Okay, so I’ve gotten in a couple of Vassal games in with myself the last week, and I have to say that it’s been interesting.
I’m always uncertain when setting up the terrain, but I’ve been able to use the NOVA format as a guideline. There are five larger sections (three of which block LoS, but not onto them), the center one being a hill and two being Ruins (which I really just count as Difficult Terrain), and two smaller ones, usually a Difficult Terrain piece and an Impassible piece. It seems to make terrain play an actual role and be something that needs to be worked around, rather than just being there. I’m happy so far, but I’m also not placing them super close together.
Anyway, I said I played two games and I did. Both involved my Tournament List, which may or may not be exactly as I had it before. For reference, here it is:
Emperor’s Champion (Abhor);
Castellan: Storm Bolter, Krak Grenades;
Terminator Command Squad (4): 2 Assault Cannons, Tank Hunters; Drop Pod;
Terminator Squad (5): 2 Assault Cannons, Tank Hunters; Drop Pod;
2x Dreadnought: Multi-Melta, Heavy Flamer, Extra Armor, Smoke; Drop Pod;
6x Crusader Squad (5): Multi-Melta, Bolters, Plasma Gun; Drop Pod;
I had messed with points (dropping my Storm Shield) to get a few Chainfists, and then I decided that I wanted Multi-Meltas on the Dreadnoughts much more.
Anyway, first game was against Marshal Learoth’s Dual-Rock list, and it was Spearhead 5 Objectives. I had faced the list before (several times) but this time I had two major things helping me. One was Multi-Meltas on my Dreadnoughts (this is not to be ignored; it allowed me to take advantage of the second part). Two was some really good luck. Even though I got a ton of stuff on the second turn, one of those things was a Dreadnought, who dropped next to a Land Raider, and promptly exploded it, which then killed a Terminator. Not a whole lot of other exciting stuff happened. The next turn (actually that turn, the Drop Pod list was going first), the surviving Terminators charged the Dreadnought. That’s when I realized that only the TH/SS guy (I had accidentally killed the other) could hurt the Dreadnought. It did not go well, but that was greatly my fault.
Other points of interest include a Multi-Melta Initiate killing the second Land Raider Crusader, my Castellan plus Command Terminators charging and eliminating a entire Cruader Squad after shooting its Rhino and wrecking it. And by the end of T7, all that lived for Learoth’s list was a Crusader Squad w/ Emperor’s Champion holding an objective (their ride was dead, as were both Neophytes and most of the Initiates) and a single Lightning Claw Assault Terminator trying to contest the center objective (I didn’t bother checking to see if he was, since the only difference it made was if I had won 4-1 or 3-1). So that was fun.
Second Game. Against Marshal Learoth’s Mechanized Take-All Comers list (and by the way, to me it seems like you’ve got those two in the wrong order on your website, the Dual-Rock feels much more competitive than the all-comers, not just while playing but also in the trade-off for dropping the second Assault Terminators unit ignore that, I had looked up to see if there were Predators in the Dual-Raider list, saw some in the Take-All Comers, and somehow thought that they were in both or something. So, if you could fit in three Auto/Las Predators along with all of the other stuff, then the order would be wrong :) ). I tried a system that Brent over at Strictly Average thought of. Basically, when you roll to go first, rather than the winner deciding if he goes first or second, he chooses one of three things: the scenario, the deployment, or who goes first. The loser of the roll then selects another one of the three, and the final is decided randomly (I can include a link to the post if this isn’t clear to anyone). Well, Learoth’s list won the roll-off, so I played Kill-Points. I then decided that my list would go second. And it was Dawn of Way deployment.
Things generally went quite smoothly in the first few turns for Learoth’s list. /sarcasm First a Rhino (carrying the Emperor’s Champion) got Immobilized trying to move through Difficult Terrain to shield the side of a Predator (on the first turn). Then, when the Drop Pods started coming down, only one Typhoon got a chance to shoot for the entire game and it was immobilized, the Predators generally did poorly (though one did Shake and Destroy the Multi-Melta on my second Dreadnought, which was annoying as I was trying to use that Multi-Melta). I will say this though, that single Assault Terminator Squad with Land Raider Crusader was MVP of the entire army, probably the entire game. Together they scored about 7 kill points (3 Drop Pods, Dreadnought, Castellan, Terminator Command Squad, and I think a Crusader Squad) and one of the Terminators survived the game, refusing me the chance to table the list. The Land Raider Crusader just refused to die, the first shots against it were from Multi-Meltas on the Dreadnoughts, and they both Glanced. After the first shots, they were also both gone (at different times), plus more Multi-Melta Shots (from a stranded Crusader Squad), plus some Assault Cannon shots (which scored two Penetrating hits and a Glance), plus more than one round of assault from a Dreadnought. Do you know how it finally died? Weapon Destroyed (its Multi-Melta), Weapon Destroyed (its TL Assault Cannon), Immobilized, Weapon Destroyed (Hurricane Bolter), Weapon Destroyed (Hurricane Bolter), and a final Immobilized or Weapon Destroyed result, which wrecked it. Not a single Wrecked or Explodes result rolled, despite a half-dozen penetrating hits, most of which were AP1. And it was Turn 6 when it did die (first half of the turn). Of course, the Dreadnought who finished it off went and then killed three of the Assault Terminators (just as they finished off my Command Squad).
The MVP for my army has to have been the Crusader Squad with the Emperor’s Champion in it. They dropped down to tackle the other Emperor’s Champion plus Squad (plus Rhino). They destroyed the Rhino’s Storm Bolter, and then were promptly charged. Because of sloppy model placement on my part, and the fact that they were on the wrong side of the Rhino and that they were a little distance away, the enemy Emperor’s Champion was unable to benefit from the charge. For several turns, the small, five-man squad with Champion whittled down the larger, Close Combat squad, winning combat every turn and every turn causing more Fearless casualties, until the enemy Champion finally killed the friendly Champion (but not before being the last one alive in the squad) and later finished off the remaining two Initiates (yes, the 5-man outlasted the 9-man, I can’t believe it either). The Emperor’s Champion later died (second half of Turn 7) when he got charged by 5 Terminators, but only after killing three. I am really impressed at how deadly the Emperor’s Champion is to Terminators (much earlier game against the Dual-Rock list my Emperor’s Champion tallied up I think 7 of the 10 Assault Terminators, but I can’t remember if he survived or not).
Last interesting thing that happened was when the Crusader Squad with the Marshal had just eliminated a Crusader Squad and was sitting on the hill in the center. Three turns of three Typhoons plus some extra casualties from a couple of Crusader Squads along with four Drop Pod Storm Bolters and all 10 models finally bit the dust. If the LRC and Assault Terminators were MVP, then this squad came in second, pulling 3 kill points by itself (well, the Marshal did) and it had the opportunity to get a few Drop Pods under its belt had the Meltagun survived a bit longer. Final score of the second game: Drop Pod list Victory, 15 out of 16 Kill Points to 11 out of 24.
And, of course, there were the Storm Bolters on the Drop Pods. They rarely did anything, and most shots missed, or failed to wound, but they did some fun stuff. Notably they Shook a Typhoon, and destroyed a Lascannon on a Predator (rear armor shots FTW). Oh, and they took out the final wound of the Marshal in the second game after I had exhausted all of my other shooting on him. Overall, both games were much fun, and I look forward to being able to play actual games and putting up actual Battle-Reports.
Now then, as for a more general analysis of what I have learned. One is that it is very easy to take advantage of the Drop Pod Assault rules by putting them in your opponent’s face and using your opponent’s own units to limit where the Drop Pod can scatter to (if you’ve got multiple that you want in or near the same place, you can block movement to your squads, so you don’t even have to worry about a counter-assault half the time). So with that advantage, nearly all of my Drop Pods have landed on target, and I can’t remember any that scattered too far away to be unable to do what I wanted them to.
Another thing is really about the MSU philosophy. I had heard this before defending the high-number of Kill Points, and it was abundantly clear in the second game. High-number of Kill Points (even when nearly half of them are Drop Pods and will die half the time you get a penetrating hit), does not equate to a disadvantage in Kill-Point missions. You do have that problem, but it is balanced by the number of units you have. I could target each unit at something else, and could thus kill my opponent before they were able to take advantage of their (on average) better units. Since they had fewer units than I did, they were unable to actually kill all of my Drop Pods or Crusader Squads. Both of them are dangerous units to my opponent, but I’ve got six of them (ten Drop Pods). Now, what I mean in particular here, has been sort of mentioned before, but not clearly. Basically, if you don’t kill a Crusader Squad, then their Multi-Melta can and will cause some damage; if you do kill it, it only constitutes about 7% of my firepower, so I’m not really hurt or hampered. For Drop Pods it’s a very similar thing. They are really nice to have on the table as they keep my units safe from charges and from shooting, but if you blow them up, so what. It isn’t like they are my only scoring units, or important for my plan, or really needed at all; they are just handy. And when you shoot them, you aren’t shooting the things that can actually kill you. When you couple that with the efficiency that my units can achieve in killing the enemy units (by not wasting shots on something that is already dead) and my extra available Kill Points were irrelevant, if not an advantage for me.
Now, some notes about my Tournament list in general. I like the Multi-Meltas in the Crusader Squads. There are times that I would have really liked a Bolter instead, but it would not have made much, if any, difference. Further, I don’t think that there is any place where the extra 60 points from my Heavy Weapons would have been any great use. Maybe making a Dreadnought Venerable (and Tank Hunter), giving my Castellan some actual weapons (Combi-Melta or Power Weapon and Storm Shield) or handing out some Chainfists and going to a Marshal? But would those really help me as much as the Multi-Meltas? Not as far as I can see. Also, the Multi-Meltas on the Dreadnoughts are phenomenally good to have. Marshal Learoth’s Drop Pod list is able to get away without them because all of the Crusader Squads can do pretty much the same things, but I like having the extra overall range (Plasma Guns, Multi-Meltas) and, if I didn’t have that change, I wouldn’t really be running my own list.
Okay, so I got in a third game (against the Templarbubble list) today, and I noticed something. What happens is that I generally get a larger half of my list on turn 2, which drops down and does damage, and then most of the rest comes down turn 3. With all of the Drop Pods, models, and melta, all at once, my opponent can't really get out from where he is. He's got turn 1 and turn 2 if he goes first to get into position. That's it. A couple of Rhinos went for an objective, but they got de-meched by my Typhoons and did basically nothing (well, they kill a Dreadnought which prevented me from finishing off the Assault Terminators, and they absorbed a few turns of firing from one of my Typhoons, but they really didn't impact the game). Vehicles died like nobody's business, the Assault Terminators got clogged in and were unable to have any real impact, and the greatest benefit the Predators provided was killing a couple of Drop Pods and then being the first ones to take my firepower.
It's probably a combination of my inexperience with the list (I can do the Drop Pod one, but those Rhino-based ones are beyond me), and I very well could have played it wrong, and it could be affected by some subconscious urge for my favorite list to win (that urge is a real danger when you play against yourself). It could also have to do simply with the strategy of using Drop Pods being a better strategy than is used by the lists I've faced thus-far, and that could be affected by a number of different factors (focus on being able to get off the first shots, cheaper Drop Pods allowing for more points spent elsewhere, or maybe it's just harder to develop a strategy to use against Drop Pod armies). It could also have to do with the lists themselves; I tried to make my list as competitive as possible (for what it is, a shooty-Drop Pod instead of Defensive Drop Pod), but I've been playing against lists that are mostly Casual ones (Templarbubble excepted, but it was unable to use it's strategy to any effect). Lots of possibilities, and I won't be able to trim them down until I either play quite a few more games against a multitude of different lists or I get some games in against an actual opponent.
I also noticed that, when it got down to it, the enemy lists were unable to target my Typhoons. They were just too far away and protected by concealing Drop Pods and more dangerous units. It may be that this will change as I start to face more competitive lists, but I did find it interesting.
That’s really all I have. If there are any questions I will be happy to answer them as best I can, and I hope to get a Vassal game against Marshal Learoth’s PotMS list.