeted, confidence was high on carrying the day. Cutting an imposing figure straddling the buildings - with his eyes fixated on Adrax.
The rightmost armiger advanced into the teeth of the Eradicators, intent on occupying them in melee to prevent the Knight Warden's untimely end at the hands of Eradicator Melta Rifles.
The armiger on the left also adjusted its position, but did not try to significantly close the distance with the Suppressors.
With that over with, the shooting began again. Closing to minimum distance with more targets, the Armigers and Warden picked targets that would represent a threat. Naturally this meant the Aggressors, Eradicators and Suppressors.
The knights got off to a slow start, with the first Armiger on the right failing to hit anything. The second had better luck, removing an Aggressor and a Suppressor.
Lastly, in the brown trousers moment for the Salamanders, the Knight Warden opened up on Adrax. Unbeknownst to the Knight Warden, the Salamander Captain showed his mettle with the "Superhuman Physiology" stratagem, allowing him to weather the terrible storm of fire with two wounds remaining.
No matter - the Knight Warden would simply stomp him to jelly instead.
Hooting their warhorns, the Armiger and the Warden charged into the Salamanders. The Warden was seeking to battle with Adrax, but was also forced to contact the Assault Intercessors. Adrax once again drew on his Superhuman Physiology stratagem in order to avoid death, surviving with a single wound. But, he was unable to inflict any damage in return thanks to some fortunate armour saving throws from the Warden.
Elsewhere the Armiger made contact with the Eradicators, hoping to lock them into combat, or force them into falling back, to prevent the use of their Melta Rifles. There was further success to come as the Armiger managed to chip the last wound off of one of the Eradicators, reducing the squad to a single man - albeit from a starting size of three.
Despite heavy pressure the Salamanders had not lost yet. As the Knight force was right on top of their line, there was no need to move in order to maximise firepower. Fancying a challenge, the lone surviving Aggressor set his sights on the wounded and vulnerable Armiger on their left, intending on smashing it up with his fists.
The lone eradicator also fell back toward the relative safety of the Intercessors, hoping to deter the Armiger from progressing further and freeing up his Melta Rifle to hopefully be employed against the Warden in future.
If the aim was to win the game in the turn two shooting phase, the Salamanders fell woefully short. The Intercessors had little effectiveness due to their lack of appropriate weapons, whereas the Suppressors were unable to inflict any damage.
In the end, it fell to Adrax to do the heavy lifting. The Knight Warden stomped him flat. But with one more heroic effort, he hefted his hammer - and smacked the Knight Warden for sixteen wounds. This inspired the Aggressor who inflicted four wounds on the Armiger with his fists - after realising they were indeed, power fists.
The game was still very much on a knife's edge. Despite being caught flat-footed positionally, heavy damage to the Warden and the Aggressor holding up the leftmost Armiger had opened the door for the Salamanders.
Knights - 0.10 (10) [Slay the Warlord - 6]
Salamanders - 10.0 (10)
Rather than allow the Assault Intercessors infinite time to hack at his feet assembly, the Knight Warden fell back, looking to hose them down with his Avenger Gatling Cannon instead. The Armiger on the left fell back from the Aggressor, trying to buy time and distance to avoid a pummelling.
In the shooting phase, the Warden made good on its promise and hosed down the Assault Intercessors, clearing a lane to the Suppressor firebase in the corner. The other Armiger failed to inflict any meaningful damage, as its chassis was heavily damaged and compromised.
As the Warden roared in challenge and hooted its war-horn in anticipation of the glories to come, it appeared the dice had once again been Dad's undoing and he was unable to make sufficient distance to the Intercessors.
The Salamanders, seizing the break in momentum, didn't hesitate. In a crushing counterattack the Aggressor smashed up the Armiger.
Meanwhile, the lone Eradicator climbed to the first floor, spooled up his Melta Rifle - and took aim:
In that flash of blue light, the game ended. The Knight Warden took 7 wounds from the Eradicator's Melta Rifle, allowing the Intercessors to chip it off with a Bolt Rifle shot. With one badly wounded Armiger facing down the remaining Salamander forces, the game was called.
Knights - 0.10 (10) [Slay the Warlord - 6]
Salamanders - 20.12 (32) [Titan Slayers - 12]
The Wash Up
I'm not sure how successful I was at conveying just how poor Dad's dice were. His shooting was abysmal. When you're counting on a small number of high-value weapons, each failure hurts more.
Either way, the end result is somewhat surprising. I knew I wasn't just going to get served Dad's Knight Warden on a platter. Dad held most of the cards - he had the speed and the size to pick his engagements when he wanted. Completely by accident, I convinced Dad that the game was all about the Eradicators.
To Dad's credit, he dangled his own Armigers and Warden tantalisingly close to the Eradicators. If it weren't for his poor luck, he would've exploited my positional mis-step perfectly.
Overall, another fantastic game. Even with superheavies, the 1,000 point format is still perfect.
Man of the Match - Adrax Agatone
Who else could it be. Smacking the knight for sixteen wounds was a massive shift in momentum in the game. Sure, it cost him his life, as per usual, but god-damn.
Le Hidden Gem - Aggressors
It wasn't until I threw the last Aggressor in against the Armiger and I realised that these folks have power fists. Hot damn. The combination of Flamestorm Gauntlets and Power Fists makes these guys real nice - and the lone survivor demonstrated what is possible with three wounds, a power fist and a can-do attitude.
That's all from me, see you next time for another instalment of the weekly war!
Catch you next time,
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