Friday, April 15, 2011

If You Can't Beat 'Em... Draigo Wing Battle Report

Well my post/rant last week about the unbalanced aspects of the Grey Knight codex certainly drew a lot of comment. I spent some time this week brushing up on the Space Wolf Codex and came up with 3 lists that I would like to try to power up my poor Crimson Fists; one drop pod heavy, one fully mech and a hybrid list with a single pod. What is absolutely awesome is that I can take a squad of 4 Long Fangs with heavy bolters for 95 points - 55 points less than from the vanilla codex! If you don't know, this is the traditional Devastator loadout for the Crimson Fists, but is only actually a viable option from the Wolves codex *sigh*.

At my local FLGS we are all very easy going when it comes to counts-as and proxying. This is a great way  of making sure that club members get an opportunity to play against all sorts of lists that we might not have the required models for. Anyway by the time I found an opponent and had to pick a list, I had the urge to try my own hand with these acursed Grey Knight. My opponent was up for it so I pulled out 10 Terminators and started proxying :) The Crimson Wolves will have to wait for another day...

You can see the list here. There is something liberating about playing with 4 units and 14 models! The games run so quickly I easily fit two casual games into about 2.5 hours. My opponents for the evening were A) the same guy as last week, playing relatively the same Grey Knights list but with Psyfleman dreads this time; and B) a chaos list with oblits, plague marines, Abaddon, land raider and lash prince.

First of all, trying to memorise all the special rules in that dex is like cramming for a uni exam- and I'm only playing with 4 different units. Wow have they packed in a lot of stuff! It's going to be a pain explaining all the rules to your opponent with a larger MSU army, especially if they have psykers or Daemons (as half the rules seem to apply only to these model types). Some of the abilities seemed a tad weak given the unit cost (Draigo has a S5 AP- psychic template attack, Paladins have a 12" large blast S5 AP- psychic attack). I never used these abilities in either game as the unitswork best at the 23" range. Still I guess they will be useful against Hordes. Draigo seems overcosted if you compare him to someone like Lysander. I think they got the Paladins spot on.

The first game used a tournament mission written by my opponent Duc, that I was helping him playtest. Basically I set up in the middle, and he had to split his army across both short edges, and it was killpointy. I gave both the Paladin squads Scout and then set everyone up in a deployment zone corner as close to one side as possible and scouted them even closer to the short edge. This meant that I was just out of range of his scouting Interceptors on one side of the table at least (boy do I fear those units!). He went first and immediately took out a Venerable Dread - the only one to die all night! The first three rounds he was only able to kill two Paladins, whilst I took out a Dread and half a squad of Strikers, until he charged Draigo's depleted squad with about 12 Knights. The Paladins laid down some hurt before being killed but Draigo dealt with the rest of the attackers in my next turn. Meanwhile, the other squad with Karamazov killed a Rhino and started shooting at squads from the other table edge. The other Venerable dread killed a Rhino and a Psyfleman dread too. It ended up 5 KP to 3 in my favour - an excellent start for the new army! Apparently according to the mission rules I technically lost, but I didn't actually read them as I had enough to remember with the new codex! I'm still claiming it as a victory. Plus he forgot about night fight on the first turn (his own mission!) so my Ven Dread would have lived to contribute, so there!

The second game was a spearhead deployment with 4 objectives, and me going first. A big line of sight blocking building in the center of the table dominated the game play, making an interesting game of circling the board trying to get line of sight. At first I had to humbly beg my opponent to drop the lash prince, as I thought that it would basically make the game a non-event as the Paladins were pulled forward into a compromising position (between six Oblits and Abaddon). Then a club mate informed us that the Dreadnought's "Reinforced Aegis" rule means that if a psychic power targets any Grey Knights within 12" (or maybe 6") of the Dread, a -4 penalty is applied to the psychic test. This list has a little something for everybody - not too shabby eh?

I made my Dreadnoughts scoring and took first turn, letting me set up in the quarter with 2 objectives. We spent the first three turns keeping "pew pewing" from range, neither of us prepared to commit to the centre of the board. A lucky psycannon rend immobilised the Land Raider, forcing Abaddon to hit the pavement and move into the centre. My opponent had terrible luck with his long range anti tank, basically immobilising one Dread and blowing two arms off the other in 4 rounds of shooting! I'm really starting to appreciate the survivability of the Venerable Dreads, they are three times harder to kill for half the cost again.

The game ended in a massacre once Abaddon got into my lines. I moved forward with Karamzov Paladin squad in order to attempt to contest the center objective, leaving my armless Dreadnought to hold their objective. Abaddon charged in by myself and killed Karamazov, taking 2 wounds in the process. In my turn of close combat Abaddon killed all 5 Paladins - damn those S8 attacks! Then in a classic manoeuvre, he charged my second Paladin squad from the side, avoiding Draigo and killed 4 Paladins, causing the squad to flee. It was game over. Lesson learnt - always put Draigo in the centre of the squad!

Here is a summary of my thoughts on the list after these games:
  • Draigo is pricey for what you get. He is good in combat (but no Abaddon!) and very hard to kill, but  doesn't come with any abilities that are exceptionally powerful on the field. I missed having orbital bombardment, servo skulls and a few other tricks available to the standard Grand master. I don't see him being taken other than for his "make Paladins troops" FOC manipulation.
  • Karamazov is good - his twin-linked relentless multi-melta is very useful, and the ability to reroll Leadership tests is great when you have an unlucky roll - and of course in close combat (pity you can't choose to fail). Once in close combat though the lack of an invulnerable really hurts him. So he dies before you can use his leadership power!
  • Psyfleman Dreads are the new black. The Venerable upgrade paid off about six times in the two games and worked brilliantly in this list because it left my opponent with no easy target priority  choices.
  • Halberds are where it's at. Wish I could take four and a hammer, but that would ruin my wound allocation shenanigans.
  • Grand Strategy is an uber-powerful ability. Scoring Venerable Dreads are a thing of beauty. Scouting Grey Knights starting the game in midfield have an immediate advantage.
  • Psycannons are great when you have two to a squad, mastercrafted,  wielded by Relentless models. Just a really versatile weapon, but the range keeps them from being overpowered.
  • Reinforced Aegis is brilliant, but makes me shocked at how cheap those Dreadnoughts are...

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